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Blog post 01/03/2017

L’acné et la rosacée.

L’acné et la rosacée sont deux problèmes de peau différents mais qui parfois sont confondus,  puisque l’on entend parler d’acné rosacée. Si vous avez un de ces problèmes de peau, voici donc quelques informations pour vous aider à mieux le comprendre. Vous trouverez aussi des pistes de traitements et le lien avec le Yoga, bien sur!

L’acné, qu’est ce que c’est?
acne _copy1

L’acné est une maladie de la peau assez commune et est caractérisée par des comédons (boutons blancs, points noirs) et /ou des pustules (boutons avec du pus) qui se situent sur le visage, le cou, le dos et/ou la poitrine.  L’acne touche surtout les adolescent à la puberté mais aussi certains adultes (avec poussées d’acné inattendues).

Qu’est ce qui cause l’acné?
Les glandes sébacées chez les personnes ayant de l’acné sont plus sensibles et produisent un excès de sebum; cela produit les points noirs et les points blancs. Nous avons tous des bactéries vivant sous notre peau, mais pour les personnes qui ont un excès de sebum, la bactérie croit et se développe par cet excès, créant ainsi des boutons , des pustules et des inflammations.

Quels sont les facteurs aggravant de l’acné?
Meme si la medicine n’arrive pas à le prouver à 100%, on pense que certains aliments notamment gras, sucrés et certains glucides peuvent être un terrain propice à l’acné
Les hormones et le stress jouent vraisemblablement un role dans le développement de l’acné.

Quel est le traitement?
Il n’y a malheureusement pas de remède miracle, et parfois l’acné récidive. L’application d’un produit topique ou la prise d’antibiotique semblent être des traitements efficaces. 
- un topique. Il s’agit d’une creme que l’on applique sur la peau qui peut être à base de benzoyl peroxide ou d’acide azélaique. 
- un antibiotique par voie orale, comme par exemple l'érythromycine ou la tetracycline ; celui-ci se prend pendant au moins 2 mois.
- certaines pilules contraceptives peuvent aider les jeunes femmes a réduire les effets de l’ acné, comme Jasmine (Yasmin). Attention celle-ci n’est pas souvent prescrite car c’est une pilule 4e generation. Avant de l'acheter, il faut bien s'informer des risques!
- L'isotrétinoïne est un traitement très lourd et efficace, qui comporte de nombreux effets secondaires. Le patient est surveillé chaque mois par le dermatologue.  L'isotrétinoïne peut avoir des consequences très graves sur un enfant a naitre, il est interdit de tomber enceinte lors de la prise de ce medicament. Les effets secondaires sont la depression et des pensées suicidaires. La peau est excessivement sèche et il faut se protéger le visage , les autres zones concernées  et aussi les lèvres avec un baume anti-gerçure special.
- Il y a d’autres traitements comme le laser, mais celui-ci a des résultats variables en fonction du type d’acné. Note: le laser peut être utilisé seulement 1 an après la prise d’isotrétinoïne. 
- Un maquillage adapte aux peaux acnéiques , le « Skin camouflage » peuvent être utile pour atténuer les effets de l’inflammation de la peau due a l’acné et aider a cacher les cicatrices qui apparaissent après l’acné. Le laser peut aussi réduire les cicatrices.

Quelles sont les conséquences de l’acné? 
A la fois une peau grasse et sèche, donc difficile à traiter, des démangeaisons, des irritations, voire des douleurs au niveau des pustules. 
Cicatrices 
Troubles comportementales et émotionnels
Impact sur la confiance personnelle. 

Quand consulter un dermatologue?
Des l’apparition des premiers boutons sur le visage, la poitrine, le cou et le dos. Il y a different types d’acné et votre dermatologue est à meme de vous dire de quel type d’acné vous souffrez. Plus le traitement est pris à temps, mieux c’est.

La rosacée, qu’est ce que c’est?
slideshow_newlydiagnosed

On différencie 4 stades:
1- vasculaire: rougeur,  bouffée de chaleur 
2- papulo-pustuleuse :  boutons rouges et/ou blancs
3- les stades 1 & 2 combinés
4- hypertrophique : épaississement du nez. Moins fréquent mais sévère. Ce stade touche principalement des hommes âgés.

Qui est concerné?
Généralement les peaux claires. On dit que c’est la  « maladie des Celtes». La rosacée s’apparente a de l’acné mais il n’en ai rien. Elle survient en general après 30ans. 

Quels sont les facteurs aggravant de la rosacée?
- les changements de temperature importants (passer du chaud au froid)
- le soleil
- les plats épicés
- l’alcool. Meme si les rougeurs sont caractéristiques de la rosacée et ne sont en aucun cas dues à de l’alcoolisme.

Quel Traitement?
- Le traitement topique est souvent sous forme de gel ou crème, et convient bien au stade 2 (celui des boutons)
- Les traitements par voie orale sont principalement des antibiotiques type Doxycycline ou Lymecycline, qui sont utilisés pour leur action anti-inflammatoire, par exemple:  tetralysal.
-  Par ailleurs, le traitement par lampes pulsées (IPL) permet d’agir contre les signes cliniques vasculaires de la rosacée, notamment en cas de couperose et/ou d’érythrose , mais le laser a un cout et plusieurs seances sont nécessaires (au moins 3).

Les consequences? 
En plus de la désagréable sensation de bouffées de chaleur, la rosacée, comme toute maladie qui touche l’apparence physique, est gênante, et peut avoir un impact psychologique sur la vie du patient.

Quand consulter un dermatologue?
Des l’apparition des rougeurs et/ou des pustules. Le dermatologue trouvera un traitement adapté pour contrôler la maladie et son évolution. 

Des pistes de traitements plus naturels?
Si vous souhaitez utiliser des produits plus naturels, si votre maladie de la peau le permet (car parfois les medicaments sont les plus efficaces) il existe l’huile de chanvre bio contre la rosacée.
Pour l’acné, l’huile de Chaulmoogra très utilisée en médecine orientale (Inde, Chine) vaut la peine qu’on la découvre. Il y a aussi l’huile essentielle de Tea tree a utiliser diluée, très efficace à faible dose avec d’autres huiles essentielles.

Et l’alimentation?
Pour la rosacée, une alimentation riche en chicorée sauvage,  cresson, cerfeuil, concombre, citron, fraise sera bénéfique.
Contre l’acné, essayez de limiter le sucre et certains féculents notamment a IG élevé. Privilégiez les légumes et les fibres.

Quel lien entre l’acné, la rosacée et le Yoga?
Le stress et les difficultés émotionnelles liés a l’acné ou la rosacée peuvent être soulagés par la pratique du Yoga. Comment? Le yoga diminue le stress qui est un facteur aggravant des maladies de la peau et régule l’appétit, permettant de faire des choix alimentaires sains , conscients et bons pour la peau. Pour la rosacee, qui craint l’activité physique trop intense, le Yoga est la discipline d’or. Vous aurez moins de rougeur dans votre cours de Yoga que dans un cours cardio. Notez aussi que les positions inversées changent le sens de circulation du sang du visage, ce qui stimule les vaisseaux capillaires , et qui permet plus de fluidité dans le corps et réduit ainsi les imperfections visibles.

4 positions de Yoga préférées contre l’acné: 
chien tete en bas
equilibre sur les epaules (shoulderstand) 
equilibre sur la tete (headstand)
pose du dauphin

Etre plus serein, penser à respirer et continuer à vivre avec les autres, meme si l’on préférait s’isoler à cause des boutons …. Le Yoga libére de ce que nous avons sur le coeur, de ce que nous n’arrivons pas a exprimer. Le Yoga permet de prendre conscience de soi-meme, de s’interroger et de méditer pour comprendre ce qui nous pese ou ce que nous n’arrivons pas a communiquer , pour ensuite le libérer, hors de notre peau.
Nous sommes et nous formons un tout avec les autres êtres, et prendre conscience de cela pendant les cours de Yoga, c’est une première étape de guérison et d’acceptation. « S’oublier » le temps d’une heure ou plus. Et s’accepter, être bienveillant avec soi-meme, sachant que les poussées d’acné ou les flush de rosacée vont et viennent, comme tout dans ce monde.  

Celine

Blog post 13/02/2017

L'auto-massage
oil massage
Ressentir, s’écouter et se masser… soi-même.
L’auto-massage permet par des mouvements simples de détendre certaines zones du corps. Il s’adresse aux jeunes, aux adultes et aux seniors, tant aux sportifs qu’aux personnes sédentaires. L’auto-massage est bénéfique et facile à réaliser pour les personnes qui travaillent assises devant un écran d’ordinateur.
Si vous avez mal au dos, ou remarquez une perte de mobilité au niveau d’une ou plusieurs zones du corps, des douleurs ou des problèmes de circulation du sang, vous vous aiderez par des exercices simples d’auto-massage. L’auto-massage peut être fait en complement d’un massage chez un professionnel ou en traitement seul. 
Apprendre quelques techniques de base de l’auto-massage et penser à bien respirer pour retrouver le plaisir de la detente du corps. C’est ce que je vous propose ci-dessous.
 
Nous aborderons certaines parties du corps : le ventre, la nuque, le dos, le visage, les bras et les jambes. Nous aborderons aussi les questions techniques à savoir quand et où faire son auto-massage. 
Avant de commencer le massage, une petite préparation est nécessaire. Frottez simplement vos mains l’une contre l’autre pendant 1 minute pour créer de l’énergie.
Vous pouvez choisir une ou plusieurs zones selon le temps que vous avez. 
Chaque zone dure entre 2 à 3 minutes en moyenne et peut se répéter au cours de la journée. 
Les auto-massages que je vous présente ci-dessous se pratiquent de préférence assis, mais vous pouvez en effectuer certains debout: la position assise est peut-être celle dans laquelle vous êtes en ce moment (au travail, dans le train ou l'avion) et elle semble naturellement plus relaxante que debout.

Auto-massage du ventre 
- Formez les poings avec vos mains serrées légèrement et pouces vers le haut, mains rapprochées l’une de l’autre , frictionnez rapidement mais doucement le centre du ventre (plexus solaire) de haut en bas et de bas en haut. 
- Autre exercice : Effectuez des cercles sur tout le ventre avec les paumes de la main l'une sur l'autre, et ce dans le sens des aiguilles d’une montre.  belly massage

Auto-massage de la zone du cou
 - Laissez tomber la tete en avant et restez 30 secondes à 1 minute selon votre confort dans cette pose (attention aux problèmes de cou). Puis sur le coté droit tirez très légèrement contre la tempe avec l’index et le majeur de la main droite. Répétez à gauche.
- Croisez les mains devant votre poitrine , emmenez-les derriere votre tete et massez votre nuque et vos trapezes par légères pressions du bout des doigts. 

Auto-massage du dos
 - Parfois perçu comme une zone difficile d’accès, le dos peut être massé de la manière suivante: Assis sur une chaise, penchez-vous en avant entre vos jambes. Puis frottez doucement de part et d'autre de la colonne vertébrale avec vos phalanges , les mains fermées.
- Effectuez des petits tapotements légers partout dans le dos sauf sur la colonne, avec vos poings, cela active la circulation du sang.auto massage dos
- Décollez à l’aide de vos pouces et index la peau qui est collée souvent en bas du dos. En effet,  les muscles sont entourés d’une sorte de tissu conjonctif mince qui peut durcir avec le stress ou le surmenage. Il faut donc pincer délicatement la peau pour décoller ce tissu. Les cellules redeviennent alors mobiles et l’oxygène circule mieux dans les muscles.

Auto-massage du  visage
- Faites des cercles sur vos tempes avec vos index.
- Posez vos mains sur vos yeux et rouvrez.Puis pincez délicatement vos sourcils, de l'interieur vers l'extérieur.
- Fermez vos yeux et votre bouche forts, et relâchez les tensions du visage.

Auto-massage des épaule 
- Les bras en face de vous pliés, enroulez un coude par dessus l’autre et éloignez vos coudes de votre corps.
En Yoga, cet exercice est connu sous le nom de pose de l’aigle ou Garudasana (cette dernière inclue aussi les membres inférieures) En même temps, poussez vos omoplates vers le bas.eagle arns


Auto massage des jambes
- Avec vos poings fermés,  tapotez les coins externes des cuisses puis attrapez les muscles d’une cuisse de part et d’autre de la cuisse et palpez un coté après l'autre, avec une main après l'autre de façon dynamique.

A la fin de tout auto-massage rechargez vos mains plusieurs fois en respirant profondément: Frottez vos mains ensemble, puis levez les bras et faites avec des cercles de bras vers l’arrière. Puis reposez les mains sur les cuisses.

A quel moment faire ses exercices d’auto-massages?
A tout moment de la journée. Ils sont bénéfiques le soir avant le coucher , le matin et  à tout moment où vous écouterez votre corps qui vous indiquera ce qu'il ressent et ce dont il a besoin.

Combien de fois par jour?
Plusieurs fois par jour.

Où et quand?
Partout , meme dans les transports (train, avion …) 
Les auto-massages sont applicables au quotidien meme au travail puisque certains mouvements restent discrets.

Combien de temps ?
2 à 3 minutes par zone corporelle. 

Comment les effectuer?
Vous pouvez utiliser une huile de massage, un gel ou une creme  selon votre préférence, voire meme aucun produit. 
L’auto-massage se pratique très bien assis.  Il s’effectue à meme la peau ou bien sur les vêtements, selon les zones du corps ciblées et selon le lieu où il est pratiqué.

Attention : Pour les femmes enceintes ou pour les personnes ayant une maladie particulière (maladie de la peau par exemple) ou bien les personnes ayant une blessure ou un accident (coup du lapin, luxation, fracture, tendinite, etc ..) demandez conseil à votre médecin avant de pratiquer l’auto-massage.  

Celine.

Blog post 19/01/2017


La motivation après les résolutions de janvierlean-in-03

Arrêter de fumer, faire 10 000 pas par jour, manger plus de fruits et de légumes, se remettre au sport, pratiquer le Yoga… 

J’aimerai aborder avec vous ce qui se cache derriere nos actions, notamment la motivation qui nous conduit à un cours de Yoga.

Nous connaissons différentes sortes de motivation. 
  - La motivation sociale: elle provient de la société. Faire 10 000 pas par jour, par exemple.
  - La motivation personnelle : je veux atteindre un objectif que je me suis fixé.
  - La motivation qui s’impose : dû à un problème de santé, votre docteur vous recommande de faire du Yoga. 

Il existe un tas de raisons qui nous incitent à faire ou ne pas faire quelque chose. Nos motivations sont consciences et parfois aussi inconscientes. Ces dernières sont difficiles à cerner, et peuvent remonter à l'enfance, à un événement marquant de la vie, etc.

Je ne vous ferai pas une typologie exhaustive des motivations, mais vous en résumerai quelques unes. Vous allez sûrement vous retrouver à travers elles, notamment dans votre pratique du Yoga au sein d’Affordable Yoga et Fitness.

La motivation sociale : elle se représente de différentes façons: 
  • l’envie de retrouver son ami(e) au cours de yoga, de partager un moment avec d’autres yogis et yoginis qui ont des valeurs similaires : la santé, le bien être, la paix intérieure, etc.
  • un professeur de Yoga qui vous inspire, ou une citation comme par exemple : « commence ou tu es, utilise ce que tu as, fais ce que tu peux »
  • la société : effectuer 10 000 pas par jour, les collègues du travail qui parlent de se remettre au sport, le dernier magazine qui fait l’apogee de la pratique du Yoga. 
Ainsi l’aspect social est important dans votre pratique, d'autant plus que le yoga améliore les relations en montrant comment vivre en paix avec les autres.

La motivation personnelle :   
  • pratiquer le Yoga comme activité physique principale ou en complément d’une autre activité (course, athlétisme, musculation…)
  • la motivation qui s’impose pour des raisons de santé. Si vous souffrez d’un problème de santé physique, mental ou émotionnel,  votre docteur vous recommandera sûrement la pratique du Yoga. Les exercices posturaux , de respiration et de mediation facilite le processus de rétablissement. Le Yoga est aussi un outil puissant pour vous libérer du mental et gagner en liberté. Vous vous sentirez peut-être forcé de venir au debut mais c’est pour votre bien. Au final, vous vous sentirez mieux après le cours.
  • la quête spirituelle est une des raisons de la pratique du Yoga. Dans le bouddhisme, cette motivation est appelée bodhisattva (Etre d’éveil). Le bodhisattva cherche à obtenir l’éveil. La pratique du yoga et de la meditation aide au développement spirituel.
Notons que la motivation personnelle est plus ou moins forte d’un individu à l'autre.  Il y a des personnes dont la motivation est inébranlable,  qui assisteront à tous les cours de Yoga, grace à leur force de caractère ou tout simplement par leur motivation solide. Quant aux autres…. ne vous affolez pas :-) ! Votre motivation est bel et bien là et si vous dérogez à votre cours de Yoga, c’est que vous avez une bonne raison. Ne soyez pas trop durs avec vous meme et revenez le cours d après. Il y a dans la pratique du Yoga ce qu'on appelle karuna:  la compassion.

Alors: vous êtes-vous poser la question de savoir pourquoi vous veniez au cours de Yoga d’Affordable Yoga et Fitness?     
Cela permet de comprendre. Ayez en tête la ou les raisons pour laquelle vous pratiquez le yoga. 

A présent, ne réfléchissez plus et prenez votre tapis de Yoga: c’est sans doute bientôt l'heure de votre cours. 

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Namaste,
Celine.




Blog post 30/05/2016

Katie's Morning Routine

I am not a morning person. I do not wake up cheerfully or easily. I hit the snooze button on my phone alarm for about 30 minutes or so before trying to wake my brain up by checking out what happened in my email inbox or on Facebook while I slept - from my phone still in the bed. After about 10-15 minutes of catching up with the virtual outside world I head straight to the shower, get ready, eat breakfast with 1-2 cups of coffee, and prepare to start work- all in about 45 minutes.

This is what I would have said about 3 months ago, before beginning a proper morning routine to wake up better and start my day from a place of wellness rather than obligation. Originally inspired by my husband who was following some suggestions outlined in a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, I was surprised to see that some of the same suggestions were given in another book I was reading simultaneously: “Body Thrive” by Cate Stillman.

We were both visiting my hometown for a 2 week break when we happened upon this revelation, and since we didn’t generally have to be anywhere early on a day to day basis, we decided to put some of the morning routine suggestions into action. Sometimes we would do them together, sometimes separately. We both noticed that by creating more time for ourselves in the morning, we felt way better about starting the day. The mornings themselves became events that we looked forward to the night before, which even inspired us to go to bed earlier so we would not be too tired or unmotivated to do our routines.

During the past 3 months, even upon returning to Paris and the daily work grind, I have taken several cues from the “Body Thrive” book as well as some other Ayurvedic resources and articles and I have tailored the following morning routine for myself:

1) Set “more pleasant” alarm sound 2-5 minutes before the time I actually want to wake up. This prepares me for the “real” alarm sound to follow which may have a more energetic sounding tempo to get me going.

 I still use my phone for my alarm; however, I keep it airplane mode during the night so I don’t see any text messages or other notifications immediately upon waking up. I have broken this rule a few times and I notice that I get overstimulated too quickly and too early and have a more difficult time enjoying the following steps of my routine because of all the things on my mind.

 2) Scrape tongue and brush teeth. According to Ayurveda, the digestive system remains awake while we sleep and deposits bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells on the surface of the tongue. If these lovely particles are not removed then they get reabsorbed into our system and can cause illness. Brushing and flossing moves the debris around, but a tongue scraper removes it very effectively. The amount of gunk that comes off the tongue during the process is kinda gross, but cool at the same time to know that I am getting rid of it. Recommended to do before Step 3.

Tongue Scraper                image

 3) Drink water. The “Body Thrive” book recommends drinking a quart or more of water to encourage early, immediate elimination. I don’t drink that much water, more around 50 cl. Whether “elimination” happens or not, the fact is that I have not drank water during the preceding 7-8 hours and need to rehydrate- especially if I am to drink coffee not too long afterwards.

 4) Move! I have never, never, never been one to exercise in the morning. I am an after-work exerciser all the way! So, I still do not consider this my main physical activity for the day (though some people who follow this method do) - especially if I have another activity or sport planned for later. However, even 10-20 minutes of movement to air out the body makes me feel so much better than when I first woke up. I usually do yoga - either my own little routine, integration movements, sun sals, or follow a YouTube video - though it is recommended to vary activities from day to day choosing between stretching, cardio, and/or toning/muscle conditioning movements.

 5) Time for Slience. For me this is prayer while for my husband this is meditating with a timer, trying to progressively increase the duration during which he can concentrate on just one thing, training the mind not to wander. Whatever it is, 2 minutes or more of quiet time helps me center myself before the tasks of the day need to start. In particular, it is during this step that my brain has a more difficult time focusing if I have checked the “business” on my phone upon waking up. It is also during this time that I set an intention or an affirmation for my day. I look ahead, and consider what could be difficult, where might I struggle, and my intention or affirmation may be something like “Today I will be patient” or “I am patient.” Trust the power of positive thought and return to it throughout the day when needed.

 
After these steps, which generally take me 45 minutes to an hour, I begin to actually get ready. Two more habits I have added to my getting ready ritual come from Ayurveda for skin care: dry brushing and oil massage. Like tongue scraping, dry brushing exfoliates, helps to unclog pores, and remove toxins that the skin has excreted. I do this before showering, followed by oil an oil massage actually in the shower which has replaced for me the after-shower use of body lotion which is generally loaded with chemicals that the skin absorbs. More about these habits can be found in the “Body Thrive” book or other Ayurvedic resources.

Dry brush      imagej

So, I am still not a morning person. I still drink coffee with my breakfast. I still generally watch the news or something while I eat. I have days where I do not do this routine because I went to bed late the night before…and I feel the difference when I have this extra 45-60 minutes set aside for myself and when I don’t. I had read that, just like the sun rises gradually, so should we. In following this rhythm of nature, I tend to feel better during a time of day I used to detest, and I recommend giving it or any other semblance of a pre-getting ready morning routine a try to set the foundation for hopefully a pleasant and productive day to follow.

~~ Katie



Blog post 16/05/2016

Sleep better with these simple yoga postures

 I think everyone has at some point in their lives experienced trouble sleeping. Anxiety, physical tension, busy mind can all lead to insomnia. So what can we do to tune out the day and get some quality, restful sleep?

Evening yoga routine to help you sleep

Supported wide legged forward bend.

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How to:  Sit on the floor or on a blanket and stretch your legs wide. Place the bolster or blankets/pillows between your legs. Inhale and reach your arms up high, on the exhale gentle fold forward from the hips to drape the torso and head over the support. Let the arms be relaxed on the floor. Stay here for about 5 minutes, breathing deeply into the belly with the eyes closed of soft. This posture relaxes the lower back and the neck and soothes the core muscles.

 Supported supine twist.

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How to: Sit on the floor or on a blanket with both knees bent. Place the bolster or blankets/pillows at the base of the hip joint. Press down into the hands to lift and turn the torso over the bolster. Lay the top of your body on the bolster, trying to press the belly down into it. Depending on your neck you can turn it the opposite way to the knees. Stay here for about 4 minutes and then gently change sides. This relaxing posture encourages blood flow to the internal organs and gently releases the muscles around the spine.

Supported reclined bound eagle.

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How to: Sit on the floor and place a bolster or blankets/pillows behind your, just a little bit away from the base of your spine. Open the knees out to the sides and place the soles of the feet together. From here, you can place other props underneath the knees to relax the legs, or just let them hang towards the floor. Slowly lie back on to you bolster or pillows. You may need to modify the legs a little to get comfortable. Place your hands on your belly and notice the rise and fall of the breath. This supported posture is a great way to relax the nervous system and release any tension in the hips, lower back and belly. Stay here for about 5 minutes and then slowly, use your hands to bring the knees together and roll over to the right hand side. Slowly sit up when you are ready.

Supported legs up the wall.

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How to: Place your bolster or pillow close to a wall and lie down right next to it. Carefully bring yourself to lie down on top of the bolster (the pelvis/lower back should be supported by the bolster) and reach the legs up to the wall. This can take a little practice to get comfortable on the wall. Alternatively, you could do this posture without the props, or just bend the needs and put them on a chair, with the rest of the body on the floor. This is, in my opinion, the best posture to help you sleep. Notice the breath, and how the torso becomes more and more heavy as the minutes tick by, enjoy the feeling of grounding and support you get from this posture. To get up, slowly bend the knees and roll over to the right hand side. Take your time before sitting up.

Savasana.

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The ultimate resting pose! Lie on the floor with the legs slightly apart and the arms down by the sides a nice step away from the body, with the palms face up. You can also roll up a blanket and prop it under your knees to release the lower back.

 
You may find that only one of these postures really works for you, if so, just stay longer in that chosen posture and forget the others. If you don’t have time to stay for 5 minutes in each pose, you can stay for just one or two minutes.

At the end of your practice, I guarantee you’ll want to crawl into bed and drift off into the land of sleep!

Sweet dreams!

Louise  




Blog post 27/04/2016

APRIL TEACHER TIP NEWSLETTER - CHATARUNGA

Make Friends with your Chaturanga Dandasana by Atie Julie


 
Chatur: Four  *  Ranga: Limbs  *  Danda: Staff or Stiff  *  Asana: Pose Four Limbs Staff Pose 
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With an active and regular physical yoga practice, we definitely cannot avoid this asana (pose/posture/comfort seat). Chaturanga Dandasana is repeatedly used in Vinyasa and Ashtanga  classes. Because it utilizes a full-body activation and awareness, it's certainly not known as an 'easy' asana, but B.K.S.Iyengar (the founder of Iyengar Yoga) rated it as only one star in terms of 'difficulty', because it can be mastered with routine practice.

While yoga asanas are intended to be therapeutic, yoga is like most other physical activity, it could invite injury if done without mindfulness. Improper repetitive movement can potentially invite rotator cuff injuries, so it's of great importance to be aware of our body alignment and initiate modifications for safe practice.  

Mastering Chaturanga allows you to move on to an ease in arm balances poses like Crow, Tripod Headstand, Koundinyasana,  Asthavakrasana and many others. (Google those poses written in Sanskrit, you'll be amused.) 

 
Chaturanga Alignment 

Essentially Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is the blue print of all poses. This is where we find the joints' alignment to one another and exterior body parts move close to the midline.  This is what we call standard anatomical position or our natural alignment. When you stand up, watch where your elbows are facing. Normally, they will face the back side, and the connection of your wrist with the elbows is a 90 degree angle.

That connection and alignment of the elbows should be maintained throughout the downward movement in Chaturanga  Dandasana to respect our natural human anatomy. The elbows move to the back of the body, hugging close to the ribcage, not splayed out to the side. Simply press into the fingers and toes, and lift your body up, parallel to the floor.   Activate all body muscles, from the arms to the toes.  

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Step By Step: 

1. Do your plank; arms shoulder distance, elbow-shoulder one vertical line. Legs are hip width distance.
2. Neck long, look to few inches forward.
3. Engage the core, your hip put nicely away from the floor, as if there is your birthday cake under your belly that you don't want to crush. Your body is straight as possible like an arrow, no round or arching the back, engage your abdominal muscle.
4. Thighs pushing up, heels pushing back
5. Rolling the toes forward so your body move to the front to align the elbows and wrist when you lower down.
6. Bend the elbows. EXHALE.
7. Lower every part of the body in the same time into push-up. Engage the core. Crown of the head reach forward, the heels reach back.
8. Et Voila. You are in Chaturanga.
9. Keep breathing

 
Stay Aware of These Alignments: 

1. Use the muscles on the arms and back muscles to distress the wrist, especially engage the triceps muscles.
2. The head of the shoulder face forward, not down. This action is made by moving the shoulder blades (scapula) towards to one another (retraction), so that your clavicles are open wide, as if you want to make smile with your clavicles.
3. Gaze few inches forward, to keep the neck long
4. Work on every muscles on your body, from the shoulder to the hamstring, this is overall body muscles workout.

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It's better to lift your body higher by lifting the shoulders higher. When lowering down, stay conscious of keeping a straight line in the body, not compensating by depressing your belly toward the floor or, arching your hips toward the ceiling.

Learning Chaturanga with Props
Chaturanga with Two Blocks   

1. Put the blocks shoulder-width distance in its highest facet 
2. Come to your plank and lower down with the body as straight as possible like an arrow, until the shoulders touch the blocks. Keep the head of the shoulders facing forward . Read the alignment as mentioned above.
3. Maintain the body parallel from the floor and engage the core muscles 

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Chaturanga with One Block 

If you use one block, put it directly under your pelvis in a low facet.  As you lower, it will help train the body to keep the pelvis lifted as opposed to dropping to the floor. 

Chaturanga with Bolster 

A large cushion could also be used beneath the torso to practice proper alignment.

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Modifications Without Props 

Lower one knee to the floor and fully extend the other leg behind you, or drop both knees to the floor followed by the chest and chin.

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'Practice and all is coming.' - Pathabi Jois

 

You can find all of the classes that Atie teaches by following this link to the 'About Us > Our Team' page on the AY&F website.   





Blog post 26/04/2016

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Affordable Yoga & Fitness has been featured in an article, written by Georgina Wilson-Powell, in Etihad Airways Inflight Magazine as offering among others some of the best classes in the world!

If you don't find yourself on one of these flights soon, you can read the article here!




Blog post 17/03/16


Spring is in the air !!


My favorite time of year, when everything starts to wake up and thrive. This time of year is governed by the Kapha
Dosha according to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic, whole-body healing systems. This Dosha (one of the three body constitutions) is composed of Water and Earth. In a balanced Kapha world, we find a calm and thoughtful mind, steadiness and ease, growth and regeneration. But as Water can easily stagnate and Earth is heavy we can find many imbalances such as sluggishness, coughs and colds, heaviness, excessive need for sleep, warmth and comfort.

Fortunately there are many ways to balance the Kapha Dosha and move towards rejuvenation and Spring !

My suggested pranayama (breath control) technique is Kapalabhati, or breath of fire. This pranayama technique cleanses the blood, the mucous linings of the lungs, and all the body cells. It rejuvenates brain neurons and expands lung capacity while strengthening all th enerves in the body.

To practice Kapalabhati :

Sit in a comfortable, upright position with relaxed shoulders and face. You may like to put one hand on your belly to monitor the “pumping” movement. Inhale normally and then exhale with force. Your navel will press back towards your spine and you may feel the slight upward push of the diaphragm pressing the air out of your lungs.
Let the breath enter your lungs naturally on the inhale – do not intentionally breath in, and press it out again on the exhale.
Start off slowly and then as you get used to the movement you can gradually speed it up. You'll know you're doing it right when your breathing sounds a bit like a steam train !

Just be careful if you start to feel dizzy or light-headed, give yourself a break and then start again.
Do not practice this technique if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure.


As for asana practice, this is a time of year where your body needs stimulation and energy.
When you get on your mat start a good, strong warm up with Sun Salutations. This will get the heart pumping, the breath flowing and energy moving freely around the body.

In my personal practice during the Kapha period I like to either choose a Vinyasa practice, or a flowing Hatha session. You have two options :

--> Hold postures for any length of time and move around

- Dance in your downward dog,
- Move your arms around in the Warrior poses
- Sway your tree
- Include nice, circular movements, swinging, swaying, dancing....this will enable your body to release blocked and stagnant Kapha energy and get all of your juices flowing !

--> Choose a few postures that are easy to sequence and flow between them

- I like moving from Warrior 1 to Humble Warrior
- Chair to standing forward bend
- Downdog to plank
- Warrior 2 to side angle

Each time flowing from one to the other and then back again, 3 or 4 times. This gives your body a chance to open into each posture, possibly going deeper each time, and enjoy a nice flow.

What to eat ?

I know, I know, this time of year I want bread, rice, chocolate and cheese, pizza ! However, this is not recommended keep the body in balance. It's the heavy Kapha energy requesting more heaviness.
In Ayurveda we balance the body and mind by incorporating the opposite “energy” into our diet, yoga practice and routine.
So, favour light, airy, warm and spicy foods.

Excess Kapha can slow the digestive system so by eating warm, cooked foods, you're helping your body to digest each meal more easily.
Try not to eat too much at this time of year, or you'll probably finish your meal and feel like going to bed. I good rule to follow is to fill your stomach 1/3 with food, 1/3 with liquid and 1/3 nothing ! Don't stuff yourself.

Eat spices to stimulate the body, even if you don't like hot food, you can still include spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, paprika and turmeric (which, BTW, is one of the best things you can ingest to relieve inflammation, another common problem at this time of year).

Other tips to stimulate the body and mind

- Try daily Garshana dry massage/brushing of the body before showering. This not only removes dead skin cells but gets your blood and oxygen moving around, you may even break into a sweat while doing it.

- Change up your routine a bit. Keep to a regular bed time, wake time and meal times but try and stimulate your body and mind by getting out and doing something new. New things are exciting and help us grow as individuals. Release the stagnant in your life, open the windows and get some fresh air and experiences.

- Clear out the clutter ! By doing so you might just clean and organise your mind as well as your home.

-Get some colour in your life. Wear bright reds, oranges, yellows and pinks. Bring some vibrance into your wardrobe and you'll probably feel a bit more energised.


So there you have it guys ! This time of year is great and by gently adjusting your diet and yoga practice, by introducing a few new and exciting things into your life I guarantee you'll be full of the joys of spring !

Go out there and enjoy the sunshine !

~ Louise



Blog post 09/03/16

MARCH TEACHER TIP NEWSLETTER - KUNDALINI

This month's Tip comes to us from the well of wisdom that is Gillian Grant.  So many of our students have asked about the practice of Kundalini and the practical steps of beginning an awakening practice of this vital energy. Enjoy some loving guidance in that direction here: 

 Pranayama, Meditation and the Practice of Kundalini Awakening  

   As a teacher of Hatha Yoga, I speak obsessively about the breath ("Deep inhalation, deep exhalation. Focus on your abdominal breathing..."). So, what is the big deal with breath? In simplest terms, when we tune into our breath, we can connect or mind and body, which allows us to stay present and focus solely on how we feel in that moment. A calm and balanced breath equals a calm and balanced mind and body. If we can achieve this balance, it is already enough. A+ in Yoga 101!

   But, like anything worth studying, the principles of breath in coordination with a meditation practice can take the practice of Yoga much further for those who wish to deepen their practice. Enter Pranayama and Kundalini Awakening... 

   Pranayama is the controlling of the breath to encourage and regulate the flow of energy (prana) within our bodies. When we don't think about our breath, we more often than not are breathing too shallow, limiting oxygen intake and therefore inhibiting the natural process of regeneration. Or, we breathe rapidly anxious breaths, sending our body into high alert and wreaking havoc on our nervous systems. Often energy can be misguided, leading to anxiety, lethargy, sickness or general malaise. But, through a consistent practice of breathing techniques with the asanas (physical postures) and meditation, we can use our breath to direct the energy present in all of our bodies in a balanced and safe way.

   The practice of Kundalini awakening goes even further into the idea of controlling primal energy through the breath. To understand Kundalini, we have to first understand the basic principles of the chakra system. The chakras are energy centers that run in a vertical line from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra is representative of the subtle (or, non-physical) body. The chakras are energy centers for thousands of smaller channels (nadis). Imagine the veins in the body pumping blood to vital organs. Now, imagine the nadis pumping energy to the chakras.  

   Kundalini is said to be the Mother of all energy forces. Kundalini in Sanskrit means "coiled one" and is often described as a serpent coiled at the root chakra (Muladhara). This divine energy is thought to be dormant in every person until it is awakened through the practice of pranayama and meditation. When the divine energy of Kundalini is awakened, it uncurls from the base and surges upwards, through the chakra system, until it reaches the crown of the head (Sahasrara). The Kundalini energy will continue to cycle through all the chakras, the result being an overwhelming sense of bliss and contentment.  


**  To commence in the practice of Kundalini Awakening, I suggest starting with a short silent meditation. Find a comfortable seated posture (cross-legged, on the heels, half-lotus or lotus). If you are uncomfortable in this posture, try placing any sort of cushion under the tail bone, elevating the hips and bringing the knees closer to the ground.    Closing the eyes, begin to focus on your inhalation and exhalation, trying to make them even. Think of your abdomen expanding and contracting. Then, start to bring focus to the point between your eyes (the Ajna chakra). Imagine that there is a white light illuminating from this point. If you have a mantra, you can repeat it silently to help stay focused in your meditation (I often use "OM Namah Shivaya" or "In the name of Shiva" to invoke divine love and bliss). Try to keep your spine in a straight line from the tail bone to the crown of the head as you meditate. I generally recommend a 10-15 minutes of meditation to start, you can expand your practice as you feel able. 

** For Pranayama exercises to encourage Kundalini Awakening, I suggest again starting in a comfortable seated cross-legged position, always being conscious to have a straight spine. Place both hands on the shin of the front leg. Keeping the head level (chin parallel to the floor) inhale deeply, opening the chest and shoulders, curving the spine in towards the navel (imagine cow position, but seated). On the exhalation, round the spine, bringing the shoulders inward in front of you (seated cat position). Because the head is not moving in the posture, you can increase the speed of the movement and breath to a faster rate, bringing lots of energy into the body. Repeat this movement around 10 to 12 times and on the last inhalation, come back to center retaining the breath for approximately 10 seconds and then release fully.  

   Because the awakening of Kundalini can be a very intense and emotional experience, it is usually suggested to move slowly, with guidance, through a steady practice of pranayama, meditation and the asanas. There is no race to the end, with patience it will come. So, enjoy your practice, wherever you are in the journey. If you would like an excellent resource with even more information, please check out this link to Swami Sivananada's book on Kundalini awakening:

  http://www.dlshq.org/ download/kundalini.pdf

 

OM Namah Shivaya!    


~ Gillian 

 





Blog post 09/02/2016

Get to know Rachelle Tersigni

Rachelle

It's Sunday, early afternoon, and I head to Rachelle's Vinyasa Flow class. This is the first time I'm attending one of her classes and, I must admit, I'm very excited.
As I sit down, with a "tall but soft spine" I feel her grounding energy surround me. The class begins and I feel my breath flow through me, my body respond to each well known posture, I listen calmly to Rachelle's instructions which allow me to go deeper into the poses, deeper into my practice, and myself. Her knowledge and techniques inspire the yoga teacher in me, and nurture the student in me.
At the end of the class, we head to good old Starbucks for a chat.

So, what got you into yoga ?

I was always very interested in spirituality, Buddhism, Deepak Chopra and I found I had a great love for Hinduism. My Aunt is a Yoga teacher and for many years I wasn't exposed to Yoga, I just knew I had a cool Aunt who taught it. I attended my first class when I was 22, with my Aunt and I cried. It was so beautiful and emotional and my Aunt is a very wise lady. She touched something inside of me and from then on I continued to go to classes. I practiced Ashtanga, did a year of Bikram - discovering that I don't like Hot Yoga where you're dripping with sweat and keep slipping on your mat - but that class served a purpose, and it was the only one that I could attend with my busy schedule.

I took a break of Yoga for about a year and then I moved to Korea. This was a difficult place for me to be, I wasn't very happy. That lead me to rediscover Yoga, and with my practice, things became much easier. From Korea I went to India and my Aunt suggested I try a Yoga Teach Training Course at a Sivananda school, which I did although I never planned to teach Yoga.
When I moved back to Vancouver, I started teaching...

What is your favourite posture ?

Oh, wow, it's a restoravtive posture, a mix between a forward fold and a twist, lying on my bolster. Whenever I do this pose, I stay in it for about 20 minutes !


Do you have a favourite teacher ?

Rod Stryker, he is an amazing teacher, so full of knowledge. I've done a few of his workshops and one part of his Yoga Teacher Training Course.


What's your favourite quote ?

My favourite quote....there are so many!

"Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving" Albert Einstien

Who inspires you, besides your Aunt and Rod Stryker ?

Ordinary people, who live regular lives. People who get up in the morning to face the day, those who have dealt with adversary and challenges who rise up with strength and resiliance and move on. I admire those people who accept their past, who take responsibility for it and who then go forward.

I'm fascinated by peoples' life story, I'm a bit nosey !

Which posture presents the most challenge for you ?

I am very flexible, a little too much, being hyper-mobile, which that in itself creates a whole different kind of challenge. I can very easily over do any posture and injure myself. I've learnt that I need to work on stability and learn to pull back rather than going too far into postures and hurting myself. I think the posture where I have hurt myself the most would be Shoulderstabd. I have to be really careful in that one for my neck and shoulders.


What do you try to inspire to your students ?

There are so many different things and they change day to day. I suppose, to learn how to be with themselves and to be kind with themselves wherever they are. This is a kind of unspoken message.

People are so hard on themselves and it's important for us to learn that you are not only your thoughts. Yoga and breath help us to experience that, to experience the Self by not thinking. With Yoga and Pranayama, we can go beyond the mind.

What's one of the most important things you've learnt through teaching Yoga ?

One of the most important things I have learned through teaching yoga is that people are looking to be touched. To be affected by something deeper than what they have known up until now. They also want to do that safely whether they know it now or not...I am there to help them to know how to do it safely, and to introduce to them another part of themselves.


What does your practice look like ?

My practice is simple. I have an on and off relationship with Meditation, which I've been focused on for the past year.

I like my practice to be grounding. I roll around on toning balls to massage my muscles and I do a lot of Pranayama, especially Bumble Bee Breath. I love the feeling and it's so important to vibrate the Vagus Nerve.

What's one of your best memories ?

It would have to be something to do with being alone in nature. A hike by myself, or a bike ride in nature. I find it very therapeutic to be alone in nature.


As we're in Paris, where is your favourite place to eat ?

It would have to be this little eclectic bistro, it kind of looks like someone's old living room. It's very close to where I live, it's called Des Gars dans La Cuisine.


Is there anything else I haven't asked you ?!

I've just started a podcast. It's not necessarily just to do with Yoga, but I think people who practice meditation, breathwork and yoga would be interested in. I've done a lot of research into high sensitivity. I notice that those who do yoga are either very sensitive and are drawn to yoga, or they start practicing and find a deeper connection to their emotions and become more sensitive. I am a highly sensitive person.

On the podcast, I'll be doing interviews with people, we'll be talking about overwhelm, researching sensitivity. People can see that they're not the only ones out there !

The website for my podcast is: The Hammock for Highly Sensitive People

And then, we start to feel a few raindrops falling and decide to head home !
Rachelle teaches every Sunday at St Roch from 13h15 - 14h45. In my opinion, her class is a must !

~ Louise





Blog post 05/02/2016

Teacher Tip Febuary Newsletter - Bakasana Tutorial

February's Tip comes from our powerhouse instructor, Rosalina Siguero, who teaches Sunday night's Dynamic Vinyasa Flow Yoga. So often, we think that certain expressions and postures are 'too hard' or 'just not for me'. Crow Pose often falls into this category unless the grace of its gentle balance is appropriately explained. Rosalina does that for us here:

  -  Bakasana or Crow pose is the first arm balance I learned. I like to introduce it early to beginners because it's so cute, you look like a bird when you're in the pose. I believe it's a very reachable pose, everyone can do it. Remember, believe you can and you will! 

  -  To achieve this pose, you'll need strong arms and you'll need to engage your core. If you want an idea of preparation before attempting it, just "rest" in Dolphin pose for about 2 minutes (do it twice if you can, relaxing into Child's Pose in between and after), and some Navasana / Boat pose crunches (at least ten of them!) will prepare you. 

Step One: First let's bring our attention to our hands. You'll need a  pretty solid base here to be able to balance on them. Place them on the floor, shoulders distance apart. The fingers are spread wide, and keep in mind we also have muscle strength in the fingers so use your fingertips!! 

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Step Two: Squat down, with your hands on the ground, shoulders distance apart, fingers widely spread, feet together, look forward, and lift the pelvis up a bit. Now, squeeze your thighs on your upper body, so place your knees as high as you can on your arms, bend a little your elbows, and start shifting your weight forward. Try to really place your knees close to the armpits, because they're going to slide a bit. 

Step Three: Keep looking forward, and shifting the weight on your hands, squeezing your knees to your chest, and lift one foot of the floor. Step the foot down again and lift the other foot this time. 

Step Four: At that point, if you're feeling comfortable, keep on shifting your weight into your hands, lifting one foot at a time, and lean forward more. Remember to keep looking in front of you, and not at your feet. Eventually you will feel your center of gravity (you know, that feeling when you think you're going to fall down!) and it will allow you to lift one foot at a time, then eventually, both feet off the floor. 

Step Five: Voilà! You're balancing on your hands!! So, how does that feel?? 

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 Some other tips: If you're scared to fall (yes, it happens to all of us to be scared…and to fall from a pose), you can put some pillows on the floor right underneath your head. When I first learned Bakasana, I actually let myself fall on purpose on a pillow, to be able to find my center of gravity. 

     Don't overthink it and just try it! And most importantly, remember to have fun. Let me know how it went if you see me in class! 

~ Rosalina




Blog post 19/01/15

got back pain


Got a bad back ?

Lower back pain is something that affects so many people these days. I myself had a couple of years of trouble, back before I was a yoga teacher, so I know how painful and exhausting it can be. I’m glad to say though that there are ways around this problem.

Before going into these tips, I thought some people may be interested to learn and understand a little more about the emotional “meaning” behind the lower back….others may think this is a load of funky new age hoohaa, so they can just skip this next bit !

The lower back is connected to the base chakra MULADHARA in Sanskrit, MULA meaning "root", ADHARA meaning "support" or "base". This chakra is all about security, safety and survival. Here we find our courage, resourcefulness and will to live through difficult times.
Each chakra governs an endocrine gland, the root chakra controls the adrenal cortex; adrenaline, the fight or flight response, fear.

In many cases (of course, not all) if we dig deep enough, we notice that when we have lower back pain, we find ourselves living through very stressful situations, more often than not, to do with our security (financial, family, house issues).

A few years ago I had a very stressful job, I also had a very bad lower back. Looking back now I realise the connection between what I was feeling at the time and the root chakra elements. I wasn’t earning very much money, so I was worried about surviving financially. I couldn’t see any way to get out of the job, I felt stuck and powerless (partly because everything seemed out of my control, and I was unhappy, but worried about leaving and not having any money at all). I worked so hard, often doing over 50 hours a week, leaving me no time to look after myself, I was neglecting my own health, hobbies, simple pleasures (cooking, eating, reading, doing yoga…). I also felt very lonely, as if I was the only one who could find a way out (or not) of this situation, I couldn’t explain the extent of my powerlessness.

All of these things are wrapped up in the root chakra : fear; material security; support/connection to close friends or family; powerlessness; stress.

My personal solution to back pain, was to quit my job and follow my dream of being a yoga teacher. I took that leap of faith which for a few months terrified me even more than the idea of staying on in a horrible job. I do understand however that it was a rather drastic solution (and I didn’t just do it to relieve my back pain !), and not everyone can, or even wants to make such drastic changes in their lives.

So here are a few things that I used to help me until I took the leap !

Carry less weight

Have you ever looked at, or picked up your work bag, (or handbag for all those ladies out there) and realized that you were lugging half of your house around with you ? Bottles of water, umbrellas, work folders, books, computers, random bits of paper, an old and bruised apple, extra makeup, extra pair of socks….I know, I know, I have some random things in mine !

If you can’t abandon your books and computer for work, then see about getting a better bag. Either a back pack or a satchel (a big strap that you can have on one shoulder and the heavy bag bit on the opposite hip). Try not to carry all of the weight on one shoulder as this will create imbalance in the body and you’ll find the back and hips over-compensating on one side…not good !

Wear good shoes

I’m aware that half of the people reading this don’t regularly wear high heels (n’est-ce pas gentlemen) but those who do should be aware that heels do shorten and tighten many of the leg and butt muscles, pulling on the lower back and hips.
For those flat-heeled shoe-wearers, try to make sure that your shoes actually fit you properly. If they’re too small then the toes and feet are all scrunched up and create stress for the ankles, knees, hips and back. If they’re too big, then you ankles don’t have enough support, once again creating stress and imbalance in the other joints leading up to the back.

Get up and move

We spend so much time sitting down these days, at the office, in the car/metro, on the sofa. Spending too long sitting down compresses and puts pressure on the spine. The disks in your back are meant to move around, to expand and contract, enabling the absorption of nutriments and allow for a healthy blood supply to the other parts of the body.
The hips also suffer from prolonged sitting, becoming tight and inflexible. We all know the song “…the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone….” If one part of the body is stiff and inflexible, other areas will become affected.

So, my suggestion is, get up every half an hour for a little walk, run, dance, skip….stretch a bit. Move your body ! It is meant to move and shake, to be alive !

Play some tennis

Now, this next tip is a little uncomfortable, but it works ! Grab a tennis ball and massage away some of that tension.

This technique massages tight muscles and unlocks the gluteal muscles, lengthens the hamstrings and adductors, and restores balance to the muscles along the spine.

To find the sweet spot, lie down on your back and place the ball in the centre of the fleshiest part of the buttock. As I said, this can feel a bit uncomfortable, but the more you relax, the deeper the ball will get into the muscle. This action moves blood, lymph and toxins out of the muscle tissue. By removing the ball afterwards, a fresh wave of blood flow infuses the muscle with oxygen and nutrients.

You can play around with this technique, placing the ball under different parts of the body (shoulders, top of the hamstring whilst sitting down, inner thigh) and using you own weight to put pressure on the tight muscle.

Work those abs

One great way to protect and support the lower back is by reinforcing the abs and oblique muscles (the core of the waist).
I always warn students about over working the core muscles, because if we’re too heavy in the front of the body, the back has to work harder to support the front.

Here are three exercises to help with core strength:

Sphinx leg lifts

Sphinx leg lifts_copy


Lie on the floor on your front and place your forearms on your mat with the elbows under the shoulders. As you exhale gently lift the right leg up towards the ceiling, keeping it straight. Make sure to keep both hips on the floor. Don’t be surprised if you can’t lift the leg very high. Inhale and replace the right leg on the ground. Exhale and do the second side. You can do as many rounds of this as you like. I normally do 10 on each side and then go ahead and lift both legs at the same time. Going up and down with the exhale and inhale. Try to keep the shoulders and relaxed as possible.
This exercise strengthens the muscles in the lower and mid back.

Oblique presses

Oblique lifts_copy
Lie on the floor on your right side in as straight a line as possible. Use your left arm for balance, either resting on your forearm or lying the arm out on the floor and resting the head on it.
Slowly lift the legs (or if this is too strenuous, just life the top leg) up towards the ceiling, actively squeezing the oblique/side of the body.
You can hold and lower several times, or lift the legs and hold. Remember to breathe !
If you want to go even further and you’re feeling balanced on your side, you can also lift the torso up towards the legs. And then, you’ve all heard me say it many times, move to the second side.

Leg lifts

Leg lifts_copy


Now to the front of the body, the core of the core. Lie on your back (if it’s fragile, you can put your hands under your butt) and on the inhale slowly lift the legs up to 30°, pause; 60°, pause and 90°. Hold with the legs over the hips and the on the exhale very slowly lower the legs back down to the floor. Try to keep your lower back in a neutral position, not curving it too much as this will put too much pressure on the spine.
There are several options from here.

If this is too difficult for you, you can bend the knees slightly.
You can do alternate leg lifts, one leg at a time.
As you lower the legs down, you can hover them a couple of inches off the floor to increase the effort.
A slightly more intense option would be to put the hands behind the head and slightly lift the head, neck and shoulders off the floor. This will get into some of the higher core muscles.

Go do yoga

I know, I know, I’m biased as a yoga teacher. But it helps so much !

These are the yoga postures that I used myself to help deal with my lower back trouble, and I did notice a huge difference. Know that twists and hip openers are the most helpful, from my experience.

Downward facing dog: This posture stretches the whole of the spine, the shoulders, legs, wrists.

Dog_copy2

Reclined twist:
A nice gentle pose which releases the lower back and improves digestion.


Reclined twoist_copy

Seated twists:
Increases spinal flexibility, decompresses the lower back and opens the hips.


Seated twist_copy

Cat/cow:
Stretches the spine, increases flexibility in the back and opens the shoulders.


Cat cow_copy1

Cow face pose:
Amazing posture to open the hips and really relaxes the back.


Cow face

Triangle:
Stretches the ankle, groin, thigh, shoulder, hamstring, chest and spine (wow!).


triangle

Legs up the wall:
A restful posture which relaxes the legs, hips and back. It gives the brain a rest too.


Legs up the wall

Reclining hand to big toe:
Opens the hamstrings, lower back and if you open the leg out to the side it opens up the groin and inner leg, if you stretch the leg across the body, it opens the out leg and hip.


Reclining hand to big toe

Warrior two:
A posture which works every muscle in the body, opens hips, legs and groin.


Warrio2

Forward bends:
What better way to stretch the legs and the back by bending forwards. If you do have a tight lower back, don’t keep the feet together, open them out to give your back a bit more room to move around.


Forward bends

Locust:
Stretch the front of the body and strengthen the back, engages the butt and the thighs.


locust

Knee hugs: By pulling the knees into the chest you stretch and decompress the back, and you get a free hug !


knee hugs


Remember to always work both sides of the body, and to breath. To enable the muscles to release into the postures, I suggest holding them each for about 5 breaths. If you feel any pain or pinching, ease out of the pose or skip that pose altogether. Try to see these postures as a remedy for your back troubles, not a way of pushing your body too far and going beyond your limits.
As I said at the beginning of this post, the root chakra is all about security and support. So be kind and gentle with yourself, give your body, mind and soul a break and take care of yourself. Be the support that your body craves, in return it will hold and support you :)

That’s it for today folks !
~ Louise



Blog post 03/01/16

Teacher Tip January Newsletter - Come the Barre for Happy Hour!

ballet barre

This month's Tip comes from one of our newest additions to the Teacher's Team, Sophia Willoughby Jérémiasz. Here she gives some insight into the dynamic and delightful practice of Barre Conditioning.

- Barre... What the {tuckyourtailbone} is it? -

The style of fitness that is known today as Barre originally came about in the 1960’s. A serious injury inspired the German ballerina, Lotte Berk, to combine a series of rehabilitative movements with classical dance, which became known as the famous Lotte Berk Method. Ever since, Barre has been spreading like wildfire across the United States, up against fitness stylings such as Crossfit and Hot Yoga, Barre has quickly risen to the top in terms of accessibility and popularity.

- Why is it so 'à la mode'? -

Barre is unique in that it combines elements of classical dance with Pilates, yoga, cardio-training, hip-hop, isometric movement, interval training, and kickboxing. No class is ever the same, keeping the workout exciting and fresh. Through the execution of small controlled movements in sync with the hottest music cocktails, Barre targets the core throughout the entirety of the class, as well as every major muscle group in a series of low-impact exercises. Muscles are purposefully fatigued (hence “the burning sensation”) followed by periodic stretching in order to maintain a long, strong, and beautiful dancer-like silhouette. The physical, along with the mental, results of Barre are what make it so special. It is typically promised that after 5 classes a client will experience substantial results, including feeling more toned, tightened, and flexible. Sounds pretty fabulous right?

- Tout le monde can do it -

I do have a background in multiple forms of dance; however, soccer was always the core of my life. I was recruited to a Division 1 university to play, retiring after my first season to pursue my other passion, travelling! Before heading to Paris, my mom dragged me to a local Barre class in my hometown of San Diego. I was convinced that no form of workout could compete with my D-1 soccer training in terms of intensity. I was very surprised to say the least. I had never experienced anything like it before! My first class not only gave me that workout challenge high, but also put the biggest smile on my face thanks to the awesome music and energetic teachers. Attaining results in a single hour is special in itself, but the fact that anyone with any fitness background can take class is the cherry on top of the gâteau!

Don’t believe it? Come take class and see for yourself. I can’t wait to see you at the Barre!!
~ Sophia




Blog post 08/01/15


The Winter Months, dark, cold and damp. At this time of year we Human Beings are more susceptible to tiredness and sluggishness.


As the days become shorter, your sleep and waking cycles become disrupted. Less sunlight means that your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Because the release of this sleep hormone is linked to light and dark, when the sun sets earlier your body also wants to go to bed earlier!

Fortunately, there are many things that we can do to get our energy soaring back to where it belongs !

 
Get some quality shut-eye


First things first, we need to sleep. I know that sounds like a no brainer. But our bodies crave rhythm, we need a REGULAR sleep pattern, preferably the same “lights out” time, same “get up and shine” time every day.
Getting to bed earlier in the winter months will enable your body to get the rest it needs. If you have trouble going to bed early, try at least to turn down the lights and switch off computers and tvs about 30 minutes before going to bed. The “blue light” emitted by screens makes the body produce less melatonin making it harder to get good, restful shut eye.

 
Get your five a day

There are so many fruits and vegetables full of vitamic C which gives the body more energy and boosts the immune system.

Here are a few :

  • Oranges (obviously)
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapples
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Green cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Celery


If you find it difficult to get in your five a day, try drinking them in a juice. Here is my favourite juice recipe which I use as a base, then adding other fruits and veg:

1 apple
1 orange
2 small carrots
A large stick of celery with the leaves

I then add whatever I want, or need that day: spinach, kale, kiwi fruit. Green juices may not look very appetizing and it's possible that you don't like some of the ingredients, I promise you that this basic recipe will hide pretty much any flavour !

Winter tip : if you're really feeling tired and have a sluggish digestive system at this time of year, try adding some fresh ginger or mint to the recipe, you'll be ready to go in no time !

 
Try some super-foods

We hear more and more about “super foods” at the moment, here is a recipe for a warm winter salad full of super goodness:

Serves two

Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 ripe avocado
A large handful of cress
10g (or more) feta cheese
200g sweet potato
50g quinoa
A few pieces of broccoli
A small handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts)
Olive oil
Pinch of salt, dried chilli flakes, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, freshly crushed balck pepper
Juice of a lime
A sprinkling of sprouts (alfalfa, roquette, leek...whatever you can get your hands on!)
 
Method:

Peel or scrub the sweet potatoes and chop into small pieces. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper and the spices and cook in the oven until slightly crispy. If you want to make this a bit faster, boil the pieces of sweet potato and then gently fry them with the spices and some garlic.
Cook the quinoa following the packet instructions. Lightly boil the broccoli, I like it when it's still a bit crunchy.
Chop the coriander leaves, dice the avocado and feta.
In a pretty bowl (yes, presentation is everything !), once everything is cooked and drained, mix the ingredients gently together,. Place the nuts and sprouts on the top and Hey Presto !
You have a lovely, healthy salad full of goodness.
 

Keep yourself hydrated !

Drinking lots of water will help your body flush out any toxins which weigh our system down. I drink at least 4 cups of hot water a day. To many this may seem a bit odd, I am used to getting strange looks when I ask for a cup of tea...without the tea. But there is reason behind my madness ! Hot or warm water hydrates the body 7 times faster than cold water. You can always add a squeez of fresh lemon juice in the morning to boost your digestive system.

An old Indian recipe which helps to hydrate the body :

A few slices of fresh ginger
A tbsp of coriander grains
A tbsp of fennel seeds
1L of water.
Bring this all to boil in a pan for about 12 minutes, leave to cool a bit and there you go !


 
Give yourself a little love !

I spoke a little about self massage in Affordable Yoga and Fitness December newsletter. I have used this ayurvedic practice for almost a year now and I have certainly noticed a difference to my skin and energy levels.

The best oil to use for everyone is sesame oil (not the grilled stuff !). I like to warm the bottle gently in some hot wate before use.

Self massage can take a while, so I've spent some time researching the best parts of the body to rub to get the best results :

  • The armpits to stimulate the lymphatic system and get the white blood cells moving properly

  • The belly, gets the digestive juices flowing, with oil on your hands start with the stomach area and then stroke down the left side of the tummy, along the bottom and up the right side back to the stomach. This will keep everything flowing in the right direction !

  • The thighs, here you have a very big artery so it will helps with circulation. Always massage towards the heart.


Once you've rubbed in your oil, leave it to “rest” a few minutes and then gently pat yourself down with an old towel and take a warm shower or bath to encourage the oil deeper into the pores.

 

Sun salutations

For those yogis out there, you'll know that we often use sun salutations at the beginning of a practice to warm the body up. They get the heart pumping and the blood flowing throughout the whole body.

The postures included in this beautiful flow lengthen, strengthen and extend many of the main muscles in the body. They stretch the spine forwards and backwards which is important to the wellbeing of the whole body and nervous system. As Bob Harper (fitness trainer) said
                                                                     
                                                                    “You're only as young as your spine is flexible”.


 

Be gentle with yourself ! As always, but especially at this time of year. Practice gentle yoga, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and nice long Savasanas.


Take care of yourself, you are very special !
~ Louise





Blog post 28/12/15

Teacher Tip December Newsletter


This month's Teacher Tip comes to us from our highly skilled, wonderfully gifted, and ever-smiling instructor, Louise Cutler. Take a look at these practical techniques to gracefully move through the chilly holidays.....

Winter is here! In Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest holistic, whole-body healing systems based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit, the early winter months are governed by the Vata element. This is the Dosha (one of three body elements) of Air and Space. In a balanced Vata world, we find creative thinking, quality of voice, memory, energy, ease, and movement. But as Air and Space are such volatile and uncontrollable elements, we can find many annoying imbalances such as an overactive mind, sleep problems, anxiety, coughs, colds, and stress-related issues.

Fortunately, there are many ways to balance this Dosha during the cold, winter months. My suggested pranayama (breath control) technique for this time of year would be Brahmari, or 'Bumble Bee Breath'.

* Sit in a comfortable position, with a nice long spine. Gently close the eyes (you can also cover the eyes and the ears with your fingers), take a long, slow inhale and then, as you exhale through the nose make a low humming noise in the back of your throat. Hum until the end of the exhale. Inhale once more through the nose, and then start humming, like a bumble bee, as you gently exhale. Continue this practice until you feel more centered and relaxed. This is an extremely soothing practice to your frazzled nerves and anxiety.

bumble bee breath



As for Asana (physical postures) practice, take it slower than you normally would. Vata, being a bit like the wind, can make us run around with little awareness, physically and mentally, and you may feel ungrounded or disconnected.


* Try grounding postures such as Malasana (yogic squat), Tadasana (mountain pose) and experiment with seated forward bends, feeling your sit bones anchored into your mat.

* Allow yourself to turn your awareness within, slow down the breath, hold your postures for slightly longer than usual and move mindfully, bringing your attention to the parts of the body which are in contact with the ground.

* Do as you see the earth doing at this time of year: shedding the old and hibernating. Take care to keep warm and try to drink more fluids to ease up the dryness prone to this time of year. You could also treat yourself to a weekly Abhyanga (self massage practice) with warm sesame or coconut oil to keep yourself hydrated from the outside in.

Take care of yourself, you are very special!
~ Louise