Can You Challenge Yourself To Master The Uncomfortable?

Yoga is about finding a balance between the comfortable and the uncomfortable.

Do you struggle with a specific posture in your yoga practice? When I first started practicing yoga back in 2014, I was terribly afraid of crow pose. I could not balance myself on my hands. Crow pose was hard and uncomfortable and scary at the same time. I was so afraid that I was going to fall flat on my face each time I lifted my feet off from the floor.

That fear of falling on my face made me seriously uncomfortable when we were asked to do crow pose in our yoga classes.  However, I was someone who loved challenges. I wanted to do crow pose so badly! So I decided to master the uncomfortable. I practiced crow diligently in each and every single one of my yoga classes. After a few months I was able to lift both my feet off from the ground! I was so happy!

Then, I decided to become a certified yoga instructor. I pursued the 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2015. And during my teacher training, I was asked to teach a whole class of beginners how to do crow pose! I was so nervous because my crow was not perfect. And even though I was told that my crow didn’t have to be perfect for me to teach people how to do crow, I wanted to be able to hold crow pose for at least 5 seconds.

I practiced crow so many times during my teacher training that I had bruises on my triceps. I challenged myself to master the uncomfortable. I challenged myself to still the fear in my mind of falling down. I worked on improving my focus and concentration because this is a very important factor in crow pose.

I no longer fear crow pose now. Because when you set your mind to challenge the uncomfortable, you will eventually be able to fly. Crow pose helped me improve my focus and concentration. It also helped improve my core strength over the years. But most of all, it gave me the courage to master the uncomfortable.

Do you have the courage to master the uncomfortable in your life?

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Yoga for Depression: 5 Effective Poses That Can Curb the Negativity

Yoga for Depression: 5 Effective Poses That Can Curb the Negativity

At some point of time in our lives, we have all felt low and depressed. We have often questioned who we really are and whether we are good enough or not. It is very natural to be happy at some point in time and sad at the next. However, the concern arises when these changes in your mood persist for a fairly long period of time and interfere with your daily life. An individual with depression often finds himself spending long hours isolated from family, friends and others who matter. Disturbed sleep patterns, changes in eating habits and excessive mood swings are some of the characteristic symptoms of depression.

While there is medical help available to enable one to tackle with depression, another means of bringing in positivity is yoga. According to a study done by Boston University School of Medicine in the US, joining yoga classes can help patients experience significant reduction in symptoms without the side effects associated with antidepressants. The power of yoga has cured innumerable health problems since time immemorial. With depression too, yoga comes to the rescue of individuals. Often known to improve physical health, yoga works wonders in the case of your mental health and well-being as well. It is a natural and simple way of helping you overcome fears and improving self-esteem and self-worth.

“This study supports the use of yoga and coherent breathing intervention in major depressive disorder in people who are not on antidepressants and in those who have been on a stable dose of antidepressants and have not achieved a resolution of their symptoms,” explained corresponding author Chris Streeter, Associate Professor at the University. The findings, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, provide support for the use of yoga-based interventions as an alternative or supplement to pharmacologic treatments for depression

Yoga is believed to relax the mind and lower the heart rate thus reducing anxiety, which comes along with depression. It is built on the philosophy of helping one live in the moment, mitigating negative thoughts and focusing on all good things that life sends our way.

Lamya Arsiwala, The Yoga House Mumbai, suggests several yoga Asanas that could be practiced to enhance one’s state of mind in case of depression.

1. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly/ Bound Angle Posture)

It is often referred to as the “Cobbler pose”, named after the position cobblers sit in while working. The asana helps strengthen the thighs, knees, hips and the back. It is a great anti-depressant pose and improves emotional stability.

How to do: Sit with an upright back, knees bent and holding your feet tightly together. Deeply inhale and flap your bent legs up and down like a butterfly.

butterfly pose

2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Bound Angle Posture)

Supta means reclining. It is often referred to as the “reclined cobbler pose”. This asana helps one become calm and instills a sense of relaxation.

How to do: Lie down straight on the ground with bent knees on either side of the body. Join your feet and bring the heels closer to your groin. Place your palms next to your hips, facing downwards. Slowly exhale and inhale.

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Photo Credit: pranamayayogamedia/instagram

3. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)

This asana relieves fatigue and relaxes the mind. Since it is called the baby pose, the individual practicing the asana really feels the happiness of a baby in that moment.

How to do: Lie down on your back, bringing your knees closer to your stomach. Inhale and hold your feet with your hands. If you have difficulty holding your feet then hold on to your ankles in the beginning and progress towards heel as you continue to do the pose daily. Breathe gently and rock from one side to the other if you feel comfortable.

happy baby pose

4. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

It is a great asana for reducing stress and anxiety. It takes the shape of a bridge and hence the name. It also helps maintain normal blood pressure.

How to do: Lie flat on the ground, face up and hands on either side. Slowly lift your hips upwards while inhaling. Bring it back down and repeat.

bridge pose

5. Child’s Pose

An extremely soothing posture, the child’s pose helps achieve peace and is a great relaxation technique.

How to do: Sit on your knees. Slowly exhale and bring your torso down between your thighs. Place your hands on the floor alongside your torso and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor

child pose

Practicing these asanas on a regular basis will help overcome depression and improve mental health and well-being tremendously.

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5 More Reasons to Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors

Spring has sprung, so it’s time to get your ass-ana outside! Spending time in nature is known to have profound effects on our physical and mental well-being. Combine that with your yoga practice and you have yourself a yogi euphoria.

So in case this article didn’t quite convince you before, here are five more reasons to bring your yoga practice outdoors and surrounded by nature’s beauty.

1. You can ‘look up to the sky’…literally.

Yoga teachers in class often cue students to, “reach your hands down to the earth,” or to “turn your gaze up to the sky,” while practicing at an indoors studio. However, when we take our practice outside, these cues become more than just figurative language. They ain’t kiddin’!

When you do reach your hands down to the earth, you can literally touch the earth. Feel the grass between your fingers. Spy little critters pass you by. And when you do turn your gaze up to the sky, you can literally look at the sky. See the clouds moving in the breeze. Watch birds gliding through the air.

Physically moving our bodies and engaging with nature as it surrounds us inspires a sense of connection to the Earth, and appreciation for the beauty and wonder of nature. It’s a nudge to remember that we don’t just live in our own little bubbles, but we are a part of a greater scheme of life.

2. The Added Benefits of Earthing

Millions of years ago, our ancestors spent much more time than us 2017 humans do walking barefoot on the earth. However, nowadays, science is showing that there are many benefits to walking barefoot on real earth (concrete jungles don’t count).

Walking barefoot is good for your feet because it allows the many, many muscles and joints in your feet, ankles, and toes to work in a way that they don’t normally do while constricted in shoes. Even indoor yoga helps with this because we practice yoga barefoot anyways. BUT, let’s take it to the next level and practice barefoot outside.

Earthing (also known as grounding) is the scientific concept of receiving the Earth’s surface electrons through the physical connection between skin and the ground. Electrons are charged particles found in atoms—the building blocks of matter (everything is made of atoms). In a paper published by the Journal of Environmental Public Health, the authors state that,

“It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive (except in limited ultra dry areas such as deserts), and its negative potential is maintained (i.e., its electron supply replenished) by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.”

Talk about energy. The authors believe that reconnecting our bodies with the earth has many benefits including reduced pain and better sleep due to the effect that this energy has on our hormone levels (like the stress hormone cortisol) and free radical oxidation.

3. Get Inspired

Many yoga poses gained their names from plants and animals. Practicing yoga outside allows the yogi to embody the sense of the pose while actually looking at what inspired that pose.

For example, harness the stability and strength of a tree while you stand grounded in Vrksasana (Tree pose). Take flight into Kakasana (Crow pose) and feel like the birds flying above you.

4. Be More Present

Being surrounded by nature awakens our senses. Our eyes can see long distances and natural colors, instead of the tiny, blue-light screen of our phones that our eyes are so often glued to. Our ears can pick up birds chirping in the distance and the breeze blowing around us. Our skin absorbs the warmth of the sunshine’s natural heat waves.

With these senses awakened, we can be more present in life in each moment with no distractions.

Spending time outside also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. With lower levels of stress, we can ease into a deeper state of relaxation and enjoy the present moment.

5. Dose of Vitamin D

Before you pop a pill, sit your body under some sunshine. It is very common for Vitamin D levels to decrease during the winter months, so now that the sun’s out, you get the all-natural source for the essential Vitamin D. Go and get it!

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What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class

By Tieja MacLaughlin

We’ve all been there, our first yoga class.

Are you nervous? Don’t be. Even the most confident of us were.

First things first though – congratulations on making it this far! It takes courage to try something new, and you should be proud of yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

So what should you expect in your first class, and what do you need to know before stepping into a yoga studio?

This list should help you out.

What to Wear

You don’t need to be outfitted in the latest, high-end yoga brands to fit in. When it comes to your threads, just make sure they’re comfortable, light, and breathable. This is especially important if your class is in a heated studio. Also remember, yoga is practiced in bare feet – make sure you take your shoes off in the lobby!

What to Bring – Tools of the Trade

A mat is really the only essential item you’ll need. As you develop your practice, your mat becomes a sort-of extension of yourself. If you don’t want to invest in one right away, that’s OK, there are rentals available.

A mat towel and water bottle are other items you are encouraged to bring. Mat towels are slightly different than shower towels. They are lighter and more absorbent. You can also rent these.

Depending on the type of class you take, blocks, straps, blankets, or therapy balls may also be used. These items are free for you to use.

Yoga hack: If you’re in a pinch, a shower towel or even an extra layer of clothing can serve as a mat towel to give your sweaty hands some grip.

Pre-Yoga Grub

Staying hydrated is the most important take away here. A light snack and glass of water will prevent you from feeling faint, and also help your body keep up with the physical demands of your practice. Stay away from heavy carbs though – your stomach will thank you.

Arrive Early

No, really. Get to class early. Yoga is all about escaping the chaos and tuning out the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and instructors take this very seriously. The instructor is always the final person to enter the studio, so simply put, don’t expect to sneak into a class late. It won’t happen. Arriving early also affords you prime real estate when selecting your mat space. 15 minutes should do the trick.

Yoga hack: Usually, beginners set up their mats towards the back of the room. But this isn’t mandatory, so don’t let it deter you from going front and center!

Photo: Tieja MacLaughlin

What if I Can’t Do a Pose?

Then don’t. Yoga is a personal journey, and the studio is a judgment-free zone. That’s the cool thing about it. If you don’t feel comfortable in a pose, simply hang out in child’s pose or downward dog. When you’re ready to continue, jump back in with the rest of the class.

Savasana, Namaste and other Yogi Lingo

You’ll likely hear words throughout your practice that you won’t necessarily understand. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to take a Rosetta Stone course to translate them.

Savasana is how you begin and end your practice – laying on your back on your mat with your eyes closed.

Namaste translates loosely to, “the light within me bows to the light within you.” It’s said aloud collectively at the end of practice, while sitting cross-legged with your palms pressed together at your chest.

Yoga hack: If you get stuck, just take a peak around the room and copy the poses you see others doing.


Talking in the studio is a major faux pas. There is also a strict no cellphone policy. So no, you won’t be able to snap a pic for Instagram. What you will leave with though, is clarity and a renewed sense of stillness.

I think you’ll find yoga to be a highly spiritual personal journey, and even a bit of an addiction.

Welcome to your first day of class.


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3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion


3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion

Who hasn’t heard of the far spreading glory of  yoga? This ancient form of exercise, which focuses a lot on breathing, is known to bring about various health benefits if performed regularly. It comes equipped with all kinds of asanas for all kinds of issues. There’s something for everyone. Of course the best time to perform these exercises is early morning, but not all of us can stick by it. So then we resort to alternate means. There are also yoga asanas that you can perform at other times of the day, including after dinner.

Yoga poses after dinner are said to help one digest the food better, making it less heavy for the stomach. It empowers your body’s digestion and improves the health of your organs. When we eat, the food goes down into the stomach, wherein digestive enzymes are secreted that help in the breakdown of the food. While performing yoga, there are poses that focus on stretching, strength and flexibility that can be quite strenuous. Now if you perform such exercises post dinner, they can end up hampering your digestion process. So one therefore needs to be careful.

According to Zubin Atre, the founder at AtreYoga, “there are a bunch of micro asanas we can do when it comes to our lower body because after dinner the food is still there in our torso.”

They include:

  • You can do some hand rotations, stretching of fingers and arms, ankle rotation as well.
  • You can also do some swift basic movements of the neck, sit on a chair facing the wall and imagine that there is a ball between your chin and the chest and squeeze the ball as much as you can. This is to stretch the muscles of your back and the neck along the spine.
  • Another movement of the neck involves moving it in all the directions north, south, east and west, and stretch the muscles.
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Yoga Asanas Post Dinner

 1. Gomukhasana

 Gomukhasana or cow face pose is an asana which “helps in stretching the spine and the stomach muscles which helps in making the digestion process easy,” says Abhishek, a yoga expert at Mystic Yoga Café.

How to do: Fold your left leg and place your ankle near to the left hip, now place your right leg on the left leg such that both the knees touch each other after this take both the hands at the back such that the right-hand holds the left hand. Keep your spine straight and take deep breaths for about 1 minute. Repeat the same process after changing the position as well.

2. VajraasanaAlso known as Adamintine Pose, Vajraasana is the most beneficial yoga pose after dinner. Experts suggest that any movement which helps in stretching the upper body and abdomen and relaxes your breathing is a good posture after dinner. It is often advised to practice yoga with an empty stomach but this is one such exceptional asana which is more beneficial when practiced after a meal because it promotes digestion.

How to do: Sit by folding both the legs and placing them on your hips, now keep your palm on the knees. Keep your spine straight and take deep breaths and concentrate fully on the breath. Stay in the same position for about 10 minutes.



3. Ardha Chandraasana

 Ardha Chandrasana or half-moon pose is another good yoga pose to try after dinner as standing and side stretching (to stretch the stomach and abdomen) help in digestion, suggests Abhishek.

How to do: Stand straight on your yoga mat; lift your right hand to bend side ways to your left side and try to touch the ground from your left hand. Repeat the same by changing the hand position for about 10 minutes.



 The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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Meditation and Aging

By Aditi Dave, MD, and Jim Larsen

What happens in the body that causes aging? Scientists have discovered a fundamental process of aging in our cells that occurs on the strands of our DNA. This discovery won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009. This discovery is important to everyday life because we now know the speed of aging can move faster or slower and we have some control over the process. Aging can be seen to literally speed-up from stress and slowdown from meditation.

We have known for decades that meditation improved health by reducing stress, anxiety, improving cardiovascular function. Even beginning meditators report they feel calmer, happier, sleep better and have more energy. These benefits should be enough to encourage everyone to meditate as the cost and time involved is minimal compared to the rewards.

New research shows that the benefits of meditation are far greater than previously thought as it produces changes at the deepest level of our brain, cells, and DNA. In addition to living healthier and happier from meditation, the deeper changes could bring dramatic improvements in longevity and cognitive function in old age.

Meditation also helps us stay healthier throughout life, not just live longer. Our cells are always aging and the faster they age the more susceptible we become to disease, so the benefit of slowing the aging process also helps us remain healthier when we are young. The sooner we begin meditation the better, but research has found measurable changes in the brain after only 8 weeks of meditation, so it’s never too late to start. Studies on meditation have used many different methods of meditation and all were found to bring measurable benefits.


A stress response is triggered by an overwhelming experience or perceived threat. If you need to run away from danger a stress response will help you run faster and farther, but at a cost. A stress response is also triggered by simply thinking of something that worries or disturbs us. We don’t have to actually face a threat, just imagine one. The physical release of stress hormones is the same whether the trigger is from a real event or an imagined one.

There has been a revolution in medicine… recognizing the interactions between the body and the mind, the ways in which emotions and personality can have a tremendous impact on the functioning and health of virtually every cell in the body.”

~Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky, neuro-endocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University, in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Studies have found long-term activation of the stress-response can disrupt almost all the body’s processes and puts us at increased risk of numerous health problems. A 2002 press release from the National Institutes of Health states: “Stress hormones continue to wash through the system in high levels, never leaving the blood and tissues…[and] can have a hazardous, even lethal effect on the body.”


Scientists found that aging can be measured by the length of a protective cap on the ends of our chromosomes called “telomeres” and by the presence of “telomerase,” an enzyme that protects the telomeres from the wear and tear of cellular division. In 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomeres.

The length of telomeres indicates the remaining lifespan of a cell, the amount that a cell can continue to divide and replicate normally. Telomeres naturally become shorter with age, but research shows this aging process doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone. Shortened telomeres are associated with weakened immune system function, heart disease, and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Many diseases previously common only in the elderly are now affecting many young people.

Telomerase is an enzyme that prevents telomeres from becoming shorter. Plus it can also add length back to the telomeres, which increases cell longevity. Telomerase activity is a predictor of the long-term viability of cells.

A 2008 study showed that the stress hormone cortisol inhibits the activity of telomerase. The oxidative stress and inflammation which is the physiological fallout of stress appears to erode telomeres directly. Meditation is known to reduce cortisol.

A 2004 UC-San Francisco study led by Dr. Elissa Epel, that also included Nobel prize recipient Dr. Blackburn, found a significant correlation between shortened telomeres in subjects who lived with a lot of stress. The participants in the study were all pre-menopausal mothers caring for a child, including a group of caregivers who had a higher level of objective stress because of caring for a chronically ill child.

The greater amount of telomere shortening in the high-stress group indicates they had aged the equivalent of 9–17 additional years, compared with the low-stress group.

A 2013 Harvard Medical School study led by Dr. Elizabeth Hoge found relative telomere length was longer in women who practiced a loving kindness meditation compared to a control group that didn’t meditate. The longer participants had been practicing meditation the longer their telomeres were.

A study by Dr. Mary Armanios, MD at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, looked at the telomere lengths of over 2,000 Native Americans. Those who had the shortest telomeres were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes during the following five and a half years.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, the scientist who won the Nobel prize for discovering telomeres, states, “If people could see the impact of stress on their telomeres, they would have the motivation to change their lifestyle and be more willing to embrace a yoga or meditation practice.”


Studies show that after the age 35 there is a steady loss of brain volume, beginning at about 0.2% per year and accelerating to about .5% at age 60. After 60, the loss per year is even higher. This loss of brain volume contributes to early cognitive decline and premature death.

Those who meditate have been found to gain brain volume instead of losing it. In a 2007 study, neuroscientist Richard Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found an increase in grey matter and cortical thickness in key areas of the brain in meditators. Increased activity was also seen in brain regions used for paying attention and making decisions.

In a 2009 study published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers at UCLA used high-resolution MRI imaging to scan the brains of people who practiced various forms of meditation compared with a control group. All the meditators in the study showed significantly larger volumes in regions of the brain known for regulating emotions. The control group did not show any areas of the brain with significantly larger volumes or more gray matter than the meditating group.

In 2011, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital reported the analysis of MR images taken 2 weeks before and after an 8 week meditation program. They found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.


DNA is the blueprint of our physiology, and epigenetics is the field of study of how genes turn on or off in response to environmental and lifestyle cues. For all physiological and pathological processes, gene expression determines the final state of cells and their function.

A study on SKY Breathing Meditation found the practice immediately affected gene expression. This study compared gene expression after a session of SKY Breathing Meditation compared to a control group that went for a walk in nature and listened to classical music.

The findings showed four times more genetic expression in the SKY Breathing Meditation group than the control group and about 85% of the genes that were turned on or off were different than the control group. These genetic expression changes seemed to be global changes occurring very rapidly (within 2 hours of the SKY practice) and were associated with a 2.5 times longer life span in the white blood cells studied.


Another impressive finding was how quickly SKY Breathing Meditation achieved physiologic boosts in the cellular anti-oxidant defense system that protects us from “free-radicals” that accelerate cellular aging. Free-radicals are generated in the body naturally from essential metabolic processes and also from exposure to the environment (air pollution, x-rays, industrial chemicals and ozone to name a few).

Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione are the body’s way of scavenging free-radicals before they damage cells. A balance between free-radicals and antioxidant enzymes is essential for proper physiologic function. Stress increases free-radicals and if they exceed the body’s ability to regulate them, oxidative stress ensues, leading to altered lipids and proteins and damaged DNA, which can then trigger pre-mature cellular death leading to accelerated aging and disease.

One study on SKY Breathing Meditation looked at 42 practitioners who had practiced SKY for 1 year versus non-practitioners. The study took blood samples of each group and narrowed in on a particular white blood cell (the lymphocyte) and its antioxidant enzymes, as well as cell longevity.

The results showed a significantly better anti-oxidant status for all these antioxidant enzymes studied and an associated prolonged life span of the white blood cell, suggesting a powerful, positive effect on improving the antioxidant mechanisms of anti-aging in the body through SKY Breathing Meditation.

Another promising study looked at 24 healthy males from Police Training College Delhi, India. The study evaluated antioxidant levels in practitioners of SKY Breathing Meditation as compared to non-practitioners. The results found significantly improved antioxidant enzyme levels in practitioners of SKY Breathing Meditation at 5 months as compared to non-practitioners.


When stress responses are triggered chronically, less and less of a trigger is needed to set-off another one. When meditation is practiced regularly, the opposite trigger can be cultivated in the system. When a stress response occurs, a meditator might simply take a deep breath, or consciously bring their attention to their mind or body and a calming response is spontaneously triggered thereby quickly reversing the stress response.

Long-time meditators show less activity in an area of the brain known as the “default mode network,” which is linked to self-centered thinking. A brain imaging study at Yale University found people who regularly meditate switch off areas of the brain linked to such states as daydreaming and anxiety.

An EEG study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied an effortless form of meditation where there was no attempt to control the content of the mind. They found marked changes in electrical brain wave activity associated with wakeful, relaxed attention when comparing the same subjects resting without applying any specific meditation technique.


In a wide spectrum of meditation studies a large variety of techniques were found to reduce stress to some degree. The most effective techniques bring a deep state of rest to the mind and body as shown by reduced cortisol in circulation, and a decreased sympathetic overdrive of the nervous system and brain. Depending on the technique, the meditative experience of a person and the regularity of practice, the depth of the immediate rest, and long-term benefits could be significantly varied.

Many simple techniques can bring a degree of relaxation while other meditation techniques take one well beyond relaxation to a state of deep meditation where the mind is quiet and may even have moments of no thoughts. Just a few minutes of such a deep meditative state can bring enormous benefits in rejuvenating the mind and body.

Many folks give up meditation because the hyper-stimulated mind interferes with quieting down. This is driven by the chronically sympathetic-driven nervous system, which is fueled by our demanding lives, constant multi-tasking, and over-stimulated environment.

If you identify with this, and are inspired to either learn meditation or deepen your current meditation practice, one user-friendly and highly efficient program is SKY Breathing Meditation. Using the breath is a naturally efficient and easy way to shift the nervous system and mental activity into meditation because of the direct connection between breath and mind.

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80% of Top Business Leaders Meditate

80% of top business leaders meditate, at least according to entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss who has interviewed over 200 world-class performers for his weekly podcast The Tim Ferriss Show.  Ferriss said that the number one common thread these top performers had in comparison to most other people is that more than 80% of them were using some form of daily meditation practice to get better results in business.

Ferriss himself practices Transcendental Meditation and said, “I find that meditation is very very helpful for avoiding anxiety and it’s the reset button for the rest of the day… it’s basically a warm bath for your brain.”

Ferriss admits that he was initially a little reluctant to learn to meditate himself saying,

“Rick Rubin and Chase Jarvis convinced me to bite the bullet on the cost when I was going through a particularly hard period in my life. I’m glad they did.  The social pressure of having a teacher for 4 consecutive days was exactly the incentive I needed to meditate consistently enough to establish the habit,”

Meditation has become popular on Wall Street in recent years with thousands of Wall Street professionals taking up the practice.  Most prominent among those is Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio who has been meditating for 40 years and 8 years ago introduced the practice to his 700 employees.

Dalio credits Transcendental Meditation for his billion dollar success, saying, “Meditation more than any other factor has been the reason for whatever success I’ve had… It’s the ability to be centered and to approach things in a calm, centered way without all those fears, just analyzing what’s true.”

Meditation has gone coast to coast in America, with Silicon Valley adopting the practice as a means to increase creativity, reduce stress and improve health.  Recently Google invited Meditation teacher Bob Roth to speak at their Google Zeitgeist event where Roth spoke about the numerous scientifically documented benefits of meditating.

“I’m data driven. I don’t want to have to believe in anything on face value… You don’t have to believe in anything, you can be 100% skeptical. It’ll give your body deep rest, it’ll wake up your brain.”

Sounds like something we can all use.

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Why the Headstand is Known as the King of All Yoga Poses

Why the Headstand is Known as the King of All Yoga Poses

We come to yoga to feel good but it’s not that simple always. Sometimes we come to battle our worst fears or unleash special courage and endurance which may not have existed before. That’s the kind of possibility you can discover when you step onto the yoga mat.

Let me be honest, I did get a mini panic attack when my instructor asked me to try the headstand during my very first yoga class. I wasn’t quite thrilled to turn my world upside down. If you’re attempting a headstand for the first time it can be a bit intimidating. I was scared of breaking my neck and when I somehow got there I couldn’t stay balanced for more than half a second! I’m no Yogi, yet there I was trying a second attempt which was far less successful. But more importantly, I got a sense of why it’s worth learning this new skill.

Yoga guru Mini Shastri tells me that the headstand when mastered and practiced with dedication is one of the most invigorating and energizing yoga poses. Mini points out that the Sirasanana (sirsa means the head) or the Headstand has a great anti-gravity effect that improves your circulation and helps internal organs regain their efficiency.

“Inverted postures especially the headstand and shoulder stand are unique innovations of our Yoga practice. They assist the venous flow of blood towards the heart which engorges with blood while in headstand, thus strengthening the muscles of the heart. In Yogic parlance, the headstand powers a sluggish Apana Vayu which means that it facilitates the downward and outward flow of energy from the body. At the same time, the Agni or the digestive fire also gets powered. This helps in cleaning the intestines while releasing congested blood in the colon and thus, improving digestion,” she says.

There is no right way to get into the pose as long as you practice safely. However, there is a wrong way. Don’t jump into a headstand. If you don’t have core and shoulder strength, you’re not ready to attempt a headstand. The weight on the head is only about thirty per cent while the rest of the body bears most of the pressure. The vertebrae of the neck, the shoulders with all their supporting muscles and the core have to be prepared over many sessions to practice the headstand. Yoga instructor Mini Shastri suggests few things to consider before going up:

1. The arms, shoulders, pectorals and stomach have to be strong enough to take the weight off the delicate neck. Practicing poses like the boat pose, dolphin plank and wide legged forward bend can really help.

2. The breaths especially the out breath have to be long in order to power the effects of the pose. You cannot practice this pose if your breath is laboured and clumsy.

3. Build the stamina to hold the pose with time. Headstands should be practiced diligently till when you can hold the pose for at least 5 minutes. You may start with 1-2 minutes.

4. It can be done every day except during a woman’s period cycle.

5. The headstand brings alertness and wakefulness thus should be attempted in the day and not before bed time.

To begin, perform the headstand against wall for support and only under the supervision of an experienced trainer. A headstand is not a quick fix, it’s all about recognizing and nourishing. In case you’re wondering, I’m still trying to perfect mine with little success.

Watch this great video for guidance

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5 Positive Ways Yoga Affects Your Mind

Although many individuals relish in their yoga practice for physical health benefits, there is just as much of a reason to love yoga for its mental health benefits. In the past few years, yoga and other mind-body practices have been a topic of interest for researchers in the psychology field, exploring its benefits for individuals working to improve their psychological well being. There is an increasing number of communities, such as hospitals, rehab centers and transitional homes incorporating yoga into their programming for improving mental health in many individuals.

Through research, yoga has been proven to help decrease stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and many other mental health issues. Yoga works by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the “fight or flight” response, which is typically responsible for constricting blood vessels and raising heart rate and blood pressure. The breathing practices in yoga calm the nervous system overall and give us the time to reset.

Here are a few psychological qualities that yoga can cultivate:

1. Mindfulness.

A lot of yoga practice focuses on using the breath as the main guide through movement. This gives us the experience of tuning into the present moment and increasing overall awareness. Many yoga teachers also encourage their students to let go of judgment toward themselves and accept where they are in their practice. By being in tune with our body movement and breath at the same time, we are practicing ways to be mindful both on the mat and in our daily life.

2. Self-compassion.

Because yoga requires commitment, it teaches us the importance of self-care and self-love. Along with letting go of judgment, it encourages us to love where we are and who we are. Yoga teaches us to appreciate that we are each perfectly imperfect and to embrace the diversity that we each bring to our yoga classes. We learn to encourage ourselves to maintain a holistic self-care practice that includes making time to care for our mind, body, emotions and spirituality in a non-judgmental and accepting way.

3. Resilience.

Yoga teaches us to take a step back, let go of our ego, and stick to our goals. The best way to improve in your yoga practice is through patience, especially for those who are just beginning their practice. It’s a challenge to let go of comparison, but it takes time to build a solid yoga practice and we learn that along the way. It teaches us to breathe through difficult postures just as we would through life challenges. We learn to find stillness during times of discomfort and find our breath during times when we need it the most.

4. Insight.

One of the most impactful qualities to gain from yoga is the appreciation that you’re always learning and growing. Yoga gives you the opportunity to pause, reflect and set intentions for your practice that are parallel to your life intentions. You’re persistently checking in with yourself and asking yourself what it is that you need in that very moment in time. Yoga encourages us to always work toward being the best possible version of ourselves, but remaining open-minded and open-hearted during the process.

5. Purpose.

Yoga classes help build community and make people feel that they are part of something bigger. This is also applicable to the spiritual practice that comes from yoga that reminds us of elements of gratitude and aliveness. Yoga is a community here we can find support and a sense of belonging if you take the time to get to know those you’re practicing with. So, don’t be afraid to say hello next time you place your mat next to someone in class.

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Yoga as Preventive Medicine

Yoga as Preventive Medicine: An Ancient Philosophy to Address a Modern Chronic Disease Epidemic

As a Preventive and Lifestyle Medicine Physician and Interdisciplinary Yoga Instructor, I appreciate the power of lifestyle, movement and mind-body practices like yoga to bring greater balance into our lives, improve our health and prevent future disease.

This is the focus of The Whole Cure Lifestyle Transformation virtual group coaching programs, in which participants delve deeper into living a life aligned with their core values and deepest passions. Participants explore concepts and powerful exercises as they build the tools needed to start living in a way that awakens the spirit, feeds the heart and nourishes the whole body, soul, mind and spirit! Join the next small group Mindset Module now!

The burden of chronic lifestyle-related diseases is rapidly increasing worldwide, contributing to over 60% of deaths globally. Emerging research suggests that mind-body practices like yoga can impact a wide variety of lifestyle-related diseases. Yoga has been shown to be a powerful form of preventive medicine for conditions like obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic back pain.


Obesity rates in the US and worldwide have reached epidemic levels along with accompanying metabolic dysfunction. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 with 39% of adults worldwide overweight in 2014. While many factors contribute to obesity, yoga has been shown to help people tune into their bodies and become more aware of their habits and lifestyle issues. Research suggests that yoga appears to be an appropriate intervention for weight maintenance, prevention of obesity and the reduction of diseases which are associated with obesity.


Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common imbalance in the body and an important risk factor for stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. Yoga modulates the physiological stress response in the body and therefore has been shown to be an effective means for modulating heart rate and blood pressure. Small but significant reductions in blood pressure were shown in as little as three weeks of daily yoga. Through stress reduction, increased parasympathetic nervous system activation and altered baroreceptor function, yoga as been shown to impact the cardiovascular system which may make it an effective adjunct therapy for patients with elevated blood pressure.

Low Back Pain

Mechanical low back pain is another common reason for physician visits, disability and discomfort. Research has also shown that yoga can benefit those suffering from chronic back pain. Carefully adapted yoga poses may reduce low-back pain and improve function, quality of life, anxiety, depression and insomnia. In one study, participants who practiced yoga had significantly less disability, pain and depression after six months. Another study compared yoga with conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book and showed that yoga improved function and reduced lower back pain with results lasting 14 weeks longer than in the self-care handbook group.

Although more research is needed to definitely explore modalities such as yoga, there is so much promise for this mind-body practice!

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