22nd April 2017
studio-yoga-mindfulness-mental health

Yoga, Mindfulness and Mental Health

Mental health is as important as physical health says Prince William, echoing what the yoga world has always known: that mind and body are two sides of the same coin, with the state of one affecting the other. Prince William’s comments, along with those of Prince Harry in his Daily Telegraph podcast, and their support of the Heads Together #oktosay campaign have been widely praised for helping to encourage people to talk about their mental health challenges. Heads Together is the charity of the year for this weekend’s London Marathon and running is recognised as an activity which can boost your mood and help beat depression. Non-runners can take heart from the fact that doctors believe that just about any physical activity is good for improving well-being, as it causes chemical changes in the brain, which can positively change your mood.      Yoga should be way ahead of the game here. It has always been about finding mental stillness through physical movement: “Yoga is the settling of the mind into […]
29th October 2016
Studio-Yoga-Stockbridge

The row over national standards for yoga teachers

Yoga appears to be rarely out of the news these days, with stories in the national press and radio this week about proposed national occupational standards for yoga teachers.  It’s a subject which has provoked robust exchanges on yoga teacher forums on social media for several weeks. The word yoga might mean union but there are sharp divisions of opinion in this case. About two million people in the UK are believed to practise yoga. There are classes in pretty much every gym, leisure centre and village hall up and down the country as well as in specialist studios, but it is an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher or set up a teacher training programme and some courses require little or nothing in the way of yoga experience. Are all yoga teacher trainings fit for purpose? For those in favour of national minimum standards, there are important reasons for regulation. It is believed most people in the UK who practice yoga do so for reasons of […]
15th June 2016
Pilates for osteoporosis at Studio Yoga

Pilates for Osteoporosis

  Pilates for Osteoporosis – by Anneli McCullagh (Body Control Pilates teacher) Why be concerned about osteoporosis? As people age they are more at risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease which causes the bones to become weak and brittle. In the UK it is believed to affect around three million people with 1 in 2 women, and 1 in 5 men suffering an osteoporosis related fracture after the age of 50. Although losing bone is a normal part of the aging process, lifestyle choices like regular exercise and a healthy diet are important to maintain bone strength. Osteoporosis often develops without any warning signs but if it is in the spine, for example, the front part of the vertebra can be crushed by leaning forwards (spinal flexion), but the back part of the vertebra remains intact – creating a “dowager’s hump”. Other common places for osteoporosis related fractures are hips, ribs and wrists. Risk factors There are a whole range of risk factors: if a parent had osteoporosis; if you […]
21st February 2016

11 Top Tips for a Healthy Back

Nearly all of us suffer from back problems at some point in their lives, so follow these tips from Emma Wightman of Stockbridge Osteopathic Practice to help keep your spine healthy and pain-free:  1) Always bend using your knees and hips. This is really important advice that we all know but don’t do! Bend at the knees and hips, keeping your back upright and straight. If you are lifting something heavy bring the weight close to you before you move. Push up using your thigh muscles. 2) Maintain good posture. A lot of my patients’ problems are the result of poor posture. Engage your abdominal muscles by gently tucking the pelvis up at the front, sit up or stand up straight, roll shoulders back and down, lengthen the neck and tuck the chin in slightly. 3) Get up and move around. Avoid sitting for long periods, get up and move around every 30 to 40 minutes. Avoid slouching in chairs and hunching your shoulders when sitting at desks. Occasionally use […]
13th November 2015
Studio-Yoga-Stockbridge-Healthy-Lower-Backs

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs

Do you suffer from back pain? If the answer is yes, then you’re not alone: in the UK 2.6 million people see their GPs with low back pain every year, at a cost to the NHS of £1.37 billion.  Statistics show that nearly all of us will suffer from back problems at some point in our lives and it can affect people of all ages, including those who are fit and active as well as the sedentary.  Sometimes it seems that for no apparent reason, our backs just go. Treatment has progressed a long way since the time when bed rest for weeks on end was recommended.  NHS advice today is for people to stay mobile and keep active.  It specifically recommends gentle stretches to ease discomfort during an episode of back pain, and suggests yoga or Pilates as a way of increasing strength and flexibility.  This autumn I have been training to teach Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs (YHLB), a specially designed yoga programme, clinically proven to work better than […]
27th September 2015

Giving yoga a go: a beginner’s story

New to yoga or considering taking it up for the first time? As this beginner’s experience shows, practising yoga on a regular basis can transform your life for the better, whatever your age, size or level of fitness. Re-engaging my core by Christine Alexander Smith I first visited Tamsin at Studio Yoga in Stockbridge after being treated by my Chiropractor for a hip and lower back problem, having had a very bad fall.  My Chiropractor suggested engaging with Yoga as something to assist my continued recovery.   I was sceptical that this would help me, but desperate to eliminate the stiffness and lower back pain, I agreed to give it a go. I had never done yoga before and initially had 3 one to one sessions with Tamsin, then joined her Yoga Express evening course.  I soon became aware of just how little I had been moving or stretching my whole body.  As a beginner I found the first 3 sessions were challenging but very achievable.   Over the course […]
8th September 2015

The benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness – gaining insight from ancient wisdom and modern scientific understanding by Dr Gail Loudon   As I prepare to teach my sixth Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course that I’ve guided at Studio Yoga, I was reminded by a friend how I came to embrace the mindfulness based approach to living, which MBSR and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) offers us. I still work, and thoroughly enjoy working, as a conventional doctor although it is significant that I have kept to specialities that have allowed me to follow a holistic approach to patients and to their care i.e taking into account their particular stresses in life and how that may be impacting on their health and well-being. I have a clear memory of sitting in a pharmacology lecture as a student stunned by the fact that I was the only person in the room who was completely fascinated by the placebo effect. Generally it is seen as an irritation getting in the way of establishing the effect of new […]
16th August 2015
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Why yoga is like making pasta

On holiday in Italy recently we did a cookery course in Florence.  I’ve long thought there are many parallels between yoga and cookery and this reinforced my opinion that asanas are like ingredients which are combined together to produce something that will nourish you and leave you satisfied.  In many ways constructing a yoga practice is like devising a recipe. We need to have an intention for what we want to achieve before we start and both the order in which things are done and the techniques used affect the end result. Just as with food, in yoga there are many fads and trends, with different styles becoming fashionable and endorsed by celebrities in the same way as diets are. I ignore most of them – yoga is yoga in my opinion and I’m not sure how many times you can reinvent the wheel before it stops being a wheel and becomes something else altogether – but it’s certainly good to have variety.  We should be able to cater for […]
14th June 2015

Yoga Pose of the Month – Wrist Stretches

I am so grateful to the fabulous yoga teacher Zoe Knott for sharing these simple and effective ways to strengthen and mobilise your wrists. They are brilliant because while the initial series involves no weight bearing and is suitable for everyone, they get progressively stronger and more challenging becoming an integral part of our preparation for wheel pose, handstand and arm balances such as crow and cockerel pose, although it is very much a step-by-step process. It is difficult to avoid bearing weight through the arms and wrists at some point in a yoga class, so even if handstands are not your thing, options can start to become limited once you exclude poses such as cat, downward and upward facing dog, plank, chaturanga dandasana and so on.  No Sun Salutations for you.  But there are more important reasons why the following exercises are so good for those of us with weak or stiff wrists.  Firstly, to keep your joints healthy they need to be kept strong and flexible; the Arthritis Foundation […]
13th June 2015

Celebrate – International Yoga Day 2015

Sunday June 21st is the first ever International Yoga Day.  Funny that something which has been around for thousands of years has only now recognised by the UN in this way, but perhaps it just shows how mainstream yoga has now become. The day has been championed by the Indian Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, who said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.” Across the world events are planned to mark the day, and raise awareness of the transformative and life-improving benefits of yoga.  For the ancient yogis it was a discipline that they practised in order to seek enlightenment.  Today many of us are drawn to yoga for physical reasons, to improve  our strength, flexibility and tone, but yoga can also be tremendously […]
6th May 2015
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Yoga and the Feelgood Factor

Why is it that we feel better after a yoga class? Sometimes it can all feel a bit of an effort to get ourselves to yoga.  We’re too busy, too tired and for women especially, the “me-time” that’s associated with yoga can be the first thing to go when we’re under pressure. But invariably something happens during the hour or more that we’re on our mats t0 alter our mood.  Subtle changes occur.  We feel different: clearer-headed, lighter, maybe happier.  We can enjoy a sense of “wholeness”.  Maybe not quite at a state of Samadhi (bliss), which according to the ancient yogic sage, Patanjali, is the eighth and innermost limb of yoga, but definitely part of the way there. In her book “Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit”, teacher Donna Farhi compares what happens in yoga to cleaning the windscreen of your car.  Nothing about the landscape around you has changed, but you’re able to notice what’s there more clearly.  Your perception changes and you can see the potholes in the […]
6th April 2015
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Yoga Pose of the Month – Cobbler Pose

Practising sitting poses such as Cobbler Pose or Baddha Konasana takes us to the essence of what yoga is all about.  Although many of us think of the word asana as meaning a pose or posture, the literal translation is “a comfortable seat”.  This, of course, is essential in order to practise meditation, as you need to be able to sit and focus your attention inwards without being distracted by physical discomfort. Baddha Konasana is often translated into English as Cobbler or Tailor Pose, because this is the position they would traditionally sit in to do their work.  However it really means “bound angle pose”.  The angle referred to is that between the legs and the torso and in Iyengar Yoga a strap is often used around the lower body to help to achieve this feeling of binding.   It’s a powerful stretch for the inner thighs and groins and also activates the muscles of the pelvic floor.  This is why the pose is regarded as beneficial for menstrual and bladder […]