Meditation and yoga go hand in hand. Practicing both daily can enhance your overall yoga practice. Thousands of years ago in ancient yogic texts, physical asanas were initially created to prepare our minds and bodies for meditation. Meditation is the act of getting in touch with the present and having awareness over our thoughts. Through regular meditation, we can learn to be more aware of our emotions and how we react to different situations in our lives.
Many people often find the practice of meditation difficult because they don't know how or have misconceptions about what meditation means. There are many ways to meditate and there are no right or wrong ways to go about it. There are many different forms of meditations; Vispassana meditation (which means to see things as they really are),
mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, Yoga Nidra meditation, walking meditation, and more!. All of these different ways to meditate have one common goal, to help us achieve more inner peace.
There are also some yoga poses to practice at home that naturally relax and calm the mind. Child’s pose, Cat-Cow, Easy pose, Mountain, Pigeon, Bound Angle, and Savasana; just to name a few. You can hold these calming poses for 3- 5 minutes (longer if you can and/or want) to really feel their soothing effects.
To begin a meditation practice, come to sit in Easy Pose or a cross-legged position with your eyes closed. Simply sit and notice the stillness around you. We are not trying to quiet the thoughts or alter the breath; just simply listening and noticing the stillness and quiet around you. Do this for several minutes. Start with a simple meditation like this for just 5 minutes a day - anytime of the day. You could try meditation in the morning, afternoon, or nighttime. Aim for just 5 minutes a day and once you feel comfortable, move on to make your meditation time longer. With daily practice; you will begin to acquire the life changing benefits that meditation has to offer.
To relax in Savasana
• Legs spread comfortably apart
• Close the eyes
• Unclench the jaw
• Allow the arms to rest comfortably away from the body
• Allow the feet to fall open gently
• Keep the palms relaxed and open up towards the sky
• Soften the muscles in the face
• Allow all the muscles in your body to completely relax
As the days become colder and shorter, everything in nature becomes quieter and more dormant. Winter can be a wonderful time for soul-searching; a time to reflect and reset our own energy. Winter can be a time to recharge our energy before the onset of Spring. This cooler and quieter energy is also related to Yin energy in the traditional Taoist philosophy. If this calming Yin-style energy is left unbalanced, it can lead to lack of motivation, lack of energy, and lethargy. To balance this energy, we can incorporate its opposite energy, Yang-style or warmer asanas, which heat up the body and mind during these cold Winter days. Here are a few of tips to help warm and energize your body and mind:
Practice a Warming Yoga Sequence
To begin asanas for wintertime, warm-up with a few rounds of Sun Salutations to heat up the body. Make sure to end your yoga practice with some restorative, calming asanas(poses) that allow time for you to reflect and recharge your energy levels. Some asanas to practice are supine and stretching asanas that are held for longer periods of time, such as: Savasana, Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana), Extended Puppy pose (Uttana Shishosana), Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana), Plow pose (Halasana), and the Sage’s pose (Marichyasana C). When practicing yoga in the winter at home, make sure not leave your home (or studio) to quickly after a practice. Cooling down too quickly can tighten muscles and reduce circulation, which can put you at risk for muscle injuries. Waiting 5-10 minutes before going outside, and bundling up when you do, should be sufficient to allow for a proper cool-down.
Practice Breath Retention (Kumbhaka Pranayama)
In this gentle, beginner-level Kumbhaka Pranayama, we are working to heat the body. Kumbhaka is traditionally practiced holding the breath for 10 seconds, but keep in mind that this length is recommended only for advanced students. In this practice, begin with holding the breath for 2-3 seconds.
To begin, come sit in a comfortable seated position. Take a big inhale in, fully inflating the lungs. Next, hold the breath for 2 or 3 seconds. Slowly exhale out all the air from the lungs. Repeat for up to 10 minutes or longer.
Cold and gloomy weather can certainly affect your mood and disposition; don’t let the weather outside get you down. Be mindful of the benefits that yoga (and meditation) offer. Just a few minutes of daily yoga can set the overall tone for your day! Reading and studying books on yoga or going to a class can help boost your motivation. Can’t get out because of snow or ice? YouTube has some fantastic yoga classes!
Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can be an excuse for avoiding all kinds of tasks. But don’t put your yoga practice aside, the overall benefits are wonderful for your mind, body, and spirit.
If the holiday season has you stressed or you’re not feeling very festive, there is good news! By adding a little yoga practice and mindfulness to your day, you will be able to get through this holiday season better than ever!
Below are a few tips I have put together to help get you through this holiday season.
Being mindful means being present, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing! The purpose is to allow us to feel our emotions and think thoughts, but not to become overwhelmed with them! Instead accept that they are part of the moment and that they will pass. There’s no right or wrong with mindfulness, only observance.
Stress often comes from overthinking about the past or future, rather than remaining in the present. This can lead to anxiety and stress over what’s to come or what may have happened in the past. The holiday season often means one thing after another, but if you can focus on each thing as it occurs that can ease the tension.
Let Go of Expectations
Often, we have ideas about how we want things to be during the holiday season. Let go of expectations during the holiday season and simply let things happen. Not everything is going to turn out perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it for the way it is.
Be Compassionate for Yourself and Others
This may seem easy, however during the holiday season we often forget to practice kindness to ourselves and others. Spending quiet time with yourself when needed can relieve the pressure by being mindful in the moment. Try to avoid rehashing any past tensions and instead focus on the good moments. Reflect on the good things whether they’re related specifically to the holiday season or just a nice moment in your day.
The holiday season isn’t the time to set aside your yoga practice or let it slide. If anything, you should make more time to practice yoga during the holidays, to help you relieve any stress or tension you might have. There’s always time for a round of Simple Sun Salutations or Yin yoga to help you destress at the end of the day. Practicing yoga in short bursts several times a week when you wake up or prior to bed can work wonders and help you to relax.
Yoga and mindfulness can help to alleviate tension that builds during the holiday season. Even if you enjoy this time of year and you’re having fun, things can get a little overwhelming and put stress on your body. Don’t forget the benefits of practicing yoga and mindfulness can have.
The holiday season can be especially overwhelming for many people. The thought of shopping, entertaining family and friends and holiday cooking can leave most of us feeling completely drained! It is during these times that our Chakras can become out of balance. What better time than now to pause and meditate. Each energy point relates to certain aspects of our lives which can be enhanced and improved through Chakra meditation.
Whether we realize it or not, our Chakras are constantly working in the body. They influence our mental and our physical state of being. By focusing the attention to these areas, we can begin to improve various aspects of our lives thus feeling more harmonious, peaceful and balanced. If one of your Chakras is out of balance, meditating on the specific Chakra can do wonders for your overall well-being, or if you really want a boost, wear the specific color associated with that Chakra! Below are the 7 Chakras in detail and the areas in the body and life they can influence:
The Root Chakra
This is the first Chakra, located at the base of the spine. It symbolizes the energy of the earth flowing into the body and is the correlation between our physical presence and the material world. The color red is associated with the Root Chakra representing health, protection and well-being. Meditating on this Chakra or the color red will enhance these areas in your life.
The Naval Chakra
This Chakra is located just above the Root Chakra, in the lower part of the abdomen. It signifies energies associated with sexuality, happiness, love, compassion, sympathy and understanding. Its corresponding color is orange. Feelings associated with giving and receiving are tied to this Chakra. Meditating on this Chakra or the color orange will allow you to control emotions.
The Solar Plexus Chakra
Located above the Naval Chakra just below the chest, this point focuses on willpower and self-transformation. The power of the subconscious mind, discipline of the ego and ability to control one’s self all emanate from this Chakra, which is associated with the color yellow. Meditate on this one to control your external circumstances as well as your self-esteem.
The Heart Chakra
Associated with the color green, it signifies energy associated with kind nature, forgiveness and unconditional love which extends beyond the physical realm. This Chakra is located in the middle of the chest and centers around perseverance, harmony and patience. Meditating on this Chakra will allow you to heal pain through the power of love.
The Throat Chakra
Located just below the chin in the throat. It symbolizes the power of all forms of communication and how qualities like truth, nobility, character and wisdom can be conveyed with the correct purpose and respect. It is associated with the color sky blue and also revolves around extra sensory communication. Meditating on this Chakra will allow you to express yourself truthfully at all times.
The Brow Chakra
Symbolizes intuition, insight, instinct and how the mind perceives the soul. Concentrating on this Chakra will give you peace of mind and stimulate your imagination. The color synonymous with this Chakra is indigo and relates to spiritual guidance and direction. Meditating on it will allow you to access the path to your inner wisdom.
The Crown Chakra
The Crown Chakra is located at the top of the head. It signifies our higher consciousness and our relationship between with the world around us. The highest powers of the mind and spirit can be reached by meditating on this Chakra. Its color is violet, and it also serves to encompass the entire body within the realms of spirituality.
By turning your attention on the Chakras, they can enable you with the ability to align with the physical and non-physical elements of the body. Do not force this process; with experience, you should find it more natural for your focus to drift to the chakras that are most in need of balancing when you meditate. Hopefully, this introduction to chakra meditation has been enlightening.
The holiday season is upon us and with that often comes stress and anxiety. So, if gift buying, holiday parties and baking holiday treats have you feeling stressed out, sluggish or just plain drained, rest assured you are not alone. Here are my 5 yoga tips to help relieve some of your holiday stress:
Breathe: This is the simplest and most effective way we can do to calm the nervous system is to breathe deeply with awareness. Sit tall or lie on your back. Close your eyes. Fill your belly with breath on your inhale and release all the air from your lungs on the exhale. Continue for 5-10 minutes resting your awareness solely on your breath and feeling the tension fall a way.
Practice gratitude: We have so many blessings in our lives, whether it’s the food on our plate, the roof over our head or sharing a laugh with a loved one, become aware of the abundance in your life by simply being aware.
Remain dedicated to your yoga practice: It is in times of stress that our yoga practice holds the most importance. By dedicating time to yourself through your practice, you will begin to feel more calm and relaxed. Even a 15-minute home practice will help connect the body and mind, improving concentration and relieving stress.
Have Fun: This may seem difficult, but have fun! Play games with your kids, play in the snow, sing Christmas songs out loud, watch “Home Alone” or any funny Christmas movie or cartoon. Finding playfulness in our daily activities helps us to not take ourselves too seriously. It’s hard to feel anxious, sad or angry when you are laughing, so even if it feels a bit fake at first, crack a smile and see what happens.
Cultivate compassion, forgiveness and peace: Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. The key to cultivating happiness is forgiveness; forgiveness of others, forgiveness of self. Holding onto a grudge hurts you in the end. Forgiveness is a choice and it requires a lot of compassion that ultimately leads to peace and we can all use peace in our lives no matter what time of the year.
Chair Pose, or Utkatasana is not just a beginner pose, but it is also part of the Sun Salutations and is often used as a transitional pose. It can also be practiced on its own to build strength and stamina throughout the whole body.
Utkatasana comes from the Sanskrit words utkata meaning powerful or fierce and asana meaning pose. Many yogis may skip this pose or they will not hold it for long because it can feels tiresome, and it is not the most “glamorous” of postures. However, practicing Chair Pose is good for you, not only because of its physical benefits, but because it advances your practice physically as well as, emotionally.
Modifications & Variations
Utkatasana can be an excellent full-body strengthener when practiced correctly. It can take time to build enough strength to hold the pose for more than a breath or two. Take it slowly and be careful not to over-stress your knees or shoulders. To deepen or modify the pose, try these variations:
Utkatasana can build a lot of strength and stamina throughout the body when it’s done with correct alignment:
Maintain a slight arch in your back.
Squeeze your thighs as close together as possible.
Bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible.
Draw your chest back and up, instead of reaching your torso forward.
Keep your weight evenly distributed in your heels. Shifting the weight forward can over-stress your knees..
Remember to breathe evenly throughout the pose! If your breath becomes strained, come out of the pose until you can breathe deeply again.
As a yoga practioner and teacher with a business based on health and wellness, you would think I’d have my personal wellness plan figured out all the time. But I’m human, and I often fall into the trap of wanting to achieve more, work harder, do more, etc. And in my mind, I think that if I eat all the “right things” and do the “right practices”, that that’s enough. But the one thing I was not allowing myself to do was to actually receive the benefits of the foods and practices through rest. In our culture, most of us don’t know how to slow down because we are addicted to the busy cycle of always doing and not enough of just being.
The body will often send signals that it’s time for us to slow down and that no "super-food" or supplement can remedy deep fatigue. Just like you, I need to give myself permission to rest, and to rest deeply without the guilt that I should be “doing” something else. But slowing down when you’re in a cycle of always moving can be hard to do. That’s when I turn to a practice Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation that is essential for a culture that needs structure in order to feel at ease in slowing down. I usually start with 10 minutes, and opt for 30 days I schedule in this structured time to rest deeply. After a month of this, I slowly began to heal my adrenal fatigue and find a more balanced, sustained flow of energy. It’s an essential practice that I often do. Yoga Nidra is done with full consciousness and allows us to access layers of our subconscious mind with clarity and mindfulness. This allows for the release of negative thought patterns in the mind to unravel and dissolve.
So what IS Yoga Nidra?
Nidra means sleep in Sanskrit. When following this meditation, it takes you past the dreaming stage and into a state of conscious deep sleep, where the brain waves function in theta state and healing of the nervous system, heart and mind take place. Because Yoga Nidra activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, it also has profound effects on supporting digestion and countering stress-induced insomnia. Through consciously relaxing the effort of body and mind, we learn to address stress in our waking states with more ease and direct the flow of energy more intentionally. On a deeper level, we use Sankalpa Shakti in this meditation to process and transform karma in our lives and manifest our deepest desires.
A regular practice can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. It’s even said that one hour of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of a full night’s sleep! The best time to practice this meditation is in the afternoon between lunch and dinner; although anytime you can set aside for this practice the benefits will be well received. So, what are you waiting for? Give Yoga Nidra a try and reap the wonderful benefits. Check out this awesome Yoga Nidra - Meditation & Guided Relaxation . It is a complete 16 minute training script that can help you relax deeply and touch a place of deep stillness, peace and insight within.
The word, Ayurveda, translates to “the science of life”. It is a holistic science over 5,000 years old that contains a profound body of knowledge used to understand ourselves within the laws of nature. It is considered to be the sister science of Yoga.
According to Ayurveda, each individual and all of nature is made up of a certain combination of the five fundamental elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements uniquely design each one of us, creating a distinct blueprint known as our Dosha. Knowing your Dosha will help you determine lifestyle choices and the nutritional needs that will benefit you most on the quest to create optimal wellness and beauty. There are 3 main Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can take a simple quiz or consult an ayurvedic practitioner to understand and know your Dosha.
How Ayurveda Can Help You Stay Healthy this Fall:
As much as we all enjoy summer, being out with family and friends, enjoying barbecues, summer parties and other outside activities, Fall has moved in bringing with it the promise of cooler temperatures. Its rhythms remind us that it’s time to turn inside, ruminate and nourish that inner light. When we can line up to naturally occurring rhythms, we’re less likely to get sick and develop disease.
Here are 5 simple and effective practices that can help you become in sync with the rhythm of Fall:
1. Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. The acidic qualities of lemon encourage regularity, which is crucial in keeping your digestive track free of toxic build-up. Ayurveda likes to keep things moving through the channels of the body. Lemons also hold vitamins and minerals that help release toxins in the digestive tract. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water.
2. Scrape your tongue. If you’ve never taken a peek at your tongue in the morning, check it out! Ayurveda teaches us that we can learn a lot about what’s going on in our bodies by simply noticing the characteristics of our tongue. In fact, it can inform us on how we want to start our day. A body with healthy organs and a clear digestive tract will show up pink. A body with clogged organs or undigested food from the night before will show up with a layer of fuzz, film, indentations from teeth, and/ or bumps (other than your taste buds). If your tongue has any of the latter qualities, then there are toxins lingering in your body. To clear them out you can try drinking detoxifying juice, go on a cleanse, or consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for an individualized plan. But first you want to scrape off these toxins from your tongue so you don’t re-ingest them into your system. Use a tongue scraper. You can find the tongue scrapers at most health food stores or online. Stainless steel are great because they don’t rust. Scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. It will usually take between seven and 14 strokes to get it clean and clear (be sure not to scrape it too hard as not to make your taste buds bleed!)
3. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. There a many different recipes for green smoothies available online, but Ayurveda encourages a seasonal diet and ingredients that balance out the qualities already occurring in nature. Since it’s fall, nature brings out the dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities of life (Vata dosha). This means for optimal health we want to steer away from foods and activities that have these same qualities (the idea is that too much of a good thing leads to sickness and disease).
4. Add more sweet, sour and salty foods into your diet. Fall (Vata season) carries with it dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities. This means that to maintain a balance in our system we want to steer away from foods that also hold these same qualities. One way we can achieve balance in the Fall is by eating foods that ground, moisten, nurture and warm the body. Sweet, sour and salty tastes are the ideal. Here are some examples of foods to include in your meals: fresh sweet fruits like mango, coconut, berries and peaches; fresh sour fruits like cherries, plums, green grapes, lemon and limes; sweet veggies like beets, carrots (cooked), peas
5. Give yourself an oil massage. It nourishes the skin, relaxes the nervous system, removes impurities from the plasma blood & feeds the inner tissues of the body.
In the same way that a machine needs greasing, the body loves to be oiled for sheer pleasure as well as to protect it against the environment and over time. Here’s a list of oil that are best for each Dosha:
Vata: sesame oil, almond oil
Pitta: coconut oil, olive oil
Kapha: sunflower oil, grapeseed oil
Note: always use organic and cold-pressed oils when rubbing them directly onto your skin
You may also want to warm the oil slightly prior to starting:
Put 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil in a clear plastic squeeze bottle.
Put bottle in a cup of very hot water.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until warm.
Make sure you have a clean towel for drying off after your shower or bath.
Use circular strokes over the joints and abdomen
Use up-and-down strokes over the limbs
When finished, leave the oil on for 15-30 minutes and follow with a hot shower or bath. The hot water opens up the pours and brings the oil into the deeper tissues of the body (lotion doesn’t nourish the deeper tissues, only the outer skin).
Add these few Ayurvedic rituals into your daily schedule to help you stay healthy throughout the Fall season. Enjoy!!
Practicing yoga is very beneficial for kids especially for those who are obese since it helps in reducing the fat without having any adverse effect on their energy levels or their memory power as some weight-loss supplements might do. Yoga is also beneficial for autistic children as it helps them in accepting and expressing their feelings properly.
The number 108 is considered a sacred number not only in Yoga but in most ancient religions such as Jainism, Islam, Buddhism and so on. Mala or Japa beads are on a string of 108 beads and are used for devotional meditation, mantra and prayer. With each bead a mantra or prayer is repeated to meet a total of 108. 108 is considered to be the most sacred number in the practice of Yoga. The Meru bead is the larger bead or tassel on the mala and is not part of the 108. This bead is the guiding bead and marks the beginning and end of the mala/chant/prayer/mantra.
In Vedic astronomy, the diameter of Sun is 108 times of the that of Earth. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The distance between the Earth and Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. According to Vedic astrology, there are 27 constellations and each constellation has four directions covering the entire galaxy (27x4 =108).
Hatha Yoga is defined as the union of two different energies; the Sun and the Moon or the Masculine and Feminine.
Here are a few interpretations of the significance of the number 108:
There are 54 letters in Sanskrit and each letter has a feminine (Shakti) and Masculine (Shiva) energies (54x2 = 108).
In Yantras, the most famous and powerful Yantra is called as Sri Chakra which has 54 intersections. Each Intersection has a masculine and Feminine energy leading to 108.
In Ayurveda, there are 108 Marma points. The 108 marma points (107 on the physical body and one in the mind). Physically, the marma points are found where tendons, bones, muscles, joints, veins, nerves, and other tissues meet.
In Sanskrit Classic Literature, there are 108 Upanishads and 108 Puranas.
Tantra states that we breathe 21,600 times in a day out of which 10800 times is solar energy and 10800 times is lunar energy (108 x100 =10800).
There are 108 Nadis, the energy channels intersecting the Anahata Chakra (heart chakra) and Sushumna; the channel of energy flowing in the core of the spine and extending from the base of the spine to the eyebrow center (with an extension to the base of the nostrils)
There are according to the Indian culture, 108 desires, 108 evils while most of the Gods are have 108 names.
The Sun Salutations 108 is the twelve times of 9 which is the number of Vinyasa in Sun Salutation.
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