ANDREA - a full time Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi instructor.

I fell in love with yoga over seven years ago, when I got a Nintendo DS and bought a game called Let's Yoga. From then, I began 'playing' yoga everyday, sometimes twice a day. At first, the practice was more physical for me, but after few months I started to really count on yoga to bring me a sense of calm during especially chaotic days. Soon after, I began recognizing the benefits of a regular asana and meditation practice and continued to incorporate yoga daily - not just during times of chaos. I found myself feeling more energized, more compassionate, happier, and with more awareness. Now, I teach full-time and couldn't be happier to do what I love. What began as a physical practice for strength and flexibility quickly became a lifestyle. I teach my students to take their yoga off the mat and apply the principles learned in the class to their lives outside of the studio. I do not only teach my philosophy, I live it.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Yoga Poses for Cramps!

Got cramps? You're not alone. Many women suffer from severe menstrual pain (known as dysmenorrhea) with sharp, throbbing, burning, or nauseating cramps in their lower abdomen and back. The cramps may come right before you get your period or during, but thankfully they go away when your period is over. 

These crippling, can't-get-through-your-normal-day kind of cramps are caused by uterine contractions and can be aggravated by emotional stress. They tend to cause headaches and a really heavy flow — twice the fun. Some women take pain meds to deal, but you may want to give these yoga poses a try, since getting your body moving (and out of fetal position on the couch) can really help with cramps.

And, while exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing when you're on your period, studies have also proven that physical activity can lessen pain and cramping; it's worth getting yourself to yoga class.
According to studies, relieving menstrual pain is all about loosening the pelvis, which means a) resting during the first few days of menstruation and b) minimizing stress, both of which can be helped a long way by regular yoga practice. It is recommended to back off of a full yoga practice during your period to give yourself a rest and incorporating the following combination of relaxing, pelvis opening moves four to five times per week before or during your period:

Butterfly Pose
This is a great preventive pose for menstruation issues. It opens up the groin and allows the lumbar to rest, the areas that usually hurt during menstruation pains.

Supta Virasana
If you have problems with digestion during menstruation, this pose can help; it also improves blood circulation and helps energize the legs, which tend to feel heavy during your period.

Virasana/Child's Pose
You've probably done this pose in every yoga class you've ever taken, but this restorative pose is great for lengthening the lower spine and releasing tension.

Half Bound Squat
Hip pain can be part of the whole cramp scene, so stretching them out feels really good.

Arching Pigeon
Pigeon opens your hips, but sometimes it feels better to work one side at a time. This variation will also stretch out the lower belly.

One-Armed Camel
Stretching out your abs and the front of the hips can also relieve cramps. 

Embrio Pose
If you feel cramps in your lower back, then this pose is sure to offer relaxation and relief.

Eagle Twist
Here's a relaxing way to increase side-to-side spinal flexibility, which can also help relieve pain in the lower belly and lower back.

Sun Salutation with a Warrior I.

Inhale - Raise your arms up
Lift your chest, drop your shoulders
Exhale - Lean forward
Inhale - Straighten your back
Exhale - Step your right leg back
Inhale - Drop the heel down, raise the arms up, square your hips and shoulders, lift your chest and drop the shoulders
Exhale - Place the hands on the mat and step back with your left leg into Downward Facing Dog
Inhale - Slowly come forward into the Plank Pose
Exhale - Lower yourself down into Chaturanga Dandasana
Inhale - Arch your back - Upward Facing Dog
Exhale - Lift your tailbone up - Downward Facing Dog
Inhale - Lift your right leg up
Exhale - Step the right foot forward
Inhale - Raise the arms up
Exhale - Forward Fold
Inhale - arms up
Exhale - Mountain Pose

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Kids and Yoga

Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don't think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our children's lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better.

I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children.

Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvelous inner light that all children have to the surface.

When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga's true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one's part in the delicate web of life.

Yoga with children offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen. All that's needed is a little flexibility on the adult's part because, as I quickly found out when I first started teaching the practice to preschoolers, yoga for children is quite different than yoga for adults.