April 2013 – the tiger

twin-tigerVyaghrasana, the tiger, is a great posture which encourages flexion and extension to the entire length of the spine.

It is especially beneficial for those people who sit a lot as it strengthens the lower back, abdominal and gluteus maximus and medius muscles which are all important for good posture.

It is also good for women returning to yoga following childbirth as it tones the female reproductive organs. On the mental / emotional level a stronger sense of willpower and determination is being nurtured and the ability to be more flexible in facing life’s challenges is experienced. On the energetic level your awareness is drawn first to Swadhistana Chakra, rising to Manipura, Vishuddhi and Ajna.

You shouldn’t practice this posture if you are suffering from a hiatus hernia and you should avoid this posture if you have serious problems with your wrist or knee joints. If you have sciatica you should avoid just the first part of the posture where the knee and spine are flexed.

Body preparations:
It is really important when doing this posture, especially for the first few times, that you do not over extend the raised leg and hip causing the body to twist. Having a partner to guide you until you become more aware of the height of the raised leg will help. To prepare for this posture you will need to strengthen the Gluteus Maximus and Medius muscles.

How to do this posture:
1. First of all adopt the cat posture (make sure to have the knees hip-width apart, hands flat on the floor with the wrists and elbow under the shoulders, top of feet flat on floor, head looking towards the floor) making sure you have engaged your core stability muscles.

2. Inhale and then as you exhale bring your left knee towards the forehead. Contract your abdominal muscles and arch your upper back.

3. On the next inhalation stretch your left leg back and feel an extension throughout the entire body. Keep the hips level as you raise the left leg and look forward with the head. Take your focus to elongating the spine and the raised leg.

4. Alternate between these two positions following the rhythm of your breath. Be aware of the position of your hips and try to keep them level. This is where a partner guiding you as to the height of the leg and any twisting at the hips will be helpful until you can identify the correct alignment for yourself. Perhaps being able to look in a mirror would help you too at first. The body soon gets to know which is the correct position when you have done it a few times correctly.

5. Once you have completed a few rounds of the movement with the left leg, return to the cat position (on all fours). Take a small break before repeating on the other side by taking the weight back towards the heels, separating the knees a little and relaxing your body down over the thighs. Keep the arms stretched out in front of you, and, if its comfortable, place the forehead on the floor or a cushion. Then simply rotate the wrists a few times in either direction. When you are ready push back up onto your hands and knees and begin with the right leg.

Top Tip:

Watch the cat become the tiger with this posture! Enjoy the increased sense of will power and determination it brings! It also helps us to be able to be even more flexible and face what life throws at you!

Warm Yoga for a Cold Climate

snowy-valley-march-2013

It’s bone chillingly cold in our little Dru Yoga Studio.  The gales have blown out the central heating and no amount of resetting will persuade it to light again…

 

The water is frozen and every few minutes the wind blows open the doors and slams them shut, spraying a fine layer of snow everywhere.  I can see my breath and my feet are getting numb.

Not quite the time and place to practice yoga, right?

Cancel, cancel, cancel that thought!  Another cold snap (blizzards and temperatures down to -10 … unusual for Wales) has chilled me to the bone.  Yet, as a Dru Yoga teacher, I look for the lesson in everything.  I notice that I’m tightening my jaw and neck muscles as I walk in the wind.  My shoulders have tensed up in the blizzards.  There’s a general sense of stiffness and tension as I can feel my body fighting the unwelcome cold.

And the solution – is Dru Yoga, of course.  In my little yoga studio the heating isn’t working, but I can be creative.  I hum to myself as I move through dynamic activations (the way we always start a Dru Yoga class) – cross activation, bouncing, dancing – anything to get the circulation going and warm up the muscles.  As my heart rate increases I feel a slight warmth moving through my body.

Next, time for the Energy Block Release (EBR) – those wonderful Dru Sequences that unlock pockets of tension in my muscles, joints and energy body.   I move gently through EBR 1 – noticing my body unfolding as I twist, bend and stretch – and I can feel the tension starting to melt away.  I’m still not completely warm, so it’s time for something serious from my Dru Yoga ‘arsenal’ – the Sun Sequence.  The oldest exercise sequence known to humanity, Surya Namaskar releases a powerhouse of dynamic energy.  So, I start one sequence and my feet slip – so I take off my socks –  brr… and resistance arises.  Just keep moving, I tell myself, and I repeat the flowing Dru Yoga style sun sequence four times.  At last – I can feel the energy of the warm sun pulsating in my veins!

My mind is clearer, my mood is better, and I’ve reminded myself that when the weather is cold, it’s the perfect time to gently work with yoga, to release the tension that silently builds up in the body.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we aren’t always blessed with warm temperatures (I can’t believe that 10 days ago I was in 33 degrees C India!)  so, it’s even more reason to be kind to our body and mind, get out the yoga mat and start our yoga practice.  Hooray for Dru Yoga!

jane-claphamby Jane Clapham

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Jane Clapham is a Dru Yoga and Dru Meditation teacher trainer, who started doing Dru Yoga at the tender age of 15 and hasn’t stopped since!  She now teaches Dru yoga, meditation and sound courses in the UK, Europe, India and Australia. She runs Meditation teacher training courses in Snowdonia, Wales as well as meditation retreats worldwide.

Yoga and Walking

mouli-for-blogIt’s not just because the dog needs a tree that we should head out into the big green yonder… it’s because it’s actually vital for our full health and wellbeing. Here at Dru, we try to get out and about for a walk every day – read on to find out why!

1. Lift your mood
Simply by heading out for a 20 minute brisk walk your body starts to release endorphins – or the ‘feel good’ hormones. This in turn helps us to feel positive about our lives and enthusiastic about our day ahead.


2. Get fit
Brisk walking is also beneficial aerobic exercise for helping to promote weight loss. By getting out and about you are naturally using more energy and therefore helping those extra calories from that sneaky packet of crisps to be used up with exercise – rather than sitting on the hips!

3. Get a change of perspective
When we are out of our ‘normal’ environment it becomes much easier to see things from a different perspective. Those things which seemed too big or overwhelming can now become more clear and can feel more manageable.

 4. Dedicate those positive vibes
When we walk with an awareness of gratitude it can become a powerful act of dedication. When we think about how amazing it is to be able to walk, run, play and get easily from A to B, we can then choose to dedicate that great feeling to others who may be less fortunate than ourselves. We can hope that someone close to us may also feel the beauty of movement today, or that those who are not able to walk will feel some improvement in their health.

Why not give it a try next time you’re ‘pounding the pavement’!

5. Keeping it up…
It’s not necessarily easy to keep up your daily walk… When it gets really busy at work, or you get home late and you are tired, a walk round the block can feel like the last thing in the world you want to do! At these times the best thing is to put on your shoes (without thinking too much!) and just walk out the door!!! You’ll find that once you start – it’s much easier to keep going.

Here are some great ideas about how to integrate your walk into your daily life to get you started!

  1. Park about a mile away from work – then you have to walk there and back again!
  2. Don’t get enough milk… (This is a crafty one to get the other half out the door!)
  3. Have a ‘walk buddy’ – when you are with another person you can help each other to keep up the good habit.
  4. Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  5. Walk the kids to school.
  6. Make it a family habit to go for a stroll after dinner every evening.

 6. Yogic walking?
The literal translation of yoga is: ‘to unite’ and when we walk with awareness we have a wonderful opportunity to be able to connect to nature and our surroundings.

As we allow ourselves to fully enter into the joy of walking we start to experience other potent benefits. For example, it can help us to tap into a more subtle part of ourselves, allowing us to feel more emotionally balanced, physically energised and to enjoy a deep sense of connection to inner self and the world around us. Discover more about yoga and walking at one of our yoga weekend retreats in Snowdonia.

If you are familiar with some of the yoga asanas and sequences, you will also find that to practice them out of doors will bring a added dimension for you to enjoy. Learn some asana in this blog under our ‘posture of the month’ category or visit us at the Dru Yoga Online Studio here.

Anoushka (27) small

Discover the amazing benefits of walking today!

Anouschka Dack


> Yoga and walking holidays

> Dru Yoga Online Studio
> Dru Yoga teacher Training
> Yoga in your area