Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Welcome!


Welcome to the new look Flexiladiesyoga blog!

Thank you for visiting this blog and congratulations on taking steps towards a regular yoga practice.

Yoga has helped me overcome my health problems and I hope that you will come to know some of the great benefits of yoga. Whatever your reasons for wanting to take up a yoga practice-health concerns, the need for relaxation in your life to relieve stress, the need to stretch and get more flexible to compliment sporting activities, I hope you will find what you need here. If you would like to know more about why I came to yoga there is an 'About Me' section on this blog.

Thank you 

Janet x 





Qualities cultivated by yoga - self-awareness

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - self-awareness'-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Yoga increases self-awareness on several levels.  Firstly it increases your awareness of your body in space (proprioception).  Proprioception is an awareness that arises through feedback from sensory receptors in muscles and skin.  Together with the visual system and vestibular system, proprioception helps us balance. This however is not the focus of our video this week.  In the video the intention is to quieten the mental chatter that clouds the 'windows' of our minds so that as the 'windows' clear, we are able to look inside of ourselves and see our true selves which are loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving.  The meditation is one in which we simply watch our breath, observing our thoughts and allowing them to drift away like clouds passing by without becoming involved in their stories.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please note however this is not a condition of enjoying my blogs.


To make a donation please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,


Sunday, 18 June 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


Salads need not be boring as this Asian inspired quinoa salad shows. Healthy, quick to prepare and delicious, it would make a good packed lunch.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/meatless-monday-asian-quinoa-salad.html

This Sunday is Father's Day. Many commercial aftershaves contain harmful chemicals so why not make this essential oil aftershave for your dad?
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/fathers-day-gift-to-make-aftershave.html

This year we have a bumper crop of strawberries and I do love strawberries! 
On my 'sister' blog there are tips on growing organic strawberries and eating them! 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/organic-garden-update-harvesting.html

If you are enjoying my blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please note however this is not a condition of enjoying my blogs.
Please see-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html

Building a home practice - yoga warm ups, so worth it

Yoga warm ups gently stretch the muscles and lubricate the joints in preparation for the more challenging poses at the 'core' of the practice.  More than this however, yoga warm ups bring us into the moment, allowing us to leave behind our busy day and be present.  The following sequence is a warm up for deeper back bends.  

Start in savasana, gently close your eyes and take a moment to check out your physical body and allow your breath to settle.  When you are ready gently open your eyes and take a.... 

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.



Gentle twist (starting to mobilise the spine in all directions)- bend your knees, bringing your heels towards your hips and take your arms out to 45 degrees.  Breathe in and as you breathe out let your knees fall to the right, just as far as they want to go.  Breathe in and centre, breathe out repeat to the left.  After a few repetitions add a warm up for your neck by turning your head in the opposite direction to the knees.  



Pelvic tilts (warms up the spine) - bend your knees and rest your hands on your hip points. Breathe in and curl your pubic bone towards you, flattening your back into the mat, breathe out roll your pubic bone down towards the mat creating a space under your back.  



Pelvic Tilts with Shoulder Bridge (adding a gentle back bend and warming up the shoulders) -  breathe in and curl your pubic bone towards you, flattening your back into the mat, breathe out roll your pubic bone down towards the mat creating a space under your back.   Breathe in lift your hips, take your arms overhead, breathe out lower your hips, bring your arms back over and repeat the sequence three more times.  



Warm up for core (core muscles support the lower back in back bends) - with your knees bent, place your hands at the top of your thigh, breathe out and curl up, tucking your chin and sliding your hands towards your knees. Breathe in to lower back down.  Repeat twice more.  Come to all fours.  



Cat/Cow - with your hands under your shoulders, knees under hips, breathe in lift your head and chest, breathe out tuck your chin and arch your back.  Continue working with your breath for several repetitions.



Lunge variation (stretch the front of your hips and warm up the shoulders) - come back to all fours and bring your right foot to the inside of your right hand, hinge forward (pad the back knee if you need to by folding your mat or placing a cushion under it). Breathe in come up, breathe out, interlace your fingers behind your back, breathe in lift your chest, take your arms up and back. Breathe out to return to start position.  



Extended Child Pose - come to the back of your mat, big toe touching, knees wide. Walk your hands forward and bring your head to the mat, a block or a cushion. Press your tail bone back and stretch forward to lengthen your spine before back bend.  Stay here for a few breaths.  



Now you are ready to begin your back bends.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please note however this is not a condition of enjoying my blogs.

To make a donation please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,







Friday, 16 June 2017

Why salute the sun?






We have mentioned before that 'hatha' means sun/moon.  The sun represents the warm, active masculine energy and the moon the cool, intuitive feminine energy.  Hatha yoga seeks to bring about a balance between the two energies which whether you are male or female, you have.  

The Hindus have revered the sun for thousands of years and it's not surprising.  All life is dependent on the sun. Plants use water, which they take in through their roots and carbon-dioxide from the air and using the sun's energy convert these to food in a process called photosynthesis.  Even if you are not vegan, you eat animals that in turn eat plants so ultimately all life depends on the sun.  It is no wonder then that this source of life was revered by the ancients.  Ancient yogis also believed that we are a microcosm of the universe so that for instance your blood might represent rivers etc.  There is some science to back the idea of the body being a microcosm of the universe - we are made up of the same fundamental particles as the universe.  Ancient yogis believed that the outer sun is reflected in us at the heart.  

Surya namaskar, sun salutations, may have originated 2500 years ago to greet the dawn although this is a subject of debate. 'Surya' means sun and 'namaskar' comes from 'namas' meaning to bow down to or adore.  Sun salutations as we know them certainly may be a more modern invention.

Sun salutations have many benefits. They are good to use as a warm up because they stretch all the muscles and lubricate the joints.  They boost circulation and open up the chest to expand the lungs.  This allows more oxygen to enter the body and be delivered to the muscles and brain (when we move into forward fold or downward facing dog) and so sun salutations are energizing. 

Boosting circulation also has benefits for the skin and hair as more nutrients are delivered to them. Forward folds and back bends are calming for the nervous system (they activate the 'rest and digest' part of the nervous system, that is the parasympathetic nervous system) reducing stress which is of benefit to the immune system and the endocrine system. 

Stretching and compressing the abdomen stimulates digestion.  The dynamic nature of sun salutations also 'lights' the digestive fire, agni and helps maintain heart health (after all the heart is a muscle). Sun salutations may also aid weight loss.   

Interestingly there are 12 names for the sun in Indian astrology and there are twelve positions in the basic sun salutations.  For step by step sun salutations A and B please see 'Yoga Pose Gallery'.

Next week we will look at yoga's connection to the moon.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please note however this is not a condition of enjoying my blogs.
To make a donation please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - loving kindness

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - loving kindness'-on my YouTube Channel.


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

In Buddhism loving kindness is one of the four Brahmaviharas or 'divine abodes' along with compassion, joy and equanimity which we will cultivate in another video. Loving kindness requires an open heart and is not always easy. If however, we recognise that each of us has the divine light within us, it becomes easier to extend loving kindness to even people who are not kind to us.  When someone is less than kind to you there is probably an underlying fear, worry, or anxiety that you are unaware of. Thinking in these terms, your heart softens towards that person.  

Every day provides us with opportunities to perform small acts of loving kindness to family, friends and strangers. These do not only benefit the recipient but you will find that they increase your own happiness also.  

Our yoga practice is one of heart openers including Puppy pose which is often called 'melting heart' pose - allowing our hearts to melt is often what we need to do to in order to cultivate loving kindness.  

If you would like to practice metta, loving kindness meditation on my You Tube Channel the link is 'Loving Kindness Meditation'.  On the video above however is a meditation on loving kindness based on my own experience.  

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,




Sunday, 11 June 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


In our little village near York it feels like summer has temporarily left us - it's pouring down and cool. Not to worry, this comforting mushroom and white bean stew will cheer any wet weather day!
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/meatless-monday-mushroom-and-white-bean.html

Organic garden update - building bean frames and harvesting the winter onions. 
See my 'sister' blog for instructions for building a bean frame of your own! 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/organic-garden-update-building-bean.html

On my 'sister' blog we look at some natural help for osteoarthritis- diet, exercise and supplements- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/natural-help-for-osteoarthritis.html

If you are enjoying my blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html

How yoga helps PREVENT injury


There is much talk about how yoga can lead to injury but very little about how yoga can PREVENT injury.  Over the last few weeks we have looked at how to protect yourself from yoga injuries.  Below are just some of the ways yoga can help protect you from injury both on and off the mat. 

Yoga helps increase awareness of our bodies so that we become aware of any imbalances. Once we are aware of these imbalances, we can address them through yoga.  

If you engage in sports, these may tighten muscles which can eventually lead to injury.  Yoga can stretch the muscles tightened by other activities.  Also yoga improves focus and concentration which may help prevent injury in contact sports such as karate.

Yoga creates a balance between strength and flexibility which is necessary to remain injury-free.

More specifically:-

Yoga helps improve balance helping to prevent those slips and falls that can lead to injury. This is especially important as we age because balance tends not to be as good in over 65s and injury can be serious, for instance hip fractures.  

Yoga helps with core stability and strengthens the core. This is important to prevent injury to the lower back because a strong core is the basis of everything we do in our daily lives. Similarly yoga stretches and strengthens the hamstrings which can help prevent lower back issues.

Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles that support the joints preventing misalignment that can lead to osteoarthritis and joint damage.


If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,


Friday, 9 June 2017

Beginners' guide to the vayus


You may have heard yogis speak of prana, the life force energy, that pervades all living things and the universe. This energy moves in the body in 5 ways known as the vayus which translates as 'winds'.  Optimal wellbeing is created by controlling and cultivating these energies which we can do through our posture work and breathing practices.

The five vayus are:-

Prana vayu is located between the throat and the diaphragm with the heart at its centre. Its direction of movement is from the throat to the navel and from the navel to the throat. It is the energy that 'receives' into the body - not only food, drink and air but sensory perceptions.  The element associated with prana vayu is air.  The asana practice to cultivate prana vayu is one of chest openers that is backbends, lateral stretches and twists. Breathing practices also help cultivate prana vayu. For a video to cultivate prana vayu please see Prana vayu on my You Tube Channel. 

Apana vayu is located in the pelvis, lower abdomen, legs and feet.  Its direction of movement is down and out.  It is associated with the earth element.  It is the energy of digestion and elimination not only of urine and stools and carbondioxide but also menstrual fluid (even a baby!), thoughts and emotions that are not serving you. The asana practice to cultivate apana vayu are hip openers, hamstring stretches and poses that compress the abdomen such as core strengtheners and forward bends. Kapalabhati breathing is a good breathing practice for the elimination of stale air from the lungs.  Lion breath also would cultivate apana vayu.  Please see Apana vayu on my You Tube Channel. 

Samana vayu is the energy of digestion and assimilation of food, the breath and of ideas. It is located in the abdomen, below prana vayu but above apana vayu and is associated with the element fire (the digestive fire, agni is necessary for good digestion).  The asana practice to cultivate samana is one of twists, core strengtheners and abdominal compressors. Please see Samana vayu on my You Tube Channel.

Udana vayu is located from the throat to the head and associated with the element ether, it is concerned with the more subtle aspects of our being.  It is the energy that allows you to express your truth and grow spiritually.  The asana practice to cultivate udana vayu is one of inversions and poses that stimulate the throat area such as Shoulder Bridge and Fish pose.
Lion breath would also be good to include.  Please see Udana vayu on my You Tube Channel.

Vyana vayu is the energy that pervades the whole body and is an outward moving energy from the core to the periphery.  Its energy runs through 72000 nadis and is to do with the circulation of blood and lymph and the passage of nervous impulses.  It controls muscle movements and the movement of ideas.  The element associated with vyana vayu is water. The type of asana practice to cultivate vyana vayu is one of strong standing poses and standing balances.  Alternate nostril breathing would be a good breath practice to include. Please see Vyana vayu on my You Tube Channel.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - empowerment

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - empowerment'-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Empowerment is not about being aggressive but about being in touch with your true self and acting in accordance with that.  It often takes courage to be present to who you truly are and not let your opinion of yourself be shaped by others or your inner critic. Trying to match up to media images of how we should be is equally a recipe for unhappiness.  The perfect images they portray are just impossible to match up to.  Empowerment comes from knowing that you are enough just as you are.  Yes, we all make mistakes but it is through those mistakes that we grow.  

Our video this week includes poses for the solar plexus, your power centre.  The warrior poses, of course are included as representing power and Goddess squat representing feminine power.

The meditation is focused on the solar plexus which is associated with the colour yellow.  

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html


Namaste,


Sunday, 4 June 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


The weather might not be up to much - it's drizzling here in Yorkshire - but who cares when there are these spicy lentil and chickpea burgers to enjoy.
Have a great Bank Holiday!
Recipe on my blog - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/meatless-monday-spicy-lentil-and.html

If you suffer from migraines this blog post may help you find some natural help-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/natural-help-for-migraines.html

On my 'sister' blog is the 40plusandalliswell lowdown on alternative milks- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/the-40plusandalliswell-guide-to-milk.html

If you are enjoying my blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html

Avoiding yoga injuries - protecting your shoulders in Chaturanga Dandasana


The shoulder joint is the most unstable joint in the body  - it is a shallow ball and socket joint and because of this the muscles that support the joint must be strong but on the other hand this strength must be combined with flexibility.  In our daily lives we have a tendency to be forward reaching (think of working at a computer, preparing food, driving etc) which tightens the chest muscles and weakens the shoulder muscles.  

The glenhumeral joint is where the arm bone (humerous) fits into the ball and socket joint and is held in place by group of four muscles known as the rotator cuffs.  Some yoga poses such as Chaturanga Dandasana, Plank and Forearm Plank need care in practice if these muscles are not to be injured.  

Before you even attempt full Chaturanga Dandasana you need to practice poses that open the chest otherwise that shoulder muscles will take up the slack - practice poses such as Sphinx, Cobra, Bow etc.  You also need to be strong in the core so that it is your core that gives you support as you lower - practice poses such as Boat, Warrior 3 and Chair pose-please see 'Yoga Pose Gallery'.

Shoulder flexibility is also key.  Try the following shoulder stretches using a belt - sit in Easy pose or back on your heels.  Fold your strap in two and take hold of the ends.  Inhale stretch your arms up, exhale lower.  Repeat twice more.  Then opening  the belt up take your hands wider.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale take the belt down behind your back.  Inhale lift your arms back up, exhale lower to your start position.  Repeat twice more. Still with your arms wide, inhale take your arms up, exhale lower your left arm down to the left, sliding your hand down the belt to open up the right side of your body.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale repeat to the other side to open the left side of your body.  Repeat twice more.



Before you begin to practice Chaturanga Dandasana try some preparatory exercises:-  
Sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward wrists flexed so that the fingers point up.  Breathe out and bend your elbows back tucking them into your waist.  Breathe in to extend your arms.  Repeat several times.



Now adding some strengthening to the action.  Stand an arms length away from a wall and place your hands flat on the wall. Breathe out bend your elbows back keeping them tucked in as before.  Breathe in to push back to your start position.  Repeat several times.  
Once you are comfortable with the action and have built up some strength you can try a modified version of Chaturanga Dandasana which you can also use in vinyassas.  Come onto all fours and take your knees back an inch or two.  Breathe out to lower bending your elbows back and into your waist as before.  



For full Chaturanga Dandasana, start in Plank position.  Press your heels back and have your hands directly under your shoulders.  Breathe out and engage your core, roll forward onto the balls of your feet then lower keeping your body in a straight line and your elbows tucked in as they bend.  Do not let your hips dip or your bottom lift as you lower.  Do not let your shoulders drop and keep them away from your ears.  Keep your chest open. Lower smoothly, do not do a belly flop!!



Remember Chaturanga Dandasana is an advanced pose and it is hard so until you are sure you are ready it is best to modify as above by lowering your knees to the mat from Plank. 

Please also see 'Avoiding yoga injuries' and 'Avoiding yoga injuries - Protecting your lower back in twists'.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Stay safe




Friday, 2 June 2017

Beginners' guide to the chakras


Chakra translates as 'wheel' and is a spinning vortex of energy.  There are seven of them in the body and they align with the spine.  They are connected to our physical, physiological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and may become unbalanced.  The chakras are:-

Root Chakra (muladhara) is located in the perineum. When in balance you feel secure in your relationships, and comfortable with yourself. When out of balance you may feel 'stuck' in your relationships and circumstances, anxious or depressed, exhausted and ungrounded.  Hamstring stretches and grounding poses help bring this chakra into balance.  For a video to balance the root chakra please see 'Cultivate stability' on my You Tube Channel 

Sacral Chakra (svadhisthana) is located above the pubic bone but below the navel.When in balance you are creative, enjoy fun and have an ability to adapt to changing circumstances. When out of balance you may have lower back pain, urinary infections, reproductive problems, emotional issues, poor relationships, lack creativity and fun in your life. Hip openers help bring this chakra into balance. For a video to balance the root chakra please see 'Cultivate creativity' on my You Tube Channel  

Navel Chakra (manipura)  is located in the area from the navel to the breast bone. When in balance you are confident, have clarity of mind and have good digestion. Out of balance you may be indecisive, fearful, have anger issues, have low self-esteem and digestive issues. Twists and poses that work the core help bring this chakra into balance. Also Kapalabhati Breathing technique and abdominal breathing. For a video to balance the navel chakra please see 'Navel chakra balancing to increase confidence' on my You Tube Channel. 

Heart Chakra (anahata) is the chakra that is the link between the physical chakras and the more spiritual chakras.  Located in the heart space, when in balance we are compassionate, loving, accepting of others and joyful. Physical signs that this chakra is blocked include blood pressure problems, heart or lung issues or poor circulation. Other signs of a blocked heart chakra include feeling unworthy, feeling fearful, relationship issues, dwelling on past hurts, or self-loathing. Chest opening poses help bring this chakra into balance. For a video to balance the heart chakra please see 'Heart chakra - opening up to loving kindness' on my You Tube Channel. 

Throat Chakra (vishuddha) is located in the area of the throat.  When in balance you are able to communicate clearly and are not afraid to speak your truth.  You are able to say no when you need to. If out of balance, you may be critical of others, afraid to express your needs, have throat issues or thyroid problems.  Neck releases and inversions help bring this chakra into balance. Also Lion Breath and Ujjayi breathing. For a video to balance the throat chakra please see'Express your truth through yoga' on my You Tube Channel.

Third Eye Chakra (anja) is located between the eyebrows.  When in balance we are intuitive, able to listen to our inner guidance. Out of balance you may feel stressed, disorientated, have headaches, have memory or learning issues. Poses that exert gentle pressure on the third eye can help balance this chakra such as Child's Pose or where the thumbs connect with the third eye in Eagle Pose. Humming bee breath is also stimulating for the third eye. Please see 'Enhance your intuition'  on my You Tube Channel.

Crown Chakra (sahaswara) is located at the crown of the head. It's name means thousand petal lotus and when in balance you feel a strong connection to something higher than yourself.  Out of balance you may be depressed, lack purpose and feel disconnected from the divine and others. Meditation helps balance this chakra. Please see 'Connect with your higher self-Crown chakra'  on my You Tube Channel.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste.



Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - resilience

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - resilience'-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Resilience is 'an ability to adjust to misfortune or change'.  Stress and pain are part of life but how we respond to them are a choice.  If we practice tapas on the mat we can meet challenging situations mindfully and respond wisely.  Tapas is one of the niyamas and involves 'burning off' the things in our lives that do not serve us.  By practicing tapas on the mat we can meet challenges with mindfulness and respond wisely.  We can even tap into the energy of a challenge and use it for spiritual growth, so that the challenge becomes our teacher leading to transformation.  We are resilient when we can surrender to the pain without suffering.  This takes a great deal of strength which is where focusing on the navel chakra can help.  Through focusing on the third chakra on the mat we can deal with challenges off the mat staying present to the fear, anger and pain involved.  

When the pain you feel comes from the sufferings of a loved one, it is especially hard.  The practice of yoga will help you stay present and deal with it one step at a time.  The fact is caring about someone can lead to pain.

This week's video focuses on meeting challenges on the mat to balance the third chakra and dissolve away what is not serving us.  We end with a meditation on the theme.


If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html

Namaste,


Sunday, 28 May 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This recipe is so versatile - either include the tofu and have it as a main meal or leave it out and have it as a side salad, either use fresh veg or frozen stir fry veg. Quick and easy to make but tasty! Let's cook! 

Catch up with what's been happening on the 40plusandalliswell allotment on my 'sister' blog. 
Please see- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/transplanting-squash-its-learning-curve.html

Here's a treat for the weekend - vegan lemon curd scones! 
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/treat-for-weekend-vegan-lemon-curd.html

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html

Beginners' guide to the nadis

Image for illustration purposes only

Just as you have channels for the flow of blood and lymph in your body, you also have channels for the flow of prana, the life force.  The word nadis comes from the Sanscrit 'nad' meaning 'channel' or 'stream' and there are 72,000 of these channels supplying all the cells of your body with life force energy.  This energy goes not only to physical and mental activity but is necessary for spiritual development. It is therefore important to keep these nadis free of congestion and blockages.  The beauty of yoga is that through the asanas and breathing practices, it is able to do this thereby increasing our wellbeing.  

Also just as your circulatory system has major vessels, the arteries and veins as well as capillaries, there are three major nadis.  The shushumna runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head through energy vortexes known as chakras where energy channels cross (next week we will look at these in more detail).  Spiraling around the shushumna in a double helix run two other nadis, ida and pingala.  All three end at a point between the eyebrows where the third eye chakra is located.  Ida represents feminine moon energy - cool, intuitive and nurturing whereas pingala represents masculine sun energy - warm, rational and dynamic.  All of us, whether male or female have both masculine and feminine energies which may vary throughout the day.  Hatha literally means sun/moon and its focus is bringing these two energies into balance.  When they are in balance the shushumna energy channel can open leading ultimately to enlightenment.  A good way to start to do balance ida and pingala is by practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing, nadi shodhana because ida connects to the left nostril and pingala to the right.  Please see my You Tube Channel for the video, 'Oh no it's Monday! Breathing technique for calming' for how to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dY-NtZkAtQ

Namaste,

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html



Thursday, 25 May 2017

Avoiding yoga injuries-protecting your lower back in twists

Twists can be wonderful - when you twist the blood is 'squeezed' from your abdominal organs and when you release the twist, your organs receive a fresh supply of oxygenated blood.  This is BKS Iyengar's 'squeeze and soak' theory on twists. Twists also hydrate the spinal discs which sit between the vertebrae as a 'cushion'. These can 'dry' out as we age causing issues for your spine and twisting should be avoided.

The problem is that as we age also is that we can develop other problems with the spine that twisting postures can exacerbate.  For instance many of us may develop a slightly bulging disc without even being aware of it which can be worsened by twisting. Speaking as someone who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, I am very cautious when twisting and if you have a similar diagnosis check with your doctor and if given the go ahead be mindful when twisting.  

Now let's look at practicing a twist mindfully to avoid injury.  For seated spinal twist sit with your legs outstretched and if your lower back is rounding, sit on a block.  Bend your right knee and draw your right knee in towards your chest.  You now need to engage your core muscle to create a 'corset' that will support your lower back as you twist.  To do this press your left heel into the mat, engage Uddiyana banda by drawing your navel back towards your spine and press your body into your thigh, your thigh into your body.  Always lengthen through the crown of your head before twisting. Twist as you breath out, wrapping your left arm around your right leg, keeping the lumbar spine neutral and twisting though your thoracic spine.  Never use your arm to pull you deeper into the twist.  Listen to your body and do not twist more than feels comfortable which can cause problems for your spine and strain your intercostal muscles which run between your ribs.  To protect your neck, keep your chin level with your breastbone.  Never use your arm to pull you deeper into the twist. To come out of the twist, breathe in and come back to centre, release your right leg and stretch it out. Repeat second side. Please see also 'Protecting your neck in seated twists'.



Standing twists are even harder to twist safely in. When practicing Revolved Triangle for instance and twisting to the right, your left hip will also want to turn to the right. To come into the pose stand facing the short edge of the mat near the back of the mat. Step your right foot forward and turn your back toes out. Level your hips to the front edge of the mat, breathe out and bring your torso level with the mat, your left hand to a block placed to the big toe side of the front foot and your right hand to your right hip. Engage Uddiyana bandha and twist to the right through the thoracic spine, keeping the lumbar spine neutral. Press the back heel into the mat. When you have reached your comfortable level of twisting raise your right arm. To come out of the twist breathe in and bring your body back level with the floor, your right hand back to your hip. Breathe out, bring your left hand to your hips, breathe in come up, bend your front knee and step your feet together. Repeat second side. Please also see 'Back to basics-Standing poses-Revolved Triangle pose'.



Please also see 'Avoiding yoga injuries'

Stay safe 

Namaste,


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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - joy

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Qualities cultivated by yoga - joy'-on my YouTube Channel.



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

Today it is hard to talk about joy after the terrible bombing in Manchester - this yoga video was filmed in advance. The arena is somewhere I am very familiar with because when we lived in Lancashire, my daughters and I often went to shows there. My heart goes out to those innocent people caught up in this tragedy.

When we try to cultivate joy on our lives, it has to go hand in hand with compassion for as yogis we are not immune from the pain life sometimes brings to us.  In Buddhism compassion and joy are two of the Brahmaviharas, 'divine abodes' along with empathy and loving kindness.  When we feel such pain we have to try to allow such feelings to be and surround them with compassion, remembering that we are all connected.  In this way we can begin to heal, although this will take time and the people of Manchester need our prayers right now.


Just as we feel compassion for the such grief, we can also feel joy for the joy of others.  Joy or mudita is the capacity to savour life's blessings.  Simple things can bring us joy if we open our hearts - the scent of a spring flower, the shapes of the clouds in the sky, being in nature, the sound of the birds. 

Joy is transient so experience it to the full.  This week's video focuses on opening our hearts to joy and our meditation speaks of finding something to be grateful for each day.  

Namaste,

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html






















Sunday, 21 May 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


Feel like a takeaway? Why not make your own? It's just as quick and tasty but healthier. 
This week on 40plusandalliswell we are making a Chinese dish, Lo Mein.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/meatless-monday-vegan-lo-mein.html

Yay, blueberries are in season at last! In this blog post we look at the health benefits of blueberries and make a Blueberry, 'nice cream' and granola layer dessert (or treat breakfast!)
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/eat-rainbow-blueberries.html

If you like cooking and baking there are several vegan egg substitutes you can use.
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/vegan-egg-substitutes.html

If you are enjoying my blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html

Avoiding yoga injuries


Thankfully yoga is relatively safe compared to other sports and activities but worryingly they are on the increase especially among seniors.  This may simply be that more people are taking up yoga (there are now around 30 million practicing worldwide) and more seniors want to stay well as they age (good for you!!) and are turning to yoga.  However it is important to start with a more gentle practice if you haven't practiced yoga before.  That said there is no reason why, if you follow the guidelines below, your practice should not be injury free.  In a few weeks we will look at how yoga can actually help prevent injuries off the mat.

  • Firstly before you start a yoga practice, check with your doctor that you are alright to do so.  
  • In yoga we practice 'ahimsa' which means non-harming which means not harming yourself as well as others.
  • Yoga is not competitive so if you attend public classes do not compare yourself to the person on the next mat and don't compare yourself to Instagram etc.  There is nothing to gain from straining into a pose and it may result in injury.  A good indicator is your breath - if your breath becomes strained come out of the pose and try a modified version, use props or skip the pose altogether.  I will always try to give you alternatives so that you can explore what feel beneficial for your body and remember this may be different on different days.
  • Take your time getting in and out of the asanas and when transitioning  between poses, listening to your body as you go.  This will allow you to 'feel your edge', that place where you can feel a stretch but not a strain.
  • If you practice at home always do some warm up poses at the start of your practice and cool down poses at the end of your practice.  

In the meantime you might find the following blog posts useful:-

'Protecting your neck in inversions' 
'Protecting your neck in seated twists'
'Protecting your neck in standing poses'
'Protecting your neck in back bends'
'Protect your SI joint'
'Protect your knees in floor poses'
'Protecting your back in back bends'
'Protecting your hamstrings and lower back in seated forward bends'

Next week we will be looking at how to protect your spinal discs in yoga twists.  


If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/support-this-blog_44.html


Namaste,