Cat-Cow Pose | Totes Yoga

The Cat-Cow pose tends to always be used in the warm-up of yoga classes. It’s a good way to introduce spine mobility and used as a preparation pose to lead up to more movement based on spinal extensions and flexions. It is also often used in Pilates classes.

Benefits of Cat-Cow Pose:

  • warms the spine, increasing spinal mobility
  • stretches the chest and arches the back in cow pose
  • rounds the spine and stretches shoulder blades in cat pose
  • improves coordination, balance and posture
  • stimulates the internal organs such as kidneys and adrenal glands
  • relieves stress, helps you focus on calming the breath and mind

I feel like this pose is used in 99% of classes. If you sit a lot during the day, your spine may be a bit rigid or slightly kyphotic if you work at a computer for hours. It is a great pose to bring some more movement to the spine and counteract the lack of movement it may not be receiving during the day. It also makes you more aware of your pelvic tilt and how you stand during the day. Do you tend to lean on one leg more than the other? Perhaps you stand with your knees locked out, placing too much weight on the hips causing posture problems. Most of the population have musculoskeletal imbalances due to the repetitive movements we are doing during our days, weeks and years. Yoga & Pilates brings our bodies into new stretches and shapes to try and increase range of movement and core strength tackling these imbalances.

Alternative & tips:

  • Bring knees directly under hips
  • Spread fingers pressing whole hand on floor directly under shoulders
  • If knees are sensitive, place blanket under knees or fold mat for more support
  • Standing up Cat-Cow: Bend the knees, rest hands on quads, stretch chest and lift head for cow pose and then stuck pelvis and drop chin to chest for cat pose.
  • For yoga, breath in and lift the head, exhale, drop the head. For pilates, the opposite breath cues will be used

Image result for cat cow pose

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Why It’s Healthy to Fail | Totes Yoga

I would love to be able to do more advanced yoga poses. Not for recognition or status, or for show. Just because I would like my body to be stronger and more flexible. There is never an end destination in yoga. There is always more to explore and grow in. I have been practising a yoga pose for a long time; admittedly, not very often. Simply because I either cannot hold it for long or at all and I don’t like the feeling of not getting where I want to be. But I also have to learn about patience and a lot of repetition of work goes into achieving goals.

Today we live in an instant gratification based society. We can get things so quickly now so when it comes to yoga, it feels weird to see that some poses can take years to achieve. I used to find this frustrating but I’ve learnt to just let go and enjoy the process. One pose I really struggle in and I’m not sure if I have made much progress since I started practising it two and a half years ago. I fell flat on my face then and I also fell flat on my face today. I could choose to be upset by this and give up or continue to try. Then try again and again and again until I one day get there.

Nowadays I find it funny when I fall. I begin to think how I can apply this mindset to my daily life outside of yoga practice. I have found a lot of connection between what I learn in yoga and how it connects to my daily mindset. If we quit our goals the first time it didn’t work, no one would get anything done. It’s important to experiment and trial things. When we look at someone we admire who has been successful we don’t see all the failure they have had to endure to get there. Failure promotes persistence, growth and valuable lessons. In the words of John C Maxwell, “Fail early, fail often and fail forward”. If these words don’t resonate with you, watch this video below because Will Smith is awesome. Alternatively read John C Maxwell’s Best Seller “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success”.

Child’s Pose | Totes Yoga

Child’s Pose is a great pose to begin yoga and is generally used for restorative purposes. It feels great to lay the forehead down on the floor and really relax, allowing the body to become heavy and just breathe. This pose is very rejuvenating for the body and mind.

The benefits of this pose includes:

  • gently stretches the hips
  • helps you focus on slowing your breath, calming the nervous system
  • improves digestion
  • elongates the lower back
  • helps relieve stress and fatigue, calming the brain

I give participants a lot of freedom in class to explore what is comfortable for their bodies. I give the alignment and safety cues but there is room to explore your body and what feels right. We all have different body types, old injuries and niggles in the body so I feel that giving different adaptions and options in a pose is important during class. I suggest if they want to come to rest at any point in the class to take child’s pose.

Alternatives & tips:

  • option to take the hands to rest alongside the torso, instead of in front
  • if you do take arms in front, allow the elbows to slightly bend, relaxing the shoulders and neck
  • if knees are uncomfortable, double up your mat for more support or place a blanket or pillow under the knees
  • try puppy pose as a alternative to child’s pose

Image result for childs pose

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Being Content Where You Are | Totes Yoga

This week during meditation and relaxation we have been exploring the idea of choosing gratitude wherever you are. Even if your circumstances feel against you at the moment. It’s extremely hard to do if you have a self-entitled mentality or a ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ perspective.

Last year I left a corporate job that was pretty easy to do but the money was great. I didn’t have to worry, no matter what happened, a good amount would be in my account. I was chasing career status and wanted to be “important”. Money + Status was good for me. 

However, this week I have been mindful to focus on being content with who I am as a person and letting my value rest on how I treat and influence others. Not on what my annual salary is, what my job title is or recognition. This is challenging to place your value on intangible things. My goal is to be content in the now whilst still striving to improve myself and achieve goals. It’s a balance of loving yourself where you are yet seeing opportunity for growth.

So, take some time to meditate. This doesn’t have to be sitting up and putting Buddha music on in the background. This can simply be just lying down, allowing your body to be still and find some space to quieten your mind. It is important to do this in the positive. Bring loving and positive thoughts to yourself. Very often we tend to think negatively about ourselves. Put those negative thoughts to one side. Inhale, bringing kindness to yourself and exhale, be proud of who you are. Listen to your what your body is saying. How can you positively impact the world around you? Be the change you want to see in the world yet allowing imperfections to seep through because no one is perfect. Be kind and easy on yourself this week. Take care!

 

 

Downward-Facing Dog | Totes Yoga

Have you ever been to a yoga class and not gone into downdog? I don’t think I have. It’s important to have a strong foundation for this posture.

The benefits of this pose includes:

  • Strengthens the arms, legs and core
  • Promotes a long spine, improving posture
  • Stretches the calves, hamstrings, arches, spine, shoulders and arms
  • Increases energy levels
  • Encourages blood circulation
  • Decreases stress and helps calm the mind against anxiety

I remember being in a class years ago and seeing someone doing an amazing downdog. I remember thinking “I want to be able to get my downdog to look like hers”. Whilst it’s easy to go into comparative thoughts during yoga it is not helpful to you. Leave the egos aside and focus on your own practice. It just takes time stretching and strengthen the muscles. You will get there. Also, appreciate where you are now and how amazing your body is. Try not force yourself to get there and skip the journey. Love your body and challenge yourself towards your goals.

Alternatives & Tips

  • Spread your fingers on the mat and press the entire hand down.
  • Tuck the toes into the mat and lift sitting bones to the ceiling. Feet are hip width apart.
  • In downdog we want to find length in the spine, so take a slight bends at the knees. It raises your hips higher and lengthens the back.
  • Breath deeply, bring your hips back. Take weight to the legs, off the shoulders and hands
  • Option to have heels down to the floor or lifted.
  • To challenge yourself, keep shoulder and hips square, inhale and lift one leg to three-legged dog. Exhale and lower. Try the other leg.

Tip: Sign up for more detailed posts & FREE guided mediation practices so you can practise at home! We understand how busy schedules can be. Sign up to receive these emails with yoga sequences, breathing techniques and much more! Go to the top of the page on the website to join the Totes Yoga Community TODAY!

Why Move? The Benefits of Exercise | Totes Yoga

How did I start my fitness journey? I didn’t always like exercise. The idea of going to an exercise class or any planned fitness did not fill me with excitement but dread. Some days the idea of going to the gym still doesn’t appeal to me. Especially in the winter months when I just want to hibernate. It can be so hard to get motivated to go outside in the cold to travel to the gym or a fitness class when you are warm and comfortable at home. So how did I go from not wanting to exercise to now doing it as a job?

In three simple words: yoga at home.

I began to do yoga which I absolutely loved! I found it really hard at first and it took about 3 months to be able to feel the effects physically and mentally. I ended up doing an hour every day for 9 months straight. At that time I didn’t have many commitments so it was easy to find the time to do it. I didn’t have to go out or exercise with others which I understand can seem intimidating when you are new. I found something exercise based that I really enjoyed. Once I found something I enjoyed and my fitness levels improved, I then became curious about other types of exercise and wanted to try more. My family owned a fitness bike, so I started to do half an hour on that every day as well. I gradually picked up on going to other classes and feeling comfortable to go to the gym.

I found my energy levels had improved, I was genuinely happier and healthier. It also motivated me to change my eating habits which contributed to feeling more alive and happy. It improved almost every aspect of my life from sleeping better, to reduced stress and anxiety, improvement in my posture and strength and new-found confidence due to change in my physical appearance and mental outlook on life.

During exercise, chemicals in the body release which makes you feel happy. To read more click on the link below:

Happiness, Exercise & Endorphins

Try lots of different types of activity to find what exercise you enjoy. You will no longer have the dreaded “I’ve paid for a membership, so I should probably go to the gym” feeling as if it is a punishment. Life is short. Move your body, find an activity you like and go from there. Explore, play and enjoy movement.

Browse through this Wikipedia page to help you find something new you may want to try:

List of Sports

Triangle Pose | Totes Yoga

Triangle pose is one of the most popular poses in yoga. Why?

The benefits of this pose includes:

  • opens chest, shoulder and side hip
  • stretches the hamstrings and calves
  • strengthening the core, legs, obliques and back
  • teaches long alignment in the spine
  • improves digestion

This pose feels great to open the chest and shoulders in the days where we spend a lot of time hunched over technology such as laptop, phones, iPads, etc. It has become very common to be slightly hunched over and a big reason why I started yoga was due to my poor posture. I thought I wanted to make a change before my alignment got worse. Over the course of six months to a year, the way I stand and carry myself has completely changed by simply stretching and strengthening these areas.

Alternatives & Tips

  • Use a block to place your lower hand on if your spine is curved to lift the chest and keep back long
  • Option to place back heel against the wall for more support in this pose
  • Inhale open the shoulder and lengthen the top arm, lift chest and lengthen spine
  • Advanced option to brace core and lift top arm above head, stretching to the front of the body. Check the alignment of your spine and ensure it is long and extended

Image result for triangle pose

 

Tip: Sign up for more detailed posts & FREE guided mediation practices so you can practise at home! We understand how busy schedules can be. Sign up to receive these emails with yoga sequences, breathing techniques and much more! Go to the top of the page on the website to join the Totes Yoga Community TODAY!

Yoga For Everyone | Totes Yoga

I’ve been doing some research into what puts the general public off the idea of ‘yoga’ and what pre-conceptions there are. I’ve heard some people having strange experiences in a yoga class and that it’s been too ‘spiritual’. The problem is “yoga” is now such a widely-spread concept, beginners don’t know what to expect! At Totes Yoga, the focus is on fitness and general well-being. There is no chanting, “Om”-ing or spiritual practices. Whilst I have no judgement for certain types of yoga that do this, it’s not for me so I wouldn’t impose it on anyone else.

I read an article that showed cartoon illustrations on how yoga changes you:

https://www.doyouyoga.com/6-very-real-ways-yoga-changes-you-illustrated-44068/

Just because you come to a yoga class doesn’t mean you’ll be skipping nights out or be running to the nearest gluten-free smoothie bar. Part of the Totes Yoga mission is to put this stereotype of yoga behind us and head towards more inclusive and less pretentious attitudes. I want classes that everyone at all levels can enjoy. Yoga can be anything you want it to be. I like classes that are fun with a more chatty and jokey atmosphere. It takes the pressure or nerves away.

The beginning and the end of class is about relaxing the body and the mind by chilling out and taking a few deep breaths to find a space for calm and clarity. However these relaxation parts at the end are optional. Some participants like to leave before the relaxation for many reasons and that’s ok. Whilst I encourage people to stay and have some quiet time for themselves, I understand if they want to go after doing the more active parts of the class.

Two of my favourite yoga quotes can be found below which resonates with me:

“Yoga practice is important but not serious. Practice is too important to be serious” – Judith Lasater

“Allow your yoga to be messy, and maybe you’ll be less critical towards yourself off your mat” – Silvia Mordini

So come to one of our classes and I promise to make you feel welcomed, not uncomfortable. Come with an open mind to stretch your body, try some yoga movements and see what you think!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

See you soon,

J.

 

 

Beginning | Totes Yoga

Now we have launched I would like to welcome you to the blog space. I will be posting once a week with regular updates on our social media pages.

My business cards arrived yesterday (Hooray!) They look so pretty and shiny. Previously, starting my own yoga biz has been a make believe scenario. I have buckets and buckets to learn but my overall feeling is positive and I absolutely LOVE what I do. It’s a bit like learning how to drive. Once you have passed, the learning really starts. To be honest, my training loosely prepared me to run daily classes so I spend a lot of time researching and taking everything I’ve learnt to the matt and trying it out. From there I keep adapting until it works.

The average person can’t go straight into crow pose or flying pigeon. How boring would it be if we skipped the preparation stages and managed to do harder yoga poses right away. It is in the learning and the process where the magic happens. We should not get caught up in how we look in our asanas but rather how it feels during and after our classes. It makes me smile when participants come away feeling relaxed, reenergised and the stressful parts of their day have melted away. They leave feeling accomplished and that they are working towards something great. I love being apart of their journey.

If you are thinking about trying yoga, don’t get put off if you are not flexible or strong enough. Just come along. Because we all started in the same way. If you lose balance whilst in tree pose, that’s completely ok. There is something great about trying again and preserving. Do what we all do; take a deep breath and begin again.

I will leave you with this mantra: “Don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga. Practice yoga to get better at living”.

See you in class!

Our Values | Totes Yoga

Welcome to Totes Yoga!

“Yoga” is such a broad subject as there are many different lineages, styles and personal preferences. I like to think of Totes Yoga as Yoga to make you feel empowered and strong yet joyful and happy.

Release your inner warrior!

I get asked why my logo is a tree and branches. “Is it supposed to be about being natural?” or “What else would a yoga company be other than a tree or lotus position?” Well, whilst it does looks yogic-ful there was some thought put behind it.  A tree is made up of the roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Our values are as follows:

 

We are rooted and grounded in integrity and being open minded to growth and change, seeing every opportunity as a chance to develop oneself. A stable foundation helps us to grow tall and strong and encourage others to grow with us. Having strong roots takes dedication but ensures growth as we are all on a journey of self-discovery.

 

Branches grow and bend in different directions, similar to how we all have different body types. Be creative with movement and test boundaries. Be bold and brave yet accepting limitations and trusting that your body is uniquely beautiful. Be patient and have perseverance for your goals in an immediate gratification focused society. Progress happens over time.

 

As the leaves change with the seasons, we adapt to the circumstances that are out of our control. We ebb and flow with the change of life and enjoy every moment with gratitude. Celebrate progress and radiate freedom. Live vibrantly and be kind to those around you. Love yourself and continue to explore.

 

Be Relaxed, Re-energised and Ready to take on the world!

When I am struggling in a balance pose, I pull my posture up. Why? I have posted one of my favourite yoga quotes below which I hope you will find wisdom in your practice and your personal life.