By Charlotte Dodson
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What are the main benefits of yoga?
Yoga creates flexibility on both a physical and emotional level, and builds strength within every facet of your being - including in the mental and spiritual realms. A regular practice will serve to tone up your whole body, as it works to create both enduring strength and limber length through a range of poses.
If someone did a small sequence every morning, which pose(s) would you suggest?
'Sun salutations' are a great way to start every morning. They'll warm you up internally, and work to tone your body in every way. Afterwards, you'll feel alive and energised, ready to embrace any challenges that come your way that day.
Sun salutations work to open you up and build your confidence and strength in all areas of your life. The sequence includes: forward bends (rejuvenating), downward dog (energising), backbends (opening and alivening), warrior (strengthening), plank (challenging). The constant movements you create during the sun salutation series will build strength, stamina and flexibility.
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And what improvements should someone expect after, say, a month if they do this every morning?
Practicing a regular routine for approx 20-to-40 minutes on a daily basis will soon start to create changes within your body shape that are very positive indeed! You'll start to see definition in your arms, legs, and abdomen; your energy levels will increase; you'll be massaging your internal organs - and all this will make you feel on top of the world. You'll feel positively 'A-L-I-V-E'.
What are the main benefits of meditating? How would you suggest someone got into it – say, sit quietly for 5 minutes a day?
A yoga practice is, itself, a form of meditation. The point of a yoga practice is to be able to sit quietly and comfortably in meditation. The more time and space you create for yourself, the more that the forces of the universe will give back in return - in all areas of your life. You'll feel you have all of the time in the world to focus on your ultimate new years goals. Here is a great five minute 'jump-starter' for the beginner: Come into a cross legged position (you can use a wall for support) and stay focused on your breath. You're breath is the key to living in the present moment. If your mind wanders (whether dwelling in the past, or imagining the future), always come back to the power of living in the NOW, by resting your mind onto your breath. Start with 3-5 minutes and build gradually. It may take a few attempts to even sit still, but all the same, it will bring a quiet calm to your inner and outer worlds.. You'll feel calm, still and completely content after meditating in this way and giving yourself a precious 'time out'.
What are the benefits of standing- and sitting straighter and pulling one’s shoulders back?
Yoga improves your postural alignment - giving you confidence, focus and gracefulness, and thus encouraging you to be the best you can be. As you sit with your spine upright, you'll feel proud to be exactly the way you are; and as your chest opens with your shoulders pinned back and down, your 'feeling' heart is given the space to expand and simply 'be free' - ready to give and receive equally.
5 MINUTE TIPS
Walk with pride
Yoga changes your body shape for the better, and makes you taller! With every step you make, feel a golden thread lift the crown of your head higher up to the sky. By the time you reach your destination, you'll feel taller, leaner and more confident as you walk with your head held high, supported by a strong spine.
Exhale any tension away
Before an interview, performance or any situation where you need to be focused, but feel anxious - remember to EXHALE! Take a few deeper than normal breaths, then make a deep sigh or 'arrrrrr' sound as you exhale; you can repeat this process 5-to-10 times. You'll release any nervousness, and be ready to embrace the situation ahead of you with graceful confidence.
Make it part of your day
You drop a pen... when you kneel down to pick it up, simply hang forward - hold this pose for a minute to rejuvenate and stretch out your whole body. You pick up your childs toy, and 'squat' - hold the pose for a minute as it builds leg strength as well as inner courage. As you chat to your best friend and your phone is glued to your right ear - lean over to your right side for a lateral stretch, opening up your left side. As you tie up your shoes laces, go for a twist, your digestion will be thankful. What all of these examples demonstrate is that Yoga is a part of us - it is a part of our everyday existence, every minute of every day!
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