Category Archives: Yoga

Veggie food and a sad lack of exercise

I finally got around to publishing my new page (you will find it at the top of the blog), My Frugal Bookshelf. I will be adding to it as and when I review a book so it will be regularly updated. 

I almost missed doing a blog post altogether yesterday. Usually I write it last thing at night to be published the next morning, but time ran away with me and I didn’t manage to do that. Still, I did publish one eventually, at about 9pm! I have kept up that new year’s resolution anyway. My resolution to get more exercise is failing miserably so I must make a bit more effort. I am hoping that the weather will improve soon and I will get some more energy!

I did a nice gentle yoga session last night at least. If you are interested I have a sequence that is great for an achy back here.

My daughter sent me the link to a lovely collection of cheap and healthy vegetarian dinners. They are from around the web and many of them look delicious – quite kind to your wallet as well. We all agreed we would try the Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes first, a vegan delight from the Minimalist Baker.  I also like the look of the veggie loaded breakfast casserole, although I would be more likely to eat it for lunch than breakfast! Check out the recipes here.

I am still sugar free and have found it very easy so far, apart from yesterday when I had cravings all day. I eventually ate a sweet (but sugar free) dried fruit bar from Aldi that I found in my locker! Thank heavens I keep a larder at work!

Chillax!

I had a really interesting and relaxing day of yoga on Sunday. I am obliged to attend two teacher training days a year to keep my teacher’s status and insurance up to date. They always seem like a lot of hassle to organise but I usually thoroughly enjoy them and wish I could fit in more! 

I am not teaching at the moment but I will be taking two special sessions of yoga for my work colleagues next week. I am looking forward to this. They know me as the Jane who sits at a desk and organises people. This will give me the chance to show them a completely different side of me – yoga Jane!

If you are interested in yoga, try to find a teacher who has been trained by the British Wheel of Yoga or with an affiliated organisation. The training is really thorough, lasting at least three years. There are some exercise instructors out there who do a couple of days training and call themselves yoga teachers! Avoid!

The Wheel also has a great offer on at the moment where you can join for free for a year. Even if you don’t join you can find a properly qualified teacher in your area be searching the website, but if you join you can attend special yoga events and get the excellent Spectrum yoga magazine quarterly, among other benefits. Check it out here. They aren’t shouting about this enough in my opinion and it is hidden away, but choose the option to join online and under subscription type tick the ‘TRY BWY – first year free’ box. This is for a limited period only.

You will feel so much better for some exercise and yoga is a great choice 😀. 

Beating the winter blues

Winter has well and truly set in here in Essex. The past two days have seen grey skies, fog and lots of rain. I have decided I have to take lots of small steps to stop the winter blues setting in.

Seeing some daylight is important. I work 5 days a week in an office with tinted glass. It is dark by the time I leave. So I make a point of walking for at least 15 minutes in my lunch break, as long as the weather isn’t too awful. It makes a big difference to my mental health.

The second must is a regular yoga practice, but really any exercise will do to get the endorphins pumping and to release some tension.

Finally keeping healthy by eating a good and nutritious diet is essential for me. Lots of fruit and veg and a decent breakfast each day. I like to have fruit and porridge as this is a cheap and healthy option that I can prepare very quickly in the microwave before I leave for work.

So far this approach seems to be keeping the winter blues at bay. Do you hate winter? What are your tips to get you through to spring?

How to quit the rat race

imageWell I don’t have the answer yet…but, as ever, being on holiday raises certain questions. Mostly, how do I manage getting up at 6 every day, working full time, running a house, doing a second job teaching yoga and a third taking in students? When I get the opportunity to sit and refect on this I don’t know how I do it , but I do know that it all takes its toll and that being away I am already sleeping better and the (sorry if this is TMI) my IBS symptoms that were dreadful in the last few weeks have all but disappeared.

Almost everyone I know is on the same relentless hamster wheel of just running to keep up with themselves. I bet you are too!

I may not be able to go on holiday to recharge very often but I can find more ways to relax and take time out. That is my new resolve! Yoga on the beach is a good start.

Yoga for an Achy Back

When I am not working for the Council or being queen of frugality, I am a yoga teacher, and have been for the past 10 years. Forget the hype about yoga. It may be the choice of many a celebrity and you may think you have to bend yourself up like a pretzel to do it, but actually it is very simple. You can practice at home or in a class, alone or with friends, you can be old or young, male or female, able bodied or have a disability. You definitely don’t need to be a gymnast either! You need a very small space to do it and a mat – that’s all.

Yoga has kept me sane over many years, through pregnancy, motherhood, divorce and through my financial dire straits. As I hit 50, I found that working at a desk all day and gardening at the weekends started to take its toll on my lower back. For the first time I started to experience the aches and pains that I thought were just for other people!

If anything starts to hurt now I reach for my mat. If I have no time to do anything else, but have an achy back, I do the following mini routine. If you try it, just use your common sense. Take your time and, if you feel more than a mild discomfort, slow down. Breathe slowly. Stretch and enjoy it. Spot the kitten – she was waiting in vain for me to do Cat Pose…

Standing forward stretch
Hold onto the back of a chair or window sill. Aim to get a nice flat back and open under your arms. Straighten your legs if you can. Hold for 5 or 6 breaths.standing stretch

Rag doll
Starting from standing, soften your knees, and gradually curl down into a very soft forward bend. Keep your knees bent though – we are stretching the back gently not the hamstrings yet. Hold for 5 or 6 breaths and come up really slowly.

 

Lying knee to forehead
Head to kneeLie on the floor with your knees bent. On an out breath draw your right knee in towards you and, if it doesn’t hurt your neck, lift your head to look towards the knee. Hold for 10-15 seconds breathing normally, then release. Do the same with the left leg. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Hamstring stretch
hamstring stretchIf you get a lot of lower back pain you may have tight hamstrings. This is extremely beneficial for stretching them out. If you have a yoga or martial arts belt, great – if not, a dressing gown belt is perfect. Lie on the floor and place the belt under your right foot. Stretch the foot to the ceiling, keeping the ankle flexed (ie, don’t point your toes). Straighten your leg as much as possible. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release and do the same on the left leg.

Lying twist
Lying twistIf you have severe back pain, pile up some cushions to support your knees when you do this. Lie on the mat and draw both knees in towards you. Tighten your tummy muscles and if necessary support the knees with your hand as you take them to the right. If your left shoulder lifts when you do this, you need to rest your knees on a couple of cushions. Move your head to the left if it doesn’t hurt your neck. Rest there for a minute or so, then support your knees back to the middle and change sides. Repeat twice on each side.

Bridge pose
BridgeLie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms by your side. Your heels should be close enough in towards your bottom that you can almost touch them with your fingers. As you breathe out, press the small of your back into the floor. As you breathe in, release. Do these small pelvic movements a few times, then begin to lift your hips up off the floor, as far as is comfortable. Your toes should stay in contact with the floor and your feet should be parallel to each other. Hold for a few breaths then uncurl to the floor again – imagine you could bring each vertebra to the floor before the next. Take a breath and repeat twice more.

Finally, draw your knees in towards your chest and take hold of them, and rock gently from one side to the other. Rest for a few minutes.

If you practise this sequence regularly you will hopefully find that your back becomes more flexible and that your back pain is more manageable.