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The No. 1 Peaceful Retreat

“Just what I needed, really great” ” … completely relaxed and enjoyed the practice, venue, food and great company…  such great organisation” is just some of the  feedback received after last weekend’s yoga retreat. (Book there for the next one in February.  

Being Versus Doing
Being Versus Doing

Do you want peace in your life? What are you doing to achieve that state?

Even if you’re new to yoga get on your mat and breathe then begin to stretch, you’ll be surprised how quickly you will remember a couple of yoga poses you’ve enjoyed in the past and just do them. Listen to your body. If it hurts don’t do it!  Apart from that enjoy!

Be the peace you want to see.

Feeling anything but peaceful? Are you feeling stressed and uptight?

Even 5 minutes of yoga can give you a break from the incessant dominance of the ego mind. You’ll recognise your ego mind as the part of you that labels, criticises, judges, demands and has big expectations. Sound familiar?

Yoga means union or to join,  try taking a few minutes this weekend to tune into your breathing. Go on I dare you to take up my challenge and simply follow 10 whole breaths without allowing your mind to wander – good luck with that!

Oh and by the way this is a whole breath. Breathe in. Notice the natural holding of the breath. Breathe out. Notice the pause before you breathe in again.

Enjoy and let me know how you get on. Also remember there’s the ‘Ask Sue’ page if you have a yoga related or counselling question.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

Do you constantly repeat the same patternsJoin me and millions of other  yogi’s and yogini’s across the globe celebrating International Day of Yoga and be sure to do something on Tuesday 21st June.  At 5.00am I will be joining colleagues from the British Wheel of Yoga on the 69th floor of The Shard  to welcome the sunrise as guests of the High Commission of India.

There are many events taking place across the country most of which are free go to http://www.bwylondon.co.uk to see what’s taking place in London.

If you want to be a part of something huge and peaceful on the day why not practice a couple of rounds of the Sun Salutations, it’s said to exercise every muscle in the body! click here to print off and download for free salute to the Sun. Alternatively meditate with 8 Moments of 8 moments of mindfulnessMindfulness.

ENJOY!

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Why Change Channels?

As we approach International Women’s Day I bathe in the reflected glory of 22 powerful women that I’ve just spent a weekend yoga retreat with. These women whose ages span several decades are creators, mothers, movers and shakers of our world. Just being in the presence of these women who uncomplainingly and capably reinvent themselves over and over to fit with the different demands and phases of their lives is both energising and inspiring.IMG_2793

I was impressed with how quickly these women were able to power down and effectively ‘change channels’ to release and relax into yoga. This was facilitated by the fresh sea air of the Sussex Coast, plenty of rest, delicious vegetarian cuisine and a mixed bag of yoga tuition from Sarah www.practiceyoga.co.uk and myself – see here for my www.breezeyoga.co.uk class.

Though no-one’s a bigger fan of versatility than me – in 2013 I launched a jazz album and released a co-authored book – I believe it is equally important to be able to switch off and completely relax. In fact I think it’s essential to good health and wellbeing to experience regular periods of relaxation though I gather that just doesn’t come easily to most.

Do you recognise when you need to change channels and properly chill out?

Back in my late twenties when one of my lungs collapsed three times as a result of stress! I was told if it happened again the consequences would be dire. Since I’m a type-A personality I trained in hypnotherapy so that I would be able to put myself into a deep state of relaxation whenever I felt the stress mounting. Nowadays with yoga as part of my life I’m generally calmer, though I do listen to Stress Free with Confidence on a regular basis if I’ve got a lot going on, since I designed it specifically to deal with daily stressors. So I’m wondering…

What do you do to relax?

that doesn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol or slumping in front of a screen for hours on end?

We’re always interested to know. Have a great weekend and RELAX

 

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Is Your Sedentary Lifestyle Killing You?

I’m keeping it brief and focussing on the body again this week, specifically the hips. Hopefully you’ll have your own hips for your entire lifetime so healthy hip tips are coming up!

I teach hatha yoga a couple of times a week at Breeze and Virgin Active. So you’d think I’d know better than to sit for long periods of time. But sometimes when I’m feeling less than inspired, writing a blog can take me a bit of time and boy do I pay for it! When I stand up my hips can feel really stiff.

There’s no question about it,  sitting for too long is bad for our health.

When we sit for long periods of time our hip flexor muscles are not working against resistance, they’re in a relaxed position. As gravity does its job and our upper body becomes heavier this weight then bears down heavily into the pelvic floor. Because our legs aren’t moving, our circulation and sometimes even nerve responses can be adversely affected because our legs are so inactive.

To keep the pelvic region healthy, move it!

If you work from home and are spending long periods of time at your desk, try sitting on a big exercise ball for some of the time, that way you’re engaging your core and moving around  in order to stay balanced.

The Stresshacker’s Healthy Happy Hip Tips

  1. Get up and move around a minimum of once an hour if not more frequently (set the alarm on your phone if need be).
  2. Go for a short walk, perhaps up and down the stairs a few of times.
  3. Stand with feet hip width apart and come up onto tip toeimages-1s then down again in a balance, do this about ten times and focus on good breathing.

It’s also important to keep our hips mobile and since they are a ball and socket joint, they like to be gently rotated. If we only stand up and sit down, we tend to use them more like a hinge joint and this can make them stiff and tight. (unless you’re a kick boxer or salsa dancer!)

  1. Stand feet hip width apart and circle your hips in both directions. Next gently move your hips in a figure of 8 about ten times then back in the opposite direction.

At home in the morning and before bed:images

Lay on the floor put a small cushion underneath your head, bend your knees to your chest and with one hand on each knee take the knees wide apart. Gently circle them in one direction 10 times then the other. Aim to keep your lower back (sacrum) relaxed to the floor.

Enjoy!

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It’s Time To Quit FAGS?

Give up the fags

FEAR

ANGER

GUILT

SHAME

Fear Anger Guilt and Shame are ‘blocker’s to feeling good. They prevent a good clear flow of energy, known in the East as Prana, Ki or Chi. Negative emotions such as the FAGS above, can lead to feelings of impatience, confusion lack of understanding and an inability to focus and concentrate.

 

Give up the fags

Of course it’s important to be able to experience a complete range of human emotions, however excessive fear, anger guilt or shame, disproportionate to a given situation, is simply unhealthy!

It has been my long held belief that excessive FAGS are precursors to physiological ailments. Many a strong, stoic person who keeps going, putting on a ‘brave face’ despite horrendous life events, may later find themselves suffering all manner of health issues.

The body will express what the mind is concerned with.

When we supress natural emotions such as FAGS they have to go somewhere, as my partner’s mum used to say “they don’t go in your boots!” But they do need to be expressed and many people deal with their emotions by somatising them i.e. storing their feelings in the body.

Eastern philosophies tell us that we have layers of body and one of those layers is the emotional body, which they suggest, is the organ body.

The organs although separate, operate in pairs, such as gall bladder and liver, urinary bladder and kidneys. They sometimes share systems, such as the interrelated cardio-vascular and respiratory system of the heart and lungs.

We’re said to have pathways (traditional yoga says 72’000 of them) that are meant to bring energy in the form of chi or prana through these pathways to the organs, in order to keep them working at their optimum level, to leave us feeling well and balanced.

Eastern approaches to health such as acupuncture and yoga suggest that unexpressed emotions are stored within the organs, which can eventually become overloaded and in the extreme, manifest as illness.

Many clients and yoga students who present with physical pain in their body begin to recognise a correlation between that pain and anger for example.

Others may identify fear that impacts their breathing, leaving them feeling tight and restricted in the chest. Thankfully it is possible to override these old pattern with simple breathing exercises and a few shifts in thought patterns at a deeper level.

Sometimes negative feelings can be paralysing for people leaving them feeling stuck and low with a general feeling of malaise and lethargy.

Whatever the manifestation, the presence of FAGS will leave us feeling mentally and physically drained and has an enormous negative impact on our self-esteem and wellbeing.

Did you know that when you make a shift in your physiology it changes your emotional state, which can quickly have a positive knock-on effect on your thinking? This is just one of the reasons yoga has become so popular today. Even if it’s a tough class at the time, we plough on knowing that we’re going to feel so much better, stronger and more energised at the end of it!

286319534790553Try some of the physiological, shifting suggestions below and see if you can change your state!

Exercise really is important, so aim to get moving again. If you’ve tried and failed, buddy up with someone. By making a commitment to someone else you’re more likely to honour the arrangement. Arrange a walk. Plan a swim together or attend a pilates or yoga class. Join a gym. Check out your local church hall, there’ll be all kinds of classes to try there.

Ever thought of singing? Book a lesson or join a local choir. They’re not all about singing Christmas hymns. There’s a 100 strong Rock Choir in my area for example.

Develop a 5 minute exercise routine:

Bring alternate knees toward the belly or chest X 5 on each side to start with, then as you bring one knee up connect it to the opposite elbow for another 5 on each side.

Stand with feet hip width apart and circle the hips 20 X in one direction then the other. Follow this with ‘snake hips’ make a figure of 8 with your hips in one direction and then the other for 20 cycles.

Again with feet hip width apart (preferably bare feet) On the inhale lift both arms out in front of you, then up over your head and back round X 20.

Next take arms out to the sides and up beyond the head bringing the hands to meet above the head and back down again X 20.

Let me know how you feel after that!

Enjoy!