Which Type of Meditation is best for you?

Discover which meditation style is the best fit for you.

When you hear the word “meditation,” what feelings come up? Dread? Confusion? Stress? Maybe you want to try meditation, but feel too busy to even begin. Maybe you’re a beginner, and aren’t sure how to start? Or maybe the thought of sitting cross-legged in a room with just your thoughts is a little intimidating. Free from the distractions of cell phones or conversation, our minds can flood with the subconscious worries, longings, and concerns of day-to-day life. But it’s by sitting with those thoughts and watching them come—and eventually go—that we can calm our bodies and minds, finding peace. And the truth is, there is no one-size-fits all meditation; meditation comes in just about as many variations as you can imagine.

There are meditation practices based on mindfulness, ones where you repeat mantras, and others that are focused on sending kindness out into the world. But despite their differences, all meditation practices have a common goal: to clear your mind as a method of relaxation. The purpose of any meditation is not to get rid of thoughts—not possible!—but to observe those thoughts without getting attached to them. While meditation itself is not religious, Buddhist philosophy has used it for thousands of years as a core belief of Buddhism is that attachment is a cause of suffering.

When you say to yourself “I had a bad day, I’m no good at anything,” it is not necessarily the thought that causes you suffering, but your belief in that thought and your attachment to it. We all have these types of negative thoughts and feelings from time to time, and being human, we will never eliminate them. But mediation can help us observe thoughts and feelings without being attached to them, and by doing so we can sink into a more relaxed state of being.

The Many Benefits of Meditation

There are so many benefits of meditation, from improved mood to a boosted immune system!

In addition to promoting a general sense of calm, meditation offers some amazing health benefits that have been studied and documented throughout the years. WebMD lists several science-backed health benefits of meditation, including the fact that meditation can:

  • lower blood pressure
  • boost your immune system
  • improve concentration
  • improve your physical and emotional response to stress
  • decrease inflammation and pain
  • decrease anxiety and depression
  • improve memory

So, now you’re definitely ready to try meditating, right? Let’s explore how to find the best type of meditation for you.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Different Types of Meditation

The best meditation practice—just like the best exercise routine—is the one that you enjoy doing. There is no one-size-fits-all practice. There are multiple meditation styles and formats you can follow, from centuries-old practices to newer styles trail-blazed by modern thought leaders. Some involve mantras, some can be done while taking a stroll in the park, and some require nothing but a deep awareness of each breath you take. So what meditation style will suit you best? Let’s find out.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

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When you’re walking, just walk. When you’re eating, just eat.

What it is: Made popular by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is about breath awareness and a “body scan.” Breath awareness is simply the act of calmly noticing each inhale and exhale, so your breath is the main focus. A body scan is a technique used to focus on physical sensations in the body. Starting at your toes and working your way up, you focus on specific parts of your body at a time; this heightened awareness has the potential to release and relax tension in different areas.

MBSR has gained increasing popularity over the past few decades and is now offered in over 200 hospitals and medical centers around the world. Kabat-Zinn even leads workshops where his students practice walking meditations, noticing each step mindfully and harkening back to the ancient expression: “when you’re walking, just walk. When you’re eating, just eat.” Kabat-Zinn believes each activity can be done mindfully, and in doing so, you can adopt a more meditative state in your day to day life.

Pose:  Seated, laying down, or walking

Try if: You want to live more mindfully during each moment of your life, whether when enjoying your meals or walking through the park.

Resources:

Transcendental Meditation

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What it is: You may have heard of Transcendental Meditation or TM because it was made popular by some famous followers (the Beatles, for example) but it’s a thousands-of-years-old tradition originally brought to America by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. Transcendental meditation asks that you sit still for twenty minutes, twice a day, and utilize a mantra to find focus during meditation.

Twenty minutes may sound like a lot at first, but the length of time is designed to help you access a deeper level of calm that exists beyond your everyday emotions and the stress of life. If you choose to enroll in a TM class, your instructor or teacher can give you a mantra and it’s yours to repeat throughout your meditation.

Pose: Seated

Try if: You feel restless, overly stressed, or mentally fatigued and want to experience a deeper sense of inner calm.

Resources:

Loving Kindness Meditation

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May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

What it is: The cultivation of compassion for others is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism, although loving kindness meditation itself is not tied to any one religion or philosophy. It’s also sometimes referred to as Metta Meditation. You begin by taking two or three deep breaths with slow, long exhalations, feeling the breath moving through the center of your chest—your heart chakra. You then repeat the following or similar phrase directed at yourself:

May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

After a period of directing loving-kindness to yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has cared for you. Then slowly repeat the phrases toward them.

May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

Then direct your attention to the universe—ask that all its beings are happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease. Connect with any feelings of warmth and unity you experience.

Pose: Seated

Try if: You want to cultivate greater compassion for yourself and others.

Resources and apps:

Zazen

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What it is: Zazen meditation is the practice at the heart of Zen Buddhism, and its main focus is on the relationship between the breath and the mind. Practioners are encouraged to turn their attention to each inhalation and exhalation, counting their breaths at times to achieve greater mental focus. As you inhale, count to one; the exhale is two. Your next inhale is three; the following exhale is four, and so on. Try to just focus on counting each breath, and let that be your mind’s solitary task. Zen meditation can be practiced in groups and sometimes chanting is involved.

Pose: There are several variations of Zazen meditation poses:

  • Both legs crossed so each leg rests on the opposite thigh (full lotus)
  • One leg resting over the opposite calf (half lotus)
  • On your knees with legs folded under you
  • Sit in a straight-back chair

Try if: You want to experience deep relaxation through your breath.

Resources:

Vipassana

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Vipassana meditation is not just seeing the things inside; it is also seeing the seer.

What it is: This Sanskrit word means “to see things as they really are” and is also referred to as “insight meditation.” It is part of a 2,5000-year-old Buddhist tradition designed to help you tap into a deeper level of consciousness. In Vipassana you are instructed to label thoughts and experiences as they arise, noting objects that grab your attention. Each time you identify a label in your mind, you are then encouraged to bring your awareness back to your primary object: your breath. Focus on your breath from moment to moment. Any time a thought, feeling, or sensation, comes into your mind, note it as “dog barking” or “knee pain” or “thinking” and then return your focus to your breath. This allows you to become the observer of your thoughts, helping you see them more objectively.

Pose: Cross-legged on cushion on floor.

Try if: You want to release harmful thoughts and expand your consciousness.

Read more at https://gethealthyu.com/different-types-of-meditation/

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5 Cooling Yoga Poses to help you beat the Heat


The heat of summer can often accelerate our mind and heat our bodies. It’s important to pay attention to these sensations and incorporate a slower, more focused practice into our daily yoga routine. When your blood and your mind are already boiling from the quickening pace of summer activities, try to avoid the following poses as they tend to increase your body’s internal heat and may leave you a hot mess!

  • Inversions
  • Sun Salutations (One or two won’t hurt, but be aware that these are very heating.)
  • Warrior Poses
  • Binds

Instead, practice these five cooling yoga poses. Try not to engage the muscles you don’t need and work to consciously relax your face. Keep a consistent breath and turn your focus inward.

Standing Heart-Opening Pose (Anahatasana)

In this shortened variation on Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar), the intention is to move slowly and with purpose and enjoyment.

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and inhale the arms overhead. Exhale to bring your hands to your sacrum. Lift through your heart as you begin to open the throat and tilt the head back. Breathe deeply for 3-5 breaths.

Standing Lunar Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

On an exhale, release your palms face up as you bow forward to the earth. Be sure the back of your neck is relaxed and your feet are rooted beneath you. Hang here for 5 deep breaths.

Flowing Half Squat (Sahaja Ardha Malasana)

Inhale to bend deeply through your right knee, releasing your right forearm to the mat as you extend your left leg long behind you. By now you’re turned parallel on your mat. Keep your spine long and on an exhale, bend through the right knee to straighten through your left leg, releasing your left forearm to the floor.

Move side-to-side with fluidity, connecting each movement to your breath.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Straighten both legs and keep your feet parallel and wide on your mat. Inhale and take a half lift, with your torso long and fingertips to the floor. Exhale to yogi toe-lock your big toes with your two peace fingers, and you hinge at the waist to fold forward. The crown of your head may come all the way to the floor.

Full of surrender, wide-legged forward bends allow the back, neck and shoulders to completely release.

Puppy Pose (Anahatasana)

Lower to your knees and come to a tabletop position. Keeping your lower belly engaged, walk your hands long in front of you and release your heart toward the earth. Rest for 5 deep breaths.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Come to stand on your knees, keeping them about hips-width distance apart. Tuck your toes under to help you feel more stable. Bring your palms to your sacrum on an inhale, exhaling to press the palms into the glutes to push your hips forward and lift through your heart.

As you begin to bend back, lengthen through the throat. If this feels good, you can reach for the tops of the feet with the hands and energetically squeeze the shoulder blades together.

Hold for 3-5 deep breaths, and return your palms to your sacrum to help press you back up. Send your knees wide and sit back on your heels, taking a few moments of rest.

Camel pose is great for alleviating fatigue or relaxing mild anxiety. It’s a juicy heart opener, and a deep stretch for the front of the body and even the hip flexors (psoas).

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Swing your feet out long in front of you and draw your forearms behind you, placing your palms just underneath of your glutes (face down).

Point through your toes and lift from the heart as you begin to open the throat to gently release the head back. Again, the crown of your head may come all the way down to the floor.

Ground your legs and hands into the mat while feeling the full inflation of the chest on each inhale.

Fish pose helps to reestablish your focus after all the hard work of your practice.

Read more at https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20430/5-cooling-yoga-poses-to-help-you-beat-the-heat.html

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10 Yoga Poses to Stay Calm during the Holidays


10 Yoga Poses for Instant Calm During the Holidays

 

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Christmas means most of us will be busy organizing travel plans, going gift shopping, attending lunches and dinners, and preparing for, celebrating, and recovering from holiday parties! ‘Tis the season to be merry, after all!

Busy, Busy, Busy

For those of you in relationships or marriages, you may be busy working out how to fit in seeing both sides of your family, your in-laws, and your close friends. If there are children involved, this takes it to a whole new level of excitement and potential anxiety!

While Christmas is a time for joy, it can also be incredibly challenging. For those of you who have moved out of the family home, returning to the scene of your childhood may feel like we are reverting to our younger (read moodier) years!

There are school friends to catch up with, presents to wrap, and work piling up that absolutely has to be done before year-end. Money seems to simply flow out of the door as the number of presents under the Christmas tree increase.

Moments of Reflection

Christmas also signals the end of another year, making it a time of reflection as a New Year approaches. We start thinking about where we are in life, running through our 2015 New Year resolutions, and realize which ones are still outstanding.

For the single yogis amongst us, having to endure your Grand Dad, Auntie, or Cousin asking if you have met someone yet can be amusing at the very least.

During these times, you can find yourself torn in a zillion different directions, trying to keep many different people happy. Unless you are taking good care of yourself and sending yourself heaps of love and compassion, how are you supposed to be able to pass on goodwill to those around you?

Blissfully Calming Yoga Poses to Kick Holiday Stress to the Curb

Here are 10 yoga poses for instant calm during the holidays that you can do anywhere, anytime. They can be done as a short sequence or selected one by one, holding for anywhere between 10 breaths and several minutes.

These poses offer much needed moments to breathe and just be, so you can come back to your friends and family with a genuine smile firmly in place.

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Coming to a comfortable seated position, rest left hand on lap. Begin by covering left nostril with middle finger of right hand. Take a slow, deep inhale, then release finger and cover right nostril with right thumb as you exhale through the left. Continue for three to five minutes.


2. Mountain Pose

mountain-pose

Ground down through the four corners of your feet. Grow taller with your breath, as you feel the chest rising and falling with the breath. Keep the palms facing forward to open yourself up to receiving positive energy and calmness.


3. Standing Forward Fold

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This is an instantly calming pose known to relieve stress and fatigue while energizing the body as the blood flows to the head. Hold this pose with a gentle bend in the knees and shoulders free of tension.


4. Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Bend Yoga Pose

Use cushions to allow you to remain comfortable for several minutes. Relax your muscles, release any stress, resting your head onto the cushions and simply coming to your breath.


5. Warrior II

Warrior I Yoga Pose

Possibly the most empowering, “Be true to yourself” yoga poses ever! Stand tall, stand strong, and settle into your pose. Try closing your eyes. Feel the muscles in the body working to hold you steady as you connect to the absolute power that resides within.


6. Eagle Pose

Eagle Yoga Pose

This is an empowering and energizing pose that works the whole body, sending blood flowing throughout the body, which is great for increasing your libido for sexy times with your partner at the end of a stressful day!


7. Child’s Pose

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An amazing pose that you can come to at anytime for instant calm! Feel your troubles melt away as you rest your forehead on the mat, cushion, or block and just breathe.


8. Reclined Hero

Reclined-Hero-Pose-Virasana-(Supta Virasana)

A pose to release any stored tension in the hips. Make the pose more restorative and heart-opening by bringing a bolster between your shoulder blades, increasing flexibility in the spine and reducing fatigue and stress—absolute bliss!

Modification: If there is pain in the knees, keep one leg straight and change halfway.


9. Legs-Up-the-Wall

legs up the wall

An all time favorite! You can’t fail but feel lighter after holding this pose for several minutes.


10. Savasana

Savasana

Savasana is THE relaxation pose. It truly encourages the body to come to a still position and just breathe, bringing us naturally to a more peaceful state.


Meditation

Introduce meditation into each of the poses above as you begin to slow down the breath and come to a comfortable position. Visualize drawing a square—connecting each line of the square to an inhale or exhale, gradually increasing the size of square as slow the breath down even more.

Read more at https://www.doyouyoga.com/10-yoga-poses-for-instant-calm-during-the-holidays/

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16 Yoga Poses For a Happy Holiday Season


 Whether you’re a yoga teacher looking to bring a bit of Christmas sparkle to your classes, a parent who wants a fun way to keep the kids active over the holiday season, a yogi who wants to inject a bit of festive spirit into your practice, or anyone just interested in seeing what kind of Christmas-y shapes they can pull with their body, then these poses are a great place to start.

Whether it’s flexibility, core strength, or balance, each pose provides a different challenge, so approach them all with a playful attitude and use your imagination to see if you can create any other festive poses.

Put on some Christmas music, don your homemade Christmas Yoga Top and have fun!

Christmas Tree

Begin standing with your feet together and come up onto your toes. Slowly lower yourself down into a squat, squeezing your buttocks to open your hips as wide as you can. Lift your arms above your head and join your palms. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
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Dancer

Bend your right leg behind you and take hold of the outside edge of your right foot of ankle with your right hand. Gradually press your foot into your hand, extending your spine and reaching your left hand to the sky. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release your leg and repeat on the other side.

Prancer

Begin on all fours, bring your forearms to the floor and straighten your legs. Raise one leg at a time so that you’re balancing on your forearms, and then bend one leg forward and one back so they look like reindeer horns. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release slowly and repeat with your legs the other way around.

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Star

Begin in a high plank position and lift your right arm and right leg. Keep your hips lifted and buttocks squeezed. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release back to plank and repeat on the other side.

Partridge In A Pear Tree

Bring your right foot up to rest on your inner left thigh. Bring your right arms across your chest to left side, interlock your thumbs, and spread your fingertips to make a bird shape. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
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Roast Turkey

Start in a crouched position with your forearms on the ground in front of you. Snuggle your knees into your armpits, engage your core, and lift your toes off the floor. Balance here for 5-10 breaths and lower yourself back down to the ground.

Candy Cane

Stand with your feet together, hands raised about your head in prayer position and fold to the right. Aim to keep your elbows glued to your ears and shoulders relaxed. Hold for 5-10 breaths, come back to center on an inhale and repeat on the left.

Snow Plow

Begin lying on your back and bring your toes up and over your head and your hands to your lower back. See if you can touch your toes on the floor, or if not, just keep your legs parallel to the ground. Try releasing your arms to the mat, keeping most of the weight in your shoulders. Hold for up to 3 minutes, return your hands to your back and slowly lower yourself to the ground.

Snowball

Begin in Snow Plow pose and bend your knees to rest on your forehead with your toes pointed to the sky. Slowly wrap your arms around your legs, keeping your weight in your shoulders. Hold for up to 3 minutes, bring your hands to your lower back and roll back down to the ground.

Running Reindeer

Come onto all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Lift your left foot to the sky so your thigh is parallel to the ground, and raise your right arm straight out in front of you. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Rock The Baby

Begin seated cross legged and lift your right leg, hooking your right arms underneath your chin and taking hold of the foot with your left hand. Gently rock your shin from side to side 5-10 times, release your leg and repeat on the other side.

Camel

Begin kneeling with your knees about hip distance apart and bring your hands to your lower back, fingertips pointing downward. Keeping your hips over your knees, lean back and reach for your heels. Allow you head to hang back and hold for 5-10 breaths. Return your hands to your lower back and come back to kneeling on an inhalation.

Sugar Cane

Starting standing, lift your left leg out behind you and lean forward, bringing your right hand to the floor. Bend the left leg, reach back with your left hand to take hold of the foot, and press your left foot into your hand. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.

Penguin

Stand with your feet together and come up onto the tips of your toes. Bend your elbows and snuggle the backs of your hands under your armpits. Hold for 10 breaths and release.

Prayer

Join your palms behind your back, letting your shoulders roll forward if need be. If you can’t quite reach, bring the backs of your hands together or take hold of your wrists, drawing your shoulder blades toward the midline. Hold for 10 breaths.

Stocking

Begin on your belly, either with your hands underneath you or in line with your chest. Take a couple of deep inhalations, and on the third inhalation lift your legs into the air as high as you can, using the strength of your buttocks and core. Hold for 5-10 breath and lower down slowly.

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How to Slow Down Aging with Yoga


Yoga is not a miracle. It can’t stop you from getting older. But feeling more flexible, looking fresher, and adding more years to your life — that you can definitely achieve with regular yoga practice!

When you check the biographies of famous yoga teachers of the past, you can see most of them had lived very long lives! Let’s see how exactly yoga makes you feel and look younger.

Yoga strengthens spine

You are as young as your spine is flexible. Yoga has long been known as a great way to fix one’s posture. Poor posture doesn’t only cause back problems, it also makes you look older. Practicing yoga asanas also strengthens back muscles and releases tension in the shoulders. And since yoga increases body awareness, you get less likely to make movements that may harm your back.

Yoga and meditation improve memory

The recent research carried out by the University of California proved that yoga and meditation are more effective for fighting the early signs of Alzheimer’s than memory enhancement exercises. The experiment lasted 12 weeks and 25 people over 55 years old participated. In addition to Kundalini Yoga practice, participants also meditated.

Yoga relieves stress

As you are aging, there are even more things to worry about: you start regretting things you haven’t done, you can’t make peace with the way your appearence changes, you have more problems with health. And regular yoga practice is just what you need to fight stress as it normalizes your breath and teaches you to live in the moment and enjoy your life at any age.

Inversions massage internal organs

Inverted poses massage our internal organs, and detoxify them. As we age, our internal organs get droopy and inverted poses slow down this process.

Yoga improves overall health

It has been scientifically proven that regular exercise increases the level of somatotropin (growth hormone responsible for the growth of tissues such as skin and muscles) and androgen (hormone among everything responsible for heart health and the immune system). The study held in 2014 showed that yoga practice has a similar effect. 45 people were doing yoga and meditation for 12 weeks and demonstrated the increased levels of these hormones, so important for healthy aging. The participants also considerably lowered their body mass index.
So how to slow down aging with yoga? Just keep practicing, make meditation an integral part of your daily routine and you’ll live a longer and healthier life.


Article from: https://yoga.com/article/how-to-slow-down-aging-with-yoga 

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Yoga and Meditation with Kids


Within the realm of yoga, there is something for everyone.  A yoga session can consist merely of deep breathing, or it can incorporate simple or complicated poses depending on what the person is looking to get out of the practice.  Yoga is non-competitive and incorporates meditation, which adds to its power to relieve stress.  For children and adults alike, yoga is a wonderful exercise that feels less like exercise and more like loving and respecting one’s body.  Yoga is a fantastic choice of exercise for kids of all ages because it has so many benefits and can be done almost anywhere.  Through yoga, kids can learn to live in the moment and focus on what they are doing at that moment.

Yoga and Meditation with Kids


Benefits of Yoga for Kids:

  • Stress reduction through breathing.

When practicing yoga, you aim to focus on and control your breath, which helps you to be present in your yoga practice while also focusing on the present moment rather than all of the thoughts that can flood your mind.  Cosmic Kids Yoga has a post titled Five Fun Breathing Exercises for Kids with ways to teach kids how to breathe deeply and focus on the breath.  The hot air balloon technique is a wonderful way to incorporate a child’s imagination into the practice.  Another visual is to imagine the flow of the breath that is entering your body.  Picture wonderful, clean, life giving air entering through your nose.  Next, picture it going down your windpipe. Then it slowing fills your lungs with air to send to the rest of your body.  Envision the reverse for the exhale.

  • Exposure to mindfulness/meditation.

Mindfulness is achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment while acknowledging other feelings and releasing them.  When children are focusing on their breaths and poses, they are able to release other thoughts and simply focus on the present. Mindful breathing is a form of meditation, which is a wonderful relaxation method.

  • Promotes a healthy body.

Practicing yoga helps to stretch and strengthen the body as well as improve balance and coordination.

  • Provides confidence building.

As a child practices yoga and sees and feels changes, such as mastering a new pose or being able to hold one’s balance longer, confidence is fostered and a sense of achievement is felt.

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Yoga typically consists of breathing, meditation, and poses, and it can be practiced at any time of the day.  You and your child can wake up and practice yoga in bed to start the day.  Your family can do a night time routine before bed to calm the mind.  And you and your child can practice anytime in between in short bouts or in longer sessions.  Yoga is just as beneficial for adults, so making it a family event allows for exercise and time spent together.

The following graphic is a guide through a yoga sequence that uses garden imagery to make the flow even more child friendly.  If you follow the link, you can get a printable PDF of the graphic.

Yoga and Meditation with Kids

Other wonderful resources are available for leading children in a yoga practice, such as

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga. Kids enjoy a story and scenery while breathing and practicing yoga poses.
  • YouTube Yoga Roundup. So Much Yoga has a roundup of what they determined to be the 7 best yoga videos for kids on YouTube.
  • 5 tips for doing yoga with kids. These tips are a great reminder to keep the yoga age appropriate as well as fun, consider the time of day that you choose for practice, and incorporate relaxation and meditation.
  • Books, studios, videos and more. Super Healthy Kids lists where you can find yoga for kids, including specific books to check out.

Yoga can fit into any schedule and can be used as a wonderful tool to promote health and relaxation in children and adults alike.  Giving your child tools, such as deep breathing or various poses from yoga, to promote relaxation and reduce stress is an amazing tool to have in your child’s toolbox for life.

written by
Nicole Flanagan
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6 yoga stretches to help you get rid of neck pain


If you have chronic neck pain, try these six yoga stretches for relief

Nowadays, most of our lives revolve around computer screens and smart phones. While modern conveniences do certainly help make life easier in some ways, constantly hunching over a screen and always being connected is doing nothing for our neck health.

Luckily, yoga can be an easily accessible remedy to neck pain.

More: How I learned to manage my chronic back pain with exercise

Yoga also asks that you pay attention to your body. Often, the body pain we feel is not only the result of a technology addiction, but also a manifestation of our emotions. For example, the neck is where we hold our insecurities. When you release the pain, you are often releasing an emotional block. Paying attention to pain in your body can give you an indication of how you’re feeling emotionally.

Here are some fairly simple stretches that can help you disconnect from the screen and reconnect with yourself.

1. Hands behind your head

This stretch will help open your shoulders, which can help alleviate pain in the neck. It is also a heart opening exercise that counteracts the “concave chest” you have from hunching over at a desk.

From sitting or standing, interlace your fingers behind your head. Press your head into your hands. From here, fan your elbows out to the side, and if you can draw them slightly back behind you. Don’t flare out your upper ribs here; rather, engage the abdominals to support you. If you need more of a stretch, start to raise the chest up while keeping your abdominals engaged.

2. Chin to chest

Your neck connects your body to your mind which makes it vulnerable to stress. This exercise is a targeted yet gentle stretch for the neck.

Sit up nice and tall, reaching up through the crown of your head. Lower your chin onto your chest, and allow the weight of your head to stretch out the back of your neck. If this isn’t enough of a stretch for you, place your fingers on the back of your head, without pulling down on the head. Breathe deeply, and with each exhale let go a little more. Take five deep breaths.

More: 7 Things yoga taught me about hiking

3. Look behind you

Sit in a chair for this one if you’re able to, and try to sit up nice and tall, reaching up through the crown of your head. Inhale deeply, and on your exhale, look over your right shoulder. Keep your torso centered and look as far behind you as you can — even with your eyes. Inhale back to center, exhale look over your left shoulder. Breathe deeply and complete four more on each side. For a more advanced stretch like this, try Heart like a Wheel.

4. Shoulder rolls and drops

Shoulder stress affects your neck because the muscles rely on each other. If your shoulders are tense, your neck may be in a state of stress as it overcompensates. This movement helps in relieving built up tension in the upper back and shoulders.

Sit or stand up tall. On your inhale, gently bring the shoulders up towards the ears, on your exhale pull the shoulders behind you and back to the starting position. Do four more shoulder rolls. Inhale the shoulders directly up to the ears, then exhale through the mouth with a quick sigh while you allow the shoulders to drop. Do three more.

5. Major shoulder stretch

Another fantastic shoulder stretch to relieve the shoulders, lower back and neck from strain. A heart opening pose that will leave you feeling relaxed and centered.

Roll your shoulders back and down, then interlace your fingers behind your lower back. On your inhale, try to straighten out your arms, then reach them away from the back and raise them up behind you. On your exhale, fold the elbows to the sides and keeping the fingers interlaced, bring the backs of the hands to the lower back.

6. Ear to shoulder

The ear to shoulder stretch assists in stretching muscles that are involved in the rotation and tilting of your head. These muscles can become tight and sore when you sit at a desk for long periods of time.

Inhale deeply, and on your exhale, lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Inhale back to center, then exhale the left ear to the left shoulder. Do each side three more times. If you find you need more of a stretch, bring your fingertips to the side of your head, adding a little weight to increase the stretch.

More: 10 Things you can do to achieve wellness this year

Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.


Read more: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1112807/yoga-stretches-for-neck-pain?adbpl=PIN&adbpr=sheknows.com&adbpi=1112807&utm_content=buffer90737&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer 

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10 Funny Things That Only Happen To People Who Do Yoga


Caley Alyssa

The older I get, the more I realize that it’s SO important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously! With the truest intentions of bringing you joy and a massively cheesy smile to your face, I’d like to share what makes me giggle and find release as a teacher, student, and human being. Here’s my list of the top 10 funny things that only happen to people who do yoga:

1. You think it’s socially acceptable to pass off your yoga leggings as work pants so that you can immediately hit the yoga studio the second the clock hits 5 p.m.

2. You find yourself purchasing anything with “yoga” in the name. “Yoga sling sandals made out of real yoga mat material? Sign me up!”

3. You’re a little too comfortable when a “stranger” comes up behind you to grab your hips or touch your sweaty back — it’s all in the name of adjustment!

4. You abruptly wake up from a deep sleep because of a loud noise only to realize it’s savasana and you’ve been snoring … !

5. From shoes to clothing, comfort is first priority on your fashion list. My favorite comfy shoes are Sanuk slip-on Sidewalk Surfers®!

6. Your plans revolve around your favorite yoga teacher’s classes: “Could we do dinner at 8? I have an appointment at 6 I can’t miss …”

7. You automatically assume that when someone asks you to “get a drink,” it’s going to be a green juice.

8. You have a fancy event to attend and realize that your entire closet is filled with brightly colored stretchy pants (board shorts for all my male yogis). Time to invest in something that’s not Dri-FIT!

9. You have at least a few kitchen cabinets filled with blocks, wheels, straps, mats, foam rollers, or meditation cushions because you’ve run out of storage room elsewhere.

10. You attend your best friend’s dinner party fully suited up in spandex, just in case a random AcroYoga session breaks out in the yard.


Read more: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-26245/10-funny-things-that-only-happen-to-people-who-do-yoga.html 

Author: Caley Alyssa is a internationally renowned Los Angeles–based yoga teacher and the founder of Caley Yoga. She credits yoga with helping her define and accomplish her dreams, and she’s passionate about helping others manifest their own dreams as well—both through the classes she teaches and the relationships she forms off the mat.

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6 Calming Yoga Poses for Kids Who Need a Chill Pill


Our fast-paced world can make even the most organized adult feel stressed out. So just imagine how this breakneck speed impacts your kid!Your child may not be able to identify that the complex emotion they’re feeling is stress, so watch for warning signs like:

  • acting out
  • bed-wetting
  • trouble sleeping
  • becoming withdrawn
  • physical symptoms like stomachaches and headaches
  • aggressive behaviors, especially toward other children

It’s well-known that yoga can help adults chill out, and there’s no reason why little yogis can’t reap the same wonderful benefits.

“Yoga helps children slow down and focus,” says Karey Tom from Charlotte Kid’s Yoga. A California State University study found that yoga not only improved classroom performance, but it also helped improve the children’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

In fact, Karey says that more and more schools recognize the power of yoga, adding it to their curriculum as a healthy form of physical exercise and a positive coping mechanism for stress.

“Something as simple as slowing down and taking deep breaths may help a child to be less anxious and more successful while taking a test,” she says.

It’s never too early — or too late — to introduce yoga to your child.

“Children are born knowing how to do poses that we call yoga,” points out Karey. There’s a pose called Happy Baby for a reason!

To focus your child’s natural inclination toward play into a regular practice, you can seek out a kid-friendly studio or download a yoga class online. You can also begin by teaching your child these seven calming poses.

Once your child knows the poses, practice regularly to ward off stress, although yoga can help a child calm down after experiencing a tantrum, too. Remember to keep it light and silly. Start off small — a pose or two may be all your child has the attention span for at first. With time and age, their practice will deepen.

“Slow down and be present! Connect with your child and let your child teach you,” Karey reminds us.

1. The Warrior Series

Warrior Series

This series, which is done in a lunge position with your arms stretched, builds strength and stamina. It’s an invigorating pose that releases negativity through methodic breathing.

Warrior I and II are great for beginners. Make this series fun. You can shout out warrior yells and banish play swords and breastplates.

2. Cat-Cow

Cat-Cow

The Cat-Cow stretch is said to create emotional balance while releasing your back muscles and massaging digestive organs. When you teach your child these simple poses, play up the animal theme. Moo as you drop your spine and meow as you arch your back.

3. Downward-Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

This pose provides a great stretch while releasing tension in your neck and back. Again — play up the animal theme with barks and a wagging “tail,” which helps further stretch the leg muscles.

4. Tree Pose

tree pose

This balancing pose develops mind-body awareness, improves posture, and relaxes the mind.

A child may find it challenging to balance on one foot, so encourage him to place his foot wherever is comfortable. It can be propped on the ground, near the opposite ankle, or below or above the opposite knee.

Extending arms overhead also helps maintain the pose.

5. Happy Baby

happy baby

Children gravitate toward this fun, silly pose, which opens the hips, realigns the spine, and calms the mind. Encourage your child to rock back and forth in this pose, as the action provides a gentle back massage.

6. Sleeping Pose

Sleeping Pose

We call the Corpse Pose “Sleeping Pose” when working with kids.

This pose typically closes out a yoga practice and encourages deep breathing and meditation. You can lay a warm, damp washcloth over your child’s eyes, play relaxing music, or give a quick foot massage while they rest in Savasana.

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10 Effective Yoga Teaching Cues to Empower Your Students


Vicky Simpson

As yoga teachers, we have a responsibility to our students to ensure they feel safe and comfortable during class. Providing a sacred space for our students is essential, but often difficult when teaching to so many unique individuals. But there are ways we can empower each student during their yoga practice and help create a more meaningful yoga class.

Yoga is unique to each student because yoga allows us to form a deep relationship with our body, mind and soul. In each class we teach, there are many different backgrounds, abilities, preferences and experiences in the room, so the easiest way to empower so many unique individuals is simply by changing some of the language of our cueing.

As yoga teachers, our language is the key to empowering our students.

Instead of “dictating” to our students, we should offer choices for their practice so they have the opportunity to ask themselves what feels right in their body, and then act accordingly. This will invite more body and mind connection within each student. Safety always comes first, but at certain times in class you can offer your students choices to help them feel empowered in their practice.

Since our language is the key to empowering our students, these cues offer alternative ways to guide your students through class and allow them to feel empowered in their body and yoga practice. Most of these cues are best for beginner yoga classes or an all-level yoga class, so keep that in mind when applying these cues to your classes.

Here are 10 effective yoga teaching cues to empower your yoga students:

1. “I invite you to try this”

Inviting your students to practice a pose or different variations is a subtle way of empowering your students, because an invitation can be accepted or declined. This cue can be used for postures that might make people feel uncomfortable or postures that are more advanced. If the yogi feels comfortable and ready to try something, the choice is their own.

2. “Experiment with this variation”

Again, this cue places the decision of different poses or variations into the hands of the student. Encourage yogis to experiment with different positions to evoke a deeper understanding of what feels good in their body. They may need a gentle boost to try something new or different, and this cue could lead them to discovering they are stronger than they thought.

3. “If you feel comfortable, feel free to close your eyes”

I learned the importance of this cue after teaching yoga to victims of sexual violence. You can imagine why women who have been through such an experience aren’t comfortable with closing their eyes in a room full of strangers. If a student wants to keep their eyes open until trust is established, that is another way to help them feel empowered and more comfortable.

4. “Please inform me if you would not like to receive hands-on adjustments”

Many students love hands-on assists, but many students would rather not be touched. If you plan on giving hands-on assists during class, then you should give your students the option to opt-out. There are ways to discreetly ask your class who would like to receive hands on assists so no one feels embarrassed or uncomfortable.

Many teachers invite students into Child’s Pose and then ask their students to flip their palm if they do not wish to receive hands-on adjustments. Some teachers prompt students before class begins to roll the back of their mat under if they do not wish to receive hands-on adjustments. No matter how you do it, give your students the choice of touch to allow them to have the best experience on their mat.

Check out our book review of Yoga’s Touch: Hands-On Adjustments, Alignment and Verbal Cues for more tips on giving hands-on assists to your students.

5. “Feel free to back out of a posture or lie down at any time during class”

This is an important cue to give your students before class begins. Let your students know this is their yoga practice. If they feel they need to skip a pose or rest in Childs Pose or Savasana during class, then the option is available and they should listen to their body. Yoga is about forming a loving relationship with the body, and for this to happen we must feel safe and able to honor our body’s needs.

6. “Find your own expression of this posture”

This is a beautiful cue to encourage your students to express themselves and explore their body. Again, yoga is about loving and connecting to your body, so if a student feels better in a different variation of the pose, then we should encourage them to honor their practice.

For example, in Low Lunge it may feel better that day for a student to place their hands on their heart, take a backbend or open their shoulders. This is another simple way of using language to give our students a sense of empowerment in exploring their practice. When your students begin to connect to their own energy and know what their body needs, their practice will grow.


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7. “Find a resting position that feels good to you”

Using this cue before Savasana allows students to identify what position will make them feel the most relaxed. Maybe provide options to use a bolster under the knees, place their arms overhead or rest in a fetal position to help them find the best variation of Savasana to fully relax.

It is important not to cue too much during Savasana, but instead allow your students to experience their own Savasana. So cuing them into Savasana and reminding them that they have options in this pose could help your students drift into a deeper meditative state.

8. “You have the option to stay in this pose, or try this variation”

This is a great cue for an all level class. The beginner yogis can stay in the pose if they choose and the more advanced yogis can try more advanced variations. This cue is also great to empower your students to listen to their body and what it wants to practice that day. This cue makes it clear that both variations are welcome and encourages yogis to honor their practice.

9. “Know that wherever you are in your practice is perfect”

Yoga is a journey, not a destination. We have heard that saying before and it is a great reminder during any class. It is very easy for students to compare their yoga practice to other students and feel inadequate. But this cue reminds your students that their efforts are seen, appreciated, and should be celebrated.

In your beginner classes, this cue can empower your students to love where they are now and how far they have come. This cue is another great reminder for your students that getting on their mat each day is a better accomplishment than nailing any yoga pose.

10. “Try these two options and see what feels better today”

Offering several options to your students and allowing them to try both can enhance their mind and body relationship. Giving them a choice of how to move their body and practice the pose helps improve body awareness and trust. Offering a few options will make your class accessible to different yogis with different bodies and abilities.

Yes, some of these cues are encouraging the same outcome. But it is important to offer a variety of cues to your students to keep their focus. It is easy for a student’s mind to wander if they know what you will say next, and a wandering mind can lead to the student missing important cues and not focusing on their body.

Always explore ways to communicate better to your students, and always create a class that leaves them feeling empowered. Namaste, teachers!


Read more: https://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/10-effective-yoga-teaching-cues-empower-students/ 

Vicky Simpson

Vicky Simpson is a yoga teacher, travel blogger and avid explorer. She lives a minimalistic and nomadic lifestyle with her husband Micky who writes about health and food on their blog. Vicky travels the world teaching in yoga retreats, hosting workshops and writes of her adventures along the way.

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