The King of All Asana: Why You Should Be Headstanding Every Day

Whether you love it or hate it, sirsa asana brings a whole raft of physical and mental benefits. Here’s why a headstand a day could keep the doctor away!

Improved focus

Never mind all the blood rushing to your head – there’s nothing better to make you focus thatn balancing upside down!

Strengthened shoulders and arms

The constant tiny adjustments you make to maintain balance in your headstand are amazingly strengthening for your upper body.

Improved digestion

Reversing the digestive system through the effect of gravity can alleviate many uncomfortable symptoms such as trapped gas and constipation.

Stronger core

Holding your legs upright in a headstand is a major core workout – and if you’ve ever been told to engage youe mula bandha  you know this is key to a great yoga practice!

A different perspective

Literally! Turning your world upside down can give you a fresh look at things that are bothering you. A headstand on a stressful day can change everything!

Not feeling headstand? Go for a different inversion such as shoulder stand, or hang your legs up a wall to get the same great benefits! If you’re beginning to learn headstand, you can always use a wall as a safety net while you work on your balance.

How To Set Up A Daily Meditation Habit

Meditation can be the most challenging part of your yoga practice, especially if you’re already an overthinker. While sitting still for five minutes might seem simple, for many of us it can cause frustration, boredom and impatience. Here are some tips to get you on track.

Recognise that you won’t reach nirvana on day one

You will have days where you are thinking about what you’re going to eat for breakfast the whole time you’re meditating – that’s ok! It takes practice to hold your focus for so long. Don’t beat yourself up for not being zen immediately!

Download an app

Meditating isn’t the easiest thing to do independently – if you’re having trouble focusing, there are plenty of apps online that offer guided meditation tracks. Be aware that your focus could be different on different days, too – just because you’re normally able to focus independently for fifteen minutes doesn’t mean you won’t struggle to do a guided meditation for five minutes on another day.

Prioritise your daily routine

If you’ve got time to make yourself coffee, do make up and hair, and scroll through Instagram in the morning – you’ve got time to meditate. Make meditating a priority – just like brushing your teeth – and set a time that suits you. Meditating in the morning sets you up for a less stressful day ahead, whereas evening meditation will give you an amazing night’s sleep. Who know, eventually you might be meditating twice a day!

If you stop – just start again

Just because you forgot to meditate for a week doesn’t mean you should punish yourself or tell yourself off  – just start again when you can. Meditation, much like yoga, is a personal journey. No one can tell you how to run your mindfulness practice except yourself!

 

Things Not To Do At Your First Yoga Class

A headstand. 

Seriously. It’s OK not to do a headstand, even if the 24 other yogis in the room are all upside down. While it is an awesome feeling to nail a tough looking asana, you’ll benefit more from spreading your attention across your whole practice rather than flinging yourself into an inversion.

Catch up on the week’s gossip.

While hushed conversations won’t disturb anyone, having a full on gossip-fest with your mate is bound to rustle someone’s chakras. You never know what kind of day your fellow yogis have had – feel free to talk to people but make sure you’re not cackling like Aunt June after a couple of brandies.

Compete.

It’s not a sport! While there are yoga competitions, we can safely assume that the attendees of a 7pm Yin class are there to relax, not to compete. Listen to your own body, respect it, and be the only person sitting practically upright in a forward fold. They’re your hamstrings, damn it, and you’ll open them as slowly as you please!

“Float back into chaturanga.”

It always looks so graceful when your Rocket yoga teacher jumps back into chaturanga and lands with the lightness of a feather in the breeze. However, unless you’ve got some serious core strength and you can land without making the ground shake, avoid this until you build up your muscle.

Steal props.

This happens surprisingly often. You pick up a couple of blocks, but when you reach for it to support your Half Moon – egad! It’s gone! Everyone forgets to pick up a block at the beginning of class from time to time – just grab yourself one from the cupboard and get back to the mat. Do not try to sneakily pilfer your neightbours props (unless you do it by accident, which also happens a fair bit).

Listen to bitchy comments about your practice.

“Oh, can you not do wheel yet?” Sadly, there are a still a fair few competitive yogis out there – remember that this is your practice and no one else’s. It’s one thing to give constructive feedback on how to improve your practice, but if anyone is making you feel like you’re not ‘good at yoga’, they need to roll up their judgy mat and keep on walking. You’re in this for you!

 

Are Your Chakras Balanced? How To Spot A Blockage

At some point on your yoga journey, you will come across the chakra system. Around for thousands of years, this school of thought originates from the belief that the body has seven points of power through which all energy flows. These are known as the chakras, from the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’.

Sometimes, our environment or attitude can lead to chakra imbalance – where one chakra is more or less active than the other energy centres. It is believed that chakra blockage could lead to illness, stress and other negative feelings. The solution? Yoga, of course!

Not sure what’s balanced and what’s not? Here are a few signs and symptoms to help you track your chakras!

Root Chakra

  • Balanced: Feeling rooted, grounded and secure.
  • Imbalance: Problems with the legs, feet and immune system. Feelings of anxiety around basic survival needs such as food and money.

Sacral Chakra

  • Balanced: Creative, passionate, committed and expressive.
  • Imbalanced: Lower back and hip pain, difficulty expressing feelings, anxiety about relationships and commitment.

Solar Plexus Chakra

  • Balanced: High levels of self-respect and self-confidence, assertive and secure in yourself.
  • Imbalanced: Low self-esteem, feeling like you lack personal power, fear of rejection and high blood pressure.

Heart Chakra

  • Balanced: Feeling compassionate and loving, forgiving people easily and generally feeling joyful.
  • Imbalanced: Upper back and shoulder problems, feelings of jealousy and a fear of loneliness.

Throat Chakra

  • Balanced: Great communication skills, honest but firm about what you want and expressive.
  • Imbalanced: Lack of willpower, feeling like you have no choice available, throat and facial issues.

Third Eye Chakra

  • Balanced: Clear, focused mind. Confident in seeing the difference between what is true and what is not.
  • Imbalanced: Headaches, vision problems, moodiness, an inability to learn from others and see your own fears objectively.

Crown Chakra

  • Balanced: Living in the present moment, trusting completely in your own intuition.
  • Imbalanced: Being judgemental, constant overthinking and over-analysis of day-to-day situations.

Feel like a chakra or two might be out of balance? Take this quiz and find out!

 

MoreYoga’s Yin & Yang Playlists

Looking for the perfect soundtrack to your vinyasa flow? Follow our Yang playlist for energising pop beats and uplifting mantras here.

Need something more low-key? Stretch and relax your mind, body and soul with our Yin playlist. Expect healing sound baths, gentle mantras and minimalist vibes to get you focused on your inner world.

Our Yin & Yang playlist is updated monthly with the best new yogi tunes. We will always keep the golden oldies on there for you just in case you decide to revisit a classic later!

How To Help A Partner With Inversions

Inversions can be tricky – whether it’s building up the strength to hold the position or a mental block due to fear of falling, the journey to getting upside down can have many obstacles. What better way to overcome them than with the help of a yogi friend?

If you’ve ever watched someone spot for their partner, it can seem a little intimidating (cue visions of dropping your partner, being knocked over by them etc.). However, with a few key tips, you and your partner will be doing safely supported handstands in no time!

Show your partner which leg you’re coming up with. Because no one wants to be kicked in the face, but most people will confuse their left and right when they’re upside down. Lift the leg you’re going up with halfway first so your partner knows which one to avoid.

Hold onto your partner’s hips, not your legs. This way, you can give support by taking the weight of their hips (the heaviest part of your body) rather than trapping them in an inversion by holding the legs. There’s nothing like being held by your legs with no choice to go down to induce inversion panic!

Use your knees. Your knees are a great place for your partner to rest their shoulders and take on some weight. This also makes it easier on you in terms of distrubuting your weight. Placing your feet in the right place might take a couple of tries but the more you practice, the more you’ll get a feel for it.

Help your partner down, as well as up. When your partner is ready to go down, don’t just let them come crashing to the floor. Keep your hands on their hips and feel the pelvis pivot as their legs come down to the floor. Your friend will thank you for saving them from certain doom.

Try it out with a partner – you’ll be amazed at what you can do. If you’re practising handstands, try this awesome wrist warm-up sequence to keep your joints safe.

What is Pranayama? AKA That Weird Yoga Breathing

The first time you encounter Pranayama can be an unsetlling experience even for a seasoned yogi – being asking to stick your tongue out, cross your eyes and heave out your biggest sigh can be intimidating. But never fear – we guarantee you’ll be loving this yogic breathing exercise in no time.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is the practice of controlling your breath or life force (prana). There are a number of different ways that we can do this – by blocking alternate nostrils, rolling our tongues, sticking our tongues out and much more. All of them look pretty silly but make you feel pretty awesome.

What are the benefits of Pranayama?

Each type of Pranayama brings a host of its own benefits – for example, sheetali breath can help to reduce stress or anxiety, whereas alternate nostril breathing helps to clear out toxins. Focusing on the breath also brings a host of mental health benefits, giving you the headspace that you need to stay healthy in today’s busy world!

Next time you come across this strange practice, forget about what people think and enjoy the benefits.

London’s Best Outdoor Yoga Spots

OK, so by the time this article is published it could be raining cats and dogs. Such is life in England. But call us optimists – we can’t wait to feel our toes in the grass and the breeze in our hair! Here are the best places to catch an outdoor yoga session this summer (when it’s not tipping it down).

The MoreYogis have tried and tested these beautiful spots so you can sit back and take your pick!

Regent’s Park

For the more confident among us, the busy but beautiful Regent’s Park is the perfect place to stretch out and practise. With so much space around and regular free yoga sessions led by volunteers, you’re guaranteed to see some fellow yogis around. Plus, you’ve got plenty of cafes nearby for a treat in the sun afterwards!

Battersea Park

For those of us who live – gasp – south of the river, Battersea park offers a closer alternative to the central parks. Sprawling grounds, beautiful water features, and more importantly mini-golf make this park an idyllis setting for some summer yoga.

Hampstead Heath

What better way to enhance your practice than with the gorgeous vistas of Hampstead Heath? Lots of cute puppies will come and see you at most of these parks but Hampstead Heath seems to be extra canine filled. There are regular yoga sessions on this park run by various teachers, so keep an eye on the weather and grab your mat when it’s sunny!

Tibetan Peace Gardens

OK, so you might get some weird looks for slapping down your yoga mat here, but this tranquil spot is perfect for a moment’s meditation away from the busy city. Take a moment here to reflect and recharge and you’ll feel zen in no time!

Enjoy your outdoor practice this summer – just don’t forget the suncream!

4 Reasons To Get Yourself a Yoga Wheel

We’re all familiar with the blocks, blankets and straps that are ubiquitously stocked in every yoga studio – but have you tried using a yoga wheel? Having a wheel at home can really enhance your self-practice and ease you into those asanas that have seemed inaccessible up until now.

Here are a few funky uses for a yoga wheel that we love.

Building spine and back flexibility

Taking it slow with the wheel in the centre of your back, roll backwards and forwards. This encourages the back to stretch out evenly and safely – if you’re feeling it, you can grab the wheel over your shoulders and try to touch the floor with your elbows! Our word of warning – wear a bun if you have long hair. No one wants to get their pony tail trapped under a yoga wheel (we’ve been there and we don’t recommend it).

Deepening stretches 

You know those poses where you’ve made some progress but you’re just not quite there enough to feel the stretch deeply? Your yoga wheel may be the answer. A great example is Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose – or the splits for those who are still new to all the names). By resting one leg on the wheel and shifting your weight closer or further away using your hands, you’ll get a stretch that isn’t hindered by the pesky floor. You could also use a block for support here – and remember to respect your body. If you are feeling any sharp pain or numbness, stop immediately.

Building core strength

Get yourself into plank position with the tops of your feet on the wheel – if the simple act of balancing here doesn’t bring tears to your eyes at the ab-burning sensation of it all, lift one leg at a time to fire them up even more.

Relaxing into backbends

We’ve all been there in a Yin class when someone tells you to relax into fish pose. While trying to look serene while staring at the feet of the person behind you may bring a whole host of benefits, a wheel can make this pose feel much more restorative. Pop the wheel under your back, arms down by your side and legs our straight ahead. You can add a block under the head for support to make it extra chill. Try shoulder stand supported by a wheel for a less intense version of this awesome asana too.

Yoga wheels come in different sizes – the best way to choose your first wheel is to try a few, but if you don’t have access to a wheel you can go roughly by your height. This guide will give you an estimate of which size wheel could suit you.

 

MoreYoga’s May Playlist

Back by popular request! Our last playlist had you chilling to the max, so we’ve decided to make our playlist a monthly thing (or thang if you’re feeling sassy).

We’re mixing it up this month with some chilled vocal beats, traditional mantras and electro meditation music. Don’t worry – you don’t have to make a mad scramble to save all of last month’s favourites! We will keep the golden oldies on out lists and add fresh sounds as we go.

Enjoy your flow on Spotify here.

Got a tune that just needs to be shared? Email your suggestions to katie@moreyoga.co.uk!