Thursday, 31 December 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell



Having a New Year party? This recipe on my 'sister' blog would make a tasty addition to a New Year buffet.
Falafel is also good for a packed lunch as it can be enjoyed cold.
Enjoy! 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/meatless-mondaybeetroot-falafel-with.html
This blog post was included in the magazine,'The No Meat Allowed! Daily'-http://paper.li/MrHolise/no-meat-allowed-6?edition_id=7c344e20-ad5b-11e5-8cbe-0cc47a0d1605


My thoughts and prayers are with all who have suffered from the recent flooding. My fear is that if fracking goes ahead, as seems likely now, the situation may only get worse. 
Please read the blog post on my 'sister' blog for more information-
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/please-mr-cameron-dont-add-fracking.html

Here's a dessert you may want to enjoy this New Year, 'Vegan Avocado Mousse with variations'
It is amazing that vegan ingredients can so closely resemble non-vegan chocolate mousse. No need to add refined sugar or sweetener either because there is enough sweetness in the banana and dates. A dessert that is delicious, healthy and easy to make - what more could you ask?
Please see the recipe on my 'sister' blog-
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/vegan-avocado-mousse-with-variations.html

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Partying hard? Yogic help for lack of sleep


Been missing out on sleep lately with all the parties over Christmas and New Year?  Yoga Nidra or 'yogic sleep' could be the answer.  

My mother used to get up at 5am to work in a weaving mill as well as look after a house and her child.  The washing used to take hours and was labour intensive.  We didn't have a freezer so shopping had to be done daily and with no central heating a fire had to be lit. I was often ill with asthma at a time when there was little in the way of medicines to help. Needless to say she was tired.  Then she bought a book on yoga.  She didn't do the asanas but every day when she finished her shift at the mill she would have 20 minutes 'yoga sleep', a state of deep relaxation.  This, she used to say was equivalent to at least two hours sleep and it helped with her tiredness.

Science has since confirmed what my mother knew all those years ago.  When we relax in yoga nidra our blood pressure lowers, the heart rate is slower and the parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with the 'quieter' activities in the body is engaged.  Brain scans show that there is an increase in alpha waves followed by an increase in theta waves which are associated with sleep and a relaxation of the nervous system.  There is also a decrease in beta waves which are associated with the alert state.

If you want to try yoga nidra for yourself, the link to my video on my YouTube Channel is below.  
Yoga nidra-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sbxmsplIP8

Isn't yoga wonderful?

Namaste,
Janet x

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mindful of new opportunities


A new year brings with it new opportunities. These may be to learn new things or you may want to reflect on where you want to go in the next chapter of your life.  It is also an opportunity for you to leave behind the things that have not served you in this year.  It may  be an opportunity for you to look after yourself better and make this year healthier.

Yoga can help with opening up to a new start.  It can help you discover your purpose in life. It teaches you to be present so that you are not attached to things are not serving you and through yoga you learn self-love, self-compassion and how to become the best possible you by accessing your true self.  It is not selfish to cultivate self-love and take the best possible care of yourself.  It is only through cultivating self-love that you can reach out with love for others.  When you cultivate peace in your heart, you radiate peace to others.

In this week's video on my YouTube Channel, 'Mindful of new opportunities' - https://youtu.be/SFCmaghDT-8, we are opening our hearts and minds to these new beginnings with a heart opening practice.  We practice a strong twist, Revolved Triangle, in order to 'wring out' the things in our lives that are not serving us, physically or mentally and balances that compel us to be present to what is right now, not fretting over the past or worrying over the future.  In this way we gain greater clarity of mind and are more open to the opportunities that present themselves.  The standing sequence is a little different to what we have practiced before but it is good to try new things, for you are capable of more than you think. This is a good way to boost confidence.  The balancing sequence serves several purposes. Again, it is a little different but it also illustrates that it is alright if things don't always work to plan so if you fall out of the balance, just try again.  Balances can be incredibly calming for the mind and it is only when the mind is calm that we can see the opportunities life is offering you.

I hope 2016 brings you peace and happiness.
Namaste
Janet x

Thursday, 24 December 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell


Vegans need not feel deprived at Christmas when they can enjoy something as delicious as this Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington. Even your meat eating friends may be converted! Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/meatless-monday-christmas-special.html

If you are fighting a Candida overgrowth or you feel that sugar is bad news for your health condition (asthma for instance can be made worse by sugar) or even worried about sugar aging your skin, you may be a little apprehensive about the Christmas food.
Here are some vegan recipes that might help you stay sugar free this Christmas. Please see my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/is-it-possible-to-have-sugar-free.html
This blog post was included in the magazine 'Dreamy Desserts'-http://paper.li/Estrofests/1294444904?edition_id=641a2f80-a900-11e5-b5fd-002590a5ba2d

These vegan chocolate fruit and nut truffles are quick to make and would make a great last minute gift! The dates provide sweetness so no other sweetener is needed.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/edible-vegan-gifts-chocolate-fruit-and.html

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

'We wish you a Merry Christmas'- Christmas yoga to cultivate happiness

Happiness is something we all want.  We often seek happiness through material things but yogis believe true happiness can be gained by finding your true self which is compassionate, gives unconditional love and is in communion with life.  How do we reach this state which yogis refer to as bliss.   The road to happiness involves negotiating the five sheaths of the body known as koshas. Please see 'On the road to bliss- The Koshas Part 5' where you will find the links for the rest of my Kosha series- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-5.html Also by following the eightfold path of yoga as set down by Patanjali in the yoga sutras.  For this Advent practice, I want to focus on removing obstacles to happiness with a hip opening practice.  The hips are where we hold negative emotions such as guilt, jealousy, fear, anger, low self-esteem.  By opening the hips we can begin to let go of such negativity clearing the way for happiness to enter into our lives in this season of advent.  One more thing – celebrate the happiness of others for you often find that this generate feelings of happiness for you. 

Invite happiness into your life with hip openers

• Start in Savasana, close your eyes and take a few moments to ‘arrive’ at your practice and settle into your physical body.  Become aware of the breath and let the breath settle into a smooth, natural, rhythmical pattern.  Set an intention to let go of any negative emotions to make more room for happiness to grow within you.  When you feel ready to start the physical part of your practice gentle open your eyes

• Full Body Stretch – take a breath in, raise the arms overhead and press through both heels, moving the prana (life force) around your body then when you are ready to breathe out soften your legs and bring your arms back down by your sides.  Repeat twice more.



• Keyhole Stretch – place your head on a block or cushion.  Bend both knees and place the right foot on the left thigh.  Post the right hand through the gap made by the right leg and draw the left knee towards the chest.  Depending on your flexibility either hold the back of your left thigh or your left shin or use a belt to draw your left thigh in. If you have knee issues, hold the back of your thigh. Keep the right foot flexed to help protect your knee joint. Hold for a few breaths, breathing into the sensations.  Repeat 2nd side.





• Supta Padagusthasana (Hamstring Stretch) – start with your knees bent and draw your right knee towards your chest in order to place a belt around the ball of the right foot.  Straighten the back of the right leg, pressing the right heel away.  Hold the belt in both hands and relax your shoulders. If you wish you can extend your left leg pressing the left heel away.  Work with the exhale drawing your leg a little closer in with each exhale.  If your knee starts to bend, release a little.  When you reach your maximum stretch hold for 5 breaths.  Take both sides of the belt in your right hand, press your left hip down with the left hand and take your right leg up and out to the right.  Hold for a few breaths then take the belt into your left hand and take your right leg to the left.  Hold for a few breaths, bend your right knee then return to centre and release. Compare how one hip feels compared to the other.  Repeat 2nd side.  Come to all 4s.

Hamstring Stretch left side





• Cat/Cow + Firehydrants – from an all 4s position exhale lift your right leg keeping the knee bent and the foot flexed.  Hold for a few breaths.  Repeat 2nd side.  Turn to face the long edge of the mat.



• Frog- from an all 4s position bring your right knee level with the hip then the left. Have your feet flexed. Come down onto your forearms, hands clasped.  To come out of the pose straighten the arms, press the hands into the mat and release one leg at a time.



• Swan – come towards the back of the mat, take the knees wide and walk the hands forward until your forehead comes down onto the mat.  Keep your elbows lifted.



• Downward Facing Dog + Leg Extended Twist- from Swan, inhale come back to all 4s and tuck your toes. Breathe out and lift your hips into downward facing dog. Inhale take your right leg back, exhale drop your right heel towards your left buttock and open your hips up to the right. Inhale come back to downward facing dog. Repeat second side.



• Child Pose- from downward facing dog, inhale drop your knees, exhale take your bottom back to your heels. Either bring your hands to your heels and forehead to the mat or support your head on stacked fists.



• Tadasana-from Child's Pose, inhale bring your arms forward, come back to all 4's. On a breath out lift your hips into downward facing dog. Walk your feet towards your hands and when your shoulders come over your hands slowly roll up to standing. Stand with your big toes touching, outside edges of your feet parallel. Lift your kneecaps, tuck your tail bone under and lengthen through your spine. Let your arms be relaxed by your sides.




• Sun Salutation A-3 rounds (see photo sequence in the Yoga Pose Gallery-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/yoga-pose-gallery.html)
• Sun Salution B-2 rounds (see photo sequence- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/yoga-pose-gallery.html)

• Tadasana 

• Sequence – from Tadasana, come to the top of your mat, exhale swallow dive forward into standing forward bend. Inhale step back to Plank, exhale lower through Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale into Cobra, exhale to Downward Facing Dog, inhale bring the right foot forward, exhale drop the back heel, inhale raise the arms, Warrior 1. 

Exhale open up to Warrior 2, looking down the fingers of your right hand.

Inhale straighten your right leg, exhale bring your right hand down onto the right leg, the left arm up, Triangle Pose. 

Inhale bring your arms level with the shoulders, exhale bend your right knee, look down the fingers of the right hand Warrior 2.

Inhale bring your left hand to your left hip, exhale bring your right hand down 6- 12 inches beyond the little toe of the right foot, inhale lift your left leg parallel to the mat, raise your left arm, Half Moon Balance.

Exhale bring the left hand down to the mat, keep your left leg raised, Standing Splits. 

Take a breath in and on your next exhale drop the left foot to the mat, straighten both legs, Intense Side Stretch.

Inhale, exhale raise the right arm, open the chest to the right, Revolved Triangle.

Inhale come back to centre, step back to Plank and repeat 2nd side. 

After the 2nd side inhale step back to Plank, exhale lower through Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale into Cobra, exhale to Downward Facing, inhale step the left foot forward, exhale step the right foot forward, Standing Forward Bend, inhale take the arms out and up, Upward Salute, exhale bring the hands to heart.






• Goddess Squat to Side Angle Goddess – turn to face the long edge of the mat and step to the centre.  Step the feet wide and turn the toes of both feet to face the corners of the mat. Tuck your tailbone under, exhale and bend both knee, take the arms into Cactus position, Goddess Squat.  Inhale bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale circle your left arm down then up by the left ear. Inhale come up.  Repeat 2nd side.   



• Wide leg standing forward bend – from Goddess Squat inhale press into straight legs, take the hands to the hips, inhale lift the chest press the elbows back, exhale fold, release your fingertips to the mat and walk your hands back under your hips.  Hold for 5 breaths. To come out inhale walk your hands forward, exhale take your hands to your hips, inhale come up slowly.  Step the feet together and shake out your legs.  Come to seated.



• Baddha Konasana – sit on a block if the knees are higher than the hips.  Bring the soles of the feet together and draw the feet close in, holding your feet or ankles if holding your feet makes you round forward.  Lift the chest, spine straight.  To release extend the legs forward.



• Seated twist to Cow Face Legs with Forward Fold – take the right foot to the outside of the left thigh, wrap your left arm around your right leg, and take your right fingertips behind the right hip.  Inhale lengthen through the crown of your  head, exhale twist to the right.  Hold for 5 breaths, inhale lengthen the spine, exhale release the twist. Take the right foot to the outside of the right hip, exhale and walk your hands forward. Inhale to come up, extend the legs. Repeat second side.



• Meta Meditation – sit in a comfortable cross-leg position and take a few centrering breaths then repeat to yourself
May I be healthy 
May I be happy 
May I be peaceful and at ease
Then think of someone you love and repeat the good wishes
May ……. be healthy 
May ……...be happy 
May ……...be peaceful and at ease
Now think of someone you feel neutral about, say the checkout girl at the supermarket
May she be healthy 
May she be happy 
May she be peaceful and at ease
Now think of someone you find difficult and extend good wishes to them 
May they be healthy 
May they be happy 
May they be peaceful and at ease
Lastly repeat the good wishes to yourself.  
Reflect for a few moments on the effect of the meditation.
Start to deepen the breath before gently opening your eyes and continuing with your day

Hannah and I wish you all happiness this Christmas and in 2016.
Peace and blessings

Janet x

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Your Christmas holiday yoga practice

People ask me if I practice yoga over the Christmas break.  I find this puzzling because yoga practice is as natural to me as brushing my teeth.  You may not be able to practice as you normally do: routines are abandoned over the Christmas period but even a short practice of a few minutes can re-energize you when you are flagging, calm you if things are getting too much, relieve the stiffness of sitting too long, aid digestion or cultivate gratitude for time spent with friends and family.  Remember that if you indulge in a little self-care by practicing a few minutes, everyone will benefit.  

Below are some poses that you may want include in your Christmas yoga practice.  You will need two blocks, a yoga belt or dressing gown tie and either a bolster or cushions and a bolster.

Hero (aids digestion, you can even practice this after you have eaten) - Start by kneeling on your calves out to the sides as you sit back between your heels.  If you have knee issues, sit on blocks or cushions to elevate your hips until you feel comfortable.  Make sure that your second toes point straight back. Sit with the back of your hands on your thighs, first finger and thumb joined.  When you are ready to come out of the pose, lift your hips, remove blocks/cushions and bringing your hands forward, stretch your right leg back, pressing through the heel (this will feel so good!).  Repeat with the left leg.  Come to seated in Easy Pose on a block.



Figure of 8 neck rolls (helps stiff neck which may be caused by sleeping in an unfamiliar bed,  holding the phone in the crook of your neck when you ring friends to wish them 'Happy Christmas' so that you can be doing something else at the same time etc) - start with your chin level with the floor.  Exhale, drop your chin to your chest, inhale, circle  your chin to your right shoulder, exhale continue to circle your head round the back (if you have neck issues, circle your chin back to your chest), inhale bring your chin level with the floor.  This is half of the loops of the '8' so repeat on the second side to comple the '8'.





Seated Cobra (bring some revitalising oxygen into your body when you are flagging) - take your hands behind your back, fingers interlaced.  Inhale, lift your chest and your arm, exhale release.  Repeat twice more.



Heron variation (stretch hamstrings tightened by sitting)- sit with your legs outstretched. Bend your right knee and take the belt around the ball of the right foot.  Hold the belt in two hands, inhale and straighten the right leg.  On your next inhale, lift your leg to the point where you feel your leg starts to bend, the release a little.  Hold for 3 breaths then bend your knee and release.  Repeat 2nd side.



Cat/Cow (revitalise a stiff back (sat too long watching Christmas TV?), and soothe sore shoulders)- come onto all 4s, hands under shoulders, knees under hips.  Inhale lift your head and chest, tilt your tail bone to the ceiling.  Breathe out, tuck your chin, arch your back and tilt your tail bone under.  Continue working with your breath for several movements.




Swan - come towards the back of the mat, big toes touching, knees wide.  Walk your hands forward, bringing your head the mat or a cushion.  Press your tail bone back and stretch from your hips to your armpits and armpits down to your fingertips.

Squat (rich Christmas food given you constipation?) - from Swan walk your hand back and lifting your knees, rock back on your heel.  Take your feet wder than your hips and bring your palms together, elbows in your knee creases.  If you are struggling to get your heels down, roll up your mat to support your heel.  To come out of the pose bring your hands to the mat, exhale and lift your hips to stretch out the back of your legs. Inhale roll up slowly. 



Wide leg seated forward bend supported by a bolster or cushions and blankets (over-excited children given you headache?) - sit a block and take your legs wide.  Walk your hands forward and rest your right cheek on a bolster or cushions/blankets.  After a few minutes change to your left cheek.  When you are ready to come out of the pose, breathe in and come up very slowly.  Remove the bolster etc and taking hold of the outside of your thighs, draw your legs together.




Alternate Nostril Breathing - Please see my yoga video 'Oh no it's Monday! Breathing technique for calming'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dY-NtZkAtQ on my YouTube Channel.



Happy holidays
Janet x

Monday, 21 December 2015

Mindfulness - Mindful of having fun


In our yoga practice, as in life, it is important to have fun sometimes.  When your yoga practice is fun, you are more motivated to show up on your mat each day.  

Learning to laugh when things don't go quite right is a valuable lesson on or off the mat. For instance, if like me you have a tendency to fall out of Tree pose or your coming out of Frog pose is ungainly. The healing powers of laughter are well documented.  You may have heard me say in my yoga videos 'advanced is to smile'.  This is not a flippant remark.  When you smile in a challenging pose, you can start to relax into the pose because you fool your mind into believing you are content.

When I was teaching yoga classes I remember that partner yoga caused a great deal of merriment.  This is understandable as it is a social activity and could end up in a hilarious tangle of arms and legs.

Some people find that practicing with music makes their practice fun. Do what works for you.

Having fun releases the feel good hormones, endorphins and enhances creativity.

So you don't need to get so serious about yoga practice - enjoy!

Please see the yoga video on my YouTube Channel, 'Mindfulness - Mindful of having fun'- https://youtu.be/CFFiX_4_4ls

Namaste
Janet x 

Sunday, 20 December 2015


This nut roast recipe was inspired by a winter vegetable soup that I recently enjoyed. It would make a tasty alternative Christmas meal for vegans. There are recipes for two other nut roasts for you to enjoy also-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/meatless-monday-trio-of-nut-roasts.html

Sing! It's good for you!
Read more on the blog-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/sing-its-good-for-you_18.html

Using seasonal ingredients, this cake is not only vegan but has no added sugar. Great if you are not fond of traditional fruit cake. A perfect gift for a vegan friend. Recipe on the blog-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/cranberry-and-orange-drizzle-cake.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 5



Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

Our final kosha is bliss, anandamaya kosha. This state can only be reached when all the other layers of our being, that is the physical, energetic, mental and wisdom layers exist in harmony.  Accessing this layer, you will experience an expansion of consciousness which yogis often refer to as enlightenment. You become aware of the interconnectedness of all living beings, you love, accept and forgive yourself and extend that love, acceptance and forgiveness to others. You are in tune with the will of the divine and selflessly serve others instead of living in such a way as to boost your ego.  

Many of us can only experience this level of peace, joy and love briefly.  It is beyond the level of the mind and does not rely on external circumstances.  Maybe you have experienced it in meditation, or relaxation when everything external fades away and you can 'just be'.


If you missed the rest of this series the links are below:-

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 1-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-1.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 2-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-2.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 3-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-3.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 4-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-4.html

Peace, joy and love,

Janet x

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Don't let pre-Christmas madness stress you - get grounded!!

At this time of year our heads are buzzing with so much to do - present buying and wrapping, cards to write, menus to plan, parties.  All this energy in our heads can unbalance us and make us stressed. In this late autumn/early winter period vata is the dominant dosha which can add to our anxiety. 

A grounding yoga practice in which we bring our energy down into our bodies and re-connect with the earth will help so do try and make time for your asanas and meditation. A grounding practice is one that focuses on the root chakra, our centre for stability. Try the sequence below to help you cope with pre-Christmas stress. You will need two blocks and maybe a cushion.

Start in Easy Pose - sit in a cross-legged position on a block or cushion if your knees are higher than your hips. Ground down through your sit bones as you lengthen up through your spine.  Place the palms of your hands down  on your thighs, first finger and thumb joined in a grounding mudra. Gently close your eyes and bring yourself into the present moment, releasing any concerns, any to-do lists.  Spend a few minutes just watching your breath before gently opening your eyes.  Bring your hands to your heart and set an intention to let go of stress so that you might enjoy this pre-Christmas period.


Cat/Cow - come onto all 4s, hands under shoulders, knees under hips.  Inhale lift your head and chest, tilt your tail bone to the ceiling.  Breathe out, tuck your chin, arch your back and tilt your tail bone under.  Continue working with your breath for several movements.


Swan - come towards the back of your mat, big toes touching, knees wide,  Walk your hands forward, bringing your forehead to the mat or a block or a cushion.



Downward Facing Dog- from Swan breathe in, come back to all fours and tuck your toes. Breathe out and lift your hips.  If your hamstrings are tight alternately bend your knees ('walk the dog').   



Intense Side Stretch/Warrior 1/Warrior 2 Sequence - from Downward Facing Dog breathe in, step your right foot forward into a lunge, breathe out drop your back heel, turning your back toes out. Take your hands to your blocks. Breathe in, and as you breathe out press into straight legs (microbend your front knee if you need to). Release the crown of your head down (not below the level of your heart if you have heart issues or high blood pressure). Inhale, come up, bending your front knee and taking your arms overhead (Warrior 1). Hold for 5 breaths grounding down through your feet then breathe out, turn your hips to face the long edge of the mat as you open your arms to shoulder height. Look down the fingers of the right hand (Warrior 2). Hold for 5 breaths then breathe out, bring your hands down either side of your right foot, step back to Downward Facing Dog. Rest here for a few breaths then repeat 2nd side.


Wide Leg Forward Bend - from Warrior 2 on the 2nd side, breathe out turn to face forward, bring your hands to your hips, turn your feet to face forward, outside edges parallel to the short edges of the mat. Breathe in, lift your chest, squeeze your elbows back, breathe out come into flat back position, release your fingers to the mat or to a block if the floor needs to be nearer. Stay here if you have high blood pressure or heart issues.  If you are going deeper into the pose, inhale, exhale walk your hands back, release the crown of your head towards the mat.  To come out of the pose inhale, walk your hands forward, return to flat-back position, exhale bring your hands to your hips, inhale come up slowly.



Goddess Squat/Sliding Squat Sequence - remain with your feet wide and turn your toes out to the corners of your mat. Bring your arms into Cactus position, elbows bent and level with your shoulders, palms facing forward. Breathe out and bend both knees, tuck your tail bone under, breathe in reach your arms up, straighten your legs, breathe out return to arms in Cactus, knees bent. Continue working with your breath for several moves. Step your feet together and give your legs a shake before doing the next movement if you wish. Bring your hands to your thighs, exhale lean to the right, inhale centre, exhale lean to the left and continue working with the breath. This variation is better for you if you have knee issues. To go deeper, squat bringing your hands to the mat in front of you, exhale, walk your hands to the right, inhale centre, exhale walk your hands to the left, inhale centre and continue working with the breath. To come out, bring your hands to your hips, breathe in and come up, step your feet together.


Tree Pose - stand with your feet slightly apart. Take your weight into your left leg, spreading your toes.  Imagine roots growing roots into the earth. Peel your right foot away and either cup your left ankle with your right foot, take your right foot to your right shin or reach down and bring your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Do not place your right foot against your knee joint which would strain it. If you are cupping your left ankle with your right foot try lifing your toes up to test your balance. Bring your hands to your heart or overhead. Breathe out to release. Repeat 2nd side.


Zig Zag twist - sitting on the mat or a block, bend your left leg back and bring your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Twist to the right bringing your right hand behind your right hip, your left hand by your right thigh. Hold and breath for several breaths. Now on an exhale fold over your right leg, hold for 5 breaths then inhale come up slowly. Repeat 2nd side.



Easy Pose for meditation - sit in a chair with your feet on the floor or on a block. Place your hands on your thighs, index finger and thumb joined, palms down for a grounding mudra. Gently close your eyes. Relax your feet and legs, your hips and lower back. Release any tension in your abdomen, your upper back and your chest. Let your arms and hands feel relaxed. Release any tension in your jaw, soften your face. 

Begin to notice your breath and let each breath in seek out any remaining tension, each breath out carry it away.  

Now sinking below the level of awareness of your breath, imagine growing roots down into the Earth. Down, down to the energy centre of the Earth. Imagine drawing energy up through your roots into your feet. Feel your feet energize. The energy moves into your legs now, then up through your torso. Your arms and hands energize, your mind. Your whole body and mind are energized. 

Slowly start to bring your awareness back into the room, the chair supporting you and into your own physical body.  Take your attention to the tip of your nose and start to breathe more deeply with each inhale. Gently opening your eyes, start to make any movements you need to bring you back to the here and now, maybe a stretch, maybe a shake of your legs. Please make sure you are fully awake before continuing with your day.

Happy Advent 
Janet x

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Mindfulness-Mindful of peace

In a troubled world my daily prayer is for peace.  Peace begins with each and every one of us. When we have peace in ourselves, we can be at peace with others and this peace can then radiate out into your community and into the world. 

What does it take to be at peace within ourselves?  
It means a tension free body and mind.  It means practcing ahimsa, non-harming, in thought, word and deed.  Key to ahimsa is acceptance of ourselves, for until we learn to accept ourselves just as we are, we cannot be tolerant or accepting of others. In the same way, we need to learn to love ourselves.  Until we have self-love, we cannot reach out to love others.  If we cannot be compassionate to ourselves and part of this is learning to forgive ourselves, we cannot be compassionate to others or extend forgiveness to them.

It also means realising that each and every one of us is connected. I love the metaphor of us all being 'drops of water in the ocean of humanity'. We share the same Earth, the same breath, the same needs for food, water and a safe place to live. Once we 'pull together' instead of apart we can begin to heal. We can then turn our attention  to creating a peaceful Earth.  We are custodians of this earth but we have not been taking good care of her. As I write, there is a glimmer of hope.  196 nations have agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in order to curb global warming.

In this week's video, we begin to create peace in ourselves through releasing tension in body and mind in order to radiate peace to our families and friends, our communities and all the world. For the yoga video please see, 'Mindfulness-Mindful of peace' on my YouTube Channel- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8int8_kVSus

Peace on earth - now wouldn't that be a wonderful Christmas present for each and every one of us.

Peace and blessings,
Janet x

Sunday, 13 December 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This week's Meatless Monday is 'Bean a vegetable crumble'-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/meatless-monday-bean-and-vegetable.html

If you have been out Christmas shopping all day and your shoulders are aching through carrying all those bags and your legs and feet are aching, try an Epsom Salt bath to restore. Please see the link below to my 'sister' blog-

This vegan, sugar-free version of Lebkuchen, German Christmas biscuits makes a lovely Christmas gift. You may also want to make some into Tree decorations. Please see my 'sister' blog for the recipe.
Happy Advent!


On the road to bliss - The koshas Part 4

Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

The forth layer is the wisdom layer, vjnanamaya kosha. This is your awareness body, your insight or intuition. Think of this kosha as the observer. It does not get involved with your 'monkey mind' (see ''Calm the 'monkey mind', boost your energy''-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/calm-monkey-mind-boost-your-energy.html) but at the same time, it is fully aware of what is going on in your mind. In other words your awareness body is able to 'stand back' and view your thoughts from an objective perspective. You can access this layer through asana practice, pranayama, meditation, mudra and chanting ('Chanting for beginners'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/chanting-for-beginners.html).  

When you have accessed this layer, you will become more aware of sensation in your asana practice, knowing how far to move into any given pose to ensure you receive the most benefit from that pose.  You will also practice your asanas without getting attached to the outcome so that your asana practice becomes a journey of self-discovery rather than striving to attain 'pretzel' shapes with your body. When you have accessed this layer also you are able to tune into the subtle effects of your asana and breath practice.

You will notice that your meditation practice changes too as you begin to access this kosha. You will no longer get involved with the 'story' of any thoughts that arise but are able to view them as an observer.  You will not judge your thoughts but you will be able to let them go, like clouds passing by.



Mudras can direct the flow of prana to this kosha. Try jnana mudra to cultivate wisdom. Lightly touch the first finger and thumb together and have your palms facing up.  For more on mudras, please see 'Using mudras in your yoga practice'-
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/using-mudras-in-your-yoga-practice.html

There is also a video on my YouTube Channel on this kosha. Please see-The Koshas 4-Vijnanamaya Kosha- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-KTWeJS-kY&list=PLS4Wjf00I4ux5dlsYC13SXTBYnsMH6zVE&index=4 

If you missed the rest of this series the links are below:-

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 1-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-1.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 2-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-2.html

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 3-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/on-road-to-bliss-koshas-part-3.html

Namaste,
Janet x

Friday, 11 December 2015

Aching legs and feet? - this pose is great for after your Christmas shop


If Christmas shopping has left you with aching feet and tired legs, you need to spend a little time in Legs up the Wall. Although simple, this pose releases healing energies, gives your legs a rest from gravity and by bringing blood to your brain, calms your mind. 

To get into Legs up the Wall, sit by a wall with your knees bent and your right hip up against the wall. Swivel your hips so that your legs come up the wall. Shuffle your bottom as close as you can to the wall and position your arms where is comfortable for you, either a little way from your body or overhead. Close your eyes if you wish and spend 10-15 minutes in the pose if you can.

To come out of the pose roll onto your right side and draw your knees towards your chest. Spend a minute or so there to allow your blood pressure to normalise before coming up. Feeling better??

Namaste,
Janet x