The benefits of yoga as part of your self-care routine
We started by asking Clare why she set up Iyengar Yoga Warriors?
I started practising yoga at the age of 15, I found a video called Yogacise with Jerry Hall (this will show my age) and looking back now this was the start of my path to being a teacher of Iyengar yoga. At 18 I decided I needed to find a class first for myself, but also as I felt my mum needed to learn to relax so I dragged her along with me. 30 years later and I’m now a Level 2 Iyengar teacher, I teach in the West Lothian area and truly love what I do.
Yoga has seen me through the numerous ups and downs life has thrown my way and although I had a very simplistic way of looking at yoga and the many benefits it had in my younger years the most important part was, I knew if I practised life felt calm and if I didn’t my life would start feeling slightly out of control. This was the reason I always found myself back on the mat whenever I veered off my yoga path.
I am truly grateful to my first Iyengar teacher Susan Smith as without her I wouldn’t have stayed on the yoga path or decided to teach. She gave me the passion for yoga and the determination to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained throughout these years to others. My hope is that I can in turn positively influence others to find all the benefits and appreciation and the willingness to practise the art of Yoga.
What is Iyengar Yoga?
The Iyengar method of yoga is named after our teacher Yogacharya Sri BKS Iyengar. The teaching helps you focus on correct alignment of the body in asanas ensuring your working safely, with maximum benefit to your flexibility, strength and well being.
Props, such as blocks and belts, are sometimes used in class to allow those with less strength or flexibility to work correctly and achieve their full potential.
“Yoga is the golden key which unlocks the door to peace, tranquility and joy” BKS Iyengar
Yoga asanas cover the basic positions of standing, sitting, forward bends, twists, inversions, back bends and lying down.
The practice of asanas has a beneficial impact on the whole body. Asanas not only tone the muscles, tissues, ligaments, joints, and nerves, but also maintain the smooth functioning and health of all the body’s systems. They relax the body and mind, allowing both to recover from fatigue or weakness, and the stress of daily life. Asanas also boost metabolism, lymphatic circulation, and hormonal secretions, and bring about a chemical balance in the body.
Breath is the essence of life and prana is the life force or energy. The art of pranayama seeks to harness this life force. By focusing the mind totally on the breath, blockages in the body’s channels are unlocked, allowing energy to flow freely and connect with the life force. By practising pranayama, we learn to move energy vertically, horizontally, and cyclically to all areas of the body.
Pranayama is not deep breathing. Deep breathing tenses the facial muscles, makes the skull and scalp rigid, tightens the chest, and applies external force to the intake or release of breath. In pranayama, the facial muscles remain soft and receptive, and the breath is drawn in or released gently.
The practise of asanas removes the obstructions which impede the flow of prana, and the art of pranayama teaches us to move the prana around the body.
How can Yoga help?
Yoga is not a miracle cure that can free a person from all stress, but it can help minimize it. The worries of modern life deplete our reserves of bio-energy, because we draw on our vital energy from the storehouse – the nerve cells. This can ultimately, exhaust our energy reserves and lead to the collapse of mental and physical equilibrium. Yogic science believes that the nerves control the unconscious mind, and that when the nervous system is strong, a person faces stressful situations more positively.
The practise of asanas and pranayama helps to integrate the body, breath, mind and intellect. Slow effortless exhalation during the practise of an asana brings serenity to the body cells, relaxes the facial muscles, and releases all tension from the organs of perception: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.
When this happens, the brain, which is in constant communication with the organs of action, become still, and all thoughts disappear. Invading fears and anxieties cannot penetrate the brain. When you develop this ability through continued practise, this will be reflected in your daily life ensuring you don’t waste your valuable bio-energy. You enter a state of true clarity, and your mind is stress free and filled with calm and tranquillity.
What are the top 5 exercises you would suggest & why?
Tadasana – Mountain posture
Corrects bad posture by straightening the spine
Improves the alignment of the body
Counters the degenerative effects of ageing on the spine, legs, and feet.
Tones the buttock muscles
Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle pose
Relieves gastritis, indigestion, acidity and flatulence
Improves the flexibility of the spine
Corrects alignment of the shoulders
Strengthens the ankles
Reduces discomfort during menstruation
Virabhadrasana 2 – Warrior pose 2
Improves breathing capacity by expanding the chest
Helps in the treatment of a prolapsed or slipped disc
Reduces fat around the hips
Relieves lower backache
Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended side stretch
Enhanced lung capacity
Tones the muscles of the heart
Relieves sciatic and arthritic pain
Improves digestion and helps the eliminate of waste
Reduces fat on the waist and hips
Savasana – Corpse pose
Helps to alleviate nervous tension, migraine, insomnia and chronic fatigue
Relaxes the body and eases breathing
Soothes the nervous system and brings peace of mind
Enhances recovery from all long term or serious illness
Here at MOi + ME we are keen to try this moves as well, we are all about calm and to help this even further would we recommend combining with CBD also, the massage candle & moment balm would be perfect partners!
We hope you have found this useful and we will be working with Clare further in the next few weeks to look deeper into how yoga can benefit anxiety, menstruation.
Thank you for your time Clare and we look forward to the next parts.
if you are interested in finding out more check out www.iyengaryogawarriors.co.uk