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Winter Wellness: Top Tips to Supercharge your Winter Wellbeing

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Winter Wellness: Top Tips to Supercharge your Winter Wellbeing

by Candice Habershon
Candice teaches Vinyasa Flow on Tuesday & Friday mornings at 9.30am, and is running a Winter Wellness Workshop this Saturday 24th November. Book your spot via our Events Page!

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Winter can be a trying time both mentally and physically. The days are darker, colder and shorter and our bodies become more susceptible to all kinds of nasties like colds and flu. Top all that off with the stress of the silly season in the run up to Christmas and it might become tempting to stay inside and hide away from it all. Being proactive at this time of year will help ensure you stay calm, happy and well. Below, Candice offers her top tips to supercharge your winter wellness.

Keep moving

Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day that raises your heart rate. Research has shown that increasing your heart rate could help to speed up the circulation of white blood cells in the body, making it more likely they will seek and destroy germs early on. Just be careful not to overdo it as that will have the opposite effect.

Open your heart

It’s our natural instinct in cold weather to hunch our shoulders. But at this time of year we should be actively doing the opposite. Heart-opening poses such as sphinx, cobra, fish and bridge pose stimulate blood flow to the thymus an organ situated behind the breast bone that is instrumental in the growth of germ-killing T-cells.

Let’s twist again

Twists are brilliant at helping the body deal with stress or anxiety – two emotions that tend to surface at this busy time of year. Opening the chest, shoulders and back through twisting can help to release stored tension in the body, leaving you feeling calmer mentally.

Get upside down

Because inversions increase the flow of blood moving toward the heart, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate oxygenated blood properly throughout the body. Inversions are also great for moving lymph around the body strengthening the immune system.

Strike a (warrior) pose.

Grounding poses, like warrior 1 and 2, help to calm the frenetic vata energy of this season, and gives us durability and stability through the winter. They develop concentration, balance and groundedness and help to energise the entire body.

Create an internal fire

Ujjayi breath, where you exhale through the nose using a slight restriction at the back of the throat, helps to generate internal body heat. This form of pranayama, or breathing exercise, can help to alleviate headaches, relieve sinus pressure, decrease the production of phlegm, and strengthen the nervous and digestive systems.

Spice up your life

Make sure you pop these immune boosting spices into your shopping trolley this month

Turmeric - beneficial for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Ginger – stimulates digestion, boosts immunity and alleviates coughs and congestion.

Cinnamon – great for drying up runny noses

Black pepper - revitalises circulation, respiration and digestion.

Use oils

Winter is cold and windy so in ayurvedic practices it is known as the vata time of year. Massaging oil into the skin after a bath or rubbing some into the feet before bedtime is a great antidote. Lavender or clary sage are both excellent for calming vata.

Meditate

Running around trying to get things sorted for Christmas affects your body’s ability to fight germs. Studies have shown that meditating helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure. At the same time, resources that were directed to support fighting or running are now directed to support healing and immune system functions.

Have fun

Plan a date with friends, book a movie or enrol in a pottery class. Studies have shown that looking forward to an event boosts immunity, while loneliness can have the opposite effect. If you’d rather be at home, get a friend to come over and watch a comedy with you. It’s true what they say about laughter being the best medicine: not only does it boost the immune system, it protects the heart and burns calories too.


Want to find out more?

Come along to Candice’s Winter Wellness Workshop at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms at 1:30pm this Saturday 24 November. Just a few spaces left!

BOOK NOW

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Using Yoga Twists to Rediscover Your Full Potential for Mobility

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Using Yoga Twists to Rediscover Your Full Potential for Mobility

by Lynne Fugard

As forward-facing animals it’s not surprising that we humans get overly concerned with what’s in front of us. As a consequence, a lot of our daily routines and exercise regimens can become restricted to very linear, one-directional patterns of movement, creating imbalanced and uncomfortable habits of tension and weakness in our bodies.

Days spent hunched over a desk, phone, or steering wheel; carrying heavy bags or children; driving, walking, running or cycling; always going forwards, forwards, forwards… It all has the effect of closing up the front of the body, tightening the muscles of the chest, shoulders, waist and legs, whilst weakening the muscles of the back: those bigger muscles either side of the spine, but also the tiny postural muscles that provide vital support and mobility within the spine itself.

As these patterns and habits become ingrained, it becomes impossible to fully realize the healthy range of mobility that should be available to us. Muscle pairs can become imbalanced – some increasingly tight and tense, whilst others weaken and fail to switch on. These sorts of imbalances can potentially even pull the skeleton itself out of natural alignment. The normal, neutral curvature of the spine becomes exaggerated, resulting in an excessive rounding in the upper back (kyphosis), or over-concaving in the lower back (lordosis). We feel hunched over, tired, stressed and tense, and over time chronic pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back can result.

How Can Yoga Help?

One of the joys of a regular yoga practice is the transformational rediscovery of our deep-seated potential for multifaceted motion. We have a spine that can maneuver 360 degrees through 3 planes of alignment - not only forwards and backwards, but also from side to side, in rotational twists, and then through all sorts of combinations of those movements. The yoga practice flows through all of these planes, exploring a healthy range of mobility in each limb, whilst also working to balance and enhance a strong, supple, interconnected musculature that supports and allows such motion to feel safe and stable.

Which Poses Should I Use?

In particular, the yoga poses that most obviously break with linear, forward-facing patterns are twists, side-bends and back-bends. In my classes, I incorporate these movements to mindfully explore the space above and behind us, encouraging new perspectives and creative ways of moving, strengthening around the spine, enhancing posture and breath-capacity, and all whilst brightening the mood, stimulating the nervous system, and clarifying the mind. Suddenly the body feels more alive, supple and buoyant, you wake up every morning more comfortable and spacious, and you begin to challenge your preconceptions about what is possible and maybe even what is normal! 

Sound good?

Then it’s time to BOOK YOUR SPOT in our Yoga Improvers: Explore From Your Core! workshop this weekend!

We will build through an invigorating sequence in preparation for the body to weave itself into deliciously deep twists, binds, back-bends and beyond. Whilst opening the shoulders, chest, and side body, we will also cultivate a strong and powerful core, the centre, from which and around which we can move, expand and explore our natural range of motion with intention and curiosity. Using props and partner-work there will be time to break down and work towards those more challenging twists, binds and backbends from the yoga asana practice - including standing, seated, balancing and inverted poses - leaving you plenty of ideas to take back to your self-practice, weekly classes and daily life.

BOOK YOUR SPOT NOW!

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What Is Hatha Yoga?

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What Is Hatha Yoga?

There are so many different styles of Yoga that sometimes choosing a class can be quite confusing, especially if you are new to yoga, so here’s a little information about Yoga's original style...

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Relax, Renew & Restore

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Relax, Renew & Restore

Beautiful Autumn has truly arrived along with the nights beginning to draw in and the constant coughing and sneezing around us – it is the season for colds!  It takes time for our bodies and minds to adjust to the change in weather and the fast pace of life in London can leave us feeling frazzled and exhausted at times.  This healing three hour workshop is all about relaxing and letting go...

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Yoga: why go with the flow?

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Yoga: why go with the flow?

Flowing forms of yoga have long been popular in London, with Vinyasa Yoga and all of its affiliates becoming a go-to favourite at most yoga studios and gyms. But beyond offering an invigorating physical challenge, I believe there are more esoteric benefits to this fluid form of yoga that are worth exploring for those of us wishing to deepen our practice...

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Yoga for Post Natal Recovery

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Yoga for Post Natal Recovery

Becoming a new mother is a time of great joy, dramatic change and readjustment.  Postnatal yoga provides numerous physical and emotional benefits and can positively support women offering stability, reassurance and positivity...

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8 Ways Your Child Could Benefit From Yoga

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8 Ways Your Child Could Benefit From Yoga

There has been increasing interest and research in recent years about the benefits of yoga for children. Our children nowadays live in a world flooded with external stimuli and information due to exposure to media technologies, as well as increased competition in schools to succeed academically...

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Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga - Deepening your practice

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Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga - Deepening your practice

Why do we practice yoga? There are many reasons people practice yoga, for some it is about promoting a sense of well-being, stretching their limbs or a way of reducing stress; for others it is to find a far more innate connection to a deeper part of themselves...

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Why Every Cyclist Should Try Yoga

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Why Every Cyclist Should Try Yoga

Road, hybrid, single speed (really, with South London’s infamous hills?), Boris… whatever your ride of choice, whether you compete or commute, there is no denying that cycling is one of the best modes of transport around. It certainly beats cramming yourself into someone’s armpit on a hot, sweaty Tube...

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