Yoga on a plane?

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Crammed in between two strangers in a Jetstar seat for 9 hours is no one’s idea of travelling comfortably, least of all mine, as I reaffirmed yesterday. Although lucky in the ability to fold myself up in to various positions whilst seated, I noticed that after two hours on the plane my hips and back were already screaming out for some love. Not only do our muscles start to cramp from inactivity, but the massive dehydration project that aeroplanes put on your body only assist in making your muscles tighter and thus our ability to relax fully is jeopardized. So what can you do to help the situation without blowing all your frequent flyers points on an upgrade to premium economy or business class?

Start by drinking lots of water. This not only helps minimise dehydration but also gives you more reasons to get up and stretch your legs. I drink enough water that I need to get up around every 90 minutes or so.

Each time you get up to use the bathroom walk to the end of the plane and then back again (unless meal service is in place and then you’ll get stuck behind the trolley where all you’ll get are constant wafts of the Roast beef and gravy meals being dished up for 40 minutes).

After you’ve used the bathroom head to the very back of the plane where there is normally a bit more space (where, as I yesterday found out there is a deposit of uncomfortable passengers using the spare square metre to stretch out). There are a few stretched you can do that won’t require you to put your hands on the floor and are also a little more plane-acceptable that the Chaturanga-Updog-Downdog favourite of hotels rooms.

1) Stand with feet hip distance apart and facing a wall. Press your palms against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart. Keep your gaze just slight above the space between your hands and on an inhale press your chest towards the wall. On an exhale keep looking forward but push the wall away from you as you push your spine and shoulder blades back. Repeat 5 times (NB – when the person in the chair in front of your goes to the bathroom you can use the opportunity to do this again, seated, with your hands on the back of their headrest).

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2) Turn your back to the wall and lean your bottom against it, with your feet slightly forward and hip distance apart. Bend your knees a little and fold yourself over your legs, taking your hands to your elbows. As a variation you can interlace your hands behind your back and move them behind your head.

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3) Keep standing with your back towards the wall and lift one leg in to tree pose (foot on the inner thigh or inner calf muscle). Use one hand on the wall for balance and with the other hand apply some light pressure on to the inside of your raised leg to open the hip.(Repeat other side)

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4)      Again with the back towards the wall, lift one leg and hug the knee as high in to your chest as you can. Strongly activate your standing thigh by lifting it up and push forward through your hips to work in to the psoas (which gets really tight when we spend so long seated).
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When you return to your seat try to move around as much as possible (without causing too much irritation to your neighbour). I often sit with my legs crossed or one foot on the inner thigh, and then change sides. Your hips will thank you for it!

If all else fails then this is an opportunity to practice withdrawl of the senses – and a practice in being able to simply sit.
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What are your tips for getting through a long plane trip?

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How Non-Attachment improved (and became) my Yoga Practice

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As many of you know, I am leaving for India in only 3 days and won’t be back until just before Christmas. Whilst I have been super excited to travel I have discovered in the last 2 weeks, through preparing for my travels that I am suffering from some severe cases of attachment! Attachment to my practice, attachment to my classes and mostly, a huge attachment to Yoga Village.

According to the Yoga Sutras, Practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya) are the two core principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. But what happens when we grow so attached to our practice that we can’t step away from it?

Over the last couple of weeks I have had some niggles in my knees; there wasn’t a particular pose or fall that set it off; dealing with the stress of leaving my baby (Yoga Village) for the first time since she was born had begun to present itself to me through physical injury.  It was then that I started to see the huge attachment that I have to the practice of yoga asana and therefore stepping back from my practice in order to allow my knees to rest has been an interesting process for me to go through.

I had already tried to hold back in poses that aggravated the problem further and it helped a little but I could see that two days off the mat was what was needed to complete the recovery. There was one major problem though; the concept of not practicing brought up all sorts of fears and questions for me. My thought trail went something like this ‘what if my practice goes downhill?’, ‘what if this means I won’t be as strong when I get to India?’, ‘Will my teacher think I am not committed?’ One of my friends, Kylie, bore the brunt of this mild yoga separation and told me, simply put that I had to just 'let it go'. It was then that I realised that for me, in this instance the mere act of stepping away from the mat in order to be mindful of what my body needed was to be my practice for a few days. Trusting in the universe and stepping away was incredible difficult but in actual fact it was exactly what I needed. I was surprised to find that this practice was just as much physical as it was mental, as my body longed to stretch, twist and tangle itself in to knots, my mind had to disciplinary. And it worked, within 2 days my pain had reduced so significantly that along with a modified practice it completely healed within the week. When I first stepped back on the mat it was difficult and I didn’t feel as strong,, after a few days my practice was back to normal and all was forgotten!

This became most significant when I began to apply the idea of letting go to some other areas in my life. Stepping away from my email was a big one. I had intended to be doing lots of email checking and running the business remotely whilst in India, even though Jess and some of the other teachers had offered to help out. I knew they were more than capable of keeping it going and the problem most certainly wasn't them; it was me. One by one I started to let go of things and therefore created the space in my life to be completely ready and relaxed when I arrive in India and it feels truly liberating!

What do you need to let go of?

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How to Get Glowing Yogi Skin

Now that we are half way through Spring, your body is busy working its way through the natural detoxification process that occurs after winter to help bring your body in to optimum health and shape for the upcoming summer. There are many things that we can do to help our bodies along with that process, after which your body should thank you by rejuvenating your skin, hair and energy levels. See below to find out more about how to get that Yoga Glow.

Getting the Gleam

As many of you know Yoga is extremely detoxing. By going upside down in poses such as Downward Dog and Headstand (which, by the way, is said to be the best pose for reversing the signs of aging!) we encourage blood flow to the face. This blood flow increases oxygen and other minerals to the skin which encourages rejuvenation, as well as rosier cheeks and general glow. Twists and backbends place pressure and stretch various organs which again encourage blood flow to flush the toxins out of them. An increased heart rate in poses such as Warrior and Chair Pose encourages sweat which is one of the body’s natural ways of eliminating toxins. Check out my Spring Detox sequence.

H2O and Glow, glow, glow!

The toxins that are released from the organs during your yoga practice are then released straight in to the blood stream so make sure you are taking the right steps to flush them out of your system after yoga. To do this drink a big glass of water before you come to class and then straight after class do the same. You’ve probably heard it a million times but by drinking water we are flushing the system and allowing the body to clean itself. Not only that, but after class your muscles will need some hydration so drinking a coffee or glass of vino straight away will only dehydrate them further.

Lunching to Luminosity

Certain foods have a particularly good effect on your skin and will help you build your glow. Here are my some of my favourites. Cabbage is low in calories, high in antioxidants, and has around 60% more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage -- free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Check out a great cabbage recipe which is perfect for Spring.

Avocado is not only wonderful for your skin when eaten but can also be applied directly to the skin as a mask to help it gain moisture and collagen. The green fruit is packed with nutrients, including protein, beta carotene, potassium, folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and magnesium. Like cabbage the antioxidants in avocados protect skin from the aging effects of free radicals. Vitamin E helps protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation from the sun, as well as environmental pollutants. Avocados also have healthy fats, or monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and help skin stay moisturized, protecting against fine lines and wrinkles. The oil in avocado also sparks the skin's production of collagen, a substance that helps skin maintain its elasticity and youth. Bring on the guacamole!

Berries – what’s not to like here? Berries are powerful allies for the skin. Berries are packed with antioxidants and are high in Vitamin C, which help protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When choosing berries, pick darkly colored ones, as they provide more vitamins and nutrients than the lighter berries. Blueberries are doubly helpful to the skin as they offer anti-inflammatory substances, which help keep your complexion clear and free of fine lines.

Harness your Happiness

One of the amazing things about teaching yoga is that after each class I get to see a room full of happy faces and in my opinion a smile is the most beautiful thing anyone can have. There is almost no way that you can’t feel happy or content after yoga, but what’s the point in feeling that way if as soon as you step outside and get in your car you are honking the people around you or yelling at your partner again. Try to maintain the essence of your yoga practice in your dealings with everything and everyone around you; you'll find that your entire outlook will change – also changing people’s perception and behaviour towards you. Give the gift of a smile to someone and they will always associate you with that smile.

Salute Your Skin

This Saturday at Darlinghurst's Yoga Village we are holding a yoga workshop called ‘Salute Your Skin’ which will involve a hands on session on finding and maintaining the yoga glow, naturally. I will be running a fun and playful yoga class, that will involve asana, breathing, facial and laughter yoga and Yasemin Trollope (a happiness, health and natural beauty expert) will be and teaching us how to give ourselves facial massages, use pressure points on the face that activate skin renewal, create masks out of normal household ingredients and how to use natural beauty products. We have goody bags to give to each participant that are now valued at over $100 so the workshop pays for itself in products alone. We have three spaces left so follow the link to reserve your place in the class. Get Glowing Yogi's!

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Indian Spiced Cabbage & Sweet Potato Soup

indiansoup I get a box of fresh organic vegetables delivered weekly from Food Connect which is great because I end up with seasonal produce that is fresh and sourced locally. Another bonus is that I end up with vegetables that I often wouldn't think to buy if I went to the grocer myself. This week the last two items left were half a red cabbage and two sweet potatoes. So i jumped online and I found this on http://www.blogher.com. I have changed it slightly to suit my tastes  and was surprised by how delicious it was. I always thought of cabbage soup as being something watery and disgusting but this was really tasty and quite substantial for a yogi's dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 3-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • half a head of medium-size red cabbage, cored and cut into stripes
  • 2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of whole canned tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs to serve (I used parsley from my herb pots but would have used coriander if I had any)

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat until it shimmiesand then add onion, garlic, and ginger to pot. Sauté until onion softens but not brown. Add in garam masala and keep stirring until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add in red cabbage, sweet potatoes, and vegetable broth. Turn up the heat to medium high and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot with lid. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes until vegetable are tender. Take off the heat and add in the can of tomatoes. Using a blender (I used a stick blender to make it easier) blend the soup in to a smooth paste. Stir in cannellini beans to soup.Turn the heat to medium high and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.

This made enough for about 6 serves. Enjoy!

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Yippee! Here comes Spring!

trees Gosh I love this time of year. The days are heating up, the flowers are starting to bloom and there is certainly a spring in my step as I excitedly look forward to summer. Spring is a time of new beginnings, of rebirth and of cleansing. It is the time to undo all the habits we created over winter and prepare ourselves by harnessing all the energy we need in preparation for the high activity of summer. Spring, the season of action is the ultimate time for a detox - Here are my top five tips for a healthy transition in to Spring - try them - they really do work!

1) Yoga of course! Create a daily routine starting with five rounds of Sun Salutations followed by these detoxing poses. Laying down twists which are wonderfully detoxing and cleansing for the organs. Happy Baby Pose helps encourage the outward flow of waste and acid in the body.  Bow Pose encourages elimination and also  puts pressure on the liver which encourages blood flow and cleansing, Finally, a shoulder stand or legs up the wall; inversions flush the blood and organs (and as an added bonus they are said to make you look younger too!)

2) Keep your fluids high. Start each day with a big glass of warm water and lemon and keep it up through the day to flush the system.  Where possible give your digestive system a break by eating soups or drinking smoothies for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Even better than this would be to take 1-3 days out for you to do a Juice Cleanse. When your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest it uses the energy for other things such as detoxing the skin and liver.

3) Body Brushing. Brushing the skin with a natural body brush before you shower encourages circulation through your largest organ – The Skin. This creates the space for your toxins to leave the body and will help you gain that summer glow!

4) Ditch the coffee and drink Green Tea instead. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of green tea I would recommend combining one tea spoon of Green Tea with one tea spoon of Peppermint Tea (or of each tea bags in to a pot) to make it more drinkable. You’ll still get the caffeine so won’t suffer withdrawal symptoms and the caffeine will last longer because it is slow release instead of the ‘hit’. Green Tea is also said to detox free radicals and slow the aging process (yay for that!).

5) Attend Mark Obrien’s Spring Masterclass on September. Mark will guide your through a yoga asana and pranayama sequence designed to help balance out the sluggish Kapha nature of winter by stimulating your Udana Vayu (up lifting energy) through specially designed Yoga Asana and Pranayama. Book Here 

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How to Commit to your Yoga practice

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Thanks for yet another wonderful month at Darlinghurst's Yoga Village – can you believe that August marks 11 months since we opened our doors?!! Thinking back over the last year it is incredible how much I have learned from all of you. Running a business has really tested my inner yogi and has taught me a lot about patience, believing in yourself and the power of a daily yoga practice.

For some years now my daily practice has been a priority and a big part of my life. I am thankful that I created the routine of a daily practice before the taking on the pressures of opening Yoga Village  because in so many ways it has been a saving grace. Whilst I always loved the practice (even though some days are better than others) since opening my own business it has helped me in so many other ways.  I have learned that getting on the mat each day really does allow me to tune in to myself, my energy and gives me an opportunity to put things in to perspective in my personal and professional life. Like everyone, sometimes getting on to the mat can be a struggle, sometimes my mind starts telling me to sleep in or do something else, sometimes my practice only consists of 5 sun salutations and a long inversion but it is the practice of getting on the mat and prioritizing this time for myself daily that has allowed me to grow Yoga Village from a seed of an idea in to a beautiful, flourishing yoga school, all the while keeping myself in check!

Many of you say that you struggle committing to the practice so I wanted to share with you my top four tips for getting on the mat, regularly, even when times are tough.

1) Be Prepared

If you are practicing in the morning then pack your bag and get your yoga clothes ready the night before, so that all you need to do it get up, get changed and go. If you are practicing after work then bring your things with you. Tell your colleagues that you are leaving on time to go to yoga so they are prepared for it. Structure your day so that you don’t end up with lots to do at 5pm, get through the big things first so you know that you won’t be too swamped that you need to work late.

2) Make the time

Block the time out in your diary so that no one books meetings with you, don’t make plans for brunch on Saturday morning unless they come after your practice. Allow yourself the time to do something for you and don’t feel guilty about it.

3) Have a Fall Back Plan

Inevitably there will be a day where something will interrupt your practice time. You might be sick, stuck at work or didn’t hear your alarm. Don’t ride the day off! All you need is 10 minutes and a little bit of space. Do some rounds of sun salutes, a couple of standing poses that you know well, a seated forward bend and then lay on your back with your legs up the wall. You don’t always need to do a full class, and a short home practice is always better than no practice at all.

4) Remember how good you feel when you finish your practice

One of the things that keeps me getting out of bed before the sun comes up is the knowledge that if I go to yoga I will feel better than if I don’t go. If your mind starts creating excuses remember this ‘I have often regretted not practising, but have never, ever regretting practicing.’

Commit to a 4 Week Transformation & Win A Free 3 Month Membership! To help you commit to your practice we have created a 4 Week Yoga Transformation! You’re invited to take part in the transformation which will run for 28 days (September 1st to September 28th 2012). Over the four weeks we encourage you to practice as much as you can and recommend 20 classes (5 per week). If you take part your name will be displayed on a chart in the studio and for each class you attend in September a stamp will appear next to your name. Every participant who has attended a minimum of 20 classes will go in the running to win a Free Three Month Membership to Yoga Village. The winners name will be drawn out of a hat at the celebration party on September 29 (this will be a celebration of the end of the Transformation and also our First Birthday Party!). The cost of the month is only $99 and if you already have a pass or membership then please email me as soon as you sign up and I am happy to put your membership on hold or add more time to your class pass so that it goes on hold for September.

For more details please feel free to email me . You can pre-purchase your pass here.

In Love & light,

Nadia

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Guru Purnima

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We are right in the thick of winter now! There is something magical about practicing yoga in this cold weather – the body is just so ready to move, and the mind so ready to move inwards! Although waking up in the dark is more difficult, in winter it seems to come with a burst of energy which I can feel as soon as you all walk in the room. So thank you for sharing that energy with me.

Today is Full Moon, which in many traditions is a rest day from yoga. There are varied reasons and opinions behind this. Some believe that the lunar cycle leaves you vulnerable to injury; another theory is that because the body consists mainly of water, we are affected by full moon like the ocean tides. Whether you subscribe to these ideas or not it is always nice to bring ourselves back to a restful and grounding practice once a month.

But today isn’t just any full moon, today is Guru Purnima, or ‘The Guru’s Moon’. This is the time to look back at our year so far, review our progress, renew our intentions and determination on the path, as well as Honour the Guru! So today, why not think back to the intentions you might have set at the start of the year, reconsider them and set yourself back on track. Pay respects to all those who have shared wisdom with you and whilst setting your intentions try to link them in with the messages your teachers or guru’s have offered you.

I have been lucky enough to have many wonderful teachers, and although my yoga teachers have taught me so much, one of my favourite pieces of wisdom came from my year 6 teacher, Miss Elliot. I remember her telling the class one day to ‘Look out the window while you are on the bus on your way to school. Look at the people standing at the bus stop frowning. Whatever you do, make sure that you aren’t frowning about where you are headed each day. If you are going to do something daily, make sure it is something to smile about. If it isn’t making you smile then either change what you do or change your approach to what you are doing”. Though I didn't think any thing of it at the time, these wonderfully wise words that have stuck with me for twenty years.

Happy Guru Purnima!

In Love & light,

Nadia

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The Importance of Practicing Yoga in Winter

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I would first like to say how happy I am to see so many of you continuing your yoga practice even though the temperature is dropping. When the weather turns colder it can be an automatic reaction to skip out any physical activity that you do in your life but there are so many reasons why this is the best time of year to really develop a daily practice of yoga.

Here are my top 6:

Winter is traditionally a time where we hibernate and spend more time on our own. It is therefore a wonderful time to create some introspective and to really develop a personal connection with your yoga practice and the energy and feelings it creates in your body. For the same reason it is also a wonderful time to start meditation.

As the temperature outside drops we need the temperature inside to stay warm in order to ward off illness. Practising Ujayi breath while you move is great to help with this.

Ever feel cold fingers and toes and wonder if you have poor circulation? Yoga encourages circulation through your entire body which helps you stay warm when you leave your gloves at home.

Many people suffer from joint pain which is increased in winter. A dynamic yoga practice keeps your joints active and well lubricated to minimise this pain.

Minimised contact with sunlight and natural light can bring about feelings of depression and sadness. Yoga helps increase positive energy so you stay happy and uplifted in winter. Pranayama techniques such as alternate nostril breathing help keep your sinuses healthy and clear. Even if you cannot attend a class daily I would highly recommend including 5 minutes of alternate nostril breathing in to your day.

Lastly, it is toasty warm in here, it smells nice and you'll feel good for having done something other than sit down all day!!

In Love & Light,

Nadia

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How to Approach Change

change Change is a wonderful reminder of one of one of the most important yoga principles, Vairagya (lit. non-attachment). Yogi’s are encouraged to practise non-attachment in relation to material items, and people. The practice of Vairagya involves learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding the true self. This is can be applied to anything in life, including our yoga asana practice. Detaching oneself from fears allows us to move forward and challenge the mental limitations that we place on ourselves. The asana and non-attachment practices work hand in hand; practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way. I encourage you all to focus on this throughout your yoga classes and make a sincere effort to dissolve fears and rediscover your abilities.

In Love & light,

Nadia

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