Daily Practice.

Yoga was traditionally taught on a one-to-one basis with the understanding that everyone is an individual with differing requirements. It was only when it was introduced to the west that the class structure appeared to accommodate its mass appeal. Attending a weekly class is more beneficial than nothing but it is also a good idea to have a daily practice. And I am delighted that some have recognized this and would like some guidance. I am passionate that yoga should be used in your daily life and often refer to a yoga toolkit. I have a selection of yoga delights that I call upon from time to time to help me out. In the following weeks I will be putting together some information cards about certain postures and sequences to help you in your daily practice.

Use it or loose it.

For a daily practice you need consider the physical benefits of moving the whole body taking into consideration all muscles and joints. Simply by putting on a favourite piece of lively music and giving yourself at least 5 minutes to warm up the body including twists, moving all joints and backward and forward bends (remember to engage your core muscles). This can be used as alternative to activations during class.

Tadasana

We are so use to dashing about the place that to simply stop often takes more energy than to keep going. People often complain that yoga is too slow or we stand still for too long, but it is only in these ‘still’ points that we can really take the time to understand our body and not forgetting the mind. You will find the more you practice yoga the more you become aware of your body and any small aliments will be picked up before they become more serious.

TADA POLLY

 

This forms the foundation posture for all standing asanas and movements. Tadasana awakens our sense of power and strength within, giving a sense of security and purpose. Standing in this posture improves body alignment, releasing pressure of muscles nerves and internal organs. Breathing is enhanced and deepened, resulting in calming both the body and mind.

 

 

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart, toes facing forwards and evenly distribute the weight between both feet. Soften knees, engage core muscles with the sternum uppermost. Relax the shoulders by rolling them back and releasing with the effect of opening the chest. Last but not least….. crown uppermost.

‘Stand in your power’

Take a moment to deepen your breath, breathing up from your feet, allowing the breath to flow up the body to your heart centre and release out through the crown. Breathe in through the crown to the heart and release this breath down into the earth. This is known as vertical alignment breathe and is often used before meditation. Closing your eyes and visualizing the security and majestic pose of a mountain.

Marjariasana (cat)

A healthy spine means healthy, happy life! This asana enhances flexibility within the spine and also tones and stretches the back and abdominal muscles. It nurtures well-being and a positive attitude.

IMG_7282

 

  1. Start on all fours, knees directly underneath the hips, hands underneath the shoulders, knees . Take a moment to extend the spine, relax the shoulders and lengthen the neck

2.  Take your attention to the base of the spine, breathing in gather in the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, and start to curve the spine upwards. Try to move slowly, work with each vertebra as the curve moves up the spine. The head is the last to move, releasing towards the chest.

Cat bertie

  1. Take your attention again to the base of the spine, breathing out, release the tailbone back, allowing the abdominal muscles to release slightly reversing the movement of the spine, allowing it again to extend. Move slowly up the spine, letting the head to be the last to release. Being careful not to exaggerate the curve in the lumbar spine.

Caution – anyone with a hiatus hernia should avoid this posture. Any problems in the lumbar spine please work within your limits. Knee problems – work with cushions underneath the knees.

 

For those with limited wrist flexibility you can:

Rest on lightly clenched hands either on the floor or chair.  Rest on your forearms either on the floor or chair

 

Relaxation – at least for 15 minutes

What is happening while you lay still on the floor.

  • Your heart rate will lower
  • Your blood pressure will lower
  • Your breathing rate will relax
  • Your blood flow will increase to major muscles
  • Muscle tension and chronic pain will reduce
  • Improving your concentration
  • Any anger and frustration will reduce
  • Your immune system/healing will increase

It is always a good investment to get a relaxation CD that can talk you through the process. Failing this put on some relaxing music, lay back and relax for 20 minutes to fully benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Here and now.

Gratitude_Hafiz

 

There will be no classes on the following dates 6 Thurs, 10 Mon, 13 Thurs and 17 Mon August 2015.

Last Thursday we practiced a very special Surya Namaskrara (Sun Sequence) for those that wanted the opportunity of being able to continue their yoga practice during this period of no classes. 

This sequence is a well-known and most people will be aware of it in some shape or form. Its versatility makes it an ideal sequence to learn for all abilities. It is a true all-rounder! Physically, it works all the major muscles groups and joints, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists.   It strengthens the core muscles and enhances spine flexibility resulting in a stronger back. Stimulates and balances all systems including reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, digestive and influences endocrine glands.   Focusing on breath during this sequence calms, increases mental clarity and brings fresh oxygenated blood to the brain.  Perfect to do as the sun is rising early in the day or when setting, added bonus if outside – but good at anytime of the day just make sure the stomach is empty for full benefits. Using the vision/presence of the sun as an ever-giving source of light and energy, infusing the body with healing and vitality.

SURYA NAMASKARA – KEY MOVES

  1. TADASANA
  2. BACKWARD/FORWARD BEND
  3. RUNNER WITH TWIST (RIGHT LEG BACK)
  4. PLANK
  5. COBRA
  6. MAKARASANA
  7. DOG
  8. RUNNER (left leg back)
  9. TADASANA

REPEAT STARTING WITH LEFT LEG BACK – one round completed.

Start by standing in tadasana and taking the time to settle and prepare. When ready engage your core muscles bringing the hands together in prayer hand mudra in front of the chest. Breathing in take your hands up and complete with a gentle backbend, on an out breath release into a flowing forward bend. In soft flowing moves return to backward bend, repeat 3 times. Remembering to engage your core muscles and relax the shoulders. Complete the move with a forward bend, placing hands either side of the feet.

Take the right foot back into runner, engaging core muscles straightening the torso, facing forward – settle the body. Placing the left hand on the bent front knee, place the right arm behind the lower back with the palm facing outwards. (see photo below) Take a breath in and extend the spine, on out breath twist to the right making the sure the knee does collapse to the side and stays facing forward. (Ensure knee is over the ankle). Return to the front placing right hand on to the left knee. Release the left arm and place along the lower back with palm facing outwards. Extend the spine on breath in and when releasing the breath twist to the left. Hold for a couple of breaths.   Return on exhalation. Bring your hands down to either side of the feet bending forwards.

Taking weight on to your hands, take the left leg back to form the plank. (Body and legs in a straight line) Slowly lower your body to the mat. Rest for a few breaths.

Refresh the core muscles and lift the upper body into either cobra/sphinx pose. Ensuring navel in connected to the mat and extend the spine without engaging the buttock muscles. Release back down on to the mat.

Rest for a while in Makarasana (crocodile) lying flat on the mat, forehead resting on your hands, legs separated with heals falling inwards. Breath deeply. Release and relax during this moment of stillness.

Curling your toes under ready for movement, push the weight up and back towards thighs as the knees lift off the mat. (You may want to move feet slightly forwards) Allow the hips to raise, lift up on to the toes of the feet. Taking the focus into the extension of the spine, allow the heals to release to the mat. Hold for a couple of breaths. Take a moment to prepare to bring the right leg forward into runner.

Put both hands on the knee and take time to settle the torso into its upright position. Leave the right hand on the right knee, releasing the left hand around the lower back, palm facing outwards. Take a breath in, extend the spine and twist to the left, hold for a couple of breathes. Release the twist repeating to the other side with left hand on right knee, right arm along the lower back, palm facing outwards. Twist to the right. After a couple of breaths release the twist and return to the front.

Bending forwards and placing hands either side of the foot, bring the left leg forward into forward bend. Take a moment to enjoy this inversion. Refresh core muscles and start to slowly rebuild the spine to standing, keep the flow moving by taking the arms above into a soft backward bend. Repeat twice more. Eventually bringing the arms down into prayer hand mudra in front of the heart. Take a moment to scan the body and note any changes or sensations.

Then repeat by taking the left leg back into runner to complete one round.

Do as many rounds as you desire or simply concentrate on each move, taking your time just to honour sequence and your time.  Put on some beautiful music and enjoy loosing yourself within the music and movement.

(see the placement of the arm behind the back, ready for the twist)

20150727_181127

UntitledSo many benefits with this posture:

1.  Forward and backward bend – strengthening the back and flexing the spine, make sure you engage your core/abdominal muscles to protect the lower back.

2.  Runner – giving a lovely stretch to psoas muscles situated deep within the anterior hip joint and lower spine – it is the only muscle that connects the upper extremity to the lower … ( Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones) 2012:10)

3.  The twist will help squeeze the digestive system – keeping it regular.

4.  Cobra/Sphinx – strengthens the back, extends the spine and tones the digestive/abdominal area.

5.  Makarasana – balancing the endocrine system and emotions.  It allows all the systems and spine to settle and relax.

6.  Adhomukha Svanasana (Dog) – replenishes vitality. works all the major muscles and joints and allows the body to let go of the past.

7.  Tadasana – allowing the body to calm and bring a sense of well-being after completing the sequence.  Cherish this moment and take time to absorb its gifts.

 

CLASSES RESUME ON THURSDAY 20 AUGUST AT 6.30PM UNTIL 7.45PM.  MONDAY CLASSES WILL CONTINUE DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST AT 6.30PM ‘OUTSIDE’ AT NAWORTH HOUSE, GREEN HAMMERTON, YORK.

Reflection

Thousands of blogs will probably be taking their focus on reflection of 2014 at this moment in time.  There is great value in celebrating the past and recognising your achievements.  We must take our learning from the past but we must be careful not to wallow too long, it can blind us to the possibility of now. Yoga allows us to empower ourselves with the present, the true gift of the New Year for yourself.

The ideal asana to allow us to simply stop and reflect after this very busy time is Tadasana (Mountain Pose), a noble grounding asana.  It’s simplicity hides its true value and power of allowing everyone just ‘to be’.

TADASANA  (Mountain Pose)

This asana is a great way to start your practice or just to take a moment out of the day to realign your body and mind.

Haystacks

  • Stand with feet hip distance apart with the toes facing forward with equal weight distributed between the feet
  • Soften your knees and make sure your pelvis is in neutral (not tipping forward or back)
  • Engage your abdominal muscles to help support your lower back and provide alignment
  • Relaxing your shoulders backwards with lift the sternum (breastbone) and open the chest area
  • Tucking the chin in slightly, will elongate the neck
  • Crown of the head being uppermost
  • Ensure all the joints are soft and not locked
  • Take a moment  – visualise the qualities of a the mountain (stable, secure, majestic and so on)
  • With each ‘in’ breath feel the spine lengthening and with the ‘out’ breath release and let go of any unwanted emotions/feelings
  • For great benefits do this asana outside taking advantage of the fresh air and sunlight

Blencathra 1

Dru yoga classes will commence on Thursday 8th January 2015 at 6.30pm until 7.45pm.  £4 per person, no booking required.  At Green Hammerton village hall.

Watchout for an additional new class starting in February.   Also for one off workshops with Dru yoga specialists regarding such topics as stress, back care, meditation, nutrition and many more subjects.