We sold out this retreat this week, only to discover there is a new room available at the venue. So there are 2 more spots available if you’re wanting a yoga getaway weekend in Stanford.
Contact me to book: Monique 082 413 5896
If you’re still on the fence, here’s some inspiration:
Why go on a yoga retreat?
The traditional benefit of yoga is to still the mind, and going on retreat will allow you to focus on this more deeply. Instead of emerging relaxed from a class back into your busy home life you can carry that calmness with you throughout a whole weekend. Practicing yoga at home can be full of distractions; the dog, your partner/kids, your kitchen (haha!) and of course, your phone. Getting out of your usual space helps you switch off and explore your practice distraction-free in a disciplined way. Spending a weekend in this calm way helps you gain perspective of your life at large. You’ll get the chance to take a step back from daily life business, and reevaluate things. It’s a chance for true reflection and introspection.
If you struggle to find time to practice yoga in your everyday life then the benefit of going on a yoga retreat is being able to practice every day without distraction. A weekend of yoga will guide you deeper in your practice.
Giving yourself this space can be a truly healing experience physically and mentally. To book: Monique 082 413 5896 | R3600pp sharing, R6200 private room
Props can help you no matter what level you are at. They teach proper alignment so that you receive the full range of benefits from a pose. Props help increase your staying power in a pose, which let’s you go deeper, giving you more time to reap the benefits. As we stay in a pose, the mind draws inward, unnecessary thinking is quelled, and we experience more objectivity and humility. For some, props symbolize admission of a limitation, and the ego doesn’t like that. So often yoga props have been ridiculed. But for the humble practitioner, props will help grow sensitivity in a pose and unlock more advanced poses that are not yet available to you. Then, when the prop is removed, your experience of a pose is amplified with deeper understanding and direction.
Your lungs don’t breath on their own, they are reliant on a symphony of muscles to inflate and deflate them. As you inhale, certain muscles expand the space for the lungs to inflate; the belly and lower ribs expand, creating a suction of air into the lungs as they expand. When you exhale, that space shrinks to expel the air, deflating the lungs. Your lungs will inflate only to the size of its vessel: the rib cage. When the muscles involved are restricted, the space of the vessel/ribs is compromised and therefore the breath limited.
When we breath, an orchestra of muscles are at work in the chest, neck, back and abdomen. Of this orchestra, your diaphragm is the most important player. If the diaphragm is tight, your breath is restricted. Anything that restricts the movement of the diaphragm limits your ability to inhale fully. Tight clothes, a belt, a slumped posture or tight abdominals will all limit your diaphragms ability to move, and therefore your ability to breathe.
This is a good reminder not to slump in your forward bends. When your posture is slumped, your spine rounds backward and your front ribs dig back and compress the diaphragm. Our emotions can play a role too, as fear and anxiety leads to gripping of the stomach and diaphragm. Gym exercises such as sit-ups or crunches are a recipe for restricted breath. Since our nervous system is a 2-way communication system, any tension in our abdominals from sit ups can lead to fear and anxiety.
Tight, short abs can also contribute to chronic neck pain and headaches. When the upper abs are restricted in breathing, we compensate by using the neck, shoulder and upper chest muscles to force air in to the upper chest. This can lead to over use of the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius muscles (front and back of the neck – see pic above). Neck strain and chronic neck tension follow, resulting in headaches and neck ache. So be weary of tight abs!
Yoga can set your breath free from the effects of tightness around your breathing muscles, and relieve the symptoms of fear and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong – strong abdominals are essential for a healthy back, but only if they are strong AND long. Yoga promotes a balance of both by ensuring your abdominals are stretched and long as well as strong and supporting. The practice of yoga also includes pranayama, or breath control. In this practice, the breathing muscles are prepared and stretch gently before practicing ancient breathing techniques. Learn more at my next pranayama workshop on 2 June 2019 – more infohere.
In summary; opt for looser clothes, be conscious not to slump in forward bends, become aware of how you respond to stress (release grip on abdomens), and don’t do abdominal strengthening without stretching them too. Free up your diaphragm, do yoga!
Below are a two poses you can try to stretch out your breathing muscles: Ustrasana on left and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana on right (beginner friendly).
This information was summarised from an article written by Julie Gudmestad called “Anatomy of a Yogi. Take a Deep Breath.”
Yoga Kurunta, or yoga ropes was invented by BKS Iyengar and is one of the lesser known props. The use of the ropes reverses gravity and allows the spine to gently decompress, which has major benefits for your spine.
This method promotes proper spinal alignment, deepens access into poses, and takes the pressure off your spinal discs, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine. A negative pressure is created in the discs, that allows bulging or herniated disks to retract, and thus takes the pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn promotes your bodies own healing potential; the space created allows the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.
Doctors have recognised this method and use inverted suspension tables in order to suspend their patients upside down. You can use this method to treat various ailments, including:
Back/neck pain or sciatica (pain or tingling that extends down the leg)
Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
Headstand is one of my top favourite poses. It leaves me feeling invigorated and inspired, clear and somewhat more alive, rejuvenated and clean. I practice headstand every single day, sometimes for a whole 10minutes. Here are two of my personal favourite benefits of headstand:
Being upside down stimulates and replenishes the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands in the brain. These are the “master glands” that regulate all other glands in the body, and are therefore vital for overall wellbeing. Hormones by definition are chemical messengers that regulate our physiological and psychological behaviour. Just think about that for a second – physiological and psychological. That’s basically all of you. And headstand helps regulate all your hormones, therefore all of you! This is huge. Headstand has been proven to alleviate diseases associated with hormonal imbalance such as diabetes and depression.
My other favourite benefit of headstand is that it brings you in to the present moment because you have to balance. The moment your mind wanders, you fall. In our increasingly crazy busy world, this simple mental exercise is profoundly important for our mental health.
Other benefits of headstand are:
It draws your attention inwards Helps releives stress, anxiety and fear Relieves insomnia Keeps mind sharp and clear Relaxes and simultaneously strengthens the blood vessels in the brain which prevents migraines Increased blood supply to the brain which improves mental function Improves digestion Rids water retention in legs Stimulates the lymphatic system which helps rid the body of unwanted toxins Takes strain off the heart Assists venous blood return, allowing un-oxygenated blood that may be “stuck” at your extremities to return to the heart and be replenished Lessened risk of ischemic stroke
Join me for group yoga in Kalk Bay, or book a private yoga class to sharpen your headstand practice!
We are already heading into 2019 full steam ahead, and during this busy time we can easily be side-tracked away from our yoga practice. Here are some reminders of why keeping up your home practice is so important.
Classes vs home practice? Yoga is ultimately your practice. Attending classes helps you start and hone your skills, while giving new inspiration and challenges. Classes help spark new sequencing ideas, build different focuses and give us a disciplined environment in which to practice. This is the foundation for practicing yoga.
Going to classes is fundamental to keeping on track, and one should always seek new knowledge, however a home practice is crucial in its own way. A home practice is where you explore what you’ve learnt in class and cement it into your own understanding. It’s helps you realise what you might need further clarity on. So when you come back to class, you’re coming with in with questions. In your home practice you can begin to explore what works for your specific body and needs, and focus on those aspects.
Our lives get busy fast. However, we need to prioritise things that contribute to our mental and physical wellbeing. I always say that yoga doesn’t take time, it gives time! The time you sacrificed to do your yoga will come back tenfold; because yoga gives mental clarity and makes one more productive. Yoga gives you something back, some new energy, some extra quietness, something that is just for you.
I’m excited to announce my weekly classes in Constantia!
WHEN: Thursdays 4:15-5:30pm
WHERE: 24a Belair Dr, Constantia. (when you come up Belair Dr, continue past 22a and 24, then 24a is on your right with a wooden gate)
FEES: 450/month for once a week | R140 drop in
BRING: Your mat, and your friends!
ABOUT THE CLASSES:
They will be aimed at all levels, beginners are welcome. Iyengar yoga gives an alignment focus to give deeper and safer access to poses, while ensuring maximum benefit. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
I’ve recently started a monthly newsletter to fuel your motivation and passion for yoga. Each newsletter includes interesting yoga tips and inspiration, home sequences, pose adaption with props, and more! Every month you’ll also find an exclusive offer on a health and wellness product, to say thank you for you support, as well as to support and grow local businesses that are doing good, ethical work. This month there is a 15% offer from KURO-Bo natural water filters!
The below quote explains the benefits of holding poses for long periods of time. Flowing between poses has its own benefits, but I’m enjoying slowing things down to a snails pace in this busy world. Slower does not mean easier (!) Iyengar yoga is ideal for a slow but strong practice. I think allowing our minds to become absorbed in the activity at hand is something that is becoming lost in our distracting Information Age. Spending longer durations in poses helps one practice being absorbed in the activity, giving one a single pointed focus. This, I think, will become increasingly important for our mental health.
“[In asanas], both left-brain and right-brain consciousness come into play. The analytical left brain probes the details of the poses and explores the various kinesiological possibilities; the right brain experiences and creates patterned wholes, capturing the flowing essence of each asana. When these two aspects of consciousness are working together harmoniously, the mind can constantly refine and adjust the pose while maintaining a continuous flow of intelligence. This integration – requiring great concentration and stillness of mind – is one of the challenges of asana practice and provides a fertile field for Self-unfolding.” ~Arthur Kilmurray, Yoga Journal Sept/Oct 1984