Welcome to Summer!

love strawberry

Summer has arrived, time to celebrate! Summer is the fire element and fire energy is more warm, active, physical and passionate than any other season. The days are long and light with very few hours of darkness. Nature’s energy is at its peak. Try to match it with yours!

The Fire element is all about heat and energy; a time to live life to the full, stay up later and
get up earlier. A chance to soak up energy from the sun, and absorb oxygen and perfumes
from the outdoors while everything is in full bloom. This is the time to create energy and
power which will carry us into the harvesting of the late summer and then the storing of your
resources in the autumn for the long winter ahead.

Traditionally, summer was the time of year when we all worked outdoors for long hours
spending time in the healthy sun and then, after work, it was the time to; dance, sing and
party, have fun, be in love, with plenty of laughter — the food of the soul, providing the
extra momentum when needed and the feeling of internal joy and happiness! It delights in
the richness of the moment.

The colour associated with the season is red, which has the ability to stimulate the pulse and
heart rate. Hence the saying to ‘paint the town red’, inferring to celebrate and go out partying.

8 Priorities for Summer 

1. Try your best to stay at peace and to be compassionate; remember the expression
‘seeing red’? It immediately conjures up the feeling of anger or aggression and involves
some amount of passion. Learn to use passion positively!

2. Try to balance the intensity of living in the moment with an awareness of what follows.
Only take on what you can handle and learn to say “no”. Re-establish some order
so that you; have more calm and rhythm in your life and include some cardiovascular
exercise.

3. Develop ways you can find contentment through learning to love yourself and believing
you are lovable. If you do not know where to start, meditate on, or think about the things
that you are good at and the things that you have done to make people happy. If you can’t
think of any… go out and do something to make someone happy today. It can be as simple
as a phone call to an elderly relative or telling someone you love them.

4. Take control of your levels of openness with others; stop yourself from saying too much;
discriminate between the different contexts. Know what you want from others and what
they want from you.

5. Learn to let go, forgive and move on; try not to take things too personally. Act and
speak from the heart … with feeling.

6. Find different ways to express yourself such as art, playing an instrument or just sit
and listen to your favourite music turned up loud, and sing along. Voice and speech have
a strong connection to the heart.

7. Exercise; yoga builds stamina and heat in the body. Try a sun salute or three… every
morning for a week; see if you feel any different! If yoga isn’t your thing then go outdoors
for a brisk walk every day, even for just ten minutes!

8. Communication; spend time with others, such as family and friends (with the phone
off). Get in touch with some old friends and arrange to meet once a month in the local
pub or café. Find different ways to communicate with people who you have difficulty in
getting on with; see what makes them tick.

So keep these tips in mind this summer and enjoy living your life to the full!

Early Summer Diet

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The diet for Early Summer is similar to Spring but it introduces a bit more fruit. You should be eating food that promotes the anti-oxidant quality of your cells. Black fruit is great for this such as blueberries, blackberries etc.

Moderate your intake of foods that can cause inflammation. They are bad for you and are thought to be the core of many illnesses and problems.

Cut out or moderate your intake of bread, pasta, cakes and pastries. Replace cow’s milk with rice or Soya milk, and normal cheese with goats cheese. The usual story! Try it out for a week and see if you feel less plump!

For fighting inflammation, Vitamin K is great, found in spinach, kale and leafy greens. Drink cabbage juice which is an anti-inflammatory drink. I bet you can’t wait to replace your morning coffee with it, yum!

Some ideal early summer foods…

Cucumber, celery, tofu, sprouts, sprouting seeds and all greens. Beetroot is great for the blood, and tastes delicious raw grated with apple.

The acid/ alkaline balance

Eating a more alkaline diet is important for the health of the blood. Eat plenty of greens as they are full of chlorophyll which is essential for this.

Stay off any high protein diet such as the Atkins Diet as this is harmful to your system.

Go easy on animal protein. This includes chicken, but especially pork. The acid in the meat attracts fat.

Excess alcohol increases acid in your body so moderate your intake.

Feed and hydrate the body and skin with plenty of fruit and water. Up your intake of water based food low in acid. Cucumber is a great example of an alkalising food. Try some sliced in water with mint to make a refreshing summer drink.

Papaya is great for the skin – it is said to have strong collagen feeding qualities.

Up your intake of Vitamin C as it is very important for your immune system, your connective tissue, and also for fighting wrinkles! Chinese gooseberries are a great source of this.

So this Early Summer keep yourself bright and clean, as you are the window to your world!

 

Welcome to Early Summer 2014

WELCOME TO EARLY SUMMER 2014

 

The Early Summer is not a time of year you would usually give any

special time or attention to, in fact you possibly never even know that

there is a special energy and meridian line which goes with this time of

year. Its the preparation time for the high energy of summer, getting your engine tuned and your fuel clean !

 

We will be heating up our practice, in fact this time of year is great for hot yoga. Heat creates change within the body (tapas) and change is what we want to create for perfect summer health.

 

The energy areas we focus on in Early Summer are the meridians for the Pericardium and Triple Heater. It’s the time for maintaining the health of the blood.

 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the pericardium is the first line of defense against external harm attacking the heart. It is able to inhibit or stimulate the functioning of the organs. Therefore, it is crucial to overall health. The pericardium is the muscle around the heart.

 

The Triple Heater meridian controls peripheral circulation and lymphatic flow. Instead of this meridian being directly related to an organ, it’s responsibility lies in the three cavities in the torso: the chest cavity, upper abdominal cavity and the lower abdominal cavity. This meridian plays a vital role in assimilation and distribution of nutrients to the extremities and keeping all the inner organs at their optimum temperature.

 

This is the meridian line which runs around our waist (belt channel) and we want to give this some special attention as all the other energy lines pass through it .Being mindful of our middle at this time of year can help with total organ health .

 

Stand tall; pull your waist in as if you are trying to fasten a pair of jeans which are bit too tight, or do the rope trick (as seen below). One of the best tips I have ever heard!

 

Get some distance between your ribs and hips, pull your shoulders down. Walk, trying to make yourself an inch taller. All of these tips will help you feel and look slimmer and help total body health at the same time!! They are great for yoga teachers to use themselves and fantastic to pass on to their students. You can advise them to take up cycling and outdoor power walking, while using the rope. Have a joyful, creative and sociable early summer!          

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The Rope Trick!

Pull in your centre (the belt channels in T.C.M.). Tie a piece of rope loosely around your middle for 10 mins, 3 times a day and make sure you keep your shoulders down and your torso long. Don’t forget to breathe. Go about your normal duties and watch your waist  come back. 

 

 

Do you need to Spring Clean your Body?

Spring is coming to a close; very soon we will be in the season of early summer. It is always good to look back on each season and see if you achieved any goals you set for yourself. Spring is all about cleaning and de-cluttering your life. If you have done this you should be feeling fresh, motivated and have positive expectations for the year ahead.

However, if you have not cleansed your home and body this season you may be feeling stressed, irritated, depressed or even angry. If this is the case you should look at detoxifying your life. There are 5 main categories which you can look at cleansing, your food, thoughts, body, home environment and outdoor environment. Trust me, you will feel so much better when everything is in order!

For now we are going to focus on the body. Your body is a temple so you should treat it with love and respect, and clean it out sometimes! Toxins build up easily and are stored inside us, especially if you eat too much junk food, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. They can really slow down your system, making you feel sluggish and heavy.

There are 4 main ways in which you can eliminate these toxins out of your body- through your urine, faeces, sweat and breath. You may be surprised to realise that you get rid of more toxins through breathing that any other method. This is another great reason to do yoga as it makes you conscious of your breathing.

Did you know that human lungs are capable of holding 5 litres of air when they are properly trained, however most of us use only approximately 500ml of this capacity. Moreover, half of this is actually stale air so we only take in about 250ml of fresh air with each breath, a mere 5% of what we could receive. When you fully exhale all of the stale air you are getting rid of much more toxins, and making space for so much more fresh life force to enter your body.

Sweating is another great way of getting these nasty toxins out of your body. A good strong yoga practice should make you sweat. Combine your yoga practice with cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling and skipping to help you flush them out. Saunas and steam rooms are great ways to sweat out toxins but make sure you re-hydrate after with fresh clean water. Get a long handled, hard bristled body brush and scrub your skin- use it before your shower in the morning with upward strokes, toward the heart. Not forgetting the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. It is the best way to kick-start the lymphatic system in the morning.

To cleanse the toxins through the faeces you should consider doing a detox diet for a few days. Here is an example of a 5 day detox diet you can do, however you should only do this if you are strong and healthy. You may wish to consult your doctor first for advise.

Day One
Just vegetable juices (home-made if possible) to which add barley or wheat grasses, as the chlorophyll helps to cleanse, and a teaspoon of physillium powder, which provides bulk, draws out toxins and lines the gut.
Day two
Include the above and introduce some fruits to the juices. Be aware that vegetables are more favourable.
Day three
Vegetables and fruits can be included without juicing, be as imaginative as possible.
Day four
Rice or other light unbaked and unrefined carbohydrates.
Day five
Include a meal of meat or fish if you are not vegetarian.

You will not feel hungry as long as your body is getting the nutrients it needs. This is why we so often crave more after indulging in highly processed foods! A detoxification program can be as simple as the combination of eating apples and drinking plenty of water for one day to give your system a rest, or by using a detoxification pack bought from your local chemist. Another option is for you to consult your local nutritionist who can design a program just for you.

The last method of eliminating toxins through the body is through urination. Good detox drinks are; nettle, fresh ginger and lemon, lime or fennel tea. Cut back on alcohol and coffee, as they overwhelm the liver, and when trying to lose weight or build immunity, they can play havoc with blood sugar levels. Most importantly, drink plenty of water.

So lets end this spring in style and be clean, clear and fresh for the approaching early summer!

Tired Eyes – Give Them a Boost

We are in the middle of spring, and if our spring energy is in balance we will have a clear vision of our future and our goals for the year ahead. However if our spring energy is out of balance we may find it difficult to deal with the rising energies, and find it hard to make any plans or decisions.The liver is in focus this season, and as the eyes are closely connected to the liver, spring is the season where you should work on your eyesight. 

Common belief is that if we have a problem with our eyesight, we get glasses and we will need them for rest of our lives. Deficiencies in eye sight are seen as hardware problems with our body, however our bodies have amazing capabilities of healing and regenerating, and eyesight can be improved, therefore it could only a software problem. So this spring you can try some of these exercises. You do not need to have any eye problems to do them as they are also fantastic in relaxing and focusing the mind. It is great to introduce eye exercises to your yoga students during classes. 

You can try the…

Bates Method
Designed by William H. Bates, a prominent Eye specialist from New York, his method for improving eyesight was quite simple: 
• Palming: all you have to do is simply rub your palms together and place them over your closed eyes, with no pressure at all. This method rejuvenates, rests and relaxes the eyes.
• Splashing: this method focuses on splashing water on your face twenty times, both in the morning and evening. 
• Swinging: swing your entire body from left to right. The aim here is to let the eyes remain still, don’t stop and stare, instead sweep across the scene. 
• Far and Near Focus: this technique is very simple. You can take a pencil, keep it twelve inches away from your face and focus on the nib, then look at objects that are further in the distance, blink for a few seconds and then focus again on the pencil. Blink once more and look at the other object, repeat this exercise several times. 
Today’s modern social environment requires little to no eye movement as compared to the natural surroundings. However, we need to make sure that our eye muscles are kept active and are strong. Keep your head and neck completely still and repeat the following exercise at least 10 times: 
• Look up and then down
• Look as far as you can to the right and then to the left
• Move your eyes diagonally from the right to the left
• And then, move your eyes diagonally from the left to the right
• Make side circles moving first clockwise and then anticlockwise 
• Open and close your eyes
• Then try the Bates method of “Palming”

Another affective eye treatment is…

Tratak (Candle Gazing)

This method helps to clean the tear ducts and the eyes. All you have to do is place a candle at arm’s length and stare into the dark, black part of the flame for about 1-3 minutes without blinking, till your eyes get watery. Then close your eyes and imagine the flame between your eyebrows, this will illuminate your third eye, improving both concentration and memory. This method can even be used as a beginners exercise for meditation. It’s easy to do at home and you can set it up within seconds.

So, this spring, it’s time that you got rid of those tired winter eyes and gave them a good yoga energy boost.

Is Your Liver in Balance this Spring?

The liver is an organ that is crucial for storage and blood regulation. It is vital for breaking down fat and converting glucose into glycogen. It even removes amino acids from the blood and transfers them into urea which is passed through the kidneys. The liver is also associated with hormone production and storing vitamins. In fact, the liver is the only organ that is known to regenerate its tissues such that even if 70% of it has been cut out, it will be able to re-grow again.

Another organ that works along side with the liver is the gall bladder; it’s a small organ which is connected to the liver and stores bile. It’s the bile that neutralizes the acids and emulsifies the fat, helping with digestion.

So, its time for…
Spring

Spring is known as the season for cleansing, it’s also the time to help the liver (yin) and the gall bladder (yang) function correctly, since these organs are in focus during this season. The gall bladder/liver meridians are related to the wood element. They control both the muscles and the joints, and their health is reflected by the toenail as well as the fingernails. The energy of the liver is reflected in the eyes. People that have a strong wood element have a clear vision on setting their goals, they have a plan and execute it skilfully and can even argue with decisiveness and clarity.

But what about…
Liver Imbalance
In our busy and highly pressurised world, our livers, and consequently the gall bladder, easily become congested, obstructed or even overloaded with too much fat, toxins and chemicals. These substances can disrupt the function of the liver and gall bladder hampering with the energy within the body and stopping it from flowing. This results in a variety of emotional and physical symptoms.
Not only that, but the digestive system is also affected because the stress on the liver can upset the functioning of the stomach, the pancreas and the spleen, which can result in ulcers, inflammation diabetes and bloating. These can in turn influence the intestines resulting in inflammatory conditions like, enteritis and colitis.

So…
What Should You Do?
You’ve heard of it before “less is more”, so you should do less and in turn you’ll have more energy. Cut down on overloading and let the liver rest. Try eating foods that are cleansers or are blood tonics that will assist the liver in its function. Blood tonic foods are rich in chlorophyll which means you need to add loads of greens in your diet like, raspberries, beetroot, dark grapes, spirulina and even organic animal livers. Spring is the time to think about detoxification. You can even opt for a wide range of herbs that can be available at your local herbalists, acupuncture clinic or in Chinese medicine.

So, this spring, let your liver rest, avoid overloading on fatty foods and think about yoga poses for energy.

8 Exercise Tips for Spring

 

Spring is all about the need to stretch out and challenge one’s own ability, as well as create a new form of energy to re-oxygenate as well as cleanse the body. So it is crucial that during this seasonal period, you need to physically stretch not only your body, but your mind and soul as well.

So with that in mind, it is vital that you focus on exercising this spring to detoxify the muscles and counter act any stagnation accumulated by inactivity over the winter. Think about squats and side bends which will open up energy pathways of the gall bladder and liver respectively, to burn off fat for a cleaner, more functional and toned body.These tips are good to pass onto your students, and also for yourselves as yoga teachers, especially if you have been a bit lazy over the winter months!

Starting with a Weight Training Schedule
Excessively doing heavy muscle bound weight lifting exercises is not recommended. Instead focus on light weights and repetitions incorporating a lot of stretching before and after your routine. Remember that your stretching exercises need to focus the minds’s intention on your tendons, joints and muscles, because where the mind goes the energy follows.

Include a Few Cardiovascular Exercises
What’s the point of exercising if you don’t sweat? So, if you really want to begin cleansing your system as well as create your new spring yoga energy, then you’ll need to sweat, a bit! Whilst also increasing the force of the breath which helps to release emotions too.

Get Out!
New growth has started and the weather is getting better, what reason do you have to sit inside? As you watch the rising energy outdoors, it will provide you with the motivation you need to exercise. So, get out! Take in some fresh air and let your skin embrace the warm rays of the rising energy. Instead of hitting the gym, think about cycling, jogging or even walking to bring natures energy into your own energy field .

Morning Exercises
Think about morning exercises, the liver and gall bladder love it and function best when the sun is rising. You can absorb natures rising energy to keep you motivated and organized. You can even try some early morning Yoga or Qiong as well

Why not Try Something Different?
Think about doing something unusual, something which is completely opposite from our typical routine. Is there any part of your body (or life) that requires improvement? You can get a personal trainer to help you form a new exercise routine that will work best for you, or you can even workout with a friend which will push you into a commitment and motivate you to work more.

Take up Martial Arts
You can even try out shadow boxing, kick boxing or t’ai chi. These various forms of exercises can release all of that pent up negative energy and replace it with positive energy.

Competitive Sport
At this time of the year, you need to focus on activities that may release a little anger, aggression, and frustration, but in a non-confrontational way. Pent up negative energy can cause harm to the liver and encourage the body and mind to attack itself. So, think about taking up dancing or something that involves shouting so you cleanse your energy whilst supporting a team. You may even try some eye to ball sports which include badminton and tennis, as the spring energy is linked to the energy of the eyes and how we see things and view our lives.

Ease into Your Spring Exercise Routine
Since you might have been fairly inactive during winter, it’s a good idea to gently ease into your spring routine, instead of jumping right into it. Start slow and work your way up, always enjoying the feeling of controling and supporting your energy bank account. If you’re unsure about your health it’s important that you visit your doctor for a routine checkup. That way, your doctor can pinpoint the major problem areas and give you a routine that will be best suited for you.

So, just follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to creating your new yoga energy for spring.

The Feeling of Spring

 

Seasonal living is a very modern concept. In fact, if you go back 150 years, people would never really understand the concept. During the olden times all we did was get up when there was light, go to bed when it was dark, ate local organic produce according to the season and joined in the festivities with the local community. All through the olden days, we were in tune with nature and its natural order, allowing the energy to flow through us according to its natural cycle.

So, What is it About Spring that Get’s Us All Gleeful?

Well, it’s the time of emergence, a new beginning, a time full of more energy, flexibility, creativity, spontaneity, patience, humor, sensitivity and thoughtfulness. As spring comes along, the days get longer and our demands increase, so what we need is a fresh new outlook on things and that includes our lifestyle, our diet, and even our exercises.  In fact, even our home environment needs to be spring cleaned in order for us to balance the natural harmony of the changes and expectations in the air.

And There We Have it…

Spring – A Season of Being Reborn

Yes, the fresh taste of crispy green vegetables, as you bite into its new invigorating taste your body gets re-energized and you know that spring season has just arrived. The feeling of all that new energy sends a complete cleansing purge through your body, your house, your car, your wardrobe and everything around you. The reason for this “wash out” is so that you match the external new energy with your own internal one.

Not only is spring known as the season of being reborn, but it is also known as the season of anticipation. It’s a time where you’re eager to do great things, plan new ideas in your head, begin with new projects, perhaps even a new business plan can cross your mind giving you more energy and excitement for the coming year.

It’s actually quite true that spring is the perfect time to start any new venture. In fact…

If Spring Was a Person

If we were to think of spring as a person, their characteristics would be that of an entrepreneur, an inventor, or even a pioneer, one who puts forward various ideas in order to create something new, and that leads billions of people into one direction. That’s the sort of person spring would be. Actually, if spring was a person, they would excel in areas of setting goals, motivating, planning, being creative, organizing and will always have a clear outlook on life. They would love nothing better than to have an adventure, where they can challenge themselves creating a sense of zest for life as well as inspiring others along the way.

Therefore, when the spring season arrives, it makes sense that we develop these very qualities in order to match the very energy that makes this season so great! So it’s time you focus on a well balanced form of yoga energy this spring.