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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

YOGA! How can I find the time for that?

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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.

A Moment of Meditation

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Give me gentle waves of breath to sooth my beating heart

Let my ears have the patience to listen

Let my eyes have softness to accept

Let my mouth have words of encouragement

Let my hands and heart be open

Breathing in, I live in this very moment

Breathing out, I know this is the only moment

Over the summer I took advantage of the fabulous weather and did a photo shoot with the fantastic Lizzie Adams (‘blooming’ photographer of Uppingham).  The results were out of this world – such fabulous scenery, sun light and clicking of the shutter!!

Huge big thanks go out to Lizzie – I’ll be working with the images over the coming weeks to update my website and replenish my post cards stocks.

 

 

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

Mantra – Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

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This mantra is sometimes sung at the beginning or end of  a yoga class.  It can be on its own or as part of a longer song or collection of matra.  I think it is beautiful and often meditate on it – wishing good things to people and recognising that our own thoughts and actions have an impact on everyone is food for thought.  It can help when we are making choices in our lives.

Chanting mantra has many health benefits, in my classes I use them to help extend the exhalation which in turn leads to a more complete in- breath – thus training the body to breath fully.  The Sanskrit sounds, said to date back to the beginning of time, have vibrational qualities that sooth and resonate in different parts of our being – from the outer body right down into the inner soul.  I like to teach the meanings of the words so that they can be thought of during the chant creating a positive mental attitude, similar to affirmations.

Once you have chanted the mantra 3 times or more, it’s important to sit, reflect and feel the silence for a few moments.  It is surprising how clear your thoughts are when you have practiced this simple exercise.

If you’d like to find out more about this mantra try this website which gives you information about it’s background.

Spring Clean Your Mind

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Now that the days are getting longer than the nights, we really feel as if ‘spring is in the air’. The increasing angle of the sun and (hopefully)it’s shining rays show up all the dust and grime on our windows and homes….
In the same way we can look at our minds – they become dull with the clutter of memories and beliefs that we are holding on to. This is what we call attachment in yoga. We tend to hang on to old situations or ideas in our minds, when in reality time has moved on and things have changed. And continually change. For as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said – You cannot step into the same river twice.
Just like our homes we need to give the mind a clear out and get rid of some of the stuff we no longer need. Why not try a short meditation to help this process?
Sit quietly with the spine upright and simply allow your mind to spring clean itself. Close your eyes and bring yourself to stillness. Take pleasure in being in this moment. As a thought pops up, give it space. Try to be an objective observer of it. Consider if it is useful – if it is store it for later and if it is not, wish it well and let it go. Visualise the words of the thought leaving your head. Return the mind once more to now. Allow yourself 5 minutes or so and keep bringing your mind back to the here and now – regardless of how many thoughts keep coming along. When you feel ready, open your eyes and smile to the world – feel lighter for all the things you have leg go and are no longer carrying around.
The Buddha said “Learn to let go, that is the key to happiness.”

Chakra Workshop

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On Saturday 26th April I’ll be doing a 2 hour workshop in Ryhall Village Hall –  using yoga asana and pranayama to stabilise the energy centres of the body known as the Chakras.  The workshop will take the format of our usual classes; beginning with a meditation to focus the mind and followed with a physical range of posture work to experience where the Chakras are and what it feels like to get the energy moving.  Our breath work and relaxation will be slightly extended  – leaving all students feeling a deep sense of calmness and harmony.

The workshop costs £10 and everyone is welcome to come along – beginners to experience, flexible to stiff as a board.  The elements at work ‘layer’ onto our practice in class – why not come along and give it a go?  Places are limited – book now by emailing me so that you don’t miss out.

I’m not asleep – honest!

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Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep.  This is a form of relaxation/meditation that takes you to a deep, healing place where the body and mind can be truly relaxed and yet still conscious.

We usually lie in Shavasana on our backs and cover the body as during the process the body temperature falls.   The practice varies slightly from tradition to tradition and teacher to teacher. My teaching comes from 10 years practice with my teacher where I found it a brilliant way to really unwind and let go of all tensions in my mind.   Within the scope of a 90 minute yoga class we have limited time – a 15 minute relaxation is a simplified version of the full practice but this is often sufficient for profoundly relaxion.  If you would like to develop your practice further I recommend CD1 from Swami Pragyamurti’s set.

You can buy Swami Pragyamurti’s CD’s at yogamatters – these CD’s are a tremendous resource – so clear and easy to understand.  I must emphasise that you should work through the CD’s in order.  This is a profound practice that can really be a life-changing experience.

Yoga Adventure on the High Seas

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Over half term why not practice our boat pose?  In class over this term we have been creating variations and adventures to go with them…

If you are not sure how to develop the pose – there is a great article taking you step-by-step into it here

If you are more confident and can remember the posture from class – why not have a go?  Remember to keep the back straight with the gaze lifted to keep the neck long… and then use your imagination!

Here are some ideas to get you going –

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If you have a willing partner, you could always give this a go!

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