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YogaPaws Blog for Beginner Poses and Postures

Beyond Om: Mantras to Inspire Your Yoga Practice

Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013

mantra, yoga mantraWhether you meditate regularly or not, you’re familiar with the power of a word or phrase to focus yourself.  In class, the chanting of Om (said to be the syllable “of the vibration of the Supreme”) or the quiet sharing of Namaste (which  can be translated as “the divine in me salutes the divine in you) heightens your experience and brings your mind back to the present after Savasana (Corpse Pose). But, there is so much more to the power of mantras in your meditation or your yoga practice.

They can be there for you as a confidence tool, a sort of “you can do it!” mnemonic for yourself trying a hard pose or gathering yourself to achieve a personal goal, whether it’s a move, a promotion or a bucket-list yoga poses. Mantras can also still the monkey mind that is trying to spend your entire mediation session worrying about whether you’ve paid the bills, when you’re going to get the groceries or how you’re going to manage your hectic schedule for the next week.

yoga mantra, yoga pawsIn many yogic traditions, mantas are held to have a power that helps you access a different state of being, one that is calmer and less distracted than your everyday mental patterns. Some mantra experts contend that mantras can help you tap into your “super-conscious” which is the highest form of consciousness. Mantras also help you regulate your breath as you meditate, allowing you to breathe more regularly and deeply, which in turn helps you calm down.

You can meditate on any word or phrase that has meaning to you. You can also try chanting the mantra out loud or meditating on it in silence to find you what works for you. It might be easier for you to do this as a walking meditation, for example. However you choose to explore this practice, here are some mantras to add to the rhythm of your life:

 

Gayatiri Mantra

Om bhur bhuvah svah

tat-savitur varenyam

bhargo devasya dhimahi

dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

(May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god:
So may he stimulate our prayers)

Considered the mother of all mantras (so popular that a version was featured in the opening theme of Battlestar Galactica), this is usually preceeded by Om. It is an invocation of connection to the divine or a higher power and it’s a great mantra for times when you feel weak, helpless or unempowered.    Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra. 

 

Om Namah Shivaya 

While this ancient mantra has no direct translation, it refers to the elements which govern five of the chakras. It can be roughly interpreted as a salutation to what you are capable of becoming. If you are looking for a feeling of freedom or you want to explore the chakras, this is a mantra to try.  Here is a link to Krishnas Das performing this mantra. 

 

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu 

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.)

This mantra is a simple invocation about making the world a better place. It reminds you of the good you are empowered to do and receive in return. This is a fantastic mantra for times when you feel like you can’t fix the problems you see around you, in your life or that of others.  Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra.  

hipchanter1 228x300These are only a few of the many phrases out there you can meditate on. There are a number of websites that have streaming audio with mantras, but, as with any site, do a security scan before clicking “okay.” One starting point might be iTunes or Amazon.com’s MP3 downloads—or your local library’s audio section. you can feel free to find ones that are meaningful to you. Try the name of a loved one, or a favorite concept. Find something that speaks to you and compels you.

 

Dig Deeper

Meditation on the go

Yogic breathwork

Yoga pose library

Tags: Stress reduction, music for yoga, self discovery, Mantras

Facing challenges, on and off the mat

Posted on Wed, Jul 25, 2012

mat challenge, yoga challenge

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are."

 ~ Bernice Johnson Reagon

 

What does “avoiding difficulty” really mean?

help with yogaAvoiding – to go around. To detour. To take the easier path. To manage
not to do something or stop something from happening.

I watched today as this guy struggled to go into a back bend. His arms
flopped open, elbows taking the strain, shoulders collapsing.
Desperately trying to push up through a weak foundation. He could
spend years like that, slowly making the weakest parts of his
shoulders weaker and wearing out his elbows: until finally something
breaks. OR he can go a step backwards, he can learn to look at the
part which he finds difficult (in this case holding the elbows in and
the shoulders in their sockets) and work their before even lifting the
head off the floor. Identify the work. The real work. The work that
will bring about positive changes’, that will give you strength; that
will give you a different outcome.

comfort zoneIT IS hard. I know it is hard. That’s why we avoid it. We do it the easy way because we think it will get us to the end result faster. But that is just an illusion. It’s simple not true. All it will do is keep us from the right path. Stop us from heading in the right direction. It actually prevents the results that we desperately seek.

So how can this important lesson be reflected into our day-to-day lives?
If we have the same problem occurring over and over again we to have
to take a step back. Re-asses the situation and identify the weakness.
What is it that we do that avoids dealing with the difficulty? What is
it that causes the same results over and over? For me I am trying to
relationshipslearn how to act and not react. I tend to get defensive and when I
respond emotionally it is normally unpleasant and vicious. Like a
scorpion, I have a sting in my tail and when I react with my sting, it
hurts. It also drives people away. Scared of being stung again, the
attacker retreats. This has resulted in me being left alone; not the
outcome that I desired.

challengesSo, working within my difficulty, I have to take s step backwards. To
recognise what I am doing wrong. See how to change it. Learn how to
act, not react. Let the emotions drain out of a situation before I
respond. Come from a calm and nurturing place. Not a defensive and
stubborn place, unwilling to back down. It IS hard! That’s the real
work. The work that can bring about change. The work that will set
about a different cause and bring about a different effect. The work
that will bring me the results that I want.

Sometimes when we feel bad about ourselves we do things that avoid
dealing with the real issue. We drink alcohol, we smoke : we do things
to numb out the pain. This in turn makes us feel bad, we feel worse
about ourselves and so we drink to hide from it. To avoid dealing with
the real difficulty. What we really need to do is be nice to
ourselves. To work within the difficulty. To take rest, do more yoga,
eat good food, laugh and be with people who love us. Do the hard work
to feel good about ourselves. To get the result that we really want.
To be a fitter, healthier and happier person.


And there you have it. Working within the difficulties. Doing the hard  
work. The real work. Seeing the faults and putting in lots of effort to correct them, to rebalance them. In the case of the back bend, if you work on the foundation then you will lift up higher. From strong roots we grow tall. And so it is the same with my own issues off the mat. Work on the foundations. Come from a good place, have strong
roots. Work within the difficulties and do the work. Start to get the results that you want.

By changing the way we do things daily, allows a new person inside of
us to grow.

~Laura Grace Ford

Ashtanga Yoga Devon

Tags: Stress reduction, meditation, yoga for health, relationships, how to overcome fear with yoga, forgiveness

10 Tips for Beginning a Fearless Yoga Practice

Posted on Tue, Jan 03, 2012

Happy YogiIf starting a yoga practice is one of your intentions for this New Year, get ready for a life-changing adventure. Fortunately, you won’t have to look far for everything you need to take the first steps on your yogic path. Dedicated yoga teachers offer instruction in private studios, fitness centers, YMCAs, community centers and senior living facilities throughout the country. The basic equipment—mats, Yoga-Paws, blocks and straps—is readily available and affordable. And, every venue has classes specifically designed for students who are new to yoga. That’s the easy part. Then comes the moment when you walk into the studio for the first time. Suddenly, all thoughts about calm and serenity might evaporate as your brain shifts into comparison/assessment mode. No matter how sincerely the instructor reassures you that “it’s all good,” there’s that inner voice worrying about whether you’ll fall down, whether you’ll have the stamina to finish the class and whether those yoga pants make your hips look big. Don’t listen.

 

yoga inspiration

Check your fears at the door. No one can “fail” in a yoga class. Other than safety-related alignment adjustments, your mind, body and spirit working together in the moment determine the full expression of every pose. You will do each pose in a unique way, your way, because that asana comes from within. There will be days when you feel like a world-beater, days when Balasana (child’s pose) will seem like a challenge and lots of days that lie somewhere between. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.

 

 

Think back to when you were a child—to a timehappy yogi before that voice trash-talked your dreams. When you wanted to learn to ride a bike or do a cartwheel, you didn’t think you were a failure because you couldn’t get it the first time. The “trying” was as much fun as the end result. You weren’t embarrassed if you fell because your friends were falling, learning and trying again, too—just like they are in a yoga class (Just ask anyone who’s tried to take off in Virabhadrasana III (warrior III)). Bring that excitement back as you begin your practice or maybe as you begin a new style of yoga or even classes with a new teacher.

 

Here are some strategies to help you let go of any nervousness and open yourself to the unlimited benefits—and the pure fun—of a vibrant yoga practice.

 

Before You Go

 

  1. Check out the class online. Theyoga poses mission statement, class description and even the website design will provide some good indicators of what kind of experience you can expect. If the environment matters to you, make that part of your decision. Yoga is a sensual practice. Color, scent, music and patterns are all part of the yogic path. So, no, it’s not shallow to look for a space that makes it easier for you to detach from your daily world and travel within.
  2. Since there are many different style of yoga, consider which meets your goals: the slower approach of a Hatha class (the word comes from a combination of the Sanskrit “ha” for sun and “tha” for moon) which invites students to explore ways to find calm as they hold and deepen each asana or the faster flow of a Vinyasa class (breath-synchronized movement) which encourages students to move from pose to pose in order to heat and detoxify the body and achieve stillness in motion. Beyond these two basic styles, there are many options for customizing your practice, from the gentle physical and spiritual message of Anusara to the dynamic flow of Power Yoga, the awakening of Kundalini yoga and the cleanse of Bikram Yoga (practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees). Honoring your body rhythms will help you shorten the learning curve.
  3. If you have time, visit the studio before your first class. Get your bearings. Even if you come 15 minutes before your first class, the time it takes to register and sign a liability waiver may leave you hurrying to change, find mat space and transition away from your day.
  4. Make sure you don’t feel like an outsider. You should feel welcome, at home and connected.  If you’re not greeted with a smile or if you feel too old, too young, too fat, too skinny or too un-cool, keep shopping for “your” studio. You’ll never be calm on the mat if the other students or the teacher remind you of high school cliques.
  5. You probably already know a lot more about basic poses than you think. But, to erase the fear factor, take some time to YouTube beginning yoga poses and practice along to get the feel of the asanas. Check out some yoga DVDs from your local library. Take a tour of Yoga-Paws’ pose library and the pose descriptions on Yoga Journal’s site.

 

 

 

On the Mat

  1. Before classhome.studio begins, find your center. You’ll see students in various poses, from Savasana (corpse pose) to many variations on seated postures. Explore which poses help you calm your thoughts and relax your body. Don’t expect they’ll be the same for every class. Learn to listen to what your mind, body and spirit require in the moment. Close your eyes. Consciously soften each body part, starting at your feet if you’re lying down or at your head if you’re sitting. Envision your feet, knees, pelvic girdle, back, shoulders and head releasing stress and relaxing into the mat. Let go of your day, your expectations and your fears. Become present.
  2. Breathe. Once you feel calm, connect with your breath. Take some long inhales through your nose and long exhales. Start with equal inhales and exhales, then begin to make the exhales one to four counts longer. Allow your breath to steady your mind.
  3. Remember this class is all about you. The instructor is your guide but your body is teacher. Trust it. In a beginning yoga class, most teachers adjust students only to correct alignment that could be harmful. Otherwise, students are free to find the pose in their own way. Take advantage of that freedom.
  4. Don’t compare. As Cincinnati yoga teacher Stephanie Herrin tells both beginning and advanced students, “If you’re watching your neighbors and you start feeling like a loser because you’re not doing poses like they’re doing them, close your eyes and they’ll go away.” Yoga’s not an Olympic sport. You don’t get extra points for getting your head to your leg or doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana (hand stand). Don’t pressure yourself to think only extreme poses can be “good” poses. Focus on what’s happening in your body during each instant of the pose and let that determine where your edge—and success—really are.
  5. Know that you can stop, adjust and start again at any time. Yoga is neither a performance nor a race. It doesn’t have to be “finished.” Especially when you begin, give yourself the okay to rest in Balasana whenever you need to for as long as you need to. In a yoga class, discernment is the goal, not pushing on pointlessly. During a workshop taught by Bryan Kest, the class was working hard to keep flowing—so hard, in fact, that the room was heating up and students were perspiring so much that it was hard not slide on their mats. As most soldiered on, one student dropped to his knees and eased back into child’s pose. Kest stopped the class, pointed to the student and said, “Now, that’s yoga!”

 

 

feel good

Yoga is a safe place. So release your anxiety, fears and
nervousness to the universe and step inside a world where everything is possible.

 

 

Dig deeper

New to Yoga Tips

Starting at At-home Practice

Tags: overcoming yoga class anxiety, Stress reduction

Nine Yoga Poses to Keep Holidays Bright from Morning to Night

Posted on Tue, Dec 20, 2011

Whether you’re at your home for the holidays or someone else’s, this special time of year is a great time to explore opportunities for “living” yoga rather than just practicing it. Since your workplace is probably powered down or powered off, you have the chance to think outside the box of your daily routine in order to create new patterns that serve you better. No matter how full your house is or how full your days are, you can begin to consider how much even a brief pranayama session after the alarm rings could change your outlook for the day. If you have any doubts that a few minutes could deliver some life-changing results, just think about the feeling you get after Savasana (corpse pose).  

You don’t have to wait to be on the mat to 

deep breath

fully realize the calming benefits of living yoga. The beauty of the yogic lifestyle is that it can be done anywhere, anytime. You don’t need a mat or a lot of space. So, plan to give yourself the gift of peace 

each day with poses like these:

 

Poses To Start Your Day

 

As soon as you wake up, try some gentle pranayama. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Start at the pelvic floor and draw a ribbon of breath up through the body. Connect with that rhythm as your feel your body rise and fall on that wave of breath. Turn your eyes inward and see the breath lighting every cell until the inner body glows. With every exhale, see the body releasing anything that is stale or stuck. Set an intention for your day. Breathe that in; exhale whatever would keep you from staying with your intention.

 

 

 

While still in bed, use these poses to prepare your mind, body and spirit for the day:

 

savasanaSavasana (corpse pose) with a stretch. Lie on your back. Release your arms to your sides, palms up and open your feet. Connect with the rhythm of your breath. Raise your arms alongside your ears. Straighten your legs. Wrap your left fingers around your right wrist and pull gently. Simultaneously, stretch through your left leg, flexing your left foot and push through your heel. Release and return to Savasana. Reverse.

 

Supta Baddha KonansanaSupta Baddha Konansana (reclining bound angle pose). Position your arms along your sides, palms up. Draw the soles of the feet together so that your legs make a diamond shape. As you inhale, breathe into your hips and feel the entire area start to warm. As you exhale, allow your hips to soften and melt down. Hold this position for one to five minutes.

 

 

 

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, bridge pose

 

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose). Yogi Sadie Nardini offers this variation for a morning inversion. Lie sideways on your bed. Place one or two pillows under your hips. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the bed. Hold for one minute or more, then remove the pillows and let the small of your back relax onto the bed.

 

 

 

Asanas to De-Stress All Day

You don’t need to literally “come to the mat” to weave the benefits of yoga throughout the day. Even in a home filled with company, you can retreat to a private space for 15 minutes and reset your inner harmony with poses like these:

 

garudasanaGarudasana (eagle pose). Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose). Bend your knees slightly and, shifting your weight to your right foot, cross your left thigh over your right. Your left toes can touch the floor or you can lift your left toes and wrap them around your right calf to balance. Stretch your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor. Cross your right arm over left and bend your elbows. Bring the backs of your hands together. Press your right hand to the right and left hand to the left so that the palms are facing each other. Stretch your fingers toward the ceiling so that your hands are at the third eye in the center of your forehead. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Then, unwind, return to Tadasana and reverse.

 

 

 

Adho Mukha Savasana (down dog) to Urdhva Mukha  Savasana (up dog)

down dogup dog

 From Tadasana, hinge at your hips and bend forward into Uttanasana (forward fold). Step your right foot back, then your left foot in to Adho Mukha Svasana. If you don’t have space for your mat, use Yoga-Paws to keep your hands and feet from slipping. As you inhale, drop your hips, straighten your arms and roll your head and heart up into Urdhva Mukha Svasana (up dog).  Repeat this flow three times. Then breathe five breaths in Adho Mukha Svasana. Step your right foot forward, then your left. Roll up one vertebra at a time into Tadasana.

 

Utkatasana, chair poseUtkatasana (chair pose). Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose). Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Exhale and bend your knees, keeping your glutes down as if you were sitting back in a chair. Hold the pose for 30 second to one minute. To deepen, release into Uttanasana (forward fold), then return to Uttkatasana, straighten your knees and return to Tadasana. Repeat that flow three times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poses for a Good Night’s Rest

As you know from the close of your yoga class, calming yoga poses invite relaxation and help you wind down. Try these poses in bed before your sleep:

 

happy baby pose

Ananda Balasana (happy baby). Lie on your back.  Bend your knees and grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. Draw your knees into your belly or into your armpits. Relax and soften as you inhale and exhale. Hold the pose for one two minutes.

 

 

 

Supta PadangusthasanaSupta Padangusthasana(reclining big toe pose). Lie on your back. Raise your right leg. Flex your foot. Interlace your fingers behind your right thigh and gently pull your leg toward your face. Then, allow your right leg to twist over the left side. Reverse to the left. Don’t exaggerate the movement. This is a gentle twist to relax the back.  The use of a strap can allow you more control in the posture, so you may inturn relax deeper into the movement. 

 

 

Savasana (corpse pose).

savasana

 With your eyes still closed, lie on your back. Relax your arms along your sides, palms up. Let your feet fall open. Continue your breath work for one to five minutes. Reverse.

Though there’s never anything “routine” about yoga, finding places to practice and experiment with the benefits of these poses can help you find the tools to create the calm and peace that make every day a holiday.

 

Dig deeper:

Calm Down Your Holidays with Yoga

Bring Your Yoga Practice Home for the Holidays

Tips for Beginning a Yoga Practice

Tags: Stress reduction, holiday yoga, Yoga for a Good Mood

Seven Yoga Moves to Keep Your Holidays Stress-free

Posted on Wed, Dec 07, 2011

 Holidays are very much a celebration of the yogic concept of unity.holiday stress relife These special occasions remind us to be grateful, loving and kind. They remind us how connected we are, and how good that feels—whether it’s the warmth of family gathering around a table with beautiful food or the quiet of a cease-fire on a battlefield.

But, before those beautiful moments filled with smiles and laughter, for a lot of people there are weeks of stressing about everything from cleaning to cooking to shopping. You may know in your heart that friends and family wouldn’t love you any less if there was still some dust in the corner or the dessert wasn’t perfect, but it probably doesn’t stop you from trying to over-achieve. It would be great if there were a “stop” button for the holiday frenzy. In many ways, that’s just what yoga is.

Yogic breath work and asanas help calm mind, body and spirit. Recent studies suggest that yoga increases alpha waves that are associated with relaxation. It also reduces cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress. The best part is that you don’t have to wait to get to a class to bring the benefits of yoga into your lifestyle. You can begin your de-stressing program by committing to a few minutes of pranayama before you get out of bed or a gentle pose in the evening before falling asleep. Creating calm starts at home. Here’s how:

 

Anywhere, Anytime Breath Work

yoga breath1.) Sama Vritti Pranayama (equal breath). Sit comfortably. Turn yourfocus inside and feel the rhythm of your breath. Inhale and exhale. Then, as you inhale, begin counting slowly. Continue to inhale until your lungs are full. Then, exhale to the same count. After five to 10 breaths this way, you may want to explore the feeling of making the exhale longer.  Variation: Inhale and exhale. At the bottom of the exhale, hold your breath for one count. On the next breath, hold your breath for two counts at the bottom of the exhale. Add a count for each of three more breaths.

 


2.) Dirga Pranayama  
(three-partdirga pranayama breath). Although it would be ideal to lie on your back to realize the full benefits, you can also practice Dirga Pranayama in a comfortable seated position. Start by inhaling through your nose. Focus on the rhythm of your lower belly swelling on the inhale. Then exhale and feel the belly fall back toward the spine. On the next inhale, draw the breath up—starting at the pelvic floor and feeling the breath expand the lower abdomen, then the mid-body. Exhale and feel the front body move back toward the spine. On the third inhale, draw the breath from the pelvic floor to the mid-body and, finally, to the chest. As you exhale, let the chest fall back to the spine, then the mid-body and finally the lower abdomen. Concentrate on exhaling fully each time. Repeat for five breaths.

 

nostal breathing, yoga breth3.) Nadi Sodhana (alternate nostril breath).
 Sit in a comfortable position. Using your right hand, fold you index finger and middle finger in toward you palm. Leave your thumb, ring finger and pinky extended. Place your thumb on the right side of your nose and your ring finger on the left. Gently use your thumb to close off your right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril. Then use your ring finger to close off your left nostril. At the same time, lift your thumb, exhale and then inhale through the right nostril. Open the left nostril, and exhale and inhale through the left nostril. Continue to alternate for five to 10 breaths.

 

4.)  Shitali Pranayama (Cooling breath).
Shitali PranayamaInhale and exhale three to five times, focusing on the rhythm of your breath. Then curl your tongue so that the sides turn toward the middle. Purse your lips and stick out your tongue. If you can’t curl your tongue, make a small “o” with pursed lips. Inhale through the curl of the tongue or your pursed lips, exhale through the nose. Repeat five to 10 times.

 

Asanas that Calm You Down

 


childs pose1.) Balasana (child’s pose). Kneel. Sit back on your heels. Inhale and stretch your arms toward the ceiling. Hinging at the hips, bow forward and bring your forehead to the floor. Stretch you arms out in front of you or sweep them back along your sides. Hold for 30 second to one minute. Bring your hands alongside your chest and gentle return to the seated position.

 


2.) Savasana
(corpse pose). Gentlylower savasanayourself to a seated position,
 then lie down on your back. Open your feet. Bring your arms along your sides and open you palms. Close your eyes. Focus on the rhythm of your breath for five or six rounds of inhales and exhales, then let go of any breath control and try to clear your mind. Variation: Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together to let the hips open and relax. Consider using an eye pillow for added relaxation.
Viparita Karani3.) Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose). Stack two folded blankets or set a bolster a few inches from the wall. Sit on your support so that your left side is along the wall and your feet are extended straight out in front of you. Your body would look like the letter “l” along the wall. Shift your weight to the right, using your hands for support. Lower onto your right shoulder and then onto your back while bringing your legs straight up the wall. The backs of your thighs and calves should touch the wall. Toes point. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Stay in the pose as long as desired. Lower the legs, either sweeping them down and using the hands as supports to return to a seated position or flatten the feet, walk down the wall and gently push the body away from the wall and lie flat on the floor.

 

By choosing to practice even a few minutes of pranayama, meditation or asanas each day or “reaching for” these healing techniques when stress is becoming overwhelming, you can reset your thinking. The moment you wake up, you can take two or three deep breaths to transition from the “flight or fight” response to a blaring alarm to a mindset that is peaceful, calm and less reactive. Keep your Yoga-Paws near the TV and do a down dog during a commercial or while waiting for a video to load. Your bed, your kitchen, your living room will start to be associated with that calm, easy feeling—which you can take with you wherever you go.

 

Dig Deeper:

 

Tips for Developing a Home Yoga Practice

 

Benefits of Yoga

 

Tags: Stress reduction, Yoga for the Holidays, Pranayama, Breath Work

Yoga and Meditation

Posted on Tue, Nov 29, 2011

yoga and meditationIf you’re interested in practicing yoga, then you may want to learn a bit more about meditation as well, since it is one of the Five Principles of Yoga. Meditation is a practice of being in the now, the present moment. It’s a constant observation of the mind that requires a still mind in order to perceive the true self.

 

I recently read a physician’s observation that “meditation” is only one letter off from the word “medication,” and yet the two approaches couldn’t be more different. For example, if someone suffers from an unquiet mind – troubling thoughts, negative self talk and so on – traditional medicine as it’s often practiced today might offer prescription antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications as a solution. This solution treats the symptom rather than the problem.

 

Meditation, on the other hand, serves to get at the problem (an unquiet mind), through practicing stillness.

 

What is meditation?

 

According to Dr. Joan Borysenko, a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, meditation is anything that brings us to the present and keeps us there. This makes meditation easy for us to incorporate into our lives. [Read more]

 

 

How do yoga and meditation go together?

Meditation is one of the Five Principles of Yoga. It is theyoga and meditation practice by which there is constant observation of the mind. It requires you to focus your mind at one point and make your mind still in order to perceive the 'self'. Through the practice of Meditation, you will achieve a greater sense of purpose and strength of will. It also helps you achieve a clearer mind, improve your concentration, and discover the wisdom and tranquility within you. [Read more]

In light of the holidays and the seduction of excess they can bring, this would be a wonderful time to move your focus inward. Find a quite space to just be. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and settle into a relaxed state of being. Release the "To Do" lists, expectations, and stress from your space with each breath. Now recall forgiveness, love, and peace into your body, aura, and Chakras. No need to put too much "thinking" into this, just know your intention is allowing the energy to move, not effort.  :)  Sit with this for 5 - 20min and feel refreshed, revived, and present.  Your body, soul, and spirit will thank you for it!

You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.

With Love~ 

Tags: Stress reduction, meditation, yoga and meditation

Seven Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Posted on Tue, Oct 11, 2011
As those who have been practicing yoga for a long time will agree, there is a strong connection between your body and your mind. When your mind is under stress, your body reflects it in many ways – poor posture, low back pain and tense muscles, just to name a few. It’s no wonder, then, that people who are under a tremendous amount of stress seem to age faster than those who have learned to manage it. Stress – and gravity, of course – is what makes us age.

 

There are seven basic attributes that characterize someone who’s vibrant and healthy, someone who seems to defy the effects of aging:

 

  • Supple skin that radiates beauty
  • Strong, shiny hair
  • Well defined muscles and bone structure
  • Boundless energy that lights up a room
  • A light but firm and confident step
  • A positive, well balanced attitude toward life
  • A calm demeanor

 

Are you feeling it yet? Believe it or not, this can be you, and it has nothing to do with age. Enter yoga, the great age-defying stress reducer. Though not necessarily Ponce de Leon’s famed fountain of youth, practice yoga on a regular basis and you may just start to notice some welcome benefits. To start your own anti-aging campaign, try practicing the following a few times per week:

 

Flex Your Spine

flex spine yoga, anti aging yoga, yoga pawsYour spine is the foundation of everything you do. It helps your body maintain its structure, supports your head, arms and legs, and provides shock absorption for all of your activities. In addition, it houses your central nervous system, the highway that connects your brain to the rest of your body. With all of that work to do, it’s no wonder your spine gets tired on a daily basis. Even those with the best posture find themselves slouching at the end of a particularly stressful day. Give your spine some love with asanas (yoga poses) that elongate, strengthen and stretch your spine. Alternating cat and cow pose is a great start. A spine that’s flexible promotes good balance and strength.

 

Release Your Muscle Tension

Body aches and pains are often the result of tight muscles. From headachesself massage, anti-aging, yoga pawsto back problems, tight muscles can slowly leave you permanently hunched over and limit your ability to perform activities that you love. Over time, range of motion can diminish and the activities you once loved can become challenging. Self-massage can improve circulation and warm up your muscles, encouraging them to release the toxins that cause you pain. A rule of thumb is to use light circular motion over joints and areas of pain and sweep with long strokes over areas such as the front of the thigh and arms. Self-massage is particularly useful to help you relax during the day – even if you spend just a couple of minutes massaging your neck. Another great time for self-massage is while you shower. Your skin and senses come alive in the steam of the shower and self-massage relaxes your muscles, readying you for the day ahead or preparing you for a restful evening.

 

Breathe in Life

Breathing correctly delivers oxygen to your bloodstream, nourishing every deep breath, yoga paws, anit ageing for yogasingle cell in your body. Breathing also acts as a purifier to help you rid your body of toxins collected throughout the day. The breath, or prana, is life. Pranayama is both the extension and the control of breath, and indeed the subtle energies of the body. Although there are many different schools of teaching, the most basic approach is breath awareness. Lying or sitting in a comfortable position and just noticing your breath for a set period of time reaps powerful benefits. You become more focused and relaxed. You can either simply notice your breath without judgment or focus your breath on a particular area of your body, such as that catch in your neck. With each inhale, you send the breath to your neck, extending love and compassion to that area that’s been crying for attention. With each exhale, you release, allowing tension and pain to leave your body with your breath. Pranayama is a gift you give to yourself.

 

Ready. Set. Meditate!

Looking for inner calm and a positive outlook on life? Take a minute – or ten – to bring your body, mind and senses into balance. Once you achieve thisanti age for yoga, meditation yoga, meditation, yoga pawsbalance through meditation, your nervous system will calm down, you’ll be less anxious and you might actually gain some powerful insights. About what? Only you can determine. There are a number of ways to meditate. You just need to find what works for you and stick with it. The process will show you the way. For starters, just focus on your breath with no judgment, as we discussed above. Just notice how it flows in and out of your body. Set a timer for five minutes and let go. If you notice your mind wandering away from your breath, gently bring it back to the breath. The breath is the beginning and end of all things.

 

 

 

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Practicing Yoga at Home

Yoga and Stress 

Tags: Stress reduction, meditation, self massage, anti-aging yoga

Yoga and stress

Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2011

We all have days or even periods of time where our "To Do" list can magically grow Kenyan running legs, making it feel impossible to catch up.   We notice our mind spending more energy taking stock of all the task we must complete rather then simply completing them.  It is a disciplined practice to stay in a flow of connection, and to be present with the tasks at hand.  Which reminds me of a famous quote:

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing we would truly astound ourselves"
Inventor, Thomas Edison

beach, yoga, yoga paws, beautiful yoga

Easier said then done right!  Well, depends on the day really.  Some days the universe really seems to open the floodgates and other day’s life offers you a particularly sweet piece of chocolate from the box.

Our lesson is to understand the gift of keeping the mindset and emotional feel of how blessed we are, even when it’s not just raining but pouring.  Remembering in the present rather then just knowing in the future that all posing aliments are really a gift unfolding. 

This beautiful feeling, this present connection may be difficult for some people to recognize.  However, it is key because once a strong awareness has been developed in this emotional space; you can mentally work to stay there.  One of the best tools we have found to connect with this feeling is yoga.

In your mind return to that class you took that was simply sublime. Or the routine you did at home in your living room or while traveling for work or pleasure.   Remember how you felt after the practice was complete.  Flooded with gratitude and bliss, totally present and calm.  This sensation that yoga gives, we can actively incorporate into the rest of our world by living in this emotional state beyond the final Savasana.

YogaPaws are a here to help you stick a poses anytime anywhere.  If you feel yourself getting swept away and becoming ungrounded, hit the floor with your YP for a couple of down dogs finishing with a delicious Savasana.  It’s like pressing the re-fresh button.

Every moment is precious, because once its gone you can never get it back.  Today make an effort to live in the present with realization it truly is a gift, or better yet, a present.

 

Love and Light

YogaPaws

JG

Tags: Stress reduction, health, Travel Yoga

Yoga For Stress Management Possible Anywhere With Yoga Paws

Posted on Fri, Feb 25, 2011
yoga paws travel yoga matStress Management Exercises Reducing and managing stress is critical to maintaining overall health and vitality. Stress is one of the leading contributors to heart problems, anxiety, soreness, and any number of health problems. To lower blood pressure, tension, and anxiety, you need to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily schedule.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. The endorphins released during exercise have a natural stress-reducing effect and promote a sense of vitality and well being. Yoga is perhaps the best stress management exercise of all. It stimulates the body, mind, and spirit together to foster a tremendous sense of oneness and harmony with yourself and your surroundings.

But how can you experience the stress-reducing benefits of yoga when you’re on the road? You can’t fit your yoga mat in your luggage, and you know there is no gym or studio near your destination. It’s quite simple with the help of Yoga-Syz. Our mother-daughter yoga company is proud to offer Yoga-Paws to our valued customers. Yoga-Paws are like tiny yoga mats worn on the hands and feet.

Because they are only a fraction of the size of standard yoga mats, Yoga-Paws are the ideal travel exercise equipment. They fit easily into a suitcase, and you can enjoy your yoga workout right in your hotel room. After a long day of meetings or seminars, a relaxing, stress-reducing yoga workout accomplished with Yoga-Paws is the perfect way to unwind and keep in shape. Order yours today or email us at info@yogasyz.com for more information.

Tags: Travel Yoga, Stress reduction

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