Try it out for free

I meet so many people who think they may be interested in yoga, but not really sure, and they don’t really want to outlay any money for something they are unsure about. So why not try it for free? From Monday 4th December – Sunday 17th December new clients, or those who have visited in 12 months or more, can attend any afternoon, evening or weekend class for free! Not for you? Not a problem at least you tried!

Bookings are essential. Head to http://bit.ly/2AqklZn to register and book (simply book without payment).

Limit of one class per client.

What I learnt from a 4 year old

I thought the parents were meant to teach the kids, not the other way around? Yesterday husband and I learnt a very valuable lesson from our 4-year-old daughter.

Things have not been going so great lately. We were having a new driveway put in when the concretor left mid-way though job, taking our 50% deposit but leaving us with huge piles of dirt for a driveway. One month later we are still trying to get this job completed. Things have been really hectic at work and basically a lot of stuff has been going on in our lives. We are tired and incredibly cranky.

Yesterday in the midst of cooking dinner, cleaning up, feeding pets, helping with homework and dreaming about wine and Netflix, my daughter approaches us and says that we need some quiet yoga time. She lays down, breathes deeply and said “Savasana with me! It makes you feel better.”

Wow! My beautiful little 4-year-old reminded me how important it is to take that time for yourself. My husband and I had not been valuing ourselves and respecting what our bodies and minds needed to stay balanced. We had been taking out our frustrations on those that we hold nearest and dearest.

Controlled yogic breathing has an immediate effect in not only regulating our emotional responses but also our physical response to those emotions, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Think of how many times someone has told you to take a breath when you are upset, and in labour a pregnant woman is told to breathe (pregnancy yoga is especially beneficial for learning those breathing techniques).

During your next class pay particular attention to the breathing techniques that are being taught during Savasana. A take home one though is alternate nostril breathing. Place the middle and index finger of your right hand in the middle of your eyebrows. Place your thumb on the right nostril, and your remaining two fingers (pinky and ring fingers) on the left nostril. Taking a deep breathe in, close the right nostril with your thumb and breathe out though your left nostril. Then take a deep breathe in through the left nostril, close it with your pinky and ring finger, then release the thumb from the right nostril and breathe out. Alternate and repeat with your eyes closed for 5 minutes.

How I learnt to deal with my anxiety

In light of this week bring Mental Health, I’m going to bare my soul and talk about my battles with anxiety and the tactics I use to deal with it.

For as long as I could remember I never felt at ease in social situations. I would worry about what people were thinking of me, worry about what I was going to say next, worry about what people would say about me when I left the room. When I would study I would worry that I was doing to wrong thing, worry that the teachers would think I was stupid, worry that they were laughing at me. I’d worry so much that I just couldn’t do it. I’d walk into the middle of my bedroom, lay down and awkwardly swing my legs up in the air. I’d support my back with my hands and just stay like that for 5 minutes. At the time I didn’t know that I was activating my parasympathetic nervous system, making my heart relax, beat slower and reduce my blood pressure. Heck I didn’t know what a parasympathetic nervous system was.

Sometimes I would drape myself backwards over my gym ball, with both feet and both hands on the ground. Not quite wheel pose, but I was opening my chest and strengthening my lungs. I started practicing plow pose and legs up the wall, enjoying the way I felt after (it should be noted that poses that place pressure on the neck should be avoided in the absence of proper guidance from a trained instructor. Don’t be like me).

I didn’t know that I was doing yoga, it was just a natural thing for me to do personally. But when I realised these were yoga poses I started researching and discovered that the poses I were doing were proven to be beneficial for treating anxiety and depression. Others came up which I had not tried, including child’s pose, forward fold, tree pose and headstands (again, don’t try the latter without instruction and guidance!).

Research is finding many links to yoga and its ability to treat mental and physical health conditions. It is even being offered to current and ex-service officers to help them cope with the stress and trauma of their professions. Benefits of yoga include:

  • Lowering stress and blood pressure, and increasing confidence: Mediation and breathing techniques boost oxygen to the brain, quiets self-chatter and releases tension from the mind. Breathing techniques also learnt during yoga increases our lung capacity and when practiced during stressful situations can reduce your stress levels.
  • Decreased risk of injury: Yoga is low impact exercise with low risk of injury.
  • Improved posture: Yoga strengthens your abdominal and back muscles and people generally find that they can stand taller and straighter.
  • Increases flexibility, improves muscle tone, and just all-round good for you: People always tell me they are not flexible enough to do yoga. That’s rubbish. We stretch to become flexible, and this improves our muscle strength and tone at the same time. Yoga also positively affects our ligaments and tendons which increases our range of motion. People also generally find that with regular physical activity they are more inclined to lead a healthier lifestyle generally.

Yoga, clean(er) eating, and in more recent times avoiding meat has personally done wonders for me. The benefits that yoga has brought to my life was a driving force in my decision to purchase Voodoo Yoga this year.

But whatever form of exercise you choose to take, DO IT. You will be feel better if you attend that class, go for that walk, do star jumps in your living room even. Move the body that you were given and you will find that you will start to shift towards a happier, healthier life.

Balasana – Child’s Pose

Used frequently during Voodoo Yoga classes, Child’s Pose is an excellent resting pose. In addition to resting the body during yoga practice, this pose also rests our minds, slows our breath and encourages stress release.

A great stretch for your ankles, thighs and hips, Child’s Pose can also help to relieve neck and back pain.

During Voodoo Yoga classes, we can stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on the style of the class. At any time during our classes if you need a break we encourage you to return to child’s pose and re-join when you are ready.

  1. Kneel on the floor, buttocks resting on heels and big toes touching. Separate your knees to as far as is comfortable for you, creating a deep stretch in the hips. A folded blanket can be placed between your thighs and calves to support you in this position. You can also keep your knees together if there is pain or discomfort.
  2. On an exhale bend your torso forward, your chest should be on top of your thighs, and rest your forehead on the mat. Your forehead can be supported with bolsters, blankets or your hands. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis.
  3. Lay your arms down alongside your torso with palms facing up and relax the front of your shoulders. This encourages deep relaxation. Alternatively lengthen your arms out in front of you with palms facing down. Arms long is a more active pose and does not encourage as deep relaxation.
  4. Relax and breathe consciously and fully into the back of your torso. Imagine that on each inhalation your back is making a dome in the back of your torso, reaching up to the ceiling. On each exhalation release the front of your torso a little deeper into the pose.
  5. To release the pose use your hands to walk your torso upright to table top or to sit back on your heels.

It is important to note that pregnant women and those who have had a recent knee injury should avoid this pose during home practice.

Triangle Pose

We know yoga is great for us, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook exactly how certain poses affect the body.

Triangle pose, for instance, has affects on several areas of the body, and the mind. Benefits include:

  • Strengthening the whole leg, but more so the thighs, as well as the arms and torso.
  • It opens the hips and massages the pelvic organs, and can be helpful for issues with the reproductive system.
  • Improves flexibility in the spine and can reduce back pain.
  • Massages the abdominal organs and can be used to treat digestion problems.
  • Increases physical and mental equilibrium can be used to deal with stress.

So how do you do it?

Stand with feet comfortably apart (about 4 – 5 feet). Turn your front foot so that it is at a 90-degree angle, with toes pointing towards the top of your mat. The centre of your knee cap should be aligned with the centre of your ankle. Pivot your other foot in slightly. Heels should be aligned. Lift through the arches of your feet, rooting down at the ankles and ensuring equal distribution of weight.

As you inhale, raise your arms to should height so that they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Reach out from fingertip to fingertip.

Keeping arms at shoulder height, as you exhale tilt the front hip back and extend the torso over the front leg. Keep your shoulders aligned over the leg, do not drop forward. Grab hold of your ankle or outer shin, or use a block if needed. If you feel you can, put your fingertips or palm on the floor outside of your shin. Inhale.

On your next exhale twist to look at your top hand. The fingertips on your top hand should be pointing towards the sky. Hold for as long as you wish.

Come out of the posture on an inhale.

Pivot feet to repeat on other side.

From here there are other variations that you can explore such as Bound Triangle and Extended Triangle Pose.