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!

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!

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)!

 

What Is Bulletproof Yoga?

Hint: it’s not singing La Roux while in pincha mayurasana (although we did ask). Bulletproof Yoga  is coming to MoreYoga and we’re pleased as punch. But what exactly is it?

Bulletproof Yoga is an advanced programme, designed for those practising for two years or more. Expect joint-strenghtening, mobility training and advice on keeping your body safe. Powerful mobility techniques based on scientific research will rev up your practice – if you want to “float” through poses (rather than thud unceremoniously to the ground), Bulletproof is the place to be.

 Bulletproof Yogi, Katy Hooks, draws on her experience as a Functional Range Conditioning®  mobility specialist to guide you through a challenging class that will help you to power up your jump-throughs, improve your backbends and prepare you for inversions. Many professional athletes and doctors now use this system! Yes, we know it’s fancy.

This cutting edge class will start on Wednesdays at 5.15 at our Finsbury Park studio. We can’t promise La Roux, but we can promise a meaty challenge!

There’s also a cheeky workshop on June 3rd here!

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 Ways To Kickstart A Healthy Eating Habit

The sun has finally got his hat on again and we are all starting to feel human once more. What a perfect time to clear out the pantry and refresh your eating habits! These four tips will keep your body functioning at the highest level it should be (and you don’t have to restrict yourself to do it).

Hydration

Water, water, water. We hear about this so often that it’s easy to forget to do it! If you are one of those eople who just doesn’t find a glass of water alluring, try adding lemon slices or mint. If you still can’t stand that, just promise to always have a glass of water before any other drink you have. Drinking enough water is essential for healthy digestive system function, and helps to keep everything moving along as it should. Eliminate waste and toxins from the body efficiently with 1.5 to 2 litres per day, or more if you exercise regularly.

Mindful eating

How many times this week have you shovelled in a sandwich while typing a report and whatsapping your best mate? Guilty! How you eat your food is super important for healthy gut function. Eat slowly, stop eating when you feel full, and avoid eating just before bedtime. Digestion requires a lot of energy, so take small bites, chew until your food is mush, then swallow completely before taking another bite – your digestive system will thank you for a load off!

Go for complex carbohydrates

Dump the white bread and pasta and replace it with the wholegrain alternative. The sugar in that white bread that is oh so addictive wreaks havoc on our gut lining, and can be a major contributor to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Bloating and digestive issues ahoy! Complex carbohydrates also have a bonus side effect – they keep you fuller for longer, so you won’t be feeling faint by eleven.

Fibre

Remember your mum always forcing Weetabix on you as a kid? There was a reason for it beyond trying to wean you off the sugary cereals of old (Coco Pops, anyone?). Fibre can help your GI tract stay ‘regular’, stabilise blood sugar levels, enhance healthy bowel function, prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, support cardiovascular health, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Wow. All this for adding just a few buts of fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans, pulses, and whole grains to your diet.

Interested in kickstarting a healthy eating habit this year? Talk to Sophie Higgins, our in-house nutritional expert, at info@morefit.co.uk!

3 Simple Tips To Clear Out Negativity

As the long, dark nights get shorter and shorter, this is the perfect time for a mental spring clean.

Although it’s not time to bust out the sunnies just yet, things are starting to look decidedly less grey. If you’re still feeling sluggish, these 5 minute practices are sure to blow away any cobwebs and inspire some much needed energy!

Burn it

Super simple, but very cathartic. Write down anything you want to let go of on a piece of paper (a bad memory, a person – anything you want). Fold it up and set it alight in a flameproof bowl or in your kitchen sink (where you can douse the flames if the ritual gets a little to hot to handle!). There’s something about watching those negative vibes burn up into nothing that makes you feel a) free from them and b) like an awesome fire goddess/god.

Sweat it

Now this one should be pretty simple for you yogis out there! Take a class that you know will make you sweat (a la Jivamukti, Rocket or Vinyasa) to release any toxins built up in your body. Dedicate your practice to someone for a mental release – it could be to yourself or it could be to someone that you’re really not seeing eye-to-eye with at the moment. Pounding out the sun salutations is a great way to release any frustration!

Celebrate it

Once you’ve released your old negativity, it’s really important to give yourself a massive pat on the back for doing so. You have just done the most amazing thing for your mental health and you damn well deserve a treat for it. Book a massage, go for a long walk in nature or just bask in your general awesomeness with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.  Never underestimate what these small steps are doing for you.

These rituals are easy to make part of your routine, but don’t feel like you’ve failed if you don’t do it for a while. Just jump back on the bandwagon and get clearing!