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.
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
In this short video filmed at Embody Wellness in Vauxhall, I show you how to do one of the poses I found helpful during my training for the Brighton Half Marathon a couple of years ago.
(TIP – Do you have a tendency to hyperextend your knees? I do. To avoid this, you will see here that I am [deliberately] keeping a bend to my knee as I extend my foot upwards. I am actually able to access a deeper stretch into my hamstrings and calf muscles as a result too.) Sliding the belt towards the ball of the foot and gently pointing the heel of the same foot up to the ceiling will target the calf muscles more.
Keeping the sole of my other foot flat to the floor provides more stability for my lower back than extending the leg straight along the ground.
Aim to do each leg for 1-3 minutes if you are a beginner, working up to 3-5 minutes if you are more experienced.
You can find full instructions on this and some of my other favourite yin yoga poses for runners over at the Embody Wellness blog which features the whole sequence I practised after the half marathon with NO soreness the next day: http://embodywellness.co.uk/yin-yoga-…
If you are in London you can join me at Embody every Sunday 6-7.15pm for Flow & Restore – a 75-minute combination of a steadily paced yoga flow followed by floor-based yin yoga postures to leave you feeling rested, uplifted and ready for your week ahead.
This is one of the restorative poses we regularly practice during the second half of SLOW FLOW YOGA – Mondays 6.30-7.30pm reCentre Health in Balham.
In this short video filmed at reCentre I show you how to do this restorative inversion with the aid of a bolster and a yoga belt. Here, the sacrum (directly below the lumbar spine) is supported by a bolster (or you can use cushions or a sturdy yoga block if you don’t have access to a bolster). Just a few of the benefits of Supported Bridge Pose can include:
– Helps to relieve stress and low moods
– Helps to calm the nervous system (activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is in charge of the body’s ‘rest and digest’ activities)
– Can help to reduce fatigue
– Stretches the spine from the shoulders all the way to the tailbone
– Can help to relieve lower back pain
– Stretches and opens the chest
Start by sitting on the bolster and place a looped belt around your lower legs. With knees bent and soles of both feet on the floor, place your hands on the floor behind you, lift your hips and slide them forward so that you can rest your sacrum (the flat bony place just below your lower back curve) onto the bolster. Then using your hands ease yourself back onto the floor so that you are in a Supported Bridge position. Allow your arms and hands to rest where they feel most comfortable – you may wish to rest arms by your side, or rest hands on your lower abdomen or reach arms back to the floor behind you as I am doing in this video.
To transition into Supported Shoulderstand, lift your feet into the air. This can be a nice alternative to Legs Up the Wall if you do not have access to wall space.
Rest here for up to five minutes or for as long as you feel comfortable.
In this short video filmed at Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington I show you how to do Wall Eye of the Needle. If you are in London I teach a weekly Yin Yoga class here on Wednesdays 6-7.15pm
This version of Eye of the Needle is great if you have trouble keeping your head and shoulders on the ground in the usual version, if you have any concerns with your knees or find Swan, Shoelace or Square Pose difficult to get in to. Or, simply if you are feeling a lower in energy.
Sit with one hip alongside the wall then swing your legs up the wall.
From here, place your right ankle to the top of your left thigh then slide your left foot down the wall with the lower back and sacrum remaining on the ground (you can slide hips a bit further away from the wall to facilitate this if necessary). This pose can feel quite intense around the hips and glutes in particular. You might also feel a stretch into the lower back or on the inside of the right thigh. Sliding your left foot further up the wall will lessen the intensity, while sliding the left foot further down can increase the intensity, so do adjust the position of your left foot on the wall accordingly.
You also have the option to gently press your right thigh towards the wall with your right hand.
The external rotation of the right hip can help stimulate the gallbladder meridian which runs down the side of the body along the outer hip. The liver meridian which runs along the inside of the leg, through the groin and up into the torso can also be stimulated here.
Aim to stay here for 1-3 mins if you are a beginner or 3-5 mins if you are more experienced. Repeat on the left left side.
You can watch a video where I show you other variations of Eye of the Needle here.
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.