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.

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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.

Balance of the Day, Tree Pose

What an amazing balance this is! It might seem challenging if you’re new to yoga, but one of our roles is to show you how to adapt poses to suit your body, mood and experience level.

Once you’ve totally grounded your standing leg and fixed your eye gaze (drishti) in tree pose, you can experiment with style. Toes on the floor might be best for you, or you might be feeling extremely stable and ready to progress to placing your foot below your knee. Had an ace day and feeling steady as a rock? Brace your foot against your upper inner thigh as I’m doing, then breathe into Tree Pose.

Eagle Pose, the Barometer of My Day

It’s hard to pin down my favourite pose – it varies depending on the day, the emotion, the mood and the music.

But if I had to choose my favourite of the moment, it would be the Eagle Pose. There’s just something about tying yourself in knots that appeals! Eagle Pose, for me, leads to so many different options. However flexible I’m feeling, I can always challenge myself to feel that amazing stretch across the shoulders and enjoy the precarious nature of the balance. It’s a fitness barometer – I can tell what my day has been like from this pose and then I can work to unwind and de-stress if necessary.

Let us know what your favourite pose is by voting here:
What is your favourite standing strength pose?

What To Expect After A Hot Yoga Session

You will notice quite a few things after your first few hot yoga classes, apart from feeling the glow of exercise.

Your heart rate will be higher than normal. Around 72 beats per minute is normal for most folk but, during a hot yoga session, this will climb to about 150 beats per minute to put you in that fat burning zone we mentioned in an earlier post. Your heart is a special type of muscle and, like all muscles, when you exercise them, they grow stronger and more efficient. This is exactly what will happen to your heart.

Straight after class your blood pressure might be slightly elevated. Your muscles have needed more oxygen to work and this has caused an increased blood supply to travel through your arteries and veins. The smooth muscle fibres of the blood vessels walls will have worked hard to ensure you have all the oxygen you need. Again this is a good thing – if you keep coming regularly, you might experience an overall reduction in your blood pressure as your body adapts and grows stronger.

You will feel more flexible. Your tendons and ligaments will have become pliable in the gorgeous heat of our studio and this will increase the range of movement you can get at your joints. Over time, as your muscles strengthen, this is going to really help your health and well-being.

You will notice your posture improve. Our members who have joint problems have reported a reduction in pain and the amount of medication they need and you may find you start to experience the same thing.

Your muscles will be more pliable too. If you’ve not exercised for a while your muscles might feel different as there will be some tiny tears in the muscle fibres. While this might sound shocking, it’s nothing to worry about: this is nature’s way of helping the muscles grow stronger. An increase in lean muscle mass gives lots of important health benefits.

Keep coming to classes and in a few weeks’ time you will most likely notice that clothes fit better as you lose inches. People will start to comment on how well you look. Psychologically this gives most people a lift in mood and a boost in confidence as well as in energy levels.

Most importantly of all, you’ll start to understand why we love hot yoga so much. Find a studio and give it a try – your body will thank you for it!

As always, please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on a new exercise programme.

Yoga and Pregnancy

Sadly, you will not be able to practice in a hot yoga studio during pregnancy. Studies have shown that overheating can cause problems for the foetus especially in the first few months.

Once you have had your six week check-up after having your baby, and have been medically cleared to come back to hot yoga, a specialist programme will help get you back to your pre-baby weight and fitness levels.

Adele, who teaches at Bolton Hot Yoga is a mum of three and ideally placed to understand the joys and challenges you’re experiencing. She says that hot yoga helped give her time for herself, while increasing her stamina to deal with the demands of her little ones.

So if you’ve recently had a baby, give hot yoga sessions a try. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced practitioner, we feel sure you’ll love the feeling of well-being hot yoga gives.

Yoga during pregnancy

While you are pregnant, other styles of yoga can be wonderful. A lot of postures help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which will be a distinct advantage during and after pregnancy.

We recommend that you consult your yoga teacher as soon as you know you are pregnant. This is because some poses are not recommended during pregnancy and these will change as you move through each trimester. Your teacher should be able to show you ways to modify poses to suit every stage of your pregnancy so that you can get the health benefits associated with yoga without any adverse side effects or discomfort.

For example, postures that raise abdominal pressure should be avoided and forward folds might need to become flat back extensions. A good yoga teacher will advise you and check your technique to make sure both you and your baby are practising safely.

The hormone (relaxin) that works to allow the uterus to grow and expand with your baby also affects your ligaments and tendons, which become more stretched and relaxed. As your baby grows, the bump may get in the way of some postures. You will find that your centre of gravity is affected: a slightly wider base will help with your balance.

Yoga helps you feel connected to your body, and promotes mental relaxation too. The concentration on breath control will also really help, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Whether you’re pregnant, trying for a baby, or getting back in shape after giving birth, we wish you good luck and happiness.

As always, please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on a new exercise programme.

Yoga, Energy Systems and the Fat Burning Zone

All movements require energy and, as we mentioned in earlier posts, food provides it. The amount of energy needed and how that energy is released from food depends on the intensity of the movement and its duration – in the simplest terms, what we do and how long we do it for. There are three energy systems and your body switches between them.

While this might sound quite technical, getting to the nitty gritty of what’s going on when your body exercises will help you make informed choices about weight management.

Aerobic Energy System

Marathon runners who are moving at a steady pace for several hours will use their aerobic system to produce large amounts of energy. They learn to breath efficiently, taking in plenty of oxygen which combines with glycogen and fatty acids to forge a long-term energy system that will last for ages. Once the glycogen stores in muscles are used up, the body will switch to burning fat. Marathon runners tend to be very lean.

Anaerobic Energy System

If the exercise is more intense, your body needs to produce energy quickly, so it turns to the anaerobic system which uses glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. Your body can’t wait for oxygen to arrive, so it cracks on without it, but in doing so creates a waste product called lactic acid. If you’ve ever felt an intense, burning sensation in your muscles during exercise, this is caused by lactic acid building up. Eventually, if you keep working as intensely, your muscles will tire.

Creatinine Phosphate Energy System

Unless you’ve studied sports science, you’ve probably not heard of this energy system. It also releases energy without oxygen and fuels our bodies in the moments when they start or make sudden, explosive movements. Sprinters call this energy into play when they drive off the blocks.

Although the creatinine phosphate energy system releases power that will only last a matter of seconds, that’s long enough to make sure you have an immediate source of energy.

Energy Systems in Yoga

In our style of hot yoga – which combines flowing and dynamic movements with intense poses held for what can feel like ages – you will naturally move through these energy systems. All three will be used in varying amounts, depending on the intensity level.

The fantastic news is you will quickly use up the glycogen stored in your muscles and move into burning fat for energy. You’ll spend the main part of the class in that fat burning zone.

This is where the idea of informed choices kicks in. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, you’ll want to take in extra food afterwards to replace the stores lost.

If you’d like to lose some weight, the good news is that your hot yoga session has increased your body’s need for food during the day. Combined with a calorie restriction plan – whatever type works for you – this means you’ll start to see results more quickly.

We plan to write more about diet and nutrition in a future post. Please consult your doctor before embarking on a new diet or exercise regime. If you’re interested in finding out more about hot yoga, check out our post – How To Find The Perfect Hot Yoga Class.

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Yoga for Cyclists

If you love cycling, you’ll be familiar with the feel-good factor exercise creates: hot yoga takes this to another level.

Cyclists use some muscles much more than others. Ideally, the ones used most become extremely strong and efficient. Our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt to the demands placed on them by training, but cycling for long periods can put our bodies at risk. Core muscles aren’t engaged equally well on long rides when we spend hours in the saddle, hunched over handlebars in an unnatural position. Hamstrings become tight. Hip flexors and glutes don’t fire as efficiently. These can all generate problems with our posture, leaving us prone to injury.

That’s why most cyclists will benefit from the corrective powers of yoga sessions. Hot yoga does not only help with injury prevention but has other important benefits too.

Whatever your distance or training goal, you’ll achieve it so much more quickly if you invest part of your training time in yoga. Imagine how much more efficiently you will be able to cycle with a strong core, flexible spine, with your muscles perfectly balanced and firing effectively. Yoga can help you become much more aerodynamic on the bike. You’ll transfer power more efficiently from your legs to the pedals, control your breathing and maximise your heart rate. Last but not least, a calm, focused mind is much better placed to make the fast paced decisions needed on our roads to stay safe.

In our studio, we enjoy working with a great mix of people. Our style challenges you to achieve your best, whatever your level of fitness. Where else will you find endurance athletes, cyclists and triathletes training for performance alongside beginners? The great thing about hot yoga is that each person will be able to find what they are looking for by adapting the movements to suit their needs.

So whatever your aims, whether that’s being first in your age category at a national sprint triathalon, cycling for charity in the Manchester sunshine with Cycling for The Christie, or just getting to and from your destination, please consider adding yoga in to your fitness routine.

To find out more, visit our home page or feel free to get in touch if you have any specific questions.

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