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Adaptive Yoga for Cerebral Palsy

chair Yoga

Lots happening that I’d like to write about!

Finished teaching an 8 week course of Chair Yoga for Cerebral Palsy this week.

The clients were a pleasure to work with. They learnt a lot about Yoga, Somatics and Pilates Movement in a short space of time and retained new information easily.

It was obvious that they really love Yoga. I was impressed by how well they listen, to the directions, as to their own inner guidance. Each week they came to the practice with an open attitude, diligently exploring new ways of moving, and trying out various Breathing Practices, Mindfulness and Meditations.

The centre where the classes were held has a Sensory room, so on Week 3, we tried Yoga Nidra in there. Being able to dim the lights completely, leant to the atmosphere for this type of Meditation. The clients rested on giant beanbags, making it more comfortable should they drift off during the practice. They also had a wall projector, background music, star-lit night sky, and LED fibres…we were totally spoilt.

Yoga gives a person space, where emotions may have room to bubble up and come to the surface. We discussed bringing the attention back to the breathe and allowing our thoughts and feelings to be as they are, not getting caught up in the inner monologue nor trying to change anything. Simply becoming aware of the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations that may be present in any given moment, allowing them to be there, and then bringing the attention back to the breath. It was also important to have a laugh and not take ourselves too seriously!

For anyone thinking of taking on an Adaptive Yoga class, I found it really worthwhile as a teacher to have this experience. It was humbling and amazing, watching the clients transform and grow, accepting their limits while taking themselves to the edges of their own comfort zones. It made me a better listener, and a more attentive teacher, as I had to learn and watch out for their communication cues. Energy-wise, it was important to remain upbeat, including some fun movement techniques from kids yoga, though the clients were in their late teens, they responded really well to having fun, who doesn’t?!

Visualisation is key to Adaptive Yoga, both inviting students to “imagine” and giving them a direction or target to travel to. “Open your arms out wide” gets an ok response, while “Open your arms out wide, reach and tickle your neighbour!” will get those arms wide open!

For the carers present, I needed to tune in to their ability and communication style as they are part of the class too. Finding a carer who knows the client well enough to verbalise for them, who can help the client to carry out the movement while staying within their pain-free zone, and who knows their left from their right or indeed has any body awareness, is a whole other aspect that you will need to consider when leading an Adaptive Yoga class! Carers are wonderful people who work hard, they spend their day caring for the needs of others, and their jobs are physically taxing. I found they really appreciated the Yoga classes, especially the Breathing and Meditation practices.

Each week you have to find the right pace for everyone, picking up the energy when needed and giving space for energy to settle when that is required too. It’s important to give space at the end of the class, to give everyone time to adjust and regroup before their next activity. The clients may be leaving the centre straight after the class, the carers may be due a lunch break etc, so it’s essential to run to schedule and finish a few minutes early if possible.

If you are thinking about teaching Adaptive Yoga, or training as a Yoga Therapist, Yoga Therapy Ireland is a great place to go for more information or even sign up for one of their courses. Their Yoga in a Chair Seminar by Elma Toland was a wonderful resource in preparing for this course, as was their 500hr teacher training.

Here is a case study on Yoga for Cerebral Palsy that families and carers for those with CP might find useful to follow as a home programme:Adaptive-Yoga-for-Individuals-CP

For more info on the author, Ryan McGraw, and for Cerebral Palsy support see http://cerebralpalsy.org/inspiration/athletes/ryan-mcgraw/

Another online resource; Somatic Movement for younger children http://movementforkidswithspecialneeds.org

Live. Love. Move!

Image from http://kalillie.blogspot.ie/2012_03_01_archive.html

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Raw Coco Bliss Balls

Am making these right now!

eat less sugar you're sweet enough

I’m staying strong on my no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol cleanse and doing my best to eat lots of raw food in the form of salad, veggies, fruit and smoothies.

Eating a 70-80% raw diet is a really great goal to work towards for vibrant health. Raw food gives you tons of energy, keeps your weight under control effortlessly and makes your skin glow too. As much as I love the health benefits, I definitely have a big sweet tooth to try to manage. One of the ways I manage my pesky craving for sweets is with the awesome recipe below. Coco Bliss balls satisfy my sugar craving without having any actual refined sugar in them. They also make you feel raw, healthy and fabulous while indulging in a sweet little something.

COCO-BLISS BALLS

Ingredients:

1.5 tsp raw maca powder (optional)

1 tbsp organic ground cinnamon

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips

8-10 soft medjool dates, pits removed

1/2 cup raw almonds

1…

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If my Pelvic Floor is so tight, why do I sneeze-pee all the time?!

Just had to share this brilliant blog post from Katy Bowman… Yes am still waiting for her to marry me…roll on the referendum!

http://www.katysays.com/atootightpelvicfloor/

Funny how muscle that is too tight is actually weak, and not strong!

My personal experience of Pelvic Girdle Pain informs both my teaching and home practice. If you have PGP and are looking for a referral, please ask me in class and I’ll happily recommend!

For three years, I had a trapped pudendal nerve, and hypertonus Pelvic muscle,  released by a wonderful physio at Milltown Physio Clinic. As the article mentions, the crying that followed was…!! 20 months after this initial release, I finally “found” the right side of my Pelvic Floor in the middle of a simple Pilates lower tummy activation exercise, Single Leg slide, coupled with more crying! This whole area had literally been invisible to me since the first birth almost 5 years ago. It was as if my brain simply did not recognise that various body parts existed.

If you have PGP pain, yes of course it’s important to seek out specialists who can help, however, the reality is that the real work happens at home. You need to take the time for yourself to get on the mat and actively, consciously, release the tension out of your muscles. Every day. Did you stretch your calf muscles today? How about your hamstrings?! How much sleep did you get last night? Answer Zero for all three?!

Because muscle tension (and pain) is caused from a build up of habits over a period of time, not just the injury, I follow a diet of Somatics, meditation, mindfulness, biomechanics, pilates and Physical Therapy. The best Physical Therapist I’ve found is Injury Solutions​ in Rathfarnham.

I love that in the article Katy mentions that feeling pain in your body is a signal to allow that area to soften and release. Yoga is a wonderful method for letting go of that which you no longer need, physically and mentally. Let go lovingly, and your muscles will respond.

In my personal experience, following a regular practice in Yoga Somatics is the BEST way to self-release overly tight muscles. Somatics makes your Pelvis happy, while Pilates (choose a class designed especially for your needs) will strengthen your core stabilising muscles. You need both Somatics and Pilates to first release, then keep your Pelvic Floor strong and healthy for the long-term. They work as a team.

Once you look at your alignment and see how the muscles in the body work in harmony, because it is a functional issue, you will see how important biomechanics exercises are for maintaining strength and stability in the Pelvis. This is where Katy Bowman’s Whole Body Alignment exercises really come in handy, and check out Align Somatics’ DVDs for hips and legs, they’re wonderful.

I feel very lucky to have trained in both Somatics and Pilates, with Tanya Fitzpatrick from Align Somatics​ and in Pilates with Susan Church​ from PTTI, and can offer real value to clients with Pelvic Floor issues with my background in these disciplines. I’ve also designed a programme for Pelvic Floor Health that really works.

In Mum & Baby Yoga, we take pieces from each method (Pilates, Yoga, Somatics, Biomechanics, Physical Therapy) and use these building blocks to create a solid core foundation from which you can fly. (Or get pregnant again, you decide!)

Happy Pelvis, Happy Person. It’s a whole body alignment issue.

Ahhh…tissue! Pardon me…

Keep up the good work, and see you on the mat 😉

Baby got back…Part 2

gluteal-muscles

Looking for exercises to strengthen your glutes? Ever heard of Yoga & Pilates?!

Here are the best poses:

Bridge1. Bridge Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/bridge-pose/

Try it holding a cushion or foam brick between your knees, draw your inner thighs towards each other. Keep you pelvis tilting backwards, engage your lower tummy, and fire up your glutes.

To come down, exhale, roll your pelvis backwards and lower the spine down one vertebra at a time. Then, hug your knees into your chest and rock from side to side, releasing out your lower back.

superman

2. Superman Couldn’t help the image, sorry, I literally have a four year old on my back as I type this and it’s keeping him entertained! http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Do-Superman-Exercise-1110085

side_bridge_abd3. Side Lying Abduction https://youtu.be/s7nG4VEWXOo

Plank Power

4. Plank Power!

Check out this Side Plank Yoga sequence by Kathryn Budig   http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/summer-break/

5. Somatics Gluteal Release

Lie on your front, rest your forehead on your hands. Feel that your legs are straight, inner knees touch. Bend your right knee, sole of the foot faces straight up to the ceiling. Inhale and lift your foot straight upwards, keep your tummy completely relaxed. FEEL how your Glutes tighten to make this movement happen, only go as far as is comfortable.

Now add a second stage: Push down with your hands and lift your upper body up at the same time as you lift your leg up. Inhale as you lift, exhale as you lower back down. Feel how you contract your upper back muscles as you lift up. Feel how you completely relax and release each time you come back down.

Straighten the right leg back on the floor, take a moment to breathe and release.

Inhale and repeat the movement this time with the right leg straight, again firing the flutes to raise the leg up, extending through the hip.

Rest and release.

Open the legs as wide as is comfortable. Switch on the Glutes again, raise the right leg up. Stabilise the pelvis by engaging the lower tummy, feel the tummy drawing up away from the floor. Return the right leg to the floor. Take a few breaths to fully release.

Repeat on the Left leg.

6. Why do we need our Hip Abductors anyway?

This article explains why it’s important to strengthen your hip abductors and how weak glutes can affect your gait and balance:  http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/hip-strengthening-for-runners/

weak-glutes

7. Nitty Gritty: Best exercises to strengthen the

Glute Medius:                                           Glute Maximus:

  • Side Plank                                           Single Leg Deadlift
  • Unilateral Bridge                               Single Leg Squat
  • Lateral Step Up                                 Front Plank with Hip Extension
  • Superman                                           Superman
  • Side lying Hip Abduction

– See more at: http://www.romphysicaltherapy.ie/best-exercises-to-strengthen-and-stabilise-the-glute-muscles/#sthash.ajSL8GUG.dpuf

Remember, your hips love to dance, so shake it, sway it, feel it, MOVE it!

Enjoy 😉

The Best Vegan Tagine Recipe, Yoga in Morocco & My Favourite Podcasts

Great blog from theveganbarbie, can’t wait to try the tagine and check out those podcasts!

The Vegan Barbie

photo 5This title may seem like a strange title but it will all make sense soon… I hope!

In February, I went on an incredible yoga holiday/retreat to Morocco! The weather was shite in Ireland and I really felt like going away so when I saw a 5 day yoga retreat in Morocco advertised I was sold. I’d never been to a class with this teacher and I didn’t know anyone going so it was a little bit of a risk.

photo 1

Turns out it was the best gamble ever. The teacher, Sibylle Dallmann was AMAZING and I made some great friends. It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life! The retreat had a lovely balance of free time with yoga and meditation time. The yoga itself had a lovely balance of vigorous vinyasa with chilled out yin style yoga.


We did two hours of asana and meditation in…

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Vegan Flapjacks

 flapjack

Got this easy vegan recipe from @Heidi Hearts on yummly.com, and as suggested put my own twist on it. See her blog post and original recipe here

As you’ll see below, the measurements are in generous handfuls, I put it together in less than 5 minutes, but it tastes great and depending on how much syrup you use, is a healthy homemade vegan snack that even kids will love.

flapjack 1

Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 English cups oats
1 & 1/2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 tbsp, 1 each of rice syrup, agave syrup, maple flavoured golden syrup…

1 bottle cap of maple syrup…think that’s enough syrup…

1 tsp ground cinnamon – grated by hand from one stick of cinnamon, delighted to be opening the jar this far along after Christmas

1 tsp vanilla extract – didn’t have any so I used 1 capful of almond essence, as it’s a bit stronger than Vanilla you don’t really need much.

Note: Even if some almond essence falls on your hand and you’re tempted to lick it off, DO NOT DO THIS! IT DOES NOT TASTE ANYTHING LIKE VANILLA ESSENCE!

Yughhh…ok where was I…

2 generous handfuls of sultanas (Heidi’s recipe says 1/3 cup, I’ve thrown the cup measure in the sink and am in full-flow creating mode so handfuls will have to do from here on in).

2 generous handfuls flaked almonds (with some hazelnuts mixed in, they were sharing jar space)

1 generous handful cashews

1 generous sprinkling desiccated coconut

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees. Grease your baking square dish with a bit of coconut oil and set aside. In a small bowl mash the bananas with melted coconut oil, syrups and almond extract. In a large bowl mix the oats, cinnamon, sultanas, cashews, desiccated coconut, hazelnuts and almonds. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to blend. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for around 40 minutes or until the top is lightly brown. Enjoy!

Images from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Simple-And-Clean-Flapjack-1024817

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