Drift Off to Sleep Easier by Making Yoga Part of Your Bedtime Routine
 
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Drift Off to Sleep Easier by Making Yoga Part of Your Bedtime Routine
Written by Samantha Kent


Many people don't get enough sleep at night. In fact, a study recently showed the average person in the UK under sleeps by an hour each night. But yoga can help: a study of staff nurses found that those who practice yoga had better sleep quality and lower work stress than those who did not practice yoga.

Why You Need a Bedtime Routine

When you think of bedtime routines, babies and toddler bedtime routines may come to mind -- but bedtime routines are for everyone. Consistency and predictability are helpful for sleep. When you go through the same routine every night just before you go to bed, your body gets the signal that it's bedtime, and time for you to start feeling sleepy and relaxed.

Yoga can be a particularly beneficial part of a regular bedtime routine. More than 55 per cent of yoga users report that they have improved their sleep with yoga, and more than 85 per cent have reduced stress. Yoga can be an effective treatment for insomnia, improving sleep quality - your ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.

Creating a Healthy Bedtime Routine With Yoga

Your bedtime routine doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. Simply going through the same few steps before bed, however simple, can help you relax and prepare to go to sleep. If you need help figuring out what a healthy bedtime routine including yoga looks like, consider these tips:

  • Stop screen time at least an hour before bed. Screens are everywhere, even in our bedrooms. But the blue wave light from screens can be harmful to sleep, as it can confuse your circadian rhythm into thinking it's daytime and time to be alert -- too alert to go to sleep. At least one hour before bed, stop using screens, including your laptop, TV, and mobile devices.

  • Practice meditation. With or without yoga, meditation can help you clear your mind, relax and go to bed feeling calmer and more refreshed. Consider breathing meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, counting meditation, or guided meditation.

  • Try easy, relaxing yoga poses. Bedtime yoga is meant to offer a calm, relaxing flow. Don't try out anything new or challenging, go through familiar poses that you enjoy, and you know make you feel relaxed and centred.

  • Practice yoga in bed. Yoga doesn't always have to be done on your mat. In fact, it's possible to practice yoga in bed. Try a spinal twist, corpse pose, happy baby, and other simple yoga poses in bed before you fall asleep. But keep in mind that a firm mattress is needed to do poses well, as you'll sink too deeply into a mattress that's too soft.

  • Stay consistent. The best bedtime routine is a consistent one that you follow regularly. This routine helps to strengthen the association with your bedtime routine and sleep. Make sure you're doing your yoga routine every night, or on a regular, predictable schedule.


Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favourite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SleepHelp.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/help_sleep

 
Hannah EllisComment
An Introduction to Yin with Jacky Kuo
 
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What does Yin mean?

 Taiji Symbol

Taiji Symbol

Yin and Yang came from the Taoism philosophy. Taoism believes living in harmony with the universe and working with the universe’s natural flow (e.g. rather than trying to be the best, try and be simple).Yin and yang are the polarities of a whole, the complementary opposites of dark and light, cold and hot, soft and hard, female and male that allow all things to come into being. They are the two sides of a coin. One cannot exist without the other. Yin and yang are the vibration of the universe, the energy that informs all life. Together they form Taiji (a.k.a. Samadhi in the eight-fold path of yoga): a state of bliss through infinite potential and oneness. See picture to the left for the Taiji symbol.

As you can see from the picture, Yin (Black) and Yang (White) are not opposites, they are relative to one and other. Where you find Yin, Yang will be there and vice versa. 

Yin yoga postures, as created by founder Paulie Zink, are used to actualize the energetic and mystical attributes of various creatures and to stimulate the transformational properties of the five alchemical elements, thus enlivening and harmonizing these qualities within the body and animating the primal spirit that resides within us all. Integrating the power and healing aspects of these energies will help to balance emotions and put one into accord with the true nature of our being.

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Traditional Yin Yoga founded by Paulie Zink stems from Hatha Yoga, Taoism philosophy, martial art, Qi Gong and observation of the natural environment. He underwent years of demanding training and esoteric disciplines which he mastered. He has taught thousands of classes since the 1970s, claimed three martial arts grand champions, choreographed routines for music videos and movies and featured in many magazines, articles and documentary programmes (e.g. BBC series “Jerry Hall’s Gurus”).

Elemental Flow and Yin Yoga are both sequences inspired by Paulie’s playful style of teaching that aim to rejuvenate students. Paulie taught me Yin Yoga as he intended it to be, finding Yang within Yin and Yin within Yang balancing the five natural elements. Incorporating continuous, smooth and circular motions that promotes ease, fluidity and grace in the body. Working with both static stretching and dynamic stretching, students are given the option to flow and pause depending on their energy level. 

In both Elemental Flow and Yin we will move in a circle and enhance our linear forward and backwards one direction movement in traditional Yoga. We will face all directions that represent the five natural elements and honour each every time we find our circular transition: east wood, south fire, west gold, north water, mother earth and father sky in the centre. 

Each week, we will focus on connecting and balancing the five natural elements in both Elemental Flow and Yin Yoga. These five natural elements correspond with the five elements that reside within our own body, fire, earth, metal, water and wood; heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys and liver. The two yoga classes are designed to follow the five element meridian pathway and complement each other. Elemental Flow balance wakens the awareness of all five elements and Yin focusing in depth on one particular element and the corresponding meridian pathway. For example, you might find water warrior challenging; in Yin, we would switch the focus to channelling the water element in our body which we are in excess of or craving for.  

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What is the idea behind Elemental Flow?

Elemental Flow is designed with an emphasis on nature.

Students are invited to develop a connection to the five elements found within the environment and within the body. Finding harmony between humanity and nature so that we can both thrive. Allowing nature to connect us to a larger system where we can come to terms with what we cannot control and simply follow the order of nature. 

By following the order of nature, we are giving up our false sense of control that social media and consumer advertisement is constantly bombarding us with. Giving up the false sense of control over the weather, time, environment, sound, smell, other people, other vehicles, etc. When we give up these false senses of control, we give up our expectation and starting to look inwards with clarity over our behaviour, mindset, body and breath. 

Jacky teaches Elemental Flow & Yin on Wednesday evenings at Mitcham's Corner. Click here to get yourself booked in and see her other classes.


About the Author

jacky-kuo

Jacky Kuo

Like most of the people who come to a CAMYOGA class, Jacky started practicing yoga because something wasn’t feeling right (namely poor posture and stress). Despite her career in Psychology research there simply aren’t enough accessible solutions for better wellbeing other than a weekly evening Ashtanga Classes.

As a student and a yoga teacher, Jacky is passionate about dynamic and energetic practise that allow you to ‘empty’ your mind and focus on alignment that continue off the mat. Jacky received her BWY yoga foundation certificate in October 2013 with Cam Yoga and completed her Ashtanga Vinsayas Flow Teacher Training RYS 200hrs in February 2017 in India.

 

 
Journey to Pincha Mayurasana
 
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Journey to Pincha Mayurasana

Disclaimer - remember to practice at your own pace and listen to your body. If anything hurts or pinches, come out of the pose safely and rest in balasana (child's pose).

Pincha Mayurasana
pinca = feather
mayura = peacock

Pincha Mayurasana or forearm balance proves for many, to be a fairly elusive asana. It requires strength, core and shoulder stability alongside good balance and courage. But with a strong foundation and (of course) practice it may prove easier than you might think.

We asked CAMYOGA teacher, James Downs to show us how he gets into Pincha.
 

Pincha Mayurasana Step-by-Step


1. Set yourself up by coming into Dolphin with a brick or block between the palms. (Dolphin is similar to Downward Facing Dog, but with forearms flat on the floor and parallel to the long sides of the mat).


Squeeze the brick with your palms concentrating on broadening and stabilising the shoulders. Push the forearms firmly into the mat which will enable you to lift the crown of the head away from the floor.

Build strength by taking 5-10 breaths in this posture and then coming back down into child's pose and repeat 2-3 times.

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2. Flash Prep! Remove the block and then from Dolphin lift the left leg high - keep the shoulders strong and your core engaged.

If you'd like to go further, start walking the opposite hand towards the grounded foot and maybe grab hold of the heel. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Try a balance: Right forearm presses firmly into the mat, left arm at a right angle palm pressing down (think chaturanga alignment). See if you can lift the right leg and use the left tricep (upper arm) as a ledge to rest your left knee on - right leg lifting high.

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 Try a balance!

Try a balance!


3. Once you've done your conditioning (previous steps). It's time to try the full posture!

Start with your solid dolphin pose, bend one knee and keeping the other leg straight do a couple of bunny hops to get the feeling of going upside down. This may be where you stay, but eventually, you'll feel more comfortable and maybe even get both legs straight!

If you're worried about falling, you can always try this against a wall (palms facing the wall) but be mindful that you're not overarching or banana-ing your back.

Another way to try this against the wall is with dolphin against the wall. Come into dolphin with heels touching the wall. When you feel stable here, place the sole of the left foot onto the wall - your body and leg at a right angle, then bring the right foot up to meet it. Try lifting each leg up and maybe both at the same time!

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James teaches regularly at CAMYOGA Central and Mitcham's - check out the schedule here.

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A Q&A with Ali Cellini
 

Name:  Ali Cellini

Hometown:  this should be a short answer question but it never is for me! I grew up in Kenya – a small town called Malindi, though now my family is all in Nairobi. That is home, but England has also always felt like home as I grew up partially (on and off) here!

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Training background:  I trained at a school called Purusha Yoga in San Francisco, where we studied in the Raja Yoga tradition – focused on Hatha, stemming into versions like Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative. Studying at Purusha was amazing as Joy Ravelli, the head instructor and owner of the studio, has been training teachers for more than 20 years, and the breadth of her experience, and that of the other teachers there, gave us a really in-depth well-rounded view on teaching, anatomy and the history and philosophy of yoga – enough to know that we were only scratching the surface and there is always so much more to learn!

What is your favourite yoga pose and why:  Downward dog. Well there are a few... but I'm going to stick with downward dog. I love it. It is essential. It is place where you don't have a reason to forget any part of the body – in it I can be aware of all things, and the connection between all things, and simultaneously it is a place of great surrender. I can feel the ground. I can feel my spine's length. It is hard work and then also shifts into almost feeling restorative at times. In those moments it feels like home. The place to return to and feel like everything is right in the world. 

What is your least favourite yoga pose and why:  Hmmm, well I'd say that I actually kind of love my least favourite poses! For example, gomukhasana – cow face pose – is so very uncomfortable in my body, but it offers me the special practice of finding ease in a place of difficulty... and afterwards I always feel better for it. It's also part of becoming more self-aware, and noticing the things you really need (sometimes not what you're naturally drawn to). It's not about feeling good right now, but about the health and benefits (and perhaps good feelings in those) that come over time.

What is one of your mantras?  Something like "Let what comes, come." I think often , in some form, about releasing the hold on things and the idea of control. And letting what is going to be, be. We do what we can, but we cannot control everything. It's about being decisive and also flexible – committed, but fluid. Being here with what is right now.

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Do you have a go-to practice to get you through busy or challenging times?  Music. In any form. I sing, so singing really helps me. But listening to music, being surrounded and engulfed by it, and singing – besides yoga, that has helped me through the most difficult moments and feelings. I could sit and do that for hours in times of sadness. I put the music on and am driven by it in times of busyness. With the right music on, I feel like I can do anything. And tea. And long showers. I find that anything that is a "pause," or that helps to slow down time, helps you in the long run because you realise that everything that needs to get done will, and everything else won't matter.

What can students expect from your yoga classes?  In yoga, I found the ability to clear the space, to not feel surrounded, to release – I strive to channel this experience to others. To me yoga is like a dance; it is an expressive bodily language, and in it we move and search for the "sweet spots". My practice and my classes exist around this opportunity for clarity and expression – they are focused, challenging but accessible to all, but above all they are fun and inclusive. You will hear a lot of music – mostly unexpected! – and you will be provided with a place where you can come as you are (intentional Nirvana reference...). I believe in hard work and creating heat (tapas) where it counts and has purpose, but balancing this with softness and ease.

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Where did you last go on holiday? Did you take your mat? My last holiday was in December and was actually my honeymoon! It was in Malta, was barely planned and was a beautiful, unexpected surprise of a place. I admit I did not take my mat as I was specifically there to have a break from EVERYTHING – we walked, ate, explored, and slept 10 hours every night! My practice in that period was to fully restore, and I'd say it was a massive success!

Something we may not know about you…   Well, there are so many things... I am a big Trekkie. A Star Trek fan. Very big. I love stories in general, fantasy and science fiction above all. And I do not watch TV. But Star Trek is something I will always watch. Next Generation is my number 1. But is followed very closely by the Original Series and DS9. And yes, I have related many, many things from Star Trek to yoga ...and used them in classes.

Live long and prosper.


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Catch Ali teaching at CAMYOGA:

Monday nights 20.00 at Mitcham's Corner. Click here to book.

 

Find out more about Ali on her website here.


 
What is Forrest Yoga?
 
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People get so confused with the name "Forrest Yoga", especially since I'm a tree-hugging sort of person. Their faces tend to drop when I say that Forrest Yoga is named after Ana Forrest, and nothing to do with trees!  Then I explain, and their faces light up again.

 

Forrest Yoga was created by Ana Forrest over the years as a tool to carry out her life's mission of "mending the hoop of the people". Ana Forrest used yoga to heal herself from a traumatic childhood which she describes in her book Fierce Medicine.  This means that Forrest Yoga is at heart a practice of self-healing, and also that healing in the emotional body is given careful attention. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll cry in class - but you will most likely learn to breathe in a way that releases stuck emotions and helps you to ride the intense feelings that come up when you go into a deep pose.

 

 Ana Forrest - Image from www.forrestyoga.com

Ana Forrest - Image from www.forrestyoga.com

One day Ana Forrest, already a yoga teacher, was meeting a friend at a cafe. The floor collapsed underneath one of the chairlegs, catapulting her forwards, and, mid-air, to avoid a brain injury, she twisted in a way that injured her back. Whilst teaching for several months laid flat on the floor with her eyes closed (Ana Forrest can "See" energy and was able to correct her students' energetic misalignments without normal looking), she further developed her practice to enhance its potential for healing.  Forrest Yoga is amazing for self-healing any type of injury but it's revolutionary to those with back pain.  

 

Hallmark differences between Forrest and other styles include abdominal exercises, a relaxed neck and active feet.  It manages to be intense but accessible at the same time, and it's a very different experience from a vinyasa flow class, as poses are held and there is internal exploration during the longer holds. 


Coming up

 We are excited to be hosting Forrest Yoga Guardian Jambo Truong in April

We are excited to be hosting Forrest Yoga Guardian Jambo Truong in April

The Functional Anatomy of Yoga with Forrest Yoga Guardian Jambo Truong
April 21-22

More info and book here.

Jambo's workshop this April will be an amazing chance to see the cutting edge of Forrest Yoga, where researched anatomy meets asana.  Jambo is an expert in his field and he has a distinctive teaching style, looking deeply into the energetic patterns in the body as well as the precise muscles and tendons being worked. He is also a brilliant breath teacher and his breathing tuition alone will provide lasting value even without the other treats in store at the workshop. Don't expect it to be dry or boring either, as "hands-on" is likely to be an understatement: anatomy for Jambo has to be experienced internally to be understood. Expect to be entranced in sage smoke, drenched in sweat and to laugh till you cry, and then to hug everyone in sight.  That's the cutting edge of Forrest Yoga - take it or leave it!


You can discover the joy of Forrest Yoga at CAMYOGA with our regular classes below:

Rosalind Southward on Mondays at Central 6:30-7:45
Hannah Floyd at Mitcham's 6:30-7:45.

Click here to view our weekly schedule and to book.


 Forrest Yoga Teacher, Hannah Floyd

Forrest Yoga Teacher, Hannah Floyd

Thanks to Hannah Floyd for contributing this article for our blog!

Do you love Forrest yoga? Tell us what inspires you about this style of yoga in the comments.

Find out more about Forrest Yoga on the Forrest Yoga website here.

 

 
Hannah EllisComment