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Tag: Yoga and you


11 INFLIGHT YOGA POSES

11 INFLIGHT YOGA POSES

Posted July 20, 2012

It’s at this time of year when the winter blues kick in that sees so many Australian’s seek out the sunshine in some far, exotic destination. Ditching the beanies for the beach is all well and good but considering how far Australia we have to deal with the long-haul flight first before our tootsies touch the sand. Recently someone tweeted a request for a few easy poses to do when traveling. So I’ve compiled a list of pre, during and post flight tips if you are flying the coop in search for some Vitamin D to prepare your body and mind  for the long-haul. By performing a few simple, easy exercises in-flight you will stretch out your body, massage your internal organs, improve circulation and relieve anxiety and stress. Staying calm and comfortable during your flight will lead you to a more relaxed state of being post-flight. Which means arriving at your destination, energised and ready to go. Pre-flight: If you have an afternoon or late night flight then it’s a good idea to fit in a yoga class beforehand. If you plan properly you, hopefully, will have enough time. I highly recommend this. Simply stretching, strengthening and opening up the body prepares your nervous system for the stress of travelling, helps calm and destress you but also warms the body up for the ridiculous number of hours confined into a tiny space and uncomfortable seat. Flight: Once you are on the plane it’s important to move and stretch. Deep-vein thrombosis is more common than we realise (I’ve suffered from it before) and maintain circulation within the body will prevent this but also make it alot easier to recover once you reach your destination. Here are a few easy exercises you can do in your seat, within the aisles. 1) Walk – simple and we all know how to do it. Get up every hour and move those legs by gently pacing up and down the aisles.  2) Neck rolls – sitting upright in your chair simple roll the neck gently from left to right, up and down and in 180 degree movements – sliding the chin to one shoulder and then back to the other. 3) Eagle arms – a deep upper back and shoulder stretch. Cross your right arm over your left and, bring the palms to touch and then lower the shoulders away from the ears. Move the hands away from your face and hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides, cross your left over your right and continue.  4) Shoulder stretch – slide to the edge of your seat and clasp your hands behind you. Draw the hands away from the body to stretch and release deeply into the shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths. And then as you exhale dropping the chin to the chest and then inhaling raising the chin up to the ceiling – keep alternating like this on the breath for 5 – 10 rounds.   5) Cat/Cow stretch – staying at the front edge of your seat bring your hands to your knees. Inhale, look up to the ceiling and puff the chest up. As you exhale round the spine and draw the belly in, look down to your navel. Repeat this at least 10 times. 6) Tricep stretch – rest your forehead and elbows onto the seat in front of you. Press your palms together and then slide your hands down the centre of your back, along your spine. Lean the chest forward but ground back into your sit bones – hold for 10 breaths 7) Seated twists – keep the knees square. Gently twist to the right, take the left hand to your right knee and the right hand behind you. Use your breath, exhaling to twist deeper by looking over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side 8) Hip rotation – take your right foot and rest it on your left knee and the left foot planted firmly to the floor. Keep the spine straight and with each deep exhale, gently press down onto the right thigh to release the groin and hip. Repeat 5- 10 breaths. Finally, to finish, hold onto your right shin and squeeze the knee into your chest. Repeat on the other side.  9) Thigh stretch – come to standing either by your seat or at the back of the plane. With your right hand resting on the chair seat or a wall, take hold of your left foot and slowly draw the heel towards your buttock. Hold for 10 breaths, releasing into the quad. Repeat on the other side 10) Forward bend – step the feet out hip width apart, or wider. Inhale, hands to the waist and exhale, fold forward. You can bend the knees softly if needed. This is easier to perform with your buttocks resting to a wall (try near the toilets) to support you 11) Downward facing dog – for those wanting to go a little deeper and who don’t care what people think – find a slightly bigger space near the exit/bathrooms. Come down onto all fours. Spread the fingers and press the palms down – hands are shoulder width apart. Inhale to raise the hips and begin straightening the legs (slightly bent is fine too!) Make sure the feet are hip widths apart, or wider. Hold for 10 breaths or more for a deep front and body stretch. A variation  – take the hands to the wall and step back. Bring the chest parallel to the floor and create a right angle with the body and legs 12) Seated meditation – sitting upright, with feet firmly planted to the ground. Bring the palms, open, onto the lap, or on top of each other. Close your eyes and focus in on the sound, quality and texture of your breath. Gently breath into the belly, then the rib cage and then the chest. Slowly exhale from the chest, the rib cage and finally releasing the belly back towards the spine. […] Read more

WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA + HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA + HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Posted June 12, 2012

Although I now mostly practice Ashtanga, my love affair with yoga began a few years back with Iyengar. A class and experience that profoundly affected me. You can read all about my very first class here. I tried yoga in my early 20s, I believe it was a flowing hatha vinyasa style. And although now I love this style of yoga it really didn’t resonate with me at all. The combination of a weak, tight body, lack of self-awareness and a disconnection from my body meant that my attempts at yoga never really cut through. But, Iyengar is a unique style and experience. And that coupled with a little more ‘openess’ had me hooked from day one.Iyengar is a very popular style of yoga created by B.K.S Iyengar, who, after sustaining an injury decided to find a way to make yoga accessible and therapeutic. I love Iyengar because of the detail and the focus it requires. It forces me to fully connect with my body, creating such a deep level of self-awareness. Iyengar doesn’t focus on ‘flow’ or vinyasa, but it is what I would describe an intellectual practice. Some people find the detail in Iyengar yoga to be distracting, however for me it really helps to shut off everything else in my mind as I move into the present (body and breath). This allows me to focus on where i am in space, what I am doing in the posture and how to move deeper. The practice of Iyengar focuses on a few main aspects: 1) Correct body alignment – in an anatomical way 2) Props – using blocks, chairs, blankets and belts to help you adjust or support the body in different postures – to work within a range of motion that is safe and effective, but also to show you what the body needs to do within the asana 3) Therapy – using asana, the postures and pranayama, the breath to eliminate physical and energetic ailments (including stress!) 4) Sequencing – correct sequences that encourage the practice of postures in an order that creates a strong effects on the body and nervous system. E.g. a headstand always comes before shoulder stand 5) Timing – postures are held for a longer period of time to let the effects of the pose penetrate deeper within the body and mind – sense of awareness, strength, flexibility, stamina, understanding. Downward Facing Dog – Iyengar yoga wall A typical class will see the teacher focus on a particular set of asanas – Standing Poses, Twists and Forward Bends, Backbends, Restorative etc. However, in each class there will always feature a long-held headstand (sirsasana) and long-held shoulderstand (sarvangasana) at the end. The kind and queen of the asanas and two poses revered in Iyengar (all yoga in fact!) Unlike Ashtanga, where ladies not practice during their menstrual cycle, in Iyengar you can still attend but your teacher will set you up for a restorative sequence using blankets, bolsters and props to settle into soothing postures for 5-10 minutes each. This leaves you feeling so blissed out and calm. One of my favourite books is B.K.S Iyengar. It is a brilliant book. And as expected, incredibly detailed. Whether you are a teacher, new practitioner, or intrigued yogi from a different style this book is a must! If you are injured, recovering from pregnancy, find hot/flow styles of yoga make you feel anxious, need some grounding, like to experiment, or are totally new to yoga I strongly recommend trying Iyengar. I especially think starting out with Iyengar before transitioning is the most brilliant set-up for a fantastic yoga practice. After sustaining a hamstring injury and back injury I have started to incorporate Iyengar back into my yoga regime. Nothing else teaches you structure, alignment, understanding like Iyengar does. All yoga creates awareness, but Iyengar does so on a deep level, very quickly! If you are intrigued and want to give Iyengar a shot check out Iyengar Yoga Australia. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

MY YOGA WARM-UP + A SHORT VIDEO

MY YOGA WARM-UP + A SHORT VIDEO

Posted June 01, 2012

I’m not a naturally flexible person. I make sure I tell this to my students often. Why? Because when I first starting practising yoga (I was constantly in throws of frustration towards my body and its limitations) I would’ve LOVED to hear from my bendy, strong teachers that they, like me, weren’t flexible, or a gymnast, or a dancer. It would’ve reminded me that if I believe in myself, dedicate to this practice and persevere with mind and body that anything is possible. And it is. But, my naturally inflexible body has come a long way. I probably will never be able to do everything that yoga offers. It doesn’t matter though, because each day something different happens, my body evolves, my understanding deepens and my love affair continues. Because of that, everyday I dedicate myself to it. Even if it’s just for five minutes each morning, or 20, or 2 hours, whenever I can get on my mat, I do. Especially when I am busy. And last week, that is what happened. I was busy, but I reminded myself what I say to my students all the time. It’s the busy moments when we need to hit the mat even more. Just for a moment or two. So I filmed my morning warm-up practise to demonstrate the simplicity in taking 20 minutes to hit the mat, to stretch and move in anyway your body asks you to. If I don’t, my body feels stiff for hours, it’s not happy and I don’t blame it. In this video, despite feeling a little stiff after two days off and with a lower back injury I find that my warm-up still made me feel realigned and open, corrected even.  Yoga corrects me. It reminds me to stand tall, to think and feel with lightness, to respect my body and breath and to realign me – energetically, physically, mentally, emotionally – each and everyday. I sped the video up so it doesn’t take long to watch. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK8_WdTe4_0?version=3] Yoga isn’t about demonstrating flexibility. Yes, as some point flexibility is required for some poses. But, you don’t need flexibility, or strength, or co-ordination to feel how yoga can ‘correct’ you. In fact, just being on the mat, trying, dedicating to it and embracing it, therein is the act of yoga. And, it’s not just the asana that literally makes your body realign, the self-awareness and understanding born from yoga practice literally corrects, changes, reshapes the way you view the world, people in, situations, attitudes. It brings you into a clear state of being – mind, body and breath. I understand that yoga might not be for everyone. Fair enough. But if you even have a small inkling that it might, hit the mat. Try it. Just once. You might stand corrected. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Exhale. Live. Claire x Read more

LIGHT ON YOGA… PARSVA BAKASANA

LIGHT ON YOGA… PARSVA BAKASANA

Posted February 09, 2012

At the Phoenix Weekend, which I recently blogged about, I finally cracked Parsva Bakasana during Katy Appleton’s Hot Flow Class. Can I get a Whoop, Whoop!? It wasn’t hot as in heat, it was hot meaning we worked deep into our core, the fire centre or manipura chakra – where our sense of power and esteem resides. It was an unbelievable class that blended elements of kundalini, traditional hatha, vinyasa flow and even martial arts movements. It was dynamic but considered. Katy provided a few amazing pointers that made Parsva Bakasana make sense to me! I’ve been able to do Bakasana for a while and Parsva was happening, but often it wasn’t so crash hot, or I wouldn’t last in it for very long. Ms Apple made that happen. Here is the step-by-step I wrote down after the class: 1.    Bend your knees to a half-squat, thighs parallel to the floor. Glue the knees and things together Take your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh as you soften your belly 2.    Exhaling, drawing the lower belly in, twist your torso to the right, bringing your left lower ribs across toward your right thigh as far as you can. 3.    Make a fist with your left hand and push down with the right whilst you twist up to the ceiling – this specifically was an apple tip which really helped you to twist more. 4.    Slide the back of your left arm down the outside of the right thigh, bringing your armpit as close to the thigh as possible. 5.    Keep twist the body to press the left arm snugly alongside the thigh and the right elbow is pointing up to the ceiling. 6.    Squat down fully until the sit bones are just above the heels. Place the left palm to the floor, outside the right foot. Lean the body to the right if your hand doesn’t reach. 7.    Keep the left arm pressed into the right thighs. Then, place the right hand down in line with the left, shoulder width apart, 8.    Keep the weight on the feet, then press into the hands and lift the hips high. Here is the key – you won’t be about to elevate off the ground if your hips are low and you are just leaning into the hands. 9.    Maintain contact between left arm and right thigh. Keep lifting pelvis and inch the feet forward. Lean the body to the right. Move the left hip forward and around in a clockwise motion. 10.Increase the weight onto your hands until you can feel the weight ease from your feet. It’s here, whilst the hips are high, the body leaning into the hands via the left thigh, which you can start to raise the feet and elevate. 11.Once you are there, exhale fully, draw the belly in to lift and tuck the feet in. Straight the right arm. Left can stay slightly bent. Easier said than done. It takes practice and then some. But it’s fun and a great way to break through a few boundaries, showing you what your body is capable of. Have fun! Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more


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