Category Archives: Yoga

Do you have a “sale” on?

I’m not sure what your Friday and weekend has been like but I have to say that I am truly p****d off with the number of emails I received from various companies offering me discounts, free shipping, this deal and that deal … for goodness sake one company sent me 6 emails in 1 day … if I did that you would all unsubscribe and certainly have something to say to me …

However … what really made me sit back was an email from a lady who said she was waiting for my Black Friday email offering my classes at a discounted rate … she’d heard that they were amazing classes and that the ladies and families who come along had benefited so much but she was looking for a deal …

My answer was:

Dear x, thank you for the lovely comments in your email.  It’s great that the classes are recognised for being so wonderful and for what they offer to support couples into becoming a family and starting off on a positive foot …. however I am unfortunately not offering a “sale” 

and here’s why:

Let me start off by saying that I don’t like discounting my courses …

That’s because early on I decided to focus on quality rather than price, which allowed me to invest time and money into creating an experience for all women & families.   I also believe that many of my clients value what they receive … engaging and listening to their bodies, their babies and believing fully in their experience ensuring that their care givers listen to them and hear their wishes …

Yes it would be great to ensure that every pregnant woman in Northampton and the surrounding area knows about the magic of the Ripple Effect Yoga classes.  Gosh I would be unindated …. So I’m taking my time to tell you about the “special qualities” of a Ripple class and why everyone should have a “Claire”  … I am unique, there is only one of me however many a time I wish I could clone myself, have more hours in the day … I deliberately keep my classes small (a maximum of 4 in any class I teach, or I facilitate groups that wish to stay together).  I always check in and tweak my classes to facilitate x, y or z … eery baby matters and every mama matters too .. this is clear in the testimonials the ladies and families share … I love what I do … I am passionate that women should have an empowered experience …   when you book with Ripple Effect Yoga … you are ….

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Whatever you invest in … let’s do it consciously and intentionally.

This is an experience that we may only get one shot at and one that we would wish to look back on with love and positivity in later years … 

I invite you to join a Ripple class …

It’s not just a yoga class, it’s an education, it’s elating, encouraging, an emotional support network.  The lot!  There’s nothing else quite like it!”  

I look forward to hearing from you … and to the lady that emailed me … I do hope you will come along and enjoy the classes.

Huge hugs Cx

www.rippleeffectyoga.co.uk

Respecting the 4th trimester and your postpartum body …

Respecting your body in the 4th trimester …. we read so much about the 1st, 2nd & 3rd trimesters of what to expect … however have you considered the 4th trimester and what YOU need to have in place to support you?
Your body is expected to do this amazing feat … to feed your baby, to do nights which might be very disturbed … to get out there and get back in shape (hey what???) yup the pressure women place on themselves that they need to lose the baby weight and get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans asap is immense.

In my role as a doula and pregnancy & postpartum yoga teacher … I have heard some scary stuff … I need to get back to where I was pre-pregnancy … I need to start running …. STOP 

Consider this … your body has just worked exceptionally hard for 9 months nurturing & nourishing a baby … your pelvic floor has carried your growing baby(ies) … you have these amazing hormones whizzing around your body … why do you have to jump back onto the hamster wheel?

I see ladies come along to class struggling with discomfort in their pelvis, pain in their lower backs, misaligned pelvises, there pelvic floor feels like it is non-existent, they haven’t eaten breakfast or been able to have a hot drink … they are struggling from having had a c-section … remember this is major abdominal surgery that can take quite a while to heal from … you want to feel that what you are engaging in is nurturing and nourishing you … yes there will come a point when you feel that you can start that “buggy fit” class and that you are ready …. but what happens x number of months, years down the road when you are suffering with pelvic leakage, prolapse …. this is the time to gently reconnect with your body, to be gentle and learn what it can do and what it needs … nurture and nourish your pelvic floor ready for your next baby or for the next stage of your journey.  Just because x or y says you should do it doesn’t mean it’s right for you at this moment … take the space to nurture yourself until your baby is at least 6 months … respect your body, respect the amazing concoction of hormones.  

There are many cultures who honour the postpartum woman … with periods of lying in … special foods, herbs, treatments to keep the body warm and nourished, massage … sounds divine … I so wish when I had had my babies that I had had this … after trying to get up and out after having an amazing VBAC birth with our second baby I ended up in the local supermarket bumping into someone who had only that morning opened the email to say “M had arrived earth side … welcome & all were well and doing fine” … imagine the shock on her face to see me coming through the doors … she was catching flies … I must add that I struggled to do what I needed to do and ended up going home and doing an online shop and promising myself that I was going to be gentle … it was too soon and too much … I ended up online shopping and taking a couple of weeks to myself … I learnt the hard way … and I chat about this a lot in class … but again social expectations are that we should be bouncing back and up at it … and also the pressure we put ourselves under.  

Take the six weeks to connect with your baby, start those gentle breaths we connect with in class … reconnect with your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, respect your body, your baby but ultimately respect YOURSELF … you are enough and you do not need to be super woman … your are nourishing & nurturing yourself and a baby … enjoy … have those pyjama days, snuggle with your baby, don’t pack your days running form an activity in the morning, lunch with a, b & c and then another activity in the afternoon.  Pace yourself … have space to spend time at home … to enjoy your baby … connect to what your body needs … 

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Claire runs Well Woman Happy Baby classes … she is based in Northampton from The Space in Boothville. www.rippleeffectyoga.co.uk  She has over 15 years of supporting women and is passionate about pregnancy and the postpartum period.  The classes are a combination of postnatal mummy yoga to realign and reconnect, baby massage & baby yoga plus a whole host of different techniques to support you and your baby.  There is a always a cuppa and some treat  that is created by Claire … plus the amazing support of those in class with you.  Classes are kept to a maximum of 4 mummies and babies.  Very bespoke to you and your little one.  
Claire encouragés you to listen to your baby, to journey together and if you need to baby wear in class she will adapt the class to facilitate this and it might just surprise you that you will do a relaxation with your baby fast asleep on your chest and it will be the most amazing experience … come and explore but be prepared to be here for a good few months … so build this into your postpartum care budget … it will be money well spent on you both.  Happy mummy, happy baby = happy daddy.

The ladies and their babies who come along really benefit from these amazing classes … 

“I found these classes invaluable my pelvic floor took a real hammering in labour and I have journey for 7 months working really hard to gain stability, balance and strength back.  I couldn’t have done that without your classes …. thank you I am very grateful!”

“I find the WWHB invaluable! And H loves them!”

“Please don’t stop ….. the progression from pregnancy yoga to WWHB was fab for us, J loved it and invaluable for me taking those first steps into mummy-life xx”

“Definitely keep them, I loved them with Z and N!”

“These sessions have been so important to me! I love them and have had a welcoming and safe place to come every week. I tell everyone I meet!”

“I can’t wait to have another baby just so I can come back to you Claire!”

 

Your tool box

 

img_7751_srgbThere are some very powerful tools in your toolbox that you build when you come along to a Ripple Effect Yoga class … what can sometimes be difficult … is when labour is really slow and taking it’s time, you are in a lot of discomfort … remember I am happy for you to call me or message me … when I can’t “see” you remember that sometimes I might have to ask lots of questions to build a picture … and then offer a suggestion to try x, y or z which may help … so pleased that one of my lovely clients was able to dip into the toolbox with support and feel and see a significant change in a short window of time … never doubt what you have in that box … it’s a little piece of magic that can make a huge difference between a positive experience and one where you feel that it didn’t quite go to plan … hugs Cx
www.rippleeffectyoga.co.uk

Labyrinths

So I am off to bed after an amazingly awesome day where I have sold some of the gorgeous hand made hand held finger labyrinths …. thank yo for the wonderful shares and the The Positive Birth Movement and their awesome post on their FB page and website … they receive a donation of £2.00 for each labyrinth that is purchased … good to know that Ripple Effect Yoga is supporting this wonderful group … hugs Cx

 

Reviewing 2015

703746_10207098080923428_10829753300848738_oSo where do you start with a year that you thought would bring much of the same as the previous year … little can we know on January 1st when we put out those wishes, hopes, dreams and what we are full of gratitude for … just what might come our way and what journey we may walk … 2015 has been an amazing year … I am full of gratitude … to those women and families who trusted me to support their birthing journeys as their pregnancy yoga teacher or as their doula … I have connected with an amazing number of families and love each and everyone … some are new to Ripple Effect and have been welcomed into our loving arms and some are returning to us … reconnecting and starting another journey in their mother journey or woman journey …. we welcome you and hope that the support you have received has been what you needed … I so wish I had had the framework in the photo to review 2014 …. but at the end of 2015 … I will endeavour to review and plan …. sometime we have to take the plunge …

So 2015 … travel has featured heavily in the M-G household which we just didn’t see coming … but we were lucky and grateful that we had the finances to engage and so I started with a retreat to the gorgeous Switzerland … lots of lovely connections and lots of belief, letting go of baby dreams … some gorgeous soaring as a woman and as a mentor … I loved every minute of it … and I met an amazing group of women and reconnected with some that I had met in Cae Mabon and deepened that relationship along with some very new ones … I am thankful that I was able to take the time away from my husband and children and that family were able to look after my precious cargo … especially when my husband sent me a boomerang and said that he wanted to go to direct to the Dominican Republic at the end of this trip so I didn’t even fly home but journeyed with divine salts, releasing stick and a whole load of paraphernalia that if the customs people wanted to pull me for … could quite easily have done … what did they check …. my bottle of cashew nut spread!

I spent 6 days lying on the same sun lounger … I know predictable … and a few gorgeous walks along the beach past the “you are in danger past this point” sign which made me giggle but I am an adventurer … I like to be out of the box, to think out of it … and I needed to see local life!  Don’t get me wrong 5* star is lovely but I love connecting to locals and being part of the colour of a community and experiencing the everyday … also the non-alcoholic and alcoholic doc locks (oooh dear that should read coco locos) did help …. the business plan was on the back of a napkin … or so it seems …

The Dom Rep was the turning point … how do I create this dream that has been there since before I came home to start teaching again … how do I make it work … what was holding me back?  Who was holding me back??? ME … yes ME … why … fear … yes FEAR … if I was able to give something back by releasing it … then this was the time for the Space … it was time to be brave … to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and set this in stone … so no one was going to come to Mrs M-G and say here’s the money you want … good luck … I was going to have go out on a limb and see whether we could secure the finance for this … gosh it’s scary because the house is attached and we are tied in for 5 years … 60 months … so far we have made it for nearly 4 months … but it’s stressful.  Anyway jumping ahead completely …

In the same month as the Dominican we had decided to book a family holiday to Bali … as an incentive for our Year 11 to be … so that she would see there was more to life and that we can dream and realise that these can come true … we also have a year 5 son who needed to realise there was more to the world than what just revolved around him … so we had this amazing holiday to look forward to plus this life changing event that would happen in our own back garden … to be continued ….

 

What a year …. thank you 2014 … hello 2015 … let’s go …

2014 … where to start?

An interesting year … first year I have worked for myself with no other obligation to an employer just to my clients.  Consisting of juggling days and times, school runs, after school clubs …. ensuring that there was a work-life balance … so many ups and downs, conversations that were private made public, people unfriended and them getting upset about it (!), being threatened by a non-payer, ignored by clients I respected who didn’t have the decency to ask for the other side of the story!
I have been brave and even turned clients down … when you don’t connect you can’t expend energy on them … they will find the right person for them.  My time is valuable … I am valuable and I learnt in 2014 that “I believe in me, I believe in you!”  My mantra that has taken me through the year.

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So if those were the downs … what about the Ups I hear you ask?

I noticed on a certain social media website recently the celebration of your Year … so taking a leaf out of their book … here’s my celebration of 2014 …

So here goes ….

January started not knowing what the year would bring … lots of lovely clients shared, kept talking about Ripple Effect Yoga and clients started to book into the classes … I even changed server and suddenly boom I was getting more traffic into the website … who would have guessed it … IMG_0022
I started online courses with Sacred Pregnancy … and delved into me!  I started unpeeling layers and layers … to find Claire … along the way I made decisions that for me were positive and felt right … I started to see what I valued and where I wanted to be … I was doing the things I wanted to do ….

 

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After walking away from 22 years in education … I was finally seeing how my two separate worlds were converging … ohh boy … it was exciting …

 

 

 

There was the creation of the sacred space aIMG_0100t home and the most gorgeous Mandala that was created by Heidi
They are stunning and I can’t say how much it added to the space …

In addition to Heidi’s mandala there was the beautiful Serene Mama sculpted by Pauline from Serene Sculptures.  She is divine and truly beautiful …

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She made her maiden outing wrapped in lots of bubble wrap and a plastic food hamper to the very first Quiet Day retreat … a day that focused on finding you!IMG_4177  I loved this day as it started to help some of the beautiful women in our community strip away some of their layers; it was a very open, honest and emotionally raw day with lots of tears and love … we need to do a part II …

Aqua Yoga classes for Pregnancy flourished and then towards the end of the year dwindled … sadly these have now stopped until we can build the interest and numbers up again.  Loved teaching these classes as they really help Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.09.03mamas connect to their bubbas, are fabulous for connecting to your pelvic floor and generally great fun and very, very relaxing.

 

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As part of our brand development … the leaflets had a makeover and revamp thanks to a marketing guru within the community, my car had a makeover, the website was streamlined … and we introduced this gorgeousness …. and the wonderful Lizzi from Bizzi Zizzi created our very own bespoke peace pebble … absolutely stunning.

Watch this space as we are in discussions about adding a beautiful meditation tool for next year … so exciting ….IMG_0615

 

 

In May after my daughters birthday … 14 years old … scary … I embarked on the next stage of my Sacred Pregnancy journey … I was going on retreat … I had lots of trepidation about this … was it for me?  Would I be able to eat??? How was I going to cope being away from my family?  In reality … it was amazing to step out of the rat race for 5 days and completely immerse myself.

Cae Mabon … beautiful in Snowdonia …

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and so I am a fully fledged Sacred Pregnancy instructor …. offering 2 day mini retreats and classes for mamas over 8 weeks and couples over 4 weeks.  Interested …. Link

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Coming back to reality with a bump and a little bit of grind … took a few weeks to get into the rat race mode again but there was this underlying relaxed, calmer Claire … lurking and thinking … planning and trying to formulate a plan to bring a dream into fruition … and so was born the campaign for the Bump, Birth and Beyond space …. a fundraiser to generate essential donations in order to develop a plot of land we have into a bespoke space for all things pregnancy, birth, babies and toddlers.  Not sure what I am talking about … take a visit here when you get 5 minutes …. if you loved what you experienced why not show a little appreciation and make a donation … every penny counts … if you do … wonderful & thank you.

Well after coming back from Retreat … I was a changed person and had lots of focus … also a group of spectacular mamas from within the Ripple Effect Yoga Community were undertaking The Moonwalk … 3 intrepid mamas doing the half moon and 2 (idiots??) more mamas … doing the full moon.  10269316_10152337287525999_4319605658724143385_o - Version 3

IMG_0544Ohh my … did we really know what was going to hit us?? It was challenging, freezing, delays around the course, took us longer than we had anticipated … we were looking at about 7.5 hours for the full and it took us over 10 hours …. two of us missed our pre-booked train … we didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other … a long hot bath, bed and pain relief … plus some food awaited us at the end of a very long journey!

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10285578_10203748054120092_6000892450529247263_oThese amazing women were an inspiration and I am so glad I got to do The Moonwalk with them.  Well done ladies … you are awesome.

This is the gang meeting for a catch up post event …

How did we do … we raised in excess of £3200.00 pounds which was absolutely fantastic … a huge thank you to the families, friends, colleagues, clients who sponsored us and the matching received for one of our lovelies who works for one of the local financial institutions.  Absolutely fantastic!

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I took the opportunity to support #feministbirth as I feel so strongly that every woman should know her choices, take ownership of her body & her baby … believing that she is powerful and a warrior goddess … I will keep reminding women that they have choices and that they do not have to do something just because it is protocol and that they have a voice … they need to use it to be heard!
Now some of you may need to sit down … especially when you hear that we had a child free 3 day city break!  Yes we did!!!  … after a few years we decided this year that we would also go in different directions and do something different.  So Mark skied with friends, I went on Retreat, Imogene went to Switzerland with Girl Guiding and Matti is going to Disneyland Paris with Cubs in January 2015.  So we decided that we would have a mini-break … so for Mark’s birthday we went to the gorgeous city of Florence … Italy, sunshine, gorgeous food, plenty of Chianti … more food anIMG_1191d sightseeing ….  it was fantastic … definitely recommend it and you can do Pisa in an afternoon as we did when we were going back to the airport.

 

 

In July we Partied in the Park … our Ripple Effect Yoga Summer Gathering … always lovely to catch up with families from the Community … the event has been booked in already for next y2013-08-14 13.53.34ear … so please come along and join us …

 

 

So the rest of 2014 …. I became a Sacred Postpartum Mother Roaster …. woohoo …. this is truly nurturing and gorgeous …. link

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Launched Sacred Ripples … a very new and unique approach to preparing for the birth of your baby ….

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Also continued to receive beautiful messages from clients telling me that they haScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 23.37.42d had special deliveries that day … always lovely to hear from everyone …

I also learnt that actually

 

 

So many of you have loved and supported me when I have been in a low patch and kept me focused and positive believing in what I do … in 2014 I had to remember that I was out there alone … flying solo had to prove to family that this would work … this sums it up for me and the message I hope you all take from class …

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2015 … I am going to

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New classes are being relaunched – Movers & Groovers II –
Follow the Duck … yoga for 18 months – 3 years using story telling, songs and games … all great fun … this will be at a new class location and starts in February …

Well Woman Happy Baby is back … very exciting …

All I have to say is may you have a beautiful winter gathering or if you celebrate Christmas a very merry one … may 2015 be your year to flourish …. I’ve thoroughly loved going solo this year and I thank you for all supporting me and coming to class and going with the flow … may you breath deeply and relax …

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Hugs Cx

 

ohh & P.S.  I succumbed to the pressure and I got a onesie …

so to bring you a little amusement … here’s me with Minnie Mouse   hugs CxIMG_2110

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sciatica …. from Curejoy …. very informative

http://www.curejoy.com/content/simple-yoga-stretches-for-relieving-chronic-sciatica-pain/

Link

The Sciatic Nerve:

The sciatic nerve, the largest single nerve in the body, runs from the lower back, down the back of each leg and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica is not a Disease:

Sciatica (sigh-at-ih-kah) in itself is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying medical condition and is referred as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Constant pain in the lower back….one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • Difficulty in standing up or walking.

Most Common Causes of Sciatica:

  • Lumbar herniated disc: Sometimes referred to as a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, or a pinched nerve.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Diagnosed when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that spinal level, and inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the area.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis: Small stress fracture results in a vertebral body to slip forward on another.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis: Characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • Piriformis syndrome: Caused by the piriformis muscle pinches a nerve root of the sciatic nerve.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Caused by irritation of the sacroiliac joint.
  • Pregnancy: Weight gain, a shift on one’s center of gravity, and hormonal changes, can cause sciatica during pregnancy.
  • Scar tissue: Occurs when a scar tissue compresses the nerve root.
  • Muscle strain: Inflammation from a muscle strain can put pressure on a nerve root.
  • Spinal tumor: Tumors in the lower back can pinch nerve root.

Here are a selection of screen shots from the video Link … this is fine for the non-pregnant woman … a couple of the postures you will recognise … remember we have done adaptations to work gently with the pregnant body

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Sacred Geography of the Yoga Body by Sonia Welch

This is a fab article on yoga and ayurveda … written by Sonia Welch … she has a fab e-book that can be purchased via a link to Amazon from her website … feeling inspired.

 

ayurvedaAyurveda and Yoga detail the anatomy and physiology of the body in terms of energy rather than matter. The foundation of Ayurvedic and Yogic practices is that energy comes first, and it is this energy that makes up matter (the physical body). Quite simply put, in Ayurvedic terms, ‘Energy matters’. The relatively new field of Quantum Physics is now seconding that motion. Quantum physicists say that atoms are nothing but vortices of energy, constantly vibrating and spinning. Yoga (and Ayurveda) use the manipulation of Prana/energy within the body to maintain good health and prevent disease via Yoga asana/pranayama /meditation, massage, lifestyle and food. The pathways that Prana move via are called Nadi and the primary places for interruption, disruption and good management of this Prana are called Marma.

Marma means ‘vulnerable point’. Knowledge of marma enlightens us as to the places in the body where stress and tension within the body and the mind may reside and the most important points to focus on to create health. These vulnerable points are places of both power and weakness, depending on which direction our shifts of balance happen. We can invite more strength into the body by encouraging a flow rather than blockage within these powerful points, bringing harmony and balance. On the flip side, an injury, stagnation or lack of care around these points can have far reaching effects.

The practice of asana (posture), one of the eight limbs of Yoga, is one way of ensuring correct flow through the body via these numerous marma areas. Many main marma are located within joints and areas where tendons, muscles and bones meet. In fact, Marma are defined as ‘the junction of veins, tendons, joints, muscle and bone’. A variety of Yoga postures can squeeze and release around these crossroads within the body, ensuring a smooth flow of the traffic of Prana, nutrients and elimination of waste. There are 107 main marma within the body (108 according to some teachings, either including skin or mind as a marma).

There are three ‘Mahamarma’ or ‘Great Marma’ according to Ayurvedic tradition are:

  • Head
  • Heart
  • Bladder

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In simple terms, these three points can be linked to Kapha, Pitta and Vata dosha respectively. These Sanskrit terms denote the way that Prana is reserved in the body, transformed in the body and moved around the body. Knowing the importance of these Mahamarma can greatly enhance your daily Yoga practice.

Techniques such as Mulabandha, Ashwini mudra, Nauli and seated poses (lengthening the spine) can help to ensure a healthy flow through the bladder marma (Basti Marma) encouraging correct quantity, quality and function of Vata dosha which includes the nervous system and mind.

Heart opening poses such as Bhujangasana (Cobra), Matsyasana (Fish) and Dhanurasana (Bow) and twists can release accumulation and tension from the heart marma (Hrdya Marma), benefiting Pitta dosha which includes the Agni (digestive power), intellect and vision.

Many inversions and forward folds insure free flow of Prana to the head, specifically, the area between the eyebrows (Sthapani marma). Using Bhrumadhye Drishti (gaze point between the eyebrows) and poses such as Adho mukha svanasana (downward dog) and Prasarita Podottanasana (wide legged standing forward fold) benefit Kapha dosha, enhancing immunity and strength of body and mind and also creating a stabilizing force, insuring better balance of Vata dosha.

As well as including the suggestions above during your Yoga practice you can try this sequence before or after your next Yoga session or on its own, to release blockage and to create a surge of life giving Prana via important marma areas.

  • Roll out your yoga mat and lie down. Make sure you are warm and comfortable and that you won’t be disturbed.
  • Squeeze all your toes tightly and release 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Flex feet slightly to right, then to left 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Flex feet to the centre 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Lock knees and release 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Lock thighs, lifting the heels very slightly 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Squeeze buttocks, slim the area of the hips 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Squeeze into navel, pulling belly button backwards to the floor 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Make fists and release 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Squeeze arms tight to your sides 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Take Simhasana (lions breath) 3x whilst breathing smoothly and deeply
  • Rub hands together briskly and cover eyes
  • Stroke hands through hair lightly past ears and towards the back of the skull 3x
  • Lie as still as you can with no tension for 10 deep breaths – don’t rush your exhales and note the pause after each exhale

Website link:  http://www.soniawelch.co.uk