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!

IMG_2833

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!

 

 

*announcement*

Good news and bad news! Let’s go for bad first. 

Price increase – classes will now be £11 per class- this is to cover increasing costs….

However, you can now book and pay online for the classes I run myself!

You can do this via Yogaclassnearyou just search SW17 and click on Yoga life with Harri, you can see the class schedule and choose to pay per class (£11) or buy a 5 class pass (£50) which is valid for two months from date of purchase. 
Of course you can still pay in person with cash but booking online ensures your place and helps give me an idea of numbers 😊

Harri

Trouble Sleeping?

Does sleep seem illusive? Are you lying awake watching the time go by, getting closer and closer to the time you need to get up? Well you’re not alone! I personally struggle with sleep problems but it’s something I am working on. Increasingly friends and students are asking me how to cope with insomnia.

3 main issues seem to be:IMG_3775

  • Falling asleep
  • Frequent waking or nightmares
  • Having slept but waking up exhausted

Sleep is becoming more and more challenging for many of us as our lives become busier and more stressful and our lifestyles more sedentary. Technology increasingly invades every aspect of our lives. There is less and less time to stop, unwind and process our day as we are constantly bombarded with emails, texts, photos, games, social media… need I go on?

We should all know the general guidelines for healthy sleep;

  • Avoid using technology or anything with a blue light for 1hr before bed
  • Make sure the environment is calm and clutter free
  • Take a warm bath
  • Sleep t regular times / create routine
  • Cut down on caffeine and smoking
  • Write a to do list for the next day to feel prepared and reduce anxiety

However even if we get all these things right, sleep can be hard to come by.

So…. Can yoga help?img_7943

Practicing yoga techniques before bed can be very helpful. Here are some options you can choose from. Or better yet try them all! One of the most important aspects is making sure you create a regular routine, 5 mins everyday is better than 1hr every now and then.

  1. Do some gentle asana practice followed by yoga nidra (video coming soon)
  2. Meditation or mindfulness practices.
    • Benefits include, stress reduction,self awareness, acceptance and calming the nervous system.
    • Sit or lie in a comfortable position and begin to focus on the breath. Notice any thoughts that come into the mind and let them go. Accept you having this thought – no judgements – no critisisms – just allow it to pass without getting caught up in it and refocus on the breath. The idea is to practice noticing when you get distracted and returning to the concentration.
    • Start with a short amount of time and work up, even just a minute if you have never practiced mindfulness before.
  3. Another technique (which is not really yoga) is to write 3 pages in a journal – it doesn’t matter what it is that you write, just get everything out – don’t over think it, its a stream of consciousness. I first started doing this as ‘Morning pages’ as described here Morning Pages However I have found that doing this just before bed is IMG_0216really helpful to ’empty’ the head. I have found it interesting to do the practice before bed and in the morning as it can be amazing to see the shift in perspective after sleep.

Do you have any other strategies that help you?

Harri

 

Happy New Year!! Update

2c9f9790-7347-40f6-b1c3-831c30c7db96

Hello, it’s been a while since I last posted here!

I’ve been slacking with my blog writing, well actually I’ve been writing them just not typing them up.

Any way I hope you’ve all had a lovely break over the holidays and are ready to begin a new year with some positive yogi vibes. Classes have restarted and its great to see all my returning students and fingers crossed I’ll be meeting a whole bunch of new people to share the yoga

journey with.

img_0181The past 5 months have been a bit of a whirlwind, I sometimes get caught up in the whole, I’m not a good enough teacher, I’ll never be able to make this work, cycle… but then I realise its been only a matter of months since I qualified! I have set up 3 of my own classes, (which are growing via work of mouth), a regular studio slot, 2 online classes, cover classes and I can be hired for private or duo classes… In reality it is an amazing achievement! Not forgetting I have also completed my prenatal and mum and baby training and will be starting the first module of my 500hrs qualification in February (Anatomy)

My next steps? I am currently looking into venues for more classes and am contactingimg_0820 some interesting people about possible collaborative projects… watch this space. I am also trying to organise my time better so that I can bring you regular content and some resources to use at home.

I’ll end here by asking you to think about intentions rather than resolutions this year. I resolution can be rigid and difficult to stick to as they usually don’t come about natural

ly. Allow yourself to work on intentions which arise naturally when you listen to your body and reduce the chatter in the mind.

Namaste

Harri xx

Find your float!

​​​

​Practicing jumping back and forward to find my float in #vinyasa this requires a lot of control and lightness. Going from #ardhauttanasana to plank instead of thinking up, think of the legs shooting back as though you want to hover parallel to the floor to help the feet land gently without a sound. Eventually yes there will be a handstand element but this is a prep stage! Ideally the arms will soften down into chaturanga which is the challenge I am facing!

Going forwards set your #drishti and press the floor away from you. Don’t jump with too much force. Think #float and aim to have a moment in a #presspike before lowering the feet. It’s all bandha work really 😊this is great core stability exercise and fantastic handstand prep. 

Finished my Pregnancy Yoga Training!

When I started Pregnancy Yoga teacher training, I wasn’t intending on teaching specific classes but more to understand how to integrate pregnant ladies into my usual classes. I wanted to feel comfortable and have enough knowledge to be able to welcome them safely and give them appropriate modifications.

However, after completing the training at Yoga London with the lovely Anja Brierly Lange and Caroline Smith, I am actually quite excited to start both prenatal and Mum &Baby classes.

At times the training was a little overwhelming, and I swung wildly back and fore between thinking I might like kids some day to basically never ever going to happen and back again. I’d not really thought about all the details about pregnancy, birth and the Postnatal time before. The lectures with Verona (An amazing midwife) were enlightening to say the least – I have a whole new sense of amazement at the whole miracle of life and motherhood.

Yoga is fantastic for pregnancy in many ways including preperation in mind and body, useful active birth positions, or movements to strengthen the body, or ease discomfort as well as offering a great community.

Mum and Baby yoga is a great opportunity for new mothers to come to a safe, friendly space and meet others who are going through the experience of having a new baby in the house. Without having to leave their babies or find childcare, women have an opportunity to focus on themselves whilst on the mat. There is time to escape the huge list of things to do and just spend time with the baby without any pressure – only acceptance and a moment to relax, to take some time to feel like themselves again!

for more on the benefits energetically see this post How does Yoga support Pregnant Women Energetically?

I’m planning to start Prenatal yoga and Mum & Baby yoga in the new year. Looking forward to welcoming my first Ladies and Babies, I will keep you posted on classes times etc. as I sort things out. In the mean time, if you are interested in these classes pop me an email!

Pregnancy – from 14weeks -> Birth

Mum & Baby – 8weeks -> Crawling

  • once you have had the all clear from health professionals (generally 6 week check) you may join the class.
  • However I  would recommend from 8 weeks to give you a bit of time. In the case of any complications during birth you may want to wait longer.
  • After a c-section 12 weeks at the earliest and I would need you to have permission from your health professionals.

Harri xxprenatal-teaching

How to deal with conflicting feedback? Suggestions?

So today I taught a class and one of the students said she thought it would be better if I explained each pose in more detail and use the names of the poses less. However, last week a student told me I explained the poses too much and that using the names more would allow a better flow.

How do you balance this? I can see both points but in an open vinyasa flow class how do you decide between explaining and flow?

Usually I introduce the flow moving at a slow pace and explaining each pose as we go through before repeating 1 breath 1 movement. I was hoping to accommodate everyone but it seem I’m not catering for anyone!

Both students enjoyed the class and the flows and new elements and transitions they had not come across before. They came out feeling better, lighter, more peaceful etc. I should be happy as that is a successful class but I want to give my students the best experience I can and I’m slightly at a loss as to how to solve this conundrum? Any suggestion?

Love and light

Harri xx

2 months since qualification update

Wow, I can believe it’s been just over 2 months since I started teaching! I decided to just leap in… sink or swim.

So far I’ve been doing cover work, darting around south London like a woman possessed, getting stressed by transport and the generally hectic nature of getting to different places for a specific time when I’m somewhat directionally challenged!

I am absolutely loving the teaching and all feedback has been positive. I’ve met lots of lovely people which has been great, growing my contacts with people on the same wavelength. 

Students have been asking studio owners when my classes are and even requesting I am offered a regular class. The studio owners have been happy with the feedback and really helpful and supportive, answering my stupid questions happily.

However I still feel like a total newbie, I watched a video about starting to teach and the guy said it takes 108 classes to start to feel comfortable. It’s all practice, like anything!

I know that realistically my teaching is okay and students are stunned when I tell them I’ve only been teaching 2 months but I want to give them the best experience of yoga I can and I’m filled with self doubt after every class. It’s a feeling of utter disbelief when the feedback comes in. However I think this is actually an advantage- I need to learn to accept and enjoy the feedback whilst continuing to grow and hone my teaching skills. Doubt pushes you forwards to help your students without ego. 

Today I taught my first class of my own – restorative flow. Okay only 1 student came but she was lovely and wants to come back next week. Fingers crossed she is the first on many 😊

Check my classes page to see details of class times and booking info. I am also available for private sessions and corporate classes l, if you are interested in those drop me a message!

Love and light

Harri xx

Why go upside down?!

Inversions are used loads in yoga, any time your head goes below the level of your heart, technically that’s an inversion…. yes even downward dog!

So what are the benefits?

  • Strengthens the whole body
  • Improves balance
  • Helps drain the lymphatic system
  • Can help with circulation
  • Creates a sense of calm in mind and body
  • Boosts confidence
  • Emphasises an internal focus
  • Keeps the ego in check
  • It’s anti-aging!!!
  • Some say it boosts creativity
  • Takes pressure off the joints
  • Can help with sciatica
  • Realigns the spine
  • Can help with sleep problems

Full inversions e.g headstand, shoulder stand etc. Are not necessarily suitable for everyone and are contraindicated for those with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Neck injury
  • Any injury which makes the foundation of the pose unstable e.g if you had a wrist injury it would be a bad idea to try a handstand!
  • Menstruation – turning the body upside down disrupts the downward energy

So what can you do instead? To get the benefits of inversions without turning fully upside down go for a legs up the wall version. Lying on your back scoot into the wall so your bum rests against it. Place the legs straight up the wall and flex the feet. Alternatively you can place a block or a bolster under the hips. Lying down and raise the legs up, feet flexed. 

Keep practicing and most of all have fun!

Harri xx