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Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge 2020!

By | Asana | No Comments

It’s time for the annual Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge!

Students taking part in a yoga plank challenge

We’d love to see your creative planking too!

Whether you’re a new student with Peacock Tree Yoga or a veteran, we’d love you to join in with our 2020 Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge, starting on Monday 27th April. Over 21 days, you’ll build yourself up to a three-minute plank, using the variation that suits you best.

Why we run the Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge…

The Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge is an opportunity to create strength in both body and mind; to develop your will power – and build a core of steel in the process. It’s perfect for powering us up as we move into the firey months of the year.

It’s not actually as hard as it sounds – you just need to build up gradually by choosing a plank variation that suits you, and then following the plan. But beware – once you’ve discovered your potential, there’ll be no stopping you!!

Print off the 21-day Peacock Tree Plank Challenge practice sheet, stick it to the fridge, and while you wait for the kettle to boil at the start or end of the day, for example, get on your yoga mat and plank like there’s no tomorrow!

Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge 2020

Keeping track of your progress

Personal trainer helping with a plank challenge

Can’t afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we’ll support you!

Try your best to meet your daily goals – and give yourself a sense of satisfaction each time by ticking the relevant box. Do let us know how it’s going – post your photos and films on Instagram and Facebook and tag @peacocktreeyoga, so we can see them!

Oh, and if you want to give us and your fellow students a laugh, feel free to get playful with it – find a strange location to practice, do it in your work clothes, or try some plank variations!

But above all, enjoy it – be grateful for what your body is allowing you to do (even on days when your body doesn’t allow you to meet your goal). Notice how your body is changing and becoming stronger, and join in with our online conversations for support and motivation throughout the challenge. Not part of our Facebook community? Come into the fold!

Don’t know how to do plank properly?

One of the simplest, safest and easiest ways to build yourself up to a three minute plank is to adopt dolphin plank, which involves resting on your forearms with elbows bent (rather than on your hands with straight arms). Keep your toes tucked under and your body and legs off the floor, in a strong horizontal line – like a plank!

Stay focused throughout and let this wonderful music (composed by my teacher) do the counting!

Need an easier option?

Peacock Tree Yoga Plank Challenge guidelines

Is your plank straight?

If you find it too difficult to hold the full posture, drop your knees to the floor for extra support – just make sure your thighs and torso are in a straight line. And do try to lift your knees again as the challenge progresses – you might surprise yourself!

If your neck hurts, you can always place a block or a stack of books beneath your face and rest your forehead on it while you hold the posture.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt?

If you’re familiar with plank and other core strength exercises, you might like to work on some plank variations – be it a high plank, a one-legged plank, a side plank, or an acro yoga plank… You might also find that our upcoming Yoga Ninja workshop is right up your street!

Beware of a cheating bottom!

Your biggest foe during this challenge will be your bottom. It will either try to cheat, by being higher than the rest of your body, or it will be lazy, sagging down to create an unwelcome dip in the centre of the posture.

Not sure if you have a cheating or lazy bottom? Then check yourself out in a mirror or ask someone else to tell you if your body is in a straight line.

Ready? Download the the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge 2020 and get planking!

By the light of the… Super Pink Moon!

By | Asana, Teachings | No Comments

The first full moon of Spring has arrived, along with the blossoms, buds and birdsong that typify this time of awakening. The 2020 ‘Pink Moon’ (named after the colour of the ‘phlox sublata’ wildflowers which bloom in eastern North America at this time) is also a ‘supermoon’, which means it looks bigger and brighter than usual. So what does it all mean for you and your yoga practice?

For Ashtanga yoga practitioners (hello, Monday night students!), a full moon will always be worth observing – New moons, too. Ashtangis consider moon days as holidays, or days when they need to reduce the intensity of their practice, because it is said that when the earth, sun and moon are all in a straight line in space, universal energy is much stronger, and the possibility of injury is greater – hence, asana practice should be avoided.

Curious to know what phase of the moon you were born in?

But it’s not just in the Ashtanga yoga world, where we find respect for the phase of the moon, and encouragement to slow down and adapt our practice. Hatha yoga, which we can consider as the umbrella term for all forms of physical yoga practice, including Ashtanga, is all about balancing heightened and subdued energy – whether these are brought about by the phase of the moon, or the time of the year.

What goes up…

Subtle energetic body

Subtle energy in motion

According to Satyananda Saraswati, author of the popular contemporary text on Hatha yoga, ‘Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha’, during the full moon cycle, pranic energy (prana vayu) is dominant. This pranic energy is upward moving – through the spine and towards the head. When this happens, we tend to experience an increase of internal fluid, physical energy and mental activity.

During the new Moon cycle, apranic energy (apana vayu) is said to be dominant. Apranic energy is downward moving – towards the base of the spine – making this period one of elimination and reduction. People will often notice a loss of internal fluid, dry, stiff muscles and joints, decreased physical and mental energy, and a sense of lethargy and moodiness.

The ebb and flow of nature

Western science is pretty much on board with the idea that the phase of the moon can affect our energy levels. We know that our bodies are made of 70% water, and that this makes us vulnerable to the gravitational pull of the sun and moon, much like our oceans and seas. The science doesn’t end there, either, with yogic notions of energy and the movement of energy corresponding with Western medicine’s understanding of the nervous system.

The energetic body

PTY full moon blog anuloma viloma

Anuloma Viloma balances energy

In yoga, we have the concept of nadis, which are believed to carry this life force known as ‘prana’ (in Sanskrit) or ‘qi’ in Chinese-based systems. We can think of nadis as invisible veins running throughout the body. The most important ‘vein’ is the shushumna nadi, which corresponds with the spine and is the vessel for awakened Kundalini energy – energy which rises and leads to enlightenment!

Two other significant nadis are the Ida and Pingala nadis – and these are often compared to the two hemispheres of the brain; Ida reflecting the left side, and Pingala the right. Prana (active energy) circulates inside Pingala, while apana (passive energy) flows through Ida. For optimum health and spiritual wellbeing, Hatha yoga tells us we must ensure that these energies work in harmony with each other.

The physical body

The autonomic nervous system (which we can sum up as ‘all the things our bodies do without our conscious involvement’ – a beating heart or a perspiring forehead, for example), is comprised of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’ during stressful situations, by raising the heart rate, releasing adrenalin and firing up the muscles. The parasympathetic system, on the other hand, operates during normal situations and is there for responsible for things like digestion and the conservation of energy.

If we’re constantly stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, be it with activity, stressful situations, or a full moon, we’re at risk of activating the parasympathetic nervous system so much so, that it becomes the norm. And as a result, so too does high blood pressure, inability to sleep, and a damaging expenditure of energy. Conversely, if we’re only ever in a state of rest, we will never get anything done! And so it is that we must find a balance between the two.

Yoga for a full moon

In Ashtanga yoga, many practitioners will gladly take a day off during a full moon – and understandably so, since they do generally commit themselves to six early morning practices a week! Many others will adapt their practice, often taking their lead from a ‘chandra krama’, or moon sequence, devised by world-renowned Ashtangi, Matthew Sweeney (see video, below).

In our classes this week, we will observe the Supermoon and bring about energetic balance by focusing on twists, and along with postures which give us a sense of being grounded – tethered and resistant to the unbalancing, upward pull of the full moon. We’ll also utilise Anuloma Viloma and spend time in Tratak meditation – a way of focusing the mind, whilst honouring the light in our Selves and the light of the sun, reflected on the surface of the full moon.