The Benefits of a Pair of Yoga Toe Socks

yoga toes socks

Besides the obvious – THEY KEEP YOUR FEET WARM – yoga toe socks are very good for your feet. More specifically the ones with the awkward little individual toes and the sticky bumps on the bottom. This type of sock gives each toes their space and helps to correct all of those years of crushing the little toes into tight shoes and high heels.

It takes a while to put them on. And I know, they feel a bit uncomfortable at first. However, doing yoga in toe socks 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 out and this gives us more surface area to balance on.

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

A wide variety of toe socks can be found on the Yogamatters website.

Or you can buy 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…

Janu Sirsasana – learn the benefits

JanuSirsasana

Last term we worked on grounding postures including ones which had lots of earth contact and ones that worked especially in the pelvis area. Hopefully this work gave an experience of feeling supported, having strong ground beneath us and good foundations on which to build both stable postures and a stable life. In the last couple of weeks we worked with Janu Sirsasana, a complex forward bend. Read on to learn the benefits of this posture.

Janu Sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), may look simple, but it combines elements of a forward fold, twist, and side body stretch. The Sanskrit name translates to ‘Head-to-knee pose’ and it stretches the hamstrings, back, and groin while offering the benefits of a twist, such as massaging and stimulating internal organs. Because it is soothing to the central nervous system, Janu Sirsasana is also a great way to relieve stress in the body and mind.

Due to the intensity of this stretch it’s not advised to practice it on it’s own at home – you do really need to build up to the opening of the hips and lengthening of the back and back of the legs. Also, for this pose especially, it’s good to take your time to prepare with the various modifications we have talked about in class. It’s always best to practice safely – if you fancy some home practice over the half term try the Cat Sequence that was handed out in week 4.

You can also work with the cat and cow postures as detailed in a previous post here

Our Focus for 2019/20

The focus for our yoga practice this year will be the Elements –

Earth, Fire & Wind

There are actually 5 elements that we experience in all matter and in our bodies – the three above plus Water and Ether – we will save these for next year.

Up to Christmas we’ll have a think about the Earth Element – how it affects our yoga practice and our life in general. Firstly thinking about the earth as a solid and stable base, with a physical practice strengthening the legs, hips and core. We’ll use lunges, wide legged poses and make our bodies into triangles – wide at the base and narrow at the top like the mountains we see naturally occurring (well not in Rutland! but you know what I mean!). We’ll send our thoughts out to the 4 different directions improving our sense of place and connection. We will use the affect of gravity – lifting parts of our body in different ways to challenge the muscles and gain strength.

And we’ll consider how we can apply these stable poses when we feel adrift in our lives – as if someone has turned off gravity and things have gone haywire… We will come to stillness next to the Earth – our ‘Bedrock’, listening quietly for our heartbeat and reflect at how simple ‘Down to Earth’ things can bring us much joy and clarity.

After the half term we’ll apply the strength gained to test our Balance and try out some fancy footwork to enable us to be nimble and tread lightly on our Planet in all our efforts and endeavours.

Our Pranayama will work with the Stepped breath improving the capacity of our lungs and developing subtlety. Working in the 2nd half term towards Savitri Pranayama – the Square breath.

After a very enjoyable break I’m really looking forward to seeing you and getting stuck in with our yoga practice together.  See you next week, Deb

 

 

Chill Out with the Cooling Breath

Yoga breathing practices aren’t just for relaxation and helping us to feel calm…

You can literally alter the temperature of your body so that you feel a little more chilled – try it for yourself – it’s easy and may help you to keep your cool in this heat!

If you are able curl up the sides of your tongue to form a tube.  Inhale through the mouth – well through you tongue – a feeling of chilled air will hit your mouth and throat.  If you find it difficult to roll the tongue then inhale through the teeth – the same effect can be felt.

Draw the breath in nice and slowly, then close the mouth and hold the breath in slightly before breathing out through the nose.  Do it 9 times and feel the coolness of the chest.

This practice is known as Sheetali Pranayama – Chill Out and enjoy!

Holiday Reading

I know it’s usual to read a trashy novel while you are on your holibobs…

But maybe this year try something new? Why not settle down to a bit of yoga reading? You never know you might find it motivates you to do a bit of summer yoga.

 

apmb

My trusty yoga bible – if you only get one yoga book in your life, make it this one. It really does include everything you need to know. Some (about 10 percent) is a little bit bonkers, and really only for those having been brought up in the East with yoga since they were a kid – but the majority is sensible stuff giving plenty of background reading to the topics we cover in class. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Sw Satyanada Saraswati

Pain free

Not a yoga book but this is a must for anyone living with a pain in the (insert your area here). Pete Egoscue has a fantastic, down to earth approach to pain – really that you have caused it by your own health and habits and that you can cure it by altering your ways… It’s not exactly yoga but uses many of the principles and asanas with a matter of fact ‘get off your butt’ manner. Please let me know if you get a copy and follow the advice, I’m always curious to find out how people have got on. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue

Mudras book

This book is a fabulous course in yoga for the hands and shows all the various mudras and asana practices for overcoming lifes ups and downs. It’s an enjoyable read to pick up and put down besides being a great guide for mudra and meditation. Yoga in you Hands by Gertrud Hirschi.

What are the Chakras?

chakras

Chakras are energy centers… ancient yogis developed a concept of energy pathways running all around the body – rather than our energy just radomly ‘fuzzing’ about inside us.  This is similar to the system of meridians used in Chinese medicine, reflexology and acupuncture.

One of the main energy pathways (nadis) is along the spine.  Where pathways cross the spine, the energy is said to become greater and move in a circular motion hence the name ‘Chakra’, which means wheel in Sanskrit.

You can find more out about the Chakras on the following websites

http://www.zenlama.com/the-7-chakras-a-beginners-guide-to-your-energy-system/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-91/The-7-Chakras-for-Beginners.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/898?page=4

Spring Clean Home Practice

Spring is in the air… it’s time to spring into action!

At this time of year yogis often ‘cleanse’ their systems with a variety of practices. They can be physical asana, breathing practices or literally cleaning out the sinuses or digestive system with a special kriya or yoga cleansing method.

I’ve devised a simple sequence of asana for you to give it a try – a few stretches including the all important twisting movement which help the digestive system to ‘flow’.

Please note – always work within your own comfortable range of movements. Do not strain! If you have any blood pressure issues it is not advised to do a standing forward bend, try one of the modifications we have done in class instead.

Happy spring cleaning!

Don’t Over Do It

Trying too hard

Are you trying too hard? Don’t fall into this trap in any area of your life… and especially in your yoga practice.  If you are applying too much effort (we call this rajasic in yoga) this will only exhaust you and detract from your enjoyment of whatever it is that you are doing.  If you let go of your expectation and simply focus on exploring and enjoying the feelings of the practice then your practice is worth the time spent on it. For example, if you want a toned tummy, find a variety of exercises that make you feel good at the time (abdominal breathing, Kapalbhati, plank post, Utkatasana) rather than just going with one an over doing it. Your tummy will come under control eventually and the journey that you make will be an enjoyable one with many other benefits.

This philosophy applies to life… enjoy what ever it is your doing without forcing things. If you have to force things there is a sense that it was not meant to be. In our yoga we want a practice that is comfortable – yes explore the edges, boundaries and challenge ourselves – but if it causes pain or our mind to be distracted then it’s not right for us at this time.

Any ‘posture’ is simply a guide. The benefits of a posture can be felt by a subtle, gentle variant as well as a strong variant. It could be argued the subtle movements are felt more greatly by the more experience yoga student and that the stronger moves are better for the beginner who has to feel with the whole body rather than the subtle energy. So the next time you are having a go at yoga – in class or at home – ask yourself “Am I trying too hard?”

 

The Benefits of a Pair of Yoga Toe Socks

yoga toes socks

Besides the obvious – THEY KEEP YOUR FEET WARM – yoga toe socks are very good for your feet. More specifically the ones with the awkward little individual toes and the sticky bumps on the bottom. This type of sock gives each toes their space and helps to correct all of those years of crushing the little toes into tight shoes and high heels.

It takes a while to put them on. And I know, they feel a bit uncomfortable at first. However, doing yoga in toe socks 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 out and this gives us more surface area to balance on.

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

A wide variety of toe socks can be found on the Yogamatters website.

Or you can buy 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…

Yogic Cleansing Practices

neti pot

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” Eckhart Tolle

In our yoga classes this year we have been working with the Kapalbhati pranayama which serves to cleanse the lungs and nasal passages besides many other benefits. At this time of year with lots of colds around it’s good to try to keep ourselves as ‘pure’ as we can and this does mean cleansing the insides of our bodies – maybe just keeping hydrated with plenty of fresh water or perhaps following a few yogic techniques if we feel it’s right.

Another practice we have done in class is the Lion’s Breath which stretches the tongue, cleanses the throat and gets all the breath out of the body in one long roar! Fun and cleansing too – well it makes me laugh!

Jala Neti
You can also use salt water (saline solution) to cleans the nostrils with the aid of a neti pot. This is particularly useful if you have a blocked nose, cold, sinusitis and can be helpful to relieve tension in the face and brow. “The breath is the most vital process of the body. It influences the activities of each and every cell and, most importantly, is intimately linked with the performance of the brain.” (Sw Satyananda Saraswati, APMB) Anything that impedes air from circulating around our bodies will have a far reaching impact upon our health, so it’s worth doing what we can to keep the air flowing.

The practice of neti can be performed at home by anyone – except if you get regular nose bleeds. A special pot will be required – these are readily available from the internet. Always prepare boiled water mixing 1 teaspoonof salt per pint of water. Don’t be tempted to use less salt – this ratio is the same as our tears and is what the body is used to. If you use pure water it will sting. Allow the water to cool to blood heat.

Fill a neti pot with the prepared water, tie hair back and lean over a basin. Begin to breathe through your mouth. Close the eyes and relax the body, tilt the head over to one side and gently insert the nozzle of the neti pot into the upper most nostril. The water will trickle through to the lower nostril and out into the basin. It may be a small trickle at first but it will unblock gradually. Once half the water has passed remove the pot and blow the nose gently. Repeat on the other side.

Now the nostrils must be dried thoroughly – this is where some people make the mistake of skipping the process and that can result in worsening the problem not improving it.

Stand up straight and close one nostril, blow the other nostril into a tissue 5 – 10 times in quick succession – rather like we do in Kapalbhati. Repeat on the other nostril. Now repeat on both nostrils again.

Bend forward so that the trunk is horizontal, turn the head to the left for 5 breaths and then blow the nose rapidly as you straighten up to standing. Repeat turning the head to the right.

Finally repeat the bending forward but keeping the head centred – 5 breaths still and then blowing the nose through both nostrils as you return to standing.

The whole process takes about 10 minutes to complete and can be done daily until the nose is unblocked. If you get regular nose bleeds then don’t do this practice. If you find that the water does not run out of the nostrils then it’s best to see your doctor for further investigation as you may have a structural blockage. If you are unsure, work with a yoga teacher – there is instruction on line but often it omits the drying stage which is vital.