Tuesday, 30 June 2015

BEAT THE HEAT - COOLING BREATH

We're having a heatwave! 

This cooling pranayama practice was devised deep in the Himalayas, whenancient sages observed and imitated the world around them in their attempts to master body, breath, and mind. 

They noticed the curve of a bird’s lower beak, a new green leaf uncurling, and the hiss of a cobra—and emulated those shapes and sounds in a practice called Sitali (the cooling breath).

 In this pranayama, the inhalation is moistened as it passes through the curl of the tongue (described as a bird’s beak and an uncurling leaf), so that you are “drinking” water-saturated air.

Besides building breath awareness, this practice is said to calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude. Sitali also cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and according to the system of ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, common in the summer months. In addition, this practice reduces tiredness, bad breath, fever and high blood pressure.




How To Practice Sitali

Close your eyes, breathe diaphragmatically for several minutes, then open the mouth and form the lips into an “O.”

Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).

Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.

Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen and lower ribs expand.

Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.

Continue doing sitali for 2 to 3 minutes, return to diaphragmatic breathing for several more, and repeat the cooling breath for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice.

Can’t Curl Your Tongue? Try Sitkari

Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.

Gently press your lower and upper teeth together and separate your lips as much as you comfortably can, so your teeth are exposed to the air.

Inhale slowly through the gaps in the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.

Close the mouth and slowly exhale through the nose.

Repeat up to 20 times. This practice is called sitkari. 


Cautions for Sitali and Sitkari


Because sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practiced during hot weather or after a vigorous asana or heating pranayama practice (like bhastrika).
If you have a vata or kapha constitution, sitali and sitkari may not be appropriate during wintertime. But no matter when you practice, be sure to take in air that is close to body temperature, since the breath won’t be warmed by the nostrils, ifthe air is cold, it may aggravate the lungs.

Monday, 29 June 2015

YOGA FOR BETTER SLEEP


Here are three yoga poses to try for deep, healing sleep every single night.



Double Leg Twist

Whether you’re ignoring the snoring noises coming out of the person next to you or distractions in general, this pose uses reclined twists to help release worries and overstimulation on a profound level, while breathing deeply and evenly helps calm and quiet your entire nervous system


Lie on your back in bed, fold your knees together to the left of your body, but keep your chest facing the ceiling.
Breathe deeply, matching inhales and exhales in tempo and intensity – think: easy and breezy.
After a dozen or more deep breaths, switch your knees to the other side and repeat.
If the twist feels uncomfortable, try putting a pillow under your knees so the twist is less intense.

Blue Sky Meditation

Often our monkey mind swings from one thought to the next and doesn’t seem to stop. When an over active mind prevents you from falling asleep try this meditation to clear and calm your mind, which in turn will encourage your body to relax, too.


Close your eyes. Inhale deeply; then, open up your mouth and release.
Visualise depositing your scattered thoughts in clouds in your mind.
Start to inhale and exhale smoothly and as calmly as you can.
With each exhale, imagine clouds floating away to reveal soft, peaceful blue sky.
Repeat until there is only space to rest instead of think.

Soften and Relax

This gently stretches the tissues that form joints and softens the tight, holding spots in your body.


Lie down, and hug yourself into a little ball, knees toward your face.
Release, with a big exhale, like a star that fell from the sky into a big x shape – arms wide, legs apart.
Inhale through your nose; then, exhale with a long sigh out of your mouth. Repeat.
Imagine you are melting into your bed, your bones and muscles getting heavier.

Sleep well.For more information about my classes and retreats visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.comwww.elisawilliamsyoga.com

LEARNING TO LOVE YOUR BODY THROUGH YOGA

One of the best things about Yoga is it gets us connected to our body again. Most people have lost this connection thanks to the busy, modern world we live in. 

We lose ourselves in our mobiles and iPads, PCs and TVs, iPods and computer games. We spend our days sedentary at a desk, or in the car  commuting to and from our jobs, on the school run ferrying the family.

We’re not moving enough and even when we are, we’re not fully aware of our body and how it feels to move.


When I teach yoga I try and encourage my students to bring their awareness to how each pose feels. If we stretch one leg, for example, I’ll tell them go back to  notice how it feels compared to the leg they haven’t stretched yet. If we're in a twist I ask them experience the sensations and feelings that arrive in their body breath by breath.

This “noticing” is so important as  it really helps us to become more connected to our body and if a student wants to pause a little longer or more often, I make sure that they know that they can. It's not boot camp they must listen to what their body needs and then simply join in again with the rest of the class when they're ready. It's important not to rush through the poses without giving ourselves time to connect with our body and notice how it feels.
This enables us to begin to appreciate our body and become happier with how it looks and feels. Not just because yoga can help us to lose weight, sometimes that’s not enough. It's important for us just to feel happy about our body to learn to love our body.

When we're connected to our bodies we learn to love our body.  We want to do things to nourish and take care of it. Without realising it, we start to eat better, rejecting foods that make us feel bad and choosing foods that make us feel healthy and good. 
Yoga helps us to become more tuned in to what our body needs and can affect our appetite and how much we eat. That’s why as we practice yoga more often, we can begin to make healthier eating choices without a second thought. This in turn can lead to easier weight loss without the need to diet or count calories,

Thursday, 25 June 2015

CULTIVATING CONNECTION WITH OURSELVES & OTHERS

Do you ever feel isolated and alone – like no one knows you’re here? Do you ever feel separate and apart? Do you ever feel completely connected and surrounded by rich, nourishing relationships?

Whether your answer is yes or no, my next ONE DAY YOGA RETREAT on Saturday September 12th in the rural setting of The Chilterns Hills may be for you.

In the morning session our focus will be on grounding, feeling connected to every part of the body. Exploring our relationship with ourselves as a means to develope relationships with us.

We’ll move through centring, meditation and after a wonderful lunch and walk in the pretty South Buck  countryside we will return for some restorative poses and a long yoga nidra designed to help further explore our relationship with connection – to ourselves and to others – in a safe, supportive way.

For more information see www.elisawilliamsyoga.com