Yoga gets the blood in the body flowing! Relaxation helps circulation, movement brings more oxygen to your cells (which function better as a result), twisting brings fresh oxygenated blood to organs, and inversions reverse blood flow from the lower body to the brain and heart.
How to improve our circulation?
Poor circulation can be caused by many things: sitting for most of the day at a desk or in the car, high cholesterol, blood pressure issues, and even diabetes. It can also manifest in many ways, with the body showing signs of:
cold hands and feet
brittle hair and nails
dark circles under your eyes
Luckily, there are almost as many ways to combat it as there are symptoms. You can try:
healthy balanced diet
moving the body with exercise
Movement is key to wellness on many levels, including circulatory health. Yoga is not only one of the most accessible types of exercise (it’s low impact and can be practiced by everyone at all levels), but it’s also one of the best types of exercise for poor circulation.
The below sequence of poses will be a great addition to your self-care and wellness routine. This is especially for you if you’re dealing with circulation issues, no matter what their cause or physical manifestation in your body.
I have been guiding some of our students through the yoga sequence this week. It has been put together in a way that will allow you to explore the asana and yourself while also becoming familiar with the sense of moving inwards again and encouraging your prana (energy) to flow freely, as it should.
This week’s Yoga sequence has been put together to help us to release tension in the pelvic area, remove mental expectations and as a result, promote overall acceptance and surrender.
Let’s begin with the physical benefits of this practice.
How to release tension in the lower back?
Now we’ve all experienced lower backache and pelvic pain to some degree right? Prolonged sitting and activities like running can lead to tight hip flexors (the muscles that connect the upper body to the lower body) causing muscle imbalances that contribute to low back pain. Tight hip flexors create an anterior pull on the pelvis known as an anterior pelvic tilt (the pelvis tilts down at the front, I call it duck bum!). This alters posture and also inhibits, or even turns off, the opposing muscle group, the gluteus maximus (butt cheek muscles), leading to muscle imbalances. I like to call it lazy arse syndrome ha!
Microspasms or trigger points are then likely to develop in the overused/tight muscles like the hip flexors and hamstrings. Releasing the trigger points through particular asana (yoga postures) can lead to greater improvements in range of motion. This Yoga sequence has a selection of asana that has been carefully placed together to create release at these points while encouraging pandiculation (active stretch) in the tight areas and activation in the sleepy areas, such as the glutes.
This sequence is also a wonderful Yoga practice to ease period pains and other pelvic inflammatory pains such as IBS.
Super simple and can be carried out in under an hour, this yoga practice for lower backache is actually much much more than that. You will feel instant results, I’m sure of it!
Yoga to help ease lower back pain
Moving onto the spiritual part of the practice. I like to invite the students in my yoga class in St. Helens, to enjoy a little tuning inpractice before the sequence begins. It gives them the opportunity to observe what they have brought to the mat with them that day, without judgment. This process allows them to move into their practice with acceptance and compassion for themselves. Why not give it a try before you work your way through the sequence below.
This week’s Sankalpa (intention)…
EXPECTATIONS ~ Both on and off the mat. We place them on ourselves, on others…It’s no wonder, the world, the Maya, is full of them. Society itself is based on idealism and expectations.
When idealism is conceived, the very concept of an object or experience has been placed, which is the moment an expectation is also formed. So when we place expectations, we predict a certain pattern, behavior to arise, through projecting past (whether personal or non-personal) experiences into the future and onto almost anything. We place an expectation on the mere concept!
When idealism is conceived, the very concept of an object or experience has been placed, which is the moment an expectation is also formed
This can and will lead to disappointment, feelings of frustration, resentment, failure, the NOT ENOUGH.
So maybe ask yourself, when you notice, when you witness these e-motions arising (as a result of expectations not being met)
Why are you frustrated?
Why did you place an expectation?
Why did you not invite or allow the experience to form and unfold and conceive organically?
Why is NOW not enough?
WHO set the expectation?
WHO is witnessing the result?
WHO is even witnessing the emotions arise?
Does witnessing them allow you to watch the energy flow through you rather than become you?
Expectations are fixed. How will they ever meet a happy ending in our ever-changing dance we call life?
A whole potion of tools and techniques can help dissolve expectations, which doesn’t mean being passive or a pushover.
You are the alchemist.
By coming from a place of compassion, love for yourself, and others, the desire to become attached to expectations begins to dissolve. In turn, creating a natural progression into non-attachment, surrender, and acceptance. It is there you will find peace, stillness, and presence.
It’s amazing sometimes what just a little bit of time out can do for you; so that is my challenge to you for this week, or even for the rest of the month of April — to take some time out with yourself, for yourself.
I know we all lead incredibly busy lives — we run from place to place, constantly plugged into the technology of one kind or another. We look after all those around us, and when asked to find the time to meditate, do yoga, take a break, or “indulge” in something that we actually love or enjoy doing, we will more often than not be seen to throw our hands in the air and exclaim that we don’t have time for that!
But even 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference. Fifteen minutes a day can help you to “find yourself” and move through the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of your day in a much happier, more inspired, and alive way. We can all find 15 minutes in the day, right?
If you need a little guidance and support to find your meditation practice, I know you’re going to love this Sunrise Sadhana Morning Yoga class It gets you into a great daily habit and it will help you find your focus as you explore your own sadhana. When you meditate, you take time for yourself. In just 10 minutes, you’ll feel more at ease, and awareness and daily practice will get you into good habits.
Creating a Sadhana
I invite you to create a sadhana. The word sadhana means daily spiritual practice and the idea of this, is that for just 15 minutes a day you get to think of yourself and only you.
Truly, a sadhana can be anything that makes your heart sing. It is a practice that promotes and maintains wellbeing. There is only one aim — that you commit to it every day, no matter what. Here are some ideas of ways you can create your own sadhana:
3-12 simple rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara) will set you up for your day like never before! Notice how much more awake, alive, and tuned in you feel.
Sit with a simple breath meditation. Follow the breath, the inhale and the exhale — or you could add a mantra that flows with the breath if that helps.
An ideal way to start or end your day, as it helps you to clear your mind and regain focus. It’s most beautiful to simply allow the words to flow.
4. Commune With Nature
Go for a walk in the fresh air. Nature has a way of soothing the soul and allowing inspiration to flood in.
Positive affirmations done regularly can have a hugely powerful impact on your life. Work with around three at a time and repeat twelve times each.
6. Morning Intention
Set an intention for the day. It may be simply that you want to have a love-filled day, or there may be something that you need help achieving.
Commit to breathing, and I mean really breathing. Breath of Fire, Alternate Nostril Breathing, or full yogic breathing are all good options.
8. Gratitude Journal
At the end of each day, spend some time writing down all the things you are grateful for. This will help you spend as much time in gratitude as possible.
9. Be Creative
Write poetry, paint, sing, dance. Even if you write poetry that’s only ever read by you or sing words that only your ears will ever hear.
10. Be Present
A sadhana doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as lighting a candle every morning to welcome in the day and sitting in blissful silence.
I’d love to hear your sadhana ideas and results. Share in the comments below so we can all be inspired!
Yoga is not just rolling out a mat, to twist, stretch, and breathe deeply, it’s more than that. It’s a way of life; Yoga is an ancient practice that stimulates the body and releases the constraints of the mind. It brings balance to the body, regulating the system and smoothing out any dysfunction with regular practice.
It’s also a wonderful way to stave off regular illnesses and ailments.
Yoga can help the body fight infection.
At any given time of the day or year, our bodies are vulnerable to infection by activating a multitude of viruses and bacteria. Experiencing the delights of runny noses, tickly coughs, stomach infections, and nasty bouts of the flu, winter definitely seems to be the time when they let their presence be known. This is normally due to the reduced day light. Daylight being the go to source of Vitamin D, which gives a great boost to the immune system.
Did you know that Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin? In fact, the final product of Vitamin D conversion in the body is considered a hormone. We can obtain Vitamin D from some foods such as oily fish, egg yolks and whole milk, however 90% of the Vitamin D we get is made by our bodies. The body makes Vitamin D from direct sunlight (particularly UV-B radiation) in the skin and the synthesis process continues in the liver and kidneys, until producing the final active form of the hormone.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin
Several different types of cells in the body, including immune cells, contain the receptor for Vitamin D, which means they can respond to Vitamin D molecules, triggering different reactions in the body. No wonder Vitamin D can affect so many aspects of health including bone health, cardiovascular health, immunity, autoimmune disease, type I diabetes, and mental health.
So, as well as soaking up as much sun as we can in the winter months with crisp winter sun walks and SAD lamps, how else can we boost our immune system?
how can we boost our immune system?
Yoga! A regular practice can really help the body in its maintenance and fight infection. When I say Yoga, I mean the lifestyle. Yoga is much more than the poses you see in magazines on social media. It involves practice daily, both on and off the mat. A combination of asana (poses), pranayama (breathwork), meditation, and a seasonal wholefood diet, will give a great foundation for the body to build its natural immunity.
We will share with you why:
It Helps To Keep the Respiratory System strong.
Colds, coughs, and similar infections are caused by bacteria that badly damage the upper respiratory system. If your immune system is not strong enough bring back balance, the bacteria can penetrate into the lungs and lead to pneumonia or bronchitis. Yoga is indeed the main tool for maintaining the health of our respiratory system. What’s more? Regularly practice of pranayama (breathing exercises) and asanas (yoga postures) conditions the respiratory tract and boosts the effectiveness of the lungs.
It Reduces the Stress Levels Naturally
A person who’s under stress is more likely to catch a cold or a fever when viruses invade the nasal passage. Also, the stress and anxiety seem to worsen or lift the risk of infirmities such as depression, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and asthma. To put it otherwise, yoga helps lower stress hormones and calms the nervous system, which is associated with the immune system.
It keeps Muscles and Joints in A Great Working Order
Whatever is your age, the joint and muscular pain doesn’t seem to discriminate, although the chance of it increasing as you approach middle age and onwards increases. This is due to the natural depletion of collagen within the body. Women experience this much earlier than men, as well as a reduction in bone density. A weak bone structure, lack of physical activity, and deficiency of essential nutrients in the diet can aggravate the situation. Moreover, Yoga asana helps to lubricate the joints with synovial fluid, stabilises the muscles through strengthening exercises, strengthens the bones due to the impact of the muscles supporting the body is holding a posture with bodyweight, which in turn help reduce the chance of osteopenia, arthritis, and general joint pain.
It Ensures the Optimal Functioning Of All Organs
Office jobs that require sitting for long hours and a sedentary lifestyle mean that our organs don’t get enough or adequate amount of blood flow, which in turn lead to blockages and build-up of toxins. Over time, this leads to breakdowns in the body system. If you continue Yoga on a regular basis, it can stimulate the lymphatic system, to remove the toxins from the body. In fact, there are various kinds of asana that ensure organs and glands receive fresh blood and are gently stimulated and massaged. The rise in the supply of oxygenated blood to organs ensures their optimal function. see the free yoga sequence below.
Yoga can bring many benefits to your immune system. Practice Yoga daily, even if it’s a few minutes of breath awareness or a little 5-minute sun salutation. Attempt yoga to stimulate and improve the functioning of your nervous system, digestive system, circulatory and endocrine systems. Attend a regular practice, and remember to incorporate it into your daily routine. It is such a wonderful gift!
Do you find yourself feeling run down in autumn or winter? Do you tend to get sick often or experience low energy? Not only is autumn a time for transition, but as we ease into our new schedules, environments, or intentions, it can often be a time of illness. Yoga offers many unique tools to increase our body’s natural resilience, ease stress, and boost immunity in very tangible ways.
Join me for this special seasonal workshop to discover and practice some of the most useful yoga postures, breathing techniques, and acupressure points to not only help you avoid getting sick, but help to treat fevers, pain, and sinus congestion. You will receive practical knowledge to incorporate into your daily life as well as a written outline of a suggested yoga practice. Enjoy complimentary tea and immune-boosting aromatherapy while you practice!
Only several spots available; Preregister for £20 investment in advance to secure your space.
Virasana is a wonderful remedy for tired legs at the end of a long day, as well as an alternative to posture for seated meditation.
vira = man, hero, chief
Hero Pose basics
Releases tension in the thighs, knees, and ankles
Strengthens the arches of the feet
Improves digestion and relieves gas
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester) and Christmas shopping!
Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
To come into Hero pose or Virasana, begin in an all fours position on your hands and knees.
Bring your knees closer together and separate your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart
Press the top of your feet down and slowly lower your hips back until eventually sitting on the mat (or props) between the heels
Use your hands to roll the flesh of your calves away, draw your navel in and up, ground through your sitting bones and extend through the crown of your head
Stay for 5 to 10 breaths
Come out of the pose the way you came in, by placing the hands in front of you and lifting the hips back up to all fours
Beginners’ tips for Hero pose
Use as many props as you need to raise the hips up, and avoid any discomfort in the knees. Stacking cushions or blocks between your feet is a great option
You can practise the pose one leg at a time with one leg folded under and the other straight out in front of you before coming into the full pose
Gradually build up the length of time you stay in the pose.
If your ankles are stiff, place a rolled up blanket underneath to decrease the stretch
Keep pressing firmly through the tops of the feet and firm the inner ankles in
If you feel any discomfort in your knees, adjust the pose accordingly by elevating your hips by placing a couple of blocks or cushions between the feet to sit on.
Avoid in the case of ankle or knee injuries or recent knee op.
If your quads (front of thigh muscles) are very tight, come into the pose slowly and keep the hips higher by sitting on props such as yoga blocks or cushions. You should feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle rather than at the attachment points at the knees.
I enjoy poses that appear simple yet present us with a physical and mental challenge. At first glance, Hero Pose appears to be as easy as just getting down on your knees. However, the posture calls for a precise, deliberate alignment of your feet and knees. Depending on the structure of your calves, ankles, and quadriceps, you might need to modify the pose. You must practise inner and outer calm and sit with oneself in order to hold the pose.
I hope this break down on hero pose helps you to explore it further in your own time, and you are more than welcome to come along to one of my yoga class in St Helens, or for an even deeper practise one of my yoga workshops in Merseyside too!
Oh and speaking of Christmas shopping and aching legs…why not come along to my Relax & Recharge Christmas Yoga Workshop. A few hours to treat yourself with some gentle postures to unwind, meditation to unravel the mind and a relaxing sound bath by my guest facilitator as my Christmas gift from me to you! All levels welcome, even complete beginners.
So this coming month’s theme for my online yoga classes is deities. A sankalpa (intention) will be set at the beginning of each practice. This intention will be based on the chosen deity of the week and what they represent. The first yoga class will be themed on Ganesh.
The yoga class is for everyone. Suitable for beginners, all the way to advanced. The sequence will include some somewhat challenging asana. Purposely placed to challenge us and entice the ego to come out and play. I will be guiding us inward to focus more on the mindset. Encouraging us to overcome what’s perceived to be an obstacle and learning to move into the postures with strength, ease, and surrender.
Overcoming Difficult Times
So for those who are in the St Helens and Merseyside area, please feel free to come along to practice with us in St Helens town centre. Or maybe choose the option to practice yoga online in the comfort of your own home.
So let’s begin with an insight into the beautiful story of Ganesh, so we can become familiar with the moral of the story.
Traditionally, at the start of a brand new venture, the mantra Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha is used to clear paths to potential difficulties. This chant invokes Ganesh, the acknowledged deity and ‘lord of obstacles’.
Here is one of my favourite versions…enjoy!
What does Ganesha symbolise?
Also referred to as Ganapati, The Lord of Beginnings, The Remover of Obstacles, and also the deity of fine Fortune, Ganesh is probably one of the most well-known deities. He’s the son of Shiva and Parvati, two of perhaps the most powerful Gods and Goddesses, however, despite the celebrated depictions of his elephant’s head, he wasn’t born that way….
The story concerning how Ganesh got his elephant’s head varies across India – as most things do – however a wide told story goes one thing like this:
The birth of Ganesha
One day Goddess Parvati was at home on Mt.Kailash preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, her husband’s (Shiva) cow, to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiva came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiva. Parvati was angered by Nandi’s act of defiance, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathing life into it, she created Ganesha, declaring him to be her loyal son.
such power did Ganesha possess
The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house! Furious, Shiva ordered his army to destroy the boy, but they all failed! Such power did Ganesha possess, being the son of Devi Herself!
This surprised Shiva. Seeing that this was no ordinary boy, the usually peaceful Shiva decided he would have to fight him, and in his divine fury severed Ganesha’s head, killing him instantly. When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged and insulted that she decided to destroy the entire Creation! Lord Brahma, being the Creator, naturally had his issues with this, and pleaded that she reconsider her drastic plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met: one, that Ganesha is brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.
Shiva, having cooled down by this time, and realising his mistake, agreed to Parvati’s conditions. He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he crosses that is laying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his son as well and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the ganas (classes of beings), Ganapati.
Meaning of the story of Ganesh
At first glance, this story may seem like a myth or a magical tale to share with our children. But, the true magical meaning is veiled.
Parvati is a form of Devi, the Parashakti (Supreme Energy). In the human body, She resides in the Muladhara chakra as the Kundalini shakti. It’s said that when we rid ourselves of the impurities that bind us, then the Lord automatically comes. This is why Shiva, the Supreme Lord, came unannounced as Parvati was bathing.
Nandi, Shiva’s bull, who Parvati first sent to guard the door represents the divine temperament. Nandi is so devoted to Shiva that his every thought is directed to Him, and he can easily recognise the Lord when He arrives. This shows that the attitude of the spiritual aspirant is what gains access to Devi’s (the kundalini shakti’s) abode. One must first develop this attitude of the devotee before hoping to become qualified for the highest treasure of spiritual attainment, which Devi alone grants.
the great secret is revealed
After Nandi permitted Shiva to enter, Parvati took the turmeric paste from Her own body, and with it created Ganesha. Yellow is the colour associated with the Muladhara chakra, where the kundalini resides, and Ganesha is the deity who guards this chakra. Devi needed to create Ganesha, who represents the earthbound awareness, as a shield to protect the divine secret from unripe minds. It is when this awareness begins to turn away from things of the world, and toward the Divine, as Nandi had, that the great secret is revealed.
Shiva is the Lord and Supreme Teacher. Ganesha here represents the ego-bound Jiva. When the Lord comes, the Jiva (the consciousness in body), surrounded as it is with the murky cloud of ego, usually doesn’t recognise Him, and maybe even ends up arguing or fighting with Him! Therefore, it is the duty of the Lord, in the form of the Guru, to cut off the head of our ego! So powerful is this ego, however, that at first, the Guru’s instructions may not work, as Shiva’s armies failed to subdue Ganesha. It often requires a tougher approach, but, eventually the compassionate Guru, in His wisdom finds a way.
Mudras are gestures created with the hands to focus the mind and direct subtle energy towards a certain place. They’re highly symbolic and are said to be powerful in the yogic tradition.
The Ganesh mudra represents strength and power and is additionally thought to be strengthening for the physical heart, and the muladhara chakra. Position the hands clasped in front of the chest with the elbows wide. This mudra represents both protection, but can also symbolise that our biggest obstacle area is often caused by ourselves. Our doubts, fears, and insecurities are often the only things holding us back (ego). By knowing this, we might realise that rather than seeking outside of ourselves for the answers to life’s issues. The real work lies in removing our obstacles. Maybe if we ask nicely though, Ganesh can lend a hand….
Here is some of my favourite Ganesha homeware…click on the images to take you to store
Today’s sequence has been put together in honour of the full moon. Society typically encourages our solar, more masculine impulses, making it easy to pursue worldly achievement rather than inner awareness.
Although the aim of hatha yoga is to balance our lunar and solar energies. The word Ha meaning sun, and the word the meaning moon. Even our asana practice tends to reflect a bias for the solar. They often emphasise sun salutations and heating practices in the interest of physical fitness.
“chill out before we burn out.”
If the divine lunar force could speak, she might lovingly remind us to “chill out before we burn out.” Like a mother, the moon can teach us to slow down, listen to our own needs, and be receptive to change.
We can invoke and pay homage to the lunar energy in nature and within by practicing Chandra Namaskara, otherwise known as the moon salutation.
Moon Salutation – a full-body prayer
The 15 steps in the sequence below represent 15 lunar days; a 16th step honors the tantric goddess Shodashi, who presides over all the phases of the moon, as well as all that is perfect, complete, and beautiful. When practiced with devotion and gratitude for the divine feminine, this version of Chandra Namaskara can become a full-body prayer. An inward-moving and mildly calming practice, Chandra Namaskara can be practiced any time of day, including late afternoon and evening.
To bring an element of ritual into your practice, try it during the new and full moon phases. Try practising outside anytime under the moon itself. The sequence is safe to explore for anyone who practices sun salutations, and many women find it soothing during menstruation or pregnancy.
Move through the moon salutation slowly and mindfully, maintaining a smooth, deep, diaphragmatic breath. (Avoid using ujjayi breathing, which is heating). Tune in to a sense of devotion as you honor all the phases of the moon and the cycles of your life. Just as with the four seasons, the phases of the moon carry various qualities and intentions. If you practice yoga during the full moon, be prepared to experience new sensations. Feeling a little ungrounded or obstinate. Accept those feelings and try to create space and open yourself to the powerful energy of the moon.
Free Visualisation Meditation
I have attached a link below to take you to a free Visualisation Meditation script and audio file for the end of this practise.
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