Movement to Support Detoxification Jun 01, 2023

Movement plays a vital role in our body’s natural detoxification functions. Understanding the various ways in which we clear out toxins from all cells and tissues (making space for nutrients to come in) illustrates how a sedentary lifestyle can leave us feeling sluggish, stagnant and somewhat ‘stewing in our own juices’.

The factors that affect your detoxification capacity

If you are making change to your nutritional habits for the new year, then it is vital that you bring in movement habits and patterns that allow these adjustments to fully rid yourself of the waste that builds up.  Every day our bodies are bombarded with toxins from both outside (exotoxins) – the polluted environment, medications, alcohol, cigarette smoke, car exhaust emissions and toxins from within the body (endotoxins) – the by-products of nutrient breakdown, hormones and bacterial waste products from the intestines.

The liver is not the only organ of detoxification, each cell...

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Respiratory & Immune Support at Home – focus on the breath breath covid19 support immunity self care wellness yoga May 24, 2023

Breath awareness

Bringing awareness to the quality of your breathing can support your immune potential, as well as your respiratory health. How we breathe is inherently linked into our immune system, as both our respiratory system and immunity are both orchestrated by our nervous system; as well as communicating with all other body systems e.g. digestive, endocrine (hormones) and circulatory.

This is reflected in our external relationship to the world – our nervous system is linked to internal thoughts and then portrays this by what is happening in our outside world. This is connected to how safe or unsafe we feel – our nervous system changes our breath and immune responses according to whether we go into mobilising fight-or-flight modes (sympathetic nervous system) or calming rest or digest modes (parasympathetic nervous system).

Breath and immunity

Our breathing is linked to our immune system in many ways, including:

• The respiratory system filters out,...

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Increasing your self-soothing capacity mindful self care wellness yoga May 18, 2023

If you are feeling the heightened stress of expectations of achievement, constant decision-making and information overload, you are not alone. In this age of disjointed social groups and generations, building awareness and practices that help soothe our frazzled systems is more important than ever.

Self-soothing is the mechanism our bodies use to bring us back down to calm, after or even during the jolt of stress. This can mean the space to decide the most compassionate and helpful reaction in a crisis or feeling all systems back to rest after being revved up and reactive. When we’re in chronic stress and life has become one big hyper-vigilant ‘constant alert’, we can feel we’ve lost this route back to settling down and finding the peace we need for recovery.

Without healthy self-soothing abilities, living in continually heightened states can be exhausting, lead to whole host of stress-related symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, IBS and weight gain to name a few)...

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Five Surprising Ways Exercise can help Digestion digestion yoga yoga teacher May 04, 2023

In her book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health, Charlotte Watts explains the connections between how we move, how we feel and the deep mind-body connections with digestive conditions. Here she explains how any form of conscious movement has the potential for unravelling the loss of internal movement and stress in tissues that play such deep roles in conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis.

Five key digestive factors can be affected by trauma, chronic stress, sedentary habits and postural issues, and in turn relieved by some simple movements:

  1.  Gut motility

Action throughout the whole digestive tract relies on peristalsis, a wave-like, spiralling muscular motion. This is the basis for ‘gut motility’, that if seized, interrupted or spasmodic, can be the basis for many digestive issues. The speeding up or slowing down of gut motility is a feature of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) where a go-slow means...

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Compassion for Health and Wellbeing health self care May 04, 2023

Listening to our hearts

“The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right here, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.”
― Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Compassion is an intrinsic part of Buddhist and yogic cultures, where there is an emphasis on feeling a deeper connection through non-violence and kind attention to the present moment. Metta Bhavana is one of the core Buddhist meditations and translates (from Pali), with Metta meaning loving-kindness and Bhavana to cultivation or development. With our tendencies for self-criticism and judging inner voices, this practice is gathering interest and respect from Western ideologies and researchers. For those practising it is not news that the practice sows the seeds to take a more...

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Turn your world upside down health yoga Apr 26, 2023

Turn your world upside down - simple inversions to support heart and circulatory health

We inherently know that ‘putting our feet up’ is a restful place to be, but fully changing our perspective on the world can have even greater repercussions for our heart health and stress-coping capacity. In this article we explore supported inversions that can offer a truly calming space in your day.

Many people associate inversions as more acrobatic, like the handstands, shoulderstand and headstand seen in so many yoga pictures. But whilst these more dynamic postures have their benefits, to reverse our usual relationship with gravity so we don’t need to hold up our body weight, offers a soothing and releasing mind-body effect. 

Whichever way we practice inversions, placing our hips above our head, aids the lymphatic flow so important for immune function and detoxification. This fluid system that runs throughout the whole body alongside the bloodstream. It relies on our...

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Yoga & Somatics for Immune & Respiratory Health covid19 support immunity Mar 23, 2023

Following the huge success of Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health comes Charlotte Watts’ timely exploration of our immune and respiratory systems, and how yoga and somatics play an integral part in maintaining whole-system health. We take a look inside the book, available to purchase here

When the UK went into its first Covid lockdown in 2020, people were abruptly separated and restricted from social contact. It wasn’t simply the virus itself that had devastating effects on global health but the ensuing reactivity, the effects of which are still rippling through our nervous systems. It was at this flashpoint of collective and individual trauma, stress and societal breakdown that Charlotte felt compelled to write Yoga and Somatics for Immune & Respiratory Health, knowing how vital the free flow of movement and social engagement are to mental and physical wellbeing. She was struck by the irony of how the focus of so much anxious attention at this time –...

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Exercises for Respiratory Health breath exercise movement Mar 23, 2023

Yoga for Respiratory Health

Breath is life and our quality of breathing determines the energy and vitality we feel. Whether you have a respiratory condition such as asthma or simply feel you grasp for breath and don’t quite feel your full breathing potential, supporting how you breathe through movement and exercise can help you thrive, body and mind.

Put most simply, breathing inhales oxygen into the body and exhales carbon dioxide out. This happens on a large scale through the lungs, but also for each and every one of the cells throughout your entire body. It is the respiratory system that provides the means for vital oxygen to enter bodies via our lungs, into the blood stream and ultimately through the whole body. The carbon dioxide excreted is the by-product of each cell’s breathing or ‘respiring’ – much like the body’s exhaust fumes.

Healthy lungs working optimally take in about ½ litre of air roughly 12-15 times each minute. They meet...

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Exercises to Free Neck, Shoulder, Jaw and Head Tension exercise yoga Feb 09, 2023

First published in What Doctor's Don't Tell You Magazine.

There are pros and cons to standing upright, yes our arms and hands are free to use as tools and to help us communicate with others, but the pay-off for bipedal living is inherent weakness in the lower back and neck. This often means that holding ourselves up from gravity translates into tension into the upper back, shoulders, neck and jaw.

When we get locked into work or stress postures (or even feeling protection in cold weather), our natural range of motion through the shoulders and neck can become compromised. Lack of flexibility in the neck region is associated with pain (BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015; 16: 56) and the more we can simply move, the less tension has a chance to build up.

The effects of stress on the shoulders, neck and jaw

Stress is expressed in body tissues as tightness, holding and viscosity. We can feel its physical, emotional and psychological effects most keenly through the state of our breath,...

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Does yoga help reduce inflammaging? inflammation yoga Jan 19, 2023

From environmental pathogens to modern diet, our cells are inflammaging – aging through increased inflammation. How can yoga help?

By Leonie Taylor and Charlotte Watts, co-authors of Yoga & Somatics for Immune & Respiratory Health

‘Inflammaging’, a term coined by Italian researcher Claudio Franceschi in 2000, refers to the low-grade chronic inflammation that often characterises the ageing process. This may partially explain why some older people suffer more from diseases such as COVID-19. Beyond this pandemic, many refer to the creeping symptoms related to inflammation – such as joint pain, loss of mobility or issues related to immune and respiratory health – as an inevitable sign of ageing.

‘Ageing is often described as the progressive accumulation of deleterious changes over time leading to a loss of physiological aptitude and fertility, an increased susceptibility to disease, and ultimately to death’[1]

 

While ageing is a...

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Exercise to reduce cravings and addictive cycles exercise sugar yoga Jan 12, 2023

We humans are wired to have neurological changes to the differing substances that can enter our bodies. Whether that is a dopamine rush from a sugar high, a glass of wine, an opioid medication, cigarette or stronger substance, these are varying degrees of changes in biochemistry that can have us coming back for more.

Whether our habitual and often compulsive behaviour patterns and use of food, drink, drugs (or behaviours like gambling, shopping, TV, excessive exercise or sex) wander into addictive territory can be subjective. When is a passion for good wine a mask for an alcohol problem or when does a cycle of pain create a dependency on pain medications for example? There is much debate whether sugar is addictive, but those caught in its thrall certainly struggle to give up and feel acute symptoms of withdrawal when they avoid it.

The definition of addiction (Miriam-Webster) states that addiction is “Compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming...

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How to... Resist Cravings food nutrition sugar Jan 05, 2023

It is part of our human condition to seek and want; desire is part of our motivation dynamic. As babies we first feel this when the desire to reach a toy or procure some food provides the impetus to learn to roll over or cultivate eye-to-hand coordination.

In this article, I will mainly discuss cravings for sugars and sweet foods, but many of the mechanisms and cycles described can equally apply to anything we crave. Not just food stuffs, but also general ‘stuff’ – having more, seeking and acquiring (think window shopping or Ebay trawling!) – in an attempt to fill a void or distract ourselves from being with uncomfortable feelings and emotions. They are also the roots of any addictive behaviour, from smoking to over-working, from alcohol to over-exercising, any behaviour of excess or that we feel ‘normalises’ us, can be examined from a few angles that can help free us from acting on our impulses and feel we have the liberation of choice.

The blood...

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