Tag Archives: Wellbeing

Why Restorative Yoga is a Perfect Summer Practice

Why Restorative Yoga is a Perfect Summer Practice

Supported Child's Pose - Paula Hines U Can Yoga

Here I’m demonstrating a Supported Child’s Pose

If you usually go for a dynamic yoga practice or tough training regime do you ever find that during the summer months you can come away feeling not as energised as you might at other times of year? If so, restorative yoga may be just the thing to add to your routine.

Summer, (though our British weather may sometimes call it in to question!), in Ayurveda is the Pitta (fire) season. One way of creating balance through Ayurveda is to live in harmony with the seasons. If you find that the summer brings about discomfort and agitation then, as a cooling and slow practice, restorative yoga has the capacity to help bring you back into balance.

One of the best things about restorative yoga is that it can benefit just about everyone whether you’re a seasoned yogi, a Crossfitter, a mum-to-be or someone with no yoga experience whatsoever. If you happen to be somebody who has a Pitta dosha (which can be further irritated by excess heat) you may find this practice especially beneficial.

Supported by props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks, restorative poses are held for several minutes at a time (typically anything from 5 to 20 minutes). Consequently, this activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the autonomic nervous system in charge of our rest and digest activities). The idea of using props is that the support they provide makes it easier for your body to relax into each pose, allowing the mind to hopefully follow.

One of my personal favourites is Supported Child’s Pose (as I’m demonstrating in this picture). Like all restorative poses it calms the nervous system and in addition, this particular pose gently stretches the lower back and hips as well as aiding digestion. I’d typically hold this pose for five minutes. It’s a good idea to turn your head halfway through to get an even stretch down both sides of your neck too. Also, if you have delicate knees be sure to pad with blankets as much as needed, and for extra comfort you can pop a rolled up blanket under your thighs as I’ve done here. Comfort is of the utmost importance in every restorative pose.

If you’ve never tried restorative yoga before then come along to a Flow & Restore class on Sunday evenings 6.15-7.30pm at Embody Wellness. In each class I guide you through a blend of flow, restorative and yin yoga poses to leave you feeling rested, uplifted and ready for your week ahead.

For more details visit the Embody website at www.embodywellness.co.uk.

Spanish September Sun

Spanish September Sun
Join us at the beautiful Hacienda Retreat in Andalusia

Join us at the beautiful Hacienda Retreat in Andalusia

Relax and Restore Spain Retreat with Sally Parkes Yoga 5-11th September

Join Sally Parkes and I in Andalusia for a week of yoga, Pilates, relaxation and delicious food.

Set in the beautiful Andalusian countryside with panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada and in an area of outstanding beauty and ecological diversity, this retreat offers a complete getaway from everyday life.

To find out more and to book visit Sally’s website here.

P.S. Still looking for an excuse to take yourself on retreat? Check out my 5 Reasons to Go on A Yoga Retreat article on En Route Traveler.

Simple Self-Care

Simple Self-Care

Simple Self-Care with Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose

Restorative Yoga with Paula

Restorative Poses like this one are a simple, effective way to practise Self-Care. Here I’m demonstrating Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose

This is one of the most relaxing of all Restorative Yoga poses.

Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose is ideal for relieving fatigue, headaches, breathing problems, aiding digestion and much more.

For women this is also a wonderful pose to practise during your time of the month and during menopause.

Using props such as pillows, cushions and blankets provide support and facilitate physiological relaxation. I sometimes set myself up in this pose for my daily Savasana if I am feeling particularly tired.

You can use a yoga bolster if you happen to have access to one, but you really don’t need any special props for this pose – just grab hold of as many blankets, pillows and cushions as you need to ensure you have enough support and feel comfortable. Stack your pillows/cushions/stacked blankets or bolster on your mat or the floor so that they are on a diagonal (your head will rest at the higher end). Here is how to get into the pose:

– Sit with your tailbone at the lower end of your pillows/cushions/blankets or bolster

– Lie back on your support using your arms to ease yourself down. Your head needs to be supported here too so do adjust as necessary (NB – you may wish to place an optional folded blanket or extra cushion under your head).

– Place the soles of your feet together with your knees out to each side. Place extra support under each knee so that your legs are supported. Allow your arms to relax by your sides or on your abdomen.

– Cover your eyes with an eye pillow or light scarf or close your eyes to take your focus inwards

– Stay in this pose for ideally 10 minutes, but longer if you like. (I can often stay here for 20 minutes.)

Enjoy practising this pose whenever you need it!

1-2-1 Yoga

1-2-1 Yoga
1-2-1 Yoga

“I have one-to-one classes with Paula and I thoroughly enjoy them. Highly recommended!” – C. Dunning

1-2-1 Yoga in London – Hatha, Flow, Pregnancy & Restorative

Is one of your goals to begin a yoga practice in 2015? Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced practitioner you can benefit from private one-to-one yoga sessions. If you’ve never done yoga before this can be a great way to explore whether it is for you or to gain some confidence in your practice before joining a class.

One-to-one yoga lessons can take place at Embody Wellness in SW8 or evolve in SW7, with easy access to Central London, or another convenient venue at times to fit your schedule.

For more details and to get in touch about 1-2-1 Yoga please click here.

Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats

Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats
Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats

While you’re Christmas shopping why not treat yourself to a yoga getaway in 2015.

I’m excited to be teaching on more yoga retreats for Sally Parkes Yoga in 2015.

If you’re thinking of a yoga getaway yourself, or would like to treat someone you know then you can find Sally’s full retreat calendar at her website here.

I’m next teaching on the Relax & Restore Weekend at Florence House (pictured) with Sally from 6th-8th March. This retreat features a wonderful blend of Hatha, Dynamic, Restorative Yoga and Pilates, a delicious, healthy vegetarian menu, beautiful surroundings and treatments available (click here for details). And for info on all the retreats I am teaching on in 2015 you can visit my retreat calendar here.

Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist

Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist
Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist

Supported Twist – Aid digestion, reduce water retention and relieve stress on your back muscles with this wonderful Restorative Yoga pose that’s not just for Christmas!

Also, like all Restorative Yoga poses this Supported Twist is great to practice if you have been feeling stressed or fatigued.

It’s really simple to do at home. You can use a yoga bolster if you have one, but you really don’t need any special yoga props – as you can see in this picture, I’m using bed pillows. If you want to create a similar depth to a yoga bolster then you can wrap two bed pillows together in a blanket or bath towel. You can also achieve a similar effect with cushions or take some blankets or throws from your sofa, fold lengthways and stack on top of one another – whatever works best for you! :)

Here’s how:

Arrange your pillows / stacked blankets so that one end is slightly elevated (as pictured)

Sit on the ground with your right hip at the lower end of your pillows / stacked blankets with your knees bent (your legs can rest on each other or you can separate them – whichever feels most comfortable)

Turn your torso to the right, placing your hands on either side of your pillows / blankets

Take an inhale, lengthening the front of your body; on the exhale ease your torso on to your pillows

Allow your arms to rest comfortably on the floor

For a deeper twist (optional), turn your left ear down to your pillow so that your head is facing the opposite direction to your knees

Stay in this pose on the right for up to 4 minutes then repeat on your left side for the same duration.

Enjoy! :)

Lower Back Relief (And More!)

Lower Back Relief (And More!)

In this video I show you how to use a yoga block to support your practice in Bridge Pose

VIDEO: Supported Bridge – a great Restorative Yoga Pose for Lower Back Ease and more

In this short video filmed at evolve, I show you how to use a yoga block to support your practice in Supported Bridge Pose. As someone with Spondylolisthesis in my lower back I find this particularly relieving and it helps to ease tightness I find sometimes occurs in this area, though this makes a wonderful restorative yoga pose even if you don’t have back issues.

Resting the weight of the sacrum onto a yoga block provides wonderful support, and allows the entire length of the spine to be stretched. As well as being great for general lower back weakness, this pose also opens up the chest, as well as the front of thighs.

Added benefits include:

– helps relieve stress and low moods
– boosts the parasympathetic nervous system
– helps reduce fatigue
– stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion
– improves quality of sleep and helps combat insomnia

I’d typically stay this pose for up to 5 minutes.

Here I also show you how to take this pose into an inversion. This can be a nice alternative to Shoulderstand if, like me you have some neck degeneration too and you don’t have access to wall space to practice Legs Up The Wall.

Want to experience more Restorative poses like this? Join me for Relax & Restore Restorative Yoga classes on Fridays at Embody Wellness 6.45-7.45pm.

If you’ve never been to a Restorative Yoga class and would like to know what to expect, you can read a review of my Relax & Restore class from Carly on her brilliant Project HB blog by clicking here.

VIDEO: Supported Bridge – a great Restorative Yoga Pose for Lower Back Ease and more – CLICK HERE TO WATCH

How To Ease Tired Legs, Boost Your Mood & More in Just 5 Minutes!

How To Ease Tired Legs, Boost Your Mood & More in Just 5 Minutes!

I share a simple 5-Minute Yoga boost with you in this short video filmed at Evolve Wellness Centre

5-Mintute Rescue: I share a simple 5-Minute Yoga boost with you in this short video filmed at Evolve Wellness Centre - click picture to watch


VIDEO: I call this pose my ‘5-Minute Rescue’ – click here to watch.

Legs Up The Wall (or Viparita Karani) is one of my favourite Restorative Yoga poses because it has multiple benefits including easing tired legs, reducing stress (helps boost your mood!), fatigue, insomnia and more!

In this short video, filmed recently at evolve, I show you how to do it, including a cheeky way to get into the pose if you have tight hamstrings (for you runners and cyclists out there – this pose is great for your weary legs!). I thank the wonderful Judith Hanson Lasater (who I studied Restorative Yoga with) for showing me this alternative way in to the pose.

Want to experience more Restorative poses like this? Join me for Relax & Restore Restorative Yoga classes on Fridays at Embody Wellness 6.45-7.45pm.

If you’ve never been to a Restorative Yoga class and would like to know what to expect, you can read a review of my Relax & Restore class from Carly on her brilliant Project HB blog by clicking here.

VIDEO: I call this my 5-Minute Rescue – CLICK HERE TO WATCH

January T-tox

January T-tox

Yoga Tea & Flexibilitea with Steeping Glass from T-tox

Yoga Tea & Flexibilitea with Steeping Glass from T-tox

This month I’ve really got into loose-leaf tea thanks to Johnny Hannis – aka Johnny T-tox (@JohnnyTtox on twitter). Johnny has been in the health and fitness industry for more than twelve years and is passionate about spreading the word on the benefits of loose-leaf tea. I had the pleasure of meeting Johnny – whose own story is compelling – at Club 51 in London. As Johnny explains on the T-tox website,

“ When I was 18, I developed Hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain), and it took me five years to fully recover. In that time, my priorities had changed somewhat and I shelved my original plans to study European Business at University. I had realised after my illness that the vast majority of us don’t appreciate our health until we lose it – a mantra that stays with me today.”

Johnny introduced me to the Yoga Tea and Flexibilitea flavours in the range before Christmas and I’ve really been enjoying them ever since – it’s become my favourite way to start the day (as well as some yoga of course :)), especially through the cold rainy mornings of the past month. I’ve been finding the process of brewing my tea in my special Tea Glass (a cross between a glass and teapot in one) quite therapeutic too.

Flexibilitea has fast become a favourite of mine

Flexibilitea has fast become a favourite

My favourite so far is the Flexibilitea (a blend of nettle, Burdock Root, Lemon Verbena , Jasmine Flowers and Marshmallow), but I’d like to work my way through the other T-tox teas in the coming months too, just to make sure :).

You can learn more about T-tox and check out some of the teas for yourself at www.t-tox.com. And for an interesting read on the differences between loose leaf teas and teabags see Johnny’s blog here.

A Healthy Start to 2014

A Healthy Start to 2014

January Yoga & Wellbeing Retreats 17th-19th Jan & 24th-26th – EARLY BIRD DEAL: Book and pay by 30th Nov for £225. £250pp thereafter.

January 2014 Yoga Retreats with Stretching the City  - Early Bird Offer 'til 30th Nov

January 2014 Yoga Retreats with Stretching the City - Early Bird Offer 'til 30th Nov

I’m delighted to be teaching alongside the fantastic Sally from Stretching the City on two yoga and wellbeing weekend retreats in the beautiful Sussex countryside. Join us at Brantridge Park manor house in Balcombe where we’ll stretch, twist and breathe out the festive excess. Arrive after work on Friday and stay until 3pm on Sunday, enjoying twice-daily yoga classes, healthy vegetarian meals, a guided countryside walk, raw chocolate making workshop*, pampering treatments* (*incur an extra cost) and plenty of time to rest and unwind. There’s just a few days left to book for the early bird price of £225. (Price will rise to £250 from 1st Dec onwards). So before the Christmas chaos commences, book yourself in for a healthy weekend to kickstart 2014. Join us on 17-19th or 24-26th Jan.

Click here for full details and to book please email sally@stretchingthecity.com