Tuesday, 30 December 2014

'New Year, New You'

Please have a look at my 'New Year, New You' series on my YouTube channel for a brilliant start to the year.  There are 13 videos in the playlist for you to enjoy.  Please click on the video below to access the series.

Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday, 27 December 2014

What's happening on 40plusandalliswell

If you've got left over chestnuts from Christmas you may want to try my 'Mushroom and Chestnut pie with white bean mash'. It would make a great vegan, New Year's Eve supper. http://www.40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/meatless-monday-mushroom-and-chestnut.html

If you want a lighter dessert for New Year please try my 'Vegan fruit jellies' http://www.40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/vegan-fruit-jellies.html

Recently in the news there was an article claiming that lifestyle factors could reduce the risk of dementia. Please read my comments on the article by following this link http://www.40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/in-news-lifestyle-factors-that-could.html

You may want to try my vegan 'Festive Nut Roast' with all those left over Christmas nuts http://www.40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/meatless-monday-festive-nut-roast.html

As 2015 approaches you may want to resolve to look after your heart. On the yoga blog we looked at the ways in which yoga can help boost heart health http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/how-yoga-boosts-heart-health.html and on the wellness blog we thought about lifestyle factors that could help keep your heart healthy http://www.40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/love-your-heart.html

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

My prayer for 2015 is for peace. In yoga we practice ahimsa, non harming. This applies not only to physical harming but wounding with the things we say and do. If we practice ahimsa on the mat, we become more accepting, and tolerant of others off the mat. This attitude has the ability to transfer to others with whom you come into contact-family, friends, your community. In this way a more peaceful way of living starts to spread through the world. 
So my message for 2015 is that peace in the world starts with us, you and me. 

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Janet x

How yoga boosts heart health

How yoga boosts health-Heart health-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk
Please note this video is not intended for you if you have heart problems. You should work with a yoga teacher on a more personal level. 
Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html
Copyright © 2014 Flexiladiesyoga

Last week in the news this week it was reported that yoga may protect the heart. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30475999
It is claimed that yoga exerts its protective effect by lowering risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. The way yoga lowers blood pressure according to the report is that it boosts the level of oxygen in the body by working the muscles and pranayama techniques. When blood pressure is high, the result may be damage to artery walls. Yoga is also associated with a lower risk of obesity.  

I would add the following to the report-

  • Yoga reduces stress which is known to be a factor in high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is left unchecked it can lead to artery wall damage.  Once damaged cholesterol can 'stick' to the walls leading eventually to blockages.  
  • Yoga reduces inflammation which is also known to contribute to heart disease.  
  • The heart is a muscle and as such needs to be exercised.  Invesions bring blood to the heart 'working' the heart  muscle.  Vinyassa flows increase the heart rate also working a
  • Chest opening backbends increase lung capacity bringing extra oxygen to the body which in turn lowers blood pressure.  They also increase circulation to the heart.
  • Inversions and standing forward bends  increase blood flow to the heart, working the heart muscle.
  • Standing poses which work the leg muscles strongly such as Warrior 2 encourage blood flow back to the heart.
  • Yoga poses that work the core together with vinyassa flows help prevent abdominal fat which is a risk factor in heart disease.
Please also see 40plusandalliswell http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/love-your-heart.html where I will be looking at lifestyle factors which influence heart health.

Be healthy, be happy
Janet x

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Christmas yoga game to play with the kids

Keep the kids amused with this yoga game which will benefit their minds and bodies. 
Simply choose a word associated with Christmas, choose a theme for your yoga poses and match the letters of the word to the yoga poses.
The example below uses the word 'Christmas' and has an animal theme. Make yoga poses up if you want to. 




I-Iguana (Lizard)




A-Alsatian (Dog)

S-Snake (Cobra)

Have fun!
Janet x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

How yoga helps boosts brain health

On the wellness blog, I will discuss a news report which claims there are five lifestyle factors that would help ward off dementia. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/in-news-lifestyle-factors-that-could.html

Please also see http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/love-your-brain.html 

Here I look at the ways in which just 20 minutes of yoga a day can help boost brain health.  

  • Meditation is scientifically proven to produce positive changes in the brain.  With regular practice, the grey matter in the the prefrontal cortex increases.  This is associated with higher brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision making.  There is also a decrease in the area of the brain associated with stress.  The meditation practitioner learns to be focused, and make decisions more mindfully without emotional distractions.
  • Yoga poses may be varied in a number of ways depending on the creativity of the practitioner.  For instance in Half Lord of the Fishes pose we could twist the opposite way to the usual way, we could vary the arm position in Fierce Pose maybe to Eagle arms. When we do a different variation of a familiar pose, this engages the brain increasing concentration and focus.  A similar effect can be gained by taking an unfamiliar route to work etc
  • Yoga balances increase focus and concentration because they force us to be present in the moment.  The moment our attention wanders we fall out.  
  • Yoga chest openers for example backbends, bring more oxygen into the body.  This is then carried in the blood to all the body including the brain.  Amazingly, although the brain is only 2% of the total body weight, it uses 20% of the body's oxygen for its activities including growth and healing.
  • Yoga inversions carry fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain (see above).  Standing forward bends also have this effect.
  • Yoga poses that cross the midline, for example Eagle pose, Half Lord of the Fishes, strengthen the pathways between right and left hemispheres boosting alertness, creativity and memory.
  • Yoga cross-lateral poses such as Balancing Cat balance right and left hemispheres as does Alternate Nostril Breathing (see video)
  • It is said that yoga Thunderbolt pose directs energy to the brain to enable the practitioner to connect to the divine.

Janet x

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Yamas at Christmas

Ahimsa – ahimsa translates as non-harming.  This applies not only to others but also to yourself.  In this busy run-up to Christmas it is easy to forget your need for relaxation and become tired and stressed by the time Christmas arrives.  So make sure you find some ‘me time’ each day.

Satya – translates as truth.  It is easy to get carried away at Christmas by the media persuading you that no Christmas can be complete unless you have ………(whatever they want you to buy).  This is the reason many people face debt in January.  So be truthful with yourself about what you can afford and set yourself a budget.  You could also get creative.  Home-made gifts are always greatly appreciated.  They may require some effort but are usually fun to do and can be done quite cheaply.

Asteya – translates as non-stealing or non-hoarding.  At Christmas advertisers persuade you that you cannot possibly have enough of ………… (the latest craze, foods etc) This encourages greed.  Remember however that there is only so much food you can eat and a few thoughtful gifts can mean so much.  The antidote to greed is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all you do have and recognise that actually you do have so much in your life to be grateful for.

Brahmacharya – translates as celibacy but can be taken to mean using your energy wisely to express your dharma.  In the commercialism of Christmas it is easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas and the true purpose of the yogi which is to connect to the divine.  Yet there is no easier time to feel the love of God, for why did God break into our history by sending his only son to save us?  The simple answer is that he loves us.  So do not forget in the middle of the celebrations to devote some energy to letting that love penetrate your being and bring you peace.

Aparigraha – translates as non-grasping.  This involves letting go.  Christmas is a time to let go of our usual routines so that we can spend time with friends and family.  It also involves letting go of any feelings of jealousy that arise from a perceived lack of abundance.  The answer is to be happy with what we do have which is plenty.

I wish you joy and peace for the Christmas season
Janet xx

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Winter Wellness

Here in York, UK we have had a heavy frost this weekend and it's only a few days until the winter solstice. Please watch my 'Winter Wellness Series' Playlist on YouTube to help ensure you stay well this winter. The Playlist contains five videos.

Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Why do we get more ill in winter?

There are several theories as to why we succumb to illness more in the cold weather than in the warmer summer months.
• In winter we tend to stay indoors so that viruses are more easily passed from person to person
• Because we tend to stay indoors more in the colder months, wear more clothes when we do go out and the sun’s rays are weaker there is a tendency to become deficient in vitamin D which is linked with reduced immunity
• Some viruses such as flu viruses have a fatty outer shell which in colder temperatures is more solid enabling the virus to survive longer and transmit from person to person
• In colder temperatures the blood vessels in the nostrils tend to constrict so that the white blood cells which attack invading organisms are not as near to the point of entry of the viruses and the viruses can gain entry to the body.
• Some people are particularly susceptible to winter depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder due to decreased levels of light which in turn can lower immunity.

How can yoga help us stay well in winter

• Yoga relieves stress which impairs immunity through chest opening, poses that move the area around the adrenal glands (located just above the kidneys) such as backbends.  When the adrenal glands are stimulated and supplied with fresh blood, they produce less cortisol a hormone that produces the stress response in the body and impairs immunity.  Breathing techniques and meditation also relieve stress.
• Yoga helps the endocrine system work efficiently. In particular the thymus gland processes white blood cells into T lymphocytes which stimulate the body’s production of antibodies.  Kundalini yoga is especially effective for balancing the endocrine system. Please see my videos on YouTube 'Kundalini yoga to help boost immunity' Part 1 http://youtu.be/A7Mu_lVoSUQ and Part 2 http://youtu.be/3KCEXbmh540
• Yoga forward bends and inversions encourage the flow of lymph which contains the white blood cells that deal with invading organisms.
• Yoga twists, squats and forward bends improve digestion and elimination helping to remove toxins from the body.
• Yoga chest openers and breathing techniques improve lung function, clearing out any excess mucus from the lungs which may allow invading organisms to multiply.
• Yoga inner thigh stretches and backbends balance the kidney and bladder meridians enhancing winter wellbeing.  Please see guest post on Alchem Yoga  http://alchemyoga.com/winter-intermediate-yoga-practice/#.UPK7DB26cSY#

What's happening on 40plusandalliswell?

In the article 'Tis the Season to be healthy', I look at how diet can help your immune system. There are also other tips to boost your immunity. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/tis-season-to-be-healthy.html
Now that Advent is here and we are decorating our trees, you may want to make these 'Ginger cookie Christmas tree decorations'. These are vegan and sugar free. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/ginger-cookie-tree-decorations-vegan.html
Before the feasting of Christmas gets underway, our Meatless Monday recipe was a super healthy 'Lime and Soy Quinoa salad' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/meatless-monday-lime-and-soy-quinoa.html 
In my article 'Natural winter remedies' I talk about my favorite winter remedies for colds and flu. You will also find a recipe for my 'Antibiotic' mushroom soup' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/natural-winter-remedies.html
My article 'Reduce stress, increase wellbeing' we look at the causes of stress, the effects of stress and how we can reduce stress in our lives.
Staying with the healthy theme before the feasting begins, for our next Meatless Monday we made 'Bean pate with Pumpkin seed crackers' which would also be a lovely addition to the Christmas buffet or a Christmas starter for vegans http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/meatless-monday-special-bean-pate-with.html
Unbelievably I managed to make a 'Vegan, no added sugar Christmas cake'! Hope you enjoying making and eating it! http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/vegan-no-added-sugar-christmas-cake.html
Please read this article on how to keep not only your adrenals (the stress glands) but also all the glands of your endocrine system happy. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/love-your-hormones.html

Thursday, 11 December 2014

How yoga can help endocrine health

On the wellness blog the article 'Love your hormones' discusses the role of the glands that make up the endocrine system and how you can help keep them healthy. http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/love-your-hormones.html

 Here we will look at how yoga can contribute to a healthy endocrine system.
  • Humming Bee Breath (see the video below) stimulates the secretions the pineal gland (situated at the 'third eye') which regulates your circadian rhythms and the pituitary gland, the 'master' gland (situated at the base of the brain) which influences several of the other endocrine glands and secretes growth hormone.

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing - see  http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/oh-no-its-monday-breathing-technique.html stimulates the secretions of the pineal and pituitary gland.  
  • Thymus tapping (see video above) creates vibrations that help enhance the maturation and release of lymphocytes(white blood cells) that fight invading bacteria and viruses.  Chest openers such as Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, Bow, Camel etc also stimulate the thymus gland.
  • Inversions such as Shoulder Stand and Headstand increase circulation of blood to the pituitary, pineal, and thyroid (situated at the base of the neck) nourishing these glands.  Standing forward bends where the head is below the heart also increase circulation of blood to these glands.  
  • Poses such as Shoulder Bridge and Shoulder Stand where the neck is compressed then released 'squeeze' stale blood from the thyroid and as the poses are released fresh, oxygenated blood is brought to the area.  
  • Similarly twists such as Half Lord of the Fishes 'squeeze' blood from the abdominal area where the pancreas is situated and when the twist is released the gland is supplied with fresh, oxygenated blood.
  • Backbends have the same effect on the adrenal glands situated on top of the kidneys. As you move into the backbend blood is 'squeezed' out of the adrenals and as you release the pose fresh blood nourishes the adrenals making them less likely to secrete stress hormones.
  • Hip openers such as Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana) or the reclined version Supta Baddha Konasana increase blood and energy flow to the sexual organs, ovaries for women and testes for men.  If you are suffering from PMS or menopausal symptoms because of hormone imbalances you might want to look at my 'Yoga for Women' videos on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/playlist? list=PLS4Wjf00I4uwk4J_NzAsY_U5gFYLCL1An

Saturday, 6 December 2014

How can yoga help with stress?

I have a whole series of videos on You Tube on stress, see https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS4Wjf00I4uzH0r_7p5O4pV1mlF5Rikjo

Here are some of the ways yoga can help relieve stress:-
• Most importantly yoga triggers the relaxation response and reduces negative thinking.
• The breathing techniques encourage extra oxygen to be brought to the body by increasing the capacity and elasticity of the lungs, which has a calming effect.  This is because the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is concerned with ‘quieter’ bodily activities is activated (as opposed to the Sympathetic Nervous System which prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’)
• Inversions and forward bends bring fresh blood to the brain which calms the mind
• Twists ‘wring out’ toxins which stress the body
Backbends nourish the adrenals, located on top of the kidneys.  The adreals produce the 'stress' hormone cortisol and are more likely to produce the hormone if malnourished.
• Backbends open the chest encouraging deeper breathing which calms the body
• By releasing tension from the body, yoga also releases tension from the mind (remember the mind/body/spirit connection)
• Power yoga, Ashtanga yoga and vinyassa yoga ‘burn off’ the stress hormones
• If we develop the habit of staying centered through challenges on the mat by staying focused on the breath, eventually this transfers into our lives so when life is difficult we are more able to deal with it.
• One of the limbs of yoga is pratyahara which is turning your focus inwards through asanas such as forward bends and meditation.  In this way with practice we develop a ‘peaceful core’ that is untouched by many things that cause us stress.
Depending on your personality also stress has different effects which was mentioned when we were considering the Ayurvedic doshas (see You Tube).  If you are predominantly of the Pitta dosha your reaction to stress might be anger, irritability, high blood pressure and heart problems.  If you are of Vata constitution your reaction to stress might be to become anxious and fatigued whereas if you are of Kapha constitution your reaction to stress might be depression and difficulty concentrating.  Balancing your doshas will help therefore to reduce stress.

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell I have been looking at the causes of stress, the effects of stress on your body and ways to reduce stress http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/reduce-stress-increase-wellbeing.html

Monday, 1 December 2014

What's happening on 40plusandalliswell

On 40plusandalliswell we made a treat for the weekend 'Peanut butter 'fudge' blondies' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/214/11/a-weekend-treat-peanut-butter-fudge.html
For Meatless Monday we had a 'Mediterranean vegetable bake' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meatless-monday-mediterranean-vegetable.html
Wouldn't it be great to be your healthy weight by Christmas? Check out this dietary advice to help you on your way http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/your-christmas-present-to-you-your.html
To compliment our article 'It's Thanksgiving be grateful' we looked at how being grateful can boost your wellbeing http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/glow-with-gratitude.html
This was accompanied by a Meatless Monday special for Thanksgiving which would also be a great vegan main for Christmas, 'Stuffed Squash' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/meatless-monday-thanksgiving-special.html
If you are feeling 'under the weather' our article ''Tis the season to be healthy' will give you some tips on how to boost your immunity http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/tis-season-to-be-healthy.html

'Tis the season to be jolly!

For instant energy and mood boost, try 'Breath of Joy' . Breath of Joy involves a three part inhale with arm movements (see below) followed by an exhale with knees bent and arms swept back.

               Breathe in                                         Breathe in                                   Breathe in                                   Breathe out                                                                                              
Note this breathing practice is not be for you if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, migraine any other reason why a three part inhale would not be right for you.