Sunday, 30 November 2014

Star of Wonder

When we are children Christmas is a magical experience, but as we grow older Christmas loses something of its magic.  There are many reasons for this, maybe we become disillusioned by the commercialism attached to Christmas, forgetting the true meaning of Christmas.  Maybe Christmas represents a stressful time financially or for relationships or maybe we just stop believing in Santa.  

It is the same with our yoga practice.  We start as a beginner full of enthusiasm, mindful of how every posture feels in the body.  When we have been practicing a while we may be less mindful, rushing say sun salutations so that the individual movements are less deliberate.  In this practice we will endeavour to return to the wonder of the beginner, being mindful of moving into the pose, the sensations we experience while holding the pose and how we release the pose from our bodies. In this way we might be able to recreate a sense of wonder in our approach to Christmas

Yoga Practice to cultivate wonder
Intermediate Practice

• Start in Savasana – take a few moments to assess how you are feeling at the start of your practice physically, mentally and emotionally.  Leave any concerns behind, any thoughts of all you need to do in this busy period of advent. Then starting to notice your breath.  The breath connects us all.  Spend a few moments watching the wonder of the breath noticing that as you continue to watch your breath you start to change the quality of your breath so that your breath becomes slower and deeper.  When your breath has settled into a smooth, natural rhythmical pattern gently open your eyes.  Set an intention for your practice to be open to the wonder of the poses and then carry that away with you to open up to the wonder of the advent season.

• Full Body Stretch – breath in take your arms overhead and s..t..r..e..t..c..h.  How good does it feel to draw the prana, the life force into the body.  Breathe out to release and repeat twice more.


• Gentle Twist – bend your knees drawing your heels towards your buttocks, your arms a little way from your body, palms up.  Take a breath in and as you breath out, let the knees fall to the right, just as far as feels comfortable.  Breathe in to come back to centre, exhale let your knees fall to the left. If you have no problems with your neck you could start to turn your head in the opposite direction to the head.  Be curious about how your lower back feels.  


• Hamstring Stretch- stretch your legs out then bend your right knee so that you can take hold of your big toe with your first finger and thumb. Make sure your left leg is in contact with the mat. Breathe in and as you breathe out work towards straightening your right leg lifting your head and chest towards your leg.  Breathe in to release and lie back on the mat.  Be curious about how one side of your body feels now compared to the other.  How did it feel doing a hamstring stretch without a belt which you are probably more used to if you have practiced with me for some time?  Repeat 2nd side then come into an all 4s position



• Cat/Cow – mindfully set up the pose.  Check your knees are directly under your hips, hands directly under your shoulders, fingers spread and open, middle finger pointing forward.  Breathe in lift the head and chest, let your spine dip towards the mat, tailbone points to the ceiling.  Breathe out, tuck your chin, arch your back, tuck your tailbone under and continue moving between the two positions making the movements last as long as your breath, your breath as long as the movement.  Be curious about the effect of the movements in your body, on your mind, on your emotions.  After several repetitions come back to a neutral spine. 



• Balancing Cat Variation– breath in and as you breathe out, draw back on your naval and extend your right arm to the right, your left leg to the left.  Hold and do not forget to breathe, drawing back on your naval with each breath out.  Breathe in to release coming back to an all 4s position.  Repeat with your left arm and right leg.  How did it feel to do a different variation of Balancing Cat?  Be curious.  Repeat on both sides and if you need more of a challenge hinge forward to engage the abdominals more.  Again be curious. 



Rest back in 
• Swan- come towards the back of the mat big toes touching knees wide.  Take your bottom back to your heels (used a block to fill the gap if you need to) and stretch the arms forward, fingers spread, elbows lifted.  Feel a two way stretch on your spine, tailbone pressing back, stretching forward from your hips to your armpits, armpits to your fingertips.  Press down with your index finger and thumb.  Be curious about how this feels in your chest, what effect this has on your breath.



• Frog – from Swan breathe in and come back to all 4s then turn to face the long edge of the mat. Place your hands under your shoulders, knees under hips and take the knees wide, shins parallel to the short edges of the mat.  If you want to go deeper come onto your forearms with fingers interlaced.  Close your eyes and if the sensations are intense try to breathe into them.  After several breaths bring your hands back under your shoulders and if it is safe for you to do so (that is your feet, which may be off the mat, will not slip) exhale and lift your hips into a wide leg Downward Facing Dog.  How does this different variation feel in your body?  Breathe in lower the knees and turn on the mat to take a .....



• Child Pose


• Downward Facing Dog – from Child Pose breathe in look forward, extend your arms forward.  On your next breath in come into an all 4s position, breathe out lift your hips into Downward Facing Dog.  Release your lower back and hips by circling the hips one way then the other.  



• Lunge – breathe in step your right foot forward between your hands.  Let your right hip drop slightly and lift your left thigh.  Make sure your right knee is directly over your ankle and lift up onto your fingertips noticing any affect on your breath.  Switch sides with a hop and repeat.  Step your back foot forward (knees bent if you need to), breathe in and take your arms out and up.  Straighten your legs, exhale join your palms bring your hands down to the heart.


• Tadasana –remember your intention
• Sun Salutation A (see Yoga Pose Gallery)
• Sun Salutation B (see Yoga Pose Gallery)-pause in Warrior 1 and with your right foot forward move into Eagle Arms taking your right arm under the left.  Lift your arms up and back.  Repeat 2nd side.


• Tadasana – reflect on your experience, being curious about your breath, your heart rate and allowing a few moments for everything to return to normal.

• Standing Wide Leg Forward Bend Variations – step your feet a good leg length apart and make sure the outside edges of your feet line up with the short edges of the mat.  Take your hands to your hips, breathe and squeeze your elbows back, breathe out and hinging from your groin come to a flat-back position then release your fingertips to the mat or to a block.  Breathe in and if you wish to go further as you breathe out release the crown of your head to the mat and walk your hands back under your hips.  Hold for a breath or two noticing any sensations.  To come out, breathe in come back to flat back, walk your hands forward, breathe out take your hands to the hips, breathe in and come up.  Repeat interlacing your fingers behind your hips.  Straighten through your arms, breathe in and lift your chest, breathe out and lower the crown of your head towards the mat, taking your hands up and over.  Hold a breath or two.  Are the sensations different this time, what is happening with your breath?  To come out breathe in and come up slowly, lowering your arms down and release the hands.  Step or jump the feet together.



• Tree to Warrior 3 – from Tadasana take your weight into your left foot, find a gaze point (drishti) and lifting your right foot either cup your left ankle with your right foot, take your right foot to your left shin or reach down and place your right foot on your left thigh (never opposite the knee).  Bring your hands to heart, lift through the chest and breathe for a few breaths.  Then breathe in lift the chest, breathe out start to hinge forward like a pendulum reaching the right leg back ideally bringing your right thigh parallel to the mat.  If you feel balanced extend your arms forward.  What did it feel like to transition between balancing poses?  Notice the sensations in your body, your breath, what is happening in your mind.  Balances are calming because they force you to be present,  if not you will fall out of the balance. Breathe in and lowering your right foot lift your arms (or for more advance you could return to Tree Pose!) and breathing out join your palms and bring your hands to your heart.  Repeat 2nd side, noticing any differences. Close your eyes and remember your intention.  Come to seated.


• Dandasana – sit with your legs outstretched, big toes pointing up, making sure you are on your sit bones (remove any excess to the sides).  Lift your kneecaps and let your pubic bone move towards the mat (sitting on a block helps with this).  Place your fingertips by your hips or on the block and lift your spine reaching the crown of your head towards the ceiling.  Gaze is down at your big toes.  How does it feel to sit with good posture?  Hold for 5 breaths.



• Half Lord of the Fishes Variation – from Dandasana bend your right knee and interlacing your fingers hold the knee just below the kneecap.  Breathe in and drawing your knee in, lift through your spine. Release your hands, bend your right elbow and place your right elbow to the inside of your right knee.  Take your left hand behind your hips, breathe in and lift your chest, breathe out and twist to the left.  This is not our usual way of doing this pose.  How did it feel to work with this pose in a different way?  Notice your sensations.  Can you twist a little more with each breath out  Hold for a breath or two, breathe in and lengthen your spine, breathe out and release the twist from your body.  Repeat 2nd side then bend both knees and softly fold over your legs to realign the spine before coming to seated.



• Chocolate meditation- sit in a comfortable cross-leg position and place a wrapped chocolate on the mat in front of you.  Take a few deep breaths as you gaze at the chocolate, noticing the colours of the wrapper, the patterns on the wrapper etc.  After a while pick the chocolate up and slowly unwrap it continuing to breathe slowly and deeply.  How does it feel to touch, does the wrapper make a sound?  Just notice.  Once you have revealed the chocolate turn it over in your hands.  Is there a pattern moulded onto the chocolate?  Is the surface smooth?  Continue to breathe slowly and deeply.  Now lift the chocolate towards your nose.  Notice the sensation of smell.  Is there any other effect (for example mouth watering in anticipation)?  Continue to breathe slowly and deeply.  Now take a bite.  How does the chocolate feel in your mouth.  Notice the physical sensation and as the chocolate starts to melt the sensation of take before chewing and swallowing. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply then finish the chocolate.  Do you feel the need to eat another or is eating one more mindfully more satisfying? This fun meditation shows the importance of being mindful not only of what we eat but in all we do so we can once again experience the wonder of life.

Note-If you are allergic to chocolate (like me!!!) please miss out this meditation, or subsitute chocolate with another sweet or piece of fruit.
Thank you



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How yoga helps boost immunity



At this time of year with so many colds about and Christmas approaching our thoughts turn to how we can avoid these winter 'nasties'. Here are some of the ways yoga can help boost your immunity so you are ready to any bacteria or viruses that might come your way:-


How Yoga Boosts Health-Immunity http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/ 


Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Please note as of August 2014 I am no longer a donation based yoga teacher. Thank you
Copyright © 2014 Flexiladiesyoga

  • Yoga enhances the flow of lymph which deals with invaders to the body, that is bacteria and viruses (see my article 'How yoga can help boost the circulation of blood and lymph' http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/how-yoga-can-help-boost-circulation-of.html
  • Yoga promotes restful sleep.  When sleep is inadequate the immune system is impaired. Yoga chest openers stimulate the thymus gland which plays an important part in the immune system in that develops the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
  • Yoga twists 'wring out' toxins which impair the immune system
  • Yoga chest openers and inversions relieve stress.  Chest openers encourage greater intake of oxygen which has a calming effect on the brain.  Inversions encourage the flow of blood to the brain which alsp has a calming effect.
  • Yoga energizes the chakras.  Each chakra is associated with an endocrine gland and when healthy, the endocrine system works with the immune system to defend the body against invading bacteria and viruses.  For instance the endocrine system is associated with digestion through the pancreas (associated with the sacral chakra) and a healthy digestion enables the immune system to achieve optimal function.  Also the parathyroid associated with the throat chakra and is involved in vitamin D regulation. Recent research suggests vitamin D is involved in immune function to the extent that vitamin D may help prevent some cancers. The adrenals are associated with the sacral chakra and release cortisol into the blood.  When this is overproduced it causes the stress response which leads to lowered immunity.
  • Meditation reduces stress which impairs the immune system.


See my YouTube videos

Kundalini yoga to help boost immunity-Part 1-Anti-aging series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Mu_lVoSUQ

Kundalini yoga to help boost immunity-Part 2-Anti-aging series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KCEXbmh540

Boosting the immunity by purifying the body Part 1, Anti-aging series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDhJKTdnbW8

Boosting the immunity by purifying the body Part 2, Anti-aging series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyt-1PHyRAI

Yoga to help prevent colds and flu- Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG3W0jppFJA

Yoga to help prevent colds and flu- Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfSNucswy6I

Winter Wellness- Improving immunity by circulating lymph
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPEbjdWpwGg

Anti aging series-Boosting the immune system-Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sS9bNaxoXc

Anti aging series-Boosting the immune system-Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkzAAREUxjo

See also 'Tis the season to be healthy' on 40plusandalliswell-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/tis-season-to-be-healthy.html

Friday, 21 November 2014

It's Thanksgiving-be grateful

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans as they celebrate Thanksgiving on 27th November. 

The year was 1621.  The Pilgrims to America had had it tough, they had faced sickness and near starvation.  Imagine how grateful they were for the bountiful harvest that year.
On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/ we have been looking at how being grateful can improve our wellbeing http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/glow-with-gratitude.html 

Here we will look at how yoga can help us open up to feelings of gratitude which in turn lead to a more positive attitude.  

  • Yoga hip openers help release feelings of negativity which tend to be stored in this area.  Once we are free of negativity we recognise the good that surrounds us.
  • Yoga twists  'wring out' negativity.
  • Chest opening poses balance the heart chakra which is associated with love, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude.  A balanced heart chakra allows you to see the good in all people and situations.
  • Yoga helps us accept, appreciate and be grateful for what our bodies can do.
  • Yoga breath awareness and meditation help us to appreciate the present moment.  When we are not fretting about the past or worrying about the future we can really appreciate the good things in our lives right now.
  • Yoga releases tension and 'opens up' the body to gratitude.
  • Yoga flows encourage the release of endorphins which make us feel good, reducing stress and allowing us to appreciate what we have.

Try the following videos from my YouTube Channel to bring gratitude into your life and open up to feeling 'blessed'.




Gratitude Yoga Practice-Thanksgiving Practice-Part 1
Being grateful for the things in your life releases tension in the body, frees the mind from want allowing you to progress on your path to find your true self. The practice will focus on opening the body especially the heart area to cultivate the feeling of gratitude.  
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html

Copyright © 2012 Flexiladiesyoga



Gratitude Yoga Practice-Thanksgiving Practice-Part 2
Being grateful for the things in your life releases tension in the body, frees the mind from want allowing you to progress on your path to find your true self. The practice will focus on opening the body especially the heart area to cultivate the feeling of gratitude.  
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html

Copyright © 2012 Flexiladiesyoga

I leave you with this thought - 'God gives you blessings, happiness is up to you'.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Unwrap your healthy weight for Christmas and keep it all year

It's only 5 weeks to Christmas when it will be time to shed those oversize jumpers and get out your party wear.
Here are some of the ways yoga can help you look good:-

  • Certain types of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Power Yoga and Vinyassa with dynamic sequences burn calories
  • Yoga improves digestion eliminating bloating
  • Yoga helps you become more in tune with your body, so that you eat mindfully
  • Yoga reduces stress.  As overeating is often an emotional issue, reducing stress can help with weight loss
  • Yoga regulates the thyroid gland (as it does all the endocrine glands) which regulates metabolism
  • Yoga improves sleep.  As we tend to eat more when we are tired this also can help with weight loss 
  • Yoga tones
  • Yoga improves posture leading to a slimmer appearance


Here are two of my YouTube videos you may like to try:-

Yoga for weight loss-Part 1



Yoga for weight loss-Part 2



Namaste,
Janet x

Monday, 17 November 2014

What's happening on 40plusandalliswell

On 40plusandalliswell we had a recipe for vegan sausages http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meatless-mondayvegan-bangers-with-fiery.html 
To compliment our 'How yoga boosts health series-Spinal health' we had 'Love your back' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/love-your-back.html 
We talked about saturated fat which has been in the news lately because some doctors now believe saturated fat is not the 'villain' that it has been made out to be in the past http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/in-news-saturated-fat.html 
Treat yourself to a guilt free 'Caramel' apple cake made with anti-oxidant rich lacuma http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/caramel-apple-cake.html
For those cold days there is a 'Mock cock-a-leekie soup'. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meatless-mondaymock-cock-leekie-soup.html  
Why not make dry body brushing part of your daily routine. Learn how to body brush and read about the benefits of body brushing on the blog.  http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/love-wellness-dry-body-brushing.html
The cold weather can leave your skin feeling dry. Try out my simple face mask to regain a glowing skin http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/oatmeal-yogurt-and-honey-face-mask.html

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Meditation, ancient help for 21st century stress



The weeks leading up to Christmas can be hectic.  There is so much to do, present buying/wrapping/delivering, card writing, menu planning, invitations to send, food to buy and prepare as well as all the things you normally do.  Its important to stay calm, eat well and get your sleep to prevent getting run down and being too tired and irritable to enjoy Christmas when it comes.  
Meditation can help with the build up to Christmas! Meditation, practiced regularly is calming, helps you stay focused and aids deep physical relaxation.   In addition meditation causes measurable changes in the brain in that it increases the grey matter in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with focus and concentration.  This usually decreases as we age so meditation could be said to reverse aging.  
How does meditation work?
Meditation is a way of accessing and controlling a deeper level of the mind, the subconscious. Imagine meditation creating a ‘tunnel’ through the conscious mind.  Each time you meditate you extend this tunnel until you reach your subconscious mind.  The subconscious mind governs much more of our behaviour than people realise and it is in this part of the mind, the ‘inner critic’ and negativity reside.  Don’t be surprised if when you start meditating suppressed emotions arise.  Try not to judge but be accepting, it is all part of the healing process that will allow you to gain access to your true self which is kind, compassionate. 
The following story illustrates how meditation works.
The Elephant in the Rock by Eknath Easwaran (http://www.ijourney.org/index.php?op=author&sel=e)
This is an edited extract from Eknath Easwaran’s ‘God makes the rivers to flow’ explains how meditation works:-
 In Ancient India there lived a sculptor renowned for his life size statues of elephants.  With trunks curled high these carved beasts seemed to trumpet to the sky.  One day the king came to see these magnificent works.  Struck with wonder the king asked the sculptor ‘What is the secret of your artistry?’  The sculptor replied, ’Great King, with the help of many men I quarry a gigantic piece of granite from the banks of the river.  I have it set in my courtyard and for a long time I do nothing but observe this block of stone and study it from every angle.  I focus all my concentration on this task and do not allow anyone or anybody to disturb me.  At first I see nothing but a shapeless rock sitting there, meaningless, indifferent to my purpose.  Then slowly, very slowly I begin to notice something in the substance of the rock.  I feel an outline scarcely discernible show itself to me though others I suspect would perceive nothing.  I watch with an open eye and joyous, eager heart.  The outline grows stronger ‘Yes I can see it, an elephant is stirring in there’.  Only then do I start work.  I use my chisel and mallet, always clinging to my sense of that outline which grows ever stronger.  How the big fellow strains, how he yearns to be out, he wants to live.  It seems so clear now, I know the thing I must do.  With an utter singleness of purpose I must chip away every piece of stone that is not an elephant, then what remains must be an elephant’.
What can we learn from this story?  Just like the elephant ‘exists’ in the rock but cannot be seen until the rock is chiseled away, so too, our true self which radiates love and compassion already exists, but we do not see it.  Meditation is the tool that allows us to chip away everything that is not true self.
Myths about meditation
• You need a completely empty mind – thoughts will naturally arise, simply acknowledge them then continue to focus on the breath, mantra, etc (see below)
• Meditation is the same as relaxation – meditation is an active practice and therefore not the same as relaxation in which you completely surrender, let go
• You have to sit in Lotus position saying ‘om’ – you can meditate in any comfortable position.  The important point is not to be distracted by feelings of discomfort. When yoga was first practiced,the reason asana (posture) work developed was to be able to sit comfortably for meditation for long periods. Meditations can use mantras (a word or a phrase to focus on) such as ‘om’ (the supposed sound of the universe) but this is not the only way to meditate.
• Meditation is a religious observance- there is often no religious connection although if you wish a religious word or phrase can be used as a mantra. 
• Yoga has no place in western society – in our 24/7,  21st century society meditation is needed more than ever to prevent stress causing health problems. 


Ways to meditate – for all the following techniques sit in a comfortable position (on a chair if you wish).
If thoughts or feelings arise acknowledge then then gently but firmly bring your focus back
• Focus on the breath – just watching the breath move in and out of the body (do not try to change the breath in any way)
• Count the breath – breathe in, breathe out, count one, breathe in, breathe out, count two etc. until you get to 10 then start the count again. If a thought/feeling intervenes start the count again (most of us cannot get beyond a count of three at first)
• Focus on a mantra – this might be a word such ‘om’, ‘peace’, ‘love’ or a phrase such as ‘om shanti om’ (peace to all).  You can even use your own name saying your first name as you breathe in, you surname as you breathe out (or the first syllable of your first name as you breathe in, the second as you breathe out). If a thought/feeling intervenes gently but firmly return your focus to your mantra. One of the first people to meditate in this way was Wordsworth.
• Focus on an object – this might be a candle, flower or any object you wish to focus on.  If thoughts/feelings arise gently but firmly return to focusing on your object.
So there you have some basic techniques for meditating. Start today and start to receive the benefits.
See also

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Introduction to new series - How yoga boosts health

The inspiration for my next series came from reading my article 'How yoga can help heal'. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/yoga-therapy.html  So many of us come to yoga with the aim of improving our health and it is true that yoga can lead to improvements in health, in many and diverse ways.  Recently, as you may know if you follow my blog, I have had a broken wrist.  When my 'pot' was removed they recommended yoga as a way of getting flexibility back into my wrist.  This was certainly 'preaching to the converted'!!
Science is confirming what yogis have known for thousands of years.  Current reseach suggests yoga may reduce back pain, stress, anxiety and depression, lower high blood pressure, and relieve insomnia.  Yoga can also reduce heart rate, which helps people with heart disease.  I believe yoga has helped improve my lung function (I suffered lung damage when chicken pox invaded my lung some years ago) and has improved my bone density (osteoporosis was a 'side effect' of steroid inhalers taken to improve breathing when my lung was damaged).  In other words yoga has given me my life back and I can now lead a very active life with daily yoga and long country walks.
As always check with your doctor if you suffer from any health condition before practicing yoga.
I hope that the series will be of benefit to everyone!
Be healthy, be happy.
Janet x
See my YouTube channel for the new series

How yoga helps with the health of the spine




Your spine is a really important part of your body.  It consists of small bones called vertebrae which protect the spinal cord, an extension of the brain.  From this spinal cord arise 31 pairs of nerves which control movement and feed sensory information to the brain.  Sometimes the spinal cord directs movement without involving the brain initially.  For instance if you were to accidently touch something hot, a 'reflex arc' involving only your spinal cord would cause you to quickly withdraw your hand.  Only then would the information be relayed to the brain. The spinal nerves also control the functioning of the internal organs.  

Yogis believe that 'you are as young as your spine is flexible'.  Yoga certainly helps with the flexibility of the spine by putting the spine through its complete range of motion.  There are six natural movements of the spine, that is forward and back, lateral stretch to the right and left, twist to the right and left.  We explore the flexibility of the spine in our first video on spinal health.

The muscles of the core support the lower spine preventing the 'rounding' that so often can occur in the lower back which leads to back pain. In our second video we practice yoga poses that will strengthen muscles supporting the spine.  

Yoga also creates 'space' in the spine.  This is important because where vertebrae are compressed the intervertebral discs which act as 'shock absorbers' can become herniated and the vertebrae themselves may wear.  We will 'open up' the spine through yoga in our third video.

Earlier in the 'How yoga boosts health' series we focused on how yoga helps with posture. Good posture is important for correct alignment of the spine which in turn prevents wear and tear on the vertebrae and also prevents the intervertebral discs from herniating.  In the video 'How yoga boosts health - Posture 3' http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/how-yoga-boosts-health-posture-3.html we focused on stretching the hamstrings and hip flexors'.  Where these are tight they can pull the lower spine out of alignment leading to back pain.  
Your spine is a really important part of your body, so please take good care of it.
Namaste 
Janet x

Please note-these videos are not intended for people who have spinal health problems. They are intended to prevent spinal health problems.



How Yoga Boosts Health-Spinal health-1 http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Article that accompanies this video http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/how-yoga-helps-with-health-of-spine.html
Please note as of August 2014 I am no longer a donation based yoga teacher. Thank you

Please note-these videos are not intended for people who have spinal health problems. They are intended to prevent spinal health problems.




How Yoga Boosts Health-Spinal health-2 http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Article that accompanies this video http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/how-yoga-helps-with-health-of-spine.html
Please note as of August 2014 I am no longer a donation based yoga teacher. Thank you
Copyright © 2014 Flexiladiesyoga

Please note-these videos are not intended for people who have spinal health problems. They are intended to prevent spinal health problems.




How Yoga Boosts Health-Spinal health-3 http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Article that accompanies this video http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/how-yoga-helps-with-health-of-spine.html
Please note as of August 2014 I am no longer a donation based yoga teacher. Thank you
Copyright © 2014 Flexiladiesyoga

Copyright © 2014 Flexiladiesyoga

Monday, 3 November 2014

Making sense of the Bandas

As a beginner sometimes ‘yoga speak’ is confusing.  You teacher will tell you to ‘engage Mula Banda’.  But what are the bandas and how do you engage them?  Essentially the bandas are energy locks in the body.  There are three bandas that are commonly used in yoga practice –Mula Banda, the root lock, Uddiyana Banda, the naval lock and Jalahara Banda, the throat lock

Mula Banda – the root lock.
Engaging Mula Banda – this involves a drawing up of the pelvic floor which consists of 16 muscles slung between the pubic bone, tail bone and hip points. As a beginner, if you are a lady imagine trying to stop the flow of urine and if you are a man contract the area between the anus and the testes. Although Mula banda can be engaged on both the inhale and the exhale, for beginners it is best to familiarise yourself with engaging the pelvic floor on the exhale. As you become more in tune with your body you may notice that the pelvic floor naturally relaxes on the inhale and lifts on the exhale and you can practice exaggerating this.
Why engage Mula Banda? It is beneficial for everyone to strengthen the pelvic floor through engaging Mula Banda. The pelvic floor supports the abdominal organs and the spine.  In pregnancy strengthening the pelvic floor may mean fewer contractions to give birth to the baby and later in life lower the risk of incontinence.  In yoga practice engaging Mula Banda moves energy up and prevents energy moving down.  It is commonly used in standing postures and ‘jumpbacks’ to give stability, protect the lower back and enable the student to hold the poses for longer.
Contraindications constipation, hemorrhoids.

Uddiyana Banda - the naval lock

Engaging Uddiyana Banda- uddiyana means ‘to fly’ and the action is an inward and upward movement of the naval.  It can only be engaged on the exhale.   
Why engage Uddiyana Banda? – like Mula Banda engaging the naval lock protects the lower back and develops core strength.  It is often used in conjunction with Mula Banda.  It is used in many poses. Engage Uddiyana Banda on the exhale as you move into the pose.  For instance in Supta Padagusthasana you would engage Uddiyana Banda as you exhale and lift the leg, in twists with each exhale engage Uddiyana Banda and maybe move deeper into the twist (BUT do not force).  Also use in Boat Pose, Plank, Forward Bends, Chair Pose, Awkward Pose etc
Contraindications - the lock should not be used if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or are pregnant. Also contraindicated in menstruation,  where there are abdominal problems such as ulcers, hernia, or scar tissue for example from hysterectomy.

Jalahara Banda -
the throat lock
Engage Jalahara Banda by dropping the chin to the chest but keep the spine straight and the back of the neck long. 
Why engage Jalahara Banda? – Jalahara Banda is often used in advanced breath retention techniques and is not suitable for the beginner. 
Contraindications -Do not use the lock if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or are pregnant. 

Mula Banda, Uddiyana Banda and Jalahara Banda can be engage together.  This is known as the Great Lock.






Making sense of the bandas-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/
Plead read the cautions in the accompanying article on the blog before practicing this video http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/making-sense-of-bandas.html
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Articles that accompany this video will be published on http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/ 30/10/14. Thank you 
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