Thursday, 27 April 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 





A beginners' guide to yoga styles


There are so many yoga styles that it can be a little confusing when you are starting out on your yoga journey. Below is a brief guide to some of the yoga styles that you might want to choose from:-

Hatha yoga is the 'umbrella' term for most styles of yoga practiced in the west.  'Ha' refers to the masculine energy which is hot and active and 'tha' refers to the feminine energy which is cool, receptive and nurturing. Both of these energies are present in all of us whether male or female and hatha yoga seeks to balance the two energies through physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama) and meditation.  The practice calms the mind by anchoring to the present moment and ultimately is a tool for self-transformation.

Anusara yoga was developed by John Friend.  The three key elements of Anusara are Attitude, Aligment and Action.  Attitude involves 'opening to grace', that is being open to the divine energy within and setting an intention for the practice.  Alignment is according to universal principles of alignment and action is putting them into practice.

Vinyassa yoga is a vigorous flow from one yoga posture to the next working with the breath - a yoga workout.

Ashtanga yoga is a type of vinyassa yoga.  Ashtanga means 8 limbs and is based on the 8 limbs of yoga in Patanjali's (the founder of yoga) yoga sutras. Asana, posture work is just one of these limbs. An Ashtanga practice starts with several rounds of Sun Salutations (please see my 'Yoga pose gallery' for Sun Salutations A and B http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/yoga-pose-gallery.html).  These are followed by one of six series of asana practice of increasing difficulty.  

Iyengar yoga is a type of yoga developed by BKS Iyengar. The emphasis is on precision, alignment and breath control with extensive use of props (blocks, bolsters, yoga straps etc) to allow the practitioner to open gradually with sustained effort.  

Kundalini yoga is based on the idea that there is a coiled up energy at the base of the spine resembling a snake, the kundalini.  The practice consists of a series of movements rather than asanas which are called kryias.  These kryias uncoil the kundalini so that it moves up the spine energizing the chakras, which are the energy vortexes which are in line with the spine.  It is detoxifying, helps boost immunity and balances hormones.  

Hot yoga, otherwise known as Bikram yoga is yoga that is practiced at 40 degree Celsius and in humid conditions. It is not for everyone as it is very intense so if you are thinking of trying hot yoga and have any health concerns you must check with your doctor.

There are other styles of yoga but these are the ones you are most likely to come across.

Next week we will be looking at the 8 limbs of yoga in more detail.



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - concentration

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - concentration'-on my YouTube Channel. 



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

According to Patanjali concentration is the 'binding thought in one place'.  Concentration is the sixth limb of the eight limbs of yoga, dharana. The eight limbs of yoga are the guidelines that help you cultivate body, mind and spiritual awareness.  The purpose of concentration is to still the fluctuations of the mind.

For this week's video we will work towards half Moon Balance.  I have chosen to show you some ways of doing the pose that I don't do usually.  I show you a different way of using a wall as a 'comfort blanket' and whereas we usually come into the pose from Side Angle pose, in this week's video we come into the pose from Standing forward bend.  This is to get you to be totally present although balances do a good job of that anyway - if you are not present in a balance, you will fall out of it.  

Our meditation this week focuses on stilling the 'monkey mind' to help with concentration. You might also like to practice a candle meditation.  Please see my You Tube Channel 'Candle meditation to illuminate your inner wisdom' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_LBbXkBdm4

Namaste


Sunday, 23 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This recipe for '#Vegan smoky #falafel #burgers with #tzatziki or spicy salsa 'can easily be scaled up if you are feeding a crowd this #Bankholiday Monday! 
You can enjoy these burgers with tzatziki or spicy salsa or both and some warm pitta breads. They are not only vegan but gluten free too - so let's cook!
#Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/meatless-monday-vegan-smoky-falafel.html

In recognition of #EarthDay which this year falls on 22nd April and which seeks to raise awareness of #environmentalissues.
I am looking at the subject of #fracking.
Please see my 'sister' #blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/my-thoughts-earth-day-22nd-april-2017.html

It's spring, and in the garden and countryside many flowers and blossoms are appearing! 
Bring a little of the outside in by having houseplants which have many benefits for your health. 
Read more on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/bring-outside-in-houseplants.html


Yoga anatomy bites - piriformis

The piriformis is one of the group of muscles known as the external hip rotators. There are six of these. It exits the anterior surface of the sacrum, that triangular bone at the bottom of your spine and attaches to the upper, outer corner of the femur, thigh bone. It's function is to abduct the femur as in Tree pose and it also gives stability to the sacrum. It joins to the sacrum with fascia and adjusts with the movement of the leg creating stability in the sacroilliac (SI) joint, where the sacrum joins the illium.

The piriformis might be a small muscle but it can cause a whole lot of trouble if it gets overly tight. It needs to be tight to a certain extent to stabilise the sacrum but overly tight can cause problems. The sciatic nerve runs between the piriformis and the sacrum (in some people it runs through the piriformis). When the piriformis is tight, it presses on the sciatic nerve which causing symptoms such as buttock, hip and leg pain, or a burning sensation or numbness in these areas.  Good seated and standing posture is important to prevent problems.

The following yoga poses will help keep the piriformis  muscle stretched helping to prevent piriformis syndrome.

Pigeon Pose




You can come into Pigeon Pose from all fours or from Downward Facing Dog.  Bring your right knee to your right wrist and lower your hips, sliding your left leg back. Take your right foot towards  the left side of the mat.  If you are super flexible, you may be able to bring your shin parallel to the short edge of the mat but do not strain.  Keep your shoulders over your hips and centred so you do not lean to one side and square your hips to the short edge of the mat. Tucking the toes of your back foot and pressing into your toes can help square the hips. This is also helpful if you have a tendency to get cramp in the back foot.  Not comfortable? Try placing a cushion under your left thigh and another under your right buttock. Hold the pose for a few breaths then come back to all fours or Downward Facing Dog and repeat second side.

Eagle Pose



Take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows.  If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift the elbows level with the shoulders and find a drishti, a gaze point. Softly bend both knees and take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to the outside of the left, or take the right foot to the outside of the left calf or tuck the right foot behind the left calf. 

To come out of the pose, stretch the arms and right leg out as if you are flying like an eagle. Repeat second side.


Half Lord of the Fishes 


Sit with the legs outstretched on a block or a blanket. Bend the right knee and draw the leg close into the chest. Take the right foot to the outside of the left thigh. If you can keep the right sit bone and right foot grounded bring the left foot to the right hip, otherwise keep the left leg extended.  Take your right hand to the mat behind your right hip or to the block on which you are seated. Breathe in and lengthen your spine. Breathe out and bending  your left elbow, take your left arm to the outside of your right leg, palm facing forward (in the traffic stopping positon). Alternatively, for beginners, hug your right leg into your body with the left hand.  Work with the breath to deepen the twist.  Inhale, lengthen through the crown of your head, exhale start to twist from the abdomen, then the ribcage, then the shoulders, keeping the chin in line with the breast bone.  As you hold the twist, work with your breath. With each inhale lengthen, with each exhale, you may have room to twist a little more. If you have a good twist through the spine, slowly turn your head to look over the right shoulder. Come out of the pose in the same way as you went into it. Inhale lengthen, exhale release the neck, the shoulder, the ribcage and finally the abdomen. Repeat second side.  

You might also like-
Yoga to help relieve pain - piriformis syndrome

Please also see:-
'Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension'
'Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction'
'Yoga anatomy bites- internal rotation and external rotation'
'Yoga anatomy bites - hamstring strength vs flexibility
'Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability'
'Yoga anatomy bites - knee health'



Thursday, 20 April 2017

The yamas and the environment


In recognition of Earth Day on the 22nd April, I am looking at how the yamas offer us guidelines for caring for the environment.

The first of the yamas is ahimsa, non-harming.  Yogis often choose to be vegan or vegetarian. 
This helps the environment because meat production means that crops which could feed people are going to feed animals for meat.  Meat production further contributes to global warming, pollution, deforestation and degradation of the land.  But I do understand that the vegan diet is not for everybody - maybe you could shun animal products for one day each week - there are lots of recipes on 40plusandalliswell for meal ideas.  There are other ways you can protect the environment too.  The bees are in decline - could you possibly plant a few bee friendly plants to help?  

The second of the yamas is satya, truth.  Often we bury our heads in the sand when it comes to our contribution to environmental issues. Maybe it's time to assess.  Could we be careful not to leave electrical applances on standby? Not buy food that has been flown in from abroad instead of local produce?  Could we walk or cycle instead of using the car or if not car share? 

Asteya, the third yama translates as non-stealing.  In terms of the environment are we 'stealing' habitat from other beings with our farming methods?  With deforestation? Here in the UK hedgehogs are now endangered.  This is partly because of fragmentation of habitat - fences around gardens limit their movements so their foraging is limited.  Hedgehogs like lawns for foraging, compost heaps and wood piles for hibernation (or a hogilo - please see 'Hedgehog help')

Brahmacharya relates to the wise use of energy. Our fossil fuels are running low.  Something needs to be done.  Here in the UK the government have chosen fracking as a way forward but this comes at the cost of detrimental effects on our wellbeing and environment.  It is also a short term solution.  We will have to look to renewables soon so why not now before we 'steal' (this ties in with asteya) the wellbeing of future generations and destroy our 'green and pleasant' land.

The last yama is aparigraha, non-greed - this means taking only what you need.  In terms of food, this will mean there is less waste.  You could use up leftovers and compost any fruit or vegetable peelings.  You could also recycle your glass, tins, plastics, paper, cardboard etc. Greed is also the motivation for the introduction of such measures as GMO foods which allows for the increased use of toxic pesticides.  This can affect wildlife in a negative way so is not in keeping with ahimsa.

The yamas were written thousands of years ago and yet they are still relevant today.

Please see my 'sister' blog for 'My thoughts- Earth Day 22nd April 2017'

Namaste,




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga-perseverance



Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - perseverance'-on my YouTube Channel. 



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

Living surrounded by fields I often see examples of perseverance  in wildlife. Living surrounded by fields I often see examples of perseverance in wildlife.   We often see a buzzard when out power walking.  The other day we saw her pick up her prey (a dead rat).  Almost immediately she was mobbed by crows until she dropped her supper.  Did she give up? Not a bit of it.  She repeatedly tried to take her kill back.  This went on so long we had to go but I would like to think her perseverance paid off in the end and 'my' buzzard enjoyed a good supper.  Another time I saw a stoat giving chase to a hare which was at least twice the size of her.  This was a tremendous risk - one kick from the hare could have broken her jaw and she would starve to death.  Yet she persisted, driven by hunger until the two of them were no longer in sight.  

The ultimate aim of yoga is samedi, bliss but to achieve this may require many years of practice. There is however much to be gained on the journey to bliss and one of the reasons I love yoga is that there is always more to learn - this is why I persist in coming to the mat each day and spend time going deeper into the teachings of yoga. You too, by practicing yoga regularly are showing perseverance that will be rewarded by increased wellbeing and confidence as your practice slowly improves. 

Perseverance is defined as continuing towards a goal despite delays, difficulties or little hope of success.  This often requires mental strength. In our video this week we cultivate physical strength and because of the mind/body connection this also cultivates mental strength.  Off the mat I am sure you often come across situations in which perseverance is required.  As a small example we grow organic vegetables on the 40plusandalliswell allotment. Last year we tried to grow dwarf french beans by planting them directly in the ground in April. They did not germinate. We could have given up at that point but we tried again, this time starting them off in the greenhouse in May.  Our reward was delicious french beans and confidence that we now know how to grow them without hitch.

We end with a meditation on another example of perseverance in nature.