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5 Tips for Improving your Yoga Poses

January 22, 2012

Here are five tips that you might  find helpful in improving your yoga poses.

1.    Find your roots.  This means pressing the four courners of the feet into the floor in standing poses.  In Downward Dog it is the feet and the hands that are your roots.  In seated poses, your sitting bones will ground you.  A strong foundation enables you to feel strong, stable and safe.

2.    Lengthen your spine.  Your poses will feel light and be much safer if you keep your spine elongated.

3.    Lengthen your tailbone.  This will prevent you sticking your bottom out and allowing your ribcage to fall forward.  Check that your tailbone is lengthening, your bottom is not sticking out and that your ribcage is in line.

4.    Firm your thigh muscles.  Firming the thigh muscles prevents you hyper-extending the knees and injuring them.

5.    Relax.  Find your edge and then relax off a little.  In this way you prevent injury and can hold the poses for longer.

5 Ways to Protect Your Knees

January 13, 2012

During lessons this week in Wilmslow and Alderley Edge we took a look at the alignment of the knees and I thought the following tips from Yoga Journal may help provide a reminder of how to protect your knees when practising yoga

1 Avoid hyperextending. When joints are overly mobile and flex too far back, they’re hyperextended. In the knees, hyperextension often occurs in poses in which the legs are straightened, such as Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), putting an unhealthy tension on the ligaments. If you’re prone to hyperextension, keep a slight bend in the knees during standing poses and keep your weight evenly distributed among the four corners of your feet. In seated forward bends, place a rolled-up sticky mat or towel under the knee of the extended leg or legs.

2 Start with your feet. Proper alignment through the feet is the key to building strength evenly in the ligaments on both sides of the knee; when all the ligaments are equally strong, the kneecap glides effortlessly up and down and the cartilage doesn’t get worn down. Separate your toes and press actively through the four corners of your feet in every pose, even inversions. If your feet are out of alignment, your knees are going to suffer.

3 Keep your knees in line. When moving into deep knee bends, such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) and Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), first align your bent knee over your ankle, then draw your kneecap in line with your second toe. Maintain awareness in your back foot, pressing down evenly, while lifting up from the arch of your front foot. If you let the arch drop, the knee falls inside the big toe, and you’re set up to suffer a number of different kinds of overuse and acute knee injuries.

4 Build strength by balancing. Balancing poses, especially those that require moving through a bent standing leg, such as Garudasana (Eagle Pose), are especially beneficial. Very dynamic balancing protects the knee against future injury by training the functional alignment, not just working the muscle.

5 Be prop-friendly. When it comes to seated asanas, nothing makes a tight knee happier than a bounty of props. In Virasana (Hero Pose), try raising your seat with blankets or a block. Anytime the knees are deeply bent, such as in Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Ardha Matsyendrasana, pressure can be relieved by placing a rolled-up washcloth as far into the knee pit as possible before bending the joint.


Benefits of Yoga – Taster Session

December 26, 2011

On 4th January I will be holding a Yoga Taster Session.  This is being held locally in the Dance Studio at Mulberrys, Astra Zeneca, Alderley Edge.

This session is suitable for those with an interest in yoga and will provide an opportunity for people to try a class.

No previous experience is required as full instruction and guidance will be provided throughout the session.

The cost to attend this Taster Session is £6.50 with all proceeds going to Cancer Research.

Bookings can be made by telephoning me on 01625 585595.

Benefits

You may have heard at some time that yoga is good for you but would like to know a little more about the specific benefits and what you can expect from attending a regular yoga class.

Physical Benefits

Flexibility: Stretching your body in a variety of yoga postures will help it become more flexible and gain a greater range of movement in muscles and joints.   Over time, you can expect to gain flexibility in your hamstrings, back, shoulders, and hips.

Strength: Whilst performing the yoga postures you will gain strength from supporting the weight of your own body, for example balancing on one leg.  In addition, you will be moving slowly in and out of some postures, which also increases strength.

Muscle tone:  In the process of getting stronger, you can expect to increase your muscle tone. Yoga is wonderful at shaping long, lean muscles.

Pain Prevention: Improving your strength and flexibility can help prevent some types of back pain. Tightness and compression caused by sitting at a desk or driving can also be helped through yoga. Yoga can improve the alignment of your spine and posture, which helps prevent many other types of pain.

Better Breathing: People don’t generally give much thought to their breathing and many of us breath very shallowly. Yoga breathing exercises teach us how to use our lungs more effectively which has a beneficial effect on the whole body.  Certain types of breathing can calm the nervous system or remove toxins, which is of benefit both physically and mentally.

Mental Benefits

Stress Reduction: Yoga is good for relieving stress. Chronic stress makes the body churn out too much cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone.  Ultimately, this cortisol nudges the abdomen into opening its fat depots and storing more fat than it would otherwise.  Due to the concentration required, your  troubles will seem to melt away during the time you are doing yoga. The emphasis in yoga is on being in the present moment. You will learn how not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future, which can also help relieve stress. You will leave yoga classes feeling calmer and more relaxed than when you started which will help reduce your cortisol levels and maybe your waistline.

Calmness:  Concentrating intensely on the yoga postures, and what your body is doing, has a calming effect on the mind.  Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, e.g. watching your breathe, which helps to calm the mind.

Body Awareness: Yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body as you are often required to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. It will not only help you detect when your hamstring is tight but can also help you at home to stop eating when you feel full.   This can lead to improved posture, greater self-confidence and weight loss.

Christmas Relaxation Tips

December 5, 2011

During December classes will be taking place on Monday 5th & 12th December

 Dance Studio, Wilmslow High School at 7.30 pm.

These will be candlelit classes and have a Christmas Theme.

The cost is £6.50 per class.  To reserve a place please telephone 01625 585595.

Normal classes will resume week commencing 9th January 2012.

4 Tips to Relax this Christmas by Carole Fogarty

1: Having trouble sleeping ?  Bring your chin down slightly.  When your head is spinning with lots of thoughts your chin will be slightly up higher than normal.  This simple adjustment helps pacify the mind.

2: Do you hold stress in your stomach area?  Then use your breath to dissolve any tightness and tension.  Place your hands on your belly and feel the rise and fall of your tummy with each inhale and exhale.

3: Massage your ears daily and your whole body will benefit. Rubbing your ears sends happy feelings into your body by triggering the release of brain endorphins.

4: Accept the present moment by thinking gently, eating gently, drinking gently, talking gently, listening gently, shopping gently, cooking gently and driving gently. Live gently this Christmas.


Anandamaya Kosha

November 27, 2011

Anandamaya Kosha represents the bliss body the inner essence of our bodies. The classes in Alderley Edge and Wilmslow this week will include asana, pranayama and meditation, helping you move through the Koshas towards Anandamaya Kosha, the bliss body. When you are in touch with your bliss body, you are in touch with your true nature, blissfully happy and content. One of yoga’s greatest gifts is its power to awaken us to our body of bliss.  Contact with the bliss body develops through the practice of asana, pranayama and meditation. The practice of meditation teaches the mind to let go of the thoughts that hide the bliss body.

Vijnanamaya Kosha

November 19, 2011

During classes in Alderley Edge and Wilmslow this week we will be exploring Vijnanamaya Kosha,  your wisdom sheath. The wisdom sheath is composed of intuition, insight and a sense of knowing. It is when the thinking mind becomes quiet that wisdom arises from a subtle level, e.g. when writing, painting or solving a problem. During asana practice you will be taking your awareness deep within your wisdom body, moving intuitively within postures as your thoughts drop away.

Manomaya Kosha

November 13, 2011

This week during classes in Wilmslow and Alderley Edge we will be working with Manomaya Kosha, the mental or intellectual sheath.  It is concerned with thinking, daydreaming and the practice of mantra or affirmations.  It is the part of you that creates meaning out of the world you live in.  This layer comprises the passing thoughts and emotions that bubble up in your inner world (chitta vrittis). When you examine Manomaya Kosha closely you can often see patterns of thoughts like ‘I’m not good enough’.During the lessons we will be combining asana with mantra to calm and quieten the passing thoughts enabling you to become more awakened during your practice.  Imbalances in this Kosha are generally noticed as difficulties in relationships, worry and psychological issues. However, an imbalance in this Kosha can also effect the Annamaya (Physical) Kosha and Pranamaya (Energy) Kosha.  During the class we will be using visualization, meditation and mantra in addition to asana, which can be helpful in resolving  imbalances in Manomaya Kosha.