Yin Yoga: Square Pose

Yin Yoga: Square Pose

 

 

{WATCH} Yin YogaSquare Pose.

In this short video, filmed at Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington, I show you a couple of propping options to try when practising Square Pose. In this deep hip opening pose, typically, a sensation of intensity / deep stretch is felt around the hips, glutes and lower back, all of which may be accentuated by folding the upper body forward while you are here.

Depending on the tightness of your hips, the size and shape of your femoral heads (the top of the femur/thigh bone) this deep hip opener can seem a bit daunting. (It may be more challenging if you are naturally more internally rotated, meaning that poses Virasana or Saddle might come more easily to you).

If there is any sign of discomfort or pain in the knees do not practise this pose – try Easy Crossed Legs (as shown at the end of this video) as an alternative.

The Liver, Kidney and Gall Bladder meridians are stimulated here. Folding forward in Square Pose can stimulate the Urinary Bladder meridian too.

Find more short yoga videos on my YouTube channel here.

Yin Yoga: Dragonfly Pose

Yin Yoga: Dragonfly Pose

{WATCH} In this short video filmed at Embody Wellness I show you a few propping options and suggestions for Dragonfly pose.

Yin yoga provides us with the opportunity to let go of striving so bear in mind that we are not striving for an end goal of uber-flexibility. Instead, aim for the variation of the pose that is most comfortable for you and allows you to stay here happily. This is where props can be especially helpful.

If sitting upright in the pose is difficult you could try this version at the wall – {WATCH} Wall Yin: Dragonfly.

Dragonfly can provide a pleasing stretch along the back side of the body and stimulates the Liver, Kidney, Urinary Bladder and Spleen meridians.

While you are in this pose you may feel an intensity or sense of a deep stretch in the hamstrings in particular. NB – Intensity is okay but pain is not.

Aim to be here for 1-3 minutes if you are a beginner or 3-5 minutes if you are more experienced.

Dragonfly is one of the poses we regularly practise in my Flow & Release class here at Embody on Sundays 6-7.15pm. Find more details at http://embodywellness.co.uk/

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

Weighting: Savasana – Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

Weighting: Savasana – Restorative Yoga for Anxiety

{WATCH} RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION – WEIGHTING THE BODY

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 2012. I have found weighting helpful as a tool for addressing my own anxiety.

In this video, filmed at Embody Wellness, I am using a bolster on my torso for weighting. If you have access to sandbags you can use those, but this can also practised this with the aid of blankets.

To practice this version of Savasana it is helpful to have extra support. Here I am using blankets and bolsters but this can also be practised with cushions and pillows if you do not have access to yoga bolsters. (TIP – two bed pillows wrapped up in a sturdy blanket into a sausage shape will create a similar depth to a bolster.)

Comfort is of the utmost importance, so it can be helpful to have support under the head, under the backs of the thighs or knees and under the Achilles – play around with the props you have to hand and see what works best for you.

Here I am also using an eye pillow to cover my eyes and block out the light. The gentle weight of the eye pillow is quite soothing too. You may also want to cover yourself with a blanket for extra warmth.

Aim to remain in your Savasana for 5 to 30 minutes – as long as feels comfortable.

This is one of the poses we practised in my recent Restorative Yoga for Anxiety workshop here at Embody Wellness. I will be teaching this workshop again later in 2017 with some different pose variations. If you are interested in coming along keep an eye on my ‘Events & News’ page or visit http://www.embodywellness.co.uk/works… for more details when they become available. You can also keep up to date on all my workshops and classes by subscribing to my monthly newsletter on my homepage at http://www.ucanyoga.co.uk/

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

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.

 

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