In Hatha yoga, Sun Salutations warm-up the body. This Hatha yoga sequence gives the body time to settle into the posture and the mind a chance to go inward. Sun Salutation has twelve postures or asanas in it. Surya in Sanskrit means Sun and Namaskar means to bow down. Sun Salutation is one of the most powerful sequences in yoga; it is our basic source of energy and is one of the pranic forces (life forces, chi) that keep us alive. Classical Hatha Yoga has its own Sun Salutation system, which differs from the traditional Ashtanga Yoga Sun Salutation method. The main difference between the two sun salutation methods are the postures and the order of sequence they are in. There are many benefits in the daily practice of Sun Salutations. It strengthens the digestive system and improves the functioning of the whole body. The whole process purifies the blood and improves blood circulation throughout the entire body.
This sequence of twelve classical yoga postures flow into each other and works almost every muscle in the body. Each movement is accompanied by either an inhalation and an exhalation and it is important for the rhythm of the breath to match the rhythm of the movement as not to become breathless and tired. The yoga breath (ujjayi breath) is essential to this practice. Attempt to keep your breathing as long and as even as possible. This sequence should be done in an even flowing manner. If you have never practiced this sequence before, then start off by only doing one round. This would mean that you do the sequence twice: the first time taking the right leg back and then doing the sequence again, taking the left leg back.
More and more often today we hear the expression "being mindful" being used in general conversation. For those of us that have meditation and/or yoga practices this term is very much a part of our vocabulary but are we really comfortable with what it means for us in our day to day living. Mindfulness means being in the "moment", a conscious awareness of what is in our minds before we say or do anything. Not only being aware but of then examining those thoughts and deciding if they are negative in any way to ourselves or others.
"Before you speak, think - Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence". - Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Hurting ourselves or others through our words, actions or inaction's, brings negative energy into the lives of all affected. Even if what we are saying is true we have to ask ourselves what is the probable outcome of telling this truth. By withholding a truth are we saving someone from an unnecessary hurt or will their life be better in the long run? However, we also have to ask ourselves if we have enough real information on which to base our decision and if the answer is "no" or we are in doubt then we should withhold our comment. This is being mindful.
Even if someone has done something you consider careless - let it go. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. We have no way of knowing what’s going on in a person's life that may have contributed to the perceived infraction. Take a deep breath and let go of any physical tension that has started to take hold of your body. Mindfulness exercises come from thousands of years of traditions and Eastern practices of meditation. By practicing mindfulness exercises, we can learn to focus our awareness/consciousness on the present moment without judging the thoughts that come in our mind. It's about letting the present become a reality in total consciousness and total awareness.
In yoga practice we learn to distinguish between when our bodies and our minds are in a state of tension/anxiety and when they are relaxed and we feel in control. Being mindful of what is happening to us and how we feel, allows us to lead a more organized and fulfilling life as we can direct our energies, both physical and mental towards being positive and productive.
Uttanasana, or intense forward-bending pose, is a component of Sun Salutes and vinyasa, as well as, a dynamic part of the transition between standing and Chaturanga Dandasana. In Sanskrit, Ut means Intense, Tana means stretched and Asana means a yogic pose.
Uttasana is often dismissed as an uninteresting and basic pose; yet it offers a wealth of opportunities to develop muscle actions that support other standing poses like Warriors and Pyramid Pose. Practicing this foundation pose brings numerous benefits. Uttasana is also an inversion. Albeit a much more accessible inversion than head stand or handstand but with many of the usual benefits and more. Personally, I lovepracticing Uttansana because the weight of the head hanging heavy is enough to give my neck a gentle stretch. The stretch decompresses the spinal joints allowing a little stretch of the muscles and ligaments as well as a burst of nourishment.
Beginner’s Tip: If you cannot touch the ground, hold onto the backs of the legs wherever the hands fall (except for the knees) or cross the arms in front of the body holding onto the elbows. Let the head hang with gravity. If this is still too intense, take tension off the hamstrings and low back by bending the knees. Working with the breath, try “inhaling, bending”, “exhaling, straightening”. Deepen the Uttanasana pose to increase the stretch on the backs of the legs, stand in the forward bend with the balls of your feet elevated an inch or more off the floor on a sand bag or thick book or lean slightly forward and lift up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels a half-inch or so away from the floor. Draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, and then, from the height of the groins, lengthen your heels back onto the floor.
Caution: Uttanasana requires patience and practice. It can take a while to reach the deepest variation of the pose. Those with back injuries can practice this pose with bent knees, use a block for support under the hands, or substitute Half Forward Bend instead.
The holidays can a time of high stress for many people; between family gatherings, shopping, office parties, and travel, it’s no wonder so many people become stressed out and rundown this time of year.
In order to deal with this stressful time of year, a lot of people turn to unhealthy habits. The good news is you don’t have to indulge in unhealthy behavior to make it through the season. Studies have shown yoga reduces stress and makes people feel calmer.
With all the celebration, the cooking, the shopping, fake smiling and the over played Christmas music, it can all make even the most cheery person think about clobbering Santa🎅 Luckily, you won’t have to take those drastic measures! Above are 6 yoga poses that can be practiced at any time you begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed during the holiday season.
These restorative poses allow the body to drop into the parasympathetic nervous system inducing a state of relaxation; it can also address the effects of stress on the internal organs as well. To make the poses even more restorative, use yoga blocks, bolsters, pillows and even blankets! These poses are best done for 5-10 minutes followed by another of my favorite stress antidotes: meditation. 😉
We use our wrists every day, but the majority of us have no idea what they are constructed of, or how to prevent long-term damage and pain. Without the mobility of our wrists our range of motion would be limited, thus understanding their complexity and learning about the anatomy of our wrists is crucial in order to protect them and provide them with strength, support and flexibility; especially during yoga practice.
Yoga can help in the healing process, however the kind of yoga you practice and how you practice it is important. If you are experiencing pain, make sure you talk to your yoga teacher and if necessary, your physician for their advice. It is key to proactively think about your weight distribution and the alignment of your body for poses that put pressure on your wrists.
The use of props to modify poses can also aid in wrist recovery. Certain yoga styles demand a lot out of our wrists and quick movements do not allow time for modification. Until you heal, you may want to consider finding a different yoga style that does not put as much pressure on your wrists. Some styles of yoga to consider are Yin, Gentle and even Restorative yoga; return to your usual practice once your wrists feel better.
Prior to your yoga practice make sure you warm-up: circle your wrists left and right in both directions which helps with blood flow. Below are some postures to help you modify your practice. Making a few simple modifications can be enough for your practice to receive the same benefits while being careful in regards to your injury.
Here are some poses to consider for modifications:
Downward-Facing Dog Pose – with the arms and torso parallel to the floor
Downward-Facing Dog Pose – while bending your knees, so you avoid pressure on the wrists but the weight is evenly distributed
Shalabhasana – Locust Pose allows blood flow to flourish throughout the elbows and wrists while straighten them and helping to get rid of scar tissue. Do this posture cautiously!
Modified plank - Elbow plank is a great alternative to full plank and also has the added benefit of working your core muscles. Press your inner forearms and elbows onto the floor - hands can be flat on the floor or fingers interlaced. Firm your shoulder blades against your back by pressing the elbows into the floor, lengthen your tailbone towards the heels and press the tops of the thighs towards the ceiling.
It is important to be aware of how fatigued you get while doing any weight bearing on the hands and to give yourself enough rest between poses. Good wrist strength is essential to our everyday activities and yoga can be a great tool to teach us more about how to take care of our wrists.
Caution: For those suffering from acute arthritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s advisable to avoid practicing weight-bearing yoga poses entirely until the acute phase has passed. Always consult with your healthcare professional if you have any questions.
Using a yoga mat for yoga may seem to be a necessity, but is this true? The yoga mat developed from the practice originally taking place on grass, then using animal skins for cushioning and grip. However, yoga mats as we know them now were created by a yoga teacher named Angela Farmer in 1967 when she used a piece of foam carpeting underlay to aid her while practicing and teaching. The idea was shared with the underlay manufacturer and developed from there.
Is a yoga mat necessary?
The answer to this question is both yes and no, however it is by no means required as to whether you use a yoga mat or not and the decision is yours. Some people believe the mat’s sticky texture that helps to grip could lead to sprains or other injuries in the joints and over flexibility without sufficient muscle protection. Due to the grip the mat provides, the leg and arm muscles aren’t having to work as hard to keep you balanced which may feel easier initially, however if muscles supporting joints are not strengthened and maintained, this could leave you more susceptible to injury.
Should I use a yoga mat?
It is of course your choice, there are benefits of using a yoga mat. Aside from providing a sticky surface, the foam texture cushions and insulates your body when practicing on solid, wooden floors, like the ones in most yoga studios. This alleviates any harmful and uncomfortable pressure on the knees as well as, helps your body regulate it’s temperature to avoid injury. To many yogis a yoga mat is our personal space; our yoga mat gives us control over the space we occupy during a yoga class and keeps others outside of that space during class. A yoga mat makes us feel ready for practice, it’s part of our ritual to unroll the mat. The choice of design, color and material we choose for our yoga mats is much like our choice of clothing we practice in. Just be sure to do your research when shopping and choosing a yoga mat. Find a yoga mat that will be best suited for you and your needs.
Yoga mats are not mandatory for a yoga practice, but they can make your practice more comfortable than using the floor alone. However, if you practice yoga at home, a carpeted floor can provide cushioning with slightly less grip than a mat, alternatively, you can take your practice outside, and use a grassy area or the beach for a cushioned experience.
Before you get out of bed in the morning to check your email, your social media, or put the kettle on for tea or coffee, try my new morning yoga routine. Each posture is designed to wake up the body and energize the mind. The best part? It only takes about 20 minutes. Rev-up your morning by trying these easy to do moves.
Finish this sequence in Easy Pose (cross-legged) with a few moments of stillness and meditation. Connecting to your breathing not only gives you the opportunity to be in the present moment, but also enables you to watch each gentle breath enter and exit the body. Each deep breath enriches you with oxygen, helping the flow of blood to muscles, tissues cells and bones, while aiding clarity of thought and a sense of calm and focus to start your day.
Begin and end this sequence in a seated position; avoid Savasana in the morning since the idea here is to “wake-up” the body.
Modify the above poses to suit your practice; use a yoga block or blanket if needed.
Oftentimes, practicing yoga at home can be very challenging. It’s easy to become distracted or get busy with life! Taking a class with a yoga teacher may seem like the better alternative, but it cannot compare to practicing on your own. Here are some tips that can help you to establish a home yoga practice:
1. Set a yoga schedule
Make a schedule on when to do your yoga practice, as well as, the amount of times each week. If possible, choose particular days and times that you will practice before the week starts. Aim for at least 3 times in a week, in order to achieve real benefits and progress.
If you intend on practicing more intermediate or more challenging poses and practicing 5 to 7 times a week, try adding some Yin, Restorative or even Gentle yoga that are more stretch-based styles. This will give your body reset. On a side note, practicing yin yoga at least once in a week (which is a stretch-based yoga with long holds to open up the fascia) has proven to greatly improve mobility in a yoga practice.
2. Target thirty to sixty minutes
Most yoga classes last for 75 to 90 minutes. If you try to practice it on your own, you may feel frustrated or discouraged. Without the guidance of a teacher and the collective energy of a classroom, it is very difficult to maintain a longer class. Starting off with a home yoga practice of 30-60 minutes is ideal and you’re much more likely to continue a yoga routine.
3. Have a plan and keep it simple
Before you step on your yoga mat, it is important that you have a specific plan for what you intend to accomplish. For example, maybe you want to work on building strength with chaturanga, or you want to begin practicing yoga inversions. Whatever your plan is, keep it simple.
4. If you can’t do it, don’t do it
In a yoga class setting, a trained yoga teacher can give you guidance in order for you to move forward to poses you have not yet learned on your own. This is very important especially for poses that could harm you if not done properly. It is important for you to know that if you are not comfortable in a pose or are not sure of the alignment, then it’s best to skip it.
5. Be consistent
One thing about yoga is that it delivers benefits after practice. If you want your body to be more flexible, and also strong by making use of yoga, you have to commit the time; days, week, months and years. You will discover that each time you come to your yoga mat, there will be a sign of your body changing and evolving.
The best way to enjoy maximum benefits from yoga is to practice it regularly.
Travelling (especially internationally) has become more exciting and fulfilling. More and more yogis are exploring new places, practicing yoga in nature and spending more time with themselves. Are you excited or even curious to join a yoga retreat? Perhaps you need to plan everything first, so that your retreat will be a successful one, or perhaps you have questions and don’t know where to start.
Here are some FAQs that will guide you in planning your next yoga retreat.
1. Why join a yoga retreat?
One of the best things about retreats is that you give yourself an ultimate treat. A yoga retreat is intended for all of us who want to have a stressful vacation while doing the activity you love, yoga. It's a learning experience where you can relax, unwind and renew your sense of health. Also, it is an opportunity to connect and share with other people with similar experiences and explore the exciting nature adventures. A yoga retreat allows us to go more deeply into our yoga practice in its different aspects: postures, breathing, and meditation.
2. Who goes on a yoga retreat?
Yoga retreats are usually designed to progressively introduce the practice of yoga giving anyone the opportunity to learn on their own pace and ability. It is offered not only for yoga professionals but also to yoga students of any level. Even other people who are looking for a transformative and memorable vacation experience enroll to a yoga retreat.
3. Where to spend the retreat?
Yoga retreats are offered all over the world. So, you need to decide on a particular place. You can choose a place you’re interested in exploring. Any relaxing place that is ideal for yoga. The venue can be in the mountains, in the countryside or near a relaxing beach or sea.
4. Do I need to get a yoga instructor prior to going?
It would be beneficial if you have attended a yoga class with an instructor prior to going on the retreat. This is so you have a better understanding of the yoga teaching style and an approach that will meet your needs. The yoga retreats provide the opportunity for the instructor to get a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses. In this way, he/she will have the idea on how to guide you.
5. Do I need to know someone else on the retreat to get the most from it?
Absolutely not, it’s normal that some of you don’t know the other. One of the good things about the retreat is that you’ll have the chance to work with other people. These people would be your best source of information, and make new friends too.
6. What to wear during the retreat?
Casual, comfortable clothing would be best. But if you are traveling somewhere unfamiliar, you can check with the retreat organizer to ensure you on the appropriate clothes to wear. However, in some cases clothing requirements are likely defined once you sign-up for the retreat.
7. What to bring on the yoga retreat?
Yoga retreats vary, some are like camping, in hotels, and others are closer to the resorts. Therefore, it's always best to ask your retreat organizer about what you should bring. You might be advised to bring some special items like flashlights, bathing suit, yoga mats, etc. Be sure to inquire about necessary passports and visas if traveling internationally.
So, are you ready now for the breathtaking experience of attending a yoga retreat? Book Yoga Retreats has some amazing places to visit, check them out and see for yourself! Enjoy your yoga retreat; relax, learn and have fun!
Dandasana may look like a simple pose, but it's important to make sure that you're doing it the correct way because it is the foundation of all seated poses. Dandasana comes from the Sanskrit words Danda – meaning “stick”, and Asana – meaning “posture”. This pose is best known as the base of all asanas in seating position, forward bends and twists.
It's easy for your everyday posture to slump forward since most of us suffer from poor posture, and staff pose helps correct us. When the spine is straight and the shoulders back, our breathing naturally becomes deeper and more regular. The nervous system relaxes and the mind and body become in alignment and harmony.
Caution: People with high blood pressure should not perform this pose. In case of any wrist or lower back injury avoid this pose.
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