Yoga Question and Answer Time

I had a question and answer session with yoga students to answer some of their questions. You can find the video Here, or read on below.

I’ve always felt my digestion is a bit slow, can you suggest any exercises that will help with this?

The digestion is tricky. And also so interesting!  There are so many factors at play. Even more tricky in pregnancy. Very generally I would say, drink more water. And be very mindful about how you eat, position, time of day, the atmosphere etc can have a big effect. And yes, movement helps. Generally, any movement. But not immediately after eating.   Allow a little bit of time after eating for digestion if you can.

Being pregnant I am interested to know more about how I can prepare my pelvic floor for labour. How many times a day and number of repeats would you suggest for practising these exercises during pregnancy?

Certainly, I would say when you remember, or little and often. In pregnancy, it’s more about establishing a connection and awareness about the pelvic floor as well so that in labour we are also able to soften and release these muscles. A regular yoga practice will definitely help with this connection to the pelvic floor, as well as the whole body and your baby in general.  Regular yoga practice during pregnancy benefits not only you, but baby as well. 

I’ve practiced yoga and pilates on and off throughout my adult life and something that your session Love Your Core threw into question for me was the approach to breathing. I have attended sessions where the emphasis has been breathing into your abdominals so that your abdominals raise up and down as you breathe, rather than focussing on using your lungs. I felt so much more relaxed adopting the breathing technique that you showed us in last week’s session so makes me think I’ve misinterpreted this in the past or maybe I’m getting confused with the different techniques between yoga/pilates. If you could shed any light on the different breathing techniques and when to apply them, that would be really helpful please!

I also questioned this when I came across this technique. Probably not a case of misinterpreted, just different ways to work with our breath. Ultimately, I think there is a place for both, and there are several ways to work with our breath, with different purposes and outcomes. The belly breathing as you’ve been taught before is more for relaxation I would say. And the problem that could occur here is intrabdominal pressure, ultimately putting pressure on the pelvic floor every time we breathe this way. But, directing the breath to the belly can have an immediate response within the mind and nervous system. Essentially taking us out of our minds and into our bodies, letting the body know we are ok. 

The technique we used in Love Your Core helps emphasize your exhalation as a way to exhale from the belly and as a result influences the muscles of the pelvic floor and helps to strengthen and enliven them, just by how we use the breath.

I found your writing on why you practice mindfulness really honest and helpful. I myself feel like you did. I find myself feeling anxious or not in the present moment much of the time. I would really, really like to improve this through mindfulness but don’t really know how to do this. How did you learn it? 

You’ve got the first step down though, that you are aware you feel anxious and not present.  Now, the next step will be awareness of where you go when you are not present?  Is it future, or past thinking?

It has been a long process of mindfulness for me.  I am a slow learner.  And I am still learning, there is a lot to study about mindfulness, and we just sort of touch the surface I think in classes.  My first yoga teacher integrated mindfulness into our yoga classes and I still use a lot of what she taught me really.  I didn’t even realise yoga and mindfulness were separate until about a year into my yoga teacher training.  So after my yoga teacher training I started to study mindfulness more.  Mostly for myself, but I do integrate it into my classes like my teacher did. 

Jon Kabbat-Zin is the guy for all things mindfulness related, he has several books.  And some online resources too. Ruby Wax is good too. HeadSpace App. Mindful.org website.

I guess mostly it is about getting your head around some of the concepts, and then finding the practices that are most useful for you where you are in life.  Access them in the way that you want. I practiced a lot while breastfeeding.  And my favourite practices are recorded on the whatsapp group, the breath awareness, the kindness meditation and the senses meditation (actually that’s a yoga practice).

What can I do to help my knees?

Knees are quite tricky really, because a lot can be going on. It could be something that is actually happening below the knee, or above the knee. Maybe start by enquiring, where is it hurting? What causes it pain? Is it from tension, or compression? And then having a look at what might help, stretching it, or strengthening around the knee?

Yoga on Zoom

All Kellyannyoga classes are now being held via Zoom live online.  How does it work?  Please register by email to kellyannyoga@gmail.com.  You will be sent a registration form. If you can pay, please pay via bank transfer or paypal.  Suggested pass prices, or adjust to 80% or pay with karma if you are unwaged.  Then you will be sent the details to download zoom if you don’t have it already and how to join the session you’ve signed up.  I am currently running my usual schedule, Monday nights yoga for adults (beginners welcome), Tuesday is for toddlers and kids up to age 6/7, and then babies and mums for postnatal yoga.  On Friday nights we wind down the week with a very relaxing and soothing Yin Yoga session.

Why join live classes?  Personally, I have also been joining live online yoga classes to see what the experience is like as a student.  I really like having something to look forward to each week, it gives a sense of normality.  Even though I am practicing at home on my own, it still feels a very much shared experience.  And I feel I am accountable, as the teacher is watching and can still give specific alignment cues or adjustments if I need.  There is also much more a sense of presence and attentiveness in a live class and this I feel is a very important aspect to practicing yoga in general.  Giving your energy and awareness to your physical and mental body to nourish it through your yoga practice.  For a sample of my Monday Night Yoga class, please click here.  For a sample of Toddler yoga, please click here.

Why practice mindfulness?

Why I practice mindfulness?

I am not a naturally positive person.  I used to focus on the bad, negative, and wrong.  I spent so much time worrying, ruminating and loads of time over planning.  I would get stuck in a story, a negative thought pattern and let it over run my mind.  I was always thinking of the next event, and not where I was in the moment and ended up feeling unbalanced.  I had some real low periods and would blame others for my problems.

Mindfulness had been on my radar for a while, but I wasn’t fully aware that it was just what I needed to help myself.  I was in a pretty low point, I spent the day at a mindfulness training, and that is when I really started to see how much I needed the practice.  From there, I started to make small daily changes, to practice mindfulness and begin to shift my thought patterns.  I could see how much this benefited not only me, but my partner almost immediately.  Because I was more aware of my negative thoughts and able to stop them, he wasn’t impacted by my bad moods.

Since then, I’ve really started to dive deeper into the practice, to try to imbed the breathing and awareness practices in my day to day life, and my teaching.  And it’s rewards are far and wide.  It’s not always perfect, I still get distracted, worried, over plan, but its more managable now, I don’t feel overwhelmed, and if I do, I’ve got a deep mindfulness tool box to draw from.

Join me for the next mindfulness and yoga based workshop.

Why Love Your Core?

I’ve been asked these questions a lot recently, so I thought a little blog post might help summarize.

Why have you called these yoga workshops ‘love your core’? 

Well, it just happened that the first one fell on the 14th of February, but also, there is a strong element of loving and accepting ourselves.  It is possible that we are very disconnected from our true cores and we need to meet this area of our body with love.  These workshops are a welcome space for every BODY type, male or female, big or small, post natal or not.

Will I be able to do it?

Yes, absolutely, everyone has a core, but most of us are not accessing our deep core muscles properly.  Including me!  This can affect the function of our movement, sore backs, diastasis recti, hip pain, pelvic floor issues this inlcudes prolapse, even our shoulders, (yes our shoulders) can be affected by our connection to our core.

The workshop includes a more in-depth look at what the ‘core’ means (sorry it doesn’t mean 6pack abs) but the muscles that provide us with stability and mobility.  We carry out a few performance checks to see how our core is functioning.  And then move into a dynamic practice to engage the muscles of the core.

Book on the next one now.

What are you looking forward to in 2020?

A question that has been going through my head the last few days.  This year I look forward to sharing more yoga retreats and workshops. Family yoga and family time.  Running!  And more yoga study.  I have booked myself on to some new courses to deepen my knowledge of yin yoga, yoga for the core, yoga for digestion and am learning new skills and techniques that I really look forward to sharing with you.

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is like having a massage- it releases the tension, worries and stress from being a mother, it helps reduce the stiffness from running and cycling and it eases the everyday imbalance from work and life.  Yin has always been a part of my practice, but since becoming a mother, its been even more important to take this time for myself each week.  It’s a practice I do sometimes in the morning, to ease the tension from a long night.  Sometimes in the evening, to quiet my mind after a busy day.  Often, I yin on holiday as it really helps with jetlag or travel tightness.  It’s also a practice to balance the hormones and so very often beneficial during your cycle. 

Yin poses are floor based, they are held for 3-10 minutes and the idea is to gently open the connective tissue, or fascia in the body.  In my practice, I emphasize that we should find comfort in the postures to help the body to release.  Yin is very beneficial for tight muscles but can also help bring balance to internal organs as well and is therefore lovely if we are feeling any imbalance in our digestion, or hormones.  It allows the energy or prana to flow more freely in the body.  And therefore, we often feel rejuvenated and revitalized after the practice. 

I offer a two-hour yin yoga workshop once a month.  You will feel as though you have had a mini-escape and I do hope you can join for the next one.  Please book here

Home Yoga Practice

Home yoga practice can sound scary and daunting– where to start???  but it doesn’t need to be.

  1. Start where you feel safe and comfortable and work from there.
  2. Start with your favourite pose, start with your favourite breathing practice.
  3. Start where you are- you don’t need to be on your mat even, bring it into your day, taking a mindful moment while brushing your teeth or drinking your morning brew.
  4. Start with kindness and compassion for yourself- it won’t be like at a class, but it will be beneficial.

My first yoga teacher always encouraged home practice, this always seemed so intimidating to me, but I am so glad she did, and I am so glad I listened. This is where I truly began to understand the practice and myself.  I didn’t know where to start when I first started practicing at home, it seemed impossible to remember everything from class.  I was scared of getting it wrong.  I had to have all my other ‘chores’ done before I could do it.  I had to have at least an hour free.  Having all these requirements meant that I didn’t actually do it as often as I wanted.  Now, I don’t have any of those requirements, the first requirement of the day is to do a bit of yoga, whether it is a few minutes with the kids, 5 minutes or an hour alone, I try to make it part of my daily routine- like brushing my teeth, yoga is there to help keep my body, and mind healthy.

If you have questions about your home practice, get in touch;)

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra is a practice of deep relaxation that has huge potential healing powers for the body and mind. It is not sleep, although you may fall asleep during the practice. Try if you can to maintain a fine thread of awareness, listening to the teacher’s voice and instructions.

During yoga nidra you enter a state between awareness and sleep, and can access the subconscious and explore further into your mind. One element of yoga nidra is the sankalpa, or resolve. The sankalpa is an opportunity to make a positive change in your life. It is a simple sentence that you will repeat to yourself. Frame the sentence in the present tense, as if it is already happening in your life. It is worth taking time to refine your sankalpa. It may change over time, but try using the same one for a number of sessions if you can. The sankalpa is like planting a little seed in the mind. The rest of the practice will help nourish the seed. The sankalpa can be very powerful, so if you are not fully sure of what you desire for your life it is worth spending time thinking about it.

You are in control during yoga nidra, the teacher is simply the guide through the technique. Allow yourself to be open to anything you may experience in yoga nidra.

A yoga nidra session can be as restful and beneficial as regular sleep but done in less time. There are so many benefits to yoga nidra- one of them being how it helps with stress. As the systems of the body experience deep physiological rest during yoga nidra, the body’s powerful, natural regenerative mechanisms are activated. Allowing the body to rest and repair itself. As the level of stress hormones in the body decrease during the practice, the body is less susceptible to inflammation and diseases associated with it. Yoga nidra may be beneficial for people with hypertension, coronary disease, arthritis, asthma, ulcers, migraines, insomnia, depression, IBS, cancer, high blood pressure, pregnancy, post-natally… the list continues.

I hope you have had the chance to experience yoga nidra during your exploration of yoga. If you have any questions please get in touch.

Healthy cookie recipe

healthy cookies
healthy cookies-natural sugars
I pretty much never follow a recipe exactly so you will have to play a little to get the consistency of these healthy cookies right for you. This one seems to always need a bit more help sticking, adding more honey- or sometimes a bit of water helps. The good news is this one seems to always turn out yummy no matter what I do!

125g flour
150g oats
1/2tsp bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
cinnamon to taste- i have also added ground ginger and tumeric before
100g sugar—I substituted Molasses(treacle?) last time, about 4tbls=AMAZING
4tbsp maple syrup, or agave, or honey
1 large carrot grated – might try fresh ginger next time too!
100ml olive, or coconut oil
100g chopped dried fruit- raisins etc
100g chopped nuts or seeds

mix all together- should be sticking together itself or you need more liquid probably. bake 180c/gas 4/350f
8-10minutes
I recommend making double batch as they don’t last long! Let me know if you try them!

Little Changes

My New Years resolution was ‘eat less sugar’….that lasted the typical two weeks until my over indulgent sweet tooth won out. Two months ago I decided my goal need to be more defined, tangible and achievable.

‘go one day a week without refined sugar’

-no cakes, cookies, biscuits, bars, yogurts, hard candy, juice etc.
-fruit, honey etc is all ok.

My sweet tooth hasn’t got the best of me this time. The no sugar days are getting easier and I feel good because I am achieving this goal. If you are looking to make a change in your life, it is better to start small, with something that is manageable and sustainable.

Things I have been eating instead of the usual sweets-

Home-made granola with fruit and plain yogurt
Tahini, honey and oat bars
Oatie biscuits made with honey, molasses
Dried Dates

Want to join my no sugar days challenge? Comment below if you would like the recipes too;)