yoga for shoulders and armsCategoriesYoga

Yoga for Tight Legs

If you suffer from tight legs (quads, glutes, hamstrings & hips) then these yoga poses are for you! Tight legs can often trigger pain in the lower back too as well as hinder mobility in strength training activities like squats, toes to bar and lunges. We use our legs all the time, so it’s important that you look after these muscles and allow them to stretch and recover.

Try to practice these movements regularly (after workouts/at the end of your day) and you will soon see a huge improvement in flexibility, mobility, plus maybe a bit of pain relief too!

Yoga for tight legs – our top postures

yoga for tight legs

1. Standing forward fold

Stand upright in Tadasana, feet hip distance apart. Inhale to lift the arms up above the head, lengthening the spine and reaching through the crown to gain space between the vertebrae. Exhale to to swan dive forwards, hinging at the hips whilst keeping length in the spine, brining the chest towards the thighs, before dropping the crown of the head towards the ground letting the neck hang long and loose.  Feel free to cradle the arms, take a slight bend in the knees if needed and rock side to side, back and forth.  Stay here for around 10 breaths.

2. Head to knee

Come to seated, legs straight out in front of you. Move the fleshy bits out from underneath your bum so you can feel your sit bones are in contact with the ground. Bring the sole of the left foot in to the right thigh and square the body off to face the right leg. Flex the toes back towards you rather than pointed. Inhale to lift the arms and body up through the pelvis, creating long neutral spine, arms above the head, lifting upwards through the crown.  Exhale as you keep a long straight spine and fold forwards over the right leg , first bringing the chest toward the thigh, then finally dropping the head towards the knee. Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat other side.

3. One leg king pigeon pose

Come to your hands and knees.  Bring the right leg in front of you bending at the knee and placing its down on the ground at a 45 degree angle towards the right, front, corner of the mat.  Slide the left leg backwards as far as you can go, toes untucked. Make sure the hips remain left and square the front of the mat.  The aim is to get the right bum cheek to the floor and the left hip should rest on top of your right heal.  Use blocks as required. If you are comfortable stay here. If you would like to increase the intensity of the stretch allow the body to fold forwards towards the ground in front until you are completely flat on the ground.  Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

4. Cow Face pose

Come to seated, legs straight out in front of you, then bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left leg under the right knee and placing the left foot to the outside of the right hip, sole facing upwards. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the knees vertically, and placing the right foot to the outside of the left hip, sole facing upwards. Hips should be level and you should be sat evenly on the sit bones, use a block if not.

If you wish to add the arms – Inhale to lift your left up above you, turn your palm to face the wall behind you. Exhale as you bend at the elbow, reaching backwards before you slide the hand down between your shoulder blades.

Inhale to take your right arm straight out to the side, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly, then exhale as you ben at the elbow and try to grab your left hand.  Use a strap to bridge the gap at first. Also try to keep a straight back as leaning forwards only increase the distance your hands have to reach. Stay here for 10 breaths, then release the arms and the legs and switch to do the other side.

Runners stretch

From a high lunge, inhale to straighten the front leg, lifting the body upwards slightly to find length in the spine. Exhale to fold forwards over the right leg, brining the chest towards the thighs, before dropping the crown of the head towards the knee.  Stay here for around 10 breaths, the repeat on the other side.

Half splits

Come to your hands and knees, step your right foot forward between your hands. Left knee should remain on the ground with the top of the left foot on the ground. Flex your right foot, coming up onto the heel and extending your toes back toward you, and begin to straighten your right leg as much as you comfortably can. Keep your hips square and stacked over your left knee. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, begin to fold over your right leg. Keep drawing your right heel back while reaching your chest forward, and draw your shoulder blades down your back and away from your ears. Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat other side.

Garland pose

From standing come down to a squatting position.  yo make want to take your feet out a little wider and even turn the feet out slightly rather than having toes pointing directly forwards.  Aim to have the heals flat to the floor if you can.  Inhale to lengthen though the spine and bring your hands to prayer position in front of you, use your elbows to encourage the knees to go outwards. Stay here for 10 – 15 breaths. Again feel free to add movement, bounce or rock side to side to get deeper. This stretch is not only a great hip opener, but also helps release tension in the lower back.

Dragon

From down facing dog (below) exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee fixed in place, slide the left back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor. Now, place the right hand on the inside of the right foot and nudge the right knee out sideways, sink deeper into the stretch. if you are comfortable stay here, if you want to take the pose further see if you can lower down to your forearms to get deeper. Stay here for 10 breaths. Repeat other side.

Leg breaker

From dragon, come back up on the hands keeping the legs exactly where they were. With your right leg forwards and your left leg long on the ground, reach back with your right hand, whilst bending at the left knee, reaching for your foot and brining the heel towards the buttock so that you feel a stretching the front of your left leg.  If you are comfortable her, you can take the pose further by returning back down to your left forearm and using the right shoulder to keep pushing the right leg outwards for a deeper groin strecth at the same time. Stay here for 10 breaths , then repeat on the other side.

Want to try one of our classes?

If you are new to yoga, or just would like to try to practice more regularly with company, then why not pop along to one of our classes.  We have various levels and styles of classes from the more strength focused Yoga for Fitness classes, to our very chilled Restore & Recover gentle yoga sessions, or if you are looking for something in the middle why not try our Stretch & Tone class.  Full timetables , price and class details can be found here.

We also offer 1-2-1 sessions and private bookings for those who would like something a little more personalised. Read more here.

Follow our instagram and facebook pages for more yoga and nutrition tips and tricks!

CategoriesUncategorized

How to do a headstand

Headstand or Sirsasana is an inverted balancing yoga posture that can be both refreshing and energising. A headstand is simply the art of balancing on your head with your legs in the air.  However, if practiced badly it can cause injuries particularly in the neck region so it is important that you learn how to do a headstand properly.  Below we have written a quick guide to help you safely learn and practice headstand.

Practicing headstands within your practice has many benefits, they can:

  • Relieve stress and help flush the adrenal glands
  • Increase mental focus by improving blood flow to the brain
  • Strengthen the shoulders, arms and core
  • Improve digestion
  • Release toxins by stimulating your lymphatic system

You will be surprised to know there are many different ways to headstand, from different hand placements to varying entry routes – all have their own benefits when it comes to building upon strength and balance.

As headstand is quite an intense pose you should prepare and warm the body up before going straight into the pose.  Good movements and postures to do this include high plank, down facing dog, dolphin pose and boat pose.

Once your shoulders, arms and core are nice and warm you can start to master the headstand…

Mastering how to do a headstand

STEP 1. Get grounded – Finding the right hand placement

To get into headstand it is best to start on your knees. You then need to decide which hand placement option you are going to use. There are two main options…

How to do a headstand with supported hands

1. The supported headstand

This is where your hands are clasped together and placed onto of the crown of the head to create and inverted V from hands to elbows. Find the floor with the crown of your head, and cradle the back of your head with your clasped hands. 80% of your weight should be through the hands and arms, not through the crown of your head.

Tripod Headstand

2. The tripod headstand

This is where the entire crown and top of the head is to the floor. The hands are placed on the floor, shoulder width apart and slightly back, so that again a triangular base is formed.

STEP 2. Going up – Use a wall for support to start

To begin with inversions can be a little scary, so it is always advisable to use a wall for support if this is your first try.  Once you have your hand placement (the base) nailed you are ready to start taking the legs into the air.

To lift, make start to engage your upper body, pressing the elbows or hands into the ground, lifting through the shoulders to protect the neck.  Once you have found a stable base you can lift your legs off the floor until they are vertical and directly above you.

If you are using a wall you can start by leaning back against it until you feel comfortable. Then begin to practice moving slightly further away from the wall, perhaps only using one foot against it to stabilise.  Finally when you feel 100% confident, move completely away from the wall and practice it freestanding!

Tuck is also a favourite entry for beginners to try to once they have moved away from the wall…

STEP 3. Begin to play with balance and hand positions

Now that you are way from the wall and have have the basics nailed you can begin to play with hand positioning, using the legs to create beautiful shapes, or perhaps adding movement to build strength.

Think about entry into the pose, can you make it more challenging by perhaps trying to go into it with pike…

or straddle legs…

Then, once inverted, test out different leg positions a favourite for mine is scissor legs, but other popular variations include soles of the feet together and twisting, or if you have normal eagle pose in your practice why not give it a go inverted!

Headstand Variations – Hand Placement

Headstand with iron cross hand positioning

Headstand Variations – Leg Positioning

Supported headstand with diamond legs
Supported headstand with diamond legs
Supported headstand with scorpion legs
Supported headstand with scorpion legs
Supported headstand with L shaped legs
Supported headstand with L shaped legs
Supported headstand - Bow & Arrow
Supported headstand – Bow & Arrow
Supported headstand - Scissor or Stag Legs
Supported headstand – Scissor or Stag Legs
Supported headstand with eagle legs
Supported headstand with eagle legs

After you have finished playing, you may want to take a moment to recover in child’s pose.

yoga for runnersCategoriesYoga

Yoga for Runners

Attention all runners out there – these yoga poses are directed specifically at you!

If you are a keen runner, the chances are you lower body has taken an absolute hammering and you might summer from all sorts of aches and pains. Release and stretch tight hamstrings, ease lower back pain and tension in the hips with these 9 simple stretches that you can do anywhere, ideally directly after your running session.

Our top yoga poses for runners

yoga for runners

1. Low Lunge

From down facing dog (below) exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee fixed in place, slide the left back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor. Stay here for 10 breaths. Repeat other side.

2. Half Splits

Come to your hands and knees, step your right foot forward between your hands. Left knee should remain on the ground with the top of the left foot on the ground. Flex your right foot, coming up onto the heel and extending your toes back toward you, and begin to straighten your right leg as much as you comfortably can. Keep your hips square and stacked over your left knee. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, begin to fold over your right leg. Keep drawing your right heel back while reaching your chest forward, and draw your shoulder blades down your back and away from your ears. Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat other side.

3. Down Facing Dog

Come to your hands and knees, Hands slightly forwards of your shoulders, knees under hips. Exhale to tuck your tone and lift knees away from the floor, pushing your sit bones high towards the ceiling and creating an upside down V-shape.  Heels may or may not come to the ground, feel free to take a slight bend in the knees if the stretch is too much. Head should hang loosely, crown towards the ground. Now push your head through your arms, whilst pressing evenly through the palms to of your hands.  You should rotate your shoulders outwards to create space between the shoulder blades, broadening your back, wrapping your lateral muscles around your ribcage for stability. Feel free to pedal the feet to ease off tight hamstrings.  Aim to stay in this pose for at least 10 breaths.

4. Wide Leg Forward Fold

Take the feet out wide, long sides of the feet should be parallel to the short edges of your mat.  Press evenly through all four corners of the feet. Inhale to lift the arms up above the head, lengthening the spine and reaching through the crown to gain space between the vertebrae. Exhale to to swan dive forwards, hinging at the hips whilst keeping length in the spine, brining the crown of the head towards the ground letting the neck hang long and loose.  Arms can relax, hanging loose with elbows bent, hands can rest to ground.  Aim to bring the crown of the head eventually to the floor. Stay here for around 10 breaths.

5. Side Flank Stretch

Stand upright in Tadasana, feet hip distance apart. Step the left leg slightly in front, keeping the hips square and level. Lift the toes up and flex back towards you. Take a small ben in the right knee and inhale to lift the arms up above the head, lengthening the spine and reaching through the crown to gain space between the vertebrae. Exhale as you fold over the left leg, hinging at the hips whilst keeping length in the spine, bringing the chest towards the left thigh, before dropping the crown of the head towards the left knee. Place the hands on the ground. Stay here for 10 breaths.  Inhale to lift back to standing, then repeat on the other leg.

6. Pigeon Pose

Come to your hands and knees.  Bring the right leg in front of you bending at the knee and placing its down on the ground at a 45 degree angle towards the right, front, corner of the mat.  Slide the left leg backwards as far as you can go, toes untucked. Make sure the hips remain left and square the front of the mat.  The aim is to get the right bum cheek to the floor and the left hip should rest on top of your right heal.  Use blocks as required. If you are comfortable stay here. If you would like to increase the intensity of the stretch allow the body to fold forwards towards the ground in front until you are completely flat on the ground.  Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

7. Supine Abdominal Twist

Lay flat on your mat.  Take your arms out to the side in a ‘T’ shaped position, palms facing down. Inhale to lift the legs together bending at the knees 90 degrees. Exhale to drop the legs over the left side of the body. Shoulders remain flat to the ground. Inhale to turn the head so that you look at the back of the right hand. Stay here for 10 breaths.  Inhale to lift the head and legs back to the centre. Repeat on the other side.

8. Standing Splits

Stand upright in Tadasana, feet hip distance apart. Inhale to lift the arms up above the head, lengthening the spine and reaching through the crown to gain space between the vertebrae. Exhale to to swan dive forwards, hinging at the hips whilst keeping length in the spine, bringing the chest towards the thighs, before dropping the crown of the head towards the ground letting the neck hang long and loose. Place the hands on the ground in front of your feet. Inhale as you lift the left leg back and upwards into standing splits. Stay here for 10 breaths. Exhale to lower the leg back down to the floor and repeat on the other leg.

9. Twisted Forward Fold

Stand upright in Tadasana, feet hip distance apart. Inhale to lift the arms up above the head, lengthening the spine and reaching through the crown to gain space between the vertebrae. Exhale to to swan dive forwards, hinging at the hips whilst keeping length in the spine, bringing the chest towards the thighs, before dropping the crown of the head towards the ground letting the neck hang long and loose. Place the left hand on the floor in front of your feet, inhale to lift right arm and eye gaze up to the ceiling, twining at the hips and pushing through the left palm to gain a deeper stretch. Stay here for around 10 breaths.

Want to try one of our classes?

If you are new to yoga, or just would like to try to practice more regularly with company, then why not pop along to one of our classes.  We have various levels and styles of classes from the more strength focused Yoga for Fitness classes, to our very chilled Restore & Recover gentle yoga sessions, or if you are looking for something in the middle why not try our Stretch & Tone class.  Full timetables , price and class details can be found here.

We also offer 1-2-1 sessions and private bookings for those who would like something a little more personalised. Read more here.

Follow our instagram and facebook pages for more yoga and nutrition tips and tricks!

yoga for back painCategoriesUncategorized

Yoga for Back Pain

Yoga for back pain can be the best, natural, quick fix, pain relief method you will ever discover! If you workout a lot, sit at a desk or do anything repetitively from time to time you might be likely to suffer from a tight back or back pain. There are lots of yoga poses you can do which can help relieve and ease off this pain, and if practiced regularly (after workouts/at the end of your day) you can even rid it all together!

Yoga for Back Pain

Below are our top 9 yoga for back pain postures and stretches:

yoga for back pain1. Standing forward fold

Standing feet hip distance apart, inhale to lift up through the crown, lengthening the spine, and exhale as you hinge at the hinge, gently fold the body over the legs, chest towards the thighs, before dropping the crown of the head towards the ground letting the neck hang long and loose.  Feel free to cradle the arms, take a slight bend in the knees if needed and rock side to side, back and forth.  Stay here for around 10 breaths.

2. One Legged Pigeon Pose

Come to your hands and knees.  Bring the right leg in front of you bending at the knee and placing its down on the ground at a 45 degree angle towards the right, front, corner of the mat.  Slide the left leg backwards as far as you can go, toes untucked. Make sure the hips remain left and square the front of the mat.  The aim is to get the right bum cheek to the floor and the left hip should rest on top of your right heal.  Use blocks as required. If you are comfortable stay here. If you would like to increase the intensity of the stretch allow the body to fold forwards towards the ground in front until you are completely flat on the ground.  Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

3. Cat/Cow

Come to your hands and knees. As you inhale, dip the stomach towards the ground and look up creating a small backbend in the spine. As you exhale push through the arms, round the shoulders, drop the head, look down, and suck the navel in towards your spine creating a reverse bend. A lovely movement to gently mobilise and stretch the spine.

4. Half lord of the fishes

Come to seated, legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee, lift it over the left leg and place your right foot flat on the floor on the outside of your left leg. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling. Right arm can be placed on the floor behind you. Inhale to lift up through the crown, finding length in the spine, taking your left arm over to the right knee. As you exhale to twist the stomach in towards the thigh.  Eye gaze should be behind you.  Use your right arm to help deepen the twist and pull you around further.  Hole for 10 breaths, the repeat other side.

5. Supine Abdominal Twist

Lay flat on your mat.  Take your arms out to the side in a ‘T’ shaped position, palms facing down. Inhale to lift the legs together bending at the knees 90 degrees. Exhale to drop the legs over the left side of the body. Shoulders remain flat to the ground. Inhale to turn the head so that you look at the back of the right hand. Stay here for 10 breaths.  Inhale to lift the head and legs back to the centre. Repeat on the other side.

6. Apanasana

Lay flat on your mat.  Inhale to lift the legs together in towards the chest, bending at the knees. Exhale as you hug the knees with both arms bringing them tighter into your chest. Stay here for 10 breaths.  feel free to rock side to side, back and forth, to give your lower back a little massage at the same time.

7. Head to Knee

Come to seated, legs straight out in front of you. Move the fleshy bits out from underneath your bum so you can feel your sit bones are in contact with the ground. Bring the sole of the left foot in to the right thigh and square the body off to face the right leg. Flex the toes back towards you rather than pointed. Inhale to lift the arms and body up through the pelvis, creating long neutral spine, arms above the head, lifting upwards through the crown.  Exhale as you keep a long straight spine and fold forwards over the right leg , first bringing the chest toward the thigh, then finally dropping the head towards the knee. Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat other side.

8. Reclined hamstring stretch

Lay flat on your mat legs straight out.  Inhale to lift one leg, keeping it straight, hinging at the hip, as you reach 90 degrees exhale bringing the leg further towards your head, still keeping it straight, as far as you can go. You may want to use a strap, or your hands if you can reach. Stay here for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

9. Garland Pose

From standing come down to a squatting position.  yo make want to take your feet out a little wider and even turn the feet out slightly rather than having toes pointing directly forwards.  Aim to have the heals flat to the floor if you can.  Inhale to lengthen though the spine and bring your hands to prayer position in front of you, use your elbows to encourage the knees to go outwards. Stay here for 10 – 15 breaths. Again feel free to add movement, bounce or rock side to side to get deeper. This stretch is not only a great hip opener, but also helps release tension in the lower back.

Want to try one of our classes?

If you are new to yoga, or just would like to try to practice more regularly with company, then why not pop along to one of our classes.  We have various levels and styles of classes from the more strength focused Yoga for Fitness classes, to our very chilled Restore & Recover gentle yoga sessions, or if you are looking for something in the middle why not try our Stretch & Tone class.  Full timetables , price and class details can be found here.

We also offer 1-2-1 sessions and private bookings for those who would like something a little more personalised. Read more here.

Follow our instagram and facebook pages for more yoga and nutrition tips and tricks!