Your January newsletter is here! Read. Share. Enjoy.
Chances are, you’ve made some resolutions. New Year’s resolutions imply that we need to fix things; that our lives are there to be tidied and perfected.
I suggest before starting on resolutions, however worthwhile, we take the time to think about all the ways life is rich, fulfilling, rewarding and blessed.
Make a list of the amazing things that happened in 2017. Ask yourself
My 2017 held incredible moments, like the Yoga Holiday With Paul retreat and my trip to Bhutan. But highlights don’t have to be big adventures or foreign excursions. Some of my most cherished moments were the joy of seeing students grow in their practice, deepening my bonds with family and friends, simply cycling through London and taking in all this city has to offer.
Take the time to celebrate 2017 and please, share your happy moments in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul!
The holiday bustle can make it difficult to make your regular yoga class, not to mention that a lot of studios cut the number of classes offered, or close altogether.
Don’t let this stop you doing yoga, though! After all, you need it more than ever during busy, stressful times.
My recommendation for keeping yourself grounded, healthy and calm during the season is to do home practice. If you don’t have the benefit of the yoga studio warm up with a few sets of Surya Namaskara (sun salutations). Do five to ten rounds of sun salutations followed by other yoga poses and then rest deeply. This is perfect!
If you’re not sure of the sequence here is a great step-by-step guide.
You might find that this could be the mantra to stay fit over the festive season. You’ll be amazed how a home session can relax and invigorate you.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon Pose) is the second posture in the hot yoga warm-up sequence. In other words, it’s one that happens while we’re still getting grounded, focused; while we’re still waking up our bodies and minds.
It is an incredibly beneficial pose, however. It deserves time and attention, and will reward us when we practice it with full attention and commitment.
Among its many benefits, half-moon pose
In order to get the most out of half-moon pose, we have to wake up and give it the attention it deserves! Here’s how you do it.
Questions? Comments? Please ask!
The phrase “stiff necked” means “stubborn” . And who wouldn’t be, when one of the most important parts of your body is tense and uncomfortable?
Our necks are constantly in use and unfortunately often ignored. We stretch our shoulders, lower, middle and upper back, but sometimes forget to show love to the critical portion of our spine that keeps our head connected!
Yoga offers tools to create strength and flexibility in our neck. Literally, softening our stiff necks so we can be more adaptive, receptive and mobile. You’ll see the difference when you add these five yoga poses to your practice.
Doing a wide-legged forward bend is the yoga equivalent of hanging upside down from the monkey bars. It lets gravity grab hold of you and stretch your spine and neck, creating space and flexibility. The key is to take a good, wide stance then fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine straight and letting the weight of your head pull you towards the floor. Keep your belly tight, thighs engaged and weight forward on your toes to permit maximum extension through the neck.
This is a fantastic pose for stretching your whole spine from sacrum to neck. Make sure you go into the posture with a long, flat back. Once your fingertips reach the floor you can relax your forehead onto the floor. This is where the stretch really begins to work. Press your palms together to activate your arms, work your hips down towards your heels and continuously reach forward, elongating and releasing your neck.
Cow face pose deeply stretches and opens the muscles in our shoulders, sending a positive ripple effect up and down our spine. To begin, stretch your right arm up next to your right ear, and your left arm down by your left side. Bend your left arm behind the back and up, reaching your fingers towards the middle of the shoulder blades, palm out. Bend the right elbow back, palm in, reaching down to grasp your left fingers. Use a strap to work into the stretch if you can’t reach your fingers. Eventually, you should be able to hook your fingers together, creating a profound stretch.
It is important to work your neck through a full range of motion every day, that means up, down and side-to-side. Spine twisting pose is a fantastic posture for increasing the flexibility of your whole spine, right through the top of the neck. The important thing to remember is to keep your head level. Don’t cheat by throwing your chin over your shoulder; it can do more harm than good.
Our neck gets tense when we are tense. Taking time to relax and meditate in savasana is essential to calm the whole body and break the cycle of physical tension. You can do savasana at the end of your practice, or any time of the day when you have a few minutes and need to ground yourself and focus. The more you are able to consciously release tension from your whole body the looser and happier your neck will be!
Questions or thoughts? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul
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Journalist and yoga regular Maroulla Paul wrote a piece about YogaWithPaul for City Solicitor — a magazine for lawyers.
In it, I talked about how yoga teaches us to focus and helps clear our mind.
I see daily the positive impact yoga has on those who practise it. It seems really beneficial for lawyers. It gives them greater clarity, a quality that is essential in their work. In the time they are in a class they have to focus on listening to me, and doing their practice. They can’t think about anything else other than being in the room on the mat. And that means cutting off from their cases and all the decisions they have to make. But they come out strong, refreshed, and more capable of clear thinking.
This is true no matter what you do. Whether arguing legal cases or chasing kids around the house, we all have stress and strain in our lives. Yoga is a healing, energising tool that helps put things in perspective and keep us in balance.
You can read the whole article online at City Solicitor.
How does yoga help you cope with work? Share your thoughts in the comments!
We care for our bodies through our physical yoga practice, and what we choose to eat and drink. Unfortunately we live in a time and place where we are bombarded by chemicals. Even if we eat organic foods and use organic products, we still have to be careful about hidden toxins in the air, water and even packaging. One key area of concern is plastic water bottles. In the height of summer and we all need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. We also need to make sure we’re not unwittingly loading our bodies with toxic chemicals.
The Independent ran an article recently on the dangers of BPAs, which are found in a lot of hard-plastic “reusable” water bottles. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a substance found in many plastics, that is a known to mess with the delicate balance of our body’s hormones.
According to Science – How Stuff Works:
BPA is a difficult substance to nail down; it doesn’t behave like a typical toxin. While other chemicals labeled as toxic have clear-cut impacts (asbestos exposure leads to cancer, lead poisoning causes reduced mental capacity), BPA is sneakier. Rather than harm the body outright, BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones — in this case, estrogen.
Estrogen can alter the behavior of more than 200 genes, which control the growth and repair of nearly every organ and tissue in the body [source: Environmental Working Group]. Among other things, estrogen affects fetal development, cell structure and the onset of puberty, and your body’s cells are highly sensitive to even tiny changes in estrogen levels.
According to this article, “As of 2005, 94 of 115 peer-reviewed studies confirmed BPA’s toxicity [source: Page].”
That sounds like a compelling case for not drinking out of plastic bottles!
The good news, if you can’t give up the convenience of grab-and-go water before or after class, is that disposable plastic bottles don’t usually contain BPA. But they do have a huge environmental footprint.
A better alternative is to invest in a reusable glass or steel water bottle, or seek out a BPA-free plastic bottle. If you’re not sure what to buy, you can check out The Independent’s Top 10 guide to BPA-free bottles in a range of shapes and prices.
Recommend your favourite reusable water bottle in the comments!
Go deep in your practice with my Bikram masterclass at Bikram Yoga Fleet this Saturday, 20 May, 11AM-1PM.
Come join in! Don’t be intimidated by the term “masterclass” — all levels are welcome and you will benefit no matter where you are in your journey as a yogi.
We will focus on key elements such as the breath that initiates the movement and deepens the posture. We will also explore the bandhas and how important they are to the Hatha yoga practice.
See you then!⠀
It’s been a busy, busy few weeks leading up to the first Yoga Holiday With Paul retreat of 2016, I’ll have more to tell about our beautiful week in the Algarve soon. Meantime, feast your eyes on these inspiring photos.