Tag Archive | ageing gracefully

Yoga for different life stages

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Three generations of yogis – Amanda Fuzes, her daughters and me.

 

 

 

At the recommendation of Amanda Fuzes I was interviewed for ‘Inform’ magazine a few weeks ago for an article on yoga for different ages where I represented the ‘over 50’s.

Amanda is the owner/director of two yoga studios http://pranaspace.com.au/ and http://flyingyogis.net.au/. The latter is the kids’ studio where they have classes for ‘bendytots’ (from 18 months) to age 18. Amanda was talking about the benefits of yoga for children and adults.

In my interview with the journalist (Emma Brown) initially the conversation was around her questions. Later I demonstrated Trikonasana (the triangle pose) with my back to the wall – using a chair to rest my hand and in another variation on a block. The aim was to show how easy it is to modify a pose to suit.

Here is a shortened version of the questions and my answers.

How is yoga practiced if you’re a senior?

  • With more props;
  • At a slower pace;
  • Inform your teacher of your pre-existing conditions before the class starts;
  • If you experience sharp pain whilst in a pose come out of it under control. The teacher will offer you an alternative pose;
  • For more details refer read here – How is “yoga over 50” different?

 

Advice on how to start if you’re a beginner? – Which style to start with?

  • Find the right class and teacher (style, time of class, location, the vibe in the class – it has to fit in with your life otherwise you will not stick with it. Seek out qualified an experienced teachers. The class should be labelled either for ‘seniors’, ‘restorative’ or ‘beginners’;
  • Aim to practice regularly, maybe two classes per week, preferable not on consecutive days;
  • You can start yoga at any age – or come back to it at any age;

What are the benefits?

  • Regular yoga practice has the following benefits: Slows down the ageing, better posture, self-awareness, increased confidence, strength and balance.
  • It helps to cope with life’s ups and down’s better.
  • Community.
  • Skills learnt on the mat are transferable to life off the mat.
  • For more information read Benefits of yoga for older people

Which style to start with and when are you ready to try other styles?

  • Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced yoga in Australia. ‘Ha’ is for hot in Sanskrit and ‘Tha’ is cold. Hatha yoga aims to balance the body, hot/cold, masculine/feminine and the left and right side of the body. Iyengar yoga (this is the style I have been practicing for 27 years) is specialist type of Hatha yoga where lots of props are used to assist the student
  • There are two ways to experiment with different styles: either at the beginning to find the suitable class for you or once you learnt how to do the poses safely then venture out and try other styles.

What is the philosophy of yoga?

  • If you are interested in the philosophy get your hands on a copy of ‘Light on the Yoga sutras of Patanjali’ by BKS Iyengar. Patanjali’s yoga sutras is the bible of yoga.
  • Patanjali categorised the 8 limbs (or stages) of yoga which represent the journey of the student from beginner to advanced level (enlightenment). The first two of these stages are conduct with others and self-discipline. The asana practice and breath control are the ones which are mostly practiced in classes. The last three stages are: one pointed attention, meditation and “bliss”.
  •  The way we practice today (in a class environment, sometimes with music and candles) is very different from how it was practiced 4000 years ago in the Himalayas. Those days it was Indian men who were taught by their guru in a ‘one on one’ situation.
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Trikonasana ~ three generations

NEWSLETTER ~ APR / MAY 2015

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Dear Yogis,

My intention in March was to post monthly newsletters and I have fallen behind.  We are all pulled into several directions simultaneously and sometimes we get overwhelmed, maybe get lost in the details – which is what happened to me.  If you have renovated your residence before you know what I mean.

This is what happened since my March newsletter:

During Easter we had our usual Saturday class in Randwick.  To keep in line with the holiday and to amuse ourselves we practiced bunny jumps.  Bunny jump is one of the preparatory poses for the hand stand, it strengthens the arms, wrists, shoulders and increases balance.  Another way to prepare for handstand is stationary, we create a right angle with our body, hands on the floor and the soles of the feet are on the wall.

This year Anzac Day fall on Saturday.  To honour the 100th anniversary of landing in Gallipoli the theme for the class was hero poses.  Think about the strong leg work, arms stretched wide and balance required for all three “warrior” asanas.  The torso is long and the chest is open in all these poses indicating confidence!

In the week leading up to Mother’s day, as my gift to you, I asked each of you which is your favourite pose and incorporated those in the classes.  The most popular requests were: work with the hips and twists laying on the floor.  We, women, hold a lot of tension in our hips and thighs and with the cold weather creeping on us we get tighter so we need keep our joints moving!  Twists on the floor release tension in the lower back, they are safe and they mobilise the whole spine – from the tailbone to the neck (if you turn your head away from your legs).  Twists in general generate heat in the body which  increases our immune system. If you are menopausal you might not need extra heat 🙂 though! As winter approaches we are likely to include more twisting poses in the class as they are also helpful in reducing the effects of scoliosis and help digestion.

Are you curious which poses will we do on the Queen’s birthday long weekend?  I already have some ideas – please come along!

 For regular students ‘10 class passes’ are available in both studios (some conditions apply).  They represent a minimum saving of $50 for 10 classes.

Thanks again for supporting my classes, hope to see you soon!

Namaste,

Mary

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Letting go of the old, setting intentions for the new

I was a happy participant in Byron Yoga Centre’s 8 day ‘New Year Renew and Revive’ retreat, http://www.byronyoga.com/

John Ogilvie founded the yoga centre in 1988.  His aim was to create a sanctuary (ashram in Sanskrit) for people to come where they can connect their body, mind and spirit – in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.  John’s vision is to increase the number of yogis who practice all aspects of yoga and thus making the world a better place.

The schedule for the retreat was full with yoga/mediation classes, informative talks, massages and treatments.  Most days we had three yoga classes to choose from, different styles, luckily one was restorative.  You could do as much or as little as you wished.  We even had an impromptu aqua yoga class in the 30m heated pool.  In the water we stretched our hamstrings, twisted our torso and supported each other in the Tree pose (not all of it at the same time though…).

The food at Byron Yoga Centre is Sattvic which aims to calm and purify the mind.  It is delicious vegetarian with vegan and gluten free are available.  Some of the vegetables are grown organically on site, instead of carbon print it takes a few footprints to get the vegies to the kitchen.

One of the highlights was the New Year’s Eve fire ceremony.  A couple of days prior to it we were asked to think and write down the issues we want to let go off, baggage we don’t want to take to 2015.  Once the fire was burning we released our issues by throwing the papers into the flames. Some papers stubbornly stayed outside of the reach of the fire, we had to push them in, we were all eager to let go.  It was a very moving ceremony under the Australian summer stairs.

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On New Year’s day we were asked to set our intentions (sankalpa in Sanskrit) for the year ahead.  We visualised our ‘new’ life, what we need to change to achieve it, what are the obstacles.

I have been home from the retreat for day and a half  now and cooking healthy meals and not munching between meals are presenting a problem.  Who is preparing my customary 10.00 o clock fresh juice?  One of the issues from last year is still pocking its head up – no one said it would be easy to let go!

I suggest you do a stocktake for 2014.  Be grateful for what was good and have gratitude towards the people who helped you along the way.  Make a list of the issues you do not want to carry further and have your own little burning ceremony with a candle, make sure it is safe!

Once you let go set your intentions for the year ahead.  Apply some discipline to make the changes happen.  Be flexible and alter your plans if required.  Sometimes we over analyse things instead of listening to our gut feeling (speaking about myself now).

Set your intentions

Set your intention

 Photos are courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

In with the new – out with old!

Have a great year!

Mary

Yogies’ survival kit 2: jet lag

 

Australia (or ‘down under’) is sooo far away from everything we need to travel long haul, crossing several time zones in the process.

While my parents were alive I made regular trips to Hungary.  Many years ago the floor at the airport gates were carpeted, nowadays cold tiles.  If you ever saw a woman laying down with legs up the wall or calves on the seat of the chairs … it might have been me.

During my numerous trips to Europe the following list crystalized in my head as guidelines for long haul air travel:

  • Start the journey in the best possible shape, increase your fitness in the weeks leading up to the trip, walk on the beach, de-clutter your mind; prepare your packing list, have copies (two sets) of your important documents;
  • On the plane stay hydrated, drink plenty of water during the flight (alcohol will have the opposite effect) and as you will be burning less calories – you do not have to eat every morsel of food served J;
  • Move your wrists, ankles, neck and shoulders (you might find a chart with recommended exercises in the net in front of you);
  • Stand up and walk on the isle as much as possible;
  • Do some gentle stretches whilst queuing up for the toilet;
  • Try to get some sleep – do not feel that you have to “do” something, the aim is to arrive in the best possible shape for your holiday or business trip;
  • Change your clock to the destination time soon after take-off;
  • Once you arrive try to spend half an hour in sunshine and assume the schedule of the new time zone straight away.

You might experience the following: your feet may swell, your lower back may ache and you may develop sinus problems due to air conditioning and changing air pressure.

I have included a few restorative poses for you below which you can modify and practice even in a small hotel room.  Use rolled up blanket(s) or bedspread instead of a bolster and towel to support your head and neck.  If you are not comfortable in the pose come out and adjust.  Stay in each pose for at least three minutes. If you do not have enough time to do all the poses do the legs up the wall and the supported bridge pose.

1. Viparita Karini (legs up the wall)  – this asana will help to reduce the swelling in your feet, heart is resting, it is a pose the remove fatigue from the body.

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2.   Backbend to open chest as we tend to collapse the chest / shoulders as we sit.  Roll up a blanket and a towel  and have them close by. Sit in front of the rolled up blanket, bend yours knees and place your elbows on the blanket.  Slowly lower your back over the blanket.  The rolled up towel should support your neck and back of your head. Stay in the this poses up to three minutes.

3.  Repeat the Legs up the wall position but this time elevate your hips (use a blanket or a towel), stay in the pose for five minutes.

4.  Supported bridge – enjoy that you can finally stretch out.  In yoga class we might use two bolsters so the back of the knees and the feet are supported.

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5. Supta badha konasana (supported bound angle pose).  Alow the props to support you and the fatigue will lift.

Supta Badha Konasana

Supta Badha Konasana

6.  Forward bend

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7. As any yoga practice we should finish the sequence with Savasana, try legs elevated.

Savasana

Savasana

Repeat the restorative sequence on the morning after your arrival.

If you are more energetic include a few standing poses:Trikonasana (triangle poses), Parivritta Trikonasana (revolving triangle) is recommended.

Safe travels!

Mary

We are on the move to Randwick Junction – from 10th January 2015

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Yoga for over 50’s will move from Clovelly to Randwick Junction to a bigger, well equipped studio.

 

First  class will be held on Saturday 10th January 2015.

 

Time: 11.30 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.

Cost: $20 per class

See details below:

Address: Level 1, 165 Alison Road Randwick Junction (cnr Belmore Road)

Map Yoga Light Randwick

Map

165 Alison Road~Yoga Light

165 Alison Road, Randwick – entrance is the purple door

Tree pose (Vrksasana)

 

Tree pose

Tree pose

 

 

The Tree pose has a number of benefits and it is a slightly neglected asana.

There is a lot of grace in the pose.

Standing on one leg helps to improve balance, strengthens the ankles, legs and the muscles which stabilize the hips.

Being in this pose gives a good indication of ones mental state on the day. Of course trees move / sway a bit and as there are many types of trees – so we all do a slightly different version of the tree pose.

To avoid injury in Iyengar style yoga we pay a lot of attention to safely going in and out of the poses (and graciously possible).

For beginners I recommend practicing the pose against a wall or preferable in a corner as per the photo below (the photo was taken in the Bungle Bungles National Park hence the shoes).

Tree Pose with wall

Tree Pose with wall

  1. Stand tall in Tadasana (mountain pose), with your back against the wall, big toe bases touching, heels are either together or slightly apart, feel that you have equal weight in both feet, raise your toes, extend the toes and place them back onto the floor;
  2. Quietly transfer the weight to the left leg, without pushing the left hip out ;
  3. Bend the right knee so the right heel lifts off the floor, come up on your toes;
  4.  Turn the right knee out (work from your right hip);
  5. Slowly bring the right foot up (help with your right hand) and allow the right knee to rest on the wall in front of you.  Variations are: if you do not feel stable keep your toes on the floor, if you are more confident bring the right foot either to the inside of your left calf or higher up to the inner thigh.  Be careful – do not push on your left knee, have the foot either below or above the left knee;
  6. Keep the standing leg strong, pull up the knee cap and the quadriceps and work the inner leg. If you do not work your inner leg the right foot will slide off – so we cannot really blame the fabric of our pants!
  7. Keep your chest, hips and face in one direction (i.e forward);
  8. Keep your chin parallel to the floor, throat soft, look with soft gaze in front of you – eye level or slightly above
  9. Bring your hands in together in front of you in Namaste or more experienced yogis bring your hands above your head, resting the heels of the hands on the crown of your head;
  10. Stay in the pose for a minute on so (on each side);
  11. Coming out of the pose: release the arms and slowly release the right leg back to the floor;
  12. Find your balance by standing in Tadasana for to-three cycles of your breath;
  13. Turn around and REPEAT on the other side.

Once you mastered the Tree pose against the wall try it free standing, facing the wall.  Stand close enough to wall so your fingertips can touch it. Only take your hands off the wall if your balance is good on the day.

I recommend to practice this pose regularly (daily).

Keeping the balance over 50 is an essential part of ageing gracefully!

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