Build your Confidence with Dolphin Pose!

Dolphins are amazing and this yoga pose is too, as it will challenge you mentally and physically. Dolphin pose is designed to open your shoulders and upper back, elongate your spine, stretch your hamstrings and build your upper body strength. It may look simple, but it calls on your concentration and willpower, especially towards that point towards the end of a session where your mind may tempt you to quit before your body is actually in need of a rest.

Dolphin pose is a great preparation for the build up to head stands and other inversions, boosting your confidence in what you can achieve. The strength you develop in your shoulders, back and deep core muscles will help you maintain your balance in a head stand – although this is definitely one to try under the careful and watchful supervision of a great yoga teacher!

A great addition to this pose is to lift one leg at a time high towards the ceiling or, if you need an easier option, try it using a yoga block between your hands.

Dolphins have a lifespan of up to 40 years and it can be the highlight of many peoples’ holidays to see them in the wild (kept in captivity without the freedom to wander the seas and rivers, they don’t survive anywhere near as long).Dolphins swimming.jpg Communicating with clicks, whistles and squeaks they use their fantastic sonar system to work out what is around them.

It seems fitting that the yoga pose named after them helps with proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense where it is in space.

The inputs and sensations that guide your sense of positioning come from sensory nerves in your muscles and tendons (also known as muscle spindles) that also protect you from damaging them by stretching too far. It’s usually a subconscious process, but Dolphin pose helps fine tune the senses by demanding you pay attention to what you are doing physically.

Our favourite dolphins are spinner dolphins whose acrobatic gymnastics include spins and leaps, taking full advantage of their incredible power and speed through the water. To help maximise your own energy, try a hot yoga class and experience the great sense of freedom and enjoyment that comes when you challenge your body and mind to explore new and exciting postures.

Dolphin jumping.jpg

If you’d like to get a better understanding of our philosophy of yoga, check out some of our most popular posts.

Camel

Ustrasana or Camel Pose is a fantastic pose that will strengthen your spine, engage your glutes and stretch your hamstrings. It will really increase your flexibility and mobility in your spine and prepare you for those deeper back bends.

While you’re learning, adapt this pose by tucking your toes under or using a block to support you. There’s no need to feel you need to go as far as I am: there are plenty of modifcations you can use to help develop your strength and flexibility.

Camel Pose is deeply energising. It creates space in the chest and allows you to really expand your lungs and increase your lung capacity. Make the most of this pose by breathing evenly and imagine the oxygen circulating round your body.

Crescent Lunge – What a Bind!

This fantastic stretch is technically a bound revolved crescent lunge. As you can see from the picture, the bottom hand reaches underneath to link with your other hand to really take the challenge of this pose to the next level. Your drishti or gaze can be down to the earth, facing forward or over your top shoulder.

It’s an amazingly satisfying posture to get into. Though it might not appear so at first glance, this pose opens your heart, stretches and elongates the spine and expands your chest to allow you to fill your lungs.

Part of the challenge in this pose is the strength and balance you need in your legs to be able to create a really stable base. Can’t quite reach? Not a problem! We’ll find a modification that is right for you, for example, by using yoga props or lowering to one knee.

Before you know it, you will find yourself in Parivrtta Baddha Anjaneyasana which is the Sanskrit name for this lovely posture – hope you enjoy it as much as we do! (Anjaneya means praise or salutation)

Practising Yoga Safely

This pose can help develop your fitness, but we always recommend that you work with a great yoga teacher if you want to attempt postures like this and many others we’ll mention on the blog. Your teacher should have the expertise to support and guide you and recommend safe postures for your body and experience level, and – just as importantly – to check your alignment once you are in pose. 

Restore your Composure with Pose of the Child

This restorative pose is perfect way to manage the hot conditions in our studio. It is our go-to resting position for those moments when we need to relax after some of the more demanding poses to help us regain our composure. It’s a great posture for relieving the stresses and strains that can build up in our bodies not just during the class, but from the day as a whole.

  • It gently releases the tension in your lower back
  • Extended child’s pose alleviates tension in the shoulders
  • It allows your parasympathetic nervous system to kick into gear
  • With wide knees, as in our picture above, it’s great for the hip flexors
  • It slows and calms the mind, especially with the forehead resting on the third eye

Many of us have busy everyday lives, juggling tasks and responsibilities and it can be tempting to try and push ourselves constantly throughout the day both physically and mentally. This pose is perfect for creating a balance, allowing the mind to clear while the body relaxes and recovers.

In order to get yourself into balasana (child’s pose), kneel down, sit back on your heels, and inhale as you lengthen your spine. As you breath out, fold from your hips and rest your head on the floor. Use a block for support if you find it more comfortable. You can then either place your arms by your sides with your palms facing upwards or extend your arms for a lovely shoulder stretch. Breathe evenly into the pose and enjoy the sense of release it brings as you finally have the time and space to calm and free your mind whilst relaxing your body.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on an exercise programme.

Mermaid Pose

Mermaids, with their amazing beauty, have long fascinated us, inspiring storytellers from ancient times through to Disney. The yoga pose that bears their name has similar grace and power.

If you’ve never experienced this pose, you can be forgiven for missing the similarities between it and a mermaid – unless these mythical sea creatures gained their mystical powers from underwater yoga (that might explain why they are so often pictured holding mirrors). Visitors to our studio may sometimes hear us singing, but perhaps not with the same quality as the mermaid’s song which is reputed to have the power to enchant anyone who heard it.

The mermaid pose is progression from the swan pose and has that same hip opening quality. Here you need a strong, stable base and, in order to avoid compressing the lower back, it’s essential to lift up from the pelvis and elongate the spine. After reaching back and hooking the foot into the crook of the elbow, lift your arm up and over to connect the fingertips.

Mermaid is an intense posture and stretches so many different areas as you breathe and relax into the pose. It’s a beautiful pose to perform. Like the mermaids, it can be elusive, especially at first, but it’s worth persisting if it appears to be out of your reach. A good yoga teacher has the expertise to help you into an adaptation of this pose so you can feel a similar sense of poise and achievement.

One option is to start in a 90:90 position with your legs supported by blocks and your fingertips on the ground. Within weeks your ability to balance will improve, giving you the confidence to go on to achieve your own personal best.

Hot yoga helps you build up strong core muscles which are needed to support the fantastic arch of the spine in this pose and to help prevent any compression of the lower back, giving you the flexibility needed to sustain advanced postures like the Mermaid.

Practising Yoga Safely

This pose can help remedy back pain and promote a healthy spine, but we strongly recommend that you work with a great yoga teacher if you want to attempt postures like the Mermaid and many others we’ll mention on the blog. Your teacher should have the expertise to recommend safe postures for your body and experience level, and – just as importantly – to check your alignment once you are in pose. Without this level of expertise to support and guide you, there is a danger that you’ll do yourself harm rather than good.

Mermaid-tail

 

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on an exercise programme.

 

Strengthen and Relax with the Sphinx Yoga Pose

The sphinx pose is designed to strengthen your glutes and the whole of your spine; increase the flexibility of your shoulders and open your chest. This lovely, gentle back extension is a perfect way to start your yoga journey.

Our daily lives often create tension in our bodies. Our shoulders and spines are particularly vulnerable when we spend too long without taking a break, hunched over a computer, sitting behind the wheel of a car, or doing physical work such as lifting or gardening. Yoga is a great way to loosen up and reinvigorate our bodies and minds.

The sphinx pose will not only relax tense muscles, but will get you ready for some fantastic postures, for example, preparing you perfectly for deeper backbends, if that’s your goal.

In ancient Egypt, sphinxes were thought to have human heads, the hind legs of a lion, ferocious strength and benevolent temperaments. You’ll find these mythical creatures guarding the entrances to royal tombs and temples.

The Sanskrit name of this energising pose is Salmba Bhujangasna.

How to do The Sphinx

Lying in a nice prone position, line up your elbows with your shoulders, roll your shoulders back and down, then inhale and lift your upper body, taking the crown of your head up to the sky.

If you’re not sure you’re doing the pose correctly, want to learn more, or prefer to exercise with a supportive group, call in at your local hot yoga studio where a community of likeminded people will welcome you.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on an exercise programme.

Swanning It Up!

The Swan Pose is fantastic for people who want to improve the flexibility in their hips and spine. The sanskrit name for this pose is Ek Pada Raja Kapotasana. This is a great example of the different styles of yoga you may meet as you explore the topic. In some styles, it’s called King Pigeon Pose because of the way it pushes the chest out. The emphasis might be slightly different, but once you are in pose it will feel very similar.

As always, there are many variations on this pose if you’d like to make it easier – or want more of a challenge!

To make it easier, adopt a 90:90 position with your legs. If that’s too demanding, use yoga blocks to support you. The best option is to work with a skilled teacher who can help you move though the variations. To challenge yourself more, reach behind for your ankle with one or both hands.

You’ll notice the eye gaze (drishti) is to the sky. Another way to make things less challenging in yoga is to alter your gaze – start by looking forward then shift your gaze as you feel more comfortable and ready to move on.

There’s so much you can do with this pose. To explore it in all its glory, head to your local yoga studio for expert advice and coaching to learn the progressions that are most suitable for your needs.

This pose not suitable for you? That may be the case if you have issues with your knees, hips or ankles – an excellent reason to discuss any health concerns with your yoga teacher. Try Eye of the Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana) instead… pictures and post to follow!

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.