Yoga for the Runner

How Yoga gave me my all-round ‘personal best’ as a runner

~ by Gemma Young ~

Yoga Runner Southampton

I have been practicing yoga for many years and as a runner and someone who is fairly competitive, I tend to also have that competitive stance within me, even when on the mat. Not with others but with myself. Always wanting to push myself that little bit more each week, bend that little bit further, breathe that little bit deeper… the same goes for running. I am always striving for my personal best, always wanting to beat my last time.

However, practicing yoga with Laura in Southampton and the family of yogi’s has taught me how it is okay to sometimes enjoy the minimum, not get things perfect, be on the mat not to compete with myself, but to surrender myself to all that yoga has to offer my body, mind and soul. Learning and accepting this has been profound for me. The odd thing about it is that by doing regular yoga practice, learning to breathe deeply and correctly, connecting body and mind, and stretching and strengthening my body, has meant that I now run faster and longer than I ever have done!

The Yoga for Runners workshops comes highly recommended by me to enable runners to learn the basic techniques for breathing and those crucial stretches pre and post runs.

I will be running in the Bournemouth half marathon on Sunday 8th October for the wonderful Children’s charity, the NSPCC. Please feel free to visit my Just Giving page if you wish to make a contribution. Any donations would be very much appreciated and make a difference to this wonderful cause.

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Check out my workshop page for details on our regular monthly Runners Workshop or send me an email me to book.

Lx


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The Art of Relaxation – Yoga Workshop Southampton

Seated Meditation Laura Green Yoga‘REST in Every Moment’ – this was the instruction given to me by a wonderful and inspiring teacher I was blessed to train with, Judith Hanson Lasater. I thought it was an odd request but nonetheless it struck me as important and has stayed with me over the years. Judith started every session chanting ‘Stirum Sukham Asanam’ – a yoga sutra that translates as ‘a steady and comfortable posture’. Through the practise of poses, breathing and meditation, yoga has taught me just this – how to be steady and comfortable in my life, how to be at rest and at ease in every moment, how to stay calm and relaxed despite the events and circumstances that are unfolding. This for me is Mastering The Art of Relaxation. With two workshops this week on Friday and Saturday we’re going to delve deep into the yoga tool box for tension taming and stress prevention as together we Master the Art of Relaxation (details below). Don’t worry if you can’t make it, here are some tools to get you started:

Top Tips for Mastering the Art of Relaxation
1) Explore Stillness: Take 5 minutes every day, preferably in the morning, to sit and be still. There is a great strength in stillness. It encourages us to slow down, to not react to everything immediately, to buy our time and choose wisely how to respond to events in the day.
2) Cultivate Your Breath: When you meet challenges in your day connect back to your stillness and find the quiet place of inner strength by focusing on your breath. Try the Double Time Breath. Inhale for the count of 4 and exhale for the count of 4. Then breath by breath increase the length of your exhale whilst keeping the inhale at a count of 4. Continue until your exhale is double the length of your inhale. Take 10 more breaths inhaling for 4 and exhaling for 8 before returning to your day focussed and connected to your inner strength.
3) Let Go of Worry: Worry is totally wrapped up in the future. Focus on the present moment and what is within your control. Don’t waste precious time and energy on things outside of your control and things that have not yet manifested.

Feel Good Friday
Friday 14th August – 18:00 – 19:15
Taunton’s College, Southampton

Relax, unwind and de-stress before the weekend. We’ll slow things down, stretch deeply, breathe and meditate to ease away all tension from the week. This monthly class is a combination of Hatha Yoga and Yin Yoga with slow stretches to release areas of the body that have become tense and tight throughout the week – think shoulders, upper back, neck and hips. You’ll learn pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation techniques for stress relief and enjoy a guided relaxation. You’ll leave with a feeling of deep relaxation and ready to ease into your weekend.

Master the Art of Relaxation: Tension Taming and Stress Relief
Saturday 15th August – 14:00 – 16:00
Taunton’s College, Southampton

Would you like to learn how to relax, unwind and chill out? Seems crazy that we need to learn how to relax, right? But it is a fact of life that most of us live such busy, pressured lives that at the end of the day we don’t know how to step off the trend mill, slow down and relax. This 2 hour workshop will look at a vast range of relaxation approaches including: Yoga, Meditation, Mantras, Self Myofascial Massage, Mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, Aromatherapy, Diet & Nutrition. By the end of 2 hours you’ll have a tool box so vast that with work and practise you’ll be able to stay calm and relaxed in any situation!

 


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Once In A Blue Moon – Yoga & The Full Moon – Laura Green Yoga

Laura Green Yoga - Natarajasana Dancer's Pose
Laura Green Yoga – Natarajasana Dancer’s Pose

When someone says ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ you know what they mean: rare, unusual, seldom, infrequently. This year it means ‘the end of July’. As on Friday 31st July there is a Blue Moon. A Blue Moon is when there are 2 Full Moons in one month. Let this rare occurrence inspire you. What dreams, hopes, desires would you love to actually manifest in your life? Things that maybe you’ve putting off because they only happen ‘once in a blue moon’? People love to tell us the myriad of reasons why our dreams won’t come true, why we should stay on the straight and narrow and tow the party line – this comes from fear and insecurity. Don’t let your wings be clipped – you only have one life so why not live it? In the words of Marianna Williamson:

 

‘Your playing small does not serve the world
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.’

 

However crazy this sounds to you and however sceptical you feel, will you do me a favour on Friday?

 

After it’s dark go outside and look up to the Full Moon (even if it’s cloudy!) and share a little secret with the moon. Tell it what dream your heart desires, what you would like to manifest in the next lunar cycle, what first steps you want to take to make things happen for you. If you dare maybe even ask the moon for help – crazy I know but just try it this once for me and see what happens when you harness the power of the Full Moon. If you feel like celebrating with some yoga, try my online Lunar Flow Class which you’ll find in my Online Yoga Studio.


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Yoga Teacher Laura’s Spicy Banana & Raspberry Muffins (Gluten Free + Vegan Option)

Laura’s Spicy Banana & Raspberry Muffins (Gluten Free + Vegan Option)
Laura’s Spicy Banana & Raspberry Muffins (Gluten Free + Vegan Option)

I love baking & I love all things full of gluten – but gluten doesn’t love me, it makes me bloated and tired so where possible I try to avoid it. I’m a good baker (and yes I’m blowing my own trumpet but it’s true I make good cake!) however when it comes to what my Husband calls ‘weird baking’ I have had so many disasters and this makes me sad as the ingredients are expensive and I hate waste. So today, no more following recipes it was time to create my own! And guess what – it worked. These muffins are moist, full of flavour, with a light texture and even better they are made in one bowl and you can mix up a batch in just 30 mins. I was experimenting with these muffins as a delicious treat for guests at my next Yoga Weekend Retreat where we’re Glamping in Surrey.

 

Serves: 8 | Baking Time: 20 mins | Prep Time: 10 mins


Ingredients

2 Medium Eggs (For Vegan substitute for 2 Flax Eggs)

2 Ripe (or over ripe) bananas

3 Tbsp of Honey or Maple Syrup

5 Tbsp Milk (For Vegan substitute with unsweetened Almond Milk)

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Can substitute for a vegetable oil)

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Ground Almonds

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of Coconut Flour (You can experiment with other gluten free flours)

1 Tsp Ground Ginger, and/or Cinnamon, and/or Nutmeg

100g raspberries or blueberries (Optional)

8 Pecans (Optional: Can substitute for Almonds or Walnuts)

 

Method

1) Preheat oven to 190 C then turn down to 170 C when you put the muffins in. (These temperatures are based on a fan assisted oven). Line a muffin or cup cake tin with 8-10 paper liners.

2) In a large bowl mash up your sliced bananas, then add the eggs and stir with a folk to combine. Add the honey, baking powder, vanilla extract, milk and coconut oil and stir.

3) Add grounds almonds, coconut flour, and spices and stir once more until well combined. I like to swap to a wooden spoon for this. The mixture will be quite stiff and thick not like a normal cake batter.

5) Gently stir in the raspberries or blueberries (careful not to break them up too much). Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and top with 1 pecan/muffin (either whole or broken up).

6) Remembering to turn the oven down to 170 C. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a tooth pick or knife inserted into the centre comes out clean and they become somewhat firm to the touch with a little give. You don’t want to overcook them as they will dry out. The juices from the raspberries will keep them gooey in parts.

7) Remove and let rest in pan for 5 minutes. Then cool all the way on a cooling rack. They will keep in an airtight container for a few days or freeze for longer storage.

 


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Teaching Yoga at Festivals

Festivals & Camping?? I never thought I’d see my name at a Festival Line Up.

I’m off to teach yoga at Camp Bestival 29th July – 2nd August. I’ve never been camping or to a festival (mainly because the toilets terrify me). I think the ‘I’ve Got This’ mantra might be needed when it comes to putting up my tent (thank you again Michelle aka Yoga Bunny for the tent!). Let me know if you’re going and come check out the yoga scene! My classes on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th July will still be running again thanks to our marvelous cover teachers. Check out the Southampton yoga classes timetable here.

Yoga at Camp Bestival
Yoga at Camp Bestival

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Yoga & Self Care – Asking For Help

When was the last time you asked for help or support?

Through yoga, I have learnt to be strong, independent and capable: my personal Mantra is ‘I’ve Got This’ and this mantra has taken me places I could have never even dreamt of! But last week, I needed to stop, to ask for help and for support. I had to stand up and say ‘I haven’t got this’ – and yes I found that hard to do!
I needed a week to clear some space and halt the overwhelm. Like so many of you I thrive on busyness and my own yoga practise is what keeps me balanced; but after a really busy 7 months I was feeling overwhelmed. A week at home, with lots of yoga, meditation, good food and sleep gave me the self care I needed plus the time to clear much of the To Do list.
I’m so thankful to the wonderful Southampton yoga teachers who stepped in at the last minute to help and support by covering the yoga classes in Southampton, thank you to Linda, Emma, Helen, Kate & Candice.
Laura Green - Yoga Teacher Southampton in Astravakasana - 8 Limb Pose
Laura Green – Yoga Teacher Southampton in Astravakasana – 8 Limb Pose

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Keep Looking Forward – Yoga Lesson’s on Mindfulness in Southampton

The moment has passed. The moment has always passed. For in a blink, a breath, a simple passing second we are on to the next. There is no use, no good to come from hanging on, for languishing in the past. Let go of the moment so as to more fully experience the next. What is the point of dwelling on the past – we don’t get any do overs or any remakes. Whatever happened the past is ALL GOOD – as long as it is in the past. Keep looking forward!

 

The wonderful practice of yoga is a great playing field to explore more the concept of mindfulness and living life in the present. Come and experience for yourself at a Yoga Class in Southampton with Laura Green Yoga. Check out the Yoga Class Timetable Here.

 

Laura Green Yoga - Keep Looking Forward - Yoga Southampton
Laura Green Yoga - Natarajasana - Dancer's Pose

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Headstand Challenge – Embrace Possibility

Yoga HeadstandThe Yoga Headstand (Sirsasana) is cited by many as being the King Yoga Pose! This month I invite you to join me in the Headstand Challenge! Don’t think you can do it, you can trust me!

The Challenge: I will email you one short free video every two weeks instructing you through the stages of building a strong, safe and supported headstand as well as video to help you build up your strength to hold a headstand away from the wall. Slow and steady when you’ve mastered it and either shown me when attending one of my Southampton Yoga classes or send me a photo, your reward is a free yoga class either in person or if you’re not local a free online class.

Sign Up: You can sign up and join the challenge at any time and you have as long as you want to complete it! But you will need to sign up by emailing me so that I know to send you the videos.

The Why: As B.K.S. Iyengar says in his section on Headstand in Light on Yoga, “The best way to overcome fear is to face with equanimity the situation of which one is afraid.” The list of benefits for doing a headstand is impressive from improved immune system, stress relief, helping to relieve the symptoms of menopause, therapeutic for asthma, infertility, insomnia and the list goes on! But you know what Headstand can be scary; it literally turns your world upside down. A lot of people understandably freak out about the idea of standing on their heads and are worried about their necks. Yes, if you planning on balancing the whole weight of your body with your neck this is going to be bad! Which is why we have the forearms down on the ground as 90-95% of your weight in Headstand is supported by your arms and shoulders. This is going to take some strength, practise, patience and humility. If you haven’t done a yoga headstand before, a rough guide is around 6 months focused practise to be able to do it.

You in??? In 4 months time I’m leading an intermediate to advanced class on Inversions such as headstand, so start the challenge now and then we can refine it at this class. Remember to let me know that you in so I can send you the videos. I’ll see you at a yoga class in Southampton.



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Why I Go on Yoga Retreats?

Every year I make it a priority to get away, ideally on my own and retreat. It can be a long weekend in the UK (usually to the beach in Eastbourne) or if I’m lucky a far far away land! This time last year I spent two weeks on a lake in Thailand, with the closet mobile phone reception a 2 hour boat ride away. The venue’s slogon was ‘somewhere in the middle of nowhere’ and that really summed it up. I spent most of this precious retreat time, being quiet, still, slow and reflective; nourishing my body and mind with great food, lots of yoga and lots and lots of space. Being on a retreat is space to just be, no ‘TO DO LIST’, nothing to accomplish and no expectations. We spend so much of our life living up to labels which get stuck to us through our jobs, our family relationships and other people’s perceptions of us; going on a retreat is a way of removing these labels and spending time with our true self-free to just be. This can be liberating, this can be daunting but it is always precious. I’ve booked my retreat time for this year and am heading off on my own to Tobago over Easter adding some much needed sunshine to my retreat needs.

I feel so truly honoured to have been able to lead two weekend yoga retreats last year; to have been able to hold the space for people to experience the nourishing and healing effects of retreating, even if just for 48 hours. I’m running three weekend retreats this year at the beautiful Brooklands Barn in Arundel, the March retreat is almost fully booked with just a few spots left and I’m already taking bookings for the August retreat (8th – 10th). There is more information here. Join us, I would love to share the amazing experience of retreating with you!


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Yoga Mat – Review

Yoga Hedge EndThinking about buying a new yoga mat? I get asked my opinion regularly on what type of yoga mat to buy and to be honest there is no one size fits all. There are so many different mats on the market, with different thickness and textures much of which comes down to personal preference as well as a huge price range from mats as cheap as £4 and some that cost well over £100 (but who really needs their yoga mat to come with Swarovski crystals??).

At present I’ve been using an Argos Pro Fitness Yoga Mat that came as part of their Pro Fitness Yoga and Pilates Set, which also includes a small fit ball, two weights and two stretch bands. A fairly cheap and cheerful set at £24.99 but you know what it does the job! The mat is super cute in baby blue with pretty little butterflies and foliage on it and to my surprise it was really pretty grippie. When you get a new yoga mat they usually always have to be broken in as they come with a slippery film on them which does go after a few uses but is really annoying the first few times you use the mat. This mat wasn’t slippery at all but it did have quite a smell of plastic which I’m sure this will soon fade.

Yoga SouthamptonAlthough a fit ball is not a standard prop that you would use in a yoga class, I’ve been it to help me develop the strength and feel the technique to press up into a yoga handstand which is all about core strength and lifting the hips up. This Pro Fit Ball is quite small which makes it even harder work and really makes me activate my core when I do my fit ball handstand preparation.

Fancy a new mat? Yoga mats are available here. I look forward to seeing you at a yoga class in Southampton with your new mat.


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