Staying grounded in Goa

Apologies for the lack of updates. Towards the end of our Hampi trip Delhi belly got me good and proper. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to practise, the majority of time was used climbing the dreamy boulders of Hampi and seeking shade once temperatures soared over 35 degrees. Climbing does still provide the opportunity to stretch out on occasion…

Hours of travelling to get to Goa whilst sill recovering from illness left me feeling weak, stiff, achey and to be honest very negative about doing any sort of practise. My mat stayed rolled away for maybe a week! But what was the point in forcing my body to do something my mind couldn’t? Where would the fun in that be? After all it’s not an endurance contest.

When I felt ready I started gentle asanas. For example, tree pose or vriksasana. Perfect for bringing your mind and body together. Stand on one leg, root the foot that is on the ground firmly, even squeezing your toes to help with this. Lock your knee back if this feels comfortable, if not allow a little bend. Try not to stick your sitting bones out as you place the sole of the other foot onto the inside of your grounded legs calf. With the leg that is off the ground, really try to push the knee out to the side. Eventually, start to move the sole of the raised foot further up the inside of your grounded leg, whilst avoiding the knee joint. If you feel comfortable with the sole of the foot being all the way to the very top, innermost part of the thigh, you can take it further by easing the raised leg out, upwards and into lotus pose, as I am doing below. Be careful with this if you have bad knees. Once you have found your balance, brings palms together at heart centre. Remember balance postures don’t come easy, so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle at first. Breathe… Namaste.

 

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Jungle warrior 

  

After a little over a week travelling, James unfortunately contracted salmonella poisoning from bad chicken. He was bound to our little tree house in Thekkady for a few days. Thankfully I felt fine, veggie you see! In my practise I needed to feel strong to keep James’s mood up. Warrior 2 pose does just this. 

Come to the front of your mat, stepping the right leg back and turning the foot out. Keep the left foot facing forward. Check both heels are in line with one and other, the space between your feet should be around ten of your own feet. As you inhale bring the hands up to the side, palms parallel with the floor. On your exhale, bend the left knee to a ninety degree angle. Any less and you won’t benefit from the posture, any more and you may damage your shin. Try not to allow the left knee to collapse in, keep pushing it out. If you look down you should just be able to see your big toe and maybe one more. Keep the upper body central, lengthening through the spine. Stay in warrior for as long as you need to, the gaze should be straight across the left arm. Relax the shoulders and be a warrior. Triangle pose is a great posture to follow from warrior 2.  Namaste. Grace X 

Back waters of Kerala 

  
We are currently exploring the back waters of Kerala on our own private house boat. Which is pretty cool. Yoga was challenging as the boat was slightly rocky, however it made me focus much harder on my practice. 

This is trikonasna or triangle pose, a good all rounder to open your legs, hips, waist, spine and shoulders. 

Come to the front of your mat, hands at heart centre. Step the right leg back to a distance that feels comfortable for you, usually around ten of your own feet. Have a glance and make sure both heels are inline with one and other. The back foot should face the side of your mat, front foot forwards. As you inhale bring yours hands up to your sides, palms parallel to the floor, exhale and turn to look across your left arm. Inhale through the belly then as you exhale imagine someone is pulling your left arm. Try to keep the lower part of the body still, isolating the ribs as you move. Once you’ve leaned as far as feels comfortable, drop your left hand dow, resting it anywhere except the knee joint. If this feels too strong through the back of the leg gently bend the knee. If you can keep the leg straight, start by resting your palm on the shin, then ankle, then floor until eventually hooking your two first fingers around the big toe. Very important in triangle pose is to keep the sitting bones underneath your body, try not to stick them out. Finally draw the right hand straight up to the sky, spreading the finger tips. Peel the right shoulder away from the ear then turn the head to gaze straight up to the right hand. If this is too strong on the neck, take gaze down to the left foot. To come out of the posture lean forward with the left hand, the same way you came down. Allways repeat on the other leg. Take it gently and listen your body, it knows you very well. Grace X 

Meditating in Varkala

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Meditation. If it’s for 3 minutes, half an hour or half a day, don’t be fooled into thinking you need to be sat crossed legged with your eyes closed chanting on a beach (a-hem)! Meditation is attempting to get the mind to concentrate on one thing without interruption. So this could be cooking, playing an instrument, yoga etc.  If you want to try just sitting, try to picture one thing in your mind – a mantra. I picture flowing water or a flame. Every time something wanders into your mantra, try to remove it and stay focused. If you just don’t feel like you have time to sit and “do nothing”, double your meditation time. You need it more! Namaste. Grace x

Upside down in Trivandrum

Supported headstand or sirsasana. Any inversion is wonderful for releasing stress and worries from the body. By gravity releasing the blood from your legs it reduces the stress on your heart. You don’t need to be in an amazing jaw dropping inversion to reap the benefits. Basically any asana (posture) that allows the blood to flow to the head is all you need.

For a supported head stand start knelt  down at the bottom of your mat. Grab each bicep and place the elbows and forearms down. Pivot forearms out on the elbows, interlocking the fingers, keeping thumbs in the air. Place the top of your head (draw a line up from the top of your ears) securely into the little cup you have created with your hands, thumbs supporting the back of your head. By now your sitting bones should be nicely pointing up to the sky. Come up onto the balls of your feet. This is dolphin pose, a great inversion if you’re just starting out. To take things further, start to walk your feet towards your body. Use your core to hold the body still – squeeze! Push your elbows down into the ground and when you can’t walk your feet anymore, pull one knee into your chest. Alternate this, until you eventually feel both knees can float up to your chest. NEVER KICK! Not only is it dangerous for your spine but it’s allowing your body to be out of control. Slowly start to straighten the legs up to the sky. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable. Your breath should be flowing steadily and easily. If you ever feel light headed, gently come out of the posture. All ways finish a head stand, whichever variation, in child’s pose for at least ten breaths. Video to follow once WiFi improves. Let me know how you all get on. Namaste. Grace x

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Unfortunately…

I was so excited to share my recent videos I’ve been making in Southern India, but unfortunately the WiFi just isn’t strong enough to upload them. I’m going to do my best to upload pictures of different postures for you guys to try at home, with an explanation of how to get into them and the benefits. Not much of a compromise but here’s a picture showing our view today. Namaste. Grace x

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