I read a post recently on yoga etiquette. It mentioned the usual stuff - no shoes in the studio, turn off your phone, respect the teacher's class sequence, don't step on someone else's mat, don't leave during savasana. And then the big one DON'T BE LATE. I agree! Or at least I thought I did. Then I started to read the comments left by other readers. So much judgment, so many haters. The negativity was palpable. It was not the enlightened collective response you might expect from the yoga community.
Sure we should try to be on time in life. Yoga class is no different. Many studios simply lock the front door a few minutes after the start of class.There are a small few among us who are consistently late and that isn't cool. But spare a thought for the poor yoga student who is late on occasion. Most people get delayed through no fault of their own. Traffic was heavy. The parking machine was out of order. The train was delayed. The latecomer already feels bad that she is late. Class has started. The mood is calm and the room is silent save for the sound of rhythmic breathing. All she can think about is how much noise she made as the end of her mat snapped against the hardwood floor, or ear cracking din she made when the accidentally dropped her keys on the floor and kick over someone else's water bottle at the same time. Audible sighing and tutting from the students already sitting on their mats doesn't help anyone. As a teacher I have experienced how one student's negative vibes can change the energy of the entire room and that to me is far more disrespectful than showing up late to class once.
Every distraction presents an opportunity for each of us to stay present with our own breath. It is the opportunity to respond with compassion and self-awareness rather than simply impulsively reacting. Observing without judgment is challenging but that is what yoga is all about.
Be on time for class, maybe even early, but remember that someday you might be late....
I am a huge fan of juicing. I was a bit sceptical about the whole juicing craze but last year I gave in. I bought a juicer, a shed load of fruit and veggies and I swapped my morning coffee for a green juice. I felt the benefits right away.
During the summer I took juicing to the next level and did a 3 day juice cleanse and the results were simply amazing. I felt full of energy, never hungry, my metabolism kicked into gear and my tastebuds reset so that when I did eat 'real food' again I appreciated every mouthful. I was more mindful about what I was eating and how I was eating. No more dinners in front of the TV! Interestingly I also lost a taste for meat.
Now that it is January, I am in the mood for a cleanse once again. Cold juices and green smoothies are perfect for warm summer evenings but when it's cold outside I like to have a hearty and warming veggie soup for dinner.
- You can carry out a juice cleanse for 1 to 3 days.
- A couple of days before the cleanse cut down on caffeine, alcohol, dairy, meat, refined grains and sugar to minimise the shock to your system.
- Drink hot water and lemon first thing in the morning.
- Stay hydrated with water and herbal teas (not green tea however as it contains caffeine) through out the day.
- Drink PLENTY of juice (6-8 large glasses per day) to ensure you are getting enough calories. Juices are very calorific even it is in liquid form. If you find you are very hungry have a Green Smoothie in the mornings instead of juice .
- Make sure that juices are mainly vegetable based as pure fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. A good rule of thumb is one part fruit to three parts vegetables.
- Do not be tempted to drink prepared juice from concentrate. These lack the valuable micronutrients that we need to nourish our bodies and little sugar bombs.
- Take some gentle exercise, a stroll or a gentle yoga practice is perfect
- In the days after the cleanse eat light clean food, whole grains, plenty of green vegetable and maybe some fish or white meat.
Here are some of my favourite smoothies and juices...yum!
Enjoy! I'm off to the kitchen...
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a pose that we do over and over again in every practice. Sometimes it can feel more like a weight bearing exercise than the resting pose it is designed to be. The first time I did downward facing dog my arms gave way and I firmly planted my face on my yoga mat. Now it is my desert island pose! My practice feels incomplete without it. Here are a few tips to help you transform your practice and find ease in your downdog.
- Start on hands and knees, shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, toes tucked under. Inhale deeply and as you exhale lift the hips up and back coming to an inverted “V” shape.
- Spread your fingers and toes wide; take up as much space as you comfortably can with your hands and feet. For the hands, press firmly into the base of the index finger and thumb, ideally middle finger pointing straight forward. Start to spread the weight evenly though the hands. For the feet, press down evenly through the base of the big toe and the small toe. If the heels are on the floor spread the weight through all 4 corners of the feet.
- Start to work the heel towards the mat. If the heels are high off the round, the hamstrings, the hip flexors or the calf muscles may be tight. This also means much of the body weight rests on the wrists. It helps to bend the knees to lengthen the spine. While keeping the feet pointing forward, internally rotate the thighs i.e. roll the upper thighs in, back and apart moving the tops of the legs back in space. At the same time hug the outer calves towards each other. As the body warms up, the heels may move a little closer to the floor, but don’t force it. The aim is not to get the heels to the floor, but to work towards doing so with ease and with the whole body working together. Lastly, firm the thighs to shift the weight off the arms and give you the sense of your spine growing longer.
- Create space in the chest and shoulders by plugging the arm bones into the shoulder sockets and draw the shoulder blades down the back toward the hips. Firm the muscles of the arms to straighten the arms. For the super bendy people, take care not to hyperextend the elbows or sink too deeply into the shoulders. Externally rotate the upper arms and draw the backs of the arms towards the floor. Feel the triceps engage. The elbows will hug toward each other to help straighten the arms.
- Keep the spine long. If you are tight and round in the upper back bend the knees to shift more weight towards the legs and help elongate the spine. Shrug the shoulders back away from the ears to create more space around the collar bones and in the shoulders. For the hyper flexible aim to build strength and resist the urge to let your chest hang through the arms. Draw the lower ribs into the body, draw the belly up and in towards the spine and lift your head between the arms so the ears are parallel to the upper arms and the collar bones are wide.
As you can see the ubiquitous downdog is quite a complicated pose. Once all the elements come together downdog offers the perfect balance between strength and rest. Find ease and most importantly don’t forget to breathe!
Hope this helps!
Yoga Tips & Wellness Musings. Treats & Eats.