Yoga for children

children

Photo Yoga Journal www.yogajournal.com

Children nowadays live in a busy world of

school pressures, video games and

competitive sport.  This bustling pace can

sometimes have a bad effect on our

children; however, yoga can help

counteract these pressures.  Yoga practice is beneficial to kids in many ways; it teaches children techniques for

focus and concentration and can boost self-esteem and confidence.  Physically it

enhances flexibility, strength, co-ordination and balance.

Yoga can be made fun, and can be used to stretch their imagination.  They can stretch

like a dog, balance like a flamingo, breathe like a bunny, or stand strong and tall like

a tree.  As they perform the various animal and nature asanas this will not only

engage their minds but also help their growing bodies become stronger and more

Also when we practice yoga we learn how to be still.  This can help children with their

concentration and listening skills.  The deep relaxation techniques used in classes

cultivate a peaceful, relaxed state of body and mind.  Even if only for a few minutes,

this can help children understand the importance of this peace and carry it with them

Children can practice yoga anywhere and the breathing, concentration and poses can

help them in everyday situations.  Plus yoga is portable and no special clothing or

equipment is required.  But the most important thing is that for kids, yoga is fun!

Author: Jojoba

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How to sit in a meditation posture

Do you wonder when you sit down to meditate if you are doing it right?

There are lots of different ways for this posture, but the elements are basically the same, here are some points to follow to get the correct posture for you:

  • Sit down on the floor crossed legged or if you find this hard you can sit on a cushion or just fold your legs and not cross them. As long as you are in a comfortable and relaxed position that is the most important thing. If you can’t get down on the floor there really is no shame in sitting on a chair, just be sure to sit away from the back of the chair and place your feet firmly on the ground aligned with your hips and knees.
  • Elongate the spine – you need to feel uplifted when you meditate, imagine the top of your head being pulled upwards towards the ceiling. The back should be straight, but not tense.
  • Rest your hands – you can rest your hands on your lap, palm up or down on your thighs depending on what makes you feel more relaxed. Another popular position is to have your hands palm up, one hand on top of the other with thumbs lightly touching.
  • Relaxed shoulders – your shoulders should be pushed slightly back, let the muscles in your shoulders and back relax.
  • Tuck in the chin – not so much that you are looking directly down, but so your head isn’t being held upwards which could be tiring.
  • Open the jaw – relax the muscles in your face so that your jaw hangs slightly open.
  • Resting your gaze – relax your gaze two to four feet ahead of you on the ground, in an unfocused manner. Just imagine a loose gaze, and rest your eyes. If you are unable to meditate with your eyes open you can close them.
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The art of relaxation

Getting your body and mind to completely relax is not as easy are you might think. There are so many pressures in our everyday life, many people find it hard to ‘switch off’ from it all. Like any other worthwhile skill, relaxation takes practice. Yoga can be a great training ground for this.

Here are some relaxation tips:

Exhale: lengthen your exhalations. This encourages the nervous system to become calm and quiet, moving your body into a more restful state of being.

Focus your mind: try focusing your mind in a constructive and engaging way; practice a challenging asana or an absorbing breathing exercise.

Minimise external stimulation: Turn off the television, unplug the phone and remove all electronic devices. Dim the lighting and use an eye bag/wrap to quiet the eyes and the brain.

Think positive: Throw out all negative thoughts and invite peaceful thoughts into your mind instead, use your creativity to develop a more positive outlook on the world.

Author: Jojoba

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Yoga poses to help your hangover

We’ve all done it, had a few too many and woke the next day living with the consequences – a hangover. Instead of heading to the medicine cabinet for a cure you can opt for a healthier method, yoga!

In addition to rehydrating yourself with water, yoga poses will speed up your recovery and hopefully change the head pounding and queasiness to a tranquil calmness instead.

Yoga is thought to be especially beneficial when suffering with a hangover because it is noted to release toxins, improve circulation, and aid the digestion process. Yoga helps relieve tension in the body from head to toe, and gets the blood moving so that every part of the body feels oxygenated and rejuvenated.

Try these gentle yoga poses to help speed up the recovery process:

Corpse pose (Savasana)

Lay down with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing pattern.

Rolling your head from side to side will help ease any neck stiffness.

Childs pose (Balasana)

This pose not only allows you to close your eyes again but also gently compresses your abdomen to stimulate peristalsis and enhances the circulation of lymph, one of your body’s main methods for removing metabolic waste products.

Standing half forward bend
(Ardha Uttanasana)

This pose can diminish stomach pains and fatigue. Also it has therapeutic effects of relieving head congestion.

And of course the next time you go out drinking be sure slow your pace a bit, alternating between an alcoholic drink and a glass of water, and eating while you drink!

Author: Jojoba

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Yoga for Seasonal Affective Disorder

yoga23

 photo from jiannhughes.com

With the nights starting to draw in, I thought it would be good to raise awareness of ‘SAD’ and to offer a possible solution.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms mainly in the winter (however some experience it in spring or summer).

Suffers of SAD may find it hard to wake up in the morning, suffer with nausea, tend to oversleep and over eat, especially craving for carbohydrates which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms can include lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from friends, family and social activities, and decreased sex drive.

Yoga can help fight the battle against winter depression!

Yoga may help alleviate the symptoms of SAD by affecting the level of serotonin in the body. Research shows that people suffering from depression who did yoga experienced an increase in serotonin and became more sociable. Though the study wasn’t focused on SAD, things that work for other kinds of depression are likely to work for SAD.

And while yoga affects the body, it also teaches you about the workings of your mind. In particular, you learn how to handle dark feelings that might otherwise overwhelm you.

Yoga can be a natural anti-depressant remedy and through its sequence of postures, yoga both re-energises and relaxes you. As a physical activity it releases endorphins and helps alleviate low moods and depression. As a relaxation therapy, it also calms your mind and improves insomnia.

If you want to beat the winter blues, or find out more about yoga, please contact Yogaspirit here.

To find out other ways to treat the symptoms of SAD check out the NHS guidelines: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Treatment.aspx

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YES! I am teaching a Yoga class this Autumn in Shrewsbury

All welcome, mats available 7pm – 8.30pm in the Ballroom, The Lion Hotel, Shrewsbury

Here are the dates:

  • September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • October 7, 14, 21

8 classes before…

….Half term NO CLASS October 28

  • November 4, 11, 18, 25
  • December 2, 9, 16

7 classes after half term….

15 classes altogether £ 97.50 if paid in advance (£6.50 per class)

8 classes for £56 if paid in advance (£7.00 per class)

£8 per class drop in.

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The importance of proper breathing in Yoga

Breathing is an important element of yoga practice. If your breathing isn’t relaxed, your body can’t relax into the poses. If your body isn’t relaxed, your mind can’t relax.
One of the five principles of yoga is Pranayama or breathing exercise which promotes proper breathing.

In a Yogic point of view, proper breathing is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy. Pranayama Yoga also goes hand in hand with the Asanas. The union of these two yogic principles is considered as the highest form of purification and self-discipline, covering both mind and body.
When you begin your Yoga breathing, you should begin by filling your diaphragm with air slowly. Take in a deep cleansing breath, through your nose and then out through your nose just as slowly.
When you breathe in deeply you are providing your body with the rich oxygen it requires. Further, when you breathe out, or just when you are breathing in general, you are pushing out various toxins that must be eliminated from your body.
Good posture is important. With your back straight, your shoulders back and your abdomen in, you are allowing your lungs to expand to their full potential and they are therefore allowed to take in more oxygen.
Most importantly don’t forget to breathe when mastering your breathing technique! Don’t try to force what your body knows how to do naturally, or you may end up feeling dizzy. If this occurs stop the breathing exercise and continue at a later time.

Author: Jojoba

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Yoga myths debunked

If you are thinking of starting Yoga, you might have come across some of the myths about Yoga, and you might be worrying about them uneccesarily.

Yoga is only for flexible people

You don’t need to be super agile to practice yoga. Most postures can be modified to fit all skill levels or you can choose a position that isn’t so hard on the body. As your strength, flexibility, skill and balance improves you will develop the wonderful suppleness associated with Yoga.

Yoga comes from Hinduism/is a religion

Yoga is not a religion, but traditional Yoga is built on Vedic spirituality and philosophy and the promotion of being kind and compassionate towards yourself and others.

Yoga is just for girls

Yoga is for everyone.  Historically some of the greatest yoga teachers for over 2000 years have been men.

Yoga isn’t a real workout

Yoga is a wonderful workout with some types requiring higher levels of fitness. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can improve muscle strength and joint flexibility while boosting mood and controlling stress. Yoga also helps improve flexibility and endurance.  Yoga is more about feeling at peace with the world and relaxing your mind body and soul, and while the physical aspect is a key part in practicing yoga, it is not the most important.

You can learn yoga from a book

There are many yoga books available, however while these can inspire you, it is not meant to teach a practice.  Without proper guidance you will benefit from hands on adjustment, coaching and see a faster development in your skill levels.

Yoga is for young skinny people

There is no age limit to practising yoga, and size and shape do not matter.  If you have physical limitations, try a gentle yoga class or other class specific to your condition.

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What are the chakras?

Chakra” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “spinning wheel.”

Each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body and a certain organ which it provides with the energy it needs to function. Additionally, just as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behaviour and development.

By working with these centres in yoga practice, we can begin to unravel any blocks that may prevent the unfolding into our highest potential.

  1. Root Chakra (Muladhara)is located at the base of the spine. It is symbolized by the colour red and a lotus with four petals. Muladhara represents the centre of instincts, stability of mind and body, survival and self-sufficiency. A positive balance in the Muladhara Chakra would be mental and physical health and prosperity. It is related to the adrenal glands and reproductive organs.
  2. Sacral Chakra (Svadishthana)is located at the lower abdomen between the belly button and pubic bone. It is symbolized by the colour orange and a lotus with six petals and its issues are creativity, pleasure/pain, relationships, and emotions. A positive balance in the Svadhisthana Chakra would be represented by stability in one’s sexuality, sensuality, and emotions. It is related to the reproductive system.
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)is located at the solar plexus (between belly button and bottom of rib cage). It is symbolized by the colour yellow and a triangle within a lotus with ten petals. Its issues are personal power, self-esteem, wilfulness and energy, and it is related to the metabolic and digestive systems. A healthy balance in the Manipura Chakra would be shown as having motivation, purpose, and confidence.
  4. Heart Chakra (Anahata)is located at the heart (centre of the chest). It is symbolized by the colour green and a lotus with 12 petals. Its issues are love, acceptance, and trust. Anahata is the centre of compassion, and a positive balance in the heart chakra would be showing sensitivity and unconditional love for self and others. It is related to the immune and endocrine systems.
  5. Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi) islocated at the throat. It is represented by the colour blue and a crescent within a 16 petaled lotus, and its issues are communication, inspiration, expression, and faith. A healthy balance in the Vissudha Chakra would be shown as fluent and clear thought, creative written and spoken expression, and wisdom. It is related to the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
  6. Third-Eye Chakra (Ajna)is located between the eyebrows, just above the bridge of the nose. It is represented by a deep indigo blue and a lotus with two petals. Ajna is thought to be the point at which the two nadis (energy channels), Ida and Pingala, merge becoming the center that controls all higher mental activities including psychic, emotional, and mental intelligence, and insight. Someone with a healthy and balanced sixth chakra would have a keen imagination and intellect, strong intuition, and deep spiritual awareness. It is related to the pineal gland which produces the hormones serotonin and melatonin.
  7. Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)is located at the crown (top) of the head. It is represented by the colour white or violet and is considered to be the center of wisdom and pure consciousness. Its issues are devotion, inspiration, selflessness, and spiritual understanding. It is related to the pituitary gland and also connects to the central nervous system. Someone with a healthy and balanced seventh chakra would have highly developed emotional awareness and may even reach a higher spiritual state of bliss or unity with the divine.

Author: Jojoba

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Today is international Yoga day – 21st June

Today is International Day of Yoga, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014.

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, explaining:

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

Modi’s speech explained the choice of June 21, which is the Summer Solstice, as the International Day of Yoga. The date is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.

For Yogis, the Summer Solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The first full moon after Summer Solstice is known as Guru Poornima. According to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, in the yogic lore, the first transmission of yoga by Shiva, the first Guru, is said to have begun on this day.

Practices for International Yoga Day

Here are some ideas for a IYD practice:

Surya Namaskar – this classic series (or vinyasa) is a great foundation for your IYD practice. 21 rounds would be ideal!

Traditional Postures – Trikonasana (Triangle), Vrksasana (Tree), Uttanasana (Standing forward fold), Marychyasana (Sage twist)

Trataka – candle gazing meditation

Savasana – relaxation

Namaste and have a wonderful day!

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