Change Your Life for the Better with Exercise

The short term and long term benefits of exercise include:

  • Improving your mood with naturally produced dopamine and serotonin
  • Long lasting improvement in your brain functioning
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Quicker reaction times
  • Better memory function, including improved long-term memory
  • Stimulating the development of brand new brain cells
  • Reversing the cognitive decline from ageing

How much exercise should I aim for?

Experts suggest we exercise 3 to 4 times each week for at least 30 minutes, keeping our heart rates in the heart health zone. Just like your five (portions of fruit and vegetables) a day, your four (sessions of exercise) a week are designed to make sure your body gets the things it needs to work well.

The heart health zone helps you understand how hard you should train – pushing yourself enough to make a difference while keeping sufficiently below your maximum safe heartbeat rate.

Your personal recommended rate depends on your age and your current fitness level. Calculate your own heart rate training zone here.

What sort of exercise works best?

We believe in holistic exercise for mind, body and soul. Exercise sessions can and should make you feel happy, not just in the glow of achievement afterwards, but while you’re doing it.

We wouldn’t be without our regular hot yoga sessions, as the heat of the studio and intensity of the exercise helps us stay in our heart rate sweet spots. Any of your favourite sports and activities can count towards one of your four a week, providing the intensity is within your recommended zone.

22 Signs That You Should Be Doing Hot Yoga

  1. A really good, body and mind workout would be great but you don’t know how to fit it in a busy schedule
  2. You’ve heard a little about yoga and wonder what all the fuss is about
  3. You are struggling to justify buying that really nice pair of leggings you’ve seen
  4. Your current fitness regime is boring and you wish you could try something new
  5. You’d like to feel more in tune with your body and more at peace in your mind
  6. You think you ought to exercise more but don’t fancy doing it alone
  7. You love the heat and find a sauna invigorating
  8. You have a VERY stressful life or job
  9. Health and fitness seem like things other people are passionate about, not you
  10. You’re afraid you’re not bendy enough for yoga
  11. You enjoy the sense of well-being and adrenaline rush that exercise gives you
  12. You’re tired of feeling constantly tired
  13. You’ve tried several different ways to keep fit or lose weight, but have never found the right thing for you
  14. You have recently visited an elderly relative who has had a fall and don’t want to be in the same situation
  15. You find yourself always rushing from place to place and struggle to relax
  16. You secretly envy people who are strong, flexible and well balanced
  17. You’d prefer a holistic approach to keeping fit
  18. You’re happy to embrace who you are, but that doesn’t rule out being more active
  19. You wish you had more stamina
  20. Life is too serious and you want to have more fun
  21. Your best friend has taken up yoga and and you can’t help noticing she looks better for it
  22. You wish there was a simple way to feel better about your future

If two or more of these statements resonates with you, we believe you’d most likely benefit from Hot Yoga sessions. For more information on our classes, click here.

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.

Want a Strong Core? Try This!

If you’re dreaming of a six pack for summer or have visible abs as a long term goal, this is the exercise for you. It’s highly versatile, with so many options, so don’t think you need to start off with the pose I’m demonstrating here. But if you’re only going to try one exercise, the plank is definitely the one for you.

For this version, from a normal plank position, let your toes and hands take the weight while the back is held straight and perpendicular to the ground. Use your arms to lower your body close to the ground, keeping your elbows at 90 degrees. With practice you’ll be able to hold this challenging pose for longer, working your arms, legs, back and abs for that rippled effect.

If my version is too advanced, why not build your way up? Opt for straight arms, holding your body up for a count of ten. Try the exercise with your forearms resting on the mat, or start with your knees down. Build up the difficulty level slowly, holding the pose for a couple of seconds each time.

This is one of those mind over matter exercises as much as anything else. Your mind will try to persuade you to stop long before your body will give up on you.

That’s where fellow hot yoga practitioners come in handy. We understand what you’re going through and can offer support and coaching. Each studio is slightly different, but we firmly believe our motivational style is unique to our studio. We’ll have plenty of options to suggest, each tailored to your individual needs. We use music to help engage the mind and keep things moving along. Camaraderie and laughter always helps the session flow – the latter engages the abs for an added bonus!

The Sanskrit name for this pose is Chaturanga Dandasana and it’s unlikely you will hear it called by its English name (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). It’s a strong and powerful posture which will tone your whole body. It requires a great deal of strength to perform it correctly, and that’s where a great teacher is essential to advise and support you. This will help you get the most out of your practise without the risk of injury through poor alignment. This is actually a pose we don’t recommend you try at home on your own!

Our practise comes with a reminder that however much you exercise, unless you get your diet right at least 80% of the time, the benefit of all your hard work is going to be undermined. A holistic lifestyle change will help you eat more healthily, but still enjoy what you eat – we can help you find that balance.

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?

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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