The power of our diaphram and how yoga can strengthen it.

this short article I will be looking at the function and importance of the diaphragm, how it affects health, and what we can do to make it work optimally.

Yoga literature is full of descriptions about the power of the breath, and its connection to health, vitality and energy. We hear a lot about Prana, but very little about what we can actually do to harness the breath for everyday good health. It is not an exaggeration to say that a nation’s health depends on proper breathing, and yet this simple fact is generally ignored throughout the Health Sector.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuf

I have just attended a wonderful yoga workshop and it has reminded me of the importance of our diaphram and how through yoga practice we can strengthen it. The health benefits which arise from exercising out diaphram is considerable, it helps to alleviate back pain, stress, our posture, increase oxygen supply to our organs. Within weeks of regular yoga practice you will notice the benefits.

The diaphragm is a very important muscle, it operates like a pump bringing blood back to the heart. When the diaphragm pumps stronger, the venous return increases. And increased venous return increases the hearts cardio-vascular efficiency. An optimally functioning diaphragm is directly linked to good cardio-vascular function.

The diaphragm is dome-shaped and serves as the main muscle of respiration and plays a vital role in the breathing process. Also known as the thoracic diaphragm, it serves as an important anatomical landmark that separates the thorax, or chest, from the abdomen. The origins of the diaphragm are found along the lumbar vertebrae of the spine and the inferior border of the ribs and sternum.


Below are some of the yoga practices which helps to massage and strengthen the diaphram:

Belly Breathing

Lying on the back, bring awareness to the diaphragm by breathing ‘down’ into the belly.  The descending diaphragm is pushing on the internal organs, causing the belly to rise. Link the rising belly to the depth of inhalation. Once this connection is established, add a gentle weight,  also pay attention to the exhalation, making sure it is complete. As the diaphragm strengthens, more weight can be added.

Frontal Breathing

Lying on the front, breathe into the belly against the weight of the body. Feel the rise and fall of the body with the breath, enjoying the sensation of full and complete inhales and exhales.

Cobra Lift

This is a great way to strengthen both the back muscles and the diaphragm. Clasp hands on the back and lift the head and chest off the floor using the inhalation to lift and relaxing slightly down on the exhalation. Make sure the feet stay on the floor. As the diaphragm descends against resistance there will be a distinct lifting of the torso against gravity as the diaphragm supports the muscles of the lumbar spine. This exercise can be intensified by varying the arm position; from mild with hands on the back to strong with the arms stretched out in front. Repeat as often as desired, always working to synchronize the breath to the movement.

A more detailed account of the importance of our diaphragm and how to exercise it is in the January's edition of Amrita, the Yoga Alliance Magazine.

How Yoga Helps

There are simple exercises which are suitable for all levels of student, and the results can be impressive, with alleviation of back pain, improved posture and fuller breathing within weeks of regular practice.

Belly Breathing

Lying on the back, bring awareness to the diaphragm by breathing ‘down’ into the belly.  The descending diaphragm is pushing on the internal organs, causing the belly to rise. Link the rising belly to the depth of inhalation. Once this connection is established, add a weight (start with something like a bag of potatoes) and attempt to lift the weight through the same distance as previously. Also pay attention to the exhalation, making sure it is complete. As the diaphragm strengthens, more weight can be added.

Frontal Breathing

Lying on the front, breathe into the belly against the weight of the body. Feel the rise and fall of the body with the breath, enjoying the sensation of full and complete inhales and exhales.

Cobra Lift

This is a great way to strengthen both the back muscles and the diaphragm. Clasp hands on the back and lift the head and chest off the floor using the inhalation to lift and relaxing slightly down on the exhalation. Make sure the feet stay on the floor. As the diaphragm descends against resistance there will be a distinct lifting of the torso against gravity as the diaphragm supports the muscles of the lumbar spine. This exercise can be intensified by varying the arm position; from mild with hands on the back to strong with the arms stretched out in front. Repeat as often as desired, always working to synchronize the breath to the movement.

Intensifying the Practice

For more advanced students classical Hatha Yoga offers incredible techniques. Although these are described in the language of Tantra, they have physiological effects Yogis were clearly very familiar with.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuhttp://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram

this short article I will be looking at the function and importance of the diaphragm, how it affects health, and what we can do to make it work optimally.

Yoga literature is full of descriptions about the power of the breath, and its connection to health, vitality and energy. We hear a lot about Prana, but very little about what we can actually do to harness the breath for everyday good health. It is not an exaggeration to say that a nation’s health depends on proper breathing, and yet this simple fact is generally ignored throughout the Health Sector.

- See more at: http://amritayogamagazine.com/2016/01/08/more-power-to-the-diaphram/#sthash.fDyIP5mj.dpuf

Why teach Pregnancy Yoga?

I was sat in a café the other day with my friend, Helen, she is 12 weeks pregnant and was asking me why I teach Antenatal Yoga, (Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal Yoga). She also wanted to know what benefits she would achieve if she attended one of my classes.

I explained that I had very complicated pregnancies and had to be consulted led, which involved numerous appointments, scans and stress. I also experienced a lot of pelvic pain. My first child was stillborn and with my second they did no know if he would survive the full pregnancy. I was always worried he may die at any point.

I bought a book by Francoise Freedman, the founder of Birthlight and used it to teach myself pregnancy yoga. I practised it every day when I was pregnant for the third time and found the exercises really helpful with keeping calm, building my strength so I could have an active birth and using the breath practices during my labour, to reduce medical intervention. In the end I had to be induced but I had a completely different birth experience from my first and second pregnancies; I had no need for pain relief, I felt calm and in control.

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I explained to Helen that I believe a lot of women do not realise they can help themselves to achieve an active, calm, healthy pregnancy/ birth and can use Yoga to do so. I wanted to help other ladies achieve a birth they wished for by practising Antenatal yoga and giving them the right tools to do so hence why I became a teacher.

Three years ago I trained with Bahia Yoga School in Nottingham to become a Yoga Alliance Teacher and then trained with Françoise Freedman from Birthlight, a friendly charity and teacher-training organisation focusing on the holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and babyhood. The charity uses body-based practices inspired from yoga and traditional modes of parenting supported by scientific research and in depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology. It is also accredited by the Royal College of Midwives.

I now teach classes in Burton Joyce, Southwell and Sherwood, have a look at my website www.yoganatal.co.uk for a timetable.  I have a great time helping ladies and their partners prepare for their birth. It’s a great experience as I see the ladies develop their yoga practice, become more strong, calm and flexible. I always get a text or email from my students letting me know when one of them has had their baby. It’s great hearing their birth experience. Then I see the ladies again in the postnatal classes. Most of my students have never done Yoga before and a number of them are second or third time Mums looking for a bit of ‘Me Time’ and an opportunity to chat with other Mums to Be.

Holidays

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It's that time of year again. A good needed break for everyone. No yoga classes between the 28th July and the 4th August. I look forward to seeing you soon. Enjoy the summer Ann x

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