Category Archives: Inspired Posts

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

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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.

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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


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!

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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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Face Yoga: Will A Two-Minute Face Yoga Routine Make You More Beautiful?

Fans swear this technique can prevent frown lines, and even get rid of a double chin.

face yoga

Of all the laugh out loud-worthy beauty techniques I’ve adopted, face yoga is probably the most absurd. Nevertheless, I’m two weeks into my new routine and already a fan.

Just like its name suggests, the practice involves daily “exercises” for your face with the idea that strengthening the muscles under your skin can delay the onset of sagging skin and wrinkles. As someone who is trying everything and anything to keep my anti-aging routine as natural as possible through my mid and late 20s, this is appealing.

The issue is, of course, that there isn’t much thorough research supporting the idea that face yoga can prevent the onset of aging. However, proponents are adamant that regular practice delivers real results.

One such woman is Fumiko Takatsu, the founder of online program, Face Yoga Method. Takatsu has hundreds of thousands of followers, and believes that her techniques can do everything from tighten-up double chins, to make frown lines almost disappear (holy heck, yes please!!).

Face yoga exercises work by strengthening the muscles under the skin. As the muscles get toned and grow, they fill in and give you a youthful face. [The] exercises also promote better blood and oxygen flow throughout the face and body making it easier for nutrients to reach the top layer of the skin. When the skin is given proper nutrients, turn over speeds up and the result is more radiant, softer skin,” she explained to me.

Like all yogic practices, face yoga also incorporates conscious breath, and the deep breathing is supposed to “encourage blood flow to the skin and stress reduction.

My first reaction upon hearing this theory, was to think that surely constant exercising of the face muscles would lead to overuse, and even expedite the aging process. Right? Wrong, apparently. While the wrong repetitive movements can cause unwanted wrinkles, moving them the right way can (allegedly) prevent and even reduce wrinkles.

“Since each pose does not take more than a minute and every movement is very specific, it would be quite difficult to make more wrinkles by practicing the face yoga method,” Takatsu explained.

She also recommends practicing in front of a mirror until you get it right, to make sure you’re moving the muscles correctly. Honestly, it can’t hurt to give this technique a try — and it’s a hell of a lot less invasive and much cheaper than botox — so here are three moves to get you started. If you love it, head to the Face Yoga Method website for more sequences.

1Smile Lifter

Image via Face Yoga Method

Benefits: Defines and adds volume your cheeks, and tones the neck.

Move the jaw slightly forward, curl your lower lips over your teeth. Then smile, making sure both corners of your mouth are at the same level. Lift up the chin slightly and push your tongue up to the roof of the mouth. Keep pushing hard for 10 seconds then relax and repeat twice. By pushing the tongue to the roof of the mouth, the muscles around the mouth and the cheek contract more. This exercise is also supposed to help tone the neck area. When you do this pose, it is very important to keep both corners of your mouth at the same level.

2Eye-Opening Binocular Pose

Image via Face Yoga Method

Benefits: Prevents wrinkles and opens the eye area. 

To start, curl your hands into “C” shapes. Next, place the index fingers above each eyebrow, along the upper eye bones and each thumb on either side of the nose, just above the nostrils. Open your chest, pull down your shoulder blades, and open your eyes as widely as possible. Make sure you press your fingers firmly into your eyebrows, making sure your forehead and brows don’t move. Hold this pose for five seconds. Then, squint your eyes, without losing pressure on the brow area. Hold this for five seconds, and then relax for a few seconds. Repeat for a total of three sets.

3Frown Line Sequence

Benefits: Reduce the appearance of frown lines between your eyebrows.

This sequence is more complicated than the others — it involves a few steps and some serious scrunching and relaxing of your brows. For that reason, we suggest you check out the full video so you don’t miss any steps.




Jasmine Garnsworthy

Jasmine Garnsworthy is the Sporteluxe New York editor, covering mostly health and fitness while dabbling in fashion, entertainment news, and pop culture. She swears coconut oil can fix anything, obsessively face-mists through all stressful situations, and will try any weird wellness trend at least once.
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10 Books Every Yogi Should Read

Ashton August

I don’t know about you, but to me there is nothing more fulfilling than cozying up with a good book.

Books have guided me through all the various stages and chapters in my life, and remain a central part of who I am and what I believe in. As I write this, I realize I can say the exact same thing about yoga: yoga has also guided me through various stages in my life, and remains a central part of who I am and what I believe.

If you share my same love for books and yoga, then, dear readers, you are in for a treat!! I have compiled a reading list of my personal top picks in “Yoga Reading.” Disclaimer: not all of these books outwardly deal with yoga. However, all of them deal with what’s at the core of yoga: self-knowing, self-awareness, self-love, inspiration, and spirituality. So brew a cup of tea, put on your comfiest pj’s, and let’s do this!!

Just click on the image to purchase any of these books.

1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

siddharthaIf you haven’t heard of this book or its author, please trust me when I kindly ask that you stop right here and go get this book!! Siddhartha is a game changer. It’s a beautiful story, a quick read, and one that will entirely shift and empower your perspective.

“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”

2. The Alchemist by Pablo Coelho

The AlchemistAnother life-changing read, this book will inspire you to think from an entirely new and uplifted point of view. It’s a story about a boy on his journey of self-realization, and the lessons it contains are things I take with me everywhere I go.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure…. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

3. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The profitNuggets of spiritual gold are woven throughout this beloved book in the form of a wise man sharing his teachings with the townspeople about life. Here’s one of countless beautiful quotes: “The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

the four agreementsFollowing these four simple rules has led to so much personal growth and transformation in my own life. Take a look:

1. Be impeccable with your word (speak with integrity and say only what you mean)
2. Don’t take anything personally (let go of your ego)
3. Don’t make assumptions (it takes bravery, but you have to ask questions and communicate clearly)
4. Always do your best (if you do your best, there’s no room for regret)


5. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

the celestine prophecyThis is one of those books that you’ll pick up and simply devour. It’s got a gripping, adventurous storyline that’s chock-full of spiritual tidbits called “insights.” There are a total of nine insights, so I’ll share the first one as an example:
Insight #1. Meaningful Coincidences: we are at a point in the developmental history of human consciousness where development will accelerate. The major evidence for this is the increased number of meaningful coincidences people are noticing in their lives.

6. Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer

living the wisdomDr. Wayne Dyer is a self-help author and motivational speaker. I’ve had the honor of attending many of his conferences, and I can say that his insightful and inspirational writing is truly unparalleled. (He also created and stars in the movie The Shift, which I highly recommend.) Living the Wisdom breaks down the Tao Te Ching, a Chinese classic text on living with austerity into easy to understand concepts that bring peace, comfort, and inspiration.

7. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

the power of nowAs a yoga instructor, I am often asked which book I recommend to someone newly beginning his or her personal journey inward. The Power of Now is my answer to that. But whether you’re newly beginning, or well on your path, this book captivates your soul through speaking in simple truths. An absolute must-read!

8. Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein

spirit junkieHere is an amazing woman who at such a young age has accomplished so much. She provides an open and honest account of her struggle with addiction that she overcame through a serious commitment to spirituality. Her raw authenticity is inspiring in itself, and her story is not just an autobiography—it’s a map of how to navigate through your own journey of self-discovery.

9. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant

one day my soul opened upThe subtitle to this book is “40 Days and 40 Nights Towards Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth.” It’s essentially an inspirational self-help book and a personal journal hybrid. Iyanla challenges you to read her daily lessons filled with ah-ha moment insights and motivational messages, and then write responses to her journal prompts. This will take you on an amazing journey of introspection and deep reflection.

10. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

autobiography of a yogiThis book!! This book will reignite your “anything is possible” flame. Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru responsible for bringing meditation to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. He also founded Kriya Yoga, and he wrote this book about his life, giving detailed accounts of the many miraculous occurrences that brought about his own spiritual awakening. This is one of the most moving stories I have ever read.

There you have it, folks! This is just the tip of the ‘spiritual reading section’ iceberg, but a well-rounded offering for all your yogi reading needs. One of my favorite parts about reading a good book is sharing it with others, so thank you for allowing me to share my favorites with you! In return, I would LOVE to hear your own favorites in the comments below. Happy reading!!

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Three Cleansing Exercises to Start Your Day Like a Yogi

As the fast pace of modern life continues to accelerate, many people in the Western world have turned to yoga for their much-needed self-care. But the typical yoga practice in the West is often distilled down to only asana, the posture-focused yoga that you see in most classes. While asana practice is an essential part of the yogic tradition, yoga is a comprehensive spiritual path that contains a slew of practices to help cultivate a balanced life.

Lucky for us, some of these exercises are simple, much quicker than asana practice, and can easily be incorporated into your morning routine. Below are three ayurvedic cleansing exercises, called kriyas, to help start your morning in a mindful, healthy way.

Morning Kriyas

Sinus Cleanse –

Cup purified mineral water into your hand(s) and sniff the water into your nose up to the brow. Be mindful not to sniff the water past the brow. Afterwards, blow your nose. Repeat this a few times. Make sure it does not come from the tap, even if you live in a Western country.

This removes the dust and pollution that blocks the breathing process and opens the air passageways to allow for stronger, fuller breathing. You can do this twice a day, especially if you are living in a polluted city, but once in the morning is enough. This cleanse is similar to using a neti pot except this cleanse can be done daily and does not require the water to flow through your full sinus cavity.

Tongue Scraping

Moving from the back of your tongue to the front, use a tongue scraper to remove any bacteria from the surface of your tongue. Tongue scrapers can be found in pharmacies or are sometimes included on modern toothbrushes. A spoon will also suffice. Thoroughly rinse the scraper before and after each use.

If you look at your tongue in the mirror after waking up, you will see it has a whitish, yellowish tinge. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing system, this coating on your tongue is called amma, and it is made up of toxins that prevent our digestion system from working at its optimal state. An excess of amma can cause bloating, irregular hunger, weight-gain, and reduced energy. The practice of tongue scraping has recently come more into vogue in the west, but it has been practiced for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition. By removing the toxins from the tongue every day, we reduce the toxicity from the body and inhibit its ability to build up over time. This is one of many ways of reducing amma from the system, especially in the digestive tract.

Eye Wash

Cup purified mineral water into your hand(s), bring your eyes down to your hands and blink into the pool of water. Repeat a few times.

Washing the eyes out with clean mineral water helps remove the accumulation of toxins and supports the moisture that is essential to the proper functioning of the eyes. Eye drops are commonly used as an antidote for dry eyes, but in excess they can be harmful. This practice supports the cleansing of the eyes, which will improve our vision and works on the ajna chakra, allowing us to see things more clearly. The sensation will awaken you and leave you feeling refreshed for the day.

Bonus Evening Kriya

How we end the day is another essential aspect of feeling balanced. What we do before sleep affects how well we sleep and, depending on our sleep quality, how we feel when we wake up the next day. In addition to the common, powerful suggestions to ease into a restful night’s sleep, such as avoid stimulation like the Internet and TV, below is one simple exercise taken from the yogic tradition to end your day in a calm and stress-free way. 

Sesame Oil Massage –

Take sesame oil onto your hands and rub your temples, behind your ears, and the jaw. Do the same on the neck, shoulders, under the armpits, behind the knee (especially for those with joint pain), elbows, and ankles.  The more of the body you can cover, the better. You will feel a warming sensation as you rub the oil into your skin. Focus on the sensation and try not to allow distracting thoughts that might hinder the calm of mind that leads to a proper night’s sleep. After five minutes, wash the oil away with a hot shower.

A sesame oil massage will contribute to a soothing deep sleep and can help counter the restlessness that affects many in our society. Those who suffer from insomnia, overactive dreams, and other similar ailments can gain particular benefit from this practice.


start day like a yogi 2
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kobi Siman Tov, a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, a nutritional and holistic health counselor and life coach at Vagabond Temple in Cambodia.


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Yoga for Lower Back Pain and Optimal Back Health


The lower back is a common area of pain and discomfort, especially as we get older. Lower back pain affects most of us at some point in our lives.  Its prevalence is increasing, due to the growing need for desk jobs, longer work days, less down time, more stress and anxiety, more travel and improper nutrition. However, if you learn how to take care of your back, you can maintain a healthy spine with a simple back care routine; one that teaches you how to strengthen your core muscles, relax your nervous system and encourage flexibility around the pelvis. A well-designed, regular program can be enough to help to heal lower back pain or even avoid it altogether!


One key to optimal lower back health is flexibility. It is important for everyone, regardless of age, to realize how essential stretching is for maintaining the body and overall wellbeing. If we don’t stretch, our muscles shorten over time. Muscle shortening gradually changes the positioning of our body, limiting movement and affecting posture. This can lead to changes in how you stand, walk, sit, move and feel in general. It can also lead to ligament damage, chronic muscle stiffness, discomfort and pain. It is important to note that most of the chronic, low-level inflammation and pain that people feel in their muscles and joints is the result of how they use their body, not how old they are.

Flexibility is particularly compromised if you sit for long periods of time. Sitting for hours over many days can lead to a wide range of problems, including digestive, heart and musculoskeletal problems. When you are sedentary, muscles that are essential for standing and moving can go completely unused for hours. When your abdominal muscles, hips and gluts remain flaccid for long periods, they become weak and sometimes even dysfunctional.  This affects your ability to stand, walk, run, jump and lift heavy objects. Because of the position you are in when sitting, other muscles, such as your hip flexors (psoas, quadriceps) and hamstrings, can become stiff and tight, since they are held in a chronically flexed position. Over time, these conditions make it easier for you to hurt your back, even while doing something simple like reaching for your jacket.


Stability is another key element to maintaining a healthy back. There is a specific group of muscles in your body that are responsible for providing stability within your entire body. Their location, action and design make them ideal for providing postural stability over long periods of time; they are built for endurance rather than power.  These muscles include the pelvic floor muscles (you’ve contracted these if you have done kegel exercises), the transverse abdominis, multifidus, psoas, trapezius and the deeper muscles around the throat.

Yoga activates most of these muscles through the bandhas – mula bandha, uddiyana bandha and jalandhara bandha. Mula bandha coincides with the pelvic floor and many believe that its contraction also initiates jalandhara bandha, or contraction of the transverse abdominis and multifidus. Together, they press energy up from the base of the spine, squeeze in around the waist and create a feeling of stability, lightness and a lifting sensation (uddiyana bandha translates into ‘upward flying’). The trapezius is a broad, triangular-shaped muscle that helps broaden the upper back and collar bone, lift the heart and maintain a healthy position for the shoulders, head and neck, in conjunction with the deeper throat muscles (jalandhara bandha). This effect can be felt in the instructions “lift the heart with the shoulder blades and lift the base of the skull at the back”.


Relaxation is the last, but certainly not the least, important factor in maintaining a pain-free lower back. The nervous system, which is responsible for the movement of our muscles and registering sensations, can also be responsible for muscle tension and resulting joint misalignment. If you are able to understand how to keep your nervous system calm, and maintain this over time, your muscles will remain relaxed over time and your joints will likely maintain a healthy range of motion.  Your mind will also remain calm, but this requires moment-to-moment mindfulness. The point is that the tension that you feel in your lower back – and the rest of your body for that matter – has a source. Yoga can help you to explore that source within yourself, through guided relaxation, yoga nidra or meditation. Do Yoga With Me has many guided meditations that you can try on our Meditations page.

Holistic Approach

Because strength, flexibility and relaxation are key elements for a healthy back, an effective approach to achieving and maintaining optimal spinal health must include them all. And because the state of your lower back depends on the health of all of the muscles around it – from your head to your feet – improving lower back health must take into account the entire body, with a stretching routine that not only includes lower back stretches, but all of the major muscle groups of the neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs, and a strengthening routine that includes all of the supporting muscle groups listed above.

Lower Back Care on DYWM

We have many videos that teach you how to work with lower back pain.  You can find instruction on how to relax deeply and how to stretch, stabilize, protect and maintain alignment in the lower back within a variety of videos on our site. In fact, we have created two Yoga for Lower Back Care programs, one 4-week program for beginners and one 1-week program for intermediate students, that will teach you the tools that you need to take good care of your back. Click on the links below to go directly to these two subscriber-only programs. If you are not a subscriber and would like access to these programs, go to our Subscribe page and choose the middle option.

Vinyasa Yoga for Lower Back Care (Fiji McAlpine, 1 week)

Beginner Yoga for Optimal Lower Back Health (various DYWM teachers, 4 weeks)


If you are looking to start out with one or two classes, here are a few that address specific needs within a yoga for lower back care routine – classes for core stability, lower back flexibility, relaxation and guided meditations for relaxation:

Beginner Core Stability Yoga Classes

The 3-Part Breath and Ujjayi Breathing with David Procyshyn (19:42)

Integrating the Breath and the Bandhas with David Procyshyn (14:17)

Finding Stability In All Poses with David Procyshyn (24:40)

Establishing Core Strength I with David Procyshyn (33:35) (subscriber-only)

Strengthen Your Core and Back with Anastasia Hangemanole (42:29)

Beginner Yoga Classes for Lower Back Flexibility

Gentle Hatha Yoga for Lower Back Pain with David Procyshyn (21:52)

Hatha Yoga to Release the Lower Back with David Procyshyn (50:38) (subscriber-only)

Yin Yoga for the Hamstrings with Sarah-Jane Steele (27:44) (subscriber-only)

Hatha Yoga for Beginners: A Healthy Spine with Melissa Krieger (22:44)

Yin Yoga for the Lower Back with Anastasia Hangemanole (33:28)

Beginner Yoga Classes for Relaxation

Calming Restorative Yoga with Satiya Channer (63:44)

Relaxing Deeply with David Procyshyn (38:04)

Restorative Yoga for the Lower Back with Satiya Channer (45:50)

Guided Meditations for Relaxation

Yoga Nidra with Jennifer Piercy (4 tracks)

Letting Go: Guided Meditations and Relaxations (5 tracks)

We wish you the best as you find ways to prevent or work with lower back pain. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with us on our forum.

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David Procyshyn

I’m a yoga instructor and DoYogaWithMe’s founder. I did my first yoga class in my early twenties, after successive injuries as an athlete and the yearning to go deeper into my spiritual practice. Since then, I have explored many different styles of yoga, delved deep into the world of meditation and experimented with yoga breathing techniques. I’ve never felt better. Yoga has absolutely changed my life, in so many ways. I hope this site can help you as much as yoga has helped me.

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Health And Yoga – Dieting Naturally

By Shyam Mehta

It is universally held that you need a “balanced” diet with vitamins, protein and starch in the “right” quantities each day and that you need to eat a moderate amount at regular intervals also each day. This is the route to poor health.

To be fit and strong, your digestive system needs to get used to a variety of conditions. Sometimes you may eat more than you need. Sometimes you should go hungry. You should not eat when you get hungry, but when the thought arises in your mind to eat. All first thoughts are given to you by God. All of us should be moving towards becoming vegetarian. There is so much violence in the world that the least we can do is to help stop the slaughter of other living beings. Non-injury or minimizing injury to living beings is the first principle of yoga [ethics or yama]. There is no greater consideration. After about one year of being vegetarian, your hankering for meat and seafood almost vanishes. You should ideally wake-up one morning and say to yourself “henceforth I will be vegetarian”.

You should not worry about what you eat. Instead, choose readily available vegetarian food, fresh food that is light to digest. When you think of food, eat a little until you are no longer hungry, unless there is no food available. In that case wait until the next convenient opportunity that God gives you to eat.

As you progressing yoga, you become more sensitive. Water these days is heavily polluted in spiritual terms. It is better to have liquid such as milk or yogurt that has been purified by a cow, or fruit juice. Even after subsequent pollution by man, such liquids retain much purity. Drink as and when the thought arises in your mind, unless there is nothing to drink, when wait until a natural event happens [passing a shop, for example].

Once you are on the path of karma yoga, God is looking after you. You do not need to worry about lack of starch or protein or vitamins. If you need starch, you will get a thought to have some starch.

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The Philosophy Of Natural Healing

The factors that create our health are part of our environment. They form an inward moving spiral in which we occupy the center. At the periphery is our environment in nature, which is composed of solar and other forms of energy, air, water, soil, and other living things. Within this is our more immediate environment, including the climatic and geographic region in which we live, our living place, for example, whether city or country, our work and social environment, and our home. It is within this environment that we think and act each day. Our thinking and actions are the product of the above plus daily food, which is the concentrated form of the environment that we internalize several times a day. Our daily thoughts and actions, which can be termed “lifestyle,” determine our choice of food.

Food in turn affects our thoughts and actions. Environment, lifestyle (including our day-to-day thoughts), and food all combine to create our present state of health. If these factors are in balance, or in other words, if our daily life and diet is harmonious with our environment in nature, we experience health. If, on the other hand, they become extreme or one-sided, we lose harmony with our environment and experience sickness. Natural healing is based on the principles of change and balance. Change is the basic law of life. It is the order of the universe. Yet, as manifestations of the universe, we have the ability to cause or initiate change. Everyone has the power to change direction from sickness to health. The first step in healing is to realize that change is possible, and to act upon that realization.

Let us take daily diet as an example. Daily food and drink are the direct source of our physical makeup. Our blood, cells, organs, tissues, and glands are a transformation of the minerals, proteins, lipids, enzymes, water, and other nutrients that we ingest daily. Therefore, any consideration of physical health must of necessity begin with daily food. Many of today’s health problems are caused by the repeated consumption of meat, eggs, cheese, poultry, and other foods of animal origin. These health concerns, including cancer and heart disease, are the result of problems of quantity and quality. In terms of quantity, people eat much more animal food than they did several generations ago, far beyond what is necessary or reasonable. Animal foods are essentially the centerpiece of the modern diet. In terms of quality, modern artificially inseminated, hormone and antibiotic-fed livestock bear little resemblance to their natural ancestors. The appearance of “Mad Cow” disease and the European Community’s refusal to accept hormone-fed American beef underscores just how serious these issues have become.

Modern chicken is especially problematic; all the more so because many people believe it to be a “healthy” alternative to meat. John Robbins, in his classic expose’ of the food industry Diet for a New America, gives a detailed description of how chickens are confined indoors in small cages. They are so weak and susceptible to infection that they require regular doses of antibiotics to keep them alive. They are also fed synthetic growth hormones to speed their development. One result of these practices, according to Robbins, is that as many as 95 percent of the chickens going to market have some form of cancer!

Clearly, modern chicken is not a health food. Now, suppose someone is facing a health crisis caused by over-reliance on animal food. How can he or she change their situation into its opposite, or in other words, change their direction toward health? The first step would be to change from an animal-based to a plant-based diet.

Meat, eggs, cheese, chicken, and other animal products are generally contractive. Plant foods have the opposite quality. However, some plant foods are extremely expansive, while others are moderately so. The comprehensive factor that determines whether plant foods are moderate or extreme is their climate of origin. Foods such as sugar, chocolate, spices, tropical fruits, nightshade vegetables, and coffee come from tropical zones. The heat of the tropics produces lush and expanded growth. Moreover, the greater speed of the earth’s rotation at the equator creates strong expansive force. Foods that come from the tropics are generally extreme.

On the other hand, plant foods that grow in the temperate zones are exposed to colder temperatures that cause them to be relatively contractive. Within the overall spectrum of foods, they are centrally balanced. Whole grains, beans, local vegetables and fruits are from the temperate regions and are generally balanced. When we eat in the middle our food becomes our medicine. (The word “medicine” is from the Latin root, “to walk in the middle.”) Our food enhances, rather than inhibits, healing and regeneration. Daily diet is the central issue in our lifestyle as a whole. It is a reflection of our priorities and way of looking at society, nature, and the universe. Dietary change, combined with an understanding of balance, can serve as the focus for a change in lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle patterns and environmental influences can be reviewed and changed into their opposites, so that they can be brought into alignment with natural harmony. Changing diet sets in motion a spiral that affects all aspects of life. The whole direction of your life will change from sickness to health.

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