Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yoga for Recovering Injured Foot

In a hurry to get out of the shower to close a banging door on a windy stormy morning, I kicked my left toes against the ridge of the shower door. Oweeee, yoweeee…. was that sore and blood all over, and the worst of it all – I had a Yoga class to teach 20 minutes hence. Cleaned it up, wrapped torn toes with a band-aid, took loads of arnica, other homeopathic remedies and of course my own home-made FlexiBod (for healing and restoring muscles, ligaments and joints) and hobbled off to the class. Ironically the theme for the week’s classes – was – you guessed it – feet…. Grounded-ness; stability; taking weight down through our feet; balance; deep gratitude for what our feet do for us each and every day. Managed to get through that one hobbling and wobbling.

Repeated the remedies all through the day as well as binding the toes (thought by now, one was broken) and added a few rounds of tapping - for the pain, the discomfort, the bruising, the embarrassment of kicking the shower after 20 years of daily use, the thought of a lengthy recovery period if a toe was broken… and other aspects that presented themselves. The following day I taught the yoga class and still my achy, oh-so-sore toes and foot, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be! The next day I was scheduled to teach for an extra long yoga class/workshop – two and half hours of “Yoga for the Core” – managed to get through it okay but by the end the foot was super-sore. After the class continued the remedy/tapping routine and took some rest. Was amazed that there was hardly any bruising, swelling was already down, and when there was no pressure on it – no pain either. The following morning apart from the lacerations it felt astoundingly better, just a bit of a bruised feeling in that second toe and under the foot in that vicinity. Even went for a long walk with the dog. Yay….

But never-the-less now have to plan the week’s morning Yoga classes, so decided to do a routine that does not require putting much pressure on the feet or too much standing, etc (quite the opposite of last week’s classes!) So here it is – a ‘floor yoga class’ for a winter’s morning:

• Centre in Sukhasana
• Kapalabhati – 3 rounds
• Optional Sithali 3x (cooling breaths for those with the hot-flush reaction)
• Neck & shoulder looseners
• Baddha konasana and variations for opening the hips and preparing the lower back
• Side bends in sukhasana
• Twists in sukhasana
• Baddha konasana forward bend
• Janu sirshasana
• Pascimottanasana
• Uppavista konasana
• Gomukhasana for shoulders and upper back
• Navasana and variations
• Rolling ball with all variations; ending with plough to pascimottanasana rolls - 6x each
• Sarvangasana to plough to bridge to matsyasana sequence
• Apanasana both legs 4x
• Cobra sequence to warm up and energise
• Balasana
• Sit up for pranayama: repeat kapalabhati and sithali as above
• Yoga nidra in Savasana

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ayurveda Routine for Autumn

Many of us in the Western Cape enjoy the beautiful, cooler days of Autumn – I know this is my most favourite season. Instinctively as the days and nights become cooler we feel the need to change our eating and life-style patterns. Perhaps we add a blanket to the bed, a warmer top and socks in the evenings, and start making more stew-like or soup dishes for our main meals.

Autumn is predominantly a Vata-type season – cool, dry, light, rough are some of the qualities of vata and these attributes start to show within and without our bodies. Perhaps you notice the rough skin on your heels after the sandal season of summer. Vata dosha is the dosha of movement and thus it governs the other two doshas - pitta and kapha, and at this time of year if not carefully pacified will cause aggravation to the other two if it becomes imbalanced.

Vata is responsible for all movement within the body – think of neuron impulses of the nervous system, the movement of wastes out of the body, the breath flowing in and out, blood flowing through the blood vessels, even speaking uses the attributes of vata, and these are a few amongst many other functions relating to movement. Vata is seated in the colon (predominantly) therefore any aggravation or imbalance will most likely manifest here first, with symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation. Other signs of vata imbalance are dry lips, dryness inside the nostrils, dry or parched skin, erratic sleep patterns, irregular appetite, stress and tiredness. If you notice any of these changes it is time to start a vata-pacifying regime and routine.

In autumn, we look to bring balance to the vata dosha by focusing on the opposite qualities to those of vata. Choose grounding, warming, moisturising and nourishing foods and lifestyle to offset the dryness and cold. Stillness such as meditation and routine, regularity and rest bring harmony once again.

All these tips are especially significant to do if your predominant dosha is vata, or you are in the vata stage of life (older age).

Ayurveda for Autumn Summary:
• Focus on warming, nourishing foods, rich in oils and ghee, warming spices such as ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Have warm soft breakfasts such as porridge to which you can also add some spice. To help you sleep, have a warm milk drink at the end of the day with some ginger, a grating of nutmeg and a bit of sugar added. Avoid dry foods like breakfast cereals, dry muesli, pop corn, and stay away from ice cold drinks and foods. Stick to regular meal times and for better digestion, try to have the main meal near midday each day.
• Stay hydrated by drinking sufficient pure water each day.
• Take care of your skin by self-massaging the whole body daily with warming sesame oil. Try nourishing face masks made with natural ingredients from your kitchen. See below.
• Increase times of stillness and meditation in your day, let this be a time to connect with yourself and settle any movement. Also reduce anything that contributes to excess movement, for example travelling, rushing around and fast and vigorous sports or yoga. Slow down by going for a walk in nature, practice calming and grounding yoga poses, do slow deep balancing pranayama, meditate, write in your journal, listen to beautiful music, etc.

Nourishing facial mask: Take 2 Tbs honey and blend well with 2tsp milk
Apply to face, leave for 10-15minutes then wash off with lukewarm water.

Use almond oil with a few drops of vata pacifying essential oil blend to the face and leave on overnight.