Back to the Studio! (sort of)

So it’s been a bit crazy over the last few months! Hope everyone has been okay and managed to keep things together through lockdown. It has been difficult both mentally and physically but hopefully as lockdown eases we can start moving forward together.

There were new challenges for teachers as we suddenly had to shift to online teaching, which has it pros and cons! I am thankful that clients were so patient as we scrambled to make things work. We will be starting to slowly introduce face-to-face classes and I am looking forward to seeing some of you as soon as tomorrow! I am conscious that some people with health issues may not be able to attend, whilst there are those of you who are either not ready to come back or have actually realised they prefer attending class online. For those people, no worries, we are continuing to stream the live classes so you can still practice at home without the hassle of having to travel to the studio with all your stuff.

I have completed my Covid-19 Awareness training and am ready to get started. There will be many changes to the experience we are used to but hopefully we can still create a positive and supportive shared energy within the space.

I am also in the early stages of developing an online subscription service with pre-recorded on-demand classes and how-to videos, a live class timetable and the opportunity for 1-1 sessions online, available to you wherever you are in the world. Plus even more! I will keep you updated on how its going but I am hoping to get the bare bones up and in the testing phase in the next 6 months, fingers crossed! In the meantime, if there’s any content or information you would like to see, which would make a service like this relevant to you, I would love to hear your ideas.

From today (31st July 2020) I am tentatively starting to teach publicly, with a much reduced timetable. I taught my first class back at Jiva Health Wimbledon this morning and will be teaching at Busy Lizzy Putney and Wimbledon (from 10th August) to start with. My Busy Lizzy 9:30am Saturday class will continue via Busy Lizzy Online. Pregnancy, and mum and baby at Busy Lizzy will remain online or outside until September at the earliest. Stay tuned for info on Pregnancy at Jiva!

Timetables are subject to change so probably better to check websites for details!

Jiva health Wimbledon – jivahealth.co.uk

Busy Lizzy Wimbledon – busylizzywimbldon.co.uk

Busy Lizzy Putney – busylizzyputney.co.uk

Busy Lizzy Online – https://busylizzy.co.uk/class-range/

Covid 19 – outbreak

As you know I have stopped teaching all classes in person due to the covid 19 outbreak.

However you can still catch me online!

Online timetable as follows:

Jiva Health via zoom, click the link to book in (their prices apply)

https://www.jivahealth.co.uk/classes/timetable/wimbledon-2/

Thursday 5:30-6:30pm Pregnancy yoga

Thursday 7:00-8:00pm Vinyasa Flow

Friday 10:00-11:00am Vinyasa Flow

Busy Lizzy live – for busy Lizzy online members classes are avialable to join on the Busy Lizzy Live facebook page and will be streamed live.

Saturday 9:30-10:30am Mums to be yoga

I am working on bringing you more class options. In the mean time If you’d like to take a 1-1 class via skype feel free to get in touch.

If you have a small group who would like to practice from their homes at the same time I can also offer classes via zoom directly but have not yet figured out a booking system so again feel free to contact me.

5 Top Tips for Balance in Yoga

Wobbly warriors and toppling trees unite! We all have those days where balance seems to disappear the moment we step on the mat. Its completely normal, there are so many factors involved at once, it’s not surprising that it’s tricky to stand or move on one leg, sometimes even both legs! We all have the ability to balance, we do it everyday just standing up, walking, going up and down stairs….

So here are a few things to help you make those days fewer and farther between.

Mindset is Key

Think about it, if you approached walking down the street the same way you approached coming into tree we’d all be gibbering wrecks the whole time. As soon as a balancing posture comes up in class, the mind goes into a frenzy “Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, how is everyone else doing this? Oh, what if I completely topple over in front of everyone? Etc. etc.” This is ego talking, it’s stolen your focus and holding it hostage. This ‘caution’ talk is passive aggressively self sabotaging, what it’s really telling you is “I can’t do this, I can’t, I can’t, don’t even try or you’ll make a fool of yourself” you’ve gone from being centred and embodied in your practice to up in your head. When you’re not fully committed you cannot be embodied and moving with your body instead of against it. Remember it doesn’t matter how the posture looks, it’s how it feels to you, much better to modify and listen to your body as you build strength that to jump into the hardest possible variation… don’t let ego get the better of you.

Breathe

So chill! Stay relaxed, in the long run what does it matter if you stumble or even fall, assuming you don’t hurt yourself. I’ve fallen in class many times and honestly no-one even thinks twice about it once they can see you’re fine. The calmer you are, the more with the breath, the more fully you commit the more likely you will balance.

Visualise it!

Getting a clear picture in you head of what you are about to do, how it will feel in the body helps us to familiarise ourselves with the posture, creating neural pathways in the brain. It can also stimulate the nervous system in the same way as actually trying it, so the next time you try it the body is ready and prepped.

Think feet up! (not like that!)

Your feet are the foundations of your pose. If your foundations are strong and well placed, your building is going to be much less wobbly.

Take a moment to stand in mountain pose, notice what is happening in your feet.

Spread the toes, with out gripping the floor, imagine roots growing from all 4 corners of the feet. Press the feet down and slightly lift the inner arches, follow the engagement up the inner leg to the pelvic floor, lift it slightly, the lower belly begins to brace and the core creates a corset to support the body. Engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha, our energy locks at the root and below the ribs, a subtle energetic lift.

Imagine there is elastic attached from the bottom of the right ribs to the top of the left hip and vice versa. Now grow out of the abdomen, almost make the space between the hip and ribs longer – remember those elastics stopping the ribs from flaring, lengthen the back on the neck and grow from the crown of the head. – so you’ve got a strong press down through the feet and a strong pull up to the ceiling.

Now rock side to side, left and right and notice where the centre of gravity is, visualise a line down the body.

Come back to centre and lift one leg off the floor, what happens to the centre of gravity? Where is the line now?

Build the posture from foundations up (whether that be feet, hands, head etc) come into it slowly and mindfully and visualise the shift in weight. Remember to BREATH

Drishti/Gaze point

That all important drishti or gaze point serves two functions, firstly focusing and centring the mind and secondly fixing the gaze allows the body to find stability more easily. The body uses the vestibular system (in the ears), the muscles and the gaze to stay balanced at all times. If one of these is compromised it makes it much harder for the others to function accurately. Have you ever had an ear infection and had your balance affected? So if you’re looking all over the place and finding your wobbling all over the place that is probably the reason. You go where you look, just like driving a car! Think of your gaze point as your third leg.

So when you’re having an off day and the balance isn’t there be kind to yourself, let it go and take a moment to check in with yourself. Is there something on your mind blurring your focus? Have you got stuck in the mind? Are you still breathing? Does it matter if you get into said pose, if it does, why? Is it ego? Remember to keep things in perspective.

For more on Balance why not join me for a workshop at Jiva Health Wimbledon on Saturday 14th March 2020 4:30-6:30pm book in via the mind body app or contact the studio directly.

Turn your life upside down – Workshop alert***

Turn your life upside down!

Ever wondered why we go upside down quite so much in Yoga? We class an inversion as any position where the heart comes below the hips so even if you’re not standing on your head or chilling in shoulder stand you can still reap the rewards!

In my upcoming workshop we will be focusing mainly on headstand aka sirsasana and if you already have a headstand beginning to work on forearm stand aka Pincha mayurasana.

What is it that makes people want to stand on their head?

Salamba Sirsasana

Benefits of Supported Headstand aka Salamba Sirsasana and Forearm stand aka Pincha Mayurasana

  • Strengthens shoulders, arms, abs, back and legs.
  • Stretches shoulders
  • Improves balance
  • Vitality and renewal
  • Clears the mind & creates focus
  • Builds confidence, challenges fear
    • Always acknowledge fear and be reassuring and self-compassionate, taking things in stages.
  • Shifts perspective
  • Energy from the lower chakras moves up to the heart
    • Creativity and power -> Insight
      • Gives us opportunity for inner growth
  • Said to be cleansing for the organs
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system and helps drainage
  • Helps with digestive problems and sleep issues
  • Its even anti-aging! As we turn our head down to the floor we begin to activate our crown chakra (Sahasrara) where our ‘amrita’ or ‘immortal nectar’ is held. During our lives our amrita drops down through the body over our lives, for this reason it is believed that inversions keep the nectar at the crown and thus allowing us to life longer.
  • Best of all… It’s fun to have a go and find your sense of playfulness!

Are there any reasons to avoid inverted postures? Inverted postures are not necessarily for every one and it is advised people with certain health conditions avoid these postures.

Contraindications

Pincha Mayurasana
  • Glaucoma (excess pressure in the eyes)
  • Recent stroke
  • High Blood pressure
  • Neck or shoulder injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
    • Yogis’ choice – energetic focus is down so makes less sense to invert the body. More difficult to activate bandhas so not always safe

So if you think you’d like to have a go at progressing your inversions come along on the 23rd Feb 2019 We will go through some strengthening exercises to start to get the body ready to support itself inverted. Identifying which muscle groups help us to find the correct alignment whilst upside down and learning how to fall out safely. Whilst you may not achieve the full posture, you will have all the tools to use to safely further your inversions.

Suitable for those with at least 6 months practice to ensure the body is strong enough to safely attempt headstands.

23rd Feb 2019 at 16:30-18:30 £25 (£20 for members)

Workshop held at Jiva Health Wimbledon, 19A Wimbledon Bridge, Wimbledon, London, SW19 7NH, phone: 0208 9469721

Call to book or click HERE

Would yoga be an effective complementary practice to the treatment of Complex – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)?

In this article the beneficial effects of yoga will be discussed in relation to some specific symptoms related to Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD is a condition most often caused by repeated and ongoing, severe interpersonal trauma, it is commonly seen in those who were subjected to chronic childhood abuse. The symptoms of PTSD as stated in the NICE guidelines include, re-experiencing symptoms (e.g. flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive images, physical pain), avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, hyperarousal (e.g. constantly on edge, hypervigilance of threat, insomnia) and emotional numbing. In addition C-PTSD sufferers can also experience, difficulty controlling emotions, inability to trust, feelings of permanent hopelessness/worthlessness/differentness, regular suicidal feelings, dissociative symptoms (e.g. feeling disconnected to the world around them, the body and ‘missing’ periods of time.) and risky or self-destructive behaviour. The main focus here will be reconnecting with the physical body, emotional recognition and regulation and looking at methods of grounding and staying connected to the present moment, by using yoga as a complimentary practice alongside regular treatment options.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

As a mind and body practice, yoga has many benefits in beginning to connect to the physical body, and experience embodiment in a safe environment. By using techniques such as meditation and pranayama(breath control) the participant can be allowed time to sit,  focusing on something other than the trauma. Noticing the sensations within the body in relation to particular emotions, experiencing these as natural sensations, rather than something to be feared or avoided, using the compassionate stance of yoga to accept these emotions without negative judgements. Certain yoga positions such as a wide kneed child pose and breathing techniques such as full yogic breath or nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. There are several benefits to activating the parasympathetic nervous system during the process of recognising distressing sensations. The vagus nerve releases a hormone called acetylcholine which helps the body relax and reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin which are often over stimulated in sufferers.

At the time of the traumatic event, the body is flooded with adrenaline and stress hormones, which have been proved to interfere with effective memory processing and consolidation. So instead of the traumatic memory being filed away in linear time, it becomes timeless.’ –  Ryan,J. (yogabhoga.co.uk)

The vagus nerve can also help the sufferer process the trauma by stimulating the amygdala, the part of the brain which stores memory, this can allow the processing of trauma imprints to memory, allowing them to become rooted in time.

Work at the Trauma Center Yoga Program is based on the clinical premise that the experience of trauma affects the entire human organism—body, mind, and spirit—and that the whole organism must be engaged in the healing process.’ – Emerson,D. et.al (2009) p124

Many c-ptsd sufferers disconnect from the body because trauma is stored at a cellular level and is not fixed in time. If the sufferer comes into contact with a trigger they re-live the traumatic event as a full body experience, time shifts, physical sensations are experienced and sensory distortions occur. These symptoms are caused by an imprint on the cells similar in nature to the yogic concept of samskara. A samskara is a mental imprint, in full detail, left by all actions, thoughts and intentions, that is the root of many habitual behavioural patterns. It happens on a sub-conscious level, without active consideration.

candleinhandIn PTSD the trauma leaves a full imprint of the trauma which is not housed neatly in memory, it reacts to triggers on a subconscious level. By using yoga to look inwards the sufferer can begin to regain control of the experience. By beginning to see the trauma as separate to the true self, the process of embodiment and grounding to the present moment can begin to take place. By realising that they are not the trauma but a witness to it, a choice appears, either go with it and relive the trauma – effectively retraumatising or begin to recognise the bodily sensations and/or thought processes that lead up to the flashback or other reliving symptoms and nip it in the bud. By using mindful meditation, grounding techniques, breath work and movement. This gives the sufferer space to begin to work in a therapeutic setting.

Taking a trauma sensitive approach to teaching yoga is very important to prevent the sufferer becoming overwhelmed by experience. Emerson,D. et.al suggest 5 aspects of the traditional yoga class which need to be addressed; Environment, Exercise, Teacher qualities, Assists and Language. These are all important elements within any regular yoga class but are particularly important with trauma survivors.

  • The environment needs to be welcoming and safe, avoiding anything that may be a possible trigger to allow the participants to feel less vulnerable. Time should be taken with a gentle opening to let the participants settle into the space and begin to create a non-judgemental environment to begin exploring with movement and breath work.
  • The asana would depending upon the groups capabilities and stage of treatment, giving lots of options to explore how it feels in the body, or to opt out if overwhelmed. Focusing on allowing the participant the choice to do what they want with their body, empowering them to take charge of what happens to them.

No, I will not be in pain. My opinion about what is happening to me matters, and I can take control.” – Emerson,D. et al (2009)

o    Extra care needs to be taken with hip openers because positions e.g happy baby may be triggering. They will need to be gradually introduced step by step to allow the student to experience these positions in a state of safety

o   Savasana may also be problematic so approaching it more loosely and giving seated options as well as different lying positions.

  • The teacher needs to be welcoming, open, approachable and able to adapt on the spot if something unexpected happens. Allowing the students to explore and experience in their own way and at their own pace whilst holding a safe environment.
  • Assisting needs to be focused and efficient, physical adjustments may not be appropriate for many months if at all. Verbal cues can work much more effectively to give guidance whilst allowing for safe personal space. If approaching the participant this should be done clearly so they know where the teacher is at all times.
  • Language should be clear, avoiding possible trigger words. Encouragement and invitation in the instruction avoids the possibility of participants feeling coerced and lets them choose what to do or not do depending upon what they are experiencing.

In conclusion the inclusion of a trauma-sensitive yoga practice would be beneficial to complement the traditional talking therapies used to treat C-PTSD. Taking this approach would allow for a full body treatment and give the participants the tools needed to safely undertake the complex psychological work within the therapeutic setting.

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References

Online

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/complex/

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg26/chapter/1-Guidance#post-traumatic-stress-disorder

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/complex-ptsd/#.WrVKAEx2vLM

http://www.traumacenter.org/about/about_bessel.php

Ryan,J. Yoga and PTSD retrieved from – www.yogabhoga.co.uk/yoga-articles/yoga-and-ptsd/

http://www.yoga4homeless.org/case-studies/

https://www.octc.co.uk/workshops/the-compassionate-mind-approach-to-recovering-from-complex-ptsd

http://www.ptsduk.org/yoga-and-ptsd/

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/posttraumaticstressdisorder.aspx

Articles

West, J., Liang, B., & Spinazzola, J. (2016, July 4). Trauma Sensitive Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Qualitative Descriptive Analysis. International Journal of Stress Management. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/str0000040

Emerson,D., Sharma,R., Chaudhry,S. Turner,J. (2009) Yoga therapy in practice: Trauma-sensitive yoga: Principles, Practice & Research. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, no19, 123-128

Tooting classes

It is with regret that I am announcing that my Friday Tooting classes will no longer be running.

Please feel free to stay in touch and come to any of my other classes.

Thank you all for coming, hope to see you soon!

Yoga by candlelight

Hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas break!

Just to let you know I will be teaching a lovely relaxing yoga class by candlelight on the 28th December at Jiva Health Wimbledon 6:30-7:45pm – Booking recommended!

We will be saying goodbye to 2017 with reflection and looking towards 2018 with positivity. There will be a focus on looking back with gratitude for both good and bad and looking to effect positive change in the new year.

Do you set resolutions each year which last maybe a week? a month? a few days?!

We will earn how to create a Sankalpa – a tool in working towards your dharma or true nature by looking inwards in meditation, before taking a gentle flowing class suitable for all levels, to set you up in both mind and body for the new year!

Book in on the Mind Body app or here on the Jiva Health website!

Hope to see you there, if not – Have a fantastic New Year!

candleinhand

 

 

Christmas Break

Hi everyone,

Just a quick reminder that there will be no classes at Tooting Methodist Church Hall on the 22nd December and the 29th December!

Hope you all have a wonderful break and I will see you all in the New Year!

Warmest wishes

Harrixmas image

Catch me at the Om yoga show

Harri-omyogashow

I am honoured to be teaching a half hour flow on behalf of The Private Yogi at the OM yoga show in Alexandra palace, London.

Come and speak to me or the team before the class, I will be there from 9am. I will have to dash off after teaching but the lovely teachers from the private yogi will be there afterwards to have a chat and find out more about what The Private Yogi does.

Can’t wait to see some of you there, I you want a place come early to grab a mat!