In the second sutra of his principal book, Patanjali defines yoga as “control of the modifications of the mind field”. It means that when we are on the mat, our goal is to stop the everlasting inner dialog, control the process of thinking and manage our own mind. This is what is most important; not being able to assume sophisticated postures. It is in Savasana when you start to understand that yoga is not just a set of stretching exercises, as it may seem at first. Making your body healthier and stronger, which is achieved through physical aspects of yoga (asanas), is only the tip of the iceberg. A preparation stage necessary for practicing at a higher level. Savasana is the first step leading to that level.
If you feel there is insufficient space in the yoga hall, and you increasingly want to replace the ceiling with the sky, then it is time to go outside. The absence of clear external limiters will expand your inner horizons and bring a wonderful feeling of newness into your practice. The fresh air will give your breath a new quality. Connecting with the Earth will return you to reality and recharge your energy. The beauty of nature will soothe and inspire.
Vasisthasana (or Side Plank) is a powerful and challenging arm balance that requires strength, flexibility, and balance. Overflowing with benefits, this posture strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, core, and legs while simultaneously stretching the hips, groins, and hamstrings. A quintessential yoga pose of both strength and flexibility, Vasisthasana also requires balance, concentration, and grace to practice with ease. As with all yoga poses, a keen attention to the breath creates stamina in this difficult asana.
Namaste – The Art of Cultivating an “I-Thou” Relationship in Everyday Life
Does this sound familiar? It’s the end of yoga class . . . you’re lying face up on your sticky mat, the bell rings and you slowly make your way up to a seated position. You join your hands together in prayer, you bow your head down toward your heart, and whisper with reverence, the sacred word, Namaste. You feel connected to all of life and at peace. As you walk out to your car, that feeling of oneness and connection lingers and you feel a part of the sacredness of life. You feel like you are living Namaste.
The Value of Inverted Asanas
Life has a way of surprising us, so it’s empowering to be the one to decide to turn life upside down. Yoga inversions are a safe, beautiful, exhilarating way to do just that. A yoga inversion is simply any asana that brings the hips above the heart or the head below the heart. With this simple definition, an inversion takes – literally – many shapes and forms depending on what your body needs and is prepared for. Whether it’s as basic as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) or as challenging as Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), there is a place for inversions in your practice.
Yoga During Periods
Just as a yoga practice should be adapted for its one-of-a-kind yogi, a woman experiences her menstrual cycle uniquely. Though many women feel less energetic on their periods, some may feel little to no change. Where one woman may crave the soothing flow of Sun Salutations, another may wish for gentle restoration or complete rest, without practicing yoga at all. Still others may crave an intense, inversion-filled Ashtanga sequence. Yoga practice depends on the yogi and the choice of how to practice yoga while on her period depends on the woman. A sincere practice of yoga is done to learn how to listen to the intuitive wisdom of the body. It is with this intention that a woman learns to care for her practice – and herself – during the so-called “critical days” of the menstrual cycle.
The Importance of Forward Bends
There are many, many poses within the yoga practice that incorporate some aspect of forward folding. Forward bends tend to be more restorative, cooling postures that often move the head below the heart also creating the effects of an inversion. Introspective and soothing, these gentle (or deeper forward) bends work to lengthen the entire back body, stretching the neck, the upper, middle and lower back, glutes, hips, hamstrings and calves. Literally lengthening from head to toe, these postures create space and awareness throughout.
Yoga and Mental Health
The benefits of yoga are impactful because they’re felt rather than analyzed. Usually this is manifested in an open body and expansive breath. However, researchers are finding that yoga’s positive impacts on mental health are validated in a scientifically-established way. It makes intuitive sense that a practice teaching relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and conscious muscle release would result in relaxation of the mind. The key to this connection is in yoga’s impact on the body’s stress response. A Harvard Medical School article1 reports that yoga’s ability to decrease physiological arousal, such as increased heart rate and shallow breathing, also decreases mental arousal to stress. Usual emotional stress responses would be feeling frustrated or anxious, nervous, and exhibiting clouded judgment.
Patience and Trust in Intuition: Hidden Gifts of my Yoga Practice
A yoga practice can enhance many aspects of our lives: awareness, mindfulness, flexibility, strength and so much more. Cultivating patience and trust in intuition are probably not the first that come to mind. In my 21-year practice, however, these have been the hidden gifts that have brought so much more than I ever imagined when I first took up yoga.
Yoga for the Core: Why It’s Important & How To Practice
The core can often be seen as this mysterious part of the body that is either toned by six-pack muscles or just weak. Oftentimes in yoga, teachers instruct students to “activate the core” without totally explaining how or what that means leaving students confused or desperately trying to suck in their bellies while holding their breath. The core can be somewhat complex, but it is absolutely imperative to a healthy and safe yoga practice and its strength can contribute to overall health and wellbeing.
5 Life Changing Things I learned from My Yoga Practice
Twenty one years ago I said “yes” to an invitation to practice yoga on the beach in celebration of Earth Day. I had never taken a yoga class before and did not know what to expect. Out of desperation, I showed up to give yoga a few hours of my Saturday morning to reveal to me its secrets. I was hopeful and hopeless. I was a crazy-busy first year middle school teacher struggling to make a difference in the lives of kids in the inner city of East Los Angeles. I was stressed out, drank too much, and when I got tired, I pushed harder.
Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Many seasoned practitioners can share their yoga war story. It may be the sickening “rrrrrip!” of a hamstring tear, a shoulder clunking out of place, or maybe a throbbing neck coming out of Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand). Though Yoga is rightly credited with healing mind, body and soul, it isn’t without its risks. But, with a little knowledge...
Twisting: Why Do We Do These Asanas?
Yoga is an evolutionary process. I learned this in my first yoga teacher training program at White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA. I had no idea how accurate that was until now, 8 years later, and I see not only my practice changing and evolving. I see hundreds of people attending Wanderlust...
Why Do I Need Prenatal Yoga?
Medical practitioners often recommend Yoga to soon-to-be mothers and for good reason. Its benefits have long been established and documented. This ancient science and philosophy takes on a special role in pregnancy, working from the inside out to address the sudden and dramatic hormonal and physiological changes that characterize pregnancy
The Yoga of Balance
We all have two sides physically, mentally and energetically. Physically, one side tends to be longer or bigger and more or less dominant. Mentally, our left...
Turn Your Vinyasa Flow Into a Moving Meditation
“Inhale from tadasana as you lift your arms and rise, looking up. Exhale, lowering into a forward fold, releasing your arms to your shin or to the floor. Inhale rise and half way lift, flattening the back and looking up. Exhale as you lower into chaturanga dandasana, firmly planting both hands onto the floor, making sure your...
How backbends effect more than just your back
Back bends can be scary and intimidating because it’s the process of deeply opening yourself up to find what’s hiding beneath the surface. Revealing parts of yourself that are yet to be discovered. Emotional wounds, that are covered in buried treasures. The buried treasure...
Who Needs Yoga Retreats?
Yogis everywhere seek the sanctuary of a yoga retreat to feel cared for, refreshed and deeply nourished—mind, body and soul. Well-organized retreats take care of accommodation, provide healthy, vibrant meals and incorporate plenty of yoga into daily schedules...
Why You Should Do Yoga if You're Not Fit
There is a basic misconception about yoga, which is that you have to be in great shape to start doing yoga. People who feel they “can’t” do yoga because they are not strong enough, or thin enough, or can’t touch their toes are missing the point. This is easy to do, given the popular image of yoga as a “sport” for the young, fit and flexible. But that’s just marketing. Yoga, in the true sense, is a practice that creates healthier, stronger, more responsive minds and bodies. It doesn’t matter where you start. If you have to take a break walking up a flight of stairs, fine. If you need a mirror to see your toes, fine. If you struggle to lift a pint of milk, fine. You can begin exactly where you are. Yoga gives you the tools to transform four key elements of your health.
Standing Balance Yoga Postures
Below are easy to follow guidelines to establish a safe and effective balancing practice paired with postures commonly found in any Yoga class. We will start with Tadasana, Mountain Pose as it serves as the blueprint needed to achieve balance physically, mentally and energetically.
Arthritis is a painful condition characterized by swollen and inflamed joints. There are over one hundred types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis as we age. It is caused by “wear and tear” of the joints and is a degenerative joint disease. It involves the wearing away of cartilage, the covering on the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. If the cartilage is completely worn away, it can result in painful bone-on-bone contact, causing restricted movement. X-ray adult's hand with multiple arthritis X-ray adult’s hand with multiple arthritis Arthritis can make everyday life very difficult. Even the simple act of walking can be a challenge when the joints are stiff and swollen. When it is painful to move, it can be tempting to rest and refrain from moving. Unfortunately, this will only worsen the symptoms of arthritis. Gentle exercise, especially some types of yoga, can be beneficial in easing the troublesome symptoms of arthritis. Circular movements help the ball-and-socket joints relieve stiffness. They increase synovial fluid, which reduces friction between the cartilage of joints during movement, to nourish the joints. Gentle, circular movements help circulate blood to ligaments, tendons and muscles.
How to choose a Yoga Studio
The influx of Yoga is across the globe is amazing as it continues to spreads powerful and positive ancient teachings, giving all keys to better health and a better life. With its boom, also comes the difficulty of choosing the right Yoga studio as the variety of yoga styles, teachers and methods are vast and often hard to navigate. Luckily, the ancient statement is true. There is a teacher for every student, and in turn a studio for every student. Maybe you are new to yoga, moved to a new location or simply want to make a shift to a studio that better suits your needs and goals. Here is an easy guide to follow as you begin or continue your yogic path.
Mindfulness for Modern Day Yogis
A recent survey conducted by Microsoft concluded that human beings now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. The average human attention span according to this survey was eight seconds, down from twelve seconds in the year 2000 1. Most human beings in the modern world are living with an overly stimulated nervous system. Does this sound like you? Are you plagued by a mind that’s always thinking? Are you torn between several competing thoughts, projects, or web sites all at the same time? Do you go to yoga class to stop the constant spinning of your thoughts, and calm the habitual stress response to life? Are you hungry to find a way to carry the benefits of your yoga practice – peace, clarity, calm and presence — off your mat and into life?
The Daily Motivation to Meditate
So you’ve found your technique, bought the cushion and marked out a spot in the living room. In some ways meditation is not the hard bit; yogis tell us it is our natural state of mind to be still, present and content. No, often the hardest part is the motivation to make it part of our daily life. To just sit. We read how good meditation and mindfulness are for us, we even begin to experience it, but still sometimes the will is lacking. Take an inspiration a day as the motivation to sit, walk, breath – or however you bring yourself towards stillness.
5 Reasons to Start Yoga After 50
Do you think you are too old to begin a yoga practice if you are over 50? The good news is that you are not! You are never too old to begin yoga! In fact, yoga just may be the key to an active lifestyle as we age. Here are 5 great reasons to begin practicing yoga if you are over 50. 1. Greater strength and flexibility Loss of muscle and bone strength is a natural result of aging. A sedentary lifestyle can accelerate these changes. Gentle weight-bearing yoga poses can slow the loss of muscle tone. Yoga teaches correct postural alignment, reducing the stress on muscles, bones and joints. Gentle stretches aid in flexibility and reduce joint pain and stiffness. Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and aid in increasing range of motion of the joints, decreasing the likelihood of injury.
Overcoming excuses to not practice yoga at home
I don’t have enough time… I don’t have enough space… Sleep is more important right now… There are endless reasons for not practicing yoga at home, even though it’s something that is scientifically proven 1 to enrich your life. While sometimes circumstances genuinely impede an at-home practice, students are only as limited as their imaginations when it comes to surmounting those obstacles. What all excuses ultimately boil down to is a choice: Do I overcome inertia or do I stay rooted in the patterns I’m used to? Health psychologist and yoga practitioner Kelly McGonigal defines this in her explanation of willpower as “the ability to do what you really want to do when part of you really doesn’t want to do it 2”. So… how do you do it?
Pain in Asanas
Please note that here we discuss pain that is caused by the load on healthy organs and areas of the body. Pain resulting from injury, disease, etc. is a completely separate big topic, which is the subject of Yoga-therapy.
Causes and Treatment of Muscle Trembling
First of all, we would like to clarify that we are speaking about ‘trembling’ as a result of physical exertion, which is different from muscle spasms or tremors as possible symptoms of some disease. Most often, body trembling during practice occurs when experiencing prolonged static loads, during which time you must hold the body in one position for a prolonged period. Contrary to popular belief, trembling is something that is well known to not only beginners. It is experienced even by Yogis with many years of experience, although they usually experience this during high-intensity practices, often combined with fasting or cleansing.
What to Do with Thoughts During Savasana?
At the beginning of his ‘Yoga Sutras’, Patanjali gives the following definition: ‘Yoga is the restraint of mind fluctuations’. Here ‘mind’ is understood as the totality of such processes as observation, reasoning, evaluation, and memorisation. It operates in terms of a person’s individual characteristics: feelings, emotions, desires, memory, and intelligence. It turns out that, in fact, Yoga is the ability to sort things out in one’s head rather than the ability to perform intricate poses. Let’s try understand why this is so important and how to curb these ‘mind fluctuations’.