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.

Yoga Basics: Avoid Injuries With These 4 Tips

It seems like every yogi you meet has a tale to tell about a pulled hamstring, sore wrist or other injury. As yoga’s popularity continues to rise, so does the frequency of injuries. Here are four failsafe tips to protect yourself and your practice!

Make sure you choose the right class for you

If you haven’t been practising for a while, going to that insane level rocket class probably isn’t the best option. Focus on nailing more accessible classes first – you’ll build the strength you need to progress (and you will be less inclined to cheat when you get tired). Additionally, look into who will be teaching the class – it’s always good to know that your teacher knows their stuff. Nothing like a safe pair of hands to keep you from hurting yourself!

Respect your limits

There’s always one, isn’t there? The one yogi who floats into a handstand without breaking a sweat. As difficult as it can be not to compare yourself to others, respecting your own limits and listening to your body is what will ultimately improve your practice. If you’re shaking uncontrollably, breathing very heavily and losing alignment, you probably went too far. So the next time the person next to you casually cracks our a Bird of Paradise while you’re still shuffling your feet together, take a deep breath and remember that this is all about you.

Ask questions

If you’re not sure, or if something feels weird, ask about it. Most yoga teachers are just waiting to give you all their worldly knowledge, so make the most of it. Having another pair of eyes analyse what you’re doing can help you to learn your own personal alignment too.

Be patient

If the worst happens and you do end up with an injury, be patient. Muscle pulls can take anything from a week to a few months to heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, there could be numerous asana to avoid. Talk to your teacher, get advice and be patient. Forcing yourself back into your practice 100% could lead to re-injury and a longer recovery time.

For more info on injuries, speak to our teachers. They’re always happy to help!

History Repeating Itself? 3 Questions to Ask When You’re Stuck In A Rut

Sometimes, the same situation just keeps coming back to bite us on the butt. Different people, slightly different circumstances, but ultimately it’s the same roadblock you keep running into. It could be in the form of crappy relationships, giving up on a new exercise routine or just eating bad food when you swore not to.

When you hit a block like this, it’s easy to ask the same questions over and over. Why do I keep doing this? What’s wrong with me? When will I learn? The problem is, those questions don’t have answers – and even if they did, they wouldn’t help you to move forwards anyway.

If you find yourself getting deja vu, ask yourself these three questions (inspired by Tony Robbins).

What gives me pleasure in this situation?

This may sound odd because you don’t necessarily want to be in this position, but there’s clearly something making you feel good or you wouldn’t tolerate staying in it. Pleasure may not mean you’re jumping for joy, but could come from feeling safe from the unknown, avoiding failure, a sugar hit – the list goes on. What is making you want to stick around in your current scenario?

What gives me pain in this situation?

Thinking about what hurts it the worst part of this process, but you need to identify and accept what’s bothering you in order to move on. Don’t dwell too much on why it’s painful, just be aware of what’s getting you down. What’s the worst possible outcome of continuing to allow this pain? Once you know, you’re going to be a lot more proactive about changing things.

What can I learn from this situation?

Every cloud has a silver lining and every tough situation has a lesson hidden within. It could be something as simple as realising that eating high sugar foods makes you crabby. Or it could be a revelation that you’re not willing to tolerate disrespect from others any more. Whatever the lesson, carry it with you and continue to grow.

Use adversity to stimulate growth. Check out Rabbi Twerski’s wise words in a lobster analogy that hits the nail on the head. 

What To Expect At A Gong Bath

You mean you haven’t been to a gong bath? Then you haven’t lived!

Sound baths are becoming increasingly popular in the yogi community and for good reason too. Here’s a quick rundown on what to expect at your first gong experience.

Yoga

Yesssss! We all love yoga. We’re down with this. The style can vary depending on who is running the session, but we find that a juicy flow is the best way to prepare yourself for a sensational savasana.

Meditation

Most sound baths will follow the practice of asanas with a short seated meditation to close the sequence. During this time, you have the chance to clear your mind of all the crap that builds up over the day (e.g. “What will I have for dinner?” “I wonder if that hot yogi followed me back on Instagram” etc.).

The Sound Bath

Depending on who your sound practictioner is, the person leading the sound bath may use a range of instruments, including crystal bowls, gongs and shruti boxes. Baths can last from ten minutes to an hour and will leave you feeling like you’ve been to a different planet and back. The practitioner will work through the range of instruments, choosing frequencies to totally relax your body and mind. If you’ve opted for a longer session, don’t be surprised if you fall asleep, only to be gently woken up by the sound of a singing bowl.

Closing the session

There’s no rush, and believe us, you’ll want to take the time to enjoy your newfound nirvana. Chat with others around you about their experience – you’ll find that everyone has different experiences. Some people have flashbacks, weird dreams or even see solutions to current problems.

Join us for a sumptuous sound bath at MoreYoga Brixton with Leo Cosendai on Sunday 30th July. Book your tickets here!