The Benefits of a Pair of Yoga Toe Socks

yoga toes socks

Besides the obvious – THEY KEEP YOUR FEET WARM – yoga socks and specifically the ones with the awkward little individual toes, are very good for your feet. They give the toes their space and help to correct all of those years of crushing the little toes into tight shoes and high heels. I know that it takes a while to put them on and feels a bit uncomfortable at first, but they can help to alleviate a variety of foot problems –

  • bunions
  • joint pain
  • foot cramps
  • athletes foot
  • tired feet after long walks or shopping in the sales

For obvious reasons we need to have a good grip on the sole of the yoga sock – to stop us from slipping on our yoga mats! However, there’s an added bonus to using the socks in yoga postures because the toes are forced to spread and this gives us more surface area to balance on.

So have a thought…TOE SOCKS… great idea and not just for yoga.

You can buy Yoga Toe Socks from me in class – they are £5 a pair and come in a range of colours. Have a look at my shop window here to see the socks and other items I can get for my students…

 

The Durga Gallery

Over the last half term our Yoga class students have been working with the Warrior and Goddess postures to strengthen our legs and improve our lungs. We have also looked at images of the Goddess Durga with her 8 arms and thought about how fantastic that might be at this time of year to help with all of our jobs at Christmas.  Mental images of empowerment like this can be used as a coping strategy and help us to combat stress in our lives. Stress happens when we feel overwhelmed or unable to cope – Christmas is a prime cause of stress, especially as one year closes (where has the year gone?/another year older!) and a new one begins (fear of change and uncertainty). So just imagine if you had 8 arms to help you out with all of your jobs and deal with whatever is to come next year!!!

Just for a bit of fun and to immerse ourselves fully in our yoga practice – we have made a ‘Durga Gallery’ – I hope that this inspires students to feel empowered (maybe enlist an extra pair of hands? or maybe reduce the amount of tasks you set yourself? you do only have 1 pair of hands really!)

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Dhyana Mudra

dhyana mudra2

We often see the Buddha represented with this gesture. It is beautifully simple and brings you into deeper, more profound concentration. It is the traditional mudra to aid qualities of tranquillity and inner peace.
Method: To do the Dhyana mudra, simply sit with your hands facing upward, right hand resting on top of your left palm. The right hand, representing enlightenment and higher spiritual faculties, rests over the left hand, representing the world of maya, or illusion.
I like to visualise the hands as a little basket. Sometimes there are flowers in the basket and sometimes there is a little fire burning. The space within the hands is empty and you can see that space as freedom and a way to empty the mind. You can do whatever works for you – it’s a soft embrace and the fingers could be holding a dove…  allow your imagination to roam and find something that works for you.

Weekly Yoga Classes – September 2018

This year our yoga classes will revolve around the theme of OPPOSITES. This concept was used widely in yogic literature to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Our first pair of opposites will be BIG and small. As always with Hatha yoga we begin with the physical body and using the body to explore ways of being big – like an Oak Tree or a Mountain and also being small – like a child, a bird or a seed. Moving from one to the other challenges our balance, and strengthens and stretches our muscles.

We’ll work with the breath, expanding the lungs with physical moves and breathing exercises – discussing the benefits of large breaths vs small breaths and taking time to feel what this experience is like for us. Throughout our work during the year there will be many ‘companion’ opposites – loud and quiet, easy and strained may well be other pairs as we develop our work with the breath.

There will be time spent on thoughtful reflection too – looking back at BIG life events and forward to BIG life goals. And then considering the smaller things in life too –

Sometimes,” said Poo, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”

(from Winnie the Poo by AA Milne)

I’m very much looking forward to exploring this concept and other OPPOSITES with you as the new year of yoga unfolds. Namaste xx

Why Sanskrit?

Yoga is a way to keep healthy and happy. It was developed way before we had the science of medicine and so relied very much upon nature and observation. Yoga was developed by Sages and Gurus (wise men and teachers) thousands of years ago. Sanskrit was the language used to pass the methods on (by word of mouth for centuries and then in written format). It is said to be the oldest language and is often referred to as ‘the language of the gods’. Many of the Sanskrit words we use in class (including the names of exercises) have been passed down from these ancient times. So why should we still use them? Aren’t they a bit old fashioned? Well, I think that it’s good to keep the Sanskrit in circulation as a way of remembering that we who practice in this day and age are simply a link in a very long chain of people who have practiced yoga. True that we must acknowledge new developments in science and medicine and we wouldn’t want to be without them but, respecting the lineage of yoga gives us grounding and deep roots from which to grow. You may feel differently, but in case you are interested I’ve compiled a short list of Sanskrit terms which I feel are important to understand when you are embarking on your yoga journey…

  1. Asana.

The correct pronunciation is AH’-sah-nah. Literally, it means “seat,” but in yoga class it’s pretty much interchangeable with the word “pose.” For example, Bhujangasana = Cobra Pose, Navasana = Boat Pose… and so on.

  1. Namaste.

This is my favorite Sanskrit word because it’s fun to say–nah’-mah’-stay. It means: ‘The light within me respects and honours the light within you’. My incredibly simplified translation: Isn’t it awesome that we just practiced yoga together? Thanks for your presence.

  1. Om.

Ooooooohhhhhmmmmmmm. This is the sound/vibration of the universe. But what does it mean? Essentially, we are all a part of this universe–always moving, always changing, always breathing. When you chant Om, you’re tapping into that vibration.

  1. Shanti.

Peace. When you chant, “Om shanti shanti shanti,” it’s an invocation of peace. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions you chant shanti three times to represent peace in body, speech, and mind.

  1. Sthira Suka Asanam

The posture should be steady and easy. This guidance from the great Sage Patanjali means that we should not strain to get into any posture or for it to be too much effort to hold.

Lets Explore… SEATED TWISTS

Twists are great ways to reduce tension in the back muscles and they also help to undo knots in our minds as well… (It’s the yoga magic!) Additional benefits include a wringing action in the soft tissues which squeeze out fluids and then upon release of the twist refill with fresh juices – FEELS GOOD!

Here in pictorial format, I thought I would show you the development of the seated twist from basic to advanced. YOU know where you are on this scale – look out for the key alignment of the spine in all these postures and then work on it yourself. I know I don’t have to tell you – but it is best to feel accomplished in the first posture before attempting the next stage.

If you are able to sit cross legged, this is the best start for a twist. Use your blocks to get comfortable in Sukasana (cross legged) and then place the hand on the opposite knee, breathe in and as you exhale twist the shoulders around and place the finger tips on the floor behind you. Stay for 3 – 5 breaths and then untwist on the inhale. Work both sides. Keep the spine aligned throughout. Cross the legs in the opposite direction now and repeat.

If cross legged is not comfortable then begin in Dandasana with the legs outstretched. (This is also stage 2 if you did work in the cross legged pose.) Cross one leg over the other and hug the knee into the torso with the opposite arm; breathe in, and as you exhale twist the shoulders around and place the fingers on the floor behind you. NB Keep the spine aligned CROWN OVER TAIL BONE it is so easy to lean back but this doesn’t help the twist. Also, if you find this causes lower back discomfort, you can sit on one block.

Keep working on stage 2 until the shoulders comfortably twist into alignment with the outstretched leg. There are a number of different variations with different arms. This is where most people spend time working ( 3-5 breaths for each side is enough in each practice). Gently encourage your spine to twist as you exhale. Keep the spine aligned throughout.

As the twist movement comes with ease, you can begin to bend the outstretched leg. Do the previous version first and then try the new leg position in a 2nd round. Take your time with these advancements – don’t force anything. Breathe and relax the body will stretch over time – and by time I mean months and years.

In the final stage (Ardha Matseyendrasana), the shoulders twist easily around enabling the arms to ‘bind’ underneath the upright knee. The example here shows the spine beautifully aligned and the head twisted around (not as relaxed as the rest of the posture seems though). It is the ease of the legs and arms which your are seeking – this yogi feels relaxed in the posture. A feeling of being in the posture rather than pushing to achieve it – which is what you want to aim for in your practice.

No matter what stage you are at – this is the right stage for you now. Don’t force anything. If you are unsure about what you’re doing – pay attention next time you are in class! Get in early and sit at the front, I regularly demonstrate postures at the beginning of when we practice and then get up and move around the room. If it suits you better, come along for a 1-2-1 in my yoga room, great gains can be made with a few moments spent in preparatory movements to open up a particularly tight area of your body – this can’t always happen in a class environment.

Happy Twisting – and remember spine upright and practice safely x

 

New Yoga Classes Come to Ryhall Village Hall

There is a saying about yoga ‘Whatever Age You Begin To Practice, You Stay…’

Why not put it to the test and join one of my new classes?  You too can halt the march of time and reap all the benefits of this ancient form of health care!

The 2 new classes will begin on September 7th, ‘Beginners Yoga’ 11.45 – 12.45 and ‘Yoga Fit’ 6 – 7. This is a great opportunity for people new to yoga to ‘get in at the start’ and learn with like minded people about the postures, breathing and relaxation practices.

‘Beginners Yoga’ will focus on the systems of the body. Each half term we will take a look at how our body works and what exercises we can do to improve the function. Beginning with the Skeletal system in September and then moving onto the Muscular system, Cardiovascular system, Digestive system, Respiratory system and Nervous system. Each class is in fact an all round practice working on the body and mind, but with its particular focus holding your attention and building up your knowledge of yourself and yoga throughout the term. The posture work takes around 40 minutes and we take a relaxation exercise for the last 15 minutes. Relaxation is a key part of yoga, aiding the body in bringing it to harmony and allowing time and stillness for healing. The whole class lasts for 1 hour and is suitable for all levels of fitness.

‘Yoga Fit’ concentrates on the physical elements of yoga, getting the body to function and flow with grace as nature intended. This year we will be focusing on the core. Each term we will look at a variety of yoga postures (asana) learning about correct alignment and the benefits of each pose. As we become familiar with the postures they are linked together to form a graceful flow or vinyasa. This is performed several times during the class in tune with the breath. The class lasts for an hour with the final 5 minutes dedicated to a relaxing breathing exercise.

If you are not familiar with Ryhall Village it is a couple of miles from Stamford along the road past Sainsbury’s. It takes about 5 minute by car, passing the new football ground, then 2 mini roundabouts and finally turning into the village on the right hand side. A minute later and the village hall faces you with the tiny library opposite. There is ample car parking directly in front of the hall, and what makes it super for yoga is that the hall has a foyer and then a large space with wooden flooring and wall lights. The space is ‘womb like’ giving you a feeling of escape from the world outside.

If you are interested in either class, or know someone who may be, please contact me for more information or to book your place.

MONDAY YOGA IS BACK! WHY NOT GIVE IT A GO?

Pretty young woman doing YOGA exercise at home

The Monday classes will begin again on 22nd February. There are 2 classes to chose from ‘YOGA FIT’ – a physically active class of mostly posture work or ‘STRETCH & RELAX’ – a combination of posture work with a deep relaxation to end with. Both classes are 1 hour long and are suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.  These classes will take place at the freshly decorated Tinwell Village Hall, just outside Stamford on the Tinwell Road (turn left at Tinwell Forge). There is a large car park and the hall has soft lighting for relaxation and a wooden floor.  Read on for a sneak peak of what we will be doing during the term…

YOGA FIT – we will study the postures of the classical ‘Sun Salutation’ with an emphasis on alignment and correct posture throughout the flow. Where there are limitations in flexibility to perform the ‘true’ postures we will look at modifications and other useful postures to develop the necessary dexterity in the body to be able to perform a modified version that is safe to work with. There are many benefits to practicing the Sun Salutation including reduction of weight around the middle of the body and balancing the hormones.

STRETCH & RELAX –  in these classes our focus will be on the hands – give us a wave! We’ll work on routines to ward off and give relief to arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome. There will be some balancing on the hands and feet (Downward Facing Dog, Elephant Twists) and we’ll work through the whole body with simple Elephant Salutes to keep the circulation flowing out to the full extremities of the fingers. Continuing our year-long theme of ‘Freedom’ we will be considering what it might be like to live with restricted use of the hands and how we can use our hands in the service of others. Gratitude will form an important element of our relaxations. We will also have an introduction to the use of Mudras which are ‘seals of energy’ often using different positions of the hands.

Fees are paid at the first class for the term – this term runs from 22nd Feb to 21st March (5 weeks) and costs £30 which works out at £6 per class. You will need to bring your own mat and blanket.  These classes are not suitable for people under 18 years old or those who are pregnant. For examples of the kind of work we do in class you can have a go at home by following along to the free yoga videos and audio relaxations here. Please let me know if you would like to book in by emailing me here or if you know someone who may like to join us please pass on this email.

Workshop – What is Pranayama?

Nadi sodhana

Well done to all who came along this morning despite the blustery wet and windy weather and took part in the ‘What is Pranayama?’ workshop.

We spent time learning about the journey of our breath and understanding that the foundations of pranayama – or pre-pranayama really have to be laid before we can begin the feel that fabulous effects of the practices themselves.

That said all were inspired to learn about the Nadi Shodhana practice (alternate nostril breathing) and there were some very balanced and peaceful faces leaving the room at the end of the morning.

“That was a real treat.” said Hazel

“Thanks for a wonderful morning.” said Robyn

It’s my pleasure, as always, to introduce and remind students, new and old to these ancient and yet so very needed practices in this day and age.

Yoga Fit November 15 Term

‘Fit Feet’ will be the theme of the Yoga Fit classes this half term. Using postures that involve working and balancing on the balls of the feet. The flow will be a simplification of the ‘Dance of Isis’ which is a series of postures that help to strengthen the legs, help the feet to be more flexible and develop our sense of balance. Also this range of postures improves the circulation in the legs and feet – so no cold feet for us over the winter! Don’t worry if you’re a bit wibbly wobbly – modifications will be available to help all students achieve their best version of the postures and fully benefit from the class.

utkatasana on toes

Variations of the Utkatasana on tip toes will be featuring in our range of postures!

If you would like to come along, these classes are one hour long and held at Tinwell Village Hall on Mondays at 6.00. Booking is essential – use the contact us or book on line page. The term begins on 9th November and runs for 6 weeks.