YogaPaws Blog for Beginner Poses and Postures

Explaining the Yoga Transformation cliché

Posted on Fri, May 17, 2013
beautiful yoga photo
Photographer Julien Balmer of Visual Spectrum Photography

It may be cliché, I know, but yoga has changed my life.

Somebody recently asked me how and I realized that it is has been a slow and steady process, one which is vast and deep and profound. I struggled for a quick and easy description. It got me thinking....... How has yoga really changed my life...... Or more to the point changed me.

I used to be a wild party girl, chasing the next thrill, the next high, the next hit and the next buzz. One day I finally realized that it was insatiable. There was never enough, it always left you wanting more. More music, more hits, more highs, more booze, more spiffs, more cigarettes, more alcohol, more sex, more rock and more roll, more more more more more. IT was never enough. IT was not satisfying. IT was endless because IT was not IT.

I woke up one morning with a nose bleed and a hangover from hell. I crawled downstairs threw up and then looked at myself in the mirror. There must be more to life than this. There must be more to me than just this. 

I turned my back on my party ways, I packed my bags and left my life. I left myself! I jumped ship. 

beautiful yoga photo, yoga paws, finding myself

Mhari Scott | Seattle and Portland Wedding Photographer

I had found Ashtanga yoga a year before and it was the first thing I had done in ages that actually made me feel good about myself. It actually made me feel. I had been numbing myself to life for so long that I could barely feel anything anymore. 

I chose life. I didn’t want o be numb anymore…..

I immersed myself in the new world I had discovered. I started taking my practice seriously. I devoted time to myself to making myself feel good. I started to take care of myself. Lesson one - if you don't look after yourself then how can u feel good? Inside and out. 

I started to observe myself. What did I do, how did I do it. 

I beat myself up. I put myself down. I hit myself with a derogatory stick all day everyday.

Lesson two - without observation there will be no change. First we have to recognize our faults before we can start changing them. 

I started to taking note when and why I was doing this. I burnt my stick. I made a pact with myself to start being nice to me. If I am not nice to me then how can I expect anyone else to be?

I changed my ways.

Lesson three - by changing the way you do things in your daily life can allow a new person inside of you to grow. I stopped drinking. I stopped smoking. I stopped partying. I went to class. I did my practice. I changed my patterns. I'm not saying it was easy, not at first, but with persistence and continuity; then things will change (Lesson four). 

India beckoned. I could hear it calling me. It's funny because when you drink and smoke and alter your state of mind then you begin to lose touch with you intuition. You simply can't hear it as clearly as you can with a clear head. I had lived in a blurry bubble for over 12 years and quite frankly, everything was hazy. As I began to clear my head I began to hear that little voice inside of me. The little voice of the larger me. The more I listened to it, the more it spoke to me. Guiding me, telling me which way to go, which path to take, which decision to make, what was right, what I wanted.

Lesson five - always listen to that little voice for it is the voice of your soul. 

I went to India. Choosing life, expansion. Choosing to follow my path. 

I learnt how to be on my own agenda. I realized that I had always done everything for everyone else and hardly ever did what I wanted to do for me. Lesson six. Live life for you! Put yourself first. 

forward bend

I learnt how to enjoy my own company, how to be ok with myself. Yoga teaches you to begin to be ok with where u are. Make peace with wherever you are and be content with that. Don't strive after achievements that you have not yet fulfilled or feel frustrated by things that have not yet materialized. Lesson seven. Make peace with exactly where you are today. Not where you were yesterday or where you want to be tomorrow, but where and who you are today. 

My practice and experience of India was arduous. It was a hard graft. I had upped my practice from 2-3 times a week to 6 and my practice itself was almost twice as long and the level of demanding-ness had quadrupled. I learnt that once again perseverance leads to achievement. Lesson eight - Without commitment you don't get very far. 

I kept going. When things got tough, when I felt like I was never going to get to where I wanted to go. I kept going. I was enjoying the journey and knowing that the journey was the destination I stopped looking forward and began looking at now. Living in the moment. Living each day as it came. 

Lets pause there for a moment… in the now is a hard practice. It takes years of trying to even get close. But you have to start somewhere, you have to be happy where you are and you have to preserver. I realized how much I cling to the past and how much I try to mentally paint a picture of the future. Again it is extremely heard to let go of these things but you have to just keep on trying. Keep acknowledging what you are doing and keep recognizing that you are doing them. Lesson 9 to live in the now is really hard! Only severe determination and constant effort will get you there.

yoga class, yoga shop

Lesson 10 - you are enough. Don't listen to other people's opinions of what you are capable of. If you want to do something. Just do it. Don't ask others people's advice. Listen to that voice inside of you. Don't listen to your fears of inadequacy. Don't let other people stop you from pursuing your dreams. 

A 'friend' told me that I was not ready for my teacher training, he had not been with me in India. He had not seen what I had out into my practice. He had no right to tell me what he thought I was capable of. I ignored his advice and I did it anyway. I was good enough. I started to believe in myself.

Lesson 11 - don't give up!

 On returning from my travels things went down hill.  My world fell apart. My vision of how life was going to be was so very far from how it actually was. I was lonely. I was in a new place. My creature comforts where stripped away. I fell. I got very close to giving up, for the first time in my life I danced with death. I fought depression. I struggled through. I took on all my weaknesses. I cleared out all my dirty corners. I did a big spring clean of me. 

When things got really bad I asked for help. (Lesson 12 always ask for help when you need it). I'm not very good at asking for help. I don't like to be a burden. Ironically I help other people endlessly, yet I can not ask for the anything in return. 

I asked for help. I got out of my hole. I reconnected.

Lesson 13. Everything you need is within you. Don't ever forget that. 

Lesson 14 - dream big.

Life is about following our dreams. About making them happen. Nothing is outside of our grasp. You really can do anything if you set your mind to it. Follow the things that excite you. Make decisions based on what feels right. If you can't find an answer then you are probably just messing with the wrong question! I was stuck between two options that I could not decide between until I realized that neither of them were what I wanted to do. I did a workshop with Nancy Gilgoff and she said to me 'come to Maui'. As she said it something inside of me lit up. I could go to Maui. I could go and spend a few months practicing second series with Nancy Gilgoff!! I could do that. Suddenly I got hit with the ' I can't afford it / what about my job / what would I do when I got back' thoughts. I decided to bin those and live in the moment. Right now it was the only thing that really excited me. It got my chi flowing. It made me sparkle. It made me feel alive! I was going to make it happen. I was going to live the dream.

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Lesson 15 - choose life. Every day you will be more. Every moment you are getting closer to your dreams. Every second you are changing and growing. Every day you can be a new you. Every thought can be the birth of a new dream. 

Who knows where you will be in six months, six weeks, six days or even six minutes from now. 


So that is how yoga has changed my life. It has taught me so very much about myself, about how I live and how I can live. Yoga is not about the physical stuff. It is a tool to help you begin to see yourself. Imagine you have a mirror to see yourself in, well practicing yoga helps you to clean that mirror…. For the purpose of seeing yourself more clearly.

When you can see yourself, you can change yourself.

This is how yoga helped me to transform.


Laura Grace

Tags: 7 Chakra, 5th Chakra, 6th chakra, 1st Chakra, 2nd Chakra, 3rd Chakra, 4th Chakra, advanced yoga, being present, 8 limbs of yoga, benefits of yoga, yoga chakras

Chakra Series: Five Yoga Postures to Power Up Your Third Chakra

Posted on Tue, Feb 28, 2012

third chakra, chakraGaining mastery over Manipura, the Third Chakra, is a milestone in most people’s yogic journey. Located just above the navel, this Chakra associated with the solar plexus is often seen as the seat of your personal power. It is the place where the idea of “I” is born. It’s also where prana feeds the fire of transformation that burns away the limitations of your ego, freeing you to trust, surrender and achieve the highest self-realization.

Left unchecked, Manipura’s fire becomes too hot to handle. It’s so easy for the ego to slip from the path that leads to moksha (liberation) and become consumed by the flames of greed that dictate that you win every trophy, get every promotion and live in the biggest house in the “best” neighborhood. The farther the Third Chakra moves from being in balance, the harder it is to discern the difference between “I want” and “I need” or simply “I am.”



third chakra, chakra, yoga and chakrasTo harness the true potential of this internal powerhouse, first get in touch with all of its aspects. Then find the asanas, breath work, teachers and friends who can help the real you shine.

The basics: Manipura or Manipooraka, Sanskrit for “lustrous gem” or “Palace of Jewels,” is located roughly two fingers above the navel. It is said to complete the physical trilogy of the physical energy system along with the First Chakra, which relates to tribal power, and the Second Chakra, which refers to the flow of power between yourself and others. .” [Click for details on all seven chakras.]

Its presiding deity: Laakinee

Its element: Fire

Its colors: Golden yellow

Its symbol: Circle

Its sense: Sight

Its aromas: Lavender, rosemary, bergamot

Its gemstones: Amber, tiger’s eye, yellow topaz, citrine

Its sounds: Musical note: E; Bija sound: Rang; Mantra/sound: Ram/da

Its metal: Iron

Number of petals: 10

Physical associations: Endocrine glands: Pancreas and liver; Body parts: Stomach, liver, intestines, skin


3rd chakraImbalances: Physical: Digestive problems, all of the ‘itis” diseases, ulcers, diabetes or hypoglycemia, arthritis, pancreas & liver malfunction, chronic fatigue, irregular heartbeat; Emotional: Fear, hate, indifference, stress, self-loathing, need for power.

Yoga can help to keep these dynamic forces in balance, enabling both beginning and advanced yogis tap into their limitless inner star power. Try a sequence that includes poses like these gentle backbends to cool an overheated Third Chakra, twists to cleanse it and restorative poses to calm the mind and encourage self-love.




Pasasana Pasasana (Noose Pose). Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) about a forearm’s distance away from a way. Have the wall on your right side and make sure you can place your forearm on the wall, parallel to the ground. Keep a rolled blanket or wedge nearby. Place your feet hip’s width apart.  Bend your knees and lower into a full squat. If you cannot place your heels flat on the floor, lower them onto the blankets or wedge. Turn your knees slightly to the left and rotate your torso to the right so that you can place both hands on the wall. Move your right hand higher to provide support and keep the left hand lower. Press your left elbow into the outside of your right knee. Work toward minimizing any space between the torso and thigh. If you feel stable here (don’t let your ego dictate; listen to your body), release your hands from the wall and bring your palms together at heart center. Press the hands together tightly to deepen the twist. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Release and return to Tadasana; then reverse.  Benefits: Stimulates the abdominal organs, strengthens digestion and elimination


Bow poseDhanurasana (Bow Pose). Begin by lying on your stomach. Bend your knees up and reach back with your hands to grab your ankles (Use a strap if you can’t reach.) Inhale and lift your heels away from the buttocks and lift your thighs off the floor. Your head and shoulders will come up off the mat. Try to keep your knees from opening wider than your hips. Focus on your breath—it might feel constrained because your front body is on the ground, but don’t hold your breath. Stay in the pose for 20 to 30 seconds and release.  Benefits: Stretches the entire front body and stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck.


Urdhva Prasarita Eka PadasanaUrdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split). Begin in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) with your right leg in front. Swing your left arm up and twist your torso to the right, pivoting on the ball of your left foot. Lay your body on your front thigh and your hands on the floor, or on blocks if you can’t reach the floor. Walk your hands forward and shift your weight completely onto the right foot. Inhale and lift your left leg parallel to the floor. Focus on rotating your left leg inward to keep the pelvis in alignment. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute before releasing and repeating on the other side.  Benefit: Stimulates the liver and kidneys










Urdhva Dhanurasana, upward bow poseUrdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). Lie on your back. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor next to your head (here’s a great place for those Yoga-Paws to avoid slipping). On an exhale, lift your hips, engaging your buttocks and lifting your hips. Hold here for two to three breaths. Then push into your hands to rest on your feet and the crown of your head. After two to three breaths in this position, straighten your arms and push into your feet to lift into the full pose. Focus on rotating your knees in (they won’t turn in but the action will prevent them from splaying out). Stay in the pose for five to 10 seconds and repeat three to 10 times.  Benefit: Increases energy and can help to counteract depression.


Salamba SavasanaSalamba Savasana (Supported Corpse Pose). (Note: you will need two pillows, a rolled towel and a bolster or folded blanket.) Begin on your back. Place the bolster or blank underneath your knees and the pillow underneath your arms, which should extend down and away from the body at a slight angle. Put the towel roll under your neck. Close your eyes and visualize your body releasing into the floor. Remain in the pose for 10 to 30 minutes. Release by wiggling your fingers and toes, bringing your knees into your chest and rolling onto the right side.   Benefits: Calms the brain and helps to relieve stress; helps to counteract mild depression.

Supplement these poses with asanas that help you overcome your fears—perhaps deeper back bends or inversions. Or, if your Third Chakra needs stimulating rather than cooling, try Bikram Yoga. Walking meditation can complement your practice on the mat. On your lunch hour, let go of goal-setting and performance reviews and just concentrate on feeling your heel, the ball of your foot and your toes rolling onto the ground. Rather than focusing your eyes, adopt a wide focus—not staring straight ahead, but using your peripheral vision. Then, as you near the end of the walk, look inward and celebrate all that you can be.



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Tags: Chakra Points, 3rd Chakra

Chakras and Yoga Poses

Posted on Tue, Apr 19, 2011


There are seven chakras, or energy centers, in the body that become blocked by longheld tension and low self-esteem. But practicing poses that correspond to each chakra can release these blocks and clear the path to higher consciousness.

chakras, yoga, yoga paws, yogapaws, chakra systemThe chakra system provides a theoretical base for fine-tuning our yoga practice to suit our unique personality and circumstances. Traditionally, Indians saw the body as containing seven main chakras, arranged vertically from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel, and these "wheels" were thought of as spinning vortexes of energy.

Each chakra is associated with particular functions within the body and with specific life issues and the way we handle them, both inside ourselves and in our interactions with the world. chakra chart, yoga, yoga paws, chakras

There are many yoga poses that can correct chakra imbalances, bringing us back to our body and the earth and helping us experience safety, security, and stillness.  


 Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra),  Centered at the perineum and the base of the spine, this energy vortex is involved in tending to our survival needs, establishing a healthy sense of groundedness, taking good basic care of the body, and purging the body of wastes. The associated body parts include the base of the spine, the legs, feet, and the large intestine.

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Yoga Posture:Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Benefits: Release and the root chakra to balance, frees energy flow in pelvic area, increases vitality in digestive organs, quiets the mind, stretches inner thighs and opens groins

The second chakra is called Svadisthana, which translates as "one's own place or base."  This chakra helps allow for emotional and sensual movement in our life, opening to pleasure, and learning how to "go with the flow." Associated with the hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder, and kidneys, this chakra is involved with sensuality, sexuality, emotions, intimacy, and desire.

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Yoga Posture: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Benefits: Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs, shoulders, armpits and triceps, and chest.  Balances second chakra.

 Located in the area of the solar plexus, navel, and the digestive system, the fiery third chakra is called Manipura, the “lustrous gem.” Associated with the color yellow, this chakra is involved in self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation; it also governs digestion and metabolism. This chakra is also the place of our deep belly laughter, warmth, ease, and the vitality we receive from performing selfless service.

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Benefits: Increases strength and flexibility along the entire length of the spine. Balances thrid chakra.

The fourth chakra, the heart chakra(Anahata Chakra),rests in the center of the chakra system, at the core of our spirit. Its physical location is the heart, upper chest, and upper back. The fourth is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra, we open to and connect with harmony and peace. 

Cobra Pose Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), yoga, chakras, yoga paws, yogapaws

Yoga Posture: Cobra Pose Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Benefits: Opens the chest, allowing deeper breathing.  Helps to balance the heart chakra.

The throat chakra, Visuddha, is associated with the color turquoise blue and with the elements sound and ether, the field of subtle vibrations ancient Indians believed pervaded the universe. Located in the neck, throat, jaw, and mouth, the Visuddha chakra resonates with our inner truth and helps us find a personal way to convey our voice to the outside world. 

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Yoga Posture: Camel Pose - Ustrasana

Benefits: Stretches the front of the body including the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps. Improves spinal flexibility.

Imaginative abilities—visualizing the past, creating positive pictures of the future, and fantasizing—are all aspects of Ajna ChakraAjna Chakra (3rd eye Chakra), whose Sanskrit name means both "the perception center" and "the command center." Associated with the element light and the color indigo blue, the sixth chakra is located between and just above the physical eyes, creating the spiritual third eye. While our two eyes see the material world, our sixth chakra sees beyond the physical. This vision includes clairvoyance, telepathy, intuition, dreaming, imagination, and visualization.

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Meditation:  Sit upright, holding the neck and head like a solider at attention. Take 5 deep breaths. This sends oxygen into your bloodstream and relaxes you. Look at the third eye area, in the middle of your forehead and just above your eyebrows. You will rest your hands in a comfortable position such as upon your knees. Remain as still as you possibly can. Inhale deeply while beginning to chant in a steady, slow soft voice the OM manta, pronounced AUM. For an entire exhalation the one single chant of OM (AUM) is sounded

Benefits: Guidance and inspiration, enhancement of awareness, improvement of health and well being

The seventh chakra is located at the crown of the head and serves as the crown of the chakra system, symbolizing the highest state of enlightenment and facilitating our spiritual development. The seventh chakra is like a halo atop the head. In art, Christ is often depicted with a golden light surrounding his head, and the Buddha shown with a lofty projection on the top of his head. In both cases, these images represent the awakened spirituality of the Sahasrara Chakra.

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Special Thanks to  Barbara Kaplan Herring for their consise chakra information. 

Tags: Chakra Points, 7 Chakra, 5th Chakra, 6th chakra, 1st Chakra, 2nd Chakra, 3rd Chakra, 4th Chakra

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