Aches and Pains? Try functional yoga and explore your inner landscape with our yoga expert Jackie Heffer-Cooke on Monday evenings at YogaBuds.
This month at YogaBuds we have been thinking about functional yoga, yoga to practically help those persistent niggles of the body. As people we have all kinds of idiosyncrasies, and so do our bodies. One shoulder higher than the other, one leg longer, a misaligned pelvis or an old injury that plays us up. Sometimes it can be common problems like herniated discs, mild arthritis or sciatic nerves causing discomfort.
I have had first-hand experience of this recently with the onset of plantar fasciitis in early summer. This is a strong pain in the mid-foot area. I went to visit my friend and colleague Rosie Taylor a physiotherapist and great yoga teacher, who quickly assessed a couple of slightly herniated discs. This blended with a misaligned pelvis and a high outer facing instep, means running on roads and wearing constant flip flops may not be doing my body any good. She gave me some ideas for exercises, and off I went to research ways I could incorporate necessary and helpful yoga into my daily practise. As well as buying some more supportive shoes (RIP flip-flops, my long and trusted friends, sob)
It has led me on this journey of tapping into yoga teachers such as Sarah Ramsden, sports yoga guru who has trained Ryan Giggs and the like, and examining aspects of physicality sometimes overlooked, but fundamentally important to our inner landscape.
Fascia, our inner skin
We are all aware of muscular skeletal problems but less people are aware of fascia and the impact it has when it is ‘tight’. Fascia is the ‘inner skin’ that covers our insides, our muscles and organs. You can imagine it as an inner cling film. It’s that translucent inner layer that holds everything together (an example is the inner skin you may have seen if boning a chicken). When we have issues in our bodies, injuries, unsymmetrical limbs, poor posture, this inner ‘cling film’ can get tight and twisted, and this can often be what is causing us feelings of tightness and tension in the body. So, week one of practice this month we focused on this inner core and any pulls inside our body whilst practising. We focused on forward bends, tiger, warriors, postures which would help draw attention so we could examine ourselves more.
Psoas, a skeletal muscle
Last week we considered the psoas in our practise. The psoas is an unusual muscle as it is a skeletal muscle, attached to the bone. The psoas is significant, particularly in a world of desk sitting, as it joins our lower back to our thigh and is responsible for helping us get from curled foetal position to straight. If we sit at a desk most of the day our psoas will probably shorten, leading to postural issues when standing, and possibly therefore aches and pains. So, in our practise we worked deeply to extend and stretch the psoas with cobras, upward facing dogs, triangles, lunges and twists.
Active Feet and The Midline
This week we are examining the foot, our foundations to our body. The significance on where and how we place our feet can really highlight inner issues. Keeping our feet and our midline active can really help stabilise the body, and if we can learn great personal posture, we are a step towards greater health.
Mindful of our Inner Landscape
Of course, always when we practise yoga, even with functional yoga, we are mindful of what our study is teaching us. Our frustrations with our bodies has a large effect on the mind, likewise our frustrations in our mind has a large effect on the body. Body tension is not always about a herniated disc, or a misaligned hip. The daily mental stress we experience settles and sits in these muscles and in this fascia too. Luckily yoga is a superhero, coming to our aid, in these mindful practices too.
Examine your own personal landscape
So, this month our practise is a wise practise, hopefully providing some useful knowledge, that you can self-apply to help in everyday life, teaching us how to self-examine our own personal landscape. Next month, well, let’s see where yoga takes us, but after just finishing a children’s yoga certification I feel a playful superflow month coming on…
Jackie’s YogaBud classes can be found at The Norwich School for Girls, Newmarket Road on a Monday night. She also teaches mini retreats, mindfulness for beginners and holds regular retreats in Norfolk, Suffolk and Italy.
For more information contact us through our website or call 01603 631900… or Book your sessions here…