Winter Yoga Warrior

Cold, dark mornings and winter nights don’t really encourage us to roll out our mat and take part in a yoga class; however, it is perhaps the best thing you can do to support your mind and body during the coldest season of the year.

In addition to cold weather, barometric pressure can also increase joint pain. When there is a decrease in weather conditions, and a lowering of air pressure. tissues in the joints will expand, increasing pressure and pain. Yoga practice aids joint mobility, improves circulation and helps to ease stiffness in the joints.

When the air we breath in is very cold it can constrict the lungs, by practicing our pranayama and breathing in and out through the nose we are warming the air and helping our lung function. Breathing in and out through the nose is also a good way to swirl and filter the aid that we breath.

The benefits of sweating during a strong, yoga practice include cleansing the pores, maintaining skin hydration and suppleness. Working the body hard will also increase cardiovascular and respiratory function, helping to maintain a healthy body weight.

The yogic practice of surya namaskar (sun salutations) can elevate the mood, increase energy levels, and rebalance the circadian rhythms. Practicing yoga asana that contribute to creating a relax and digest state in the body, reducing cortisol and destressing, is the best boost we can give to our immune system to help keep us healthy throughout the winter.

Why is Autumn a good time to do yoga?

Autumn officially began on 22 September with the Autumnal Equinox. Although it is a beautiful and sunny day as I write this, there is the beginning of a chill in the air and the evenings are becoming darker much earlier.

Autumn brings an increase in VATA energy, which can make us feel anxious and unsettled, the amount of VATA can overwhelm us and lead to us feeling out of balance. In order to combat the chaotic VATA energy, there are many things you can do to help. While we cannot change the season or the VATA energy circulating at this time of year we can do things to ground, settle and calm our bodies.

Keep a regular schedule, enjoy your yoga practice at the same time every day/week.

Our diet should move to include lots of root vegetables, warm soups, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon teas will warm the body and aid digestion.

The lungs and large intestines are the two organs associated with Autumn. Yoga poses to focus on these organs will be included in our classes throughout October- Twists, Side Stretches, Bridge Pose, Warrior I, Warrior II and Sun Salutations to warm the body.

After our practice we will enjoy a long Savasana to stabilise the moving VATA energy.

Book now to join us for our Autumn themed October classes.

Starting Physical Yoga Practice

The toughest step to make is the first one. If you’re hesitating about giving yoga a try, remember everyone is a beginner at some point.

There are many misconceptions about physical yoga practice, here are three.

  • “You have to be flexible” – No you don’t, over time your body will become more flexible but you don’t need to be able to touch your toes to start with.
  • “It’s for women” – interesting assumption, as yoga was designed in India 5,000 year ago exclusively for men and elite athletes in many sports, practice yoga as part of their training regime.
  • “Yoga is not challenging” – yoga will keep your physical body strong flexible and balanced, but also by training your mind to stay present it is going to improve your overall well being, helping with improved concentration, better sleep habits and reduced stress and anxiety.

Once you feel ready for a physical yoga practice start mindfully. There is no need to jump into complex poses and try to be a new ‘bendy’ person. Find a beginners class and start to learn the basics and whether its Shavasana, Downward-facing dog, Mountain or Childs pose, focus on:

  • pressing your hands or feet into the floor
  • lengthening your spine
  • relaxing your hips

If you remember these three basic rules you will absolutely be working with yoga poses as well as even the most dedicated practitioner.

Look forward to seeing you on the mat.

Beginners Yoga Tips (2)

Breathwork or breath control is one of the foundations of yoga. The Sanskrit term you will often hear for the practice of breathing exercises in yoga, is Pranayama (‘Prana’ -life force/energy, Yama – restrain). These breathing exercises have the ability to quickly increase our energy, release stress, improve our mental clarity, and physical health. There are many breath exercises you will learn on your yoga journey, they will involve breathing through the nostrils in a specific pattern of inhalation, breath retention, exhalation. Some common yoga breathing exercises include Ujjayi breathing, Bhramari pranayama, and Nadi Shodhan pranayama (alternate nostril breathing). While the breathing exercises themselves are valuable the most important thing as a beginner is to learn to become aware of the breath.

Exercise – Simply start to notice your inhale and exhale, take time throughout your day even just one minute to stop, notice how you are feeling and become aware of how you are breathing. Just this one simple exercise can reduce stress, improve sleep and make you more present and aware.

Stillness- Most of us find it very challenging to sit still. Take a moment to think about your usual day, even when you are chilling out, and relaxing most of us are not still. Are your hands still busy scrolling your phone, feet tapping, mind wandering to the past or the future? Much of the time all of this is happening at once!

Exercise – The next time you are waiting in line, sat as a passenger in a car, on the bus, relaxing in front of the TV, notice the temptation to take out your phone for distraction. Try to observe the urge rather than immediately give into it.

So, before we start our journey into yoga poses begin to practice being still, being present and aware of your breath. These most basic tenets of yoga will have way more profound effects on your yoga practice than being able to wrap you foot around the back of your head.

Beginner Tips for Starting Yoga

Thinking about your first yoga class? ( Hopefully with Gemstone on 9th September @ 6pm ). Over the next two weeks we will be sharing some hints and tips, for those of you about to embark on your yoga journey, to help get you started.

Yoga is much more than a type of exercise.

It is a way of being, a pathway of how to exist in the world.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means Union. Union of mind and body. Yoga is a way to help you bring union to your thoughts and your present physical state of being. Yoga helps millions of people live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

APPRECIATE YOUR BODY
The first step on your journey is to appreciate what you have. Take a moment to appreciate your body, exactly as it is right now. Appreciating what you have and finding gratitude is the important first step in yoga before you even reach the mat.

RELEASE EXPECTATIONS
Approach yoga with no expectations. let go of the need to be able to touch your toes by next week, or achieve a balancing arm posture by Christmas. A yogic mindset is an ongoing practice throughout life that will lead you to a place where thoughts of how life should or ought to be no longer exist. This can take years to achieve but, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Turn up on your mat with a mindset of gratitude and no expectations, then believe me your yoga practice will evolve naturally and beautifully.

UNDERSTAND YOGA

Images of postures showing amazing flexibility, contorting of muscles and people bending themselves into extreme shapes, can leave the beginner feeling a sense of dread and despair.

“I will never be able to do that!!! “

Fear not!! Yoga is NOT about extreme flexibility and bending your spine in ways that look impossible (although with regular practice your flexibility will improve) . Yoga is about BREATHING, MEDITATION, RELAXATION and using basic yoga poses to CREATE FREEDOM in your body.

So, our first tip for those of you starting yoga, is do not worry if you cannot currently sit on the floor with your legs crossed, or bend over backwards. Approach your first class with the understanding that yoga is a process, and by taking that first step onto a yoga mat, you are moving towards a new lifestyle.

After all the physical yoga practice is only one of the EIGHT LIMBS of YOGA, more about that in a future blog.

Namaste

No part of this blog may be reproduced by any other individual or organisation, without the express permission of Gemstone Heath and Wellbeing. Although Gemstone H&W has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the information on this blog is accurate, we cannot accept liability for any errors or omissions. No information given should be taken as legal advice, nor should it take the place of medical care or advice given by primary healthcare providers. Gemstone H&W shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising from any information contained in this blog.

Ten reasons to take up Yoga

There are lots of reasons to take up yoga many of which are actually listed on the UK NHS website, which highlights it as a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There’s some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.

Yoga is an ancient practice which has stood the test of time. It developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE and the Upanishads from even earlier BCE.  In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. However, Yoga is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core, a total mind-body experience, with both physical and mental benefits, making it one of the most versatile ways to work out.

TEN LINKS TO RESEARCH SHOWING WHY ITS BENEFICIAL TO START YOGA PRACTICE

  1. Stress Relief
  2. Lose weight
  3. Gain strength
  4. Sharpen your mind
  5. Ease pain
  6. Improve mood
  7. Improve balance and muscle tone
  8. Improve sleep
  9. Fight food cravings
  10. Reduce Migraines and headaches

CONTACT US for more information on our September 2021 yoga classes.

No part of this blog may be reproduced by any other individual or organisation, without the express permission of Gemstone Heath and Wellbeing. Although Gemstone H&W has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the information on this blog is accurate, we cannot accept liability for any errors or omissions. No information given should be taken as legal advice, nor should it take the place of medical care or advice given by primary healthcare providers. Gemstone H&W shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising from any information contained on this blog.

Connect with Nature to improve your Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Nature can mean a lot of different things to different people.

Nature can be the local park, seas, rivers, forests, mountainsides, wetlands, moors, or even a window box. People who are connected to nature are happier. Connecting with nature can be visiting your local park, a day at the beach, a walk in the hills, or a form of ecotherapy, Gemstone H&W are very keen on which emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”).

Not everyone is able to get out to visit the vast open spaces we are so lucky to have around the UK, but that is not a problem, mental health benefits can also be achieved by connecting with the nature on your doorstep. For example, tending to your houseplants, doing things like growing food or flowers in your yard or on your windowsill, being around animals or even watching nature programmes on TV can all have lots of positive effects. Which means the mental health benefits of nature are accessible to everyone.

Gemstone H&W Yoga regularly practice outdoors in gardens, forests, or at the beach, as research into combining physical activity and connection to nature, has been shown to have beneficial effects on health and wellbeing. Yoga outdoors helps you to feel connected to nature feeling the earth/sand between your toes has a wonderful grounding effect on the bodies energy. With the names of so many yoga poses coming from the natural world ( Tree, Eagle, Crow, Frog, Pigeon, Fish, Mountain) it seems the perfect activity to undertake in the great outdoors.

Whether yoga is for you or not, in whatever way you can place one Connection with Nature activity at the top of your weekly to do list, and feel the benefits.

Blue Tulips for Mental Health Awareness Week 10 to 16 May 2021

Award-winning artist Paul Cummins MBE (responsible for the 2014 ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation at the Tower of London) and Mental Health UK have come together to spring into action this week.

As we across the UK continue to move slowly forward from COVID 19 lockdown, Tulips are an appropriate symbol for us, they have withstood viruses, and continue to flower each spring a beautiful emblem of hope for the future.

Paul Cummins has donated a unique illustration of a tulip, you can download it here

During the week, Mental Health UK wants us to colour it in blue and stick it in our window as a symbol of mental health awareness.

We look forward to seeing you share your Tulip pictures and lets all seed a conversation about Mental Health.

#connectwithnature

April 27th 2021 -Pink Super Moon

This months full moon reaches its peak at 4.31am on April 27th 2021. The naming of moons originates from early Native Americans who used them as a way to track the seasons. The names were adopted by colonial Americans and are still in use today. Aprils Pink Moon is named so because of the pink wild flowers that would bloom at that time in America. In England at this time of year we are surrounding by Pink Tree Blossom, I think it is an appropriate name for us to continue to use.

So what is a Super Moon?

A Super Moon happens when a full moon is at the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth, so when we look up it appears around 30% brighter and 14% bigger. Two super full moons are due on April 27 and May 26, as well as two super new moons on November 4 and December 4, but we won’t be able to see these as new moons are invisible to the naked eye.

How does a Super Moon affect us?

The obvious impact of a Super Moon is on the tides which are higher, as the moons gravitational pull is stronger on the Earths surface water.

As the human body is 60% water then it is logical that a Super Moon would have an impact on us. Emotions are heightened, it can be harder to sleep the nights of and around the full moon, with lower melatonin levels at the full moon you can tend to wake feeling less refreshed, leading to feeling more erratic, emotional and prone to accidents at this time.

So what should I do when its a Super Moon?

All full moons are the perfect time to use grounding Reiki and Yoga practices to feel centered and avoid activities that over stimulate the senses, avoiding alcohol is a good idea too.

Put out your crystals to make the most of that close moon energy to recharge them. Lastly, enjoy just gazing at the full moon, to get the most benefit make sure you do so for a minimum of seven minutes, you will be amazed by the insights that come to you.

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