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  • 04

    Aug

    Interview with Yoga Sports Expert Hayley Winter

    Hhayleyayley Winter, New York based founder of Yoga Sports Science, and a member of the Camyoga Teacher Training faculty, took some time out of her busy schedule this week to answer a few quick questions about the benefits of yoga for sports people.
    I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
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    How long have you been practising yoga and how did you discover it was an incredibly effective tool for sports people?
    I have been practicing yoga for 30 years and teaching for 20. My first experience of introducing yoga into sport was through a colleague who worked for the English Institute of Sport. He wanted me to introduce a few mobility techniques to a track and field athlete. It was during that session that I began to question why yoga wasn’t being used by every athlete as part of their strength and conditioning training.
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    In a nutshell, could you tell us a little bit about the benefits of a yoga practice for sports people?

    Most people in sport recognise that yoga can help improve flexibility, but there are many other benefits. Some of the benefits of sports-specific yoga are:

    •  Prevention of Injury  Introducing yoga as part of an active recovery session, or as a cool down, can help the athlete to reduce the build up of lactic acid and reduce muscle soreness, which means they feel more energised and refreshed for the next day’s training or event.
    • Improved Breathing Specific breathing techniques can be given to the athlete to either increase respiratory strength, or to introduce a breathing strategy which is particularly useful for long distance events. Breathing can also help athletes with their concentration, focus and with performance nerves.
    • Improved Movement Efficiency Specific yoga techniques which consider the movement patterns and demands of the sport, can enable an athlete to expend less energy and become more economical in how they perform.
    • Improving Awareness By helping an athlete develop an awareness of self can help them develop an awareness of others. This is particularly essential in team sports where the need for proprioceptive awareness is key. Initially for the athlete the development of self awareness begins with a sense of awareness of joint position and motion in space, through sensory feedback from the body. What occurs overtime is that the athlete starts to deepen their awareness of self and begin to explore aspects of their own nature. This opens up a whole new area of discovery for the individual, offering opportunities to integrate this level of awareness, not just into their performance, but also into their life.
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    Is yoga a useful tool for those practising any sport? Who might benefit from this the most?

    Yoga can be a valuable addition to any athlete, in any sport and at any age. You are never too late to start and can begin to feel immediate benefits within both your sport and life.  Communicating and delivering the benefits of yoga is both an art and a science, and the challenge in the world today is that because yoga is now widely accepted in the mainstream, yoga teachers are under more pressure to understand how and why yoga works.

    yoga sports camyoga
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    We’ve heard that even the German football team are using yoga now! Is yoga for sports becoming more widespread?

    Over 12 years ago when I first introduced yoga to footballers, it was mainly the older players who were trying it as a last resort to achieving longevity in their careers. But what started to happen was the older players were getting less injured and with the wisdom of their experience, matched with a renewed fitness meant that they were enjoying opportunites to demonstrate their talents. In all of the clubs I worked in, yoga was integrated into both academy and first team squads to great effect.

    A number of years ago I was invited to meet Sir Dave Brailsford who was the Performance Director for British Olympic Cycling. He talked about how the training methods of the future would be looking to help athletes achieve the performance advantage by increasing the marginal gain. I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
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    How has your personal yoga practice helped you in your life?
    Yoga has been one of the most rewarding and essential tools in my own life. When life has thrown me a curve ball and presented situations that I thought I would never be strong enough to handle, I was able to access the resources within me. Each time I have been faced with something new, I have been able to find an internal way to navigate life’s external challenges.
     
    I am often asked how many times a week I practice, the truth is I practice all the time, but it is not necessarily the physical asana practice, but the practice of the other many wonderful aspects that yoga has given me to help me enhance my own performance.
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    Interested in Yoga for Sports People? Click here to find out more about Hayley Winter’s forthcoming 2 day Introduction to Yoga for Sports People course at Camyoga, open to all. If you’re already a yoga teacher or fitness professional, and would like to undertake the Hayley Winter Sports Foundation course at Camyoga this August, you can find out more here.
  • 04

    Aug

    What changes with mindful parenting for just 6 minutes per day?

    mindful parenting The short version?

    • They sleep better
    • They confide more of their feelings in you
    • They calm down quicker (no, mindfulness is not the way to have calm children all the time, sorry if that’s what you want!)

    I was intrigued by evidence that children need mindfulness as much as adults do, so I decided to spend five minutes a day (sometimes less) using mindfulness techniques with my children, and began to notice tangible changes within just a week. Keep reading to find out more about the techniques I used and how they worked.

    The longer read…

    I have four children; a teenage girl, a pre-teen boy and two young twin girls. I’ve been practising mindfulness for 12 years but only began practicing with them over the last two years.

    Lets begin with the main reasons I actually moved from wanting to practice with them to actually practicing with them.  I’d started to feel like there was always one child missing out on some attention. I worried that when the children were sad or anxious, I didn’t really understand an effective way to help them release their anxiety. I also felt like I was failing because I couldn’t empower them with a way to help themselves when other children were unkind at school. I found myself growing increasingly frustrated by the fact that at least one of them would get up every night, and my lack of sleep meant that I felt unable to be as kind as I would like to be and had no “space in my head” to work out a way to make it better.

    Most of my working life has been spent on projects which help organisations and people to create habits for increasing effectiveness and satisfaction. This meant that I had learnt from various scientific studies that anything I did would have to meet this criteria;

    • aim low
    • feel easy
    • do at same time of day
    • had already been proven to work by others so I really believed in it – motivation

    I started by asking the children to practice as part of mealtimes, before pudding, as an incentive. This took the form of a Tiny Pause – 4 mindful breaths. This went okay, but felt more like an opportunity for the children to demonstrate how ridiculous they could make 4 breaths sound/be/last. Plus my plan of fitting into a daily routine meant that none of them were really getting the high quality attention they needed, or thought they needed, from me.

    My next plan was bedtime. I would do a guided mindfulness practice with them (all parents taking our Mindful Parenting learn to do this, its really quite simple once you have the technique). I would do this at bedtime for the youngest three (individually, apart from the twins). This initially lasted 10 minutes or less, which I shortened to around 5 minutes because I felt too tired.

    This worked really well – mindfulness lends itself to a moment when children naturally want to relax. Within four days they were asking me to do it! Within a week I noticed that they were all sleeping through the night (wake up times before had been 3-4 times per night, first week of mindfulness this dropped to just once a night).

    I was so pleased with this promising start. But I also wanted them to confide in me the stuff they were anxious about. (You know when your child is anxious and you ask them if they want to talk about it and they just shake their head? No matter what you do for them, in that moment you feel like you’re failing, you feel like the truth is out, that “I am a rubbish parent”). The technique of mindful listening would be my next approach.

    I decided that aiming to do this everyday with all children was unrealistic for me. So I just aimed for one child a day. After school before supper, I would sit down, ask them to sit with me. Wait and listen. (Mindful listening is a recognized practice with an incredibly easy method). This was much harder than I expected as I was very tempted to ask, or prompt them in some way. Sometimes we would cuddle, sometimes we would just be next to each other on the sofa. No screens on around us.

    So if I could keep from trying to guess the root of their problems or asking them all the questions I had tried before (its amazing how as parents, we know some things aren’t effective but we just keep repeating the same behaviours hoping, like a miracle, it will change the outcome). Anyway with my lips kept firmly shut and my attention focused on them, something magical began to happen…

    They would just start telling me stuff. From what they had just been building with lego or who had done what/ said what at school both funny and sad things.  This continued. They began to express more of their feelings. The quieter I kept, the more they would share. Although sometimes they would ask me, “Dad, why are we sitting here?”, I would reply “ because I love you and want to be with you”, with the simple reply “Oh, ok.” And then after a short pause, “I’m going to go and play”.  So this moment of mindful listening would last between 1-5 minutes, depending on what they felt like saying. I would always leave it to them to end that moment (although I confess to sometimes finding my attention drifting, to what I will make for supper, or why the school couldn’t do choir at a time that meant we could get to swimming, or why was there new bit of pen on the wall…you know the drill).

    And I noticed something else. I felt better. I felt better because I was making it clear, really clear through my actions, that I loved them, that I was making time to give them high quality attention. Sure it was short. But I least I did it and it was definitely an improvement from “ yes thats lovely”, while work my way through house chores or “ I’m just in the middle of something can’t you go and play? “ hoping, but knowing, they really don’t understand why I couldn’t just be with them.

    Although it may seem obvious, it’s important to understand that part of the success was down to me feeling a bit better about me. Less internal criticism meant a reduction in exploding moments, when I shout because I’ve had it up to here (imagine my hand well above my head!) with all parts of life; work, play, relationships.

    It’s now routine for us, and has helped with exams, best friends falling out school, new teachers, general arguments, school productions, even football matches.

    Click here to find out more about Mindful Parenting at Camyoga

  • 27

    Jul

    Yin + Meditation Sequence 3: Backbending

    andreaThe following Yin sequence has been designed by Andrea Kwiatkowski. It is only suitable for those with Yin experience and should not be done by anyone with medical conditions which affect their practice. Please consult Andrea after class for further guidance. Click here to find out more about Yin and Meditation, as part of our Focus: On series.

    Thank you to Andrea for so generously sharing these powerful practices with us.

     

    BACKBEND SEQUENCE

    SPHINX 5 MINS

    SEAL 5 MINS

    HALF SADDLE 3 MINS EACH LEG

    CAMEL 3 MINS

    SADDLE 8 MINS

    CATERPILLAR FWD BEND 5 MINS

    SAVASANA

  • 21

    Jul

    Three Questions: Rachael Moore

    5738_756088144418888_1458938958_nThree Questions: Rachael Moore

    What yoga teacher has had the most influence on you?

    RACHAEL: I have been lucky enough to have met and been taught by some really amazing teachers over the last 16 years . Each one in their own way has had an impact not only in my own evolving practice but the way I develop as a teacher myself. I really do believe you are drawn to particular teachers/styles of yoga at certain times in your life that will enrich and evolve your practice as well as yourself as an individual. My very first yoga teacher was Camyoga’s Iyengar teacher Karen Stamper. Karen had a huge impact on me as she was responsible for igniting this little flame in me that has lead me to where I am today. My first pregnancy teacher Francoise Freedman was also hugely influential in demonstrating to me just how powerful and transformative the practice of yoga could truly be. More recently, vinyasa flow teacher Claire Missingham and Beverley Nolan have continued to inspire me with their knowledge and passion for this beautiful, ever constant but evolving practice.

    Which is your least favourite yoga pose?

    RACHAEL: Hmmm, tricky! I think that actually depends on whats going on for me at the time and as cliche as it sounds, the ones you don’t particularly enjoy are usually the ones that can offer you the most ! Core strengthening poses are always challenging for me, as are arm balances for the simple reason that they are hard work and extremely humbling!! However, the flip side of that is that there is always somewhere to be aiming for, to keep you interested and switched on to the sensations in your body as they arise. It is a constant voyage of discovery so whats not to like!

    What is the best way to build up strength for chaturanga? I find lowering down slowly really difficult as my arms are quite weak.?

    RACHAEL: Chaturanga is a really strong demanding pose and although visited frequently in a flow class is often not ‘taught’ in a step by step way. To avoid injury, Chaturanga demands huge core and upper body strength as well as careful attention to alignment. Whilst building up towards the full pose, there are a few ways of building the upper body strength required. One way is to practice against the wall. Stand a few feet away, arms level with the chest. Slowly lower toward the wall, bending the elbows so the forearms are at a right angle and the forehead comes to the wall. Hold for a breath (or two!) and then slowly press back. Gradually build up the number of times you can comfortably repeat this. Other ways to build the necessary strength is to come to plank and before lowering, lower the knees to the ground before lowering your body or come to the knees, chest and chin variation both of which develop your strength and awareness of alignment. Dolphin (forearm dog) and forearm plank are also great for building core and upper body strength. In terms of your alignment, always ensure your wrists are in line with your shoulders and never ‘behind’ as this can cause huge stress in the wrist joint.

    Rachael Moore teaches Yoga Flow, Pregnancy Yoga, and Active Birth at Camyoga. Click here to view her weekly classes and here for details of her next Active Birth Workshop.

  • 21

    Jul

    Vegan Squash + Cinnamon Muffin Recipe

    squashThese tasty muffins are so filled with vegetable goodness, but if that puts off the kids then there’s no reason they ever need to know! We’ve made them with butternut squash but this recipe works just as well with courgette if that’s what you have in. If you’ve a sweet tooth then you could whip up a quick batch of vegan icing, otherwise a dusting of icing sugar works just as well. Here we’ve topped them with rolled oats before baking, which adds a pretty touch and an interesting texture. These measurements are American cups. It’s absolutely worth getting yourself a set – they make baking and cooking a whole lot easier. Just use a 250ml mug if you don’t have a set of proper measuring cups.

     

     

    2 cups butternut squash, grated

    2 cups sugar

    3 1/4 cups flour

    1/2 cup plant-based oil (ie. sunflower)

    1/2 cup apple sauce

    1 tsp vanilla essence

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

    2 tsp cinammon (or less, if preferred)

    1 tsp salt

    1/2 cup raisins

    1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

    handful of rolled oats

    Method

    1) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease your muffin tins or line them with muffin cases. Leave the grated squash in a sieve over the sink so that it drains for around an hour. Squeeze out the remaining moisture.

    2) In a large bowl, mix the squash, sugar, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Add flour and other dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Fold in the nuts and raisins.

    3) Fill muffin tins with the batter, sprinkle with the oats, and bake for 18-24 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Tops should be golden brown. Allow to cook fully on a rack before eating.

     

     

     

     

     

  • 09

    Jul

    Quick + Easy Chocolate Vegan Fudge Recipe

    fudge

    Yes that’s right, vegan fudge is possible! And guess what? It not only tastes absolutely delicious but is a whole lot easier to make than the traditional, dairy-laden stuff. So what are you waiting for? This is the perfect dose of sweetness for when you need a little bit of an afternoon or after dinner pick-me-up, but it also works really well as a gift too. Line a pretty box with greaseproof paper, arrange your sliced fudge inside, wrap up with a bow and, hey presto, a tasty treat lies in store for someone special!

     

     

    1/2 cup maple or date syrup

    1/2 cup high quality cocoa

    1/2 cup coconut oil

    1/2 cup pistachios

    few drops of vanilla essence

    pinch of salt

    Method

    1) Chop the nuts and lightly toast them in a heavy based frying pan, or in the oven. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over a low heat and set aside.

    2) Sieve the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Slowly add the warm coconut oil and the date syrup. Stir in the vanilla essence and salt. Finally add the nuts and combine thoroughly.

    3) Pour into a lined square baking pan, refrigerate until solid. Simple!

     

  • 09

    Jul

    Yin + Meditation Sequence 2: Twisting

    andreaThe following Yin sequence has been designed by Andrea Kwiatkowski. It is only suitable for those with Yin experience and should not be done by anyone with medical conditions which affect their practice. Please consult Andrea after class for further guidance. Click here to find out more about Yin and Meditation, as part of our Focus: On series.

    Please keep an eye on the blog over the coming weeks as we will be posting further exclusive Yin sequences designed by Andrea, who has been so generous in sharing these powerful practices with us.

     

    TWIST SEQUENCE

    SHOELACE 3 MINS EACH SIDE

    SEATED SPINAL TWIST 3 MINS

    HALF SADDLE 3 MINS

    SADDLE 5 MINS

    CROCODILE 3 X PUSH UPS

    TWISTED ROOTS 3 MINS EACH SIDE

    SAVASANA

     

  • 02

    Jul

    Yin + Meditation Sequence 1

    andreaThe following Yin sequence has been designed by Andrea Kwiatkowski. It is only suitable for those with Yin experience and should not be done by anyone with medical conditions which affect their practice. Please consult Andrea after class for further guidance. Click here to find out more about Yin and Meditation, as part of our Focus: On series.

    Please keep an eye on the blog over the coming weeks as we will be posting further exclusive Yin sequences designed by Andrea, who has been so generous in sharing these powerful practices with us.

     

    SEQUENCE FOR YIN /YANG 45 MINS
    RECLINED BUTTERFLY 5 MINS
    SQUAT 3 MINS
    BUTTERFLY 5 MINS
    SHOELACE 5 MINS EACH SIDE
    TRIPOD X3 EACH SIDE
    SPHINX 2 MINS OPTION SEAL EXTEND ARMS 3 MINS
    INFANT POSE 1 MIN
    SWAN 5 MINS EACH SIDE
    SAVASANA

  • 02

    Jul

    Focus On: Yin + Meditation

    andrea The latest addition to Camyoga’s schedule, Yin and Meditation offers a fully rounded practice with a mindful approach. Yin yoga is a slow paced, floor- based practice which focuses on releasing the pelvis, lower spine and hips, freeing up the flow of energy (‘qi’) in the body. It was first taught in the 1970s by Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zinke and has since been developed by prominent teachers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. Unlike Zinke, who posited the practice as a complete method in itself, both Grilley and Powers emphasise passive Yin as a complement to other, more active forms of movement and exercise.

    Yin poses are typically held for several minutes, allowing the practitioner to cultivate a deep sense of inner silence. As such, it is a practice which works very well in conjunction with, or as a precursor to, meditation. Whilst the poses are being held, the teacher typically engages in what is known as a “dharma” tallk, comprising philosophical teachings, thoughts and sometimes poems. Although many Yin poses will be recognisable to practitioners of other styles of yoga, in Yin they are given different names, to emphasise the fact that they should be performed in a different (passive) manner. Camyoga’s Yin and Meditation class is suitable for all students with an existing flow-based practice.

    Click here to view our Yin + Meditation classes

    GREAT FOR: flexibility, relaxation, sports people.

  • 27

    Jun

    Focus On: Forrest Yoga

    anafForrest Yoga is a contemporary style of yoga which is physically intense, deeply healing and internally focused. It is named after its founder, Ana Forrest (pictured), and draws from both Sivananda and Iyengar traditions.

    Designed to treat typically modern aches and pains such as back pain, neck strain and tense shoulders, Forrest Yoga uses powerful breathwork to release both physical and mental tension, breaking down emotional blockages. Poses are held for long periods of time, with props used to ensure the practice is suitable for all bodies and even students with injuries. Core strengthening, in order to support a healthy back, is a key element of all Forrest Yoga classes.

    Forrest Yoga does not require strength or flexibility; it only requires a willingness to learn how to feel authentically and respond honestly. The tenets of the method are breath, strength, integrity and spirit. This style has found particular application in overcoming negative patterns of behaviour, and has been effectively used to treat addictions, eating disorders and even post traumatic stress disorder. Forrest developed this style of yoga after fighting with her own demons over many years. As such, the style cultivates a sense of strength and positivity, encouraging students to walk their own path, regardless of any perceived stumbling blocks or limitations.

    Click here to book into a Forrest Yoga class!

    GREAT FOR: core strength, flexibility, weight loss, back pain