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.

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Discover the amazing benefits of walking today!

Anouschka Dack


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Dru Yoga in the Workplace

Taking Yoga into the Workplace

More and more research is being published to show that yoga reduces stress in the workplace, and yoga is being seen increasingly as a solution to stress- related absenteeism. Stress and back pain are two key factors leading to sickness absence at work, costing the British economy an estimated £17 billion per year.

Ned Hartfiel, a researcher from Bangor University, was interested in the effects of Dru Yoga on workplace stress, and as part of his doctorate research, did a 8-week randomised, controlled study with employees of Conwy County Council, which has been published in the Oxford University Press’ Journal of Occupational Medicine. The study showed that the Dru Yoga programme significantly reduced perceived stress, back pain and hostility, and that participants felt more self-assured, attentive and serene after the yoga classes.

Dru Yoga was chosen for this study, as it is a particularly safe and therapeutic form of yoga that can be practised by most people. Dru Yoga is characterized by graceful movements, directed breathing and relaxation techniques that include affirmation and visualization. The Dru Yoga classes in this study were divided into four stages: activation exercises, energy block release sequences, postures and relaxation.

One participant in the study, Susan Williams, a Community Engagement Officer, tells her story of experiencing yoga in the workplace.

‘I received an internal e-mail that explained about the yoga pilot project and that it could help with stress. I had never done any yoga before in my life, but I had been fascinated with the ancient health enhancing properties of yoga, and I thought I had nothing to lose and everything to gain from giving it a go.

As a professional with a job that required a lot of energy and drive, I was wearing myself to the ground. My stress levels had become too high, to a level whereby I had to take time off work. I had tried to hide my stress for a number of years, however, during the last year I could no longer hold it together. Physically I felt tired. Outwardly I was enthusiastic, encouraging, assisting and motivating others; however inwardly, I was empty and giving out my reserves! I couldn’t go on any more. I was burnt out and with two children to look after. I was scared, and I needed to find a way out.

I embraced the Dru Yoga programme of exercise. I was able to complete 7 out of the 8 weeks of Yoga, and I practised at home with the DVD at least once a week, but more often twice. I found that Dru Yoga had a noticeable effect on my self-esteem and levels of confidence. I felt more in control, ready, aware, dynamic and empowered. I began to recognise the inner strength within me. It had always been there, but now I knew it! I was happier, and it was so much easier to cope with my circumstances. Although my circumstances had not changed, my outlook, attitude and behaviour began to improve remarkably.

Since starting the Dru Yoga pilot study, I have had no long term stress-related sickness absence. In fact, I have now enrolled on a course to become a Dru Yoga Instructor! I would not say I am ‘cured’, as I am still susceptible to stress and anxiety. However, I am using the tools I have learned from Dru Yoga, and it works!

Emotionally I am more calm and positive. Physically I am stronger, with greater flexibility and overall in much better shape than I was before. Although I am physically active and lift
weights, Dru took my physical capabilities to a new level, and I love a challenge! Dru uses visualisation as well, which really helps when doing the movements. It works on a deeper level and leaves me feeling grounded with a feeling of harmony, acceptance and simplicity. Namaste.’

As more research shows how yoga can help with workplace stress and back pain, it’s time for yoga teachers to take their skills off the mat and into businesses – who need the benefits of yoga more than ever.

 

Yoga for reducing perceived stress and back pain at work N. Hartfiel; C. Burton; J. Rycroft-Malone; G. Clarke; J. Havenhand; S. B. Khalsa; R. T. Edwards Occupational Medicine 2012; doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqs168 More information about Dru Yoga, visit druyoga.com

Ned Hartfiel
ned@druworldwide.com

Journey of a Yogi – Anouschka Dack

When we are searching for meaning or inspiration, it’s really important that we’re not so busy ‘searching’ that we miss it!

As a teenager, I was most definitely ‘searching’ for something. Having been brought up attending church and youth groups every Sunday I knew something ‘more’ existed, yet I was still missing a deep, lasting connection with myself.

I consider myself extremely lucky, because right when I needed it; I found Dru Yoga! I was 16, and attended a youth event run by Jane Clapham and the Dru Yoga team at their retreat centre in North Wales. The joy and excitement of finding my path inspired me to step into my power and start practicing yoga. Dru isn’t just about performing a yoga posture, it’s about your inner connection with you. For some of us that’s through physically moving the body, releasing endorphins and healing the body. For others its the balancing of mind and emotions, gaining a clarity of thoughts and perspective, and for others it may be to touch upon our essence in the depth of meditation. Read more about Dru Yoga here…

As someone brand new to yoga I threw myself in at the deep end, and at 16 I was one of the youngest ever to start and then graduate from the Dru Yoga Teacher Training course. I was able to manage my finances by paying in installments and by 18, I was teaching at university to earn my way through my degree. As the course is standardised worldwide, I was also catch up any weekends I missed throughout the country.

I found developing my own yoga and meditation practice quite a challenge at first… sitting still has never been my strong point, but perseverance and tangible results are very helpful indeed! We used a yoga journal or portfolios to record our experiences with the different postures as well as a couple of research projects on the spine and the chakra system. These really helped me to anchor my personal experience and gave me a reason to practice regularly. This was especially useful as a busy undergrad student at uni!

I enjoyed the challenge of teaching and through my years of working in Wolverhampton I attended some of the Dru Yoga post-grad courses and as a consequence found my yoga took me into some very exciting places! From Yogi You (Dru Yoga for kids and teens) I taught in schools with kids as young as 4 and 5, through to teaching teenagers studying ‘stress’ as part of their psychology A levels! I went on to teach in retirement homes, in day centres for adults with learning difficulties, pre-natal students and even Dru Dance!

Throughout all of this I have had the unwavering support of my Dru colleagues who having started out as my teachers on a course have now become my dearest friends and mentors.

My yoga career has now developed and I now work with the Dru team in Manchester with one of the founders of Dru in the UK; Annie Jones. Together with our fantastic Dru team and volunteers we run yoga teacher training courses, meditation and yoga foundation courses, workshops, classes and1:2:1 programmes. I also have the amazing privilage to travel to teach yoga at our Dru workshops and events around the world.

My current focus is to live by Dru’s mission statement of ‘giving people the tools to transform themselves’. It is vital that we as teachers, help our students feel strong and empowered and to realise that we do make a difference to ourselves and others’ lives. We we can, and do, positively impact those around us.

That, in essence, is what Dru has given me; the confidence, strength, vision and purpose to give, inspire and uplift everyone I meet. Dru has given me the tools and techniques I needed to become an empowered individual. It is a style that everyone can enjoy, learn and teach – no matter your size, shape or age! I’ve really had to drop my pre-conceived ideas of what a yoga teacher ‘should’ be – I’ve never been a stick insect! It’s important to remember both as a student and as a teacher you are perfect just as you are – right now.

Yes, we all want to improve, but don’t keep putting yourself down – waiting and searching… because you might have just found it!!!!

Welcome to Dru!
by Anouschka Dack
Dru Yoga Teacher trainer and holistic therapist in Manchester

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Beat the winter blues

As the weather forecast heralds more snow and rain, it’s easy to feel a little gloomy. The winter months can become dark days inside as well as outside as the lack of light, cold weather, rain and snow all make their unique contribution to our experience.  It is now generally recognised that the lack of light during the winter months significantly affects the way we feel. Symptoms can include:

  • Depression – feelings of lethargy, feeling unmotivated
  • Irritability
  • Overeating – craving carbohydrates and sweet foods, voracious appetite
  • Sleep problems – oversleeping and feeling fatigued, or disturbed sleep

dru surya namaskaraGetting enough light is one easy way to feel better. Light is measured in lux – and to give you an idea – indoor lighting is usually 50-200 lux.  At sunrise, with the first glimmer of light, the level is around 800 lux, on a cloudy day it’s 1000 -10,000 lux and on a sunny day, the light levels measure between 10,000 and 100,000 lux. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, the light outside is much brighter than indoor lighting. Our minds need 1000 lux for optimum concentration and emotional wellbeing.

So how can we overcome these challenging symptoms and rise above the darkness to stay bright and shiny inside and out?
 
1. Getting outside
Even if it’s cloudy! This helps to balance our natural internal cycles, and Vitamin D helps to prevent cancer. I find that in the dark winter months, it’s essential to schedule in a walk, either before work in the morning, or at lunchtime.

2. Invest in a full spectrum light
Bright, full spectrum light for half an hour every day has been found to be very effective in relieving all the above symptoms.  You may want to invest in some full spectrum light bulbs both at home and in the workplace if you really can’t get out much in daylight.
Now, what about the inside?

3. Essential Fats
Essential Fatty Acids, which are said to put light into the cells of the body. When the cell membranes are healthy and open and contain all the right fats, they will have ‘electron clouds’ around them which will draw in photons or light cells.  This is why it is crucially important to make sure you are taking enough essential fatty acids into your system.  You can do this through:
–          Omega 3, 6 and 9 – flax oils
–          Sesame and pumpkin seeds
–          Unheated nuts
–          Amino acid and herb supplements, such as barley grass (order it here) can help to adjust the effect on the chemical imbalance in the hypothalamus created by shortening of daylight hours and lack of sunlight.

4. Meditation with a candle
Tratak – and other meditation techniques focusing on a candle flame, can help to relieve some of the symptoms of winter blues. Order a CD of light meditations from our online shop here.

Wishing you a great week – from the snowy mountains of Snowdonia!

Jane Saraswati Clapham
Jane Saraswati ClaphamJane co-ordinates our Yoga retreat Centre in Snowdonia National Park as well as our Dru Yoga, Meditation and Dru Sound programmes. For more information about holidays in North Wales click here.
Dru Yoga Retreats Office
Snowdonia Mountain Lodge
Nant Ffrancon
Bethesda
Bangor
North Wales
LL57 3LX

01248 602900
For information on Dru Yoga retreats, walking holidays, meditation and sound courses, visit http://www.druworldwide.com

Dru Yoga for weight loss with Annie Jones

There are as many ways and theories of looking at weight loss as there are people eating!! This programme looks at the primary area of impact – the gut or small intestine (5 metres long). This is the place where all your food arrives in preparation for distribution! The more relaxed this area is, the better our absorption ability. The more easily we absorb food, the greater the amount of nutrients entering the body and the less we need to eat in order for the body to feel nourished and satisfied. In other words – relax and you will naturally eat less!

I believe that we are suffering from malnutrition as a nation. Even though we eat plenty, due to the stress and tension of the gut, there is an inability to absorb our nutrients. Therefore we eat more to feel satisfaction and nourishment. This leads to blood sugar swings and the need for sweet foods that absorb quickly and easily though the mouth and add to our weight.

5 keys to a happy gut!

1.    Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated . This will help overall movement in the gut.

2.    Take a moment to stop and breathe before you eat your food. As you breathe, the fragrance of the food will let the gut know to relax. All the necessary body juices and enzymes will prepare themselves to welcome the new arrivals – your food!

3.    Chew your food well so it is almost liquid. It will become absorbed quicker and more easily.

4.    Eat in a relaxed environment – not whilst having a meeting or on the run! This will allow your body to absorb in a relaxed state.

5.    Sitting twist: The following movement will help you to stretch and relax the gut thus adding assimilation and absorption of the food you eat.

Sit in the kneeling position. Using your right hand to steady you, move your body weight to your right side and come to sit on your right hip.

Lift your left foot and place it on the floor on the outside of your right knee. Adjust your position so that you are sitting squarely on the floor on both sitting bones.

Tuck your right elbow around your left knee resting the hand against the thigh and clasp your right wrist with your left hand, gently lifting through your spine.

Extend your left arm sideways in a wide arc and place it on the floor behind you, fingers pointing away. Inhale and draw your knee towards you. As you exhale rotate your torso to the left without straining your neck. In this position draw your abdominal wall inwards and elongate your spine.

To come out of this posture, release your arms and return to a forward facing position. Return to the original kneeling position and repeat on the opposite side.

Contra-indications

Anyone suffering from a hernia or who has had recent abdominal surgery should not attempt this posture. In addition anyone with spinal disc problems should check with their yoga teacher or health practitioner. Avoid this posture in pregnancy. It is best done on an empty stomach – but definitely avoid the posture if you have recently eaten a meal.

Physical Benefits

1.    The internal organs of the abdomen and pelvic area are massaged, and the lymphatic system is given a boost. Tense muscles in the neck and shoulders can be freed. The entire spine from the base to the top of the back is gently stretched and twisted, increasing mobility between the vertebrae.

2.    One of the most important benefits of the spinal twist arises from the increase in intra-abdominal pressure created by the twisting, and the resultant compression of the abdominal viscera. This pressure change should ideally be maintained for a few seconds in order to facilitate a detoxification of the intestinal tract.

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Would you like to manage your weight loss naturally? Check out Annie’s new CD: 5 steps to Balancing Weight loss naturally. Click here to find out more…