In recent months I have explored the wonders of the wrist and the secrets of strong shoulders. Each has a huge influence on the way we practice yoga poses and both, rightly, deserved the individual attention. But, what of the bits of the arm between? Just a couple of bones, a few muscles and a hinge in the middle – let’s take a look and discover the sophistication of this undervalued anatomical part. (more…)
Our calf muscles are a great team. Two muscles, gastrocnemius, and soleus, both joined to the heel via the achilles tendon. Gastrocnemius is the powerhouse – propelling us forwards with every step we take. Soleus is a postural muscle – a less flashy chap that works a just a little but for a lot of the time. Soleus is what is working most when we stand still.
Strong calf muscles help us to stay upright and walk, but they also prevent the curse of ‘cankles’. When we are on our feet a lot, particularly in hot weather, our ankles can swell. That swelling is simply fluid called ‘lymph’ that has leaked from the blood vessels in our legs and flowed down to the lowest point. This leakage is a good thing and is supposed to happen. The lymph actually washes through the tissues before being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. It only becomes a problem for us when it is slow to be reabsorbed and starts to build up. Strong calf muscles help to pump the lymph out of the tissues and back into the bloodstream – swollen ankles solved! (more…)
Yoga is more than just stretching and breathing. Discover the 10 yoga attitudes that you can cultivate towards yourself and others to lay the foundation for your whole yoga practise. Known as yamas and niyamas, these attitudes can help us further our yoga journey both on and off the mat.
Yoga is a vast subject, and just when you think you know all about it, a whole new yogic practice hoves into view that you know nothing about – step forward, kirtan. So what’s the story of kirtan? Put simply, it is yogic chanting, meditation through song, or communal meditation. It is an ancient practice that is being brought bang up-to-date and steadily rising in popularity here in the UK. So here’s a handy guide to kirtan, from its ancient origins to its modern-day form. (more…)
As a novice yogi, I clearly remember the frustration of poor upper body strength. My shoulders were so weak that chaturaṅga daṇḍāsana resembled a breakdancing caterpillar and iconic poses like bakāsana (crow) and handstands were an impossible dream. But I was not alone. Many people lack strength in their shoulders when they first come to yoga. Modern lifestyle no longer routinely includes the heavy lifting and hard labour that kept our ancestors naturally strong in the arm.
This does not mean that we can’t all aspire to super strong shoulders. Muscles have the capacity to become stronger throughout life. Even in older age, muscles will build with increased loading. So, how can we do this safely and effectively? (more…)