Moving into the New Year:-)

Moving in lots of ways

Coming up to Christmas ‘18, I created a number of videos designed to get us moving.

On Social Media, I often feel like videos are fun, and can be a great way to inspire us to try different ideas. What I also feel is important is some context and information on what is involved in the movements and why to do them in the first place.

The movements I chose are mainly inspired by what I see in classes and one to one sessions. They are movements that I feel almost everyone can benefit from and often we are not stimulating in our daily lives of sitting etc. For any of you that attend Yoga or Pilates classes, or are involved in other activities, the movements are also an idea of how to diversify and balance our movement capacities to improve strength and mobility. These movements will add to a more rounded experience in your body and are a sample of how we can start to challenge and stimulate.

I will give a little more detailed description for each of the video links below and you can play around with following these or adding in some more of your own. If you have any questions, please do let me know:-)

1) For Hamstring Strength:

Often in Yoga classes there are lots of poses aimed at ‘stretching’ your hamstrings, eg standing forward bends, seated forward bends. You might feel like you have ‘tight’ hamstrings and need to stretch more and more. However, without developing strength these areas of the body will become weaker. Developing strength in the back of our body is important for overall equilibrium and reduce risks of imbalances and resulting injuries or pains.

3) For Glute Strength and Stability:

This movement is great for feeling the muscles around your hip joint. In order to find balance and react to a loss of support from the lifted leg, the muscles have to engage. Often in Yoga or Pilates classes you may practice poses or movements standing on one foot, this is a great variation to focus more on the hip muscles without your ankle or foot helping support.

6) Pelvic Movement Awareness and effect on your spine

So often there can be a lack of awareness or connection to our pelvis. As a result in lots of movements in Yoga and Pilates, we force movements through our spine in order to achieve a pose or task. Often you may not realise this is happening. This can happen in Downward Facing Dog, Lunges, Pigeon Pose, or Back bending poses for example. what you can do like the video below is explore and even video yourself or use a mirror.

8) Mobility

This word basically means your ability to actively move into a position, control yourself and move out of it. Often again in Yoga classes, we may think of using our hands or supports to bring our feet or legs where we want them to go. This can help develop flexibility or your ability to move into a pose, but for long term sustainable benefit in movements, it is important to explore where you can move without an aid. You could like this video, try any variation of going down to the ground and getting back up again, and if you think this is just for young, sprightly folk, check this VIDEO out

10) For your core

This movement is super for developing the ability to stabilise your upper body while you move your lower body. there is strengthening for the hip flexors, abdominals and all over. It is a good progression from lying down core movements you may experience in Yoga and Pilates.

2) For Hip Flexor and Quad Strength:

Just like the Hamstrings, the front of the body and legs need strengthening. Again, there can be a feeling that these areas are ‘tight’ because of sitting at work or generally during our day, so we may feel drawn to more and more stretching. Again, strengthening is important and when paired with hamstring strengthening can provide a sense of balance and help with lots of other movements around your pelvis where we need to flex at hips or extend eg like squatting and lunging.

4) For ankle and foot strength

This movement is great for developing balance and ankle and foot strength. It is important to keep the heels high. When you lift one leg, it is helping further strength development from the movement no.2 and also stability from the supporting side. As a lot of us wear shoes all day, our feet tend to get weaker as they are supported all of the time, it is really important to spend time barefoot and encourage movements around the feet and ankles.

7) Glute and Leg Strength Progressions

In this video, I move through a couple of variations of standing on one foot and moving the other leg forwards, behind and then a one leg squat. The more you add in or try here the better:-)

9) Scapular mobility, shoulder joint health and strength

Our shoulder blades should move, they have the ability to elevate (rise), depress (lower), retract (squeeze toward the spine) and protract (spread away from the spine) If we do not make our shoulder blades move, they will lose their range of motion. I show in this video full circles with the shoulder blades in both directions, you can do this standing, sitting or kneeling.

Hanging is great for our shoulder joints, developing strength and resilience in the tendons and ligaments. Adding in the pull ups, helps develop and build strength in the arms and shoulder musculature. There are a lot of pushing movements with the arms in Yoga so it is great to balance that with some pulling.

Your journey to Intelligence-start with your body!

'It is difficult to speak of bodily intelligence in words.  It is much easier to experience it, to discover what it feels like.' Iyengar

Over last weekend I took part in 4 workshops in Dublin with an International Yoga teacher Dylan Werner.  I really enjoyed the weekend, I loved being a student, I loved meeting old and new faces, I loved being in the atmosphere of learning and of course moving!  

I took a lot from the weekend and enjoyed the perspective the teacher spun on a few topics and certain aspects of Yoga.

As I practice a lot of my Yoga on my own, its always nice to get some inspiration and motivation from watching others and getting fired up to try new variations and fun movements.  This is where my own intelligence of my abilities comes in and my own understanding of everything I have learnt to date.

This issue of intelligence came up a few times over the weekend, and the idea of using our own intelligence and discernment to discover what is right for ourselves.  Am I moving this way because it is good for me?  Do I have to do it this way just because someone said to?  Am I doing it this way because its a habit?  Am I doing it this way because its the only way I know?

In any community/group we are part of, it is absolutely up to each individual to take on their own journey of learning.  It is you who will have to feel your joints when they ache you will have to rehab an injury, you will feel how good it feels to be mobile and pain free.  You will feel the benefits to your body and mind if you move in the ways that serve you best.

Your physical journey is yours to take ownership of.  

I've been around the block enough and I have been part of enough teams/groups/communities to know that trends/fads/beliefs can be made by all of us.  I have friends who may not believe in the greatness Yoga can offer us because they have seem how it can cause problems physically in the ways certain methods and practices are being taught or understood.  But.....this is where we must look at ourselves as individuals.  It is not Yoga that is wrong, as much as it is not running's fault if someone pulls their hamstring or gets plantar fasciitis.  


It is not what you do but how you do it.

I obviously agree that we are affected by those around us and take on traits of the groups that we are part of but we must as a responsibility to ourselves and our health begin to use intelligence and discernment.  This physical body and all the conundrums it presents us with, all the perceived limitations, the break throughs, the disappointments and the successes- its our tool for managing ourselves, becoming more familiar, more fascinated, more accepting, respectful, more compassionate.

It really does not matter what method you choose to move or learn but that you empower yourself, that you become responsible, that you question what is presented to you, that you take what works and you let go of what doesn't.  In that way we can all become individuals within communities that can be strong on our own and then support and enjoy the company of those around us.

There is no right or wrong with any specific community or way of moving.  Certain things will click with you, will make you want more and others will not.  The strength of any community will depend on the validity and utilisation of its methods, it will depend on the questioning and awareness of each of its individuals.

Yes we must find good teachers and good coaches, but we must ask ourselves are we ready to be good students? Are we ready to develop our own intelligence?

Physical Homework!

If you practice Yoga or not here are some things that I noticed at the weekend that serve as an interesting homework project.....

-Can you move quietly? If you are in downward dog for example, can you step your foot forwards without a sound?  Can you step from standing into a lunge without a sound?

-Can you stand up without using your hands?

-Can you move into and out of a posture like Hanumanasana (splits) with control?

-Can you move from a posture like Pigeon pose from one side to the other without using your hands?

These issues are worth exploring in your own body.....where are the limitations, where does it feel good etc........The importance of the answers feels like it warrants another blog!

It's not about me, its about you!

I am a teacher, first and foremost this is what I want to do.  I love teaching, I love helping others.  Everything I learn, everything I experience, I use to reflect on and analyse in a way that will help others and can inspire learning.

As a teacher, it is not really about me, what I can do, what I have achieved, it is about you, the student, the individual who wants to learn.

This week I have been reflecting on this a lot! I received a lovely email from Sibylle Dallmann, discussing the concepts of focusing on your students as a teacher- 'The key to a fun and enjoyable teaching career is to make it all about your students.'

I have been teaching for almost 10 years now and I couldn't agree with these sentiments more. I have taught in school environments teaching teenagers and now teaching all ages and genders and amazing individuals as a Yoga and Pilates teacher.  Through all of my experiences similarities which I see arise remain the same.

Teachers can often feel burnt out, feel uninspired, lose sight or track of why they wanted to teach in the beginning- I have been there! However, if the focus of helping others remains your constant, remains your anchor point for grounding, centring and aligning to your values, then burning out will not feel as predominant.

I came through a fun university degree but at times highly competitive.  I often reflected on my times and experiences in University and found a lot of focus was placed on performance and achievements.  The focus often strayed to what we in the class could do, or have done rather than on educating others.

In training to be a teacher, however, the skills to teach, to help others learn, to encourage, to motivate, to allow individuals to complete tasks they didn't think possible-are very different skills than completing or succeeding at the task for oneself.

I do not doubt that accomplished athletes can make amazing teachers and coaches, but the skills required are learnt and developed over time and with experience, rather than just a given presumption that is granted to those who are successful in their fields.

In the Yoga 'world' I now work in, similarities can be seen and experienced.  We are currently moving through an interesting internet and social media bubble-self promotion is constant, instant images, videos and posts are abundant. Pictures of wonderful poses in wonderful locations and seeing an array of links to the next person 'doing' the next new thing.

This can be amazing and inspiring but as a teacher, is the focus somewhat lost from the teaching?

As a teacher, there are a lot of things I cannot do! There are a lot of things I struggle with, but this I have actually learnt to embrace! As I struggle, so too do many people who come to my classes.

I love teaching and when I teach, it is not about me anymore, it is about you, the student.  For any teachers, there may be an instant response or buzz from the next 'liked' image or post on the internet but by taking time to cultivate and embrace your own learning and values, and using them to enhance your teaching skill set, by spending time reflecting on how those in your classes are learning and developing, will in the longterm aid to create a much more sustainable and enjoyable teaching experience.