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Articulate Pandiculate

Articulate what?!!! I’m talking about all things Somatics. Somatics who? Pandiculate what? No, I’ve not gone mad, take a  read below and you’ll discover it’s all about instinct… I don’t believe there are many folks out there who live without some level of tension , which is uncomfortable and distracting enough but chronic muscular pain or tension is miserable, often unbearable.  Repetitive movements, lack of movement (like sitting at a desk for long periods or driving),  long term stress and anxiety, surgery, or injury all contribute to tight muscles that may lead to pain, tension, restricted mobility and poor posture. Understanding why muscles become tight in the first place is key to making lasting change and living a life with more ease, mobility and flexibility. When I refer to ease, imagine not having  tight shoulders that constantly distract you  and when I refer to mobility and flexibility I’m not talking about attempting pretzel like Yoga poses to keep you supple, I’m referring to having the ability to put your socks on with grace and dignity or, walking with confidence, ease and stability. The thing is, as we live our busy lives we are unaware that we are not giving our muscles chance to relax after they have finished their task in hand and that over time we don’t notice that our muscles are getting tighter and tighter until we feel unable to reach back for the seat belt or one day or we bend down to the bottom cupboard and our back suddenly goes “out”…the reality is there’s really no “suddenly” at all,  those back muscles just became so...

Everybody’s free to wear Sunscreen

Earlier this year I was chatting with my mum about the scene in Shirley Valentine where Milandra the daughter comes back home to live and expects her mum to pick up just as things were before….Milandra: “Ah mam, make us a hot chocolate and bring it up to my room”.…..Shirley dutifully makes the chocolate before realising what she’s doing. My mum (who did look a bit like Shirley in the 80’s with her permed hair……. a-hem we actually had matching perms, my mum and me) tells me she has never seen this film! With matching perms long gone we watched the film together; it came out in 1989 so I must have been around 18 or 19 when I first saw it…….I can remember thinking how old Shirley looked, how odd but funny is was to talk to a wall or rock, what on earth was calamari and I would Never Ever go swimming naked in the sea and where were the nightclubs on that Mykonos? I laughed in all the right places but could only imagine what Shirley was feeling…… fast forward 27 years and this time the film made me cry…… So many things in the film resonated with me, the fact that I was now older than the character herself and just like Shirley was looking back, where had the 27 years between seeing the film gone? “Shirley Valentine: I have allowed myself to lead this little life, when inside me there was so much more. And it’s all gone unused. And now it never will be. Why do we get all this life if we...

Stopped in my tracks

Have you ever read a line in a book that has literally stopped you in your tracks? Today, this is what I read “There is no one who will care as much about you as you” It is quoted in a book called “Move without Pain” by Martha Peterson and the quote is by Thomas Hanna who developed a movement method called Hanna Somatics. Peterson’s book shares the movements created by Hanna. I am taking a course soon in Hanna Somatics to add to my  toolkit of movements to help students and clients find more ease and less pain. I love the idea that movement creates more movement. We are designed to move, so we need to do more of it….to help our tense, stressed, chronically tired and often painful bodies it needs to be mindful and slow, to help the neuromuscular connections re-set and relax chronically tight muscles. As I read the book and practise these new movements, I feel my body unravelling and letting go of deeper layers of tension. I also realise how actually some of them don’t feel new, they are familiar and instinctive like the movements babies and toddlers make. I also realise Hanna Somatics movements and ideas align so beautifully with my style of yoga, they are mindful and require you to connect to your body and senses. These movements make as much sense and connection to me as the quote did. As I read that quote I thought that is exactly what I try to get over to my students and clients, but not in those words…..I wish I had come up...

Fasten your seatbelts

I don’t know why but for some reason as we move through December and hurtle towards the New Year I have an image of an aeroplane banking around ready to descend for landing, bringing the end of this 365 day journey to a close. I’m sticking with all things airline for this blog; a flight, just like our life, has sunset takeoffs, bumpy landings, turbulent times, and periods of in-flight entertainment and just as we make preparations for landing we do so for the season and New Year ahead. Before we descend into the frantic baggage reclaim that is Christmas shopping, let’s not forget from where we took off, was it an EasyJet or more of Ryanair flight for you? It’s all too easy to get entangled with the tinsel and begin to focus on resolutions and not celebrate the highs and learn from the lows of the year. Have you really patted yourself on the back for enduring some turbulent times and high- fived yourself for your successes? How about the times that felt more like an emergency landing or in lockdown? What did you learn about yourself? We can only learn, heal and celebrate if we give ourselves the time and space to do so. What I have learned as I reflect on this year and what I currently witness in my family and friends is that we are more resourceful, courageous and inspiring than we give ourselves credit for; so this Christmas, sit back, relax and give yourself some...

Our Bodies are like Gardens

It may or may not come as a surprise to you when I say we need to take care of ourselves. We need to tend to our minds and bodies like we would a garden and just like a garden if we don’t want it to become overgrown and out of control, it needs regular attention, yet we expect our bodies to act like machines, mindlessly acting out our days, expecting everything to be in working order. Gardening is such a good analogy for our bodies, because, there is always something to do to keep on top of the “weeds” and there is always something that requires our attention, there is always more…… For any garden to thrive, it requires space to grow, so you need to remove old and dying plants, to make space for the new, it requires nutritious soil, water and light, (think of letting go of bad habits and creating mental space for a calmer way of life, healthy foods and drink and of course getting outside to feel the sun on your skin). For anyone who has a garden, once it’s cleared it doesn’t stop there, the process of maintaining a garden is the same as establishing it, but it requires the mindset of little and often; I like to think of pruning as our equivalent of moving, pruning helps to achieve continuous growth and so for us, good, healthy movement allows us to maintain skeletal alignment, brain to muscle communication, co-ordination and bone density.   Gardens are at the mercy of the weather and just like our bodies, accidents and injuries happen that...

Sometimes I make myself LOL! (Laugh out Loud)

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote my last blog and just like for many, a lot has happened. There is nothing like the illness of a loved one to give you a shake to re-evaluate your life. Illness strips life down to it’s most raw, real and vulnerable state, testing your resolve, compassion, patience and family ties. It’s also unforgiving with your time and priorities and it soon highlights the tasks , the additional things we believe we have to do, because, well, we feel we have to do them and efficiently decides for you your priorities. Like Alan Sugar, “it cuts to the chase” Take for example my blog, I was told if I started writing a blog, it had to be weekly and so off I went doing just that, because that’s what you do. Twitter, Facebook and all other aspects of social media, you have to be on it now if you want to be successful. I was beginning to feel that my head was swimming with blog and social media content and there was little space for what was important and if I didn’t keep up to date, I put myself under pressure and criticised myself. Honestly, looking back I make myself laugh out loud 🙂 I re-evaluated my teaching schedule and realised I had managed to create a “chasing my own tail” schedule, so I focused on what was working best for me and streamlined it. It has been so free-ing! I may have lost my summer but gained so much more, a healthier dad, closer to my sisters and finding my...

Are you listening?

You might be surprised or not to learn that our bodies need care and attention. They require movement, rest, hydration and healthy nourishment in order to help us do the things we ask of it. I often think most folks out there take more care of their cars and for animal lover’s, more care of their pets, than they do themselves. Our bodies respond to stimulus and these can be physical, such as repetitive movements or spending too long sitting, playing sports such as rugby whereby the body sustains an injury or perhaps dancing where bodies look lithe and supple but maybe strained or pushed in order to perform. Or, the stimuli can be a lack of something or an imbalance of something. It is quite simply amazing what are bodies can do for us from managing the demands of long shifts on a hospital ward to having the will and determination to break life harming habits. I’ve spent the last week at close hand watching how amazing the body is, having spent time visiting my father in hospital. Before our eyes my father’s body was shutting down down to due to depression, alcohol, lack of hydration and food. This was my dad’s body literally screaming out for his attention. I’ve watched as his body and mind went through a journey of healing, of detoxing and rebuilding and how he has responded to the intervention and care of our amazing NHS staff. It’s all too easy to sit in judgement of people with addictions or have opinions on how to overcome them. But I think we all neglect ourselves...

Going down for a long stretch…..

The public gallery was standing room only and as I sat in the dock at Lincoln Crown Court, it felt as if all eyes were on me. My barrister had made representations on my behalf and with a beating heart I awaited the Judges sentencing remarks. His Honour Judge Michael Heath told me to stand and before speaking peered over the top of his spectacles in that manner solely reserved to one of Her Majesty’s Judge’s; “You will go down for a very long stretch” My crime? Resigning after 13 years working for the Court Service and those words were part of the valedictory address arranged by my colleagues at the Court. Of course by then they all knew I was keen to focus on teaching yoga, hence the Judges witty comments. That was over 10 years ago when I was into stretching to ease the tension in my body. Since then I’ve moved away from that to focus on improving how my body moves rather than just stretching it out and since I’ve adopted these changes in both how I teach and in my personal practice, I no longer have the urge to want to stretch. I no longer have tight shoulders, calves or hamstrings. I’m not saying that I am as bendy as an olympic gymnast but for me, as long as I feel ease (physically and mentally) and I can pursue the things in life that fulfil me; that’s when I know I’m on the right track and the ease filters down into all aspects of my life. When I’m working with new clients or when...

Reasons to Retreat 1,2,3…….

Last weekend I had a working weekend away at Champney’s Springs Spa resort. I already teach three classes there each week, but every month they also arrange for teachers to go in and offer extra classes to Guest Present. I was able to offer my style of yoga to even more folks who travel from near and far to enjoy the facilities at the spa. As I was teaching in the evening I took my bolsters along to offer a resortative yoga class too. For those lucky enough to be there it was almost like a mini retreat and it was a tiny bit like me running a retreat but not quite, in fact as lovely as it is you just can’t quite replicate what it feels like to being on a yoga retreat. So, what’s in a retreat? I start from what do I want to get out of a retreat, my time is precious and as I work hard there are things that I have on my checklist that I look for in a retreat, so if this is what I expect than this is what I also offer….. For me, location, location, location is the starting point and not only does it have to be comfortable it has to be tranquil, calm and have a spritiual atmosphere that is often lost in hotels or resorts. There has to be yoga of course and over a weekend, classes in the morning, early evening and “Pyjama Savasana’s” (guided relaxations in your PJ’s) before bed. A combination of yoga you can do, including restoravtive, which reduces tension and rebalances your...

Why Practise with me?

  It’s not often I sing my own praises but this recent testimonial explains why coming to one of my classes is so beneficial. I’m sharing it because I sigh when I see that almost all imagery of Yoga in magazines, online and on TV is often of very bendy, lithe folks, I can totally see why people feel they need to be flexible to do yoga and so are put off even giving it a go. There are some jungle drums beating out there that are beginning to say that classic Yoga Asana is not the panacea that many believe. Yoga is amazing and I am grateful for the part is has played in my life,  it gets our bodies moving, but often too far and sometimes with strong adjustments or a sense of feeling One should be in a certain posture which may lead to strain and even pain (which was my story)….. For most of us, the body just needs to move and explore moving in the various directions it is capable of, all too often our bodies and minds are just crying out for our attention, simple, mindful movements with awareness of our breath is mostly what it needs and as you will read in the testimonial it doesn’t mean into pretzel like poses So, if you would like to give yoga a go, get in touch to discuss how I can help you…. ‘All About Liz’ I’m sure the picture is familiar –frazzled, juggling too much, not sleeping, feeling ratty and agitated with those around you and cuttingly sharp with those you love. It’s all...

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