Yoga Practice Tips: Let’s Redefine Advanced Yoga

1312946603332248614In 30 years of teaching, I can’t even begin to relate how many times I’ve heard people say that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible. Similarly, I wish I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard a longtime student declare himself/herself to be “just” a beginner because in all these years he/she has never touched toes in a forward bend or done Upward Bow with straight arms. A few days ago I read a blog lamenting the yoga cultural emphasis on “advanced” poses and how all the social media photos of yoga practitioners in these poses is likely scaring people away from practice. This is probably true, and certainly a valid concern. But I want to take the discussion a step further and pose the question: “What is advanced yoga anyway?” Is “advanced yoga” the ability to slip easily into full Pigeon? Is it the ability to wedge your ankle behind your head? Is rocking arm balances on the beach advanced yoga?

Want To Kick A Bad Habit? Try Yoga.

yogaaWhether it’s smoking, drinking or eating unhealthy foods, we all have bad habits we struggle to work through. There are many ways to attempt to eliminate such tendencies, but most of them don’t work. We can try to painstakingly hack away at the problem or deprive ourselves, but old behaviors are relentless – and they often come back to haunt us. To tackle those unhealthy habits for good, try a more holistic approach: yoga. Here’s why it works:

1. It cultivates self-awareness.
Most bad habits are so deeply rooted that they become your default response. When you go to reach for that candy bar or cigarette, for instance, you don’t think about it, you simply react to your craving. You need to force yourself to slow down and notice your compulsive behavior – that’s the first step to eliminating it. And, that’s where yoga comes in.

Perhaps the greatest teaching in yoga is to pause and make thoughtful decisions instead of mindlessly going with your knee-jerk reaction. When you practice, you deepen your breath and sync your movements with it. To do that, you must pay attention to how you are feeling and how your decisions affect your body and attitude. Your connection to your breath tells you if you are pushing too far or moving too quickly. You want to maintain full, deep inhalations and exhalations throughout your practice. When you’re gasping for air, you’re no longer in control. In that case, you need to stop until you can reestablish control over your breath and maintain a calm state of mind. Eventually, you’ll be skilled at stopping yourself to process your thoughts before you act – both on and off the mat.

2. It requires commitment.

If you have tried to deprive yourself of something you enjoy, like carbohydrate-rich foods, you know you will most likely give in and cheat once in a while. This happens to all of us, and it’s OK as long as it doesn’t happen consistently. What matters is that you are making progress and you stick with your plan.
When you practice yoga, the poses challenge you to balance – sometimes on one leg. You are going to fall repeatedly. But more important than accomplishing the pose is the commitment to getting back in it and trying again. This cycle of attempting a pose, falling and then recommitting to it teaches you not to get discouraged and to stay with it until you reach your goal. Consistent effort over a long period of time adds up to incredible progress in all areas of your life.

3. It gives you perspective.

In a culture obsessed with instant gratification, yoga gives you a broader outlook on what you really want for sustained happiness. There is an underlying philosophy in yoga that helps you become honest with yourself. This attitude helps you realize there is something greater you are working toward, and to savor every step of the way. It demands that you look beyond physical accomplishments and recognize that anything worth doing takes time.
In yoga poses, you strive to advance toward more challenging variations. As a beginner, you are given clear, physical landmarks to know when you are ready to move onto the next stage of the pose safely. Yoga provides a light-hearted and playful atmosphere while working toward a goal pose.

Take the time to acknowledge your progress and don’t be too tough on yourself. When you recognize what you are capable of, it motivates you to advance. This feeling empowers you to make strides toward meaningful changes off the mat.

4. It provides a supportive and healthy community.
Nothing is more disheartening than finally taking the first steps to change your bad habits – only to be discouraged by your peers. Yoga brings together like-minded people who willingly choose to do something healthy for themselves every time they step on their mats. If you surround yourself with supportive people who are positive and want you to succeed, you feel stronger and more capable to take on obstacles. Knowing there is a whole community you don’t want to let down also encourages you to keep moving forward.

5. It holds you accountable to your goals.

While most of the time we practice in groups, yoga is a very personal experience. You are asked to be honest with yourself and notice your alignment in poses before advancing. It demands that you check in and never push into pain just to keep up with those around you. This outlook takes some time to cultivate and is humbling, but it’s crucial to hold yourself accountable to your body and ego. After a couple weeks, you will start to notice that this attitude translates to your life off the mat, and you’ll become more sensitive to what you say and do. You’ll develop a new appreciation for yourself and the effect you have on others.

6. It offers role models and coaches.

Everyone needs a teacher or a coach who has faced similar obstacles and can guide you along your path. Seek out teachers whose classes you enjoy the most and with whom you connect. Most teachers love to answer questions. If you feel stuck on a certain pose or otherwise, ask the teacher before or after class for advice. Remember: Your teachers are people, too. They might not have all the answers for you, but they are great resources to help you move past any difficulties that arise. This relationship is invaluable and the right teacher could evolve your yoga practice into a complete wellness lifestyle.

Here you can find more about Want To Kick A Bad Habit? Try Yoga.

5 Ways To Make Your St. Patrick’s Day Healthier

main-green-asanaHealthy Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

1. Make your drink green: Whip up a kale or spinach smoothie. These green leafy veggies are nutritional powerhouses: they’re both good sources of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. They’re also high in carotenoids, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Make a green smoothie with avocado, kale, bananas and almond milk. This nutrient, protein and literally green smoothie will keep you feeling full and satisfied while still letting you sport your Irish pride

2. Heavy, dense foods like sausages, mashed potatoes and corned beef hash. Substitute a green salad made with fresh spinach, strawberries and a light sprinkling of feta cheese. It’s fresh, healthy and mirrors the green, red and white colors of the Irish flag!

3. If you’re planning on attending a parade or pub crawl, consider biking there or walk! (anyway city centre is closed) We all know that cycling and walking is a great workout for your heart and a super fun group activity. Decorate your bicycle with recycled and thrift decorations to stay environmentally friendly and remember to always wear your helmet!

4. If you like to put your best Irish face forward by painting yourself with the colors of the Irish flag, consider this. Most store bought face paints contain high levels of artificial colors and ingredients that are both harmful to your skin and the environment. Making your own face paints using a mixture of cornstarch, organic face lotions, and natural or homemade food colorings are good for everybody!

5. Irish dance – Hoof it for a half hour and you could burn 150 calories. New to this form of folk dance? This video will teach you the basics.

Here you can find more about Healthy ways to celebrate St. Patricks days

Yoga – you are never to old to start

yoga eldery1. Can Seniors (Above 65 Years) Do Yoga Asanas?

Yes, of course older people can do asanas. The basic premise in yoga is union – union of the various aspects of our existence like body, breath, mind etc. In fact the word yoga comes from a Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to unite’. Hence, it is possible for people of all ages and from all walks of life to utilize the techniques of yoga for creating a harmonious and joyful existence.
Elderly can do yoga asanas – provided they keep some guidelines in mind.

2. What Kind Of Asanas Should One Do As Age Progresses?

Substitute warm-ups with brisk walking and joint movements.
Standing Yoga Poses Triangle Pose (konasana series) and Standing Spinal Twist (Kati chakrasanas) Sitting Yoga Poses Butterfly Pose, Cradling (if possible), body rotation, Cat stretch and Child pose (Shishu Asana). Yoga Poses lying on the back or stomach Focus on repetitions rather than holding any posture such as the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), the Locust Pose (Shalabhasana) or the Knee to Chin Press (Pawanmuktasana). Yoga nidra is by far the most essential part of any yoga practice, and as age progresses, it becomes even more essential to help assimilate the effect of the asana practice into our system.

3. Are There Any Easy Exercises For Senior People?
Restorative Yoga may be practiced independently or as part of a larger yoga plan. People of every age can practice and receive the benefits of these exercises that can be comfortably practiced within 20-30 minutes. It includes simple and gentle exercises for the neck, hands, feet, knees, ankles and hips.

4. Are You Getting Your Yoga Practice Right?
Check your inner gauge, your smile-o-meter. Just do as much as you can, with a smile, for that is the indicator, which tells you whether you are doing it right or not.

5. How Does Yoga Practice For Seniors Differ From Those For The Young?

The same asanas performed by a younger individual could be more challenging in terms of effort put into the posture, the duration of holding the posture and amount of flexibility required. Some cardio vascular movements and abdominals would be more appropriate for a person with higher level of endurance and body fitness.

6. Do Yoga Asanas Increase The Efficiency Of Immune System For The Elderly?

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras provide a clue – it says – “heyam dukham anaagatam”, so that we can avoid the misery that has not yet come. As our age increases, the efficiency of our bodies and immune system seems to deteriorate, bringing on the possibility of various diseases. Regular practice of yoga techniques, such as asanas, pranayama and meditation can help to avoid these conditions, remove the misery, and lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.

10 Reasons to Practice Restorative Yoga  

Pure Health Timetable

Great Introductory Yoga & Pilates offer

Here you can  learn more about Yoga for Seniors – Gentle Exercises

Karen’s Yin Yoga

smallWhat is yin yoga?
Yin yoga is a slow-paced, meditative style of yoga, we hold each asana (pose) for a period of time, usually around 3-5 minutes. In our yin practice we are focusing on our joints, applying moderate stress to the tendons, fascia and ligaments of the joint with the aim of increasing circulation and improving flexibility. A yin class can bring a lovely balance to a (usually yang) yoga practice, giving you time to slow down; softening, yielding and accepting yourself just as you are. The classes can still be quite challenging though, as holding a pose for a long time takes both mental and physical commitment.

What are the benefits?
We work mainly with the joints, the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Yin aims to keep these joints flexible and juicy! There is also the meditative benefit, we try to come to a complete stillness in each pose; body, mind and breath all quietening and slowing down.

Who is it suitable for?
Yin is suitable for everyone, especially for those who are maybe more ‘yang’ in nature, if you find yourself busy and stressed then a yin class might help provide some much needed balance.
karen lotus pose small picture sizeIs there any preparation needed?

Just wear comfortable clothes, as you would for any other yoga class. As we don’t move much, it could be good to have a warm top to keep cosy and it’s okay to keep socks on too. We use lots of props in yin, but these are all provided by the studio.

I look forward to seeing you in class one Sunday 🙂

New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers

246 hp 101 2The more we learn about yoga, the more we realize the benefits aren’t all in the minds of the 20 million or so devotees in the U.S. Yoga helps people to relax, making the heart rate go down, which is great for those with high blood pressure. The poses help increase flexibility and strength, bringing relief to back pain sufferers.

Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit

Scientists are getting close to proving what yogis have held to be true for centuries – yoga and meditation can ward off stress and disease.egan melissa-stargazing
John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed.