Thursday, 23 March 2017

Spring metabolism boost

Kapha season lasts from late winter through spring and if we do not take steps to balance kapha, the result may be seasonal allergies, slow metabolism and bloating.  

Yoga can help boost metabolism, the rate at which you use energy, in several ways.  Firstly some yoga poses directly stimulate the thyroid gland, located at the front of the neck. The thyroid controls the rate at which you use energy. Yoga chest openers bring more oxygen into your body which converts food into energy. Yoga flows speed up the heart rate and improve circulation helping deliver nutrients, including oxygen to the muscles where they can be converted into energy. Yoga forward bends and inversions also help boost circulation.  Also yoga helps create lean muscle which leads to more calories being burned and therefore an increase in metabolism.  Finally yoga flows, twists and core work stoke the digestive fire, 'agni' which helps burn more calories and boost metabolism.

The following sequence will help boost metabolism, reduce bloating, stimulate the thyroid and increase circulation.

Sun Salutations - please see 'Yoga pose gallery'. 

Chair pose with twist (opens the chest) come back to standing. Take your hands into prayer position and bend both knees. Breathe in and as you breathe out, hook your left elbow over your right thigh. Hold for a breath or two then breath in to come back to centre.  Repeat second side then on the next breath in straighten your legs to come up.

Rest in Child's Pose - sit with your bottom on your heels and lower your head to your mat, a block and stacked fists.  Sweep your hands back to your heels, if you are not using your hands to rest your head on. Allow your breathing to return to normal.  When you are ready bring your hands forward, press into the mat, breathe in and come up.  

Wild Thing (opens up chest for more oxygen which is needed to release energy) - come to all fours, breathe out and lift your hips high into Downward Facing Dog.  From here breathe in and take your right leg back, breathe out and drop your right heel to your left buttock, opening your hips to the right.  Bend your left knee a little and let your right foot come down on your left side as you lift your chest towards the ceiling.  Hold for a breath or two. To come out of the pose breathe out, engage your core and 'flip' back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat second side then take a Child's Pose. 

Modified Wild Thing - for the modified version, start on all fours and swing your right foot out to the right. Extend your left leg, breathe in and take your left arm up and back. Hold for a breath or two then 'flip' back to all fours.  Repeat second side then take a Child's pose. Come to standing.

Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 (strengthens muscles of legs encouraging blood flow back to heart) - from the back of the mat, turn your left toes out, step the right foot forward and level up the hips to the short edge of the mat.  Breathe in, take your arms up, breathe out, bend your front knee.  Hold for a few breaths then breathe out and open your arms to shoulder height for Warrior 2.  Turn to look down the fingers of your right hand.  To come out of the pose breathe in, straighten the front knee, breathe out bring your hands to your heart, turn your feet to face forward.  

 Warrior 1 

Warrior 2

Wide leg standing forward bend (also helps strengthen legs and helps drain mucus caused by excess kapha) - line up the outside edges of your feet with the short edges of the mat and take your hands to your hips. Inhale lift your chest, squeeze your elbows together. Breathe out come into a flat back position and release your fingertips to the mat or to a block. Stay here if you have high blood pressure or heart issues otherwise breathe in and as you breathe out release the crown of your head down, 'walk' your fingers back to under your hips. To come out of the pose, breathe out, take your hands to your hips, breathe in and come up.

Half Shoulder Stand (stimulates thyroid and encourages blood circulation to the heart). Sit with your right hip next to the wall, your knees bent. Swivel so that your legs come up the wall and lie back on your mat. Roll the soles of your feet to the wall so that your hips lift -support your lower back with your hands. Do not turn your head in the pose. To come out of the pose, remove your hands, lower your hips down, bend your knees and roll onto your right side. Stay here for a minute before slowly coming up on an in breath.
Please note- this pose may not be suitable for your if you have neck issues, heart problems or high blood pressure. Also if you are menstruating.  Stay in the legs up the wall position if you feel comfortable with that. 

Fish pose (stimulates the thyroid and is a counter pose for shoulder stand). Lie with your legs out stretched and take your hands under your body to lift your chest. Stay here if you have any neck issues or you don't like being on top of your head. If you feel comfortable, bend your elbows and come onto the top of your head. Do not turn your head. To come out of the pose release your chin to your chest and straighten your arms. Release your arms from under your body and hug your knees in. Slowly roll your head from side to side.


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