Wednesday, 17 December 2014

New class

Good news. I am going to be teaching an additional class in the new year.

I have a few options & would like you to let me know your preferences before I go ahead.

Monday 7 - 8.30pm in Dunmow (20 mins from Stortford on the A120)

Thursday 6 - 7pm in Dunmow

Thursday 8 - 9pm in Dunmow

Or...I could teach a second class in Stortford - but it would be early - around 4 - 5.30pm

Please email me to let me know            TowardYoga@gmail.com

Thanks & Merry Christmas!

Sarah

P.S. We are back on Tuesday 6th January at Bishop's Park Community Centre at 6.30pm

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Peace and goodwill to all men (women and children)!

'Tis the season to be jolly. 'Tis also the season for stretching yourself emotionally, financially and physically. Last week the class was restorative poses. Poses to calm the mind, ease tension, headaches and stress. I talked a little about the benefits during the class but I promised more, so here it is.

The following information is all based on the teaching and wisdom of BKS Iyengar. I merely seek to share...

Why did we use so much equipment?  
Supported asanas are restful and tone the body with minimum effort. They should not be underestimated as they have a powerful physiological effect. They nourish the nervous system and increase the efficacy of the glandular system, which is essential for physical & mental health. The inner organs stay for some time in positions where they are extended or massaged. Hidden parts of the body & cells are activated. No-one can afford to neglect these tremendously beneficial poses.

Why did we focus on the breathing (Pranayama)?
Pranayama calms & strengthens the mind and creates a feeling of internal space. It generates a store of energy in the body. Once the lungs are strong, it increases their capacity. Different types of pranayama induce different states of awareness.

Breath and mind are closely linked. Usually the state of mind affects the breath. It becomes agitated and shallow during moments of excitement. When it is quiet and deep the mind becomes calm. In pranayama, breath is used to change the mental state. The mind is trained to follow the course of the breath, and, by doing so, its scattered thoughts are channelled inwards.

The senses, too, are quietened by pranayama and drawn inwards. By nature, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin are attracted to their objects - constantly seeking new experiences. Detaching them from their objects and drawing them inwards, leads to a state that is self contained, where nothing external is required. This is the 'desireless' state (Pratyahara). Once achieved, the distinction between everyday life and spiritual life is known.

For myself, yoga is a work in progress. I don't claim to be a fantastic guru. I have never reached Pratyahara. But it sure feels good trying. 

I hope yoga, and in particular, practising restorative poses followed by pranayama, will bring you a deep sense of calm, stillness and peace. After all, 'tis the season.

Wishing you all a magical Christmas filled with love, light and laughter.
x




Friday, 21 November 2014

Teaching

As a beginner, I was so excited when the teacher introduced a new pose. I loved the challenge (& thrill) of learning something completely and utterly new. My first yoga teacher took me to places I had never been. I caught glimpses of possibilities. I found stillness and quiet for the first time in my life. I was in awe of the depth of the subject matter.

Yoga still excites me and I remain in awe of it. I have been a yogi for more than half of my life and yet I still feel like a beginner in so many respects.

It is something I will not 'master' in this lifetime and truthfully, I don't want to. I like having something truly awesome in my life. Something I can't quite ever put my finger on.

Yes, I can tell you the philosophy, the benefits & all about the asanas (poses)....but it is never quite enough. There is always so much more for me to learn and share.

I am also a full time primary school teacher. My job is to break things down and share them. To teach, to enthuse, excite, stretch, challenge, support and encourage. I share a learning journey with many little people every day.

A teacher is never 'done'. There is no end. There is always more. For myself and the people I share with.

At school and on the yoga mat, I am content if I ignite a spark, fan a flame and provide fuel for the lifelong passion that is learning.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sorry guys...I'm afraid I have to cancel tonight's class. I'm really not feeling well.

See you all next week
x
Sarah

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Virasana in detail

Virasana is a wonderful posture for keeping your thighs stretched, knees mobile and healthy. Practise it with care as part of a well-rounded asana program that includes standing poses and other postures that strengthen the quadriceps and other leg muscles, and you will reap its benefits for a lifetime.
Eventually this is a resting pose, but initially it can be felt as a stretching pose.   Most people like to have a folded blanket spread across their mat so there is not so much pressure on the knees and tops of the feet.



If your sitting bones are not sat firmly on the ground, then use block(s) or folded blankets under your buttocks to help you take your weight onto your sitting bones and out of your knees.

To come into the asana:

(1) Kneel with your knees together. Roll the flesh of your calves manually (with your hands), rolling the skin and muscles gently out to the sides as you sit back onto the floor (or your support).   It helps to begin this action with your fingertips right into the flesh directly behind your knees.

(2) Remain seated and release the skin at the front of your knees by raising each knee one at a time with your hands. 

(3) Take the skin and bones of your buttocks back and outward on the floor (or your support).

Keep your knees together and your feet parallel.   Do not let your feet turn out to the sides or turn inward.   Try to be on the centre top of each foot.   Actively lengthen out through all your toes straight back and spread them slightly.   Press the outsides of the tops of your feet (little toe sides) to the floor as much as the insides (big toe sides).   Probably this means you need to press your little toes down more and turn your inner heels upward toward the ceiling.   Your heels should be touching the sides of your hips (or your support).   Your inner calves should be touching your outer thighs.   Turn your calves out to press your outer shinbones down.  

Note in this pose that you can slide your hands between your feet and your outer hips - do not have your feet tucked under your buttocks as in Vajrasana.   In Virasana, you sit between your feet.

The thighs have a tendency to fall inward in this pose.   Revolve your thighs and knees outward enough so that your thighs face the ceiling and your shins are perpendicular to the floor.   You want your inner knees to lift and roll outward (the inner knee rolling toward the outer knee).   The action to lift the inner knees is to press your outer shins and little toes downward to balance the thighs' tendency to roll inward.   Feel as though your thighs are as heavy as possible, sinking toward the floor, weighting your buttock bones down firmly into the floor if possible. Indeed you can practise this pose with sandbags on your top thighs once you are familiar with it.

Actions of the torso
Establish Tadasana in your torso.   Lift your side ribs and torso up out of your pelvis.   Raise the top of your sternum upward away from your pubic bone strongly.   The idea behind lifting your sternum toward the ceiling and lengthening the front of your torso is not to make you look good, but to give you deep space in your torso in which to breathe.   Lengthen the line up from your sacrum through the crown of your head while you are continuing to ground through your buttock bones.   Also take care to establish Tadasana in your pelvis, so your sacrum and coccyx are lengthening & moving under, not back.

Actions of the hands, arms, and shoulders
Draw both your shoulder blades into and down your back to assist in expanding your chest.   Rotate both arms outward and place your palms on the soles of your feet, also to assist you in opening your chest. If you are sitting on a support in might be better to place your hands on your thighs instead.

To come out of the pose:
Come up on to ‘all fours’, cross your legs behind you as if to come into Sukhasana and then sit back through Sukhasana into Dandasana, extending your legs straight out in front of you.   It's important to do something to straighten your knees for a few moments after the pose to "reset".
Remember:
Don’t force. Teachers and students should never force Virasana at any level.
Avoid pain. If you feel pain anywhere in the pose (especially in the knees), stop immediately and discuss the pose with your teacher.
Prop up. Don’t sit with your sitting bones hovering! Use appropriate support to enable you to firmly ground the sitting bones. Your teacher will help you select the correct support for you.
Work gradually. Don’t go too fast. It takes time for your body to move deeper into poses. Your hips will lower in due time, over many practice sessions, lowering props as needed.
Point the feet in line with the shins. This provides the best alignment for the knees. In particular, avoid turning the feet outward.
Avoid overstretching the knees. The knees need the stability that their ligaments provide, so don’t encourage movements that stretch them too much. If you feel strong sensations within or around the knee joints in the pose, there’s a good chance you are stretching ligaments. Stop and tell your teacher!
Keep the ankles near the hips. Thus minimising stress on the inner knee ligament.
Final note

Everyone’s knees are different. One adjustment for your friend may be totally inappropriate for you. Practise at home is fantastic…but keep talking (and listening) to your teacher. Our bodies are not static, they change over time, so you should make sensitive, intelligent adjustments to your practise and always listen to your body.

Thursday, 28 August 2014


RIP GURUJI BKS IYENGAR (14.12.18 - 20.8.14)

Many of you will have heard Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, better known as BKS Iyengar died in hospital in Pune on Wednesday 20 August 2014, aged 95.
It is a sad time but it may help us to reflect on Guruji’s tremendous work and a life well lived.

Violinist Yehudi Menuhin made headlines for conducting the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with his feet, while standing on his head, at the centenary celebration of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1982. Menuhin was 66, and he had yoga guru and longtime friend BKS Iyengar to thank.

“No one is too old or too stiff, too fat or thin or tired for yoga,” said BKS Iyengar, the man credited with mainstreaming yoga across borders and continents.
 

His tryst with yoga began at 16 and ended only when he passed away on Wednesday, aged 95.

The son of a poor schoolteacher, BKS spent much of his childhood in bed, battling frequent attacks of malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid. “My sisters and sisters-in-law used to say that my head would hang down on a repulsive body in such a way that they never touched me on account of my appearance,” he wrote in the essay “My Yogic Journey.”  Then he found yoga. In two years, the sickly teenager had transformed into a yogi so skilled that his brother-in-law and guru, T Krishnamacharya, sent him to Pune to teach.

“Yoga saved my life. I took it up for my health, and then I took it up as a mission,” said BKS, who could do steady half-hour headstands (sirsasana) till late last year. Learning from his own practice, he used yoga to heal and restore others.

Among the many stories you hear at his Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune is the one about him asking his daughter to bring him a brick from the garden to help support a student struggling to hold an asana or posture. She brought him a brick, which metamorphosed into the now familiar ‘yoga block’. BKS also gave the world the yoga chair, yoga blanket, yoga ropes and yoga straps.

By using props, he unintentionally devised his own style of restorative and strengthening yoga, which took his name and is now taught in more than 70 nations.

Props are a crutch towards perfection, believed BKS, who encouraged students to use them not only to improve stability, flexibility and strength but also to perfect alignment and hold postures for long stretches. This, he believed, gave yogis mental toughness.
The stillness, he believed, brought physical and emotional equilibrium. “By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind,” he said in his 2006 book, Light on Life.

Before BKS Iyengar made yoga available and understandable there were Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras,” a philosophical text compiled around two thousand years ago. The yoga sutras say hardly anything about physical poses. “Yoga”, the sutras say, “is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness.” They focus on the breath and the mind; their only real guidance regarding posture is that it should be “steady and comfortable.”

Instructions for postures (asanas), appeared much later, in medieval texts, such as the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika.” Fifteen poses appear in the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” most of them seated or supine. There are no sun salutations, no downward-facing dogs or warriors. There are instructions for drawing discharged semen back into the penis, so as to overcome death, and for severing the tendon connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, and lengthening it so that it can touch the forehead!

Only in our time has hatha yoga been transformed into an accessible regimen for health and well-being. “Perhaps no one has done more than Mr Iyengar to bring yoga to the West,” said the New York Times in a 2002 profile of the guru. “Long before Christy Turlington was gracing magazine covers, decades before power yoga was a multimillion-dollar business, Mr Iyengar was teaching Americans, among others, the virtues of asanas and breath control.”



Chrstie Turlington, one of top fashion and beauty supermodels of the 1990s, famously graced the front cover of Time magazine in a cross-legged pose for a 2001 report on the explosion in yoga’s popularity.

Despite suffering a heart attack at 80, BKS had continued to practise yoga into his 90s. Iyengar died early Wednesday in hospital after suffering kidney failure, the Press Trust of India news agency said. His website carried a picture of Iyengar’s smiling face beside a message that read: “I always tell people, ‘live happily and die majestically.’”

 

No other yoga teacher was as influential as Iyengar. His book “Light on Yoga”, with a foreword written by Menuhin, remains unparalleled as a guide to asana practice. As a Yoga Journal tribute put it, when “teachers refer to the correct way to do a posture, they’re usually alluding to the alignment Mr. Iyengar instructs and expertly models in his book.”
In “Light on Yoga”, Iyengar describes yoga as a “timeless pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of man as a whole,” and calls Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras” the “first book to systematize this practice.” The desire to imbue his methods with ancient authority is understandable, but Iyengar was too modest. It was he, not any ancient sage, who figured out how to show the people of the world the safest way to stand on their heads.
An invitation has been extended to all Iyengar yoga practitioners to take part in a communal dedication to the memory of our Guru, B. K. S. Iyengar, tomorrow, Thursday 28th August at 8.30pm.

It would be lovely if as many of us as possible could practice the following sequence of asanas holding Guruji in our hearts.

Tadasana - 3 minutes
Uttanasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Utthita Trikonasana to the right and to the left
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Tadasana - 3 minutes
5 minutes seated quietly

Thank you

 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The groundwork of all happiness is health

 I truly believe that.


A close friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with a long-term illness. We no longer live close enough to see one another above once or twice a year, but we remain kindred spirits.

Health is something healthy people don’t really think about. It doesn’t really become an issue until it is an issue.

It made me think about that old metaphor about how you fill your life:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up an empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students, if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
 ‘Now,’ said the professor, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things –Health, Family, Friends.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, car & things you are passionate about (kite surfing/dress-making/whatever!).
The sand is everything else – the small stuff. ’If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, then there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. So…
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Take care of your health and well-being.
Play with your children.
Take your partner out to dinner.
There will always be time to clean the house or put the rubbish out.
Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'
I have nagged/cajoled/begged/encouraged my friend into attending an Iyengar Yoga class once a week. She is in pain, tired and nervous. It is a 20 minute drive. But now that her health is seriously in question she understands that for the first time in her life (well, since having children!) she needs to prioritise herself. To prioritise her health. For one evening out of seven, she can say this is mine, I am putting myself first tonight.
It is so easy to list the reasons why we can’t find the time to look after ourselves, but maybe if we look closely we’ll see a lot of time is spent on the sand and not enough time on the golf balls.

All of this is easy for me to say during the summer holidays…ask me again during term time when I’m working full time and attempting to keep up with my children’s school & social life! I am a work in progress, as is my time management. However, even thinking about how we organise our time can lead to a change for the better.
So the question is:
What are your golf balls and how many hours per week do you devote to them?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

* New yoga class in Bishop's Stortford *

Exciting times! I have been asked numerous times when I will be starting another class and I have finally found the perfect venue!!! Loads of free parking, well lit (for winter evenings), easy to find, clean, light, bright and airy. Hooray!

Come and join us:
 
Tuesdays

Bishop's Park Community Centre (next to Tesco), Bishop's Stortford 

6.30-8pm

£10 for 90 minutes

No need to book

All equipment & mats supplied

Virabhadrasana 1
 

Yoga increases suppleness, strength & stamina, it improves posture, concentration and quietens the mind to promote well-being. 

Iyengar is a particularly good form of yoga for beginners, because so much emphasis is placed on the best possible alignment of the body. This focus on correct body alignment allows the body to develop symmetrically while minimizing risk of pain or injury. 

 Iyengar teachers have a well-developed eye. They'll observe and work closely with each student to individualise corrections & adjust everyone according to their needs, injuries and body types. All teachers of Iyengar yoga are trained to rigorously high standards, in order to maintain Iyengar care and precision. The Iyengar gold standard is internationally recognised. 

Come and see for yourself why Iyengar Yoga is the most popular form of yoga in the world today.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Queen of Yoga Poses


I’m delighted so many of you enjoyed reading the benefits of Headstand (Sirsasana). As promised here are the benefits of Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana).



1. Soothes Nerves and eases Headaches

The head remains firm in this inverted position and the supply of the blood to the head is regulated by the firm chinlock, this soothes the nerves and eases headaches.  In BKS Iyengar’s own words, “Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, short-temper, nervous breakdown and insomnia are relieved.”
2. Relieves Common Cold 
Again it is the chinlock and firm head position in this inverted position that regulates the blood supply to the head thus relieving sinus blockages and headaches.
3. Stretches & Strengthens your Body
Shoulderstand strengthens the upper body, legs and abdomen; opens the chest and stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles whilst improving the flexibility of your upper spine.
4. Improves the functioning of the Thyroid and parathyroid glands
Many asanas have a direct effect on the glands and help them function properly. Sarvangasana does this for the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck region.  The ample supply of blood (due to the firm chinlock) increases the glands efficiency in maintaining the body and brain in good balance.
5. Alleviates Asthma, Bronchitis, Throat ailments, Breathlessness and Palpitations
Since the body is inverted the venous blood flows to the heart by force of gravity, without any strain. Healthy blood is allowed to circulate around the neck and chest. As a result, people suffering from breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments get relief.
6. Improves Bowel movements & treats Haemorrhoids
The change in gravitational pull on the body affects the abdominal organs so that the bowels move freely and constipation is relieved.
7. Alleviates Urinary disorders, regulates Menstrual cycle, helps treat Hernia
This pose is recommended for urinary disorders and uterine displacement, menstrual trouble and hernia.
8. Strengthened Immune System
The lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when one turns upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening your immune system.
9. Improves Digestion
When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all important digestive organs — increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells.
10. Efficient removal of Toxins
The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response (think rubbish dump system). This network of nodes and fluids help to remove waste products from your blood. When you flip onto your head you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body.

The King needs his Queen

You may practise Shoulderstand alone, but Headstand should always be followed by Shoulderstand. The king needs his Queen, and Headstand needs the balance and calm that comes with Shoulderstand.

What does BKS Iyengar  himself say about Shoulderstand?

“The importance of Sarvangasana cannot be over-emphasised. It is one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages. Sarvangasana is the mother of asanas. It is a panacea for most common ailments.”

What’s in a name?

Classical Shoulderstand’s full title is Salamba Sarvangasana. In Sanskrit Salamba means ‘propped up’ and Sarvanga means ‘all the limbs’.  

Inversions while Menstruating


I’m sure many of you know this already, but it is worth adding…During menstruation women are advised to avoid inversions. When the body is inverted, gravity causes the vessels supplying blood to the uterus to be partially blocked, and this can temporarily stop the flow. The energy of the body at this time in a woman’s cycle is moving down into the earth. Going upside down during the menses disturbs this natural rhythm and can result in a feeling of shakiness, disorientation, or nausea. During menstruation, it is important to honour your body by going with, rather than against, this natural flow.

Safety
Shoulderstand is not a pose I would recommend you practise at home until you have been safely introduced to it by your teacher. Your teacher should let you know when they feel you are ready to practise this pose at home. Initially, you need a well-trained eye to ensure you are practising this pose safely and correctly.
People suffering from high blood pressure, detached retina, glaucoma, hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis, slipped discs or diarrhoea should not practice shoulder stand.
Also please be advised that you should have support under the shoulders & elbows as this helps keep your neck/shoulder area safe. Done correctly, you should not feel any pressure in the head, ears, eyes or throat.
My take on Shoulderstand
A whiplash injury from when I was 13 years old left me with a delicate, stiff neck and shoulders…hence this pose has been a work in progress for me for years!  I say this in the hope it will encourage you to persevere in seeking a solution to any problems you may encounter in your own yoga practise. Shoulderstand is a potent pose with huge benefits and well worth the effort.

I practise it now without dread. Quite the opposite in fact! After all the hard work my brain feels bright and yet calm. I feel vital, balanced and refreshed afterwards. This is not a pose that came easily to me, and yet it is now one of my absolute favourites! Stick at it. Tell your teacher if you feel strain. Listen to your body. Enjoy!



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Being Grateful

Yoga Bishops Stortford, Yoga Herts, Iyengar Yoga, Toward Yoga
                                                                      
At the end of most lessons, once you have sleepily come out of Savasana, I ask you to sit cross-legged, hands in Namaskarasana, head bowed, eyes closed. At that time I ask you to be grateful.

We can all find something to be grateful for. At the most trying times in our lives, when we feel we are at rock bottom, that is the time to really consider just what we have to be grateful for. If your work life, family and friends seem to be failing…be grateful for your health, etc.

When you feel at your lowest, please try to take the time to sit quietly, breathe smoothly and think about a few things you have to be truly grateful for.
                                                 ________________________

I was asked to cover-teach a couple of yoga classes this weekend. And so it was I found myself introducing Iyengar yoga to a large group of smiley, expectant people. Most of the group had done some hatha yoga before, but not Iyengar yoga.

As a yoga student, I know how attached I became to my regular yoga teacher. There is a bond, a trust, a security and a belief that they are ‘right up there’ with Father Christmas in terms of brilliance!

And so, with that in mind, I am extremely grateful to those lovely people who were welcoming, smiley, trusting, hard-working and open. I was surprised by the positive response and warmth of these people.


Thank you. Tonight I am grateful for your kindness and positivity.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The King of yoga poses


Recently, a few students have asked about the health benefits of headstand…

Sirsasana, yoga bishops stortford, yoga essex, yoga herts, iyengar, headstand

Headstand belongs in a group of poses called inversions.  An inversion is any pose where the head is below the heart. 

Inversions reverse the action of gravity on the body; instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behaviour and being.

In general, inversions can be a bit daunting at first. Turning upside down for any period of time can feel strange and be physically challenging, but there are incredible benefits. In fact, headstand is called the king of all yoga poses because of the numerous benefits attributed to it.
1. Relieves Stress
Headstand helps you to draw your attention inwards. This posture is extremely helpful if you suffer from anxiety, stress, fear or otherwise worrisome thoughts. Combine headstand with long, slow breathing and you have a recipe for stress relief.
2. Increases Focus
When you turn upside down, you are increasing the blood flow to your brain. This can improve mental function, increase your concentration span, sharpen memory and enhance clarity of thought.
3. Strengthened Immune System
The lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when one turns upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening your immune system.
4. Increases Blood Flow To The Head And Scalp
You can help your body deliver extra nutrients and oxygen to your head and scalp, thereby improving nutrient delivery to your hair follicles.
5. Strengthens Upper Body
While you are holding yourself up in headstand, you should be pushing down into the ground with your forearms, utilising the strength of your arms, shoulders and back. This is an awesome posture for improving upper body strength and muscular endurance.
6. Improves Digestion
When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all important digestive organs — increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells.
7. Decreases Fluid Build-Up In The Legs, Ankles, And Feet
Edema in the legs is no fun, and it can happen if you tend to spend long hours on your feet. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the uncomfortable feeling of edema & reducing likelihood of varicose veins.
8. Develops Strength In The Core Muscles
Headstands strengthen deep core muscles. To hold a well-aligned headstand for an extended period of time, the practitioner must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus. Having a strong core makes you more durable and less prone to injury during exercise and life in general.
9. Efficient Removal Of Toxins
The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response (think rubbish dump system). This network of nodes and fluids help to remove waste products from your blood. When you flip onto your head you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body.

10. Reduces likelihood of stroke
Reduce your chances of having an ischemic stroke, as scientific evidence shows that this type of stroke rarely occurs in individuals who regularly practise headstand. Veins return blood to the heart and, unlike arteries, make up a low-pressure system that depends on muscular movement or gravity to move blood along. One-way valves at regular intervals prevent backwash and keep fluids moving towards the heart in a system know as venous return. Turning yourself upside down encourages venous return. Inverting also gives the heart a break. The heart works persistently to ensure that freshly oxygenated blood makes its way up to the brain and its sensory organs. When inverting, the pressure differential across the body is reversed, and blood floods to the brain with little work from the heart.

Headstand is definitely not a pose I would recommend you get into on your first day of practicing yoga. But, once safely introduced by your teacher, I do highly recommend you keep at it because it’s a great posture with tons of benefits!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Keep moving forward

Photo: Are you moving forward???

Are you moving forward?

This weekend Everyone Active are giving you the opportunity to try various forms of exercise for a small donation to charity.

In the mix, an Iyengar yoga class is available from 12.15 to 13.15. This is a taster class, giving you the opportunity to try a variety of yoga poses. There is no obligation to join or pay for a course.

Keep moving forward. Try new things. Expand your horizons. Challenge yourself.




See you there.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Letting go





"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” 
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)


In our culture, we are often focussed on the result and the process can be overlooked.

 
When I first started doing yoga I was fascinated by the poses I couldn’t ‘do’ and thrilled with the poses I could. I wanted to know how long before I could ‘do’ Natarajasana, Hanumanasana and Astavakrasana (amongst numerous others!).

I think it was the wise and wonderful Aisling Guirke who taught me that it really is all about the process. When I finally achieved what looked like Hanumanasana…I realised that was only the beginning. There was so much more to the pose to explore. The closer I got to the final pose, the more I realised that tiny adjustments made a massive difference.

This illumination spread throughout my yoga practice. Even the simplest of poses became a work in progress. I could feel the possibilities, notice subtleties and make adjustments that enabled me to come closer to understanding each pose.

In crude terms, I guess it is like a moving goalpost controlled by an inner compass. In reality it feels like an expansion of possibilities.

Yoga is intellectual. You must be mindful of every intention, conscious of every movement. In the beginning you are guided by your yoga teacher. They give clear, precise instructions. They assist you in making adjustments to bring you closer to the pose, they are your compass. After a while, you begin to make these sensitive adjustments yourself, you become aware of your inner compass and trust it.

Yoga is not making shapes with your body. It is meditation through movement. It is expansion and growth through structure. It is becoming aware. It is unifying mind, body and soul.

In this season of renewal, I am going to approach my life as I do yoga poses - with an eye to the process, and let go of the results