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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Boyfriend and I have spent the last 4 days in Siem Reap exploring the temples of Angkor, having massages and eating banana pancakes. Siem Reap is a beautiful reprieve after the chaos of Phnom Penh and words cannot describe how amazing the Angkor temples are.

Yesterday we headed to the Peace Cafe across the river from the Old Market for a morning yoga class and some breakfast but when we got there the yoga class was cancelled because the teacher was away. My disappointment was palpable to say the least, since we’ve been in Cambodia my yoga asana practice has been non-existent and I was really looking forward to giving my body a well deserved stretch.

Peace Cafe Sign

Yoga-less and slightly despondent we sat down to order some breakfast. Shortly after an American couple showed up asking about the yoga class and were also told it had been cancelled, at which point a Welsh guy who had been sitting having a coffee said that he had come for the class as well. They all seemed really keen, so I offered to lead the class if the cafe could provide the room and the mats. So somehow, in that random way things seem to happen when you are travelling, I ended up teaching a yoga class to a few Farangs above a Cambodian cafe.

Peace CafePeace Cafe Comfy Chairs

The cafe had a great yoga space above the kitchen and afterwards I sat down to a lovely (read: hippy) breakfast of scrambled tofu, a green smoothie and an oatmeal cookie. Peace cafe is an absolute vegetarian paradise, if you’re ever in the area make sure you stop by the food is great and the juices are uber-fresh.

Peace Cafe Green Smoothie

L xx

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Last night I went to my first AntiGravity Yoga class at House of Yoga in Redfern. If you haven’t heard of AntiGravity Yoga it’s basically a series of yoga postures done using the assistance of a big hammock. Upon walking into the studio at House of Yoga I was greeted by rows of white silk hammocks that swing from bolts in the roof. The hammocks are big enough to completely envelope you in your own little cocoon, or as the teacher Holly described it, like being back in the womb.

AntiGravity Yoga

We start the class relaxing in the aforementioned silky white cocoon, and then get straight into the good stuff; inversions, we spent the next five odd minutes hanging upside down with our legs intertwined in our hammocks. One of the great things about AntiGravity Yoga is that it makes inversions a lot more accessible; it takes the pressure off your neck that you might experience in headstand and also removes some of that fear that often pops up when trying to get your body upside down because the hammock just feels so darn safe and supportive. Inversions are fantastic for improving your circulation, alleviate compression in the spine and get you to see the world from a different perspective. So, if you are planning on heading to an AntiGravity class be prepared to spend a bit of time upside down, however if you have high blood pressure or detached retinas it’s best to avoid inversions.

After hanging upside down for a while we moved into some hip openers and back bends, including a very ambitious attempt at a standing split on my part. Then we worked on gripping the hammock and using our upper body strength to pull ourselves up into different positions ie pike & straddle. In regular, run-of-the-mill, gravity bound yoga there is a decent amount push (chataranga) but there is no pull, so it was great to be able to work the biceps and back muscles.

To finish off the class we laid back down in the silky white cocoon for blissful savasana, and it was one Ah-mazing savasana, set off by the gentle swaying of the hammock and the supportive feeling of being gathered up in the light white fabric.

There is defintely a space for  AntiGravity Yoga alongside my regular Hatha practice, it is challenging, exhilarating, blissful and oh so fun. If you feel like shaking up your yoga practice and trying something different, give it a go.

Check out this video from lululemon to give you an idea what to expect in an AntiGravity class:

After just one class, do you think it’s too soon to get an AntiGravity hammock installed in my house?

L xx

Sleeping Puppy

I’m a big advocate for a good night’s sleep, it’s essential for recharging the body and the mind. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a poor immune system, not to mention irritability and moodiness.

Sleep is also important for your brain; the process of memory consolidation happens when we sleep, allowing the brain to commit new information we have learnt throughout the day. Needless to say, sleep is important for us to be less walking zombie and more functioning human being.

I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I have WAY too much on my mind and I’ve been spending time lying in bed making mental checklists and silently singing Insomnia by Faithless instead of sleeping.  After about 20 mins of not falling asleep I usually decide it’s time to implement one of my ‘Go to Sleep’ tactics.

I almost always have success with at least one of these techniques, although sometimes I do need to go through all three before I get success. Next time you can’t sleep give one a go and see if they work for you.

  • Ujjayi breathing – this is a common breathing technique used in yoga and involves constricting the throat so that it feels like you are breathing through a straw. It will create a small hissing sound, almost like a gentle snore. When you are having trouble sleeping practice a few rounds of ujjayi,  taking slow deep breaths and focussing on the sound made, this will help to quiet the mind and prepare you for sleep.
  • Stream Visualisation – this is a visualisation technique that I was taught by my boss a few years back, it involves visualising that you are lying beside a flowing river or stream. Once you have that image begin counting slowly from 1 to 10, if a thought pops up and interrupts your counting place it into the stream and watch it float away, then start counting from 1 to 10 again. You may have to do this a few times but eventually your mind will be clear and you will get so bored with counting to 10 you’ll drop right off to sleep.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation – this is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing each of your muscles, I like to do this from head to toe but you can also go in the opposite direction. There is a variation of this often used in yoga nidra meditation where instead of tensing the muscle you gently place the focus on each part of the body. Both of these variations will help to relax your entire body and stop you from creating those mental checklists.

What are your favourite techniques for helping you get to sleep? Anyone count sheep?

L xx

Most people are familiar with the concept of Yin and Yang, they are the two interdependent yet opposing forces that make up the universe; dark and light, cold and hot, passive and active, etc, etc.

You might think that all yoga is inherently yin, however when compared to other forms of yoga such as sweaty vinyasa or physically demanding ashtanga, Yin Yoga is much slower and passive.

Yin and Yang

Yin Yoga targets connective tissue, stretching around the joints as opposed to stretching the muscle. Anyone familiar with exercise or sports will know that generally adding pressure or strain to the joints is a no-no, mostly because when done incorrectly the chances of injury are quite high. In Yin Yoga the idea is to gently stretch the connective tissue by holding a pose for a generous amount of time (at least 2-3 minutes), resulting in lovely luscious connective tissue which is stronger and longer.

The long holds and slow movements foster a deep sense of relaxation, which is absolutely divine after a long day at work. Most of the poses are either seated or reclining and holding the pose for a  long time is great for flexibility and calming the mind. However, for this exact reason it can also be one of the more mentally challenging yoga practices. If you find it hard to shut off or let go of thoughts, Yin Yoga will definitely be hard at first, but if you stick with it the benefits will be amazing; quieter mind, healthy and happy joints, stillness, mental stability and lower stress levels.

L xx

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