Tag Archives: Yoga

Stretch into Stillness – Yin Yoga for a Calm Mind & Healthy Body

Stretch into Stillness – Yin Yoga for a Calm Mind & Healthy Body

Join me for my Stretch into Stillness Yin Yoga Workshop at Pop Brixton on 4th October

Join me for my Stretch into Stillness Yin Yoga Workshop at Pop Brixton on 4th October

Stretch into Stillness Workshop – Yin Yoga for a Calm Mind & Healthy Body

Sunday 4th October 11am-1pm at Pop Brixton

A Huge Thank You to Everyone who came along to my Introduction to Yin Yoga Workshop at Embody Wellness at the end of August. I’m excited to be teaching my next Yin Yoga workshop on Sunday 4th October at Pop Brixton as part of their Wellness Week from 27th September – 4th October. This pioneering new space, created with the local community in mind showcases the best and most exciting independent start-ups and new businesses from Brixton and Lambeth where they can share space, skills and ideas. And with my workshop taking place between 11am and 1pm, it’s perfectly timed for a spot of brunch/lunch at one of Pop Brixton‘s many tasty eateries! :)

Join me at Pop Brixton for Stretch into Stillness – Yin Yoga for a Calm Mind & Healthy Body.

An ideal complement to more dynamic practises which emphasise the “yang” tissues (e.g.dynamic yoga or sport training), Yin Yoga allows us to target the deeper “yin” tissues of our bodies. In this workshop we will let go of the striving typically associated with yang practices to slow down and meet our edges with awareness. As you move through each pose the meditative pace of the practice has a calming effect on the mind as well as the body.

For full details, FAQ’s and booking please click here.

Workshop: Introduction to Yin Yoga

Workshop: Introduction to Yin Yoga

Yin-Yang-Symbol-EmbodySaturday 29th August 2015 3-5pm at Embody Wellness

If you missed my last Introduction to Yin Yoga workshop at Easter, I am teaching this workshop again at Embody Wellness this August.

Yin Yoga is a quiet, meditative, floor-based practice where poses are held for several minutes. It is about softening and staying.

In this workshop you will experience some of the fundamental Yin postures, gain an understanding of some of the basic concepts and benefits of Yin Yoga, the characteristics of Yin and Yang nature and the value of a passive practice.

An ideal complement to more dynamic practices which emphasise the muscular “yang” tissues, Yin Yoga allows us to target the deeper “yin” tissues of our bodies, stimulating the energy pathways, or meridians and the deep connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and spine in particular.

Suitable for all levels except complete yoga beginners and pregnant students. To book please click here.

And to learn more about Yin Yoga and it’s benefits, click here to read my article on the Embody Wellness blog.

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.

Flow & Restore in SW8

Flow & Restore in SW8

Wind-down with a mix of Flow, Yin & Restorative Yoga at Embody Wellness, Vauxhall – Sundays 6.15-7.30pm.

Join me on Sunday evenings at Embody.

Flow & Restore on Sundays 6.15-7.30pm at Embody Wellness, Vauxhall

Flow & Restore on Sundays 6.15-7.30pm at Embody Wellness, Vauxhall

In the first half of this class I guide you through a series of flowing postures to help develop strength and flexibility.

The pace then slows for the second half of the class where the focus is on floor-based restorative and yin poses, allowing your body to release both physical and mental tension.

You will leave feeling rested, uplifted and ready for the week ahead.

See you on the mat! :)

Get Your Om Back

Get Your Om Back

#getyouromback 31 Day Yoga Challenge from Sweaty Betty.

Here I'm showing some Cat / Cow Pose variations

Here I’m showing some Cat / Cow Pose variations for #getyouromback

Sweaty Betty’s 31 Day Instagram Challenge involves practising one pose each day (a different post for each day of July). I think this is a great way to start building a home yoga practice!

My philosophy behind U Can Yoga from day one has been and remains that you can find your own expression of yoga, that yoga is for anyone who wants to give it a try and experience its many benefits.

I am taking part and will be posting some pose variations and instructions on Instagram with the intention of sharing a few ideas to make these poses a bit more accessible along the way – e.g. some standing and seated versions for those of us who find getting onto the floor a challenge.

Find out how to get involved by visiting the Get Your Om Back page at Sweaty Betty’s website here. And find me on Instagram @ucanyoga1.

Yoga Body Image

Yoga Body Image

Each month on my U Can Yoga website I have been featuring yoga related books that I’ve really enjoyed and want to share with you guys reading out there. For anyone who has missed the titles featured so far, I am including some my previous ‘Books of the Month’ here. I hope you enjoy:

YogaBodyImage book coverYoga Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body by Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley

“Our intention is to inspire people who have an interest in developing a practice to begin exploring their options, especially those who thought yoga wasn’t for them. We also want current practitioners to begin or expand inquiry into how yoga and body image intersect in their communities.” – Melanie Klein, Yoga Body Image

For all of us who practise yoga this is an essential read.

Body image is something that many of us struggle with at some point in (or even, much of) our lives regardless of our background, gender, appearance or experience. Yoga has the huge capacity to heal, though with the dominant images presented in modern yoga culture, one could be forgiven for thinking that if they don’t fit these images that yoga may not be for them.

In this inspiring collection of personal stories, twenty-five authors share how yoga has impacted their lives. From Vytas Baskauskas who found a profound connection with yoga after a battle with addiction landed him in jail, to Melody Moore, now a clinical psychologist specialising in recovery from eating disorders, who after several years of practice found that through yoga she was gaining emotional freedom, spiritual clarity and body acceptance. In Melody’s essay I was particularly struck by her admission that, “There were moments of poignancy after about a five-year gestation process of what I now can refer to as striving for perfection in the pose.” And in Dianne Bondy’s ‘Confessions of a Fat, Black Yoga Teacher’, I was reminded of some of my own past experiences including one particular class where I was told by the teacher to sit a pose out because I was “a bit big”.

There is value to be gleaned from every single one of the twenty-five essays in the book. I really could go on and on, but then this would become an essay in itself! :) I am so grateful to Melanie Klein, Anna Guest-Jelley and Everyone who shared their stories. I am grateful for this book.

Yoga Body Image reminds us that yoga truly is for everyone. And this is a book I look forward to returning to again and again.

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!

Instant Relaxation

Instant Relaxation

Legs on a Chair Pose

“Legs on a Chair?? Really?” you may ask.

It does not look like much but this pose is so relaxing and so simple that almost anyone can do it. I often take Savasana like this at home. I find it incredibly helpful for easing lower back discomfort and it’s wonderful if you’ve been on your feet all day or travelling. It’s also an ideal pose if you need a mini-break in the office.

In this short video, filmed at evolve, I show you how to set yourself up in this pose. If you would like to do this pose with some additional props, then an eye pillow over the eyes or on the forehead and placing some weight on your abdominal area (e.g. a folded blanket, or a sandbag, if you have access to one, resting across your lower ribs and stomach) can be incredibly calming too.

You can watch the video here.

I hope you enjoy practising this pose whenever you need to take some time out!

(Thanks to Urban Lucy for the comfy Beyond Yoga outfit I’m wearing in this video.)

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar

Each month on my U Can Yoga website I have been featuring yoga related books that I’ve really enjoyed and want to share with you guys reading out there. For anyone who has missed the titles featured so far, I am including some my previous ‘Books of the Month’ here. I hope you enjoy:

Yogarockstars coverHow To Be A Yoga Rockstar – The Ultimate Guide to Making A Living Teaching Yoga by Martin D. Clark

Why I like this book:

I wish this book had been around when I was starting out!

Fun, practical, useful and essential reading whether you’re already teaching yoga, thinking about teacher training or aspiring to pursue a career in holistic health and wellbeing (therapists, Pilates, meditation, coaching, beauty, nutrition).

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar has been written by Martin D. Clark the founding editor of OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine*, from a passion to see more people succeed and build their dream career successfully.

With lots of case-studies from teachers all over the world at varying stages of their teaching journeys inside this book you’ll find real-life insights on what to expect as you follow your teaching path, how to identify your inner strengths and know how to best use them, tips on how to market yourself and your business without breaking the bank, how to know if you’re genuinely ready to lead a retreat, how to take the fear out of getting started on social media and much, much more.

I’m very humbled to be included among the teachers featured in the book, plus many well-known teachers tell how they ‘made it happen’ including Ana Forest, Maya Fiennes, Kathryn Budig, Faith Hunter, Tara Stiles and more.

*NB – Since 2012 I’ve been writing OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine’s monthly ‘Carry on Teacher’ and ‘Teacher’s Tales’ columns respectively. To read a few of my past columns for free, plus a preview of the current issue of OM, please click here.