Elizabeth is a Yorkshire yogi living near Harrogate whose mission in life is
simple, to help people find a sense of calm, happiness and have a good old
belly laugh in this crazy and fantastic world we live in! Also, to get a dog…
As a Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist she specialises in helping people deal with specific injuries and lifestyle issues through the use of beneficial Yoga therapy techniques and practices.
Using a yoga therapy approach she helps with a wide range of ailments ranging from mental health, sleep, joint ailments to asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Having been drawn to yoga several years ago to help deal with high lifestyle stress and subsequently her deteriorating mental health, she found that yoga helped to soothe the mind and helped find a calm centre point to always come back to.
Elizabeth’s approach to yoga is all-inclusive, helping exercise mind, body and soul.
She ensures her clients understand that everyone’s body is different and at the same time educating that the aim of yoga is not to bend yourself into a pretzel! Let's try to not compare ourselves to others either, after all isn’t “Comparison the thief of joy” as Theodore Roosevelt once said.
When she is not on her matt, aka ‘The Magic Carpet’, she can be found hiking around the dales stoping to look at ALL the animals, wild swimming whatever the weather and hunting out Yorkshire’s great local food delicacies!
Sleep - we all need it but some times, no matter how much we try, it eludes us. We can
end up laying down looking up at the ceiling, focusing on the massive cobweb in the
corner of the room or attempting to count sheep as they jump over a wall (can sheep
even jump that high? They can! I’ve googled it, whilst trying to sleep, and there are an
alarming amount of YouTube videos on the topic of sheep jumping). Adorable they
might be, but those sheep are not helping me to sleep!
I digress, in order to fall deeply asleep we need our para-sympathetic nervous system, AKA our ‘rest and digest mode’, to hop into the driving seat and take over from our sympathetic nervous system. There are multiple ways to to enter into this state, spending time in nature and having a massage are two ways, but they are not always possible just before bed.
This is why I have created a short and accessible yoga flow that focuses on restorative asana and deep abdominal breathing, both of these factors will help to slow down your sympathetic system and enable you to enter into your para-sympathetic system.
Although the clip is only 5 minutes long please feel free to hold each pose for as long as feels comfortable for you. I’d say a minimum of 10-15 breaths per asana will help to relax the muscles enabling your body to melt and deepen the pose.
Remember too, breathe deeply in through the nose expanding the belly and out through the nose bringing the navel to the spine.
Breathing deeply using the diaphragm for a prolonged time coupled with moving your body mindfully will help to slow the heart rate and calm the activity in your mind, preparing the body for sleep not sheep. Love and light.
Thankfully stress and mental health is being talked about more and more over the last
few years, sadly though over the past months stress has become an almost daily factor
in many peoples lives.
There is a bright side though and that is Yoga. Yoga has been scientifically proven to help lower your blood pressure and in turn your heart rate. I have first-hand experience of how stress can gradually creep up on you and slowly unfold all the different areas of your life you spent years arranging all neat and organised like a mental version of ‘the home edit’, but without all of the plastic containers.
How do you combat stress, my advice is to be kind to yourself. If that means buying a new smelly candle then do, a 45 minute bath or turning the music up really loud and having a dance party for one then jump to it.
We all need different things in our life to make us happy and feel in-control. For me it was yoga and lots of sleep, but mainly yoga. Yoga isn’t just about the ‘asanas’ (the poses). Yoga is like an octopus, it has 8 limbs. These are the Yamas (abstinences), Niyamas (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption).
Like an octopus you engage all 8 limbs to enable you to reach your goal. By allowing my self-practice to develop naturally using poses (including the ones in this weeks video) and adopting over time the different elements of yoga, I could feel my mind gaining control again and slowly, piece by piece, I’ve learnt how to build my self up again.
So, when I feel stress turning up uninvited I roll out my mat, stop and breathe… or take my self out of the situation and stand on one leg and pretend I’m a tree.
Love and light.
Surya Namaskar, more commonly known as a Sun Salutation, means to honour the sun.
Surya in Hindi translates as Sun and Namaskar stems from the Sanskrit word Namas,
meaning ‘to bow’ or ‘to adore’.
Working from home quite often, I find myself hitting a mental wall in the middle of the day and need a quick energy boost.
The obvious choice is to explore the contents of my fridge as I have a serious weakness for cheese (the smellier the better!) but this is not going to help my waist line nor is it really what my body is craving.
I need to move, get the blood pumping and breathe. Sun salutations are perfect for this exact situation, anyone who has attended any yoga class, in any part of the world, in any language will have flowed through a sun salute.
Like languages, they might vary from teacher to teacher and from one yoga style to another but ultimately they are all united in their goal, to awaken the body and gain energy from the sun and come mid-afternoon energy is what I am craving.
I’ve filmed a Hatha yoga sun salutation to help guide you through the first salute and become aware of your breath, I would suggest aiming for 4 sun salutations and working up from there.
Remember, yoga is accessible to everyone, if you have a mat roll it out, if not use a rug or get cozy with the carpet. Use props - I was once told by a wonderful yoga teacher "remember the world is not flat, so bring the ground up to you and use a block’’ - if you don’t have a block I suggest a book or everyones favourite a can of beans!
Also, modify for your body, if you can’t touch your toes bend your knees, if balancing in low lunge is not in your practice today use a block to help support you or keep both hands on the earth. Lastly and most importantly, this is your time, your 5 minutes and if what you really need is to spend 5 glorious minutes in child’s pose then DO THAT.
Bring yourself on to your knees, your toes to touch, lower your bottom to your heals and as you exhale allow your body to fold over your thighs and your arms to stretch out long either at your side or out in front.
Inhale into your back body and exhale completely as you allow the thread of breath to energise you from the inside out.
Love and light