Nurturing yourself is time well spent – we feel so much better and can spread some of that happiness to our loved ones. Not nurturing ourselves brings the exact opposite…
“Many people have sacrificed themselves for others, thinking when they sacrifice themselves they are being a good person. Wrong! To sacrifice yourself can only come from thoughts of absolute lack, because it is saying, “There is not enough for everyone, so I will go without.” Those feelings do not feel good and will eventually lead to resentment. There is abundance for everybody and it is each person’s responsibility to summon their own desires. You cannot summon for another person because you cannot think and feel for another. Your job is You. When you make feeling good a priority, that magnificent frequency will radiate and touch everyone close to you.”
Taken from ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne
If you are looking to spend a bit of time on yourself, why not book in for a wonderful morning of yoga on October 19th? We will be at Tinwell Village Hall just outside Stamford for a 21/2 hour workshop based on the theme of Finding the Goddess Within which will be a combination of fitness, fun and reflection.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
In this year’s Stretch & Relax classes we’ll be taking a tour around the body seeing how each part feels for us on a personal level and also how improvements with one area can often alleviate issues in others… We will begin with our FEET which form the foundation o f our standing postures and which we rely on for our mobility and independence as we get older.
Feet are actually quite fascinating once you get over the look of them. They consist of lots of tiny bones, with lots of tiny joints in between. When the joints in the feet aren’t as flexible as they could be the result is that the feet can’t operate as the ‘suspension’ mechanism of the body – so even walking (let alone running and jumping) can become problematic to joints further up the body (knees, hips and spine) as the foot is not taking the impact of the weight of the body as it steps/plods around. We will use a variety of means – movement, massage with a small ball and massage with our hands to help to get our feet more flexible. And do you know… that because of all the nerve endings in the souls of the feet working with the feet can be extremely relaxing and calming. A traditional yogic remedy for insomnia is self foot massage. We’ll spend some time working on proper alignment of the feet as this can help prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints not to mention a variety of mis-alignments further up the body. Keeping the feet flexible and relaxed also helps circulation of fluids to this area which over time helps to keep the skin on the feet healthy. Poor skin health is what leads to the build up of bacteria, smells, verrucas, athletes’ foot etc
So before we pack our tootsies into the boots for winter let’s give them some TLC and – who knows you may notice that the pain in your neck goes as well 🙂
A HUGE BIG SMILEY THANK YOU to everyone who cooked, donated, photographed and joined in the ‘community’ yoga for our Yoga Party. We raised a whopping £492 for the Leicester based charity Hope Against Cancer.
For those that couldn’t attend, here’s a flavour of the evening…
Firstly, we did about an hour of yoga – mostly with chairs and then worked with a standing balance ‘Vrksasana’ (tree pose) both individually and as a group…
While we waited for the food to heat up Prof. Raghu Raghavan (Trustee of Hope Against Cancer) told us about the work of the charity – how it helps buy equipment, sponsors the work of PhD students and collaborates with other charities to do larger projects.
Then we ate a lovely feast of lasagne and salad (there was a choice of 4 different types and all were delicious)…
Afterwards we had a selection of homemade/grown desserts (of course I had to try them all)…
Finally we all kept our fingers crossed as the raffle was drawn… prizes included a photo shoot and print by Daniel McClean, vouchers for Cook, lots of wine, chocolates and candles. Everyone went home with a treat!
We all had such a good time that plans are already in motion to have another Yoga-Social in September… a picnic at Rutland water. Keep an eye out in the newsletter for further information.
Throughout this year we have been seeking to open our hearts – both from a physical and emotional point of view. In our work over the next 6 weeks we will be looking to release anger and fear which can often block our opportunities to show kindness and compassion. We’ll use some sideways bending to stretch the chest area and make the spine more flexible – and where the spine goes the mind tends to follow. (This is also a great workout for the inner thighs and hips – areas associated with holding deep emotions). Eventually making our way towards a suitable Pigeon pose which brings openness to the hips and, depending on the variation, openness to the chest. We’ll use some of the postures to relax deeply into, bringing a calming and relaxing quality towards the end asana work.
The technique of our breathing will be enhanced with a return to some of the basics of Pranayama and, for those who wish it, to develop their Sama Vritti Pranayama. Our relaxations will include some visualisations and story telling.
The aim is for an uplifting practice to warm the heart and bring joy.
I know, it sounds a bit American, but it’s so true – a yoga or fitness buddy is a valuable resource to keep you motivated and save you money. We’ve all experienced the initial enthusiasm of a new sport or New Years’ Resolution, but as it wears off people often find that they give up despite the fact that the new routine is really doing good things. Research shows that having a fitness buddy in fact helps to keep you on track and motivated. The same is true with a yoga buddy, there are so many advantages that you’d be mad not to go out and find yourself one right now! Here are just 5 ways that they can help you…and you can help them…
1 – Safety in numbers! It sounds silly, but even as grown-ups, if you are starting a new class, you can feel a bit intimidated by the other class members who have been coming a while and know the ropes. Bringing along a pal is a great way to overcome this sense of intimidation.
2 – Ensure that you turn up! We all have those days when we just want to crash on the sofa… If someone is relying on you to help them then you have to find the energy. And you know that you’ll feel better yourself too.
3 – Share lifts! A great way to save money, especially in our area where we often have to drive for 15-20 minutes.
4 – It’s more fun! By creating shared moments you will develop your friendship and have more fun along the way particularly when you travel together and can review the highs and lows on the way home!
5 – You can make your yoga a social event! Why not have a drink or meal afterwards once a month as a reward for sticking at it? What about a yoga day? Or a yoga holiday? Look out for workshops where you could go along with your buddy and have a new experience, delving a little deeper but still with the comfort of knowing your buddy is there with you.
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.
Why not print off this lovely ‘mandala’ and colour it in for someone special this Valentines’ day?
What’s a mandala? I hear you ask…
A mandala (meaning circle) is a spiritual motif. Without beginning and end, just as the universe is believed to have no end, the circle symbolises the universe. It’s seen as a representation of the inner and outer world.
The Sanskrit word mandala indicates everything that is round or circular. In tantric traditions, it often refers to a sacred space, which can be round or square or any other form.
The model of the mandala is a square with four gates containing a circle with a central point. Often the mandala is also in an outer circle. This basic form can be found in many ancient mandalas, but there are many more variants. The mandala can be filled with all kinds of patterns.
In the recent trend of colouring as a form of relaxation, one of the most popular types of patterns to colour is the mandala. Many people find coloring a mandala a form of meditation. As they focus on colouring in the patterns of the form, they relax, their mind grows quiet.
The mandala can also be used as an object to focus your attention on while meditating. Because of the symmetrical shape, your attention is directed to the centre.
WHY COLORING MANDALAS IS FOR EVERYONE
It’s an activity everyone can enjoy:
Children: Because the mandala isn’t a literal representation of reality, children can fully enjoy their creativity. They don’t have to worry about choosing the right colour green for the trees or what colour blue the sky should be. The mandala can have all the colors of the rainbow. Or just their favourite colour. Colouring a mandala is an excellent way to end a busy class and help children unwind.
Adults: Everyone has had those days when your head overflows and your thoughts just seem to keep running in circles. Colouring a mandala for an hour may help you calm down. By focusing only on the pattern and colours, your mind may become wonderfully empty. You come to rest for a little while.
Elderly: For the elderly, colouring mandalas may help you keep your memory in shape. The repetitive nature of many mandalas allows you to create beautiful symmetrical patterns, but you must concentrate to ensure that your colours are symmetrical (if that is, indeed, your goal). Remaining focused on a creative endeavour of this sort may keep your mind sharp.
Finally, you may not think at first glance that colouring mandalas is something that can be done in a group, but it’s a great activity to do with friends or relatives. Make a photocopy of a mandala that everyone can work on at once and go to town. Or give everyone their own copy of the same mandala and see how people come up with different colours and patterns for the same design. There is no end to creativity when it comes to madalas.