Hands free flow

Injuries can be frustrating and a real test to our patience. When it comes to our time on the mat it’s particularly challenging to be nursing a wrist, arm or shoulder injury. It may feel a bit limiting in a class environment but in your home practice it’s very easy to mind those injuries and flow freely without feeling a sense of limitation.

Essentially what we are cutting out in this sequence is downward dog and weight bearing poses on the upper body. Which may sound drastic but it’s as simple as going back to basics and stepping back to each standing pose rather than stepping forward from downward dog. We become so accustomed to linking everything through a vinyasa that we forget there is another way to move from pose to pose. If you cast your mind back to your very first yoga class you most likely didn’t vinyasa to link poses. This is quite a challenging movement and one we don’t teach beginners until they have grasped the basics. Often you will find the answer to your yoga conundrum if you take a beginners mind frame and try to see beyond the habitual patterns in your practice.

Even if you don’t have an arm injury this sequence is good to keep on hand. There maybe many reasons why coming down to the ground, indoor or outdoor, doesn’t look very inviting. I find when travelling I’ve encountered some questionable carpets in hotel rooms and have a preference not to take vinyasas during my short morning practices!

To help you flow through the sequence move fluidly step back with intension in your transitions from Tadasana/Mountain to each group of standing pose. Think of the step backs as a mini balancing pose as you press strongly into the standing leg, lift the stepping leg, and slow mo it to the back of the mat - recruiting all the stabilising muscles of your core and legs to support you. When in doubt come to the top of your mat and start into the next section of linked poses with a step back.

  • After your two rounds of Utkatasana/Chair and Ardha Uttanasana/Half Forward Fold come to stand at the top of your mat and pause for a few breathes before the next flow.

  • Step your left foot back first for your high lunge flow so that you are starting with your right side for the four poses. Then step your left foot forward to Tadasana/Mountain and repeat stepping the right foot back.

  • In row three try stepping from Virabhadrasana I/Warrior I to Vrksasana/Tree using all the stabilising and balancing muscles of your front leg to lift the back leg forward.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Self care flow


What does self care mean to you and can you allow time for yourself without self judgement? Self care crosses into many different areas of life – it can be about how you talk to yourself, learning to slow down and honouring your time, adding meditation into your day, or as simple as your morning cuppa ritual of quiet ‘me time’. Andrea Ferretti, host of the Yogaland Podcast defines self care as “the conscious act of taking care of your needs so that you can best serve your purpose, or dharma, in the world’. With this definition in mind self care is not just an inward journey, it is also about being of service to the world around us – this is why self care should never be considered self indulgent. Another way of looking at it is putting your gas mask on first before you tend to others. Speak kindly to yourself and you paved the way for kindness to others.

I’m currently doing a ‘Start your year with Self Care’ online course with Andrea and I’m absolutely loving it. This three week meditation and self reflection programme makes this sometimes tricky subject for some incredibly accessible and doable - in terms of the ability to accept the importance of self care and seeing that the time required to embed this in your everyday life is not overwhelming. Each week four meditations and a podcast with Andrea and Jason Crandell are unlocked for you to work through in your own time. There is the option to journal after each meditation and a Self Care Workbook to help you work out what self care means to you. As I finish off week three I’m contemplating how I can apply the principles I have learnt beyond the comfort and guidance of the programme. Naturally for me the best place to start is on my mat.

The self care of yoga and meditation helps you stay present and tune in to self awareness – making conscious choices easier to tap into throughout your day. This sequence gives lots of opportunities to ask yourself ‘which asana nourishes me?’. Hips will be opened; spines will be flexed, extended and twisted; and the strong muscles of your legs will be charged. As you flow through this sequence notice which poses you enjoy and which challenge you physically and mentally. Build a picture of what is your unique self care through yoga is. After your practice ask yourself ‘what will I do differently today to take care of myself?’

Move slowly and pause in each of the poses long enough to register how they sit with you. The peak pose of this sequence is Camatkarasana/Wild Thing, which is a pose with nowhere to hide! Love it or hate it, it brings up emotions. It is a full body backbend, a strong arm balance and an inversion as the heart is higher than the head. Read through these alignment cues to get the most out of your pose and feel it ripple through your whole body.

  • From Vasisthasana, step your left foot behind your right leg with a bent knee, inhale here.

  • Exhale, ground into your right foot to lift your hips up and arch your upper back.

  • Rotate your left palm to face the front of the mat, sweep your arm up and over your ear.

  • Arch through your whole back, lengthen your neck and softly reach your head back, expand through the collarbones and open through your heart centre, gaze up.

I highly recommend Andrea Ferretti’s wonderful online self care meditation course. The course is a real time three week session with interaction with Andrea and an optional Facebook group, which is the type of online course I find I get so much more out of. Pop yourself on her waiting list to be notified of the next session.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

The organ body

The organ body is housed in the main trunk of the body and consist of the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and digestive system. Each organ has a specific job with one thing in common – removal of waste products from the body. The body is cleverer than we give it credit for. We don’t need a strict regime of green smoothies and colonic irrigations for the body to detox. It is constantly working on moving unwanted byproduct out of the systems. What yoga can do is works from the inside to optimise conditions for the organs to do this important job. Contrary to what you might hear in class yoga doesn’t wring out the organs (apart from the gut which enjoys a good twist). Twists and backbends stimulate cellular activity and circulation in the organs, this helps the organs work more efficiently to remove waste. In our practice we twist to the right first to press the ascending colon, and then to the left to the descending colon. Gently moving things along in the right direction for optimum elimination. You might remember, if you ever did baby massage, there was a very specific direction you had to massage the babies stomach to help with wind. Yoga follows the same principles.

The organs work in symbiosis with the skeletal and muscular systems – both supporting and protecting each other. The heart and lungs fill and support the ribcage, and the ribcage protect these organs – the stomach and liver work with the mid torso; the gut with the spine; and the kidneys with the lower back body. Feeling into these spaces in your practice can be easier for some organs than others. We can feel the oscillation of the breath and the constant pulse of the heart, but the liver, kidneys and gut can be harder to sense. Moving from the inside and visualising where these area are will help you feel into the spaces that these organs occupy.

We often blame our muscles or our anatomy for restrictions in poses, but often it can the organs restricting movement. Think of taking a twist with a full stomach, apart from being quite uncomfortable, you will notice you can’t take a very deep twist. We forget sometimes we are more than just our bones and muscles and that our organs occupy and the core of what we are trying to move.

Throughout this sequence see can you initiate the movement from the inside and try to soften your attachment to how your pose looks from the outside.

  • Start in a comfortable cross legged position. Take five deep breaths and feel for the space where the heart (hand over top left chest region), lungs (both hands over chest region), liver and stomach (both hands just under your bottom rib), intestines (both hands over belly) and kidneys (both hands either side of lower back) are.

  • When you come into Warrior II expand and dilate the lungs and heart centre. Let your arms extend from this boyante area. Now allow your chest to collapse and and notice what effect this has. The expanded heart and open lungs supports the extended arms.

  • Before you take a twist ot backbend lengthen up through the whole spine to get space between the vertebrae to move into.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Breathing out self judgement

December was an incredible month for Yogaru. After many years of designing and building my 108 ASANA sequencing cards, it was a tough job keeping up with demands in retail and online. Thank you to all who have chosen to explore their home practice, you are part of a growing tribe! January brings with it a welcome return to teaching regular public classes in a beautiful new studio right on my doorstep in Blackrock – Moons Yoga Loft. This sequence is based on the class theme for the month of January with I am honoured to be starting from tomorrow morning!

No matter how hard you try to hide from it January is a month where we are besieged with pressure to set New Year’s Resolutions and change the way we are. Even if you’re quite happy with where you are, you can’t help digging deep to find some area for self criticism and conform to the mass hysteria. Last year I made a conscious effort to buck the trend by ‘Stepping gently into the New Year’. This year the same challenges face me and I’m looking to my breath to calm the mind and not get caught up on the merry go round.

Set yourself an intention for changing the internal chatter of self judgement to self care. The world would be a monotonous and one dimensional place to live in we were all perfectly formed and perfectly balanced. Variety is the spice of life in all its shapes and forms. Next time you catch yourself going down the route of ‘I’m not good enough’ change the conversation to ‘I am perfectly imperfect’! Say it in your mind, write it down, set a reminder on your phone. Remind yourself you are exactly who you need to be right now, and not in a months time after a gruelling New Years Resolution.

This sequence is an evolution of the ‘Step gently into the New Year’ sequence. It adds exploration of Viloma breath in movement and challenges you to look for the breath in your back body in Child’s Pose. Back body breathing stimulates the rest restore and digest nervous system response. As you inhale think ‘I am’ and on your exhale release self judgement and think ‘perfectly imperfect’.

Start your practice on your back with your knees bent, feet mat distance apart. Place your hands on your belly and feel the breath move through you. Take three to five rounds of Viloma breath – inhale for a long breath, and then exhale pause, exhale pause, exhale pause – dividing your exhale into three sections. Pause after your rounds and notice any change to you body and mind.

Think of how we react to stressful situations – we exhale deeply – this is the body trying to find balance again. Stay close to the breath and look to extend your exhale. Let the breath guide your movement in the mini flow sections of the sequence and follow the guide of which pose you inhale and exhale for.

  • After you have done three to five rounds of Viloma breath in a resting position move on to the core work section using the same breathing technique. For the first round you will be holding the left leg and lowering the right leg in increments of three as you take your three Viloma exhales, inhale brings the leg back up. In the second round you will keep your hands beside you or in cactus arms and use your core to draw your left knee into your chest as you take your three Viloma breath exhales, inhale brings the leg back up.

  • Pause in child pose before the Cat, Cow, Child Pose flow breathe into the back body. When going through this mini flow link each movement with your breath and let the breath dictate when you are ready to move on to the next pose, ‘+’ is an inhale and ‘-’ is an exhale. Pause in child pose again after and breathe into the back body again.

  • For half forward fold press your hands into your shins and reach your chest forward to feel the strength in your upper back. Pause here in this mini flow of row three.

  • Your final pose is a restorative pose using a bolster. Place the back of your pelvis towards the short end of the bolster. Gently ease yourself back onto the bolster and place your arms by your sides palms facing up. You can stay here for your full Savasana or, after about five minutes of your chest opener restorative, remove the bolster and come down to you mat for Savasana.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

12 Christmas sequences

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Christmas can be full to the brim with festivities, friends, family & happiness, it can also sometimes be hectic, stressful & overwhelming! Making it the perfect time of year to carve out a little bit of self care each day. Rolling out your yoga mat to recenter will help you enjoy time with friends and family, take all the ups and downs in your stride, and help you stay well over the winter months.

This Christmas I teamed up with The Irish Balance to bring 12 Days of Christmas Yoga sequences on Instagram. Each sequence had a different theme to support you during this busy time of year. I demystified how this sequence is helping you and Ciara gave some The Irish Balance tips for life balance. Thank you to all who joined us, yogis from far and wide spreading the Christmas yoga happiness!

All 12 sequences are here for you to save, print out and give it a go, or keep the practice going if you joined us on Instagram. You can practice all 12 or pick a few that have everything you need. Each sequence can be repeated as many times as you like. You’re very welcome to share these sequences or to teach them if you are a yoga teacher.

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The best way to get you started for your 12 day Christmas Yoga flow is with a day of Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskaras. The Sun Salutation is a whole body and mind mini flow, and will give you everything you need from your practice today. It’s the adaptogen of the yoga world! It calms you when you need calming and it energises you when you’ve burnt the candle at both ends. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Do one round of each Surya, then add the additional poses for the next four rounds. Peak Pose – Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

This time of year the temperature drops, the rain arrives, & the wind whips around us as we rush from A to B. It’s important to take good care of your physical health during winter, so here’s my top 2 tips! 1. Wrap up warm when you’re heading out. 2. Make sure to eat at least 5 servings of fruit & veg per day to boost your micro-nutrient intake. Ciara x

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With a cold snap in the air it’s time to stoke your internal generator and and get your circulation going. This sequence has plenty of twists and standing poses to keep you warmer than your Christmas wooly jumper! Twists stimulate the organs of the body which generate natural body heat from the inside and give you a bonus glow to your complexion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two round of Surya C in Row 1 for your warm up, then two more rounds in Row 2 where you add in your standing twists. Peak Pose – Parivrtta Utkatasana/Revolved Chair Pose. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

It can be VERY tricky to motivate ourselves to get moving & get our exercise in during winter. But it’s often the thing we need the most – even when we don’t feel like it! So here’s my top 2 tips to stay active! 1. Start your day with even a little movement - try our 12 Days Yoga Flow & a short brisk walk! 2. Make it social – grab a family member or friend for a stroll & a catch up. Ciara x

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A healthy and happy gut is the key to a strong immune system for the winter months. 80% of the immune system is produced in the gut. Backbends stimulate the digestive system, bring fresh blood to the lining of the gut and helping it work more efficiently. Inversions boost your circulation and help the body flush out toxins too. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 1 come all the way down to the ground and take locust. Don’t worry if headstand is not part of your practice you are still getting plenty of inversions in Downward Dog. Peak Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana/Bridge. Ruth x

The Christmas period can be a source of anxiety for many who fear they will ‘lose control’ over their healthy eating habits. You WON’T! It’s a season to be enjoyed. Here’s my 2 tips to move past that worry. 1. Hit your 5 fruit & veg servings at a minimum every day – a wonderful start to a daily healthy diet! 2. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day – hydration is so important for many aspects of our health, but especially so at Christmas when alcohol consumption goes up a bit! Ciara x

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We hold physical and emotional tension in our hips. Hip openers help to relieve physical tension and in turn release emotional tension too. Spend some extra time in these hip opening poses to help release this built up tension. The magic will happen when you stay in a comfortable stretch rather than going to your end range of motion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 2 add lizard pose in the first round and half splits on your second round. Remember to do both left and right sides for each pose. Peak Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana/Half Lord of the Fishes. Ruth x

It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year in my book, but Christmas can also make even the most zen of us go a little crazy with the thoughts of the presents to buy! My top 2 tips to bust the stress are: 1. Make a list! Write down the gifts & tasks you need to do before you start your day – take pride in ticking each one off! 2. Make time for YOU – set aside t10-15 minutes, everyday, & do something you enjoy. It might reading, our yoga flows, a cuppa tea – but give it to yourself as a daily gift. Ciara x

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The countdown to Christmas has definitely kicked in and the shops are getting busier by the day. This sequence will help you focus the mind and give you an extra bit of stamina to face the crowds and enjoy that Christmas shopping buzz. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Take an extra few breaths n your warm up poses on the first two rows to open out your hips and groin. Peak Pose – Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II. Ruth x

Ah, the Christmas shop! You’re armed with your list, yoga done for the day, and when you get to the stores it mayhem. Don’t panic! Here’s 2 tips to master your shopping tasks. 1. Write down the locations where you’re likely to find the gifts on your lift. Be direct in where you go – don’t linger! 2. Make time for a break with a friend – schedule that coffee date mid-shopping trip for a catch up & a laugh! Ciara x

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Your calendar is filling up and you’re wondering how you’re going to fit it all in. Todays sequence will help get your energy levels up so you can enjoy all your Christmas social festivities. Balancing standing poses wake you up and are very energising. They power up the big muscles of the legs and help pump fresh oxygen around the whole body which give you that extra pep in your step. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Run through a round of ½ Sury from row one before the three main mini flow on row two and three. Peak Pose – Ardha Chandrasana/Half Moon. Ruth x

The ‘silly season’ can take a LOT out of us, as we feel like we have to say YES to every party & get together we’re invited to. Instead of fretting about all the nights out, take on board these 2 tips. 1. Be grateful for the friends & family you have in your life at this time of year – many people do not, & we should be thankful to have good people around us – even if they ate the last good chocolate out of the Roses! 2. Try to have a break for evenings by the fire between your social activities where possible – and reset with at least 7 (ideally 8) hours sleep on those nights! Ciara x

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In the winter months we’re inclined to curl our shoulders in to guard ourselves from the windy, cold weather. Gentle backbends will crack open your heart centre and help you stay open and present for all your Christmas social outings and might even have you dancing and prancing till the small hours of the morning! Backbends also have the added benefits of ease anxiety, stress and tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two rounds of forward bends and half forward bends, pause in your half forward bend and look for the strength of your upper back. Peak Pose – Natarajasana/Lord of the Dance. Ruth x

Christmas is an absolutely wonderful time to just let your hair down a little bit. We live in a world now where social media can overwhelm us with posts & articles on how to ‘be’ healthy. But sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do for your body & mind is to let go a little – so this season, my top 2 tips here are: 1. Make it your mission to dance at LEAST once during this season. 2. Get some friends & family together at the social event & start a sing-song! I love belting out my favourite Christmas tunes – if no one wants to sing, just put Christmas FM on! Ciara x

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Late nights catching up with friends and family can take its toll on you. This gentle sequence has plenty of restorative poses and lots of opportunities to take childs poses. It will refresh your system and bring you back to balance again by boosting your circulation and massaging your gut to give you time to restore ready for your next festivities. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. I’m a great believer in using a blanket in Savasana. Not just for warmth but for the added weight on the body which tells it you are safe and helps you relax that extra 10%. Peak Pose – Salabhasana/Locust. Ruth x

As a kid, I always found St. Stephen’s/Boxing Day a little weird – Santa had come & gone, & I just wanted to restart the Christmas Eve magic again! Nowadays, I relish those post-Christmas days before New Year’s. They’re my time to see family & friends I didn’t get to see earlier in the month, & importantly when I find I reflect on the year just past, & start to form some thoughts on my goals for the year to come. So here’s my 2 post-festivities tips: 1. Write down 3 achievements from your 2018 during the days between Christmas & New Year – and be darn PROUD of them. 2. Write down 3 things you want to set as goals for 2019. Keep those 2 pieces of paper somewhere special – a journal, drawer, your phone, wherever! Ciara x

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Trains, planes and automobiles (or as we say cars!). When we travel we sit for long periods of time which shortens the front hip muscles. This built up tension can be very tiring and leave you wiped out after travel. Stretching out the front hips in this sequence is the perfect way to counteract this hip tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Spend a bit of extra time in your high lunge to lengthen out those hip flexor muscles. Peak Pose – Ashta Chandrasana/Eight Crescent Moon. Ruth x

I’ve been told I’m like a Duracell bunny because of my energy – I love that! True to form, I get REALLY fidgety when I have to sit for prolonged periods – especially on long travel journeys! So here’s my 2 tips to keep you mobile while to travel: 1. Take our Yoga Flows with you! I always keep a series of screenshots on my phone of Yogaru Sequences – I can do these abroad, in a hotel, gym, bedroom – simple! 2. As soon as you land in your new holiday surroundings – get out & explore! I love to see a new place on foot, & an adventurous stroll is a great way to start. Ciara x

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See what we’ve done there! Practice this sequence and get into the tree decorating mood. Lengthen up through the tip of the crown and get that start onto the top of the tree. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In the flow on row three, run through the five poses with your right leg forward and then pivot to the back of the mat to take the five poses with your left foot forward. Repeat this twice so you have done two on right and two on left. Peak Pose – Vrksasana/Tree. Ruth x

One of my favourite days in December – putting up the Christmas Tree. It’s mandatory attendance in my house on this day, with all 6 of us in the Kelly family present. I love it. So for your 2018 tree, try these 2 tips: 1. Make sure your tree goes up with company you love to keep – family, significant other, friend, you name it. Cherish the time you spend decorating! 2. Buy a new decoration for your 2018 tree. It doesn’t have to be expensive – you could even make one! I do this every year – I visited the Belfast Titanic exhibition in the Spring & picked up mine then! Ciara x

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We place high expectations on this one day of the year and it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. This sequence will set you up for the day with some forward folds to help you keep a level head and stay flexible in body and mind for the day! PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide Legged Forward Fold. Ruth x

Oh, boy. The MAGIC of Christmas morning. This time of year has always been my favourite, & it stems from my childhood in America, waking up at 3am trying to catch Santa – my poor, ever patients parents! As an adult (I think!) it’s just as special for me. So here’s my Christmas Day tips: 1. Savour the moment of opening each present, & really feel the gratitude for the person who spent time, thought & money on getting you a special gift. 2. Enjoy every second you get to experience someone taking pleasure & joy from a gift you’re giving them! They say it’s a greater gift to give than receive, & I definitely agree. Ciara x

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Our digestive system likes routine and can sometimes get a bit grumpy when we give it richer foods than it may be used to. This can leave you feeling a bit bloated, sluggish and not quite as ‘regular’ as you usually are! This sequence will gently press, squeeze and wring out your gut to jump start your digestive system again and have you feeling ready to tackle the new year head on. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Malasana/Squat. Ruth x

The Christmas FEAST. Is there a dinner more revered around the world? I think not. Whether you’re a turkey fan, vegetarian, or vegan, Christmas Day dinner is a really special occasion for all involved – a pretty busy one too! And yes, we often indulge in a wee bit more dinner & dessert than usual. But listen up guys – here’s my final tip. It’s a good one, so it counts as 2! Christmas Day is ONE DAY OF THE YEAR. Embrace, & enjoy your Christmas feast. Eat slowly, mindfully, laughing & enjoying your time with family & friends around you. Merry Christmas gang, and the very Happiest and healthiest of New Year to you and yours. Ciara x

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Ruth Delahunty Yogaru