5 Anti-Aging Postures

ROLL OUT YOUR MAT ANY TIME FOR A SHORT DAILY PRACTICE TO ENHANCE YOUR VITALITY AND KEEP YOUR SPINE YOUNG! (Remember – always practice within your capability – people with lower back problems or high blood pressure should take extra care and I advise working with an experienced yoga teacher so they don’t worsen the condition.)

1 Gently Swaying Palm Tree

cropped tyriaka tad

Standing with feet parallel and slightly wider than hip width apart, this gentle side bend begins by inhaling and taking the linked fingers overhead. This deep inhalation helps to lengthen the spine. As you exhale gently bend to one side keeping the feet, knees and hips still – a small bend coming from the waist and keeping the shoulders square to the front of your mat. On inhalation return to standing – thinking all the time about lengthening the spine upwards. Then repeat the motion with the breath to the other side. Practice 3 to 5 times each side.

BENEFITS –  lengthens the spine, tones the abdominals and sides of the waist.

2  Cat

IMG_7558-2      IMG_7563-2

Now come down onto all 4s – make a strong box shape. Have the knees aligned under your hips and your hands – fingers stretched out – shoulder width apart but a little in front of the shoulder line.   Look down toward your mat and take the awareness to your breath; notice how it feels. Become aware of the breath in and the breath out. Lengthen and deepen the breath, and as you do so, allow the spine to relax. On inhale feel the abdomen and chest filling up as the spine sinks down toward the floor.  On exhale draw the abdominals in toward the spine and allow the spine to round upwards towards the ceiling. Keep following the breath with the movement for 6 – 10 rounds.

BENEFITS- increases the lung capacity and flexibility of the spine, strengthens the shoulders, arms and wrists.

3 Downward Facing Dog

IMG_7612

From the all 4s, ‘box’, position, come to a neutral spine (neither up nor down).  Take an inhale and tuck your toes under and then, on the exhale, lift your buttocks up and back.  Keeping the elbow and knee joints soft, prevents hyper extension of the joints. Breath in the posture for 1 or 2 breaths and then on exhale bend knees and return to the box position.  Repeat 1 more time. Build up to holding the position for 10 breaths.

BENEFITS- the inversion of the head below the heart will bring fresh blood to the head and face (if you suffer from High Blood Pressure don’t take the head down, you can do this posture against the wall – see this page for more instructions), stretches out the spine and the backs of the legs, builds strength in the shoulders, arms, elbows and wrists.

4 Staff

IMG_7578-2

Sit on the mat with the legs stretched out in front. Feel the sitting bones in contact with your mat. Place the hands on the mat at your sides, as you inhale feel the back long and strong and push gently with the heels away from you. On exhalation relax a little but don’t let the posture collapse. Work up to 10 smooth, long breaths.

BENEFITS- strengthens core muscles, improves posture.

5 Seated Twist

IMG_7584-2

Remain in Staff pose.  Bring the right foot over the left leg and draw the thigh into the body using the crook of the left arm. Inhale and feel the crown of the head lift up toward the sky, as you exhale turn toward your bent knee and take the right hand to the mat behind you. Feel the twist in the torso, if your neck is comfortable turn the chin around to the right shoulder. Remain in the twist for 3 – 5 breaths and then undo on the inhalation. Repeat to other side.

BENEFITS- detoxifies the body and aids elimination.

 

Vipareeta Karani Asana (Legs up the Wall Variation)

legs-up-wall-pose

Legs-up-the-Wall posture is an excellent way to gently introduce your body to the benefits of the shoulder stand.
These are numerous, but include improved circulation and alleviation of nervous exhaustion. It’s a great pose to rejuvenate a tired body and unsettled mind – great for stress management.  You can hold it for up to 5 minutes.
It is safe for everyone to practice; if you wish to experiment adding blocks or folded blankets under your hips, give it a try – adding a little height at a time. Take care as raising the pelvis increases blood to the head and can make some conditions such as high blood pressure and eye problems worse. Also, there are some traditions of yoga that advise against women raising the pelvis during menstruation.

YOGA! How can I find the time for that?

stressed lady

But this is when we need it most! When our minds are frazzled and our shoulders and neck all cramped up.  Give yourself 5 minutes, it will help in more ways than I can mention.  Importantly though, you will feel much better and those around you, sensing this, will feel much better too.  Sit in any comfortable position…….

Begin by circling the nose in a tangerine sized circle to ease out the neck.  About 5 times one way and then 5 times in reverse.

Breathe in and open up in the heart space, sit tall and beautiful.

Expand from the inside out, become more spacious  – open up to the breath.

Gently close the eyes and feel your skin; feel the clothes touching your skin, feel the hair on your head, feel the eyelashes on your cheeks.

Feel beyond the skin to the the astral body – our aura that surrounds us.

Lean back a little and feel the support of the cosmos that surrounds you.

Breathe in and draw from the abundant well of air that we live in and lives in us.

Take heart that you are not some isolated thing battling single handedly against the world.

You are the world – and what will be will be.

Invite your breath to become smooth as silk and quiet as a whisper.

While here in this place now, feel gratitude to the earth for the sunshine and air we breathe.

Drink in each breath and be grateful for all that you have.

Be grateful for your challenges for they allow you to interact with the world and demonstrate your passions.

With this gratitude in your heart take your current experience and think of how they might be in the future.

Plant a seed for your future.

Invite the pace of your life to flow smoothly and easily, see yourself as you would like to be.

Breathe in peace, breath out love.

Do Yoga! Top 10 Asana

Thanks to everyone who voted in my “Favourite Asana” poll at the end of last term.

It made interesting counting and I’ll try to include all mentioned postures in the classes we do over the coming year.

So for the Top 10 Results.  In reverse order…

Number 10 – Shashankasana

childs pose

Number 9 – Universal Twist

Universal twist

Number 8 – Malasana

malasana

Number 7 – Cactus

cactus

Number 6 – Uttanasana

Uttanasana - Standing forward bend

Number 5 – Shavasana

Shavasana

Number 4 – Vrksasana

tree

Number 3 – Virabhadrasana (1 & 2)

Warrior with hair

Number 2 – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Baby Pigeon)

eka pada rajaka

Number 1 – Elephant Salutation (Surya Namaskara variation)

elephant f bend

 

 

A small tribute to a great man

bks iyengar

BKS Iyengar sadly passed away last month on the 20th August – he was a real yoga champion!  As one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, he introduced many in the West to the practice of yoga and helped to make yoga acceptable and popular.  He was the teacher of Yehudi Menuhin, Aldous Huxley and Donna Karan and set up his own teacher training method.

His principles are not favoured by all yoga traditions as the main focus is on asana (posture work) – some feel to the expense of the breath work and more esoteric aspects of yoga.  Personally, I like his approach; in the beginning the body really is the key – the access to our whole being.  Yoga is a subtle practice but to get to this subtlety we have to learn through the use of the body.  As we learn to move, we learn to feel.

Iyengar is said to have been a drill-sergent in his classes – I think this was to get people going on a physical level.  This style of yoga appealed to beginners in the West and is what made Iyengar so successful – to work from the outside in, from the gross to the subtle – and he helped people to ‘get it’.  In my classes beginner students sometimes remark that “I’m not really feeling anything”, this is perhaps because I take a softer approach,  I like to go gently with people – not so much  ‘feel the burn’ as ‘wait for the simmer’!

However, I do return to Iyengar’s book ‘Light on Yoga’ time and time again;  the accuracy of the asana and stories about the history of the postures truly bring the practice to life for me.  It has helped me to teach in a way that people can relate to and understand.  Thank you very much for your help, Mr Iyengar – Om Shanti.

OM is all around us

Ohm

“OM” is said to be the sound of the universe.

We chant OM at the beginning and end of our yoga sessions – this is the tradition in many schools of yoga.

It is an acknowledgment that the universe around us is constantly moving—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the blinking of our eyes and the beating of our hearts.

Just like the ancient yogis, we use the sound of OM to recognise this never-ceasing movement and vibrate in unison with the universe. Chanting it is meant to resonate that movement throughout the breath, awareness and energy to reveal a more powerful connection with the universe.

I chant OM at home and it reminds me of all of the yogis around the globe, and throughout time, doing the exact same thing.  I find it relaxing and is a great beginning to meditation.

Well Done Jean!

IMG_5427

Congratulations to Jean from the Wednesday morning group in Ryhall.  She was the happy  winner from our summer lucky dip.  The prize was the Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha book – a treasured guide book of yoga techniques from the Yoga Publications Trust, Mungar, Bihar, India.  This book makes an excellent reference for any practitioner and I know that Jean will put it to great use.

majari - in

Many of the black and white images of the ‘blissful yogi’ (as I call him) come from this book. Each technique comes with a clear description of how to do it, how to breathe and what to concentrate on while your doing it.  So, many levels of focus for the beginner and advanced yogi.  If you only get 1 yoga book this is the one to have.

Introduction to Yoga – Course Begins 10th September

yoga class image

 

Ever wanted to try Yoga but thought you weren’t flexible enough?

Tried a Yoga class but couldn’t tell your Dandasana from your Tadasana?

Been going to Yoga for years but want to know more about Patanjali?

My ‘Introduction To Yoga’ course begins on September 10th and runs each Wednesday 6 -7 at Ryhall Village Hall.  Each week we will do physical and relaxing exercises to experience the benefits of yoga and see why it has been practiced by so many people over so long a period. We will cover the basic postures with plenty of personal guidance and attention to modify postures for your specific needs.

 

Yoga has many benefits and is suitable for all levels of fitness.  In this class, gentle posture work will increase gradually over the weeks developing students flexibility and joint mobility.  Over time muscles strengthen, lengthen and tone. The circulation improves and physical balance is brought about – all with gentle, moderate and regular practice. Each session ends with a guided relaxation practice and students generally find that by helping the body to relax it improves and enhances their sleep pattern, relieves stress and dissolves muscle tension that may have been built up over many years.

Breathing exercises form an essential part of yoga and we begin these from the first class. As part of each class we will learn about the history and philosophy of yoga this helps us to develop our minds as well as our physical body.  Each student will receive a handy file to keep the yoga notes given out each week that will build up to a useful reference.

Please book early as places are limited.

Yoga Stars

Britain’s Got Talent Judge Amanda Holden, appeared in the Daily Mail with the caption: “Amanda, 43, recently credited yoga for her improved physique, and it’s clear that her time doing downward facing dog has been working.  The BGT judge said her new fitness regime had helped tone her figure, ‘I used to be a big fan of Spanx but ditched them two years ago when I started yoga, which has changed my shape’ she told the Radio Times.”

Turning heads: The knee-length outfit showcased the Britain's Got Talent judge's trim figure and exposed her back Amanda looking fabulous on her way out 17th July.

Article from SPECTRUM – photo from mailonline