Monday, 24 September 2018

Outdoor Yoga

I love any opportunity to practise yoga outdoors as these photos show.

 And I'm excited that after a summer hiatus,Formby Yoga's Autumn/Winter Yogging Season begins next Sunday.
Yogging - yoga and jogging - combines the whole body exercise of yoga which increases flexibility, strength and balance with the cardiovascular benefits of jogging. The short jogging bursts create enough heat to keep the body's muscles warm enough to enjoy yoga outdoors with all of the wonderful benefits of bathing in nature. 

But you don't need to take my word for it that yoga and jogging can benefit your health - here's the science bit!
Researchers at Jaipur University discovered that just one yoga class and one jogging session a week could cut your risk in half of developing heart disease.
One group of 225 patients participated in aerobic exercise, another group of 240 patients participated in yoga, and a third group of 285 participated in both yoga and aerobic exercise.
The findings showed that aerobic exercise only and yoga only groups showed similar reductions in blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, weight and waist circumference. 
However, the combined yoga and aerobic exercise group showed a two times greater reduction compared to the other groups. They also showed significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction, diastolic function and exercise capacity.

And researchers at the University of Exeter concluded that exercising in nature afforded people a greater feeling of revitalization and positive energy, as well as decreasing tension, confusion, anger and depression. For the study, reviewers collected data from 11 trials involving 833 people. 
The research was conducted in collaboration with Public Health England as part of the Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health. 
Dr Angie Bone of Public Health England, said: “Evidence suggests that access to good quality green space is linked to feeling healthier, a lower body mass index and decreased levels of obesity, and improved mental health and wellbeing.”
If you want to join our weekly Yogging session at Formby Pool's Park  email me or call 07808 800 681 to book your place. Session costs £5 and runs between 9.30am and 10.30am every Sunday (weather permitting).

Monday, 17 September 2018

Meeting Up in Rag Doll Pose

Anyone who comes to my classes knows we have several poses where we meet up so everyone can take their time to move through the flow.
Rag Doll is our first meeting point and it's a great way to linger for a while at any time.

Its perfect way to iron out those creaks if you have been sitting, standing, running or doing anything for some time and just want to let go.

Keeping a soft bend in the knees Rag Doll is a great way to release tension in the lower back and the hamstrings.
It's also an *inversion* with the heart higher than the head which means its a great pose for stress relief.

I am a big walking fan and regularly stop along my walk to take a Rag Doll pose when I feel a little tired or achey.
The other big benefit of this pose is it is great for digestion as it helps to massage the internal organs.
Rag Doll is suitable for most people although not advised for anyone with eaye/ear problems, high blood pressure and acute disc/back problems.
To come into Rag Doll pose take the feet hip width apart and allow the weight to settle evenly into the four corners of your feet, take a big inhale and Smile to the Sky (see last week's pose), soften your knees a little and drape your torso over your legs.
You can let the arms relax all loose and floppy like a rag doll or gently clasp each elbow with the opposite palm.
Allow the weight of your head to hang down with the crown of the hand pointing to the floor, releasing any tension in your neck.
Enjoy for 10-20 deep breaths.
Beach and Walking Boots optional!

*The science bit: how inversions relieve stress?

The nerves that control heart rate and blood pressure are regulated through sensors called baroreceptors. These baroreceptors detect any changes in your blood pressure, stretching when blood pressure is high and shrinking when blood pressure is low.

If your baroreceptors detect a fall in your blood pressure, they  tell your  brain to increase your heart rate, constrict your blood vessels to raise your blood pressure, and switch your nervous system to fight or flight mode. 
Alternatively, if your baroreceptors detect an abnormally elevated blood pressure, they tell your brain to slow your heart rate, relax your blood vessels and switch your nervous system to relaxation mode.

With your heart higher than your head, gravity causes more blood to flow in the direction of your head, creating more pressure than usual. As the pressure on those arteries increases, your baroreceptors are stretched, and this causes signals to be sent to your central nervous system as if your blood pressure was high throughout your body. That in turn causes your brain to reduce the pressure on the arteries, slowing your heart rate, relaxing your blood vessels, and releasing hormones that decrease adrenaline production. This automatically switches your body to relaxation mode.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Smile to the Sky Pose

Building on last week's Mountain pose is a variation of Upward Salute/Urdhva Hastasana called Smile to the Sky.

I learnt this new variation during the summer when I attended a week-long course to become an accredited trainer with the Youth Kids Mindfulness organisation and I am looking forward to adding this to my classes when I return to teaching in local primary schools this week.

The Youth Mindfulness Kids Programme  introduces mindfulness in a way that that is engaging, relevant, and enjoyable, making use of music, games, activities, experiments, videos, songs and group discussion to teach practices such as mindfulness of breathing and the cultivation of kind awareness.

Smile to the Sky comes in lesson 10 but you
 don't have to wait.
Simply begin in Mountain Pose, take a big breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Allow your next in breath to initiate a slow, gentle sweep of the arms over the head and as you arrive, look up, smile to the sky and let your exhale gently return your arms to your sides.
Repeat as many times as you wish.

Simply smiling brings huge benefits to your body and mind.
Smiling and laughing releases neurotransmitters which makes you feel happy.
Smiling and laughing also reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone and increases energy levels.
Smiling is infectious.
Ask my daughter who took this photograph in the middle of Liverpool's Cavern Walks shopping centre and met with many amused responses!

Monday, 3 September 2018

Happy New Year

September always seems like the start of a new year for me.
Maybe its because I once worked in education and spent a long time as a student.
 I always find fresh starts easier to make while the weather is warmer in September than the start of the calendar year in January!
It has been a while since I posted on this blog but my New Year's Resolution is to keep blogging on a regular basis.

Maybe you could make yoga part of your New Year Resolution too.

Over the summer I have enjoyed lots of short trips in this beautiful country where I have persuaded my long suffering husband to snap some pictures of my poses.
But there is a method in my photo madness.
I hope the beautiful settings will inspire you to keep practising.
This week's pose is Mountain Pose and this photograph was taken in May at the top of a tarn in the Lake District near Grasmere.

I love Mountain Pose.

It is my most practised pose as it can be done anywhere - on the mat, at the bus stop, queuing in the supermarket or indeed at the top of a tarn.
So why do I love it?

Mountain Pose or Tadasna is the foundation of all standing poses.
It can be used to centre the body before and after all poses.
Mountain Pose improves posture by strengthening the legs, core and muscles of the torso.
It offers the opportunity to explore balance of the body and mind.
By rooting down through the feet and rising through the crown it creates a sense of wellbeing.
With the arms by the side and slowly turning the palms to face forward there is a sense of opening across the heart.
BKS Iyengar said that it was impossible to feel depressed during this strong, steady stance.

So how do you do it?
Stand tall with your feet together, big toes touch, heels as close as is comfortable.
Lift the toes, spread them nice and wide and slowly lower back to the ground so your weight is balanced across a strong base.
Draw the thigh muscles upwards without locking the knees.
Keep the pelvis neutral as you engage the muscles of the buttocks and abdominals.
Lift your shoulders up to the ears and then let them fall back down as if you were wearing a suit of armour and the shoulder blades slide down to the buttocks.
The chin is parallel to the floor, the neck lengthened.
Imagine a pice of string attached to the crown of your head drawing your body upwards.
Now breathe, softly and deeply.
Visualise your body as strong and steady as a mountain.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Keep on Yogging

We all love a bit of yoga on the beach but in this country the opportunities are few and far between, right?
Yogging, a mixture of yoga and jogging is the answer to UK yoga on the beach all year round.
In Formby we meet most Sundays at 9.30am to enjoy a yoga class in the great outdoors.
On the last weekend of the month its a Saturday at the same time.
If its raining or the tide is high we head off to the pinewoods.
As you can see by the photographs it is a lovely way to feel energised.
Here we are with frost on the sand and still able to enjoy our yoga outside in temperatures of 0!
Small bursts of jogging help our muscles to stay warm and the blood to keep flowing before we make a few stops for some yoga sequences focusing on strength and flexibility before a blissful relaxation with the sounds of the waves rolling in.
If you fancy giving it a go email me on to book a place.
The class costs £5 and if you want to bring your son or daughter over the age of 11, one child comes free.
Just a few guidelines

1. We aim to run the classes in all weathers except heavy rain and strong winds. I will confirm the class 24 hours before on my Formby Yoga Facebook Page and Instagram Page.

2. Yogging is a mix of yoga and jogging. The jogging is just enough to keep your muscles warm so you can enjoy the benefits of yoga outside. Running shoes are advisable.

3. You will get sandy and gloves can protect your hands and keep you warm.

4. As the wind can whip up on the beach a hat, hoody or buff is recommended. 

5. Ending the class with Savasana is a lovely wind down but make sure you have layers to keep you warm if you feel the cold. A hat or hoody can keep you warm and stop sand getting in.

6. Please meet at our meeting point (confirmed when you book in) at 9.30am prompt. The class is an hour long but allow 5-15 minutes to run, jog or walk back from the beach.

Monday, 8 January 2018


This year is an exciting one for me as this week I give up my day job and venture full time into the world of yoga teaching.
It means I have more time for classes and events.
Last week I ran my very first monthly workshop looking at ways to make yoga a part of your daily routine with lots of tips, sequences and ideas.
February's Workshop on Saturday February 3rd costs £10 and we will spend two hours exploring the Ashtanga sequence.
I have new classes starting but for an up to date timetable here is my current list of classes.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to email me,

The February Workshop takes place at Holy Trinity Workshop between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday February 3rd and costs £10.

In the workshop we will be exploring the Ashtanga Sequence. 
Ashtanga Yoga is a dynamic system of yoga - ideal for burning up fat!

We will learn about breath, bandha and gaze and practice the 90 minute sequence including the sun salutations, standing postures, the most accessible poses of the primary series and the finishing sequence.

If you would like to book a place, please let me know as the spaces are limited.

Formby Yoga Timetable

Formby Yoga Classes

Monday: 8pm – 9pm
Strala RELAX at Holy Trinity Workshop

Tuesday: 6.30pm – 7.30pm
Teen Yoga at Absolute Yoga, Crosby £5 drop-in

Wednesday: 9.30am-10.30am (starts January 17th 2018)
Ashtanga inspired class at Holy Trinity Workshop

Wednesday: 7.30-8.30pm
Ashtanga inspired class at Formby Fitness

Thursday: 6.15pm-7.15pm Very Gentle Yoga at Holy Trinity Workshop

Friday: 6-7pm Strala RELAX Class at Formby Fitness 

Saturday: 9.15-10.15am
Dunes Leisure Centre, Southport, free to members

Sunday: 9.30am – 10.30am
Yogging (mix of yoga and jogging) in locations around Formby Beach - email or message to book and for further details

· If you have never been to Formby Fitness and are not yet a member you can try my Wednesday or Friday class for free. Just ring 01704 878887 to book.

· My classes at Holy Trinity and Yogging are £5 drop in or £25 for 6 class pass valid for 3 months. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Yoga in School

Recently, I had the opportunity of working with children at a Southport school and teaching weekly classes.
Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 attended a programme of yoga classes to help them relax and unwind during the Summer term.
Yoga is a wonderful tool for children as it challenges them physically, helping to improve strength and flexibility, while introducing a variety of breathing techniques and demonstrating the benefits of relaxation.
Simple exercises such as playful breathing techniques can increase the amount of oxygen in the blood resulting in a more alert and focused mind.
Yoga poses can also help relax the muscles, especially if children are spending long amounts of time hunched over their desks.”
At the end of the four programme, the children reflected on what they had enjoyed about the sessions and how Yoga makes them feel.
Chloe said, “Yoga makes me feel grateful, still, happy and peaceful,” whilst Igor, aged seven, explained, “My favourite part of yoga is the Sun Dance because it feels like a real sun and it lights me up like sunshine.”
A spokesperson for the school said, “The children thoroughly enjoyed the Yoga sessions which have had a positive impact on how children behave around the school.
“In Year 1, the Yoga lessons have helped children to develop listening skills, observational skills and improve their ability to follow instructions. Children now line up now in stick pose and lips closed!  
“Thank you so much for coming to our school!”
If you would like to know more please email

Outdoor Yoga

I love any opportunity to practise yoga outdoors as these photos show.   And I'm excited that after a summer hiatus, Formby Yog...