You see these words when reading articles and books about yoga. You hear these words when talking to your yogi friends. If you are not sure what some of them mean, here is a chance to quickly get acquainted with some common yoga terms and concepts from the Yoga language!
8 limbs of yoga: 8 aspects of yoga, 8 principles on how to live in harmony with the world and with yourself described in Yoga Sutras by Patanjali (more on that under Yoga Sutras definition). The eight limbs are Yama (attitude to the world), Niyama (attitude to yourself, self-discipline), Asana (physical pose), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (enlightenment).
200 RYT / 500 RYT: these terms have nothing to do with yoga philosophy, but it might be you’ve seen these abbreviations in yoga instructor portfolios and wondered what they stand for. So, there is an organization Yoga Alliance that has worked out standards and curriculum requirements for yoga teacher training. A yoga teacher who meets the requirements of Yoga Alliance can use the credential RYT (registered yoga teacher). 200 RYT means that a teacher has completed a 200-hour course registered with Yoga Alliance. (Yoga schools around the world can apply to be able to provide this training). 500 RYT means that a teacher has completed a 500-hour course (or a 200-hour course and then a 300-hour course) and has taught yoga for at least 100 hours since completing the course. There are also E-RYT (experienced yoga teacher) credentials for teachers with more teaching experience.
This is an internationally recognized credential. But it doesn’t mean that every experienced yoga teacher must have this credential. However, now when you see 500 RYT you’ll have an idea of what kind of training the teacher has completed. Some yoga practitioners who don’t plan to become yoga teachers still complete yoga teacher training in order to deepen their practice.
Asana translates as “seat”. Initially, it was used to define a comfortable pose for meditation. Later the word asana started to refer to a yoga pose or yoga posture. That is why yoga poses have -asana in their Sanskrit names (for example, Padmasana, Balasana, Tadasana). As you already know, asana is only one of the many aspects of yoga. Asanas help strengthen the body and better prepare it for meditation. It’s often this physical aspect of yoga that motivates people to start practicing. But very often they continue to explore breathing exercises, meditation, yoga philosophy and other aspects of yoga. Several classic texts on yoga including Hatha Yoga Pradipika mention 84 classic asanas. One asana can have many variations.
Ashtanga yoga: the word “ashtanga” translates as “having 8 components”. “Ashta” in Sanskrit means eight. Nowadays, this yoga term is frequently used to refer to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga style. During Ashtanga yoga practice, you do a sequence of asanas connected with vinyasas and synchronized with the breath. This is a fast-paced and dynamic style that requires strength and may be challenging for beginners.
Chakras: these are energy centers in our body. There are 7 chakras that are located along the spine, from its base to the top of the head. Some symptoms like particular negative emotions may reveal which of your chakras are blocked. You can use particular yoga poses and lifestyle changes to unblock them. Read more here.
Hatha yoga is a system of breathing techniques and postures. Hatha yoga is, in fact, a category that includes most yoga styles. For example, Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga vinyasa yoga are forms of Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga classes may vary between different yoga studios and different teachers. But usually, these are slow-paced classes suitable for beginners.
Kundalini defines the coil of energy located at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga style also known as Laya Yoga is focused on awakening this energy. It is also called “yoga of awareness”. In addition to doing asanas and pranayamas, Kundalini yoga practitioners sing mantras during the practice. It is recommended to wear white clothes to Kundalini yoga classes.
Lotus pose or Padmasana is a yoga pose considered to be the best pose for meditation. This is an advanced pose. To get into Lotus pose sit on the mat with your legs crossed. Put the right foot on the left thigh. The outer part of the right foot should face the left thigh. Put the left foot on the right thigh. Place your relaxed hands on your thighs or push the palms against the floor.
Namaste: this is a word that translates as ‘the light within me bows to the light within you’ or ‘I bow to the divine in you’. It is normally said at the end of the practice.This is also a common greeting in countries like Nepal and India. You say it with your hands pressed together, fingers pointing upwards, and thumbs pointing towards the chest.
Pranayama: the art of breath regulation, breath control. You’ll practice different kinds of breathing techniques throughout your yoga practice. Pranayama exercises are normally done in a comfortable sitting pose or even sitting on a chair. It’s essential that you feel comfortable and your back is straight.
Savasana (Corpse Pose): one of those yoga poses that even people who haven’t been to a single yoga class have heard of (along with Lotus pose and Tree pose, probably) This pose normally ends the practice. You need to lie on your back with your arms and legs straightened, the feet pointing outwards, the palms up, eyes closed. Savasana helps to relax the mind and the body and lets the effects of a yoga practice sink in.
Sun Salutations: Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a dynamic asana sequence. Normally performed in the morning or at the beginning of a yoga practice as a warm-up, Sun Salutation includes 12 poses with the four first poses and four last poses being the same but done in reverse order: Mountain Pose, Upward Salute, Standing Forward fold, Low Lunge, Plank Pose, Four-Limbed Stuff Pose, Upward-facing Dog, Downward-facing Dog, then again Low Lunge, Standing Forward fold, Upward Salute, Tadasana. This would be a half-round of Sun Salutation, you then need to complete another half on the other side. Doing 6—12 rounds of Sun Salutations in the morning may be a good and simple way to form an everyday yoga habit.
Vinyasa: a flow of poses. For example, San Salutation or Cat-Cow are examples of Vinyasa. Different yoga styles focused on flowing sequences of poses such as Ashtanga yoga fall under the category of Vinyasa yoga.
Yoga is literally translated as union, it’s a spiritual and ascetic discipline that includes many aspects. Some of them are Hatha yoga (yoga of proper breath and poses), jnana yoga (the yoga of wisdom and knowledge), and raja yoga (yoga of mind and emotions).
Yoga Nidra: yogic sleep. During Yoga Nidra, you achieve the state of “sleep with awareness” lying in Savasana pose with your eyes closed listening to verbal instructions of your teacher. Yoga Nidra has many benefits including the lowered anxiety and better sleep. Yoga Nidra normally lasts 45—60 minutes. Some yogis say an hour of Yoga Nidra feels like 4 hours of regular sleep.
Yoga props: blocks, bolsters, folded blankets, straps used to deepen the poses or to perform easier variations of poses. Don’t be afraid to use yoga props. They are great companions in your yoga journey. You’ll use props a lot during Iyengar yoga classes.
Yoga Sutras: a set of aphorisms written by Patanjali which is considered to be the foundation of Yoga philosophy. This ancient document didn’t contain the poses. It is not known exactly when the document was created. But it’s definitely more than 1700 years old.
If you’ve got some insights about the yoga terms here or would like to provide more information on any of them feel free to add a comment!
Who doesn’t love hiking? Exploring new places, soaking up the fresh air and beautiful scenery, experiencing the life at its fullest. As you walk for miles and miles you may start feeling a little tired. This exhaustion is pleasant in a way yet you feel like you could do with some exercise.
And here is when yoga comes to the rescue. Forward folds and stretches that require just a few minutes and no mat to practice will make you feel like a whole new person!
Stand up, step your left foot back. Stretch your arms and put them together above your head: your fingers clasped and your index fingers pointing up. Move your chin to your chest and start folding to your right leg, your back round. Try to reach the floor (or rather the earth) with your hands and to touch your leg with your forehead. This pose perfectly stretches thighs and back and calms down your mind.
Put your feet a leg’s length apart, your right foot turned 90 degrees to the right, and your left foot just slightly turned to the left. Bend your right leg until it forms a 90-degree angle. Start bending your torso to the right and put your right hand on the floor. Stretch your left arm up until it forms one line with your left leg. This pose doesn’t only stretch your body but also improves your stamina when performed regularly.
Feet a leg’s length apart, right foot turned 90 degrees to the right. Rotate your torso and pelvis to the right, bend your right knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Start bending your torso forward rotating it more to the right until you can put your left shoulder in front of your right knee. You can either put your left hand on the floor and your right hand up or join your hands in Namaste.Make sure to repeat the above poses on both sides
Put your legs a leg’s length apart, place your hands on your lower back and start bending forward. Put the palms on your feet and move your head to the floor. Keep your thighs engaged and your pelvis stretching up. Beginners may practice the pose variation with their hands on hips.
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.
Below is a list of basic chair yoga poses, which are ancient yoga poses that have been adapted to practice using a chair. These chair yoga poses could be used in your classroom, homeschool, or in a small space for transitions, movement breaks, or for introducing a new topic. The postures serve as an inspiration guide, but please encourage the children’s creativity.
Yoga poses for kids often mimic our natural surroundings and may be interpreted in different ways that will integrate into your curriculum to build meaningful learning connections for your students. Practice the yoga poses to stretch their bodies after sitting for a long time or to energize their minds and bodies for learning. Some things to consider when you are practicing chair yoga with your children:
Feel free to adapt or change the chair yoga poses to suit your needs.
Focus on having fun with movement, not on practicing perfectly aligned poses.
Engage the children. Follow their passions and interests.
Create authentic, meaningful experiences.
Cater to their energy levels and different learning styles.
Be creative and enjoy yourselves, but please be safe.
Ensure that the chairs are firm and steady so that the poses are safe to practice.
Gently introduce the idea of linking breath to movement.
Add breathing techniques that suit your needs.
Finish each chair yoga session in a resting pose to allow time for peace and quiet.
Our Kids Yoga Stories characters, Sophia, Luke, Elizabeth, Baraka, Pablo, Mai, and Anamika, demonstrate the chair yoga poses in the list below, followed by the yoga pose name and descriptions.
A List of 40 Chair Yoga Poses for Kids:
Balance on your buttocks with your arms and legs straight out in front of you in a V shape, grasping the sides of the chair for balance. Keep a straight spine and open chest.
Come to a sitting position, with your feet flat on the ground and your legs together. Lift your head, open your chest, squeeze your shoulders, and place your hands on your back of the chair. Gently press your hips forward while shifting your shoulders back, slowly arching your back. Look up, keeping your spine neutral.
From a sitting position with your feet flat on the ground, round your back and tuck your chin into your chest, stretching your back.
In front of your seat, stand tall in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and keep a straight spine. Take your straight arms up in front of you, look up, and try sinking a little deeper into your knees as if you’re about to sit back down in the chair.
Sit back on your chair, slowly bend your upper body to rest on your thighs, rest your arms down towards the floor, and take a few deep breaths.
Come to sit in your seat. Bring your legs up on the front of the chair, with the soles of your feet together. Keep a tall spine.
Come to sit at the front of your chair. Open your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades together, look up, and bring your hands to the back of the chair. Arch into a baby back bend.
Sit at the front of your chair, with your feet flat on the ground. Place your palms on your knees and take a deep breath to neutralize your spine. Then look up slightly, arch your back, and open your chest.
Crescent Moon Pose:
Sit comfortably on your chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Reach your arms up high over your head, bringing your palms together. Tilt your upper body to one side. Come back to center. Tilt your body to the other side.
Stand tall in Mountain Pose behind your chair. Then grab the back of your chair with your right hand, stand on your right leg, reach your left leg out behind you, and place the outside of your left foot into your left hand. Bend your torso forward, with your right hand on the chair for balance, and arch your leg up behind you. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose:
Come to standing just in front of your chair, facing the chair. Place your hands flat on the front of the chair and slowly step back so that your arms are stretched out straight in front of you. Straighten your spine, ensure your legs are hip-width distance apart, and look down between your legs.
Come to sitting up tall on your chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Wrap your left leg around your right. Bring your bent arms out in front of you, wrap your right arm around your left arm, and bend your knees slightly. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Sit cross-legged on your chair and rest your palms on your knees. Close your eyes, if you are comfortable doing so.
Extended Mountain Pose:
Sit comfortably on your chair with your feet flat on the ground, look up, take your arms straight up to the sky, and touch your palms together.
Extended Side Angle Pose:
Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the ground with your legs and feet together. Tilt your upper body forward, then twist to the right, rest your left elbow on your right knee, lengthening your left hand towards the ground. Look up and reach your right arm straight up to the sky. Repeat on the other side.
Come to sit on your buttocks with a tall spine on the chair. Lift your bent legs, balance on your sitting bones, and weave your arms under your legs with your palms facing up.
Perch at the front of your chair with your legs stretched out in front of you. Place your feet hip-width apart, and flex your feet to rest your heels on the ground. Slowly bend your upper body (ensuring that your chair is stable and reach for your toes. Keep a straight spine and look down at your toes.
Happy Baby Pose:
Sit at the back of your seat and shift to balancing on your buttocks. Lift your legs up, hug your knees into your chest, and then grab the outer parts of each foot—right foot in right hand and left foot in left hand.
Come to rest upright on your seat with your palms resting on your knees. Close your eyes (if that’s comfortable). Breathe deeply.
Knee to Chest Pose:
Sit tall on your seat with your feet flat on the ground. Bend your right knee and hug it close to your chest. Then place it down again. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Legs Up the Chair Pose:
Lie flat on your back in front of your chair. Then slowly lift your legs and place them on your seat. Keeping your legs together, flex your feet. Spread your arms out to either side and keep your neck in a neutral position. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Sit with a tall spine at the back of your chair. Then, cross your legs, weave your feet to rest on top of opposite knees, and rest the palms of your hands on your knees. Relax and breathe.
Stand in front of your chair, then bend over and grab the front of the chair with both hands. Step your right foot back into a lunge position. Keep a flat back and open your chest. Hold for a few breaths, then bring your right foot back up to meet the left foot. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Sit tall with your legs hip-width apart and feet facing forward. Take your arms straight alongside your body and imagine being a steady, tall mountain.
Sit tall with your feet flat on the ground. Bend your right leg and place your right ankle on your left knee. Place your left hand on your right foot and your right hand on your right knee. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
From Downward-Facing Dog Pose in a chair, come forward to balance on your palms and on your bent toes in a plank position. Keep your arms straight and your back long and flat.
Sit comfortably in your chair. Rest your forehead on your folded arms on your desk. Rest and breathe.
Reverse Plank Pose:
Sit at the front of your chair, look up, open your chest, and place your hands at the back of your chair. Ensuring that the chair is steady, slowly lift your buttocks to a reverse plank position with your legs and spine straight and feet flat on the ground.
Reverse Table Top Pose:
Sit at the front of your chair, look up, open your chest, and place your hands at the back of your chair. Ensuring that the chair is steady, slowly lift your buttocks to a reverse table top position with bent legs.
Sit upright in your chair. Check that your spine is straight and your feet are flat on the ground. Twist your upper body to the right. Take your left hand to your right knee and your right hand back behind the chair. Repeat on the other side.
Sit tall on your chair with your feet flat on the ground and your palms on your knees. Then take your left arm straight up to the sky. Tilt your upper body to the right and place your right hand on the chair. Open your chest, look up, and feel the gentle stretch on your left side body. Come back to center. Switch sides and repeat the sides.
Come down to a squat in front of your chair with your knees apart and your arms between your knees.
Come to standing next to your chair. Holding on to the chair with one hand, shift your weight and balance on one leg. Bend the knee of the leg you are not standing on, place the sole of your foot on the opposite inner thigh or calf, and balance. Sway like a tree in the breeze. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Triangle Forward Bend:
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart in front of your chair, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Take your right foot back, keeping your ankle bent at a thirty-degree angle. Place your hands on the front of the chair, ensuring that your back is flat and that you are looking straight ahead. Then slowly bend forward as if your hips are a hinge, keeping a flat back and a long neck. Check that your spine is straight. Repeat on the other side.
From a standing position in front of your chair, step one foot back, placing the foot facing slightly outwards. Take your arms up parallel to the ground, bend at your waist, and tilt your upper body to the side. Reach your front hand to gently rest on your chair behind you and reach your other arm straight up. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose:
Stand in front of your chair. Bend down and grab the sides of your chair with your hands. Step your feet back so that your body is a long plank and you’re resting on your toes. Then straighten your arms and expand your chest. Look up, keeping your neck neutral, and feel a gentle back bend.
Warrior 1 Pose:
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Step one foot back, angling it slightly outward. Bend your front knee, bring your arms straight up toward the sky, and look up. Use the chair for support under your front leg if necessary. Repeat on the other side.
Warrior 2 Pose:
From standing position in front of your chair, step one foot back, placing the foot so that it is facing slightly outward. Take your arms up parallel to the ground, bend your front knee, and look forward. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Warrior 3 Pose:
Stand on one leg with your arms straight out in front of you, holding the back of the chair. Extend the other leg behind you, flexing your foot. Bend your torso forward. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend:
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart in front of your chair, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Then, step your feet out wide, bend your upper body, and take your hands to the back of the chair. Bend your arms and rest your forehead on the front of your chair. Feel the gentle stretch in your legs.
Read more at: https://www.kidsyogastories.com/chair-yoga-poses/
1 Sit up straight in a comfortable, relaxed posture.
2 Close the eyes. Rest your left hand on your knee, with thumb and forefinger together. On the right hand, bend the index and middle fingers, and gently apply pressure to your right nostril with your thumb or fourth finger.
3 Inhale through the left nostril, retain the breath for a moment, remove your hand from your right nostril, cover your left nostril and exhale through the right.
4 Repeat, inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right. Do this for two minutes.
2 Dolasana (pendulum pose)
1 Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart and the arms on either side of the body.
2 Inhale, raising the arms, clasping them just above the head.
3 Exhale and bend over at the waist, keeping hands together.
4 Retain the breath as you swing from side to side, with the forehead tapping first one knee and then the other.
5 Exhale and return to a standing position. Repeat a few more times.
3 Vajrasana (diamond pose)
1 Rest in a seated position with the legs tucked under the body (so your bottom is on your feet).
2 The spine should be straight and the knees close to each other. Sit for one minute.
4 Padmasana (lotus pose)
1 My favourite asana: sit up straight in a comfortable, relaxed posture, with legs extended in front of you.
2 Bend the right knee, placing the right foot on the left thigh. The sole of the foot should be turned upwards and the heel close to the abdomen.
3 If you are able, repeat on the left side.
4 With legs crossed, bring thumbs and index fingers together.
5 Close the eyes and breathe mindfully, remaining here for a few minutes.
5 Simha Garjana (roaring lion pose)
1 Kneel in a seated position with legs under the body.
2 The spine should be straight and the knees slightly apart.
3 Place palms on knees, keeping arms relaxed.
4 Open the mouth and relax the jaw, allowing the tongue to hang loosely.
5 Breathe through the nose and mouth.
6 Engaging the core and contracting the abdominal muscles, retain the breath for a few seconds.
7 Exhale and relax.
8 Repeat for two minutes.
6 Sarpasana (snake pose)
1 Lie on your stomach with legs straight and feet together.
2 Interlace the fingers behind the back and place chin on the ground.
3 Inhale and raise the chest, keeping the gaze straight ahead.
4 Imagine the hands are being pulled from behind.
5 Stay here and breathe. Hold this for as long as you are comfortable, even if just a few seconds.
6 Come down, take a few breaths and come up again.
7 Shavasana (corpse pose)
1 This is a lazy person’s favourite asana. Lie flat on your back with arms relaxed on either side of the body, palms facing up.
2 The legs should be sprawled outward with the feet apart; the head and neck should be aligned.
3 Inhale and exhale, and relax the entire body.
4 To deepen the relaxation further, contract and relax different parts of the body: feet, calves and thighs, pelvic muscles, buttocks. Clench the fists, contract the arms and relax. Contract the back, the neck, the shoulders, and relax. Lift the head off the ground and relax. Contract the entire body. Contract, contract, contract, and relax. Recite this mentally.
5 Inhale and exhale deeply, counting backwards from 10 gradually down to one.
I’ve seen, experienced, and read about benefits ranging from, “I can do the splits and put my legs behind my head!” to “it helped me cope with a death/divorce/trauma”. Below you’ll find a short list focused on the physical benefits you can expect to see*:
1. Healthy Joints. Yoga helps circulate the synovial fluid in your joints – this fluid lies in a capsule that surrounds synovial joints. This system (capsule and fluid components) helps to cushion the ends of the bones, allowing them to glide over each other, lessening the friction.
2. Decrease in blood pressure. The movements decrease blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation.
3. Increased flexibility
4. Increased strength and endurance (muscular and cardiovascular). Yoga uses the weight of your own body to build overall strength. Core strength is especially important for good posture and balance. Having a strong core and knowing how to use it will help prevent other injuries both on and off your yoga mat.
5. Body Awareness. Practicing yoga sharpens your awareness of your physical body. In practice students begin to consciously make subtle adjustments in order to achieve proper alignment in a pose.
6. Mind-Body Connection. Regular practice reinforces the mind body connection. Many yoga practitioners are so in tune with their body that they are aware at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly. This allows for quicker response to head off disease and other ailments.
For more information on the benefits (especially the emotional or psychological benefits) I suggest checking out Yoga Journal’s website. They have some great articles on this topic.
*Note: These benefits assume a regular practice. Depending on the consistency, level, and style of your practice, as well as your current health, your experience may differ. Namaste 🙂
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
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 your physical and emotional response to stress
decrease inflammation and pain
decrease anxiety and depression
So, now you’re definitely ready to try meditating, right? Let’s explore how to find the best type of meditation for you.
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
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.
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.
Try if: You feel restless, overly stressed, or mentally fatigued and want to experience a deeper sense of inner calm.
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.
Try if: You want to cultivate greater compassion for yourself and others.
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.
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/
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!
Sun Salutations (One or two won’t hurt, but be aware that these are very heating.)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
An all time favorite! You can’t fail but feel lighter after holding this pose for several minutes.
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.
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/
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.
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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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.
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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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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.