Stretch & Relax Your Shoulders….

If you find you are carrying tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back after all the frenzied activities of Christmas and the New Year, why not give yourself a treat and try out yoga???

In my relaxed classes this term, we’ll be stretching out the shoulders and whittling the waists with some floor exercises…

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wall exercises…

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and seated postures…

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The term begins on 4th January and runs up to 12th February. No experience is necessary – you will just need to bring a smile, yoga mat and blanket with you. Please contact me here if you would like to book a place.

SALUTATIONS TO 2016

Our Yoga and Meditation classes start back on 4th January and run for 6 weeks up to 12th February. If you would like any information about my classes or wish to book a place – please contact me here

We will begin the year working with Salutations (or Greetings) to the Earth, Sun and Moon… This physical and mental workout will help you to improve your focus on living in the moment, loosen up in the hips and shoulders and strengthen the core and upper arm muscles.

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“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations’, it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.”  E B White, Charlotte’s Web

In this terms classes, we are saying hello to the new year, hello to a new focus of BE HERE NOW, and hello to some muscles that we may not have used for a while.

Our Pranayama will utilise the deeper core muscles, as we’ll be practising Kapalbhati, a cleansing breath that rids the mind of negativity and the waist of unwanted fat (what’s not to like???)

As usual we’ll end our practice with deep relaxation for 15 minutes of pure bliss – don’t forget to bring 2 blankets this term to make sure you are warm and comfy.

Stretch & Relax Yoga – November 15 Term

This term our theme of ‘FREEDOM’ will shift from the hips up to the spine. We’ll be working with a number of asana (postures) to free up the different areas of the spine and learning/feeling the difference this can make to how we feel and live our lives.

One of our main postures will be the bridge – which is often cited as the yoga answer to a back massage!

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So – if you have a particularly stiff spine or have always wanted to be able to give yourself a back massage, why not sign up for a place and come along???

Classes are one hour long and held at Tinwell Village Hall on Mondays (7.15), Preston Village Hall on Tuesdays (8.00) and Ryhall Village Hall on Wednesdays (6.00).

Yoga and Meditation November 15 Term

This term in the Yoga and Meditation (90 minute classes in Preston and Ryhall) we’ll be continuing our strengthening of the hands and arms with a particular focus on the forearm area. To this end we’ll be playfully challenging ourselves with the forearm plank and the wonderful Dolphin Pose…

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Our meditations will be inspired by our asana and we’ll continue our investigations into mudra, exploring some well used mudra and their benefits, connections and meanings.

Classes begin in Preston on 3rd November (Tuesday) and in Ryhall 4th November (Wednesday) and run for 6 weeks – if you haven’t booked in and would like to come along please contact me to see if there is a space.

Recycled Soothing Eye Pillow

Why not have a go at making this eye pillow and including it in your yoga bag? The halls I teach in (Preston Village Hall in Rutland and Ryhall Village just outside Stamford, Lincolnshire) offer variable lighting so I always adjust it when we come to relax.  However, an eye pillow – particularly with a fragrance – can add another dimension and aid your relaxation even further.

You can recycle an old t-shirt into a this useful item or use some soft fabric you have available – remember to use double thickness. This is ideal for your yoga practice or keep it under your pillow and use as general sleeping aid.

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This eye pillow is very simple to make and uses stuff that you are most likely to have around the home.

Using an eye pillow has a very calming effect on the nervous system – just the weight over the eye lids and forehead can work wonders. If you add a soothing aroma such as lavender or chamomile you will also be tapping into the benefits of aromatherapy. Be sure not to use essential oils or other perfume as this may affect your skin and eyes – I used dried lavender flowers from my garden but you can use the leaves from a chamomile tea bag if you don’t have any.

Perhaps you can dry some of your favourite flowers this summer and save them for making a pillow??? You do need to make new eye pillows regularly as they can harbour dirt and grime and the eye area is delicate so never share or use dirty eye pillows.

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First find a t-shirt that you no longer want.  If it has been washed lots of times, that’s great, it will be nice and soft.

Cut the t-shirt horizontally across just under the sleeves.

 

 

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Fold the double layers over and measure 9cm up from the fold.  Pin a line 20cm parallel to the fold. Sew your oblong shape now, either by hand with small, tight, stitches or by machine. Up one side (9cm) – turn, along the long edge (20cm) – turn and then half way down the other side (about 5cm).

 

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Cut around the oblong stitching leaving a seam of 0.5cm

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Turn the oblong inside out through the gap you left down one side.

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Prepare your filling – I used some lavender that I dried last year – you just need the flower heads not the stalks. You can buy dried flowers – chamomile might be nice – or you can use the contents of a tea bag.  I mixed the lavender with pearl barley otherwise it would have been too strong.  You only need to fill it up a bit – it’s not like a stuffed toy – just so that there is some weight over your eyes and forehead which helps to calm the mind.

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Now take a rolled up piece of paper to make funnel and insert it into your sewn oblong shape.

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When full to your own liking, turn in the seam allowance and sew up by hand with tiny, tight stitches.

Hey presto – a useful item out of stuff you would probably throw away.

The life of an eye pillow is fairly short. I would suggest making a new one every 6 months or so. Your eyes are delicate and the pillow, like it or not, will collect germs and bacteria. It can’t be washed so – do yourself a favour and put it on the compost bin after 6 months and make yourself a fresh one.

Perfect Your Posture… Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

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Step by Step Instructions for Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Lie on the front of the body, legs straight and soles of feet upwards and forehead or nose on the mat.

Place the palms of the hands (fingers together) on the mat, keeping the upper arms in contact with the sides of the body and the elbows pointing backwards.

Relax the whole body, particularly focus on relaxing the spine and the buttocks.

On inhalation, slowly raise the shoulders, neck and head, using the back muscles to lift. Gently continue to lift pressing the hands down and using the arm muscles.

Be aware that you are using the back muscles more than the arms.

On exhalation, gently lower – again using first the arms and pressure through the hands and then use the back muscles to come down to the ground, to the start position.

Develop the posture with the breath to begin with.  When the back is comfortable with the bend try to hold – developing the length of time in the position.

In the final position, the hips and pubic bone remain in contact with the mat and the navel is lifted to a maximum of 3cm. The arms remain soft so that there is no danger of locking the elbows and sinking down in between the shoulder blades.

Regarding the head, opinion is split. I favour feeling length in the back of the neck, but you can and it feels good to you, tilt the chin upwards to curve the cervical spine.

The arch of the spine should feel balanced and smooth, certainly with no ‘tweeks’ or feelings of compression. If this is happening to you, then you need to reduce the arch somewhat and you may need to consider building up strength in your back muscles and flexibility in the vertebral joints with other asana before tackling this posture. If you speak to me in class I can advise what is best for you.