Saturday, 24 September 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell

In this week's Meatless Monday we are using the dwarf french beans and tomatoes that we harvested last week to make a spicy vegetable and bean stew-perfect now the nights are drawing in and autumn is almost on us.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. However, HIIT is not usually recommended for the over 40s, especially where you have any medical condition or are not used to exercising.

The exercises on my 'sister' blog are my take on a HIIT session, modified for the over 40s. Even so, it is vital that you talk to a qualified medical practitioner before starting this, or any other, exercise programme. 
Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Cumin- the common cold zapping spice.
Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Friday, 23 September 2016

Why do yoga teachers say 'You are your best teacher'?

Your yoga teacher is there to guide you.  Your teacher can demonstrate the asanas, show you modifications to make the asanas accessible to all and in public classes do hands on adjustments BUT your yoga teacher cannot be in your body, feeling  the effect of the pose on your physical body, your breath, or even your emotions.  

Only you have the wisdom inside of you to know that a particular asana is giving you a stretch or a strain and if it is causing you strain, your inner wisdom if you listen to it, will prompt you to ease off a little, take a modified version of the asana or come out of the asana altogether.  In yoga we speak of 'finding your edge' - that point where you feel a stretch but not a strain but only you can feel that point.  This is why it is so important to listen to your body. Your breath is a good indicator of whether you are straining into a pose.

Your yoga teacher can also guide you on yoga philosophy but only you have the wisdom to take those teachings off the mat and apply them to your daily life.  For instance the yamas and niyamas offer guidance for living  - non-harming, truthful, taking only what you need etc  The yoga sutras of Patanjali offer further guidance for example yoga sutra 1.12 translates as 'in order to achieve the state of yoga one must develop both practice and detachment.' In other words we should do our best in all things but not be focused on the results or outcome.  


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Breathe to boost immunity

It's that time of year again when colds and flu viruses will start to creep up on us so we need to be ready.  As well as your asana practice, pranayama (breathing techniques) can do much to stop these invaders causing havoc in your body. Pranayama increases oxygen delivery to every cell in your body including the immune cells keeping them 'happy' and ready to attack invading viruses.

Some breathing techniques are stress relieving - these include Alternate Nostril Breathing - please see 'Oh no it's Monday! Breathing technique for calming'- and Ujjayi breathing.  How does this prevent colds and flu? Nothing brings your immune system down like stress.  This is because all the endocrine glands are connected so if your adrenals are out of balance because they are pumping out stress hormones this is going to affect the thymus gland which plays a part in the manufacture of immune cells.  Ujjayi breathing involves making a sound in the throat which is why it is sometimes called Ocean breathing and this is also calming for the mind.  Similarly Humming Bee Breath makes a calming sound.

Kapalabhati breathing is a very cleansing breath, helping your body expel toxins which can negatively affect the immune system. Please see 'Thank goodness it's Friday - breathing practice to energise for the weekend'- Similarly Lion Breath expels stale air from the base of the lungs allowing fresh, clean air in. Please see 'Yoga myths and legends - Lion pose-

Ujjayi Breathing is also very warming for the respiratory passages - it is when the respiratory passages get cold that viruses have a better chance of taking hold.  

To practice Ujjayi breathing first try breathing out through your mouth with a 'ha'.  Notice how this causes a tightening in your throat.  Then try tightening the throat in this way as you breathe out through your nose.  Now try to create that tightening as you breathe in as well as when you breathe out.  You should notice the breath makes a sound- some people say it is like a baby snoring, others say it is like the ocean.  

To practice Humming Bee breathe, breathe in through your nostrils and as you breathe out make a 'hmmmm' sound like a bee.  

Stay well this autumn


Monday, 19 September 2016

All levels peak pose practice - Warrior 3

Please click on the video below to watch, 'All levels peak pose practice - Warrior 3' on my YouTube Channel.

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

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are enjoying my videos.

Warrior 3 is a great pose to help increase focus and concentration, it strengthens the legs, strengthens and tones the core and stretches the hamstrings.  
In our warm up we focus on balance, shoulders, core strength, leg strength and hamstrings before practicing several variations which I hope will make the pose accessible for all (hurray for props!!!)

Practicing modified versions of the pose gives you a chance to tweak the alignment - ideally the hips should be level and the standing leg straight although if you have a tendency to hyperextend the knee of your standing leg, you might be better microbending that knee. When practicing the arms forward variation press your weight back over your heels.  

I hope you enjoy your practice. 

I will be having a short inspiration break from the blogs starting at the end of this week for two weeks but I will be back with a new series of videos to help anxiety.  In the meantime I have two more posts for you this week and many posts on the blog for you to enjoy.

Peace and blessings

Sunday, 18 September 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell

Today's Meatless Monday recipe is for 'Chickpea, and lentil dhal'. This tasty dish is packed with vegetable protein from the lentils and chickpeas. 
Hope you enjoy!
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-

In the 40plusandalliswell organic fruit and veg garden we are still harvesting - dwarf french beans and tomatoes this week. It's also time to plant your onion sets for spring. 
Please see my 'sister' blog -

''Fennel seeds - the stomach soother spice''. Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Why do yoga teachers say, 'Don't forget to breathe'?

When you are focused on the alignment of a challenging pose it is a natural reaction to hold your breath. This can trigger the 'fight or flight' stress response in the body which can make the pose more difficult.  The cue 'don't forget to breathe' reminds you to bring your attention back to the breath which will then start to lengthen and deepen. This causes your body and mind to relax and that challenging pose does not seem so challenging anymore.  

Try it as you practice Warrior 2 stand in the middle of your mat with your hands on your hips and take your feet as wide as is comfortable.  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, lift your chest, exhale bend your right knee, turn to look down the fingers of your right hand.  Hold for 10 breaths - with each breath out engage your pelvic floor and draw your navel back to your spine. To come out of the pose, inhale straighten the right knee, exhale hands to heart, turn your feet to face forward.  Repeat second side.

Once you learn to breathe in challenges on the mat, you will start to notice that you are able to breathe into challenges off the mat - focusing on the breath allows you to slip into a peaceful place inside of you.

Will someone please remind me to breathe as we practice our peak pose practice - Warrior 3 next week please!!!!!!


You may also like:-

Why do yogis say, 'You are as young as your spine is flexible'-

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Ayurveda evening routine

From 10pm to 2am pitta dosha dominates so if you stay up much after 10pm you may feel wide awake again and have trouble getting off to sleep when you do go to bed.  

It is best to have your evening meal early and turn off television, computers, laptops Smart phones etc at least an hour before bedtime.  

Your yoga routine at bedtime should be very gentle and release tension from your body and mind.  Please see 'Yoga for real life- bedtime yoga'-  Calming breathing techniques and meditation can also help prepare you for a good night's sleep. 

Release tension in your feet (which work very hard for you!) with a massage using calming, grounding oils such as lavender (my favourite!), sandalwood or vanilla then cover your feet with sleeping socks.  If you wish, you could add a few drops to your bath or I like to sprinkle a few drops on my pillow.   

Before bed have a cup of warm (organic) milk or alternative milk (oat, soy or almond) with a pinch of a sleep inducing spice such as cinnamon, or nutmeg or cardamon. If you would rather, camomile tea is a good alternative.   
Light can disrupt sleep because of its effect on melatonin, so sleep in a completely dark room if you can - use blackout curtains.  It is best not to have televisions in the bedroom but if you have, do not leave them on standby.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Yoga for real life - bedtime yoga

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga for real life - bedtime yoga' on my YouTube Channel.

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

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are enjoying my videos.

To prepare for bed a yoga practice needs to remove any tension from your body and calm your mind.  Your yoga practice therefore needs to be one that takes your focus away from your day or from the what is to come tomorrow and turn your attention inwards.  Gentle inversions and forward bends can help calm your mind so that you can relax into sleep. 

Breathing practices such as Moon breathing which we practice in the video can also help calm the mind.

Yoga nidra might sound like a good idea but practiced too close to bedtime it can refresh rather than calm the mind.  It is good to practice earlier however.  The meditation we practice is one in which we focus on letting go.  

For Ayurveda evening routine tips look out for Wednesday's post.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Why do yogis say, 'You are as young as your spine is flexible'?

Your spine is wonderful.  It is made up of the spinal cord which is an extension of your brain and the vertebrae which protect it.  These vertebrae are separated from one another by intervertebral discs which cushion the vertebrae from wear and tear.  From the spine nerves arise and these are of two types - motor neurons and sensory neurons  - the sensory neurons send messages to the brain via the spinal cord about taste, smell, sound, sight and touch and the brain sends messages back to the muscles, organs and glands to take the necessary action. Sometimes, say if you touch something that is likely to burn you the spinal cord reacts without involving the brain initially to remove your hand - this is a reflex arc.

Enough of the biology.  The problem is as we age the intervertebral discs wear and if you add years of poor posture to the mix the result may be an inflexible spine - forward positioning of the head causing problems in the cervical (neck vertebrae)such as neck pain and headaches, rounded thoracic (upper) spine causing the chest to collapse and breathing difficulties, rounded lumbar (lower) spine causing back pain - all of which mean that we are no longer experiencing the wellbeing of youth.

The good news is yoga can help maintain a youthful spine.  For a start yoga teaches us good posture with poses such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose).  

In our yoga practice also we move our spines in every way they can move - forward and backwards, lateral stretch to the right and left, twist to the right or left  maintaining flexibility. All these movements increase the circulation to the spine so that the spine is well supplied with nutrients to maintain the health of the spine.  

Try the following to move your spine in all directions:-

Stand in the middle of your mat and bring your hands to your shoulders - inhale lift your chest, take your elbows back, exhale round forward bringing your elbows together - repeat several times.  

For the next movement keep your hands on your shoulders, inhale twist to the left, exhale twist to the right keeping your hips pointing forward.  Repeat several times.

For the last movement stand with your arms by your sides, your hands in fists.  Inhale and as you exhale slide your left hand to your armpit as you lean to the right, inhale come back to centre, exhale slide your right hand to your armpit as you lean to the left and continue for several moves.  

Stay young

This week on 40plusandalliswell

This is an ideal recipe to serve to a crowd - just scale up the quantities. Your guests will enjoy assembling their own - provide a variety of salad veg to go with them. They also make a great alternative to chicken nuggets for vegans.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-

Is it possible to avoid statins with diet?
Find out more on my 'sister' blog-

Cinnamon is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory but it is especially beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels.
Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Ayurveda evening meal

According to Ayurveda, the evening meal should be lighter than the lunchtime meal.  This is because the digestive fire 'agni' is burning most fiercely at lunchtime. 

Ideally the evening meal should be taken before 7pm so that the meal will be digested before you go to bed.  If your evening meal includes chicken or fish the earlier you have the meal the better. Include easy to digest vegetables and grains such as brown rice.  It is important not to go to bed with a full stomach because the body needs to turn to its maintenance 'jobs' at night such as growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones. The immune system is re-booted, processing and consolidating memories and emotions occurs in the brain and detoxing in the liver.  The body cannot do these 'jobs' if it has to turn its attention to digestion. The result may be poorly digested foods leading to build up of toxins (ama) in the body, struggling to get up in the morning and sluggishness throughout the morning.  

Also eat mindfully - you will not experience the pleasure of your food if you eat while texting, answering e-mails or watching television.  Notice the smell, the texture, the taste and eat slowly.  You will find that you will be satisfied with slightly less.  

Also on this blog is an after work wind down yoga video that you may like to watch-

There are many recipes on 40plusandalliswell for you to enjoy for your evening meal.  Why not try this Moroccan spiced chickpeas with couscous bowl-

You may also like to read, 'Ayurveda lunch break'-

Happy eating

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Yoga for real life - After work wind down

Please click on the video below to watch, 'Yoga for real life - After work wind down' on my YouTube Channel.

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

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are enjoying my videos.

In our 24/7 society there is no longer a clear demarcation between the workplace and home. Technology allows us to bring our work home and our life outside of work is often interrupted by emails and text messages (that simply cannot wait?). 

It is better for your mental wellbeing to set boundaries so that your life outside of work is just that.  When you do return to your work you should then feel more ready and able to tackle your tasks.  

Our video this week is an after-work wind down to enable you to leave physical and mental tension behind and energize for the evening ahead.  Please note the sequence is not intended to be a before bed practice-we will do this next week.

The poses I have chosen therefore are ones that will release any tension that your body has accumulated during the day.  I have also included chest openers, twists and forward bends to help relieve the stress of the day and energize for the evening.

Have a good evening.


Sunday, 4 September 2016

This week on 40plusandalliswell

It's Bank Holiday Monday- time to relax and have fun! 
These falafel burgers are just the ticket served in pitta breads with some mango salsa - crunchy outside, soft inside and quick to make too. 
Have a great Bank Holiday!
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-

You will love these Banoffee 'nice' cream sundaes! You really will not believe that such a yummy 'sticky toffee' sauce can be made without dairy or sugar but give it a try and be amazed!
Banana and toffee flavours combine so well and sure you will want to come back to this one for a sweet treat.
Recipe on my 'sister' blog-

If you are a regular visitor to 40plusandalliswell you will know that I often use turmeric in my recipes. Turmeric provides colour (care - it can stain clothes) and gives an earthy, aromatic flavour to dishes but it also has many health benefits including a protective effect on the brain. 
Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Kids' yoga - back to school anxiety

Some children can't wait to get back to the routine of school and meeting up with their friends.  For others though it can be an anxious time especially if they are moving up to 'big' school.  Even after all these years I can remember my first day at 'big' school.  It seemed huge compared to my junior school and so much was different - the uniform, a different class and teacher for every lesson and so many books - my mum used to meet me half-way home to help me carry them (I was too proud to let her come to the school)!  Then there was the compulsory beret which we had to wear all the way home.  You also go from being one of the oldest children in junior school to one of the youngest in 'big' school.  I can remember wondering how I was going to cope with it for five years.  

The good news is yoga can help.  Breathing techniques can calm anxiety- try getting your child to place their hands on their tummy.  As they breathe in get them to imagine that their tummy is a balloon which they are blowing up, then as they breathe out and their tummy releases get them to imagine the balloon deflating. Repeat several times.  

Encourage your child to talk about their worries and try to work out solutions together. Positive affirmations are also useful such as  'I make friends easily', 'I am capable and I love learning'.

The following sequence will help relieve anxiety, give your child confidence and boost self-esteem.

Sun Salutations - these include half inversions and chest openers which calm the mind. Sun salutations also 'burn off' the hormones adrenalin and cortisol which create anxiety. Please see 'Yoga pose gallery -

Child's Pose (a pose that makes you feel safe and protected) - sit back on your heels and lower your head to your mat as you sweep your hands back to hold your heels.  Stay here for a few minutes then to come out of the pose bring  your hands forward, press into your hands and come up.

Rolling like a ball (this is such fun to do which can help break the cycle of anxiety) - sit at the front of your mat with your ankles crossed.  Hold your right big toe with the first finger and thumb of your left hand and your left big toe with the first finger and thumb of your right hand.  Breathe in and as you breathe out roll back on your mat like a ball.  Breathe in and roll back up.  Repeat several times. Change the cross of your legs and repeat.

Downward Facing Dog (a half inversion that helps calm the mind) come back to all fours, breathe in,  tuck your toes, breathe out and lift your hips high.  Hold for five breaths. 

Standing forward bend (forward bends  also help calm anxiety)- after five breaths, walk your feet forward and when your shoulders come over your hands take hold of your elbows. Breathe in and come up very slowly to standing. 

Mountain Pose (standing tall with good posture is grounding helping to take energy out of your child's head where it is creating anxiety) - stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart.  Spread and open your feet balancing your weight evenly over your feet.  Stand tall lifting your chest.  The mountain stands firm, through changing weather gales, snow, sun, hail.  Just like the mountain you too can remain firm whatever changes are happening around you.

Warrior 1 (another grounding pose that also boosts self-esteem and confidence - face going back to school head on) - come to the top of the mat, step back with your left foot and turn your toes out. Breathe in, stretch your arms up, breathe out bend your front knee. Don't forget to do the other side.

Warrior 2 (another grounding pose.  Get your child to imagine turning away from his/her anxieties about school represented by the back arm and looking forward to school with confidence represented by the front arm. Encourage him/her to absorb the qualities of a warrior - strength, determination, willpower) - come to the middle of your mat and step your feet wide.  Turn your right leg to the right, your left toes in.  Breathe in and lift your arms to shoulder height, breathe out bend your front knee and turn to look down the fingers of your right hand.  Hold and feel yourself getting stronger with each breath.  To come out, breathe in straighten your front leg, breathe out turn your feet to face forward and bring your hands to your heart in prayer position.  Repeat on the other side.

Tree pose (balances are good for letting go of your worries because they encourage you to be in the present moment - not worrying about school.  If you are not present you will fall out of the balance!) - come down onto the mat and take another Child's Pose.  Stand in the middle of your mat and take your weight into your left leg.  Find a spot that is not moving to gaze at (this helps balance) and bring your right foot to your left ankle, shin or reach down and bring your right foot to your left thigh.  Lift your chest and take your arms up.  Hold and breathe. To come out lower your arms and right leg down. Repeat second side. 

Finish with a meditation.Have your child lie down with their favourite soft toy if he/she wants to.  Get him/her to settle by asking him/her to watch his/her breath then read the following visualisation out or make your own up.

Imagine you are in a garden.  There are some steps leading down to a lawn.  Walk down the step. With each step you take, you feel more and more relaxed.  You reach the bottom of the steps and see a pond with a water feature in the shape of a dolphin.  Water shoots out of the dolphin's mouth and falls back into the pond.  All at once you feel tired and lie back on the grass, watching the cascade of water split the light from the sun into its colours.  You start to feel yourself becoming lighter then floating upwards towards a rainbow.  As you continue to float upwards you become bathed in red light. The red light makes you feel confident and strong.  The red light fades and you are bathed in orange light.  Orange helps with your creativity.  The orange light fades now  and you become bathed in yellow light.  Feel energized by the yellow light so that the school day does not feel so tiring.  Still you float upwards and the yellow light fades.  You become surrounded by green light which will help you make friends. As the green light fades you are bathed in blue light.  The blue light will help you talk about any worries with your mum and dad, and help you ask questions at school.  The blue light fades and you are bathed in indigo light which helps you make wise choices.  Finally you are bathed in violet light which helps you feel kindly towards all living things. Gently now you start to float down back to the garden.  Thank the rainbow for all the gifts you have been given. Become aware of your surroundings now, the floor beneath you, the room you are in and take some deep breaths. Open your eyes and have a stretch, wriggle your fingers and toes or whatever feels right to you before turning onto your right side. Spend a few moments there then come back to seated.

Do this meditation any time you feel it will help.

Happy school days!


Copyright © 2016 Flexiladiesyoga

Friday, 2 September 2016

September is yoga month!

September is yoga month!!! My gift to you is this new look blog- many thanks to Becky for my blog makeover. Look out for more features being added.

You might also like the following short yoga practices on my YouTube Channel. Follow the link to the Playlist. The yoga practices are:-

September is yoga month-Short practice to relax and unwind
September is yoga month-15 minute energy boost
September is yoga month-20 minute stress relief
September is yoga month-20 minute detox

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

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Ayurveda lunch break

From an Ayurveda perspective, lunchtime is the best time to take the main meal of the day. This is because at this time of day pitta dosha dominates so the digestive fire, 'agni' is burning most fiercely.  It is important to eat enough at this time of day otherwise you will be hungry mid-afternoon and have the 4 o'clock slumps.  

Eating warm foods is best to keep the digestive fire burning so salads, sandwiches and cold drinks are not ideal because they can dampen down the digestive fire. Ideally food should be freshly prepared but this is not possible for many people. Food flasks are good to take hot food to work although it may mean you have to be a little more organised in the morning. Why not try this 'Lime and soy quinoa'-

Alternatively, if your workplace has facilities for warming food, you could take some of the previous night's dinner (always ensure that the food is heated through).  Warm foods with vegetables and spices are great for your Ayurveda lunch. You will find lots of ideas on 40plusandalliswell- Eat your lunch away from your desk if possible because if you are eating your lunch with one hand and checking emails with the other, you are not mindful of what you are eating and your lunch will not be as satisfying and you may eat more than your body needs if you are not listening to your body.

If you are going to have a lunchtime yoga session do this before you eat.  Please see 'Yoga for real life- lunchtime yoga' video and blog post - or you could take a gentle stroll after lunch in a nearby park or green space for fresh air and your daily vitamin D hit. Please see 'Bring on the sun- Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin-