Freebie Yoga Tracker >>>
Start 2021 with a motivational yoga tracker. Colour code to show the difference between a morning stretch or a full class, or simply highlight the days when you’ve done any yoga at all. Feel free to share it with your friends.
So I’ve got the funny feeling this year is going to be challenging, and thankfully every challenge has a silver lining.
For every thing we cannot do there is another thing that becomes available. I missed going out, but have loved being quieter and in the garden.
When we can’t meet friends in doors we meet outdoors. When we can’t meet outdoors we call, facetime and send cards. There are the benefits from time slowing up.
Yoga benefits immeasurablyfor having space and time.
Keping clear and motivated is important. Sometimes a good quote on a post it is enough, or your three aspirational words. Live online classes help, as does personal practice. You can use a yoga journal (£5.50 online) keep it in your diary or use the free Yoga Tracker (download above) so that you can chart your progress through the year.
Setting a time of day to practice and having a clear area means that yoga time is easier than if you have to put away the clothes, move the cat basket and move the pile of books.
In terms of looking after muscles that are active, Muslces need time to release, and some muscles release more easily than others. Stretching off muscles that are tight from use is easier than stretching off muscles that are holding emotions.
When the body is tense it takes time to feel safe and relax again. It’s a great idea that we can stretch hard for 30 monutes and come out relaxed, but in my expereince it just doesnt happen. Tension takes some care and time, to start to soften and melt. I think of it a bit like an unfolding. Like petals of a flower. We move towards a yoga pose, giving the body time to have many moments of aliveness. To open and expand.
Wishing you roots and wings for 2021
Uujayi breathing is where the back of the throat closes a little, which restricts the out flow of air. This makes the breath longer and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Learning uujayi breathing
Initially breathing out through your mouth as if you were trying to mist up a mirror works to get the right feeling. To do uujayi breathing you keep this feeling but gently close the lips and breath out through your nose.
When to use Uujayi
Sometimes uujayi breathing is taught very strongly and done throughout asana practice. I dont recommend this partocularly. The breath is a very refined and sensitive thing – its our very life fore. I favour a usually think a genlte and steady practice rather than drama, but please do as feels right for you. I suggest sitting quietly and easing into this breath ofr 5 minutes or so. Notice how you feel before, during, and after. Your key to learning pranayama (breathing in sanskrit) is noticing how it affects you. When you have proff for yourself it is much easier to embed a practice as it has become your own.
The sound of Uuajyi
I was teaching uujayi breathing online (as all my classes are right now with lockdown) and as it was online nobody could hear my breathing with the microphone. So here is the lovely sound of uujayi breathing.
I wouldnt normall record my own strange breathing sounds, however in my service to helping others learn yoga – here it is!
I have also included 3 videos – the sound inside a seashell, darth veda and waves. They all have the same sort of deep raspy rhythm of uujayi breathing. Ofcourse Darth Veda is a personal favourite. Just imagining I am Darth Veda bereathing through a mask is a quick way of connecting with uujayi breathing for me. The sound you hear when you take a shell to your ear, or of repeptiitve waves also help and are rather more traditional anaologies.
Sciatica is never fun, and is especially prevalent in pregnancy when the change in posture, weight of the baby, changes in the pelvis doe tot he hormones and then position of the baby all play into an increased tendency to sciatica.
Sciatica typically involves a pain, weakness or numbness down one or both legs. The NHS have an excellent description of sciatica and basic advice. Sometimes it is described as if you could draw a line of where the pain goes. Its easy to say ‘oh its just how your baby is lying’ or ‘its just nerve pain’ but if you are suffering form it, you can find it very debilitating, and this in turn can affect your mood.
The below yoga video shows a short sequence of yoga poses that are helpful in making space at the back of the pelvis that helps to alleviate pain and the trapping of nerves. There are more poses than just this, however a memeber of this class was wanting to practice more often than twice a week as yoga was proving effective in alleviating symptms and pain. Primarily this video is for E, however I thought it best to do the video so tohers could benefit form it as well.
There are other poses that are highly beneficial but less helpful during pregnancy. When pregnnat be mindful of good advice that doesn not take in to consideration that you are pregnant.
Any yoga practice is best with a yoga teacher, particularly in pregnancy where there can be other complications. Please check out with your teacher if this is suitable for you, but at least it will give you some ideas of what can be really helpful to make life a bit easier and more comfortable to those with sciatica.
If your sciatca is severe or if yoga is not shifting it Id recommend going to see an experienced and refinedosteopath (David Lasnet or Adam Harker in the Edinburgh area) as they can rebalance the pelvis to alleviate symptoms.
Video coming – just waiting for approval from those in it x
If I penguin walk what’s the problem if I’m happy? Firstly ofcourse you can and should stand exactly as you want. There is comfort in our habits and sometimes what someone else might consider a bad habit might protect you really well in some way. Secondly changing our posture is quite a refined process. When you move outside of your patterns and your normal ‘inner hearing’ changes. So you while you may listen carefully you may also miss important messages. But yes, if you toes point out and you want to live a healthy long life and feel good I think it’s a good idea to explore other options.
Rolfing is a deep form of massage that realigns the body. It helps to re-establish natural alignment within the body to bring better vitality and wellbeing. The basis is gravity. Gravity presses down on us and when our bodies are well alignment the forces of gravity travel smoothly through the body causing least damage to the joints. Working with gravity also creates most ease of movement and this translates to ease within daily life both physically and emotionally.
‘only by bringing peace from the ground up’ can problems higher be ‘under-stood’.
In Rolfing the feet are considered the place to start, being the lowest building blocks that we stand on. You can see the body as a stack of bricks, placed well they are robust and strong, placing precariously then precariously makes the whole system fragile like a teetring tower of jenga blocks. Rolfers tend to work from the ground up, this is often used in yoga teaching as well. I have loved the concepts of rolfing and tried to gently bring some of the directions into my classes.
I love Ida’s analogy of car tyres. If a car had its front wheels angled out the car would find moving forward very difficult. Can you imagine a car trying to get out of mud with outwards facing front tyres, it just wouldn’t make it. Her suggestion is that knees and feet are the same and that people need a parallel moving legs and feet so that the movement of the whole person can be straight forwards.
Another issue is of long term use. When out joints don’t stack neatly there is more wear and tear: every ‘turn erodes the axis’. This is the longer term issue of creating an imbalance within the knee that in time wears the knee joint out and creates an imbalance of leg muscles that further increases the imbalance.
Of course, we are significantly more than a pair of well-placed feet. Even If you could tell everything from our feet, they are complex in themselves. And yes, the feet are not just inverted (toes in), everted (toes out) or balanced. There are arches than can drop, be healthy or tense. Feet can walk out on the outer edges, roll in onto the inside edge. They can be hard and fail to move or weak an unable to cope with changes underfoot.
You get the picture – its complex. This is why it is ideal to work with someone with some experience in this field to support you through this process, and don’t think of your posture and alignment as a quick fix – it’s a life-long practice of finding ease, efficiency and freedom.
While I love rolfing with its universal rules of good harmonious working: do this, this and this and all will be well. I also love freedom. Freedom to explore, choose and feel. So in good Susannah style I stand with a foot in each camp. Always the devil’s advocate, never settled. I like the good practice, guidelines, working towards a universal harmony – and I enjoy breaking the rules. I like to let my body do its own thing, let it be free like an innocent child. Let it make weird shapes and fly. This is very Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten. They have a
lovely way, which is ‘here how it feels good, great, amazing for me’ – try it, change it, find your way. They are the yoga teachers that other yoga teachers fear. They throw out the rules in favour of personal integrity and truth. They say do what you want, join in or don’t, do what we say, or ignore us. Do it your way.
Rules can be tight and lifeless. Number 1 survive, Number 2 thrive. Once we’ve managed survival we need to be alive, to feel alive. So if the rules shut you down walk by. If the rules give you more strength and freedom – enjoy!
I tend to think of it as inverted toes showing a need to be smaller, and everted toes showing the desire or need to be bigger than we are. Pigeon toes, inverting so the toes are pointing towards each other make us appear more childlike and diminutive, we appear more submissive and less challenging. This is very helpful in some situations. Toes wide tends to suggest a need to be bigger, stronger. We can appear more confident, more dominant – and this can be very helpful too. The problem is only when we get stuck in a pattern that is unhelpful. Ofcourse you may walk your toes wide and be very submissive, and vice versa. You may need to delve deep to find the part of you that wants to be more than you are. You may find that you lack stability and that standing toes wide gives you a more solid base, or it may all be a load of baloney for you. Our bodies are not all that we are.
Thinking about appropriacy is important. If you are in a kitchen working, toes pointed slightly out with knees tracking over them, this is great so you can move from side to chop, fry and sprinkle. If you are needing to assert your authority and seem bigger than you are, stand wide. But if you’re standing, walking, running I’d suggest moving towards a straightforward action. And that straight forward action might just translate into how you direct your life, wouldn’t that be great!
Yes, if you have the tenacity and kindness, I really do think feet facing forwards is better.
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