Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Gunas


The three gunas, rajas, tamas and sattva are qualities that are present in every particle in the universe, including those that make up our being.  Our nature is determined according to which of the gunas dominates our being.  If rajas predominates we are passionate, greedy and pursue selfish desires, and if tamas predominates we are inactive, ignorant.  However if sattva predominates we are pure and content. The gunas are the cause of our suffering according to the Bagavad Gita, a classic text in Indian spirituality.  Through our yoga we may hope to cultivate sattva, by suppressing the other two gunas in order to overcome the passion and ignorance of the other gunas.  Even the cultivation of sattva though is not the ultimate goal according to the Gita for it is only through overcoming all the gunas that we attain freedom from attachment, self-realisation and immortality.  In yoga practice therefore we usually tend to try to balance the gunas.  We balance the passion of rajas, the groundedness of tamas with the contentment of sattva.


The three gunas can also be applied to our food choices.  For instance rajasic foods are stimulating, for example spices, coffee, tea, chocolate or sugar. Tamasic foods are ones that dull the senses and lower resistance to disease such as red meat or alcohol.  Sattvic foods are ones that are grown in harmony with nature, organic, fresh and without additives, for example fruit, vegetables, cereals, nuts, and seeds.  

Namaste,
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

New Beginnings – opening up to new possibilities

How yoga can help us open up to new possibilities



New beginnings-Opening up to new possibilities-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk PLEASE READ ALL THE  NOTES BELOW BEFORE FOLLOWING THIS VIDEO AND THERE IS AN IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE REGARDING THE MEDITATION WITHIN THIS YOGA VIDEO.
Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
The meditation at the end of the yoga practice is a Candle Meditation. A battery powered candle is used in the video-PLEASE TAKE CARE if you are using a real candle and make sure you are aware of safety at all times and after the meditation please make sure the candle is put out correctly and safely.
Thank you 

Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell, I have been looking at how new hobbies and experiences can have positive effects on your health http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-stay-young-by-opening-up.html

•Opening to new possibilities requires self-belief.  Low self-esteem can be limiting.  Yoga hip openers help release such negativity from the hip area where it is stored paving the way for new possibilities.
•Opening our hips, chest and shoulders helps open up our minds to new possibilities.
•Opening to new possibilities requires flexibility of mind.  By increasing the flexibility of our bodies, yoga also increases the flexibility of our minds.
•Strong standing poses such as the Warrior poses give us confidence to open up to new possibilities.
•Yoga relieves stress which prevents us from seeing new possibilities.
•In yoga practice it is suggested we cultivate sattva, balance, flexibility and contentment.  If we are tamasic we are inflexible, inactive and cannot open to new possibilities.  If we are rajasic we may be too stressed to see new possibilities. The key to attaining this balance is mindfulness.  If, for instance we come to the mat stressed, over stimulated we should practice calming poses, if we come to the mat fatigued we should practice energizing poses.  We can then take our more sattvic state off the mat and into our daily lives.
•Meditation helps us ‘dive’ into our subconscious, releasing any limiting beliefs about ourselves.

Namaste
Janet x

Article and video Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Yoga for emotional balance



New beginnings-Emotional balance-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk
Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell on Monday 19th January, 'Blue Monday'. I posted my advice on beating 'January blues'. Please see the link
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/its-blue-monday-today-is-supposedly_19.html 
Here I am looking at how yoga can help you achieve emotional balance. 

Emotional balance is not gained through suppressing our emotions, but through being present with our emotions without judging them.  When you do this you gain understanding which will lead to the emotions being diffused.  The important point is that emotions should be allowed to flow because where our emotions are blocked dis-EASE (disease) will manifest.  
So how can yoga help. Meditation is an excellent 'tool' to help achieve emotional balance.  It teaches us to just be with what is, without judgement but with compassion.  
In terms of asana practice this week I have chosen to do a peak pose practice.  My thinking was that we would practice ahimsa, compassion to ourselves as well as others by preparing our bodies well for the peak pose, using props and modifications. We can then take this compassion to a deeper level to gain more understanding of our emotions. Our peak pose is a heart opener, Bound Half Moon Balance.  This balances the heart chakra which is to do with compassion. 
Breath practices such as alternate nostril breathing can help too.  This breath practice balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and is calming as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is concerned with the 'quieter' activities in the body as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which is concerned with the 'fight or flight' response.  
In Ayurveda, yoga's 'sister' science emotional imbalance can be a sign of a dosha excess. For an introduction to Ayurveda and the doshas please see the article on this blog
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/ayurveda-and-yoga-introduction.html

If your problem is anxiety, it could also be an excess of vata dosha.  To balance vata dosha please see my YouTube videos Ayurveda Doshas-Vata http://youtu.be/N-ARtPbnNPw

If your problem is anger, it could be an excess of pitta dosha.  To balance pitta dosha please see Ayurveda Doshas-Pitta http://youtu.be/I3wtHo81VWU

Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Monday, 19 January 2015

Ayurveda and Yoga, an introduction





Ayurveda is a holistic science developed by monks around 5000 years ago.  It is considered to be yoga’s ‘sister’ science.  Whereas yoga is a system created to ultimately access spiritual bliss, ayurveda focuses on diet and lifestyle in order to maximise health potential. 
Ayurveda recognises three doshas which are the energies that make up each of us.  An individual may be predominantly one of the doshas, a combination of two of the doshas or a combination of all three.  To complicate this one of the three doshas may predominate according to the time of year (see below)
People who are predominantly of Vata dosha tends to be of slight build and flexible and so excel at yoga practice.  They can also be very active but this may be followed by a period of exhaustion.  When in balance they are creative but if unbalanced they may become ungrounded, fearful and anxious.  The type of yoga practice that is suitable to balance vata dosha is a grounding practice of hip openers.  Since the seat of vata is the colon asanas that stimulate the colon such as apanasana.  In asana work the gaze should be kept low. 

People who are predominantly of the Pitta dosha tend to be of medium build.  They are self-disciplined, focused and goal orientated but out of balance they can be angry and competitive.  The type of yoga practice that is suitable to balance Pitta dosha is a calming practice - flowing movements, balances, and forward bends. The seat of Pitta dosha is the liver so asanas that stimulate the liver are also suitable such as twists and Boat pose.

People who are predominantly of the Kapha dosha tend to be of stocky build.  They are loving and loyal and so make good friends.  When out of balance they can be sluggish and gain weight easily.  The type of practice that is suitable to balance kapha dosha therefore is a practice that builds internal heat, that is sun salutations and twists.  The seat of Kapha is the chest so chest openers such as back bends are also suitable. 

Pitta dosha tends to be dominant in late spring and summer, vata dosha in the autumn and kapha dosha in the winter.  The doshas are also linked to the elements that according to ayurvedic theory compose the body.  Vata is linked to the element of air, pitta to fire and water and kapha to earth and water

Please see flexiladiesyoga's You Tube videos for balancing the doshas.
Ayurveda Doshas-Vata     http://youtu.be/N-ARtPbnNPw
Ayurveda Doshas-Pitta     http://youtu.be/I3wtHo81VWU
Ayurveda Doshas-Kapha  http://youtu.be/9ZY7b92U1W4

Look out for more Ayurveda articles.

Thank you,

Namaste 
Janet x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

What's happening on 40plusandalliswell?

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell there was an article about beating bloat. Although this was an article focused on bloating following Christmas, if you suffer from bloating you might be interested to read it http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/beat-post-christmas-bloat.html

To compliment my YouTube video and article, 'How yoga can help make you happy', http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/how-yoga-can-help-make-you-happy.html I talked on the wellness blog about how food can influence our feelings of happiness and the benefits being happy can have on your health. The article is called 'Be happy it's good for you' 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/be-happy-its-good-for-you_3.html

I got a tagine for Christmas which inspired me to do some Moroccan style cooking. I made a 'Vegan Moroccan tagine' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/meatless-monday-vegan-moroccan-tagine.html and some 'Moroccan meatless balls with lemon couscous' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/meatless-mondaymoroccan-meatless-balls.html

To compliment my video and article 'New beginnings-purifying your body' http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-purifying-your-body.html my article on the wellness blog 'New beginnings-cleanse your body' was about cleansing your body with a good diet and the benefits this might have for your health http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-cleanse-your-body.html 

Another way to cleanse your body is through juicing-please read my introduction to juicing to get you started http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/juicing-for-health.html There is a link to my YouTube juicing video, 'Introduction to Juicing' in the article. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

How yoga helps ‘cleanse’ the mind

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk there is an article ‘New beginnings – detox your mind’ http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-detox-your-mind_16.html

Here we will consider how yoga can help bring clarity to the mind.


New beginnings-Cleansing the mind-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk
Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Thank you 
Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga
  • Yoga helps us be ‘in the moment’ not worrying about the past or anxious about the future.  When we are in the moment we see things more clearly.
  • Yoga purifies the body and when the body is pure the mind becomes clear.
  • Yoga reduces stress.  When the mind is calm, we can react to stressful situations in a more considered way. Please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/how-can-yoga-help-with-stress.html
  • Meditation quietens ‘monkey mind’, that is a mind that flits from one thought to another which impedes concentration. Meditation increases the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex improving awareness, concentration and decision making.  Meditation also helps us tap into our subconscious, enhancing our intuition.  Moving meditations have the same effect.  Please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meditation-ancient-help-for-21st.html
  • Negativity may be ‘stored’ in the hip area so by opening the hips, yoga hip openers can help release these negative emotions allowing for greater clarity.
  • Yoga chest openers such as backbends and breathing techniques increase the availability of oxygen to the body.  The brain requires around three times as much oxygen as the muscles so by increasing oxygen, brain function improves which in turn facilitates clarity of mind.
  • Yoga forward bends and inversions help bring oxygenated blood to the brain.  Yoga inversions also help us see things from a new perspective which can help with clarity of mind
  • Yoga twists remove toxins which can impede clarity of mind.
  • Cleansing your aura through kundalini kryias or visualisation techniques can help release any negativity which impedes clarity of mind,

Namaste
Janet x



Saturday, 10 January 2015

Protect your SI joint



Yoga injuries are relatively few compared to other physical activities/sports/fitness regimes, especially if you practice ahimsa. 

However, one of the effects of practicing yoga is that we become more flexible. In many ways this is good, for instance flexibility in the hamstrings can help prevent lower back issues. But too much flexibility of the ligaments around the SI joint may lead to injury.  Most advanced practitioners of yoga will be aware of the problems the SI joint can cause.  I discovered towards the end of last year just how painful a SI joint injury can be.  

The SI (sacro-iliac) joint is located between the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) and the ilium, the largest of the hip bones.  It is usually fairly immovable unless strained. I moved mine! Och!  I knew what I had done when the pain was on one side and down the outside of my thigh.  I continued with my practice but even Cat/Cow was a struggle. (I would not advise you to continue with any activity that makes you feel worse-remember ahimsa). Fortunately a local physiotherapist put the joint back in place in only one session and I can practice as normal again. 

Women are particularly at risk because our hips have to have some degree of flexibility in order to give birth.  In fact pregnant women are even more at risk because the hormone, relaxin causes the ligaments around the hips to have more 'give'.
I know that once you have had a SI joint injury, it may easily happen again so I now intend to take extra care when practicing.  Here are some tips for avoiding such an injury:-

  • Take care in standing forward bends- use a block or bend your knees if you need to.
  • Revolved Triangle, and seated twists - many yoga practitioners use their arm as a lever to deepen the twist and this can put strain on the SI joint.  Allow your hips to turn as one unit in the direction of the twist.  In reclined twists you may need to support your legs with blocks or cushions while you hold deeper reclined twists.  Bring your legs back to centre, one at a time.
  • Trangle, Warrior 2, Side Angle - in these poses the advice used to be to have the hips perfectly aligned to the front of the mat. If then you try to fully rotate the front thigh you can strain the SI joint. It is now thought to be better to allow the back hip point to come forward. The advice if you have SI joint issues is to have your back foot forward of your front so that your feet are hip distance allowing the hips to turn more.  In these poses also make sure your tailbone is tucked under.
  • Janu sirsasana (Head to knee pose) - asymmetric seated forward bends need care too.  Turn your body to face the extended leg and hinge from your groin.  Support the bent knee with a block if you need to.  It is really important not to use your hands to pull you into the forward bend.  
  • In Baddha konasana and Supta baddha konasana support your thighs with blocks or cushions to avoid straining the SI joint.  In Baddha konasana also sit on a block. 
  • In Wide leg seated forward bend sit towards the front of the block so that your hips are hinging forward from the groin.  You may need to bring your legs closer together.
  • Lotus is an advanced pose and forcing your body into the pose can lead to SI joint injury so be very careful. 
The bottom line is practice ahimsa, never strain or force yourself into a pose that feels uncomfortable for you, use props and do modifications of poses when you need to.



Enjoy your yoga
Janet x

Friday, 9 January 2015

New beginnings - purifying your body


 

New beginnings-Purifying your body-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk
Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Thank you 

Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga


At this time of year, after the excesses of Christmas, you may feel the need to cleanse the body. Here we are looking into the ways in which yoga can help you cleanse and on the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell we are thinking about how diet can help purify your body http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-cleanse-your-body.html

In a follow up article I will be talking about juicing. Please also see my ‘New Year, New You’ videos on my Flexiladiesyoga You Tube Channel and if you would like to receive updates when I upload new videos to You Tube, please subscribe to my channel.

• Yoga twisting poses stimulate the digestion and encourage elimination.  They also  cleanse the abdominal organs (including the liver, the major organ of detoxification) with what BKS Iyengar terms their ‘squeeze and soak’ action.  As we move into a twist we ‘squeeze’ the stale blood from the abdominal organs, then as we release the twist the abdominal organs are ‘soaked’ with a fresh supply of blood.

• Yoga postures alternately stretch and compress each part of the body, enhancing the flow of blood.  This means that toxins in the blood are eliminated from the body more efficiently.  For example carbon-dioxide in the blood is brought to the lungs to be excreted, the products of detoxification by the liver are brought to the kidneys for elimination.  Yoga postures, especially inversions and forward bends also enhance the flow of lymph which carries ‘waste’ from the cells to the blood for elimination.

• Yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) enrich the blood with cleansing oxygen which also has a calming effect on the mind. Also slow, deep breathing or breathing techniques such as Kapalabhati breathing work the diaphragm which the massages the abdominal organs.

• Yoga encourages better posture which in turn enhances better breathing (see above)

• Standing and seated forward bends stimulate digestion and elimination by compressing the abdomen.  Better elimination means that toxins do not build up in the colon. Abdominal poses similarly stimulate digestion and elimination. 
 Working with the downward flow of energy, apana vayu, encourages elimination also.  Try squats such as Malasana and Goddess Squat or apanasana.  See my video on YouTube, called Apana Vayu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siyw-Nm40wM

• Sun Salutations and vinyasas create heat (light the internal fire, agni) which ‘burns’ off toxins

• Also include a restorative practice in your ‘detox’ programme as this enhances general wellbeing in the body allowing all the systems of the body such as the digestive system, respiratory system etc to work more efficiently.  Please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/how-can-yoga-help-with-stress.html

Please follow this link for my YouTube video called New Year, New You Series-Detox that accompanies this article. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIh2TtsNtXk

Saturday, 3 January 2015

How yoga can help make you happy.

What is happiness?  Happiness is not about what you have, but contentment with what you have. Health, family, friends and work fulfillment may all lead to that warm, inner joy we call happiness.

In this last video in the series 'How yoga can help boost health'  and in the article below,  we look at how yoga can help make you happy. 



How yoga boosts health-Helping you feel happy-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk 
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html


Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell, we are looking at how being happy can have a positive effect on your health and the foods that will make you feel happier. Please see http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/be-happy-its-good-for-you_3.html

  • Meditative sequences such as Egyptian salutation create wellbeing in the body through the benefits they bring to the digestive system, the circulatory system, the nervous system, the endocrine system and the respiratory system.  A 'happy' body then leads to a happy mind.
  • Yoga breathing techniques and chest openers such as backbends bring extra oxygen into your body while yoga inversions bring the oxygenated blood to the brain. This is calming for the brain, opening the way to happiness. 
  • Yoga chest openers also open the heart chakra, opening us to love, compassion and forgiveness. 
  • Yoga twists detoxfy your body.  This creates wellbeing which paves the way to happiness. 
  • Yoga stretches release energy blockages so that energy can flow freely in the 72, 000 nadis which are the energy channels.  This makes all your body systems 'happy' resulting in increased wellbeing.
  • Yoga hip openers such as Frog Pose and Pigeon Pose help create self-acceptance which is essential for happiness.  We tend to store negative emotions in the hips and by opening the hips we can let these go.  
  • Poses that work on strengthening the core such as Boat pose help increase self-esteem and and help release anger.
  • Meditation helps us to release negative emotions and helps us be in the moment which helps release stress and  helps make us happy.
  • Yogis following Patanjali's eight fold path towards enlightenment will be familiar with the niyamas, the second of which is santosha, contentment.  The essence of this is being in the moment, not fretting about the past or worrying about the future.  It also means being happy with what you have, not comparing with others ad trusting in the universe/the divine to provide for you.


Wishing you every happiness, now and always
Janet x