Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be flexible, vegan, or young to practice yoga; it’s truly for everyone! Yogis come in all shapes and sizes and is accessible to people at all levels no matter the age. You can go to a class, just being you, and slowly but surely achieve your best self. Usually, yoga studios have many different level classes and the instructors can help you to modify poses if you are a beginner or want more of a challenge.
Here are just a few reasons to include yoga in your routine:
As a society, we are overloaded with stress, so it’s no surprise that people are attracted to yoga. Yoga is a wonderful way to relax at the end of a day, ground yourself, find center, and decrease anxiety to bring your body back into balance. Try a Yin yoga class or Restorative yoga class.
Do you want long, lean muscles? Many yoga poses increase muscle tone by activating your core, large and small muscles groups all at once. Over time, you’ll be able to flex those toned yoga arms 💪 with confidence and get yourself ready for arm balances you’ve seen on Instagram!
Yoga is a wonderful compliment to other forms of exercise. Where other activities like running or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) can make your muscles tight, yoga can support you to lengthen and create dimension in your body. Using your muscles in different ways will also help to prevent injury.
Flowing through a sun salutation is the perfect way to energize your body and mind while articulating the curves of your spine in order to keep it healthy. Sun salutations are typically done in the morning, but can be practiced any time you need a pick-me-up. So, skip the morning cup of coffee ☕ and practice these seven yoga poses for more energy!
Due to sedentary lifestyles and desk jobs, many people are dealing with back pain and poor posture as a result of lost articulation of the curves of the spine. Yoga, when practiced regularly, can help reverse the damage that sitting and slouching cause by bringing out these natural curves. Poses that lengthen the sides of the waist, broaden your chest or back, and help you learn pelvic orientation can be very beneficial for you. Good yoga posture teaches every part of your body to bear its own weight as an alternative of relying on other muscles to carry the load.
If you’re injured, yoga can aid you in rebuilding and learning your body on a deeper level to prevent future ailments. Many athletes work the same muscle groups over and over causing the muscles and joints to wear out over time. Yoga helps joints stay healthy and mobile, while working the entire body to make sure you’re strong enough to support the body parts that get the most wear and tear. Start slow and when possible work with a yoga teacher who can show you how to modify poses based on any injuries you may have as well as, learn poses to avoid.
Caution: Not all yoga poses are suitable for everyone. Always consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice. Modify poses with yoga props like blocks and blankets. Always practice yoga poses within your own range.
Baby Cradle pose or Leg Cradle pose, is a seated hip-opener that also stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles. It is a slight variation of pigeon pose and is sometimes also known as rock the baby pose. Although this pose is considered a beginner level yoga asana, its benefits can be profound. This asana is a wonderful yet gentle preparation for meditation and for more challenging asanas, such as full lotus and pigeon pose.
How to do Hindolasana
1. Begin in Dandasana / Staff Pose.
2. Inhale and lift your right leg up.
3. Place your right foot on your left forearm, and your right knee on your right forearm.
4. Clasp for fingers and bring your right shin close to your chest.
5. Twist your upper body to right side and then to your left side.
To come out of this pose, release your foot and sit in Dandasana / Staff Pose.
Repeat the sequence on your left side for the same length of time.
If this pose causes your lower back to round, or doesn’t feel good for your knee, try a seated figure four stretch instead, planting your feet on the floor and your palms or fingertips on the floor behind you. Lean back (keeping a long spine); cross your right ankle over your left thigh, keeping your right foot flexed; and walk your hands back until you find a position where you’re able to maintain a gentle curve in your lower back.
Caution: Do not attempt this pose if you have knee or hip injury.
Yin Yoga, is a quiet yoga practice with long held poses structured to access your connective tissues, while healing both your physical and energetic body. The tissues accessed by yin yoga are responsible for 47% of your body's limited range of motion. By holding specific yoga asanas (poses) for 3-20 minutes, we can create ample space to allow rest and relaxation into our lives; while offering new depths of flexibility and quiet peaceful thoughts into our overthinking minds.
Practice these postures sequentially as listed above, allowing for 3-6 minutes in each pose. The postures that are suggested here can be held for less time if needed. Be certain to honor your practice, and release sooner or change the angle of the pose if you begin to feel pain or sharp sensation arises. Get creative with how you navigate your experience, and be sure to give yourself at least 1-2 minutes between postures, especially when first practicing Yin. Static, muscular holds and even some slow, controlled dynamic movement are also appropriate ways to transition. It is normal to feel some fragility as you exit a posture, and that sensation may stay present for a minute or two. Finish your practice with Savasana for at least 5-10 minutes.
Caution: Not all yoga poses are suitable for everyone. Always consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice.
As summer kicks in to high gear, more people begin to travel; but that doesn’t mean that you can’t practice yoga while travel. When we travel some of the first things to go are our daily routines, our eating habits and of course our yoga practice. We become so wrapped up in the excitement of adventure and the experiences that we often forget or don’t make the time to let it all sink in. Bringing your mat on your trip, making time connect to your breath and inner thoughts will allow you to go beyond your edge; to see your true self, where fear and judgement don’t exist, and balance is restored to your mind, body and soul.
Traveling allows you the space to learn more about yourself and the world around you, while yoga gives you the awareness to choose what to take and what to leave behind that which no longer serves your highest good.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. ~ Anonymous
Here are 5 reasons to bring your yoga mat along with you when you travel:
Traveling is one of the many things people do for fun, excitement and the joy found in experiencing new things. Traveling encourages us to see the world from different points of view and helps us grow as individuals.
However, traveling can also be stressful. The planning, the long haul flights or not knowing what to expect upon arrival can leave us feeling tired and stressed before we reach our destination. Practicing yoga while you travel will not only relieve stress in these types of circumstances through mindful breathing and stretching, it will also boost immunity, relieve tension, balance internal systems such as the lymphatic system and regulate hormones. All of which will lead to a much more enjoyable trip.
If you are traveling with your significant other, family, or a group, yoga is the perfect opportunity to take a moment out for yourself and connect back to your body. This doesn’t mean you have to take hours out of the day to do this; a quick asana practice followed by a few minutes of meditation can have you feeling energized and ready to recommit with renewed optimism and enthusiasm.
Connect with Nature
There is something to be said for taking your shoes off and feeling the earth beneath your feet, or sitting at the ocean listening to the waves. One of the best things about traveling abroad with your yoga mat is the ability to choose an outdoor setting for your practice. Remote areas can offer cool soil, the ocean and beaches with soft sand and amazing views; where you can see the sun touch the edge of world. What a wonderful way to practice in places like these where you can feel one with The Divine.
Be Present and Grateful
Sometimes it’s hard to be present while traveling. The new environment can have you on a natural high with so many places to visit and things to see and do; it’s easy to get swept away.
Yoga teaches us to appreciate the moments that shape our lives. It teaches us to take nothing for granted, to see beyond what our eyes are seeing, to actually feel what our hearts are needing. If we use our yoga in this way, we can breathe new life into our surroundings, we can find pleasure in things we take for granted and accept everyone for the value they bring to our lives.
Sometimes traveling can be scary; traveling off to unknown places, we don’t know what to expect. Yoga offers the ability to calm our mind through breathing and become truly aware of new surroundings like never before. Taking time out to step on our yoga mat during these times can allow us to see the path more clearly and take the road with less bumps along the way.
Practicing yoga and meditation while you travel can offer different experiences and alternative perspectives. Practicing yoga when you travel can encourage growth, celebrate our uniqueness and allow that positive energy to flow around the world.
Bon Voyage! Have a Great Trip! And don't forget your yoga mat! 😉
Mantras and chanting have been an integral part of the practice of yoga since the tradition began thousands of years ago. This practice is a key component of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. Chants or mantras are inspiring and evocative for those they resonate with, but they may exclude some yogis of different religions or non-religion. In the spirit of inclusion, here are some traditional chants that don’t necessarily refer to specific deities:
Om shanti shanti shanti
This Sanskrit mantra means “peace,” a uniting idea that aligns with most philosophies, ideologies, and religious beliefs. It may be used as a personal or global intention at the beginning, middle, or end of yoga practice.
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu
This translates to “may all beings be happy and free.” It is a powerful mantra/chant to perform at the end of practice when we may want clarity, a balanced mind/spirit, and peace upon other beings. One can follow up by setting a concrete intention to go out into the world and share the energy that’s been cultivated our yoga practice.
Om mani padme hum
One of the many interpretations of this chant is “the jewel is in the lotus,” which represents a yogi’s path to enlightenment. Much as one could peel back the hundreds of petals of a lotus flower to reach its center, as we peel away the layers of our identity (job titles, gender, wife, daughter, sister, husband, son, etc.), we discover the jewel within: our true self that has no identity.
Lam vam ram yam ham om
These sounds represent the 7 chakras. There are 7 major energy centers (aka chakras) in the human body. They run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. In Sanskrit, chakra translates into “wheel”. These “wheels” can be thought of as vortexes that both receive & radiate energy. Emotions, physical health, & mental clarity affect how well each chakra can filter energy. This in turn dictates how pure the energy is that’s emitted from different parts of the body.
Lam: Survival (root chakra)
Vam: Pleasure (sacral chakra)
Ram: Self-Esteem (solar plexus chakra)
Yam: Love (heart chakra)
Ham: Communication (throat chakra)
Om: Wisdom and intuition (third eye chakra)
Silence: Enlightenment (crown chakra)
All six seed sounds may be chanted in sequence, or may be chanted repeatedly alone.
The Opening Ashtanga Mantra (which I use in my Ashtanga practice) is a blessing of gratitude offered to the lineage of teachers and their students who have enabled this ancient practice to survive through thousands of years so that we can experience its benefits today. The recitation of this mantra is believed to cleanse the energy of the space we have chosen to practice yoga, as well as preparing the mind, body and emotions for the forthcoming Ashtanga sequence.
Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Svatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru
which awaken insight into the happiness of pure Being,
which are the refuge, the jungle physician,
which eliminate the delusion caused by the poisonous herb of Samsara (conditioned existence).
I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads (as the divine serpent, Ananta)
and who has, as far as his arms, assumed the form of a man
holding a conch shell (divine sound), a wheel (discus of light or infinite time) and a sword (discrimination).
There is no real implied deity here, but unlike many other chants, this one can be directed to a yogi’s deity of choice. Non-religious yogis may direct this chant to The Universe or even to their own intuition.
Try some of these chants in your next yoga practice. They can serve as a powerful way to bring clarity, focus and attention to the present moment.
The hips are the center of the body, connecting the upper body and the legs. Ancient yogis name this location in our bodies as the resting place of kundalini-shakti energy. When our hips are strong, balanced and flexible, they are the foundation for a yoga practice and a life that hold those same qualities.
Lizard Pose or Utthan Pristhasana in Sanskrit, comes from the words Utthan meaning “stretching out” and Pristha meaning “back of the body.” An alternate translation of Pristha is “page of a book,” an appropriate description as we hold many of our emotions in our hips. Lizard pose opens the hips and hamstrings while strengthening the inner thigh muscles of the front leg. The hips store an abundance of emotions so this stretch not only helps the muscles but also helps to release that stored energy allowing for healing and strength. Tight hamstrings are an indication of feeling stuck in our lives so this pose also helps us take on new strides and abound to new wonderful moments in our yoga journey.
How to do Lizard Pose
Begin in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), step your right foot forward between your hands. Heel-toe your foot towards the edge of your mat, so that your foot is slightly wider than your shoulders.
Let your hips grow heavy, so that they settle forward and down. Begin to walk your hands forwards until you are able to come down on to your forearms (You may place your forearms on the ground, or on a block). Either rest your hands palms facing down on the mat (as seen in the picture), or bring your hands together in prayer position.
Extend your heart forward, lengthening the spine. Try to soften the heart and draw the shoulder blades together, taking heed not to round your back.
Keep your right knee hugging towards your midline to get into the inner hip and thigh area of your right leg. You can keep your left knee lifted with your leg active, or for a more restorative version, you can lower your left knee (as seen in the picture).
Don’t worry if the forearms can’t come down onto the mat just yet. Work on softening into the hips as much as possible, and try placing a block underneath the elbows as you begin to find more openness in your hips. For those with sensitive knees, place some padding underneath the knee such as a rolled up yoga towel or fold your yoga mat over for extra cushion for the knee. Repeat other side (if needed).
There’s a tendency to drop the head and collapse through the chest in Lizard Pose. Keeping the head and neck aligned with the spine by lifting the chin slightly and sending the gaze forward allows for more extension along the body (rather than contraction).
Caution: Those suffering from hip, groin or knee injuries should avoid this pose. Also, those who have had any recent surgery of the abdomen, thorax, hips or legs should not attempt this pose.
Acroyoga has become one of the fastest fitness and acrobatic trends for many reasons. From a fitness perspective, it changes your workout by using your muscles in ways you don’t use in everyday activities or in a regular yoga class. As a “base”, you will get a great workout for your quads, calves and toes when working with beginner poses and movements by learning how to push through your toes and legs to support another person. As a “flyer”, you will learn how to stay lifted and tight by engaging muscles while holding various poses. As your skills progress, they become more challenging, it is a full-body workout from head to toe.
Here are some common questions and concerns:
Is AcroYoga, yoga?
AcroYoga is not typical yoga. It is a whole new world of connection, awareness and possibility. The definition as described from AcroYoga.org is “AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three lineages form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness and community.” For many people it’s a chance to explore movements in a new way.
Will I get hurt?
In Acro you are taught to practice new skills with a spotter. This person is an extra set of eyes and hands. Their responsibility is to watch the movements, be prepared to catch the flyer and help bring the pose down safely should a fall occur. In a class setting teachers will often teach the safest way to fall out of a pose. Learning an exit strategy gives confidence to practice poses when there is no spotter around. When you first start practicing you may have some soreness or even some bruises. Just like any activity where you have to move your body in a new way your body will take some time to adapt. This is where a beginner class or workshop helps.
I’m not strong enough to lift someone.
In AcroYoga, you stack our bones rather than using muscle energy to lift up the flyers. When you are stacked the poses are grounded and the flyers can feel secure to move around. It may take a few tries to find this pace but it’s always best to practice with what feels good and what doesn’t. Your spotter also gives cues as to where you are in space, helping you find your sweet spot.
What’s the point of this?
If you are looking for a new way to gain strength, flexibility and meet some new people this is the place for you. Students go from zero body awareness to moving through poses with ease. AcroYoga is also a great way to meet new people, deepen your connection with partners, and cultivate trust.
How can I get involved?
The best way is to look online for workshops and classes in your area. It is best to get started learning from someone who can teach you proper technique, both for safety and ease of practice. AcroYoga is gaining popularity fast and there are many teachers willing to share their knowledge with you.
As much as AcroYoga may look intimidating and challenging, ANYONE and EVERYONE has the ability to learn it with ease. AcroYoga is a bright and exciting practice that integrates one’s individual yoga practice, partnership through dynamic acrobatics and healing through therapeutic bodywork.
Caution: If you are pregnant or have any kind of medical problem or injuries, or have had any injuries or problems in the past, or any other condition that may be adversely affected by exercise, such as neck or back problems, high blood pressure, etc., please consult your doctor before practicing acroyoga to determine whether and how you can practice safely.
The word meditation refers to a range of techniques which control your thoughts, in order to strengthen your mind and improve your physical health. In order understand the misconceptions about meditation, and its numerous benefits, one has to understand how it works. There are different types of meditation techniques, each of which differ slightly from each other,, and have certain benefits of their own. Even though the techniques work on the mind of the person, the beneficial effects can be seen in the mind as well as the body.
How Meditation Works
A self-directed practice of relaxing the mind and body, meditation has been in practice for a long time. It works on a single principle that the mind is the key to overall health, therefore keeping the mind in control can ensure your overall well-being. While some forms of meditation involve focusing on a particular subject, others involve simple relaxation and allow the mind to do whatever it wants, without conscious efforts. While meditating, it’s important to have some degree of controlled breathing. Meditation teachers well versed with the concept suggest that meditation is not about finding solutions to a particular problem, but about changing our attitude towards them. The effects of meditation tend to differ from one individual to another. Below the effects оf meditation on our mind and body.
Effects on the Brain
Due to the changes in the breathing pattern, the supply of oxygen to the brain is reduced by 20 percent. The state of resting is something which we don’t attain when we sleep, as our brain continues to work when we are sleeping. Scientific studies have also revealed that meditating regularly can alter the way your brain is wired, and these alterations in turn helps to deal with a wide array of health problems, including stress and insomnia.
Effects on the Body
Meditation tends to decrease the activity of the nervous system, as the supply of oxygen is reduced. Many people want to know how how meditation reduces stress symptoms or how it helps with depression. These health problems are caused primarily by underlying factors associated with our mind. When we successfully treat these factors with the help of the meditation techniques for stress or depression, it indirectly helps in getting rid of the symptoms of these ailments. Regular meditation helps in curing a range of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, etc. In fact, some recent studies even claim that this relaxation technique can help in keeping various ailments, including certain types of cancers, at bay.
These scientific explanations on the effects of meditation on our mind and body have helped in changing the popular belief that meditation is only associated with religion and spirituality. The scientifically backed health benefits of the practice have even prompted several medical practitioners to advise their patients to practice various techniques of meditation to maintain overall health. With all these benefits, meditation is undoubtedly one of the most effective tool of well-being - a necessity for us all in this fast paced world.
Note: The above article is for educational purposes only and should not take the place of your healthcare provider. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, insomnia, or any other ailments, seek the advice of a physician.
There are some days when we all seem to “pop” out of bed and are ready for our morning yoga; that moment when we have a little time to ourselves, flowing and breathing, ready for the day. And then there those days when we’d rather toss the alarm and go back to sleep or sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix all day. We all deserve a break; but the benefits of stepping onto your yoga mat may be more beneficial than you think.
There’s something to be said about having a daily yoga routine. The more we take the time for ourselves, the more likely we are to continue doing what make us feel good. These are good habits to have and keep. If you like the early morning yoga class at your local studio, then make it a habit to get there a few times a week, or if your preference is getting on your mat at home before everyone wakes up, set your alarm and rise early. Set a goal for yourself; once you get a rhythm going, you’ll find it harder and harder to skip class or your home practice, even if you really want to sleep for an extra few minutes or indulge in your morning coffee first.
Improved Physical Health
The physical practice of yoga, or asana as it’s known in Sanskrit, has a lot of physical benefits. Asana practice helps to build strength, flexibility, agility and cardiovascular strength. The mindfulness gained from a regular yoga practice can also help to maintain weight loss and improve the way we view our bodies. Yoga is also a great way to recover from injuries. In addition to repairing injuries, the strengthening and stretching components to a physical practice help us work out the muscles we don’t often use, get into deep tissue, and counteract poor posture, like slumping and hunching. If you’re going to class or if you practice at home, and have an injury, make sure to inform your doctor first to make sure you’re clear to practice yoga. It’s also a good idea to inform your yoga instructor before class so that they can offer any modifications if you need them.
The practice of yoga first began as a form of meditation to help clear the mind and find inner peace. Yogis would sit for long periods of time but all that sitting brought about physical ailments. Over time, poses were added to the practice to improve the health of the seated yogis – poses that would act as a moving meditation, so their mindfulness practice wasn’t disturbed. The focus on the breath during modern practice helps to bring us into the present moment and take us out of our heads. This is why we hear so many teachers speak about stillness, meditation and breathwork, or pranayama, during practice. A lot of poses, especially those in restorative classes, are designed to relax the body and the mind.
Taking Yoga Off the Mat
The more we practice yoga on the mat, the easier it becomes to what we learn out into the world. The principles of yoga, including non-harming, non-stealing, and proper use of energies become ways to live our “regular” lives whether we’re at home, work or school. These practices teach us how to be more patient, kind, and compassionate to others as well as, ourselves. They help us to see the world from a different perspective. With a regular yoga practice the easier it will be to take these lessons and that sense of calm you feel while on your mat into the rest of your life.
Dealing and Coping
A regular yoga practice also helps us to deal with our past problems or issues, things that we have pushed deep down inside of us and have been unwilling to let go of. This is arguably one of the toughest (yet beneficial) parts of a yoga practice. Styles like Yin yoga that offer a deep stretch, helping to release the issues in our tissues; just being in a safe space and loving community, can help some people open up. For others, yoga is a form of recovery, self-exploration and healing. While some people come to their mat for the physical benefits, others arrive to discover their true selves through movement and meditation.
You don’t have to practice yoga every day to reap the amazing benefits of the practice. Start slow, adding another practice during your week or practice a 5 minute meditation while you wait for your tea to cool. Over time, you will develop a routine, a healthy habit, and you’ll notice an overall calm and more peaceful you!
Feathered Peacock Pose or Pincha Mayurasana as its named in Sanskrit, represents the beautiful feathers of the peacock that lift its tail upright. This represents the peacock in all its grandeur. The fierceness that is described in the peacock should be imbibed in our day to day lives.
You can also call it as the elbow stand or the forearm stand pose too. As the entire weight falls on your shoulders, it has tremendous strength to withhold that balance for a specific period of time. As the shoulders are not joined together but kept at a distance distributing your weight on both the shoulders.
Similar to Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) this pose also tests our fear of falling. It is different from Tree pose(Vrksasana) as the arms are not bent and in this asana it is the bending giving you the extra support. Feathered Peacock is NOT an easy pose to do on your own. You can however use the wall as a support (as seen in the picture) when first trying this pose. The help of an experienced yoga teacher may also provide extra support when first learning/practicing this pose. Even though it may look like a simple asana, doing it can be a different ball game all together.
It is a stress buster that aids you to relax due to the position of the asana. The tension that would be in the shoulder area is easily removed.
It opens your chest, the pose also helps the shoulders including your upper arms and upper back. As your rib area and stomach area keeps the body straight they get toned too.
The legs and buttocks are also strengthened because of the need, to keep your body in a straight line. This position lets you strengthen your thighs as it has to be kept straight without bending over. Thigh muscles benefit greatly by doing this inverted pose.
In this pose too the blood from the legs rushes down to the head, supplying it with fresh blood, which rejuvenates you as well as refreshes your mind and body to the highest proximity.
Note: Be careful while doing this pose if you have high blood pressure, spinal injuries, shoulder, elbow or neck injuries. Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
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