Category Archives: Yoga Essentials

3 Ways You Can Use Journaling to Become a Better Yoga Teacher


By Lara Falberg


Writing, and journaling in particular, is an opportunity for many people to express themselves and explore their creativity.Journaling is a potent form of written self-expression that can also help you become a better yoga teacher. Journaling is a tool to learn more about who you are as a person and what you’re passionate about. Becoming more self-aware will in turn create a more confident and capable yoga teacher.

Journaling is a ‘safe place’ to fully express ourselves and be free in what we think and say, so we’re able to discover our authentic voice. There are many ways that writing and journaling can inspire our creative teaching juices. It propels us to find new vocabulary and a steady journaling practice shows us new ways to cue poses and guide our yoga students.

Discover and embrace your authentic voice

What the hell is an “authentic voice?” See – there’s mine – I’m a cusser. I sincerely enjoy and unwind when I drop a good F-bomb. I’ve discovered when I allow myself to be authentic when I teach, it offers the class a chance to relax and not take yoga so damn seriously. So to stay true to who I am, I may throw in a curse word or two in class.

Fully embrace who you are – don’t change yourself to become what you think a yoga teacher should be.

Your authentic voice is not the way you speak, but the intention behind your words. Are your words your own? Or are you speaking the way you think you “should” speak, or are you mirroring someone else? Fully embrace who you are – don’t change yourself to become what you think a yoga teacher should be. When you offer your authentic self, you will attract yoga students who will benefit from your unique teaching style.

Check out Stop Wearing Your Mask and Start Offering Your Authentic Voice to help discover your true self.

How writing can you help embrace who you are

Journaling in particular allows a freedom of expression by removing the need to censor yourself or consider your audience. Your words are written for you and you alone. They are your doorway to better understand what is important to you, what you want and how to live a more meaningful life. And from this place of authenticity, you can discover your true voice.

Whether you’re ready to dive in or already journaling but want a refresher, check out Why You Need A Mindful Journaling Practice & Tips to Get You Started.

Here are 3 writing exercises to help you find your authentic voice and become a better yoga teacher:

1. Journal every day for a week without censorship or editing

This first step is lots of fun. Grab a journal, find your favorite pen, and get to it! Don’t give yourself a lot of guidelines and parameters – just go for it. Write what you’re feeling, don’t worry about making it perfect, and see where it takes you.

How journaling will help you become a better yoga teacher:
By not holding anything back, you will see what really matters in your life to help you find your true voice as a yoga teacher. Plus, your creativity will have a chance to develop into a full-grown adult.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Just write. You can always throw these words away and no one will ever see them, so go for it!
  • Don’t re-read your work until the full week is up
  • After a week, read over your thoughts and see what resonates with you
  • Take note of what you think is unique to you: interesting vocabulary, stories, and things that repeat within your writing
  • For example, if you love your dog Kevin and notice you wrote 25 pages about him and his quirks, take note. You might need to bring your life with Kev into your yoga classes via themes, cueing, and even sequencing

2. Make a yoga class vocabulary list

As yoga teachers we all know the importance of maintaining our personal yoga practice. Not only does our personal practice keep us grounded, it also helps keep our teaching fresh and inspired. The same applies to our cues and teaching vocabulary.

How this vocab list will help you become a better yoga teacher:
Stale cueing not only bores you, but it will negatively impact your student’s learning process. When your students get bored from repeated cues class after class, the joy of their practice can diminish, along with your passion for teaching. Finding new and fresh ways to cue your class will help you and your students continue to grow.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Whenever I hear or read an interesting word but realize it’s not a part of my lexicon, I write it down
  • Begin your own list and play around with how to use these words when cueing your classes
  • For example, if you hear the main character of a T.V. show use the word “autopsy” to describe how he took a dead business and dissected it to discover what killed it, take note. Then write down the word “autopsy” and explore how you can incorporate it into a cue
  • Use the words from your list to create a fresh new perspective for your yoga students – you’ll all gain inspiration from this!

3. Write two stories, one fiction and one nonfiction

Again, don’t overthink this one. Don’t worry too much about length, subject, etc. – just write two stories that make you feel excited to write about – think childhood stories, your favorite memory, etc. Whether you write these stories in a few paragraphs or in 20 pages, the point is to write them down.

How writing stories will help you become a better yoga teacher:
Writing fictional stories will help spark your imagination and creativity. Writing nonfictional stories will help build a true story into something interesting and valuable. Both processes will help you build more original and meaningful yoga classes.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Notice your use of metaphors and similes within your stories
  • Then brainstorm ways you can incorporate them into cueing yoga poses and sequences
  • Try approaching your sequencing the same way you do your stories. Start with an informative beginning, then a crescendo, find the peak and then a fulfilling ending
  • You can also gather inspiration from your stories to create a complete narrative using asanas and sequences for class

Don’t be intimidated or doubt yourself when it comes to writing because you’re probably more capable and expressive than you think. The only rules here are the ones we create, so dive in and allow your writing to flow without hesitation. Your vulnerability will reveal much about yourself and your potential to be a fantastic yoga instructor who teaches from the heart, and with an authentic voice.

Do you think these writing exercises can help you become a better yoga instructor?Do you have any writing or journaling tips you would like to share? We would love to hear from you, so please leave your feedback in the comments below.

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The Chakras-The Seven Centers of Consciousness


A primary focus of Amrit Yoga is to build heat by charging the battery of the body, which is based in the lower three centers. As this energy is aroused and consciously directed from the lower chakras to the upper ones, our biological prana awakens to its evolutionary potential. Awakened prana, called Kundalini, carries out healing and cleansing at an accelerated level – resulting in the purification of the nerve channels in the body as well as cleansing kriyas – all of which prepare the body for accelerated spiritual development. 

Chakra One: Roots, Alignment, Earth 

Muladhara is the body in physical space and time, developing groundedness, stability and foundation. In Amrit Yoga, the attention is alignment in all poses, building awareness and strength in the legs – especially all standing poses. Anything that stabilizes and roots the foundation reinforces muladhara.

Chakra Two: Sensation, Flow, Water 

In Swadisthana we become aware of the senses, sensation (pleasure/pain) and emotions that accompany each pose. We allow our awareness of ecstatic energy to build in the second half of the pose. Suggested poses include pigeon, bridge and the spinal twist.

Chakra Three: Power, Fire 

In Manipura, our fire (spiritual heat) is stimulated. We “jump-start” the battery of the body, the physical storehouse of energy, through strong standing poses like The Warrior. The willful aspect of the practice is also associated with chakra three. In the first half of the Amrit Yoga Level I sequence, we are building the battery in the belly and then consciously directing that energy upward. This is an essential part of Level I as this conscious generation and directing of energy is necessary for prana to awaken and move upward to higher centers.

Chakra Four: Awakening to the Spiritual Path 

In Anahata, we are asked to open the heart. This requires spiritual commitment to let the ego drop away. In Amrit Yoga the heart energy is engaged with the use of the arms, with mudras, giving and receiving movements. Some heart opening poses can be: camel, yoga mudra, cobra, half locust (opens arms and heart meridians). Breath and the fourth chakra are closely connected (lungs). 

Chakra Five: Communication (internal/external) – the power of sound vibration 

Visuddha is more apparent in Level II Amrit Yoga, but also in Level I – we turn into the vibration of prana that sources the movement. Use sound vibration when in the pose and the power of your word (opening intention and Om) to create the vibrational field you intend. Become aware of your own inner dialogue and if it serves you or not. In Amrit Yoga the throat chakra may be stimulated through chanting, bridge, camel and shoulder stand postures.

Chakra Six: the Third Eye

Meditation, witness, meditative awareness Pratyahara; deep absorption without choosing for or against what is present in Ajna chakra. In the second half of the pose and Third Eye integration-consciously allow energies to grow with meditative attention and draw freed energies upward toward the Third Eye for integration. All forward bending poses where the head is lower than the heart brings attention and energy to the third eye (child, yoga mudra, wide-angle forward bend).

Chakra Seven: Silence

In the Sahasrar, the elixir of Amrita comes through silencing the fluctuations of the mind. This is the entry into the bliss body, which can happen in the second half of the pose, in Third Eye Meditation integration, or in any pose. All these practices of Amrit Yoga are intended to reach the final point of stilling the modifications of the mind, which is always associated with the seventh chakra.


Read More: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/news/meditation/spm_scc.aspx

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Effects of yoga practice on metabolic factors associated with aging


Article by: Ruth Howard

Introduction

We hear of yogis living to a very old age. In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda speaks of Trailanga Swami, who was reputed to be over 300 years old, and Shankari Mai Jiew, who was born in 1826, was still alive in 1946. Maharishi Raghuvacharya lived to the age of 115, and Devraha Baba was believed to have lived to over 250 years old. Yogis well known in the west who lived to a very old age include Krishnamacharya (101), Pattabhi Jois (93) and Indra Devi (103).

Not only are master yogis long lived, but they also maintain excellent health e.g. BKS Iyengar is still going strong at 91; he was in better shape at 80 than many people at 40. Photos exist of Krishnamacharya doing full parsvakonasana at 78 years old [13], and Pattabhi Jois continued to teach yoga until the age of 90.

So how do we explain this?

There are several fairly obvious physical factors in the yogic lifestyle that would influence health and aging, as well as more subtle factors.

Calorie restriction (CR) is widely accepted as the only method so far proven to extend longevity and reduce the physical manifestations of aging.

It has been demonstrated in a wide variety of species, from yeast to monkeys (though not yet in humans), that a calorie restricted diet (lowering the calorie intake by 20-30%, while providing essential nutrients), increases lifespan.

CR animals maintained youthful appearances and activity levels longer and showed delays in a range of age-related diseases. CR reduces age associated neuronal loss, prevents age-associated declines in learning, psychomotor and spatial memory tasks and improves the brain’s ability for self repair [24].

We can find several parallels between the effects of calorie restriction and the metabolic effects associated with yoga practice.

Physiological changes associated with aging: These include:
  • Loss of muscle mass and tone, decreased muscle to fat ratio
  • Loss of bone density
  • Loss of flexibility, joint disorders such as arthritis
  • Deterioration of lung elasticity and capacity
  • Disorders of the circulatory system – decreased sensitivity of baroreceptors
  • Degenerative disorders of nervous system – e.g. tremor, Parkinson’s disease
  • Sensory and cognitive impairment
  • Psychiatric conditions – depression, anxiety, dementia
  • Reduced immune function
  • Reduced reserve capacity (slower recovery from exertion, injury or disease)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Impaired glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, strongly linked to abdominal obesity
  • Further complications can occur as side effects of medication, or medication may mask symptoms of new diseases [2]
Why do we age?

There are many and varied theories of aging, among them the following:

The free radical theory of aging states that over time, cells accumulate oxidative damage caused by free radicals which are the normal by products of metabolism. Aging is characterised by a decline in ability to neutralise free radicals [2].

The rate of living theory states that lifespan is inversely related to metabolic rate. It appears to apply to many species; however a notable exception is birds.

Another theory suggests that lack of protein turnover may cause aging.

Evolutionary theories of aging suggest that the previous generation age and die to make way for their offspring, maintaining genetic diversity within the population.

According to the programmed aging theory, aging is genetically programmed, and age related changes in cellular function result in increasing susceptibility to disease and eventually lead to death [2].

Theories of aging based around programmed cell death (apoptosis) imply that as people age, more of their cells start to decide to die.

The cell division limit theory states that there is a specific limitation on the number of divisions that somatic cells might undergo.

The telomeric theory of aging postulates that as telomeres (regions of repetitive DNA at the ends of chromosomes) shorten each time a cell divides; this leads damage to essential DNA. This results in cellular damage due to the inability of the cell to duplicate itself correctly. Elevated levels of oxidative stress and inflammation further increase the telomere attrition rate [12], [28]. This theory ties in with the free radical theory and the cell division limit theory.

Other theories ascribe age related problems to the accumulation of random genetic errors over time, also decline in DNA repair capability of cells.

Many of these theories are interlinked, and all appear to have some validity, but a definitive answer has not yet been found.

General positive effects of a yogic lifestyle

There are many known benefits to the regular practice of yoga, which would help to minimise many of the problems associated with aging.

Regular exercise (asana) can help to maintain muscle strength and tone and bone density, joint flexibility, and improve posture, balance and maintain mobility. Combined with pranayama, regular practice can help to maintain circulatory and respiratory health.

Yoga has also been shown to be beneficial in the management of stress, anxiety and depression, aiding in the maintenance of mental health.

A vegetarian diet can also aid in extending life – it has been shown that vegetarians live longer, have less heart disease and lower rates of cancer [4].

Metabolic factors associated with calorie restriction and longevity – Biomarkers of aging

Caloric restriction in laboratory animals has been shown to have significant impact on that metabolism.

The biological characteristics of animals on CR diets seem to apply to longevity in people. A continuing study in Baltimore by George Roth of the National Institute of Aging concluded that the same biological markers produced in CR animals are evident in the men who are living the longest.

These markers include:

  • Lower levels of blood glucose and insulin

  • Reduced body temperature

  • Less fat in the blood, more HDL (high-density lipoprotein – good cholesterol )

  • A steady level of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone – a steroid hormone) [14], [29]

Plasma melatonin levels may also represent a possible biomarker of aging in primates [30].

One of the most popular proposed theories by which CR promotes lifespan extension is the rate of living theory. It is hypothesized that a lowering of the metabolic rate results in lowering of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and rate of oxidative damage to vital tissues [27].

Parallel effects found in yoga practitioners
Blood glucose and insulin

Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, liver disease, elevated cholesterol and hypertension are among the medical conditions associated with insulin insensitivity and elevated blood glucose levels [2].

Calorie restricted animals show a significantly increased sensitivity to insulin compared to freely fed animals. CR also has a significant impact on insulin sensitivity in humans [3], [16].

With normal aging, people tend to develop abdominal obesity. High levels of intra abdominal fat have been found to be predictive of heart attack risk and also linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides. There is a strong association between increased waist circumference, insulin insensitivity and type 2 diabetes. Yoga practice seems to weaken this link [9].

High levels of stress lead to increased cortisol levels, which is associated with higher levels of abdominal fat. Any form of exercise would help to reduce visceral fat and thus reduce abdominal circumference.

It has been suggested that relaxation and stress reduction may not cause overall weight loss, but may result in a healthier distribution of body fat [18]. It has been found that there were favourable metabolic changes in overweight and underactive subjects who practiced restorative yoga [10]. The effect of restorative yoga on body fat distribution would make an interesting basis for further study.

A recent study found that long term yoga practice was associated with increased insulin sensitivity, and significantly lowered fasting plasma insulin levels [9].

In a 45 day study on people with Type 2 diabetes, all patients continued to take conventional medicines. The study group practiced asana and pranayama, while the control group did not practice yoga. The yoga group showed significant improvement in blood glucose, lipid profile and insulin levels and a decrease in BMI (body mass index). The control group showed an increase in weight, and non significant improvement in the other parameters [37].

Reviews of published studies found that yoga interventions are generally effective in reducing body weight and glucose levels [41], [20], [21]. These studies suggest that yoga can have a beneficial effect on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

Blood lipid profile

HDL (high density lipoprotein – good cholesterol) helps to remove cholesterol from the blood, protecting from cardiovascular disease. Higher levels of HDL are correlated with better health outcomes.

LDL (low density lipoprotein – bad cholesterol) is thought to deposit cholesterol in artery walls, increasing the risk of heart disease. High levels of LDL are associated with atherosclerosis. This includes VLDL (very low density lipoprotein).

Along with reductions in basal metabolic rate (BMR), people on CR diets experienced large reductions in LDL cholesterol, and had very high levels of HDL cholesterol [16].

In a study on normal, healthy volunteers, after 30 days of practicing pranayama, a significant reduction in triglycerides, free fatty acids and VLDL cholesterol along with significant elevation of HDL cholesterol was observed in the men. Free fatty acids were reduced in women.

After adding asana exercises to the pranayama for another 60 days, free fatty acids increased in both men and women, and women demonstrated a significant fall in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL cholesterol [26].

It is of interest that free fatty acid levels increased after the subjects started doing asana exercises. It is possible that their bodies were breaking down fat. Further research would aid in clarifying this somewhat contradictory effect.

In another study on patients with coronary artery disease, at the end of one year of yoga training, total cholesterol was reduced by up to 23% in the yoga group of patients, compared to 4.4% in the control group. LDL cholesterol was reduced by 26% in study group patients as compared to 2.6% in the control group. A much higher proportion of the yoga group showed regression and arrest of progression of the disease than in the control group [43].

Studies indicate that pranayama and yoga asanas can be helpful in patients with lipid metabolism disorders [26], and have a positive effect on blood lipid profile, reducing cholesterol [41], [20], [21].

Melatonin

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, and appears to have anti aging properties [36], likely due to its antioxidant properties. It is also a natural immune enhancer and has been shown to extend longevity in some animal studies [22]. Higher melatonin levels are also associated with an increased sense of well being.

Melatonin is released mainly at night during sleep. Moderate physical activity has been shown to increase production of melatonin [35].

Calorie restriction has been shown to prevent the usual age related decline in melatonin levels in monkeys [30].

Yoga and meditation have been shown to significantly increase melatonin levels, with regular meditators found to have a higher level of melatonin than non-meditators [19], [40], [34].

In a 2004 study on normal, healthy volunteers, a yoga group practiced asana, pranayama and meditation while a control group did body flexibility exercises, slow running, and played games.

Yogic practices for 3 months resulted in an improvement in cardiorespiratory performance and psychological profile, with an improved sense of well being. The maximum night time melatonin levels in yoga group showed a significant correlation with well-being score.

The yoga group showed an increase in plasma melatonin, indicating that yoga could be used as a psychophysiologic stimulus to increase endogenous secretion of melatonin [19].

In another study, experienced meditators practising either TM-Sidhi or another form of yoga showed significantly higher plasma melatonin levels in the period immediately following meditation compared with the same period at the same time on control nights. It was concluded that meditation, at least in the forms studied here, can affect plasma melatonin levels [40].

Longer term studies are required to ascertain whether the higher melatonin levels in yoga practitioners and meditators are sustained.

Basal metabolic rate and body temperature

Studies measuring metabolic rate in CR animals indicate that it lowers the BMR. CR in animals is associated with a robust decrease in energy metabolism, including a lowering of resting metabolic rate, lowering of the thermic effect of meals and a decrease in the energy cost of physical activity [27], [15].

Some studies measuring metabolic rate in CR animals give conflicting results [24], and lowered metabolic rate does not necessarily entail a prolonged life span [15].

However, specific metabolic rate correlates highly with oxidative DNA damage. This is consistent with the theory that free radical induced DNA damage may play a central role in the aging process [1].

Body temperature, one of the biomarkers of longevity, is linked to metabolic rate; a lowered BMR would be associated with a slightly lowered core body temperature.

It seems logical to expect that because yoga asana is an energy expenditure activity, it would increase the resting metabolic rate. However, two different studies using healthy volunteers found that the BMRs of yoga groups practicing asana, pranayama and meditation were significantly lower than the BMRs of control groups [7] [8]. Asanas when practiced along with pranayama and meditation over a period of time actually significantly reduce the metabolic rate [7] [8].

The metabolic rate is an indicator of autonomic activity. The lower metabolic rates in the yoga subjects may have been due to decreased sympathetic nervous system activity and probably, a stable autonomic nervous system response achieved due to training in yoga [7] [8].

A study on alternate nostril breathing found that breathing selectively through either nostril could have a marked activating effect or a relaxing effect on the sympathetic nervous system; it is possible to alter metabolism by changing the breathing pattern [39].

Hypometabolic states have been reported in yogic studies, and meditation has been described as a wakeful hypometabolic state of parasympathetic dominance [44], [8]. Reports exist of yogis being buried underground in pits for many hours, and emerging unscathed. This may be achieved by consciously and voluntarily entering a hypometabolic state [6], [44].

This suggests not just a general lowering of BMR as a result of practice, but in advanced practitioners, eventually a learned ability to control normally involuntary bodily processes [44]. Krishnamacharya was apparently able to stop his own heartbeat and breath for several minutes with no ill effects – he demonstrated this before a panel of doctors at the age of 76 [13].

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Higher levels of DHEA are associated with greater feelings of wellbeing, higher muscle to fat ratios, and enhanced immune function.

DHEA also seems to increase sensitivity to insulin. Low DHEA levels correlate with lower bone mineral density and higher risk of osteoporosis, and also increased risk of heart disease [23]. A significant deficiency in DHEA in patients with several major diseases including cancer, inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disorders has been described [32].

Levels of DHEA that occur naturally in the body decline with age.

Calorie restriction has also been shown to increase DHEA levels in animals. DHEA was found to be a very good marker to measure the rates of aging in control versus calorie restricted monkeys [25].

Most forms of exercise will raise DHEA levels [35], so practicing yoga asana would play a role in maintaining DHEA levels.

Studies have shown that meditation is associated with increased levels of DHEA, as well as melatonin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid, which reduces anxiety) [33], [17].

Older individuals practicing meditation had higher levels of DHEA than an age-matched control group of non-meditators. [33], [17]

Limitations of this theory

Results of further long term naturalistic studies would be informative as to whether the effects described above are sustained over time.

Many of these effects could also result from other forms of exercise. Comparative studies measuring these markers in yogis and athletes of a similar age would be required to find out whether yoga practice has a greater or different effect than other physical activity.

Larger studies are needed – at present only relatively few exist, involving relatively small numbers of people. More studies of diverse populations are required.

Several studies found that yoga interventions are generally effective in reducing body weight, blood pressure, glucose level and high cholesterol, but only a few studies examined long-term adherence.

Animal studies cannot always be directly correlated with humans; the results of animal experiments are unreliable when attempting to extrapolate to humans. Although I have referred to animal studies, personally I believe experimentation on animals to be unethical and often very cruel. What we really need is more human studies.

Furthermore, in her blog [31], Sandy Szwarc points out that in a recent CR study on rhesus monkeys [11], if deaths from factors other than age related diseases are taken into account, there is in fact no significant difference in lifespan between CR and non CR animals. Also, the control group were actually overfed by 20%.

Reviews of other animal CR studies looking at causes of mortality other than old age would be enlightening.

Finally, it may be found that the hypothesised biomarkers of longevity actually have little or no significance in extending longevity. For example, as we find out more about the SIR2 gene, many currently widely accepted theories may be discarded.

Conclusion

It is the side effects of CR, the so called biomarkers of longevity , that appear to delay the onset of age related chronic disease and extend longevity.

Insulin resistance seems to be a major factor contributing to age related disease, possibly the most important factor. However the lowered BMR of yoga practitioners is particularly interesting, as it is a curious and rather anomalous effect.

There is a high incidence of obesity related disease in westerners; the average western diet is over caloric. However the more extreme CR has associated health risks.

The risks and possible negative side effects of calorie restriction include hunger, malnutrition, eating disorders, reproductive issues in women, osteoporosis, sensitivity to cold, and slower healing [5]. On top of this there may be as yet unknown long term side effects.

It has been found that some yoga practitioners do in fact practice caloric restriction [6]. The yogis interviewed by Dr Bushell at the Kumbha Mela festival in 2001 followed a classic Indian form of CR based on 1-2 small meals a day consisting of legumes, milk, and augmented with fresh vegetables and fruit.

Simon Borg-Olivier lives on a diet of mostly raw fruit and vegetables, and seems extremely strong and healthy. He would make a particularly interesting case study; it seems possible that he could live to a very old age.

All of the physiological factors – a lowered BMR, with increased insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels, increased melatonin and DHEA, and better cholesterol levels – appear likely contribute to longevity and health into old age with consistent yoga practice.

The combined metabolic effect of the practices of asana, pranayama and meditation may work in synergy with other physical effects, possibly setting yoga practice apart from other forms of exercise in delaying or preventing the onset of age related disease.

Yoga practice is a natural and healthy way to potentially achieve many of the benefits of CR, without the associated risks, and in this manner to aid in slowing the aging process.


Read More: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/news/motivational/metabolic_factors.aspx 

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5 Ways to get your Children Practicing Yoga with you


Article by: Ruby Andrew

Brief introduction and benefits of Yoga:

It is an art of performing physiological, psychological and philosophical practices with a view to tone the body system for the attainment of permanent peace of soul and mind.

Physiological benefits:

It includes like improvement of energy levels, immune system becoming stronger, endurance increases, improvement in the respiratory system, muscular strength increases, and reaction time increases and so on.

Psychological benefits:

It includes like concentration improvement, social skills increases, anxiety decreases, memory improvement, cognitive functions improves and many more.

Philosophical benefits:

It includes like one feels the inner peace of mind, the practitioner becomes more proactive then reactive, feels excited and enthusiastic, behavioral modifications, etc.

Some feel that Yoga is the direct way to unite our soul with the god and for the attainment of peace and prosperity in day to day life. Getting your child practicing yoga at such a tender age benefits the overall health of your loved ones.

Here are the 5 Ways to get your children Practicing Yoga with You:

    • Disclose in front of children’s:

Children’s are inquisitive to their parent’s actions. If you practice yoga in front of your children, they are more likely to ask you questions about it. Try out some balancing or stretching yoga postures so that they can easily perform and make them feel exciting and interesting. At the end the positive and refreshing experience definitely makes them to love yoga.

    • Involvement of fun:

It’s all about spending quality time with your children. Always remember to have fun and let them win. On the contrary, most parents want their children to get perfect in the manner they are. In that expectation they start building pressure on their children to improve his posture, again and again correcting their faults that sometimes even discourage them. They start feeling it to be monotonous or irritating. So, make sure to try in their own style as long as they don’t endanger themselves.

    • Try to make it simple:

If you want to encourage your children about yoga never ever perform difficult poses at the initiation. Always choose easy and attractive poses that your children will be able to do without much exertion. Make them to try out some poses that sounds better like Bridge pose, Dancer pose, Sandwich pose, happy pose, etc. so that they get interested to perform yoga.

    • Make them express themselves:

To foster your children about yoga allow them to produce an own space for practice, buy them yoga accessories like mat, warmer, and track pant or other things. Make sure that allow them to utilize anything that can advace them towards yoga. Including certain poses that your children love and giving them priority can really alter to love yoga by your child.

    • Teach Some Breathing Exercises:

If your children finding difficulty in practicing yoga poses. Teach them some basic breathing exercises. Focusing on the breath is an important exercise and it can improve discipline and concentration and most important thing is it’s simple to practice. Do not expect your child to practice for a long period. A few minutes of breathing practice can have a calming effect. To make it more interesting and exciting, make your children to sit on your back while doing pushups or in your lap.

Practicing yoga together can benefit you and your child. The most important thing to remember is to teach your child yoga in a fun manner so that your child will be excited and practice yoga daily and in the case of any health issues arrived while practicing yoga it’s better to have EHIC card for low-cost treatment.

Namaste


Read More: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/news/practice/ChildrenYoga.aspx 

 

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


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

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

John Immel lecture 1 - what is a toxin?

What is a toxin?

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

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

Is toxin the right word?

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

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

Where do toxins come from and how do they manifest?

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

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

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

How can we eliminate toxins safely?

Some general tips include:

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

When should we cleanse?

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

For more on this topic, read Ayurvedic Springtime routines

Why choose an Ayurvedic cleanse?

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

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

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


Article written by Kirsty Tomlinsin, 15 May 2017

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

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5 Ways Yin Yoga Will Transform Your Life


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

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

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

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

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

1. Flexibility is increased.

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

2. Self-regulated healing is promoted.

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

3. Tension and stress are alleviated.

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

4. Heart is opened and Chi is unblocked.

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

5. Energetic toxins are released.

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

 

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

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How Yoga & Meditation Help with Stress, Anxiety & Depression


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

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

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

A Vicious Cycle

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

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

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

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

The quote continues:

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

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

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

Stress and Insomnia

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

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

Meditation for Anxiety and Depression – Can it Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Meditation?

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

How Does Meditation Work?

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

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

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

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

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

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression – Can Yoga Help?

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

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

1. Satya

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

2. Aparigraha

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

3. Ahimsa

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

Some Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Let Go of Insecurities and Love Yourself

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know that THIS feeling is what you are seeking.

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

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

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

Of course not!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste,
Sonia


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Fresh Yoga Styles to Know About

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


AcroYoga

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

Yoga with animals

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

Aqua yoga

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Cautions:

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Mountain Pose:

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

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


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

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