5 Things you didn’t know about Yoga

  1. It originated in India about 5,000 years ago
    Even though it’s just become super popular, the practice has been around for a long time.
  2. It can help reduce pain in the body.
    Certain poses can be used consistently to strengthen your muscles, for example, in your back to reduce back pain.
  3. There are different kinds of yoga.
    It’s not just about slowly moving through poses which some think is “boring”. There is also fast paced yoga called Vinyasa which keeps you moving through asanas fairly quickly.
  4. “Yoga” means to “unite” in Sanskrit
    Sanskrit is the original language for yoga. You can think of this union in any way you like. The mind, body and spirit, you and the world around you- whichever union you prefer to keep you motivated.
  5.  Each yoga pose (asana) has its own original name in Sanskrit.
    For example, the wheel pose is called Urdva Dhanurasana.

 

Photo by CATHY PHAM

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Finishing University

Hello everyone!

I’d just like to begin by saying hello and welcome and I’m sorry I was gone for a few weeks! For those of you that don’t know, I am in my last year of university and when people say the last year is full of stress, ‘they’ weren’t messing around! I tried really hard to manage my time and keep writing for this blog but basically, it got to a point where all of my deadlines were approaching (it’s so annoying that almost all the deadlines are ‘strategically’ placed around the same time) and I just had to prioritise those essays and presentations. BUT, do not fret because I am now ALL FINISHED (woohoo!) and I am back here for you all.

I’m so excited to have finished uni because suddenly I have much more free time on my hands! I do need to start looking around and thinking about if I want to study for a masters (which I’ve always said I did not want to do) or look to get a full-time job. It’s quite a hard decision I think though, because if I start looking for a job, WHICH job do I want? What kind of sector would I like to go into? I don’t know. My degree is of business and Spanish and one day I would love to become fluent in Spanish. However, this is quite a broad degree and I could do a variety of jobs with it. I also don’t really fancy studying for another year, to be honest. I’ve got a question for you all, have you got a masters qualification? Do you think they are useful/ beneficial? I’m currently debating doing an online masters, to give me a bit more freedom to work, still get another qualification and get more skills.

It’s a difficult time because, as I was told not that long ago, “the world is your oyster.” And now I’ve finished university, I’ve gotta make some big decisions. Sometimes the weight of making these decisions that are key to my life can be quite scary, but I’m trying to not think about how important they are and just take searching at my own pace. After all, this time now is also for me to enjoy. I’m going to get back into fitness (which is another thing I’ve neglected due to deadlines), going to do some reading, maybe some painting and enjoy my hobbies again. What do you all do to relax and enjoy your time? If you have any good book recommendations, feel free to send them my way!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Spread the word

When originally thinking about starting this blog I thought about the things I wanted to talk about and share with others. As yoga was the main reason I wanted to start it up, I naturally thought, it can be a place to document my learning process, progress and other yoga related things. However, I sat there and thought, well it’s my journey which not only includes yoga. It’s about other things that affect me, help me grow and learn, too.

I love animals. I love wildlife and I am concerned with the fact that the Earth needs saving. One thing I thought might be another way in which to use my blog is to research any stories, news or information that might be interesting or amazing or heartwarming or maybe just something that needs more attention and share it via the blog. There are perhaps many occasions where love, kindness or maybe hurtfulness happens yet the message isn’t spread. As I’m sure many of you know, global warming is increasingly becoming a higher issue for the world and its inhabitants, but do we all know how it directly affects things? Many photographers are able to catch images of starving polar bears, marine biologists tell us about how sharks and other fish are endangered and how this can and will massively affect us and the people of the future. But, what can we do? How can we help? Many people recycle, many people make good choices on where they buy their food from and what they eat but I think sometimes just being more aware can help.
This is also a way for me to share my passions and if it helps spread awareness even to one person then to me, that’s great.

So, just in summary, I plan to post about something different, interesting or amazing every once in a while and see how that goes. If there are any topics you would like to see more light given to then please, let me know!

Thanks for Reading, stay tuned for the first “Spread the Word” post!

Maria

❤️

5 Ways to Use a Yoga Wheel

In a previous post “Yoga Props! What they are and how they can help” I gave a bit of information on different yoga props that exist and I spoke a bit about the yoga wheel. Click here to read more.

What is a yoga wheel?
Basically, a yoga wheel can be made out of different things but ultimately they are made out of PVC, others out of other blends of plastic and other materials. The purpose of the wheel is to be strong enough to support your weight in many different poses and positions. It’s a great way to change and challenge your practice, it especially helps you work on your balance!

What can it be used for?
Like other yoga props out there, the yoga wheel is there to support you in poses that you maybe can’t yet fully do and perhaps allow you to push yourself further in poses you can do.

5 Ways to use the wheel!

  1. To open up your chest and shoulders
    20180205_13045220180205_130455
  2. To support you in difficult poses e.g. backbends like kapotasana
    20180205_130643
  3. To steady your forearm stands
    Place the wheel between your hands and go into the forearm stand as normal. I don’t personally use my wheel this way, but it works for many people.
  4. To mix up your workouts & core workouts
    20180205_130800_1
    This is just a funky way to include the wheel in a core workout. You’re still doing the crunch but the added weight of the wheel and the act of moving it back and forth is a way to engage your mind a little more.
  5. Practicing handstands and handstand presses20180205_131146_1

This core work also makes your arms and hands become used to supporting your body’s full weight. Also building the core strength here is a great way to prepare for handstands and handstand press as these are the main muscles that will be used.

Thanks for reading, I hope this has helped give you more of an insight into how to use your yoga wheel!

Don’t forget to check back with me weekly for new posts and click the follow button to subscribe!

Maria

❤️

Bandhas- what they are and how they can enhance your yoga practice

After practising yoga for a little while and following yogis online, I kept coming across this term ‘bandha’.

So, what is it? In Sanskrit, Bandha means to lock, hold or tighten. It relates to different areas of the body that you can “lock” to gain more control of what your muscles are doing. The three “main” bandhas are the Mula Bandha (the pelvic floor muscles), the Uddiyana Bandha (the abs up to the diaphragm) and the Jalandhara Bandha which is in the throat.

However, there are more than just those three, for example, the Hasta Bandha which are in the palm of the hands and the Pada Bandha are in the soles of the feet.

In a more spiritual way of thinking about it, bandhas are a way of directing the flow of the energy inside you. When you engage a bandha you focus the energy and the outcome is a body in full control.

How do you engage your Bandhas?

For example, to engage the Uddiyana Bandha in the abs, you pull your belly button in towards your spine and up towards your diaphragm. Why would you want to do it? It will help you gain more control of your body and can be described as something that will make you “fly”. This is because it locks all the strength in your core that you need to lift your legs up, for example, in flying pigeon pose.

I look forward to incorporating these into my practice more and will keep you all updated on how it goes!

Thanks for reading, check back in with me weekly for new posts!

Maria

❤️

 

Path of Self- Love

There are many occasions which will make you feel kinda sad, upset, depressed and plenty of other negative feelings in life. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do to make yourself feel better or even to help the situation.

What do you do?
A classic English thing to say is to “have a cup of tea”. Might sound a bit strange, and in a way, it is really quite strange. But I suppose to some extent it’s a nice hot drink that’s giving you a warm hug on the inside. Sometimes people have a tea with someone else and while you drink you express your feelings. But sometimes that doesn’t always help, does it? Sometimes you want to shout, cry, be alone, or just sit there and wallow in the kind of feelings that you have.

What happened to make you feel this way? Something you did? Something someone else did? A mixture of both?
Sometimes our problems can be our own doing. Sometimes, without even thinking we do things, out of love or true intentions but it ends up biting us somewhere down the line. What if you’re used to putting other people first and then you find that actually, they don’t do the same for you? I suppose to a certain extent you accept it and you move on because you love them and that’s just the way your priorities are. But you kinda hoped that they would’ve done more. At the end of the day, people may hurt you a little by doing that without even realising it.

I am the kind of person who puts other people first and even though you don’t do it to get the same treatment, sometimes it really does hurt when you get put last. I recently spoke to a friend about this and she helped me with this a lot. She told me that she had been in a similar situation and she is also the kind of person who puts others first. But, ultimately, she said you’ve gotta love yourself. If you love yourself, make time for yourself, treat yourself well then that’ll kinda be the best thing for you. That isn’t to disregard other people but to just make sure you’re taking care of yourself first. I basically learned that “self-love” is not something I do and it isn’t about treating yourself to clothes or something (although that could be part of it), it’s more about the way you think about yourself too. You may not be able to help people treating you this way, but if you love yourself enough to realise you deserve more, that could be all the help you need.

What do I deserve? This has been a big thought changing process that I’ve just started. I’m going to try and love myself more. I’m going to look at certain things in life and think, is this good for me? Is this helping me become my best self? Sometimes things/ people are bad for you. Not necessarily because they mean to hurt you but sometimes its just a case of maybe people only talking to you when it suits them and maybe when you actually need them, they’re not there. So here’s a new path on the journey. The path to self- love. It’s going to be hard, I think. You can’t change the way you see yourself or the way you think overnight. But I’m going to try to do more, be more, and love and respect myself.

Just a reminder for you all:
You’re important. You matter. Your feelings matter. You’re worthy. Don’t let other people say or treat you otherwise.

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

 

The importance of breath

If you have control of your breath, you have control of your mind.

Breath in Sanskrit is Prana and yoga actually incorporates “breath control” which is called Pranayama. The basis of this is that it channels and releases the body’s internal energy. Life incorporates so many things that we just cannot control. Traffic, weather, general stressors, and the early yogi’s realised that we, as humans have this need to try and control it and gain some stability. Now, personally, I would agree with that, and yet even though we try our hardest, so much is out of our control no matter how much we try. The weather, for example, I’ve been caught in the rain or even the cold despite having checked multiple forecasts so many times. Things happen. Another thing about humans, a lot goes on in our minds, we live pretty busy lives. I’m sure at some point you’ve been thinking of like, at least 5 different things at once. What am I going to do for dinner? Do I have food in the fridge? Did I remember to lock the door? Did I do my homework? When was the deadline for that coursework? Will I have time to pop to the shops before picking up the kids? That kind of stuff. I don’t have kids, but I have little sisters that I pick up from school when I can and I appreciate the time issues and stresses parents have.

Sometimes its hard to quieten all of the noise in your head, and your breath can show that. You get nervous, your breath shortens and quickens, some people hyperventilate, and that can just make things worse. But, yogis discovered that if you even out your breath, you can even out your mind and calm the thoughts so they don’t keep jumping around and stressing you out.

So, apart from quieting your mind and calming you, what other things make breathing important in yoga? Well. Without getting too philosophically yogic here, it allows you to tap into the greatness that you have within you and harness it to really do your best. Say you’re doing your yoga practice, instead of giving energy to floating thoughts, you’re instead channelling that energy to focus on what you’re doing. I love this feeling. Because I am a bit of a worrier. I worry about stuff and I have been known to stress myself out a bit. But my best practices have been where I’ve been able to let go. A lot of the time I follow youtube videos, so I’m able to focus on my breathing, listen to what I’m supposed to do and that’s it. It’s me, my mind, my mat and whoever is teaching me. And, unfortunately (in a way), the time just flies by.

This control of your breath isn’t just for your yoga, this can help you in just everyday life. Whenever you get nervous, worried or any feeling really where you feel you need more control and clarity, practice breath control!

In the future, I plan on going into a bit more detail about the different breathing exercises that you can do to gain control, so stick with me if you’re interested and click the follow button to receive alerts when I post new stuff!

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.”

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Why is wrist care important in yoga?

Wrists are not made to carry the whole weight of your body. So without the proper prep, it is possible that with a lot of weight being placed on them, you may injure them. In the modern workplace, being in front of a computer typing on a keyboard, it’s likely that you don’t use your wrists to their “full extension” which is when your wrists are at a 90-degree angle to your forearm. And so, being in asanas that demand this of you, (e.g. crow/ crane pose or handstand) can cause a lot of strain and can cause pain in your wrists. This might just be a bit of a stretch but sometimes it may develop into pain and then develop into injuries such as Carpal Tunnel.

If your wrists are already sore or have been for a while due to strain, I’d recommend resting your wrists to allow any damage to heal. It might sound difficult to stop, but you can still practice yoga without putting a lot of pressure on your wrists, for example, boat pose, chair pose- no wrist pressure! After time of resting and healing, it’s time to start incorporating wrist stretches and then slowly introducing more pressure to build up to more heavily weight-bearing poses. The same goes for if you’re starting out- get into good habits asap! Incorporate good wrist stretches into your practice to care for your wrists to avoid injury.

In occasions such as this, visual aids may be easier to show you different exercises. So here are some ways to strengthen and take care of your wrists:

20171010_11190920171010_111902

Being in tabletop pose is a good position to stretch and strengthen your wrists because you are able to apply pressure whilst not placing all of your weight on them. The picture to the left is the first wrist exercise. So start in tabletop and face your fingertips opposite each other with your hands flat and just rock side to side. You should feel a stretch in your wrists here. You can also rock forward and back here.

 

Here with the second picture, place your hands down with your fingertips facing your knees and rock back and forth. You can also turn your hand around so that your palms are facing up here and again, rock back and forth.

 

 

20170901_200119
With the third picture here, place your wrists together, your fingertips facing out to the sides and lay your hands down in front of you. Now, you can rock back and forth, side to side or move in a circular motion so that you feel the stretch in your wrists.

 

 
Another thing that you can do is, place your thumb and middle finger of your right hand around your left wrist. Now rotate your left wrist clockwise and anticlockwise 10 times each way and then swap wrists!

These are just a few things that you can do to help protect your wrists! Try and incorporate these into your practices as much as you can to avoid any injuries!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

 

 

What do I love about yoga?

Calm & focus

This might sound a bit typical, but yoga really does calm me. It’s got a reputation for a reason. Certain poses you can relax into, like child’s pose, or puppy pose (that I’ve shown above.) However, also when I’m flowing from one pose to another, I don’t concentrate on anything else. Any other thoughts or feelings that I had before practice kind of just melt away because I’m not giving them any thought. And to be honest, I can’t give them any thought because I’m focusing on my breathing, my form and really trying to get the most out of my practice. So, there’s another thing I love- it makes me focus, and “be in the now.”

Why is “being in the now good?”

Well, if you’ve had a stressful day at work/ uni/ life then just being in the moment can be so good. Say, for example, you come home and you can fit in a 20-minute yoga sesh. That’s 20 minutes of not stressing about what has happened to you today. 20 minutes of not worrying about tomorrow or things you have to do later or maybe, things you haven’t done at all. That’s 1200 seconds of you time. Breathing, moving, giving your body a good stretch and a good release of tension that you may have been holding within it.

Progress

I love the progress that I’m making in my yoga practice. Progress with my mind and self in that, I’m actively trying to get less stressed and trying to let more of the ‘little things’ go. It is hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Sometimes it is easy to just worry about you and get annoyed about everything that happens, traffic, deadlines, people. But I’m trying, and that’s a start. My body is also making progress physically. My balance is increasing, I’m getting stronger, more flexible and more poses are becoming more achievable. Being able to feel and see the progress I’ve made so far really motivates me to keep going and see what else I can do and develop myself more, and stress out less. I really feel like this journey is slowly allowing me to open up to myself and become my best self, and I’m excited for what there is to come.

Yoga community

I LOVE the yoga community. I’ve been on Instagram posting yoga pictures for only a few months, my asanas and my photography really aren’t as good as other, more experienced yogi’s. I don’t have any picturesque backgrounds and I don’t travel often enough to get lots of variation in my pictures. But that’s okay for me because that is their journey and this is mine. Yet the support and love I get from other yogi’s all over the world are amazing! People that I don’t know are commenting on my pictures, encouraging me to keep going and it’s just such a nice feeling. There’s so much love in these people, being able to connect through yoga is something really special and the yoga community is one of my favourite things about yoga.

I’ve mentioned a few of my favourite things about yoga, these aren’t the only things that make yoga enjoyable for me, but it’s just a few of the things I think are worth mentioning. But each person may have their own different reasons for practicing/ liking/ loving yoga. Feel free to comment saying what you love about yoga, or if you’ve never given it a try and want to, please do! Here’s a link to one of my older posts “Which kind of yoga is for you?” to help you decide what you’d like to try.

Practice yoga, spread the word and spread the love. When writing one of my previous posts, “Yoga quote- being loyal to your practice”, I found a quote that inspired me:

“Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring at the door. Keep knocking, and eventually the joy inside will look out to see who is there.” – Rumi

So let’s keep knocking because I think the world needs more love and joy, and who is to say I, you or we can’t make a difference?

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️