Sunday, 29 November 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

'Amazing', 'It smells like Christmas', 'Delicious and moist', 'We want this again at Christmas' were just some of the comments from my family (even to my surprise, the meat eaters) when I tried my turkey style tofu with stuffing on them.
Find the recipe on my 'sister' blog using the link below!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, or if you just fancy giving pumpkin pie a try, on my 'sister' blog is my vegan version with no added sugar. 
There are also links to some more of my recipe ideas for Thanksgiving.

If you are putting together your Christmas 'wish list' be sure to add an adult colouring book if you are stressed. Find out why in this blog post.

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 2

Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

The second layer is the energetic layer, pranamaya kosha. This layer is associated with the flow of prana which is enhanced by the asanas and breathing practices. The layers, are not completely separate. If, for instance you are holding tension in your body or the mind is stressed, you may find that your breathing is restricted and the flow of prana is restricted. On the other hand, if you bring your attention to your breath, allowing the breath to naturally lengthen and deepen, then this will help release tension in the body and stress in your mind.

To illustrate this layer, I have chosen Ujjayi Breathing, also known as Conquorer's Breath because 'on the road' to bliss we must 'conquer' this layer.

If you have never practiced Ujjayi Breathing, start by breathing out through your mouth with a 'ha'. Imagine that you are trying to 'fog' a mirror held just in front of your mouth. Notice how the back of your throat feels as you do this. You should notice a slight tightening at the back of your throat. 

Now, with your mouth closed, imagine 'fogging' up a mirror placed at the back of your throat with the inhale. Again you should notice a slight tightening of your throat and hear a soft sound as the breath passes over the throat. 

Ujjayi pranayama involves this slight tightening of the throat both on the inhale and the exhale. Ujjayi breath is practiced with the mouth closed. The sound made by the air passing over the throat is often likened to the sound of the waves which is why Ujjayi is sometimes also called 'Ocean Breath' or some people say it is like a baby snoring. Because the the sound of the breath focuses the mind, the breath practice is very calming. It also slows the breath down. Yogis believe that we have a certain number of breaths before we die. If we slow the breath down therefore, we will live longer. If you practice Ujjayi Breathing throughout your asana practice, it will immediately become obvious if you are going too far into a pose because the breath will become strained more easily than with the normal breath.

See you on the next step on the 'road to bliss'.

Janet x

If you missed part 1, the link is below-

On my YouTube Channel I also have a yoga video on Pranamaya Kosha-

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a happy holiday!

Immunity Boost - healthy gut

Since I made my 'Winter Wellness Series' (please see the link to my YouTube Channel- new evidence has shown that the gut may play an important role in immunity: please see ,Medical News Today (MNT)- . 

We know that stress lowers immunity. We also know that it is possible that when your stress levels are high, your body switches from producing serotonin (the 'good mood' hormone) to producing the 'stress hormones' cortisol and adrenalin. But did you know that 90-95% of your body's serotonin is found in the gut? If your gut is healthy, that is the gut flora are in balance, then the production of serotonin is boosted. This has a beneficial effect in lowering stress. Yoga poses that keep the gut healthy should therefore also help boost the production of serotonin, which in turn lowers stress and boosts immunity.

The short sequence below will help boost the health of your gut

Start in Hero Pose (helps digestive health through optimal placement of the digestive organs) - start in a kneeling position, knees together, heels a little wider than hip distance. Taking hold of the fleshy part of the calves and moving it outwards, sit back between the heels. Make sure your second toe is pointing straight back. Join the first finger and thumb in a mudra and rest the backs of the hands on the thighs. If this does not feel right for your knees, place a block (or two) or cushions between your heels or a rolled up towel between your thighs and your calves.  Spend a few minutes here watching the breath then come onto all fours. Stretch the legs back one at a time, pressing through the heel, to restore circulation to the legs.

Cat/Cow (alternate stretching and compressing the abdomen assists peristalsis, the movement through the gut) - from an all 4s position, inhale lift the head and chest, exhale tuck the chin, arch your back.

Cobra (stretches abdomen stimulating peristalsis) - come into lying on your tummy and lengthen the spine by tucking your toes and pressing one heel back at a time. Bring your hands to armpit/chest level and your forehead to the mat. Breathe in and running your nose forward lift using your back muscles. If this feels comfortable, press into your hands for a deeper back bend, keeping your elbows soft. Exhale to lower and rock

Child Pose variation (stimulates peristalsis) - sit back on your heels, make fists with your hands and place your hands on your abdomen. Bring your forehead to the mat allowing your fists to exert a gentle pressure on your abdomen. Hold for several breaths then inhale lift your head and stretch your arms forward.  

Downward Facing Dog (uses the breath to massage the abdomen) - tuck your toes and as you breathe out, lift your hips high.  Hold for a few breaths.  With each breath in soften your abdomen, with each breath out, draw your abdomen back towards your spine. After several breaths, breathe in, drop your knees, breathe out, take your bottom back to your heels.

Garland Pose (enhances the elimination of waste) - inhale rock back on your heels, bringing your hands into prayer,elbows in your knee creases. To come out of the pose, bring your hands to the mat and start to straighten your legs. Breathe out, take your hands to your hips, breathe in and slowly come up. Stand in the centre of your mat.

Triangle (stretches the colon, stimulating peristalsis) - With your hands on your hips, step your feet  a leg length apart, outside edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of the mat. Turn the whole of the right leg to the right so that the knee and foot point the same way and turn the toes of the back foot in 45 degrees. The heel of your front foot should line up with the instep of your back foot. Inhale raise your arms to shoulder height, lift your chest. Breathe out, hinge from the hips and bring your right hand to your right leg, left arm up towards the ceiling. Gaze can be straight ahead or up at the left thumb, depending on your neck. Do not overreach in order to bring the lower arm further down your leg as this will affect the integrity of the pose, causing the top shoulder to come forward, and the chest to collapse. To release windmill the arms back to shoulder height as you come up, turn your feet to face forward, release your hands to your hips. Repeat 2nd side.

Revolved Triangle (increases circulation to the digestive organs, aids peristalsis, relieves constipation) - Place a block at the top of the mat. Stand towards the back of the mat, feet hip width apart, hands on hips. Turn the toes of the left foot out as if pointing to 10 to on a clock. Step the right foot forward and level the hips to the top of the mat. Inhale lift your chest, exhale come into a flat back position. Take your left hand to your block, adjusted so that it is inside your right big toe (remember a block has three levels. Breathe in and as you breathe out start to twist to the right. Once you have a good twist you may raise your right arm and if there are no neck issues, you may look up at the right thumb. To come out of the pose, take your right hand back to your hip, breathe in and come back to flat back position. Take your left hand to your hip and on your next breath in come up. Bend your front knee and step your feet together. Repeat 2nd side. Lie back on the mat.

Apanasana (realigns the spine after the twist, stimulates the ascending colon (when performed on the right side), the descending colon on the left side)) - lie with your legs outstretched.  Draw your right knee towards your chest, interlacing your fingers just below your kneecap and press the left heel away from you. If you have knee issues, hold the back of the thigh.  Hold for several breaths then release. Repeat 2nd side

Savasana (calms nervous system) - lie with your feet hip width, the little toe side of your foot releasing down towards the mat. If you have back issues you may place a rolled up blanket under your knees. Have your arms a little way from your body, palms facing up, fingers relaxed. Gently close your eyes and for several minutes simply watch the breath. When you are ready to continue with your day, take a few deep breaths and whatever movements you need to bring you back to the here and now. Before coming up, spend a few moments on your right side with your knees drawn up towards your chest.

Janet x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mindfulness-Mindful of gratitude

We cannot allow Thanksgiving to pass without including it in our mindfulness series. Last year we looked at how yoga can help us cultivate feelings of gratitude. 
'It's Thanksgiving - Be Grateful' looks at how yoga can help cultivate gratitude. Please see

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell last year we looked at how being grateful can improve our wellbeing

When we practice being grateful for what we have, we come to realise that we have abundance. Feelings of wanting more which create stress, disappear and we find happiness. Happiness comes not from what you have but from being satisfied with what you have. 

We have a great deal to be grateful for. Life itself is precious so this is a good starting point for your meditation. The breath gives us life and connects us all.  This leads on to being grateful for our bodies and all they do for us.  

Then we may reflect on how grateful we are for the people in our lives, people who love us, people who help us in our daily lives. We may be grateful for our homes, our food, warmth or little things like the sun peeking through the clouds as you are out walking.  

In our gratitude practice we will be opening up our bodies especially the heart area and also the hips in order to release negativity, a block to gratitude. By releasing tension in the body, we also release tension in our minds.  This in turn will help us open up to the good in our lives, promote positive feelings and help create inner peace. Please see my yoga video on YouTube, 'Mindfulness-Mindful of gratitude'-

You might also want to practice the following meditation on my YouTube Channel-'Meditation to cultivate gratitude'-

Janet x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Apart from marinading, this tofu stir fry is so quick to make, yet delicious and good for you. Because they are cooked quickly, the vegetables retain their nutrients.
Please see the link to my 'sister' blog for the recipe.

New on my 'sister' blog an organic gardening update-Harvesting the leeks and also my recipe for 'Cheesy' leek bread. Hope you enjoy!

I am grateful to 'Pocklington Post' for publishing a blog post that I recently wrote about fracking. Hopefully this will raise awareness of the problems of fracking. You can read the article on this link.

In this blog post on my 'sister' blog I share with you a way I have of boosting immunity using medicinal mushrooms. They are also good for anti-aging!

On the road to bliss - the Koshas Part 1

Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

The first layer to work with is the physical layer, sometimes referred to as the 'food' layer. We should ensure this is healthy and free from disease through good nutrition and our asana work. Our asana work keeps this layer free from tension, keeps the muscles flexible yet strong, and the organs healthy. The short sequence below will help you explore your spine and keep it healthy by putting the spine through its full range of motion and increasing circulation to the spine.

Swan (elongating the spine) - start towards the back of the mat, big toes touching, knees wide. With your bottom on your heels walk your arms forward bringing your head to rest on the mat, your block or a cushion. Stretch from your hips to your shoulders to your fingertips. To come out walk your hands back then come to a kneeling position on the left bottom corner of your mat (fold your mat over if you have delicate knees).

Gate (lateral stretch) - stretch your right leg out (support your foot with a block if your foot does not have the flexibility to reach the mat. Bring your hands to your heart. Inhale stretch your arms out, exhale stretch over the right leg, bringing your right hand down to the right leg, left hand up towards the ceiling. Repeat second side.

Half Lord of the Fishes (seated twist)- from seated with the legs extended, bend the right knee and draw in close into the chest. Take the right foot to the outside of the left thigh. If you can keep the right sit bone and right foot in contact with the mat, take the left heel to the left buttock. Otherwise keep the left leg extended. Take the right hand behind the right hip and bend the left elbow, taking the left arm to the outside of the right thigh in the 'traffic stopping' position. Inhale lengthen through the crown of the head, exhale, twist from the abdomen, ribcage, shoulders and finally turn to look over the right shoulder. Hold for a few breaths, maybe twisting a little more with each exhale. To come out, inhale lengthen through the crown of the head, exhale release the neck, the shoulders, the ribcage, the abdomen.

Rabbit Pose (rounding spine) - CAUTION CERVICAL SPINE PROBLEMS, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE - start sitting back on your heels.  Rounding your spine, take hold of your heels and bring the top of your head to the mat.  If you do not like to be on the top of your head, place your head on a cushion. Come out of the pose slowly on an inhale.

Shoulder Bridge (back bend) - come to a lying position with your knees bent. Inhale, lift your hips and take your arms overhead. While holding the hips high, 'walk' the shoulders down the back then bring the hands under the hips, fingers interlaced. To come out of the pose, release the hands and lower the hips as you exhale. Hug your knees in and rock from side to side.

To end your practice lie in savasana.

You may also want to have a look at my yoga video, 'The Koshas 1-Annamaya Kosha' on my   YouTube Channel-

Janet x

Friday, 20 November 2015

I am grateful to 'Pocklington Post' for publishing a blog post that I recently wrote about fracking.

I am grateful to 'Pocklington Post' for publishing a blog post that I recently wrote about fracking. Hopefully this will raise awareness of the problems of fracking. You can read the article on this link.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Mindful of your posture

Posture faults creep up so slowly, they often go unnoticed until they are well established. Posture faults however can lead to health problems.  

Firstly there are the physical problems. If your lower back rounds as you sit at your desk or on your sofa, this can lead to back pain, one of the main causes of lost work days.  Slouching also can lead to digestive problems. This is because your digestive organs are compressed so that the movement of food along the digestive tract is impeded. The result?  Abdominal pains. bloating, constipation.  

Do you bring your head forward as you work on your computer?  I often used to catch myself doing this and it may account for the increase in migraines that I experienced earlier in the year.  I am working to remedy this. Holding your neck forward in this way can also lead to tension headaches, neck pain or even TMJ (trimandibular joint problems).  

Most of our everyday activities involve bringing our shoulders forward. Unless we do stretches that counteract this tendency, we may eventually become round shouldered leading to upper back pain. This can also lead to reduced lung capacity as the chest cavity becomes 'squashed' and this in turn can lead to 'brain fog', anxiety, depression (the brain does not like being oxygen deprived), and circulation problems.  

If you are not yet convinced to look to your posture, I will leave you with this thought. Have you ever noticed that when you stand up straight with good posture, you look half a stone slimmer. What an easy way to look good!!!

Two of the best poses for teaching good posture are Tadasana, Mountain Pose and Dandasana, Staff Pose.  

To practice Tadasana, stand with your big toes touching, outside edges of your feet parallel (for most of us this will mean separating the heels). Lift through your instep (try lifting the middle three toes). Lift your kneecaps, engaging the thigh muscles and tuck the tailbone under. Lengthen the spine and lift the chest, feeling the shoulder blades move down the back. The chin should be level with the floor and imagine there is a piece of string coming out of the top of your head drawing you towards the ceiling. Your arms are relaxed by your body and your fingers softly curling towards your palms.

To check your alignment you might want to practice this pose against a wall.  Your heels, sacrum and shoulders should touch the wall (but not the back of your head).  

To practice Dandasana, sit with your legs outstretched.  If you have any rounding in the lower back, sit on a block or cushion.  Lengthen your spine. You can encourage the lift of the spine by placing your hands by your hips and pressing down. Have your feet flexed and the pubic bone rolling down. Again you can check your alignment using a wall. Your heels, sacrum and shoulders should touch the wall (but not the back of your head). Your gaze is at the big toes.  

You may also find the following yoga videos on posture useful. They are located within the 'Anti-aging yoga series' playlist on my YouTube yoga Channel-

Janet x

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

World COPD Day

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  It refers to several conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Yoga can help with COPD.  Yoga stretches, in particular back bends and side bends help open up the chest cavity allowing for deeper breathing. 

The breathing techniques are especially beneficial for improving lung function by increasing the elasticity of the lungs and capacity of the lungs.  Try abdominal breathing.  To do this lie with your hands on your belly and direct the breath to the area under your hand.  You should feel your abdomen rise but do not force or strain.  As you breath out gently contract your abdominal muscles.  You might also want to try Alternate Nostril Breathing.  Please see 'Thank goodness it's Friday-Breathing practice to energize for the weekend' -

Yoga also triggers the relaxation response which helps you cope with the stress of the condition.

Janet x

Mindfulness-Mindful of your ego

Please see the yoga video, 'Mindfulness-Mindful of your ego' on my YouTube Channel-

Your ego is your sense of 'I', your consciousness of your boundary.  It can also be thought of as that little voice in your head which advises you or all too often criticises you. The ego is the result of your past experiences, your thoughts, your emotions. However it is often the negative memories, thoughts and emotons which the ego latches onto leading to one of the five afflictions of the mind or kleshas, asmita meaninig 'false identification'. So while you may listen to what your ego says (after all, in its way, your ego wants what is best for you), it is important to be discerning. If you are not careful, your ego will prevent you seeing the divine inner light which we all have.  

So how do you deal with your egos? The first and most important step is to spend time quietly in meditation. Let go of any thoughts of the past, anxieties over the future and just tune in to what is going on right now. What sensations are you feeling? What thoughts drift into your mind?  Experience yourself as you are now. With continued practice you will gain greater clarity of how you actually are, not how your ego would have you believe you are.  In this way inner conflict gives way to peace. Having gained this inner peace, when the ego criticises you, tries to make you feel guilty, unworthy, unloveable, incapeable, you are more in control because you know the truth.

The yamas are also helpful in dealing with your ego. We have already looked at discerning the truth (satya) but key to dealing with your ego is nurturing your relationship with yourself which involves ahimsa (non-harming). This is more than merely self-acceptance but self-compassion and it is self-compassion which is to be the focus of this week's video. It may seem indulgent to cultivate self-love but we cannot reach out with love and compassion for others unless we first have love and compassion for ourselves. Remember in the great scheme of things we are all connected to each other and to the divine or higher force of nature depending on your beliefs. Also we will work towards opening the crown chakra in order to cultivate compassion and we will do this through meditation.

I hope you enjoy the video and it is the first step to silencing your inner critic for good.

Janet x

Monday, 16 November 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday recipe on my 'sister' blog this week is for Farro salad with pumpkin pesto. Farro is an ancient grain, it has even been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt. It can be eaten for breakfast, in soups and salads.

If you have low energy or feel depressed once the clocks have changed you may be suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter depression). This blog post on my 'sister' blog looks into some herbal remedies which may help.

The final post in the series on chakra healing with crystals is about the crown chakra, your link to your higher self. If you have headaches, insomnia or feel disconnected it may be a problem with the crown chakra. 
Please see the link below for my 'sister' blog
This blog post was included in 'The Hypnotherapy Daily'-

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Yoga myths and legends- Monkey God Pose

Hanuman was the son of the wind god, Vayu. After being cursed by the sun god, Surya, he went to live in the mountains with the monkeys forgetting his divine connections. He became the servant of Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) who was at war with Ravana after who had abducted his wife, Sita. Sita was held captive on the island of Ravada, which is modern day Sri Lanka.  In order to rescue Sita, Ram decided to build a bridge to the island. It was Hanuman’s task to jump over to the island to let Sita know that rescue was on its way. Now, because he was the son of the wind god Hanuman was able to do this task but remember Hanuman had forgotton his divine origins. Such was his devotion to Ram however that through prayer and meditation he was able to access his inner divine power and accomplish the task. Monkey God Pose represents Hanuman’s giant leap across to the island. Sita was rescued and Ram was happy once more thanks to the devotion of Hanuman. The story teaches us that we should recognise the divinity in all of us and gain the strength to reach our goals.

Hanuman goes on to serve Ram through fierce battles. Another time Ram’s brother was wounded and Hanuman flew all the way to the Himalayas to find the herb that would heal him.  

Hanumanasana, Monkey God Pose requires flexibility in the hamstrings and quadriceps. 

To practice the pose come onto all 4s and bring your right foot between your hands.  Slide your front foot forward as far as is comfortable then the left leg back, bringing your hips down on the mat. If, like me your hips do not reach the mat, support your hips with cushions. To come out of the pose, press into your hands and slide back to all fours.  Repeat second side.

For a modified version, from all 4s bring your right foot forward, take your bottom half way back to your heels in order to straighten the front leg and bow towards your knee. To come out, slide back to all fours and repeat second side.

The pose is a good stretch for the hamstrings, groin and thighs and also stimulates the abdominal organs.

The pose is not for you if you have hamstring injuries.

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

'Yoga myths and legends- Dancer Pose'-


Janet x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day-Soldiers under stress

In the UK today is Remembrance Day, where we remember our war heros. In America it is Veterans' Day which in the same way honours the US army heros. It is important to remember and remind ourselves that this must never happen again. 

My dad served in World War 2, but bore the mental and physical scars until he died in 2007. He was stationed in Africa. He and some fellow soldiers were crossing a field  when a mine exploded. According to my dad, one minute the sergeant was walking by his side, the next "his brains were on the ground". Another soldier was crying out for water. They gave him water, which came out through his back. He died the following morning. My dad looked down and for a moment thought his foot had been blown off. It was hanging on by a few ligaments and had been blown to one side. He tied it up with a scarf and had a long wait for the hospital truck to pick him up. When he got to 'hospital', he had another long wait, while others, more seriously injured were attended to. He had many operations on his foot and on his leg to remove shrapnel. These operations continued into the 60s but by some miracle his foot was saved. His other 'souvenir' from the war years was malaria. I can remember him having malarial attacks into the 60s. He had nightmare 'flashbacks' right until he died in his mid-eighties.

A few years ago I was proud and privileged to receive, along with my mother, a war medal on his behalf, awarded posthumously. I have placed it in a box of his memories along with his other medals.

Many soldiers suffer stress. Some even suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They may feel depressed, have sleep problems, anxiety, nightmares or 'flashbacks'.

How can yoga help with even such severe stress?

  • Yoga triggers the relaxation response and reduces negative thinking.
  • Yoga triggers the release of endorphins from the brain stem which are nature's 'feel good' hormones
  • Yoga breathing techniques bring extra oxygen into 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 open the chest encouraging deeper breathing which also calms the body
  • By releasing tension from the body, yoga also releases tension from the mind (remember the mind/body connection)
  • Power yoga, Ashtanga yoga and vinyassa yoga ‘burn off’ the stress hormones
  • If we develop the habit of staying centred 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 meet the challenge and react in a more considered way.
  • 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.
  • Meditation helps clear and still the mind which helps relieve psychological stress.

Try the following sequence to start you off:-

Easy Pose - sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on a cushion and close your eyes. Watch your breath without trying to change it in any way for the next minute or two.  If any thoughts or emotions arise, let them go, like clouds floating by and return your attention to your breath.  After a minute or two, begin to deepen your breath then open your eyes.

Cat/Cow (soothing, meditative, linking breath to movement)- come onto all 4s, inhale lift your chest and tailbone, exhale tuck your chin and arch your back.  Continue working with your breath for several breaths then coming towards the back of your mat, sit on your heels and stretch your arms forward, bringing your forehead to the floor or a cushion for a variation of Child Pose (nurturing, restorative).  Spend a few moments here watching your breath in your back ribcage.

Cobra (back bend, opens up the chest allowing for more oxygen to enter the body which in turn helps relieve stress) - come to lying on your tummy.  Bring your arms to armpit/chest level and your forehead to the floor.  Lengthen your spine by inching your toes back. Breathe in run your nose forward lifting your chest with the strength of your back muscles. If that feels good in your back (no pinching in the lower back), lightly press into your hands, lifting your chest.  Press back into another Child Pose to lengthen out your spine after the back bend.

Downward Facing Dog (half inversion brings oxygenated blood to the brain which is calming for the brain- come back to all fours.  Breathe out and lift your hips.  If your hamstrings feel tight alternately bend your knees ('walking the dog'). Hold for 5 breaths. Walk your feet towards your hands and when your shoulders come over your hands, breathe in and slow roll up to standing.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose - grounding) - stand with your big toes touching, outsides of the feet parallel.  Lift through your kneecaps, tuck your tailbone under and lengthen your spine. If you can close your eyes or lower your eyes and try to find a place of stillness where your body is balanced over the four corners of your feet, big toes, little toes, inner and outer heels. Let go of any thoughts and try to find a place of stillness in your mind. Take a breath in a open your eyes when you are ready.

Breath of Joy (invigorating) - 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. 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.

 Breathe in

 Breathe in

Breathe in

Breathe out

Triangle - with your hands on your hips, step your feet  a leg length apart, outside edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of the mat.  Turn the whole of the right leg to the right so that the knee and foot point the same way and turn the toes of the back foot in 45 degrees. The heel of your front foot should line up with the instep of your back foot. Inhale raise your arms to shoulder height, lift your chest.  Breathe out, hinge from the hips and bring your right hand to your right leg, left arm up towards the ceiling. Gaze can be straight ahead or up at the left thumb, depending on your neck. Do not overreach in order to bring the lower arm further down your leg as this will affect the integrity of the pose, causing the top shoulder to come forward, and the chest to collapse. To release windmill the arms back to shoulder height as you come up, turn your feet to face forward, release your hands to your hips. Repeat 2nd side.

Tree Pose (balance - for balances you have to be present, not thinking of anything else which is why they are useful to relieve stress) - come back to Tadasna and take your weight into your left leg. Bring  your right foot to your left ankle, shin or reach down and bring your right foot to your left thigh. Take your arms overhead or bring your hands to your heart in prayer position. Repeat 2nd side.

Seated Twist - sit on a cushion or yoga block and bend your right leg back and bring your left foot to your inner right thigh.  Breathe in and as you breathe out take your left hand to your right thigh, your right hand behind your right hip.  Hold for a few breaths and let go on a breath out.  Repeat 2nd side.

Savasana with Yoga Nidra- Please see the video on my YouTube Channel-'Yoga Nidra'-
After the practice, have a stretch and turn on to your right side and spend a moment there before coming back to seated. Please make sure you are fully awake before continuing with your day.

Janet x

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Mindfulness-Mindful of your samskaras

Samskaras are our habitual thought and emotional patterns. Our samskaras arise as a result of our experiences, our interactions with the world. Each interaction creates a 'groove' in our subconscious which then shapes the way we think, our values, our beliefs. This mental and emotional conditioning results in the habitual ways we behave. This is great if our samskaras are positive but often this is not the case and the way we interact with the world causes hurt to ourselves and others. Even so our samskaras may be so deeply rooted it is hard to change them. We may even be reluctant to change: it feels more comfortable to be fearful, or worrying about the future ('after all that stops bad things happening doesn't it???'). It may even be said that we are 'addicted' to an emotional state or behaviour that causes us pain. We may not even remember the experience that caused the samskara.

How do we start to change negative samskaras?  
Firstly we need to recognise that we want to change a certain thought pattern or emotional behaviour. This requires awareness. It is important to acknowledge that the 'groove' in our subconscious may have been deepened by years of reacting in a certain way, so change is not going to happen immediately but having an intention to change is a really good start. Then we need to have a vision of the new samskara we would like to create. Eventually our interactions with the world will be with love, truth, compassion, generosity and a new 'groove' in our subconscious will form. 

How can our yoga practice help?  
Svadhyaya, self-reflection is important  in order to develop awareness of the thought patterns and emotional patterns that are preventing us from living peaceful, contented lives we deserve. 

Quote from Yoga sutra 111.18
"Through sustained focus on our patterns, habits, and conditioning, we can gain knowledge and understanding of our past and how we can change the patterns that aren't serving us to live more freely and fully"

Yoga can also help cultivate the willpower and determination required to affect change.  Through our yoga practice we can light the 'internal fire', agni which will help 'burn off' these negative samskaras. This is because lighting the internal fire helps digestion (yogis believe good digestion is the basis of good health) which purifies the body and when the body becomes pure, the mind becomes clear. In our video this week therefore we will be focused on the third chakra which is the source of our willpower. To create a vision of  our new samskara we practice Humming Bee Breath which stimulates the third eye chakra, our centre of intuition. Please see also 'Crystals for chakra healing-Third eye chakra' on my 'sister' blog-

Meditation is of enormous benefit to affecting the changes in our thought and emotional patterns.  It calms the mind which gives greater clarity and meditation has been proven to cause changes in the prefrontal cortex which controls our habitual patterns. Every time we let go of a stressful thought or emotion as we meditate new neurological connections are being formed in the prefrontal cortex. Repetition allows these neurological connections to be strengthened.  

Please see my yoga video, 'Mindfulness-Mindful of your samskaras' on my YouTube Channel-

Janet x

Sunday, 8 November 2015

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Getting excited for Bonfire Night? Why not try this recipe on my 'sister' blog for 'Banger balls with fiery tomato sauce' to warm you up after watching the fireworks.

Apple Bread and 'Butter' Pudding is real comfort food! Not only that but it's good for you too! This vegan, no-added sugar recipe is perfect for bonfire night too because it can be made into Toffee Apple Bread and 'Butter' Pudding.
Read also how apples can help keep you well this autumn on my 'sister' blog.
This blog post was included in 'The Todd Pigram Daily'-

If you feel 'stuck', unable to move forward with your life, worry about the future or feel unable to let go of the past. it may be that your third eye chakra is imbalanced. Try this healing, meditative breath practice to help bring your third eye chakra back into balance on my 'sister' blog. 
This blog post was included in 'Sun Pixies & Pals'-

For National Stress Awareness Day. Please see my tips to help relieve stress-

Yoga myths and legends - Goddess squat

Goddess squat represents the Hindu goddess Kali. The story of the pose begins with Devi Durga, the mother goddess and her assistants, the Matrikas, trying to overcome the demon, Raktabija. They manage to wound him but every drop of blood that spills onto the ground became another Raktabija! In desperation Devi Durga calls on Kali, Shiva's consort, to help. Kali does this by drinking up the drops of Raktabija's blood as they fall and then devouring Raktabija and his duplicates. In fact she gets so carried away that she looks as though she is going to consume the universe. Because of this Shiva is called in to help. Shiva lies down in front of Kali to calm her and she steps on him. Realising what she has done, her anger melts and she is ashamed. The story is one of peace triumphing over anger.

To practice the pose take your legs wide and turn your toes out to the corners of your mat. Bring your arms into cactus position, elbows bent and level with your shoulders and bend both knees. Press both knees to the little toe side of your feet and tuck your tailbone under. Hold for a few breaths then breathe in, straighten your legs, breathe out release your hands to your hips and step your feet together.

Janet x 

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

'Yoga myths and legends- Dancer Pose'-


Janet x

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Today is National Stress Awareness Day

Today is ISMA National Stress Awareness Day which focuses this year on stress in the workplace. In today's society more and more is expected of us. We no longer are able to 'switch off' when we leave our place of work but today's technology allows us to take our work home. This means that the boundaries between work and home have been eroded which can be a source of stress. The following yoga videos will help give you to 'tools' to be able to deal with this stressful situation. You will find that time 'invested' in your yoga practice will enable you to manage your work load and stress levels.
Please see my 'Yoga for stress series' playlist on YouTube useful list=PLS4Wjf00I4uzH0r_7p5O4pV1mlF5Rikjo

Also please see the link on my 'sister' blog-'Today is National Stress Awareness Day'-


Janet x