Want to Improve Hamstring and Adductor Flexibility? Try this

Want to Improve Hamstring and Adductor Flexibility? Try this

 

{WATCH} In this short video filmed at Create Pilates in Wimbledon, I show you how to do Prasarita Padottonasana (A).

When practised with care and consideration this pose is strengthening for the legs and feet – it can improve hamstring and adductor flexibility and can also help develop awareness of how to protect your lower back when you bend forward in day-to-day life. So, the aim is not to get your head to the ground (or to flop forward) – instead, think about stability in the legs and spine throughout.

– As you come into the forward fold, hinge from the hips and keep the length through the spine so that you can target the hamstrings without placing strain on the lumbar spine. If your hamstrings are particularly tight or your back is rounding you can place blocks under the hands to bring the floor up to you. (Also, it’s no good having your head on the floor if your neck is all scrunched up. If that happens, shorten your stance. You don’t want the feet to be so wide apart that you feel unstable).

– Press down through the feet to allow the legs to work more strongly. Notice where the weight is in your feet – if it’s gone back into your heels then bring some weight forward towards the balls of your feet and avoid leaning back into your knees.

– Have hands about shoulder distance apart and lift shoulders up and away from the ears. If your hands are on the floor, walk your fingertips back so that they are in line with the toes and elbows hugging inwards.

Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

TIPS – If you have sciatic issues (as I do) try keeping the feet parallel rather than pigeon-toeing. For back or hamstring issues try bending the knees (I am actually bending my knees slightly here and consequently achieving a deeper stretch into the hamstrings). And for groin issues try shortening the stance.

NB – Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

Join me for Hatha Yoga at Create Pilates in Wimbledon on Wednesdays from 11.45am-1pm and Fridays 10.15-11.30am. Click here to see my current weekly class schedule.

Undo Knots in the Upper Body with Thread the Needle Pose

Undo Knots in the Upper Body with Thread the Needle Pose

{WATCH} In this short video filmed at Create Pilates in Wimbledon, I show you how to do Thread the Needle Pose.

Thread the Needle can provide a satisfying stretch through the chest and shoulders. Also, the gentle twisting motion can help stretch the muscles in the lower back and release tension in the upper back as well as easing tension in the shoulders and in-between the shoulder blades.

1. Start on all-fours. Place knees a bit wider than the hips and hands closer together.

2. As you inhale reach your right fingertips toward the ceiling. As you exhale, thread your right arm between your left arm and thigh with your palm facing up. Let your right shoulder come all the way down to the mat. Rest your right ear and cheek on the mat too. Soften your gaze to your left. Keep your tailbone in the air (N.B. Do not press your weight onto your head – adjust your position as necessary to not strain your neck or shoulder.)

3. Allow your upper back to broaden and relax your lower back.

4. With each exhale visualise any tension in the shoulders, neck, back and arms dissolving. Stay here for 3-5 breaths or up to a minute.

5. To move out of the pose, press your left hand down and unwind your twist, sliding your right arm back.

Repeat on the left side.

NB – Please make any modifications as needed to feel comfortable in this pose. Here are a few suggestions:

– If your knees hurt, fold your mat or place a folded blanket under your knees for padding.

– If your wrists hurt in the starting position, rest your forearms on the floor.

– Rest your forearms on a bolster or stack of folded blankets to lift your torso up higher. (This variation is can useful for women who are pregnant.) Rest your ear on the bolster and let your ‘threaded’ arm move toward the floor.

CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Avoid this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to your knees, shoulders, or neck.

If you have back pain, back injuries, degenerative disk disease or any other diagnosed back condition you should approach this pose with caution.

NB – Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

You can currently join me for Hatha Yoga here at Create Pilates on Wednesdays 11.45am-1pm and Fridays 10.15-11.30am. View my weekly yoga class schedule here.

 

Pain in the Neck? Try this

Pain in the Neck? Try this

{WATCH} SEATED NECK RELEASE

Do you suffer with a tight or sore neck? We can often hold tension in the neck (as well as the shoulders and upper back) due to stress and the dreaded ‘computer/mobile phone posture’, among other activities.
In this short video, filmed at reCentre Health in Balham, I show you how to do a simple neck release to help ease tightness in some of the muscles in this area. This simple lateral neck stretch (which can also be practised easily at your work desk) is one of my favourites for targeting the sternocleidomastoid. Some of the other muscles targeted in this stretch are the trapezius and the scalenes.

Take slow deep breaths while your ear is moving towards your shoulder and aim to be here for 5-8 breaths on each side.

TIP – Tucking the chin slightly in towards the chest (as I show in the video) may intensify the stretch.

This neck release is one of the poses we regularly practise during in SLOW FLOW YOGA class, Mondays 6.30-7.30pm at reCentre Health. Join us for a mix of flowing postures and restorative yoga to release tension and unwind from your day.

WORKSHOP: Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

WORKSHOP: Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

Saturday 27th May | 2pm to 4pm | Embody Wellness

Widespread research has shown that relaxation practices such as restorative yoga have numerous benefits including the ability to lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related to this, restorative yoga also facilitates mindful awareness of the body which plays a part in our resilience to stress.

In this 2-hour workshop we will practice restorative yoga poses with an emphasis on helping to relieve anxiety. If you have anxiety, restorative yoga can be particularly challenging because the mind has less to focus on than with a more active practice and, consequently, any concerns you have been suppressing may start to arise once the body begins to relax. However, this does not mean you should avoid practicing restorative poses. It is precisely during times of feeling highly stressed or anxious that these practices can be of the greatest benefit. We will use props to support the body in ways that have been shown to allow both mind and body to feel safe and grounded.

It is not that one pose or one workshop will ‘cure’ anxiety, but in this workshop we will experience restorative poses that can be used together or separately, along with focused breathing, as part of your own toolkit when you need them. (I will share tips on recreating poses for yourself at home.)

As an experienced Restorative Yoga teacher and an Advanced Relax Renew Trainer, having studied with Judith Hanson Lasater, I have found Restorative Yoga to be an effective tool for addressing my own anxiety.

Advance booking is required. Secure your place by booking via the Embody Wellness website here or call the studio directly on 020 7099 0048

Weighting: Legs Up the Wall – Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

Weighting: Legs Up the Wall – Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

Weighting: Legs Up the Wall

In this short video, filmed at Embody Wellness, I am using a bolster on my feet for weighting. If you have access to sandbags you can use those, but I have also practised this with the aid of blankets and blocks. We practised this version of Legs Up the Wall during my 6pm Friday Flow & Yoga Nidra class at Embody (where I usually incorporate a few restorative poses at the end of the class) a few weeks ago when we had a smaller class and more wall space for everyone present.
Did you know that weighting poses has the capacity to be soothing for people with depression or lethargy, while for those with anxiety it can feel grounding? I first came across this during my first training with Judith Hanson Lasater in in 2012. I have found weighting helpful as a tool for addressing my own anxiety.
I am teaching a RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR ANXIETY WORKSHOP on Saturday 27th May at Embody Wellness. If you are interested in coming along, you can find full details and booking at www.embodywellness.co.uk/workshops