The practice of yoga has been around for years benefiting both mental and physical health. These benefits help to improve balance, increase flexibility and strength, reduce cholesterol levels and promote heart health. Yoga can even trigger and boost energy thanks to deep breathing (pranayama), energizing both the body and mind. Yoga can be a great way to clear the mind and calm your stress. So, skip the morning cup of coffee and practice these seven yoga poses for more energy! It’s a quick and natural way to charge up your morning without coffee, energy drinks, or cold showers.
Tree Pose (Vriksasana) strengthens your spine and improves neuromuscular coordination. The pose elevates your mental faculties and builds strength in your shoulders. It stretches your chest, inner thighs and improves your sense of balance.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana) stretches your torso, hips and lower back. It increases your mind’s determination and stimulates your heart. The pose relieves joint and back pains. It tones your legs and strengthens your calves. Utkatasana increases the power and flexibility of your thighs.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana) opens your chest and the front of your torso. It strengthens your back and shoulders. The pose alleviates pain in the lower back and makes your spine more flexible. It strengthens your thighs and arms. Ustrasana tones your neck and cures constipation.
Bridge Pose gives strength to your legs, arms, buttocks and lower back. It stimulates the thyroid gland. The pose helps with asthma and stretches your core. It reduces depression and makes you feel energetic and full of life.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) strengthens and stretches the joints and muscles of your legs. It reduces blood pressure and increases the intake of oxygen into your body. The pose treats urinary disorders and reduces stiffness in the hip, back and shoulder regions.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) stimulates the digestive system and tones the organs of your lower abdomen. It regulates metabolism and gives your lungs a good stretch. This pose improves blood and oxygen circulation throughout the body. It elevates your mind and decreases stiffness in the lower back.
Child’s Pose (Balasana) is a wonderful grounding, nurturing pose perfect to counter busy-ness and over-stimulation of the mind; allowing you to rest, slow down and breathe. It also helps to soothe a stiff lower back.
I live in a small apartment, so I sleep, work, live, and practice yoga in the same room. I don’t have the luxury of separate rooms/spaces to practice; there’s just enough space for my yoga mat on the floor. However, the act of moving a chair out of the way, lighting a candle, and rolling out my mat has become a little ritual that creates the mental space for me to practice yoga. Creating a proper yoga space in your home is essential for practicing yoga. Having the space will also encourage you to practice yoga more often, which can help reduce your stress and improve your health.
When Stuck with Small Spaces, Make the Space Multi-Functional
Designing a yoga space with 6 feet in all directions may seem impossible to the apartment dweller stuck with small rooms, but you can design the area by making the space multi-functional. The best way to do this is to fill the area you set aside with easy-to-move furniture and storage items, like a storage unit on wheels or easy-to-lift chairs and a coffee table. When you want to practice yoga, wheel or carry the furnishings into the hallway or wherever else you have space (like the kitchen or a closet). Comfortable apartment living means making the most of all of your space and you can set aside adequate clear space for yoga by making sure the area has other functions when you’re not using it for yoga.
Make Sure the Area is Quiet
When choosing your yoga space, you should try to pick the quietest area in your home where you can make the room. Because yoga so heavily relies on your ability to relax and free your mind of distractions, you don’t want to be inundated with traffic noises, noisy neighbors and barking dogs. You can also play relaxing music to drown out the other noises and help you set the mood.
Set the Mood with Lighting
Although not always avoidable, practicing yoga under the harsh glare of the light-bulb can make your practice less relaxing. Practicing yoga with natural sunlight can lift your spirits, if natural sunlight is not available to you, using dimmed light bulbs or battery-operated candles can give you enough light to see what you’re doing but also help relax you by keeping the room slightly darker with less glare. Remember that a proper yoga space allows for adequate movement, is quiet and relaxing and, as an apartment dweller, is easy to use for another function when you’re not practicing. Even in the smallest of spaces, you can make a space for yoga when you use these principles to create the space.
Having a home practice means that I can practice yoga regularly, and tailor it to the amount of time I have and what I need that day. I try to go to my Mysore-style yoga at least twice a week to make sure I’m maintaining good form and have a sense of yoga community.
Savasana is from the Sanskrit word "shava," which means "corpse." To do this pose, lie on your back, close your eyes, and spread your arms and legs apart. Keep your eyes closed. Your palms should face upwards. Savasana brings closure to your yoga practice, promotes deep relaxation, and helps your body and mind assimilate the previous yoga poses so you can reap their many benefits.
Usually Savasana is performed with the legs turned out. Sometimes though, after a long practice or for those who have lower back problems, it may feel good to do this pose with the legs bent and knees touching (as seen in the smaller picture above). You may also wish to use a yoga strap. Take a strap and make a small loop. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and slip the loop over your big toes. Lie back and turn your thighs inward, sliding your heels apart. The loop will help maintain the inward turn of the legs.
·If you have any back injuries or discomfort: Do this pose with your knees bent and your feet on the floor (as seen in the picture), hip-distance apart; or support the bent knees on a bolster or pillow.
·Pregnancy: Raise your head and chest on a bolster.
Yoga can be a spiritual as well as a physical practice and therefore is beneficial at any time of the day. However, there times that are better for our own practice depending upon schedule, body and personality type. A morning person may need the stimulating effects of certain asanas to start the day, while someone who is slow to wake may be warmed up and ready to practice by sunset.
Early morning before sunrise is considered a spiritually charged time of the day in the Vedic tradition and is therefore ideal for yoga. Morning yoga will ease you into gentle movements shortly after you awaken in the morning. Sun Salutations are great for waking up the body, and after lots of movement and balancing, you can ease into some gentle inversions and heart openers. If your hips and spine are feeling open at this point – dive into the heart openers, like camel, bridge and wheel. These postures will leave you feeling awake and rejuvenated – maybe even more than your morning cup of coffee! Also, indulge in an extra-long headstand or shoulder stand to send fresh oxygen into your head. This will also allow you to feel ready to face your day.
Yoga before bed can be relaxing and contribute to a restful sleep. The perfect evening yoga practice should soothe and relax you after a long day. If you’re practicing later in the evening however (within a few hours of going to bed), you’ll want to resist moving into big heart openers and energizing inversions. You may want to practice soothing surrender postures like half pigeon and seated forward fold. Twists are also incredibly relaxing in the evening as well. Focus on breathing in positions such as Child’s pose, which stretches the back muscles and aids digestion. Just be aware how you feel and what you need.
There is no time of day that is “perfect” for everyone when it comes to yoga practice. The best rule to follow is the one of no distraction. Choose to practice at a time when you are least likely to be interrupted, whether it be early morning or late at night. The most benefits are yielded when fully conscious of each movement.
Consistency is also key in yoga practice perhaps even more than when you choose to practice. The more you do the same poses regularly, the more you will notice how your practice is producing change within your body and your life. The time of day we practice yoga should determine what postures we practice, and being aware of which postures are energizing and which ones are soothing.
Pay attention to which postures affect your energy levels at which time of day, and this will empower you to practice exactly when your body needs it. Remember – you are your best teacher!
Bhakti is derived from the Sanskrit word bhaj, which means – loving service. Bhakti-yoga means to connect to the Supreme by means of loving devotional service. Bhakti yoga deals with devotion to God and achieving the union with Him. This style of yoga teaches the relation between the devotee and the divine. It does not involve any technical or complicated procedures. There is no need of any intellectual capacity to master this yoga. It has appealed to the common man because it gives him a feeling security and develops a kind of reliance and dependence on the object of his devotion.
The path of bhakti-yoga is developed through a variety of activities. These include mantra meditation, or the chanting of the names of God. The chanting is done either individually on beads (japa) or in a community by chanting mantras accompanied by music (kirtan). The study of sacred texts such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, associating with like-minded spiritual postulants, eating blessed vegetarian food, and living in a way that upholds the principles of truthfulness, mercy, austerity, and cleanliness, are all core practices for a follower of bhakti.
Bhakti yoga assumes that there is a higher power that has created the universe and is all-powerful. This power has the capacity to confer grace and mercy thus protecting the believer from all the harms and evils. The devotee or bhakta is expected to make themselves fit for receiving this divine grace. For this, one should practice devotion and virtue. The goal should be to unite with this divine power and rest eternally in happiness and peace. The devotee surrenders all motives and acts to the Divine Power. They renounce all responsibilities towards the good or bad consequences of all their actions and ascribes it to the will of the Supreme.
Devotion and faith play a vital role in this branch of yoga. The devotee or bhakta should be highly religious, should adopt a friendly stance towards all the other living beings including animals, read religious texts, concentrate on the symbol of the Divine, think and wish well for others etc. The beauty of this yoga lies in its simplicity. This has made it one of the most appealing of all the yoga types. Following this yoga develops the peace of mind in an individual. A peaceful individual will always think happy and prosperous thoughts and will thus lead a happy life.
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