Tag Archive | yoga over 50

WHAT I HAVE LEARNT FROM MY SHOULDER INJURY?

1 Marc 2019 (AEST)

I have been practicing yoga for almost 30 years, teaching for 8 years and in October 2018 I had my first yoga accident.  Some of you might think nothing to be proud of, it is bad for business to write about it – BUT – I LEARNT VALUABLE LESSONS which I would like to share.

Half handstand

Doing Half handstand – long time ago

Half hand stand was always a pose I could do with confidence – until – one Saturday whilst I was teaching and demonstrating I lost my balance and fall onto my left shoulder, causing a swollen tendon and nerve impingement.

Brief background to the accident

I got bad news on the Wednesday of that week and was still working through the issues on Saturday.  I was determined to teach the best class I could because I am a professional :)!

On this Saturday the strap around my elbows was a bit tight, I was not quite comfortable in the spot I was demonstrating.  An inner voice was saying ‘do not lift your right leg off the wall’ but I did and fall onto my left shoulder.  I jumped up quickly, felt some pain but I knew no bone was broken.  I finished teaching the last 20 minutes of the class.  My students were concerned, they recommended cream to buy and helped to put on an ice pack.

The rehabilitation

I visited my trusted physiotherapist as soon as I could (Vicki from http://www.myspineandbodyphysio.com/) and started on the exercise routine she prescribed.  It was to remove my fear of movement, to mobilise the joint and to strengthen the muscles in the shoulder.  I am still doing these exercises daily.

The mobility quickly returned but the movements are still not smooth.  It was recommended to modify my yoga practice.  At the beginning restorative yoga replaced general practice.  By Christmas I tried inversions like shoulder stand and it felt good.  I also did THE half handstand without raising a leg.  My confidence has suffered!

 What does yoga philosophy teach us?

Yoga is more than the poses what Westerners mostly focus on.  It is a whole way of life.  The philosophy was written down in Sanskrit by Patanjali more than 2,000 years ago.  He defined the eight limbs or stages of the yogic journey in the Yoga Sutras (chapter II.29) and they are the following:

  1. Yama – ethical disciplines – living in harmony with others;
  2. Niyama – rules of conduct – living in harmony with yourself;
  3. Asana – postures for mind-body connection;
  4. Pranayama – breath control;
  5. Pratyhara – withdrawal of the senses;
  6. Dharana – concentrating on a single point;
  7. Dhyana – mediation, uninterrupted flow of concentration;
  8. Samadhi – pure bliss, fully conscious and alert – no ‘I’ and ‘mine’ exist

Quoting BKS Iyengar ‘When the eight disciplines are followed with dedication and devotion, they help the student to become physically, mentally and emotionally stable so that she/he can maintain equanimity in all circumstances’.

In every yoga conference, workshop or course I have attended we were told to practice and teach all eight limbs of yoga.

 Where did I go wrong?

The first stage (Yama) the ethical disciplines (amongst other things) include non-violence or non-injury in general.  It of course includes no self harm.  On the day I did not follow this.  If we are not gentle with ourselves how can we be gentle with others?

As they show on the airline safety demonstrations: first put the oxygen mask on yourself then onto others who need help.

The second stage (Nijama) includes study one’s own self.  I might have studied myself but I ignored the findings on the day.

 My advice for safe yoga practice

  • Listen to your body. You know your body better than any teacher, you know what sort of day you had prior to coming to class;
  • Accept where you are on a given day. We bring a different body every time we step on the mat;
  • If a pose gives you sharp pain or you are not comfortable in it come out of that pose;
  • If you have an accident seek professional help as soon as possible. Depending on the advice you receive – either rest for a while or start the rehabilitation process and work on it diligently.  As they say ‘you are worth it’;
  • Accept that in our age healing takes longer.

Enjoy your yoga practice!

 

Mary

yoga mat

Insomnia or how to sleep well

Recently I have been having some problems with falling asleep (worrying and overstimulated by dancing).  Today in this LONG blog I will share my coping mechanism with you.  This might send you to sleep J.

If difficulties with sleep (falling asleep or waking up during sleep) occur at least three times a week or lasts longer than one month it is called chronic insomnia.

Good sleep is when it takes less than 30 minutes to fall asleep and one only wakes up once or twice during the night.  Sleep should be between 6 hours and 9 hours (more than 9 hours is not healthy).

The body needs sleep to rest, to restore and to recover for homeostasis.

General tips for sleeping well:

  1. Regular sleep and regular wake up. If wake up tired get out to sun for ½ hour,
  2. Sleep when fatigued,
  3. If cannot sleep get up and try again,
  4. Bedroom is for sleep,
  5. No naps during the day (or 20-40 min max.),
  6. Establish sleep routine,
  7. Eat right – at regular times,
  8. Exercise regularly,
  9. Keep daytime routine,
  10. Breathing exercises – see more on this later,
  11. No clock-watching if you cannot sleep (turn it away),
  12. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at night,
  13. Stop staring at a screen at least an hour before you go to bed. Blue light / screen interferes with melatonin production,
  14. Try the poses below – before going to bed,
  15. Consider keeping sleep diary and/or gratitude diary,

Try one or all of the following RESTORATIVE poses before you go to bed.

  • Do not eat for say 1.5 hours before practicing,
  • Do your bathroom routine before you start,
  • Dedicate a quiet place,
  • Allow enough time (you might dose off like I do),
  • Wear comfortable clothing or your PJ’s,
  • Be warm,
  • Cover your eyes (use an eye-pillow, hand or face towel folded),
  • Do not worry about the props – substitute the bolster with a blanket folded to support the spine (and only the spine) and to lift the chest, use towels in additional to blankets. Books can be used for extra elevation.

Supta Badha Konasana (cobblers pose – laying down)

The aim is to open the chest, release tension in the abdominal area.

Soles of the feet are touching, gentle push the heels together (strap is optional).

Focus on your breath, inhale for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4. If you are more experienced hold the breath after inhalation and after exhalation, so the cycle will be 4:4:4:4. or you can extend the exhalation to the count of 6 or 8. Return to your normal breathing if you experience any discomfort.

Try to take the breath up from the abdominal area towards the clavicles, shoulders. Notice how your abdominal rises and how your ribcage expands on inhalation.

Stay in the pose min 5 minutes – don’t worry if you dose off.

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Supta Badha Konasana

 

Pashimottanasa (forward bend)

The aim is to rest the forehead.  This helps to calm the mind.

Any chair will do and any elevation on it.  If you are more flexible a coffee table might do the job.  A modified version is to sit at the dining table and have some props to rest the forehead.

Keep the shoulders, try to keep the front of your torso long.

Stay in the pose for 5 minutes (gradually build up to it).

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Viparita Karini (legs up the wall or on chair)

This pose is everybody’s favourite.

The heart is resting, helps with swollen feet.

For support any chair or the coffee table will do.

Support your ankles on the chair.

Hips can be raised with blanket or bolster.

Focus on the breathing as noted earlier.

Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 minutes.

IMG_1688

 

For more experienced yogis the legs can be on the wall – vertical or at a slight angle.

Hips can be resting on elevation, folded blanket.

Though this photo was taken outside please do it inside for this routine.

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Savasana (pose of the corps)

It is said not finishing a practice with Savasana is a bit like not saving your document on the computer – however you might want to relocate from the floor to your bed – AND FALL ASLEEP QUICKLY.

For support under the knees/thighs use a small pillow. I find it helpful – it allows the lower back to soften.

This photo comes from the ‘relax at Christmas’ series – hence the eye cover

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Savasana

 

To go to sleep or to calm yourself down try the following pranayama (breath control) and meditation techniques:

Sit up tall, feel the ground under your feet.

Roll the shoulders back, feel that it helps to lift your chest.

 

Mindfulness of the five senses

Without trying to alter your experience bring your awareness to your five senses

  • notice one thing you can see,
  • notice one thing you can hear,
  • notice one thing you can taste,
  • notice one thing you can smell,
  • notice one thing you can feel,

Focusing on each of the five senses in turn takes you into the present moment.

 

Grounding calming breath for sleep

Breathe through your nose

  • Inhale for the count of four (4)
  • Exhale for the count of eight (8). If 8 is too long try 6.

Repeat three times or until desired effect.

Using the diaphragm; breathing fully into the belly and expelling all the air can help activate our parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing the body and mind.  If it is uncomfortable return to your normal breathing.

 

4:4:4:4 – this technique was listed under the poses as well.

  1. Inhale for the count of four (4)
  2. Hold the breath for the count of four (4)
  3. Exhale slowly for the count of four (4) – or longer for experienced yogis
  4. Hold for the breath for the count of four.(4)

This is one cycle. Repeat four more times.

If you experience any discomfort return to your normal cycle of breath.

Thanks for reading!

Sleep well – live well!

lotus yoga

 

 

Yoga for different life stages

tree-pose-w-amanda-and-daughtersgood

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.
trikonasana-3-generationsgood

Trikonasana ~ three generations

Pink Yoga – thanks to all who attended and/or donated

Cancer Council and Pink Yoga

 

Pink yoga in Randwick

Students in the Pink yoga class in Randwick

Breast cancer was the second highest cancer in NSW during the last five year period (prostate cancer is the first but it diagnosed later and patients die with it rather than because of it).

Pink yoga is the yoga community’s initiative for fund raising for research into breast and ovarian cancer together with providing support to woman suffering from these cancers.

As detailed in my last blog I decided to hold a pink yoga class in  Randwick on 2nd of April 2016.  After registering with the Cancer Council I received some promotional material, decoration and started to promote the class to my students.

My regular students from both studios either confirmed their attendance or donated.

Due to delay in advertisement on pink ribbon / cancer council website we did not get any new students.

As per my undertaking I am donating $10 per student and together with their contribution (some students were not able to attend but donated) we raised $241.  Thank you very much to all!

 

Pink yoga class Randwick

Pink yoga class Randwick

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Introduction to Ayurveda

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Recently I was on a Yoga / Ayurveda retreat in a small, purpose built village in the South of India.  The retreat was organized by Adore Yoga.

As you might know Yoga means yolk or unite, generally interpreted as uniting the body, mind and spirit or uniting the individual consciousness with the universal.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda (Ayur: life, Veda: knowledge/wisdom) is ancient science of life and healing. It is originated from India, 4000-2000 BC.  Holistic healing, sister science to yoga.

THE LINK BETWEEN YOGA AND AYURVEDA IS PRANA OR LIFE FORCE.

Ayurveda offers knowledge of the senses, mind, emotions, body and our relationships with others, with our environment and with ourselves.

There are five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and three Doshas or energies in the body, Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth).

Our individual constitution is called prakruti and it is decided at conception.  Your prakruti will determine how things will affect you, how you react.

An Ayurvedic specialist will assess our dosha by observing our body (built, eyes, hair, skin and nails), speech, gate, tongue and he/she will ask about digestion, elimination and sleep pattern.  Based on these he/she will specify our prakruti.  Each dosha has its positives and negatives properties, we need them all and in the body they work together (i.e. digestion).

Most people have a dominant dosha and sometimes one of the three is out of balance.

Knowing and understanding our doshas is important for selecting suitable foods, species, herbs and lifestyle.  Generally we get along better with another person whose prakruti is different from ours (imagine two cooks in a kitchen!).

Back to the retreat – we started the day with an early morning yoga class

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which was followed by a healthy breakfast, including all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, astringent, pungent and bitter).

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In Ayurveda they teach against overeating and it is recommended to fill the stomach with food up to half way, ¼ is used for liquids and ¼ of the stomach is left empty to allow for digestion.  Indians eat sitting on the floor in easy crossed legged position.  This pose helps to  as one burps at half-mark.

Despite eating big meals after a few days we all felt lighter as the toxins were leaving our body.

The table below has some information on the Doshas.

 

Dosha Vata

Air & Space

Pitta

Fire & water

Kapha

Earth and water

Main characteristics

If Dosha is

in balance

 

Occupation

Expands energy

Movement

Joy, creativity

Inspirational

Good communicator /

 

Actor

 

Efficient at alloc energy,

Transformation

Fire of metabolism

Intense, focused, detailed

Politician

Conserves energy

Cohesial / stagnant

Grounded, stable

 

 

Bank Manager

If out of balance Worry, insomnia

erratic

Poor digestion

Irritable and critical Congestion in the body, weight gain
To balance this dosha needs Nourishing and grounding/ routine

Take regular breaks

Calming foods (warm) and calming yoga poses Stimulating food (light foods/salads) and more vigorous yoga

Change routine

This dosha is dominant in People over 50 Between the ages of

20-50

Childhood

If you are interested in reading more about Ayurveda ‘The science of Self-Healing’ by Dr Vasant Lad is a good book.

We live in a Vata society, high rise buildings, air conditioning, fast pace – so ideally we all should chill out / relax more.

My Ayurvedic treatment included warm oil massage and massage with warm herbal pouches – as prescribed by the Doctor.

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Treatment table, my herbal pouches in the bowl and gas for heating

As we age we are getting dryer both outside and inside.  Self massage with warm oil (which is suitable for our constitution) once a week is an effective way to keep ourselves young.

There are a number of qualified and experienced Ayurvedic specialist in Sydney.

 

 

 

Relax and Renew yoga class on Sat 3rd Oct in Randwick

 

Relax and Renew® yoga class

 

When:               Saturday 3rd October 2015 (long weekend)

                             11.30 am to 12.45 pm (usual class time)

 

Where:              Yoga Light

Level 1, 165 Alison Road, Randwick

                            (close to Belmore Rd corner, enter via the purple door)

 

Cost:                         $25

 

What to bring:         A towel to cover your head, all other equipment provided

  

This yoga class will involve nurturing physical poses, supported by the props, staying each pose for a few minutes. The aim is to let go in a safe environment. You will feel refreshed after the workshop and you will learn poses to practice at home.

 

Please email me to secure your place: tranquability@gmail.com

 

Numbers are limited.

 

Looking forward to seeing  you there.

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

How is “yoga over 50” different?

lotus yoga

A few years ago a marketing guru suggested to us (yoga teachers) that we should identify our “ideal student” and instead of trying to please everybody we need to concentrate on servicing these “ideal” people.

For me it has been the “over 50’s”, the baby-boomers.  Party because I belong to this group and partly because my lower back problem excludes me from doing and demonstrating the fancier poses.

Due to the “over 50” label when I get an enquiry about my classes most people start with telling me their age.  I reassure them that I won’t ask for their birth certificate and during my 26 years of practicing yoga I have learnt how to modify the poses to suit the individual.

The question I am aiming to answer is “how is yoga over 50 is different (from other yoga)?”

Our classes are gentle in comparison to the dynamic ashtanga / power or yang yoga practices.  Gentle means that we might go a bit slower (have a rest anytime you need to).  When it comes to inverted poses we do the preparation for headstand and shoulder stand instead of the full version.  Due to the higher number of medical conditions in the class we might have more than two variations for a pose – so every student can practice safely on their own level.

In my view our attention to detail exceeds what I have seen in big “general” classes.  If we go into balancing standing poses with grace (i.e. hands on the wall until we feel secure standing on one leg) we stand straighter than a lot of people half of our age!

For an ageing / stiffer body it takes a bit longer to warm up so we start by warming up all of our joints (neck, shoulders, fingers, hips, knees, ankles and toes).  With the colder weather we experience cramps more often than in summer and more often than the younger generations.  This could indicate that we might not stretch enough or we have magnesium deficiency.

In my class we use a lot of props (blocks, belts, bolsters, blankets and chairs) which reflects more my Iyengar style practice than the age of the students.

Most of us have passed the “working long hours and exhausted all the time” stage in our lives and no one falls asleep (no one snores) during Savasana at the end of the class.  We enjoy our tranquillity!

As in any class – some over 50’s prefer open windows / fans whilst others feel the cold – my aim to please most people.  There are excellent breathing techniques to cool off hot flushes.

There is more and more medical research and evidence into the health benefits of yoga, including how it slows down the ageing.

Apart from the stretching and strengthening exercises yoga requires and improves concentration, stamina, reduces stress and some students appreciate the social aspect of practising together with likeminded people. There is no difference whether you are young or over 50!

In summary:

I believe if a yoga class is marked for over 50’s, seniors or golden yogis – it is suitable for anybody who wants to practice in a small class with a senior teacher who most likely has seen a lot on the mat and off the mat.

People of all ages and with various pre-existing conditions (or recovering from injury or operation) would benefit from attending these classes.  Students who new to yoga could learn the basics before joining in faster paced classes.  Once you know how to do a pose safely you can prevent injuries.

I would almost promote the over 50’s classes as a type of therapy class!

Keep up and enjoy your practice!

Namaste

Mary

yoga mat

Relax and Renew Workshop – Sun 21st June 2015 10.00am

Relax and Renew – 2 hour workshop

me~ photo VK over chair

Taking time out each day to relax and renew is essential to living well.  When we are stressed it effects all areas of our life most importantly our sense of self. 

 Celebrate the International Day of yoga 2015 and the winter solstice (day of the year that has the least daylight hours) by participating in this restorative class.

When:            Sunday 21th June from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm

Where:           Yoga Light, Level 1, 165 Alison Road, Randwick

                       (enter via the purple door – close to Belmore Rd corner)

Cost:              $35 – to be booked and paid by 19th June 2015

This yoga workshop will involve nurturing physical poses, supported by the props, staying each pose for a few minutes. The aim is to let go in a safe environment. You will feel refreshed after the workshop and you will learn poses to practice at home.

 

Relax and Renew Prana Space  Aug 2014

Relax and Renew
Prana Space Aug 2014

If you require more information about this workshop please Contact  me.

For timetable refer to Classes.

Namaste,

Mary

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

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

lotus yoga

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