Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with some back bending poses, called “heart openers.” These powerful postures help you open and balance your heart chakra, and release tension and blocked emotions.
The benefits to your body include:
strengthening of the upper back
increased lung capacity
relieved tension in the back and shoulders
increased blood circulation
stimulatation of pituitary and thyroid glands
The benefits to your heart include:
relief of depression and feelings of isolation
Heart openers expand your chest and rib cage and can create a deep emotional release, helping you to appreciate and honor yourself and your loved ones. When you open your heart, your whole spirit expands causing confidence and authority. This attracts the love you need and the life you want.
Hand yoga or Mudras are used to heal and relieve physical complaints, as well as our minds. Using visualizations, intentions, and affirmations mudras ultimately help us with our emotional responses to life. Meditating using mudras allows us to ask our inner selves, our higher selves, about the cause of our illness or pain.
The first mudra we will explore is Ganesha Mudra. Called, “The elephant,” Ganesha is the divine being who overcomes all obstacles. This mudra activates the fire element, which reacts positively to the color red. Visualizing the color red promotes better circulation and opens the heart. Along with this visualization, your affirmation could be: “I greet everyone today with confidence, courage, and understanding.”
Hold your left hand in front of your chest with the palm facing outward. Bend your fingers. Now grasp your left hand with the right hand, which has its back facing outward. Move your hands to the level of your heart, right in front of your chest. While exhaling, vigorously pull the hands apart without releasing the grip. This will tense the muscles of the upper arms and chest area. While inhaling, let go of all the tension. Repeat 6 times and then lovingly place both hands on the sternum in this position. Focus on the feeling in this part of the body. Then change the hand position: your right palm now faces outward. Repeat the exercise 6 times in this position. Afterward, remain in silence for a while.
Ever wonder if you should be taking a probiotic? Or do you take probiotics – either added to food or as a supplement – and sometimes wonder if you would be fine without them? Let’s look at what probiotics and prebiotics are and then take a quiz to find out if you are someone who needs them. Read the full article >>>
Ujjayi Pranayama Sanskrit translation: Ujjayi: Victory over Pranayama: Prana – life force, breath; Yama – control, restraint, regulation
Yoga breathing involves powerful diaphragmatic activity and is meant to uplift you. Coordinated yoga breath, one in which inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose, is called ujjayi. Ujjayi breath, also called “the ocean breath” or “victorious breath,” actually makes a sound that you can hear. The sound is similiar to ocean waves flowing in and out. The “ocean sound” is created when the glottis (the opening between your vocal folds) moves as air passes in and out. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm and the inhalations and exhalations should be equal in duration. This control is the purpose of ujjayi and should help to sooth the entire nervous system. Ujjayi breath should be practiced during physical asana, during meditation, or whenever you need to produce a calming effect for your mind/body.
Ujjayi Pranayama can help to relieve headaches and sinus pressure by clearing the lungs and nasal passages. In addition, it improves circulation by flexing your diaphragm and pushing oxygen throughout your belly and body. In fact, a clinical study from the Department of Neurophysiology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India found Ujjayi Pranayama can increase your oxygen consumption during practice by about 50 percent and has proven to be an effective remedy against diseases of the respiratory system.
Quick Tip: Both inhalation and exhalation should be done through the nostrils only. Keep a closed mouth. The inhalation should fill the back of the nasal cavity, as well as the throat. During exhalation, imagine you are saying the word “ha” without the “a,” and feel the breath rubbing against your frontal sinuses as it leaves the body. You should feel a slight friction and release.
Traditional Hot Yoga is comprised of 26 postures to a set sequence. Grow your practice with long static holds of each posture, and detoxify your body in a 105 degree room. This class will tone your muscles, kick start your immune system, and restore your vitality by reducing stress.
Did you know that yoga is known to improve an athlete’s flexibility, balance and strength in ways that training alone cannot? By holding certain yoga postures, you are strengthening the bones, joints, tendons and ligaments from the inside out. This strength protects them upon impact. Whether you are a runner, tennis or football player, a regular yoga practice is necessary to help protect and restore your body from high impact activities.
Combined with meditation, your yoga practice will take your game to new heights. Experience what real focus is about… also minimize injury and restore easily.
“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.” —Brennan Manning
A popular Christmas song boldly declares, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Yet, for many this is rarely the case. Some will be celebrating the holidays for the first time without a loved one. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, or betrayal will be multiplied over the coming weeks. Often times unmet expectations of the holiday season mix with the grey and gloom of winter to bring deep levels of depression. And for most people, the hustle and bustle of extra shopping, extra parties, crowded parking lots and check-out lines lead to greater stress than other times of the year. Read the full article here >>> http://www.becomingminimalist.com/spread-cheer/
Gentle Yoga is particularly recommended for people who feel stiff and out of shape, because it’s a slower practice that focuses on making it easier to get into postures. It can also be helpful for people recovering from injuries or surgery, or who have joint replacements and need to approach postures slowly and carefully. For those who want a softer, nurturing, slow-paced, and relaxing practice, this is for you. Its carefully orchestrated movements, controlled pressure, and well-measured stretches, include range of motion exercises linked with breath.
We enter into the postures gradually—moving in and out of each pose first, and then finding a holding position. This preparation protects and nurtures the joints, muscles, and connective tissue.
Gentle Yoga is a slower paced vinyasa based class that is also designed for those wishing to expand their practice. A gentle yoga style encourages a highly individualized approach to practice with on-going encouragement to make moment-to-moment adjustments.
New class starting this week at our WHEATON Studio!
Join the wonderful Barb every Friday morning at 10:45am for GENTLE YOGA!
Astavakrasana or Eight Angle Pose is an asana with an interesting history. Dedicated to the Sage, Astavakra, the spiritual guru of King Janaka, it is told that when the Sage was in his mother’s womb, his father, Kagola, made several mistakes while reciting the Vedas. Hearing these, the unborn Sage laughed. The father became enraged and cursed his son to be born as Astavakra. So it came to pass that he was born crooked in eight places. These crooks earned him the name Ashtavakra or Eight Crooks. Yet Kagola was later defeated in a philosophical debate with Vandin, the court scholar. While still a boy the Sage, a natural scholar of great ability, went to court and avenged his father’s defeat by beating Vandin in argument and becoming the guru of Janaka. Accordingly, his father blessed him and his deformity vanished.
Quite the story!
The name comes from the Sanskrit words asta meaning “eight”, vakra meaning “bent, curved”, and asana meaning “posture” or “seat”.
Astavakrasana is a hand balance with lateral twist.It is an excellent way to develop your stability and equilibrium, while strengthening the wrists and arms. You can try coming into this posture from Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). This is because you will normally be using this extension before lifting your legs and readjusting your arms.
Eight Angle Pose or Astavakrasana requires a strong core, powerful arm strength and reasonable opening through the hips and hamstrings in order to practice the full expression of this pose. It is a perfect example of a posture that has much more to do about understanding what goes where, rather than having enough strength to do it. As tricky as it may appear, once you find the balance point and figure out how to utilize certain body “locks,” it is actually much easier to hold than many other arm balances. The biggest barrier for most people is a lack of range of motion in the hip.
Quick Tip: Keep rooting the palms, lifting the hips, pressing out through the balls of the feet. Squeeze the knees toward each other, drawing the sternum forward, and gaze either down (easier on the neck) or to the horizon.