Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year


Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and endings.  He is often depicted as having two faces one looking forward, the other looking back.  In yoga we endeavor to be in the present moment, neither fretting about the past nor worrying about the future.  This is something we have been working with over the last couple of weeks.  As we stand on the cusp of 2017, the slate is wiped clean.  We can leave behind our regrets, our mistakes and turn to the future. My grandmother was always really fearful as the New Year approached but this is almost a prayer for chaos. I know many people also feel apprehension as the old year leaves and a new one begins.  Instead why not project positive thoughts into 2017 where they will wait to manifest? What are your hopes and dreams for 2017?  Meditate on these and visualise them as coming true for you in the year to come. 

I hope that we can continue on our yoga journey together in 2017.

Happy New Year!





Thursday, 29 December 2016

A little bit of calm

Christmas is a hectic time - there's all the preparations, the cooking, friends and family visiting or coming to stay. In this time of 'Twixtmas' before the New Year celebrations begin, why not take some time to refresh and renew. This is not only for you, because when you feel well and happy, all around you will benefit. This sequence will calm your nervous system.

Supta Baddha Konasana- start by sitting with your knees bent in front of a bolster or a stacked blankets.  Place cushions or blocks at either side of you.  Lie back over the bolster or blankets and bring the soles of your feet together so that your thighs rest on your cushions. Bring your hands to your tummy and close your eyes while you focus on your breath moving in and out of your body.  Do not try to change your breath, just let your breath be a focus so that you can let go of any thoughts.  Stay here for around 5 minutes until your mind is calm. To come out of the pose take your hands to the outside of your thighs, bring your knees together, roll onto your right side then slowly come up.



Rolling Cat - come to all fours.  Breathe in, breathe out, arch your back, take your bottom back to your heels. Breathe in, bend your elbows out to the sides and come back to all fours. Continue making the movement flow with your breath.  



Crocodile - lie on your tummy and cup your chin in your hands.  Find a position that feels comfortable - if you take your elbows wide you will work into your upper, thoracic spine.  If your elbows are close together, you will work into your lower, lumbar spine. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Crocodile pose releases a lot of healing energies.  



Child's Pose -come towards the back of your mat, big toes touching, knees wide.  Place a bolster or a rolled up blanket lengthwise between your knees and rest over your bolster with your right cheek on the bolster, your arm relaxed by the sides of the bolster.  Rest here watching your breath for a few minutes then turn to rest your left cheek on the bolster for a few minutes. Press into your hands to come up.  Slowly make your way to standing.



Meditative moves - stand in the middle of your mat and step your feet wide, turning your toes out to the corners of the mat, your arms by your sides.  Breathe in, take your arms out and up, breathe out, bend your knees, take your arms out and down, bringing your right hand to rest in your left hand.  Breathe in, straighten your knees, lift your hands up. Breathe out, turn your your hands over, bend your knees, press your hands down.  Breathe in, straighten your legs, take your arms out and up, breathe out, take your arms out and down.



Reclined twist - lie with your knees bent and a bolster on your left side, your arms a little way from your body, palms facing up.  Breathe in and as you breathe out let your knee come to rest on the bolster.  Turn your head to the right if you have no problems with your neck.  Stay here for a few minutes, watching the breath and enjoying the twist then breathe in to return to centre.  Repeat second side. 



Supported shoulder bridge - from lying with your knees bent, arms by your sides, breathe in and lift your hips and place a block under your tailbone.  Stay here for several breaths and when you are ready to come out, remove the block and dot your spine down one vertebra at a time. 



Legs on a chair - sit on your mat with your right hip in front of a chair with your knees bent. Swivel so that you can bring your legs on the chair as you rest back on the mat. For extra comfort place a cushion on the chair seat.  When you are ready, roll onto your right side and stay there for a few minutes before coming up.  




Namaste,

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Yoga for anxiety -Present moment- Part 2

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga for anxiety -Present moment- Part 2 '-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Please note-Please consult your doctor if you are having severe panic attacks or chronic anxiety - there is much a doctor can offer you that would complement your yoga practice such as Cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling which you could do alongside yoga.
Please be aware that these yoga practices may take you to an emotional edge that can be very painful if you suffer from severe anxiety. Just as with a physical edge, you should back off if the emotions get too intense. I would strongly advise you to check with your medical practitioner before undertaking these yoga practices.

A key teaching of yoga is to be in the present moment.  This helps quieten some of the chatterings of the mind for if we are in the present moment we cannot be fretting about the past or worrying about the future.  Indeed the present moment is all we have- the past has gone, the future is an unknown quantity no matter how much we try to shape it, so all we really have is now.  Many of us would like to change the past - we would have made different choices, etc. All we can do is keep the lessons learned from the past, keep the love and let everything else go - this is part of our spiritual growth. 

In the second video on present moment we focus on the breath to anchor us to the present moment. The breath is born with the inhale, dies with the exhale and is reborn with the next inhale. To get you used to tuning into your breath, I have chosen poses that have a noticeable effect on the breath which I will draw your attention to. We end the video with a meditation in which we focus on the breath to create soothing waves of relaxation in our body.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas wish for peace

As yogis we long for peace in a troubled world.  If you follow the news, it is easy to believe that peace in the world is a long way off.  What the news does not report however is all the good that people do because they care about others - it is there if you look for it.  I quote from John 1:5 'the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'.

My message to you this Christmas is to urge you to shine the divine light that resides inside each and every one of us and together we will overcome the darkness.

Wishing you a happy, peaceful Christmas



This week on 40plusandalliswell

Portobello mushrooms add a 'meatiness' to this year's nut roast recipe, and the cranberry glaze says 'Christmas'-
'Nut roast stuffed Portobello mushrooms with cranberry glaze' 
Meatless Monday recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/nut-roast-stuffed-portobello-mushrooms.html

It's not too late to plan your vegan Christmas! Take a look at my Christmas recipes below plus many more in this blog post for inspiration. 
I hope you enjoy! Please see my my 'sister' blog-
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/vegan-christmas-recipes.html

Dark, rich, chocolaty, my 'Vegan chocolate yule stump cake' has no added sugar and it's gluten free too! 
Follow the blog link to my 'sister' blog for the recipe! - 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/vegan-chocolate-yule-stump-cake.html

Bringing the outdoors in with a real tree has been shown to have health benefits, Even if you do not have a real tree you can get some of the benefits using pine essential oil. See the link to my 'sister' blog below- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/its-beginning-to-smell-lot-like.html

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Mindful Christmas, Magical Christmas

Remember when you we little and Christmas was just the most magical time.  Everything about Christmas was wonderful because you were totally in the moment and enjoying every single moment.  I can remember my early Christmas preparations - the writing to Santa (with help from dad), the smell of almonds when mum was making marzipan (the smell of almonds still whisks me back to those days), the glass baubles, the tree lights, the 'chocolate umbrellas' on the tree, the honeycomb bells and garlands dad decorated the ceiling with and best of all Christmas morning when Santa had been. 

Then we grow up and the magic of Christmas gets lost in doing, doing and doing.  It's no surprise then that often after Christmas we say 'it was over so quick'.  So let's bring back the magic for us adults too.  The following sequence will quieten your mind so that you can open up to the magic of the Christmas season.

To start lie down, close your eyes and take a few minutes to let go of any thoughts and let your breath settle.

Shoulder Bridge - lie with your knees bent, arms by your sides.  Breathe in, lift your hips and support your hips with your hands, thumbs pointing out.  Hold and breathe for a few breaths then take your hands out to the sides and slowly release your spine down. Hug your knees in.  



Modified Side Plank - come to all fours and take your right shin out to the side.  Stretch your left leg out as you take your left arm up and over, lifting your chest up towards the ceiling.  Breathe out to release and come back to all fours.  Repeat second side.



Puppy pose - come back to all fours.  Keep your hips high and walk your hands forward bringing your forehead to the mat or cushion. To modify take your hands wider or interlace your fingers behind your head.  Melt your heart towards the mat.  To come out of the pose walk your hands back to all fours.



Extended Child's Pose - from all fours bring your bottom back to your heels and your forehead down to the mat or cushion, keeping your elbows lifted.



Downward Facing Dog - come back to all fours, breathe out and lift your hips.  



Crescent Moon variation - breathe in and bring your right foot forward, breathe out and bring your left knee to the mat, breathe in and lift your arms up and over.  To release bring your hands down to the mat as you breathe out and come back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat second side then come back to an Extended Child's Pose.  When you are ready come to standing.



Warrior 1 variation with Lotus Mudra - from the top of your mat step your left foot back, turn out your left toes and level up your hips. Breathe out and bend your right knee. Take your hands into Lotus mudra with thumbs and little fingers touching and the other fingers spread and open.  Breathe in and take your hands up, give thanks to the universe for the magic of the Christmas season.  To come out of the pose exhale lower your hands to your hips.  



Reverse Warrior - to move into Reverse Warrior, breathe in raise your right arm as you take your left hand to your left leg. Breathe out, lower your raised hand and step to the top of the mat as you breathe in. Repeat second side. 




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 reflecting on all that is good about the season. 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.  



And do you know what is the most magical thing of all about Christmas?  It is that God loved us so very much that he sent his only son to save us.  

You may also like 'Fun chocolate meditation'.

Have a magical Christmas season,


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Yoga for anxiety - Present moment- Part 1



Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga for anxiety -Present moment- Part 1 '-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Please note-Please consult your doctor if you are having severe panic attacks or chronic anxiety - there is much a doctor can offer you that would complement your yoga practice such as Cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling which you could do alongside yoga.
Please be aware that these yoga practices may take you to an emotional edge that can be very painful if you suffer from severe anxiety. Just as with a physical edge, you should back off if the emotions get too intense. I would strongly advise you to check with your medical practitioner before undertaking these yoga practices.

A key teaching of yoga is to be in the present moment.  This helps quieten some of the chatterings of the mind for if we are in the present moment we cannot be fretting about the past or worrying about the future.  Indeed the present moment is all we have- the past has gone, the future is an unknown quantity no matter how much we try to shape it, so all we really have is now.  Many of us would like to change the past - we would have made different choices, etc. All we can do is keep the lessons learned from the past, keep the love and let everything else go - this is part of our spiritual growth.  

But how do we anchor ourselves to the present moment?  In this video we are tuning into body sensations to bring ourselves in the present moment.  To start us off I have chosen poses that create strong sensations. While strong sensations are one thing, pain is another so if you need to, come out of the pose and take a rest.  

We end with a meditation to help connect to the sensations of anxiety in your physical body and be with them until they subside.

Hope this helps,


Sunday, 18 December 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell


These mini pizzas are ideal for Christmas buffets or enjoy them as a quick lunch with a salad. Using cornbread as a base means that they are also gluten free. The bases can be made ahead if time is short.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/meatless-monday-vegan-cornbread-mini.html

Home made facial peels use naturally occurring acids to break down the bonds between dead skin cells so that they easily slough off leaving glowing, new skin below.
Blog post on my 'sister' blog with instructions to make your own facial peel- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/home-made-natural-facial-peel-for-party.html

This gingerbread granola would make a delicious start to Christmas day! Serve with soy or coconut yogurt and berries.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/christmas-gingerbread-granola.html

Christmas Eve at Santa's workshop


It's Christmas Eve at Santa's workshop and all the elves are really busy putting the finishing touches to toys for all the girls' and boys' toys.  Can you be an elf and help? (Upward Salute) Stand up tall, take your arms overhead fingertips touching and bend your elbows to make your elf hat.



What have the girls and boys asked for this year?  Teddies are always popular. Becky from England, Adele from France and Emma from Australia all have one on their list. Sit on your mat and bring the soles of your feet together close into your body.  Hold you feet, breathe out and lift your feet off the mat.



Here's the teddy wrapped up and ready to go (Rabbit pose) - sit back on your heels and interlace your fingers behind your back.  Lift your hips and bring the top of your head to the mat or to a cushion.  Breathe in and lift your arms up to make the parcel's bow.  To come out of the pose, lower your arms, breathe in and slowly come up.  



Still lots to do.  Anna in Russia wants a ballerina doll (Dancer) - stand with your feet slightly apart.  Breathe in and stretch your left arm up, reach round for your right foot and hold it with your right hand.  Breathe in and as you breathe out, press your right foot into your right hand as your hinge forward.  Breathe in and straighten up, lower your right foot then be a ballerina on the other side.



Lihua in China wants a unicorn soft toy this year (Horse Stance) - stand in the middle of the mat and turn your toes out.  Bend both knees and bring your hands to your thighs.  If you wish you can take your arms above your head to form a unicorn horn.  



Santa sometimes likes to leave a candy cane when he calls.  Let's be candy canes (Rag Doll forward fold) - stand with your feet slightly apart.  Breathe out and slowly lower your arms and let your head hand.  When you are ready to come out of the pose, breathe in and slowly curl up.

Lance in America wants a bike - shall we pretend to cycle?  Lie on your mat with your hands behind your head, your shins parallel to the ceiling.  Breathe in and as you breathe out bring your left elbow to your right knee as you stretch your left leg out.  Breathe in to come back to centre, breathe out bring your right elbow to your left knee as you stretch your right leg out, breathe in to come back to centre and continue working with your breath.



Karl in Germany wants a superhero figure - this one is flying through the sky to rescue someone (Locust pose) - lie on your tummy with your forehead to the mat and your arms by your sides.  Breathe in and lift your head, chest, arms and legs.  Breathe as you fly through the sky then breathe out to lower.  Bring your bottom back to your heels, your forehead to the mat and take a rest. 



Henry from England wants a skateboard (Balancing Cat). Come to all fours, breathe in and as you breathe out stretch out your right arm and left leg. Breathe and when you are ready to come back to all fours, breathe out and lower your hand and knee. Repeat second side.



After working hard all day, all the presents are ready - time to load up the sleigh (Bow pose). To be a sleigh, lie on your tummy with your forehead on the mat.  Bend both knees and reach round to hold your feet, ankles or shins or if you cannot reach, take a belt around your feet. Breathe in and press your feet up and back so that your chest lifts off the mat and you make the shape of a sleigh with your body.  Hold and breathe then breathe out to lower. Take a rest as before.



Reindeer - the reindeer are ready too.  They have been fed and are excited. Let's pretend to be reindeer.  Which one will you be - Santa's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen), and of course Rudolph? (Downward Facing Dog) - come onto all fours, breathe in tuck your toes, breathe out lift your hips. When you are ready to come out of the pose, breathe in bring your knees to the mat, breathe out bring your bottom back to your heels and take a rest. When you are ready come to standing. 



Santa's ready too.  The elves made him a sandwich and a mug of coffee to keep him awake for his busy night.  He climbs into the sleigh, signals to the reindeer and off they go (Warrior 2) - stand in the middle of your mat and step your feet wide.  Breathe in and stretch your arms out at shoulder height.  Turn your right foot to the right and turn the toes of your left foot in. Breathe out bend your right knee, look down the fingers of your right hand.  When Santa is ready to go the other way, breathe in straighten your front knee, breathe out turn your feet to face forward, bring your hands to heart in a prayer position and repeat second side.



On through the night goes Santa, past the stars (Star pose) - stand in the middle of your mat and take your feet wide. Bring your arms up to shoulder height so that your head, hands and feet make the five points of a star.  To come out of the pose, lower your arms, step your feet together.



It's a crescent moon this Christmas Eve (Crescent Moon pose) - stand in the middle of your mat with your feet together.  Breathe in and take your arms up, bring your palms together. Breathe out and lean to the right as you take your hips to the left.  Breathe in to centre then do the other side.  



At last Santa's busy night is over and he and the reindeer can go back to the North Pole for a well deserved rest knowing that all the children will be happy when they wake tomorrow.
I hope Santa brings you everything you want.  Happy Christmas!!!


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Yoga for digestion-Part 2


Get your digestion in tip top condition ready to cope with the Christmas feasting.  Yogis believe complete wellness stems from good digestion but the holidays can make our digestion sluggish resulting in indigestion, bloating and constipation. It is important to avoid constipation which can lead to build up of toxins in the bowel which can result in increased risk of bowel cancer. 

The following sequence alternately stretches and compresses the abdomen stimulating digestion and elimination.   You will need a block, bolster and maybe some blankets.

To start lie down and take a few moments to 'arrive' at your practice. Check in with your physical body and let your breath settle.

Apanasana - lie with your legs outstretched and draw your right leg tight  in, holding your shin or back of your thigh if you have knee issues.  This stimulates the ascending colon.  Hold for a few breaths then repeat second side to stimulate the descending colon.



Cat/Cow - come onto all fours.  Breathe in and lift your head and chest, breathe out tuck your chin and arch your back and continue working with your breath.  The movement alternately stretches and compresses your abdomen.


Child's Pose variation - come to the back of your mat, and sit back on your heels.  Make fists with your hands, place them on your abdomen and fold, bringing your forehead to the mat. This stimulates the digestive organs.  Stay here for a few breaths then come back to all fours.



Downward Facing Dog - from all fours, inhale tuck your toes, exhale lift your hips.  Stay for 5 breaths then walk your feet forward.  Downward Facing Dog is a half inversion - it brings blood to the brain which is calming for the mind.  Stress can affect the digestive system in a negative way and so calming the mind can help improve digestion. When you are ready, walk your feet forward, and when your shoulders come over your hands, breathe in and roll up slowly.



Triangle - another stress relieving pose, Triangle relieves stress by opening the chest encouraging deeper breathing. Stand in the middle of the mat in Tadasana.  Step your feet a leg length apart, turn the right leg out and the left foot in 45 degrees.  Ladies should align their heel, men should align front heel to back instep.  Bring your hands to your heart then on a breath in stretch your arms wide and lift your chest. Breathe out and shift your hips to the left and you extend over your right leg, bringing your hand to rest on your ankle, shin or thigh.  If you are very flexible you can bring your hand down to the floor behind the right foot.  Your gaze can be up at your right thumb if your neck allows, or down at your right big toe. If you have neck issues, you may also want to place your top hand on your hips. To come out of the pose, breathe in and windmill your arms up, breathe out turn your feet to face forward and your hands to heart centre. Repeat second side.



Seated Forward Bend-this pose stimulates the digestive organs and calms the nervous system. Sit with your legs outstretched and a bolster or rolled up blanket on your legs. Breathe out and bring your body and forehead onto the bolster.  If you need the bolster to be higher add a blanket on top.  Stay here for a few minutes then breathe in to come up slowly.



Other tips for good digestion this Christmas:-

Try to get out for a walk, even on Christmas Day.  Walking massages the bowels for better digestion and elimination.  It also helps avoid 'cabin fever' (and Christmas bickering!)

Take a little 'me' time - maybe a long relaxing soak in the bath or your yoga practice?

Eat mindfully - please see- 'Fun chocolate meditation'

You may also like:-
'Yoga for digestion-Part 1'

Namaste,