Each week in my yoga classes in Bristol, I see people come in to class feeling tired, perhaps agitated by their day, and usually more than a little lack lustre. When they leave, there is a noticeable difference in how they are. They are usually settled, calmer, and more comfortable in themselves. A better version of themselves. They have changed.
During the class we move the body, opening, expanding, stretching, challenging, engaging and working the entire body in some way. We breathe deeply for the full class, slowing and extending the breath where possible. And we try to focus on ourselves and our breath.
I came across a fascinating talk by Amy Cuddy recently called 'Your body language shapes who you are'.
Amy is a social psychologist. She researches body language at Harvard Business School and she was interested in researching how body language not only effects other people's perceptions of us, but how it actually effects our own body chemistry.
In her research she concluded that by standing up tall with the feet apart and with the arms raised and open for only 2 minutes daily, we can raise our testosterone levels (dominance hormone supporting a confident outlook), and reduce cortisol levels (stress hormones). Simply by changing our body position in this way, we are altering our hormones and brain chemistry. We are changing ourselves to not only feel but become more powerful, confident and laid back.
In yoga classes it is very likely that you'll do a lot of arm raising like she describes, standing with the feet apart, reaching up, opening up. Also combining this with bending forwards, twisting and so on. So her research suggests that we are actually changing ourselves and our hormones in a very real way by doing this.
I took two things from Amy Cuddy's inspiring talk
- firstly, that yoga postures seem very aligned to the body changes she talks about, and that by doing them you'll actually become more confident and laid back.
- and secondly, that only a little practice, taken regularly, can make a big difference!
Pass it on...
I love TED Talks
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Bristol Yoga Trail on Saturday
Over 20 FREE yoga classes across 6 locations in Bristol! Saturday was a chance to explore the wonderful variety of yoga available in our city. We are lucky to have such a rich array of yoga teachers, yoga classes and yoga participants and there really is something for everyone, new and old. We were thrilled to welcome so many students to YogaSpace on Saturday who were keen to explore our classes. We are very sorry to those who couldn't fit in as a couple of the classes were completely packed and we just couldn't fit anymore in! We loved the range of students, from complete beginners to some who had been practicing for 25+ year. And we were inspired by the open questions and range of experiences that you all came with.
We would love to welcome back students new and old to yoga classes in the meantime, and we very much look forward to next years' Bristol Yoga Trail!Back to Bristol YogaSpace homepage.
Yoga practice isn't just confined to the mat. The ancient discipline suggests bringing intention to how you conduct yourself - including what you consume. So choosing to eat foods that benefit you both inside and out, are part of practicing yoga throughout your day. But how to do this and still enjoy what you eat?I love quinoa (pronounced 'kin wa') which is a grain originally from South America. My friends are bored of me saying how great it is and coming up with new and interesting ways of eating it, so I thought I'd share my favourite recipe with you in case you hadn't discovered it yet. It also happens to be the International Year of Quinoa as designated by the United Nations as it is so easy to grow and so nutritious. It isn't just a grain, it is a seed packed full of protein, calcium and all things good.
Its delicious (when spiced up a little), nutritious, good for you and our rather lovely planet. Anyway, jump on the band wagon and try it!
~~~Spicy Quinoa Salad1 cup of uncooked quinoa 2 cups of boiling water
2 cloves of garlic1 red pepper1 cup of cooked sweetcorn1 tin of black or adzuki (or any other) beans
drained1 tsp hot sauce or chopped chilli 1/2 tsp cumin powder2 tbsp lime juice2 tbsp olive oilsalt and pepper to tastehandful of fresh chopped corianderStep 1: Cook the quinoa. Add the quinoa and boiling water in a pan, put the lid on and simmer for 10 mins, then turn off the heat and leave for 10 more mins with the lid on. Then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.Step 2: While the quinoa is cooking, lightly saute the onion, garlic and red pepper, and cook the sweetcorn.Step 3:
Mix together the sweetcorn, beans, hot sauce, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and coriander.Step 4: Once the quinoa has cooled enough, mix all together in a big bowl and enjoy!
Check out this great quinoa recipe site www.LoveQuinoaRecipes.com
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The Bristol yoga community are joining together on September 14th 2013 for our first annual Bristol Yoga Trail! An open day of free yoga classes and events across 6 locations in Bristol. It's a wonderful chance to join in and explore the different yoga centres in Bristol, try different yoga styles and yoga classes. Or attend a talk or see a yoga film later at YogaWest in the evening. All are welcome and the classes will be free and open to all levels and abilities of fitness. No need to book, simply join in and enjoy!
There is Hot Yoga with Ed at YogaFurie, Iyengar Yoga with YogaWest, and a mix of different yoga styles at Bristol City Yoga, Wilder Studios and Yogasara. And we at Bristol YogaSpace are offering 3 viniyoga classes and a hatha yoga class for you to enjoy. Plus if you visit all 6 locations in the day, and get your leaflet stamped at each centre, you can get a free yoga class at the centre of your choice.
Save the date and tell your friends:
Bristol Yoga Trail, September 14th 2013For more info and the schedule of free yoga classes and events visit here:www.bristolyogatrail.wordpress.com#bristolyogatrailBack to the Bristol YogaSpace homepage
As we set our good intentions for the new year, it is sometimes helpful to get some inspiration...
The Dalai Lama shared some wonderful advice on how to live in the new millenium, and I love to read them at the start of each year.
Enjoy in a short video or read below!
The Dalai Lama's 18 rules for living
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it
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I went to a lovely yoga workshop this weekend where we were invited to rediscover the spring in our feet, ankles and knees.
As someone who has struggled with dodgy knees in the past, and who works hard to keep my knees and legs strong to avoid the pain that creeps in if I don't, I was particularly interested in what the teacher said... that if your feet aren't animated and vibrant, your ankles and knees and the whole rest of your posture can suffer.I looked down at my feet, trained from years of yoga to be more alive than many I see, to notice that they are rather less than the vibrant source of life that they could be.We were invited to try this... stand up tall, but without locking out any part of the body, you should still be able to move through the shoulders, knees and ankles. Then bend the knees just a little, and try lifting the heels of the ground. Perhaps one, then the other, and then both if your balance permits. Try springing a bit, staying on the balls of the feet, sort of bouncing, feeling the feet come alive. The strength and activity required will soon become obvious, you might find you tire quickly, or if you are strong, you might start to feel more alive and springy after doing this for a few minutes.
Allow the spring to move up through the body, the legs, hips, spine, and shoulders and neck responding and working with the springy balance. Our foot foundationThe feet are the foundation for most of us. They are the basis for standing and for supporting the whole rest of our posture. They are the source of our balance and connection to the rest of our bodies.
They are packed full of nerves, alert to many sensations once we pay attention. Our focus and awareness can be heightened by developing our attention back into our feet. To neglect them is tantamount to letting the garden get rather weedy so you can't see the ground anymore. For those with disengaged or even flat feet, there are a few postures that will be great for bringing them to life. You could try...- Tadasana (Mountain Pose, arms and heels lifted)- Utkatasana (Squatting)- or Vrksasana (Tree Posture, one legged balance) to reenergise yourself from the feet up and reinvigorate them back into
focus.See this link for a few more ideas:http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/therapeutic_focus/t_flat_feet
(although some of the more advanced postures I would avoid without supervision)Guess what my classes will be exploring this week... Back to YogaSpace homepage