How to find the right yoga teacher and class?

Yoga Australia’s former vice president was on the opinion that the most important thing is finding the right teacher – someone you relate to, someone who’s professionally trained, who keeps up with professional development and has professional risk insurance.

In addition to finding the right teacher one also needs to consider the following:

  • Location of the class, close to home or work, ease of getting there,
  • Day and time of the class, it needs to fit in with your lifestyle,
  • The other yogis in the class.

In my case I didn’t need to do a research. My lower back problem led to a physiotherapist who, as a bonus, was also a yoga teacher. After a couple of private classes she encouraged me to join her yoga class. This was in 1986 (yes, a long time ago!) Through yoga I learnt to keep my back in working order.

Yoga teachers specialize in areas which are close to their heart i.e. cancer survivors, diagnosed with diabetes, pre-natal and post natal yoga, fat yoga, yoga for mental health management. For me it is seniors, using props and a bit slower pace than younger cohort.

Please see my bio: https://tranquability.com/about/

If you are over 50, senior, not so supple or a younger person wanting to give yoga a try – please contact me: https://tranquability.com/contact/

Yoga helps us to become a better version of ourselves!

Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis

The first time I had this health problem it was in 2008 after walking the cobble stoned streets of Quebec and recently (in the other foot) as a result of a lot of standing so I am experienced in the management of this condition. Daily exercises, over a 6-8 week period is likely to be the best cure.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a piece of strong, thick tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes, creating the arch of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain and can develop as a result of overstretching, overuse or a medical / structural condition of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is often associated with a heel spur, a spike of bone poking out from the heel bone, although many people have heel spurs without any pain.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by:

  • playing sports and doing activities that put stress on the heel bone, such as running, dance and aerobics,
  • being flat-footed or having high arches,
  • being middle-aged or older,
  • being overweight / pregnancy,
  • spending a lot of time on your feet,
  • wearing shoes with poor arch support or stiff soles,
  • having tight calf muscles.

How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you might have plantar fasciitis, they will probably ask you some questions, including asking you about your symptoms, the type of work you do and your lifestyle.

They will probably do a physical exam to check the arches of your feet and to see whether there is any redness, swelling, tenderness, stiffness or tightness and may refer you for an x-ray or ultrasound.

How is plantar fasciitis treated / managed?

Your doctor may initially recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • physiotherapy with specific stretching exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Exercises have been proven to improve symptoms in 80% of cases and they need to be performed 3 times a day, for 5 minutes at a time and continued for 6-8 weeks,
  • wearing shoes with good support, cushioning (heel pads) or wearing orthotics or heel cups,
  • an icepack applied to your foot for 10 to 20 minutes up to 4 times daily,
  • anti-inflammatories,
  • if the above measures do not work pain relief medication or steroid injection (which did not work for me).

Yogic management:

Check the soles & heels of your shoes. It will give you an indication whether your feet / heels turn in or out when you walk.

A neutral foot is one in which the heel bone (calcaneus) is vertical. This position of the foot enables healthy weight-bearing in both the inner and outer balls of the feet, as well as the inner and outer heels.

Feet veer from neutral in two primary ways:

  • the ankles can slope in toward each other, bringing the inner arches toward the floor (pronation); or
  • the ankles can slant away from each other, exaggerating the inner arches (supination). This tendency is common among people with high arches or tight  Achilles tendons.

Poses which are beneficial in the management of Plantar Fasciitis:

Stretching the back of the leg before getting out of bed in the morning or after extended sitting. Use a belt or rolled towel, can be in laying on the floor or sitting on the floor.

Runners (calf) stretch, start with the injured leg behind (use a wall or a fence for support):

Stretching the sole of the foot (tabletop, toes tucked under):

Rolling the injured foot on iced water bottle:

The secret sound of AUM

Chanting the sound of AUM in yoga classes is popular. Have you ever wondered what does it mean?

AUM is considered to the symbol of divinity. It is a sacred mantra and is to be repeated constantly. It is called pranava, which stands for praise of the divine and fulfilment of divinity.

What are the benefits of chanting the AUM?

Practicing AUM clears the blockages in the vocal cords and throat chakra (wheel of energy) and then begins to clear the whole physical body, the other chakras and the auric field.

Three syllables are A & U & M plus the crescent and the dot.

The three sounds are universal. One of the interpretation of this trinity is: past, present and future. On your travels you might have visited temples where there are three main buddha sculptures, which are identical with the exception the hand gestures or mudras. The mudras represent the past, present and future.

For more examples of the trinity please scroll down to the table.

Relaxing with ‘legs up the wall’

Did you know that putting your legs up the wall for a few minutes is a powerful and restorative pose?

It helps with sending blood flow to your core, eases stress, helps you sleep, calms your nerves, relieves swollen ankles, relieves varicose veins, relieves headaches, and improves digestion.

This powerful, yet incredibly simple to do restorative pose is beneficial to the health of your heart. It gives your heart a rest so it doesn’t have to pump as hard and helps to slow down your heart rate. The ‘legs up the wall’ pose will leave you feel relaxed with a calmer mind.

I practice this pose when I am tired and still have a lot to do.  This my ‘go to pose’ at night before going to bed. It helps me sleep well. The ‘legs up the wall’ is recommended for people with insomnia.

Spend five minutes with your ‘legs up the wall’ and notice the natural rhythm of your breath and see what happens. Try increasing the time gradually. Twenty minutes of restorative yoga a day will make the world a better place!

Enjoy it!

Recovering from Covid-19

My blog on Long Covid had a lot of likes. I am glad it was useful for some of you, see the link below if you missed it.

https://tranquability.com/2022/02/19/yoga-and-long-covid/

Since I wrote that article I had IT, Covid-19 that is.  I would like to share my experience.  My recovery included western and eastern ‘tools’.

Find the balance between accepting you have Covid, resting and doing some form of gentle exercise. We lose muscle tone very quickly.

I was in isolation for nine days (which is longer than the seven day rule set by our Government).  I was weak for another couple of weeks after that.  Talking to others the latter is common, it takes a while to ‘get back to normal’.

My symptoms were numerous and included runny nose, sore throat and elevated temperature for a day or so.  My Doctor recommended I treat the symptoms by using nasal spray, sore throat gargle, vaporizing ointment (which works two ways: by inhalation or by rubbing directly on the skin, usually on the chest).  Similar to your cold and flu season remedies.

It helps if you keep a reasonably well stocked pantry so you do not have to worry in the first couple of days, which might be the worse. I ordered groceries online and the delivery was contactless.

In the initial few days of the isolation I did some gentle yoga, mainly mobilizing the joints.  Think of neck, shoulders, fingers, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and toes. 

By day five I was able to join my Teacher’s online class and apart from the standing poses I managed to participate fully.

Most nights my evening routine includes one restorative pose before going to bed. 

The favourite one is a variation on the ‘legs up the wall’ pose. Lay on the floor with buttocks close to the bed. Be warm. Let the calves rest on the bed or a chair. If your legs are short and the bed or chair is too high, place a folded blanket or towel under your sacrum to lift you up to a height where your calves and ankles are resting. See photo below:

Restorative pose, opens the chest

Another relaxing pose is bending forward. Sit on the floor on a folded blanket or big towel. Lengthen the torso upwards before bending from your hips. In this pose we create space for the lungs. Resting the forehead quietens the busy mind. See two options below:

If you do not have bolsters to rest your chest on, you can do the forward bend by standing in front of your kitchen table and bend forward to rest your chest. You may place a towel or pillows on the table to make you more comfortable. Turn your head one way for a while then change to the other side.

Keep in touch with your social network, read a good book (a good crime will fill several your iso days). Once your are out of isolation go for walks, start with shorter ones.

If your symptoms do not subside please consult your Doctor.

Wishing you a full recovery!

Yoga and Long Covid

Almost 2.5 million Australians have now had Covid-19.  According to research approx. 1/3 of these people would have reported symptoms of a condition called Long Covid (LC) or Post Acute Covid Syndrome (PACS).  Long Covid is the term for people that have ongoing symptoms after the virus left the body.

People usually have 3 symptoms for 6-8 months and 1 or 2 symptoms up to 12 months.  If your conditions do not get better see your Doctor as you might have other underlaying conditions.

While the long-term effects of the virus are not clear yet, researchers know that it can affect many different systems within the body such as the lungs, the heart, muscular – skeletal systems, kidney and cognition.

LC can cause shortness of breath, anxiety (physical and social), cough, fatigue, loss of concentration, change in skin texture, decreased immunity, and decreased nutrient absorption.  Except for the first three the symptoms, they are like symptoms for chronique fatigue syndrome. 

This suggests that recovery from LC might be slow, pace your day.

Yoga intervention needs to be personalized.

Tips for recovery from Long Covid:

Set priorities for your recovery but do not push yourself, be patient with your body and listen to it. Start with something simple like walking and gradually build up to where you were.

Change your position slowly (i.e. from laying to standing).

Sitting on a chair visualise the breathing process, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.  This will allow for the breath to be warmed and filtered before it gets to your lungs.  Imagine your lungs as a balloon as it fills with air. 

If you need to stay in bed do not lay on your back all day.  It is preferable to lay on your side or on your anterior body.

If your joints ache and want to practice on your mat, place a towel on your mat to make it softer.

Muscles need movement and even if you have aches and pains do some simple movements every hour to mobilizise the joints.  It is recommended that initially do a few poses laying on the mat – see a short sequence at the end of this blog.

Keep your routine for eating and going to sleep.

Hydrate with water.

Introduce standing poses to your practice slowly.

Reduce electronic media, use audio books instead.

Rest in prone or semi prone positions.

Begin / re-introduce standing poses carefully.

Short yoga sequence to mobilize the body:

Lay on your back, place a rolled-up blanket under your neck.  Roll the head right to left and to the other side.

Extend right arm on the floor as you open the chest.  If it is comfortable turn your head either to the right or left. Repeat the other side

Bend one leg and rotate the ankle 4-5 times, do it with the other leg.

Bend and extend one leg up (towards vertical), use your hands behind the thigh to support the leg.  Repeat with the other leg.

Lay on your right side, head resting your bent right arm.  If you feel unstable bend the left leg.  When you ready extend and raise the left leg and left arm. Roll over to repeat on the other side.

Lay on your abdominal, rest your forehead on the floor.  Extend the right leg and raise it off the floor (keeping the hips aligned on the floor).  Next try to raise the torso and extend the right arm in front of you.  If you want to take this further raise the right leg, the torso and the right arm.  Repeat with the left leg and left arm.

If it is there for you come to kneel on the floor and try the ‘modified cat & cow’ pose. Place your hands are under your shoulders, knees are under the hips.  As you exhale sit back towards your heels, as you inhale come back to the starting position.

For calming effect try the humming bee breathing technique.

Instead of laying down in Savasana (the relaxation at the end of the practice) consider laying on your side, one leg bent and listening to a pre-recorded yoga nidra.

Wishing you a successful recovery from the symptoms of Long Covid!

Notes:

Loosely based on ‘Yoga and Log Covid’ workshop by Liz Williams form Yoga Therapy Institute (12.02.2022.) and Research from Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital New York.

The recommended poses are general in nature, they do not take your other pre-existing conditions into consideration.  Seek the advice of an experienced yoga teacher or physiotherapist.