Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Beginners' Yoga-Opening up to the breath

Beginners' Yoga-Opening up to the breath -
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Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Very few of us breathe as well as we should.

In the video we open up the chest with twists, side bends and backbends.  These movements stretch the intercostal muscles allowing for greater expansion and contraction of the chest cavity.  This means that that we breathe more efficiently using all of our lungs and empty out stale air at the base of the lungs.  In this way the lung capacity and elasticity also improves.  

Breathing more efficiently in turn helps relieve fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression.  Your muscles are better supplied with oxygen and so are less tense.  As you become more efficient at releasing stale air, you release the toxins from the body that impede the healthy functioning of your body.  Breathing deeply can also help relieve pain which I will be talking more about in my next series of yoga videos.  Breathing more efficiently also reduced strain on your heart which does not have to pump quite so hard to make sure the blood is oxygenated.  

Janet x

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Foot yoga

Foot yoga - Note please seek medical advice if you are pregnant or suffering from a medical condition before practicing foot yoga.
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Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

When I started power walking, I realised how much work my feet were having to do.  Time to start practicing some foot yoga!  Whether you power walk or not, foot yoga should be part of your routine.  Think of all your feet do for you and yet we repay them by putting them in shoes that are not entirely suited to the contours of our feet.  This is especially true of us ladies (sorry!!).  But foot yoga does more than give your feet a stretch. 

In the video I start with a massage for the feet. This is simply 'walking' your thumbs over your feet circling your thumbs on each part of your foot. I then show you some foot yoga and yoga poses that benefit the feet.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, all the major meridians, the channels through which qi flows, have connections to the feet. Stimulating these points can help release blockages to the flow of qi or strengthen the flow of qi to increase wellbeing.  

Also there are reflexology points on the feet linked to each part of the body. There are several theories as to how reflexology works.  Stimulating the nerves connected to various body parts is thought to optimise the functioning of that body part. This is due in part to activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with healing. 
Reflexology also relieves stress which can affect your experience of pain.  Pain is not just about sensory information but your emotional state can intensify or reduce pain.  If you are interested in reflexology for healing please consult a qualified reflexologist. 

So give your feet the attention they deserve.

Janet x

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Grounding Practice - Earth Day 2015

On the wellness blog we are exploring the beauty of the earth, how the earth nurtures us and how we can look after our earth for future generations. 

Modern day life encourages us to be in our heads, weakening our connection to the earth. This can lead to us feeling ungrounded.  Signs of this include low self-esteem, exhaustion, anxiety and stress, feeling insecure, dissatisfied with our jobs, our lives. 

This grounding practice will strengthen your roots to the earth and help you feel strong and confident. The meditation will open your heart and mind to the beauty of the earth and the support it gives you.

Earth Day 2015-Grounding practice-All levels--
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Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Janet x

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Increasing bone density

If you are in your 20s or 30s, you may not give your bone density a thought.  Research indicates however that this is the best time to maximise your bone density although I believe that it is never too late to make positive changes.

Below are some of the ways that yoga can help

  • Yoga includes weight bearing exercise which helps increase bone density.  Often this involves using your own body weight.  For instance in arm balances such as Crow pose, Side Plank, and  in standing poses and balances such as Warrior 1, 2 and 3, Half Moon Balance, Tree Pose etc.  To enhance the weight bearing effect you may want to think about using weights (see below).  I would not recommend this approach if you already have osteoporosis. 
  • Yoga twists, forward bends and squats help with digestion thereby optimising the absorption of nutrients that help support bone health
  • Yoga calms the mind reducing stress which also has a positive effect on digestion and the absorption of nutrients to support bone health
  • Yoga stretches cause muscle to pull on bone which encourages increase in bone density
  • Yoga dynamic flows and twists purify the body enhancing bone health (remember bone is LIVING tissue)
  • Yoga helps maintain strength and flexibility in the hips, spine and wrists where most fractures due to osteoporosis occur.

To increase the effectiveness of your yoga practice, I would recommend an alkaline diet.   This means eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, lentils, beans tofu, quinoa, and millet and limiting red meat, dairy, fish, eggs, saturated fat, processed foods, some wholegrains, salt and sugar which enhance bone loss.

  • Make sure your diet is rich in calcium.  Foods rich in calcium include skimmed milk, low fat yogurt, low fat cheese such as cottage cheese, fortified soya milk, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts etc.
  • Include vitamin C to help with collagen production, a component of the bone matrix. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits. Although these taste acidic they are alkaline forming in the body.  Kiwi fruit and peppers are also a good source of vitamin C.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks which contain phosphoric acid which accelerates bone loss.  Caffeine in drinks such as coffee also should be avoided as it interferes with calcium absorption as does alcohol
  • Certain other minerals are important to help maintain such as magnesium (in beans, soya milk, white fish, almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds) which regulates calcium metabolism, and boron (in fresh fruits such as apples) which aids calcium absorption

Yoga with weights

IMPORTANT - When using weights, it is important to remember ahimsa, non-harming. Listen to your breath and if the breath becomes strained, it means that you need to let the pose go.  Listen to your body and never strain.   If a pose does not feel right for you leave it out.  

These poses are not recommended if you already have osteoporosis or osteopenia, at least not without the approval of your doctor.  Also not recommended if you are pregnant (for advice on practicing yoga during pregnancy please see-

Hold the weights firmly and move slow and steady, no jerky movements.

Never hold the weights directly above your head.

The weights used in the photographs below are 1kg, although you might want to try 0.5kg weights.

Always practice on your mat, so that you do not slip

Here are some yoga poses with weights to inspire you

To start warm up your muscles with several rounds of Sun Salutations.

Tadasana with bicep curls - stand with your feet at hip distance, straight spine, shoulders back. Hold the weights with your hands facing forward.  

Inhale, exhale bend your elbows bringing the weights towards your shoulders, inhale lower. Repeat 10 times.

Balancing Cat - come to an all 4s position holding the weights in your hands.

Inhale, exhale stretch out your right arm and left leg.  Repeat with the left arm and right leg. Repeat 5 times each side. Take a Child Pose then come into a prone position.

Locust - lie holding the weights down by your sides.  Press your tailbone away.

Inhale and lift your head, chest and arms, exhale to lower.  Repeat 5 times.  Sit back and with your big toes touching take your knees wide.  Stretch forward from the hips to the armpits, armpits down to the fingertips.

Downward Facing Dog variation - come back to all 4s holding the weights. Inhale, tuck your toes under, breathe out lift your hips.

Breathe in, breathe out lift your right hand towards your right armpit.  Breathe in to lower your right hand.  Repeat 5 times each side.

Goddess Squat - stand with your feet wide and turn your toes out to the corners of the mat. With the weights in your hands bring your arms into cactus, elbows bent and level with the shoulders. 

Breathe in stretch the arms up and out, straighten the legs.  Breathe out and bring your arms back to cactus, bend your knees.  Repeat 10 times.

Warrior 3 - stand facing the short edge of the mat, arms by your sides, weights in hand, Breathe in, breathe out and hinge forward, raising the right leg and taking the arms back. Inhale to come back to the start position and repeat on the other side.  Repeat both sides.

Anchored Boat - sit with your knees bent, hands by your sides with weights in your hands. Breathe in, breathe out, rock back on your sit bones and raise your arms out in front of you. 

Breathe in, breathe out and take your arms out to the sides.  Breathe in, sit upright and bring your arms forward, breathe out and return to the start position.  Repeat 5 times.

Take a long, well deserved savasana.

Please also see the videos on my YouTube channel-
How Yoga can help Heal- Osteoporosis 
Osteoporosis 1-Part 1-
Osteoporosis 1-Part 2-
Osteoporosis 2-Part 1-
Osteoporosis 2-Part 2-

How Yoga Boosts Health-Bone strength-

Janet x

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Beginner's Yoga - Strong to the core

Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos 

Please read my article 'Beginning Yoga'-

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Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

As a beginner you may wonder why yogis are so focused on core strength.  

Firstly, what is meant by the 'core'? The core includes the abdominal muscles, but also the muscles of the lower and mid back which extend around the hips.  Also included is the diaphragm which is the sheet of muscle separating the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity.  This muscle is important in breathing. Many yoga poses involve engaging your core to stabilise and protect your lower back.  In this way having a strong core helps prevent injury.  A strong core also helps you maintain good posture as well as giving you a toned body, which is an incentive for many people!! Because the core also includes the diaphragm, the pranayama (breathing) techniques help you connect to the core. 

At a deeper level, a strong core also helps 'stoke' the digestive 'fire', agni.  Yogis believe that good digestion is the foundation of good health.  This makes a great deal of sense.  If digestion is sluggish, constipation results.  This leads to a build up of toxins in the gut which eventually pass into the blood.  Once in the blood these toxins can affect our health including our mental health.  

At a deeper level still, as yogis we endeavor to develop a 'core' of peace within which helps us meet challenges on and off the mat.  In the video we make a start on cultivating this 'core' of peace with a meditation to still the mind.

You can understand then why yogis are so focused on core strength.


Janet x

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Eye Yoga

Note- if you wear glasses or contact lenses, please remove these whilst doing eye yoga.

Eye yoga only takes a few minutes a day, but it can make a huge difference to your eye health.  Our eyes work hard.  We stare at computer screens and televisions, and we read in poor, artificial light straining our eyes.  Our eye muscles can eventually lose their flexibility and tone and this can lead to age related eye problems.  Eye yoga restores this flexibility and tone as well as increasing blood circulation to the eyes.  I also noticed that when I started doing eye yoga my 'computer headaches' disappeared.

Before you do the following video you might want to spend a few minutes in Legs up the Wall or if inversions are not for you, practice Downward Facing Dog or Puppy Pose.  These poses bring blood to the eyes.
Another way you can keep your eyes in peak condition is to practice blinking.  Try it every hour if you work at a computer to keep your eyes moist and free of tension and increase your concentration.

I recently recorded a candle gazing meditation, during my 'New beginnings-Opening up to new possibilities' video which may also be beneficial- 
Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos
The meditation at the end of the yoga practice is a Candle Meditation. A battery powered candle is used in the video-PLEASE TAKE CARE if you are using a real candle and make sure you are aware of safety at all times and after the meditation please make sure the candle is put out correctly and safely.
Article on the blog to accompany this video -
Thank you
Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Eye yoga-

Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos-

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are enjoying my videos.
Thank you 
Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Janet x

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Beginners' Yoga - Soothe your body and mind

Beginners' Yoga-Soothe your body and mind-

Please read the disclaimer on the blog before following these videos 

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Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

Please read my notes on beginning a yoga practice before practicing this video

In yoga we often talk of the mind-body connection. In the video above we release tension in the body with a view to calming the mind. This practice would be suitable for an evening practice as it releases tension accumulated throughout the day.  We include meditative moves which are soothing to your body and mind as well as left nostril breathing which helps relieve the stresses of the day.  The practice ends with a short meditation watching your breath.  You may find that with practice you can spend longer meditating without being distracted.  Please see my notes on meditation which I wrote before Christmas but has many useful tips if you are beginning a meditation practice

Janet x

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Toy Box Yoga

Keep the kids occupied with this yoga game.
Yoga can help boost childrens' confidence, enhance their strength and flexibility, focus and concentration but it should also be FUN!!.  
For this game, how many of your toys can you make into yoga poses? Here are some to start you off. Let me know of any more you think of.

Spinning Top
Keeping your eyes on your right hand, circle round 21 times in a clockwise direction (one of the 5 Tibetan Rites)

Music Box Ballerina

(Warrior 2 variation - back hand turned over, ready to throw spear)

Rocking Horse
(Horse Stance)

Toy Monkey
With both hands in fists, draw your right fist into your right armpit as you lean to the left.  Lower and repeat on the other side.

Walking Toy Dog
Downward Facing Dog Variation - alternately bend the knees to 'walk' the dog.

Rag Doll
(Rag Doll Forward Fold)

(Locust Pose variation, arms back)

Toy Boat 
(Boat Pose)

Janet x