Sunday, 30 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


Swedish meatballs are usually made with ground pork or beef but these vegan Swedish 'meatballs' will be enjoyed by even non-vegan friends! 
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/meatless-monday-swedish-meatballs_24.html

Dementia is one of our most feared diseases-even more so than heart disease. 
On my 'sister' blog we look at some of the ways you can reduce your risk- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/reducing-your-risk-of-dementia.html

It's bank holiday weekend so why not indulge in this decadent dessert - rich, creamy and chocolatey and yet no dairy or added sugar! 
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/vegan-chocolate-orange-mousse-cake.html

Yoga anatomy bites - glutes and preventing back pain

Your glutes, the muscles of your butt do so much more than cushion you when you are seated. 

The glutes are made up of three pairs of muscles, the gluteus maximus, the largest, the gluteus medius which lies under the gluteus maximus and the smallest, gluteus minimus. 

The gluteus maximus attaches to the sacrum and femur.  Its function is to draw the femur into the hip socket, kick the leg back and support the pelvis in standing. The gluteus medial is on the outer suface of the pelvis connecting the illium, hip bone with the femur.  It helps flex and internally rotate the hip and extend and externally rotate the thigh at the hip.  The gluteus minimus also helps stabilise the hip and helps with external  and inward rotation of the thigh at the hip.

Problems occur when the glutes get weak with sedentary lifestyle or tight due to such activities as running.  There may also be asymmetries between sides which can cause issuesWeak glutes do not give adequate support to the lumbar spine leading to back pain. On the other hand tight glutes may affect the tilt of the pelvis which again can also cause problems.

The following poses will stretch and strengthen the glutes and iron out any asymmetries :-

Apanasana - lie on a yoga mat with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee and draw your right knee in close to your chest.  If you have knee issues hold on behind your thighs otherwise you can hold on just below your knee. Hold for a few breaths then release.  Repeat second side.



Locust come to lying on your tummy, arms by your sides, palms facing the side seam of your trousers, forehead to the mat.  Tuck your right toes and press your heel back.  Return the top of your foot to the mat.  Repeat with the left foot to lengthen out the back. Breathe in, lift your head, chest, arms and legs.  Hold for a breath then lower. Repeat, then take a Child pose.



Low lunge when you are ready come to all fours, breathe out and lift your hips  into Downward Facing Dog.  From there look forward, breathe in and bring your right foot between your hands, breathe out lower your back knee. Return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat bringing the left foot forward. Return to Downward Facing Dog, breathe in, drop your knees, breathe out and take a Child's Pose.



Warrior 1 - come back to Downward Facing Dog, breathe in and bring your right foot three quarters of the way forward, breathe out and drop the back heel so that the toes turn out at 45 degrees. Breathe in and stretch your arms up.  Work the back leg strongly, holding for 5 breaths then breathe out lower your hands to the mat, return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat second side, then make your way to standing.



Fierce Prayer  - Option to place a block between your thighs for good alignment. From standing, breathe in and stretch your arms up, breathe out and bend your knees deeply. Imagine you are preparing to sit in a seat that is placed a little too far back.  Hold for several breaths then inhale straighten your legs, exhale release your arms down.



Side Angle - 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. Alternatively take your right hand to a block placed behind the right foot (remember a block has 3 levels) or to the mat. Gaze is up at the left palm or straight ahead. 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.



Shoulder Bridge- lie with your knees bent, arms by your sides (option to place a block between your thighs).  Inhale lift your hips, squeezing the block between your thighs,if using, bend your elbows so your palms are facing, fingers open. Breathe out and slowly lower.



Happy Baby -come to lying on your back.  Bring your knees towards your chest and take hold of the outside of your feet, ankles or shins.  Rock from side to side.  To modify place a bolster under your hips before doing the pose or practice one leg at a time for Half Happy Baby.



Please also see:-
'Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension'
'Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction'
'Yoga anatomy bites- internal rotation and external rotation'
'Yoga anatomy bites - hamstring strength vs flexibility
'Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability'
'Yoga anatomy bites - knee health'
'Yoga anatomy bites - piriformis'

Namaste,

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A beginners' guide to yoga styles


There are so many yoga styles that it can be a little confusing when you are starting out on your yoga journey. Below is a brief guide to some of the yoga styles that you might want to choose from:-

Hatha yoga is the 'umbrella' term for most styles of yoga practiced in the west.  'Ha' refers to the masculine energy which is hot and active and 'tha' refers to the feminine energy which is cool, receptive and nurturing. Both of these energies are present in all of us whether male or female and hatha yoga seeks to balance the two energies through physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama) and meditation.  The practice calms the mind by anchoring to the present moment and ultimately is a tool for self-transformation.

Anusara yoga was developed by John Friend.  The three key elements of Anusara are Attitude, Aligment and Action.  Attitude involves 'opening to grace', that is being open to the divine energy within and setting an intention for the practice.  Alignment is according to universal principles of alignment and action is putting them into practice.

Vinyassa yoga is a vigorous flow from one yoga posture to the next working with the breath - a yoga workout.

Ashtanga yoga is a type of vinyassa yoga.  Ashtanga means 8 limbs and is based on the 8 limbs of yoga in Patanjali's (the founder of yoga) yoga sutras. Asana, posture work is just one of these limbs. An Ashtanga practice starts with several rounds of Sun Salutations (please see my 'Yoga pose gallery' for Sun Salutations A and B http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/yoga-pose-gallery.html).  These are followed by one of six series of asana practice of increasing difficulty.  

Iyengar yoga is a type of yoga developed by BKS Iyengar. The emphasis is on precision, alignment and breath control with extensive use of props (blocks, bolsters, yoga straps etc) to allow the practitioner to open gradually with sustained effort.  

Kundalini yoga is based on the idea that there is a coiled up energy at the base of the spine resembling a snake, the kundalini.  The practice consists of a series of movements rather than asanas which are called kryias.  These kryias uncoil the kundalini so that it moves up the spine energizing the chakras, which are the energy vortexes which are in line with the spine.  It is detoxifying, helps boost immunity and balances hormones.  

Hot yoga, otherwise known as Bikram yoga is yoga that is practiced at 40 degree Celsius and in humid conditions. It is not for everyone as it is very intense so if you are thinking of trying hot yoga and have any health concerns you must check with your doctor.

There are other styles of yoga but these are the ones you are most likely to come across.

Next week we will be looking at the 8 limbs of yoga in more detail.



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - concentration

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



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

According to Patanjali concentration is the 'binding thought in one place'.  Concentration is the sixth limb of the eight limbs of yoga, dharana. The eight limbs of yoga are the guidelines that help you cultivate body, mind and spiritual awareness.  The purpose of concentration is to still the fluctuations of the mind.

For this week's video we will work towards half Moon Balance.  I have chosen to show you some ways of doing the pose that I don't do usually.  I show you a different way of using a wall as a 'comfort blanket' and whereas we usually come into the pose from Side Angle pose, in this week's video we come into the pose from Standing forward bend.  This is to get you to be totally present although balances do a good job of that anyway - if you are not present in a balance, you will fall out of it.  

Our meditation this week focuses on stilling the 'monkey mind' to help with concentration. You might also like to practice a candle meditation.  Please see my You Tube Channel 'Candle meditation to illuminate your inner wisdom' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_LBbXkBdm4

Namaste


Sunday, 23 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This recipe for '#Vegan smoky #falafel #burgers with #tzatziki or spicy salsa 'can easily be scaled up if you are feeding a crowd this #Bankholiday Monday! 
You can enjoy these burgers with tzatziki or spicy salsa or both and some warm pitta breads. They are not only vegan but gluten free too - so let's cook!
#Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/meatless-monday-vegan-smoky-falafel.html

In recognition of #EarthDay which this year falls on 22nd April and which seeks to raise awareness of #environmentalissues.
I am looking at the subject of #fracking.
Please see my 'sister' #blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/my-thoughts-earth-day-22nd-april-2017.html

It's spring, and in the garden and countryside many flowers and blossoms are appearing! 
Bring a little of the outside in by having houseplants which have many benefits for your health. 
Read more on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/bring-outside-in-houseplants.html


Yoga anatomy bites - piriformis

The piriformis is one of the group of muscles known as the external hip rotators. There are six of these. It exits the anterior surface of the sacrum, that triangular bone at the bottom of your spine and attaches to the upper, outer corner of the femur, thigh bone. It's function is to abduct the femur as in Tree pose and it also gives stability to the sacrum. It joins to the sacrum with fascia and adjusts with the movement of the leg creating stability in the sacroilliac (SI) joint, where the sacrum joins the illium.

The piriformis might be a small muscle but it can cause a whole lot of trouble if it gets overly tight. It needs to be tight to a certain extent to stabilise the sacrum but overly tight can cause problems. The sciatic nerve runs between the piriformis and the sacrum (in some people it runs through the piriformis). When the piriformis is tight, it presses on the sciatic nerve which causing symptoms such as buttock, hip and leg pain, or a burning sensation or numbness in these areas.  Good seated and standing posture is important to prevent problems.

The following yoga poses will help keep the piriformis  muscle stretched helping to prevent piriformis syndrome.

Pigeon Pose




You can come into Pigeon Pose from all fours or from Downward Facing Dog.  Bring your right knee to your right wrist and lower your hips, sliding your left leg back. Take your right foot towards  the left side of the mat.  If you are super flexible, you may be able to bring your shin parallel to the short edge of the mat but do not strain.  Keep your shoulders over your hips and centred so you do not lean to one side and square your hips to the short edge of the mat. Tucking the toes of your back foot and pressing into your toes can help square the hips. This is also helpful if you have a tendency to get cramp in the back foot.  Not comfortable? Try placing a cushion under your left thigh and another under your right buttock. Hold the pose for a few breaths then come back to all fours or Downward Facing Dog and repeat second side.

Eagle Pose



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 the elbows level with the shoulders and find a drishti, a gaze point. Softly bend both knees and take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to the outside of the left, or take the right foot to the outside of the left calf or tuck the right foot behind the left calf. 

To come out of the pose, stretch the arms and right leg out as if you are flying like an eagle. Repeat second side.


Half Lord of the Fishes 


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.  

You might also like-
Yoga to help relieve pain - piriformis syndrome

Please also see:-
'Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension'
'Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction'
'Yoga anatomy bites- internal rotation and external rotation'
'Yoga anatomy bites - hamstring strength vs flexibility
'Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability'
'Yoga anatomy bites - knee health'



Thursday, 20 April 2017

The yamas and the environment


In recognition of Earth Day on the 22nd April, I am looking at how the yamas offer us guidelines for caring for the environment.

The first of the yamas is ahimsa, non-harming.  Yogis often choose to be vegan or vegetarian. 
This helps the environment because meat production means that crops which could feed people are going to feed animals for meat.  Meat production further contributes to global warming, pollution, deforestation and degradation of the land.  But I do understand that the vegan diet is not for everybody - maybe you could shun animal products for one day each week - there are lots of recipes on 40plusandalliswell for meal ideas.  There are other ways you can protect the environment too.  The bees are in decline - could you possibly plant a few bee friendly plants to help?  

The second of the yamas is satya, truth.  Often we bury our heads in the sand when it comes to our contribution to environmental issues. Maybe it's time to assess.  Could we be careful not to leave electrical applances on standby? Not buy food that has been flown in from abroad instead of local produce?  Could we walk or cycle instead of using the car or if not car share? 

Asteya, the third yama translates as non-stealing.  In terms of the environment are we 'stealing' habitat from other beings with our farming methods?  With deforestation? Here in the UK hedgehogs are now endangered.  This is partly because of fragmentation of habitat - fences around gardens limit their movements so their foraging is limited.  Hedgehogs like lawns for foraging, compost heaps and wood piles for hibernation (or a hogilo - please see 'Hedgehog help')

Brahmacharya relates to the wise use of energy. Our fossil fuels are running low.  Something needs to be done.  Here in the UK the government have chosen fracking as a way forward but this comes at the cost of detrimental effects on our wellbeing and environment.  It is also a short term solution.  We will have to look to renewables soon so why not now before we 'steal' (this ties in with asteya) the wellbeing of future generations and destroy our 'green and pleasant' land.

The last yama is aparigraha, non-greed - this means taking only what you need.  In terms of food, this will mean there is less waste.  You could use up leftovers and compost any fruit or vegetable peelings.  You could also recycle your glass, tins, plastics, paper, cardboard etc. Greed is also the motivation for the introduction of such measures as GMO foods which allows for the increased use of toxic pesticides.  This can affect wildlife in a negative way so is not in keeping with ahimsa.

The yamas were written thousands of years ago and yet they are still relevant today.

Please see my 'sister' blog for 'My thoughts- Earth Day 22nd April 2017'

Namaste,




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga-perseverance



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



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

Living surrounded by fields I often see examples of perseverance  in wildlife. Living surrounded by fields I often see examples of perseverance in wildlife.   We often see a buzzard when out power walking.  The other day we saw her pick up her prey (a dead rat).  Almost immediately she was mobbed by crows until she dropped her supper.  Did she give up? Not a bit of it.  She repeatedly tried to take her kill back.  This went on so long we had to go but I would like to think her perseverance paid off in the end and 'my' buzzard enjoyed a good supper.  Another time I saw a stoat giving chase to a hare which was at least twice the size of her.  This was a tremendous risk - one kick from the hare could have broken her jaw and she would starve to death.  Yet she persisted, driven by hunger until the two of them were no longer in sight.  

The ultimate aim of yoga is samedi, bliss but to achieve this may require many years of practice. There is however much to be gained on the journey to bliss and one of the reasons I love yoga is that there is always more to learn - this is why I persist in coming to the mat each day and spend time going deeper into the teachings of yoga. You too, by practicing yoga regularly are showing perseverance that will be rewarded by increased wellbeing and confidence as your practice slowly improves. 

Perseverance is defined as continuing towards a goal despite delays, difficulties or little hope of success.  This often requires mental strength. In our video this week we cultivate physical strength and because of the mind/body connection this also cultivates mental strength.  Off the mat I am sure you often come across situations in which perseverance is required.  As a small example we grow organic vegetables on the 40plusandalliswell allotment. Last year we tried to grow dwarf french beans by planting them directly in the ground in April. They did not germinate. We could have given up at that point but we tried again, this time starting them off in the greenhouse in May.  Our reward was delicious french beans and confidence that we now know how to grow them without hitch.

We end with a meditation on another example of perseverance in nature.




Sunday, 16 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This week's #MeatlessMonday is another low calorie vegan dish- Italian stuffed aubergine.
Perfect for a vegan Easter lunch! Recipe- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/meatless-monday-low-calorie-vegan.html

Easter trees have become really popular in recent years, and here's Becky's take on the trend- it's a pom-pom tree! 
It's super stylish and fun to make! :) - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/easter-crafting-pom-pom-easter-tree.html

The spring planting begins at 40plusandalliswell! We are starting with potatoes, basil and squash! :)

I wish you all a very happy Easter! x

Springtime yoga


Easter to me marks the beginning of spring when we can begin planting for summer beauty and abundance.  It is a time of gratitude for the signs of new life and lighter days. I delight in seeing the birds collecting nesting material knowing that it won't be too long before there are baby birds in the garden demanding food from their exhausted parents. It is a time of optimism and hope for sunnier days. Even the smells of spring can lift our mood.  The sequence below helps us open up to the joys of the springtime season.  You may need a block.

Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutation in honour of the return of the sun after the winter. Please see 'Yoga Pose Gallery'. After a few rounds of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B take a Child's pose to allow your breath and heart rate to return to normal.  When you are ready 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. 
Thread the Needle - come back to all fours, breathe in and stretch your right arm up, breathe out as you bend your left elbow, post your right arm under your left and take your head and shoulders to a block or to the mat.  Press into your left hand to deepen the twist.  Stay for several breaths then when you are ready to come out press into your left hand and return to all fours.  Repeat second side.



Swan - come to the back of the mat, big toes touching, knees wide.  Walk your hands forward and bring your forehead to the mat or to a block.  When you are ready come back to all fours.  



Downward Facing Dog to Wild Thing - from all fours, breathe in, tuck your toes, breathe out and lift your hips high.  Breathe in and stretch your right leg back, breathe out and drop your right heel to your left buttock as you open to the right.  Either stay here or slightly bend your left knee and 'flip the dog' bringing your right foot down onto the mat and lifting your right arm and chest towards the ceiling.  Enjoy this exhilarating stretch then when you are ready 'flip the dog' back.  Take a Child's pose then repeat second side and take another Child's pose. When you are ready make your way to standing.   



Warrior 2 - stand in the middle of your mat with your hands on your hips and take your feet as wide as is comfortable.  Turn your right leg to the right and the toes of the left foot in 45 degrees, lining up the heel of the front foot with the instep of the back foot (men) or heel with heel (women).  As much as possible have the hips level with the front of the mat but do not force the back hip point back because this will strain the SI joint. Inhale, stretch your arms out at shoulder height, lift your chest, exhale bend your right knee, turn to look down the fingers of your right hand, looking forward to the joys of the season.  To come out of the pose, inhale straighten the right knee, exhale hands to heart, turn your feet to face forward.  Repeat second side. 



Camel pose variation -  come to kneeling, folding your mat over to pad your knees if your knees are delicate.  Bring your right foot forward, inhale and raise your right arm as you curl back and reach back for your left heel.  To modify tuck your left toes to raise your heel or take your left hand to a block.  Open your heart space to the blessings of the springtime. To come out of the pose, tuck your chin towards your chest and uncurl.  Lower your right arm.  Repeat second side then take a Child's Pose.



Happy Baby - come to lying on your back.  Bring your knees towards your chest and take hold of the outside of your feet, ankles or shins.  Rock from side to side.  To modify place a bolster under your hips before doing the pose or practice one leg at a time for Half Happy Baby. Be as happy as a baby experiencing life for the first time.


Spend a few minutes in savasana to finish.

Namaste,

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Yoga anatomy bites - knee health

The knee joint is where the tibia (shin bone) meets the femur (thigh bone) and the patella (knee cap) lies in front of the femur.  It is a hinge joint, one of the strongest in the body which enables you to walk, run etc.

Last week we saw how misalignment in the foot can affect the knee joint.  A healthy knee joint also depends on hip stability.  This in turn depends on the muscles of the core, the hip abductors (the muscles that lift the thigh out to the side and stabilise you in standing balances - they include the glutes) and the glutes which also allow your hips to move in every direction. The innermost thigh muscle (the vastus medialis oblique) is also key to hip stability and if the rectus femoris, another quadricep muscle is tight, this inhibits kneecap mobility which in turn affects alignment of the knee.

The following poses will help stabilise the hips by strengthening and stabilising the muscles of the core, hip abductors, and glutes.

The poses are not intended for practice if you have knee issues.

Pigeon Pose -  from all fours  bring your right knee to your right wrist and lower your hips, sliding your left leg back. Take your right foot towards the left side of the mat.  If you are super flexible, you may be able to bring your shin parallel to the short edge of the mat but do not strain.  Keep your shoulders over your hips and centred so you do not lean to one side and square your hips to the short edge of the mat. Tucking the toes of your back foot and pressing into your toes can help square the hips. This is also helpful if you have a tendency to get cramp in the back foot. Not comfortable? Try placing a cushion under your left thigh and another under your right buttock.  Repeat second side then take a Child's pose.



High Lunge - come into Downward Facing Dog, breathe in and bring your right foot forward between your hands, keep your back heel lifted and making sure your feet remain at hip distance.  On your next breath in, take your arms up.  Hold for a few breaths then breathe out to bring your hands back down to the mat and return to Downward Facing Dog.  Repeat second side.



Tree - stand in the middle of the mat and take your weight into your left foot.  Find a drishti, a gaze point then take your right foot to your left ankle, shin or reach down and bring your foot to your left thigh (do not have the right foot against the left knee).  Breathe in and take your arms up.  Hold for several breaths if possible then breathe out to lower.  Repeat second side.




Half Lord of the Fishes - 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 position).  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.  



You might also like:-
'Protect your knees in floor poses'
'Protecting your knees in Hero pose'

Please also see:-
'Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension'
'Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction'
'Yoga anatomy bites- internal rotation and external rotation'
'Yoga anatomy bites - hamstring strength vs flexibility
'Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability'



Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - humility

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



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

You can never know all there is to know about yoga. That's partly why it is important to have a beginner's mind no matter how advanced your yoga practice. Each day when we come to that mat, our experience of the poses will be different depending on how we are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally so whether you are a beginner or have been practicing yoga for many years, it is important to be present to the sensations of the pose, its effect on the breath, thoughts and emotions.

I love this quote 'In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” by Shunryu Suzuki.Having humility on the mat means not practicing with any preconceived ideas.

Put aside your knowledge of the pose and experience it instead.Be curious,take your time, be open to a deeper experience of the pose.This is the intention behind this week's practice. We can take this off the mat being mindful in all that we do but also being of service to others - small kindnesses shown to others will not only help them but increase your feelings of wellbeing.

Namaste,




Sunday, 9 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell


This week's Meatless Monday is an easy version of a Thai red curry because it uses a ready made Thai red curry paste which is suitable for vegans.Low calorie too-why send out for a take away?
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/meatless-monday-easy-vegan-thai-red.html

These vegan brownies are rich, chocolaty, yummy and after all chocolate is part of Easter isn't it?
The brownies have no added sugar, and are dairy, gluten, and egg free!
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/double-chocolate-brownies-with.html

Chives are a member of the onion family and give a mild, oniony flavour to soups, stews, potato salads, vegan soft cheeses etc.
See my 'sister' blog to learn how to grow this versatile herb- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/first-harvest-of-year-chives.html

Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability

The foot is made up of 26 bones (tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges) and associated ligaments and tendons which give the foot a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility allows your foot to adapt to walking on all different surfaces.

Unfortunately we usually cramp our feet in shoes most of the day.  This is why it is important to take steps to restore this flexibilty, preferably daily with a few exercises or massage. Also try the following for flexible feet.

Foot exercise with tennis ball-stand or sit with a tennis ball under your right foot.  Roll the tennis ball around for a few minutes then repeat with the left foot.

Screaming toe pose (flexibility in the sole of the foot)- come to kneeling and tuck your toes under.  If your feet are not very flexible this may be enough for now otherwise lower your bottom down to your heels.  The sensation should be intense but not painful - if it is come out of the pose.



Hero pose (flexibility at the top of the foot) - start in kneeling with your knees together and heels apart so that there is space for you to sit back between your heels.  Your feet should be in line with your shins.  Sit back between your heels.  If this is too much for your knees, elevate your hips by placing one or two blocks between your heels (short edge of the block towards your knees).  Top the blocks with a blanket if you need to.  Do not let your props force your knees apart.  Your ankles  should be tucked in close your hips and your weight evenly distributed over your sit bones.  If your ankles bother you in the pose, a rolled up towel placed under your feet can help.  Rest your hands on your thighs. To come out of the pose come to all fours, stretch your right leg back, pressing away through the heel then repeat with the left foot to restore circulation to your legs.


There is more to your foot than flexibility however - your feet are your foundation. They support your legs, hip girdle, spine and shoulder girdle.  Any misalignment here will transfer up - for instance if you have flat feet, this may result in lower back issues.  To work on lifting your instep, stand in samashti (equal standing with feet hip distance) and lift your toes.  If you can lift your middle three toes and press down with the big toes and little toes, even better.  

The feet have three arches - the medial longitudinal arch which runs from big toe to just in front of the heel, the lateral longitudinal arch which runs from the little toe to just in front of the heel and the transverse arch which runs across the foot just below the ball of the foot. Together they form a triangle which is very stable.  Add to this the ankle joint and you have a pyramid which is an even more stable piece of 'engineering'.  In standing poses plugging down just in front of the heel, base of the big toe and base of the little toe can give you a great deal of stability.  Try it in 



Warrior 1 - stand towards the back of the mat with your hands on your hips and your feet at hip distance.  Turn the toes of your left foot out as if to the 10 to position on a clock and step forward with your right foot.  Inhale take the arms up, exhale bend the front knee. Gaze is straight ahead or if your neck allows up at the hands. Press down with half your weight in front of the back heel, and half distributed equally between the base of the big toe and little toe. To come out of the pose, exhale take your hands to your hips, inhale step your feet together. Repeat second side.

Please also see:-

You might also like the 'Foot yoga' video on my You Tube Channel. 

Namaste,


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Cobra from beginner to advanced

Cobra is a great back bend - it is an antidote to long hours at a desk, opens up the chest and creates flexibility in the spine.  By opening the chest, it brings more oxygen into your body which is energizing but at the same time calming for the mind.

As always never strain into the pose - you want an even back bend along the length of your spine with no pinching in the lower back.  For the advanced variation, take care of your neck and do not drop your head back if it doesn't feel safe for you.

The pose is contraindicated for back injury and carpel tunnel syndrome.  Also unless otherwise stated none of my blog posts are intended for pregnancy.  

Beginners' Cobra (baby back bend) - this variation helps strengthen the back muscles and creates flexibility in the spine.  Don't be in a rush to get to the intermediate variation.

Lie on your tummy with your head resting on your hands.  Tuck the toes of your right foot and press your heel back. Repeat second side to lengthen your spine.  Bring your hands level with your armpit/chest and roll your shoulders back and down, away from your ears.  Rest your forehead on the mat. Breathe in and as you breathe out, engage your core and lift your head and chest.  Use your back muscles to lift you - you should be able to lift your hands from the mat.  Breathe out to lower and take a Child's pose.



Intermediate Full Cobra - only proceed to this stage when baby Cobra feels good.

Lie on your tummy with your head resting on your hands.  Tuck the toes of your right foot and press your heel back. Repeat second side to lengthen your spine.  Bring your hands level with your armpit/chest and roll your shoulders back and down, away from your ears.  Rest your forehead on the mat. Breathe in and as you breathe out, engage your core and lift your head and chest.  Use your back muscles to lift you. Once you have your lift, press into your hands working towards pressing into straight arms - this should feel like a delicious stretch never a strain.  Breathe out to lower and take a Child's pose.



King Cobra - this is an advanced back bend so be sure you are ready before practicing this one.  From full Cobra, take your knees a little wider and bend both knees.  Curl back taking your head as close to your feet as feels good for you.  Breathe out to release then take a Child's pose.


Namaste,

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Qualities cultivated by yoga - patience


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



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

Patience is defined as an ability to tolerate delay and it's something I really need to work on. I don't cope well with queuing and I am the kind of person who wants things done yesterday.

When I broke my wrist 3 years ago I couldn't wait to get back to my yoga and although most of the time I practiced yoga that could be done without pressure on my wrist, there was the odd Downward Facing Dog in there - something I would definitely not recommend to students in a similar situation!!  

On the mat though, in general, I do listen to my body and work to my own capabilities as should we all.  Straining to get in a pose may cause injury at worst and at best you will lose the benefits of that pose.  The breath is a good indicator of whether or not you are straining - if the breath is not steady, it is a good indicator that you should come out of the pose.  In this week's video practice listening to your body as we work towards a supported Reclined Hero pose.  Use props if you need to and if any pose does not feel right for you, leave it out - there is always an alternative that will provide the same benefits.  The meditation is again one that focuses on my own experience of nature.  

Off the mat remember being patient will be less stressful than getting in a tizz. If there is nothing you can do about a situation, it is best just to accept it.  

Namaste,


Sunday, 2 April 2017

This week on 40plusandalliswell



I like contrasting textures and in this week's Meatless Monday there is the contrast of the 'creamy' risotto with the crisp 'parmesan' crumb.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/meatless-monday-farro-risotto-with.html

'We don't like to talk about it...Stress incontinence' . In this blog post we look at natural ways of dealing with this common problem. Please see my 'sister' blog- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/we-dont-like-to-talk-about-it-stress.html

In the 'eat a rainbow' series we have reached the colour green. Please check out this post on my 'sister' blog on how to get your seasonal greens with recipe suggestions- 
http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/eat-rainbow-greens.html