4 Ways Yoga Can Help You Sleep

4 Ways Yoga Can Help You Sleep

‘I slept amazingly for the first time in ages!’ said a student recently a week after she’d taken her first yoga class. Actually, I hear that a lot. But why? Why do people find that they sleep more soundly after yoga? Here are just a few of the reasons…

1. Yoga reduces stress levels by relaxing the body AND mind. Lower stress levels make it easier to drift off.

2. Yoga can ease physical discomfort. Gentle movement before bed can help ease stiff or sore muscles allowing you to get more comfortable and drift off to sleep.

3. Yoga can help you redirect your attention. Instead of lying in bed thinking through the things you need to do or things you haven't done or rehashing anxiety or frustration from your day, yoga can help you learn to redirect your focus. Try this at bedtime: Lie down in bed in the dark and get comfortable.  Close your eyes and take 5 deep breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Let your breath return to normal and silently say to yourself ‘I am calm and relaxed’ over and over. You don’t need to attach meaning to the words. You don’t need to believe them. Just think them over and over to help you move away from the noise and into a quieter headspace which will allow you to fall asleep.

4. Yoga gives you something better to do. Rather then staring at a screen before bed, try a few gentle stretches instead. If you spend time on your phone before bed every night, rather then calming yourself, you are stimulating your brain which is hindering your ability to fall asleep. Try some of the gentle stretches below instead.

3 Yoga Poses To Practice Before Bed 

Legs Up The Wall

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Supta Baddha Konasana

 

Childs Pose

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5 Simple Tips To Bring Mindfulness Into Your Day

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In this busy world, the mind is constantly being pulled in different directions, scattering our thoughts and emotions. There is no doubt about it – modern day life can be stressful. Mindfulness techniques promise to help us feel calm and centred; however many of us are often very busy during the day. So, here are five simple tips that anyone can use to find some much-needed calm on a daily basis.  

1. Engage the five senses

So often in life we are not focussed on what we are actually doing – letting our minds wander into the past or fixating on future plans. Try noticing where you tend to zone out (e.g. doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, driving) and practice bringing more awareness to that activity. By engaging the five senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight) in everyday activities you connect with your body and give yourself a mental break. 

2. Belly breathing

Belly breathing is a great tool because it can be used anywhere to help reduce feelings of anxiety. When we are stressed it is common to start breathing in a short, shallow way. To practice belly breathing, place your hands on your stomach, close your eyes and taking a deep breath so that your hands rise and fall. Repeat this two more times. By doing this you are maximising the amount of oxygen that you are taking into your lungs, which will help you to feel calm and relaxed. 

3. Stay away from with social media and emails first thing in the morning

When waking up, it may feel natural to reach for your phone to check emails, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Bur these can wait. By delaying using our phones in the morning we have more time for other activities which are healthier and more productive. Give yourself time to connect with your self before connecting to social media.

4. When you treat yourself, relish it

Treats are special because they aren’t everyday occurrences, so make sure that you are actually enjoying them in the moment. Whether you are taking a bath, eating chocolate or simply sitting down after a long day, the experience will be even better if you let yourself enjoy it! 

5. Try writing a to-do list by hand

Whether you do this first thing in the morning or last thing at night, writing a to-do list can lessen anxiety because it brings attention to exactly what you have to do throughout the day. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the never-ending stream of tasks that need to be completed. But, when we focus on exactly what we need to do today, we break big goals into smaller pieces and things become more manageable.   

 

Yoga For Men

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DO MEN DO YOGA?

One of the most common questions I am asked is whether men do yoga. The answer of course is yes, men do yoga! But there is a higher percentage of female students at this studio then men and I’ve been investigating why that is…

‘I did yoga once at a studio near my house and I was the worst one there.’ I can almost guarantee you the room had multiple women in it having the same thought.  This is not a ‘man thing’, it’s an ego thing. Yoga will help with this.

‘It’s easy and I like to be challenged.’ You need to try more classes because some yoga classes will have you in a pile of sweat on the floor.

‘It’s for women.’ I’ll just say this: www.boysofyoga.com

I’m too competitive to be in a room full of bendy women when I can’t touch my toes.’ First.. you do realise that touching your toes doesn’t make you better then anyone else, right? It’s not going to get you a million pounds or even a cookie. So, who cares?! I mean if there was a cookie involved, I may be more sympathetic but there isn't so please let go of the idea that touching your toes is yoga.

Here are some reasons why men should try yoga:

Yoga can help you in your other workouts
By improving strength, increasing flexibility and building muscle, you'll be able to lift more in the gym and prevent injury in sports like running and cycling.

It can help relieve back pain
Back problems are common amongst men, especially if you've got a desk job, do a lot of driving or are particularly tall. And I hate to break it to you guys, but it's only going to get worse with age. Yoga can help with poor posture, misalignment and will help strengthen your core to reduce and possibly even totally eradicate back pain.

Stress relief
Yoga is the ideal way to focus the mind, switch off and let go of stress. Life is crazy and we all need a bit of slow-time to balance it out and keep the crazy at bay. Yoga will teach you relaxation techniques that you can use to stay calm beyond your mat.

Better sex
Yes, you heard it guys...yoga will make you better in bed. Aside from improving your flexibility, endurance, strength and giving you more body confidence, it's actual scientific fact that doing yoga speeds the release of hormones that boost arousal and increase blood flow to those key areas. So there’s that…

Better sleep
A yoga class will leave you feeling physically relaxed and mentally calm, both of which add up to  good night's sleep.

Other health benefits
The power of yoga is immense...it can improve your digestion, boost your immunity and reduce blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis as you get older.

It's fun AND challenging
If you're looking to challenge yourself mentally and physically then yoga will definitely deliver. Whether that challenge is to switch off and become more mindful or if you're looking to sweat it out and feel exhausted by the end, then there's a class for you.

Yoga is for everyone
Yoga is for everyone...every age, every shape, every ability. You might feel nervous going into your first class but once it begins you'll be so focused on your own practice that you'll forget to worry about what everyone else is doing. And you’ll soon start to discover all the amazing benefits yoga has to offer.

Try it out, Guys. Men are invited to attend one class for FREE in March. Email me at alissalawrenceyoga@hotmail.com telling me which class you want to come to and I’ll book you in.  Simple as that! So, what are you waiting for?

Yoga FAQ's

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If you're new to yoga or thinking about starting out, you probably have questions…you may even have concerns about whether yoga is right for you. These questions and concerns might even be holding you back from embarking on your yoga journey. Here, I’ve answered the questions I find that I am asked most frequently by new yogis:

 1)    Do I need to be flexible?

I've lost count of the number of people who've said to me, “I'm not flexible enough to do yoga.” If you're worried about not being flexible then you are in the right place - because increased flexibility is just one of the many benefits of yoga. A regular yoga practice will help you gain greater range of motion. You MUST be patient with yourself though. Flexibility can’t be rushed so be sure to take things at your own pace.  Remember, there's much more to yoga than how flexible you are…your yoga practice will teach you about finding balance, strength and a connection between your body and mind, which can all be achieved even if you can't touch your toes.

 2)    What should I wear?

Whatever you feel comfortable in!  There's no need to invest in expensive gear...just wear something you can move easily in, Layers are good for when you get warm during class and then cool down during relaxation.

 3)    When should I eat?

I recommend eating 1 ½ – 2 hrs before a class....that way you've got plenty of energy but are not feeling too full for class. If the timings are tricky and you find yourself feeling hungry right before class, a snack bar or piece of fruit can give you a little boost to get you through.

 4)    How often do I need to do it? 

So much of yoga is about listening to your body and doing what feels right, and this is the same when it comes to how frequently to practice.  Whether you practice for an hour a day or once a week, make it a regular thing and you'll quickly start to feel the benefits, both physically and emotionally. Of course, as with anything, the more you practice the faster you'll experience the benefits so aim for at least once or twice a week to start.

 5)    Do I need to buy my own yoga mat and other equipment?

The studio is equipped with everything you’ll need, including mats and blocks, so there’s no need to invest in your own until you develop a regular practice.  Bring a drink in case you get thirsty though.

6)    What if I can't remember the names of the poses?

Don't worry, there's no test! The teacher will explain all the poses to you as you practice and soon enough, you’ll remember more then you think.

 7)    Will yoga help me to lose weight / tone up? 

Yoga will help you feel better in every way...physically, mentally, emotionally.  It will make you more aware of your body.  Yes, it has the power to make you stronger, more flexible and more toned.  But much more than that.  Discovering yoga will give you the tools to improve your mental well-being, to reduce stress and to simply become more aware and in the moment. 

When I found yoga I started to care more about my body.  Not just what it looked like, but how it FELT.  I could see my body changing through yoga, but most importantly, yoga taught me to feel better.  And it can do the same for you!

 8)    I'm worried I don't have a “yoga body” - will I feel self-conscious in class? 

Do you have a body? Good. Then go to yoga. There, you have a yoga body. Yogis come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone is welcome.

 9)    I've tried yoga before and didn't like the class.  Does this mean yoga isn't for me?

The first yoga class I ever went to I was really, really bored. So, I left and forgot all about yoga thinking it wasn't for me. Years later I tried another class and I liked it...but it still wasn't going to help me tone, which was my motivation for starting yoga. So I tried another class with the same teacher and it was just what I was after.  The perfect mix of movement, instruction and me time. Just because you didn't like one yoga  class, teacher, DVD you tried, it doesn't mean that yoga isn't for you. Try again.  Find another class, teacher, studio, DVD etc. It's worth it, I promise!

 10)    Can I do yoga even if I'm not spiritual? 

You'll find there are many different views on this and plenty of people will tell you that you can't have yoga without the spiritual element. I'm a big believer in connecting the body and mind through yoga but wouldn't describe any of my classes as very spiritual. It's about cultivating your own yoga practice that suits you...if you're purely looking for a physical experience then it can be just that.  But if you want to combine it with a more emotional journey then you will also find what you're searching for through yoga.

NEW CLASS

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From 13th February, YOGA FOR FITNESS will be on Tuesdays at 19:30. This class is available on a drop in basis but please sign up beforehand HERE.

If you haven't been able to make it to YOGA FOR FITNESS on Mondays at 9:30m this class is NOT YOUR NORMAL YOGA PRACTICE - Each week we will work hard to strengthen and tone the legs, bum, core, arms and shoulders. You do not need previous yoga experience as tricky poses will be fully explained and practiced to ensure your safety. No experience necessary however a general level of physical fitness will be beneficial. *This class is not advised for those with existing physical injuries so if you are unsure, please ask.*

CHECK OUT THE FULL SCHEDULE BELOW

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Welcome to 2018! The end of 2017 gave us an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the past year. As we enter into 2018, I encourage you to take time to be grateful as often as possible because we get really good at what we practice!

The beginning of a new year brings the promise of a fresh start and with focus, a chance to make positive changes in our lifestyles to help us feel happy, fulfilled and at peace. The studio schedule is back to normal with a new addition from this Sunday the 7th.

Thank you for being a part of the studio in 2017. I took advantage of a slower pace over the holiday period to reconnect and restore and now I am so looking forward to getting back and seeing all of your faces. 

Check out the new class YOGA FOR FITNESS on Monday mornings and some super fun AcroYoga workshops in February and March...

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Practicing Yoga At Home

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It took me years to grasp a home practice. I always thought it only counted if I did something that resembled what was taught in the classes I was attending. I had to center. I had to remember the order and breath in sun salutations. Everything would have to flow. Both sides would need to be equal. I never got on my mat outside of class because I couldn’t handle all of the thinking. It wasn’t until I finally trusted that I didn’t have to do anything. That I could rock up onto my mat and do a child’s pose, then down dog, then hop around a bit, spend lots of time in a forward fold, maybe a split? I could meditate. Do a headstand...Malasana... I could just lay there, arms wide, breathing. I could do all of these things or just one. I could do 5 half sun salutations and walk away. I could do ANYTHING. Don’t assume you know what a home practice entails. Because you won’t know until you’re there, on your mat/in your space and you start breathing consciously. Then...Then you’ll know.

How To Start A Yoga Practice

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Have you been curious about yoga for a while but aren't sure how to begin?  Or maybe you feel a little nervous going to class but are not sure about investing into private lessons? I highly encourage those new to yoga to start with an introductory beginners course, designed to teach the basics of yoga (I teach one, by the way, on Wednesdays at 7:45pm). A course like this should provide you with the tools to begin your practice safely and mindfully.  But, depending on your schedule and lifestyle, a series isn't always an option. So here are a few tips to get you started in a class environment:

See what's out there: Check out local studios and venues. Many offer a reduced rate on your first class or introductory first month rates.

Beginners/Basics: Look for a Beginners class or a Basics class (I offer these too!). Try one out and see what you think. A good Beginners or Basics class should leave you feeling suitably recharged and as though you learned something.  If you ever do feel out of your depth in a Basics or Beginners class (you really shouldn't), FIND A NEW CLASS. 

Taste Test: Once you find a studio, try out different teachers that offer classes at times that fit your schedule. Please don't ever give up on yoga after one class or teacher that you didn't connect with. 

Get to class early: This will give you the chance to meet the teacher beforehand. Tell them you're new to yoga. If you have any injuries you need to modify for you'll want to communicate that too. 

When in doubt, Child's Pose: Get down on all fours, sit your hips back to your heals, rest your forehead down on your mat and breathe.

When class is finished: Pat yourself on the back because you did it!  You rolled out your mat and you got on it. You moved, you breathed, you connected. Well done❤️

For more information about my beginner series, click here.

Las Vegas...

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You can’t tell I’m in Las Vegas in this picture but I was in my hotel, The MGM Grand, on my way to The Graceland Wedding Chapel to get married. Las Vegas is one of the craziest, seediest, most lively, exciting, extravagant places I’ve ever been and I am still processing the news that something so awful has happened there...that something so awful has happened again. So, right now, in this moment, I make a conscious effort to practice. To practice being brave. To practice staying hopeful. To practice not being afraid. #mypractice

I Thought Yoga was Boring...

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The first yoga class I ever went to, I was really REALLY bored. So bored. I left and forgot about yoga. It clearly wasn't for me🙄 Years later I tried another class and I liked it...But it still wasn't going to help me tone, which was my sole motivation for starting yoga. So I tried another class with the same teacher and it was just what I was after. The perfect mix of movement, instruction, relaxation?? Honestly, who knows what it was. But whatever it was, I was hooked. Fast forward a few years and I realised I was practicing ujjayi breath in my car. I was practicing asana every night, I was meditating, I was becoming aware of so. many. things. I was different but I was the same. I started to feel like a yogi. Here's my point: just because you didn't like that one yoga class, teacher, DVD you tried, doesn't mean that yoga isn't for you. Try again. As I tell my Beginner Series students, you don't have to like ME to like yoga. Give it another go. Find another class, teacher, studio, DVD etc. It's worth it, I promise.

How To Embrace Meditation & Relaxation When It Feels Impossible

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If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you are familiar with savasana, the final relaxation pose at the end of your practice.  After moving through physical postures (asana), you take time to let your body and mind rest and restore by lying down with the body relaxed, eyes closed. 

For some, savasana is a major motivator for showing up to class but for many others, it’s the most challenging part of class.  Why is simply lying down with the eyes closed so difficult? Some say it’s actually impossible to ‘shut off’ or ‘quiet the mind’.  But, who ever said you need to shut off or be quiet?  Whoever it was, they’re wrong…

Let go of the idea that relaxation is something you ‘do’.  Let go of the idea that relaxation is pushing thoughts away.  Let go of the idea that the goal is to be empty of all thoughts. There is no goal. There is no pushing. There is no empty. There’s just you as you are..who you are…where you are…what you are…exactly who, where and what you should be.  You’re practicing. And all that noise that’s still swirling around in your head?  Let all that be too. All those thoughts, feelings and emotions are a part of your space and a part of your practice.  They belong just as much as you do. So, let them all be.  And let yourself be.  The same is true for meditation.  Another practice many people find impossible. For me, practicing savasana at the end of yoga class was what led me to explore a meditation practice.  Even though savasana is relaxation, and not meditation, it was my first taste of a mindfulness practice and as difficult as it was, I knew the benefits were worth the effort.  

I’ve created a very short meditation practice for people who think they can’t meditate. It’s helpful to move around before sitting to meditate so the body can sit more comfortably so try this after a physical practice or any other physical activity you prefer. You can also try listening to this during the first few minutes of your savasana to help you settle.

Sun Salutation A/Surya Namaskar A

A video of Surya Namaskar A for you to practice along with at home.  Modifications included for beginners and those with tight hamstrings. I hope it helps you to get on your mat.  If you would like to see more short videos or tutorials, send me a message and let me know what you'd like to see.  Full credit and lots of gratitude to Joanne, a wonderful and kind (and super talented) yogi I am lucky to know. xoxo

I do yoga to burn off the crazy

This is my truth but there's more...  I practice yoga because if I didn't I would yell at my kids (even) more. I practice yoga because my practice teaches me something every single day. I practice yoga to forgive. I practice yoga to be kind. I practice yoga to help me believe that I am enough as I am. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I have insecurities. I have fears.

I just keep getting on my mat to learn, to forgive, to be kind, to believe.  And as I teach, I teach to learn, to share, to support, to protect and to love.  That's why I 'do' yoga. 

There's no wrong way to practice yoga. Stay open to wherever the practice leads you. It's worth it. I promise. <3

Anytime Yoga Flow

Hey Guys,

Here's a 20 minute Anytime Flow to get you feeling grounded, stretched out and ready for whatever is coming your way. Let me know know what you think and if you love it, please feel free to share it <3

*I make and recommend audio files for those yogis who are familiar with asana names and basic alignment.  If you're new to yoga, please check out my 4 week beginner series to get you started on your journey.*