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  1. New yoga students are often worried that they are not flexible enough to do yoga. There is an assumption here that yoga is defined by posturing alone : what we call asana in yoga.

    Anyone out there who still thinks that their lack of flexibility is an obstacle to yoga can stop worrying and start thinking that they want to do yoga to GET flexible and toned.

    There is however another consideration when starting your yoga journey and that is the importance of the breath. In many ways this is THE most important consideration and often lost in the translation of how practising yoga makes us look good especially when we are parading around in our fancy new yoga gear and trying to get into these weird and wonderful aesthetic positions.

    Correcting your breathing could be your first consideration when starting yoga. 

    It has been said that correct breathing is the thing that glues everything together in our yoga practice. Yet it is often not till students have been practising sometimes for years that they come to realise this.

    Our breathing experience in practice is probably closer to the true nature of yoga than asanas can ever be and that is why it is wise to cultivate a more nourishing relationship with that wonderful phenomena that we have known about since birth but hardly noticed or appreciated.

    If you are budding yoga student be sure to find out as much if not more about the breahting side of the practice when you go to classes.

    In the early days you practice should be navigated with good breathing in mind. 

    Some of this can be usefully done IN posture even using simple warm up movements with considered inhalations and exhalations. It can also be done in relaxation beginning to cultivate an awareness of the Passive Breath and later working with yogas more controlled breathing techniques. The passive breath is often deemed boring by beginner students who cannot understand the need for it. Early on students are easily distracted from this practice as it has little value to the mind. It has been shown however that observing the passive breath while in relaxation allows it to perform more naturally than when we are distracted by conversation, eating, reading TV etc etc. Over time the passive breath BECOMES more interesting. We begin to form a more intimate relationship with the various nuances of the breath cycle and thus are able to keep with it for longer. This process also bears the wonderful gift of a calmer and more relaxed body and mind.

    The increased tempo of our breathing in asana and the introduction of controlled breath techniques adds more strength and dimension and over time some of the tension that we have built into our lungs and  the deep tissues of our muscles of respiration begin to release allowing us to feel more calmer.

    Becasue we also learn to breath more correctly while in a wide range of body positions (asanas) some quite restricted this also helps us to breath better when in other tight situations in life such as difficult meetings, confrontations and unwanted social gatherings.

    So when beginning or returning to yoga or even if you have been practising for a while and "forgotten to breath" and have never quite got it, start to bring as much if not more importance to its value. Find that magic relationship that you can have and deserve to have with your breath. Don't let asana take your breath away.

     

    Barry Todd 

  2. choices

    It's coming up to that time of the year when many people make resolution for the New Year in an attempt to improve their lives.  

    But ..... do you really know what you want?  If it involves the word 'more' then that's hard to define.  For instance if you want more money then you need to define how much more otherwiise you may never be satisified as more could never end.  What would you do with more money - pile it up in a corner? Give it away?  Spend spend spend..  Would that satisfy you?

    Really you need to know what the objective behind the wish is.  So with the above example and exta £x would allow me to not worry about payments I have to make.  I would be able to buy this and this and this that I have been wishing for etc.

    So in actual fact it was never extra money that you wanted but a desire to feel secure and happy.  That would be the focus for your resolution not the money which is only one of the means to getting it.  Let life fill in the details, you just need a clear idea about the life you want deep within.  You need to know what you need to make you happy.

    Often it is nothing material at all.  It is something within you that is unfulfilled.  You and only you have the means to make that change.  Nothing materialistic can do it for you.  It can cover it up or ease the pain but it will not provide the solution.

    For you it's just a matter of changing your perspecitve about your life..  It feels like pain now but that is only because it's the only way you have even known it to feel.  

    Changing your perspective can change your life.

    Hypnotherapy and especially hypnoanalysis can help with that.  The best Christmas present ever is freedom.  Put it on your wish list now.

    Andrea Lowe

    Senior Hypnotherapist and Hypnoanalyst, NLP Practitioner, Hypnotherapy Course Tutor

  3. Yoga for the Embarrassingly Basic!!

     out of fitness doing yoga

     


    I have many people telling me they have attended yoga classes mainly at sports and leisure centres and have found that their billed beginners classes are definitely NOT for beginners. Many complain often with humour that they were run ragged a bit by the flow they were asked to participate in.
    This might happen for a number reasons.
    1. the teacher might be expecting some of the attendees to be gym or fitness aficionados so they put on a moderately challenging flow.
    2. Some teachers feel too embarrassed to effect a flow that is too basic or that might look like a gentle exercise workout.
    3. Some teachers might have been trained or evolved with a strong approach to yoga and find it hard or refuse to moderate - this last approach is not necessarily inconsiderate as yoga teachers are often rightly advised to stick to their personal philosophy about their approach to practice. This would also apply the other way in that a gym yoga class with some students demanding hard core yoga could be well confronted with a teacher that refuses to put everyone through a wringing machine.
    Having said this we are also taught to teach who ever is in front of us and to quickly assess if there is anyone who might have less than peak range of movement. Teachers can often sense this simply by seeing how a student walks across the floor to their mat. This enables teachers to make allowances for those students by offering variations or moderations in poses.
    4. It may be that a teacher has been trained in a specific yoga tradition that doesn’t lean too close to calm abiding or meditation
    5. It could be that the manager of the establishment asks that the yoga classes keep to the regime of fitness.
    6. It could mean that the teacher is not too bothered and has the attitude that this is how I do it so take it or leave it.

    Hopefully there are not too many of the last category although I am sorry to say I have known some.

    When first starting out if someone said why not and teach a senior or remedial group or an absolute beginners class some would baulk at the idea or some might think they are only experienced enough to teach beginners. Further investigation would reveal otherwise. These last few categories and even Chair Yoga can be surprisingly challenging and also interesting as teachers attempt to bring the magic of yoga to the novice.
    Annually I run a five week absolute beginners class of one hour per week to ease new students into the practice of yoga. There is a lot of early foundational light yoga work to waken the body to the idea of asana and then some light strengthening and stretching posturing . Don’t be pout off if you think you are not flexible enough to do yoga because that could be your prime reason for taking it up. We must not forget however the main objective of yoga and that is to calm or abate the distracting and unnecessary activities of the mind. The posturing with considered breathing begins this process by toning and calming our human physical structure.
    Don’t be put off but rather be inspired by the great sage Patanjali who laid down much of the thinking behind most modern yoga practice if you discover that he found out more about his inner self by spending long periods of time in stillness! How much of this do we get in modern asana classes!
    (If you come on my AB classes and find anything too challenging tell me right away.)

    Barry Todd

  4. mental-2301393_960_720

    The Hypnotherapy course starting in September is not just for those who want to become hypnotherapists but also for anyone who wants to improve their relationships and understanding of people.

    Some of us are happy to go to familiar work, get paid and live their life. The more experience we get the better the chances are of us moving up the ladder if we are ambitious. Whilst in most cases, being very knowledgeable about your job is a pre-requisite for promotion, it's generally not the area that creates the biggest headaches.

    Once we progress it often involves managing people. People can be strange creatures, each with their unique approaches and mindsets. That tangle of emotional needs, hang ups from the past, sensitivities, ambitions, determinations .... can become the nemesis of their manager.

    Some have a natural ability to encourage others to cooperate or to 'manage' and get the best from them creating a happy team.

    However, the vast majority of people who get promoted on merit feel as though they have been thrown in at the deep end and their satisfying job has suddenly become their nightmare. Their fragile new job seems to be constantly undermined. They may even become reluctant to communicate with some of their staff for fear of being challenged They feel alone and friendless. They start to feel inadequate, work longer hours and suffer stress symptoms.

    Understanding people, their needs, emotions and inadequacies, being able to switch your approach to get the best from each of your team members could be your greatest achievement. Restoring your self-belief, cutting back your unpaid overtime, not taking your worries home.

    Developing this understanding is a fundamental part of the hypnotherapy course starting in September. It is not only for people who want to become hypnotherapists but also for people who want to understand people better.

    Often companies are more than happy to fund at least part of the cost of the course as they benefit from the increased productivity and improved harmony within their business.

    Andrea Lowe, Senior Hypnotherapist and Course Tutor, Mind and Body

    #middlemanager #improverelationships

     

     

  5.  

    P1000452Every teachers inspiration to teach yoga is very individualistic and often comes from their lifestyle and personal circumstances for example working with children or bringing it to their favoured sports people. This is a good thing because it can put some purpose into applying yoga skills to professional practice. It is often a more powerful drive than simple claims to sharing the benefits of personal practice. Of course we have to do both when we get down to it but these days more than ever with all those budding yoga teachers emerging every year we would do well to have a personal calling or niche.

    Teaching yoga is often a great addition for those with a dancing background as they are already used to “performing”and many of these adhere well to vinyasa or flow yoga where if they are also creative can offer some interesting choreographed sequencing.

    We have to remember that while the West currently holds the stage for yoga and tends to demonstrate this mostly as asana practice there are other areas of yoga that can be exploited and can still have appeal to many students.

    It's easy to forget the great value of yoga breathing and also meditation which is probably the strongest part of Patanjalis message in his great Yoga Sutras on the shoulders of which most modern yoga practice is built.

    You may be strong in this introspective part of yoga and in creating a relaxing mood with candles and incense or knowing just what kind of music to play and lighting to create the right ambiance.

    You may have a more playful style of teaching that appeals to those looking for that off beat kind of teacher.

    There are also those often overlooked areas in this modern day of the dynamic and physical and that is Restorative Yoga with its supportive props and therapeutic and remedial approach. You may have to provide the props but if you can get the cooperation of a venue for storage then this has growing appeal for those who want to sink into the releasing experience of calmness and ease.

    I have only mentioned a few but you probably get the idea and if you are thinking of teaching yoga now's the time to start thinking of who you want to appeal to and with some idea of a theme. A teaching course should give you the methodology and safety and start of anatomy knowledge etc but start thinking now of your target audience and what difference can you make. Whatever flavour of yoga teaching you want to adopt you will still have to strongly bring yourself to the attention of the “yoga community” and tell them all about it.

    I have taught in may gyms as well as having my own studio and I know that many people find it convenient to add the yoga experience to their gym membership which is fine but there are also many who want the personal and close contact of the studio and more yoga that doesn't just resemble aerobic exercise.

    It's not easy to set up a private practice even in an already existing yoga studio. It takes time and patience. Once a budding yoga teacher I new who had a marketing background said the best way to build a yoga class was to get out into the community, find out what people want and then give it to them. A good marketing slogan but the fact is so many people want different things these days and that's probably because they are also different. So why can't you as a new yoga teacher be different and then sell them the difference. Remember in the end you are trying to bring your students a unique experience one where they can go away feeling more whole and human.

    You may also find my post on Yoga:To Teach or not to Teach, useful reading.

    Barry Todd, Senior Yoga Teacher at Mind and Body Yoga Studio and Course Tutor on Yoga Teacher Training

  6. Children can be taught to use their imagination to tackle frequent bouts of stomach pain, research shows.

    imagine fairies

    A relaxation-type CD, asking children to imagine themselves in scenarios like floating on a cloud led to dramatic improvements in abdominal pain.

    The US researchers said the technique worked particularly well in children as they have such fertile imaginations.

    It has been estimated that frequent stomach pain with no identifiable cause affects up to one in five children.

    The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, follows on from studies showing hypnosis is an effective treatment for a range of conditions known as functional abdominal pain, which includes things like irritable bowel syndrome.

     There is really a dearth of information on how to manage children with abdominal pain
    Professor David Candy

    In this study, the children had 20 minute sessions of "guided imagery" - a technique which prompts the subject to imagine things which will reduce their discomfort.

    One example is letting a special shiny object melt into their hand and then placing their hand on their belly, spreading warmth and light from the hand inside the tummy to make a protective barrier inside that prevents anything from irritating the belly

    The researchers, from the University of North Carolina and Duke University Medical Center, said a lack of therapists led them to the idea of using a CD to deliver the sessions.

    In all 30 children aged between six and 15 years took part in the study - half of whom used the CDs daily for eight weeks and the rest of whom got normal treatment.

    Among those who had used the CDs, 73.3% reported that their abdominal pain was reduced by half or more by the end of the treatment course compared with 26.7% in the standard care group.

    In two-thirds of children the improvements were still apparent six months later.

    Anxiety

    It is not clear exactly how the technique works but studies have shown it is partly about reducing anxiety but there is also a direct effect on the pain response.

    Some researchers think hypnosis-like techniques reduce "hypersensitivity" in Hypnosis and Childrens Stomach Painconditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

    Study leader Dr Miranda van Tilburg said it was especially exciting that the children were able to use the technique on their own.

    "Such self-administered treatment is, of course, very inexpensive and can be used in addition to other treatments, which potentially opens the door for easily enhancing treatment outcomes for a lot of children suffering from frequent stomach aches.

    "Children are very good at using their imagination - when you use this in adults you have to overcome a barrier first."

    Professor David Candy, a consultant paediatric gastroenterologist at Western Sussex Hospitals, said his team had tried hypnosis in a small group of children with severe abdominal pain problems and had 100% success rate.

    He added they are now keen to try the guided imagery technique to see if they can replicate the US findings.

    "There is really a dearth of information on how to manage children with abdominal pain and it's a very common problem which keeps children out of school."

    BBC news

    Andrea Lowe is a Senior Hypnotherapist and Trainer