Dangers Of A Six-Pack

Dear Yogis

Welcome to Spring! White Rabbits! Pinch and a punch! In the top temperatures of last weekend, I started my training with Sarah Ramsden, Ryan Giggs’ yoga teacher, to teach yoga to athletes. Teaching in many football clubs is what she is known for. Her mobilisation routines seem very fast and un-yogic. This is, apparently, because you have to keep a class of footballers or rugby players moving and busy or they start mucking about. Don’t even think of a meditation session – there may be talking, even fighting! Forget chakras!

So, in teaching yoga in football/rugby clubs, yoga teachers have to change mindset completely. No mention of ujjayi breathing which is too complicated; no props which will get thrown around. Instead, we teach to a limited Range-Of-Motion which needs to regain ROM for safety’s sake and for longevity. It’s a good goal and it has wider application than just with athletes.

Once you calm down and stop throwing yoga props around, the anatomy of breathing specifically for sportspeople highlights (whaddaya know) how dangerous a six-pack is! An overbuilt, tight six-pack will inhibit the movement of the diaphragm which should push the belly out, stretch the abdominals and gently move and massage the lumbar spine. Breathing should bring a natural, undulating movement to the spine, feeding the discs, bringing fluid and nutrients in and moving waste out. Limited movement of the diaphragm, it turns out, can ruin your stability and bring back ache, utilise the wrong muscles for breathing and, of course, decrease the effectiveness of your breathing!

Sarah Keys, in her book ‘Body in Action’, says: ‘If you are tense during sleep and do not relax your muscles the discs will not get back their full complement of fluid, and disc nutrition suffers… (Discs) are slow to break down, and also slow to repair.’ For sportspeople and for the rest of us, relax, destress, unwind, chill, climb down from being Ms or Mr 100%.

Home Studio

We’ve had wide-open-window yoga this week due to our summertime snap. I’ve been trying out Sarah Ramsden’s Spinal Articulation Routine and it’s been going down well. There’s plenty of space next week – for now! You can see class availability on my website (which I update often). The latest availability is attached to this email.


I’m excited to announce that my teacher, Valentina, is coming to teach with me in Kythera this year on our Kapsali Retreat. Just as exciting is her upcoming workshop in Winchester next Saturday 9th March. It’s all about having fun with exploring unusual arm balances, jumping through and floating up! It’s £35. Come with me!

Yoga in the news

The South African Independent Online tells us: Adam Levine finds zen in yoga. (He’s the Maroon 5 singer!). He has some sweet things to say about his practice: ‘my practice is riddled with mistakes and imperfections. Which is precisely what makes it so powerful. Striving to do better while simultaneously remaining satisfied with where I am.’

Reuters Health tells us: Yoga linked to lowered blood pressure with regular practice. Participants in this study were ‘middle-aged, overweight women and men who already had high blood pressure or were close to developing the condition’.  It’s all good if you include pranayama and meditation. Unintended consequences are the injuries caused by yoga. The article helpfully says: ‘if a person is 70 or 80 and does too many hip-opening movements or hyper extensions, they may develop hip pain’.

Happy St David’s Day. Happy Springtime.

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