Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Calm the 'monkey mind', boost your energy

We have talked already of 'monkey mind'. Our minds have a tendency to flit from one thought to another- thoughts of what we need to do, thoughts of what has happened, thoughts of what might happen etc, etc. just like a monkey flitting from tree to tree. Such thoughts mean that we are not present to what is, not mindful. This uses a great deal of energy - did you know that your brain uses 20% of your body's energy? If we can calm our minds therefore, we will have more energy as well as enhanced mental clarity and a greater sense of wellbeing.  

Try this short sequence to calm your monkey mind and boost your energy. The sequence opens up the chest and brings the oxygenated blood to the brain which is very calming for the brain. Meditative movements and meditation also calm the brain.

Start in savasana, eyes closed and tune into your physical body, noticing any areas where there is tension and breathe into those areas to release the tension. Then just be with your breath without trying to change it in any way.  When thoughts arise, let them go without becoming attached to them. Continue like this for 3-5 minutes then take a few deep breaths and a stretch before opening your eyes. 

Reclined twist -  bring your heels close to your buttocks, and take your arms a little way from your sides, palms up. Take a breath in and as you breathe out, let your knees fall to the right.  Inhale back to centre, then exhale as you let your knees fall to the left. Continue moving with the breath and if you have no problems with your neck, turn head in the opposite direction to the knees. Finish on the left side.

Shoulder Bridge - with your knees still bent, bring your arms down by your sides, palms down.  Inhale lift your hips, take your arms overhead, exhale dot your spine down, bring your arms back down by your sides. Continue working with your breath for several breaths.

Rolling Cat - either roll up to seated or turn onto your right side and come to seated then onto all fours. Breathe in and as you breathe out, arch your back and take your bottom back to your heels. Inhale take your elbows out to the sides and run your nose forward near the mat. Come back to all fours. Continue moving smoothly with the breath for several breaths then take a Child Pose.

Downward Facing Dog - come back to all fours, take a breath in and as you breathe out, lift your hips into a Downward Facing Dog. Hold for 5 breaths the walk your feet forward until your shoulders are over your hands. Hold your elbows and roll up really slowly.

Tadasana - stand with your big toes touching, outside edges of your feet parallel. Stand with a straight spine and either close your eyes or lower your eyes. Let go of any thoughts and find a point of stillness in your body, where you feel balanced and still your mind. After a minute inhale, exhale drop your chin to your chest then lift your chin level to the floor as you open your eyes.  

Crescent Moon - from Tadasana inhale take your arms out and up and take hold of the left wrist with the right hand. Exhale lean to the right opening up the left side of the body. Hold for 3 breaths then inhale back to centre. Hold the right wrist with the left hand, exhale lean to the left. Hold for 3 breaths then inhale back to centre.  

Meditative moves - stand with your feet wider than hip distance, toes turned out, hands to heart. Inhale, take your arms out and up, exhale bend your knees, take your arms out and down, bringing the right hand to rest in the left. Inhale, straighten your legs, draw your hands to your heart, exhale turn your hands over, press your hands down and bend your knees. Inhale, straighten your legs, take your arms out and up, exhale bring your hands to your heart.  

Legs up the Wall - sit with your right hip against the wall, knees bent. Swivel round, bringing the legs up the wall. If you have lower back issues, you could have your legs on a chair instead of up the wall. Rest here for 10 minutes. To come out bend your knees and come onto your right side. Allow your blood pressure to return to normal before coming up. 

Sit in Easy Pose with your eyes closed to finish repeating a mantra such as 'I am calm' for several minutes. Bring your hands to your heart and wish yourself and all beings well before opening your eyes.

Janet x 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mindfulness-Mindful of your energy body

We have 72,000 nadis or energy channels in our body which converge on energy vortexes known as chakras.  There are seven of these that run in a line down the body. These chakras govern not only our physical body but our mental and emotional bodies. When our chakras are out of balance our energy cannot flow freely and the result may be disease, mental or emotional issues.

This week's yoga video on my YouTube channel is a chakra balancing flow 'Mindfulness-Mindful of your energy body'- We cover all of the chakras to allow you to become mindful of where our energy flow is 'stuck'. If you need to work more on one chakra there are more in depth practices in my chakra series on You Tube. Please see 'Chakra series two'-

I have indicated below, for each of the chakras, the problems that can occur when they are out of balance:-

Root Chakra -  when in balance you feel secure in your relationships, and comfortable with yourself. When out of balance you may feel 'stuck' in your relationships and circumstances, anxious or depressed, exhausted and ungrounded.  Hamstring stretches and grounding poses help bring this chakra into balance.  

Sacral Chakra - when in balance you are creative, enjoy fun and have an ability to adapt to changing circumstances. When out of balance you may have lower back pain, urinary infections, reproductive problems, emotional issues, poor relationships, lack creativity and fun in your life. Hip openers help bring this chakra into balance. 

Navel Chakra - when in balance you are confident, have clarity of mind and have good digestion. Out of balance you may be indecisive, fearful, have anger issues, have low self-esteem and digestive issues. Twists and poses that work the core help bring this chakra into balance. Also Kapalabhati Breathing technique and abdominal breathing.

Heart Chakra - when in balance we are compassionate, loving, accepting of others and joyful. Physical signs that this chakra is blocked include blood pressure problems, heart or lung issues or poor circulation. Other signs of a blocked heart chakra include feeling unworthy, feeling fearful, relationship issues, dwelling on past hurts, or self-loathing. Chest opening poses help bring this chakra into balance.

Throat Chakra -  when in balance you are able to communicate clearly and are not afraid to speak your truth.  You are able to say no when you need to. If out of balance, you may be critical of others, afraid to express your needs, have throat issues or thyroid problems.  Neck releases and inversions help bring this chakra into balance.

Third Eye Chakra - when in balance we are intuitive, able to listen to our inner guidance. Out of balance you may feel stressed, disorientated, have headaches, have memory or learning issues. Poses that exert gentle pressure on the third eye can help balance this chakra such as Child's Pose or where the thumbs connect with the third eye in Eagle Pose. Humming bee breath is also stimulating for the third eye.  

Crown Chakra - when in balance you feel a strong connection to something higher than yourself.  Out of balance you may be depressed, lack purpose and feel disconnected from the divine and others. Meditation helps balance this chakra. 

You may also enjoy the following on my 'sister' blog '40plusandalliswell':-

'Crystals for chakra healing - root chakra'-

'Crystals for chakra healing- sacral chakra'-

'Crystals for chakra healing - navel chakra'-

'Crystals for chakra healing - heart chakra'

'Crystals for chakra healing - throat chakra'-

Each post has a meditation for the chakra.
The third eye and crown chakras will follow over the next few weeks.

Janet x

Sunday, 25 October 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

This week for Meatless Monday, I have made stuffed marrows in two ways, one with a bolognese sauce and one with a bean chilli. Please see the link for my 'sister' blog below.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For tips on keeping your breasts healthy and advice on screening please see the link for my 'sister' blog below.

Signs of heart chakra imbalance include poor circulation and feeling unworthy. Try these crystals and a loving kindness meditation to heal your heart chakra. Please follow the link below to my 'sister' blog.

Yoga myths and legends- Lion Pose

There was once a demon named Hiranyakashipu who performed the amazing yogic feat of standing on his toes for 100 years.  Because of this Brahma, the creator felt obliged to reward him and asked Hiranyakashipu what he wanted.  Hiranyakashipu asked for immortality but Brahma could not grant this so instead Hiranyakashipu asked Brahma to grant that he would not be killed either in the day or at night, inside or outside, in the sky or on the ground, by a weapon or by any being created by Brahma.  This Brahma granted and Hiranyakashipu became ruler of three worlds, heaven, middle and hell which he ruled with violence.

Hiranyakashipu had a son, Prahlada who angered his father by worshiping Vishnu.  One day Hiranyakashipu's anger reached such a pitch that when his son claimed that Vishnu was even present in the pillar supporting the porch roof, Hiranyakashipu shattered the pillar with a mighty blow.  At once a figure appeared from the pillar that was half man and half lion, a form which Vishnu had taken.  The beast killed Hiranyakashipu with its claws.  It was twilight, neither dark nor light, in the porch so neither in nor out.  He was not killed on the ground or in the sky.  He was not killed by a weapon nor by a being created by Brahma.

To do Lion Pose either sit back on your heels or if you have knee issues sit in a chair.  Place your hands on your thighs and take a deep breath in.  As you breathe out, hinge forward, stick out your tongue, roll your eyes up and lift your hands to make 'claws'.  Repeat 2 or 3 more times.

Lion Pose tones your neck, boosts circulation to your face and helps eliminate stale air from your lungs which can then be replaced by fresh, oxygenated air. Lion Pose also tones your face and neck. Please see 'Lion Breath-The 3 minute facial toner'-

Please see also 'Yoga legends-Lord of the Fishes Pose'-

'Yoga myths and legends-Bow Pose'-

'Yoga myths and legends-Eagle Pose'-

'Yoga myths and legends- Warrior Pose'-

Janet x

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Autumn walking meditation

Autumn is a great time to do a walking meditation. Meditation does not always need to be on a meditation cushion in a cross-legged position! It's all about bringing your awareness to the present, letting go of any worries about the past or anxiety about the future. I would recommend a woodland walk in the northern hemisphere - there is so much to see at this time of year. Practice your walking meditation when you are not time pressured so that you can take time to develop an awareness of your surroundings.

Start your walking meditation by standing still at the start of the walk. Feel your connection to the earth. Let your awareness drift through your body just noticing how you feel in each part of your body and try to relax each part. Now become aware of your thoughts and emotions. Let go of thoughts and emotions that do not serve you with each breath out so that when you start walking you have a calm mind.  

Walk at a slow pace to allow you time to take in your surroundings and how truly beautiful the season is. Notice the coolness of the air. 

Notice the leaves changing colour on the trees - the browns, yellows and reds. Become aware of the leaves that have already fallen - the wonderful swishing sound they make under your feet- and allow yourself to kick the leaves like you did as a child. Feel as carefree as you did back then. Are the trees adorned with berries, acorns, pine cones or conkers? Marvel at the bounty provided by Mother Nature for the wildlife - the birds and squirrels etc who live in the woodland.  Maybe you will see a squirrel? Look for evidence of their presence - tree stumps with the remains of pine cones (a squirrel dinner table?). Look out for birds and listen to their songs. Robins especially are very curious and will often come quite near to have a look at you.  

Notice the fungi growing - bracket fungi on the trees, coral spot fungi on rotting tree trunks, and many other fungi growing on the ground. Can you smell the fungi? Depending on the time of day, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of deer.  

At the end of your walking meditation how do you feel? Calm, connected with all of nature?

Each season has its own beauty so don't just practice walking meditation in autumn. By 
practicing a walking meditation throughout the year you will feel connected to the rhythms of the earth, which brings it's own special peace.

Janet x

Autumn yoga practices

Now that autumn is well under way, you may enjoy doing some autumn yoga practices. Please see my 'Autumn yoga series' on my YouTube Channel- This autumn playlist includes three practices - 'Autumn Cleanse', 'Drawing in' and 'Letting Go'.  It is a good time of year to do a cleanse because autumn is a time for letting go of anything that does not serve us. By doing a cleanse to encourage elimination we can let go of any toxins that have built up. At this time it is good to let go of anything in your life that is not serving you - relationships, habits etc. Autumn is also when we, like the earth, need to draw in.  It is a time for reflection and introspection.

Janet x

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Mindfulness-Mindful of your thoughts

Yogis call it 'monkey mind' - our minds flit from one thought to another like a monkey jumping from tree to tree. It happens in meditation and in asana practice. How can we avoid this? In truth we cannot. Our minds were designed to think but there are strategies we can use to calm our monkey mind and by doing so reduce our stress levels. 

Firstly we can be fully focused on the sensations of a pose, or the effect the pose has on the breath. Also, If our minds start to flit between thoughts we can become aware of them, label them then let them go. Another technique is to use a mantra to 'block out' our thoughts. 

Similar techniques can be used in meditation that is we can focus on the breath, or a mantra and let thoughts go as they arise without becoming involved in them. 

This week's video which can be found on my YouTube channel is 'Mindfulness-Mindful of your thoughts'- In it we bring awareness to our negative thoughts, gain strength in our bodies in order to strengthen our resolve to let the thoughts go (when the body is strong, so is our mind because of the mind-body connection), and develop a vision of what it will be like when we are free of negative thoughts.  

We can only bring awareness to our thoughts if we have calm minds. A calm mind is a clear mind- you must have experienced being flustered and not being able to think straight. We can do this with inversions which bring blood to the brain which is calming for the mind. 
We can also twist out toxins which stress the body.  

The strengthening poses we practice include Locust Pose (strengthens the back), Dolphin Pose (strengthens the arms and shoulders) and the Warrior Poses (strengthen the legs).  

To deepen our vision of what it will be like once we have let go of negative thoughts, we do some eye exercises and practice Eagle Pose. The Sanskrit word for Eagle Pose is garudasana which translates as 'pose of the destroyer'. The hope is that practicing the pose will help 'destroy' our negative thoughts. Eagles also have exceptional vision which will help us develop a vision of what it will be like to be free of negative thoughts.

To end our practice, we do an autumn meditation in which visualise our negative thoughts being carried away on autumn leaves which have fallen on a river. 

Janet x

Sunday, 18 October 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

It is National Curry Week so what better time to enjoy this vegan Chickpea, Squash and Coconut Curry which is this week's Meatless Monday recipe.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, are afraid to step out of your comfort zone or have digestive issues, you may want to try healing the third chakra with crystals and meditation. Please see this blog post-

In this blog post you can read about my experience of growing onions this year - and learn from my mistakes!!! Maybe you will be inspired to grow some next spring.
With the onions I grew I made an 'Onion Soup with Garlic Croutons'-a great immunity boost to ward off autumn sniffles-
This blog post was included in the magazine 'The Home Vegetable Garden News'-

Yoga myths and legends - the Warrior Poses

The warrior poses are not to encourage us to be violent, but to fight those tendencies within us that prevent us from being our true self, which is kind, loving and good.

The story of the warrior poses started when Lord Shiva and Sati married. King Daksha, Sati's father did not approve so when he held a ritual sacrifice, he invited all the deities and dignitaries except Lord Shiva and Sita.  

Sita was furious and went along anyway to confront her father, but he only laughed at her. Sita was so upset she declared that she would break all ties with her father, including the body he had given her. Saying this, she sat down and meditated on her internal fire until she burst into flames. When Shiva found out, he was so angry he ripped out his dreadlocks and cast one to the ground where it turned into a warrior, Virabhadra. Directed by Shiva, the warrior went to the ritual sacrifice, sword in both hands above his head (Warrior 1), he poised ready to strike (Warrior 2) and struck a blow (Warrior 3), severing Daksha's head. Afterwards Shiva was full of regret and gave Daksha the head of a goat before returning him to life.

Warrior 1- stand towards the back of the mat with your hand on your hips and your feet at hip distance.  Turn the toes of your left foot out as if to the 10 to position on a clock and step forward with your right foot.  Inhale take the arms up, exhale bend the front knee. Gaze is straight ahead, facing your enemy head on!! To come out of the pose, exhale take your hands to your hips, inhale step your feet together. Repeat second side.

Points to watch:-
  • Level your hips to the short edge of the mat - when the right foot steps forward, the right hip will tend to follow.  
  • There is a tendency for the shoulders to come up by your ears so draw your shoulder blades down your back to correct this.
  • Bend your front knee to the little toe side of your foot to avoid knee strain.   
Warrior 2 - stand in the middle of your mat with your hands on your hips and take your feet wide. Turn your right leg to the right and the toes of the left foot in 45 degrees, lining up the heel of the front foot with the instep of the back foot (men) or heel with heel (women). Inhale, stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your right knee, turn to look down the fingers of your right hand. To come out of the pose, inhale straighten the right knee, exhale hands to heart, turn your feet to face forward. Repeat second side.

Points to watch:-
  • Bend your front knee to the little toe side of your foot to avoid knee strain. If your knee is further forward than your ankle, you need to widen your stance, if the ankle is forward of the knee, you need to shorten your stance. The knee should track over the ankle.
  • To protect your SI joint, do not force your left hip back when you have the right knee bent or the right hip back when you have the left knee bent.  
  • Keep shoulder blades moving down the back.

Warrior 3 - see 'Warrior 3 for the wobbly'-

Please see also 'Yoga legends-Lord of the Fishes Pose'-

Love your yoga!

Janet x 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Mindful yoga transitions

I love the transitional seasons, spring and autumn. In the northern hemisphere we have just entered into autumn, a time when the earth seems to be drawing in, letting go of the summer and her bounty and giving up the fruits of autumn. The nights are drawing in, some animals are preparing to hibernate while others sleep longer to conserve energy. It is the cycle of life and all of nature seems to instinctively know its role.  Each day, I see the changes: the fungi sprouting to help the process of decaying the fallen leaves, the berries ripening to feed the birds, the leaves on the trees changing colour before they fall. Mother Nature is in control.

In our yoga transitions, we must be in control the movement and not rely on momentum to transition from one pose to another as this is more likely to result in injury. To be mindfully in control requires strength, both mental and physical.

Try practicing these yoga transitions mindfully.

Warrior 1 to Warrior 3 - from Downward Facing Dog, inhale step the right foot forward, exhale drop the back heel, turning the left toes to the left.  Inhale come up, raising your arms over your head.  To transition to Warrior 3, lower your arms to shoulder height and start to take your weight forward onto your front leg.  Find a gaze point. Slowly lift your left leg. Repeat second side.

Side Angle to Half Moon Balance -start in Tadasana, bring your hands to your hips and step your feet wide. Exhale, bend your right knee, inhale, bring the right elbow to right thigh, exhale circle the left arm down and up by the left ear.  To transition to Half Moon Balance, bring your left hand onto your left hip and take your right hand to the mat or to a block (remember a block has 3 levels).  The block or your hand should be positioned 6-12 inches forward of your right little toe and slightly back.  Start to transfer your weight onto your right foot and slowly start to lift your left leg.  Breathe in and raise your left arm.  Your gaze can be straight ahead or up at the left hand.  
To come out of the pose, transition back to Side Angle Pose - lower the left hand to the left hip and drop the back leg to the mat.  Bring the right elbow to the right thigh and circle the left arm by the left ear.  To return to Tadasna, breathe in and windmill the arms to shoulder height, breathe out, straighten the front knee, turn your feet to face forward, and bring your hands to heart.  Step your feet together  and  bring your hands to your heart.  Repeat second side.

Tree Pose to Dancer - start in Tadasana. Separate your feet a little and take your weight into your left foot.  Find a drishti, a gaze point straight ahead. Slowly peel your right foot away from the mat and take it to the right ankle, right shin or reach down and bring your right foot to your left thigh.  Bring your hands to your heart. To transition to Dancer lower your right hand as you take your right foot aback. Take hold of the right foot with the right hand and press the right foot up and back as you hinge forward. 
To return to Tree, inhale come to an upright position, return your right foot to your left leg and bring your hands to your heart.  To return to Tadanasa, release your right foot back to the mat, lower your arms.

Happy autumn!

Janet x

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Mindful of the breath

The breath is our anchor in asana practice that keeps us present, right here, right now and this is the main reasons for focusing on the breath in asana practice. The breath helps you stay with any discomfort (but never hold with pain), and hold poses longer. We can 'forget' to breathe while holding poses which is why you will hear teachers say, 'Don't forget to breathe'.  

The way we breathe in asana practice is also important. The inhale is activating so you would use the inhale as you move into a back bend, raise your arms or lift your chest. The exhale on the other hand is releasing so that you would use the exhale as you release into a forward bend. The exhale can also be used to engage the core. When you move into a twist, the exhale can  help you to make space in your body to twist a little deeper.  

We begin this week's video with Ujjayi breathing. Once you have mastered this breathing technique, it is beneficial to use it throughout your practice. The soft sound that using this breath makes keeps your mind focused and because the technique slows the breath down, it will immediately become obvious when you are straining in a pose because the breath will also become strained.

We warm up with some Sun Salutations linking breath to movement so that the sequence becomes a moving meditation. We also do this later in the practice with the Dancing Warrior sequence.  

Our yoga practice also includes some poses that may challenge us. Never work beyond your capabilities but sometimes we are more capable than we believe. If we can stay centred in poses that challenge us on the mat then with continued practice we will be able to stay centred off the mat when life throws us challenges.  

We end our practice by watching the breath - the simplest form of meditation. Try to practice for a few minutes each day, just sitting quietly watching your breath and enjoy the peace it brings. Please see the yoga video on my YouTube channel-'Mindfulness-Mindful of the breath'

Janet x

Sunday, 11 October 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Borsch is a central and eastern European dish. There are many variations of this dish but beetroot is common to them all. In this recipe I have included red kidney beans to make the dish a more substantial meal. 
Recipe on my 'sister' blog.

Read how crystals can help heal problems with the sacral chakra which include lack of creativity and inability to adapt to changing circumstances. Blog post on my 'sister' blog.
There is also a healing meditation.

The United Nations are urging a switch to the vegan diet in order to help save the planet. Read more on this and how you can help in this blog post on my 'sister' blog.

Yoga myths and legends - Eagle Pose

Garuda translates as eagle but the word actually refers to a mythical bird in Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  In Tibetan traditions the bird had the face of a man. The story goes that serpents captured Garuda's mother, Vinda. They would only release her if Garuda brought them the nectar of immortality. To do this he would have to overcome three obstacles.  

The first was a ring of fire which Garuda put out by taking the water of three rivers into his beak and using the water to extinguish the flames.  

The second obstacle was a circular door with metal spikes rotating within its frame. To get through Garuda made himself so small that he was untouched by the spikes.  

The third obstacle was two venomous snakes.  Garuda blinded them with his wings then killed them with his sharp beak.  

Having managed to get the nectar of immortality, Garuda returned to the serpents who had captured his mother. Just as the serpents were about to drink of the nectar, a demi-god arrived to reclaim it. As the demi-god grasped the nectar a couple of drops fell on their tongues, splitting them in two and this is why snakes have forked tongues. Garuda was reunited with his mother.  

Eagle pose requires the focus of Garuda.  

To do Eagle Pose, start in Tadasana. Take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows. If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift the elbows level with the shoulders and find a drishti, a gaze point.

Softly bend both knees and take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to the outside of the left, or take the right foot to the outside of the left calf or tuck the right foot behind the left calf.

To come out of the pose, stretch the arms and right leg out as if you are flying like an eagle. Repeat second side. 

Eagle pose helps release tension between the shoulder blades, increases flexibility of the arms and shoulders and increases focus, concentration and intuition.

Please see also 'Yoga legends-Lord of the Fishes Pose'-

Janet x

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Fun Chocolate Meditation

In the blog post accompanying this week's yoga video we talked about how being mindful of your body can help you lose weight. Please see 'Mindful of your body' -

The following fun meditation teaches us to be more mindful of what we eat. So often we eat while working at our desks, while watching television or while reading and do not really register what we are eating or how much we are eating. In this meditation we give a chocolate our full attention as we eat it and notice how much more satisfied we are with only one.  

You do not have to use a chocolate for this meditation - any wrapped sweet or piece of fruit is fine and if you are diabetic use chocolate specially made for diabetics.

Find a comfortable seat on your mat or sit at a table. Place the wrapped chocolate in front of you. Notice its shape, the colour of its wrapper etc

Pick up your chocolate, noticing how it feels in your hand.  Slowly unwrap the chocolate, noticing the sound this makes.  

Take the chocolate in your hand noticing any markings on the chocolate. Lift the chocolate towards your nose and smell the chocolate.  Place the chocolate or a bite of the chocolate in your mouth. 

Do not chew it at this point, just notice how the chocolate feels in your mouth and any taste sensations from the melting chocolate.  

Now slowly chew your chocolate, noticing the taste, the texture. If your chocolate has a filling, notice the taste and texture of this also.  

Swallow the chocolate, noticing the sensations as you do so.

How do you feel? Satisfied? Could you eat another?

Janet x

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Mindful of your body

In today's video we are bring our focus to our bodies. We will be tuning in to our sensations as we work through the asanas in order to determine if we need to modify the poses at all in order for them to suit our body. We will also be 'playing with our edge'. Our 'edge' is that point in a yoga pose where we can feel a stretch but not a strain. Our yoga practice is a journey of self -discovery and there is no benefit at all to straining into a pose.  

In the video we explore back bends which are poses where people do have a tendency to push further than their bodies are comfortable with. It is far better to work on letting your body open up gradually than force your body.  

Paying attention to our bodies on the mat teaches us to be curious. We begin to notice where we are tight, where we are holding onto tension and the areas we need to work on. Being mindful of our bodies on the mat also increases proprioception, the awareness of the body in space. This is especially true of balances which is why I have included Dancer Pose. This becomes especially important as we get older to avoid age related slips and falls .

Off the mat being mindful of our bodies increases the likelihood that we will take good care of them. In today's stress filled world it is easy to get out of touch with our bodies and live 'in our heads'. Through our yoga practice we start to notice when we are not holding ourselves with good posture. We are more likely to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet, make sure we have adequate sleep, take exercise etc. In this way, being mindful of our bodies may also help us control our weight. We are able to recognise when we are 'bodily' hungry rather than eating because we are bored, stressed etc. In other words yoga enables us become more in tune with our needs.  Please see the video on my YouTube channel-'Mindfulness-Mindful of your body'-

We end the video with a body appreciation meditation. Please see the video on my YouTube channel- We often take our bodies for granted, maybe it is time for you to let your body know just how much you appreciate all it does for you.

Janet x

Sunday, 4 October 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Autumn days are here! This week's Meatless Monday recipe on my 'sister' blog is for a 'Brazilian style bean stew'

If you feel ungrounded, 'stuck' in your relationships or circumstances, it could be that your root chakra is imbalanced. If so, you could try healing with crystals and this grounding meditation on my 'sister' blog.

Find out more about fracking, the latest threat to our health and environment. Also some ideas on how you can help. 

Yoga myths and legends - Bow pose

In the Bhagavad Gita, a classic on Indian spirituality, Arjuna, a prince, faces a moral dilemma. He is on a battlefield, poised to reclaim lands stolen by his kinsmen but he knows that to do so would involve killing some of them. He turns to his charioteer, Krishna, who in the story represents his higher consciousness. Krishna advises him that he must fulfill his dharma (life purpose) and fight against evil.

Bow pose represents Arjuna's bow. It is a deep back bend, which opens our hearts to our higher consciousness. Opening our hearts in this way also enables us to be fearless in the pursuit of our dharma. Sometimes it is not easy to fulfill our dharma: we have to trust in our higher consciousness and know that ultimately our dharma is for the highest good of ourselves and others. We should not however be attached to the fruits of our actions.
Aim your bow straight and true, shoot arrows of love, peace and compassion into the world and do not let your ego get in the way of your higher consciousness.

To do Bow Pose, lie on your tummy with your arms by your sides, palms down, your forehead on the mat. Press your tailbone back to lengthen your spine. Bend both knees and reach round with both hands to take hold of your ankles. Inhale and press your feet up and back, lifting your chest from the mat. Hold for a few breaths and exhale to release. Take a Child's Pose.  

If you cannot reach you could use a yoga strap or equivalent round your ankles. 

If full Bow Pose is too much for you, try half Bow. Lie with your arms stretched forward, forehead to the mat. Bend the right knee and reach round with your right hand to hold your right ankle. Inhale and press the right foot up and back, lifting the chest from the mat.  Slide your left hand back and use the left hand to stabilise you. Exhale to release and then repeat on the other side. Take a Child's Pose when you have practiced both sides.

Again you can use a strap if you cannot reach.

Please see also the legend behind Lord of the Fishes Pose-

Janet x