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Yoga for the shoulders

“Go where it feels best, where your energy flows best. Exercise your ability to sense this.”

 

Erich Schiffmann

 

Yoga for the shoulders – a short yoga practice

 

When I invite you to practice yoga with me, I’m inviting you to explore shapes, movements and pauses that can provide you with openings and softenings, structure and support.

 

Learn about yourself and the in-built mechanisms you have in place to connect to your breath, movement and your ability to slow-down. This is where the real learning happens.

 

Know what it is you need for your shoulders, and then for your whole body as you re-integrate what you discover for yourself during the practice.

 

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Yoga for the hips

“Perfection is having the greatest range possible of comfort.”

 

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

 

Yoga for the hips – a short yoga practice

 

When I invite you to practice yoga with me, I’m inviting you to explore shapes, movements and pauses that are as Bonnie so simply puts it within the “greatest range possible of comfort” to yourself. So when you take this mini series of practices with me, please do honour yourselves fully and listen to your unique experience of the practice.

 

Learn about yourself and the in-built mechanisms you have in place to connect to your breath, movement and your ability to slow-down. This is where the real learning happens.

 

Know what it is you need for your hips, and then for your whole body as you re-integrate what you discover for yourself during the practice.

 

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Yoga for the ankles and knees

“It’s more than just a shape, it’s how your breathing in that shape…What is your intention whilst you’re in that shape? What is the quality of presence whilst you’re in this shape…?”

 

Theo Wildcroft in conversation with Jivana He-man Episode 32 Accessible Yoga Podcast

 

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Yoga for the feet

“Carry your body, but please do not let your body carry you!

 

We must walk well, as animals do!

 

Lift one foot and move it forward, allowing the heel to make initial contact with the ground. Feel the weight of gravity in that foot. Let it spread towards your toes. Your other leg should remain open and extended at the back of the knee. When you move the second foot forward, transfer the weight of gravity from your first foot to your second. 

This way of walking will help you re-establish order…”

 

Vanda Scaravelli on walking; Awakening the SpineREAD MORE

3 frequently asked ‘Yoga for Beginners’ questions

Where to begin?

 

If you are new to Yoga it’s natural that you will have some questions? More often than not we are recommended by friends or peers to practice yoga with a certain teacher, have been recommended to take up yoga by a GP to help with certain conditions such as back pain, anxiety or breathlessness and sometimes we may stumble across a local advert for a class near to where we live and want to find out more. I have questions for you, but you will also likely have some for your practitioner which is why I’ve decided to home in on some of the most frequently asked one’s in this article.

 

There are only 3, so I hope this is enough to start with? If not and you find yourself asking more questions along the way, do send your questions over to me, and if I can’t answer them for you, I will point you in the right direction so you can do a little further research for yourselves. After-all yoga is a path of self-inquiry, self-learning and so start with some questions before you begin to ensure this is something you are wishing to explore further for yourself.

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Mindful Monday Meditation practice; 5 minutes

It’s a new year, and with a new year comes possibility, potential.

 

Although it’s easy for us to get carried away. For us to feel a sudden surge of newness and run before we can walk. Taking it slowly and mindfully provides us with a more sustainable approach to our new intentions or goals.

 

My aim here is to offer you a short meditation practice which will take about 5 minutes and provide you with the headspace to think a little more clearly about which steps you may wish to take next on your goal setting journey.

 

I often feel clearer and more focussed even after 5 minutes of paying attention to my breathing.READ MORE

Pause for Winter Well-being; a winter solstice practice

Pause for Winter Well-being

 

Pause for winter well-being has been the theme for my winter yoga class schedule this season. It’s impossible to ignore the change in seasons and the shift nature makes at this time of year towards a state of hibernation, bringing with it a sense of closure for the year that has passed. The leaves let go from the trees and are washed away with the winter rains. The frost is icy and refreshing on the ground and reminds us of the cleansing properties coolness can offer. There is a freshness in the air and the scent can be full of alpines and spices as we move into the festive season.

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Yoga for inner calm; a 25 minute practice

that path is you
that is why it will never tire of waiting
whether it is covered with red dust,
autumn leaves,
or icy snow,
come back to the path.
You will be like the tree of life
your leaves, trunk, branches,
and the blossoms of your soul
will be fresh and beautiful,
once you enter the practice of Earth Touching

 

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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Seasonal Yoga – An Autumnal themed practice

 

As the seasons change, so to do we! Through leaf fall to the sprouting of seeds there is an abundance of metaphors upon which we can draw to inspire our practice. The Earth offers us its true sustenance as we engage, observe and learn about ourselves through taste, smell, touch and light. Slowly we are encouraged to find our own rhythm’s, as the cycle of the seasons invite us to pause and to observe, perhaps for the first time what it feels to be alive.READ MORE

Ujjāyī breath, an ancient breathing technique

Ujjāyī Breathing – The victorious breath

“…take a few smooth breaths in ujjāyī, and the mind feels calmer; the effect is very direct. New students can be surprised when they first discover ujjāyī. Taking long, smooth, regulated breaths they often immediately experience a lighter, more spacious feeling.” Ranju Roy and Dave Charlton; Embodying the Yoga Sūtra.

 

Ujjāyī breathing is one of the defining characteristics of yoga, and within my approach as a practitioner and teacher. It is an ancient breathing practice known as the ‘Victorious’ breath. In the West it has adopted names such as the ‘Ocean sounding breath’ or the ‘whispering breath’ because of it’s wave-like, sighing sound and soothing quality.

 

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Breath awareness – a step by step guide to body, breath and mind connection

Breathing

“Breathing is the essence of yoga.” Vanda Scaravelli

 

Cultivating breath awareness is key for developing stillness and peace of mind. It’s simple really, all we need to do is pay attention to the experience of breathing in, and pay attention to the experience of breathing out. And yet for most of us this is the hardest part; being still and attentive to the breath in each given moment. Perhaps the thing we struggle with most in life is stillness? Is it easier for us to be constantly moving, in body and in our thoughts? The answer is most likely yes, because at our stillest moments we are usually watching television, reading a book or engaging in some kind of activity or interaction, or we are asleep.

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Salute to the Sun – A revitalising yoga practice

Over the past few months we have seen and experienced vast change. During the months of Spring came turbulence, our rhythms shifting drastically, some for the good, some for the worse. This pause that has been thrust upon us has meant that we have literally had to stop and change course. Change the way we interact with others, change the way we work and change our approach to life as a whole.READ MORE

A short lying sequence to stretch your back, hips and shoulders.

 

Bringing awareness along your spine with this gentle back, hip and shoulder stretch

 

When I wake up in the morning the first thing I like to do is stretch along the length of my body from my toes to my fingertips. Lengthening my way into my day mindfully. Then I follow this with some gentle forward folding, or I hug myself in closely to round and stretch along the muscles of my back. This, for me is a pleasant way to stretch, supported by the ground and moving myself into and out of a ball like shape in order to release tensions along the back, hips, neck and shoulders.

 

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A short practice to ease the feet and ankles

 

Bringing awareness to your feet and ankles with a short mobility practice

 

Have you ever considered how many bones, joints or muscles are involved within the structure of each foot in order for us to be able to move freely in the rest of our bodies? It’s quite incredible really. These small pads at the bottom of our bodies hold our weight evenly and provide us with the possibility of balance and co-ordination whilst helping us to maintain structure and stability throughout. I used to be an athlete and trained on the track 3 sometimes 4 times a week including racing. This really did take its toll on my feet. I had a stress fracture on one foot and I had to protect my arches, heels and front of the feet with support and padding. These days I still run but I am much kinder to my feet and toes and try to incorporate foot care within my daily practice as well as offering them a gentle massage too. Therefore this weeks practice will focus around finding more ease and freedom in our feet with a short mobility and activation sequence.

 

This is the fourth in a series of practices designed to get you moving mindfully in the mornings through slow stretching and to release common areas of tension that we may experience in our day to day.  If you’ve missed any of the previous practices you can find them by going to the following links:

Week 1: Neck and shoulder mobility

Week 2: A gentle Standing forward bend 

Week 3: Kneeling lunge to gently open the hips

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Kneeling lunge – A 5 minute hip opening practice

 

A kneeling lunge to gently open the hips

 

This is the third stretching sequence in a series of practices which are designed to get you moving mindfully in the mornings and to release common areas of tension that we may experience in our day to day. This week we’ll look at a kneeling lunge as a means to opening the hips gently. If you’ve missed any of the previous practices you can find them by going to the following links:

Week 1: Neck and shoulder mobility

Week 2: A gentle Standing forward bend 

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A short, mindful practice to help mobilise the neck and shoulders

 

A five minute, mindful practice to help mobilise the neck and shoulders

 

Last week I wrote an article about mindful movement and offered three suggestions around how you may like to approach this with a morning stretch being one of those options. I was hoping to release a series of stretching practices within this piece, however life is such a juggling act at the moment and so we have carved out the time time to edit one 5 minute sequence, which I still hope will be useful to you.

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Three amazing benefits to practising yoga during pregnancy

I’m pregnant! Is it okay for me to practice Yoga?

Yes, yes yes!!

Yoga is one of the most accessible forms of exercise that is recommended to practice during pregnancy. I hate to refer to it as exercise, but often this is how your midwife or GP will talk about it. So let’s move away from that word and offer a few suggestions as to why you may wish to consider practising yoga during pregnancy.

The good news is, so long as you have the all clear from your midwife or consultant, anyone can practise yoga whilst pregnant from about 14 weeks regardless of whether you have been to a yoga class before or not.

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