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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

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

BACKBENDING FOR JOY

BACKBENDING FOR JOY

Posted March 02, 2012

I remember back when I first started practising yoga, I found backbends to be so painful. I had spindly, weak little arms that could barely lift a grocery bag let alone my own body weight off the floor. My shoulders – particularly the rhomboid/trapezium area – were so tight and blocked; I couldn’t straighten my arms for nothing or no body. I eventually started to work with blocks, which are a great tool for those with less flexibility in the back. Once I had built up some arm strength I could start to straighten my arms and feel an amazing release in the shoulders. At that stage something pretty amazing started to happen. I would arrive to work after class on a Friday with this overwhelming sense of, well… joy, really! I know it sounds so lofty and a bit hippie, but I would just feel light and floaty and spontaneous. I would also feel a lot of love for the people around me, maybe for the beautiful day… anything, anyone really. I just felt happy. Once I started my teacher training we discussed backbends a lot – anatomically and energetically. Anatomically backbends encourage circulation to the heart and lungs – something that rarely happens. Backbends also nourish the nervous, lymphatic and digestive system, as well as the kidneys. They also work to stretch and strengthen the quad, shoulders and chest. Whilst building energy, opening up and strengthening the wrists, arms, legs, spine. They are pretty phenomenal poses. From even the more gentle versions like bridge pose to the more dynamic such as wheel or even full drop-backs. Working against gravity they act as an invigorator – reenergising the body and mind, refreshing the systems and reversing the forward, slumped posture that so many of us have from working on computers. Energetically speaking, cracking the heart space wide open, tilting the head back and moving into a new perspective does profound things to our perception and awareness. Firstly, overcoming a lot of fear is a practise that is important on and off the mat. But mostly, the sensation of literally opening and releasing the body has much the same effect on stored emotions, memories and tension from the past or simple stagnant and stuck energy. I have often noticed that backbends release not only my body but help to dissipate any depressed or anxious feelings I might be carrying. Now that I am finally at a stage where backbends are my friend (we still have fall outs though!) I am experimenting with moving into deeper backbends, such as drop backs that are testing my sense of courage, once again. The main photo is me giving it a shot! Unassisted, the fear kicks in and my ego gets in the way – I find a way to chicken out of it. With my teacher there to hold or guide me, I can’t back off so I fully let go and drop back. I’m not placing any time limits on when I should crack this, because it’s not about the pose, it’s about the experience into it. However, I am enjoying watching myself in this experience. Seeing what comes up, what emotions rise, how I react. If you are keen to try a few backbends, I do recommend giving these a shot at a yoga class with a teacher, and definitely ensure your body and spine is warmed up. Here is an easy how-to to practice bridge pose at home: Lay on your back Bend the knees and bring the foot to the mat, heels close to the sit bones and stacked beneath the knees. Draw the tail bone under and tilt the front of the pelvis up – protecting the lower back. Press the palms into the mat and inhale through the nose Lift up the pelvis, starting at the tailbone, working up from the base of the spine to the base of the neck As you lift higher, inch your shoulders into each other, so you are coming up onto your shoulder blades – this allows you to get more lift through the spine. Clasp the hands together underneath your body and press the hands and arms down to the mat. Ground the energy down through the feet, keep the quads strong and active and lift the chest high, up toward the fact. Hold for 10 slow, smooth breaths and then release the hands and peel the spine down, from the base of the neck to the tail. Release the legs out straight for 10 breaths Draw the knees to the chest for 10 breaths. Feel the joy! Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx NB/ Sorry about the crappy pictures. I don’t have alot of me in certain poses and these were taken on holidays during my morning practice – a bit rough, but you get the idea! Read more


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