Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Elements and the Chakras -Part 5- Ether


Join me for the yoga video,'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 5- Ether' on my YouTube Channel-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PegF-gqomGk

Ether refers to the space outside of you and also to your inner space.  In your body energy flows in these spaces and your thoughts and emotions reside in the spaces.  It is also where we experience spiritual awakening. However it is by the spinning of the the throat chakra that ether energies are formed. Because of this the element ether is associated with your self-expression, your truth and ability to communicate.  Ether is also the space in which the other elements reside.  You can see from this that the ether element is everywhere inside and outside of you.  It is cold as it lacks the warmth of fire, light because it lacks the heaviness of earth, and unlike air which flows, space is immobile. However in the throat chakra the sounds created in the throat space are able to expand out just as space expands to fill the universe.  

You may tune in sound of the space outside of you by chanting 'om', the sound which permeates space.  We begin our practice in this way in this week's video.  Our focus is mainly on the throat space but we also think about creating space in the shoulders, chest, spine, hips and back of the legs.


Namaste,
Janet x

Sunday, 29 May 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell



Today's Meatless Monday recipe is a vegan version of Bibimibap. Bibimibap is a Korean rice bowl with sauteed vegetables (namul) and hot fermented sauce (gochujang).
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/meatless-monday-bibimbap.html

With my annual eye test coming up, I have been thinking about how best we can look after our eyes, especially as we get older. 
On my 'sister' blog we look at foods that may help our eyes stay young- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/feast-your-eyes.html

If you have been following our gardening posts on my 'sister' blog, you may be at the stage where you are harvesting your radish.
In this update we talk about how you can grow more radish for the summer and there is a recipe for a 'Roasted rosemary radish and butternut squash' side dish.
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/harvesting-radishes-organic-gardening.html

Yoga for seniors - Posture 2


As we get older years of sitting, walking etc takes its toll on our posture if we do not take steps to stretch the muscles that daily living tightens. 

Our shoulders are drawn forward by such daily tasks as driving, working at a desk or on a computer, cooking and many, many more.  This leads to tightened chest muscles and rounding in the upper back which not only makes you look older but also may restrict breathing which in turn may lead to fatigue and stress.

Daily activities such as walking may also lead to tight hamstrings which tip the pelvis backwards or if the hip flexors and quadriceps are tight due to sitting, the pelvis may tip forward which again may cause mal-alignment of the spine in the lower back.  The result is often back pain.  Also your centre of gravity changes as a result of the changing position of the pelvis which may cause you to hold your head differently leading to neck problems and contributing to problems with balance in seniors.  If the pelvis is not correctly aligned, then this may even affect the knee causing problems here (more on this to come).

Yoga can help by not only teaching us good posture but stretching the tight muscles which have caused postural mal-alignment. The sequence below is for seniors who do not have problems with mobility.  Last week we did a sequence for posture which would be suitable for seniors with some mobility problems. 

You will need a block or equivalent and belt or dressing gown tie.

Start lying on your mat and spend a few minutes tuning into your body and watching your breath.  

Supta Padagusthasana (stretches hamstrings) - bend both knees and drawing the right knee towards the chest, place a belt around the ball of the right foot so that you are holding the belt in two hands.  Bring your knees back in line and straighten the back of the right leg.  If you have no lower back issues you can straighten the left leg.  Work with the breath - inhale and as your body relaxes on the exhale you might find that you can draw the leg a little further in.  If your leg starts to bend, you need to release your leg a little.  To come out of the pose, bend the right knee, remove the belt and come back to your start position.  Notice how the right leg feels compared to the left.   Repeat second side.



Shoulder Bridge (gently stretches the chest and shoulder muscles) - lie with your knees bent. Inhale, lift your hips, take your arms overhead, exhale dot your spine back down on the mat and bring your arms back over.  Continue working with your breath for several movements. To finish hug your knees into your chest then roll onto your right side to come up.



Cow Face Arms (stretches the shoulder muscles, helping to correct rounding of the shoulders)- sit in a cross-legged position with your hips elevated on a block.  Place a belt over your right shoulder. Breathe in, stretch your right arm up, breathe out take your right hand down your back so that your palm faces your back.  Breathe in stretch your left arm forward, breathe out externally rotate your left arm up your back.  If you can join your hands in a yogic grip with your fingers curled around each other.  If you cannot reach take hold of the belt and creep the fingers towards each other.  Do not pull on the belt which will take the fingers further apart.  Make sure your right elbow is not pressing your head forward. Breathe out to release. Circle your shoulders up by your ears then back and down. Repeat second side.


The photo on the right shows the modified version with the belt

Downward Facing Dog variation (stretches the hamstrings and lengthens the spine)- come onto all fours, breathe in, breathe out and lift your knees a few inches from the ground. Press your chest back to your thighs to lengthen your spine then start to straighten your legs.  

Lunge (stretches the quadriceps and psoas) - breathe in and bring your right foot forward between your hands (if your foot falls short of your hands, take hold of it and help it forward), breathe out and drop your back knee down to the mat (place a cushion under your knee if you need to).  Breathe in and bring your hand to your front knee and lean into your front leg to feel a stretch in your back thigh.  When you are ready, breathe out take your hands to the mat, breathe in tuck your back toes and lift your knee, breathe out step back to Downward Facing Dog.  Repeat the lunge with the left leg.



Child's pose variation - from Downward Facing Dog, breathe in, drop your knees, breathe out, take your bottom back to your heels extending your arms forward. Stay here for a few breaths then return to Downward Facing Dog.


Tadasna - from Downward Facing Dog, walk your feet forward and when your shoulders come over your hands, take hold of your elbows and slowly roll up. Stand with the feet together with the outside edges of the feet parallel (for most of us this willl mean separating the heels).  Have your weight spread evenly through all four corners of the feet, the little toe side, big toe side, inner heel and outer heel.  Lift your insteps (if you can lift your middle three toes, this will help). Lift your kneecaps to engage your thigh muscles and give you the strong foundation.  Lengthen your tail bone down towards the floor to create space in the spine, lift your chest and roll your shoulder blades back and down.  Your chin should be level with the floor, the crown of your head reaching for the ceiling.  Your arms should be relaxed by your sides, your fingers gently curled.  If it feels safe for you close your eyes or lower your eyes to gaze at a spot on the floor.




Triangle (engages the core muscles which support the pelvis, opens the shoulders and side body)- stand in the middle of the mat and step your feet a leg length apart.  Turn the the right leg out and the toes of the left foot in 45 degrees.  Ladies should line up front heel to back heel, men front heel to back instep.  Breathe in and bring your arms to shoulder height, breathe out and bring your right hand to your right leg (not against your knee) and your left arm up.  Hold and breathe. To come out breathe in, bring your arms back up to shoulder height, breathe out bring your hands to your heart in prayer position, turn your feet to face forward.  Repeat second side.  


Zig Zag twist (opens the shoulders and chest)- sit on a block and take your left foot wide of your left hip then bring your right foot to the inside of your left thigh.  Adjust your block if you need to to level your hips. Breathe in, lengthen your spine, breathe out twist to the right. Bring your left hand to your right leg.  Hold and breathe for a few breaths then breathe in to release. Repeat second side. 



Seated Forward Fold variation- (opens the hamstrings and calms the mind ready for relaxation) sit on a block with your legs forward and bend your knees.  Lean forward and take hold of your feet or ankles so that your chest is in contact with your thighs.  Slide your feet forward until your thighs and chest start to part then release the crown of your head down.  Hold for 5 breaths then breathe in to release.  


Savasana (receive the benefits of your practice)- lie back on your mat with your eyes closed to receive the benefits of your practice. Spend a few minutes watching your breath then when you are ready wriggle your fingers and toes or take a stretch and a yawn before turning onto your right side.  Spend a minute on your right side then open your eyes and slowly come up to continue with your day. 



Please also see :-


'Yoga for seniors - Posture 1'- 

Namaste,
Janet x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Protecting your neck in seated twists


The cervical (neck) vertebrae are much more mobile than the thoracic (upper back) vertebrae in most people.  This means that often when people do seated twists, the twisting action comes mainly from the neck.  This can lead to strain and even neck injury.  To prevent this, when moving into twists, keep the chin over the breast bone until, with practice, the rest of the spine becomes more flexible.  When you reach the stage where you have a good twist throughout the spine, then you may turn to look over your shoulder, listening to your body all the while.  

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

Stay safe 

Namaste 
Janet x 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Elements and the Chakras -Part 4- Air

Please see the yoga video on my YouTube Channel-'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 4- Air'- 

With each breath in we take the air element from outside our bodies into our heart space to nourish us, each breath out it cleanses us. With breathing practices we open up the heart space to receive more of the air element and as we receive more of the air element our bodies are purified, our minds become calm and clear and we open up to love and compassion which are the essence of the heart chakra.  This then is the connection between the air element and the heart chakra.

In our video this we start by practicing square breath, counting the breath as it moves in and out of the body.  This creates an awareness of the air element moving in and out of the body. 
We then go on to do poses that open up the front, back and sides of the heart space.  We finish with a meditation in which we reflect on the air element.

Namaste
Janet x

Sunday, 22 May 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This week's Meatless Monday on my 'sister' blog was another quick lunch idea- 'Tofu and noodle soup'- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/meatless-monday-tofu-and-noodle-soup.html

This week down at the allotment we are planting dwarf French beans using a technique called 'double row planting'.
Please see this guest post written by Becky by following the link to my 'sister' blog below- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/planting-french-beans-spring-planting.html

Yoga for seniors-Posture 1

As we get older years of sitting, walking etc takes its toll on our posture if we do not take steps to stretch the muscles that daily living tightens. 

Our shoulders are drawn forward by such daily tasks as driving, working at a desk or on a computer, cooking and many, many more.  This leads to tightened shoulder and chest muscles and rounding in the upper back which not only makes you look older but also may restrict breathing which in turn may lead to fatigue and stress.

Daily activities such as walking may also lead to tight hamstrings which tip the pelvis backwards or if the hip flexors and quadriceps are tight due to sitting, the pelvis may tip forward which again may cause misalignment of the spine in the lower back.  The result is often back pain.  Also your centre of gravity changes as a result of the changing position of the pelvis which may cause you to hold your head differently leading to neck problems and contributing to problems with balance in seniors.  If the pelvis is not correctly aligned, then this may even affect the knee causing problems here (more on this to come).

Yoga can help by not only teaching us good posture but stretching the tight muscles which have caused postural misalignment. The sequence below is for seniors who have limited mobility.  It encourages the shoulder blades to move back and down and stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors.  Next week's sequence will be for seniors who have more mobility to help improve posture.

Safety note-Make sure that your chair will not slip.

Seated Dandasana - sit on a chair, a little forward of the back and with your feet placed on blocks (or books) if you need to so that your knees are level with your hips. Lengthen your spine by pressing your hands into the sides of the chair seat.  Roll your shoulders up by your ears then release them back and down.  Have your neck in line with your spine and chin level with the floor. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. 



Shoulder rolls - warm up your shoulders before doing the stretches with a belt by rolling your shoulders up by your ears then back and down.  Continue for several movements.
Shoulder stretches with belt - sit forward on your chair and hold the yoga strap (or dressing gown tie so that your hands are wider than your shoulders.  Inhale stretch your arms up, exhale take the belt down your back.  Inhale lift your arms up, exhale bring your hands down in front of you.  Repeat twice more.



Shoulder stretches with belt - take hold of the belt so that your hands are wider than your shoulders. Inhale stretch your arms up, exhale take the belt behind your back. Inhale stretch your arms back up, exhale return to the start position. Repeat twice more. 


Tadasana with wall - stand with your back against the wall so that the back of your head, your shoulders, your hips and the back of your heels are touching the wall.  If you can stay here for a few minutes.



Downward Facing Dog variation with chair - stand with the back of the chair facing you. Make sure that the chair will not slip.  Hold the top of the chair back and walk your feet back.  Your head should be positioned between your arms and your feet at hip distance. Keeping your hips level, breathe in and lift your right leg.  You should feel a stretch at the back of your left leg.  Breathe out to lower your right leg then repeat with your left leg. Breathe in to lift back up to standing.



Intense Side Stretch variation with chair - stand a little way from the chair (you may have to adjust) with your feet at hip distance.  Turn the toes of your left foot out and step forward with your right foot.  Level up your hips so that both hips are pointing forward.  Fold forward bringing your hands to the back of the chair and your head between your arms - you will need to bend your elbows out to the sides.  Keep the back leg straight. You should feel a stretch down the back of your legs.  Breathe in to come up, breathe out to step your feet together.  Repeat second side.



Dancer - stand with your right hand on the back of the chair.  Bend your left knee and take hold of your left foot with your left hand.  You should feel a stretch in the muscle at the front of the thigh (quadricep).  For a more intense stretch, press your left foot up and back. Repeat second side.



Apanasana - sit back on your chair and lift the right leg interlacing your fingers below your knee or if you have knee issues at the back of your thigh.  Draw your leg close in to your chest to stretch out your back.  Repeat second side.



To finish meditate for a few minutes by sitting and watching your breath.

Please also see, 'Yoga for seniors- An introduction'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/yoga-for-seniors-introduction.html

Namaste,
Janet x 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Elements and the Chakras- Part 3 - Fire



Please see the yoga video on my YouTube Channel-'The Elements and the Chakras- Part 3 - Fire'- https://youtu.be/x7QGaW9q928

The third chakra is associated with your power, determination and drive, in other words the 'fire in your belly '.  The third chakra also is associated with digestion and your metabolism and it is having a stoked up digestive fire, agni which makes for good digestion.  According to Ayurveda, yoga's sister science, good digestion is the basis of good health.  The third chakra is not only concerned with digestion of food however but the 'digestion' of our ideas, thoughts and emotions.

In our video this week we start with Kapalabhati which lights the digestive fire and creates a purifying heat in the body.  Once the body is pure, the mind becomes clear.
We then go on to practice Sun Salutations which also create purifying heat in the body as well as poses that work the abdomen such as core activating poses and twists to light the digestive fire.

We end with a purifying candle meditation - the candle flame representing the qualities of fire that are heat and light.

Please see also, 'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 1-Earth'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-elements-and-chakras-part-1-earth.html

'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 2-Water'-
 http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-elements-and-chakras-part-2-water.html

Namaste
Janet x


This week on 40plusandalliswell



Whenever we get back late for lunch these 'Mediterranean bean salad wraps' are the order of the day as they are quick to make but delicious and healthy too. They can be made gluten-free too if you use gluten-free wraps.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/meatless-monday-mediterranean-bean.html

Find out why it is important to maintain your arm and shoulder strength over 40 years of age.
On my 'sister' blog I show you some exercises with weights to improve your arm and shoulder strength - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-importance-of-maintaining-muscle_12.html

Are your organic gardening efforts hampered by winged pests such as pigeons, cabbage white butterflies and aphids? 
In this guest blog post Becky explores some natural ways to deal with them.
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/organic-garden-update-dealing-with_15.html 

Yoga for seniors-an introduction


Anyone can do yoga- 'if you can breathe, you can do yoga' (Krishnamacharya) so please do not think that because you are over 60 you cannot practice yoga (I, too am 60).  Even so, it is always best to check with your doctor before undertaking a new programme of exercise especially if you have a medical condition.  Always listen to your body- you should feel a delicious, opening stretch but if you feel strain or pain you need to come out of the pose.  If you strain in a pose, you lose the benefits of that pose and never sacrifice the breath for a pose.  The yoga sutras descibes this as 'finding ease in your efforts' (sthira-sukham asanam Patanjali's yoga sutra 2.46).  

Props are wonderful for helping your body open up gradually without strain.  You need either a yoga strap or a dressing gown tie, a yoga block or thick book, a bolster or rolled up blanket, a wall and a chair.  

Do not be shy of modifying poses either - it means that you will receive all the benefits of that pose in a form that is accessible to you.  

Bearing these points in mind, yoga has many benefits for seniors.  One of the problems as we get older is that years of sitting, walking etc takes its toll on our posture if we do not take steps to stretch the muscles that daily living tightens. Tight muscles may lead to back pain, rounded shoulders and because the chest muscles may become tight, breathing may become difficult.  Also poor posture makes you look older.  Yoga can help by not only teaching us good posture but stretching the tight muscles which have caused postural malalignment.   

As we get older our balance is not as good which may lead to slips and falls.  This is especially a concern if the bones have become brittle through osteoporosis.  Yoga can help improve balance and improve bone strength.  

Other benefits of yoga for seniors are:-
  • Yoga helps combat fatigue, enabling you to live life to the full
  • Yoga helps you cope with chronic pain
  • Yoga keeps your heart and circulation healthy
  • Yoga boosts immunity which can lessen as we age
  • Yoga helps with chronic back pain 
  • Yoga helps keep your joints flexible
  • Yoga and meditation help keep your brain healthy, reducing the risk of dementia.
Over the coming weeks we will be looking more closely at each of these benefits and practicing yoga poses that support them.

Next week we look at how yoga can improve posture for seniors.

Namaste,
Janet x

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Yoga for muscle strength - Part 3 Arms and Shoulders

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body in your body.  Unfortunately this also means the most unstable.  The shoulder is a ball and socket joint.  The problem is that the socket into which the ball of the arm bone (humerus) fits is very shallow compared with the hip ball and socket joint and so it is vital that the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint are strong enough to prevent the ball slipping out of the socket resulting in a dislocated shoulder.  However this strength needs to be balanced with flexibility to allow the shoulder joint to have a full range of motion which helps prevent osteoarthritis.

Shoulder muscles often weaken because of poor posture and conversely it is important to strengthen shoulder muscles to maintain good posture.  

Arm strength too is important for many every day activities such as lifting, pushing and pulling.

The sequence below will help maintain strong and yet flexible shoulders and arms:-

Start in Easy Pose - interlace your fingers, press your palms away, breathe in and stretch your arms up, breathe out take your arms out and down.  Repeat interlacing your fingers the other way so that if you normally have the right finger on top, this time have the left.  Come to all 4s.



Push-ups - from all 4s take your knees slightly back.  Breathe in and lower, tucking your elbows into your sides. Breathe out and press back into the start position and continue for 10 repetitions.  Sit back on your heels and bringing your hands to your heels, rest your forehead on the mat.  When you are ready, sit back on your heels or come back to seated.  



Cow Face Arms - if you need a belt, place one over your right shoulder.  Inhale, stretch your right arm up, breathe out and bending your right elbow, bring your right hand down your back.  Inhale, stretch your left arm forward, exhale, externally rotate your left arm up your back so that your hands meet in a yogic grip.  If your fingers do not meet, hold the belt and inch your fingers towards one another.  Come back to all 4s.  



Plank to Side Plank - from all 4s, take your right leg back and slightly lower your right hip. Without moving your right leg, bring the left leg to meet it.  Make sure your shoulders are over your hands.  Hold for a few breaths then breathe in, lift your left arm up to the ceiling, turning your feet so that you are on the little toe side of your right foot, big toe side of your right foot.  Lift through the right side of your body.  To modify bend your left knee bringing your left foot to the mat.  Breathe out and come back to Plank then repeat second side.  



Upward Facing Dog - from Plank bend your elbows back lower to the mat (drop your knees if you need to) and bring your forehead to the back of your hands. Tuck the toes of your right foot and press your right heel back to lengthen your spine.  Repeat with the left foot.  Bring your hands to rib cage level.  Inhale press into your hands and come up.  Your arms can be straight or if you feel any pinching in your lower back soften your elbows.  Breathe out to lower then press back into a Child Pose.



Dolphin - from Child's Pose stretch your arms forward and come up onto all 4s.  Bring your elbows down on the mat and position your hands either side of a block with the long edge of the block facing you.  Your first finger and thumb should form an L shape around the near edge of the block.  Breathe in and as you breathe out lift your hips up.  Sit back on your heels.

Eagle Arms - take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows.  If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift your elbows level with the mat.  Come to seated with your knees bent.



Tricep Dips - take your hands behind your hips fingers pointing back towards your body. Inhale bend your elbows back, exhale press back to straight arms.  Continue for 10 repetitions.  Lie back on the mat, hug your knees in and rock side to side then take a savasana.  


On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell there is a blog post on arm and shoulder strengthening with weights, 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40-Part 3 Arms and Shoulders'-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-importance-of-maintaining-muscle_12.html

You might also like:-

'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 1 Legs'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/yoga-for-muscle-strength-part-1-legs.html

'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 2 Core'- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/yoga-for-muscle-strength-part-2-core.html


Namaste 
Janet x 


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Elements and the Chakras -Part 2- Water

.

Please see my yoga video, 'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 2- Water' on my YouTube Channel-https://youtu.be/9onk6NKvjbs


The idea of the elements originated in Ancient Greece.  The belief was that everything in the universe is composed of a combination of 5 elements - Earth, water, fire, air and ether.

In the second of this series we explore the energy of the element water and its connection to the sacral chakra.  Just as water flows and the sacral chakra is associated with the flow of emotions, desires and the flow of creativity.  If the sacral chakra is out of balance, bladder and kidney problems may occur.  

Our video this week therefore is one of hip opening yoga flows.  We end with a warm water meditation with our hands in a mudra to balance the sacral chakra.

Please see also, 'The Elements and the Chakras -Part 1-Earth'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-elements-and-chakras-part-1-earth.html

Namaste,
Janet x

Sunday, 8 May 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell


Here in Yorkshire, the Bank Holiday weekend weather is not shaping up too well. Hopefully the weather is better where you are!
Whatever the weather these vegan spicy beetroot burgers will cheer your Bank Holiday Monday!
Meatless Monday recipe on my 'sister' blog
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/meatless-monday-spicy-beetroot-burgers.html

Find out why it is important to maintain your core strength over 40 years of age. Also in this blog post are some kundalini kriyas to help improve core strength. Please see my 'sister' blog-
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-importance-of-maintaining-muscle.html 
This blog post was included in the paper 'Yoga Vitality Magazine'-http://paper.li/Yoga_Vitality/1336524135?edition_id=901cec30-125a-11e6-8663-0cc47a0d1605

Slugs are a nightmare for the organic fruit and vegetable gardener. On my 'sister' blog our guest blogger, Becky explores some of the ways to deal with them without chemicals- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/organic-garden-update-dealing-with_8.html

Yoga for every body- men- body image


Please see my yoga video on my YouTube Channel- 'Yoga for every body -men- body image' - https://youtu.be/JDv3bgrDx2g

We tend to think that it is only women who worry about how their bodies look ('does my bum look big in this' etc) but I believe there is just as much pressure on men from the media to look a certain way.  Men have always wanted to be muscular, have a 'six- pack' etc. I remember my dad using a 'bullworker' and doing exercises with weights to increase muscle. 

Sales of 'body building' protein drinks are high even though it is doubtful if they work.  More worrying is the use of steroids to build up muscle.  There is also a feeling that physical toughness equates to mental toughness but there is also a place for gentleness - both men and women have a mix of masculine and feminine energies.  I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.  

Yoga helps us accept how we are - real people are not perfect.  They do not conform to the images portrayed in the media and trying to match up to those 'perfect people' can only lead to unnecessary suffering.  Love yourself just as you are and treat yourself well  - eat good food and let go of negative self talk.  Do not put off being happy until you have a six-pack or whatever.  

Through yoga we recognise that we are blessed.  Try writing down three things that you are grateful for at the end of each day.  Little things matter - spending time with family or friends, the sun breaking through the clouds, watching the birds, the flowers, enjoying something delicious to eat etc. 

Yoga also helps you become more comfortable in your own skin and helps you feel connected to all living beings.

In our video this week, we practice poses to help let go of the need to be perfect. We also practice poses and breathing techniques that make us feel glad to be alive and poses to increase self-confidence.  

We end with a body appreciation meditation.

Be happy!

Namaste,
Janet x 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Yoga for muscle strength - Part 2 Core

Last week we looked at the importance of leg strength. Please see-'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 1 Legs'-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/yoga-for-muscle-strength-part-1-legs.html 
This week we are looking at the importance of core strength.

Lack of core strength can lead to poor lower body posture is not only aging for your appearance but can also lead to lower back pain and even knee pain. Knee pain may occur because weak core muscle affect the positioning of the femur causing abnormal wear and tear on the knee cap. Lack of core strength can also lead to sluggish digestion which may lead constipation and less than adequate nutrition. 

Below are a few yoga poses that will help you maintain your core strength:- 

To start lie back on your mat, hands on tummy directing your breath into the area under your hands.  

'Cycling' (care neck issues!) - from lying back on the mat take your hands behind your head, fingers so that they support the point where your neck meets your spine.  Breathe in, lift your shins parallel to the floor, breathe out engage your core and curl up taking your right elbow towards your left knee as you extend your left leg.  Inhale back to start position and repeat left elbow to right knee and continue for 10 moves.  Take a rest then repeat. 



Leg raises - from lying down on the mat, inhale, exhale, draw your navel back to your spine and lift both legs towards the ceiling.  Breathe in and as you breathe out lower your legs a third of of the way, pressing your lower back into the mat.  Breathe in, breathe out and lower your legs two thirds of the way.  Breathe in, breathe out and lower with control to the mat. Repeat.  To modify do one leg at a time.  Hug your knees in and rock from side to side. Come to all 4s then to lying on your tummy with your arms extended.  



Sphinx Plank - inhale slide your elbows back under your shoulders.  Release your shoulders away from your ears and lift your chest.  Breathe in and tuck your toes, breathe out, engage your core and lift away from the mat.  Hold and breathe, drawing your navel back to your spine each time you breathe out.  When you are ready to let go, inhale drop your knees, exhale take your bottom back to your heels, reach back for your heels and rest your forehead either on the mat or on stacked fists.  When you feel ready to continue stretch your arms forward, placing your hands at shoulder width, breathe in come onto all 4s, tuck your toes, breathe out lift your hips into a Downward Facing Dog.



Core Plank - from Downward Facing Dog, breathe in stretch your right leg up and back (Three Leg Dog), breathe out, engage your core and bend your right knee as you take your right knee towards your right arm and shift your weight forward.  Hold for a breath then breathe in, take your right leg back, Three Leg Dog.  Repeat taking your knee to your left elbow then repeat taking your knee to the outside of your right arm.  Repeat 2nd side then come through Downward Facing Dog to standing in the middle of the mat.



Side Angle Variation - step your feet wide and turn the whole of the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot turning in about 45 degrees. Ladies should line up front and back heels, men front heel to back instep. Bring your hands to prayer position.  Inhale stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee.  Inhale bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale circle your left arm down then up by your left ear. On your next breath out, stretch both arms out to the right.  Hold for a breath or two. To come out of the pose, inhale windmill your arms up to shoulder height, straighten the front knee, exhale bring your hands to your heart, turn the feet to face forward. Repeat on the second side.



Boat  (care - if your 'boat' sinks, make sure you are not going to hit your head)-  sit with your knees bent.  Hold the back of your thighs, inhale lift your chest so that your spine is long. Keeping the length in your spine, rock back on your sit bones, breathe out lift your shins level with the floor and extend your arms forward.  To go further straighten your legs.  To come out, bend your knees, take hold of the back of your thighs, and release your feet to the floor.
To finish - lie in Savasana and gently massage your abdomen then relax.

On the wellness blog there are some Kundalina kriyas to help improve core strength. Please see 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40- Part 2 Core'- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-importance-of-maintaining-muscle.html

Namaste,
Janet x

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Elements and the Chakras - Part 1- Earth

Please see my yoga video on my YouTube Channel-  'The Elements and the Chakras - Part 1- Earth'-https://youtu.be/JrAHYh0giI0

The idea of the elements originated in Ancient Greece.  The belief was that everything in the universe is composed of a combination of 5 elements - Earth, water, fire, air and ether.  

In the first of this new series we explore the element Earth and its connection to the energy of the root chakra.  In Ayurveda, yoga's sister science,  earth is everything in the body which is solid- teeth, bones, hair, nails, skin.  The root chakra too represents all that is 'solid' in our lives - our security, our basic needs.  When the root chakra is unbalanced we become ungrounded, we 'live in our heads', becoming anxious and stressed.  

Our video this week is a grounding practice which will draw energy down, increasing our feelings of security and stability and reducing our feelings of stress and anxiety.  We end with a meditation in which we connect with nature and the earth which nourishes and supports us and all living beings.

Namaste
Janet x 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell


My Meatless Monday recipe on my 'sister' blog this week is 'Lentil, black bean and sweet potato enchiladas'. 
This Mexican inspired dish was a big hit in our house! The cashew nut 'cheese' is a fantastic alternative for vegans - just whiz the ingredients up in a blender for an instant 'cheese' sauce - magical. Cashew nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants too and they do not have the saturated fat of cheese. 
Recipe on the blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/meatless-monday-lentil-black-bean-and.html
Hope you enjoy!

Muscle mass reduces by up to 1% per year over 40 so it's important to take steps to reverse this. 
In this blog post on my 'sister' blog I will show you some ways to maintain your muscle strength- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-importance-of-maintaining-muscle.html

Weeds can be a real headache for the organic gardener! In this blog post on my 'sister' blog, our guest blogger, Becky explores some of the ways to deal with them- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/organic-garden-update-dealing-with.html

Yoga for every body- men- athletes

Please see my yoga video on my YouTube Channel-'Yoga for every body -men- athletes'-https://youtu.be/ZmN-v_QeiPM

Participating in sports is a great way to increase your fitness but sports may tighten muscles which may in turn lead to injury and posture problems.  Cyclists for instance may need to stretch their shoulder and chest muscles. Runners,  power walkers and footballers may have tight hamstrings, quads and IT band.  When I started power walking, my feet and ankles were not happy.  My daughter practices karate and has problems with her SI joint as well as tight neck and shoulder muscles.  Tennis players may also need to stretch their shoulder muscles particularly on the 'tennis arm' side and stretch their chest muscles. The answer to all these issues is YOGA practiced alongside your chosen sport. 

Most sports require focus and concentration and yoga can help here too.

In our yoga video this week we work on stretching the muscles which may become tight as a result of sports.  I have also included meditative moves as these can help improve focus and concentration.   Balancing poses also increase focus and concentration.  Please see - 'Yoga for beginner's - Balances Part 1'-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PM0mFvBers and 'Yoga for beginner's - Balances Part 2'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trBeMjLZfNM
For more chest opening poses please see - 'Yoga for beginner's - Heart openers Part 1'-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0I-CW9Cpoc and 'Yoga for beginner's - Heart openers Part 2'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awu6M8evd8c

You might also be interested in 'Yoga to prevent pain connected with lifestyle - runners' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMKgab3uc0&index=16&list=PLS4Wjf00I4uzvo3GR3QdOKNre0MOKYVUS
Also my blog post on meditation, 'Meditation, ancient help for 21st century stress' - http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meditation-ancient-help-for-21st.html

Namaste,
Janet x