YogaPaws Blog for Beginner Poses and Postures

Yoga Buffet: Develop a Taste for Different Approaches

Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013

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Everyone gets stuck in a rut from time to time, whether in your job, your life, your style of dressing or even your yoga practice. Routine isn’t a bad thing when it’s helping you to be organized so that your days are more peaceful. It’s also nice to know that you can count on a good experience in a class or that Thursday night out with family and/or friends as something to look forward to.

yoga paws, hot yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yogaHere’s where discernment comes into play. There’s a difference between the thought patterns that hold you back and the comfortable life patterns that help your days feel anchored and settled. Maybe, you can’t remember the last time you missed your favorite Thursday yoga class. Or, you consider yourself “addicted” to your preferred style. Your home practice never varies. Sound familiar? First of all, good on you for finding a practice that inspires you. Consistency on your mat is a great thing and is a wonderful tool for advancing your mental and physical practice. There’s no need to leave that routine, but sometimes trying a different style can be a fun complement to your weekly practice. Because yoga is so complex, it’s easy to forget how much variety there is beyond the classes you regularly take.

yoga food, yogi, yoga for change, yoga for depressionJust like with food, experimenting with your yoga can add flavor to your regular practice. Sometimes seeing poses through the lens of a different style or teach can help you toward that “aha!” moment. Sometimes, a different class can teach you something about yourself as a yoga student—you tend to respond to visual cues more than verbal corrections to adjust your alignment, for example—that helps you learn. Often, it takes a blend of styles to help you open all of the opportunities for expanding your physical capabilities on the mat as well as your mental and spiritual muscles.

yoga class, yoga paws, hatha yoga, vinyasa yogaIf you are looking to try a different kind of class, the first thing to consider is how far you feel like going outside the box. Maybe you are just looking for a different shade of the same color. If you’re a regular hatha yoga student, giving yin a go might offer you the chance to slow down further and explore each pose more deeply. Learning to stay in a position for five minutes, feeling your body warm and soften and passing the point of reactivity as you release enables you find new meaning to the idea of being in the moment.

If you usually seek out vinyasa or power yoga, you might want to find a hot class to intensify the experience. The challenge of creating heat inside the body as you move through a slow but steady series of asanas while accepting the 105-plus-degree heat in the room can bring a sort of laser focus to your movements and your breath. Working in the heat can help you get in touch with the idea of softening and lengthening your muscles and tendons—a perfect complement to the muscular expansion/compress that typifies flow classes.

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Maybe, you’d like to take a leap outside of your comfort zone. If that’s the case, think about what kind of different class you want. If you are a Bikram devotee, just trying a class without the heat will offer a new experience of yoga. If you’ve done Ashtanga for most of your time as a student, you might want to try a hatha or vinyasa class to see what it’s like when you can’t predict the next asana. 

And, sometimes experimenting is just plain fun. Walking into class with no expectations is a great tool to give yourself a clean slate. The poses that send up red flags in your regular class may not even be part of the sequence in a different style. And, the class is bound to be unfamiliar, so you walk in with a fresh attitude and enjoy a new way of moving and thinking.


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Tags: yoga for beginners, advanced yoga, Beginning Yoga Poses, Mindful eating, vinyasa yoga, hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga

Support Mindful Eating with These Five Yoga Poses

Posted on Tue, Feb 07, 2012

Fresh Fruits And VegetablesYou’re a lot more than what you eat. But what you eat can have a lot of bearing on how free you are to explore all the aspects of “you.” You know you need more fruits and vegetables. You know that moderation and variety make your body feel strong, energized and ready for anything. So why it is so hard to spend some time on the weekend to make a big batch of the soup you’ll be craving at lunchtime on Monday? Why doesn’t the second cookie satisfy? Or, why is every day a battle to eat less and less? No diet can help answer that question, but yoga can.


listen to your bodyWith each pose, you’ll hear your teacher remind you, “Listen to your body.” Yoga is all about discernment. You get a compelling reminder of that message every time you see an image of Shiva dancing in the fire and crushing the dwarf/demon that symbolizes ignorance. By turning your eyes inward, you can start to get in touch with what your body really needs for optimal health. Ayurvedic philosophy suggests that, at each meal, your body be half filled with food, one-quarter filled with liquid and one-quarter left empty to give the food and fluid room to digest. Try that. About 20 minutes after eating, go inside and check out how you’re grass Was that enough food? Too little? Too much? How do you feel as a result of the types of food you ate? Energized? Sleepy? Content? Do that little exercise for a week and log the results.


Then, try poses like this that help teach discernment and the benefits of honoring your body’s wisdom.





hero's poseVirasana (Hero Pose). This pose requires you to be thoughtful about your knees and back.

How to do it: Kneel on the floor with your knees perpendicular to the floor. (This is sometimes called “standing on the knees.”) You may want a folded blanket or block under your buttocks. Slide your knees as close together as possible and move your feet wider about a thumb’s width wider than your hips. Lean your torso slightly forward and slowly sit back between your feet. Place your hands on your thighs with your palms down or in you lap with your palms up. Hold for 30 seconds or longer. After releasing, extend your legs straight in front of you and bounce your legs lightly.



crane joseBakasana (Crane Pose). This pose requires an intense focus and a strong core. You need to ask your body whether it’s ready to lift either foot, one foot or both feet—and be willing to accept its direction.

How do it: Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and squat down so that your feet are a few inches apart. You may want to have a block slightly behind you if you are new to this pose and need support. Separate your knees wider than your hips. Stretch your arms in front of you, bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor. Your upper arms should be against your shins. Yoga Journal advises: “Snuggle your inner thighs against the sides of your torso, and your shins into your armpits, and slide the upper arms down as low onto the shins as possible. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso onto the backs of the upper arms. Lean forward even more on the backs of your arms until your feet leave the floor.”  Or, just balance your toes on the block. Try lifting one foot before your lift off with both feet. Hold for 20 seconds to one minute.



Upavistha KonansanaUpavistha Konansana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend). This pose requires that you check your ego at the door and respect where your edge is in terms of stretching—not over-stretching—your inner thighs.

How to do it:  Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Open your legs to about 90 degrees. Place your hands the floor in front of you, slide your buttocks forward and try to spread the legs wider. Point your knee caps toward the ceiling. Lean your torso forward and begin walking your hands out in front of you until you at the edge of your stretch. Hold 30 seconds to one minute.



Salamba SirsasanaSalamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand) This pose requires you to get in touch with the alignment of your body in a different plane.

 How to do it: Kneel on the floor. You may want a folded blank to place under your head and arms. Clasp your hand and lower them to the floor. Press into the ground with your wrists. If you are just beginning to experiment with this pose, place your head snugly against the back of your hands. If you are comfortable with headstand, open your hands slightly and place your head against your open palms. Inhale and lift your knees, walking on the balls of your feet until your body form a V. Firm your shoulder blades to keep your body from collapsing into your head and neck. Exhale and lift your feet off the floor. Even if you have to bend your knees, focus on getting both feet off the floor at the same time. As your legs rise, firm the tailbone against the pelvis. Once your legs are perpendicular to the ground, straighten your knees if you bent them and align the arches of your feet over the crown of your head. Make sure to stay focused on engaging your shoulder blades and firming your tailbone. Stay in the pose for five to 10 seconds if you are new to headstand, gradually increasing the duration of the pose by a few seconds a day  until you can hold it for three minutes. Come out of the pose on an exhale, touching both feet to the ground at the same time. Move into Balasana (Child’s Pose).



monkey poseHanumanasana (Monkey Pose) The deep stretch of this pose calls on you to tune into your body’s flexibility and balance.

How to do it: Begin kneeling on the floor. Step your right foot about a foot in front of your left. Lean forward and begin to stretch the left leg out behind you. Allow your knee to relax as you reach your edge. Then, start to stretch your right leg forward. As your right knee straightens, begin to extend your back leg and sink toward the floor, making sure your right knee is pointing straight at the ceiling. If you can descend all the way to the floor, reach your arms up to the ceiling. Stay in the pose 30 seconds to one minute and release by turning your front knee out slightly and bending both legs in to your starting position. Switch legs and repeat on your other side.


A regular yoga practice not only invites but demands introspection. You begin to understand the difference between the discomfort that often comes before a breakthrough and the pain of pushing your body to a place it is not prepared to go to yet. It’s an easy leap to apply that same thinking to eating. You can start to feel the dynamic benefits of eating fresh, beautifully colored food filled with nutrients. That energy becomes part of you. You can also feel how over-eating, under-eating and empty-calorie eating depletes you and leaves you slowed down, fuzzy and maybe even depressed. Feeling good is an easy habit to maintain. It allows you to enjoy your food, enjoy your body and grow toward your full potential. That’s something no diet, pills or surgery can ever do. So strike a pose and celebrate a healthier you!


Dig Deeper

Yoga and Eating Habits

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Yoga Pose Library

Tags: Yoga for weight loss, Mindful eating, yoga to promote healthy eating habits

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