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The Difference Between Yin and Restorative Yoga

By Restorative Yoga, Yin YogaNo Comments

Yin yoga and restorative yoga, while similar, are actually quite different.

Yin yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on stretching the connective tissues in order to lengthen them and help release built-up tension. The poses are held anywhere from two to seven minutes and work with the energy meridians in your body, plus increase flexibility, improve joint mobility, and release trauma in the body.

Restorative yoga is more of a meditative practice that relies on blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets to create a passive release of mind and body. This style helps let go of deep tension in a passive way, without any active stretch or engagements in the body.

Both yin and restorative are slow-paced and focus on only a few different poses in each class. Both practices help calm the mind and nervous system and enable you to turn inward.

Yin yoga and restorative yoga are both gentle and appropriate for all levels of students, from total beginners to experienced practitioners to athletes and seniors or even people with injuries and movement limitations.

Many people think that these two types of yoga are interchangeable because of all the similarities they share. But that’s not really the case.

So, let’s look at the differences.

Differences Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

These two practices of yoga are similar because they are slow, meditative, and focused on long posture holds. But they also have some key differences, such as:

  • There is an active stretch in yin yoga but in restorative yoga, the goal is to be totally supported by your props and with only passive movements or stretches.
  • In yin yoga, the focus is on stretching your connective tissues and the like, but in restorative yoga, the focus is on the release of any mind-body tension.
  • Both styles use props but in yin yoga, when props are used they are meant to either deepen or ease the stretch. In restorative yoga, props are used to completely support your body. Restorative yoga commonly uses more props than yin in each pose.
  • Restorative yoga poses are held for longer than yin yoga poses.

Who Should Practice Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is best for people looking to:

  • Increase flexibility
  • Keep joints healthy and mobile
  • Improve posture
  • Release trauma and emotions that become stored in the body

Who Should Practice Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is best for:

  • Meditation
  • Stress release
  • Deep relaxation
  • Connecting with the breath
  • Creating a sense of safety in the mind and body
  • Reaching a state of mindful rest

Students should try both types of yoga to see which one best suits their needs, and might even decide to add both into a regular practice. If you want to learn more about yin yoga how it can have a healing and restorative impact on the body, click here.

Emotions, Feelings And Yin Yoga: How To Heal From The Inside

By Healing, Yin YogaNo Comments

The Body-Mind Connection

Yogis, as well as many others, believe in the connection between mind, body, and spirit. The three exist as a union, and when one is out of balance, the others struggle as well. In essence, what happens to the mind also happens to the body and spirit, and vice versa. So, if something is bothering you spiritually, emotionally, or mentally, there is a good chance it will show up in your physical body.

But, as you work deeply into your body through a yoga practice, emotional issues can be released.

The yogic view is that we hold emotions and misplaced thoughts within our bodies, and they keep us from reaching ‘samadhi’, which is considered “conscious enlightenment.” Asanas offer one way to find the path to this blissful state, as they work by focusing our minds and releasing any emotional or tension in our bodies.

Unfortunately, western medicine has been slower to accept this idea of the mind and body connection. But more and more new research is presented that shows how mental and emotional conditions can affect the physical body, and that the mind-body connection is indeed very real.

Have You Ever Experienced?:

  • Butterflies in your stomach before a big meeting?
  • Sweating more than normal when you’re nervous?
  • An upset stomach or indigestion after a stressful time?

These are examples of the body reacting to something that’s primarily happening in our mind. Many people with chronic anxiety will report having experienced different physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headache, dizziness, feeling faint, a tight chest, and more. In many instances, nothing is physical wrong, but instead the mental anxiety has a deep connection to how the body functions.

Leaning Into The Issues

Ana Forrest, founder of the Forrest Yoga Circle studio in Santa Monica, California, is an experienced yoga teacher who has dealt with her own breakthroughs both on and off the mat. Her intention as a teacher is to push her students toward their own emotional blockages. “It’s not that I push with my hands,” Forrest explains. “But when I work with people, I really ask them to go deep, and I educate them along the way. I tell them, ‘You’re going to hit what’s stored in there. Let it come up and be cleansed out of your cell tissue. It’s a gift of the yoga.’”

For example, if a student tells Forrest she’s just been through a breakup or is dealing with a heartache, Forrest says, “Challenge yourself to make every pose about moving energy into your heart.”

Yin Yoga For The Ultimate Release

Yin yoga is a style of yoga that evolved from the Taoist yoga lineage. There are 26 poses and you may only do a handful of them in a class since each pose is held for anywhere between two and seven minutes, on average. Each pose focuses on ‘cleaning out’ the different meridians, which are the same energy channels used in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Yin is about disengaging. It is commonly mistaken for restorative yoga but it’s not actually the same. Yin is composed of tension and compression as well as rebounds that create a cleansing of the fascia and connective tissues.

This releasing action that yin creates can bring up all kinds of emotions. Many students find that the most ‘triggering’ poses are those that work on releasing connective tissue around the hips.

Think of your body like a car, with your hips being the trunk where you store all your emotional baggage. The hips have six of the 12 meridians running through them. So anything you do around your hips is touching on six major organs, six meridians. Basically a full range of emotions.

To learn more about yin yoga and how it can have a healing impact on the mind-body connection, click here.

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 

10 Reasons To Make Time For Yin Yoga

By Yin Yoga, YogaNo Comments

Yin yoga is considered an introspective practice that gives students the chance to turn inward and nurture a calm, quiet state of mind that lives within all of us. It’s a practice in stillness, patience, and non-reactivity. Through yin yoga we become better listeners by learning to tune in, wiser as we get to know ourselves from the inside out, and more curious about our own inner world.

Some of the popular benefits of yin yoga include:

  • Reduces stress
  • Balances our yang energy
  • Relieves tension
  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps us learn to handle stress
  • Encourages mindfulness and meditation

Keep reading to learn more reasons why you should take time to add a yin yoga practice to your day.

 

The Stillness Of Yin Yoga Prepares Us For Meditation.

The yin practice sets us up to tap into a meditation mindset. Our daily cloud of thoughts and distractions tend to block us from being able to dive deeply into our consciousness. When we find space for physical stillness in a yin practice, we create conditions for the brain to become clear.

 

Yin Yoga Helps Us Learn Balance.

Finding balance within our lives is a juggling act — we have jobs, family, friends, responsibilities, and hobbies. If you look at the yin/yang symbol you’ll notice that the white and black sections are in perfect balance. Many of us live very active lives and leave little or no time to bathe in the quiet, introspective side. Over time this can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Through a yin yoga practice we can restore balance so that both sides have equal and necessary attention.

 

A Yin Yoga Practice Allows Us To Slow Down.

The long holds in yin yoga poses provide a chance to bathe in stillness. There is a shift that occurs while holding a yin posture. Time opens up for us — deadlines, pressing matters, and to-do lists fade away and open up space for rest and renewal.

 

You Can Learn Self-compassion Through Yin Yoga.

Taking care of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self is crucial to our wellbeing. A yin practice offers us the chance to observe, nurture, and calm ourselves. Carefully moving into a  posture and focusing on your body’s specific needs is a form of self-care.

 

Handle Stress Better With Yin Yoga.

Holding a pose for several minutes can provoke anxiety. But when we approach it with tenderness, the body acclimates. Surrender is a common theme in yin yoga, and giving up the need to control a situation is a lesson that we can carry with us into our day-to-day lives. The ability to adapt to the ups and downs of life and to manage change with grace can lessen our predisposition to stress.

 

Yin Practice Can Restore Range Of Motion.

A healthy range of motion requires our layers of connective tissue to allow for the muscles to glide over each other. But injury, poor posture, and aging (among other factors) can tighten the connective tissues and create ‘adhesions’ and restrict the movement between the sliding surfaces of the muscles. Adhesions block the flow of nutrients and energy, (think of a traffic jam) causing pain and limiting range of motion. When we hold poses that gently and safely lengthen the muscles and connective tissues, it helps break up adhesions. Applying mild stress to joints and connective tissues can also increase their range of motion.

 

Yin Yoga Rejuvenates The Body.

Our body’s tissues can experience a revival of sorts with a long soak the same way that an old, stiff sponge can. As you hold a yin pose, the slow release that takes you deeper into the pose is the tissues lengthening, hydrating, and becoming more pliable. Many times you even can sense the tissues being stretched, squeezed, twisted, and compressed if you really focus your attention on the physical body. A yin practice has the potential to leave you feeling as though you’ve had a massage.

 

A Yin Yoga Practice Creates The Opportunity To Sit With Emotions.

Our bodies store emotions, so from time to time our thoughts, feelings, and memories can bubble to the surface during a yoga practice. Yin teaches us how to be gentle, patient, and nonreactive. When emotions bubble to the surface, the conditions are safe for us to explore them.

 

Yin Yoga Taps Into The Parasympathetic Nervous System.

Belly breathing, (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) is a powerful way to induce the parasympathetic nervous system. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is good for us. It helps alleviate stress, tension, blood pressure and aids in better sleep, digestion, and immune function. Most of our time is spent stuck in the sympathetic nervous system because we live busy, active lives.

Belly breathing can change this.

As you move deeper into your yin practice, the breath slows down significantly, pulling you deeper and deeper into this parasympathetic, or relaxation, state. This is where the internal organs get a chance to catch up on their to-do list (digest, eliminate toxins, heal, repair).

 

Yin Creates An Opportunity To Cultivate Gratitude For Our Bodies

Yin yoga allows us to return to our bodies and to see just how remarkable we are. Diving deeper into the layers of ourselves, we learn about our inner workings, connecting to respiratory and circulatory functions, internal organs, and sensations within the muscles and joints. This heightened awareness of the body brings us closer to santosha, or contentment.

The more you practice Yin Yoga, the more you will embrace the act of slowing down and connecting to yourself. As Bernie Clark said, “Completeness, wholeness often requires a rebalancing and a returning to the center where I can see my energies and care for my soul.”

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

The Benefits of Yin Yoga | YogaRenew Teacher Training

By Yin YogaNo Comments

Most students who step onto a yoga mat learn quickly the many benefits: flexibility, strength, a calm mind, better sleep, better digestion, and the list goes on and on. But with so many styles of yoga, how do you know which is right for you? Many students like to try a few different styles, to get a sense of the benefits of each.

In this article we’re going to dive into yin yoga, a style of yoga that works deeply into our body with passive, longer-held poses. There are many benefits to this style of yoga and injuries are less common thanks to the slow movement, which helps students become aware of sensation before it can become an injury.

 

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is different from many other types of yoga because there is no flow from pose to pose. Each yin pose is held for several minutes at a time, from 2.5 minutes up to 7 minutes, depending on the pose and the experience level of the students. Most poses are done seated or lying on your back or stomach, which makes it possible to stay in the posture for a few minutes. Unlike restorative yoga which is about total relaxation, yin yoga should cause some sensation, a mix of compression and tension, rather than deep relaxation.

Yin yoga also has different names for poses you might have previously practiced in a vinyasa yoga class. This is because yin poses have different rules: the alignment and overall focus is quite different than how you might practice it in a flow class.

 

Using Your Breath in Yin Yoga

We use the breath in yin yoga to help sustain the poses when they become uncomfortable. It’s the uncomfortable moments and sensations that help the body release deeply held tension and also create lasting change. By allowing the breath to flow freely, we keep our mind calm and our body continues to relax into the sensations we’re feeling. While other types of yoga utilize the breath to build heat and help with focus, yin yoga uses the breath as an aid. Think of it as a silent friend supporting you during an uncomfortable moment.

 

Yin Yoga Helps Release Tension, Stress, and Anxiety

Yin yoga has a lengthening and releasing effect which allows us to dig deeper into the connective tissues that surround the joints and release tension. It also helps to free up energy within the body. Specifically, it helps free up emotional energy that may be causing anxiety, stress, or tension.

It is very countercultural to be allowed to “simply be”. The act of slowing down might be all you need to calm your mind. Do your best to breathe and to sink heavily into each asana with the time you’re given.

If you’re unsure if your physical stress has an emotional link, try to identify the area of the body needing attention. Very often, the stress in the body manifests itself in the major joint systems. Our major joint systems carry the heaviest burden while supporting the body, therefore, making them more susceptible to emotional pressures. They include the spine, shoulders, and hips.

Postures in yin yoga support the joints through a process of detoxification. While the poses are being held, the joint system being worked on is starved of vital nutrients and prana. Once the pose is released, a rebounding pose is introduced to encourage the rushing back of nutrients into the joint. This flooding cleanses the joint of toxins and lowers levels of inflammation. This cleanse can also be felt in the emotional body as a sense of release.

 

Yin Yoga Compliments Other Workouts

The ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang relates to the idea that within two opposing forces, there is balance. Certain styles of exercise can be categorized as either yin or yang according to their qualities. Workouts such as running, HIIT, and heat building yoga classes are considered yang because they are active, sweat-inducing, dynamic, and repetitive. The principles of yang relate to masculinity, heat, and movement. Yin is the feminine force and is related to stillness, rest, balance, cooling, and release. Exercises that are based in stretching and relaxation are yin in nature. If yang-style workouts are overused without the balance of yin, there is the potential for the body to become overworked, injured, or fatigued. Bringing yin yoga to your movement routine will help with improved flexibility and relaxation.

 

Yin Yoga Balances Your Chi

According to traditional Chinese medicine, our bodies are powered by a vital force called ‘chi’. Chi runs through specific energetic channels in the body, called meridians. While all yoga styles could have an effect on the meridian pathways, yin yoga has a more profound and extreme effect. All of the meridians flow through the back and legs and many yin postures will touch on several meridians at once. Yin classes are usually structured to allow students to work on all of the meridians.

 

Yin Yoga Can Help Build Fortitude and Perseverance

When life is feeling a bit difficult or situations are making it hard to focus, you can turn to yin yoga to help rebalance energy. Yin teaches us that staying still and dealing with whatever thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sensations come up will actually help you grow. Learning to take each moment as it comes will help you become more proficient in managing the discomforts that come up in life off the mat. As time passes in each posture, it gets harder to ignore the ‘monkey’ mind and students sometimes have the desire to leave or modify the pose. Yin teaches us to find a place of comfort in a not-so-comfortable place and observe our thoughts and reactions from a place of calmness.

 

Yin Yoga is for All Ages and Abilities

As a practice, Yin Yoga is safe for people of all ages and physical abilities. It’s a great addition to a current yoga practice or workout, and can be adapted for those with injury or limitation. Always make sure to let your teacher know if you are pregnant, have a new or old injury, or are feeling any sharp, shooting pains while in a pose. There are modifications available to make each pose better suited for your body and specific needs.

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

 

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 
Is Yin Yoga Right For You?

Learn If Yin Yoga Is Right For You | YogaRenew Teacher Training

By Yin Yoga, Yoga for AthletesNo Comments

 

Yoga has been in the spotlight as a healthy and natural way to work out, destress, and quiet the mind, but one style has recently become more popular and is attracting all types of people. Yin yoga offers the opportunity to relax, ground, and release. With our daily lives already very active, stressful, and constantly on-the-go, more people are being drawn to this practice that teaches us how to surrender.

Yin yoga is a simple and quiet practice, but it’s not always easy or comfortable. It can take you beyond your normal comfort zone, and this is where many of the benefits live.

While yin yoga is great for the physical body, many of the benefits stem from its effects on the mind and emotions. This practice allows the body to drop down into the parasympathetic nervous system, offering a grounding, calming, and revitalizing practice that can have profound energetic and emotional outcomes. This makes it a great practice for practically everyone.

 

Yin Yoga for Athletes

Yin yoga is one of the most effective styles of yoga that athletes can incorporate into their workouts. It’s great for increasing flexibility, relieving tightness, and deeply relaxing both the body and mind. It’s not generally comfortable and does require a good amount of time to be set aside, but the benefits are worth the effort.

Yin and yang is an ancient Taoist concept that describes the interdependency of oppositional forces. Day relies on night to exist, just as hot relies on cold, and so on. Neither aspect is good or bad, but are understood as two sides of the same coin.

When applied to sports, yang activities are typically hot, fast, dynamic, stimulating, and energetic. Yin activities are passive, cooling, relaxing, and therapeutic. Committing to both types of training aids in healthy recovery. Too much of one and not enough of the other can lead to falling short or burning out.

Some of the benefits athletes experience when committing to a yin yoga practice are:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Eases in aches and pains
  • Improved posture
  • Sped up recovery
  • Reduced injuries
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation and better sleep

 

Yin Yoga for Injuries

There is no right or wrong, good or bad, or even a certain way the yin postures are supposed to look. The reason for this is because everyone’s body is unique. Ideally, each yoga student gives themself permission to feel and experience whatever is happening in that moment, without expectations or judgment. This is a safe, non-competitive environment where we can allow ourselves to just be in our bodies without specific goals.

From healing injured shoulders to safely rehabbing a new knee, yin yoga can help. Yin yoga is based on passively-held yoga postures, usually seated or lying down, held for anywhere between 3-10 minutes. These asanas unblock your chi flow through the meridians of your body, which happen to run through the connective tissue. Connective tissue is worked, nourished, and hydrated by yin yoga. It’s where injuries can be healed through the action of fibroblasts and your immune system.

 

Yin Yoga for Beginners

Yoga classes are usually planned out based on levels — new students start with beginner or fundamental classes and work their way to Level 1, 2, 3, and beyond. There’s all types of creative names for yoga classes that help designate what kind of yoga flow you can expect. But yin yoga doesn’t have levels, and that’s because it’s appropriate for students of all levels, from the very new beginner to the handstanding expert.

One of the benefits of yin yoga practice is the ability to pay close attention to how we’re feeling. Yin yoga gives us a chance to learn what sensations are, where they are, and whether they are healthy or too intense. In yang styles of yoga, beginners can be worried and overwhelmed with all the details of the poses: the alignment, muscle engagements, the teacher’s directions, the breath, and on and on. But in yin yoga we have time to learn how to pay attention to each sensation and breath.

Students learn to develop their own awareness of what they need, including when to go deeper and when to back off. This helps students become well equipped for the faster-paced styles of yoga.

 

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 

How To Stay Centered During Stressful Times

By Wellness, Yoga LifestyleNo Comments

 

 

 

It can be easy to become uncentered due to things that occur in our daily lives. When we feel uncentered, we feel as though we’re being spread too thin in many different directions. Our minds can become crowded with thoughts and we can feel anxious or stressed in our bodies.

When left unchecked, prolonged stress can lead to diseases, lowered immunity, tiredness, fatigue, and burnout. Long term stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, and social or communication issues. Another important point to keep in mind is that how we react to stress determines how stressed we actually feel, as well as our outlook on life. For example, two people could be in the exact same stressful situation, but if one has learned to reframe that situation in a positive light—or learned how to react less to it—that person will have a completely different experience than the other.

Regular yoga, pranayama, and meditation practice can help us to combat stress and help us with how we respond to stressful situations. By quieting the mind and allowing ourselves to be more deeply aware of the present moment, we can start to become more mindful of our emotions, our thoughts, and how we react to stressful situations. It’s important to take time each day to sit in stillness for a few moments to rediscover the place of centeredness in ourselves. As we practice sitting with this place of centering, we often find that we can access our centeredness more easily in times of chaos or stress. By strengthening our connection to it, we can allow this space of being centered to guide us in every moment. Some other ways we can return to our centers are taking walks daily, being in nature, eating healthy, journaling, yoga, breathwork, or meditation

By practicing calming the mind and building awareness of ourselves and the world around us, we gain dominion over our thoughts and our emotions.

Here are a few simple practices you can do today to help you feel more grounded in times of stress.

 

5 Simple Centering Practices

 


1. Centering Breath Practice

The simplest way to center in any moment of our lives is through our breath. The best part of this practice is that is easy and we can do it anytime we begin to feel stressed. To practice this centering breath practice, find a pace of breathing that feels good to you. Then, as you inhale, say the words I’m breathing in either out loud or internally. As you exhale, say the words I’m breathing out either out loud or internally. Repeat this up to a minute or longer. If you find that your mind wanders away, just gently bring your awareness back to this centering breath practice.

 

2. Sitting Grounding Practice

Grounding and feeling rooted helps us get in touch with feelings of stability and support. To practice, begin in a comfortable seated pose, with eyes either closed or open. Begin to center your mind with your breath; breathing deeply. Bring awareness to your sit bones and your connection with the earth beneath you. Observe how firm and supportive it is as you connect to it. Take several breaths in and out as you feel this connection deepening and begin to feel support and stability.

 

3. Counting Breath Practice

Focusing on our breath and breath practices can be a powerful way in which we can turn away from fear and move towards peace. To do this practice, begin in a comfortable seated position. Start off easily with a slow three-count inhale in and a slow three-count exhale out. Then, take a deep breath in for a count of three and hold for a second. After the hold, exhale slowly for a count of three. You can do this for up to a minute, and even extend the count for up to five seconds (five seconds inhaling and five seconds exhaling out, slowly).


4. Standing Grounding Meditation

 

In times of stress, this simple grounding meditation can allow us to come back to the present moment. To practice, begin standing tall in Mountain (Tadasana) with your legs hip distance apart. Bring awareness to your feet rooting down into the Earth and feel supportive energy rising up from the Earth into your bodies. Engage your core and your leg muscles and feel this energy rising up all the way to the crown of your head. Bring your hands to prayer position at your chest, take several deep breaths, and take a quiet moment to express gratitude and respect to our home, Earth.

 

5. Calming Peace Prayer Practice

Compassion has a powerful effect on our minds and how we feel. Practicing compassion can take us from feelings of fear to feelings of love and understanding. To practice, begin in Easy pose or a comfortable seated position with your spine upright. Bring your hands to Namaste or Anjali mudra at your heart center. Allow your heart center to open and fill with love and light. Repeat the following peace prayer mantra, either out loud or internally. Imagine that you are directing this mantra to the entire world:

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

 

This ancient Sanskrit mantra translates to, “may all beings everywhere be happy and free.” Repeat this up to ten times and feel your heart radiating with love and peace for all beings in the world.

 

 

 

4 Ways To Practice Self-Care As A Yoga Teacher

By Wellness, Yoga TeachersNo Comments




As a yoga teacher, you can be many different roles to those that come to your yoga classes. Some come to class for a full body workout, which is our job to deliver for both body and mind. Some will share personal struggles, like the passing of a parent or recent job loss. Some will be healing from an injury or surgery, and will share because they will need pose modification instructions. Some have been practicing yoga for 50 years and ask ways to make the practice more geared to gentle yoga. Some tell you of their current divorce or financial worries, and they still find the money to take your yoga class. Most times you find all of this information out 10 minutes before the yoga class begins.

Our jobs as yoga teachers is to listen, offer compassion, and use the asana to facilitate openness, even if momentarily. In the high powered, maximum intensity life can sometimes feel like, yoga provides relief.

With all that we do for students, it is vital that we remember self-care. Let’s review four self-care experiences you can do as often as possible.

1. Go for a walk outside

Research has proven the scientific benefits of getting out in nature and enjoying a walk. Links to stress relief within minutes of being outdoors has been associated with reduced muscle strain, blood pressure, and brain flurry. Some days a yoga teacher can be inside a yoga studio for hours, and it’s that breath of fresh air needed after teaching that restores and rebalances. Current studies have pointed to people who walk leisurely as happier than runners, recreation tennis players, even those that practice yoga because it is about taking it one step at a time. Putting one foot in front of the other, even if for only 15 minutes, can create such joy that lifts away any depletion of energy. During the walk, our “chitta vritti”, Sanskrit for “mind chatter”, is calmed and able to process more evenly, every step of the way. Try it after teaching your next yoga class or private yoga session, and go outside for walk.

2. Practice yoga

The ultimate “practice what you teach” principle is a true self-care act. Yoga promotes better health. One hour to 90 minutes deliveries the physical and mental strength needed to perform at your highest level. Different than any other workout, yoga uses your body weight to tone and define your muscular system. In addition, yoga activates the parasympathetic system that releases tension and restores equilibrium. Full body toning, working with an injury, prescribed by your physician for aid in disease treatment, or as a way to heal and maintain your overall health, the investment in self-care will produce an invaluable return for your quality of life. Remember to keep practicing yoga when teaching yoga.

3. Meditate

Meditation benefits are abundant. Studies indicate that meditation can lower blood pressure and stress levels. Meditation allows you to tune in to, to listen internally. Noticing the fluctuations and natural course of your thinking, helps the mind find stillness. By observing, you’re able to let go of attachment to outcomes and results. Find 10 minutes a day to sit down and go inward. Begin by finding a comfortable seat. Propping your sit bones up on a blanket, cushion, etc. will make it easier to sit for an extended period of time. A mantra to begin with can be as simple as “let go”. On the inhale, silently repeat to yourself “let” and on the exhale, silently repeat to yourself “go”. Meditating is a great practice to do daily for self-care.

4. Get bodywork

All a personal preference that is healthy to explore and know, massages can be a tremendous help. Teaching yoga can take a toll on your physical body. Having regular bodywork keeps your muscles and tendons loose. Also a detoxification method by the stimulation of your soft tissues, massage frees toxins by way of blood and through your lymphatic systems. It can make all the difference for your state of mind, working with a massage therapist as often as you can is the paramount self-care for yoga teachers.

After you teach a yoga class and hear the student with the sore hamstring from a recent marathon say, “I feel so much better, that was an amazing class. Thank you. I don’t feel so tight anymore and can walk a little easier now,” you remember why you teach yoga. By caring for others, we teach an asana sequence that even if beneficial to one individual only, is the reason we teach yoga. Yet we must remember to take care of ourselves equally to remain the consistent, steady teachers we have studied very long to be. Happy self-caring!

Desirée McKenzie is a yoga teacher and writer. She trained 500+ hours as a Vinyasa Yoga Teacher in 2007, and is a certified Thai Yoga Bodywork Specialist since 2014. Her blended training in the wellness realm create classes that soothe, nourish and strengthen the body. Desirée continues to deepen her yoga studies, focusing on anatomy. She is grateful to have learned the ancient healing practices that maintain equanimity and grace.

5 Ways To Cultivate Self Love Through Yoga

By Wellness, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

 


“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

With the celebration of Valentine’s Day this week, we often correlate Valentine’s Day with love for others. While our relationships with others is an important aspect of love – the most essential type of love is often overlooked — self love. I’ve created this guide to help you get in touch with and cultivate the most important relationship you will ever have – with yourself.

Yoga practice is an excellent way to reconnect with ourselves and boost our self worth. Yoga allows us the time to just be ourselves and be fully present in our bodies with no judgments. It gives us the time to be still and care for ourselves deeply – in mind, body, and soul.

Self love is about taking the time to celebrate and love yourself fully. It’s about removing negative self talk and reminding yourself just how truly awesome you are. Self love is about taking time to care for yourself and recharging when you need it. It’s also about reminding yourself that when you do love you more fully – you not only fill yourself up with more love — but that love begins to spill over and radiate out into the world.

Here are 5 simple ways that you can start cultivating self love today.

1. Take Time To Celebrate Yourself

Cultivating self love allows us to let go of our negative self talk. It gives us the opportunity to reframe and see ourselves in a more positive light. We tend to focus on the things we do wrong or our regrets instead of focusing on our accomplishments and successes.

Practice acknowledging all the amazing things you do or wonderful things that you love about yourself. You could do this by writing down a list of things you love about you in a journal. These things could be physical things, accomplishments, or traits you love about yourself. Look at your list often and take time to meditate on it frequently.

Here’s a great ‘celebrating you’ meditation you can do easily anywhere:

Celebrate Yourself Meditation: Begin lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Bring your attention to your natural breathing cycle for about a minute; just simply observing it – not trying to change it in any way. Next, bring to mind 15-20 things you love about yourself. As you bring these things to mind, imagine feeling that love and appreciation in your heart for yourself radiating outwards into the world. Stay in this meditation for as long as you’d like.

2. Give Yourself ‘Me Time’

Many of us live busy lives in which we have numerous responsibilities to others; this includes our relationships to our loved ones, children, or our jobs. We sometimes focus so much on giving to others that we forget to give to ourselves – making us feel drained. Remind yourself the more you fill up your own cup with self love, the more love you’ll have to give to others.

Here are some ideas for your next ‘me time’:

• Meditate daily

• Practice pranayama or deep breathing exercises

• Cook and eat a lovely meal for yourself

• Take yourself out on a date

• Go for a relaxing walk

• Listen to soothing music

• Exercise

• Buy yourself flowers

• Book a massage or spa appointment

• Enjoy a nice warm cup of tea or coffee

• Read a book

• Write in a journal

• Take a long relaxing bath

• Enjoy a glass of nice wine

 

3. Practice Self Love Affirmations

Practice saying positive things about yourself through daily affirmations. Affirmations are a powerful practice that can change your belief systems on a deep subconscious level. Write down a few of your favorite affirmations on a sticky note and put them in places where you’ll be reminded daily. You can even make a reminder on your phone and affirm these to yourself several times a day. You could also set aside 5-15 minutes to sit in stillness and repeat the affirmations in meditation.

Here are some affirmations you can use to boost your self love:

• “I am more than enough”
• “I love myself fully and completely”
• “I accept myself as I am”
• “I love myself unconditionally”
• “I love my body and all that it does for me”
• “I am worthy of all the love, joy, and abundance in the world”
• “The only approval I need for myself is my own”
• “I release any negative judgments I have about myself”
• “I love the woman or man that I am”
• “I am strong, powerful, and full of radiant energy”

4. Set Healthy Boundaries For Yourself

Self love means setting healthy boundaries for your and knowing what your core values are. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone else’s approval but your own to live your best true life.

Setting boundaries sometimes means letting go of negative situations or people in our lives. Meditation helps us to be more aware of our emotions and things in our lives. Take time to sit in stillness and allow your inner wisdom to guide you. If something is draining you or taking away your joy, have the courage to remove it from your life.

5. Yoga Sequence For Self Love

Practicing self love is a very soothing practice that requires surrender and peace. It’s also an empowering act that gives us strength and courage. To sequence yoga poses for self love, consider calming yoga poses combined with power poses.

Here we’ve created a mini self love sequence you can do at home easily:

Child


Delve into self acceptance and self love through the surrender of Child pose. As you hold this pose for up to a minute or longer, repeat the following mantra to yourself; “I am enough.”

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels and reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Keep length in your spine and relax your neck. Hold and breathe, feeling yourself sink deeper towards the earth with every exhale.

Goddess


Get in touch with your inner Goddess or God with Goddess Pose. This power pose helps to elicits a feeling of strength and confidence. As you hold this pose using your breath, repeat the following mantra’ “I am strong and worthy”.

To come into Goddess, from Mountain pose, step your feet wide a few feet apart, turning the toes out slightly towards the outer edges of the mat to about 45 degrees. Bend your knees and come into a wide squat, working to get the your thighs parallel to the mat. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your toes. Hold for several breaths.


Warrior 2


Discover strength and inner peace with Warrior 2. As you hold this pose, repeat the following mantra to yourself; “I am worthy of all the love and joy in the world”.

To come into Warrior 2 from Mountain pose, step your feet apart 3 and a half to 5 feet apart. Point your front toes 90-degrees toward the front short edge of your mat and your back foot slightly in about 45-degrees. Lift your arms up bringing them parallel to your mat and bend your front knee stacking it over your ankle or slightly behind it. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

Pigeon


Pigeon pose is a deep hip opener that creates a deep sense of surrender in the body. It also helps calm the mind and soothe the soul. As you hold this pose for up to a minute or longer on each side, say to yourself with every exhale, “I accept myself fully as I am”.

To do Pigeon pose, from a tabletop position, bring your right foot in and place it down on your mat behind your right wrist. Adjust your shin so that it’s comfortable for you. Extend your left leg back on the mat. Come up onto your fingertips and walk your torso slightly up with the chest lifting and broadening. Stay here or to deepen the pose, begin to fold towards the mat keeping your spine lengthened. You can choose to come onto your forearms or rest your head on top of a block. To further deepen, you can bring your forehead down towards the mat and extend your arms out in front of you – with your palms facing down.

Savasana

Savasana is the ultimate relaxation pose in yoga. Use this time to cultivate self care and love for yourself; staying here for up to 20 minutes or longer. You could enhance your Savasana practice by dimming the lights, lighting candles, and playing soft ambient music. You can even use aromatherapy to further induce inner peace; Rose, Jasmine, Bergamot, and Sandalwood are great essential oils to use for self love care.

To do Savasana, come down onto your back and relax your arms and legs out comfortably. Allow your palms to gently open up towards the sky. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face. Let your breath be soft and natural as you just allow yourself to release and enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that by giving yourself this time to reset, you’ll be able to give more of yourself to others. Stay here for as long as you’d like.

 

5 Restorative Holiday Yoga Poses For Stress

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The holidays are meant to be time of slowing down and for spending time with loved ones. But sometimes the holidays can be a time of great stress for us. We find ourselves constantly rushing from task to task, multi-tasking, and checking off our endless shopping lists. What we fail to realize is that life is short and if we keep going in a stressed fashion – this season of connecting with ourselves and others will pass us by. We may find ourselves regretting not taking the time to just slow down and enjoy the moment. To help you get into the spirit of the holidays with no stress, we’ve created a restorative holiday sequence that you can do easily at home anytime.

By intentionally releasing the burden of stress and tension, it allows us to come to our natural state of being; of relaxation and joy. It also helps us to connect more deeply with the present moment and others around us. By taking this time for inner peace and stillness, we can find ourselves becoming more patient, calm, as well as loving towards ourselves and our loved ones.

To Begin

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Be sure to clear your space so its clutter free to relax your mind. Set some quiet music and maybe even some candles to further set the mood for peace.

To start your restorative holiday flow, come into a simple seated Easy Pose on your mat. Begin with a counting breath pranayama practice. To do this, take a big inhale in slowly for a count of 3, hold the breath briefly for a second or two, and then exhale out slowly for a count of 3. You can slowly work up to inhaling and exhaling for a count of 4 seconds or even 5 seconds depending on your preference. Elongating your inhalations and exhalations in this way helps to induce relaxation and slow down your central nervous system.

Restorative Holiday Mini Yoga Flow

1. Child Pose



Allow yourself to let go and release tension in your body in Child pose. As you sink towards the mat and rest here, breath here for several minutes. With every exhale, feel any stress leaving your body. With every inhale, feel yourself filling up with peace.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here and stay here for up to a minute if needed.

 

2. Downward Facing Dog



Downward Facing Dog, is an inversion pose, where we allow blood to flow to our head elevating our mood. Inversions also energetically brings ourselves into a different perspective; as we are looking at the world from an upside down perspective. This analogy can relate to stressful situations in our lives. By taking time to see a situation from a new perspective, we can start to focus on the more positive things about that situation. For example, during the holidays, we can re-frame our perspective to a more positive one, by focusing on spending time with loved ones, giving to others, beautiful family traditions, and peace.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and press your palms into the mat as you begin to lift and reach your tailbone up towards the sky. Broaden through your collarbones and look down towards your ankles or the mat in between your palms. You can keep your knees bent here or work on extending them straight to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and ankles. Stay here for several breaths, for up to a minute.

3. Bound Angle


The hips are an area where we tend to store alot of tension in our bodies. Allow yourself to melt into this pose by releasing into this stretch and holding for up to a minute.

To do this pose, begin in an Easy pose. Bring the soles of your feet together as you allow your knees to gently fall open onto the mat. Keep length in your spine as you hinge forward at the hips and lean in towards your feet. Keep your neck soft here and breath into your hips. You can use a blanket or blocks under your knees to elevate them for support if your hips are tight. You can also sit on blanket or bolster to relieve tension from your knees and hips.

4. Supine Twist

Relax your body and mind with this deep twist and hip opener. As you release into Supine Twist pose, close your eyes and stay here for up to a minute on each side. Allow your mind to be quiet and revel in this moment of peace you have created for yourself.

To do this pose, begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a ‘T’. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

5. Savasana


One of the most important poses in yoga, Savasana is a great way to just let go and release. Use props such as a blanket, eye pillow, or aromatherapy, to enhance your Savasana experience. Stay here for as long as you need – you could do Savasana for just 5 minutes or even up to 30 minutes if you feel you really need the release and quiet. It’s your practice so always feel free to tweak however you prefer.

To do Savasana, come down onto your back and relax your arms and legs out comfortably. Allow the palms to gently open up towards the sky. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face. Let your breath be soft and natural as you just allow yourself to release and enjoy the moment.

 

Ending Your Restorative Holiday Practice

End your practice in Easy Pose with your hands over your heart. Ground down through your sitbones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breath in ‘Peace’ and as you exhale imagine breathing out the word ‘Love’. Feel that peace and love radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.

 

 

 

A Yoga Sequence For Inspiring Gratitude

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

 

 

Thanksgiving is a time of appreciating things in our lives and for cultivating more gratitude. To help you get into the spirit of gratitude and giving this season, we’ve created a gratitude mini yoga flow that you can do at home.

It can be easy to forget all the blessings we have in our lives when we face challenges or obstacles. Gratitude is a simple and easy practice that anyone can start today to begin leading a more positive life. The simplest way to cultivate more gratitude is to take a few minutes each day or sit in meditation while you think of things you are grateful for each day. Cultivating the daily practice of gratitude in our lives can improve our relationships, make us more compassionate, and ultimately more happy. It creates a space for our lives where we can allow positive and transformative growth to occur. Gratitude can also improve our health by boosting our immunity, improve our sleep, and lower blood pressure.

To sequence a home gratitude yoga flow, focus on calming and grounding poses that help you get in touch with the energy of gratitude. Some poses you could consider are poses where your arms are stretched outwards – to symbolize the outreaching of giving to someone else. Poses you could include are Mountain with arms reaching upwards, Chair, Warrior 1, Balancing Table, or Warrior 3. Some grounding poses you could include in your mini sequence are Child, Plow, Standing Forward Fold, Happy Baby, and Supine Twist.

 

To Begin

Start your gratitude flow by coming into a simple seated Easy Pose. Begin to take in deep slow breaths in and out; focusing on elongating your exhalations and your inhalations. Next bring your hands to your heart center and bring your awareness to the movement of breath around your heart center or heart chakra area. Continue to breath deeply here. Bring to mind 5 – 10 things or people you are grateful for. Allow that energy of love and appreciation to fill your body, heart, and soul. Stay here for several moments and allow yourself to bask in this beautiful feeling of gratitude in your heart.

 

Gratitude Mini Sequence

1. Child Pose

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Child Pose

 

Allow yourself to release and let go in Child pose. As you ground down and surrender towards the mat, imagine as though your hands are outreaching out to receive more things to be grateful for in your life.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here.

2. Seated Forward Fold

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Seated Forward Fold Pose


Seated Forward Fold helps us to relax our mind and bodies. As you do this pose, focus on surrendering into gratitude for the things in your life that you appreciate. Feel the grounding of the earth beneath your sitbones as you root them into the ground and feel appreciation for the earth supporting you.

To do Seated Forward Fold, begin in Staff pose. Root down evenly through your sitbones. Begin to slowly hinge forward at the your hips, working to keep your spine lengthened. Reach your hands towards your ankles, shins, feet, or toes. Allow your neck to be relaxed here and feel yourself melt into this stretch.

3. Warrior 1


Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Warrior 1

As you come into Warrior 1 pose, allow your arms to reach up towards the sky as if you are receiving more things to be grateful for in your life. You can also imagine as if your arms are outreaching to give to someone else

To do this pose, begin in Mountain pose. Step your feet apart several feet and pivot your back foot in about 45 degrees and bend your front knee to 90 degrees with your toes pointing forward. Keep your front knee stacked over your front ankle. Lengthen up through your ribs and point your tailbone down towards the mat as your lengthen your arms up towards the sky. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

4. Warrior 3

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Warrior 3

Warrior 3 is a grounding and energizing pose. When in this pose, again imagine the outreaching of your arms forward are reaching to give to another person. Allow the feeling of giving to fill your heart. Feel the earth beneath your grounded foot supporting you.

 

To do this pose, begin in Mountain pose. Root down into one foot and leg as you reach the opposite leg behind you. Engage your core and reach your arms out in front of you. Imagine as if you are creating a straight line with your extended leg, torso, and arms. Relax your head as you gaze down or towards your fingers. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

 

5. Tree Pose

 

 

Gratitude Yoga Flow Thanksgiving Tree Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ground down through your standing foot and reach your arms upwards. Imagine the opening of your arms as if they are tree branches opening up to the sky and earth around you, ready to receive all the good and blessings in your life.

To do this pose, ground down through one foot and engage your standing leg. Lift the opposite foot and allow it to rest on your ankle, shin, or upper thigh. Engage your core and keep your gaze soft and focused in front of you. Option to bring your hands to heart center in prayer here or come into a full Tree expression with your arms reaching up towards the sky.

6. Supine Twist

Gratitude Yoga Flow Sequence Supine Twist

Stretch and detoxify your body and mind with this deep twist. As you melt into Supine Twist pose, allow yourself to linger here for a few breaths longer than usual. Allow your mind to relax and your heart area to fully open as you express your gratitude for your life.

To do this pose, begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a ‘T’. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

Ending Your Gratitude Flow Practice

End your practice in Easy Pose with your hands over your heart. Ground down through your sitbones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breath in ‘Thank You’ and as you exhale imagine breathing out the word ‘Joy’. Feel that joy radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.