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.

Yoga Your Way to a Healthy, Strong Spine!

Several years ago, I had a back injury and was diagnosed with a crumbling spine. I’ve always enjoyed exercise and have spent many years teaching in the fitness industry and training for my own enjoyment. As I lay on the trolley in Accident and Emergency I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without training and teaching.

It took quite a while for the pain to subside and during that time I had lots to reflect upon. Would it be the end of my career? Would I be in chronic pain all my life with reduced mobility?

I started to think about the things I enjoyed most – and got the most pleasure out of teaching. This was when the dream for my own yoga studio started to emerge.

Practising yoga has been my lifeline back to health, especially so in my hot yoga studio where flexibility is greatly enhanced in the hot environment. I’ve learned to manage my back injury, paying attention to the things that irritate it and the things that strengthen it. This raised awareness helps me demonstrate and teach at the level I do.

I’m not saying that yoga will work for everyone, but if you can find a great yoga teacher near you, you might be amazed, as I was, at the progress you can make and the reduction in pain it is possible to achieve. If you train with an expert who can quickly see exactly what you need to do and who will check your alignment in each posture, within weeks you will notice a difference.

The posture above is a seated twist or rotation called Ardha Matsyendrasana in Sanskrit or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. It’s one of many great postures for energising the spine and increasing flexibility in the shoulders and neck. Traditionally this pose is thought to destroy deadly diseases and awaken the energy at the base of your spine.

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

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.

Want to Lose Weight but not Sure Where to Start?

Thinking about a lifestyle change? Want to lose weight but not sure where to start? Been on unsuccessful diets before that didn’t work? These are a few of our top tips:

  • Think about what to eat and when to eat it

Plan your meals in advance. Have the right things in your fridge and store cupboard, remove the temptations and the habit calories – 3 biscuits with a hot drink when you get in from work. If you prepare you stand a better chance of being successful. Plan your snacks and have them there ready, so when the adverts come on you reach for an ounce of almonds or some carrot sticks and a healthy dip instead of the supersize bag of sharing crisps that isn’t actually designed for you to share! Think about some healthy swops, something you can take to work for your mid-morning snack to avoid temptation when your blood sugar levels start to plummet and someone at work has brought celebratory cakes in.

  • Think about increasing your activity levels

Find something you love doing. Obviously for us that is hot yoga but for you it might be walking to work when the weather is glorious. Taking the dog that little bit further on your nightly walk. Planning a bike ride at the weekend with the kids instead of the trip to the cinema with the giant popcorn bucket and the fizzy drinks. If it is a walk in the park at weekend you are on a double bonus. Weight bearing exercise increases bone strength and even better, exercise in sunlight helps to synthesise that much needed vitamin D for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of calcium and phosphate. Without these our bones can become soft and weak and leave us at risk of things like osteoporosis. Fresh air, exercise and keeping hydrated with water instead of fizzy pop or sugary hot drinks will make a massive difference physically and mentally.

  • Think about your sleep pattern

Now this might sound extremely strange to you but getting enough quality sleep plays a massive part in weight loss. Firstly, if you have a restless, interrupted night’s sleep just try and be aware of how you feel and what you do the next day. Studies have shown that people who haven’t had enough sleep spend the next feeling shattered and hungry. When monitored closely they tend to eat more, make poor food choices and emotionally eat more calories than people who have had a full, restful night’s sleep.

Why is this?

Well it’s all down to a hormone that you may or may not have heard about called ghrelin. This bad boy helps regulates your appetite. It sends messages to your brain when it thinks you need to eat, when you should stop burning calories and when you should store your energy – unfortunately as fat cells! When you sleep you don’t use a lot of energy, so you have low levels of this hunger hormone. People who don’t sleep well end up with too much of this hormone floating round their system telling their brain to take in some calories. In addition, sleepless and restless nights lead to high levels of stress hormones and also to resistance to insulin. Insulin is produced naturally in the body for most people and is the key that unlocks to cells to let the glucose in. One of the ways to increase insulin sensitivity and to promote great sleep quality is to exercise and for us that’s just got to be hot yoga!

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How To Prepare For Your First Hot Yoga Class

Before you arrive

Drink plenty of water before your class and bring some with you so you’ll stay hydrated.

It’s always wise not to eat a heavy meal before you exercise – we recommend you have a healthy meal or snack a couple of hours or so before you come to the studio. We’ll be sharing our top tips on nutrition in a future post.

Wear clothes you feel comfortable in – a baggy T-shirt or a crop top would be fine. Your choice!

If you have a yoga mat, bring it with you.

Allow extra time

Aim to arrive a bit earlier to your first class, so you can look round and get the feel of the studio, meet other participants, ask questions or raise any health concerns with your instructor.

Find a space

Ask where the instructor will be standing, then work out where you’ll feel most comfortable.

A position towards the front will give you a great view of the instructor, so you can copy their moves and check you are doing them correctly.

You may prefer to start on the back row – if that helps you to start off, go for it!

Everyone learns differently

No matter where you are, rest assured that you will get clear verbal cues telling you what to do, when.

If you’re a visual learner, you’ll get amazing demonstrations of your options: from simple poses, adaptations and modifications to the more advanced poses.

During the class

Yoga is not a competitive sport. Don’t feel you have to join in with every move. Listen to your body and pace yourself. In hot yoga classes, you’re always in control of your level of activity.

Relax, listen to the music and enjoy yourself. You’ll soon be making massive progress.

Before you know it, you will start to feel stronger, healthier and energised, ready to face whatever challenges come your way.

Book your class here

How to Find The Perfect Hot Yoga Class

We believe that the perfect hot yoga studio is a place you feel at home – where the atmosphere suits you and you feel part of a community. Somewhere people will pay you attention, care about your well-being and connect with you. 

Not all yoga classes are equally sociable, entertaining or lively. It’s great if you have the perfect class almost on your doorstep, but it can be worth travelling a little further to a special place.

And of course, it all depends on your personal exercise goals. A dedicated athlete looking for strength and conditioning may have different requirements to someone looking to improve their flexibility and range of motion. A serious yogi looking for the most pure and spiritual side of our practice might favour a formal style of studio. Even if you have very specific requirements, it often helps to keep an open mind. 

Try out classes at several studios to make sure the time you invest in your fitness is as rewarding as possible for body, mind and spirit. If you can find a class you really enjoy, you’re much more likely to stick with it and achieve your fitness goals.

Our studio is vibrant, lively, full of laughter, with people there to support you whatever your needs. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and have sometimes been described as zany. Many of the people who exercise with us are seeking to improve their overall fitness, balance and body tone or want to learn or refine hot yoga poses and have fun while they’re working out. Even our background music often receives rave reviews.

Whether you are just starting out, getting back into exercise for the first time in 40 years, or have specific medical conditions you’d like to improve, we can help. 

Only you know what type of fitness studio is right for you, but the good news is that there are plenty for you to try. If you live in or around the Stoke area, we hope you’ll come to one of our classes so you can find out how well we suit you. 

Book online here

The Science Behind Hot Yoga – Feel The Glow!

People often wonder what Hot Yoga means. Why would any form of yoga be any hotter than any other?

Good question!

You’ve heard how important it is for professional athletes to warm up before starting to exercise? Hot Yoga builds on the same science. 

Hot yoga classes are held in a warm room. The temperature varies from studio to studio but the basic idea is the same. When you exercise in a warm studio:

  • Your muscles become warmer and more pliable so you can achieve more.
  • Your body needs to work harder to maintain its optimum temperature and triggers natural mechanisms to cool itself down. The technical term for this is thermoregulation.
  • Your blood vessels go wider (dilate) allowing more oxygen and nutrients in, and letting more lactic acid out, helping to reduce fatigue. 
  • Your heart beats faster for a cardiovascular workout.
  • Blood comes to the surface of the skin so that heat can be lost. You start to sweat. Sweating is good for you. It’s our most natural way of cooling the body.
  • You’ll drink more – we recommend lots of water to replace electrolytes. Drinking water is the best way to detox as it flushes toxins from your system.

Repeated sessions of hot yoga workouts help tone your body, make it more flexible, more resilient and stronger. 

Most of all, it’s fun. You’ll feel energised as you enjoy the release of those feel-good hormones, endorphins, that give you that yoga high.

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