As well as Monday 9.30am Yoga Flow, I am now teaching a Wednesday evening Yin class at Evolve in South Kensington.
In class we’ve been practising yin poses to stimulate the liver and gallbladder meridians. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) these meridians are connected to the Spring season, a time of renewal and letting go of the old.
Our Western lifestyle (with our lack of downtime and overstimulation) can negatively affect the energy of the liver. When liver Qi is imbalanced one might feel stressed, irritable, angry, frustrated… (Physical manifestations can be headaches or migraines, PMS, feelings of being stuck/stagnant, for instance.) Balancing the liver Qi can help cultivate calm, patience, a greater ability to deal with day-to-day stresses which may arise and to express oneself more freely.
Join us on Wednesdays for some stillness and calm in your busy week.
Eye of the Needle and Swan are two examples of yin poses you can practice to stimulate the gallbladder and liver meridians.
You can watch a short video where I demonstrate how to do Eye of the Needlehere and a video where I demonstrate how to do Swan Posehere.
In this video filmed at Embody Wellness, I show you my favourite variation of Swan Pose to teach (and in my own practice to do post-run or after a lot of sitting).
Swan is a deep hip opener with strong external rotation of the front hip, as well as a good stretch for the hip flexors and quads of the back leg. Sitting upright in Swan also a backbend.
The meridians targeted are the liver, kidney, spleen, stomach, urinary bladder and gall bladder.
Using a bolster, as I’m showing here can help make Swan pose more accessible, especially if you have knee issues. If your hips feel particularly tight, keep your legs in a zig-zag shape (the position I am sitting in before I extend my back leg straight behind me into full Swan). This zig-zag shape can also make it even kinder on the knees. NB – Ensure your knees are NOT complaining – if your knees are still not happy in this pose you can practise Eye of the Needle pose instead.
If transitioning to Sleeping Swan you can come onto forearms or rest your forehead on a yoga block, as I show you here.
Stay for 3-5 minutes on each side (or 1-3 minutes if you are a beginner).
This version of Swan is a yin yoga posture we regularly practise during Flow & Restore – Sundays 6-7.15pm at Embody Wellness in Vauxhall.
This Kundalini practice is calming and meditative and a lovely way to mobilise the spine. In this video, filmed at reCentre Health in Balham, I show you how to practice Sufi Grinding.
1. Sit in easy pose and place your hands on your knees. (NB – this can also be practised seated on a chair.)
2. As you inhale, bring your upper body forward and as you exhale, circle your upper body to the right and all the way round in a circle – make your circles as small or large as feels best your you.
3. Keep a nice even breath continuing to inhale forwards and exhale round in your upper body circles to the right for several breaths (1-3 minutes)
4. Change direction, circling to the left following the same breathing pattern (again for 1-3 minutes)
Join me at reCentre Health on Mondays for Slow Flow Yoga 6.30-7.30pm. This class is a mix of slow flowing active postures and floor-based passive restorative yoga. Come along and unwind from your day.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple yet effective pranayama (breathing) practice. Soothing for the nervous system, alternate nostril breathing is said to help relieve stress and anxiety and lower the heart rate among other benefits. It is also helpful to practice before bedtime if you have difficulty getting to sleep.
If my head feels all over the place (often if I’ve been trying to do too many things at once!) I find this practice helpful to calm my mind. You can also practise *Mental Alternate Nostril breathing (i.e. not using your hands).
Usually this is practiced with breath retention, but you can choose to focus on just the inhales and exhales through each nostril instead.
How to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (NB – the instructions below are without breath retention):
Sit comfortably with a tall spine
Rest your left hand comfortably on your left knee (as pictured) or lap
Place your right index and middle fingers lightly between your eyebrows. You will be using your right thumb and right ring finger to open and close the nostrils.
With eyes closed or gaze softened to one spot, take a deep breath in and out through both nostrils (you can take a few deep breaths here).
Softly close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly and steadily through your left nostril.
Close your left nostril (with your right ring finger) and release closure of your right nostril. Exhale slowly and steadily through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril.
Close your right nostril (with your right thumb) and release closure of your left. Exhale through your left nostril.
This completes 1 round. Repeat this for 5-10 rounds, focussing on your inhales and exhales. When you are finished. Rest both arms and breathe in and out normally for a few breaths.
*NB – I have a recorded a Mental Alternate Nostril Breathing audio to guide you through your practice, available here.
For a good ten years or so I kept a gratitude journal. Thanks to a TV interview I saw between Oprah and (Simple Abundance) author, Sarah Ban Breathnach where they shared this idea, I was writing down five things each day that I was grateful for in a notebook.
The act of writing these things down always reminded me how much more there was to be grateful for each day than those five things and to find joy in simplicity. (Invariably, it was experiences, unexpected moments and interactions with others rather than actual ‘things’).
But then this habit fell by the wayside, ironically over the past five years which brought self employment, and yes, joy at being able to teach yoga, but also a lot of upheaval, sadness, bereavement, challenging times… The day I decided to start keeping a gratitude journal again I happened to see this one on sale so I tool it as a positive sign and bought it!
I’m back in the habit of taking some time each day to write down what I am grateful for. And it feels good! Some days I might write three things and other days it might be ten. I find it really helps with maintaining a positive outlook, keeping things in perspective, getting off the ‘complaining train’ and kicking cynicism to the kerb.
If you have never kept a gratitude journal why not give it a try? After a few weeks of journaling, don’t be surprised of you start to notice more and more the precious moments that arise each day.