Lift out of your shell ~ 3 Ways to move into upward FACING dog pose
Nurture yourself - my 5 self care tips for cancer season.
As the sun starts to move out of the watery sign of The Crab AKA Cancer and into Leo the Lion heart on the 23rd July I wanted to dive into the backbend of Upward Facing Dog pose.
Upward Facing Dog pose and Cobra pose seem to get muddled up as students aren’t always aware of the difference between the two. Upward Facing Dog pose is in essence an arm balance as the only contact points on the mat are the palms of the hands and the top of the feet, while in a deep Cobra like backbend.
For Cancer signs home is where the heart is and Leo is associated with the heart chakra so it seemed fitting to focus on a backbend that requires you to lift out of your shell.
Even Yogis can burn out - don't quit, just rest!
Burn out is more and more common and so many of us just want to give and we forget about ourselves. As a new Yoga Teacher (7 years ago!) I wanted to share my love of the practice that brought me so much inner calm, relaxation and strength. Yet as demand grew I actually sacrificed my own practice to be able to give more to those asking for more classes.
At first it was amazing that so many people wanted to practice with me - hi ego! but in time I burnt out and didn’t enjoy what I was teaching - how could I when I wasn’t practicing myself yet so many Yoga Teachers do this!
So how did I fall back in love with Yoga?
Mudras and Mantras: Cancer ~ the fourth sign of the zodiac
Welcome to cancer season its time to slow down and nurture yourself. Cancer is seen as the mum, the giver, the feeder, the person you go to when you need a cry and a good hug. They can also be seen as the teens of the zodiac - emotional, pushed to work hard (exams, trying to get into college and uni or getting a job) when they really don’t want to! I see Teens as the newbie Cancers as they don’t yet understand their emotions, as the Mother role comes into play - whether you are a mother or a father, whether you have children of your own or people in your community that you view as family - we start to understand our emotions more.
Flowing around the Mandala ~ Summer Solstice & International Day of Yoga
Cancer is the sign of the crab, our first water sign, ruled by the moon and are known as the Divine Mother. The Moon is also known as the feminine/ The Goddess part of ourselves, so for me it was easy to choose the mudra for Cancer season: Shakti Mudra
During Cancer season allow yourself to dive deep into the waters of your emotions and truly FEEL them. It can be easy to stay within the shell but remember this house/sign is about home and LIFE. You have to move out of your shell to truly live and FEEL.
Full moon in Sagittarius and sun in Gemini ~ time for fun and philosophy!
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and is a beautiful marker for being halfway through the year. In previous years I’ve run Yoga in the park classes on summer solstice and last year had the most epic time in New York practicing Yoga in Times Square. Two very different locations but both as beautiful. I will forever remember that OM as we chanted at the end of practice in the middle of New York ~ Peace within the Chaos!
The summer solstice is referred by some as the turning of the wheel as we move into another season. To mark this I wanted to practice a Mandala Flow as part of our Gemini season sequence.
Pranayama Playfulness - my 5 breathing techniques for Gemini season
This weekend the moon moves into the sign of Sagittarius with the full moon on the 17th June while the sun is still dancing in Gemini. Gemini are the kids of the zodiac and Sagittarius is the sign opposite Gemini and this is a real case of opposites attract! Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter nicknamed the lucky star, they love travel, adventure and are pretty intelligent but aren’t too bothered either way if they are right or wrong though can be preachy when out of balance! Both Gemini and Sagittarius love to study.
If you have the weekend off then go on a trip, be spontaneous as much as you can and see where your adventure takes you. If you want to stay closer to home then try something new - sign up for a dance class, enroll of a course to study something completely unrelated to your career, throw a party at the last minute (a garden BBQ if the weather allows!), make space in your garden or living room and be creative - draw or paint, or start a journalling practice and write out your ideas and dreams - start to make a plan.
Mudras and Mantras: Gemini ~ the third sign of the zodiac
Pranayama Playfulness - my 5 breathing techniques for Gemini season
Gemini and Pranayama go hand in hand for me, Gemini’s are the first air sign of the zodiac and Pranayama is the breath, our life force. Yet how often do you focus on, check in with or connect with your breath? Gemini are the Twins and we have 2 lungs, 2 nostrils, 2 flows of the breath - inhale and exhale. The breath is about welcoming and letting go, nourishing our mind and body yet so many of us don’t know how to breath properly!
Activation within your yoga practice…what does it mean?
Gemini is the sign of the twins, ruled by Mercury also known as Hermes and are known as the communicators of the zodiac! For Gemini I had to choose 2 mudras and mantras to honour the dual nature of Gemini.
Find your comfort zone and then go beyond it
Do you know the difference between being active and passive in your body? The difference between engaging and just hanging out in a yoga pose? The affect it has on your body between forcing or activating your way through your yoga practice?
Activation in the body is about being aware of how you are moving and placing your body on the mat, into AND out of yoga poses. Engaging muscles to build strength to hold yoga poses and protect the joints. Being gentle and mindful of your body and listening to how your body reacts rather than pushing for the pose or going to your edge every single time!
My 5 go to Yoga poses for releasing tension in the neck & shoulders
When we bring water to earth we create mud /clay and that can create beautiful things. If you can identify your comfort zone and find little ways to take yourself beyond your comfort zone you’ll find so much more than you imagined.
The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears - Dan Stevens
Mudras and Mantras: Taurus ~ the second sign of the zodiac
Welcome to Taurus season. Taurus rules over the neck and invites in mobility and stability, stabilizing our head and mobility allowing us to look around and see the world rather than what is right in front of us!
Earthy Taurus can be stubborn and like their comforts. They do rule over the 2nd house which is all about cash & possessions, so it can be a challenge to get them to try something different. This may create tension due to feeling anxious at the thought of coming out of their comfort zone. They can also very focused on the task at hand and will take their time on what they are currently doing. This may create tension in the neck & shoulders or neck pain or general discomfort in the neck & shoulders as they may lock themselves into how they hold their body until the task is complete.
Connecting to your inner warrior through your Yoga practice
For Taurus I selected the Apana Mudra. Apana is 1 of the 5 Vayus which means wind but we can link it to different directions of movement. Apana Vayu is the downward & outward movement. Apana Mudra is a very cleansing mudra to practice, its all about releasing and letting go of stale energy.
Full moon in Libra, Sun in Aries ~ Bringing playfulness and laughter into your yoga practice
Aries - the fighter, ruled by Mars the God of War! They are assertive and here with a purpose and are not easily deterred. Once an Aries knows their cause they will fight for it.
Maya Angelo, was not only a poet and a singer but a civil rights activist - one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelo is:
‘A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a flowing river. She goes where she will without pretence and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself’
Finding strength & foundations in your Vinyasa practice
Aries is all about fire, energy, get up and go and its all about ‘me’, the self or ego. Where as Libra, though they like movement being an Air sign, they are all about balance - being represented by the scales! They love to focus on the other person in their life rather than themselves and Fire needs the air to fuel them. Have you ever watched a bonfire as the flames dance in the wind? This combo can work really well together as long as one doesn’t drown out the other.
Mudras and Mantras: Aries ~ the first sign of the zodiac
Aries are the first sign of the zodiac, ruled by Mars - the God of War, their element is fire and rules the head. Aries represents the individual and can be headstrong, assertive and decisive.
Yes Aries is linked to strength, passion, motivation but Aries also rule at self care, self love & self esteem. You can tap into that by finding these foundations in your Yoga practice.
For Aries I selected the Shiva Linga Mudra. Shiva represents the grounded masculine and Linga represents the power of light. The mantra for Aries is ‘I am’