Andrew McGonigle: 5 Reasons Why Lotus Might Not be for Your Hip

Andrew McGonigle has been studying anatomy for over twenty years, originally training to become a doctor and then moving away from Western medicine to become a yoga teacher, massage therapist and anatomy teacher. He combines all of his skills and experience to teach anatomy and physiology on Yoga Teacher Training courses internationally and runs his own online Anatomy and Physiology Applied to Yoga courses. His new book, Supporting Yoga Students with Common Injuries and Conditions, is out now. In this article, using our hip joints as an example, Andrew explains why yoga practice and what feels comfortable varies for each of us.

Have you ever wondered why certain yoga postures can feel so easeful in your body while others can feel like such a challenge?

Or why one person can sit cross-legged for hours having never practiced yoga and you still need to sit on four cushions after practicing yoga for years?

The short answer to this is that every body is entirely unique and will express a certain yoga pose in a completely unique way. There are also emotional, psychological and nervous system components that affect how much movement our joints make and the quality of that movement.

Let’s explore some of these factors using our hip joints as an example. Continue reading

Denise Tiran on Using Natural Remedies in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Denise Tiran HonDUniv FRCM MSc is an internationally renowned authority on maternity complementary medicine, having pioneered the subject as a midwifery specialism since the early 1980s. She is Chief Executive Officer and Education Director for Expectancy, an independent education company providing complementary therapies courses for midwives, doulas and other maternity workers. Denise was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Greenwich in October 2020 and a Fellowship of the Royal College of Midwives in 2018 in recognition of her work in this field.

Here, she introduces her new book, Using Natural Remedies Safely in Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Reference Guide for Maternity and Healthcare Professionals.

I’ve been publishing on maternity complementary therapies for many years but the huge increase in popularity of natural remedies, including aromatherapy oils, herbs and homeopathic remedies led me to write this latest book. Expectant parents frequently ask midwives, doctors, doulas and antenatal teachers about the use of remedies such as raspberry leaf tea, and for remedies such as castor oil and evening primrose to start labour. The massive rise in popularity of aromatherapy in pregnancy and birth also means that parents often ask about essential oils, or want to bring them into the birth centre for use in labour. This can sometimes put the midwife or doctor in a difficult position because they may know very little about the oils and which are safe or not. Continue reading

Using Raw Herbs in Chinese Medical Dermatology

Sabine Schmitz (M. Med. TCM) is a graduate of the Zhèjiang Chinese Medical University in Hángzhou, China where she majored in Chinese medical dermatology. Her enormous knowledge treasures from China as well as her many years of experience benefit many patients with chronic and complex skin diseases – such as psoriasis and eczema – but also many other patients with various diseases. Sabine has a busy TCM practice specializing in skin diseases, gynecological disorders and infertility treatment. Her first book with Singing Dragon, Treating Psoriasis with Chinese Herbal Medicine (Revised Edition) was published in 2020 as part of a new dermatology series. Her second book with us, Treating Acne and Acne Rosacea with Chinese Herbal Medicine, will be published in November 2021.

When I look at social media these days, I see more and more reports from patients describing improvements in their skin diseases by using Chinese herbs. That is a good thing because it spreads awareness of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and gives other patients, who might currently be looking for a suitable therapy, options and ideas. Sometimes, patients upload pictures of granules, sometimes raw herbs or, in rare cases, I see pills. However, today I would like to discuss why raw herbs are best in the treatment of chronic and complex skin diseases from a therapist’s point of view, who sees difficult skin diseases every day.

Using decoctions as treatment

The wide variety of treatment options developed over the centuries and the extensive range of internal and external applications TCM offers are a direct response to the flexibility required in curing complex disease patterns. When talking about raw herbs, I am referring to “decoctions”, in Chinese this is called jiān jì (煎剂). As seen in practice, decoctions, or teas, of raw herbs are the most effective form of treatment. They are easy to prepare and drink. And when I say easy to prepare, I mean boiling raw herbs up for a couple of hours a week – it’s not rocket science and most patients will do this when the benefits are properly explained to them. Continue reading

Touch is Really Strange: An Interview with Steve Haines

Why can’t we tickle ourselves? How can slow touch convey more powerful emotions than fast touch? How does touch shape our perception of the world? In this short interview, Steve Haines – author of Singing Dragon’s best-selling Really Strange series – discusses the inspiration behind his new book, Touch is Really Strange

When did you start working on the book?

The idea for a book on touch has been around since 2019, but this was definitely a lockdown project. The Really Strange series has been huge fun and continues to get heart-warming feedback. There have been suggestions for books on Depression, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Grief or Breath.

Whilst I have some experience with clients with all those topics, I realised I have far more to say about touch. I use touch everyday in normal work life and teach 2-year courses on being skilful with touch.

What inspired the topic?

In my career I have undergone a paradigm shift in how I understand touch. Continue reading

Yoga Teaching Guides Introduced by Sian O’Neill

Yoga Teaching Guides

Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides is a new series of books, launching in March 2021. Edited by Sian O’Neill and written by renowned experts in the field, the books in the series cover essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from series editor Sian as she introduces some of the upcoming books and talks about her inspiration behind the series. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

As a yoga teacher, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas to help improve my classes for students and I have a feeling I am not alone. It can be challenging to come up with varied, interesting (and safe) classes week after week – so practical tips from highly experienced and inspiring teachers are always appreciated.

Sian O’Neill

Following the successful launch of the Yoga Teaching Handbook, it became clear that there is an interest among yoga teachers and trainees in practical tips to enrich their teaching. So, I was thrilled when Singing Dragon asked me to be editor for a new series aimed at yoga teachers, Yoga Teaching Guides, and we are delighted to be launching a series of volumes on topics ranging from supporting injured students; yoga and qigong; developing a home practice; the art of theming, and yoga and Ayurveda – with more to follow. Continue reading

Announcing our new Yoga Teaching Guides

We are pleased to introduce you to our brand new series of books: Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides. This series – written by experts in the field – covers essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon, as she introduces the series and shares a few hints on what is yet to come. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

Back in 2017, Singing Dragon published the Yoga Teaching Handbook, an edited collection which brought together experts sharing their experiences of the day-to-day practicalities of teaching yoga and managing yoga businesses. The handbook was one of the very first yoga books I commissioned, and it was truly wonderful to work with a group of people so passionate about yoga and so committed to sharing knowledge and advice with the wider yoga community.

Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon

Four years later we are launching our brand-new series, Yoga Teaching Guides, inspired by the 2017 handbook. Building on the key topics and themes included in the handbook, our series authors are able to share their expertise in greater depth so that yoga teachers everywhere can refine their skillset, be inspired to think creatively about teaching, and ultimately feel confident in sharing a meaningful yoga practice with students. Continue reading

A Natural Approach to Treating Psoriasis with Chinese Medicine

Sabine Schmitz

Sabine Schmitz (M. Med. TCM) is a graduate of the Zhèjiang Chinese Medical University in Hángzhou, China where she majored in Chinese medical dermatology. Her enormous knowledge treasures from China as well as her many years of experience benefit many patients with chronic and complex skin diseases – such as psoriasis and eczema – but also many other patients with various diseases. Sabine has a busy TCM practice specializing in skin diseases, gynecological disorders and infertility treatment. Her first book with Singing Dragon, Treating Psoriasis with Chinese Herbal Medicine (Revised Edition) was published in 2020 as part of a new dermatology series. Her second book with us, Treating Acne and Acne Rosacea with Chinese Herbal Medicine, will be published in November 2021.

Change is the only constant in life – a popular quote by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. And it is true, in life ups and downs alternate, joy and sadness, and so on. This is normal. Life is not a constant continuum of ongoing happiness and living on the bright side as the current pandemic shows us. All of us are facing difficult times right now. In my practice, I observe the longer difficult times like this pandemic for instance lasts the more problems the patients have. Patients get tense, stressed or anxious depending what kind of type of person they are. They either develop new symptoms or, and that’s quite often, old processes flare up again and worsen. As I do specialize in TCM Dermatology and Gynaecology I see this to be true for many skin diseases every day. Chronic skin diseases like psoriasis are good examples of this.

We all know that skin diseases in general are often complicated and neither easy nor fast in their treatment. Stress and emotions like frustration, anger as well as anxiety definitely need to be taken into account. In my practice, I frequently observe in patients with psoriasis who have had episodes of severe stress or periods of recurring frustration and anger a worsening of their skin condition. Thus, we need to take the patients’ emotions and circumstances into account. It would be a mistake not to do this – to not consider the obvious which is often the root cause of the disease. Saying this, I really think that right now our wonderful medicine is needed more than ever! Continue reading

Hypermobile People and Yoga – An Extract from Jess Glenny

Jess Glenny is a Yoga Register Teacher (Elder) and a C-IAYT yoga therapist. She has been practising yoga with hEDS since 1981, and for many years has specialised in working with hypermobile people. She is the author of The Yoga Teacher Mentor: A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes (published in 2020) and her new book, Hypermobility on the Yoga Mat: A Guide to Hypermobility-Aware Yoga Teaching and Practice is available for pre-order now, publishing in February 2021.

In this article, adapted from her new book, Jess discusses why hypermobile people might be drawn towards the practice of yoga.

Yoga teacher Amber Wilds writes:

During my teacher training I was told, you probably won’t see hypermobility in your yoga classes very often, but it became apparent over the duration of our training that many of my fellow students were hypermobile (to varying degrees). While some had been diagnosed, others hadn’t been aware of their hypermobility prior to our training. I therefore began to question whether, rather than being a rarity in a yoga class, hypermobility was actually far more common than initially thought.[i]

Indeed, as we have seen, hypermobile people are one population you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter in significant numbers in any yoga class you teach. Why is this? Why do people whose range of joint motion is so excessive as to be considered pathological flock to an activity with the potential to increase it further? There are a number of reasons. Continue reading

Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain: Posting Exercises to Try

Mount Qingcheng, one of China’s mystical mountains, has been the birth place of discovery, realization and preservation of the recipes that stimulate the deep potential of the human body for generations. Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain, the follow-up book to Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain by Daoist master Wang Yun, simplifies the complex practices of Daoism handed down by generations of accomplished Masters – such as posting, breath practice and meditation – and gifts the reader with its most valuable aspects for a modern world.

In this extract, we share three simple posting exercises to incorporate into everyday life to promote the flow of qi and blood, boost the immune system and help relax the body.

Posting relaxation exercises

[Benefits of posting include: promoting the smooth flow of qi and blood, methodically harmonizing the breath, and clearing the channels of the entire body.]

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, imagine a string hanging straight down from the upper dantian (near the pineal gland) to the huiyin point (the perineum), and landing on the floor between your two feet. Next, imagine your whole body as a bag of air, as if you were completely hollow. At the same time, relax your body; from the hair on your head down to the yongquan points at the bottom of the feet. Everything is totally empty, like a transparent crystal ball. Relax your body in this way and repeat the visualization three times. Continue reading

Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain: Testimonials from Wang Yun’s Students

Immersing the mind with the concepts of the Daoist path of health and immortality, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain – the new book by Daoist master Wang Yun – invokes the sacred birthplace of one of China’s mystical mountains that has stimulated both mind and body for generations.

Whilst the first volume, Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain, invited the reader to travel across time and through the history of China and Daoism, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain is more focused in the book’s purpose. Wang Yun places special focus on relaxation and the breath through five sets of foundational yet all-encompassing practices, such as posting, to deepen both themes. He offers tales from his life and journey, along with accessible tools to strengthen both body and qi.

Bridging the gap between practical experience and philosophical background, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain simplifies the complex practices of Daoism handed down by generations of accomplished Masters, and gifts the reader with its most valuable aspects for a modern world.

In these videos, students of Wang Yun give testimonials on the master’s teaching, and how they benefited from practising the exercises in the book on a regular basis.