Thursday, 23 March 2017

Welcome!


Welcome to the new look Flexiladiesyoga blog!

Thank you for visiting this blog and congratulations on taking steps towards a regular yoga practice.

Yoga has helped me overcome my health problems and I hope that you will come to know some of the great benefits of yoga. Whatever your reasons for wanting to take up a yoga practice-health concerns, the need for relaxation in your life to relieve stress, the need to stretch and get more flexible to compliment sporting activities, I hope you will find what you need here. If you would like to know more about why I came to yoga there is an 'About Me' section on this blog.

Thank you 

Janet x 





Spring metabolism boost

Kapha season lasts from late winter through spring and if we do not take steps to balance kapha, the result may be seasonal allergies, slow metabolism and bloating.  

Yoga can help boost metabolism, the rate at which you use energy, in several ways.  Firstly some yoga poses directly stimulate the thyroid gland, located at the front of the neck. The thyroid controls the rate at which you use energy. Yoga chest openers bring more oxygen into your body which converts food into energy. Yoga flows speed up the heart rate and improve circulation helping deliver nutrients, including oxygen to the muscles where they can be converted into energy. Yoga forward bends and inversions also help boost circulation.  Also yoga helps create lean muscle which leads to more calories being burned and therefore an increase in metabolism.  Finally yoga flows, twists and core work stoke the digestive fire, 'agni' which helps burn more calories and boost metabolism.

The following sequence will help boost metabolism, reduce bloating, stimulate the thyroid and increase circulation.

Sun Salutations - please see 'Yoga pose gallery'. 

Chair pose with twist (opens the chest) come back to standing. Take your hands into prayer position and bend both knees. Breathe in and as you breathe out, hook your left elbow over your right thigh. Hold for a breath or two then breath in to come back to centre.  Repeat second side then on the next breath in straighten your legs to come up.




Rest in Child's Pose - sit with your bottom on your heels and lower your head to your mat, a block and stacked fists.  Sweep your hands back to your heels, if you are not using your hands to rest your head on. Allow your breathing to return to normal.  When you are ready bring your hands forward, press into the mat, breathe in and come up.  



Wild Thing (opens up chest for more oxygen which is needed to release energy) - come to all fours, breathe out and lift your hips high into Downward Facing Dog.  From here breathe in and take your right leg back, breathe out and drop your right heel to your left buttock, opening your hips to the right.  Bend your left knee a little and let your right foot come down on your left side as you lift your chest towards the ceiling.  Hold for a breath or two. To come out of the pose breathe out, engage your core and 'flip' back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat second side then take a Child's Pose. 



Modified Wild Thing - for the modified version, start on all fours and swing your right foot out to the right. Extend your left leg, breathe in and take your left arm up and back. Hold for a breath or two then 'flip' back to all fours.  Repeat second side then take a Child's pose. Come to standing.



Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 (strengthens muscles of legs encouraging blood flow back to heart) - from the back of the mat, turn your left toes out, step the right foot forward and level up the hips to the short edge of the mat.  Breathe in, take your arms up, breathe out, bend your front knee.  Hold for a few breaths then breathe out and open your arms to shoulder height for Warrior 2.  Turn to look down the fingers of your right hand.  To come out of the pose breathe in, straighten the front knee, breathe out bring your hands to your heart, turn your feet to face forward.  


 Warrior 1 

Warrior 2

Wide leg standing forward bend (also helps strengthen legs and helps drain mucus caused by excess kapha) - line up the outside edges of your feet with the short edges of the mat and take your hands to your hips. Inhale lift your chest, squeeze your elbows together. Breathe out come into a flat back position and release your fingertips to the mat or to a block. Stay here if you have high blood pressure or heart issues otherwise breathe in and as you breathe out release the crown of your head down, 'walk' your fingers back to under your hips. To come out of the pose, breathe out, take your hands to your hips, breathe in and come up.



Half Shoulder Stand (stimulates thyroid and encourages blood circulation to the heart). Sit with your right hip next to the wall, your knees bent. Swivel so that your legs come up the wall and lie back on your mat. Roll the soles of your feet to the wall so that your hips lift -support your lower back with your hands. Do not turn your head in the pose. To come out of the pose, remove your hands, lower your hips down, bend your knees and roll onto your right side. Stay here for a minute before slowly coming up on an in breath.
Please note- this pose may not be suitable for your if you have neck issues, heart problems or high blood pressure. Also if you are menstruating.  Stay in the legs up the wall position if you feel comfortable with that. 




Fish pose (stimulates the thyroid and is a counter pose for shoulder stand). Lie with your legs out stretched and take your hands under your body to lift your chest. Stay here if you have any neck issues or you don't like being on top of your head. If you feel comfortable, bend your elbows and come onto the top of your head. Do not turn your head. To come out of the pose release your chin to your chest and straighten your arms. Release your arms from under your body and hug your knees in. Slowly roll your head from side to side.




Savasana 





Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Yoga to rebalance - instinct vs reason

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga to rebalance-instinct vs reason'-on my YouTube Channel.



Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos -http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html

The best decisions are born of a combination of both reason and instinct but so often we do not trust our instincts. We should - our instincts harness the power of our subconscious, that part of your mind that you are usually unaware of.  We only tend to use a very small percentage of our subconscious mind in our daily lives.  We may have glimpses of our subconscious mind in dreams but these are often forgotten when we wake.  However we can access the subconscious mind when we are in deep states of relaxation as in meditation or yoga nidra which is yogic sleep. In these deeply relaxed states, the subconscious mind will endeavor to fulfill any suggestions made to it as with 'I am calm'. You will find your behaviour undergoes subtle changes, so that you do indeed find that on a daily basis you meet challenges in a more reasoned way rather than a reactive way.

Another way in which we can access our subconscious mind is to calm our conscious mind which is what we endeavor to do in this week's yoga video.  We practice chest openers which increase lung capacity bringing more brain calming oxygen into the body.  Inversions and forward bends bring that oxygen to the brain.  We also include poses and exercises that will balance the third eye chakra, the home of our intuition.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This substantial lunch was made from a few odds and ends of vegetables I had left in the fridge-a great way to avoid wasted food and to add to your 'five a day'. 
Recipe on blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/meatless-monday-vegan-minestrone.html

Almost half of all women get a UTI, urinary tract infection, at some point in their lives. Men are more prone to UTIs after age 50. 
In this blog post I explore natural ways to deal with UTIs- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/we-dont-like-to-talk-about-iturinary.html

Happy St.Patrick's Day! Celebrate with this mint choc chip nice cream!
Recipe on the blog! - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/happy-stpatricks-day-celebrate-with.html

In our 'Eat a rainbow' series we are looking at yellow fruits and vegetables and in particular grapefruit. 
Please see my 'sister' blog-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/eat-rainbow-grapefruit.html


Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction

Imagine a line dividing your body from side to side (shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip etc) - this is the coronal plane and adduction and abduction take place in this plane.  Adduction takes place when a limb moves nearer to the midline and abduction takes place when a limb moves away from the midline.

If we take Chair pose, the legs are squeezing towards the midline (practice with a block between your thighs) so this is adduction.  



In 5 pointed Star the arms and legs move away from the midline so this is abduction.  



In Triangle pose, it is a little more complicated.  The front leg moves away from the midline so this is abduction, the back leg is isometrically moving towards the midline (that is squeezing towards the midline without actually moving) so this is adduction.



Hope this makes adduction and abduction a little clearer.

You may also like 'Yoga anatomy bites-Flexion and extension'



Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Yoga for the brain -Part 5- The cardiovascular health connection


It has been known for some time that the healthier your heart, the less likely you are to develop impaired cognitive function, Alzheimer's and dementia.  Keeping your heart healthy means exercise and eating healthily, avoiding obesity and taking steps to manage stress.  

Exercise combined with a healthy diet can keep cholesterol at a healthy level and this prevents build up of plaque which can block the blood vessels supplying both the heart and the brain. At worst this can lead to a heart attack or stroke but less drastically it can lead to small areas of the brain losing function.  

Exercise also improves the function of the heart (remember the heart is essentially a muscle) and this improves circulation to the brain which improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain (your brain consumes around 20% of the body's oxygen and energy even though it is only around 2% of your body weight).  This improved circulation to the brain seems to prevent the build up of beta-amyloid in the brain which is associated with Alzheimer's.

Yoga can help with cardiovascular health in several ways.  Firstly, we have already looked at how it improves circulation to the brain.  Please see 'Yoga for the brain Part 2- Nourishing the brain'- 

Also yoga reduces inflammation in the body, which can affect the functioning of the heart and lead to decline of cognitive abilities.  Yoga also reduces stress. Please see 'Yoga for the brain Part 1 - Stress'  for how stress affects the brain.  A further benefit of yoga is that it improves lung capacity and function so that the heart does not have to work quite so hard and the brain has the oxygen it needs.

The following yoga sequence includes Sun Salutations to exercise the heart and get the blood circulating.  Sun Salutations also boost the metabolism helping to keep you at a healthy weight.  

The practice also focuses on stress relief and opening the chest for improved lung capacity and function.  The inversion is a mini aerobic workout for the heart because it brings blood to the heart.  For this reason if you do have heart issues or high blood pressure, a Legs up the Wall variation with your lower legs on a chair and your head on a cushion might be a better. You will need two blocks or equivalent. 

Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutations (please see 'Yoga pose gallery' ) then take a Child's pose.

Rolling Cat - come to all fours, breathe out and arch through your back, take your bottom back to your heels, breathe in, bend your elbows out to the sides and come forward to return to all fours.  Continue in a smooth rolling motion working with your breath for several moves. 



Bow pose - lie on your tummy with your arms by your sides, palms down, your forehead on the mat. Press your tailbone back to lengthen your spine.  Bend both knees and reach round with both hands to take hold of your ankles.  If you cannot reach, you could use a yoga strap or equivalent round your ankles. Inhale and press your feet up and back, lifting your chest from the mat.  Hold for a few breaths and exhale to release. Take a Child's Pose.  
If full Bow Pose is too much for you, try half Bow.  Lie with your arms stretched forward, forehead to the mat.  Bend the right knee and reach round with your right hand to hold your right ankle. Inhale and press the right foot up and back, lifting the chest from the mat.  Slide your left hand back and use the left hand to stabilise you.  Repeat second side then take a Child's pose.



Triangle pose - stand in the middle of the mat and step your feet a leg length apart, turn the right leg out and the left foot in 45 degrees.  Ladies should align their heels, men should align front heel to back instep.  Bring your hands to your heart, then on a breath in stretch your arms wide and lift your chest.  Breathe out and shift your hips to the left and you extend over your right leg, bringing your right hand to rest on your ankle, shin or thigh.  If you are very flexible you can bring your hand down to the floor behind the right foot.  Your gaze can be up at your left thumb if your neck allows, or down at your right big toe. To come out of the pose, breathe in and windmill your arms back to shoulder height , breathe out turn your feet to face forward and your hands to heart centre. Repeat second side.



Seated twist - sit on a block or the mat with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee, drawing it close in to your chest.  Breathe in, lengthen your spine, breathe out, wrap your left arm around your right knee and twist to the right.Take your right hand behind your right hip to support you.  If it feels comfortable for your neck and you have a good twist through your spine, turn to look over your right shoulder.  Hold and breathe then inhale, lengthen through the crown of your head, exhale release the twist.  Repeat second side.



Seated Forward Bend - sit on a block with your legs outstretched.  Breathe in stretch your arms up, breathe out fold over your legs bringing your arms down either side of your leg. Stay here for 5-10 breaths, then breathe in to come up slowly. 



Supported Shoulder Stand - lie on your mat with your knees bent.  Breathe in and lift your hips, and place two blocks under your hips so that the long edge of the block is parallel to the short edge of the mat, then lower.  Lift your hips once more and draw the top block half way towards you.  Lift your legs so that your toes come over your face - the top block will tip and support your lower back.  Hold for a few breaths then bring your feet back to the mat. Breathe in, lift your hips, remove the blocks then lower your hips.  Hug your knees in and rock from side to side.



Rest back in savasana for a few minutes.

You may also like:-

'Yoga for the brain-Part 3- Integrating right and left hemispheres'

'Yoga for the brain-Part 4-New neural connections and pathways'

If you do have heart issues ALWAYS check with your doctor before undertaking a yoga practice.

Namaste,






Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Yoga to rebalance- establishing boundaries

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga to rebalance- establishing boundaries'-on my YouTube Channel.



Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos -http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html


It is important to establish boundaries although it is hard.  We don't want to upset anyone or hurt their feelings so we say 'yes' when really we mean 'no', take on more than we can handle and end up stressed.  Remember 'ahimsa' non-harming applies to you as much as anyone else.  My grandad always used to say 'honesty is the best policy' but I would add not so much so that your honesty is hurtful. So if you are too tired, have too much on or don't feel confident in what you are being asked to do, say so.  Maybe you could offer an alternative suggestion - 'I have too much on this week but how about next week?', 'I don't really enjoy ice skating but how about going bowling?'.  You get the idea.  Sometimes though we should say 'yes' to make the other person happy - the warm glow you get inside will be worth it!

It takes strength to say no, so this week's video will include some poses for strength.  Also we need to communicate our feelings so we include some poses for the throat chakra to help with this.  The closing meditation is one that again focuses on the nature.  

I hope you enjoy your practice.


Namaste,