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Month: December 2019

How Yoga Is Helping Me Manage My Sciatica

By Fiona Tapp for Prevention.

Sciatica is a pain in the butt, literally. Since having a baby, I feel fire dancing down my back, into my backside, and tingling in my legs whenever I turn over just a little too quickly. Far from a temporary inconvenience, this condition seems intent on sticking around: My “baby” is now almost 4 years old, and he recently had to play nurse when I suffered an attack that left me on the floor unable to move. Luckily, he managed to follow my instructions to grab the remote control, a pillow, blanket, and the phone to call Daddy.

Now that I’ve been initiated into the painful club of sciatica sufferers, I’ve become much more aware of just how prevalent it is: An estimated 40% of people will have sciatica pain at some point in their lives. 

What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the human body, and it runs all the way from the lower back down the back of each leg, says Dr Loren Fishman. While anyone can develop pain along this nerve for a variety of reasons (such as a slipped disc), it’s fairly common among women during and after pregnancy.

For starters, weight gain can place pressure on the fragile nerves of the spine, says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alfred Bonati. The sciatic nerve can also become irritated during childbirth itself, especially during long labors, when women experience so-called back labor, or when the baby is in an abnormal position (such as breech), according to research from the European Spine Journal. After childbirth, many moms are left with weakened back and abdominal muscles, which can lead to more pain. Poor posture and hunching—pretty common among those who are breastfeeding and cradling their baby—makes the problem even worse.

My son’s labour lasted a grueling 48 hours and involved long stretches of excruciating back labor. Once I was home, I didn’t pay too much attention to any aches and pains that I was experiencing. I was too busy taking care of my baby; plus, the pain was intermittent: I could go weeks without any symptoms, and then one day I’d bend down too quickly or move a certain way and be in agony. Sometimes I’d even end up “frozen” and unable to move without help, which was pretty frightening.

Shortly after my son’s first birthday, it finally dawned on me that maybe this wasn’t normal.

Is Yoga the Best Rx?

I started to research treatment options and found that the latest guidelines show pain meds aren’t best for most patients with low-back pain—or at least that they shouldn’t be relied upon as a first-line defense. Heat, massage, stretching, and yoga seem to do the trick for many people. Meanwhile, a study found that the practice can alleviate sciatic pain, at least in the short-term.

I’ve always loved yoga and had followed a prenatal routine throughout my pregnancy, but since my son’s birth I had fallen out of the habit. I decided to try a few asanas and realized that any moves that helped me stretch my back or lie flat on the floor provided immediate relief.

After practicing on my own for a while, I decided it was time to talk to an expert. Tiffany Cruikshank, who works closely with doctors to create pain management plans involving yoga, confirmed that the practice can definitely ease lower back pain and help prevent flare-ups. To that end, she suggests the following moves, which release the tense muscles along the back and down the legs. Just be careful not to push yourself too far. “Find a comfortable position and soften into the pose,” says Cruikshank. “If you experience any nerve pain, back out of the pose until the pain is gone.”

Ardha Matsyendrāsana (Seated Twist)

Sit on the ground cross-legged. Keep your left leg on the floor and cross your right leg over it, placing your right foot flat on the floor. Place your right hand to the floor behind you and use your left arm to hold onto your right leg. Lengthen your spine to sit up straight. As you exhale slowly, begin to twist to your right until you feel a gentle stretch. Take a few deep breaths and hold for at least 30 seconds, or up to 2 minutes if it feels good. Release slowly and repeat on the other side.

Bird Dog

Start in a tabletop position with a flat back. Focus on drawing in your abdomen to support your back. Keep your spine and legs straight while you slowly extend one leg back behind you and the opposite arm forward. Elongate your body from heel to head as you take 3-5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Supta Padangusthasana (Supine Hamstring Pose)

Lie on your back, bend your right knee into your chest, and place a strap around the sole of your right foot. Slowly extend your leg until you feel a gentle stretch through the back of the leg while keeping your lower back relaxed. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Since I returned to a regular yoga practice, my sciatica has gotten much better. Of course, yoga isn’t a cure-all: I also make an effort to walk a lot, get quality sleep and I use a posture trainer for 15 minutes every day. But now whenever I feel that familiar pain, I usually realize that it’s been a few days or even a week since I’ve done yoga, and I make an extra effort to get back to the mat. Yes, the stretching aspect is key, but yoga also forces me to slow down, breathe, and focus on my needs—which is all pretty important.

15-Minute Matrix Podcast Interview: Mapping Myofascial Release with Tiffany Cruikshank

Andrea Nakayama interviews Tiffany Cruikshank for the 15-Minute Matrix Podcast.

Connective tissue connects all of our organ systems and is widespread throughout the entire body. On this episode, Tiffany Cruikshank discusses the innate, intelligent, full body system of connective tissue and how encouraging clients to work slowly with myofascial release can be a key tool in the healing process. Grab your pen and lets map myofascial release!

Click here to listen to the full episode.

Click here to download the completed Matrix from this episode.

Follow Andrea on Instagram @Andrea Nakayama

Try These Experts’ Tips to Help You Transform Your Fitness Routine — and Stick to It

By  for Thrive Global.

Celebrity fitness experts explain how to exercise more in 2020 — using Microsteps and sustainable behavior change.

As we approach the New Year, making resolutions is top of mind.  Setting goals for exercise and movement is one of the most popular resolutions made in the U.S. According to a YouGov Onmibus survey, 59% of respondents had “exercise more” as their New Year’s goal. But while we all start out with the best of intentions, actually keeping those resolutions can present an insurmountable challenge, with most people giving up by mid-February. Only one in five Americans stuck to their 2018 resolutions — with only 6% of people reporting that they stuck to their resolution completely.  

Thrive talked to the top fitness trainers across the country for their secrets to making sustainable, manageable changes to your life, and getting in more movement with smart, achievable Microsteps instead of grandiose resolutions. Here, they give you motivating tools and tricks to pave the way to a successful New Year.

“The reality is that it takes effort on a myriad of fronts to make the work associated with your goal far more manageable and achievable. The first step is to identify your motivation. As in, why is it you want to achieve this goal, and why are you choosing this resolution? How will your life improve if you stick with it? If you have this why, it allows you to tolerate the how — which is the work associated with achieving the goal. Plus, work that has a purpose becomes a passion. Work without purpose can just feel punishing — which is why so many people quit. 

That said, having a plan that allows you to get real results that is also in line with who you are and what resources you have available to you is key. For example, if you pick a crazy strict diet, the chances of you sticking to it are slim. If you join a bootcamp gym, but you dread the hard workouts, you won’t want to go. So be sure you stick with the simple science of not overeating, choosing foods in their most whole and organic form when possible, and moving your body as often as possible. From there, pick the food you love, and the types of workouts you enjoy in order to help ensure your success. Even if the path takes a little longer, there’s nothing wrong with that. The key is progress: Every step in the right direction is exactly that — a step in the right direction.”

Jillian Michaels, A.F.A.A., fitness expert, life coach, and founder of Jillian Michaels App


“Whether you are a person who makes completely fresh resolutions as 2020 approaches or not, looking back on your year with the intention of positively reframing or restructuring for the future is a great start. Think specifically about what aspects are already moving in the right direction and look for some simple ways to create continued forward momentum. A positive mindset is key to making resolutions stickier and suggests getting started with these simple tips! 

Build on a solid foundation. Goals should be tiny, measurable, and attainable and are often “stickiest” when they build from an already positive place. For example, if you’re someone who does a great job of going to the gym at lunch, perhaps start also paying attention to how many times you get up from your desk in the afternoon. Tracking steps or time standing at your desk may seem very 2005, but you might be surprised by how much traction you gain on fitness or weight loss goals with more consistent daily movements.

Book your week. Take your goals 7 days at a time and treat you time toward your resolutions like meetings and appointments. Booking classes on the MINDBODY App is awesome because they add directly into your Outlook calendar. Many of my clients automatically schedule around them now without even thinking about it.

Be kind to yourself. If you’re starting small with your resolutions, they shouldn’t leave you overly sore, uncomfortable, or in pain in any way.  A small goal is just 5-10 mins of increased activity. If you have been fairly sedentary, walking the stairs for 10 mins at lunch is a reasonable, actionable first step.”

Kate Ligler, Wellness Specialist at MINDBODY 


“Connecting to a deeper purpose captures the power and determination of our emotional body to see our goals through to fruition. For instance, if you want to lose weight to get healthy or build confidence, be specific about why, and what it will look like in your life. Will it affect your interactions, how you feel in your body, your confidence, how you move, how you see yourself, your health, or your ability to live long and appreciate life? Try to attach a feeling or picture to it in your mind — something simple that you can come back to quickly and often. Then, before you get out of bed each morning — or anytime you remember — take a minute to visualize what your day ahead would look like with that quality. For extra stamina, you can also post a reminder of that quality or picture somewhere you won’t miss it.  For instance, if you really want to lose weight so you feel better and live longer, then post a picture of someone you love that you want to enjoy life with, as a symbol of the happiness it represents. Or if you want to get healthy to build the confidence to build a life you love, post a pic of something you might do or somewhere you might go in that life you want to build as the wallpaper on your phone.

Less is more: Start with just 10 minutes a day of movement you enjoy. The habits we stick with have the biggest impact on our long-term health, so start simple to create a lasting habit you can commit to. Also, if you find something you enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to stick to it then forcing yourself to do something you hate.”

Tiffany CruikshankL.Ac. MAOM, founder of Yoga Medicine®


Read the full article on Thrive Global’s website here.

8 Pressure Points On Your Hands That Will Help You Feel Better Pretty Much Everywhere

By Jessica Estrada for Well + Good.

As much as we would all love to feel 100 percent all the time, some days that’s far from reality, especially as you get older. There are body parts that start to ache, chronic pains that don’t let up, sniffles that keep you up at night, and headaches galore. All of which make it difficult to be a fully functioning human sometimes. If you’re searching for a holistic way to manage these ailments, acupressure is one tool you can use.

“Acupressure is a non-invasive method of stimulating the body’s innate healing ability via purinergic signaling and modulation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems,” says acupuncturist Jacqui Kinzig. “In simpler terms, stimulation of certain areas of the body can help stop many different types of symptoms, from pain to anxiety to allergies.” 

The best part? Unlike acupuncture, no needles are required to reap the benefits. Even more good news: Kinzig says there are more than 400 acupressure points on the hands alone, which means you can inconspicuously apply pressure to these points for instant relief and no one would notice.

Note that it does matter which hand you use when doing acupressure. “For systemic or non-pain related complaints, either hand can be used,” Dr. Kinzig says. “For acute pain, it is best to use the hand on the opposite side of the body from the painful area.” So, if let’s say you have lower back pain on your left side, acupressure should be done on the right hand. Ready to give acupressure a go?

8 Pro-Recommended Hand Pressure Points You Can Stimulate to Relieve All Sorts of Symptoms 

 

1. Fish Border
If you have a headache or throat pain (or both), Oakland-based acupuncturist Janet Thomson, L.Ac., recommends stimulating the Fish Border acupressure point with either your thumb or the back end of a pencil, pen, or bobby pin. “To find fish border, draw a line between the outer edge of where your thumb meets your hand and your wrist,” Thomson says. “The point is located halfway between those two points, on the fleshy part of the base of the thumb at the spot where the darker skin on the back of the hand meets the lighter skin on the palm of the hand.”

2. Joining Valley
The Joining Valley hand pressure point, also known as the Large Intestine 4, is one of the most popular points because it works wonders for so many different things. “It helps with any type of headache, migraine, or facial issue, including bell’s Palsy, sinusitis, nose bleeding, sore throat, eye pain, tooth or mouth pain, and allergy symptoms,” Dr. Kinzig says. “It is also used to stimulate labor, alleviate neck pain, help constipation or diarrhea, treat hand or arm pain, and clear fever.” Tiffany Cruikshank, acupuncturist and Founder of Yoga Medicine®, adds that it’s also a great point to press on when you feel a cold coming on because it’ll give your immune system a boost. 

To find the point, start by spreading your hand wide. “You’ll see a triangle forming between the base of the thumb and index finger,” Thomson says. “This point is located in the middle of the triangle where you feel the most sensitivity when you squeeze it.” Once you’ve found it, Cruikshank says to find one or two tender spots in that area and apply moderate pressure for 30 to 60 seconds each. 

3. Lesser Palace
Lesser Palace is Thomson’s go-to hand pressure point for dealing with feelings of fear, sadness, worry, agitation, or anxiety. The point is located on the palm of your hand. To locate it, simply make a fist. It’ll be where your pinky finger touches the palm. 

4. Stiff Neck, Falling from Pillow, Drop Pillow
As its name suggests, the stiff neck point is great for loosening up neck and shoulder pain and tension, especially if you work behind a computer all day. “The point is located on the back of the hand in the divot just before the knuckles of the index finger and middle finger,” Thomson says. “It is great to use the pressure point at the same time as gently moving your neck from side to side to release the stiff neck.”

5. Yao Tong Xue
If you struggle with lower back pain and stiffness or acute lumbar spasms, this point is for you. It actually consists of two points on the top of the hand, Dr. Kinzig says. One is between the second and third metacarpals (aka the bones in your hand) and the other sits between the forth and the fifth metacarpals. “The points are located in the depressions just before the metacarpals meet,” she says. Once you find the points on the hand that is on the same side as the back pain, apply firm pressure to both points simulatenously for 30 seconds.

6. Pericardium 8
Feeling anxious? Give the Pericardium 8 point a good massage. “It can help quiet our minds when we can’t fall asleep,” Dr. Kinzing says. “It is also useful for palpitations or chest pain.” To pinpoint it, make a fist. It’ll be where the tip of the middle fingers hits the palm. You can use the middle finger, or another finger from the opposite hand, to press firmly on the point for 60 seconds. 

7. Small Intestine 3
The small intestine 3 point, Dr. Kinzig says, “alleviates neck pain and stiffness, back pain, occipital headache, red and painful eyes, and hand pain.” It’s located on the pinky side of the hand. “When a loose fist is made, this point is at the end of the upper palmar crease, just below the pinky finger.” Apply firm pressure using a nail on the opposite hand and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. 

8. Ba Xie
For hand pain and osteoarthritis in the hands, Cruikshank recommends working with the Ba Xie points situated on the webbing between each finger. “The pressure here also helps to create some mobility and space between the joints which also helps hydrate the connective tissue around the joints,” she says. “Press into the webbing between each finger for 30 to 60 seconds. Try to press in a way that creates some space between the bones there.”

Dharma Talk Podcast Interview: Research the Experience with Tiffany Cruikshank

Henry Winslow interviews Tiffany Cruikshank for the Dharma Talk Podcast.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Tiffany on:

  • [11.35] Her holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
  • [22.36] The evolution of her personal yoga practice from a longstanding rigid Ashtanga routine to a more fluid and adaptable approach.
  • [31.20] Tiffany’s creation of Yoga Medicine as a way of sharing her knowledge of Chinese and sports medicine with a wider community of students, teachers, patients and healthcare providers.
  • [45.04] The Seva Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing shelter, education and vocational training for women and girls who have been affected by human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

FOLLOW HENRY:

IG: @henrywins

Website: henrywins.com/

Yoga for Shoulders: Healthy Shoulder Positioning in Common Yoga Poses

By Rachel Land for Yoga Medicine®.

Our arms and hands are in front of the body most of the time, creating a common postural pattern where the head of the shoulder drifts forward in its socket. This pattern can impact our posture, breathing, and the weight-bearing position of the joint. In this video with Rachel Land, E-RYT 500 yoga teacher and Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist, you will learn how to activate one of the muscles on the posterior shoulder, our external rotator Infraspinatus, to help draw the head of the shoulder away from the chest back into the centre of its socket. You’ll then use that muscle activation to create central joint positioning in side plank.

Find the original video on Yoga Medicine’s Youtube channel.

The Strength to Surrender: Compassionate Backbends

By Rachel LandSenior Yoga Medicine® teacher, for Yoga Digest.

Life has a compressive quality. We are all subject to the downward pull of gravity, and at this busy time of year often find ourselves carrying the weight of stress on our shoulders or, at least in the northern hemisphere, shielding ourselves against cold weather. 

The expansive heart-opening poses common in yoga practice offer the perfect antidote. However, many of us arrive on our mats ill-prepared for these poses. We are sitting more than ever before: in front of computers and devices, in our cars, on our couches. This sedentary lifestyle leaves a legacy in our muscles and fascia, including shortened hip flexors and shoulders shifted forward in their sockets, patterns which can make backbends uncomfortable, even confronting, especially when we try to increase our range of motion.

Yoga heart-openers can help reverse these patterns, opening us up to more balanced biomechanics, better breathing, and potentially improved mood and energy. But unless we practice them skillfully, even compassionately, we take our postural habits with us, collapsing into our low back instead of opening our chest as intended.

One of the most well-known of the sage Patanjali’s sutras is 2.46: sthira-sukham asanam, commonly translated to mean that posture should be steadfast and easeful. This is particularly true in heart-openers, where the soft surrender of the chest must be supported by strength in our legs and core.

But how do we find that balance between effort and ease? The key is to find new pathways, like the three key actions outlined below, rather than exploiting habitual ones.

1. Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Short, tight hip flexors can pull the front rim of our pelvis forward into what is called anterior pelvic tilt. During backbends, anterior tilt increases the amount of extension required by the lumbar spine and can create a feeling of compression there. However if we create posterior pelvic tilt by lifting our pubic bone toward our navel and lengthening our sacrum, we not only take a rare opportunity to lengthen our hip flexors, we also create more space around the low back.

2. Scapula Retraction

The heart-opening aspect of backbends comes from expanding our chest, rather than extending our spine. Squeezing our shoulder blades toward each other, an action known as retraction, allows them to act like a scoop behind the heart. It’s the resulting lift of our sternum and broadening of our collar bones that gives backbends their potent benefits.

3. Core Support

Our abdominals link these two actions together, integrating the expansiveness of the upper body into the supportive strength of the lower body. Zippering our lower abdominals and knitting our ribs in and down creates an energetic connection between the sternum and the pubic bone. The result is a sense of balance or containment, channelling our backbends into uplift and expansion in the chest, as opposed to compression into the low back.

This simple sequence gives you a chance to try out these actions, allowing you to expand your heart space with compassion.

Hero Pose (Virasana) Variation

Find a comfortable kneeling position with your hands in prayer position (anjali mudra), resting your hips on your heels (or on a block or two if you need a little more support for your knees). As you inhale, allow your abdomen to expand, tipping your frontal hip points closer to your thighs – creating anterior pelvic tilt. As you exhale, hug your navel toward your spine and scoop your tail, directing your sitbones toward the back of your knees – creating posterior tilt.

Flow back and forth for four or five smooth steady breaths, familiarizing yourself with the sensation and noticing the influence pelvic position has on what you feel in your low back.

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) Variation

Lift your hips off your heels and step your right foot forward into a low lunge. Stack your right knee above your right ankle, taking a long enough step to bring your left knee behind your left hip.

The position of your back leg will tend to tilt your pelvis forward toward your right thigh, so balance that tendency by drawing your pubic bone toward your navel and lifting your right frontal hip bone away from your right thigh, recreating a some of the posterior pelvic tilt you practiced previously. Notice how that action creates length over the front of your left hip, and more space in your low back.

Now draw your arms behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other and turning your palms out to open your chest. Breathe into your front ribs, supporting that expansiveness by guiding your low ribs in and down.

 Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)

Fold forward and plant your palms, stepping your right foot back in line with your left to transition into plank pose. Roll onto your left palm and the outer edge of your left foot, shifting into side plank (vasisthasana). Bend your right knee and step the ball of your right foot behind you, roughly level with your left knee. Then reach your right arm across your chest to catch hold of your left side ribs. Drive down through your left hand and use your right hand to help you roll your heart toward the sky, gliding your left shoulder blade toward your spine. Complete the pose by stretching your right fingertips overhead, creating space from fingers to toes. Expand into a few deep breaths before returning to hero pose to repeat the sequence on the second side.

Camel (Ustrasana)

After moving through the sequence on both sides, come to kneeling with your hips stacked above your knees. Set your feet and knees hip-width apart and tuck your toes under. Lengthen your sacrum and lift your pubic bone toward your navel to create posterior pelvic tilt. Then draw your arms behind you, retracting your shoulder blades and turning your palms out to open your chest.

Tilt back from your knees until your fingertips catch your inner heels, then press out through your hands and meet that outward pressure by magnetizing your heels toward the midline. Create support for your open heart by energetically drawing your pubic bone toward your sternum and knitting your low ribs in and down. 

Stay here for another three or four full, deep breaths, poised in the balance between courage and compassion, effort and ease, strength and surrender. When you are ready to move on, use your core and legs to lift you up and out, returning to the kneeling position where the sequence began for a moment of reflection.

As Patanjali outlined centuries ago, one of the core benefits of yoga practice is its capacity to help us create balance in our lives. Case in point – as the modern lifestyle becomes increasingly compressive, yoga heart-openers offer the chance to feel spacious: to access deeper breathing, and to counter the physical effects of sitting. But the lifestyle habits that make backbends helpful also make them a challenge for many of us. Rather than following old patterns and pathways, it benefits us to explore new ones – to learn to balance a soft heart with supportive core and legs. 

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Podcast Interview: The Whole Person with Tiffany Cruikshank

Jeanette Schneider interviews Tiffany Cruikshank for the Gold with Jeanette Schneider Podcast.

In this episode, Tiffany discusses Chinese Medicine, the idea of bringing the whole person into balance to allow the body to be more resilient, and how yoga can be a great tool for teens as well as adults to combat stress and support both our mental health and our hormones. 

Click here to listen to the full episode.

Balancing Act

Why are yoga and tai chi so beneficial for our bodies and minds? And can anybody really do it? Here are some moves you can try at home.

By Louise Parfitt For Inspire.

It’s easy to avoid exercise and moving a lot when you have arthritis – if you’re in pain, your natural reaction is to be still and quiet.

But it’s a vicious circle. When we move less, our muscles weaken, and this can increase pain. What’s more, many studies have shown that gentle exercise can help the symptoms of arthritis, easing pain and stiffness.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard though. Both yoga and tai chi have been found to be beneficial for arthritis, improving strength, flexibility and fitness, while also being good for mental health.

“Yoga is a nice, gentle way for people who are scared of exercise to begin to move,” says Silvia Laurenti, senior physiotherapist and yoga therapist at the Minded Institute. “By learning simple movements, people feel empowered and more confident, and conditions, such as depression, might lift a little.”

This is backed up by a study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience [1]. It found that eight weeks of intensive yoga significantly improved the physical and mental health of people with rheumatoid arthritis, and reduced the severity of depression. It’s something that Lisa Muehlenbein, a Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist, has experienced herself. “I notice that the pain in my knees and wrists decreases following my yoga practice,” she says.

“This is because yoga gets the synovial fluid flowing in the larger joints, allowing smoother movement and creating a greater range of motion and increased flexibility.”

How Can Yoga Help? 

With osteoarthritis, asanas – which are the physical postures in yoga – can increase strength and flexibility, and help prevent and manage flare ups. They can also be used alongside physiotherapy to aid recovery from a joint replacement.

Similarly, with rheumatoid arthritis, yoga can be used to maintain strength and flexibility when the condition is stable. As muscles are stretched, tension that is caused by lack of movement is also released.

Yoga can also change the way a person experiences the condition. “Pranayama (breathing), mindfulness meditation, restorative poses and relaxation can help manage symptoms of chronic pain,” Laurenti explains.

How Can Tai Chi Help?

Originating in China, tai chi consists of fluid, gentle movements that are slow and relaxed. There are many variations, but a program designed for people with arthritis can be beneficial in reducing stress, improving balance and offering some pain relief.

There is some evidence to suggest that tai chi can improve mobility in the ankles, hips and knees in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s unclear whether it can reduce pain or improve the quality of life for people with the condition.

Pain Relief

A review found aerobic and mind-body exercise (such as tai chi and yoga) to be useful for people with hip and knee osteoarthritis. It also found that mind-body exercise had similar effects to aerobic exercise for pain, with the potential to influence central pain sensitization, sleep disturbance, and mood disorders.

Although yoga and tai chi can be done at home, there are plenty of classes throughout the UK that offer friendship and social support, as well. As a space to get help with your practice. Just getting out to a class can lift your spirits and motivate you to continue with the exercise.

Try These Yoga Moves

Before trying any new exercises, check with your GP or get the advice of a qualified teacher. You can adapt the following postures to suit your body.

1. CAT-COW

Stretches the hips, back and chest, and helps increase flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine.

  1. If you are able to, start on all fours, with support under the knees and wrists. Alternatively, you can do a similar move from a chair.
  2. Inhale, and drop your tummy towards the mat. Lift your chin and look at the ceiling, dropping your shoulders down.
  3. Exhale, then bring your tummy towards your spine and round your back, like a cat stretching. Drop your head towards the floor.
  4. Repeat five times.

2. SEATED MOUNTAIN POSE

Stretches the trunk, waist and shoulders. This can also be done standing up, if you’re able to.

  1. Sit up tall in a chair. Lengthen your spine upwards, keeping your chin parallel to the floor, and breathe deeply.
  2. Lengthen your arms downwards and imagine energy flowing to your fingertips.
  3. Raise your arms above your head and stretch the body, breathing steadily.
  4. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute, if comfortable.

3. STICK POSE

Stretches your legs, quadriceps and calf muscles.

  1. From mountain pose, lower your arms and put your hands on your thighs.
  2. Extend your right knee, lifting up your calf so your leg is parallel to the floor. Flex your right heel, lifting up your toes.
  3. Hold for two breaths, then switch sides. Repeat three times on each leg.

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