What are ‘toxins’ and how do we eliminate them?


We hear a lot about ‘toxins’ but what exactly are they, where do they come from and how can we eliminate them safely, according to our body type?

In the first of his interviews for the Seasonal Cleanse with Ayurveda & Yoga program, John Immel, Ayurvedic expert and founder of JoyfulBelly.com sheds light on ‘toxins’ – a word we hear a lot about but perhaps don’t understand fully. Here’s a brief summary of John’s enlightening lecture on the subject (members can click below to watch it in full).

John Immel lecture 1 - what is a toxin?

What is a toxin?

The word ‘toxin’ often has negative connotations, but from an Ayurvedic perspective the word refers to anything that our body is unable to digest or get rid of. This includes the natural, biological waste from cells and internal processes in the body, and also waste and bacteria from foods we haven’t been able to digest properly. A toxin for one person might not be ‘toxic’ for another – in other words, you might find it easy to process certain foods, your friend might find it more difficult. Usually, our bodies eliminate these waste products perfectly efficiently, but sometimes toxins can build up and we start to see symptoms of them.

Ayurveda looks to support the body to eliminate these toxins naturally. The main organs involved being the digestive tract, liver, skin and kidneys. In addition, the lymphatic and circulatory systems also have a role to play. Ayurveda considers particular organ weaknesses in our individual constitution so that we can ensure we support them to do their job properly.

Is toxin the right word?

Unfortunately the food and lifestyle industry has leapt on the word ‘toxin’ and it’s often used to refer to something negative and unnatural like added chemicals and pollutants – something to avoid or “get rid of”. However, as we said before these toxins are often leftover organic waste from natural processes in the body, or foods that don’t suit us. These foods and waste can then end up hanging around in our digestive systems causing us problems. For this reason, it might be more helpful to think of toxins simply as ‘residues’ instead.

It’s important to note that what’s toxic for one person might not be toxic for another – for this reason, it might be more helpful to think of toxins simply as ‘residues’ instead.

Where do toxins come from and how do they manifest?

John states that these toxins or residues can arise from three sources – environmental, cellular waste products and from bacteria in our digestive tract. The physical symptoms include:

  • Gas and bloating – (a sign of fermentation in your gut)
  • Excessive coating on the back of the tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Foul smelling sweat

This can make us feel anxious and scattered, tired and lethargic. Our skin may lack glow, our teethand eyes ‘grey’. This general lacklustre appearance indicates that the white tissues of the body (which should be a clear translucent fluid) are ‘discoloured’; that our lymphatic system isn’t clear.

How can we eliminate toxins safely?

Some general tips include:

  • taking regular cardiovascular exercise to build up a bit of sweat helps to eliminate toxins through the circulatory pathways.
  • dry brushing massage every day to move the lymphatic system
  • drinking plenty of fluids helps to flush out lymphatic system and move toxins through the kidney system
  • eating foods that you can digest completely before the food turns into gas.
  • choosing fibre-rich foods that encourage healthy elimination
  • eating a diet that is appropriate for our body type so we don’t create stress on any one organ in our system (See more on this in John’s second interview)

When should we cleanse?

Cleansing is particularly beneficial during Spring and Autumn – the seasons of change. When the temperature increases as we move towards summer, it’s helpful to release congestion. In the Autumn, we’re aiming to release dryness.

For more on this topic, read Ayurvedic Springtime routines

Why choose an Ayurvedic cleanse?

One of the problems with cleansing is that there’s no ‘one-size fits all’. If done aggressively without proper knowledge of what best supports your body type, it can actually be counter-productive. You could create further imbalance and weakness, thereby increasing rather than releasing toxins.

Whereas Ayurveda acknowledges that our bodies and constitutions may have different weaknesses and needs. Ayurveda offers profound and simple concepts to enable us to support our bodies to do what they’re designed to do – naturally. This is covered in John’s second and third interviews.

In the next interview, John looks at doshas or body types. Before watching, it’s useful to take this quiz to find out your dominant dosha.


Article written by Kirsty Tomlinsin, 15 May 2017

Read More : https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/what-are-toxins-and-how-do-we-eliminate-them

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Yoga Myths and Why They Are Not True


Millions of people around the world are doing yoga. And at the same time, there are millions of those who want to start, yet something is keeping them from going to their first class. Let’s take a look at the most popular yoga myths and find out why they are not true.

 

You have to be flexible to do yoga

Not being flexible is the reason why you should do yoga. And in case you don’t have enough flexibility to do some asanas, there are always yoga blocks and other yoga props to help you master any pose.

Yoga is for young people

Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s impossible to be too old to start yoga. In fact, we recently wrote about a 100-year old yogi who went to her first yoga class at the age of 67. At 97 she was still doing headstands, and she didn’t skip her weekly yoga class on her 100th birthday.

Yoga is boring

So many people, so many minds. But you should know that even if yoga seems boring to you at your first class, this may change over time. Many people give up yoga after a few classes, but then rediscover it again and can no longer live without it. Yoga is not only about standing in the same pose for long seconds, it’s also about doing challenging poses that can be practised anywhere: from sandy beaches to city streets. Remember when we wrote about Sara Ticha who has an Instagram account showing photos of her doing incredible poses in urban surroundings.  Do you still think yoga is boring?

Yoga is for women

 

They say that  in America only about 20% of all people doing yoga are men. And with all the advertising for women’s yoga clothing, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people think of yoga as some activity similar to pilates and stretching that women normally prefer. But yoga is equally beneficial for both men and women.

In India where yoga was born, men are involved in yoga as much as women are (if not more). And the most noted yoga practitioners are men.

Many sportsmen do yoga as it helps them greatly to relieve the sore muscles after exhausting games, and many men are prescribed yoga as a second to none cure against the lower back pain. And if you are concerned about not being able to do some poses, you can always do yoga at home.

Yoga is for every age and every body. It can be practised anywhere without any equipment. And the time spent on yoga will pay off with improved health and peaceful mind. There is really no reason why you shouldn’t do yoga.

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5 Ways Yin Yoga Will Transform Your Life


“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” -Ram Dass

Yin yoga is a deliciously deep, meditative and reflective practice in which floor-based postures are held for an extended period of time.

Unlike a dynamic yang practice that works the muscles through repetition, Yin works the deeper layers of the body such as the fascia, connective tissues, joints and bones. Yin is a deeply healing and nourishing practice with profound physical, emotional and energetic effects. During challenging times in our lives, our emotions can deplete our bodies of energy. The nourishing practice of Yin yoga helps to restore that energy for overall wellbeing.

Yin yoga continues to give me the strength and courage necessary to honor all the roles and responsibilities I have on my life’s journey. I invite you to try a Yin yoga class, and to keep an open mind and heart. Through a Yin practice, we allow ourselves the space and time to touch base with who we truly are, beneath the stories we’ve created about ourselves — beneath the tragedy. It is here where we can begin to live with more grace, strength and courage.

Here are five reasons why a Yin yoga practice will transform your life:

1. Flexibility is increased.

Practicing Yin yoga will give you a greater range of motion and increased flexibility. Your body will feel longer, lighter and more loose from the long-held stretches. Fascia is a continuous web of tissue that weaves in and around our organs, muscles, nerves and lymph nodes. In order to gain true flexibility over time, it is imperative we keep the fascia stretched out.

2. Self-regulated healing is promoted.

A Yin practice helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing our body to rest and digest so that it may begin to heal itself. Blood, nutrients and energy can flow more freely to our digestive, endocrine and lymphatic system, and to our reproductive organs. This can help bring our bodies back to a state of harmony by replenishing that lost energy.

3. Tension and stress are alleviated.

Rather than constricting our breath and tightening our muscles like in other practices, we deepen our breath and lengthen our connective tissues in a Yin yoga practice. This in turn, can help to lower stress cortisol levels and calm the mind. By incorporating mindfulness and observing the emotions for what they are as a witness, we can release them and become more present.

4. Heart is opened and Chi is unblocked.

Traditional Chinese Medicine describes emotions (energy in motion) as neither good nor bad, but simply an expression of energy. Our physical body remembers the places we’ve held trauma and loss, even if we think we’ve let it go and moved on. The stimulation and relaxation of these deeper layers through a Yin practice will encourage the Chi/Qi (aka life force energy or prana) to flow more freely. By allowing our physical body to open, our mind and heart can open as well.

5. Energetic toxins are released.

Intangible toxins come in the form of emotions — anger, stress, worry, grief, sadness and even extreme excitement. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of these emotions are processed by a specific organ. For example, grief is associated with the lungs, fear is found in the kidneys, and stress in the liver. These emotions are equally toxic to the overall healthy functioning of our system. When energy can easily flow through the meridians (the different channels the body), improved organ health, immunity and emotional balance can be achieved.

 

Read more: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17756/5-ways-yin-yoga-will-transform-your-life.html

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How Yoga & Meditation Help with Stress, Anxiety & Depression


Click here to see our 21-Day Program: Yoga for Stress, Anxiety & Depression 

Chronic stress, anxiety and depression are becoming more and more common in our busy world. I know this reality all too well, since I myself lived with depression for many years. As the number of reported cases of depression increases, so does the economic impact of providing care for those most vulnerable. Depression alone is estimated to affect 16 million Americans and, according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of disability world wide. The total economic cost of major depressive disorder is now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year. These alarming stats illustrate the urgent need to find better ways to adequately help those who are living with high levels of chronic stress.

We all can relate to how stress negatively impacts our quality of life.  You feel the tension, fatigue and anxiety in your body, and you see the way it can affect your ability to work, play, sleep and be present with loved ones.

A Vicious Cycle

Stress, when it’s chronic, is like a virus. It has a way of disrupting the underlying mechanisms that allow the body to function optimally. It’s complicated, but we know that it contributes to a vicious cycle that has negative effects on overall mental and physical health.

Have a look at the following quote from an article in Frontiers in Psychiatry on the Therapeutic Benefits of Meditation for Adults At Risk for Alzheimers:

“Chronic stress has been linked to adverse changes in sleep, mood and immunological function, and elevated risk for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and mortality. It can also have profound effects on memory and can cause other adverse changes in the brain, which can again profoundly affect mood, sleep, memory and learning. Chronic stress has also been implicated in the etiology of hypertension, obesity, and in the development and progression of CVD, type 2 diabetes, depression and related chronic disorders. These disorders have, in turn, been shown to predict cognitive dysfunction and to increase the risk for the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

If you live with chronic stress, you will already know that its effects are cumulative; momentum builds over time, like a steam train, and can lead to other issues such as sleep disruptions, mood disorders and various illnesses that can further increase the steam train’s momentum.

The quote continues:

“Sleep disruption is common in cognitively impaired adults. Sleep disruption has negative effects on health, functioning, and quality of life. Sleep deficits are known to impair cognitive function in healthy populations and to accelerate cognitive decline. In addition, sleep disturbances have been strongly associated, in a bidirectional manner, with mood disorders and autonomic dysfunction, and can promote glucose intolerance, pro-inflammatory changes, obesity and hypertension. Sleep impairment has likewise been linked to increased risk for incident type 2 diabetes and for cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.”

What does bidirectional mean?  It means that individual factors that create stress can create a feedback loop that perpetuates those same factors; A helps cause B, which in turn helps reinforce A. For example, chronic stress (A) can lead to insomnia (B) — Chronic stress (A) can lead to chronic illness (C) — Insomnia (B) can lead to high levels of anxiety or stress (D) — Insomnia (B) can lead to chronic illness (C) — Chronic illness (C) can lead to more sleep deprivation (B) and to more stress (D).

As each reinforces the others, the effects of everything together simply get stronger and harder to slow down. For many, it can become too intense to realize that there may be a way out.

Stress and Insomnia

Many of us don’t sleep well at night. We have trouble turning our minds off. We worry, plan, regret and feel guilty, making sleep more difficult or in some cases, impossible. Because our experiences feed off of one another, our daily lives can be dominated by negative emotions, making it challenging to feel good without considerable mindfulness. Shifting negative experiences in a meaningful way is possible, but only when we address the root of our problems.

Changing stress patterns in your life can take time and positive results may be realized slowly, but you can do it!  The many manifestations of stress-related symptoms act as identifiers of where we need to shift our attention.  Understanding triggers, such as relationships, living situations, or financial concerns, provides us with important information, so we can choose how to respond.  To have a noticeable effect, we need to step between the cause (your job, family, money, etc) and the reaction (your stress, anxiety, endless thoughts, pain, worry, etc).

Meditation for Anxiety and Depression – Can it Help?

A few years ago, stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia were a constant reality in my life. It peaked when our son was born. With little time to address what was happening to me (and with so little sleep!), I felt like I simply needed to accept the way I felt, as though it was my new normal. There was nothing I could do about it.

At one point, I became acutely aware that I was on a downward spiral.  I became determined to not allow it to continue, and I started doing some research.

As I said earlier, perpetual stress-filled days build on each other until the momentum feels unstoppable. It’s important to understand that when you initially try to slow down the ‘stress steam-train’, it might feel impossible the first time. However, if you try again, you may notice a tiny shift in its strength – barely noticeable. The next time, the same thing. If you then choose to make it a daily practice, whatever you are doing to conquer your stress can begin to overcome the momentum that has accrued.

Meditation is a great example of an effective counter to a stressful life. In fact, a regular meditation practice is not only an effective means of slowing down the ‘stress steam-train’, but it can become a ‘dream-train’ itself. Its effects are also cumulative. Its momentum builds as you continue practicing and its force can gradually reduce that influence that stress and anxiety have in your life, if you stay disciplined.

Many studies reflect this reality. They’ve shown that even brief meditative practices can improve perceived stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, enhance quality of life, decrease sleep disturbance, improve brain function and reduce your fight or flight response. They’ve shown that meditation promotes beneficial changes in brain chemicals and increases blood flow, oxygen delivery and glucose utilization in specific regions of the brain associated with mood elevation and memory. Meditation helps enhance immune response, reduce blood pressure, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance and inflammation. Long term meditation practice has also been associated with cortical thickening and increased gray matter volume in brain regions involved in attentional performance and sensory processing, apparently offsetting typical age-related cortical thinning and gray matter loss.

We know meditation works. It’s also simple, economical, noninvasive and can be easily learned and practiced by almost anyone, even by the elderly, ill or disabled.

What is Meditation?

Meditation can be broadly defined as “an intentional and self-regulated focusing of attention, whose purpose is to relax and calm the mind and body”. There are many different names, including mantra, mindfulness, kundalini, TM, loving kindness, vipassana, yoga nidra, relaxation techniques and visualization. It doesn’t matter what we call it or what technique you use. What does matter is that it resonates with you, that you experience a focused attention that makes you feel more alert and awake, and as a result your mind and body relax.”

How Does Meditation Work?

Let’s narrow down the reasons why meditation works to provide a brief analysis of why it’s effective for stress, anxiety and depression. There has been an incredible amount of research into meditation in the past decade, and although the mechanisms underlying its beneficial effects are not yet well understood, they likely occur because of four effects on the body.

Meditation reduces activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stimulating the body’s fight-or-flight response. In doing so, it promotes feelings of well-being, alleviates the effects of stress, enhances sleep and mood and causes many more beneficial changes in the body.

Meditation enhances parasympathetic activity, which moves the body toward rest, shifting the balance of the autonomic nervous system more toward the parasympathetic.

Meditation selectively activates the specific parts of the brain associated with positive mood, attention and memory.
The last one I find to be absolutely incredible. Meditation may also help prevent damage to your telomeres. Telomeres are a region at the end of your chromosomes that are linked with aging. In fact, the shortening of your telomeres have been linked to stress, depression, sleep loss and been shown to predict cognitive decline. So, in effect, meditation may help lower the effects of stress-induced cellular aging.

These effects (with the exception of number 4), can be felt in a very tactile and perceptible way!  More and more studies are showing that in order to heal from stress-related illness we need regular devotion to eradicating it.  We don’t heal by having an enlightened idea; we heal by repeating what allows us to look within, what encourages us to better understand ourselves.

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression – Can Yoga Help?

Yoga has also been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for stress, anxiety and depression. It has been shown to be effective with fatigue, depression, inflammation, anxiety, stress and tension and to improve sleep quality, general well-being and vitality. A regular yoga practice can literally transform your life, as it did for many who participated in our Transform Your Life 30-Day Yoga Challenge. Yoga can help with stress relief and help us let go of the many fears, emotional blocks and tension that we hold inside. It can help us live more fully and with more joy.

At the foundation of yoga are a series of ‘right living’ or ethical rules to live by. They are called yamas, and are designed to help us learn about ourselves, by asking questions that make is think about how we live, make choices and exist in the world. Three of the yamas in particular help us dig deeper into who we are as humans and help illustrate how yoga can help us live with chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

1. Satya

Satya is the principle of truthfulness and living in integrity. These principles really only come alive when you ask yourself what they mean to you.  Therefore, it’s helpful to explore their wisdom through a question. For example, have you ever spent just one hour paying close attention to everything you say, simply to make sure that it lined up with your truth? If not, a deeper question may be ‘why don’t you?’. I think the biggest reason is that this act can make you feel exposed and vulnerable, and that can often feel really, really hard. However, the more you live the life of Satya, the more you will hold yourself with ease, the greater you will understand yourself and the more you will observe others with empathy. More people with similar values will gravitate to you, which will in turn make it easier to speak your truth.

2. Aparigraha

Aparigraha is the principle of non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment. It has constant relevance in our lives since it perpetually returns us to the question ‘what do I really need?’. This is a difficult question to answer since it raises so many more questions, like ‘what defines a need?’. A good place to start would be to ask yourself: ‘do I feel possessive or attached to the things I own?’.  You don’t have to own a lot of stuff to feel possessive or want more. In fact, it seems to me that wanting more is a deeply-rooted human desire that we all experience. Wanting more stems from the belief that you are lacking in some fundamental way, that you don’t have enough, or that you are not enough. The irony is that getting more is not at all satisfying and does nothing to ease the feeling.

3. Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the principle of kindness and compassion toward yourself and others, in words, thoughts and actions. I find the best way to actualize this principle is to take yourself back to a moment in your life when you felt hurt or betrayed; remember how it felt, how you handled it and how you felt afterward. Then try your best to imagine that you were the person who hurt you and you are able to experience all of his or her most powerful and impactful memories, that made him or her who they were. This is empathy, and the simple intention to do this will shift things for you. This exercise may be hard, and it’s even more difficult in the moment that you are confronted with great conflict or anger.

Some Final Thoughts

If you are living with chronic stress, anxiety and/or depression, addressing the root cause will ensure your best success in taming it.  Yoga and meditation can help to achieve this goal, through practicing Satya (being truthful), Aparigraha (being non-attached) and Ahimsa (being compassionate) and by bringing awareness to your reaction. Your objective is to get to know yourself in great detail by watching yourself closely with great love, passion and curiosity.

Through meditation and yoga, you are training yourself to become aware of the space between the source of the stress and your reaction. In the world of meditation, we say ‘you sit with it’. You watch the feeling and the desire in a non-judgmental, non-reactive way with no expectations. You completely let go of control and simply observe what is there.

If you are new to meditation, the best way to learn is to listen to guided meditations. We have many guided meditations on our site, including total body relaxations, yoga nidra, mindfulness, loving kindness, visualizations and meditations to help chronic pain and symptoms of cancer. If you are new to yoga, we have hundreds of free yoga videos to choose from, many of which are beginner yoga classes.

If you really want to feel better and are ready to dedicate yourself to a program that is designed to do just that, then join us for 14 days of yoga and meditation. The program is called Yoga for Chronic Stress, Anxiety and Depression and it’s completely free. Click here to go to the program page now. This is where you will return to complete your daily practice. To make it easier for you, we have also provided the option for you to sign up to receive daily emails with links to the daily classes and meditations.

We hope you can be a part of this journey with us. We want more than anything for you to feel  joyful, energetic and to live your life fully.

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How To Let Go of Insecurities and Love Yourself

Discover one of the greatest feelings in the world! Use this meditation to find your way home.


Begin by becoming aware of what you say to yourself every day. What is the automatic mantra that plays in your mind?

The list may look something like this: I’m not good enough, I made bad decisions, I’m too fat, I’m a bad mother, I’m a useless provider, I have so many regrets, etc. Now, become aware of what things you believe you need to have, buy, acquire, and achieve in order to remedy all those beliefs.

The only thing creating pain in your life is your THOUGHTS about your life and your situation. Buddhists call this “Suffering” or the nature of suffering. It is all self-created.

If for a moment you could step back, relax and notice that everything is ok right NOW, without the need to change it, to mold it, to work your way out of it, to starve yourself, to win the lottery, to be the best, or drive the fastest car, you would be in a very different place.

Now, take all the stuff you believe you need in order for everything to be great and make you lovable, scoop them into an imaginary brown sac. Put the sac to one side.

Now, visualize yourself as a 5-year-old, happy, giggly and free.

See yourself playing, totally inspired in the moment, maybe you are dancing, or painting.

Feel the peace you have in that moment. Feel your love of being alive, pure joy radiating around you.

Know that THIS feeling is what you are seeking.

See, over time, you have come to believe that you need all the things in this brown sac to feel this feeling.

Now, see your little 5-year-old holding the bag with tears in your eyes because the joy has gone, you are no longer allowing yourself to be filled with love, giggles and happiness, because she/he is told daily that they cannot have fun, they cannot enjoy life, or play freely until you get all of that stuff.

Is that really true? Is it really true that you absolutely need all those material things or achievements to be happy?

Of course not!

This conveyor belt of endless self-criticism is hurting you deeply and robbing you of your self-belief, self-worth and self-love. It is time to heal you and let go of the beliefs holding you back from being happy.

So, ask your 5-year-old self now if he/she is ready to let go of the belief that you cannot love yourself and be happy without that stuff?

Get agreement by saying a “let it go with love” prayer.

You are perfect and you are love. You are ready to feel love.

Imagine a beautiful crackling fire now, take the brown sac over to the fire and imagine yourself throwing the sac on the fire. Say good-bye to the things holding you back from feeling alive, happy, abundant and inspired. As you watch the sac transform and crackle to dust, feel the weight lifting off you and allowing you to feel as light as feather. As you release this baggage from you now as the old sac of misbeliefs turns to ashes, know that your life from now will be filled with love for yourself and radiate to all those around you.

Now, imagine yourself picking up your 5-year-old self and saying:

I am so sorry, I am so sorry I have forgotten you, I have not taken care of you, I am so sorry. From now on, you come first, you are the most important, you are my priority and I will take care of you no matter what. I love you.

This is a call to your inner guide, to lead you back to you, to show you that YOU do not need a thing to be at peace right now.

Look back at your whole life and every experience you have had, every journey, every fall and every victory.

See how you were doing your best, making the best choices you could at the time. Realize that you were just searching for a way home to that giggling, free, lovable 5-year-old self.

Let your heart open now and allow yourself to love YOU right now, exactly as you are. Allow your 5-year-old self to be free again from all the weight of those things inside that heavy brown sac.

The time is now. Fall in love with yourself, your life and your journey all over again.

Namaste,
Sonia


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Fresh Yoga Styles to Know About

Yoga has been around for quite a while. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that it’s evolving over time. You can still practice yoga the way it was done hundreds of years ago. At the same time, new yoga styles appear to offer additional benefits to students or to cater to people with particular needs. Let’s see what’s new in yoga!


AcroYoga

This is not very new. It was invented in 2003 but has gained a lot of popularity lately thanks to breathtaking #AcroYoga photos we frequently see on Instagram. Acro Yoga is practiced in pairs. The person who takes the role of Base is lying on the ground and Flyer is performing yoga poses using Base’s legs and arms as a support. There is also Spotter whose responsibility is to make sure the pose is done in the right way and the Flyer can land safely. This yoga style strengthens your body, it develops your communication skills, and teaches you trust!

Yoga with animals

This is not a yoga style you can get a certificate for. Rather a way (a very popular one lately) to enhance a traditional yoga class.
Practicing yoga with animals has become very trendy. Some yoga studios organize cat yoga classes when cats walk around the class while the students are doing their usual sequences. And a farm in Oregon was a total hit on the web a couple of months ago after they organized Goat Yoga classes. Some horse farms offer horse yoga classes. If you check #yogawithhorses tag on Instagram, you may see how challenging those horse yoga poses may look.
Many people practice yoga as a way to get back to the basics and to connect with nature. And animals are really helping to reach this goal. We all know spending time with animals helps to live through some stressful periods in life. So it’s great news you can now meet animals in yoga studios, especially if you don’t have pets at home.

Aqua yoga

Doing yoga in the water reduces the pressure on joints, making yoga accessible to older people, for example. Yoga brings you into a relaxed state of mind and combined with the soothing effects of water it works wonders for your nervous system.
Those attending aqua yoga classes mention increased mobility, a better sleep, and lower stress levels as results of their practice.

It is also possible to get Aqua Kriya Yoga Teacher certification. The list of Aqua yoga teachers and facilities is available here.

Make sure to check another post on our blog about new yoga styles.

Other unusual yoga classes you recently attended? Share in the comments!


Read More: https://yoga.com/article/fresh-yoga-styles-to-know-about

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How to Do a Perfect Mountain Pose (with All the Alignments)


Does your Mountain Pose make you feel strong, balanced, and grounded? Read our post to make sure you take all the alignment principles into consideration.

Cautions:

Don’t practice Mountain Pose if you are currently suffering from a headache, low blood pressure, diarrhea, or insomnia.

How to do Mountain Pose: step-by-step instructions

  1. Stand up straight, your legs together, the outer edges of the feet parallel to each other. Spread the weight of your body evenly between the heels, the toes, and the balls of both feet, keep your toes spread wide.
  2. Engage your legs and lift your kneecaps.
  3. Straighten your shoulders, open your chest, straighten your neck. Bring your pelvis toward the navel.
  4. Arms. Here there are several options: 1) Relax them beside the torso 2) Fold your hands in Namaste 3) Raise the arms up past your sides, palms facing each other. Stretch your torso upwards.
  5. Relax while maintaining your stability. Don’t forget to breathe.

Beginner tip: It may be hard for some people to stay balanced with their feet together. In this case, you may place them a few inches apart. But make sure the outer edges of your feet stay parallel.

Mistakes to avoid: Don’t lift your chin up and don’t bring your lower back forward.

Benefits of Mountain Pose:

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles
  • Relieves sciatica symptoms
  • Prepares you for other standing poses
  • Gives you an energy boost (great pose for a morning practice!)
  • Improves blood circulations in legs
  • Helps to keep your spine and joints young and supple

Mountain pose is a good transition between standing poses. It allows you to rest and to soak up the benefits of the previous pose. It’s a beginner pose that helps you build up your strength and improve your balance from your first yoga classes. And imagining yourself as a big mountain grounded to the earth with a peak high in the clouds may really help with the alignment in Tadasana!


Read more (article adapted from): https://yoga.com/article/how-to-mountain-pose

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What Should You Eat Before And After Yoga?


Do you perform yoga regularly? And if you do, are you aware of what food you should be taking before and after performing yoga? Guess what, what you eat prior to and post your yoga sessions plays a major role in determining your health!

Yoga And Diet:

To get the most benefits from yoga, it is necessary that you eat the right type of foods. Without a proper diet, your body will not be able to obtain the maximum benefits of yoga. It is important that you consume the right type and the right amount of food at the right time to reap the benefits.

Eating Before Yoga:

There has been considerable debate on this topic among health experts and practitioners of yoga. Traditionally, a majority of people feel that you should not eat food before practicing yoga postures because some yoga postures put pressure on the abdominal muscles.

However, for people leading hectic lives, adhering to this theory may not be possible. Those who come to yoga classes post office hours feel really hungry and focusing on the lessons becomes tough. Given the fact some yoga classes may last for 1 hour or more, putting up with hunger pangs can be quite taxing. When you are hungry, it becomes tough to focus on the body and mind, which is a prerequisite in yoga.

 

Things To Remember When You Eat Before Yoga:

There are a few important things that you should keep in mind if you cannot really avoid eating before practicing yoga postures.

  1. You need to eat quite some time before you get into yoga classes. The human body requires a few hours to digest food properly. The duration of digestion depends on the types of foods and beverages consumed.
  2. It is not advisable to have a heavy meal shortly before you leave for yoga sessions. Try to consume only light food that can be digested quickly and that does not take a toll on your metabolism.
  3. Try to eat in small quantities before practicing yoga.
  4. Limit yourself to eating only food items that have a low glycemic index and avoid foods that contain excess sugar in any form. Gorging on spicy and junk foods is a big NO. Also, steer clear from fizzy drinks if you wish to reap the many benefits of practicing yoga.
  5. Ideally, you should take food a couple of hours before doing yoga. However, in certain situations it may not be possible. Even then, try to eat at least an hour before practicing the poses.
  6. Do not take any food high in acidic content. This can lead to heartburn. For this, avoid drinking orange juice and coffee.
  7. If you drink plenty of juice or water, you may feel nauseous or have stomach cramps in yoga sessions. Therefore, drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated and evade these signs at the same time.
  8. If you have a yoga class in the morning, do not even think of boozing at a party the night before. Alcohol produces a dehydrating effect on the body. You may also be left with a hangover which is not the ideal thing before working out.

What To Eat Before Yoga:

1. Avocados:

A lot of yoga practitioners like Avocado, as it is. This fruit is replete with minerals like potassium and magnesium. This leads to proper functioning of muscles and cells in the human body. Besides, avocados are easy to digest and keep you full for quite some time. The healthy fat found in avocados helps reduce bad cholesterol.

2. Bananas:

Available all round the year, Bananas are cheap and rich in nutrients. The fruit is replete with potassium and this alone makes it an ideal pre-workout snack. The magnesium in it aids in thwarting bloating and muscle cramps. You can have it with salads or use it to make yummy smoothies.

3. Fruit Smoothies:

Smoothies made at home can be the ideal pre-workout food, and that holds true also for yoga practitioners. Smoothies provide adequate nutrition and hydrate the body at the same time. The good thing about them is that you can mix various types of fruits and do not have to stick to any single flavour always! You may use fruits like pineapple, apple, orange, melon, and kiwi, for example. Using fat-free yogurt will be a good idea to make healthy low-fat smoothies. It is better that you do not mix additional sugar while making smoothies. The natural sugar in fruits should suffice.

4. Apples:

Apples are alkaline fruits and help counter acidity developing in the stomach. They also contain natural sugars and lots of fiber. Eating apples also keeps your body hydrated. The vitamin C in Apple gives your body an energy boost which is ideal before a workout.

5. Yogurt:

Yogurt is delicious and can be eaten in a number of ways. You can have it alone or blend with fruits to make smoothies. Some people even take it with oats. Before going for a yoga session, simply take some low fat or zero fat yogurt. This will give you the energy you need!

6. Almonds:

Eating raw almonds can give you just the energy boost you need before yoga classes. You can try eating soaked almonds. Do not opt for the salted variety available in the market at any cost. Organic, raw almonds are the best option for you. Almonds contain vitamin E, magnesium and healthy fats.

7. Raisins:

Raisins taste great and offer you energy in the forms of natural sugars. You can munch on them before yoga. In fact, carrying them in a small pouch is simple and you may put the pouch in the gym bag.

8. Dried Fruit And Nut Bar:

ou can munch on dried fruit and nut bars before going to the yoga class. Ensure the bar does not have a calorie count exceeding 300. It will offer you enough energy for the session.

9. Berries:

The berries are replete with vitamins and antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber. You can chew berries like strawberry and blueberry. The natural sugar content in the fruits will keep you energized.

10. Oatmeal:

Eating a bowl of oatmeal before you leave for your yoga class is a prudent idea. It is easy to digest and rich in fibers. If necessary, you can put in a spoon of yogurt in the bowl or drop a small amount of honey to add to the taste.

What To Eat After Yoga:

After you return from your yoga classes, it is quite natural that you will be rather hungry. Practicing all those postures and the journey back home will make you crave for food. However, do not gorge on any snack you fancy to appease your taste buds. After practicing yoga, you need to take the right kind of foods. Do not throw away the advantages obtained from yoga by splurging on a fat-laden sandwich or burger!

1. Water:

While you will need to eat after practicing yoga, it is even more important to provide hydration to the body. You need to drink plenty of water. Plain water is the best option for this. However, for a variation, you may drink coconut water sometimes. It is also okay to add a few drops of lemon to the water for a shot of vitamin C!

2. Fresh Fruit Juice:

You can enjoy a large glass of fresh fruit juice after returning from the yoga classes. It is okay to try different fruits each day for a variety. Do not use additional sugar and rely on the natural sugar in the fruits. For better taste, drop in a few ice cubes in the glass before drinking. It will be far better than drinking OTC fruit juices that contain artificial flavors and excess amounts of sugar.

3. Homemade Vegetable Soup:

You have burnt a lot of calories at the yoga session and it is necessary that you offer the body with plenty of nutrients with calories. For a nutritious after yoga dish hardly anything comes close to homemade vegetable soup. You can use carrots, celery, spinach or cabbages to make such soups. Pour in your favourite vegetables and add black pepper and ginger for flavour. Making soups at home is better than buying them readymade, ready to heat products sold in stores which often contain excess amounts of sodium.

4. Tuna:

You need to offer your body energy giving foods. Fish like tuna is a worthy example. You can make tuna sandwiches or eat other tuna dishes after yoga sessions for proper protein intake.

5. Toast With Banana And Almond Butter:

This is ideal when you need a good dose of nutrition without taking extra calories. Use whole grain toast and bake them lightly in the toaster or microwave. Spread a liberal amount of almond butter on the toast and top with banana slices. You get protein, healthy fats and fiber in this snack.

6. Green Tea:

Green tea has numerous health benefits and it is better than many other beverages you can drink. However, it is ideal after you return from yoga sessions. Yoga enhances blood circulation and the antioxidants present in green tea get circulated throughout the body. The combination of yoga and green tea also acts as a great stress buster.

7. Whole-Grain Toast With Scrambled Egg Whites:

If you practice yoga in the daytime, this can be an excellent and fitting post workout snack. Egg whites contain protein and no cholesterol. The whole-grain breads contain complex carbohydrates and that will ensure you stay energized for a long time. You may also throw in salads with it.

8. Fresh Vegetable Salad:

You can gorge on a bowl of salad made of fresh vegetables after returning from yoga classes. You can use dark leafy vegetables and using organic vegetables is the best option. Use pepper powder or cilantro, chopped on top or pour a few drops of extra virgin olive oil to add to the taste.

What Pregnant Women Should Eat Before Yoga:

Yoga is great for people from all age groups, including pregnant women. However, pregnancy can be a critical stage and certain physiological developments need to be watched with care. While yoga can help prenatal women deal with the blues of pregnancy, they also need to think of their overall health needs.

During pregnancy, it is natural to have sudden hunger pangs and you actually need to eat both for you and your baby. It is important that you do not go for yoga classes on an empty stomach. Do not let yourself be subjected to dehydration either.

Below listed are a few foods prenatal women should eat before going for yoga sessions:

  • Turkey sandwich with tomato and whole grain bread.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • Plain oatmeal.

Yoga, like you all know, is a great form of exercise that can calm both the body and mind. This form of exercise has been linked with myriad health benefits and has been practiced since age memorial. Yes, yoga does ask of you to control your diet and to avoid junk food, but that is a small price to pay for feeling fresh and energized.

These simple tips can go a long way in helping you reap the best benefits of a yoga session. While different forms of yoga may call for slight variation in the diet consumed, the above guide acts as a simple yet effective diet plan for all of you who wish to practice yoga on a regular basis. The key is to eat light, and curb the tendency to binge, lest you will not reap anything from spending hours in a room with crossed legs!


For more read : http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/what-should-you-eat-before-and-after-yoga/

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5 Meditation Practices You Need to Know About


Meditation has come a long way since it first became popular in the West during the 1960s. Some of the most popular and effective methods are now backed by scientific evidence, showcasing the benefits meditation has on the body and our mental health. While meditation has been around for ages, only recently has it become a part of popular Western culture.

Currently in the modern world, there are five meditation practices that have stood the test of time. The reason for this is that they provide the most successful results, some of which can be felt after only one session. In this article, you’ll learn what these five methods are and how you can benefit from practicing them. Each of the techniques should be practiced for at least 20 minutes to have maximum impact.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness was developed to help us place our attention fully in the present moment. It doesn’t have a focus on spirituality; its sole purpose is to teach the student awareness of presence. What are the benefits of this? When we learn to become fully present, we can see our thoughts as separate from us, meaning we don’t have to engage with every one of them. Learning to watch negative thoughts come and go without harming us is one of the foundational principles of mindfulness.

Popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness teaches us to avoid secondary suffering. Secondary suffering is where we enhance our own pain by thinking about something negative that’s happened to us and then replaying it like a mental movie over and over again. Through developing mind awareness, we can learn to tune out secondary suffering and most negative thoughts, helping us to live in a happier, lighter and healthier state of being.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation was popularized by the Maharishi in the 1960s when he met The Beatles and taught it to them. The purpose of this method is to silence the mind and transcend to the source of all present-moment awareness. This is achieved through repeating a special mantra given to you by a qualified Transcendental Meditation teacher. The mantra is repeated internally in your mind, and you place your focus solely on your breath and the sounds of the mantra. When other thoughts arise, you let them be but do not engage with them.

After a while has passed, you will find your mind activity is very quiet and peaceful, and you will have transcended to the core of your being. This is the purpose of this technique. A certified Transcendental Meditation teacher is the only person qualified to teach you this method, as he or she knows what mantra is right for you and how to show you the process in its latest form with complete precision.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a fast-growing meditation method that provides a unique experience to most other techniques. Typically, it involves slow, mindful walking in nature, where the student can use her surroundings to anchor herself in the present moment. This technique can be great for beginners to meditation as the grounding apparatus is very influential because your senses are far more active. You feel the wind and air passing across your face and the contact between your feet and the ground.

This method is typically practiced on nature walks; however, you can use it wherever you wish as long as you feel comfortable in your environment. Meditation teaches us that anything can be used as an anchor into the present moment; therefore, this particular technique could even be used in a busy city center!

Mantra Meditation

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra meditation uses a word or series of words repeated over and over again to quiet the mind. Mantras can be repeated aloud or internally depending on your environment and how comfortable you are with chanting out loud. There are hundreds of different mantras all with different meanings.

Mantra meditation is typically practiced while sitting in a meditative pose, using slow relaxing breaths. The same principle applies as for most meditation methods where you allow everything to be just as it is in the moment. Thoughts and distractions will arise, but the trick is to know that that’s okay. Let everything be as it is, and simply focus on your mantra. You’ll find that if you concentrate on the process of mantra meditation, all distractions will melt away naturally over time.

Mala Bead Meditation

This meditation method involves using mala beads. Mala beads are usually made out of wood but can also come in the form of precious gemstones. An authentic mala bead necklace has 108 beads. The student is supposed to count each bead using a mantra. The entire mantra is repeated on each single bead, meaning the mantra is stated in its entirety 108 times. Mala meditation should be done slowly with deep breaths. Once you reach the end of the beads on the necklace, you’ll find that your mind activity has decreased and you’re in a state of peacefulness and contentment.

Overall, these five methods have proven themselves to be the kings of the world of meditation. You can learn more details about each of them online via YouTube videos, blogs, and other sources.

After learning more about these techniques online, you may wish to take things further and deepen your meditational practices. The best way to do so is to seek out a teacher who’s experienced in your chosen method and learn directly from him or her.

Happy meditating ?


Read more: http://dailycupofyoga.com/2017/01/30/5-meditation-practices-you-need-to-know-about/

 

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How to Become a Morning Person- wake up with the sun


What can be more natural than waking up with the sun and going to bed when the whole nature is falling asleep? Nothing, really. And yet, at some point with all the nightlife activities, hard-to-put-aside gadgets, flexible working hours and jam-packed schedules, it all got out of control.

 

 

These tips from Yoga and Ayurveda will persuade you to switch to a new morning routine and make the shift easier.

 

Watch the sunrise. Every day

Ayurveda and Yoga Theory have an explanation for why it makes sense to wake up before sunrise. Apparently, about an hour and a half period before the sunrise called Brahma Muhurta is the time when nature is in its stillest phase. And so is your mind. It is the most appropriate time for yoga, meditation and welcoming a new day in a calm and harmonious way. Wake up during this quiet and secluded time before the sun is up, and you’ll feel balanced and happy for the rest of the day.

Go to bed at reasonable hours

And by reasonable Ayurveda means between 10 and 11 p.m. Why is that? The thing is everything around us is influenced by doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. These doshas are combinations of energies and each dosha has particular qualities. The day is divided into 6 four-hour intervals during which a particular dosha dominates influencing our mood and energy levels.  At 10 p.m. the sluggish Kapha is changed by fiery and intense Pitta which will be dominant until 2 a.m. Pitta will make you feel more energetic but at the same time, it will make it hard for you to fall asleep and to have a quality rest. You can read more on how doshas influence our energy during the day in one of our previous articles. Going to bed before midnight means you’ll get a more restorative sleep and feel refreshed even if you wake up very early the next morning.

Wake up on the proper side of the bed

Of all the recommendations this is the easiest one to adopt!

In some languages, the expression “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” literally translates as “getting up on the wrong foot”. According to Ayurveda, this totally makes sense. So, we all have a dominant nostril. As a rule, this may change during the day. And when you wake up you need to check which nostril is breathing better and get out of bed by first putting the corresponding leg on the floor. This way you’ll feel less sluggish during your morning and the whole day.

Create a morning ritual

It’s important to think of a morning ritual that will allow you to wake up gently and motivate you to get out of bed. You may come up with your own morning routine or borrow some ideas from Dinacharya — a daily routine suggested by Ayurveda and followed by Indian yogis for hundreds of years.

This daily routine sure requires a lot of discipline to adopt. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t manage to go to bed before midnight tonight or don’t see every sunrise during the week. Believe in yourself and try again and again!

Yes, you may have been a night owl most of your life. But have you ever given a waking up before sunrise routine a really good chance? Who knows, maybe it will become your second nature. 

Read more (article adapted from) : https://yoga.com/article/yoga-and-ayurveda-tips-to-become-a-morning-person 

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