Boost your immune system with Ayurveda and Yoga

 

 Discover daily practices to help nourish your body and protect against disease

 Andrea Freeman’s day begins with a walk in nature, a special Ayurvedic tea (the recipe will be revealed in her latest IYTA workshop) and oil pulling.

These are just three of the ways Andrea integrates Ayurveda into her day. And those lucky enough to attend her workshop in Perth, WA on Sunday, March 21, will discover many more tips and ways they can stay strong and healthy this Autumn and beyond.

Andrea, a mum of one, developed a close connection with nature while growing up in the English countryside.  Her family emigrated to South Africa in the early 70’s where she was educated.  Finding out about the “spice route” around the Cape to India and the Spice Islands captured her imagination.  Historically black pepper was more valuable than gold!  Andrea’s interest in Ayurveda was sparked when she first travelled to India in her 20s.

After completing her Diploma of Yoga Teaching with the IYTA in 2001, she began reading more about Ayurveda (Wisdom of Life) – Yoga’s sister science and decided to undertake a Diploma in Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselling with the College of Mind, Body and Soul in Adelaide.

During her two years of part-time study, Andrea explored the concept of staying in balance and disease prevention. She is particularly fascinated by the doshas and dravyagunavijnana (the qualities of substances in the natural world and how they affect us physically, mentally and emotionally). Also of special interest; the healing power of herbs and spices.

Applying this essential knowledge now gives Andrea tools on a day to day basis to stay in balance through the seasons and her life cycle.

So what’s Andrea’s morning schedule like?

6am – I start the day with time in the garden connecting with nature and practicing Mindfulness

6.15am– I then brew a cup of Ayurvedic Tea (recipe to be revealed at the workshop)

6.30am – while the tea is brewing I enjoy an Ayurvedic self massage (Abhyanga), using warmed black sesame oil and focus on the joints.

I leave the oil to be absorbed whilst at

7am – sip tea while contemplating the day and cultivating gratitude.

Before showering and ready for yoga.

 Andrea adds: “My dominant dosha is Pitta and my secondary dosha is Kapha, so I am very mindful of the foods I eat and combine. I eat seasonally and in summer enjoy foods and acitivities that are cooling.   Being in my 60’s now, I am in the vata phase of life.  Vata is responsible for anxiety and overwhelm and I understand and help my students manage stress.

I make and blend a variety of herbal and spice mixes, to relieve stress, aid inflammation and help the digestive system through sparking Agni (digestive fire).

I also enjoy a daily dose of golden paste (a combination of turmeric, black pepper and coconut oil) for inflammation and a cognitive boost, either in black coffee in the morning or milk in the evening.”

Andrea teaches seven yoga classes a week and offers Abhyanga massages (Ayurvedic full body massages), Indian Head Massage, Ayurvedic Lifestyle consultations and makes many herbal formulations as well as running monthly workshops at her home studio, The Santosha Room.

The 2.5 hour IYTA workshop on Sunday, March 21 will feature: 

 The seven steps to boost immunity as suggested by the AYUSH Ministry of India which was issued at the onset of the Corona Virus.

  • Daily practices (for all doshas) to bolster the immune system.
  • An asana practice and a specific visualisation for immunity.
  • Plus a presentation and opportunity to taste all of the herbal and spice recommendations, and goodies to take home.

Book on to the workshop HERE 

Pic credit: Calum Lewish at Unsplash

 

Discover a secret yoga practice – at our IYTA workshop

Stop for a moment and notice your breath. Not just the rhythm, the temperature or even the pauses, but the predominant nostril and direction of exhaled air.

Did you know this forms the basis for a particular style of yogic practice known as Swara Yoga? 

And regular practice and self-observation can help you discover your biorhythms and give you greater self-awareness.

Swami Muktibodhananda (Mukti) discovered Swara Yoga while studying in India in the 70s – she’s even authored a book on the practice: Swara Yoga – The Tantric Science of Brain Breathing. And now she’s about to reveal this practice at an IYTA online yoga workshop in March. 

Mukti says: “Swara Yoga is the practice of recognising which nostril you are predominantly breathing through and what this indicates about your capacities in your current situation and in your current environment.”

Swara Yoga requires you to be observant of the specific nostril through which you are breathing as well as the direction of the breath while exhaling.

For example, Mukti says when you exhale and you put your fingers close to the nostrils – the breath can flow up, down, sideways and central. It’s not always flowing the same way. This indicates a specific energy flow in the body, which relates to a particular element (Tattwa)– air (vayu), water (apas), ether (akasha), fire (agni) and earth (prithvi).

Mukti adds: “For example, if the air is flowing up towards the top of the nose, the fire element is predominating.”

“This can be observed any time, but it is particularly observed at sunrise. And ideally you need to know the specific moon date and which nostril should be flowing to be in harmony with your environment.

“There is a natural biorhythm to which everyone’s swara flows and if your swara is out of sync with this rhythm then you know that there is a disturbance in the body or mind or emotions which needs to be addressed. Swara Yoga does not teach you how to breath as this is addressed in Hatha Yoga.”

Of course, a three-hour workshop will just be an introduction to these concepts, but you will still come away with tools to understand yourself, others and your relationship to your natural environment on a deeper level.

So why isn’t more known about this fascinating practice? Mukti says there are few teachers teaching Swara Yoga worldwide, because traditionally this particular Tantric practice of Swara Yoga was kept secret.

Mukti adds: “In the history of Tantra, many practices have been kept secret because people were not ready for the practices. Today we are well and truly ready to understand our biorhythms. “

Mukti discovered Swara Yoga in 1978 when she was living in a small Yogashram in the middle of India, Rajnandgaon, Madhya Pradesh. She had taught herself to read the Deva Nagari script in which Sanskrit and Hindi are written. Here in the yogashram, she read about the connection of the moon phases and which nostril should be functioning at sunrise.

She says: “I would check every morning and found it was true. It fascinates me that everyone’s breathing and brain hemisphere activities are linked to the specific moon date cycles. And to know that by discerning which nostril you are breathing through, you can understand the outcome of specific actions is invaluable in the process of being more in charge of yourself, to be ‘self-controlling, rather than ‘other’ controlling. I am always interested in yogic methods that increase my awareness of myself and others.

Mukti says that by understanding her own swara, she is able to make more informed decisions.

Mukti explains it can help you to shift out of negative emotions and behaviours such as being judgmental, blaming or being critical or feeling victimised or having a desire to “rescue”.

This is quite a complex subject but Mukti still manages to incorporate it into her general yoga classes by bringing students’ awareness to the fact that they breathe through individual nostrils, as well as through both nostrils evenly from time to time.

And that this cycle of breathing needs to change throughout 24 hours in order to maintain physical and psychological balance. She also explains about sleeping on your side in relation to having a deep sleep (all these aspects will be covered in the IYTA workshop).

 To book on click HERE

Pic credit: thanks to Unsplash and Ale Romo photographer

 

 

Brekkie Veggie Gumbo

Busy morning with back-to-back yoga classes? Then tuck into this wholesome breakfast dish which should keep you going till lunch!

Ingredients:

1 x can of black or kidney beans (or soak 2 cups of  your choice of legumes overnight)

1 red capsicum

1 can of tinned cherry tomatoes

1 onion

1 leek

2 cups of spinach

1 egg

 

Method:

This meal is so versatile – you can substitute almost all the ingredients depending on taste and what you have in your fridge!

Chop the onion, leek and capsicum into

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan or wok and cook onion and leek until soft

Add tomatoes and red capsicum – simmer for 3-4 minutes. While these are simmering, you may wish to poach an egg. Turn off heat

Stir through spinach leaves until wilted.

Add egg and cracked pepper if desired. You may also like to add finely chopped chilli if you like spicy dishes.

 

 

Head over Heels

Turning upside down shifts your perspective, which is so good for us mentally and physically. We caught up with IYTA lecturer, Alex Cogley to chat about headstands!

Q: When did you first start doing headstands and incorporating them into your yoga practice?

First one when I was a kid, but from around 12 onwards I didn’t spend much time on my head again until I was in my mid-twenties when I started doing yoga.

I was taught them as part of the Yoga Synergy courses that were offered in Bondi, and Newtown. Yoga Synergy has a foundation in physiotherapy (both the Directors are physiotherapist), so there was a strong emphasis on safety and the stages to getting into a headstand safely AND coming out properly.

Q: Why you love headstands? And why you do them? 

I love the stillness that they bring (but it didn’t initially feel like that, it took practice and patience!). Headstands have many benefits but when I first started doing them I enjoyed the challenge and overcoming my fear of falling out/balancing my body weight on my head… by learning how to get into them properly, and being patience fears are overcome. 

Q: Why do you think so many yoga teachers and students don’t do headstands?

Firstly, the neck/head is such a delicate structure there are concerns regarding injuries… you don’t ever fully know your students’ full medical history, they may tell you about their obviously physical conditions, but it is often the emotional and mental tension that causes tension and stress, especially in the head, neck and shoulders… especially in our sedentary society where we are required to sit for prolonged periods and therefore putting additional tension and wear/tear in the neck and shoulders and spine. There are many inversion alternatives that offer the same benefits but are more accessible to students.

Q: What are the key safety points?

This is a long answer and will be addressed in the workshop (Alex is running her headstand workshop for the IYTA in March). It’s more than just not being suitable for students who are pregnant, unmedicated blood pressure, neck injuries, eye issues (detached retina, glaucoma) and some heart conditions…. it’s an individual’s physical, emotion and mental state too…

Q: When do you do your headstand practice? How long do you hold your headstand? 

When – well I suggest once you have completed the standing poses, or at the end of the practice… body warmed up, not tired, core engaged. How long – as long as you feel comfortable when starting… and then build to 1min, 2min, 5min, 10min for more… to a point that feels like you’re in Tadasana but on your head!

I only teach headstands as part of a course, or when I know the whole group or individual well – never to new students in my class (or if I’m doing a cover class), as I need to know their bodies, lifestyle / background etc. However, if you are confident with teaching a headstand, and it is suitable for the group or individual then do it, as the benefits are so worthwhile.

Q: Is there any time you don’t do your headstand practice?

Traditionally inversions aren’t practiced in the first three days of a menstrual cycle, due to affecting the flow of blood plus some women’s core are not so strong in this phase, and therefore not so supportive in the inversion. I think due to our lifestyles we need to look at a lot of other issues – prolonged desk work, tension, stress – headstands can help BUT only when a student is able to go into them without tensing all the wrong muscles and potentially putting themselves at risk of injury.  Headstands are suitable for all levels of practitioners (apart from complete beginners) however, it is advised that students have some yoga experience of a least 2-3 months. I would recommend that students have body awareness, an open mind, desire to try something new and approach them with a sense of fun. Students should be able to hold Downward DogWide­-Legged Forward BendForearm Plank, and Dolphin for a minute each.

Q: Anything else to add?

Headstands are challenging so the ego needs to be left behind and an acceptance of where each individual’s body is at, on that day, in that moment is essential.

Book NOW for Alex’s workshop: The Fundamental Stages To and From Headstand, on March 6th, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay Young with Yoga

 

What are the five main conditions of the ageing body – and how can you stay youthful with yoga? 

At first the signs of ageing can be subtle – feeling a little stiff when we get out of bed in the morning, finding our jeans are a little more snug and perhaps noticing an extra line or two when we scrutinise our reflection in the mirror.

These changes tend to happen from our mid-40s and affect everyone in different ways. How we look and feel is unique to us and in part due to our lifestyle, environment, genetics, mindset and work conditions.

Ageing is a fact of life, but yoga can help us to stay youthful in mind, body and spirit. Which is why Seniors Yoga is becoming increasingly popular.

The IYTA’s Beryl Broadbent has written and presents a hugely popular two-day training to help yoga teachers focus on the needs of students aged 50+

She has been teaching yoga for Seniors for the past 25 years and presenting the IYTA’s Senior Yoga Training for the past two years.

Beryl says: “Yoga can bring focus to the mind by helping people get back in touch with their breath. In the past 25 years, yoga has been widely accepted as a health regime and a lot of people start yoga because it is accessible, gentle and simple. It is beneficial in many ways – from improving posture to encouraging deeper sleep, awareness of the breath and helps people connect with others and their communities.”

 

FIVE main conditions of ageing

 

#1 – Arthritis and getting stiffer – arthritis can occur at any age, but it tends to be more prevalent as we age. We can also find our joints can become stiffer and we find it harder to climb stairs and get up off our yoga mats.

Beryl says: “I have a lot of students who were athletes or runners and as they age, they find their body can’t handle ballistic impact movements. Yoga helps to keep joints mobile and active in a safe and controlled way while reducing the severity and pain of arthritic conditions.”

 

#2 – Weight gain – as you age you lose muscle mass and typically become less active which means you’ll burn less calories.  Our hormonal balance also changes as we go through menopause – and don’t forget men have their equivalent of menopause too.  Beryl adds that as our children become more independent, our workload around the home shifts (of course this is a benefit, but the downside is that we aren’t running around as much and as such our activity levels drop.)

In Seniors Yoga classes, depending on the ability and age range of the students, Beryl will often bring in some aerobics movements such as marching, heel taps, easy walks and even grapevines.

 

#3 – Posture – as we get older there is a tendency for us to hunch forwards and for the back to round resulting in a stooped posture or even a kyphosis. We can also suffer bone loss.

Yoga encourages us to stand tall and to release neck and shoulder tension, open the heart and breathe deeply into the lungs and feeling the entire rib cage expand and release with the breath.

Beryl believes in focusing on postural awareness. She says: “I find that shoulder rolls help to loosen up the chest and release into the shoulders. I encourage students to feel the shoulder blades slide down into the hip pockets and think of having angel wings fold across your back, to encourage the chest to open and the shoulders to soften.

 

#4 Cardiovascular health and high blood pressure –  as we age our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke all increase. Many people aren’t aware they even have high blood pressure, so it’s important they have regular health checks. Yoga helps keep people active, can reduce stress and helps to keep body weight regular. Some of the breathing techniques such as Nadi Sodhana may have a direct impact on our cardiovascular health.

 

#5 Stress of midlife – the stress of ageing is a different kind of stress than in our earlier years. We are unlikely to have the responsibility of children, we may lose our independence, have to readjust to retirement and cope with grief and loss. There are also the physical symptoms of ageing to deal with such as loss of hearing, sight and  mobility. As we know, yoga helps us cope with the changing landscape of our life and gives us tools to ease stress, tension and anxiety.

 

These are just some of the ways ageing can impact us – and some of the ways yoga can help. To discover more about this wonderful practice sign up to our two-day training NOW 

 

 

The IYTA course is available online and face-to-face and Beryl will be delivering the course face-to-face in Brisbane on March 13 – 14, 2021

 

Find out more HERE