Holy Fig Tree Posture

holy fig tree

This is a fabulous all round posture – it’s a balance which improves concentration and co-ordination, back bend which improves posture and breathing and when done dynamically with the breath is energising, warming, clearing the respiratory system and improving circulation. Start with 5 each side increasing to 10 gradually.

Find a space where you can practice – warm, clean and free from furniture/low ceilings.

First take your arms out to the sides and up overhead 3 times slowly.  Then place your hands onto your hips and alternate taking the legs back without leaning the body forward 3 or 4 times on each side slowly. This warms up the muscles and IMPORTANTLY ensures that you have enough space around you to work.

To practice Holy Fig Tree dynamically –

Stand tall in Tadasana

Place your weight into your right foot.

Lift your left foot to the back, left arm out to the side and right arm up to the ceiling as you inhale

Return to Tadasna as you exhale.

Repeat x 5, rest for 5 breaths then do 5 on the Left side.

ALWAYS PRACTICE WITHIN YOUR CAPABILITY – IF YOU GET TIRED OR DIZZY THEN STOP

8 anti-aging benefits of regular yoga practice

Age means nothing in yoga. Our bodies, if kept healthy and happy will go on and on, it’s something that even scientists are coming to agree with. The practice of yoga doesn’t have to take over your life, make you eat vegetarian or grow your hair long.

Whilst there are some things that improve with age – decision making, empathy and happiness, there are a lot of things that do change as we get older that are not for the better; it doesn’t have to be that way.  And it’s never too late to start… just so long as you make a commitment to practice regularly, little and often is the key.

1 Arthritis

Problem – painful joints (especially hands and knees) can make us feel really stiff and creaky – making us grumpy as it hurts to do things we used to get pleasure from.

How Yoga Helps – gentle regular movements help to bring synovial fluids to the joints making them feel more flexible and reduce swelling which relieves tension and pain.

2 Osteoporosis

Problem – as we age our bone density decreases which means our bones are more likely to crack if we fall.

How Yoga Helps – weight bearing exercises help to increase bone density. Although the gains are relatively small, these gains along with the improved muscle tone and balance can help to negate the effects of osteoporosis.

3 Insomnia

Problem – as we age we need less sleep and can be woken with the need to go to the loo.

How Yoga Helps – Gentle stretching and rhythmic breathing techniques can help to induce sleep. Relaxation exercises learnt in a class environment can prove very useful and help us get a full night of restful, healing sleep.

4 Blood Pressure

Problem – High blood pressure is a common ailment affecting us as we age due to reduced elasticity of blood vessels and the decreasing ability to process dietary salt.

How Yoga Helps – The regular practice of deep breathing and gentle physical exercises helps the tissues of the body to remain healthy and elastic. Attending classes helps people to look after themselves, be with like minded people, feel supported in adopting more positive approach to diet and lifestyle.

5 Hormonal Changes

Problem – menopause can cause debilitating disruption to life with wild mood swings and temperature fluctuations.

How Yoga Helps – relaxation techniques and gentle flowing posture work practiced daily can help to decrease symptoms.

6 Myofascial Tightening

Problem – a decrease in collagen produced by the body causes a loss of flexibility in our muscles and connective tissue, this leads to stiffness, tension and imbalance in the body.

How Yoga Helps – gentle, regular stretching keeps the body’s soft tissue fluid and flexible.

7 Ligament Tears

Problem – tears are common in stressed and overused ligaments of the knee joint, shoulders, hips and ankles.

How Yoga Helps – by strengthening the muscles around these joints the stress is reduced on the ligaments and the joint is able to retain it’s healthy use. There is a saying in yoga ‘use it or lose it’ and the best way to keep joints moving is to keep joints moving.

8 Core Strength and Back Pain

Problem – pain is caused by nerves being squashed by unsupported vertebrae. Gravitational forces and poor posture will continually cause vertebrae to want to move downwards. The only way to keep the spine in correct alignment is to support it with strong muscles. There are many spinal issues that can arise as we age – narrowing of the spinal canal, herniated, bulging or slipped discs – all cause back pain which is commonly managed with pain relief tablets.

How Yoga Helps – gentle work to strengthen the back, core muscles (and really the whole of the body from the feet to the eyebrows) will help the back to be supported by muscle and bring about correct alignment to the spinal column.

There is only one rule that you need to know in a yoga class “the posture should be steady and comfortable” – so if you are steady and comfortable you are doing it right. Some people may wish to stand on their heads, some may want to tie themselves up like a pretzel and that’s OK so long as it’s steady and comfortable for them. If standing on your 2 feet with the back in good alignment is what you do at your first yoga class – so long as it’s steady and comfortable then you are doing yoga that is right for you. Your practice is just that – your practice. Don’t delay – you can begin today – see my free online yoga exercises here

 

Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is the most efficient and natural way to breath. It’s great to watch dogs, cats and children sleeping and watching their little abdomens expanding and contracting with the breath – it’s nature – how we are all meant to breathe. However, it’s a technique that is forgotten by most of us by the time we reach adulthood.

Tense abdominal muscles can be the result of continually holding the tummy in, tight clothing, poor posture, back ache or emotional issues. All of which are often totally unconscious.  Once correct, natural breathing is restored and becomes part of your daily life improvements in health and wellbeing can be quite amazing.

As breathing is the most vital process of the body, even slight improvements can give benefits to the practitioner. The breath influences the activities of each and every cell, and is intimately linked to the performance of the brain.  Abdominal breathing is a preparatory practice for Pranayama (control of the life force) and encourages correct breathing. Slow, rhythmic breathing brings about a calm state of mind, which in turn calms the nervous system and leads to less stress in the body. Deep breathing in this manner increases absorption of energy into the body and keeps the heart healthy and strong.

We practice abdominal breathing by enhancing the movement of the diaphragm and minimising the movement of the ribcage.  I think it helps to visualise the air moving into the body through the nose and travelling down into the abdomen (this does not really happen) and then visualise the air travelling back up through the torso and out through the nose. This movement allows full use of the diaphragm and the lower lobes of the lungs to fill and empty (the parts that don’t get used fully when the diaphragm can’t move).

Try practicing at different times of the day – when you have a little time waiting for something or when you are in bed last thing at night or first thing in the morning. Also try this type of breath in more difficult circumstances – say after a meal or when wearing a tight waist band, it will help you to appreciate where you are making life difficult for yourself! And finally, try this abdominal breathing when you are in a stressful situation and see if it works to reduce your anxiety.

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

Get Back Into The Swing…

Get yourself ready for the new term by having a go at these 3 standing stretches. They are great for waking up the spine and strengthening the core muscles. Do 5 repeats of each every day until the new classes begin and you’ll slip seamlessly into our work 🙂

As with all our practice – do not strain, if something doesn’t feel right for your body (my shoulder hurts or my knee doesn’t like that) then miss out that part and do the other exercises. Some work for you body is much better than none.

1 Tadasana with Breath

Tadasana

Remove your socks and shoes if possible. Allow the feet to spread out on the floor or your mat, positioning them directly under your hip joints. Bring awareness into the soles of the feet and feel your weight sinking down evenly through the whole surface of the sole. If you feel unbalanced, bring awareness to each side of your foot in turn – leaning forwards, backwards and side to side. Come to stillness – an evenness of weight now descending through the soles of your feet.

Next interlace the fingers in front of you and as you inhale take the arms over head and rise up onto the balls of your feet. As you exhale return the heals and arms down. Repeat 5 times. Pause.

2 Swaying Palm Tree

Now take the feet a little wider so that they are on the outsides of your hips. This time keeping the heals in touch with the floor, breath in and take the arms up the front, as you exhale take the arms over to the right side keep the hips still and let the movement come from the waist. Keep facing forward, do not strain. When you need to breathe in come upright to the centre and then exhale down to the left side. Feel as though you are light and loose, don’t push. Lift the hands up each time you breathe in to the centre. Repeat 5 times to each side. Pause. Smile.

3 Kati Chakrasana

This is a free moving twist for the upper body. Keep the feet in the wide stance and soften the knees, breathing in raise the arms sideways to shoulder height. As you breathe out twist around to the right allowing the arms to wrap around the back of the waist and the shoulder as in the picture. Swing around 5 – 10 times to each side, feeling the freedom of your spine. Come to stillness, move the feet back under the hips. Pause for a few breaths in Tadasana.

Well done to you – same again tomorrow xx

Next term – 19th February to 30th March 2018 – Yoga Classes In Tinwell, Preston & Ryhall

In keeping with our theme of the heart we will work opening the heart space with the Bow pose (Dhanurasana). This is an excellent posture for improving the digestion and so we’ll also be thinking about food – our love of food. There will be some time spent considering our relationship with food, how we eat our food and we will start with the benefits of detoxifying and purifying our bodies – which one of the first steps on the path of yoga.

Yoga for a Healthy Back

On Saturday 24th February I’ll be running a Workshop from 10 – 1 to help people look after their backs. The spine is one of the main focuses of yoga – it is said that you are as old as your spine is flexible…

With this in mind I’ll be concentrating on gentle exercises that students can learn at the workshop to do at home on a daily or as-and-when basic to ease low back pain, strengthen the back muscles and increase flexibility.  Yoga is now proven to help people with back ache more than the traditional remedies (painkillers, hot/cold packs).

In a recent trail led by the University of York and funded by Arthritis Research UK of over 300 people, those offered a 12 week yoga course experienced a 30% greater improvement in back function than those offered GP care alone.

Back pain affects 80% of adults in their lifetime.  It’s the top reason for a visit to the GP and costs the UK over £5 billion a year as 4.9 million working days each year are lost due to back pain.

Half of the test group were given the yoga option received a book and CD as well as 12 weekly yoga classes. The participants were encouraged to practice at home in between classes and continue regularly once the classes had finished. The other half were treated in the typical GP way with a combination of painkillers, manipulation, hot/cold packs and exercise.

 

If you, or someone you know, suffers with backache, why not come along and see if yoga can help you. The Workshop will be supported by handouts of a variety of exercises for students to work on at home. Please contact me to book your place.

NEW YOGA CLASSES WITH SARAH ROGERS

Yoga for All – St Gilbert’s Primary School, Stamford. PE9 2PP

Thursday 6.45-8.00pm

Yoga for All – Barn Hill Methodist Church, Stamford. PE9 2PP

Friday 9.30-11.00am

sarahyoga@talktalk.net

07751 884534

I have been teaching Yoga since 1997 and qualified as a British Wheel of Yoga teacher in 2001.  I have been lucky to study with a number of different teachers over the years and have had experience of a variety of Yoga Schools.  My style of teaching is mainly influenced by the Viniyoga and Mantra Yoga traditions.  I aim to deliver interesting and structured lessons that allow students to develop, grow and improve. Classes include:  asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), concentration, relaxation, and philosophy.

Shakti Bandha Asanas

In the Stretch and Relax classes we are having a go at the Shakti Bandha Asana (energy block postures). These are exercises that help to improve the flow of energy within the body. They are useful for breaking down neuro-muscular knots especially in the pelvic region where energy tends to stagnate. The postures are very helpful for people with reduced vitality and/or a stiff back. They are useful to develop pelvic and core strength for all levels of fitness. They also improve the condition of the lungs, heart and endocrine system. It is not necessary to ‘force’ these movements, they can be done very gently to good effect – even sitting on a chair. So what every your age or level of fitness you can give your energy a boost by getting rid of any blocks with this sequence.

When the going gets tough, the tough team up…

Without a doubt the easiest part of keeping fit is the decision to do it.  Beyond that some begin enthusiastically, some mean to but never get round to it and others find a friend to help motivate them.

Teamwork strengthens resolve and builds momentum by pooling struggles and raising spirits when it feels as if you’re not getting to where you want to be.  There are plenty of life coaches and wellness experts to testify a simple fact: there’s no better route to well-being than friendship. That’s beside the practical benefits of lift sharing, reminding each other and having a good old laugh!

Be kind to yourself and your friend – well-ness is the most liberating gift you can give to yourself and your mate but it’s easy to be critical.  In the first stages of unpicking the bad habits and knitting together the good, it’s likely that there will be a few wobbles.  That’s the time when, as a friend, you can be vital in aiding them gently back to the path and support her towards their goals.

Stuck for something to give a friend this Christmas? Why not give the most wonderful thing you can – HEALTH – ask them to join you coming to your yoga class!