May 2013 – the bow

bow-for-blog

Dhanurasana or the Bow is an amazing backward bend, which also opens the chest and stretches pecs and quads. This posture gives a complete activation of the whole spine, helping maintain both its suppleness and strength and also of the hips.

In the final rocking stage the bow gives a gentle massage to the abdominal organs, obviously aiding digestion.

In this posture the Manipura chakra (the solar centre) and Vishuddhi chakra (the throat centre) are activated. As a consequence we find that on a mental / emotional level this posture helps us to become more able to express yourself.

The bow is a very powerful posture for helping us to train the mind. In the practice of archery it is said that the concentrated focus on a target helps the subject and the object to become one.

Contraindications:
If you are suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or have had recent abdominal surgery please avoid this posture. Women who are pregnant or are menstruating should also avoid this posture.

Body preparations:
It is really important to prepare the body for the stretches this posture brings. Use the Quadriceps stretch (stand on one leg and hold the other foot close to the buttocks – keeping the knees close together and the sternum lifted), the Iliopsoas stretch and the pectoralis Stretch (take a yoga strap – or your hubby’s tie – and hold onto it with your arms about 1m apart – then lift up and over your head, so your arms are stretched out behind you).

How to do this posture:
You can perform this posture on a blanket if you need to cushion the hip bones. You may also find that you need to use straps to perform the individual stages of this posture. If your hands don’t reach your feet easily then please take care not to over-stretch – use a strap or a sash hooked around the ankle. It is important to gain the benefits of the posture without any pain.

Stage 1 (preparing the knees and thighs)
Lie in the prone position with both hands extended in front and the forehead placed on the floor. Bend the right knee and bring your right hand back and take hold of the foot. Draw the foot towards the right buttock so you can feel the stretch along the front of the right thigh.

Then bring the left hand also to the right foot. Breathe in and as you exhale raise the right thigh by pushing the front of the right foot into your palms and moving your heel away from your buttock, whilst at the same time lifting your head and chest off the ground. Hold for a few seconds, breathing normally. On an exhalation lower your head and chest to the ground and release hold of your right foot. Make sure you release hands and feet gently back to the floor.

Rest in Makarasana for a few moments before repeating with the left leg.

Stage 2 (full posture)
Remain in the prone position, bend both knees and take hold of the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the left hand. Breathe in and as you exhale raise both the top of the body and the legs off the ground. As the body balances on the abdomen it rocks gently with each breath (the breath will be faster than normal in this position).

Your arms are like the bow-string which tenses to bring the body back into the shape of the bow.

Top Tip: 
It is important to follow this posture with some forward bending postures. Either the knee-to-head posture (Janu Sirsasana) or the sitting forward bend (Paschimottanasana) would be ideal.

Advertisements

Dru Pre-natal yoga

DYOS-jenni-jonesCalling all you pregnant ladies…yoga has a gift for you!

Why is it that some women swan through pregnancy and childbirth without a care in the world, relishing every moment of it, and other women struggle every step of the way, swearing that “nobody needs more than one child anyway” when asked if they are going to do it again! It has been postulated that stress and tension levels have a little something to do with it…

Cue the pre-natal expert… Jenni Jones, Dru Yoga Teacher, from Liverpool!

Jenni Jones is Liverpool’s very own Florence Nightingale. Specialising in pre and post natal pregnancy yoga, Jenni helps the Mums of Liverpool through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and childbirth through her amazing business ‘Yoga Bumps and Babies’

Q. So Jenni…..what is the gift that yoga has to offer pregnant women?

A. From fertility, conception and pregnancy through to birth and crawling babies – yoga can support you every step of the way! Many believe there is an inner wisdom within us all, a body wisdom if you like, a huge resource available to us as women and as mothers – to find it we have to step out of the busyness of life and connect deeply with our body.

Q. How can we connect with that inner wisdom?

A. You have to listen to your intuition, strengthen the bond with your baby and breathe deeply through your day. Through your yoga movements, breath awareness and deep relaxation you can find you inner connection and a deep sense of peace.

Q. How can we stay happy through pregnancy?

A. Oxytocyn is the hormone which supports our relaxation. It’s our feel-good, relaxed, happy, love hormone! It helps us to create our babies, to enjoy the pregnancy and helps us through the birth. The great news is that yoga helps to promote and support the production of Oxytocyn in our bodies – filling us with a great feel good factor!

Q. What’s your top tip for women during their pregnancy?

A. Take time each day to breathe deeply connect with your body and your baby. Make yoga part of your daily ritual. Pregnancy and birth is a journey you make together make it easier and more delightful by nurturing yourself with prana through yoga practice and foods that really nourish you both deeply, Taking care of yourself is a beautiful way to take care of your baby.

Jenni is a pre and post natal yoga expert in Liverpool, teaching classes, workshops and baby massage. Find out more at www.yogabumpsandbabies.co.uk

DYOS-pre-natal-yoga2-ad

 

Discover Dru Yoga for pregnancy at the Dru Yoga Online Studio. Get your 2 month FREE trial and start your pre-natal classes straight away.

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

> Yoga retreats and holidays
> Dru Yoga Online Studio
> Dru Yoga teacher Training
> Yoga in your area

www.druworldwide.com

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

March 2013 – Sitting forward bend

paschimottanasana-for-blogPaschimottanasana
Sitting Forward Bend

Physically this posture is great for releasing back tension as it stretches the hamstrings and lower back muscles. It also stimulates the digestive and reproductive systems by massaging the abdominal area, thereby helping peristalsis. It also activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands and it can help improve diabetes.

Emotionally it helps us by calming the nerves, releasing fear and amplifies courage. It also helps bring control over our desire-dominated senses. It’s also a very powerful asana for spiritual awakening…

Contraindications:
If you are suffering from Sciatica or a slipped disc it is advisable not to do this posture. During pregnancy or if you are suffering from any spinal, hip or knee problems please work gently. If you know you have short hamstrings please make sure you keep the spine extended and don’t reach further than is comfortable.

It is really important that when doing this posture that you hinge forward at the hips, stretching up and forward from the lower back area, not just bending forward at the waist. To help with this it may help to sit on a cushion to help tilt the pelvis forward slightly. Preparations to help with this posture are some hamstring stretches.

How to do this posture
1. Sit upright (on a cushion if necessary) with both legs stretched out in front. Place hands on the ground by your hips. Extend spine upwards towards ceiling. With each inhalation feel spine extend, exhale spine relax.

2. With your palms facing inwards, breathe in and raise your hands slowly to the heart level, lifting your sternum as you lift the hands to heart level. As the hands come to the heart visualise a soft light at the heart centre.

3. Rotate the palms to face forward, away from the body and as you exhale gently stretch forward from the base of the spine, extending the arms along your legs as far as is comfortable. You may need to bend your knees here. As the hands are in the furthermost position visualise a soft light flowing from the heart to the crown of the head and down the arms.

4. Breathing in again, turn the palms to face the sides of legs and begin to uncurl the spine from the base, drawing the hands along the sides of the legs and up to the heart level, raising the sternum once again but keeping the shoulders relaxed. As you uncurl the spine visualise the soft light flowing up the legs back to the heart.

5. Continue with the flowing movements, working with the breath for a few times, creating a soft slowing rhythm of movement and visualisation of light moving through the body, trying to extend the forward bend a little each time but working within the limits of your own body at all times.

6. For the final forward bend, once you have placed the hands at the furthermost point, extend the arms so that the palms are flat on the floor and your forehead lowers gently towards the legs. Relax in this position breathing gently. Then in your own time, uncurl gently to an upright sitting position, resting your hands on your legs for a few moments, enjoying the energy and stillness of the posture.

Top Tip:
The key intention of this posture is to replenish your energy by letting go of painful emotions. Literally translated this is ‘the west-facing posture’ and like the setting sun, it soothes and calms your mind and emotions. As you back stretches forward old habits patterns are released, losing their hold on you so that your natural intuitive senses can unfold. Experience the wonderful energy this posture brings.

Disocver more about Dru:
> www.druworldwide.com
(yoga holidays, yoga teacher training & local yoga workshops and classes)
> Online Yoga studio
> Online Meditation course
> Online Gita Course