Category Archives: Yoga Essentials

10 SIMPLE WAYS TO RESET YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

If you’re in a rut and feel like you just need to press the reset button, here’s how to get your mind, body, and soul back on track!


We’ve all been stuck in a rut before. Whether it’s because we’re lacking motivation, stressed out and tired, or bored of the same old routine day in and day out, getting stuck is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes we just fall off the bandwagon and begin to feel a little discontent with the way things are going.

Maybe you’ve hit a wall on a project, or maybe you haven’t been eating well and now you feel sluggish all the time. Or perhaps you’ve fallen into the comparison trap, and you’re wondering why your life isn’t as interesting as someone else’s.

PSA: It’s okay to feel discontent. Truly it is. No one is every going to feel content with their life 100% of the time.

What’s important is that you have the tools you need to get yourself un-stuck whenever you need to.

I’m a big believer in taking care of your mind, body, and soul every single day, and my technique for getting out a slump is to focus on doing things that are going to improve those areas of your life. Once you give your mind, body, and soul the attention they deserve, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and more content with your life.

How does one do this? Well, if you’re in a rut and feel like you just need to press the reset button, here’s how to get your mind, body, and soul back on track!

10 SIMPLE WAYS TO RESET YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

1. Drink lemon water first thing.

Start your mornings off with a big dose of hydration by drinking a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. Lemon water helps rejuvenate dull skin, and also helps you digest food better so you’ll be less bloated throughout the day.

2. Do a self-care power hour.

If you want to start or get back into a morning routine, try squeezing in some good ol’ self-care with the power hour method. I have a whole post about this here, but basically you want to spend 20 minutes doing something for your mind, then your body, and then your soul. It’s the number one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

3. Treat yo skin.

Brush: I love dry brushing my skin before a shower because it gets your blood flowing, unclogs pores, and helps to remove any dead skin. Start at your feet and move upwards in long sweeping motions toward your heart.

Scrub: What better way to get your skin back into it’s supple state than with a good body scrub.

Glow: If your skin is looking a little lackluster, rosehip oil is an amazing thing to use on your face before bed because it helps even out skintone and creates a glowing complexion.

4. Get some fresh air.

Go outside on your lunch break or whenever you have 10 minutes to spare (*cough* make the time) without your phone, and take some time to notice your surroundings, feel the air on your skin, and take in some long, deep, and reflective breaths.

5. Declutter your digital life.

Give yourself fewer options for distraction by deleting apps you don’t use, emails you don’t need, and bookmarks you aren’t going to read.

6. Up your fruit and veggie intake.

Maybe you’ve been feeling a little lethargic from your food choices lately. If so, try adding in more of the good stuff – think fruit smoothies with spinach, a hearty salad for lunch, and a big ol’ pile of veggies as a side for dinner. Sometimes we immediately try to cut things out when we’re trying to get healthier, but adding things in is a much better approach in my opinion.

7. Try positive affirmations.

Give yourself some words of encouragement, even if it feels silly (trust me, I know it does). I like to write mine out on notecards and read them each morning before I get out of bed. Think about what you struggle with and turn them into positive statements. Here are some ideas:

  • I am safe and secure
  • I have everything I already need
  • I am a unique and interesting
8. Freshen up your desk space.

I recently rearranged by entire desk space at work, and it’s amazing how a little change can increase your productivity tenfold. Give your area a clean down, move things around, and get rid of any clutter you don’t need.

9. Focus on one thing at a time.

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, get serious about your priorities and figure out what you can set aside for now. Focus on one thing at a time, even if you’re afraid of forgetting something.

10. Go somewhere new.

Even if you can’t get very far, explore a town or area near you that you’ve never been to. Maybe find a new trail to walk on, a different coffee shop to work at, or even just take a different route to work to switch things up. Once you change your routine a little, you’ll be out of that slump in no time.


 

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Ever wonder how to use a yoga strap? This post is for you!

How to Use a Yoga Strap

Not much is required to practice yoga. A mat and something comfortable to wear is plenty to get going. But as a beginner (or even a seasoned yogi) there are some props that can aid your practice, such as bolsters, blocks, and yoga straps.

Now if you’ve just started your yoga practice, chances are you’re wondering what on earth bolsters, blocks, and yoga straps are. Have you noticed these pillow like objects, cork rectangles, or belt-like straps lying around your yoga studio? Well, then you’ve seen them. Today we’re going to have a look at one of those props in particular.

Yoga straps come in a couple of different designs. The most common style is a long canvas strap with a couple of metal loops on one end, much like a very long belt. A newer take on the strap is the Infinity Strap, invented by yogi Amir Zaki. I use an Infinity Strap at home and the longer more traditional straps at my yoga studio.

The basic idea with a yoga strap is to aid your range of motion in your yoga practice. The flexibility in your body is going to differ from day to day no matter how seasoned of a yogi you are. Depending on your level of practice, how often you practice, and if you have any injuries, you might find that you are very tight in certain areas of your body.

I often hear people say they can’t do yoga because they can’t touch their toes. But being inflexible is no reason to roll up your mat and deem yourself unfit for yoga. You don’t have to be the most flexible person to ever step into a pair of yoga tights in order to do yoga. That’s exactly why we use little helpers like yoga straps in our practice, and you’ll see that even the most advanced yogis use these aids.

You’ve got to accept where your body is at and where you are at in your practice. Check your ego at the door and use a prop if you need to.

Here’s a couple of examples of how you can use a strap in your yoga practice.

Dancer pose | Natarajasana

Allow a strap to give you the extra length you need to close the gap between your hands and foot in dancer pose. 

Pigeon pose | Ekohastapada Kapotasana

Work into pigeon pose by using a strap to reach back and grasp your foot.

Crane Pose | Bakasana

Wrap a strap around your upper arms to keep your arms from slipping out to the sides in Bakasana.

Plank | Dandasana

Keep your elbows and arms in line with your shoulders by wrapping a strap around the mid and lower part of your arms in plank pose.

Seated Forward Bend | Paschimottanasana

Use a strap to reach forward and around your feet in seated forward fold.

Bow Pose | Urdhva Dhanurasana

Allow a strap to close the gap between your hands and feet in this intense back bend.

Hero Pose | Gomukha Virasana

Inch your hands along the strap to get them closer to each other and work towards clasping your hands behind your back.

Forward Fold | Uttanasana

If you struggle to clasp your hands behind your back in this variation of Uttanasana, you can use a strap to join the hands.

Dolphin Pose | Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Place a strap on the mid to upper arms to keep the elbows from sliding out in dolphin pose.

 

Read more: http://bananabloom.com/yogaflow/how-to-use-a-yoga-strap/

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World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher Shares 3 Secrets For Lifelong Happiness


She might be pushing 100, but Tao Porchon Lynch says she feels like she’s “going on 22.” The 98-year-old is the world’s oldest yoga teacher, one who also took up competitive ballroom dancing at 87.

But it’s not simply her longevity that’s astounding. It’s her eternally sunny outlook on life.

Porchon-Lynch recently spoke at a New York City event where she talked about how she maintains her positivity and her golden rules for happiness, Well+Good reports.

“Every day I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life ― and it is,” she said.

First off, it’s important not to dwell on the bad things, she says. Mind over matter, always. “I don’t let it get in my way.” It’s clearly a principle she lives by, having continued her active lifestyle and yoga practice even after three hip replacement surgeries.

Secondly, “Don’t look down on anyone.” It’s a lesson she says she learned from her uncle, who reminded her that we can all learn something from one another.

When it comes to longevity, Porchon-Lynch can teach us a few things. Last year she described staying in good health as a balancing act ― noting that she made sure to mind her portion sizes, and that she only enjoys an occasional glass of wine.

Last but not least, she said your mornings can set the tone for the whole day. While many of us wake up grumpy and frazzled at the sound of our alarms ― waiting for coffee to put the life back into us ― Porchon-Lynch says one of the most important things is what we do when we first wake up.

“Wake up with a smile on your face,” she said.

Tao, you truly are an inspiration.

Namaste!

 

Read more articles like this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/entry/worlds-oldest-yoga-teacher-shares-3-secrets-for-lifelong-happiness_us_57c84cd3e4b078581f117a17

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How Yoga Helps With Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction


Aerobic movement of any kind helps to relieve depression and anxiety by boosting our brain’s dopamine levels and providing endorphins. But some types of exercises are superior for healing chronic conditions, mood disorders, and addiction. Yoga’s therapeutic benefits have been studied in recent decades, with much of the research being in randomized controlled trials — the most rigorous for proving efficacy.

There are many types of yoga, of course — from the more aerobic power yoga to a meditative gentle yoga. Hatha yoga, the most studied, combines physical postures (asanas) and controlled breathing with short periods of deep relaxation. I have found the most benefit from Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, a sequence of 26 Hatha yoga positions and two breathing exercises designed by Bikram Choudhury to engage and heal all of the systems of your body.

According to Sara Curry, Bikram yoga instructor and creator of the Sober Yogis program in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, medical miracles can happen when a person commits to a regular practice. In her TEDx talk, she tells the story of David, one of her yoga students who had a pacemaker surgically implanted in his chest. Six weeks after surgery, he began to practice with her six days a week. After only four weeks of yoga, David returned for a checkup with his cardiologist, and the doctor took him off three of his six medications and cut the remaining dosage of the other three in half.

“Our bodies can recover from tremendous amounts of trauma and chronic abuse,” Curry explains in her talk.

Curry and a team of counselors work with addicts on using Bikram yoga, group therapy, and meditation to help them stay clean. According to her exploratory study, hot yoga appears to decrease the length and intensity of symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These protracted withdrawal symptoms that include depression, anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness can last up to two years after a person gets clean, and are the primary reason for relapse. Participants reported significant reductions in PAWS symptoms that negatively correlated to the number of classes taken a week.

I was inspired by her talk not only because I struggle with addiction, but also because yoga is one of the critical tools I have employed to manage my depression and anxiety more naturally as of recently. In the last nine months that I have been practicing consistently (for the last five months, I attend class five or six times a week), I have been able to significantly reduce my psych meds, wean off of a medication to control growth of a pituitary tumor, and have decreased my medication for an underactive thyroid.

I’m fascinated by the science of yoga — what specifically is happening in our bodies that makes these changes in us. Why is yoga more beneficial in relieving depression and anxiety, and controlling addiction, than, say, running six miles a day like I used to? What about hot yoga, in particular, is so transforming?

Yoga Helps With Detoxification

“Ninety-five percent of all disease is a result of nutritional deficiency or toxicity,” explains Steven J. Saltzman, MD, an anesthesiologist with an interest in integrative medicine who practices Bikram yoga himself, in a question-and-answer session about the medical benefits of hot yoga that I recently attended. Most of our toxins are stored in fat cells just beneath the skin, so we release them by sweating the way we do in a 105-degree room.

It Gets the Blood Flowing, Boosting Your Health

Yoga redistributes blood flow, increasing oxygen delivery and improving the circulatory system. All of the postures in the Bikram sequence work to increase the flow of fresh, oxygenated blood to every part of the body. Bikram calls it extension and compression. In all of the postures, we are creating a tourniquet effect — cutting off the blood supply to different organs and glands. Then, after 20 seconds holding the posture, the blood’s volume and pressure have reached maximum capacity and the newly oxygenated blood rushes in and floods our system. According to Bikram, “no other form of exercise can create this volume and force.” Until listening to Dr. Saltzman, I was unaware that the recovery phase of yoga or any interval training program is as important as the maximum performance phase. The built-in Savasana in yoga trains and establishes our heart-rate variability, a predictor of heart health and of general health.

Yoga Helps You Control Your Breath and More

Learning how to breathe is a critical component of the yoga practice. If we stay on our mat and don’t lift a leg, but can maintain calm, stable breathing in the hot room, we are still receiving medical benefits from the class, a yoga teacher told me recently. Why is the breathing so important?

“By voluntarily changing the rate, depth, and pattern of breathing, we can change the messages being sent from the body’s respiratory system to the brain,” explain Richard P. Brown, MD, and Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, in their book, The Healing Power of the Breath. “In this way, breathing techniques provide a portal to the autonomic communication network through which we can, by changing our breathing patterns, send specific messages to the brain using the language of the body — a language the brain understands and to which it responds.”

Bikram designed a breathing exercise, pranayama, to introduce each class because he believes that “improving the function of the lungs is almost always the first repair that needs doing.” Properly functioning lungs send fresh oxygen throughout the body, purifying our blood.

It Tames the Stress Response

Unlike some aerobic activity that increases cortisol levels, yoga tames the stress response by priming the parasympathetic nervous system. “It is established science that yoga destroys and metabolizes stress hormones,” explains Dr. Saltzman There is a meditative element of yoga that promotes mindfulness (helping us to stay in the present moment) that is effective therapy for depression and anxiety. Yoga moderates our stress response systems which, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — like reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure. As mentioned above, yoga also increases heart rate variability, which can be an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress and an overall gauge for emotional resilience.

Yoga Provides You With a Caring Community

“The yoga community is one of the most supportive communities of compassionate individuals you’ll ever meet,” explains Sara in her TEDx talk. “We all struggle, thrive, fail, and persevere on the mat together. That’s how to learn what we say in yoga, Namaste, ‘the light within me acknowledges the light within you.’”

I have found this to be the case with my own group of yogis. There is a group of us that show up at 9 a.m. almost every day to fight together. Many of us are battling some kind of chronic illness, and all of us are trying to clear the mental clutter from our brains to make room for more positive and peaceful emotions. It’s extraordinarily encouraging to me to have them beside me as I meet my demons on the mat.

 

Read more: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/how-yoga-helps-with-depression-anxiety-and-addiction/

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50 BENEFITS OF YOGA


The practice of yoga has several benefits at physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. On a physical level, it can build muscle strength, improve balance and flexibility, and help with weight loss. It can improve joint health and help with back pain. Yoga also improves posture and alignment, which can help prevent many other types of pain. Lower blood pressure and cholesterol are other positive side-effects of practicing yoga, as well as better circulation, respiration and better immunity. The practice of yoga also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping with the release of toxins out of the body and bringing oxygenated blood to the organs.

However, the benefits of yoga go well beyond these physical aspects. The practice of yoga provides a way of connecting with the body, therefore making people feel better about themselves and boosting their confidence. The mind-body connection is strengthened and can eventually lead to transformations in life-style. This is because making healthier choices will become important not only to a established yoga practice, but also because it will lead to a greater sense of well-being. The practice of yoga further contributes to a greater peace of mind and sense of relaxation because it helps to relive stress and unclutter the mind. A greater body awareness is also developed, encouraging self-care, which can lead to some behaviour changes, like eating better to improve digestion and be more aware of food cravings. Mental faculties, such as creativity, imagination and focus can also be improved due to the flow of blood to the brain.

On a more spiritual level, the practice of yoga eventually leads to a quest for the true self, an inner journey to find who we really are. By developing a greater awareness, it will become easier to experience the subtler aspects of life and to connect to what is beyond us.


Here are 50 benefits of yoga

Physical

  1. Betters bone health
  2. Boosts immune system
  3. Helps with lymphatic drainage
  4. Builds muscle strength
  5. Drops blood pressure
  6. Eases pain
  7. Gives the lungs room to breath
  8. Helps you breathe better
  9. Greater body awareness
  10. Helps the body detoxify
  11. Helps with weight loss
  12. Helps to sleep better
  13. Improves balance
  14. Improves coordination
  15. Improves flexibility
  16. Increases blood flow
  17. Increases energy-level
  18. Keeps viruses and allergies away
  19. Lowers blood sugar
  20. Lowers cholesterol
  21. Maintains nervous system
  22. Perfects posture
  23. Prevents digestive problems
  24. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  25. Protects the spine
  26. Regulates adrenal glands
  27. Regulates hormones
  28. Releases tension
  29. Supports the connective tissue
  30. Fights food cravings
  31. Boosts sexual performance
  32. Eases migraines

Mental

  1. Helps to focus
  2. Helps to develop mindfulness
  3. Improves concentration
  4. Improves brain function

Emotional

  1. Boosts confidence
  2. Benefits relationships
  3. Encourages self-care
  4. Encourages self-healing
  5. Contributes to a healthier lifestyle
  6. Gives peace of mind
  7. Increases self-esteem
  8. Makes you happier
  9. Relaxes your system
  10. Contributes to stress and anxiety reduction

Spiritual

  1. Builds awareness for transformation
  2. Encourages spiritual growth
  3. Gives inner strength
  4. Helps to meditate

 

50 Benefits of Yoga

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Reduce Stress with These Simple Breathing Exercises

 


Stress is all around us every single day. From the moment we wake up we are in a hurry to be somewhere. We are in a hurry to get things done. Be it off to work, or school or PTA meetings, it’s important to remember to take a moment to breathe in the morning. And in the evening. Or any other time of the day when stress starts to creep on.

Breathing is a vital part of our survival. Without breathing air, we simply will cease to exist. So what makes us think that we can go through a day without taking the time to do so?

Sure, we breathe all day long as our lungs contract and displace the air surrounding us at any given moment… but this is merely involuntary movement – automatic function. Physiologically, breathing is actually a complicated set of events.

The human body requires 352.8 liters of oxygen in one day. While the average human is getting 432 liters per day, on average – we still may not be getting enough air throughout the day.

In an excerpt from an entry in the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine related to the function of breathing it is stated that breathing is unlike many other physiological functions, as it can be controlled via voluntary actions. Breathing is also reported to be the entry point for both psychological and physiological regulation.

The report also explains that breathing has other functions apart from maintaining carbon dioxide and oxygen, and air ventilation. They explain that breathing has an effect on the stability of posture, has an effect on the body’s motor control, and plays a role in a variety of regulations concerning both psychological and physiological functions of the human body. Other than these functions, they report that breathing also have an effect on the autonomic nervous system, the metabolism, chemical regulation and the circulatory system.

Only about 21 percent of the air we breathe is actually oxygen.

Though, oxygen is essential not only for our lungs, but for every cell and organ in our precious bodies. The primary role of breathing is to absorb oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide. So, if you’re not breathing correctly, consider that your body may not be expelling the carbon dioxide quickly enough and/or efficiently enough for you to keep yourself from getting stressed out.

Have you ever been so stressed out that you forgot to breathe?

Consider this – the human brain, which is only two percent of the body mass, needs 20% of the oxygen breathed in. Take heed that if the brain doesn’t receive oxygen for three minutes, cells begin to die.

So what can we do to be sure that we’re not only breathing, but breathing well? –
Certified Life Coach and psychologist, Judith Tutin, PhD says “Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.”

There are several breathing techniques that can help you reduce stress and maintain other physiological functions such as –

  • A reduction in blood pressure and stabilized heart rate
  • A reduction in the amount of stress hormones found in the blood
  • A reduction in lactic acid, often found in muscle tissue
  • Carbon dioxide and oxygen levels are thoroughly balanced in the blood
  • The function of the immune system is improved
  • Physical energy is enhanced
  • A general feeling of well-being and calmness

Dr. Andrew Weil reports that mindful breathing on a regular basis can be both energizing and calming to the body. He goes on to report that this technique can also assist with health problems caused by stress, including digestive disorders and panic attacks.


He recommends a few different exercises:

1. The Stimulating Breath (otherwise known as Bellows Breath)

  • This exercise is performed with the mouth closed and relaxed. You need to breath in and out via your nose. Each inhale should be at the same pace of an exhale, but keep in mind that you should try to do these cycles in a short amount of time. Dr. Weil reports that this exercise includes noisy breaths.
  • The aim of this exercise is to create quick movements within the diaphragm. For this reason, it is important to try and get as many breathing cycles into one second. Dr. Weil recommends aiming for here cycles per second. You should breathe normally after each complete cycle.
  • During the first few exercises, a complete cycle should last around 15 seconds. Dr. Weil explains that it is vital not to over-exert yourself. With each practice, the time for an entire cycle can be increased by around five seconds. The aim is to reach one full minute per complete breathing cycle.

2. The 4-7-8 Exercise (also known as the Relaxing Breath)

This exercise can be practiced in any type of position, including sitting and standing up. Dr. Weil do explain that in the learning phase of this exercise, it is recommended to start out in a sitting position, with the back straight up.

  • During the entire exercise, your tongue’s tip should be placed just behind the front teeth (upper side).
  • Start by exhaling. You should exhale through the mouth and make a whoosh sound while exhaling. Try to get as much air out as possible.
  • The next step should be done with your mouth closed. Breath in for four seconds through your nose, then count to seven while holding your breath.
  • Finally, open up your mouth and exhale. Remember to make the whoosh sound. You should count to eight while exhaling.
  • This cycle should be repeated another three times. Once you reach four sets, you have completed the 4-7-8 exercise.

Dr. Weil explains that it is essential to inhale quietly and through the nose. While exhaling, your mouth should be used instead of your nose and the exhaling should be audible. He also explains that your tongue’s tip should stay in the recommended position during the entire course of the exercise and that the exhaling process should take up twice as much time as the inhaling process.

3. Breath Counting – used in many Zen practices

  • This position is done in a comfortable position. The spine should be straight up, with the head slightly inclined into a forward position.
  • Start by exhaling and counting ‘one’ while you exhale.
  • Count ‘two’ to ‘five’ during the next times you exhale.
  • Once you reach the count of ‘five’, you should start a new cycle – starting at ‘one’ with the following exhale.

Dr. Weil reports that your count during this exercise should never reach more than ‘five’. He also reports that counting should only be done when exhaling.

These are only a few exercises suggested by one doctor.

Keep reading, there’s more! –


In a report from Time Magazine, Jordan Shakeshaft provided a few different breathing techniques suggested by different doctors. Here are the ‘Beginner Level’ exercises:

1. Equal Breathing – (also known by Yogis as ‘SamaVritti’)

How It’s Done – This exercise involves breathing in and out through your nose. Start by inhaling, then count to four. Once you reach the count of four, start to exhale while also counting to four. This process should then be repeated. A natural resistance to your breathing pattern will be created through this exercise.

When It Works Best – Rebecca Pacheco recommends performing this exercise before going to bed. She explains that the breathing exercise helps to calm the mind and rids the mind of racing thoughts. It can also help individuals who finds it difficult to fall asleep.

2. Progressive Relaxation

How It’s Done – Start by closing your eyes. This technique works by tensing and relaxing, and focuses on different muscle groups for up to three seconds each. You need to start with your toes and feet. Then, move on to your knees, the thighs, you back, arms and hands. Finally, focus on your neck, then your jaw and finish with your eyes. Slow, deep breaths should be maintained at all times during this technique.

When It Works Best – This technique can be used anywhere, at any time. Remember that you should not get dizzy while doing performing this technique. Should you feel uncomfortable while doing the technique, you should bring the amount of seconds used for each muscle group down to two or one seconds each.

3. Abdominal Breathing Technique

 

How It’s Done – This technique should be done in a flat position on the floor. Start by laying on your back and place your hands on your stomach. Both hands should be in a palm down position and at the base of the rib cage. Once you are comfortable, you should inhale through your nose. Be sure to take a slow, deep breath while inhaling. Your abdomen area should expand in order to provide room for the lungs to stretch. Your chest area should not expand during this exercise. Finally, exhale slowly.

When It Works Best – This exercise is an excellent stress reliever just before a stressful event occurs, such as an exam. It is important to note that mastering the technique may be hard in the beginning.

It’s important to remember to take the time to breathe each day. These few exercises provided here are merely enough to get you started.

Notice too that YOGA is a good platform to learn breathing exercises. It’s called Pranayama


In a report from ‘Yoga Journal’ – there are three basic breathing practices to follow at home –

  1. Basic Breath Awareness– accordingly, the benefits are quiet and calming of the entire nervous system, reducing stress andanxiety and improving self-awareness.
  2. The Cooling Breath (Sitali/Sitkari Pranayama)– Try it twice a day for improved focus, reduced agitation, anxiety and anger, and to pacify heat within the system. It is further stated that this type of Pranayama is particularly useful when a person feels drowsy during the morning. Some people also find it useful when they need to enhance their focus after an afternoon slump.
  3. The Long Exhale– This is said to reduceinsomniasleep disturbances and anxiety. The aim of this exercise is to relax the entire nervous system. It is known as a 1:2 breathing exercise. Exhaling should be gradually increased until it reaches double the length of an inhale.

Conclusion

The benefits are here for you to discover.

Breathing is more than just breath for your lungs. Utilize it in such a way that you can keep your entire immune system on alert – henceforth, eliminating bad health.

 

https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/depression/reduce-stress-with-these-simple-breathing-exercises.html

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Tips For An At-Home Yoga Practice

A Guide To Practicing Yoga At Home


Practicing yoga at home isn’t as simple as it may seem. The TV, phone and computer are nearby. Moving from pose to pose is more of a puzzle than a thoughtful flow. A messy room lacks the same serenity of a studio. Ending the practice short and skipping savasana always seems to happen without a teacher keeping us there. Practicing yoga at-home adds a whole new set of challenges that you didn’t have when practicing in the studio.

But we have to remember that even an at-home yoga class has a lesson for us. For me, my at-home practice has never been about creating a sequence that was as challenging or as lengthy as my teacher’s. An at-home yoga session is really a practice for my mind more than my body. Committing to a period of time on my mat with myself requires me to look at my thoughts—the ones that are saying I’m bored, let’s watch TV instead, or we did 15 minutes—that’s enough, right? — and reprogram my mind to be still within the moment.

The hardest part about practicing yoga at home is not the poses, but rather our minds that have a way of convincing us to act from habit, rather than intent. Its through this home practice that we start training the mind. We don’t need to accept every thought that comes up, and we can actually reprogram our thoughts to support our intentions rather than hinder them.

In order to defeat those persistent thoughts, we have to prepare for the challenges of practicing yoga at home. These things have been extremely helpful to me when practicing yoga at home, and I hope you can find they make the transition from studio to living room a little easier for you as well.


Create A Sacred Space

Dedicate a spot in your home or apartment to your yoga and meditation practice. Ideally, it would be somewhere with limited distractions, so try to avoid a room with a TV, work or food. Roll out a mat, gather your yoga props, set up an essential oil diffuser and invest in a small clock so you can keep track of time without your phone. Think of this space as your mini-studio that you feel calm and centered in as you practice.


Make Your At-Home Yoga Practice A Routine

Set a time each day dedicated to your practice. Whether its in the morning or evening or for 10 minutes or an hour, having a set time when you are able to practice will help you get yourself to the mat each day.


Have A Yoga Flow In Mind

One of the easiest ways to convince yourself not to practice, is not having a plan of what yoga poses you’d like to do. Somehow, especially when you’re first starting, all of the yoga poses you know seem to disappear when you start your practice. Write down a few poses you’d like to work on, that way you won’t draw a blank when you’re on the mat. I’ve made a easy-to-follow at-home yoga sequence planner to help you create your own practice.


Vary Your Yoga Sequence

One day you may feel so inspired to practice for an hour and work on that challenging pose you learned in class last week, while another day just thinking about doing yoga is exhausting enough. Don’t expect that your practice will look the same each day. Simply know what your body and mind needs and give yourself that time on the mat to nourish yourself with movement.

 

http://yogawithjocelyn.com/all/guide-to-yoga-at-home

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How to Create a Home Yoga Space


The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere.

It’s relatable across all cultures, languages, and countries. It can be practiced independently in the comfort of your home, outside in Mother Nature, or in a room full of people.

The options are endless.

Once you learn the basic postures , the practice can easily be integrated into your daily routine.

Wake up. Sleepily walk to the toilet. Gulp down some water. Step on your yoga mat. And flow!

Sounds simple enough, right?

While actually practicing yoga every damn day can be quite challenging, mostly because the mind loves to make up excuses, it can also be incredibly simple. And when practiced in the sacred space of your home, oh man, it’s everything you think and then some….

If practicing yoga in the comfort of your home sounds appealing, then creating a home yoga space should be added to the to-do list…

Below are the must-knows for you to create your very own home yoga space, based off my personal yoga space, and others.

Please deviate from my tips, add in what you need, add in what you want, takeaway ish you’re not digging….. just make it your own yogis, because after all, it’s for YOU and only YOU!


What to do in your yoga space:

  • 5 – 10 sun salutations upon first waking up to awaken & energize the body.
  • Light stretching before bed to quiet the mind and relax the body.
  • A yoga practice of any kind – it’s your studio so anything goes!
  • Meditate.
  • Practice pranayama (breathing) exercises.
  • Read books, write in a journal, reflect on the day or week ahead.
  • Get creative – make a vision board, dreamcatcher, or take a nap!
  • Enjoy a glass of wine or a steamy cup of hot tea.

Where to create the space:

  • Choose a room or area in your home where you can be undisturbed and find some quiet time.
  • If you have an outdoor space and live in the sunshine state (like me), then outdoors is best.
  • A flat surface is key for balancing postures and to root down into the Earth.
  • A room with an abundance of natural light, we all need that vitamin D.
  • Anywhere that lights your inner fire!

Yoga supplies needed + props:

 

  1. Yoga Mat– I keep a lightweight, inexpensive mat outside and use my heavy-duty mat for yoga classes. If your practice is only at home, invest in a durable mat! For a yoga mat buying guide, check out my article 
  2. A yoga towel for comfort, easier grip, and to absorb the sweat.
  3. Mexican style blanket – super inexpensive and so helpful. You can read about the benefits and uses
  4. A bolster is a beautiful prop with so many benefits – it helps open the heart, can support the low back, aids in restorative postures, helps to go deeper into postures, or it can be a pillow for afternoon naps.
  5. Meditation pillow– not necessary but a great addition if meditation and pranayama exercises are part of your yoga practice.
  6. A strap can aid in flexibility and making a lot of postures more accessible. Even if you are flexible, it just makes everything feel juicier.
  7. A set of blocks – so crucial! These babies are like flour when making dough. They help in almost any posture to feel grounded, balanced, lengthened, or relaxed. Required purchase!
  8. A yoga sandbag to help the body deepen and relax into postures. My favorite is to drape over the feet during legs up the wall pose – it takes all the pressure off the low back!

How to decorate your space:

*This is my favorite part, get creative, have fun with it, anything goes!

  • Lanterns of any size, shape, or color.
  • Plants that are easy to take care of – both of mine require one watering per week.
  • A Buddha statue – easily found at your nearest TJ Maxx or Ross.
  • Incense + an incense burner or essential oils + a burner.
  • Candles and more candles.
  • Seashells, crystals, rocks – something nature related to ground you.
  • Hanging embellishments – wind chimes, dreamcatchers, sea glass or seashell decorations.
  • A portable speaker to play some soothing tunes [icon name=”music”].
  • If outside, a lamp to create mood lighting & possibly bug spray.
  • If inside, hang tapestries, curtains, or string lights to create an inspiring environment.

What do you think yogis, is this doable? We both already know the answer to that questions, it’s totally doable!

Read More: http://www.thejourneyjunkie.com/yoga-3/create-home-yoga-space/

 

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Too Busy for Yoga?

5 Ways to Weave Yoga into Your Daily Life

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I’m just too busy for yoga.” And I have to admit that I’ve often been the one to say it! But, recently, after several months of feeling like I’d fallen off the yoga wagon, I started thinking about how I could ease my way back into a regular practice.
 
Even when I didn’t have time to get to an actual class, I found other ways to squeeze yoga into a few blissful moments. I found ways to incorporate yoga here and there, throughout my day. And eventually, I did find my way back to the yoga mat . . .
 

Here are 5 ways to practice yoga even when you feel too busy:

1. Uttanasana break

Whether we spend most of our day seated or on our feet, we can all use a little stretch, a little release of the lower back, and a lengthening of our hamstrings. Take a few short breaks each day to stretch and release physical tension.
 
Standing up with your feet flat on the ground, just fold forward as far as you can, bringing your hands down to the ground, to your shins, or to a block. Allow some bend in your knees if needed. Hold for 5 rounds of breath. Over time, even this short little practice sprinkled throughout your day can improve your flexibility.
 

2. Savasana in bed

On the days I skip going to my mat, I always say, “Well, at least I practiced Savasana in bed.” If you want to try this, it’s easy.
 
When you go to bed, instead of just getting into your usual position for sleeping, get into Savasana. Lying flat on your back, allow your arms and legs to extend and relax. Breathe deeply at first, and then forget about your breathing.
 
Surrender. Feel as if you are melting into your bed. Dissolving. Merging into the universe. You might fall asleep. If not, give yourself a few minutes here before switching your brain to sleep mode.
 

3. Pranayama anywhere

Now, the type of pranayama practice is a big factor here. Although breath of fire or alternate nostril breathing are always welcome, the easiest method to use in any situation is simply learning to slow down your breath.
 
Here’s what you do: Inhale to the count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold for a count of 4, inhale to the count of 4, repeat.
 
Easy peasy. And over time, you can play around with increasing the count. Practicing controlling your breath will help calm your nervous system, relax your body, and quiet your mind.

4. Hip opener in the a.m.

Before you get out of bed, take a few moments to find a Happy Baby or a Reclined Butterfly pose. You can even combine the above Pranayama practice with one of these poses.
 
I especially love Happy Baby to start the day. It’s a good reminder to go out into the world feeling playful, happy, and in touch with your inner child. And that leads us to the final suggestion suggestion . . .
 

5. Into the world

Yoga isn’t just about the movements or breath. It’s what we learn on the mat . . . lessons of strength, focus, perseverance, awareness, self-acceptance . . . and ultimately take with us into our lives.
 
When you feel too busy to hit the mat, consider one lesson you’ve learned on the mat (maybe compassion, self-love, presence . . .) and challenge yourself to carry what you learned off the mat and into your day.
 
 
Regardless of how busy you are, you can always choose to live your life in a way that reflects the principles and purpose of yoga, and in that way, you are weaving yoga into your daily life. May these tips help you connect with and feel inspired in your yoga practice. Namaste.

Too Busy for Yoga? 5 Ways to Weave Yoga into Your Daily Life

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Real Yogis Practice Pranayama

By Sandra AndersonpranayamaTraveling in Tibet in the 1920s, Alexandra David-Neel encountered a lama moving alone and fast in the remote Tibetan desert. “He ran like a ball bouncing,” she wrote, levitating with each step, moving faster than her entourage on horseback, and seemingly in a trance, unaware of his surroundings. Eventually she learned that the training for this extraordinary capacity is not aerobic conditioning; it’s pranayama, the mastery of prana. Part of the training involves sitting in a small, below-ground pit, using the breath and mind to lift the body out of the pit with the power of prana.

“If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.”

So what is this mysterious prana? Prana is our vital life force. It works through the mind and in the heart, in the breath, and in digestion; in walking, running, talking, and thinking; and in projecting the personality in all ways. It’s also the sum total of all the energy manifest in the universe. Swami Sivananda, an influential yoga master of the last century, writes, “If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.” This explains the prodigious feats of memory and strength traditionally associated with yogis—things like the power to fly through the sky, levitate, and control body temperature. But perhaps more to the point for us, by controlling prana, the mind is also controlled.Just to be clear, yoga is the mastery of the mind, and for yogis, pranayama is the ticket for learning to use all the wondrous powers of the mind. The yogic texts tell us the mind is tethered to prana like a bird to a string. And here’s the really good news: by controlling the breath, we can control prana, and thus the mind. And the really, really good news? Basic pranayama practices are both powerful and accessible to all of us.Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

  1. Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness. Get started with Breath Training on the Pranayama Channel at YogaInternational.com for tutorials and tips to refine your basic breathing pattern, balance the nervous system, and reinforce a relaxed state of inner equilibrium.
  3. Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.
  4. Mental/emotional stability: Here’s my teacher, Pandit Tigunait, a masterful pranayama practitioner, on the subject of emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”
  5. Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.” This is a big job, and progress is necessarily incremental. After all, it took lifetimes to build your unconscious mind and habits, so naturally it will take some time to reshape them!
  6. Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

Finally, (and thankfully), my teachers also have this useful advice: Don’t bind yourself with too many rules. So why delay? Start now, even if your sitting posture and diet aren’t perfect and equanimity isn’t your forte. In the memorable words of Swami Sivananda, “Start the practice this very second in right earnest and become a real yogi.”

 About Sandra Anderson

For over 20 years Sandra Anderson has shared her extensive experience in yoga theory and practice with students from all over the world. A senior faculty member and resident at the Himalayan Institute, her teaching reflects access to the living oral tradition, and the embodied experience of 30 years of dedicated practice. With a background in the natural sciences and interest in classical Sanskrit, along with frequent pilgrimages to India, Sandy has a rare capacity to eloquently convey the richness of spiritual life in our contemporary world. She is the coauthor of the award-winning book, Yoga Mastering the Basics, and was a contributing editor and columnist for Yoga International magazine. She is now a frequent contributor to YogaInternational.com, offering instructional videos and articles. Sandy leads workshops, trainings and retreats both nationally and internationally, and at the headquarters of the Himalayan Institute.

 

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