The Tree Pose: simple, elegant AND important

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

The Tree Pose, or Vrikshasana, is a simple, elegant and important pose in yoga. Derived from the Sanskrit words ‘vriksha’, meaning tree and ‘asana’, meaning pose, the Tree pose is a basic yoga position, that teaches us all about stability and balance.

It gives you the perfect opportunity to strengthen your body, whilst giving yourself a valuable time-out, in an otherwise busy day – enabling you to find your own inner peace and focus.

There are so many benefits that can be gleaned from this deceptively simple-looking pose, and some are detailed below.

Muscle toning and stretching

Vrikshasana builds inner and outer strength – especially the lower half of your body. Muscles, tendons and bones all benefit, including those in your feet, inner thighs, groin, calves and buttocks. It also strengthens the bones in your hips and pelvis.

It also stretches your back and arms. If you have high blood pressure however, you can still do the Tree Pose, but should avoid holding your arms above your head. Those with low blood pressure or suffering from insomnia or migraines, should avoid doing the Tree Pose altogether.

Focus and concentration

As with any yoga pose, the Tree Pose helps improve your focus and concentration. It brings your focus back to you and your body, as you feel it stretch those muscles and concentrate on not toppling to one side.

You can take the opportunity to have a valuable time-out, to let go of any physical and emotional worries and issues. You’ll feel your shoulders relax and can focus on getting your breathing even and regular.

Relieves sciatica

The Tree Pose can also benefit those suffering from sciatica, as it helps open the hips, relaxing and stretching the muscles in that area. As a side note, it is also said to help reduce flat feet too!

Get additional support

One thing to bear in mind is this pose isn’t as easy as it looks! It takes practice to balance steadily and gracefully on one leg! So, when you first attempt it, you may find it easier to stand with your back against a wall, until you have the strength and stability to carry out this pose independently.

As with many yoga poses, the Tree Pose isn’t about just getting into the position – it’s about maintaining it, long enough to allow it to benefit you. Take your time to get into this pose AND to stay there a while, to further build on those benefits!

Want to learn more about Yoga? Carry on your journey HERE.

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The right way to use affirmations

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Affirmations are a popular buzz word amongst those who want to make positive changes in their lives. They’re often seen as something that works for some, but not for others. But there is a right and wrong way to use affirmations – so how can you use them the correct and ensure they actually work for you?

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is simply a formal declaration of something. It’s usually linked to a goal, intention or potential you want to achieve – so something like ‘Every day I joyfully live life to the fullest’ or ‘I am a money magnet, money flows to me effortlessly’. Affirmations allow the filters in your brain to filter out the unnecessary stuff whilst becoming more aware and focused on those things that make your affirmation real to you.

The problem most people have with affirmations is the fact they can feel unreal, false and uncomfortable to start with, as they’re not your current reality – but this is how you know you need them! You see, the statement is currently uncomfortable to you, as your current reality is vibrating at a different level. The affirmation wording and subsequent filtering, will cause you to either raise your vibration (and current situation) to match the wording – or you’ll drop the affirmation altogether.

How to use affirmations the right way

So how can you use affirmations the right way? Here are seven steps to get you started:

Tip #1: Ensure your affirmation uses present tense

‘I can’, ‘I will’, ‘I am’, ‘I know’ and ‘I love’ are all great examples of using present tense at the start of your affirmations. If you struggle with the resulting affirmation, you can use phrases to help cover the transition from current situation and future reality – such as ‘I am learning to…’ or ‘I am getting better at…’

Tip #2: Make your affirmation positive

This will naturally happen, if you’re using present tense, as you’re making a statement about what you already have. But positive also means wording your affirmation positively too – so no ‘I am no longer…’ or ‘I am getting out of debt now’ – as they’re using negative words.

Tip #3: Add emotion wherever possible

Use wording to emphasise the emotion, such as ‘joyful’, ‘pleasure’ and ‘happy’.

Tip #4: Use only a few at a time

To make it easier for yourself (and your brain!) look to only use a few affirmations at any one time and use them until they sit comfortably and easily with you.

Tip #5: Make them visible to you

You want to write out your affirmations and put them somewhere that will catch your attention – on the fridge, bathroom mirror, bedroom wall etc.

Tip #6: State them out loud, several times a day

There’s something special about stating something out loud – it seems to cement them in somehow. Look to say them out loud at least three times a day and state them firmly and loudly!

Tip #7: Continue with them for at least 21 days – 1 month

It’s said that it can take up to 21 days for something to become a habit, so aim to use your affirmations for at least 21 days – or go the whole way and use them for a month.

Affirmations don’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. By following these seven tips above, you’ll be in an ideal position to reach those goals, dreams and a more positive frame of mind in no time at all!

Continue with your joy journey HERE.

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The benefits of a simple smile

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Smiling and being happy has a huge range of benefits for both you and those around you – whether you’re whistling whilst you work or attempting to turn a frown upside down!

But happiness, and more precisely, smiling, isn’t just something we do to illustrate our joyful mood – it has a range of health and wellbeing benefits too, PLUS it can help you build rapport with those around you. So what are those additional benefits?

Lower stress and anxiety levels

Smiling actually lowers your heart rate which, in turn, will lower those stress and anxiety levels.

Release those endorphins

Endorphins aren’t just released when you exercise or have been running – they’re also released when you smile! Endorphins help diminish stress hormones in your body, they make you feel happier AND they lessen any pain you may have!

Help your immune system

Smiling actually helps strengthen your immune system too. It increases the white blood cells in your body, enabling your body to react faster when invaders attack your immune system.

A smile is both contagious and attractive

Smile and the whole world will smile with you – well, ok, at least 50% will! But smiling will cause those around you to at least crack a grin with you and it is SO much more attractive to the opposite sex.

Approachable and trustworthy

As mentioned in the above point, we find those who smile attractive. That in itself is great – but we’re also more likely to approach a smiling person, as we trust them more – making it great for those who need reassurance, those who want to build their credibility and those who want to get to know you better!

Great for leadership and productivity

A person in authority who smiles, is more likely to be liked, trusted and admired by his team – and your team are more likely to want to approach you with any problems and issues they may have. But having a team that smiles is important in the workplace too, as it helps to increase their attention span and their focus – leading to an increase in productivity.

Finally, putting a smile on your face, whether it’s a forced or genuine one, helps you feel more positive, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. And if you want to break the ice or ease embarrassment – guess what? A smile will help you there too. So get smiling!

 

Want more than a smile? Try Laughter Yoga

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Benefits of the triangle pose

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

The triangle pose (or TrikonasanaTrikona, meaning triangle or three angles and sana meaning pose) is a great pose for stretching out various muscle groups, improving digestion and for helping to reduce symptoms of various ailments. So let’s break it down and see exactly why the triangle pose is an important asana to add to your yoga workout.

Strengthening

As with all yoga asanas, Trikonasana helps to strengthen various muscles in your body. Both your lower and upper body areas will benefit from the triangle pose, including your chest and arms, abdomen, legs, knees and ankles.

Stretching it out

Again, stretching muscle groups is a fundamental part of any yoga pose, with the triangle pose focusing particularly on the following areas: your groin, hamstrings and calves. However it’s also a great asana to stretch out your shoulders, spine and chest too – and it also opens out your hips, bringing a wealth of additional health benefits, as mentioned below.

The health benefits of the triangle pose

When it comes to health benefits, the triangle pose improves, stimulates and reduces! Firstly, it improves your digestive system. How? Well it stimulates those abdominal and digestive organs, making it a great reliever or constipation and digestive upset. It also massages the muscles and nerves in the pelvic area, releasing stiffness and helping with any aches and pains, plus it helps reduce the symptoms of women going through the menopause.

As the triangle pose opens and stretches the hip area, it also helps relieve symptoms of sciatica and back pain. Oh, and it’s also great for those who have flat feet!

Yoga has long been known to reduce stress levels, anxiety and depression, and the triangle pose is no different.

When to avoid the triangle pose

There are a few contraindications that need to be taken into account, before you attempt the triangle pose. Those with low blood pressure are best avoiding this pose, as are those who are suffering from back and/or neck injuries. It’s also best avoided, if you’re suffering from a migraine or upset stomach. Finally, those with high blood pressure CAN use this pose – however, I’d avoid holding your hands and arms above your head, as this will increase your blood pressure.

Find out more about Dru Yoga HERE.

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Breathing your way to better health

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Breathing, it’s something we all naturally take for granted as something we automatically do. And why shouldn’t we? After all, we take as many as 20,000 breaths in an average day!

However, with so many stresses in our lives and pressures on our time, more and more people are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression – and this is impacting how we breathe. Over time, constantly being on edge (or in fight or flight response) changes our breathing, from relaxed and slow to stressed and fast – and this can lead to a drop in our health and wellbeing. Shallow breathing can result in symptoms such as increased migraines, IBS pain, anxiety and stress, and if you suffer from asthma – an increase in attacks.

Stress, breathing and the work computer

There’s also evidence to suggest that, those who work on computers and those in busy office environments, tend to hold their breath whilst working (referred to as screen apnoea), leading us to become even more stressed and anxious.

Children naturally breathe better

Children and babies naturally breathe from their abdomen, unfortunately, as we get older, stress takes over and we shallow breathe, taking in short sharp breaths from our chest and only using the top third of our lungs. In effect, breathing in this way means you’re just on the edge of hyperventilating!

The result of bad breathing

Breathing poorly or shallowly, can result in an increase in feelings of depression, anxiety and insomnia. But it also means you have an incorrect balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your system – and this can affect your ability to fight off ailments and tiredness. Your body, brain, vital organs and skin simply won’t be getting enough nutrients to maintain optimum health.

So how can you improve your breathing and get back onto calmer ground?

Controlled breathing for better health

Controlled breathing, or taking slow, deep, consistent breaths, involves breathing from the abdomen. This type of breathing activates the body’s relaxation response, causing you to relax, unwind and take yourself off high-alert. Breathing in this relaxed fashion can also help boost your immune system and lead to a healthier heart and longer life.

Benefits include more oxygen being carried around your body, your immune system is better equipped to fight ailments and anxiety, stress and depression levels lessen.

How to breathe properly

Take ten minutes, several times a day, to practice better breathing techniques. You need to be using your diaphragm, so place your left hand on your upper chest and your right hand on your abdomen, in the gap between your ribcage.

When you breathe, your right hand should move up and down – your left hand shouldn’t be moving – otherwise you’re not using your diaphragm enough.

Work on changing your breathing to this correct position over the course of the next few days.

Next, you want to actually slow your breathing down, so your whole body can relax. Look to be completing 8 to10 ‘cycles’ a minute – a cycle is one in-breath and one out-breath.

By focusing just ten minutes at a time on your breathing, you’ll be relaxing your entire body and taking yourself off high-alert – and onto better health!

 

Yoga for beginners is now available HERE

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