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Yoga Practice

Developing The Foundation Of Your Yoga Practice With Tadasana

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

There are how-to instructions written on every yoga pose conceivable, whether in books, on the Internet, or in magazines. On social media, yogis of all body types and capabilities are making a name for themselves by offering yoga instruction in bite size segments with pictorial or video demonstration. Because information on nearly every pose in existence can be found online, I ask myself, what unique insight can I offer my readers that will positively benefit their practice? In submission, I humbly offer you the practice of Tadasana, the most basic, fundamental, and primary yoga pose. Tadasana is the one pose that I come back to everyday, every practice, and in every class I teach. While there are many poses that seem more dynamic, intense, and challenging, it is Tadasana that offers the most engagement and opportunity for introspection.

My daily practice begins with classical Surya Namaskar, which is repetitive cycle of twelve poses that both begins and ends in Tadasana. Because the engagement of Tadasana sets the foundational tone of the practice, its importance cannot be overstated. The form and focus of Tadasana is energetically mirrored within the varying poses of Surya Namaskar, from Downward Facing Dog to Plank Pose, and parallels positions like Hasta Tadasana, Extended Mountain Pose, and Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose. Beyond Surya Namaskar, Tadasana creates the base for all standing poses, particularly ones involving balance, like Vrikshasana, Tree Pose, and Svarga Dvijasana, Bird of Paradise Pose. Further, Tadasana’s stable form gives rise to backbends such as Ustrasana, Camel Pose, and Shalabhasana, Locust Pose. Seated, the energy of Tadasana informs Dandasana, Staff Pose, Paschimotonasana, Seated Forward Fold, Purvottanasana, East Pose, and inversions such as Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand, and Shirshasana, Headstand.

Though there are multitudes of ways to set up Mountain Pose, such as standing with the feet hip’s distance apart with the palms facing forward, or with the hands together in Namaste’, my preferred way to align Mountain Pose is austere: feet together, big toes touching, arms at the side, palms facing inward. To begin, stand at the front of the mat and bring big toes together until they are firmly touching. To many, this first point of connection seems minor. However, pressing the big toes together is akin to connecting two live electrical wires—when they touch, energy flows. With the big toes pressing together, spread the remaining toes apart, and ground them back down to the floor. Making slight movements, balance the body’s weight evenly between the toes to the heels, and from the inside arches to the outside edges of the feet. Stand with balanced weight on both the right and left foot, weight distributed squarely across the front, back, inside, and outside of each.

Once the feet are in place, engage Tadasana by moving upwards in the body. Activate the calf muscles, straighten the knee joints, and contract the quadriceps firmly. Tighten the hamstring muscles, squeeze the inner thighs together, tuck the tailbone inwards, and engage the gluts. Lift the sternum upwards, roll the shoulders back and down, and straighten the elbows. With the palms facing the thighs, firmly reach the fingertips downwards as if they could touch the floor. Squeeze the armpits closed, and make the arms rigid, tight, and tense. Deeply engage the abdominal muscles, and activate the erector muscles of the spine. Draw the shoulder blades together and down towards the mid-back, and activate the muscles across the chest. Engage the whole body from the feet to the head.

Now, close your eyes. Keeping the whole body engaged, breathe. Take full ujjayi breaths and scan the body once more, beginning at the big toes, and all the way up again, engaging the whole body with awareness and breath. Keeping the body engaged, relax the neck, jaw, face, brow, and scalp. Sense the duality of the engaged, firm, tight, tense, activated body, paired with breath awareness and a purposeful softening of the face. The practice of Tadasana provides an introspective experience aligned with the true purpose of yoga. Physically, the yogi is activated and engaged in the manifest world. Internally, the yogi is calm, focused, and relaxed. In this way, Tadasana embodies the essence of a yogi.

Another term used for Tadasana is Samasthiti, a conjunction of two Sanskrit words: sama, meaning unmovable, stable, and sthiti, meaning standing still, steady. Therefore, Tadasana is a pose wherein the body is firm and unyielding, steadfast as a mountain. This is the energetic attitude of yogic lifestyle, one that is unwavering in practice, focus, and inner stillness. On a physical level, the entire pantheon of yoga asana is incepted from Tadasana. Aided with awareness and breath, Tadasana not only translates into all the shapes and forms made on the mat, but also into day-to-day living in terms of posture, gait, and body awareness. This lifestyle application goes further in terms of consistency, motivation, ambition, will power, and personal fulfillment. Both on the mat and off, Tadasana deepens self-awareness, highlights the capability of the body, fine tunes mental concentration, and promotes purposeful relaxation. In this way, the daily practice of Tadasana sets the foundation for spiritual awareness within a material world.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Physical Benefits Of Yoga Practice

By Yoga, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

The benefits of yoga can be categorized into a group of three components: physical, emotional and spiritual. Although all are important to maintain a healthy balance, this piece focuses on the physical and the benefits and of a regular asana practice. Some of the main physical benefits of yoga are increased strength, improved flexibility, better body posture, stronger spinal stability and a greater command of the breath.

 

1. Increased Strength

Asana, otherwise known as the physical practice of yoga, is only one of eight facets of yoga. Through asana practice, we achieve control of the body by positioning ourselves into different postures that strengthen and tone our muscles and organs. In every pose, we focus on engaging the bandhas, or energy centers in the body. Tapping into uddiyana bandha, for example, requires us to pull the belly in and up, toning and strengthening everything around the abdomen, including the abdominal muscles and organs nearby. By flowing through and repeating yoga poses, the body learns to hold these postures more comfortably and creates muscle memory for the next time we practice. The more we practice, the stronger the physical body becomes.

2. Improved Flexibility

In addition to becoming stronger, we become more flexible with a regular practice. Most yoga postures can be categorized into one of the following: standing, balancing, forward fold, backbend, and hip opening postures. Each one of these categories focuses on lengthening different areas of the body, and therefore increasing the flexibility of the muscles around those areas. Backbends, for instance, improve the flexibility of the front body (quads, abdomen, front of the neck). On the flipside, forward folds lengthen the back body (hamstrings, spinal erectors, calf muscles). Similar to how the body becomes stronger and better at performing a movement the more we repeat it, the same applies to the flexibility of a muscle group. The more we position our bodies into a certain position that stretches a particular muscle group, the more comfortable and deeper we can settle in that position.

3. Better Body Posture

In addition, having a strong and flexible body help contribute to healthy body posture. The spine is comprised of 33 vertebrae. This collection of bones is stabilized by muscles that help keep the upper body straight up. Sometimes after sitting for long periods of time or when our muscles grow tired, these spinal stabilizers don’t do a very good job at securing the spine and we either slouch or rely on the strength of the neck muscles to hold us up. Overtime, poor body posture can produce chronic pain or nerve impingements, like sciatica. Therefore, it’s critical for the spinal stabilizers to be strong and healthy to stay pain free.

4. Stronger Spine

Proper body posture throughout the practice of yoga is important to maintaining a strong spine. Through constant practice, the body learns how to shift its center of gravity to hold different poses. For each pose, the spine is lifting, flexing, extending or rotating. Each of these movements strengthen the different muscles that support the spine helping prevent compressed discs and maintaining the necessary space between each vertebrae. A strong spine is key to preventing many types of injuries, particularly spinal injuries. However, ankle, wrist, knee and hip injuries can also be prevented by maintaining a strong and flexible spine, naturally developed with a regular yoga practice.

5. Control of the Breath

Most importantly, one of the main physical benefits of practicing yoga is mastering a greater command of the breath. It has been said that if you can control the breath, you can control the mind. It’s one of the tools that connects the body to the mind. This connection allows us to access a parasympathetic state, which is the opposite of fight or flight. Practicing yoga helps us control our breath by putting us in a position where we must hold poses, some rather uncomfortable at times, and simply breathe. In Ashtanga yoga, for example, each posture is held for five slow breaths. Not only does each exhale allow us to better access a posture, but the awareness of the breath also brings us to the present moment, which can be difficult to achieve throughout the rest of our day-to-day. By mastering better command of the breath, we achieve a better control of our bodies and minds.

 

In short…

The physical practice of yoga is incredibly beneficial to the human body. The more we practice, the stronger and more flexible we become, contributing to healthy body posture, a stronger spine and better breathing mechanics. These physical benefits allow us to keep up with our daily activities pain free.

 


Michelle Kirel aspires to share with as many people as possible the necessary tools to maintain a healthy, strong and resilient lifestyle. Michelle has a lifelong passion for yoga. She was exposed to yoga at an early age by her mother who is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor. It was during college when she started practicing daily and falling in love with the feeling that comes after a yoga class. Following graduation, Michelle completed her 200 hr certification training in Vinyasa Yoga to dive deeper into the ancient tradition. She currently combines her understanding of yoga with Neurokinetic Therapy to help people treat chronic pain, injuries and postural imbalances. Her goal is to continue to learn as much as possible to be able to help people move better, feel better, and stay inspired.

 

On Effort And Ease In Your Yoga Practice

By Yoga Lifestyle, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

In a yoga class I attended a few years ago, I recall the teacher inquiring after a challenging posture: “Were you burning a hole in the floor with your gaze?” I paused, feeling, for a moment, ashamed. Was I? I may have been. My gaze had felt focused, and there may have been blue blazes emanating from my eyeballs. I am vata-pitta (the air and fire elements) constitution, according to the ancient science of Ayurveda, and was feeling my pitta (fire) that day. So perhaps I was guilty as charged. It’s true that pitta dominant people can benefit from softening their gaze, and I believe it’s a good and honest question in terms of softening around the places we tend to harden (I often encourage my students to feel for the places in their bodies that would benefit from softening). I also believe that how teachers phrase cues and questions is important in terms of enabling students to find that place of balance we so often talk about.

One of the most well-known Yoga Sutras (or threads of wisdom) by Patanjali is about creating balance in the yoga poses (and in life) and translates to “Asana is a steady comfortable posture.” In each posture we can aim to feel steady or grounded, putting effort into it, and at the same time it’s important to feel a sense of ease, a sense of letting go so we don’t become too rigid. I talk about this concept often in my yoga classes since, in my mind, it is the heart of the practice and of life.

In the same class I mentioned above, the teacher interrogated after a balancing posture: “Do you feel you just nailed that pose?” The question was meant to point out the fact that nailing a pose might not be very “yogic.” I wanted to say, “Yes!” The truth is I was glad that I had since there are plenty of times that I don’t. In fact, I have spent most of my adult life trying to find solid ground, so when I occasionally “nail” a balancing pose it can feel grounding and also like an accomplishment. Consider this: Nailing the pose is also part of the dance. It is not always “better” to do less. It is not as we say in Ayurveda Counseling, a one-size fits all practice. Each person comes into the class with their own history, constitution, set of desires and needs, etc; sometimes those match up with teacher’s and sometimes they don’t, and this is an important point to remember when we teach yoga to a large group of students.

I come from a place of floundering, and I fall enough, on and off the mat, to learn and grow.

I have spent many years holding myself back due to fear and uncertainty, due to faulty early lessons that it is not proper or “lady like” to go for the things you want in life, that to be good at something is showing off and, essentially, that it is not safe or appropriate to be powerful and strong. For many years, due to these ingrained lessons, I have been out of touch with my fire, my power center and, subsequently, my ability to manifest the things I want and need in my life. My teacher, on the other hand, admitted to coming from a place of being a “Type A” personality, an “over-achiever” and someone who consistently “over-did.”

If you are someone who always “nails” poses and doesn’t allow yourself room to wobble then, yes, you would probably benefit from experiencing what it feels like wobble or fall, and you can risk being thrown off balance by trying something different like closing your eyes. In my own classes, I acknowledge students’ work whether they land the pose or fall out of it. In either case, whether students lean toward the “effort” or “ease” side of the road, questions can be phrased in a way that encourages students to create more balance for themselves. You can guide students to explore what a pose feels like, for example, “Notice a place in your body that feels tense and imagine breathing into that space” or “As you connect to your inner and outer strength in this posture can you feel the soothing Ujjayi breath?” These types of cues can be an effective way of diving into the body.

When teachers ask exploratory questions–such as “What does it feel like if you lengthen your stance?”–while recognizing that it may not be right for everyone, we are giving students space to feel the practice and make decisions based on their intuition. I remember practicing next to a woman once who was consistently losing her balance and she was visibly and extremely irritated by this, swearing under her breath. We don’t know what she came to her practice with that day; maybe she was taking care of someone who was ill or was ill herself, or going through a break-up; maybe she needed to swear under her breath in that moment; who is to say what is and isn’t “yogic?”

By giving permission to be inside the extremes (e.g., feeling your fire), we can, ironically, more easily move into that place of balance. Because it is by accepting where we are, not criticizing or beating ourselves up for doing something “wrong,” that we bring in the space needed for change. When we focus on what we perceive as the wrong thing, we tend to stay stuck in that very place we don’t want to be in.

I believe that it is essential for teachers to keep in mind that we are not here to control our students. As I’ve noted, each student is coming from a different place and that is a very personal thing. For me, excessive nit-picking during my formative years had the effect of stunting my creativity, my spontaneity and my “flow” (probably why I’m drawn to Vinyasa style of yoga), so when I am practicing yoga a ‘nit-picky’ type of banter is the last thing I need. When I make my way into a posture, an invitation to explore is what will enable me to blossom and more naturally find my center. Of course, as we cultivate inner strength and balance what someone else says or does will have less, if any, effect on us and that is also part of the practice.

Each teacher’s particular teaching style will inevitably stem from his or her own experiences, and that teacher will draw in the students who resonate with that style. That said, it’s important to remember and consider when teaching that your experiences are not necessarily your students’ experiences. A yoga teacher, I believe, is there to energetically hold the space for students, not to correct or control them. Consider this: when people receive input in an open, non-judgmental way they are more likely to listen and perhaps make changes they would benefit from. In The Wisdom of No Escape, Pema Chodron relays that “when you find yourself slumping that’s the motivation to sit up, not out of self-denigration but actually out of pride in everything that occurs to you, pride in the goodness or the fairness or the worstness of yourself–however you find yourself–some sort of sense of taking pride and using it to spur you on” (p. 11).

 

 


Nicole Alexander is a graduate of the 500 HR Yogaworks Teacher Training in NYC, and an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor. Nicole teaches a mindful/breath-based class, sharing her love for yoga in all its forms (physical, mental, spiritual), and the many ways this practice heals us.

 

5 Yoga Poses To Boost Your Productivity

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

It’s no secret that yoga has so many benefits from building strength and flexibility to finding calm and stillness of the mind – but did you know it can also help to boost productivity? Although most associate yoga with relaxation, the practice is also nourishing for the central nervous system and can help boost energy and motivation.

The next time you are needing an increase in productivity, take a moment to pause and try one of these five poses instead of going for that second (or third) cup of coffee. You’ll be glad you did!

1. Easy pose (Sukhasana)

 

Sometimes with a lack of productivity all you need is to reduce distraction and get still by centering yourself. Easy pose is the perfect way to accomplish this.

To get into the pose you simply come to a seated cross legged position. You can allow your hands to rest wherever feels most comfortable for your shoulders. There is also the option to take a mudra, which is a hand gesture used to facilitate the flow of energy in the subtle body. Gyan mudra, known to promote concentration, is taken by bringing your thumb and index finger to touch.

Once you arrive in your easy pose take about 5 to 10 slow even breaths to help you center and realign. Afterwards you will notice a sense grounding, more ease, and, hopefully, increased concentration for productivity.

2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

One of the benefits of mild inversions, like Downward Facing Dog, is its energizing qualities. Whenever your heart is placed over your head the brain is supplied with more oxygen as blood flows which increases concentration and mental function.

To get into the pose, start in a table top position on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes and lift your hips creating a shape of an upside down “V”. Feet are about hip distance apart or wider and you will press firmly into all points of your hands especially between your middle finger and thumb. Lengthen your spine by lifting your tailbone towards the sky and gently press your belly towards your thighs taking the gaze between the feet.

Find about 5 breaths in this posture and experiencing the benefits of “resetting” the nervous system.

3. Tree pose (Vrksasana)

Challenging your balance is one sure way to boost productivity. Whenever your center of gravity is confronted you are forced to tune your drishti, or focal point, in order to be successful.

Find Tree pose by balancing on one leg, opening the hip of the opposite leg and either placing the foot at your ankle as a kickstand, at the shin, or above the knee.

Make this pose more difficult by reaching the arms towards the sky overhead or closing the eyes. By shifting your balance you are forced to check in and make adjustments through your body in order to stay lifted. Regular practice of this pose can improve concentration, balance, and coordination.

4. Camel pose (Ustrasana)


Heart opening or back-bending postures like Camel pose help to quiet all of the chatter in the mind. Some consider this pose to be quite challenging as you are vulnerably opening a part of your body that is often shielded and protected, your heart.

Beginning in a kneeling position on your knees, bring your hands to your low back with fingers pointed down as if you were going to slide them into your back pockets. Slowly shift the hips forward as you draw the elbows and shoulder blades towards one another creating an opening through your thoracic spine. Slowly work towards the fullest variation by bringing your hands to the back of the heels as you continue to shift your hips forwards.

Camel requires a great deal of concentration and focus on the breath which is sure to increase productivity as well as help with your posture if you are sitting at a desk all day.

5. Mountain pose (Tadasana)


As a pose that seems pretty simple and straight forward, Mountain pose offers great benefits of improving concentration and focus in order to be more productive.

Beginning in a standing position with your arms at your side, roll your shoulder blades down the spine and bring your hands to face forward. Notice the grounding through all points of your feet, perhaps lifting up the toes and rooting them back down. Activate your quadricep muscles in your thighs by slightly lifting the knee caps, and hug your belly button up and in towards your spine.

For an extra boost, bring your hands to your hips in order to bring yourself into a power position and take a few grounding breaths to build confidence.

Standing proudly and with intention can surely ignite your focus in order to be more productive.

 

Vanessa was first introduced to yoga in July 2013. Beginning as an outlet during a stressful time in her life, yoga ultimately turned into a consistent practice for her on the quest for total wellness. She started self-teaching
in the comfort of her own home for 3 years before deciding to participate in group classes at a local studio. Falling in love with the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of yoga,
Vanessa decided to enroll in yoga teacher training in spring of 2017 in order
to share the art with those around her.

 


Currently residing in the DMV, she is a Yoga Alliance 200-hr registered yoga teacher and a certified Usui
Reiki Practictioner. She believes in order to live a life with intention we must take priority in caring for our mind, body, and spirit first.

 

8 Beach Yoga Poses

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments


8 Yoga Poses for the Beach

Needless to say, the restorative and relaxing effects of yoga compliment the scenic and serene atmosphere of the beach. Working in Catalina Island during the summer inspired me to embark on my yoga practice while expanding my knowledge about the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. You can always use a towel or yoga mat to support your postures or simply embrace the imperfect, sandy foundation beneath you. Sand can be especially beneficial for practicing challenging and balancing poses because it provides a soft cushion for your body if you happen to fall out of a pose. The beauty of sand is that it conforms to your body; you can create small mounds to support your knees or flatten it out entirely to support your forearms during inversions. Let’s not forget the fresh, salty breeze and the sound of ocean waves complimenting your beautiful flow. I’m eager to share some excellent asanas for your next seaside practice which will make you fall in love with yoga all over again.

1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This pose is very popular in yoga sequences, especially in vinyasa yoga. The benefits of Downward Facing Dog include stretching the hamstrings, calves, shoulders and hands while strengthening the legs and arms. It also makes your feel energized and helps calm the brain which makes it an ideal pose to relieve stress. This classic yoga pose can be practiced pretty much anywhere however, practicing it on the sand can allow your body to sink even deeper into it. Begin in tabletop position with your knees stacked directly under your hips and your wrists stacked under your shoulders. Exhale while tucking your toes and lifting your knees off the sand. Spread your fingers and press your hands down in front of you while straightening your back as much as possible. Gently bend your knees, one at a time, working your way into your own version of Downward Facing Dog. Bring your gaze towards your feet while aligning your hand with your spine creating a straight line. Take a few deep breaths and when you’re ready to exit the pose, gently lower your knees back onto the sand into tabletop position and release into Child’s Pose.

2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

I don’t know about you but something about being by the ocean provides peacefulness and balance to my body and soul; why not practice a pose that embodies that? Benefits of this pose include stretching the thighs, core and shoulders while strengthening the spine, thighs and calves. Tree Pose is a great way to ground yourself and focus on your breathing while improving your balance. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana); inhale while lifting your arms towards the sky and exhale, bringing your hands by your heart. Choose a focal point to provide balance and slowly lift your right foot off the sand and place it on your left ankle. Taking your time, lift your right foot further until it reaches the side of your left knee. Take a few deep breaths here and whenever you’re ready. return to Mountain Pose; repeat this pose on the opposite side.

3. Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)


This might seem like an odd pose to practice on the beach but the combination of an inverted posture and a serene, ocean atmosphere will undoubtedly relax you to the core. Be cautious when practicing a shoulder stand because it is definitely e a more advanced pose. The benefits of this pose include relieving stress and depression, strengthening the glutes, arms, core, legs and arms as well as improving digestion. To get into this pose, start by laying down on your mat (or the sand) and bring your knees towards your face. Bring your hands to your hips to support your lower body and lift your hips and legs towards the sky while trying to keep them straight. Take a few deep breaths; to exit the pose, slowly lower your hips and legs to the ground. You can also choose to stay in a shoulder stand in order to transition to the next posture. The best part? Even if you happen to lose your balance during this asana, the sand provides a soft cushion to avoid injuries.

4. Plow Pose (Halasana)


This pose is excellent at reducing back pain and stress, calming the mind and stretching the spine and shoulders. To get into this pose, simply begin in a shoulder stand and slowly bring your extended legs back towards your head until your toes touch the mat behind your head. Remember to bring your chin away from your sternum and keep your hands on your lower back for additional support or release them onto the mat and stretch them behind you. This pose can be held for a few minutes; when you feel ready to exit, bring your hands to your lower back again and exhale while slowly lowering your legs down towards. This a a great pose for the beach because it encourages deep relaxation and stress relief.

5. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)


Take a deep breath and say goodbye to any tension. Being by laying on your stomach with your arms extend by your sides with your palms up. Take a deep exhale and reach for your heels with your hands while bending your knees. Hold onto your feet while trying to lift your thighs slightly off the mat and gaze forward. Keep i mind that it might be harder to breathe in this posture but make sure to keep breathing steadily. Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds and release your legs and arms towards the mat while taking a deep exhale. The benefits of this pose include improving your posture, strengthening the back muscles and stretching your thighs, core, chest, throat and hips.

6. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)


This pose is wonderful at lengthening the hip flexors, preparing the body for backbend poses as well as opening the hip joint and reducing stress and anxiety. Begin in seated position with your feet tucked under your glutes. Extend your right leg back on the mat while keeping your left leg bent in front of you. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale, release your body onto your front leg and extend your arms on the mat in front of you. Try to bring your forehand to touch the mat and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, allowing your body to sink even deeper into the pose with every exhale. To exit the asana, slowly walk your hands back up towards your torso and return to seated position.

7. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)


Now, let’s take a moment to sit still and breathe. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed, your spine straight and your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, trying to hold your inhale for a few seconds before exhaling. Try to eliminate any stressful or negative thoughts while bringing your entire focus o your breath. While continuing to breathe deeply, bring your attention to the sound of the ocean waves crashing endlessly against the shore, one by one. Inhale the fresh, salty breeze and feel your body sinking heavily into the sand.Let go of any fear or stress about what will happen tomorrow or the day after because all that is guaranteed is this moment, sitting cross legged on the sand in front of the vast ocean that covers our beautiful planet. In this moment, you are blessed and all you can do is immerse yourself in gratitude. You can attempt the Ujjayi breath which is often referred to as the “oceanic breath” and it is used to synchronize your breathing with the asana. This wonderful technique will enhance your yoga practice as well as increase the oxygen in your blood, relieve tension, detoxify your body and mind as well as help to increase your mind-body awareness. The Ujjayi breath consists of breathing through your nose, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly through your nose. To practice, open your mouth and exhale making a “ha” sound. Noe, try this with your mouth closed but maintain the intensity of your exhalations. Every time your exhale, it should sound like ocean waves and this technique is ideal to practice while you’re in easy pose, during hatha yoga or simply when you’re stressed or frustrated.

8. Corpse Pose (Savansana)


This posture will help you relax even more after getting out of Easy pose. Lay down on your mat or the sand with your legs extended in front of you and your arms by your sides with your palms facing up towards the sky. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath once again but this time, don’t force deep inhalations or exhalations; instead, breathe naturally and simply bring your attention to your breathe. Allow the soothing sounds around you to increase your sense of mindfulness and purpose. The benefits of this asana are endless, a few of which are body awareness, stress reduction, better sleep quality and deep mind relaxation. This asana can be held for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and it might just end up in a wonderful nap in the sun.

What are you waiting for? Head to the beach and take some time to indulge in these asanas; you deserve that time to gain perspective and awareness. Take the time to leave any stress that you might be experiencing behind and relax yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. The past has already happened and the future is uncertain so all that really matters is this present moment, right here, right now. Submerge yourself in an abundance of spiritual awareness, gratitude and bliss.

Let’s ride your wave, together.

Namaste.

 


Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

5 Yoga Poses For Inner Strength

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Confidence and inner strength are such powerful tools in achieving productivity, success, and happiness. Yoga is a wonderful way to develop and nurture your sense of inner strength. because it is not just a physically strengthening and revitalizing practice but it’s also a sign of positivity, love, and self-care towards yourself. Taking the time from your busy routine to still your mind and breath as well as focus on your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being builds your sense of self-worth. As you progress in your practice, you will learn that yoga is physically challenging and the stronger you get on the outside, the stronger you will feel on the inside. Being able to persist in your practice with patience, understanding and forgiveness will nurture your sense of inner strength over time. Take time to practice this yoga sequence to eliminate feelings of self-doubt and reveal your inner peace and strength!

1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)


The image of a warrior is illustrated by strength, courage, persistence, and confidence which is exactly what the Warrior asanas exude. The rich symbolism of the Warrior asanas refers to the underlying story of the Hindu warrior, Virabhadra. Warrior I is a beautiful posture that will empower you and activate your inner warrior by improving your strength and flexibility. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and gently step your feet a few feet apart from each other. Reach both of your arms up towards the sky with your palms touching while bringing your gaze up towards your hands. Next, slightly turn your left foot to the right so that your toes are pointing to the left of your body. Gently rotate your torso to the right and bend your right knee while making sure that your knee does not pass your toes. Hold this asana for 30 seconds-1 minute while focusing on your breath and channeling feelings of confidence and strength. Slowly release back to Tadasana and repeat this posture on the other side.

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Transitioning into Warrior II will combine balance with core strength as well as ultimate focus. After Warrior I, return to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and bring your left foot a few feet back on the mat while bending your right knee into a lunge without your knees passing your toes. Extend both of your arms by your sides so that they are parallel to the mat aligning straight with your legs and bring your gaze forward. Make sure that your torso is twisted to your left and draw your shoulder blades down your back. Take several deep breaths here while pressing down with your feet and engaging your core. This asana is beneficial for your entire body because it strengthens your shoulders, arms, and legs as well as improves your balance and stability. Warrior II will improve your ability to concentrate and focus with more clarity while building your physical and spiritual strength.

3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)


Return once again to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and take a moment to bring your focus back to your breath. Warrior III requires significant balance and focus which are best achieved when your mind is not wandering. The benefits of this empowering asana include improved coordination, stability, and balance, strengthening of the legs and core as well as a deep stretch of the upper body. Take a deep inhale, reach your arms up towards the sky and on your exhale, slowly lift your left leg off the mat while lowering your torso forward. Allow your arms to lead your torso until it is parallel with the mat and so that your body creates a “T” shape. Flex your left foot and press firmly with your right foot, spreading your toes if that helps to maintain your balance. Hold this asana for several breaths while focusing on finding your center of gravity. To ease out of this asana, slowly return to Mountain Pose and bring your hands to your heart in prayer position.

4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

The grounding essence of standing asanas foster feelings of confidence and strength. This particular asana relies on balance, stability, and firmness while encouraging a confident demeanor. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), another simple yet empowering asana and as you inhale, reach your arms above your head with your palms touching each other. At the same time, ground your left foot and slowly lift your right foot so that it is hugging your left ankle. As you find your center of gravity, steadily slide your right foot up your left leg until it reaches your shin or the side of your knee. As you exhale, focus on your balance and imagine your body grounded into the mat like a tree deeply rooted in the soil. Stand tall and proud in this asana as you embrace your inner and outer strength. Hold this asana for several breaths and return to Mountain Pose.

5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)


This asana is often called the “seat of power”, “fierce pose” or “lightning bolt pose” which all embody the asana’s empowering and strengthening properties. Chair Pose involves strength and perseverance because your body will immediately feel challenged when entering this asana. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, reach your arms up towards the sky while slowly bending your knees and squatting down as if you are sitting in a chair. Press firmly through your heels and try to bring your focus to how your body is feeling; if your thighs are aching, try to meditate on this sensation. Find your balance here and remember not to resist this asana even if your body wants to ease out of it right away. After several breaths, return to Mountain Pose and bring your focus back to your breath. If you wish, reach your toes with your arms and twist from side to side in a Forward Fold to relax your arms and stretch your hamstrings. Persisting through Chair Pose provides all of the physical benefits of this asana such as strengthening the legs and back, stretching the chest and shoulders as well as a stronger sense of self and confidence.

These empowering asanas incorporate strength, balance, and confidence to eliminate feelings of self-doubt and promote a sense of self-worth. Everyone experiences moments of uncertainty however, your yoga practice can be a powerful tool in changing the way you see yourself and accumulating inner strength. Next time you feel overwhelmed, grant yourself permission to take time out of your day and find your inner strength on the mat.

 

Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

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.

 

Yoga Poses For Better Sleep

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments


Ah, to get a restful nights sleep! For many of us, a full 8 hours of sleep is something we only dream about during whatever REM sleep we are able to get.

A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, many of our daily stresses are interfering with natural sleep patterns and causing our sleep to be interrupted and shortened.

If you are looking for a holistic and natural approach to bettering the quality of your sleep, yoga postures and breathing exercises might be the solution. Also, make sure to consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about a yoga pose or a breathing exercise. Always enter a pose slowly to ensure there is no pain or tension. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your intuition and back out of it.

1. Cat and Cow Pose

A great set of complementary poses that will release your spine and incorporate your breath. Start on your hands and knees. Inhale into Cow pose by bringing the crown of your head and tailbone up toward the ceiling, hollowing out your lower back. For cat pose, exhale as you tilt the crown of the head and tailbone down to the ground, arching your spine into a C-curve and pulling the shoulder blades apart. Flow between these two poses as long as you’d like, moving with the pattern of your inhales and exhales and feeling like you’re putting space between every vertebrae and loosening up your spine. To slow down and control your breath, try to match the length of each inhale and exhale with the length of each pose, with a momentary pause between cycles.

2. Child’s Pose

From hands and knees, sink your hips back to your heels and settle your chest between your thighs. Your big toes should touch one another and your knees are as far apart as they need to be in order to help you settle comfortably and be able to breathe deeply. With your forehead resting on the ground or a blanket, walk your fingertips out in front of you and stretch through the arms. You can also roll your forehead from side to side on the ground to give yourself a mini face massage.

This is a great time to slow down your breathing and allow the exhales to soften your body down, releasing any tension in the shoulders and back.

3. Legs Up the Wall

Transitioning onto your back, position yourself so your tailbone (lowest part of your back) is leaning against the base of a wall, or another flat, tall surface. The headboard of your bed might even work!

Extend your legs straight up the wall. If you can, bring your tailbone closer to the base of the wall, perhaps even to the point where your glutes and upper hamstrings are touching it. This pose can be a great gentle hamstring stretch if you can keep the legs straight.

This pose helps drain lymph and lactic acid from the legs, which helps prevent injury and decrease the symptoms of fatigue and soreness if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Allow the looseness that you brought into your back with the previous postures help you feel more comfortable in this pose. Place a pillow under your head for additional support and feel free to either place your hands on your chest and belly, or stretch them out to a ‘T’ shape.

4. Supine Spinal Twist

Transitioning away from the wall, bring both knees into your chest and rock side to side or take big circles with your knees. When you’re ready, bring your arms out into a ‘T’ with your hands in line with your shoulders and let your knees fall over to one side. You can keep both knees bent, straighten the top leg, or choose to straighten both legs. If you’re not feeling as much of the twist as you’d like, try to adjust your hips further over to the middle of your space so that your back is in one straight line —this may intensify the stretch in the lower back. If you’d like a neck stretch as well, turn your head to the side opposite your knees. After a few breaths, switch sides.

When you’re ready to get in bed for the night, the right breathing exercises could be beneficial to relax your body, mind, and even help you doze off.

Pranayama For Sleep

Pranayama or breathwork is another great way to promote better z’s. Here are three simple breathwork practices you can try to help you sleep before bed.

1. Meditative Breath

For a short meditation, sit up in bed with your back straight and your head tucked slightly forward. Progressively begin to lengthen your breaths. For the first exhale, count to one. Then count to two, then three, all the way up to five. After your fifth exhale, held for a count of five, start over again at one. By keeping this pattern you allow your mind to remain focused on your breath instead of anything swirling through your mind in the evening.

2. Diaphragmatic Breath

With one hand on your lower belly and the other on your chest, take five deep breaths, inhaling for a count of three, then exhaling for a count of three. Clear your mind by focusing on the way your hands rise and fall according to your inhales and exhales.

3. Visualizing Breath

As you inhale, envision the air traveling into your nose, through your entire body, and back out again. Imagine it traveling through all your muscles, all the way to your toes and fingers, before it comes back out again during your exhale.

Focusing on your breathing activates your parasympathetic system, (also known as the rest and digest system) encouraging it to calm down, relax, and lower your heart rate in preparation for sleep.

 

 

 

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. Morgan 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, Morgan 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.

 

 

5 Yoga Poses For A Strong Core

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Abs; we all have them. We are all born with abdominal muscles in order to hold our organs in place and keep our body balanced. So, where exactly are they hiding? The truth is, most people can’t see their abs because they are covered by a layer of fat. The yoga poses below will strengthen your core and slim down your waistline while improving your posture. A strong core is important for a confident, upright posture as well as overall balance and stability. Also, remember: 20% of abs are made through exercise and 80% through diet. It’s always good to exercise your core and it will definitely help you gain definition in your abs and you’ll see the best results if you drink lots of water, eat clean natural foods, lower your sugar intake and stay stress-free! Incorporate the following asanas in your daily practice in order to improve your posture and strengthen your core.

1. Plank Pose – Phalakasana

(Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute)

You’re not the only one if you have a love-hate relationship with this pose. Planks are often used as a warm-up exercise for various types of exercise but it is also an important part of yoga. This is an amazing posture to strengthen the arms, core, spine and wrists. Start out with 20-30 seconds daily and ultimately aim to hold your plank for 1 minute or more. The stronger you get, the longer you’ll be able to hold the pose and slowly but surely, your core will tighten and gain definition.

Begin in Downward Facing Dog and allow your torso to move forward until it is parallel to the mat and your shoulders are positioned over your wrists. Press evenly into the mat through your fingers and spread your shoulders blades away from your spine while engaging your core. Important tip: don’t forget to breathe! This might seem obvious but when our body is under strain, we tend to hold our breath or take short breaths. Deep inhale, deep exhale; so you can receive the full benefits of phalakasana!

2. Dolphin Plank Pose – Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana

(Hold for 1 minute)

Another plank pose? That’s right. This pose is excellent because it takes pressure off of your wrists due to the fact that your forearms are supporting you instead of your hands. This pose is also ideal if you are preparing to attempt a forearm stand; it will strengthen your forearms and shoulders while conditioning your body to support its weight on your forearms. This asana increases bone density, it strengthens the core, arms and chest and it improves posture. However, consider avoiding this pose if you have a shoulder, arm, back or neck injury. Begin in table top position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly bring your forearms down with your hands pressing into the mat and make sure your forearms are still shoulder width apart. Consider using a yoga strap in order to keep your arms the correct width apart from each other. Step your feet back and make sure that your torso is positioned parallel to the mat. Important: make sure your backside isn’t sticking up into the air and your back isn’t arched. Try to keep your back straight and parallel to the mat. Engage your core and push your shoulders away from your neck to avoid hunching. Hold this pose for as long as you can, aiming for 1 minute. You can do this!

3. Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana

(Hold for 30 seconds each side)

Yes, yes… another plank pose. However this one is great for your obliques which are your side abdominal muscles. Practice this pose daily to get those defined lines on the sides of your abdomen, you know you want ‘em! All jokes aside, the benefits of this pose are multiple; it strengthens the core, arms and legs, it improves balance and it stretches the back of the legs. To enter this pose, begin in Downward Facing Dog; slowly twist your body and stack your right foot onto your left foot so that you are balancing your weight on your left foot and your left hand. Lift your right arm towards the sky or as a modification, rest it on your hip. Engage your core and make sure to press into the mat with the fingers of your left hand as it is supporting your entire upper body and torso. Try to hold this pose for around 30 seconds and switch sides.

4. Boat Pose – Navasana

(Hold for 1 minute)

This pose is fantastic for balance, enhancing digestion, relieving stress and of course, strengthening your core, spine and hip flexors. Plus, it’s fun! Begin in a seated position on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Using your core, bend your knees and slightly lift your legs off of the mat keeping your thighs at about a 45 degree angle to the mat. Lean back slightly trying to keep your spine as straight as possible. The more you lean back, the more you will feel your core strengthening. Extend both of your arms by your legs making sure they are parallel to the mat. Hold this pose for 1 minute if possible or to add movement to the pose and a more intense workout, you can “row your boat”! To add this Russian Twist modification, simply bring your hands in prayer position by your heart and tap them by your side on the mat alternating sides, while twisting your torso. Hold this pose for 1 minute or if you choose to add the Russian Twist modification, try to complete 15 reps on each side.

5. Balancing Table Crunches Variation – Dandayamana Bharmanasana

(Hold for 30 seconds on each side)

Last but surely not least, this pose is great for improving coordination and focus, balance and core strength. Begin in tabletop position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale while extending your right arm straight in front of you and simultaneously, extending your left leg. The idea is to make sure your arm and leg are aligned with your spine and create a straight line. You can hold this pose for 30 seconds on each side or for the optional crunches variation, simply bring your right elbow into your chest while bringing your left knee into your chest and then extend them both at the same time; that’s one crunch. Repeat this motion for 30 seconds and move onto the other side. To exit the pose, return your leg and arm back towards your body and from tabletop position, exhale and rest in Child’s Pose.

These 5 asanas are excellent for strengthening your core, correcting posture and improving balance. Try to incorporate them in your daily yoga practice, preferably at the beginning as a warm-up; over time, you will notice that your abs will gain definition and your strong core will allow you to progress in yoga and attempt more advanced poses. These poses have helped me get stronger in order to master a headstand and forearm stand. Be patient and listen to your body; if you feel as if you are putting too much strain on yourself, don’t hesitate to rest in Child’s pose and breathe. In yoga, it’s all about taking pleasure in the journey itself instead of the destination. Immerse yourself in your own unique, beautiful flow.

 

Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

4 Physical and Psychological Health Benefits of Yoga

By Yoga, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Ever notice how you feel after practicing yoga? You are probably feeling pretty emotionally centered and energized. Yoga helps us work with how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors. Most of us are not fully aware of how our emotions are living in our bodies. We know we feel anxious, sad, frustrated, but we sometimes fail to understand where the feelings are coming from. Yoga and its practices – the asanas (postures), breathing, deep relaxation, and meditation all help to connect the link between body and mind. Yoga has been shown to enhance overall well-being through a sense of belonging and connection to self and others, as well as, to improve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Yoga has also been shown to have physical effects on the body, on a biological level, helping to increase the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate and calm the nervous system.

There’s a ton of research and articles on the internet for you to find on Yoga and its therapeutic benefits, which overwhelmingly conclude that Yoga and its practice yield beneficial effects on four key physical and psychological areas. These four key areas are supported and detailed by ongoing research conducted at Harvard University and Boston Medical school by Sat Bir Singh Khalsa and his colleagues. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa is a researcher in the field of body-mind medicine, specializing in yoga therapy.

1. Fitness

Yoga as a physical exercise can improve overall fitness, strengthening muscles, improve posture, breathing, flexibility, and coordination. When practiced regularly there’s an improved sense of self-efficacy in body movement and physical activity.

2. Self-Regulation

Yoga helps in teaching how to regulate emotions, regulate stress, and over time, and consistent practice helps to build resilience leading to equanimity in the face of strong emotions. This leads to an overall sense of psychological self-efficacy, mental stability and mood stability.

3. Awareness

Yoga teaches us how to focus our attention through its mediation and breathing components. This practice helps us to gain awareness of our body and our feelings as they live within our body. This leads to an understanding of mindfulness, being present and connected to the here and now, which increases concentration and productivity. With dedicated practice, there’s the development of meta-cognition, the ability to separate from oneself and step back from your thoughts. To see that you are not your thoughts, and that you have control over your thoughts, and that you can control your reactions to your thoughts.

4. Spirituality

Yoga has been shown to lead to transcendence, life-changing transformations over long-term practice due to arriving at unitive states of flow. Flow is being one with the Self, engaging with the world in a way that is aligned with who we are so that we experience positive emotions most of the time. This results in psychological change that includes new perspective and perception of life, meaning, and one’s purpose, for the better. This is what is meant by “Living my best life.”

One of my favorite mantras to meditate on, especially when dealing with anxious thoughts: “Thoughts are just visitors, let them come and go.”

These four areas are essential to one’s physical and psychological well-being; ideally, we want to be content in these areas. The more content and fufilled we are in these areas the happier we’ll feel with ourselves and in our lives. Yoga is a multi-component practice that includes – asanas (postures), breath work, deep relaxation, and meditation making it an ideal practice for improving overall well-being. Yoga practice works on both cognitive (mental) and somatic (body) components, making it beneficial to all four areas. Next time you are on the mat take notice, how do you feel?

 

 

Maribel Allaria is a psychotherapist who currently has her own private practice as a life coach, where she also offers restorative private yoga sessions. “I help people overcome challenges, improve their mindset and create a thriving winning psychology. My approach to healing is behavioral and I like to incorporate positive psychology techniques. I truly belief that mediation, mindfulness and yoga are fundamental in learning how to heal while living in today’s ever changing fast paced world. I started my own yoga journey 9 years ago, after the birth of my son left me with anxiety. After seeing a therapist I chose to use meditation, mindfulness and yoga as a path to heal myself. That path I chose has healed my anxiety, but most importantly it has become a way of life for me, one that keeps me living in the here and now, present to my current experiences and in touch with my authentic self. Mindfulness is about learning how to live in the space between the stimuli and the reaction, realizing that you can pause, observe and choose how to react, so that it is with intent and authentic of self. Yoga practice and teachings has been the mother of it all, incorporating meditation, mindfulness and the body and mind connection.”

Instagram: @maribelvallaria

http://maribelvallaria.com