Practice Reached A Plateau? These Simple Tricks Will Help You To Nail Advanced Asanas

After a year or so of practice, you might notice that you’re not making the leaps of progress that you did when you first started yoga. Sure, you can get into bakasana easily enough, but handstands just ain’t happening. Here are some tiny adjustments that will make a big difference to your practice!

Halfway lifts 

It’s easy to rush through this pose, especially when you’re on your eighth vinyasa. In a halfway lift, keep your back and legs straight – even if it means not touching the floor. This will get your back muscles much more warmed up than rounding your back.

Roll that spine

Make every transition count – instead of unconsciously transitioning from Downward Facing Dog to High Plank, use a rolling motion through the vertabrae to increase spine mobility.

Don’t jump back unless you can float

Yeah, we know. It looks super impressive. But jumping back into chaturanga can be harmful unless you’re able to pivot your weight forward and float your legs back gently instead of thudding to the mat. Protect your shoulders from the shock of the jump and work on your upper body strength first!

Push, push, push in Downward Facing Dog

Ah, old reliable. The relief of Downward Facing Dog after a gruelling series is unimaginable. But don’t get complacent! This asana has a host of strengthening and flexibility benefits as long as you push the floor away, keep your core active and your legs engaged. Even if you have just done a Half Moon series (anyone else screaming inside during these?!).

Stay engaged in Trikonasana

So when you’re next to the uber yogi who can touch their toes in Triangle Pose, it can be intimidating to move your hand higher up your leg. But once you’ve reached the sweet spot, you’ll notice the side of your torso and core will switch the heck on like never before. If Trikonasana feels easy, something isn’t right. This pose should have you mentally repeating words that Grandma would be appalled at.

Prepare to revamp your practice – don’t be surprised if you suddenly find sun salutations a killer. Just remember it’s all the the name of good practice (even when the cramp makes you want to scream)!

 

This Is What Stress Does To Your Physical Fitness

Working late and balancing it out with hardcore fitness sessions? You could actually be damaging your health!

There’s a lot of pressure in the modern day to have it all – successful job, loads of friends, great house, awesome fitness regime. But is the cost of maintaining an Instagram worthy lifestyle worth it? Here are some of the side effects of pushing yourself too hard.

You’re tired all the time (even with enough sleep)

Feelings of stress release cortisol into the bloodstream which effectively readies our bodies for combat – tensed muscles, alert senses and constant expectation of danger leaves you feeling drained and tired, even if you get a solid eight hours. Another consequence of this is general aches and pains alongside headaches.

Your stomach just isn’t quite right

It could be diahorrea, constipation or nausuea – or a combination of all three! Stress triggers the “fight or flight” response of the nervous system, drawing blood away from the digestive system towards the brain and muscles – ready to fight or run away. Although this response is helpful in emergencies, if it becomes a regular occurence, it can totally mess up our digestive health.

You can’t sleep 

The hyperarousal that stress brings can result in difficulty falling asleep – or even trouble waking up after a disturbed night’s sleep. Not everyone under stress finds it hard to sleep, but those who do will be dealing with all of the side effects of sleep deprivation too.

You get colds often

You might have guessed it – all the above symptoms can leave you with a compromised immune system. If you find yourself reaching for the tissues more than four times a year, it’s worth looking at how you can look after yourself a little more.

There are many other physical symptoms of stress – all of them are a call to action (or inaction)! Take some time out – keep up your fitness with grounding classes like Yin and Restorative Recharge and prioritise getting to bed on time (even if you miss that quirky pop-up event you’ve been meaningn to visit). Keep your eyes peeled for tips on how to deal with stress on our blog and social media channels!

Chaturanga: The Ultimate Guide By Elena Georgiou

Chaturanga is one of those asanas that seems oh-so-simple, but somehow, two years into your practice, your still thudding down onto the mat on your way into Upward Facing Dog. Lucky for you (and us!), MoreYoga instructor Elena Georgiou (@elenageorgiou262) is here to rescuse us from our face-planting days!

The Basics

 
What is chaturanga? 
In vinyasa styles of yoga Chaturanga Dandasana is part of sun salutations A and B The pose is sometimes referred to as a low plank and translates to the ‘Four-Limbed staff pose’. It’s considered quite a challenging pose where the body comes parallel to the floor with the weight of the body bearing in the toes and palms. The elbows are positioned at a right angle.
 

How do I do chaturanga

It’s not uncommon to see yogis breezing through chaturanga, swiftly swooping up to upward-facing dog without really using the muscle strength neccessary to make the correct transition. Poor alignment of the pose can result in serious joint tension and won’t allow you to build up the strength needed to take your practice to the next level.
What are some benefits to chaturanga?
 
The pose is going to help you develop your shoulder, wrist and leg muscles and gain core stability. It’s an amazing preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions because the power in the shoulders and core stability is a big must for both. The positioning of the arms in Chaturanga is replicated in more advanced arm balances including grasshopper pose. Your arms will start to tone and your whole body will naturally tighten as a result of regular practice of this pose. You’ll start to build what my teachers liked to call ‘Chaturanga arms’. 
Tips & Tricks
If you’re committed to improving your practice and gaining all the physical benefits of yoga, here are some pointers which could help make chaturanga less challenging: 
 
1. Set up in a strong plank position 
Come onto your hands and knees with your feet and knees hip width apart. Press your hands firmly into the mat spreading your fingers wide. Straightening your arms stack your shoulders directly above your wrists ensuring they’re shoulder width apart. Step the feet back and curl the toes under bearing your weight onto the toes and the palms. You should now be in your plank pose. To perfect the plank, slightly dome the top of the back, activate the thighs and suck in the lower belly. Avoid drooping the belly or sinking the hips. Try to imagine a solid log (your legs and torso) propped up by two twigs (your arms). 
 
2. Propel yourself forward
Once you’re steady in your plank, shoot yourself forward as though you were one lean line of energy. Feel the quadriceps working as you push the heels back. Keep the gaze to the top of your mat ensuring the neck and the shoulders are aligned throughout. Slightly tuck the chin under to create even more space in the back of the neck. Hanging the head will create tension in the neck. 
 
3. Hug to the midline of your body
Begin to hug your biceps and triceps tight to your ribcage squeezing your shoulder blades together. Remember to keep the shoulder girdle open by drawing the shoulders down the back. If the shoulders point forward towards the floor, you might injure your shoulders. Engage the muscles in your core and stabilise through the hips to keep them level.
 
4. Exhale to lower down
Slowly exhale to lower down bringing the shoulder in line with the crease of the elbow. This whole time, think about drawing your navel towards your spine until your arms are at that 90 degree angle to the floor. The exhale breath will help you strengthen core muscles. Then simply inhale and make the transition to the next pose. 
Options for Beginners 
Still not sure you’ve got your chaturanga down? Here are some fantastic options to help you ease into the practice! Here is a definitive list of options – choose which area needs the most work and take that option!.
Lower back 
From a solid plank position, place the knees onto the ground so that they’re hip width apart and curl the toes under. Spiralling the elbows forward, bend the elbows keeping the chest open while rolling the shoulders down the back. Lower down hovering over the floor until the arms are at a 90 degree angle to the floor. From here, come down to your chest and chin and then take an inhale to slowly move to cobra or upward-facing dog.
Knees
Begin by lying on your belly and bring your hands by your lower ribs. Activate your upper back, lift your shoulders and hug your elbows in. Tuck your toes under and engage your quads. Slowly lift your thighs off the floor which will help strengthen your knees. Lastly, engage your core and you are in the correct alignment for chaturanga. 
 
Wrists 
Spend some time before your practice to warm up the wrists with Anjali mudra (prayer pose). Press the heels of the hands together at the sternum, fingers pointing upwards, for around one or two minutes. Opt for the beginners variation of chaturanga with your hands a little in front of your shoulders to avoid too much extension of the wrists.
 
Shoulders 
Find yourself in a nice solid plank which you can choose to hold for at least 5 to ten breaths to help build shoulder strength. You can start to spiral the elbows forward, engaging the core. Then exhale to lower down completely to the floor keeping the integrity of the posture, pushing the heels back and pressing down with your hands. Practice this until you can lift your thighs off the floor to come to the full pose. 
 
Hips 
Place a yoga block under your pelvis and chest to support your body as you work on the key alignment points. Keep the hips from drooping by activating your abdominal muscles to help draw them up.  
 
Options for Advanced/Prenatal students
If you’re already a chaturanga master, why not take your practice higher with this challenging option?
Advanced 
Once you’ve mastered chaturanga from plank, you can try jumping back from Uttanasana B (standing half forward bend). From Uttanasana B press the hands especially the knuckles firmly down into the mat. Pull your chest slightly forward rolling the shoulders back into the shoulder girdle. Lift your navel, tuck your tail bone under and bend the knees deeply to float the legs up and back to chaturanga.
 
Prenatal 
Place your knees onto the floor so that they’re hip width apart. Lower down and spiral the elbows forward, rolling the shoulders down the back as you bring your torso down towards the ground. Rather than lowering down completely to your chin and chest, you can complete a few well aligned chaturanga push ups as the belly must stay off the ground to avoid any pressure on the baby. Avoid jumping into chaturanga and don’t suck in the belly either.
 
 
Elena’s Key Tips on Practising Chaturanga
I often ask my students to slow down their chaturanga and suggest that they practice the pose away from the context of sun salutations. I highly recommend to practice the modifications most suited to you at this point of your journey and take the time to build the real strength and understanding of the pose. 
 
Don’t let the complexities of the pose dampen your spirit and try not to get disheartened if you’re not at the full pose just yet. When I want to practice a new pose, I sometimes find it helpful to video my practice or look at a mirror from side on to check my positioning and understand how that positioning feels. That way, when I have no mirror or video, I’m aware of how it should feel to be with the correct or incorrect alignment. Without that feedback it’s hard to tell. 
 
Above all, and with any pose, is that it’s important to remember that nobody is going to judge you for having perfected the pose or not and you’re not going to be a better person for nailing the advanced version of a chaturanga. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and falls and recognise that it’s all practice and a part of your own self-discovery. 
Catch Elena’s Georgiou’s expert stylings at MoreYoga Camden (Iyengar & Ashtanga).

Wave Goodbye To Stress With These Simple Tips

No-one wants to be stressed out, but sometimes it seems like you just can’t climb out of the abyss. The most important thing is to recognise when you are stressed, so you can take a step back and re-evaluate what’s going on. Eating rubbish? Not sleeping well? Making weird, impulsive decisions? Give these quick fixes a whirl and you’ll be feeling chillaxed to the max (can we still say that in 2017?) in no time.

Go outside

Do it. Take a step into the great outdoors and start walking. It’s incredibly therapeutic to walk for no reason and you’ll find you get that much needed headspace that you’ve been craving. Not to mention that you’ll be reaping the benefits of the lovely vitamin D you’re exposed to, which has been proven to alleviate depression! Bonus points for leaving your phone at home.

Get moving

Whether it’s yoga, strength training or dance, exercise blows out the cobwebs and leaves you in much calmer space. Even gentle movement can disrupt any repetitive stressful thoughts and give you some new persepective. You might not be feeling a hardcore Jiva class right now, but your brain will thank you for 60-90 minutes of down time while your body does the work in the studio.

Read about your interests

Often, when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s because your mind is so active – why not use up this mental energy on something constructive instead? If you always dreamt of becoming a nurse, go and read up about how to do so. If you’ve been fancying yoga teacher training for a while, find some course materials and dive in. Not only will you find you just don’t have the time to stress, you might find an exciting new path too! And yes, scrolling through Pinterest for dream houses definitely counts.

Ask yourself “What’s happening now?”

We all have a tendency to let our minds go racing into the future or delving into our deep, dark past. If you catch yourself doing this, first of all – well done! It’s not always easy to notice. Next, ask yourself the question – “What is happening now?”. Your attention will come zooming back to the present moment, where stressful situations are far less important and pivotal. After all, what’s the point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, or that’s already done and dusted? Spend your awesome energy elsewhere, like on the Creme Egg you’re about to smash. At the very least, enjoy every decision that you’re making right now.

Smile at yourself

When’s the last time you smiled at yourself in the mirror? I mean, without picking apart the flaws that you see. Get those pearly whites out and grin at yourself for a minute – your fabulous brain will release hormones to make you feel good!

Life’s too short to be stressed! Sign up for our introductory offer of £10 for 10 days of unlimited yoga and stretch the stress away with MoreYoga. 

 

4 Reasons You Need Some HIIT In Your Life

So crunches and squats may not seem like the most yogic form of exercise, but high intensity interval training (HIIT) might be the key that unlocks your true potential in yoga.

Here are four awesome benefits you’ll get from mixing in some HIIT with your usual routine.

You’ll build strength (quickly!)

Wondering why you still face-plant in chaturanga even after a couple of years of practice? HIIT is the answer! Build your upper body, core and leg strength and you’ll find that those poses that have been eluding you all come together much more quickly.

You’ll exercise more often

We can’t guarantee that you’ll be running to the gym every half an hour, but we can provide you with reps that take no time at all. A HIIT sequence can make a difference even if you’re only practising for seven minutes, so you know there’s no excuse for home practice!

You’ll avoid injury

Combining the stretchiness of yoga and the strength of core conditioning, you vital joints and muscles will be extremely well protected. No more do you have to throw yourself around in a fitness class wondering when your hamstrings will finally snap!

You’ll feel like a hero

We all love a good sweaty savasana, and MoreFitness classes will leave you drenched and blissed out. We advise not going shopping after one of these classes as the sheer feeling of I-just-smashed-my-HIIT-yoga-class can lead to over-confident use of plastic.

Core strength, body awareness and muscle control are all fundamental to a good yoga practice. Join us at our MoreFitness, IFlo Fit and FitFlo classes at most of our studios. Not ready for commitment? Sign up for 10 days of classes for £10 and give us a whirl!

Fire Up Your Practice With These Types Of Yoga

Have you even caught yourself in your sixth sun salutation wondering what you’re going to have for dinner after class?

After the initial novelty of yoga wears off, you might find yourself reaching a plateau. You’ve mastered the basics, you know your Adho Mukha Svanasana from your Utkatasana and you’re just not feeling that motivated for your weekday classes any more. Time to turn up the heat and add some fire to your practice!

Ashtanga

If your practice so far has focused mainly on grounding types of yoga like Yin and Hatha, ashtanga could give you some much needed balance. This formidable flow focusses on mastering sequences before moving on to more challenging postures. With a focus on breathing counts and building heat in the core, Ashtanga will certainly fire you up for the day ahead. Bring a towel!

Rocket Yoga

Related to ashtanga yoga, rocket includes more advanced poses from the start. Expect multiple sun salutations followed by crazy arm balances, inversions and an incredibly satisfying savasana. Don’t be put off by the number of advanced poses in this class – there are always plenty of options for all levels and teachers are well trained in two finger adjustments. An inspiring playlist means you feel fired up for the whole class!

Iyengar

Although not strictly a fiery practice, Iyengar could provide the change of scenery you need. With a very strict focus on alignment, you’ll find yourself perfect basic asanas that you thought you had down already (anyone else hinging on their Downward Facing Dog?). Props are key in this practice!

Come along to one of our classes and see for yourself how firing up your yoga practice may be just what the doctor ordered! View our schedules here.

3 Playful Poses Guaranteed To Make You Smile

When you’re in the middle of a gruelling vinyasa flow it’s easy to forget that yoga should be fun. Introduce an element of playfulness to your practice with these five poses – there’s no way you won’t crack a smile at least once!

Dhanurasana – Rocking Bow (forwards and sideways)

There are two ways you can make your bow pose more dynamic – by rocking from side to side or to the front and back. If you’ve ever done these poses in class, you’ll know that either variation means you’ll be getting friendly with your neighbours! This pose opens up the entire front of your body – it is super intense though so take some deep breaths in savasana on your front afterwards.

Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby

Go back to the good old days with this pose – lie on your back, grab the insides of your feet and rock gently side to side, slowly pushing the knees into the armpits if you can. This is a great hip opener and releases the lower back. Gurgling noises optional.

Paripurna Navasana – Rocking Boat

You can probably guess what happens here. Take your boat pose to the next level by rounding your back and rolling back onto your shoulder blades. Roll back up as slowly as possible for a great core work out and repeat! Enjoy the ride (but move anything breakable out of the way first)!

Bring the laughter to your mat and get a greak workout too!

What does ‘metabolic conditioning training’ actually mean ?

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Article Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

CAN WE AFFECT OUR METABOLISM BY THE WAY WE TRAIN?

This special combination of cardio and strength training is the most time efficient way to burn body fat and build endurance.

By sequencing short, aggressive exercise at uber-intensity and repeating multiple times we accumulate fatigue and stress the target muscle groups . This leads to a impressive metabolic disturbance to the trainers body.
Remember that your metabolism is the control room in regards to how your body reacts, converts and uses energy or calories.

Our metabolic rate is how our body burns through calories several factors play a role such as age, sex and health .
In relation to our weight loss goals having a metabolic rate that is wired to better use calories will lead to less fat storage.
If we work so hard we can literally disturb our metabolism enough that it takes a long time to return to our baseline.
The effect can last up to 72 hours long which can account for 100’s of additional calories burned .

BENEFITS OF METABOLIC CONDITIONING TRAINING

Fat loss/Muscle gain
The most attractive thing about MetCon is the fact that the high levels of intensity help you burn more calories during and after your workout. The exercises, which usually include whole body, compound movements, help you lose fat and gain muscle more quickly and more efficiently than cardio or strength training alone.

More strength, power and endurance
Because you’re targeting all of your energy pathways in one workout, you’re conditioning the body on every level.

High level of fitness
If you can work at that high level of intensity, you can probably kick butt in just about every other activity in your daily life

Variety
People enjoy MetCon workouts because they have so much variety. You’re not slogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes to nowhere. You’re doing a variety of exercises that will keep both your mind and body engaged

Short and sweet
You have to work very hard, of course, but the payoff is you only have to do it for 10 or 30 minutes.

READY TO HOP RIGHT IN?

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds at a high intensity, followed by a 30-second break. Repeat the entire sequence five times (30-on/30-off) for a total of five minutes before moving on to the next exercise. Remember, the goal is to work as hard as possible at a pace you can sustain for all five sets!
Sample MetCon Training Routine
Weighted heavy bag squats
Kettlebell swings
Burpee box jumps
Box push ups
Bent over dumbbell rows

So, if you can get all that from MetCon, why aren’t we all doing it? For one, it’s a complex way of exercising and we often need expert instruction, guidance and motivation to do it safely and effectively. However if done properly Met Con training can take your results to a whole other level and transform your body.

WE NOW OFFER METCON TRAINING IN OUR METABOLIC BLASTER SESSIONS

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_button admin_label=”Link Button” button_url=”https://www.morefit.co.uk/group-training/metabolic-blaster” url_new_window=”off” button_text=”SEE METABOLIC BLASTER SESSIONS” button_alignment=”left” background_layout=”light” custom_button=”on” button_text_color=”#323a46″ button_border_color=”#323a46″ button_border_radius=”0″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″] [/et_pb_button][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

7 Tips for Hypertrophy or Muscle Growth

Volume is crucial
Set your workouts around 3 sets of 12 reps each, in this way you will create enough metabolic response and GH production, essential for muscle development.

Training frequency is important
Try to have at least 4 workouts a week, training different body parts each session. Ex: Day 1-legs and abs, Day 2-back and shoulders, Day 3-chest and arms, Day 4-legs and abs.

Intensity is important too
Make sure you workout hard enough! Chose the right weight, in a way that the last 1-2 reps feel challenging, reach failure.

Rest time
In order to create enough metabolic response, do not rest more then 45-60 secs between sets.

Tempo
Make sure you execute all your exercises with enough TUT or time under tension. Tempo is the speed of muscle fibres contraction. This is simply to say to perform all the exercises with controlled manner during the eccentric phase (lowering phase of the squat). It is advisable to keep a 4010 tempo for a proper, effective time under tension.

Nutrition
Carbohydrates are not evil and they are actually helpful if your goal is lean tissue growth. If  you want to look jacked, try to have them around your workout, definitely always post workout to replenish your glycogen stores. In this way you avoid to store extra body fat.

Supplementation
Two of the most important supplements I advise are definitely BCAA (Branched Chained Amino Acids), to be taken intra or post workout, to aid muscle growth and whey protein, to be taken straight after your workout.

 The road to get jacked is there for you, enjoy the journey!

Michele Santeramo

Keeping those New Year’s Resolutions

Another year has ended and a lot of us are looking back at successful or failed attempts of more activity, healthier lifestyles or changes in physique. And while the trend of New Year’s resolutions has become somewhat more imminent with the introduction of modern social media, it has yet to slow down or falter as a typical topic once the year draws to an end. So here are a few thoughts on how to do better this time, how to change thinking patterns or what we found to be the most important key points.

A New Year’s Resolution as such is worthless

Don’t get me wrong. The mere thought of wanting to change something about your appearance, fitness levels, body fat percentages, etc. is the first step. The part that sets you up for failure is choosing the first of a New Year as the starting point without giving it much more thought. Achieving any of the goals above requires a certain amount of planning, education on the subject, willpower and general structure. The typical New Year’s resolution is a neat thought but without some expertise, it remains just that. So in order not to join the masses that rush into a commercial gym for 6 weeks or so just to never be seen again for the remaining 46 weeks of the year, make an attack plan, actually set your mind to it and read up on the topic. (Our body transformation guide is actually a good place to start!)

States of balance

Getting from point A to point B in terms of fitness goals is the hardest part of the journey. And depending on how serious you are with achieving the changes you and/or your trainer have set for you, this may go as far as abstaining from alcohol, sweets and all the lovely stuff that were there in abundance just before the New Year starts. And while going from 100 to 0 in terms of the former is hard to start with, the self-imposed outlook of NEVER having them again in order to look a certain way doesn’t exactly help. The psychological pressure of that idea is sometimes enough to make people abandon their fitness goals after just a couple of weeks.

In truth, the body is always in a state of balance and the actual shift in balance is not necessarily that huge. After the initial journey to a new weight, a new look or a fitter feeling, which does require the most sacrifice, it’s much more about retaining a healthy balance of good and bad. Yes, you can still go out on a drink binge, you can have a bucket of ice cream on a lazy Sunday afternoon but it has to be balanced out by 5 healthy lunches during the week and/or a decent amount of quality exercise in the range of 3 to 5 hours a week.

How much do you want it?

The first step is the hardest. But you have made that one already. Something needs to change. Consecutive steps get easier one by one but excuses will always creep up along the way. With the abundance of information on the World Wide Web and training facilities like ours with a varied list of products on their books, there are proven pathways to make some actual change.

So now the copious amount of Christmas dinners and work parties have drawn to an end, let’s make a plan and tackle the New Year head on.