Headstand – Sirsasana

Many people find that the Sirsasana posture helps relieve stress. As you focus your mind and body, controlling your breathing to be able to maintain this pose, you’ll be setting your daily cares aside. The increased blood supply to your brain can help clear your mind so you see things with increased clarity.

If you want to learn to headstand, working with a really experienced yoga teacher like Shaz (pictured above) is the safest and best approach. A good teacher knows when you have enough core and upper body strength to maintain the pose, will teach you safe progressions to help you gain sufficient strength, and can help you find alternative techniques, if necessary.

You may expect the arms to take a lot of the strain and pressure in this pose but experienced yoga practitioners load the head and neck with roughly 40-48% of their body weight when performing a headstand.

It helps to think of the pose as three distinct movement phases. The neck or cervical vertebrae is at its most vulnerable while you lift your legs into the posture. Technique is extremely important at this point: the safest way to master this balancing act is to use your core muscles to lift both legs in a slow and controlled manner. When exiting the posture, take care to use the same type of slow and controlled movement.

You’ll certainly feel a great sense of achievement when you can stay stable and secure in this pose and you will certainly see the world from a different angle!

Sirsasana isn’t the type of posture we recommend doing at home, unless you are already adept at it. Quite apart from the potential strain on the body, spare a thought for your ornaments and furniture! If you live in the Cheadle area and want to learn yoga with us, why not visit our studio? Check out our full timetable here.

As we always say, please consult your health care professional before starting any new type of exercise.

Inner Happiness

“To find inner bliss and happiness through yoga, learn to accept things as they are by changing your thoughts.”
– Debasish Mridha

The hot yoga studio is my happy place: it’s there I can challenge myself to be happy with who I am and what I can do.

There, I can share my achievements with others who celebrate with me, rather than compete against me.

It’s there I feel grateful for what I can do physically, and there I feel humble for the emotional support I get from the people around me.

It is the place where I’ve learned to accept my limitations and appreciate my abilities.

Five Things We Love About Hot Yoga Classes

The heat

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? In your first few classes, the heat may not seem like the blessing it is. Before long, you’ll find yourself loving the heat and enjoying (perhaps even craving) its effects on the body.

Learning control

All forms of yoga emphasise mind and body working smoothly together. Hot Yoga is self-paced, so we are always in control, learning to sense when we can push and when we should rest. As you maintain the hold in a challenging position you never imagined you’d do, you’ll feel how much stronger and better balanced your body has become.

The energy

In our demanding world where energy is a precious resource, it’s good to be able to recharge. The less we do, the less we feel like doing. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits with the best intentions. Exercise turns this negative cycle on its head because the more energy we expend through exercise, the more our bodies can do over time.

Camaraderie

Many people think of yoga as a solitary, serious exercise, but in a class, it’s far from that. An inspirational teacher passes her energy and enthusiasm on to students, and in turn, they help boost each other.

The afterglow

After a good hot yoga session, you’ll feel the same buzz of collective achievement you experience with team sports. Ever watched the winning football team at the end of the Champions League final jumping up and down together holding the cup? Expect that kind of feeling – not so intense, of course, but every time – you’re never on the losing team with yoga.

Sanctuary for the Soul

When life gets busy or stressful take control with yoga. The space on your mat is the perfect space to leave all your worries and concentrate on yourself and your practice.

It’s a kind of sanctuary for the soul, a place where the answers can come and you can invest time and energy into your mind and body. Yoga can literally transform your body. Tight, tense muscles relax in the gorgeous heat of the hot yoga studio and busy, clouded minds find peace and stillness in the relaxation.

Our Style of Yoga – Vinyasa Flow

We love to go with the flow. Our yoga is a modern style of movement to fantastic sound tracks designed to energize, challenge and relax, all at the same time. Whatever your fitness goals, we can help and support you in your journey to achieve and eventually exceed them.

Our sequences flow with the breath. One sequence you’ll often experience when you practice with us is sun salutation early on in the class to help you warm up and connect with your breathing. This close connection between movement and breathing is an important feature of our style of yoga: vinyasa flow yoga. Poses flow seamlessly into each other in a logical way allowing for progression and success.

This style suits us perfectly because it allows a large range of options and postures to accommodate everyone, including total beginners and people with joint issues, more advanced and experienced athletes at the peak of their fitness and those working to regain fitness following an injury.

Yoga naturally helps muscles develop an extremely high level of static strength. Our sequences vary from fast paced ones to much slower ones, and contain isometric muscle contractions to challenge your fitness further. Isometric muscle contractions happen when your muscles are working hard but are not changing in length or creating a lot of movement at the joints. This allows the muscles to strengthen without placing stress on the joints which is one of the reasons yoga can be so helpful for people with joint issues and athletes recovering from injury.

Is our style of vinyasa flow yoga for you? Well, the only way to find out is to try it and see! If the first class you found doesn’t suit your style or your psyche, move on. Not all studios are the same. Keep trying different teachers and yoga styles until you find a combination you have a great connection with.

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Yoga and Hypertension

So why is yoga so good for your health? Well, according to the British Heart Foundation an inactive person spends on average 38% more days in hospital than their active counterparts. Yoga is a fantastic way to make movement a bigger part of your lifestyle.

A recent study has found that yoga can help improve hypertension (blood pressure). Blood pressure is the measure of pressure exerted on the artery walls as blood flows through them and round your body. The highest number is the systolic pressure and this is when the left ventricle is just about to contract and force oxygen rich blood out of the heart. The bottom number (the diastolic phase) is when the heart is relaxed and refilling with blood.

High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or higher

Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 and 120/80

Blood pressure

It’s been estimated that 40% of the adult population are hypertensive and that figure increases with age. The problem is that it is a silent disease that you won’t know about until something happens or until you have a routine check up.

If you suspect your blood pressure may be too high or too low, get your pressure checked by a health professional, or invest in a good blood pressure monitor.

Lifestyle changes can help control and manage your blood pressure and if action is needed, one of the recommendations is likely be to increase your levels of physical activity. Yoga is a great option as the movement, the meditation and the breathing exercises can all help to regulate your blood pressure.

It’s important to choose a reputable yoga studio with a great teacher who will be able to help and advise you. Always let your teacher know about any health concerns. Some postures are not recommended for people suffering with blood pressure issues but, as always, it’s possible to adapt a yoga session to suit your individual needs.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme. Yoga or any other activity should never be a substitute for consulting your health practitioner. 

And the All Time Classic Yoga Pose has to be…

Adho Mukha Svanasana

This classic yoga pose is fantastic for increasing your flexibility in your shoulders and hamstrings. One of the inversion poses, it’s also good for increasing the blood supply to your brain making this a very strengthening and invigorating pose.

There are a few adaptations you can make if this pose is too strong for you. It’s fine to bend the knees or you could opt for puppy dog pose, where you are kneeling. This takes some of the intensity of the pose away but keeps the super shoulder stretch. Your eye gaze (drishti) depends on where your heels are in this pose: if your heels are down, your eye gaze should be towards your navel; if your heels are lifted, your eye gaze is towards the back of the mat.

This pose often features in sun salutations as a key part of this dynamic, fluid, warm sequence of postures. It’s probably the pose that most people are familiar with since it energizes the body, helping to calm and focus the mind. You will feel an amazing stretch whilst you strengthen the arms and legs.

Some purists have specific ideas about the correct way to perform this pose but for us it is very much about listening to your body, finding that connection with movement, feeling the joy of exercise and being totally at one in the moment as you lift your hips up, straighten your legs and push your heels to the floor. With your palms pressing into the floor and your fingers spread you can allow your chest to move towards your thighs.

Remind yourself to be kind in your postures. Celebrate what you can do and don’t get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect posture: remember it’s about what is right for you at any given moment in time.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a great way to get to know your body and find what works best for you. We always suggest that you allow an expert to help and guide your practise, taking into account your physical make up – the length of your long bones, the amount of flexibility at your joints, and the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments.

If you live in easy reach of our hot yoga studio in Lancashire, why not join us for a few sessions so we can help you make the most of your genetics?

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

Looking After Your Yoga Mat

There are lots of different yoga mats on the market and, although there’s no right or wrong selection, some will suit you better than others. Don’t leap into your purchase – just as it makes sense to audition your hot yoga studio, a little research beforehand will help you find a mat in your price range that suits your particular needs, preferences and style and suits your pocket.

Some mats have a lifetime guarantee but every mat will benefit from some care and attention to make sure it lasts the distance. Each type has a recommended treatment method to keep it in tip top condition – check the manufacturer’s instructions for details.

Hot yoga brings its own mat care requirements. In the lovely studio heat you will definitely find yourself sweating, which will leave a salty residue on your mat.

It’s may be tempting to leave your mat rolled up in the boot of the car and forget about it from one session to the next. But just as you can’t leave your gym kit rolled up in the back of the car from session to session and expect it to be fresh as a daisy for your next session, it’s the same for your mat.

We suggest that you get into the habit of washing the mat down after each use with warm water and a soft cloth, then leave it to dry naturally, unrolled. The minute or so it takes to do this will repay you, making sure the mat can do its job when you next practise.

There are plenty of commercial mat cleaning sprays on the market. Some of us make our own natural cleaner by shaking water and cider vinegar with a couple of drops of essential oils, such as lavender or tea tree oil. Before you use a commercial spray or your own blends, double check what your mat is made out of, and the care recommendations as some cleansers could affect the mat’s lifespan.

Hot yoga has extra requirements to factor in when choosing a mat. You’ll need a grippy mat to absorb the moisture and stop you sliding during the postures. One option for hot yoga is to opt for a mat towel to put over your mat. There are some good ones on the market with little gripers on one side to help stop you slipping and sliding. These are easy to clean too – most can go in the washing machine.

One way to put your investment in a yoga mat into perspective is to consider how much you are prepared to pay for trainers. After all, your yoga mat is your space – your oasis. Some people go so far as to think of it as their sanctuary: a place where they can leave all the stresses and strains of their daily life behind as they invest time and energy into creating a healthy body, mind and spirit.