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.

Extend Your Warrior

This strong posture will help you feel grounded and powerful. Feel the stretch from the tips of the fingers to the edge of your foot and see why this is such a popular choice in our classes.

You’ll find your length and alignment in this pose is enhanced by the hot yoga studio heat and by using the mirrors to check and refine your posture. Our talented teacher will remind you to push your weight evenly through your feet as you actively stretch and reach.

Done correctly, this pose has so many benefits: stabilising your shoulders and pelvis; mobilising and opening your hips; helping build strength and flexibility in your legs; and engaging those precious core muscles that will protect your spine.

This posture reminds us to rise up with strength and steadiness to challenge our physical limitations and turn them into personal achievements.

Want to challenge yourself more? A good teacher can adapt this pose to challenge even the strongest yoga warrior. The teacher’s talent lies in assessing the level of challenge needed, taking their students further than they thought possible, but at the right pace.

Want less challenge? That’s easy – we can suggest lots of progressions to help you start your yoga journey, but before you know it, with regular practice and expert help you will be well on your way to being the strongest warrior you can be.

If you’d like to learn more about hot yoga, use the tag cloud to browse through our earlier posts, or better still, come and join us.

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

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?

Yoga for that Summer Body

“Will I get abs?”

We often get asked this question and the simple answer is yes. Everyone has abdominal muscles, but often we hide them behind those-things-we-eat-but-know-we-shouldn’t-have!

If you’re curious about yoga, you’ll most likely have heard it strengthens your core, but may not have understood what this means. Your core is made up of eight muscles that work together to stabilise and control the force we produce in all our everyday movements.

People tend to try and train the superficial muscles (or abs, often mistakenly called a six pack) whilst forgetting about the deeper core muscles that hold everything together.

That’s where our style of yoga helps. By popular request at Bolton Hot Yoga we often have several tracks that concentrate on developing these deep core muscles alongside a balancing track to work the back muscles that are so important for core strength.

Too far away to come and feel the burn with us? We recommend that you look out for a local hot yoga studio as expert guidance really helps, but at a pinch, you could always put on your favourite piece of music, push back the furniture and try these at home. You could soon be well on your way to that summer beach body!

Clockwise, from the top left: nose to knee pose; bridge pose; side plank; plank; intense pose; chaturanga dandasana.

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

How to Recover After a Hot Yoga Class

Despite the blog title, expect to feel amazing after a hot yoga session: our class members often tell us how fantastic they feel. If you’re a fan of hot yoga, you’ll know exactly what we mean, but it’s not an easy sensation to explain to those who have never experienced it. Try to imagine a sense of achievement, the joy of being in tune with your body, the buzz of having taken part in a great session, and a feeling of relaxation, all mixed together.

But there’s still work to be done. Your main priority afterwards will be to rehydrate. Hot yoga classes can be 36 degrees or more, with up to 80% humidity. Some people claim you can detox through hot yoga, but in fact your body has extremely sophisticated ways of dealing with toxins. They are processed mainly by the liver or the kidneys rather than being lost through sweat.

Your body, like you, is unique and the amount of electrolytes lost during a class varies from person to person. Electrolytes are the salts in your blood. Sweat tastes salty because of the sodium and chloride lost in it. You also lose low concentrations of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Ideally, these electrolytes will be swiftly replaced through your normal diet. We’ll share tips on eating well in another post. For example, a handful of heart-healthy almonds will provide magnesium, calcium and other nutrients such as vitamin E.

What’s certain is that everyone will need to rehydrate as quickly as possible. Some class members rehydrate with coconut water, a natural source of electrolytes with a neutral pH. There are a number of coconut waters on the market, with varying sugar contents. Some are extremely high in sugar which means that, along with that great taste, you’ll get a high calorie count so might want to limit how much you drink. You’ll be tired of hearing this, but always check the label, especially for anything you’re likely to consume regularly.

If you’re thinking about trying coconut water too, or want to see how the brand you prefer compares to others, check out these coconut water reviews.

You’re always welcome to bring your favourite drink along to your hot yoga session for some expert advice. One of the sports scientists in our class advises that just drinking plenty of water will be sufficient to replace the electrolytes you have lost during the class.

It’s fairly obvious that you will need to shower after a hot yoga session, and change out of your yoga kit, but also spare a thought for your yoga mat. It will also need to recover and dry out, so try to avoid keeping it rolled up in a bag. Follow the manufacturer’s advice for keeping it in great condition, ready for your next class.

During a hot yoga session, tie your hair back if it’s long enough to get in your way. We suggest you come to the class without make up – mascara halfway down your face is not a great look, not that we would bother! The good news is that the warmth of the room will naturally open your skin’s pores, so after the class is a great time to quickly cleanse and moisturise. This applies to men, just as much as women. You will not believe how great your skin will start to feel: that healthy glow of exercise tends to pay dividends for your complexion.

Some of the beauties of our classes are the tips and advice we get from each other. Our members come from different professions and walks of life and are happy to help and advise if required. For example, another of our members, an amazing hairdresser and colour specialist, reminds us that the heat can dry out some people’s hair. Use a good conditioner as part of your recovery routine if that applies to you.

After a class, you will be experiencing the afterglow of a job well done. Your body releases chemicals called endorphins during exercise and these natural, mood enhancing chemicals will help you feel amazing. They are one of the reasons yoga is so good for alleviating stress and anxiety, a topic we will cover in greater detail later on.

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Journey to Savasana

How hard is it to liberate your mind at the end of a hot yoga class when this has been the first moment you’ve had to yourself all week? Step away too quickly and your shopping list, what to cook for tea, how to entertain the kids on a wet weekend will all fly through your mind at the speed of light.

However much you try to unwind and refocus your breathing and centre yourself, you just can’t help it, can you – or can you? Is there a trick to carrying the relaxation you feel through to the rest of your life, or is it time to head for the showers?

Relaxation is a key part of the class. As the session draws to a close, it’s your opportunity to celebrate all your hard work and invest a few minutes to kick-start the recovery process.

This is where your body grows stronger and the benefits of your yoga session start to materialise. At Bolton Hot Yoga, we revitalise and reflect at the end of each class with a guided meditation. It doesn’t take long, it’s set to some great music and it’s designed to just give you enough time to cool down and recover.

Learning to focus on your breathing, to scan your body and check your posture all help you stay healthy. There is a traditional name for this part of the session – Savasana – often associated with adopting a relaxed posture, lying flat on your back. You’ll get yourself comfy in whatever position you find best – it may be sitting or in pose of the child – you choose. We’ll dim the lights, help you slow your breathing and allow you to finish off a great class in a quiet state of mind.

As with anything, the more you practise, the better at meditation you’ll get. As you feel those muscular tensions easing away from your body and find out how to free your mind, you will become calmer, more in the moment, and able to be more present in your daily life.

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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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