What’s your daily movement regime like? Do you sit down a lot or do you get chances to move?
It can actually be quite difficult to fit in time for exercise or yoga classes so I want to offer you some help to move more and feel better. Our bodies need variety and diversity of movement to keep it feeling health and happy.
If you’re like most people you probably feel like there isn’t enough time, or perhaps you don’t feel like you have the money for classes and gyms or maybe you’re just not sure what to do or how to start?
First of all it’s important to differentiate between exercise and movement. You may already exercise a couple of times a week, which is a good start. But do you then spend 8 hours a day sitting down at work? Exercise is great but movement is even better.
And I’m talking about any kind of movement that’s not being still in the same body position. This could be walking, dancing, cleaning, playing a sport, going to the gym or gardening. It’s literally, anything you do with your body that gets you moving. So in a way it’s easier to add into your life than exercise because you already have the only equipment you need – your body!
I’m really passionate about natural movement to improve wellbeing. I’m sharing some ideas to get you thinking differently about movement.
Are you ready to move more and feel better? Here’s my 5 top tips to get you started.
Think about what your body needs
This requires you to think about what your body has been doing already today. If you’ve been doing repetitive movements or stuck in the same position for a while – do something different that nourishes your body. So for example, if you’ve been doing lots of computer work then you’ll definitely need to open your shoulders and do some twisting movements. If you’ve been driving or sitting, lunges are your go to movement. This will help to stretch out the front of the hip. Try to tune in to how you feel and move your body in a way that feels good. It doesn’t have to be a specific pose – just move around in a natural way for a bit.
This one is fairly easy. Just walk more. No need to say more – I think you’ve got the idea!
This has to be my most favourite way to incorporate more movement. Adding in movement into tasks you are already day is pure genius. Not only are you doing more movement but you’re also making the current task a little more interesting. A couple of examples could be adding in some toe lifts and foot stretches while preparing your food. Combine TV watching with sitting on the floor and stretching. If you’re familiar with 90/90 legs then this is a great one for hip mobility while sitting in the evening.
Breathing is moving too
If you’re stuck on a train or in a meeting, it might not be appropriate to start dancing around or doing some stretches. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your rib cage breathing. Focus on expanding your ribs as you breath will not only be soothing but also counts as important movement for your intercostal muscles.
Keep a diary
So if time was one of our barriers then this is going to feel like another time-consuming task. But I’m not talking about writing endless notes. Simply making a note at the end of the day of when and how you’ve moved. When you begin to write something down it feels more tangible and there is more chance that you’ll move more knowing that you are answerable to those notes in your diary at the end of the day.
The main thing is to move more. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s on a yoga mat or in front of the TV. It could be at your desk or out in your garden. Movement in nourishing for both mind and body. Yoga plays a vital part because it helps us to connect with ourselves. But don’t worry about doing fancy yoga poses – just move, feel good and your body will thank you.
Are you interested in learning more about your body’s needs?
Would you like to have a daily yoga and movement practice that feels easy and interesting?
Then join me on 16th March for a week long yoga and movement challenge. This is going to be a fun week of moving together, learning how to create a home yoga practice and feeling inspired with new ideas and tips.
It’s a week long challenge and it’s totally FREE!The best thing is it will be all online so you can join in at any time in the day. Each day you’ll receive an email with a new and easy challenge to get you moving. By the end of the week you will have moved in a variety of ways, experienced what it’s like to have a daily movement practice and hopefully have more knowledge to carry on!!! There will be an online community to join together with everyone taking up the challenge and you’ll receive an email as well.
Do you ever hear people saying that it’s important to stay flexible? I hear it a lot in relation to yoga classes and it’s often the thing that puts people off from coming. People thinking that they’re not flexible enough to do yoga. Well, let me tell you why it’s better to mobile than flexible.
People think that a yoga class is all about stretching.
Well, guess what? Flexibility is overrated and I think you are much better to focus on being mobile. What I mean by mobile is keeping your joints mobile so they continue to move in all of the ways they can for as long as possible.
I’m not sure where it all stems from, but the term flexible has been used too freely that we all now feel that flexibility is the thing that’s going to keep us feeling young.
What is going to keep you feeling young is being strong and mobile and that’s exactly why I focus on this when I teach yoga.
When I first trained to be a yoga teacher I followed a traditional path which focused more on flexibility. It was all about opening the hips and being adjusted to ‘get further’ into a pose. But what’s that all for?
I’ve continued to expand my learning and I now focus on muscle strength and range of motion. Yoga should be a tool to keep healthy rather than a goal of achieving particular poses.
Flexibility is just vanity really. It might look nice if we can stretch really far but does it feel nice?
So how about we do a deal. Let’s forget about being flexible and work on being mobile. Mobility is less about how it looks but more about the experience of how it feels. Working with your body instead of pushing against it. It’s less about opening hips or hearts it’s more about mindful movements that are safe for our bodies. It’s moving our bodies a little bit, every day. Let’s focus on making 10% changes. If our goal is to be stronger or more able to balance, let’s do that a bit at a time. Each day you make time to move is a day well spent.
Our bodies can move fast or slow, they can twist and bend. They can jiggle, wiggle and be still too. Enjoy moving your body in lots of different ways and you’ll be helping it to stay young and healthy.
All too often I hear people saying ‘you should do yoga, it’s good for you’. People are being told by their doctors or physios to ‘do yoga’ as a way to help with all sorts of sports injuries and back problems.
My concern with this advice is that it’s way too broad.
I’ve been practising yoga for years, trying out different classes and different styles of yoga. I found I was drawn to classes that provided lots of opportunity to stretch as I was naturally flexible. I enjoyed the feeling of ‘letting go’ in a pose. But the next day I’d be in pain. Proper pain which needed painkillers to help me manage it. I couldn’t understand it. Surely it wasn’t the yoga that was causing this because all yoga is good for you. Isn’t it? Yoga just has this image of being the perfect answer to all our problems.
This kept happening and for a while I stopped practising. No matter which class or style I was attending, I just experienced pains the next day. Or sometimes during class. I often found my wrists just couldn’t cope with any weight bearing or that my shoulders would ache so bad if I held my arms up. I started to think that maybe yoga wasn’t good for me after all so it was better to stop.
But that didn’t feel right either because I loved my time on the mat, the philosophy and opportunity to re-connect with your own self.
It was when I embarked on my training to be a pelvic floor specialist that I began to find the reasons for my pain and discomfort.
Here’s what was happening for me…
I’m hyper mobile so I have a tendency to be really flexible in many of my joints. Because of this flexibility there is very little opportunity to build strength in my muscles – especially if I let my body relax down into a pose as far as it can go. I was enjoying the momentary stretchy feeling and paying for it later. And I hate to admit it but I was letting my ego take control as I enjoyed achieving all these advanced stretches.
By learning more about the science of movement, human anatomy and importance of building strength and stability rather than flexibility I started to be able to change how I practiced each pose.
I’ve been on quite a ‘movement’ journey over the last 2 years, learning from movement educators all around the globe! Learning about biomechanics, barefoot shoes and dangers of sitting too much!!
I’ve changed how I practice on the mat because I now know what’s good for my body. So in answer to my own question, ‘is yoga always good for you?’ my simple answer is no. But also yes – if you know how to move your body and adapt the poses to suit you!
Group classes vs 1-2-1
I love group yoga classes for the opportunity to practice together and build a community. My only concern is that if you’re only ever practising in a group, that you may not be practicing the poses in a way that will help you to be strong and mobile. You may be trying to achieve a range of movement that’s just not possible for your body right now or over stretching like I was!
Recently, I’ve been working with women in small group classes to help them find more ease and comfort in their yoga practice. Working 1-2-1 or even in a small group gives me the opportunity to assess how your body moves. Together we can work out when to use props to support the body and where to place your body so that you can benefit from the practice.
By deconstructing your current practice we can re-build a stronger version that will ensure you’re practicing in a safe and sustainable way.
If you’d like support to help refine your yoga poses then get in touch about my 1-2-1 yoga coaching.
1-2-1 yoga offers a personalised programme to suit your body, mind and lifestyle
Wouldn’t it be great if our bodies worked really well all of the time? If we could always spring out of bed feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
But for many of us that’s not the reality. We awake with aches and pains from the previous days activities. We know we need to exercise to stay healthy, but what’s the best movements to do for your particular body. That’s where private and personalised yoga classes can really help you.
Unfortunately our modern life often causes many of our aches and pains. Over the years of working, driving, sitting etc… our bodies come out of alignment and that’s when the pains and problems start. Sometimes over exercising can be the cause or doing the wrong type of activity for your body.
It takes a while for all of this to happen of course. Then we reach our mid forties perhaps and suddenly start to feel like life is taking it’s toll. That’s when we start to tell ourselves we are just getting old and maybe even start to accept it.
And who’s going to go to the doctors to complain of aches and pains? Would you just work around it and start adapting your movements so that your body isn’t causing you pain? When you start adapting and avoiding doing those movements, you start to lose the ability to move that bit freely. It’s so true when people say, use it or lose it! We have to keep moving our bodies in order for us to be able to keep moving our bodies!
Private yoga classes can help you to learn how to move your bodies to develop and maintain the strength, balance and mobility needed to feel strong and happy.
This is how a personalised, private yoga class can help you.
The first place we start is with assessment. We see how your body moves in and out of poses as well as looking at posture. We also talk about you and find out what you want from a yoga practice. Everyone has a different starting place. You could be coming back from an injury or wish to regain strength. You already love yoga, so you know the many benefits, but what’s important to me, is what you need.
I create a practice that works for you! Each session will be different, offering you a variety of movements, poses and opportunities to explore different areas of the body. The main job for me is to observe and support you with the right cues and props, so that you are moving safely and working towards your goal.
From day 1 you will start to learn more about your own body. Over time you will become an expert in what your body needs. Through our 1-2-1 session we will get a detailed understanding of exactly how your body moves and where you need to focus to help you feel great
We’ll look at your practice on the mat and also how you can integrate more movement into your modern life. So if you have to spend hours at a desk over a computer, we will discuss and practice movements and poses that you can do daily to help combat those aches and pains. The body that we work with on your yoga mat is the same body off the yoga mat. We always need to be considering how we treat it, if we want to develop and maintain our physical and mental health.
So, not only will you have a personalised programme of yoga poses that you can practice at home you will also have a wealth of actionable lifestyle tips that will keep you moving well and feeling calm. Exercises, movements and poses that you can do at work or before a sports game. As well as breathing and meditation tips that you can practice anytime you need to retreat away and focus on you.
If you’ve started to notice the aches and pains, perhaps it’s time to consider a more personalised approach.
Yoga is holistic. It incorporates your mind and body into a practice that benefits your whole wellbeing. And because of this union of mind and body it provides a perfect tool for working on your pelvic floor health.
By learning how to stand, move, stretch, relax and breathe correctly you can help your pelvic floor to function well again.
Your pelvic floor is affected by the way you use your body and if we are anxious or stressed, our mind becomes a component of how well your pelvic floor functions.
Ever had that nervous or scared feeling and needed the toilet? Was that not your mind creating a response in your body? Yes, it was.
So yoga, as a practice of mind and body, is the perfect combination of physical and mental work that will help the health of your pelvic floor.
Here’s how it works (in a nutshell of course):
On a physical level
Work begins with your feet. Moving up the through the body it’s important to focus on alignment of how you stand. Basically, we learn to stack the bones on top of each other, placing them in the best position for your internal body to work well. There’s lots going on inside your abdomen, chest and pelvic areas so we start by learning to stand in the optimum position. Now that may sound bizarre because you’d like to think we should already know how to stand correctly. But the day to day actions of our regular life changes the way our body moves and stands. One prime and pertinent example is how we hold a child on our hips/waist. In this position the pelvis most likely tilts under and the hip juts out in order to hold them. How many times a day are you in this position? Over time, your body will adapt to this position and begin to feel that this is the new normal. When your pelvis is tucked your pelvic floor is not working correctly, it simply isn’t in the right position to be most effective.
It becomes a process of making small changes to our alignment through the practice of exercises and yoga poses, so that your body learns new and healthy ways of moving and being.
In a yoga class we work on these small movements overtime. We align and then we build strength. We also learn techniques to release tension in tight areas.
Working on the mind
In yoga we practice mindfulness. Which is just a way of saying we learn to pay attention, to the present and to ourselves. By learning mindfulness we learn how to tune in to our body’s needs. We learn the art of relaxation and we’re better able to know when we need time to restore.
If you’re someone who suffers with stress or anxiety, this could be the main factor that’s affecting your pelvic floor (and maybe other ailments too.) So by learning to breathe and relax you’re helping the health of your pelvic floor.
I love that yoga is a framework for all of this work – mind, body, strength and relaxation.
Your wellbeing in an ongoing journey and needs your commitment to make the difference.
When I realised that my pelvic floor just wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore, I went to the doctor for some help. My problem was frequent trips to the toilet, symptoms I’d suffered with for a while. I started to develop a habit of going to the toilet more often than I actually needed it. I didn’t want to be caught short so made sure I always went – just in case.
Well that got a little bit worse after the birth of my son. Straight after birth I realised that I couldn’t even feel my pelvic floor. The midwifes and doctors just told me to do my Kegels and said it will eventually get stronger. That was it. I was sent on my way with my new baby and instructions just to keep squeezing. So I did. But I became a little bit paranoid about whether I needed a wee or not. So I found myself going to the toilet more often than before. I’d lost all mental connection with my pelvic floor and bladder and lost the ability to tell whether I genuinely need the loo or not. I’d totally lost trust in my body.
So that’s how it was. I also went to see a continence nurse during this time and she sent me away with the same prescription: to do my Kegels. So I did. Again.
Kegels didn’t work for me
But guess what? They improved the strength of my pelvic floor but I still suffered with frequency of toilet trips. It was worse when I was nervous or stressed, which happened when I didn’t know where the toilet was. So it just became a vicious circle of worrying, which made it worse.
So I was feeling a little bit lost as to what to do next. I knew it wasn’t normal to be going to the toilet such a lot and I really didn’t want to feel like this forever.
So I took out my computer, opened a new browser and began Googling. And that’s when I discovered a teaching training program called Your Pelvic Matters – created by pre and post natal expert Claire Mockridge. The programme sounded great and I thought: as I’m already a yoga teacher it would be something I can incorporate into my own teaching as well as improving my own symptoms while I’m studying – it was a win, win. I signed up and started learning.
Here’s what I’ve learned
When it comes to pelvic floor health you need to take a whole body approach. It’s not enough to isolate this muscle (your pelvic floor) and simply contract it up a few times a day (Kegels). This is a bit like wanting a six-pack and just doing sit ups every day but doing no other exercise and eating lots of burgers! It’s just not going to work. What you’d actually do if you wanted a six pack would be to take up an exercise program for your whole body and start eating healthily.
The pelvic floor muscle needs the exact same approach. You need to work on stretching and strengthening all of the body’s muscles as they all impact on how well the pelvic floor muscle works. And it’s not even just about exercise, the shoes and clothes we wear affect the function of your pelvic floor too.
My light bulb moment!
I couldn’t believe it! Everything I was learning made so much sense and I started to practice the exercises as well as take on board the lifestyle tips. I started to notice a difference. I realised that my hamstrings were incredibly tight and also that my glutes (bum muscles) were under developed. All of these factors were affecting how well my pelvic floor did its job.
Armed with all of this new information I booked myself in to see a women’s health physio – just to get a proper assessment of what was going on. Even though the exercises were helping, I still had days when my symptoms were bad. What I discovered was that my pelvic floor was strong (yippee!!) but overactive! So basically it was working too much and I needed to learn how to relax more. That reflected my life externally. I’ve always struggled to be still and relax. So learning to breath well and continue with my yoga was the final piece of the jigsaw. My trust in my body was restored again.
So back to the point. How can YOU tackle your pelvic floor problems?
Firstly, know that you need a full body approach. It’s not just one exercise to cure all of your pelvic floor problems.
Doctors and nurses know a lot of stuff but they don’t have all of the answers. Especially when it comes to pelvic floor health. If you’re not seeing any improvements with doing Kegel exercises then book yourself an appointment with a women’s health physio. This was so important for me because I learned exactly what the state of play was.
Start to walk more. Walking is tremendously important for the function of your pelvic floor and while you’re doing that consider what shoes you’re wearing too. The heels on your shoes will affect the alignment of your pelvis and therefore affect your pelvic floor. Barefoot shoes are definitely the best switch I’ve made and I’ve also found that I don’t suffer with knee pain anymore since I made the switch.
Yoga for your pelvic floor
The best thing I’ve done is to continue practicing yoga but with a new focus on strength and mobility rather than striving for flexibility and achieving the ultimate pose. I also spend a lot of time on my breathing practice. Instead of breathing into the belly (which is a common yoga cue) I’ve relearned to expand the rib cage, breathing into the lungs. I also find that breathing and yoga help me to manage anxiety, which was the main cause of my pelvic floor problems. When I feel tense, so does my pelvic floor. So as you can see, it really is whole body approach.
If you’ve ever been to one of my yoga classes you may have noticed some non yoga moves included too. Whether your pelvic floor is a problem or not, it’s just good sense to ensure your body works well. So this approach is always included in my classes. So next time we focus on our feet and try lifting the big toes – know that you’re helping your pelvic floor!
It’s a questions I get asked the most and I find it a really difficult question to answer. Mainly because I don’t feel like it fits with just one specific genre or style. In the West, we have created so many different class themes, styles and types of yoga that there really is something for everyone. Which I think is great. But it doesn’t answer your question…
Every yoga class you go to will be different, because each teacher has a different approach. The poses will be vaguely similar but how they are taught will differ.
I believe that there is a yoga style for everyone and it all depends on what you hope to get out of the class on whether a certain style will suit you.
It’s important that you find a class that suits your needs and your aims for yourself. When someone new comes to my class, I always ask ‘what brings you to yoga?’ That’s what I’m really interested in and why I teach…
So here is a little more detail about my approach and who might benefit from my class.
My focus is to improve the functional movement of your body. What this means is that your bones, muscles and joints are strong, mobile and flexible in all of the right proportions so that your body feels good.
I’m influenced and inspired by a new group of yogis who are developing a sustainable approach to yoga. One that suits the needs of modern life and is a safe and effective practice for your body.
I like to include some of the traditional standing and seated poses alongside strengthening exercises and poses to release tension. We will move mindfully into each pose, flowing and sometimes holding and breathing in a pose.
Some times we move in and out of poses, for example, we might hold warrior 2, keeping the legs strong and work on shoulder mobility at the same time with variations of arm and shoulder movements.
You might sometimes experience movements that you don’t find in other yoga classes, such as foot mobilising exercises. This is because I’m learning new techniques all of the time and I like to bring in different movement concepts into my class. So the benefits of working on your feet, for example, can be felt further up the body in helping to ease lower back pain or knee problems. Every part of our body is effected by how well every other part works. So by focusing on our whole body, we benefit as a whole too!
Most of all there will be variety for your body – as this is the best way for you to enjoy a well-functioning body.
My class suits anyone who is interested in looking after themselves, being the best version they can be and finding a little ‘me’ time to relax and unwind.
My class are also perfect for you if you:
spend a lot of time sitting down hunched over a computer, driving or on the sofa
experience problems with your pelvic floor or have regular back or knee pain
feel stressed or anxious
would like to feel better in your body
want to stay active for as long as possible
are bored of the usual yoga class and want something new!
I’d say my class is a little bit like choosing a healthy eating diet. A healthy movement diet should include variety and be well balanced. That’s how I plan each class or workshop. There will be something for your whole body, it will be different each week and you will feel nourished afterwards.
Most of all it will reflect the nature of yoga giving you time on the mat for loving kindness to yourself.
I was recently asked by someone in my yoga class if I practiced yoga every day.
My answer was yes, but then I began to feel rather conscious of how that might come across.
I felt the need to explain more about what my daily practice looks like. The last thing I wanted was to portray an image that seemed unachievable.
It was almost as though by saying I practiced every day, I was painting this picture of me getting up at 5am, quietly meditating then continuing with my physical practice for a solid 60 minutes each day. Finishing off with a 15 minute savasana and a green juice.
In reality my yoga practice is often short, I often do 10 minutes here and there throughout the day. Sometimes I get on my yoga mat and sometimes I find time to sit and focus on breathing with my eyes closed. My yoga fits around my life, my job and mostly around the life of my 2 year old son. And this is the important aspect that I’d like to portray. Yoga can be part of your daily life without it feeling too difficult to find the time. I think the difficult bit is knowing where to start.
So here are my top tips for getting started with a home yoga practice.
Grab yourself a bit of paper and a pen because first we need to plan this out…
1. Where will you practice?
Thinking about your home, where could you make space for a yoga mat or a cushion to sit on for a seated meditation. Try and write down a couple of options because what happens if your family happen to be taking up space in your chosen area when you decide you want/need to do some yoga. In my house I practice at the side of my bed, at the back of the living room and in the kitchen. I’ve also done some gentle stretching sitting on the bathroom floor during my son’s bath time – so be creative in your choices. Now you’ve found space, when could you make space during your day to practice your yoga. Remember it doesn’t have to be a certain time each day or any specific length. Perhaps there is 10 mins in the morning you could allocate just to you, before everyone else gets out of bed. What about some breathing and meditation in the car whilst waiting at the school gates. Or could you go to bed a little early and roll out your mat beside your bed – that’s my favourite place at the moment. You can also move, stretch and practice your favourite poses while waiting for the dinner to cook. You don’t always need total silence or a sacred place. Sometimes it’s good just to stretch out and move around while doing something else.
2. What does your body need?
Now put the paper away as you’re ready to step onto the mat. Now that I’ve been practising a while I instinctively know what I’m going to do on the mat. So let me help you get started. I don’t necessarily plan it out before hand but I just begin to move in a way that feels right and good for my body. Sometimes I might try out a sequence I’ve seen on social media or just work into an area of my body that feels tight or sore. Next time you are in class, try to remember a few poses that felt good on your body. Spend the week in-between your class, practising just those couple of poses. You can do them in any order and they don’t have to flow. These beginning steps are just about making space and time.
3. Create a beginning, middle and an end to your practice.
By segmenting your practice into 3 sections you will help yourself to a) stay on the mat long enough to feel better and b) provide yourself with a useful structure which you can build upon. So here is your basic yoga menu:
– To start…sit, stand or lie down and begin to notice your own breathing. Close the eyes and settle your mind and body. Add in some gentle stretches, like hamstrings or neck rolls. Try to concentrate on where in your body needs a little TLC.
– For the main course – here’s where you can practice those poses you liked in class. Try counting your breaths in your poses to focus your mind on something. Maybe repeat each pose 2-3 times and take time in between to notice how you feel.
-For afters – probably the most important and ‘tasty’ part of your yoga meal is the relaxation at the end. It’s easy to jump straight up and back into your life but this bit is really really important. This is your body’s time to reset. If you struggle to stay put for any length of time, use your phones timer and set it for 5 minutes.
So that’s it right there…your own guide to creating a home practice.
If you’d like to delve a little deeper into the art of creating a home practice sign up below and you’ll be the first to know about a new one off workshop I’ll be running in the Spring.
During the workshop we will talk about the key elements you can include in your practice and I’ll share with you my 5 stage secret recipe that I use when I plan my classes.
We are constantly being reminded to accept the way our body looks and thats a good thing. But what about accepting the way it feels?
Should you accept that?
What if your body has aches or pains that seem to always be there. You don’t have to accept that.
We’re all getting older and with that we seem conditioned to accept that our bodies will experience certain aches and pains.
Now I don’t believe that those aches and pains are just because we’re ageing. It’s true that the two are happening at the same time – ageing and aching – but what if you could help prevent and ease them a little*?
This is where the practice of safe and sustainable yoga poses can really help. By working on developing stability and mobility in the body you can begin to gain control over your body’s function. But what can you do at home to help you today?
I think its very easy to become disconnected with what we need for our physical body. Perhaps choosing to rest on a sofa of an evening rather than sitting on the floor for some gentle stretching. When you think about it, it starts to make sense that if you’ve spent all day sitting at a desk you might be better off doing something counteractive when you get home, otherwise your muscles will start to think that your natural position is sitting and adapt accordingly. And if your body gets so used to sitting, what happens when you ask it to walk, run or play sport. That’s when the aches and pains occurs. Your body just isn’t prepared for that kind of activity. Plus don’t forget the strain that repetitive movement can have on your body. Unfortunately our bodies adapt to the movements we do the most which means we end up with imbalances and weaknesses if we don’t use our bodies in all of the possible ways.
Our bodies – the joints, the muscles and all of the other bits in-between – have so many different uses and functions that if we want to make the most of them we need to keep using them.
So how could you make a small difference today? Here are 3 ways you can help to take care of your body and help ease those aches and pains:
1 – BREATHE – In yogic terms, breathing brings in prana (new energy) and gets rid of apana (negative energy.) In scientific terms you are transporting vital oxygen to your cells and tissues. Breathing helps us to use the body in the way it was designed by promoting good posture and releasing muscle tension. So either way its a vital function for us to focus on. Begin by finding a comfortable seated position, ideally supporting your own weight rather than on a sofa. Close your eyes and focus on the natural rhythm of your breath. As you inhale, feel the rib cage expanding, filling up the lungs all of the way to the tops of your shoulders. As you exhale, take your time to let the breath leave your body. Count your breaths. Be purposeful about the time you set aside. Try sitting for 10 breaths and see how you feel afterwards. The great thing about breathing is that you can do it anywhere – on the train, in the office, even while your toddler is having a tantrum (i’d highly recommend this if you do have small people to look after!)
2 – MOVE – Each of our joints enables our muscles and bones to move in a variety of ways. So keeping them moving keeps everything working and ensures the body is more prepared when you ask it to move in acertain way. Focus on making circle motions with each of your joints in turn. Start with the neck, then shoulders, your wrists then your ankles. As you move be mindful. Notice how the body feels. Think about the types of movements you do regularly, which parts of your body is used the most and spend time each day moving that area. Be creative, explore how your body can actually move and try and do it as often as you can.
Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash
3 – RELAX – Never underestimate the power of savasana – the part of the yoga class where you get to lie down. Now you might think that this is counterintuitive to getting you moving but the practise of savasana or corpse pose at the end of class is valuable to your physical AND mental health. Just 5 minutes of purposeful rest can make the world of difference to your nervous system. It also provides a useful space to scan your whole body to see how its feeling. Where feels good and where needs some more attention. Use this time to focus inwardly on yourself. And if you struggle with staying still on your own, try setting a timer on your phone. Set it for 5 minutes and promise yourself that you will stay put for the whole time.
Most importantly of all…don’t just sit there…MOVE!
*I’m talking about the low level, niggly sort of pains rather than those serious ‘you should go to the doctor’ sort of pains. For that I’m not qualified to talk about. I am just a yoga teacher after all.
If you’re looking for a regular yoga practice that focuses on functional movement then come along to my Tuesday night class. Or try out my monthly yoga club for two hours of focused yoga movement.
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