Yoga Definitions: Asana

asana Ok so this one we will all be familiar with. These are the positions/postures/poses that we put ourselves in during the class. We think of asana as physical postures used to get a bit more control of our body's and also to increase the proficiency of a number of bodily functions. Through practicing the postures or asana we create strength, endurance, increase flow of energy and circulation around the body, they have an effect on the fascia and lymphatic systems in the body and also help to keep muscles and joints healthy or even improve them. There are also studies that state that yoga is a great way to gain and keep cardiovascular fitness (heart). So you know that you are doing yourself some good. Some argue that yoga was originally created hundreds even thousands of years ago to prepare the mind for a greater realisation and to rid the body and mind of any ailments that would obstruct this process. So whether you practice yoga for a bit of mental relaxation, or for the physical benefits or for something more spiritual, it makes no difference to me. It's YOUR practice after all. What we should watch our for is EGO! Today its the yoga asana is also where ego can really come to the forefront. We push ourselves into postures that our body may not be ready for. And it's difficult as we all want to make progress in one way or another and sometimes you do need to work close to the limits to make that advancement... But it should be done mindfully and you should be asking yourself in every posture 'is this right for me?' and not thinking 'I should be doing this as that person on the mat next to me is'. This is where one of my favourite benefits of yoga comes in. It allows you to have a greater understand of your body, of how your mind tends to work in all sorts of situations. I feel it can also empower you to feel confident in the decisions you are making, regardless of the opinions of others, which can lead to increased self esteem.
Kicked up into headstand on my own for the first time and felt controlled!
Kicked up into headstand on my own for the first time and felt controlled!

Yoga definitions: Namaste 🙏

So if you've been to a yoga class chances are you've heard the word Namaste. Normally hands come together in front of the chest (or heart centre in yoga) and the teacher will bow while saying 'namaste'.  In its simplest term it's used as a greeting and a goodbye so you may have heard it at the beginning and/or end of your class.  If you delve a little deeper it can also be used to verbal use an acknowledgement of gsomething  a little bit extra which we all share. For some it's God, for some it's light.  I personally use Namaste at the end of my classes after our savasana as we are all nice and relaxed and in a similar headspace. Figuratively the heart feels ope. And physically the body and the nervous system have become relaxed. Primarily, in this context at the end of class, my utterance of 'namaste' means goodbye but I also bow with the intention that the teacher in me bows to respect the teacher in you. Without you, the students, I wouldn't have any cues which means I wouldn't have anything to say. What I learn from you guys shapes the way the class evolves, within a session and over a longer period of time. Just to let you know that that makes you my inspiration 🙂  🙏Namaste 🙏

Changes to the timetable (week beginning 20/02/2017)

Hello Yogis, I am off to do my aerial yoga teacher training this week (yippee) and it is midterm break which mean a couple of changes to the timetable. I'm back next week though! Mon - Yoga @KGS 7:45-8:15pm **No Class - in-service days Wed - Fitness Yoga @ Picky 12-12:45pm on as normal Thu - Fitness Yoga @ Picky 7:30-8:15pm **Jane Covering Sat - Fitness Yoga @ Picky 11am-12pm **Jane Covering
Image: (C) lailaloves

Take care of your own heart

  Untitled-2Valentine's day can mean many things to many people. Here at Yoga Orkney we don't discriminate. We'd like you to take care of your own heart. So whether you have that someone special to celebrate with today or you are rocking Valentine's day in your own way here are the facts (thanks science) that show doing yoga means taking steps towards increased heart health. Yoga can:
  • Reduce body weight and BMI
  • Reduce blood pressure (systolic and diastolic)
  • Lower cholesterol (<LDLs and >HDLs)
  • Reduce heart rate
All these factors play a role in your cardio-metabolic health and an increase in any of these is linked with future cardiovascular problems. The good news is that regular physical activity at an adequate level can reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight. Yoga has even been shown to be as effective as aerobic exercise in favourably modifying body weight and heart rate for the improvement of health. If you already practice yoga you'll know how great those few moments of savasana (relaxation) at the end of the class feel. The evidence is beginning to reveal that this could be down to a modulation of autonomic function and a beneficial modification to markers of sympathetic (fight or flight response leads to increased HR) and parasympathetic (all nerves outwith brain and spinal column leads to decreased HR) activity on the heart. Savasana and yoga in general are excellent in combating stress and a reduction in stress leads to positive impacts on neuroendocrine status (hormones for everything!), metabolic and cardio-vagal function (how well all the biomechanical processes work and how variable the heart rate) and related inflammatory responses (how able the body tissues are at dealing with stresses). So ditch the excuses and hit the mat, Live long and prosper 😉 Namaste    

Changes to the timetable (week beginning 13/02/2017)

Hello Yogis, I am away for training over the next couple of weeks so I will keep you up to date with any changes to the timetable. Classes for the coming week are posted below: Mon - Yoga @ KGS 7:45-8:30pm (normal) Wed - Fitness Yoga @ Picky 12-12:45pm **GAVIN COVERING** Thu - 50+ exercise @ Picky 10-11am, Yoga for Strength @ Picky 12-12:55pm and Fitness Yoga 7:30-8:15pm Sat - Fitness Yoga @ Picky 11am-12pm Heart-Health-Yoga

Getting (back) into it I’m January 

It's a tough month! You've had all the festivities and perhaps, like me, you've indulged in the wonderful abundance of food and drink over December leaving you feeling sluggish and a little ashamed. It's cold, it's wet, it's dark and you have to get your behind in gear to go back to work. All this can leave you with a bit of a January downer. But all is not lost! Why not apply the symbolism of a new year, of fresh beginnings and reinventing an area of your life that's been making you feel unhappy or uncomfortable? Even a tiny change is enough to reap physical and emotional benefits. You could try saying 'yes' a little more. If you are a 'yes' man you could try saying'no' a little more. Drop your evening glass of wine and go for a walk (or get on the mat instead). Save for a holiday instead of buying more. Maybe you could practice being kinder on yourself or let go of strong emotions more swiftly. Make whatever it is you choose personal to you. Don't feel guilty about putting your own needs first every now and then. A beautiful flower starts with healthy roots. 🙏Namaste 🙏

12 poses of Christmas – Day 12 – Half lord of the fish pose

Day 12 of the Yoga Orkney 12 poses of Christmas. Amazing dedication, that's you on day 12! Christmas eve. If you managed even a few of these days, great work. Think about what you are going to achieve in 2017. Sanskrit name: Ardha Matsyendrasana Benefits:
  • Stretches shoulders, hips and neck
  • improves flexibility and blood flow to the spine
  • Therapeutic for asthma
  • Back of spinal injury

12 poses of Christmas – Day 11 – Goddess pose

Day 11 of the Yoga Orkney 12 poses of Christmas. This is definitely one of my favourite postures. Lovely strengthening posture in body and in soul! Go for it. Sanskrit name: Utkata Konasana Benefits:
  • Strengthens lower body, back, chest, shoulders and arms
  • stretches hips and chest
  • stimulates cardiovascular system.
  • recent chronic injury to legs, hips and shoulders.

12 poses of Christmas – Day 10 – Bridge pose

Day 10 of the Yoga Orkney 12 poses of Christmas. A lovely back bend today. Take it as far as you need. Only 2 more days to go 🙂 Sanskrit name: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Benefits:
  • Stretches the chest, neck and spine
  • Strengthen glutes, lower back, upper back and quads
  • Can be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis
  • When supported can relieve menstrual discomfort.
  • neck injuries, keep pressure on shoulders not head and neck.

12 poses of Christmas – Day 9 – Child’s pose

Day 9 of the Yoga Orkney 12 poses of Christmas. A lovely restful posture that allows you to explore the breath a little more deeply. A posture that you are likely to find at the majority of yoga classes you attend. Sanskrit name: Balasana Benefits:
  • Gently stretch hips, thighs and ankles
  • can be therapeutic in the case of back and neck pain.
  • knee injuries, adjust knee positions
  • pregnancy, many knee to widen knees to accommodate baby bump 🙂