Girl lay down on grass with lavender

Want to Feel Amazing?

Try Yoga Nidra

If you’ve never heard of yoga nidra, essentially it’s a type of “yogic sleep” where you’re aiming to get yourself right in that sweet spot between being awake and falling asleep, whilst following a guided meditation through a number of deeply relaxing exercises. In my view, it’s one of the most accessible types of yoga/meditation – as long as you can lie down with your back straight whilst listening and following instructions, it’s open to pretty much anyone.

Said to have been practised by Patanjali and the Buddha themselves amongst numerous other enlightened masters since circa 700 BC under the dualist philosophy of Sankhya, a regular yoga nidra practice unlocks various benefits:

Highly Restorative

It’s commonly reported that 45 minutes of yoga nidra is as restorative as 3 hours of normal sleep due to the deeper levels of brain wave activation accessed.

Stress Buster

Regularly accessing deeper levels of relaxation naturally reduces how stressed a person feels.

Improves Symptoms of Depression & Anxiety

The less stressed we feel the less depressed and anxious we’re likely to feel too.

Increased Creativity

Feeling less stressed, depressed and anxious as well as well-rested and restored allows the mind to expand and feel an urge to create.

Feels Amazing!

All that prana (life-force energy) flowing round the body afterwards feels awesome!

In fact the hardest part of yoga nidra for many is in trying not to fall asleep! For this reason, as well as to ensure that your spine stays straight, I’d suggest practising yoga nidra on a yoga mat rather than on a bed or couch.

If you’re interested in having a go yourself, I’d suggest heading over to You Tube or finding a well-recommended class close to you to be guided in person for your first time. Let me know how you find it.

Feel free to share this article with anyone you think could benefit from it.

Remember to always discuss suitability of any new practice with your healthcare practitioner to ensure appropriateness for your needs.

Advertisements
meditate

How to Try a Yoga Retreat – at Home!

Starts this Friday!

Yes, you read that right – get yourself a taster of what it’s like to go on a yoga retreat whilst staying in the comfort of your very own home – for free.

Starting on the morning of Friday 9 August 2019, you’re all invited to attend Yoga with Adriene’s very own yoga retreat lasting right through to bedtime on Sunday 11 August 2019. All you need is access to the internet and You Tube and to follow the instructions on the link below:

https://yogawithadriene.com/reclaim-your-center-at-home-retreat/

As you may have noticed, I’m a massive YWA fan so I’m always sharing links to her material most of which is completely free and crafted with the “at home” practitioner very much in mind.

After a crazy-July of YWA power yoga, I’m really looking forward to this month’s theme of “Reunite”, especially so having learnt that there will be a 3-day yoga retreat at home special to shake up the usual daily practice.

For full details, I recommend clicking the link but essentially each day there is:

  • a morning session of yoga;
  • followed by a short meditation;
  • a journal prompt session;
  • an evening yoga session; and
  • a nature activity.

I’m sure there are those of you thinking that there’s no way you could fit all of those activities into the whole weekend never mind every day for 3 days straight! Until I started a daily yoga practice, I would have had the same reaction in fairness. But, it’s surprising how much I can actually fit into my day when I make it a non-negotiable part of my day.

It’s a fun little taster session that you can fit around your existing commitments – I’m actually in work all day Friday so I’ll have to get up a little earlier to fit it all in and may end up eating a little later than usual in the evening, but planning it in advance definitely makes it easier to manage. Over the weekend, the youngest will no doubt be joining in and dropping out as it suits her and probably saying “mum” every 5 minutes through the meditations but I guess that’s good practice for taking my yoga “off the mat” and practising a calm and peaceful mind all day, every day – not just when it’s convenient to do so!

Why not challenge yourself to something different this weekend? Feel free to share this article with anyone you think might be interested and if you take part, let me know how you get on in the comments.

See you there!

Remember, as with any exercise programme, speak with your own independent healthcare provider to check suitability for your needs.

Could heart opening poses be the cure for modern living?

Heart Openers: The Cure for Modern-Living

Modern Living Cure: Heart Openers

Having dabbled in a bit of yoga here and there for several years now, my New Year’s resolution to myself for 2019 was to make yoga a daily practice in my life. Nearly 8 months on, I have been absolutely amazed at the ways yoga has massively enhanced all aspects of my life for the better, most noticeably via regular heart opening poses and stretches.

Could You Benefit from Heart Openers?

An easy way to test this is to check in with yourself right now. Without changing position, quickly scan yourself to see how you are sat/lay/stood as you read this:

Is your back slouched?

Are your shoulders up near your ears?

Are you hunched over in the “text-neck” position so commonly seen these days i.e. leaning forward with head bent down?

Next, try self-correcting your posture so gently slide your shoulders downwards, away from your ears, straighten the back, lift the chest upwards and lift the head so the weight is evenly balanced across the neck, neither heavier in the front nor the back. In this better posture for the body do your shoulders round inwards towards your chest or outwards?

I would say that from my observations of people generally who do not practice stretches regularly to counter-act today’s modern-living hunched over computers, phones and other screens, most people’s shoulders tend to roll inwards. For me, that is a clear sign that some kind of heart opening exercises would likely benefit that person.

And this was me too until, over the last few months, I’ve noticed a gradual change in my daily posture whereby now my shoulders do naturally gravitate down my body turning out instead of in which has the effect of lifting my head, neck and chest and straightening my back as a matter of habit. Cue a lot less back and neck complaints, less headaches as well as a downturn in aches and pains generally. I would add that my posture up until my daily yoga practice was exceptionally poor.

What Are the Likely Benefits Then?

Physically:

  • Back pain lessened;
  • Shoulders feel less tight;
  • Neck pain reduced;
  • Healthier spine generally;
  • More flexibility in the rib cage making breathing easier and increased blood flow/better circulation;
  • Better sleep quality;
  • Improved digestion;
  • More energy;
  • Improved balance by using counteracting poses.

Emotionally:

  • Anxiety symptoms reduced;
  • Depression symptoms reduced;
  • Stress symptoms reduced;
  • Mood elevated;
  • Releasing of negative emotions in a safe environment and way;
  • Increase in self-confidence;
  • Better emotional and psychological balance;
  • More loving and capable of receiving love;

Spiritually:

  • More open heart chakra;
  • More compassion for self and others;
  • Better connection to inner and outer world;
  • Deeper connection to your “Higher Power”, “God” or “Universe” whatever this means to you.

I’ve listed all of these benefits from research I’ve conducted from numerous websites and only listed the ones that I genuinely feel that I have experienced for myself. I would also add that learning to breathe correctly through these poses and practising pranayama (see here if you’re unsure what this is: https://myholisticliving.co.uk/yoga-meditation/what-is-pranayama/) massively increases the benefits experienced.

If you think that you could benefit from improving your posture through heart opening poses then join a local class or head over to You Tube or similar to find a good online tutor who will walk you slowly through the poses in a safe and gradual way. As you may have noticed, my online yoga teacher of choice is Adriene Mishler, whom I strongly recommend especially for beginners:

https://yogawithadriene.vhx.tv/monthly-yoga-playlist

Feel free to share this post with others that you feel might benefit from the contents. What about you – have you tried particular poses, stretches or exercises that have helped to improve your posture?

Always check in with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise regime. Please note that I am not a yoga teacher nor medically qualified myself and therefore you should ensure you seek the guidance of both before undertaking any recommended practices.

3 Easy & Fun Yoga Poses to Make You Smile :)

Smile 🙂

One of the most surprising aspects of yoga when I first got into the practice was just how fun and silly it could be. I always thought yogis were people that took themselves far too seriously to have any fun, especially during a yoga practice session. Turns out I was wrong!

Whatever my mood when I roll my mat out each day, before I roll my mat back up again, I know that I will have smiled or laughed to myself at least once. My favourite poses are the ones that make me feel silly or childish or care-free when in the pose because, quite frankly, I probably take myself too seriously most of the time. These poses are really teaching me to lighten up in my approach to life generally. After all, none of us are getting out of here alive!

So, if you’re ready to unleash your inner child, why not check out the links on You Tube to Yoga With Adriene below and see if these poses make you smile today too:

  1. Lion’s Breath: https://youtu.be/xdUyHPa66A4 (technically a pranayama (breathing exercise) but a great introduction to the practice);
  2. Happy Baby: https://youtu.be/dmlOV0hZ76w?t=1701 (the link should start at around 28:30 minutes just as Happy Baby posture is starting – of course feel free to have a go at the full practice!); and
  3. Back Rock: https://youtu.be/6UEWJsljPVM?t=583 (the link should start at around 09:40 minutes – the full video is a bit full-on if you’re new to yoga though I’d say).

If you do give them a try, let me know in the comments which, if any, made you smile most or, if you know someone who could do with cheering up, why not share this post with them and brighten up their day.

Namaste x

Obviously, any exercise routine should only be undertaken bearing in mind any existing health condition you may have and having first spoken with your healthcare provider.