Peacock Pose stimulates digestion!

yoga_dec24_AFeeling stuffed and bloated after the festive season is no fun. Constipation, gas and acid reflux are all the hallmarks of a digestive tract that is struggling, whether from lifestyle issues such as lack of activity or simply from overindulgence. It’s little wonder that this time of year you might find yourself groaning on the sofa as your stomach expands uncomfortably. Of course, if you want to give your digestion a healthy boost this New Year then try some yoga poses to help the digestive process instead!

Digestions helps eliminate waste and toxins from your body and in Ayurvedic therapy, this is believed to protect the body against more serious ailments by regulating internal mechanisms. In many ways, your digestions is at the heart of your health. However, many people suffer, often in silence, with irregular bowel movements and discomfort. Problems with digestion can leave you feeling irritable and sluggish, while mentally mind-fog can lead to lack of clarity, headaches and even anxiety.

Yoga helps the digestive process work well so that the body is energised and you feel lighter, cleaner and clearer within, as your breathing, stretches and movements stimulate the systems within your body. Yoga also promotes a healthier lifestyle and more nutritious diet, which inspires balance.

Before you think about flopping on the sofa this holiday, consider keeping your body working well with some good yoga moves that also help digestion too.

Peacock Pose

Believed to be one of the most effective poses to invigorate the digestive system, the Peacock is a powerful movement that really brings strength to the abdomen. With the resistance and pressure created in your abdominal area, there is greater blood flow to the digestive organs. The nervous system is relaxed by this pose and the muscles are stimulated to activate or revitalize the intestinal processes. It is also credited as reducing acidity and creating heat which combats toxins from unhealthy foods. Other benefits the Peacock Pose is believed to bring about include a healthier liver and reduced stress and anxiety, with a general feeling of rejuvenation throughout the abdomen.

The Peacock Pose is not the easiest movements to try and it is always best for beginners to try this pose under the guidance of an experienced, qualified yoga teacher. Here is a step-by-step guide to how to achieve this dynamic and incredible yoga pose:

  1. Start on all fours, with your hands facing inwards so that your fingers point towards your knees. Your elbows will be slightly bent but make sure they don’t bow or that your hands don’t splay out to the side. Your feet should be pointing straight back too.
  2. Bring your elbows in so that they touch your torso so that there is a tucked-in feeling where you are effectively leaning your upper body on your elbows. Meanwhile, tuck your toes in so that they touch the mat. Your stomach area needs to be strong and your head can drop down toward your mat.
  3. Straighten the legs and then shift the weight over your elbows and your arms. Use your lower body to get into position so that your feet and legs are no longer resting on your mat but strong, straight and suspended. You should not have to push off the ground but rather shift your body so that your feet naturally rise up.
  4. Bring the head up to look forward, keeping your body parallel to your mat and steady with strong arms and hands. If you struggle to keep in position then you might want to try a block under your forehead or your ankles.
  5. Stay in position before releasing your legs and letting your head rest down on your mat.

Keeping healthy into 2015 is not just about looking buff but looking after the amazing physical processes your body is involved in to keep you in great condition. Join forces with us and get in touch for a New Year program.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

How to do a shoulder stand

yoga_Dec17_AThe shoulder stand is really an iconic pose in yoga; it not only looks dramatic but the benefits practitioners purport this pose brings are many and varied too. Anyone who is serious about really understanding and experience the real power of yoga can really find that sense of integration through the shoulder stand pose; one of the most wonderfully satisfying yoga inversions.

While we looked at how challenging some inversions can be in yoga, where the head is lower than the heart, the shoulder stand can look more daunting that it actually is. However, you do have to take care with this pose and it is best to try this with a trained yoga practitioner. Women who are pregnant or have their menstruation should avoid this pose, as well as anyone with an underlying health issue such as high blood pressure or neck problems. Check first.

How to do a shoulder stand

To get in the right position, you can follow these steps:

  • Start lying flat on your mat.
  • With the legs together and keeping your arms and palms flat on your mat, bring the legs up and over your head into the Plow Pose as you inhale.
  • Your head, neck and shoulders should be on the mat, along with your arms. Your toes should be touching the mat behind you, with your legs straight.
  • Be careful not to jolt into this position or swing into it too intensely. Instead, let the spine gently bend and bring up your hips to give some momentum.
  • Next, bend your arms, placing your palms on your waist at the back. Your elbows should be pointing out slightly and not overly wide or too tucked in. Your hands should fit snugly and comfortably in this position.
  • The next step is really the tricky part. Keeping your arms strong, bring your legs up so they are straight up. It is best if you bring one up at a time, rather than both together. Don’t bend them and keep the toes pointed upwards. It is easy here to lose your balance.
  • Remember, you are using your hands to support your back and to benefit from the pose you want to lengthen and stretch the body, so tuck your pelvis in and straighten the line from the mat upwards but do not tighten up the glutes. Keep the neck still and move the chest to the neck and not vice versa.
  • To add more support you can place a folded blanket between your shoulders, but your head and neck should not be on this.

If you find this pose too challenging then you can vary it with a Half Shoulder Stand, where you begin lying down with bent legs. Bring the legs into your chest and then extend upwards. As you do so, place your hands on your lower back and lift lower body off the ground so that a 45 degree angle or more is created by your hips. You will find less balance issues in this pose.

Make sure you come out of either pose slowly, lowering your hips in a smooth movement, bending the legs down and finally bringing them down to your mat to rest.

Learn some powerful yoga poses with us. If you are not already benefiting from yoga then get in touch and start a new journey for the body and the mind today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Put your feet up!

yoga_Dec11_AAfter a hard day running around, or even a time spent in a sedentary job, which can be just as tiring, you might want to put your feet up and get the blood flowing. But before you slump in front of the TV relaxing on the sofa, why not ease the tension in your legs with a couple of yoga poses that will really refresh and revitalize your lower body?

Have you ever noticed that if you are experiencing stress and tiredness in one part of the body then you can often feel it radiate out to the rest of your body? Often, we feel pressure in our legs because we are constantly pounding down on them as we walk and when we exercise. Even sitting, especially if your position is not great, can leave you with heavy legs where you feel the need to get the circulation going properly again.

Yoga has many powerful strengthening poses but also encourages full bodily relaxation and restoration too. The holistic approach leaves the whole body feeling good by undoing tension and easing physical and mental stresses.

We’ve already looked at the benefits of resting your legs up against the wall and just how restorative and calming this can be. There are other poses that also give your legs a break.

Happy Baby Pose

There is a simplicity and fun sense of relaxation with the Happy Baby Pose and it is a great pose for beginners too. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your belly as you exhale.
  • Grab your feet with both hands on the outer edge as you inhale.
  • Let the knees open out slightly, but not too wide. Bring the knees up toward the armpits as they widen. Feel comfortable in this position first before moving to the next stage.
  • With your hands still gripping your feet, bring your lower legs up. Your ankles should be raised and over your knees. As you push your feet up, feel the resistance against your hands.
  • Whilst not complex, if you find it difficult to keep hold of your feet then use a yoga belt to wrap across the soles of the feet, so you don’t have to reach so far, and pull on the belt when you are in position to create resistance.

V Pose

The V Pose is not the easiest pose to get into at first, so don’t worry if you find yourself wobbling to get into position. However, it can be a great way to stretch the whole legs and really wake up and relax your limbs at the same time. But it can be done, here’s how:

  • Sit down with the soles of your feet on your mat and your knees bent. With your hands on your mat by your hips, lean back a little, raise the feet up and extend the legs so that they are raised off the mat.
  • With your legs still not touching the mat, bend your knees in toward your body, before reaching between your legs and gripping each big toe with your fingers. Loop the fingers round each toe so that you can hold on more easily.
  • Focus on your back by straightening the spine and lifting your upper body so that it moves closer toward your legs. You should have a feeling of being pulled up as you balance on your seat area only.
  • Straighten the legs so that your body creates a V shape. Take your time with this, ensuring that when you move the legs out that the back is straight and there is no sagging in the upper body area. Focus on lengthening your torso so that you don’t feel hunched up and you can really stretch into position.
  • Once you are fully extended, hold the pose before relaxing on an exhale as you bring the knees in first to instantly relax the resistance.
  • It is vital in this pose that your back is straight and less important that your legs are straight. In other words, straight legs and a curved spine mean you’re not doing it properly.
  • Make sure the shoulders are relaxed as they tend to hunch too during this pose, and add a blanket behind your lower back to offer that little extra support.

Next week, we look at how to do a shoulder stand and the benefits it can bring. To improve or begin your yoga journey, get in touch with us first.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Yoga inversions for beginners!

yoga_Dec4_AOver the last couple of weeks we’ve looked at the power of inversions in yoga, whereby poses put your head below your heart. Though great core strengthening movements, inversions can be incredibly strenuous and are often a real challenge to the novice yogi or yogini. However, even if you’re not quite at the level of a headstand or a shoulder stand and find Downward Facing Dog difficult to sustain, there’s no reason why you cannot still benefit from some yoga inversions for beginners.

If you are not used to being topsy turvy and upside down, yoga inversions can prove to be a rush to the head that’s a little too far out of your comfort zone. However, with as they boast such great benefits, it’d be a shame to dismiss inversions altogether. Instead, start with less challenging but still incredibly beneficial beginner inversions.

Extended Puppy Pose

This is a good and far easier pose than Downward Facing Dog; begin on all fours, like a dog but take time to make sure you are creating a good, grounded position. This means your hands should be placed on your mat firmly, under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips.

Keeping your arms shoulder-width apart, walk forward with your hands. You will need to keep your palms pressed down. Throughout the exercise you want to ensure that your forearms and elbows stay away from your mat and do not make contact with the floor. To do this you will have to consciously raise your arms a little.

As you move your hands forward, let your chest lower to your mat. As you rest your forehead on the ground, you’ll feel a kind of melting sensation as you let your body sink down, while your spine lengthens.

Keep your hips up and vary the pose on an exhale, by bringing your hips back so that you are halfway to sitting down on your calves and really stretching your back. All the while you should be keeping your hands in place and feeling that sense of relaxation in your core. You can let your forearms touch the ground and then you are transforming your pose into Child’s Pose which inspires deep relaxation and calm.

If you are feeling this is too much of a stretch then add a blanket or bolster for support between your calves and thighs, and also bring the arms in a little and add a blanket under your forehead.

Dolphin Pose

This is really a variation on Downward Facing Dog. Start on all fours and lower your forearms so that they lie parallel with each other. Your palms should be facing down and your elbows under your shoulders.

Curl your toes in to get a grip on your mat as you raise your hips and abdomen. Try and walk in a little if you feel yourself slide. You are aiming for a V shape, so it is important to keep your hips straight and pulled up. A good way to achieve this is visualize an imaginary piece of string pulling you up toward the ceiling and keeping you in place.

If you can, place the soles of your feet flat on the ground, but don’t worry if you have to raise them because your calf muscles are too tight; it’s always best to listen to your body and not over-stretch.

Keep your head and neck relaxed and in line with your upper arms, with your face looking into the V. Your legs and spine need to be straight.

In essence, Dolphin Pose, takes the pressure off the wrists that you often feel with Downward Facing Dog and allows for greater stability with an inversion that is still incredibly effective.

Next week, we will look at shoulder stands and also how putting your feet up can relieve stress and tension in the body. Meanwhile, come and be part of our yoga experience.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.