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.

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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

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

 

 

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!

What has breaking a rib taught me?

So 4 weeks ago today, a freak accident whilst adjusting a student left me with a broken rib. Now me being me, what do I do? “Oh its nothing… but ow its really sore… stop being a baby, suck it up and carry on!” I carried on teaching the class, ignoring my own pain and denying it was ‘that’ bad.

Next morning I wake up and my whole side is black with bruising, I am in severe pain but I just shrug it off, ignore my body telling me to stop and seek medical attention… for 2 weeks. I even attended a training weekend! Admittedly I did have to sit in the corner for most of the second day as I was feeling sick with pain.IMG_3034

It took some convincing to get me to actually check it out and when I did it was a reality check. I am not superwoman, I can’t just carry on regardless. This stubbornness to stop comes from my time dancing where admitting you were injured may jeopardise your position so you just get a load of steroid injections and continue. It is also the reason dancers (especially ballet dancers) end up broken by the time they retire at if your lucky 35ish. I am not condoning this behaviour and something needs to happen in the industry to give dancers more stability and support so they don’t feel pressured into doing this.

Anyway, sorry I got side tracked! The point is my mind went into this way of thinking automatically. Even though I spend every single day telling people to listen to their bodies and not to push themselves, to stop if there I any pain… And this is fine, in my regular practice I am mindful and aware of my body but for some reason when it comes to actual injury I know the theory but when push comes to shove I struggle to implement this for myself.

However anyone who has broken a rib knows that the pain is such that even breathing normally feels like your dying so carrying on ignoring it was not going to be sustainable and I was forced to stop my own practice completely and reduce my teaching schedule significantly.

and what happened?

Nothing, the world has not stopped spinning, no catastrophes have occurred…I am still here and haven’t had any kind of mental breakdown.

You see it was fear that was preventing me from looking after myself. Yoga is the only way I can keep myself relatively sane, it’s what got me from being a revolving door patient in mental health services as a shadow to living a full life and re-finding myself. IMG_0854(ok that sounds cheesy but its true so deal with it. It was my fear that taking away my physical practice and pranayama would send my back to the dark days. That everything would suddenly fall apart. I’m not saying yoga has made my life perfect by any means, every day is still a struggle, but the thought of moving backwards was worse than putting up with excruciating pain.

I learnt that I can just practice my meditation and the different mind set that comes with a yoga practice can carry me through. I can actually do this on my own, it is me doing it, the yoga is helping but its a tool… holding my hand rather than carrying me.

My next worry – how am I going to teach without moving?! How can I still pay my rent?… more on that tomorrow!

Classes in Tooting Friday evenings

As some of you know I have relocated from The Sound Lounge on Monday evenings. Unfortunately I was unable to get another venue nearby for Monday evenings so I am now running classes on Fridays!

These classes will take place at Tooting Methodist Church Hall, entrance in Longmead Road. New students the first class is FREE! after that its £11 drop in or £50 for a 5 class pass or £90 for a 10 class pass. If there are financial difficulties please contact me directly as we may be able to come to an arrangement that is more manageable.

Please bring your own mat!

6:00pm-7:15pm will be Pregnancy Yoga and 7:30-8:30pm Vinyasa Flow

Pregnancy yoga is suitable for mums and bumps from 12weeks, after your 12 week check. Its a great way to meet other mums to be and share your journey, offering support and companionship, whilst building confiedance.prenatal-teaching

So what happens at pregnancy yoga? After setting up your mat we go around the room to introduce ourselves, say how many weeks pregnant you are and let everyone know how you are feeling and if there are any issues e.g.pelvic girdle pain or low lying placenta. (don’t worry if there is anything you think I should be aware of but don’t want to tell the group just let me know at the beginning before we start.) This is usually a nice way to share experiences and anything that you have tried that helps with making things easier.

We will then go through some gentle flowing movements and yoga postures to get the body moving and also learn some techniques to ease common discomforts e.g. lower back pain or tense shoulders. Movements will also give you some ideas on active birth positions and breathing techniques to keep you calm and relaxed during birth. Other techniques including sonic massage for your baby will also be utilised. We will also have a section on Pelvic floor exercises and learn to gain more control over this area.

All this will be followed by a relaxing meditation, if you are taking hypnobirthing classes feel free to bring in a copy of any of the scripts you are finding particularly helpful. This section of the class gives you time just for yourself and your baby, without any distractions or things you need to be doing… bliss!

Vinyasa Flow is a mixed ability class, from complete beginners to advanced 015b78bedbeb279256b0f5c13ec28063a88a37ff57practitioners, a basic level of fitness is required as this style of yoga is a continual flow where each movement moves into the next, a bit like a dance. There is a focus on strength, stamina and improving flexibility, but also a sense of fun and playfulness. We incorporate, Physical movements (Asana), breath work (Pranayama), relaxation and meditation for a well rounded class. Be prepared to get a bit hot and sweaty! As always in yoga you can take it at your own pace and rest as much as needed. I will offer modifications and adjustments throughout so you can tailor the class to your own needs.

Hope to see some of you there! Any questions or for more info contact me Here

Love and Light

Harri

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Update! A year ago I was mid-yoga teacher training…so what’s happening now?

Hi everyone,

It has been a long time since I’ve given you guys an update, so figured it was time to take stock and review what I have achieved over the past year.

This time last year I was midway through my yoga teacher training with YogaLondon. I yogi-toeswas super nervous, didn’t think I’d be able to pass the exams and thought it was highly unlikely I’d be able to actually lead a class. I cannot quite believe how far I have come in such a short amount of time!

There have been ups and downs, moments where I have doubted myself and my teaching, a few negative experiences too, but all in all becoming a yoga teacher has been the best decision I ever made. My confidence has grown, I’m finding my own voice, learning so much and meeting the most amazing people along the way.

My classes are growing, I am teaching in multiple venues, and formats which is amazing and it just gets better and better, the more I learn, the more I realise I have to learn. Each and every new yogi or yogini who attends my classes has something to teach me, and help improve my teaching. I am excited to be just at the very beginning of my career. teaching 1You finish your teacher training and that is the starting point, the real learning happens on the job. Initially you are learning the art of teaching and beginning to find a unique teaching style but once you feel confident to deliver a safe asana class, that’s when the real teaching of yoga starts, when you can allow your students the time and space for their own discoveries and begin to bring in deeper elements to give them the tools to progress.

I have trained as a pregnancy teacher, begun my 500hrs training, my ‘yoga bookshelf’ is overflowing. I have taught my first workshop, taught at my first class at a festival, and been to some exciting venues doing cover work. I completed my Reiki Level 1 a couple of weeks back with a friend and student. (this was amazing and I will be writing about this in the near future… keep a look out!)

IMG_2910Business wise it has been a baptism of fire! I had no clue at all what I was doing when I first qualified… ok I still have no idea what I’m doing but I feel more confident in finding the right people to help me and I’m getting by with less terror and panic. We will see how long this lasts when I attempt to do my tax return!

So what’s next?

I plan to complete my 500hr training by this time next year. I have several workshops planned to deliver for late summer/early autumn. I am beginning to investigate doing more corporate classes. I have just hired a new venue to replace one which wasn’t working too well for me. Two new classes are starting on the 26th May – Prenatal yoga 6:00pm -7:15pm and a vinyasa flow class 7:30pm -8:30pm both held in Tooting at Tooting Methodist Church Hall in Longmead Road, every Friday. See classes page for more details. There is so much I want to do and so little time! So I’m aiming to take each day as it comes and really live in the moment, focusing on the positives and aiming to be kind and compassionate to myself as well as everyone else.012491df7cc5c9a45db9b04bf17d77b9f56ab1c5a7

What are my teaching values?


I recently listened to a talk by Judith Hanson Lasater, where she spoke about effectively teaching beginners. In this talk one of her points was that as a teacher we should have our teaching values clear in our minds, to be able to utilise them in the class setting. This got me thinking! What are my teaching values?

I believe that teaching values are always evolving. When you first finish your yoga teacher training the main focus is on being able to safely deliver a class that is interesting and your students enjoy. As the skill of delivering a class develops and becomes more natural, I have been thinking more about how I am teaching, what are my intentions, how can I keep my teaching moving forward, whilst remaining true to my own values?

Judith Hanson Lasater encourages us to come up with 5-7 teaching values, so here are mine!! (In no particular order)

  • Always aim to encourage students to challenge themselves and build confidence. 
  • Teach individually, within a group, creating inclusion, integration and connection.
  • Always be mindful and teach with kindness and compassion. 
  • Teach authentically, allowing my individuality as a teacher to shine through. 
  • Keep a beginners mind! We are all learning together (I just happen to be leading the sequence – I learn as much from my students as I do in my own practice)
  • Allow students to make their own discoveries, explorations and connections. 
  • Keep it fun!! 


Downward Facing Dog aka Adho Mukha Svanasana

 

Downward dog is one of the most synonymous yoga poses. It appears in practically every yoga class, all over the world. So what is it that this pose is actually doing, how does it benefit us, what is its purpose and how do we do it!

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Believe it or not, Downward Facing Dog aka Adho Mukha Svanasana is a resting pose. It gives us time to check in with own body during the yoga practice. Here we have a chance to notice what our minds are doing, are we focused on the breath? Have we lost all focus and started planning what we are having for dinner? Now we can re-find our focus and ensure the breath in steady and that we are breathing fully and effectively. We can allow the heart rate to come back to a calm pace during a dynamic vinyasa class.

It may be a resting pose but there is still a lot to think about (before we can take that pause) to make sure what we are doing is safe and sustainable for the body in the long term.

  • Do we have secure foundations? The feet and hands should be grounding into the floor. Don’t worry if the heels are not touching the floor just yet, direct the energy down and out into the ground. The hands spread out and knuckles pressing into the floor.
  • Keep the front of the legs engaged as you press the back of the legs back. (Engage the quadriceps to release the hamstrings.)
  • Hips pressing up and back, sitz bones pointing up to the sky. For those anatomists out there anteriorly tilt the pelvis.
  • Spine is long and neutral, supported by the use of your bandhas.
  • Protract the shoulder blades – basically think of the shoulder blades wrapping around the ribs, moving away from each other.
  • Shoulders relaxed and away from the ears.
  • Arms forming an energetic spiral as the upper arm rotates outward (away from you), the lower arm rotates inwards and the hand planting down into the floor with a feeling of resistance, as though you are opening jam jars! *it’s really common at this point to rotate from the wrist but keep the fingers pointing forwards.
  • No strain in the neck, look towards the feet or the navel, depending on which school of yoga you are practicing.

So you’ve managed to get your alignment sorted out and you’ve refocused on the breath, you’re taking a pause to reset, but what are the benefits of doing this at all?!prenatal-teaching

As it is considered an inversion it has all the benefits of being fully upsidedown. see Why go upside down?!

It is a foundation pose which prepares you for many asana, both in terms of alignment, flexibility and strengthening.

There is a benefit to digestion as the internal organs are stimulated. Other health benefits include relief for back pain and sciatica (in some cases) As a stable weight bearing pose it is a great option to include if you are aiming to improve bone health. It can help to reset the spine, especially after any complicated twists or arm balancing.

For mental health, it calms the system and can be both stress relieving and help to lift mood. Somewhat confusingly it can be energising and help with fatigue or can be soothing to help you sleep.

Basically it’s the cure-all of yoga poses!