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Yoga during Lock Down

Attending a yoga class with an instructor is ideal for gaining experience with the discipline or deepening a pre-existing workout. However, with the current lock down restrictions, this is clearly not possible.

Nevertheless, it is possible to follow a solid workout that will benefit your mental and physical well-being in the comfort of your own home, or even outside in your garden.

There are plenty of online yoga classes, You Tube, even my own online streaming to follow but even these can take a commitment to engage and maintain. Alternatively, there are DVDs and books on the subject matter that will help develop your practice.

I would encourage you to develop your own home practice whilst we seemingly have time.

This may be the opportunity to make a small change to your life that could reap great reward.

Set goals for your yoga

Before you start doing yoga, it is advisable to understand why you want to practice the discipline. Yoga can be used as a method to train the body, a way to reduce and manage stress, a means of healing from an illness or injury, a way to achieve spiritual fulfilment and peace.

Think about your intention and you want to improve, such as strength, flexibility, endurance, fight against anxiety and depression. You may also want to practice for your general well-being.

You can write down the goals you have in mind for the program. Update them every time you cross a finish line and add new goals to constantly test yourself. For example, you may have a goal such as straightening the legs in a downward dog or holding a boat posture for a minute.

Find a comfortable place to practice it

You need a comfortable and quiet place to do yoga. Make sure you have enough room to move, top tip, check where your ceiling lights are!

On each side of the mat, calculate extra space to make sure you don’t hit a wall or anything, nominally 3m x 1m will give you the space you need

Make sure that the place you practice is quiet and peaceful, so that no one can disturb your concentration. In addition, it must be comfortable and not too cold.

If you haven’t a mat, drop me a line, I have some brand new studio mats for sale or some relatively good ‘seconds’.

Plan a home yoga practice

Although it may seem quite easy to practice yoga at home without too many problems, remember that it can be quite complicated, especially if you are not an expert yogi. Understanding the foundations of the discipline, from aligning the moves to the correct sequence of the various positions, can help you prepare for an effective and safe workout. I have some relatively safe, accessible routines on the website to follow, the videos will provide tips on alignment and foundation.

Be realistic with your ambition. When I started my home practice, I limited my time to 10 minutes, 3 times per week. In this time, I started with a gentle warm up and then repeating a set sequence of movements that stretched and flexed the main muscle groups. This, for me was sustainable. I continued to a month and my practice became a routine, even a habit. I will be happy to share my sequence if this is of interest.

In time, the sessions increased in duration and I started to bring more movements into the repertoire to both challenge me and draw me deeper into this mindful activity.

After familiarising yourself with a predetermined sequence, try to lengthen it by keeping each position a little longer and smoothly moving from one asana to another. Add new and more difficult positions as soon as you can.

My online yoga classes incorporate such repetitive sequences, and these may help anyone trying to develop their home practice.

Be patient and constant

This discipline has countless benefits, so with regular practice you can reap the rewards. Keep in mind that doing yoga doesn’t mean repeating a certain position exactly like the person you see in a video or image. You need to focus on the path that will take you to the asana, the enlightenment or any other goal that is proposed to you. Open your mind and heart during training. Good Luck!

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It is possible that you may not have heard of your psoas major muscle, it is not high up there in the muscle popularity stakes, at least not yet…

The psoas muscle is often overlooked, before I started yoga, I know little of its existence, yet this all encompassing muscle has the unique distinction of being the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body. Functional ramifications are vast, whether it is acts as a prime mover or stabiliser, either upper body or lower body movement, it’s all going on in the psoas.

I focus my yoga on ‘functional movement’ - teaching people to move as they should, with stability in the spine, engaging the deep core muscles before we move into the postures. This will strengthen the core and develop the correct pattern of movement The psoas is an integral part, the powerhouse, of this functional movement.

But this is not the full story of the mighty psoas…

The psoas is most central to our ‘fight and flight’ response, storing adrenalin to be able to react in situations that require us to move urgently out of danger. Yet, these days, our stress can occur whilst we sit, so we cannot respond in the manner we were designed. Stress hormones go ‘unspent’ and become stored in the body. The psoas is located in a place where we often store stress or trauma which can influence our mood.

The combination of tight hips from a stressful sedentary life and a tightened psoas will continually signal back to the command centre that danger exists, drawing on adrenaline and compounding the problem.

Our bodies become ineffective at releasing stress which manifests in our thoughts as fear and anxiety, which can lead to many health problems down the line, including insomnia, eating disorders, depression, and just living under a veil of fear.

Gradual lifestyle changes will correct this situation. Becoming aware of you body, your breathing and focusing on switching from the ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic nervous system) to rest, digest repair, (parasympathetic nervous system) mode will help tackle our responses to stressful situations.

Movement and stretching and strengthening a tight short psoas muscle will produce considerable benefits, if you were to spend a few moments each day, in a constructive rest pose, this will produce significant benefits. Even better and try some yoga, working with the breath through movement, there are a number of accessible postures designed precisely to alleviate tightness in this mighty muscle.

So if you want to learn more about the mighty psoas or the other 600 or so muscles in your body, get yourself along to a yoga class for some psoas tlc.

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Fantastic week! I had the privilege of teaching yoga to the The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment. Seeing 90+ soldiers in tree pose was a sight to behold and one of the highlights of my yoga to date. This was part of a mental fitness initiative organised by the regiment covering nutrition, stress awareness and yoga. Our armed forces are front line and constantly put in stressful situations, "part of the job". Being able to contribute to this initiative was just incredible and I hope to do the same again with some of our other services in the future. #yogateacher #richardsyoga #forcesyoga

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