Category Archives: Yoga Essentials

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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What Should You Eat Before And After Yoga?


Do you perform yoga regularly? And if you do, are you aware of what food you should be taking before and after performing yoga? Guess what, what you eat prior to and post your yoga sessions plays a major role in determining your health!

Yoga And Diet:

To get the most benefits from yoga, it is necessary that you eat the right type of foods. Without a proper diet, your body will not be able to obtain the maximum benefits of yoga. It is important that you consume the right type and the right amount of food at the right time to reap the benefits.

Eating Before Yoga:

There has been considerable debate on this topic among health experts and practitioners of yoga. Traditionally, a majority of people feel that you should not eat food before practicing yoga postures because some yoga postures put pressure on the abdominal muscles.

However, for people leading hectic lives, adhering to this theory may not be possible. Those who come to yoga classes post office hours feel really hungry and focusing on the lessons becomes tough. Given the fact some yoga classes may last for 1 hour or more, putting up with hunger pangs can be quite taxing. When you are hungry, it becomes tough to focus on the body and mind, which is a prerequisite in yoga.

 

Things To Remember When You Eat Before Yoga:

There are a few important things that you should keep in mind if you cannot really avoid eating before practicing yoga postures.

  1. You need to eat quite some time before you get into yoga classes. The human body requires a few hours to digest food properly. The duration of digestion depends on the types of foods and beverages consumed.
  2. It is not advisable to have a heavy meal shortly before you leave for yoga sessions. Try to consume only light food that can be digested quickly and that does not take a toll on your metabolism.
  3. Try to eat in small quantities before practicing yoga.
  4. Limit yourself to eating only food items that have a low glycemic index and avoid foods that contain excess sugar in any form. Gorging on spicy and junk foods is a big NO. Also, steer clear from fizzy drinks if you wish to reap the many benefits of practicing yoga.
  5. Ideally, you should take food a couple of hours before doing yoga. However, in certain situations it may not be possible. Even then, try to eat at least an hour before practicing the poses.
  6. Do not take any food high in acidic content. This can lead to heartburn. For this, avoid drinking orange juice and coffee.
  7. If you drink plenty of juice or water, you may feel nauseous or have stomach cramps in yoga sessions. Therefore, drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated and evade these signs at the same time.
  8. If you have a yoga class in the morning, do not even think of boozing at a party the night before. Alcohol produces a dehydrating effect on the body. You may also be left with a hangover which is not the ideal thing before working out.

What To Eat Before Yoga:

1. Avocados:

A lot of yoga practitioners like Avocado, as it is. This fruit is replete with minerals like potassium and magnesium. This leads to proper functioning of muscles and cells in the human body. Besides, avocados are easy to digest and keep you full for quite some time. The healthy fat found in avocados helps reduce bad cholesterol.

2. Bananas:

Available all round the year, Bananas are cheap and rich in nutrients. The fruit is replete with potassium and this alone makes it an ideal pre-workout snack. The magnesium in it aids in thwarting bloating and muscle cramps. You can have it with salads or use it to make yummy smoothies.

3. Fruit Smoothies:

Smoothies made at home can be the ideal pre-workout food, and that holds true also for yoga practitioners. Smoothies provide adequate nutrition and hydrate the body at the same time. The good thing about them is that you can mix various types of fruits and do not have to stick to any single flavour always! You may use fruits like pineapple, apple, orange, melon, and kiwi, for example. Using fat-free yogurt will be a good idea to make healthy low-fat smoothies. It is better that you do not mix additional sugar while making smoothies. The natural sugar in fruits should suffice.

4. Apples:

Apples are alkaline fruits and help counter acidity developing in the stomach. They also contain natural sugars and lots of fiber. Eating apples also keeps your body hydrated. The vitamin C in Apple gives your body an energy boost which is ideal before a workout.

5. Yogurt:

Yogurt is delicious and can be eaten in a number of ways. You can have it alone or blend with fruits to make smoothies. Some people even take it with oats. Before going for a yoga session, simply take some low fat or zero fat yogurt. This will give you the energy you need!

6. Almonds:

Eating raw almonds can give you just the energy boost you need before yoga classes. You can try eating soaked almonds. Do not opt for the salted variety available in the market at any cost. Organic, raw almonds are the best option for you. Almonds contain vitamin E, magnesium and healthy fats.

7. Raisins:

Raisins taste great and offer you energy in the forms of natural sugars. You can munch on them before yoga. In fact, carrying them in a small pouch is simple and you may put the pouch in the gym bag.

8. Dried Fruit And Nut Bar:

ou can munch on dried fruit and nut bars before going to the yoga class. Ensure the bar does not have a calorie count exceeding 300. It will offer you enough energy for the session.

9. Berries:

The berries are replete with vitamins and antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber. You can chew berries like strawberry and blueberry. The natural sugar content in the fruits will keep you energized.

10. Oatmeal:

Eating a bowl of oatmeal before you leave for your yoga class is a prudent idea. It is easy to digest and rich in fibers. If necessary, you can put in a spoon of yogurt in the bowl or drop a small amount of honey to add to the taste.

What To Eat After Yoga:

After you return from your yoga classes, it is quite natural that you will be rather hungry. Practicing all those postures and the journey back home will make you crave for food. However, do not gorge on any snack you fancy to appease your taste buds. After practicing yoga, you need to take the right kind of foods. Do not throw away the advantages obtained from yoga by splurging on a fat-laden sandwich or burger!

1. Water:

While you will need to eat after practicing yoga, it is even more important to provide hydration to the body. You need to drink plenty of water. Plain water is the best option for this. However, for a variation, you may drink coconut water sometimes. It is also okay to add a few drops of lemon to the water for a shot of vitamin C!

2. Fresh Fruit Juice:

You can enjoy a large glass of fresh fruit juice after returning from the yoga classes. It is okay to try different fruits each day for a variety. Do not use additional sugar and rely on the natural sugar in the fruits. For better taste, drop in a few ice cubes in the glass before drinking. It will be far better than drinking OTC fruit juices that contain artificial flavors and excess amounts of sugar.

3. Homemade Vegetable Soup:

You have burnt a lot of calories at the yoga session and it is necessary that you offer the body with plenty of nutrients with calories. For a nutritious after yoga dish hardly anything comes close to homemade vegetable soup. You can use carrots, celery, spinach or cabbages to make such soups. Pour in your favourite vegetables and add black pepper and ginger for flavour. Making soups at home is better than buying them readymade, ready to heat products sold in stores which often contain excess amounts of sodium.

4. Tuna:

You need to offer your body energy giving foods. Fish like tuna is a worthy example. You can make tuna sandwiches or eat other tuna dishes after yoga sessions for proper protein intake.

5. Toast With Banana And Almond Butter:

This is ideal when you need a good dose of nutrition without taking extra calories. Use whole grain toast and bake them lightly in the toaster or microwave. Spread a liberal amount of almond butter on the toast and top with banana slices. You get protein, healthy fats and fiber in this snack.

6. Green Tea:

Green tea has numerous health benefits and it is better than many other beverages you can drink. However, it is ideal after you return from yoga sessions. Yoga enhances blood circulation and the antioxidants present in green tea get circulated throughout the body. The combination of yoga and green tea also acts as a great stress buster.

7. Whole-Grain Toast With Scrambled Egg Whites:

If you practice yoga in the daytime, this can be an excellent and fitting post workout snack. Egg whites contain protein and no cholesterol. The whole-grain breads contain complex carbohydrates and that will ensure you stay energized for a long time. You may also throw in salads with it.

8. Fresh Vegetable Salad:

You can gorge on a bowl of salad made of fresh vegetables after returning from yoga classes. You can use dark leafy vegetables and using organic vegetables is the best option. Use pepper powder or cilantro, chopped on top or pour a few drops of extra virgin olive oil to add to the taste.

What Pregnant Women Should Eat Before Yoga:

Yoga is great for people from all age groups, including pregnant women. However, pregnancy can be a critical stage and certain physiological developments need to be watched with care. While yoga can help prenatal women deal with the blues of pregnancy, they also need to think of their overall health needs.

During pregnancy, it is natural to have sudden hunger pangs and you actually need to eat both for you and your baby. It is important that you do not go for yoga classes on an empty stomach. Do not let yourself be subjected to dehydration either.

Below listed are a few foods prenatal women should eat before going for yoga sessions:

  • Turkey sandwich with tomato and whole grain bread.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • Plain oatmeal.

Yoga, like you all know, is a great form of exercise that can calm both the body and mind. This form of exercise has been linked with myriad health benefits and has been practiced since age memorial. Yes, yoga does ask of you to control your diet and to avoid junk food, but that is a small price to pay for feeling fresh and energized.

These simple tips can go a long way in helping you reap the best benefits of a yoga session. While different forms of yoga may call for slight variation in the diet consumed, the above guide acts as a simple yet effective diet plan for all of you who wish to practice yoga on a regular basis. The key is to eat light, and curb the tendency to binge, lest you will not reap anything from spending hours in a room with crossed legs!


For more read : http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/what-should-you-eat-before-and-after-yoga/

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5 Meditation Practices You Need to Know About


Meditation has come a long way since it first became popular in the West during the 1960s. Some of the most popular and effective methods are now backed by scientific evidence, showcasing the benefits meditation has on the body and our mental health. While meditation has been around for ages, only recently has it become a part of popular Western culture.

Currently in the modern world, there are five meditation practices that have stood the test of time. The reason for this is that they provide the most successful results, some of which can be felt after only one session. In this article, you’ll learn what these five methods are and how you can benefit from practicing them. Each of the techniques should be practiced for at least 20 minutes to have maximum impact.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness was developed to help us place our attention fully in the present moment. It doesn’t have a focus on spirituality; its sole purpose is to teach the student awareness of presence. What are the benefits of this? When we learn to become fully present, we can see our thoughts as separate from us, meaning we don’t have to engage with every one of them. Learning to watch negative thoughts come and go without harming us is one of the foundational principles of mindfulness.

Popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness teaches us to avoid secondary suffering. Secondary suffering is where we enhance our own pain by thinking about something negative that’s happened to us and then replaying it like a mental movie over and over again. Through developing mind awareness, we can learn to tune out secondary suffering and most negative thoughts, helping us to live in a happier, lighter and healthier state of being.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation was popularized by the Maharishi in the 1960s when he met The Beatles and taught it to them. The purpose of this method is to silence the mind and transcend to the source of all present-moment awareness. This is achieved through repeating a special mantra given to you by a qualified Transcendental Meditation teacher. The mantra is repeated internally in your mind, and you place your focus solely on your breath and the sounds of the mantra. When other thoughts arise, you let them be but do not engage with them.

After a while has passed, you will find your mind activity is very quiet and peaceful, and you will have transcended to the core of your being. This is the purpose of this technique. A certified Transcendental Meditation teacher is the only person qualified to teach you this method, as he or she knows what mantra is right for you and how to show you the process in its latest form with complete precision.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a fast-growing meditation method that provides a unique experience to most other techniques. Typically, it involves slow, mindful walking in nature, where the student can use her surroundings to anchor herself in the present moment. This technique can be great for beginners to meditation as the grounding apparatus is very influential because your senses are far more active. You feel the wind and air passing across your face and the contact between your feet and the ground.

This method is typically practiced on nature walks; however, you can use it wherever you wish as long as you feel comfortable in your environment. Meditation teaches us that anything can be used as an anchor into the present moment; therefore, this particular technique could even be used in a busy city center!

Mantra Meditation

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra meditation uses a word or series of words repeated over and over again to quiet the mind. Mantras can be repeated aloud or internally depending on your environment and how comfortable you are with chanting out loud. There are hundreds of different mantras all with different meanings.

Mantra meditation is typically practiced while sitting in a meditative pose, using slow relaxing breaths. The same principle applies as for most meditation methods where you allow everything to be just as it is in the moment. Thoughts and distractions will arise, but the trick is to know that that’s okay. Let everything be as it is, and simply focus on your mantra. You’ll find that if you concentrate on the process of mantra meditation, all distractions will melt away naturally over time.

Mala Bead Meditation

This meditation method involves using mala beads. Mala beads are usually made out of wood but can also come in the form of precious gemstones. An authentic mala bead necklace has 108 beads. The student is supposed to count each bead using a mantra. The entire mantra is repeated on each single bead, meaning the mantra is stated in its entirety 108 times. Mala meditation should be done slowly with deep breaths. Once you reach the end of the beads on the necklace, you’ll find that your mind activity has decreased and you’re in a state of peacefulness and contentment.

Overall, these five methods have proven themselves to be the kings of the world of meditation. You can learn more details about each of them online via YouTube videos, blogs, and other sources.

After learning more about these techniques online, you may wish to take things further and deepen your meditational practices. The best way to do so is to seek out a teacher who’s experienced in your chosen method and learn directly from him or her.

Happy meditating ?


Read more: http://dailycupofyoga.com/2017/01/30/5-meditation-practices-you-need-to-know-about/

 

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How to Become a Morning Person- wake up with the sun


What can be more natural than waking up with the sun and going to bed when the whole nature is falling asleep? Nothing, really. And yet, at some point with all the nightlife activities, hard-to-put-aside gadgets, flexible working hours and jam-packed schedules, it all got out of control.

 

 

These tips from Yoga and Ayurveda will persuade you to switch to a new morning routine and make the shift easier.

 

Watch the sunrise. Every day

Ayurveda and Yoga Theory have an explanation for why it makes sense to wake up before sunrise. Apparently, about an hour and a half period before the sunrise called Brahma Muhurta is the time when nature is in its stillest phase. And so is your mind. It is the most appropriate time for yoga, meditation and welcoming a new day in a calm and harmonious way. Wake up during this quiet and secluded time before the sun is up, and you’ll feel balanced and happy for the rest of the day.

Go to bed at reasonable hours

And by reasonable Ayurveda means between 10 and 11 p.m. Why is that? The thing is everything around us is influenced by doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. These doshas are combinations of energies and each dosha has particular qualities. The day is divided into 6 four-hour intervals during which a particular dosha dominates influencing our mood and energy levels.  At 10 p.m. the sluggish Kapha is changed by fiery and intense Pitta which will be dominant until 2 a.m. Pitta will make you feel more energetic but at the same time, it will make it hard for you to fall asleep and to have a quality rest. You can read more on how doshas influence our energy during the day in one of our previous articles. Going to bed before midnight means you’ll get a more restorative sleep and feel refreshed even if you wake up very early the next morning.

Wake up on the proper side of the bed

Of all the recommendations this is the easiest one to adopt!

In some languages, the expression “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” literally translates as “getting up on the wrong foot”. According to Ayurveda, this totally makes sense. So, we all have a dominant nostril. As a rule, this may change during the day. And when you wake up you need to check which nostril is breathing better and get out of bed by first putting the corresponding leg on the floor. This way you’ll feel less sluggish during your morning and the whole day.

Create a morning ritual

It’s important to think of a morning ritual that will allow you to wake up gently and motivate you to get out of bed. You may come up with your own morning routine or borrow some ideas from Dinacharya — a daily routine suggested by Ayurveda and followed by Indian yogis for hundreds of years.

This daily routine sure requires a lot of discipline to adopt. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t manage to go to bed before midnight tonight or don’t see every sunrise during the week. Believe in yourself and try again and again!

Yes, you may have been a night owl most of your life. But have you ever given a waking up before sunrise routine a really good chance? Who knows, maybe it will become your second nature. 

Read more (article adapted from) : https://yoga.com/article/yoga-and-ayurveda-tips-to-become-a-morning-person 

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11 Benefits Of Yoga That Will Have You Wondering Why You Never Tried It Before


Yoga is an absolutely phenomenal form of physical exercise, mental discipline, and spiritual healing. You know something is awesome when it can do all of those things at once. Anyway, there is a long list of benefits that you can and should take advantage of that all come with the simple thing that is Yoga. You may think that Yoga is only for women, but that is not so, especially seeing as more and more men are taking it up every day. No matter if you are a man or woman, Yoga has many different advantages for the mind and body, all of which you absolutely need to start taking advantage of as soon as possible!

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is originally a Hindu form of exercise, stretching, and mental training. In fact, it is also seen as a spiritual and ascetic discipline as well as a physical one. Yoga is widely practiced around the world and is revered for its mental and physical benefits. It involves a lot of mental focus, breathing control, meditation, and simple poses which are meant to strengthen both your body and mind. There are many different variations of Yoga, with a popular one being hot Yoga, a type which is practiced in a very hot room.

 

Benefit #1: Muscle Strengthening

One big benefit that you get from doing some regular Yoga is the strengthening of your muscles. Yoga involves a lot of positions and movements that force you to hold up your body weight in one way or another, and in some pretty odd looking positions too. The obvious result of this is that your muscles will become stronger over time.

A big part of this involves your back muscles and your core, as many Yoga poses are oriented towards challenging those muscles. This is however also true for virtually every other muscle in your body too. Everything from your forearms and shoulders to your glutes and calves will become stronger thanks to some Yoga classes.

Of course, we all want strong muscles, and that is not only because they look sexy. Strong muscles help to increase our physical performance, they make sports easier, they make us run faster and jump higher, and they help to make a plethora of daily tasks much easier, not to mention that it doesn’t hurt our self-esteem either.

Benefit #2: Cartilage & Joint Protection

Yet another benefit that you can reap from doing Yoga is that it is fantastic for the health of your cartilage and for your joints. This is in part due to your increased flexibility thanks to Yoga, especially when it comes to the health of your joints, but there is even more to it than that. You see, the problem is that as you age, especially if you are not physically active, your joints, or to be exact, the cartilage that helps your joints move smoothly, starts to break down and deteriorate.

This can cause some seriously painful problems such as arthritis in your old age, plus having no cartilage between your joints will be painful either way, not to mention cause a limited range of motion. Yoga is a great way to mitigate the effects of disability and prevent things like arthritis because of the nourishing effect it has on the cartilage in your joints. You see, the cartilage in your joints requires nutrients just like every other part of your body.

The difference is that your cartilage really only gets necessary nutrients when it is in motion, such as during Yoga. Yoga has the effect of squeezing your cartilage, which is very beneficial because your sponge-like cartilage needs to be squeezed to get nutrients.

Benefit #3: Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits that you will be able to reap thanks to some regular Yoga is increasing your flexibility. You may not be all that flexible yet and touching your toes might seem akin to flying under your own power when it comes to your first Yoga class. However, as you go back to your Yoga class day after day, you will notice your muscles, joints, and ligaments getting looser and looser.

Before you know it, you will be bending over backward and wrapping yourself up like a pretzel without any issue at all. Many, if not all of the poses that you do in Yoga will stretch out your body in one way or another, thus making you more flexible as time goes on. Being more flexible is great for many different things including preventing pulled muscles and other injuries, plus it can be pretty useful when it comes to your love life as well.

Being more flexible is also useful in terms of relieving certain aches and pains. For instance, having tight hips can cause knee pain, a tight upper back can cause back pain, and tight hamstrings can lead to severe lower back pain, all problems that can be solved with some simple Yoga.

Benefit #4: Strengthening The Immune System & Regulating The Adrenal System

Yoga can also be very beneficial for your immune system because it helps to drain your lymphatic system. When you do Yoga, you stretch out your muscles and compress them at the same time, plus you move your organs around too.

This has the effect of draining a viscous fluid known as lymph out of the various lymph nodes in your body. This fluid is something that your body will produce on its own, but the new fluid that is created after the old fluid is drained out, is much more effective at disposing of toxic chemicals and waste, killing cancer cells, and fighting off infection in general.

Another reason why Yoga helps you improve the function of your immune system has to do with the levels of cortisol in your body. Regular Yoga can help lower cortisol levels and that is generally a good thing. Yes, increased levels of cortisol can temporarily increase immune function and it can help with memory too, but that is not the case for prolonged periods where cortisol levels are high.

Prolonged periods of high cortisol levels can damage your immune system, decrease your long and short term memory, can cause depression, and even osteoporosis too. Therefore, Yoga can help prevent all of those conditions by regulating your adrenal glands and your overall cortisol levels.

Benefit #5: Heart Health & Increasing Blood Flow

Now to be clear, most of the things you do in Yoga are not technically considered to be aerobic exercises, which is the kind of exercise needed to increase the health of your heart, but that is not always true because Yoga can actually improve your heart health. You can actually perform Yoga at a fast pace or engage in certain types of Yoga which incorporate aspects of aerobic fitness. In essence, this means that you get your heart pumping at an aerobic level, which means that it is pumping much faster than normal.

Your heart beating much faster than normal is akin to lifting weights for your muscles, or in other words, it makes it stronger and more efficient. Having a healthier heart has many different benefits including the lowering of your resting heart rate, the increased efficiency of your heart, a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, a reduction in heart and arterial disease, and increased endurance too.

One of the biggest benefits that you get from Yoga and aerobic exercise in general is that it will help lower your blood pressure, plus of course, provide you with a longer and healthier life in general.

Moreover, many Yoga exercises and poses also help to increase circulation, and not only because your heart works more efficiently. This is because poses such as those where you twist parts of your body help to wring blood out of your organs, send it back to your lungs and heart for oxygenation, and ultimately help to bring more fresh blood to your organs, something which benefits them in multiple ways.

Certain poses such as handstands can also help blood flow more readily from the legs and pelvis back to your heart, something that can help you if you suffer from swollen ankles, swollen legs, and kidney problems too. Finally, Yoga can also help create more hemoglobin in your blood, which are the things that carry oxygen throughout your body, thus giving your body a better supply of oxygen, something which it needs for many different things including physical activity.

On a side note, the aerobic effects of certain Yoga poses and types of Yoga also help to increase the efficiency at which your lungs absorb and process oxygen, which is also known as VO2, thus allowing your body to use more oxygen. The combination of better circulation, a more efficient heart, more oxygen carrying hemoglobin, and stronger lungs all lead to one main benefit, that being increased muscular endurance and a better ability to perform physical activity for a prolonged period of time.

Benefit #6: Maintaining A Healthy Digestive System

The next benefit that you get from doing Yoga is that it can prevent and control digestion issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, and can help you digest food better even if you do have a healthy digestive system. This is because Yoga involves a lot of twisting poses that cause your bowels and intestines to contract and loosen.

The long term effect of this is that Yoga stimulates your body to pass food and waste through itself more quickly, thus aiding in proper digestion, good nutrient absorption, and regularity in the bathroom. Instead of pounding back glasses full of that disgusting Metamucil, you can always try doing some Yoga instead.

Benefit #7: Bettering Your Posture – Your Back

Another benefit that you can get from doing even minimal Yoga is an improvement in your overall posture. Since Yoga does a lot to make your more flexible and limber, and also helps to strengthen your core and back muscles, the result will be better posture. Having good posture, which means having a straight back with your head directly above it, requires a strong core, back, shoulders, and good neck muscles too. Yoga is something that through various poses will help strengthen all of the necessary muscles needed for good posture.

Having good posture is not only good for looking more confident and taller, but also for your physical health. When you have bad posture, you will most likely be slouched over with your head leaning forward, something that can cause fatigue in your neck and back. When you have good posture with a straight back and your head perfectly above your back, it takes a lot less effort for your muscles to keep you balanced and upright, therefore decreasing muscle fatigue.

Moreover, having good posture is also a great way to relieve daily pains. This is because bad posture often leads to neck, back, and leg pain, all things which some regular Yoga exercises can help get rid of. On a side note, Yoga is also good for your back, especially your spinal disks because they can get damaged and compress nerves. Some simple Yoga moves can go a long way in decompressing your spine and the nerves in it, plus it helps deliver much-needed nutrients to your spinal cord too.

Benefit #8: Increased Cognitive Abilities

Something else that Yoga is shown to help you with is with a long list of cognitive abilities. First of all, Yoga requires a whole lot of focus and concentration, both things which can be improved through training. Without concentration and focus, you can’t really do Yoga. Exercise like Yoga is also known to cause an increase in the production of neurotransmitters in your brain as well as the rate at which those transmitters function.

This has the effect of increasing your long and short term memory, your focus and concentration, your problem solving skills, and your overall cognitive abilities. Yoga is also a type of exercise that concentrates on being in touch with your mind and improving mental skills, something which everybody can definitely benefit from.

Benefit #9: Better Bone Health

The next benefit you need to take advantage of through Yoga are the serious bone building benefits that it brings to the table. Many Yoga positions are known as weight bearing exercises. Weight bearing exercises are any kind of exercises which force a certain part of your body to hold up your own body weight and put a larger than normal amount of strain and pressure on your bones. This has the effect of increasing the strength, size, and density of your bones.

There are many Yoga poses which have you on your legs, or just one leg, and many which have you supporting your weight with your arms. Well, when you do any of those things, the weight you put on your bones causes the cells in your bones known as osteoblasts to generate more bone mass, thus resulting in thicker, denser, and stronger bones.

This is a very useful benefit, especially as you get older because old age can cause bone diseases such as osteoporosis, something which can be prevented or mitigated through bone building exercises such as Yoga. Moreover, having stronger bones also means that you have a lower chance of suffering a fracture or broken bone.

Benefit #10: It Helps Make You Happier

Yoga is also good for your mind, not just for your body. Yoga is good because it helps to provide your mind with more beneficial neurochemicals. Yoga is shown to increase the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and certain endocannabinoids, all of which are shown to make you feel happier, decrease anxiety, and help get rid of the effects of depression too.

These neurochemicals are all very important for your mental wellbeing and for regulating mood. This phenomenon of exercise producing neurochemicals which make you feel happier, elated, and joyful, is also known as the runner’s high.

Also, Yoga is shown to decrease the amount of monoamine oxidase in your brain. This is a substance that breaks down neurotransmitters, something which negatively affects your mood and cognitive abilities. The bottom line is that Yoga can provide for a happier you and that is a big bonus. On a side note, Yoga is also shown to relieve stress and relieve you of negative feelings such as anger and rage.

Benefit #11: Improving Your Balance

Yet another big benefit that you can reap from doing Yoga is an increased ability to balance. Yoga involves a whole lot of odd positions that force you to balance, something that is otherwise known as proprioception. Your balance is actually regulated by things called proprioceptors.

Well, just like with your bones, muscles, memory, and more, the more you do balance training, the better your proprioceptors become at accommodating for positional shifts and imbalances in order to help your body stay upright. Having better balance is a great thing to have, especially if you like sports that require a lot of it, sports such as skating or hockey, or even gymnastics too.

Conclusion

The fact of the matter is that the benefits of Yoga definitely outweigh any preconceived notions that you may have about it. Your strength, balance, flexibility, digestion, mental abilities, happiness, and more will all benefit from this awesome discipline so you should definitely give it a try as soon as you can!

If you have any questions or comments about Yoga, please feel free to shoot us a message and we will get back to you at the first available opportunity.


This blog has been adapted from : https://www.fitandme.com/benefits-of-yoga/

Read more at https://www.fitandme.com/benefits-of-yoga/

 

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Article adapted from: https://www.manduka.com/yoga-mat-guide

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Yoga to Navigate Change


“In the waves of change we find our true direction.”

Change isn’t always easy to navigate. It can sometimes leave you feeling jittery in the stomach, tight in the chest and apprehensive about the future. Change can stir old wounds and deep emotions, crippling you from moving forward.

Yet beyond these fear-based emotions and past experiences (samskaras), change is an opportunity to grow.

So how, when you are faced with anxiety and nervousness, can you see that perhaps the jittery feeling in your stomach may just be excitement? How can you use your yoga practice to flow through change, rather than resist it?

6 Yoga Poses to flow through change

1. Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

Change (and by nature – uncertainty) can often feel unsettling, and the place in the body where this is most strongly experienced is the stomach. Twisting poses relieve tension in the stomach and cleanse not only the digestive system but also the emotional body.

Revolved Triangle Pose also relieves tension in the hamstrings. Metaphysically our legs carry us forward in life, so relieving tension in the legs enables us to move through change.

What beliefs are holding you back and preventing you from moving forward?

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II is also known as the Peaceful Warrior – a balance of inner strength and softness. Transitioning through change requires gentle yielding as well as focus. With the gaze in the direction of your future, you keep the focus on where you are going.

3. Camel (Ustrasana)

Another attribute of navigating change is an open heart. To embark in a new direction, where the outcome is unknown, requires a courageous and trusting heart. Camel Pose (pictured above) relieves tension in the lower back (the place of our fears) and opens the chest and heart.

This pose also helps to relieve anxiety, that is often felt as tightness in the chest and shallow breathing.

As you exhale back into Camel, continue taking deep full breaths and imagine your chest expanding and opening and the breath traveling all the way down to the base of your belly.

Another benefit of Camel Pose is hip opening; hips being the metaphysical storage area of our emotions.

4. Wide Legged Forward Fold (Straddle/Dragonfly)

This pose grounds the Base/Root Chakra (Muladhara), connecting you with stability and firm foundations. Sometimes change can feel like a whirlwind; particularly if the change is fast-moving. Literally bringing the body back down to Earth helps to re-establish your connection and feel grounded.

Being a yin posture, it’s also about letting go physically, which can also help you to let go on deeper levels. Change sometimes requires you to let go of resistance, previously held beliefs, control and emotions that you hold in your body as physical tension. In this pose, all you need to do is surrender, and breathe – long, deep, slow breaths.

5. Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Reclining Butterfly is another heart opener of the nurturing kind. It’s easier to open your heart when you feel supported, and a bolster positioned along the spine gives you a feeling of stability and security. From that foundation let your arms rest on the mat beside your body and open your chest.

As with Camel Pose, it has the added benefit of opening the hips. If the hip opening is too strong, place supportive bolsters/blocks under each knee. Taking support in your yoga practice is a reminder to do this in daily life too.

What support do you need to help you through this change?

6. Child Pose (Balasana)

Change can often result in expending emotional energy that can be draining and exhausting. Child Pose is a gentle resting pose that enables you to take your awareness within and restore energy. If your body needs to rest – let it. In Child Pose, you can also ground your Third-eye Chakra (Ajna) to the Earth (or a bolster/block) and connect with your intuition.

Child Pose is also about being still. In the midst of change there is a time for action and a time for being. Whatever comes up in this stillness, let it come and go, passing through you like changing winds.

Nature Connect in times of change

There are many lessons in nature that teach us about change. Seasons change, tides rise and fall, the sun rises and sets, fire destroys landscapes and then they renew.

Many months ago I sat by the Bay and watched the full moon tide lash the embankment…

Seaweed piles up against the cement retaining wall and salt spray slaps, as if the sea is getting rid of all it’s sludge and heaviness. Nature doesn’t care that it’s windy; throwing the stillness of the bay off balance and churning up her sea depths. Nature is all of these things. She simply lulls herself to the meditative rhythm of an ebbing and flowing tide.

Spend some time in nature observing. Notice how nature changes over the course of a day, a week and perhaps seasons. Nature is always changing.

Meditation for change

A simple meditation I like to use in times of change is visualising myself once the change has taken place. I begin with a visualisation of leaving a suitcase behind. In the suitcase are all the things/thoughts I need to leave behind in order to move towards that new destination.

What do you need to shed, to move forward?

Then I visualise myself walking towards this new destination. For me, it’s always along a forest path, beside a gentle flowing stream.

At the end of the path I arrive.

In this “new life”, ask yourself – Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? How do you feel?

Imagery is powerful. This meditation helps to keep you focused on the positive outcomes of the change you are moving through.

Take your time

Change is a process of shedding old layers of being, moving into a place of trust, transitioning out of the old and finally arriving at your new destination.

Throughout the process of your change, spend some time alone to check in with how you’re feeling and to give yourself space to simply be.

If you feel resistance, enquire about what you are resisting and why. Is your resistance based on current reality? Or is it based on previous experiences that you are using as a filter for the way you see your current situation?

Approaching change with self-inquiry, an open heart and kindness to yourself, will enable you to flow through change, rather than resist it.

Susan is the founder and Yoga Teacher at Wild Places Yoga – a nature inspired yoga studio in Brisbane’s Bayside. 

By |April 15th, 2015|Nature, Wellness, Yoga|0 Comments

For more, Read: http://www.wildplacesyoga.com.au/yoga-to-navigate-change/


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8 Sattvic Foods to Help Balance Your Body and Mind


He who practices yoga without moderation of diet, incurs various diseases, and obtains no success.” (Gheranda Samhita 5/16)

A branch cannot survive on its own. It must connect to the tree trunk and roots in order to absorb the elements and thrive in nature.

Neither yoga nor Ayurveda are singular practices. They are more like branches on the tree of Vedic wisdom.

In order to maintain balance, there must be a constant exchange between the individual and the universe. The way we eat, breathe, drink, and live must be harmonious. When it is not, we are in a state of dis-ease.

This is the main philosophy of yoga: Mind, body, and spirit are one and cannot be separated. Yogic philosophies recognize food as being responsible for the growth of the body. This is why it is often called Brahman, or God.

Food is sacred.

In addition to yoga and meditation, food plays an important role in balancing the body from within. If you are looking to achieve physical strength, sound mind, good health, and longevity, you’ll want to shift your focus to sattvic foods. These are the purest types of food you can consume, according to Ayurvedic principles.

Sattvic foods can help enhance your practice and promote a calm mind and fit body with a balanced flow of energy between the two. The soul depends on the body and the body depends on food.

The basic principles of the sattvic diet consist of light and easily digestible food. Many are sun foods, meaning they grow above ground, and have a fast effect on the body’s nervous and digestive systems.

Include the following foods in your daily diet to promote holistic wellness and to help bring your mind, body, and soul into alignment.

  1. Ghee

Ghee, sometimes called clarified butter, is sweet tasting, cold, and heavy. This is one of the most talked about sattvic foods because its importance has been reflected upon in the ancient Vedas. Rice mixed with ghee and soma juice is considered the diet of God. Because there are different Ayurvedic elements in different types of milk, the properties of ghee will depend on its source. The most common, and most often recommended, is ghee from cow’s milk. Milk is unique because it contains the best nutrients a mother can provide. And ghee is considered the essence of milk. Incorporating ghee in Ayurvedic treatment is as easy as making it at home, a process that can be completed in about 30 minutes.

  1. Sprouted Whole Grains

According to sattvic tradition, grains should be a vital part of every meal. Yogis may sometimes fast from grains, but they are included as an important part of a sattvic diet. Whole sprouted grains provide nourishment and are symbolic of health, happiness, and prosperity. Consider adding sprouted rice, spelt, oatmeal, and barley to your meals. There’s a great deal of variety, so you can easily include a grain with every meal. Just be sure to avoid leavened breads.

  1. Fresh Organic Fruit

For the most part, any fresh organic fruit can be included in the sattvic diet, but there are some exceptions. Avocados and tomatoes are considered rajasic and should never be consumed in excess. But you’re safe to eat most fruits, including apples, bananas, berries, grapes, melons, oranges, peaches, and plums. These are considered especially sattvic. Yogis may also fast from fruits, but otherwise, they are an important part of the sattvic diet. They are considered symbols of generosity and spirituality. Eating fruits and vegetables is believed to increase one’s magnetism.

  1. Honey

Honey is on the short list of sweeteners that is acceptable to use in moderation in a sattvic diet.    Brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrates, maple syrup, sucanat, and sugar cane juice are also acceptable in moderation. Avoid processed white sugar if at all possible.

  1. Organic Land and Sea Vegetables

You’d be safe eating almost any vegetable on a sattvic diet, but you may run into trouble if you’re in the habit of cooking with garlic and onions. These vegetables, along with hot peppers, mushrooms, and potatoes are not considered sattvic. Stick with mild, organic veggies, such as beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green leafies, sweet potatoes, and squash. Juicing vegetables is a fast and easy way to access their prana (life-giving force).

  1. Nuts, Seeds, and Oils

Soaking nuts and seeds overnight will remove their natural enzyme inhibitors and make them easier for your body to digest. Choose fresh, pure nuts or seeds. If they have been overly roasted or salted, they lose their sattvic properties. Almonds, hemp seeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds are all great choices. Most oils should be consumed raw, but some can be used in cooking. These include ghee, sesame oil, and coconut oil.

  1. Legumes

Legumes are another important part of a sattvic diet, and the smaller the better. Smaller beans, such as mung beans, split peas, and lentils, are easier to digest. You may also enjoy chickpeas, aduki beans, and organic tofu. For a complete protein source, combine legumes with whole grain.

  1. Herbs

Herbs directly support the mind and are often used in conjunction with meditation. Common sattvic herbs include:

Just as yoga and Ayurveda aren’t singular practices, neither is nutrition. These sattvic foods consumed on their own may have nutritional benefits, but do not expect to receive the full benefits of a sattvic diet unless you are taking a more holistic approach. In order to be in harmony with the way we eat, drink, breathe, and live, we must approach wellness from a higher perspective. Together, yoga, meditation, nutrition, and herbal supplements can help ground the body and enlighten the mind.


Read more: http://dailycupofyoga.com/2016/10/24/8-sattvic-foods-to-help-balance-your-body-and-mind/

 

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