Saturday, 14 February 2015

LIBERATING THE SIDE BODY

How often in yoga do we find ourselves being forceful in our quest for a deeper backbend or forward bend? Its a habit we are all a little guilty of from time to time. However its possible to change this habit a little by directing a little more attention into opening and move the sides of our bodies. Sidebends stretch out muscles, like the quadratus lumborum, that don't get as much release in forward bends and backbends. By leaning into and breathing into our sides we can send breath through the ribs, lower back, hips, neck, and the entire side portion of the spine. 








ALL OF ELISA'S 2015 LONDON YOGA CLASSES AND OVERSEAS YOGA HOLIDAYS CAN BE FOUND  AT
www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

IN THE MEANTIME TRY SOME OF THE FOLLOWING SIDE STRETCHES 

Cross legged easy pose side stretches
Sit in crossed legged easy poses take a long inhale and then as you exhale walk your hands out in front of you. Take a moment to set the intention to flow breath down the length and bredth of the back and now walk your hands to the right sending breath down the left side of the body via the armpit towards the hip. Keeping sitting bones firmly grounded now walk your hands to the left and breath into the right side befor moving back to midline.

Sitting upright again change the cross of your leg and raise the right arm to the sky while extending the left palm away from the left hip. Soften the left elbow towards the floor - press into the left palm and lean the right arm over head towards the left. Look up underneath the right tricep and draw the right arm out of your peripheral sight while breathing from the right armpit to the hip keep lengthening the right side of the torse while shortening the left. The repeat on the left side. Then take a second foward bend prowling your hands towards the top of your mat.

Kneeling side stretch
Come to kneeling on all fours. Walk the hand to the left of your mat and keep walking them until they come as close as possible to being alongside the toes. Breathe into the right side of the body lengthening the right side while shortening the left. Then repeat walking the hand towards the right side.

Downward facing dog side stretch
Come into downward facing dog. Pivot the heels to the right,  bend your right knee and direct it across the left thigh towards the left. Extend you hips and buttocks towards the left and breath into the right side. Change side pivoting feet so that heels point left bend the left knee and direct it across the right thigh towards the left while extending buttocks towards the right.


Low lunge side stretch variation
Step your right foot between your hands, lower your left knee to the earth, untuck your toes, inhale and raise your arms. Lengthen your tailbone. As you exhale, touch your right fingers to the earth (or a block) and reach your left arm up and over to the right, arcing your left side body. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale as you raise both arms, exhale and lower your hands, return to Dog, and switch sides.
Swinging standing forward bend
Come to standing at the top of your mat in a forward bend with your feet just wider than your hips. Turn your heels out slightly. Hold the opposite elbows as your spine lengthens and the crown of your head descends. Pendulum your torso loose and free from side to side for five breaths.


Side plank
Step back to plank. Then move into sideplank balancing on the left arm extending the right arm forwards to the front of your mat. Breathe into the right side then change and practice side plank on the opposite side.

Three legged downward facing dog
Return to downward facing dog.
From downward facing dog raise your right leg to the sky. Find your balance and bend your right knee opening the hip as you lengthen through your tailbone. Send energy your hands and breathe into your side body for five long deep breaths, Straighten your leg and level your hips then lower you leg to the ground. Change sides.

Gate Pose 
Step left knee to the ground and extend your right leg out laterally, turn it out and place the sole of your right foot on the ground. Inhals and bring your arms our to the sides at shoulder height as you exhale being the right hand to the top of the thigh or shin and reach over to the right with the left hand. Hold for three breaths then inhale with arms extended parallel to the floor. Then take the left hand over to the left and extend to the right with the right hand. Look up under right tricep. Turn palm of right hand to the sky. Change sides.

Garland Pose
With your feet as wide as your mat, squat, reaching your sitting bones toward the earth. Lift your chest and the crown of your head to the sky. If your heels don't touch the floor, place a blanket beneath them. Bring your hands to prayer at your heart. Hold for 9 breaths.
Squats with standing side bends 
From garland pose, interlace your fingers; as you inhale, stand up, spin your palms to the sky, and reach to the right, bending and lengthening your side body. Exhale back to Malasana. 
Interlace, inhale, stand up, and reach to the left. Repeat this sequence, moving from Malasana to Mountain pose side stretch, 3 times on each side before moving to child's pose to rest.

Side stretch in extended childs pose
In child's pose extend both palm forwards along the ground and then walk hands to the right breathing into the left side then walk hands to the left and breath into the right side.

Come to kneeling upright with toes tucked under resting sit bones on your heels. Interlace fingers interlace fingers as you raise arms above head and take hands first to the right then the left breathing into both sides of the body.

Rest in Savasana




SOME REMINDERS FOR NEW YOGIS



Yoga is harder than we think
This often comes as a surprise to new students. Yoga uses the whole body including some parts of it that may not have been used very often. This realisation can sometimes come as a bit of a kick in the bum. Yoga also involves the mind and the aim of yoga is to make the connection between the two. 
Through a series of yoga poses the body is strengthened and opened. When we practice yoga its really important to respect the body and work with what we've got. There is a yoga class for everyone. If the style or flow of the class doesnt resonate, try different classes. Some are tailored towards the students level of fitness, state of health and age. 

Gymnastics is not required
One of the most common reasons people avoid going to a yoga class is because they think that they aren't flexible enough. There is this widely held view that we will be asked to contort the body into a pretzel and only by doing so will we be practicing yoga properly. We practice yoga to become more flexible both on the mat and more importantly, off it. Its important to remind ourselves that the aim really isn't to become 'good' at yoga. Yoga isn’t about achieving some complicated contortion leave that to the gymnasts. Yoga is about the journey and being present on that journey for every single step of the way.

Yoga teachers are our guides.
Yoga is about energetics and in the same way as any other classroom setting, the teacher is a vital ingredient. My experience of yoga has been hugely enhanced by teachers with whom I really connected. There are so many different styles of yoga nowadays in the west, and almost as many different styles of teachers to go along with them. It really is important to find a teacher that we trust to guide us. It's our personal journey, but the teachers can be help us to read the map to find our own direction.

Yoga is about connecting with ourselves.
Connecting with oneself can sometimes be very uncomfortable. Yoga encourages us to be open and to let whatever comes come. As we begin to connect, we can begin feel a whole raft of emotions and sensations. The commentary that goes on in the brain can create conflict and make judgements. How long am i going to have to hold this pose? I can’t believe I tried this. What on earth was I thinking? Would it be really rude if I just left? 
Its normal, its human. In times such as these, noticing our breath can help to let go of the 
ego, the constant narative in the brain. The breath allows us to settle into the present moment instead of shutting down, closing up shop, and heading out of the door both literally and figuratively. 


Regular yoga practice changes lives. 
 “How often do I need to do yoga to get the benefits?” is a common question from new students. The answer is to practice as much as you can, whether it's once a week, several times a week or every day.Yoga starts to transform us as soon as we begin to practice, in all sorts of ways and the effects of yoga are cumulative. Yoga is healing and also slows down the aging process. Yoga strengthens our body, mind and spirit. It gives us the tools to face life with a sense of peace and resiliency that we might not have experienced before. 

I am grateful for my yoga practice and what it has taught me so far about myself, my life and how to be more present to experience life more fully. It helps me to know myself a little better each day and I am happy as a teacher to be in the position to share what I have learnt so far with others along the way


ALL OF ELISA'S 2015 LONDON YOGA CLASSES AND OVERSEAS YOGA HOLIDAYS CAN BE FOUND  AT www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

COMPELLING REASONS TO TRY VINYASA YOGA

Yoga is phenomenally popular these days. There are so many styles to choose from that it can become quite overwhelming to the newcomer. I love most styles of yoga but I do keep coming back to vinyasa flow. Even when my practise is slow, I can't help but link my movement to each breath. I love the liberation this style of yoga brings, the lack of rules, the spontaneity and grace. It is perhaps for this reason that despite all the new styles that keep cropping up in the yoga mad western world, vinyasa flow maintains its popularity. Essentially vinyasa means movement synchronised with the breath. 
So if you havent tried it yet below are some compelling reason why you might like to give vinyasa flow yoga a go.



By flowing breath by breath the mind stays focused

Vinyasa Flow refers to the way this style keeps us moving from asana to asana, linking each pose to an inhale and an exhale.
By timing the flow of movements to the breath the practise becomes smooth and continuous. This can help us to stay present during the class. Its particularly helpful to those of us whose minds tend to wander and stray and it prepares us so the mind can stay focused during longer held poses which often feature towards the end of the class.

Vinyasa flow offers spontaneity.

Vinyasa Flow has a lot in common with Ashtanga yoga, which also links continuous sequence 
through the breath. But while Ashtanga uses a prescribed sequence of poses taught in the 
same way in every class, Vinyasa is a lot more flexible and varied.
The practitioner has the freedom to listen to their own body and mix up the order of their poses. In a Vinyasa class the teacher will often throw in something new and unexpected. It's this “no rules” approach to yoga that appeals to many and means that the practise stay fresh and intuitive. While for repetition is the practise, for others it's the variety that prevents 
us from  falling into the slump that can set in when the  same routine is repeated over and over again.



There's a perfect vinyasa flow yoga class for everyone. 

Since there are no set-in-stone rules about how to structure a Vinyasa class, teachers can weave whatever they choose into the class. They can include different styles of yoga, some play music others prefer the silence that is often unique to yoga.
If one teachers style doesn't resonate then try another. With Vinyasa yoga, studenst can shop around to find the perfect class for them.


Vinyasa flow improves strength, flexibiity and balance.

As Vinyasa is a hybrid derived from a variety of yoga schools, from Iyengar standing poses, Anusara inversions to Kundulini breathing. It combines strength, flexibility and balance with all the holistic benefits of yoga. Depending on the level of the class, this style can really challenge students to discover their physical limits.

Vinyasa flow gets the heart pumping.

The continuous sequence of Vinyasa Flow yoga is great for getting the heart going, even when the pace is relatively slow the practice will increase the heart rate. The breaks come in resting poses like Downward Dog and Childs Pose which serve both as a respite and a time to assimilate the preceding sequence before moving on to the next challenge.


This style of yoga is also great as it enables the body to build its own heat naturally rather than rely on a preheated room.

Vinyasa flow is a great for newbies

Since Vinyasa is so varied, it’s easy to find classes that are tailored to beginners while  still providing a healthy challenge. Its also a great way to learn the basics of pranayama, or yogic breathing, which can be often confusing to newcomers to yoga.  A Vinyasa Flow teacher tells you when to inhale and exhale during each pose as its flows into the next. With practise the breath becomes instinctive. This style is a great way to learn the skills you need to build a strong foundation for a more advanced yoga practice.

Vinyasa flow is fun

With the flowing movements this style feels like a graceful dance! Some teachers using music others simply asking you to listen to your own internal rhythm. It is liberating and fun as nothing is off limits as long as you feel safe in the movement, listen to and respect your body you can simply go with the flow. There is no right or wrong, no dogma no rules. 

So why not give Vinyasa Flow a go?

ALL OF ELISA'S 2015 LONDON YOGA CLASSES AND OVERSEAS YOGA HOLIDAYS CAN BE FOUND  www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

Monday, 9 February 2015

DELICIOUS COURGETTE WITH MINT & BASIL PESTO

sauteed zucchini with mint, basil, and pine nuts



Ingredients

6 courgettes sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
3 tablespoons (or less) olive oil
3 small cloves garlic
10 (or more) mint leaves
5 (or more) basil leaves
1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
1 to 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar or white balsamic or whatever vinegar you have
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Additional mint and basil, torn to garnish

Instructions 

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the courgettes and sauté, flipping and turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

Don't salt them yet! 

While the courgettes cook, chop together the garlic, mint, basil, and capers so that they intermingle and turn into a roughly chopped pesto. When the courgettes are golden, remove it from the pan and cook the remaining courgette in another tablespoon of oil, just as you did the first batch. 
Add a splash more oil while you are sautéing. 
Then add the first batch back into the pan, along with the herb-garlic mixture and the vinegar, to taste. 
Add salt and pepper according to taste.
Toss well. Add nuts. Scoop everything out onto a serving plate. 
Right before serving, sprinkle on extra herbs 

Serve with ricotta cheese and crusty bread

Friday, 6 February 2015

SLOW DOWN, RELAX, DE-STRESS & UNWIND


When life is racing full-speed ahead and you're in need of some head space, practising  restorative yoga helps us to find physical and mental balance.

By holding poses longer with the aid of props, the wall, the earth, we can stretch deeply and passively. 

So take yourself somewhere quiet and spend a little extra time this weekend opening up the body, immersing yourself in your breath and reaping the therapeutic  benefits of this nourishing and regenerating form of yoga.

ALL OF ELISA'S 2015 LONDON YOGA CLASSES AND OVERSEAS YOGA HOLIDAYS CAN BE FOUND  AT  ://www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

 

The Benefits of Restorative Yoga

1. Full and Deep Stretches

Long, supported poses help the body to fully engage, soften and release long held tension and stress

2. Improve Flexibility

Restorative yoga is not a stretch class per se. It simply allows us to discover what happens when we spend time releasing the tension our body habitually holds.

3. Discover Where Stress is Held

Restorative poses give us the opportunity to notice where we hold tension.  We learn where the obstacles and obstructions are which can inform us how to make subtle changes in everyday life to reduce the stress and tension that builds up in the body.

4. Lose Weight

Restorative yoga helps to reduce cortisol levels—of which high levels are linked to increased abdominal fat.

5. Boost Immunity

A regular restorative yoga practice helps to improve the immune system and reducing the occurs cd of cold and flu virus's.

6. Balanced Nervous System

 A restorative practice balanced the nervous system and allows the body to renew and rejuvenation. It aids energy flow to the organs, tissue renewal, and reduced “fight or flight” response.

7. Quieter Mind

Restorative yoga calms an overstimulated mind. In each pose be mindful, present to the sensations in the body to the breath. Be patient sometimes it takes time for the mind to become quiet. It takes practice to learn how to drop into a place of stillness be content to peacefully rest in the present - framing each moment in a breath.

8. Recuperative 

We all need rest, whether or not you’re recovering from muscle strain, a broken bone, a bad bout of flu, or a chronic illness. Just because you’re not practicing more “active” asanas doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from yoga’s healing powers.
The healing power of yoga can be accessed even when our energy level is low and our body's lack strength. Restorative yoga is perfect when we are recuperating from illness and injury.

9.  Emotional Healing

In the same way the body needs to build physical strength after illness, emotional injuries take time and patience to heal. Restorative yoga can provide care when processing the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, coming to terms with a life changing event or dealing with depression or anxiety.

10. A Bridge to Meditation 

Restorative yoga provides a bridge towards the unfamiliar and often intimidating practice of meditation. It can sometimes make is feel vulnerable, emotional or anxious but this is all part of the process of cultivating space and letting go.

Wear an eye mask, wrapped beneath a blanket, or lying withy feet up the wall help us to become calmer more grounded and in turn more meditative and introspective.








Thursday, 5 February 2015

YOGA WITH A BREATHTAKING VIEW



Yoga With A View! Join me in this breathtaking location on the Turkish coast for a wonderful week of ‪#‎yoga‬ and ‪#‎relaxation‬ Now booking for June and September 2015 http://www.elisawilliamsyoga.com/page14.htm
Activity group holiday in the sun - yoga suitable for all levels, fabulous setting for photography, walking, sunshine, good food and company.