Tag Archives: Yoga

Yoga Diary – Runner’s Lunge “the asana treasure waiting to be discovered”

16 Sep

In an article published in Yoga International, Luke Ketterhagen described banarasana (one of the names given to the Lunge pose) as “an asana treasure waiting to be discovered”.

This reminded me of a workshop I attended with Ana Forrest. She also recommended practising Lunge pose. In her book “Fierce Medicine”, she  wrote: “When you are moving into Lunge, you’re dealing with big muscles –quadriceps- so it takes a while for the pose to take its effect. This pose is so simple, and it works deeply. Anatomically, it’s straightforward, but energetically and physiologically, it’s a mover and a shaker.” (page 30)

In Yoga Therapy, we learn that the benefits of the pose are varied: it tones the abdominal muscles and gives a good stretch to the back and hip flexors. It strengthens the hips, legs, ankles and feet and induces balance in the nervous system!

So here are the instructions to come into Lunge:

  1. Starting from the table position, on all four, step your left foot forward between your hands.  Left knee is directly over the ankle and the shin perpendicular to the ground. Extend the right leg behind and place the knee and the top of the foot on the floor. Make sure the neck is in line with the spine, head looking down. Fingertips are on the floor or if you feel more comfortable, place blocks under your hands.
  2. Then lengthen the left thigh forward and the right thigh back, lowering the hips towards the mat. Stay in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds and then come back to table position and change side.
  3. Repeat a few times on each side.

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favourite postures when I started yoga. My thighs were burning and although I am fairly flexible, it just didn’t feel right. But little by little, I started to notice how to adjust to make it nicer.
First it is crucial to place the knee of the extended leg comfortably on the mat. It sometimes helps to place a blanket underneath or to fold the mat. What I like doing is extend the straight leg back so I can place the top of the kneecap on the floor rather than the front. But only slightly as you need to keep the hips square to the front of the mat!
I also like to lift the toes and press the ball of the foot (of the bent leg) to make sure my knee doesn’t rotate inwards and stays in line with the ankle and the hip.
Then the main thing is to LET GO! The more relaxed you are, the more your hips will release. Gently! As Ana Forrest said, you need time in the Lunge to really experience it.  For some people, doing lunges releases a lot of emotions. If you feel “vulnerable”, just return to your breath to relax. Let go at all levels, and observe what happens without judging yourself.

I now really enjoy the lunges and I increasingly practise the Yin version: the Dragon Pose. Holding the pose for 2 minutes stimulates the stomach and spleen meridians (on the extended leg) and the kidney and liver meridians on the bent leg.

So are you ready to go into Lunge?

Yoga Diary with Video – Get up & Go!

15 Sep

Have you ever noticed that the idea of doing some yoga tomorrow is always such a good idea! Tomorrow when I get up, I will prepare the mat and I will do some yoga!

And then tomorrow arrives… But I don’t know what to do. I don’t have time. Well no more excuse: Here is the solution: a 13 minutes long video that will do the trick. Nothing complicated… Just simple but very effective postures. It is “general” and not particularly for people with MS. The aim is just to “Get up & Go!”. Please try it. You will find the video on our Vimeo channel:  http://vimeo.com/user30009423

Are you awake now?

You might even want to do more… Keep moving and have a fantastic day!

Namaste

Yoga Diary – Why you should include “core” work in your practice

13 Sep

In 2010, an article in the Times entitled “The Core Stability Myth” gave rise to some discussions about the important of strengthening the core muscles. However, the controversy arose mainly because the author was referring to the Transverse Abdominals (the six pack muscle) rather than all the core muscles.

It is indeed important to see the core as a group of muscles including the Transverse Abdominals but also the Obliques, the Multifidus and the Pelvic Floor Muscles.

Why are these muscles important?
First because they protect the lower back by stabilising it and help keep a good posture.
Second because they help massage the internal organs, improving digestion and elimination.
Third, because strong core muscles will help you in about all the yoga asanas. Whether standing, balancing poses or twists, they all require strong core muscles and stability.
Fourth, core strength is magical. It makes everything easier: sitting, lifting, standing, bending, playing tennis, reaching overhead… you name it. Personally, it makes me feel stronger, not just physically but mentally too.

How to strengthen the core?
Students often believe that the only core strengthening yoga pose is Navasana/ the Boat pose but there are many many more. And not just asanas! Practising Kaphalabati breath everyday for a few minutes will undoubtedly strengthen your core! Pelvic tilts too, Balancing Table, Lower Planks… There are core strengthening practises for every mood, every level!
Hmm I guess a short Core Strengthening Video is required. Coming soon.

Yoga Diary – MS Hug (How Yoga helps)

12 Sep

Over the last few days, I occasionally felt tightness around my ribcage, very mildly and briefly. However last night, it became quite intense. No doubt, it was the so- called MS hug, which is basically due to spasms of the muscles between the ribs. It can last a few minutes or hours.

I had just finished reading a great article (Sam Harris’s Vanishing Self by Gary Gutting) when the pain started. My ribcage was caught in a vice. My breath got shorter and shallower. So I got up, walked around trying to stand up and then lied down breathing as deeply as I could. But it didn’t stop.

I then decided to go on my yoga mat – I am lucky to have a ‘yoga room’ where my mat is always waiting for me, with bolsters and blocks. Without any hesitation, I went into Supta Badda Konasana, the Bound Angle Pose.
I demonstrated this pose in a video for ekhartyoga: Watch the video

I did this pose without the belt though and stayed for about ten minutes, listening to some relaxing music. Peter had brought my iPad in the room and lit the candles to help me relax – i think he was a bit worried as he had never seen me with the MS hug before!
I then moved into Savasana, the Corpse Pose, and played a ‘Chanting Om’ album. I listened to Om being continuously chanted, anchoring my breath on each long slow Om. I did this for about twenty minutes, focusing on keeping with the breath, and then I felt better. Later on, I also meditated briefly, had a nice cup of tea and a hot shower. The crisis was over.

Yoga doesn’t take away the pain of the MS Hug – it is hard to reach the muscles being in spasm with the MS hug- but it helps.
For me, it is like having a toothache. On the one hand there is the tooth pain itself, the ‘core pain’. But on the other, there is also the discomfort, and sometimes even pain, due to us being nervous, irritated, etc., the ‘secondary pain’. Yoga may not reduce the core pain itself but it certainly helps reduce the secondary pain. And it makes the whole experience much easier to cope with. I do not wish anybody to experience the MS Hug, but if it happens, try this and see if it helps. Namaste

Yoga Diary from Taming the Walrus

11 Sep

Yesterday I had this great idea: “Tomorrow I will start a Yoga Diary and I will share all the benefits I experience in different poses. I could start with some energizing Kundalini sequence, take pictures, wouldn’t that be great?”

But that was yesterday!

This morning, I woke up – or did I?- and felt exactly as I looked. The best way to describe it would be to imagine someone dips you in a gigantic cheese fondue and you are trying to get out of it… A battle against Gravity!

Gone was the big plan of doing some nice energetic Kundalini sequence. For a little while, I even tried to convince myself that it would be best to start tomorrow. Everything starts on Mondays, n’est-ce pas?

But I thought “Yin, Yin, Yin yoga is what you need!” I took everything I could take hold of: a mat, blocks, bolsters, cushions… I lit some incense. And there I was, ready to work on my kidney meridian – I always need to relax a bit so working on this meridian is always useful.

What I like about yin yoga, besides the fact that it is amazing to stretch the connective tissues, is that there is no rush… You have time to slowly settle into the poses (I usually hold each pose between 3 and 5 minutes) and you can  focus on your breath or observe your mind.

The first few poses were challenging, not physically, but mentally. All these thoughts were coming in “Why don’t you do yoga later?” “You are tired, go back to bed”… I remembered a trick given by Esther Ekhart in one of her classes. She described how her cat would be waiting in front of a hole in the wall, ready to catch anything that comes out, completely alert. And she explained how we could do the same with our thoughts: be alert and catch them as soon as they come up and then let them go (not sure if the cat does the letting go bit!). So I imagined being a cat. I did miss a few thoughts but I kept going on.

I practised for just over an hour. I took me at least 25 minutes to stop fighting but then I really enjoyed it. I feel better – still not ready for a marathon – but I am awake, I have more energy and I am happy with myself for getting on the mat. This is indeed the main thing: to get on the mat! Just by doing that you will feel better.

I guess the point of starting a diary is to keep writing regularly. So see you soon. Namaste

Taming the Walrus: An Integrative Approach

20 Jul

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I haven’t written any blog entry for such a long time…. But I was very busy! Together with my partner, we worked on the Taming the Walrus Approach: an integrative approach to living with MS, including Yoga, Mindfulness and Diet.
We are finalising our website – which will take over the name tamingthewalrus.com – and this blog will be linked to it.
It is so exciting! I feel that everything is coming together.I will of course share the link as soon as it is life!
I’m looking forward to your feedback. But i a m also looking forward to our first Taming the Walrus retreat, which will take place in Ericeira, Portugal, from 11th to 18th of October. We are delighted to organise it in Omassim guesthouse, which is owned by good friends of ours. It is a “small” guest house, which is perfect since we want to keep the number of participants low. Here is the schedule:

08:00-09:30 – General Yoga Class
09:45 – 10:45 Breakfast
11:00 – 12:30 Adaptive yoga (to address specific MS issues) or talks, video and discussions.
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 17:30 Free time – beach, massage, reading chatting etc.
18:00 – 18:45 Gentle Restorative Yoga (on the beach if you want to!)
18:45 – 19:30 Mindfulness
20:00 – Dinner

From 595 euro a week (Early Bird) including:
– Accommodation in mini dormitory
– 3 Delicious vegetarian meals per day
– Daily yoga classes – suitable for all levels
– Introduction to Mindfulness Sessions
– Retreat Manual

And hopefully there will be plenty more to come!
Have a lovely day!
ps: for more info you can write to us to tamingthewalrus@gmail.com

2013: A Yogic Year in Review

28 Dec

OM

“Change is not something that we should fear.
Rather, it is something that we should welcome.
For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom,
and no one in this world would ever move forward
to become the person they’re meant to be.” Unknown.

The New Year is approaching. Time for the Year in Review!
As Miss Sophie in “Dinner For One”, I always follow the same procedure, except mine is different 😉 and includes: reviewing – assessing – setting new goals, which are key steps for autonomous life long learning!
Let’s rewind back to December 2012. I had been in Spain for six months, in Seville. Since I was afraid not to have a job, I had two full time jobs (I know I know!!!): as a Learning Designer for a big publisher and as a Chief editor of a magazine. Plus I was also squeezing in yoga classes too! Luckily for me, my partner was even busier, so at least my “reduced availability” wasn’t too much of a problem for our young relationship.
Back to the present, December 2013. I changed from 5th to 2nd gear! I moved from Seville to the middle of the countryside and I spend my day either working for a small publisher or developing yoga therapy for multiple sclerosis. And I even occasionally do NOTHING!
So what is the verdict? How did 2013 go?
On the whole, I would say that it went pretty well although I often miss being in a city and still worry a bit about financial stability. Looking back however, I realise how dramatically things changed for me and how I learned to let go – albeit reluctantly. So it is possible to change after all!
One key event in 2013 was that I graduated in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with the Paramanand Yoga Research Institute in India and realised how much I want to help people with MS. It is in my guts, in my heart, in my head.
I had taught yoga for MS before, based on my own experience and brilliant book and DVDs, but the Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda training in Paramanand helped me put the pieces together. I learned to view MS from a different perspective, which offers so much more possibilities and makes far more sense!
Yoga Therapy has so much to offer for people with MS to make their life easier. And although it is still at its infancy in Europe, I have no doubt it will flourish here too.
Something else happened in India. Something i still haven’t fully worked out. Maybe it is the magic of India… In any case, I let go of some very deep rooted fears too. Is that why my teacher gave me the name Maa Mukta, which means Liberated?
Thanks to my amazing partner’s ecouragements, I decided to give Yoga Therapy for MS more time and energy. I published an article in a French yoga magazine, I created a website. I recorded a series of yoga videos for ekhartyoga.com, I have a yoga therapy retreat planned for March and a few more projects in the making…
So what about December 2014? Where will I be? What will I do? Will I move away again? Will I help people with MS? Who knows?
What about my new goals? For the first time in years, I don’t really feel like setting goals for the future. I want to focus on NOW but I will try to follow my teacher’s advice, that is to develop yoga therapy for MS to help others and not for my own sake to feel better about myself or for the sake of knowledge. And que sera, sera!
I wish you all a very happy NOW time (forever)!

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“Le changement n’est pas à craindre,
mais à accueillir les bras ouverts.
Car sans changement, rien ne pousserait ni ne fleurirait dans ce monde.
Personne n’avancerait pour devenir la personne qu’il ou elle est supposé(e) être.

(Inconnu)

FrenchLe Nouvel An approche. C’est l’heure de passer l’année en revue. Comme Miss Sophie dans le « Dinner For One », je suis la même procédure, sauf que la mienne est différente J. Je passe en revue – j’évalue – et je me fixe de nouveaux objectifs, ce qui constitue les étapes clé de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie !
Retournons à décembre 2012. J’étais alors en Espagne depuis six mois, à Séville. Par peur d’être sans emploi, j’avais deux postes `a plein temps, un comme Learning Designer dans une grande maison d’édition et un comme rédactrice d’un magazine. Et en plus, j’assurais des cours de yoga entre deux ! Heureusement mon partenaire était encore plus occupé et mon manque de disponibilité ne posait pas trop de problèmes dans notre jeune relation.
Retour au présent, décembre 2013. Je suis passée de la 5ème à la 2ème vitesse. J’ai déménagé de Séville et habite en pleine campagne. Je partage mes journées entre un emploi pour une petite maison d’édition et le développement de cours de yoga thérapie pour la SEP. Il m’arrive même de ne RIEN faire !
Alors, quel est le verdict ? Comme s’est passée l’année 2013 ? Dans l’ensemble, je dirais « plutôt bien » même si vivre en ville me manque souvent et même si les questions de stabilité financière me préoccupent toujours. En regardant en arrière, je réalise à quel point les changements de 2013 ont été importants pour moi! Et surtout, j’ai appris – avec réticence certes – à laisser aller. Il est donc possible de changer !
Un facteur clé en 2013 a été la formation niveau avancé de prof de Yoga que j’ai suivie `a l’institut de recherche Paramanand en Inde. Je me suis alors rendue compte à quel point j’ai envie d’aider les personnes qui ont une SEP. Je ressens ce désir dans les tripes, dans le cœur, dans la tête ! J’ai enseigné le yoga pour la SEP avant, en me basant sur ma propre expérience et sur des livres et des DVD formidables mais la formation en yoga thérapie et en Âyurveda à l’Institut Paramanand m’a aidé à finir le puzzle. J’ai appris à appréhender la SEP d’une autre manière, ce qui offre de nombreuses possibilités thérapeutiques. La yoga thérapie a tant à offrir pour rendre la vie des personnes atteintes d’une SEP plus facile ! Bien qu’elle n’en soit qu’à ses débuts en Europe, je suis convaincue que la yoga thérapie est promis à un bel avenir.
Autre chose est arrivé en Inde. Quelque chose que je n’ai pas encore complètement élucidé… mais qui m’a permis de vaincre des peurs très profondément ancrées en moi. Est-ce pour cela que mon professeur de yoga m’a donné comme nom « Maa Mukta » qui signifie « Libérée » ?
Grâce aux encouragements de mon formidable partenaire, j’ai décidé de consacrer plus de temps et d’énergie à la yoga thérapie pour la SEP. J’ai rédigé un article pour un magazine de yoga en France, j’ai créé un site web, j’ai enregistré des vidéos pour le site ekhartyoga.com. J’ai organisé une retraite en Espagne en mars 2014. Et je travaille sur d’autres projets…
Qu’en est-il de décembre 2014 ? Où serai-je ? Aurais-je de nouveau déménagé ? Aiderai-je les personnes atteintes d’une SEP ? Qui sait ? Quels sont mes objectifs ? Pour la première fois depuis des années, je n’ai pas envie de me fixer de nouveaux objectifs. Je veux me concentrer sur le PRÉSENT but je vais essayer de suivre les conseils de mon professeur et développer la yoga thérapie pour la SEP pour les autres, et non pour moi, non pas pour me sentir mieux ou pour l’amour de la connaissance. Et ensuite, que sera, sera !
Je vous souhaite à tous un excellent moment PRÉSENT (toujours) !

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