Yoga Blog

The Importance of Relaxation

The other day, a lady told me she couldn’t take on Yoga as relaxation makes her even more anxious. We didn’t have time to discuss it further. I wanted to reassure her by telling her asanas (postures) generally involve hard work and one is more than happy to release (collapse …) for a few moments at the end of the session.

There is one book I often refer to when I’m looking into the effects of Yoga on body and mind.
This book is written by H. David Coulter: Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners

“Quieting the mind is just as important to relaxation as quieting the body.”
Quote 2
“Relaxation and meditation ususally work better after a session of hatha yoga postures.”
Quote 3
Hatha Yoga postures pull the mind inward , and physical exercises (aerobic or heavy musculoskeletal workouts) tend to scatter it.”

Coulter’s Tips

For self- guided savasana shavasana_image_550_w ( most famous pose for relaxation), Coulter recommends focussing on:

Rise and the fall of the abdomen: concentrate on the movements of the abdomen, make breath as even as possible and watch its pace gradually diminish.

Sixty-one points exercise: at the beginning of each exhalation, lock your attention onto a specific point on the body, hold it there throughout exhalation and the ensuing inhalation and then move on to the next point.

These 61 points are

Between the eyebrows, pit of the throat, right soulder – elbow-wrist and  each finger of the right hand; back to right wrist- elbow-shoulder, pit of the throat. Move on to left shoulder- elbow-wrist and each finger of the left hand. Back to left wrist-elbow- shoulder and pit of the throat.

Move down to heart center (between the nipples), navel center, pelvic center, right hip-knee-ankle and each toe of the right foot; back to right ankle-knee- hip, pelvic center. Move on to left hip-knee-ankle and each toe of the left foot. Back to left ankle-knee-hip, pelvic center, navel center, heart center, pit of the throat and point between the eyebrows..

Always prepare for relaxation

Stretch the body out before settling down. Thrust the hips down from the shoulders, the hands down from the shoulder , the heels dowwn from the hips and lift the head away from the body stretching the neck (you can use a pillow or a folded blanket to support the head and the neck.) AND LET GO!

Come back slowly

When you are ready to come out, bring the arms overhead and stretch from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes. Or you can first wriggle the fingers and toes, roll over to one side and sit up slowly.

Yoga and menstruations Yoga Blog

Yoga and Menstruations

Why shouldn’t we do inversions (viparita sthitti) during the period?


During menstruation if one does inversions the blood flow will be arrested. Those who tried to do out of enthusiasm or callousness will have noticed that the flow stops abruptly. This is certainly not good for health since it may lead to fibroids, cysts, endometriosis and cancer, damaging the system.

According to ayurveda, whatever has to be thrown out should be thrown out and not retained or held in. You cannot hold urine, faeces, phlegm, mucus etc, inside as they are substances that have to be thrown out. These are called as mala – the waste, which need to be excreted.


If they are retained within they invite all diseases. During menstruation one has to lessen physical exertion including walking, dancing or heavy house-hold work. The body demands rest and relaxation and one needs to provide that.

If this background, as far as the effects of inversions are concerned are known, one need not doubt about their omission during the periods. Still, due to obstinacy and rigidity, if one forces oneself to do one may have to pay heavily later if not immediately. The flow has to stop completely before one can resume the practice of inversion. The question is not of three days or four days. As soon as the flow stops, begin with the practise of inversions. Do not go suddenly for standing poses, back-bendings, balancings etc,. Remember that you have just delivered the unborn baby, since the menstruation is called as the funeral of the unborn baby.
Geeta S. Iyengar (Pune Feb 2003)

Astanga Inspiring Body Works Yoga Blog

Kids and Backbends with Liz Lark

I knew Liz Lark from a book. One of my students once brought me Yoga for Kids in Dutch and I later bought it in English to read it. The book describes Yoga postures you can try with children.

It’s well illustrated and I used it a few times with my own children. It never really worked, not because of the book, but because some kids choose a different path from their parents to build their identity.

On Sunday (October 11th), I tried one of Liz Lark’s adult workshops in Oxford. I made the mistake of choosing backbends one morning session on backbends, instead of the two-days workshop. It’s always a bad idea to buy a quarter or half a workshop.

I missed shavasana_image_550_w the Yoganidra session in the afternoon, and felt much too energised for the rest of the day.

Students Comments

Become Addicted

Addiction to Yoga
Addiction to Yoga

When I started taking Laurence’s yoga classes two years ago, I thought it was mainly breathing and stretching. Believe me, I was wrong. It is hard work, and I love it. The classes were always different, a mixture of dynamic movements and static postures finishing by a timely relaxation at the end. Laurence is very precise and careful with her students. She will find postures that you feel comfortable with. You will quickly become addicted to it!

Isabelle C., Strasbourg, 2009

Inspiring Body Works Iyengar Yoga Blog

“Educate your muscles”

Back from London.

Gabriella Giudilaro ran a four hour workshop on Oct 5th at Iyengar Institute Maida Vale. She closely followed Iyengar’s teaching: we must “educate”our muscles, she said. Gabriella reviewed several backbend poses after warming up

esAdo mukha virasana (the swan – to “release the brain and the abdomen”)


Ado mukha svanasana

(downward facing dog – work on opening upper arm opening).



Keep your elbow leveled with the shoulder (the right elbow on the photo should be facing ahead and the right hand should stay behind the right shoulder blade). Working that way, you’ll FEEL the difference.


Ado mukha vrkshasana.

Handstand. Preparation: two hands on the floor not far from the wall. Legs straight. Stabilize the pose before your lift one leg and go into the posture.

woman-yoga-position_~AA046310Pinca Mayurasana

Elbow balance. Preparation near the wall: practice first with your hands (palms facing the ceiling) holding a block slightly off the floor. Push on your forearms . Legs straight. Walk toward your elbow. Lift a leg and then the other one. Push your ribs down and back, make sure your shoulders are away from your ears. Push into your flexed heels, push your buttocks up. And breathe.


Salamba Sirsasana.

Head stand. Preparation. Fold your mat in four. Cross your fingers, making sure your wrists are relaxed not  pressing towards each other. Bring the crown of your head on the mat , tucking your chin slightly in, within the nest of your hands. Stretch your legs and then either bend your knees or lift one leg after the other to come into the pose. Lift your shoulders. If your upper back is stiff, use a pile of three blocks to help pushing your shoulder blades in towards your chest. If your arms are long you can use a folded blanket under your head. Roll your thighs in and flex your feet . Push your buttocks up.

3BSuzyHanging1 Salamba sirsasana in the ropes

dogupUrdhva Mukha Svanasana

Upward facing dog. Try to work it by tucking your tailbone without squeezing your buttocks towards each other.  Use your hamstrings and back muscles to lift yourself up. Pull your hips and your abdomen upand forward.

indiaY17Ustrasana (-The camel). Knees hip width apart. Tailbone down, thighs in. Hands on your hips. Lift your chest, bend you head slightly back, but keep your neck long, don’t let you head fall back. Then slowly arch your back and reach your heels with your hands.

410Urdhva Danurasana

Upward bow. Preparation. Lie on your back, head not far from wall. You can put your hands and your head against the wall (or even put a folded blanket under your hands). Then bend your knees. Feet on the floor wide apart, thighs in. Hands at shoulders level. Lift your pelvis off the floor and push on your hands. First come onto your head. Keep your elbows slightly apart. Walk three times with your hands towards your feet, keeping your pelvis lifted and without squeezing your buttocks. Then push on your arms  and bring your elbows towards each other. You don’t need to have your legs straight. Try to bring your chest towards the wall

dvi-pada-viparita-dandasana_01Dvi pada Viparita Dandasana without a chair

The weight is on the forearms the head and the feet.. Make sure your your ribs are pushed down towards your hips and you lift your pelvis up without squeezing your buttocks towards each other. Work  with your back muscles and tuck your tailbone right under.

Dvi pada dwipadaviparitakarani_mh_loviparita dandasana with a chair.

After backbends Gabriella came back intoes Ado mukha virasana to release the lower back.

Last but not least


Marycyasana 1

Twist. Make sure to keep both shoulders open

Gabriella gave five minutes relaxation  savasana

Savasana (the corpse pose)

which (I thought) was MUCH too short….