Using 3 Breaths

Aug 13

Life can be hectic. We live in a fast-paced society with so much information coming at us from all directions. The human brain is not designed to compute as much information as it does. We have advertisements, radios, and televisions. We have smartphones. We have social media feeds constantly switching our attention. Each time we read someone’s post, we are switching to our mental schema for this person. Is it our close friend? Is it a loved one? Why did they post that? What did they really mean? In a matter of seconds, we are on to the next post. It is no wonder that an anxiety disorder is one of the most common mood disorders to be diagnosed in the western world. We are constantly anticipating the next stimulus, anticipating the phone to ding, buzz, or ring. If we are thinking of our mind as a computer, overworked and processing more information than it was originally designed to, then we can safely say that it is vital that we are regularly “clearing our RAM”. We need to take time to reset often, or else, the system may overload.

So, how do we reset our mental “RAM”, so to speak. A computer’s RAM is its working memory. The human brain has a working memory too, which means all these thoughts, judgments, and ideas that come up while we are trying to sort through the barrage of information are swirling around in our minds and are compiling. Our most valuable tool to reset is our breath. All it can take is three deep intentional breaths.

Breathing is what grounds us and what connects us to our body in this human experience. Without it, we would only have our mind and our consciousness. Because our mind is often processing too much information, we must slow ourselves down with the breath.

I have had a reminder set on my phone for almost 2 years. It goes off twice a day. It says “3 breaths”. When I see it, I stop whatever I am doing, and I take three deep intentional breaths. If possible, I close my eyes. I focus my mind by saying, “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.” The clarity I experience afterwards is astonishing. I am able to come from a busy, overactive monkey mind to a calm, relaxed state in only three breaths. This tool that psychotherapists teach is a practice firmly rooted in yoga’s pranayama. Pranayama is using the breath to control the life force (prana). When all of our prana is directed towards the busy mind, our body suffers. We hold tension, our organs do not function as they should, and our breathing becomes shallow. The best way to use the three-breath system is to ensure you are taking a moment to use them when you notice yourself becoming overwhelmed with thoughts or observing tension beginning in the body. It is best used as a preventative tool but can also be used as a reactive treatment for heightened anxiety and tension.

Many people say they don’t have time to meditate. This is meditation. Allow yourself to take three deep intentional breaths, and I predict you’ll want to make even more time to meditate!

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Scorpion Pose

Jun 14

The Anatomy Of Arm Support Poses

Arm support poses are normally challenging because hands are presented with the test of supporting the weight of the entire body. Dissimilar to feet, hands are not constructed to bear weight. Instead, their natural purpose is that of picking up and holding things. It is recommended that amateur students first practice and get a hold of standing poses before starting to undertake arm support positions. Lastly, remember to wear leggings, yoga pants, or workout clothes that will allow your body to move without restraints.

Vrschikasana (vrs-chee-kahs-anna) is a demanding pose that is usually categorized as an intermediate level inverted arm balance position. It works the arms, legs and spine while lengthening the anterior neck muscles, rhomboids and trapezius.

A perfect scorpion pose should look, unsurprisingly, similar to a scorpion ready to strike. Our legs simulate the tail of this wonderful animal, as the rest of our body falls onto the surface, with our arms and hands supporting it. To carry out this position appropriately one’s fingers should be widely spread, one’s forearms must be cozily pressed onto the surface, with a straight line falling from the shoulders down to the elbows. The gaze should be directed to a single point, and the legs must be kept as still as possible once they have fallen in a comfortable position for the spine. 

Some tips to consider are the following: 

  • To position your elbows shoulder width apart
  • To position your forearms parallel to each other
  • To keep your feet, torso, neck, head, and shoulders aligned before bending your legs downwards into scorpion pose
  • To press your forearms actively against the ground taking up the entire weight of your body
  • Likewise, make sure to bear the weight of your body with your arms, not your neck, to avoid any harm. It is important to keep these tips in mind when going into scorpion pose, as they make up the basis of this position and will help avoid any possible injuries. 

In order to gain the strength, flexibility, and concentration that are needed to carry out this pose, you can practice preparatory positions like the dolphin pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, dolphin plank pose or Makara Adho Muka Svanasana, camel pose or Ustrasana, wheel pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana, and feathered peacock pose or Pincha Mayurasana. 

Once you have prepared your body and gained more flexibility you can go ahead into a full scorpion pose after doing preceding poses like the standing forwards bend or Uttanasana downward-facing dog position or Adho Muka Svanasana, supported headstand or Sirsasana, and supported shoulder stand or Salamba Sarvangasana. Succeeding poses can either include downward-facing dog position or Adho Muka Svanasana once again or child’s pose or Balasana.

Benefits related to this yoga pose are: 

  • Releasing stress
  • Building stability
  • Detoxifying the body
  • Stimulating the nerves and endocrine system

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Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps

Apr 23

It may seem like mystic nonsense, but Himalayan Salt Lamps and their healing abilities are based in real science. Originating in the mines of Khewra, Pakistan, Himalayan salt is not only hygroscopic but when heated up it produces negative ions. These two properties form the basis for the benefits associated with placing a salt lamp in your home. 

All salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water to its surface which then evaporates. This process can help to remove bacteria, dust, and allergens from the air. Himalayan Salt Lamps have a larger surface area to attract water with, thus cleansing the air of the room they are in. This is one reason why many people put salt lamps in their bedroom. 

The greatest benefits, however, come from the negative ions. Our world is full of both negative and positive ions. Positive ions come from both natural and man-made sources such as electrical storms, fluorescent lights, and common household electronics. The associated side-effects of positive ions are asthma problems, depression, tension, anxiety, and fatigue. In order to neutralize the positive ions, you need negative. The most abundant source of negative ions is waterfalls, beaches, and forests, but they can also be generated by salt lamps. 

Negative ions have the complete opposite effect on the body as positive ions. They have been attributed to an increased flow of oxygen to the brain, reduction of air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, germs, and dust, and lessened anxiety. Because of these qualities, Himalayan Salt lamps are great for people with allergies and respiratory problems. 

Before you purchase a salt lamp, it’s important to do the proper research. There are a lot of fakes out there, and it can be difficult to spot the difference from a cursory glance. Here are a few indications that you’re looking at a fake: 

1. Real Himalayan Salt lamps use salt that comes from Pakistan, so if you don’t see any mention of origin or the seller is hesitant to tell you about it, be suspicious. 

2. Himalayan Salt lamps are fragile. A company selling fakes will have a poor return policy, whereas a real one will take into consideration possible damage during transit. 

3. Durability is another factor to test. As mentioned above, salt lamps are fragile. A fake will be far more durable. Don’t try to take a hammer to it to check for authenticity, but do look for white powder or fine chips that would indicate fragility. 

4. As stated earlier, salt is hygroscopic. Real lamps will attract and evaporate water. Fake ones will be water resistant. 

5. Despite the name, salt lamps are not meant to be actual lamps that produce bright light. The salt causes a muted light to come through, which is what makes them calming and great nightlights. Fakes will produce a very bright light. 

While some people question their validity, there’s no doubt that science is real. Negative ions do in fact cancel out positive ones and provide respiratory benefits, and hygroscopic properties do in fact cleanse the air. Try placing one in your family’s most frequented room, and see if you feel the benefits! What’s a $20 lamp compared with improved health and wellness?

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4 Reasons Yoga Is Set To Become More Popular Than Ever This Year

Mar 13

You’ve probably noticed that your yoga class is becoming more crowded over time. Seasoned yogis can attest to the many ways that this lifestyle is rapidly gaining popularity with the mainstream media. The extreme growth it has seen in the past few years may be nothing in comparison to the ways it will rise in popularity this coming year. Yoga is set to become more popular than ever in 2018.

Are you wondering why so many would-be yogis are suddenly stumbling onto newly purchased yoga mats? Take a look at these reasons why we think yoga is going to be far more popular this year than ever before.

The Focus on Mindfulness Has Increased

Yogis who have been practicing for a while now know that the essential yogic philosophy is to have a steady practice. Integrating the mind, body, and spirit together helps them to find true balance in every aspect of their lives. This year, people will continue to focus on improving their overall well-being through mindful concentration on their feelings. Yoga and meditation are natural places to search for that silent space to process and ground yourself.

Natural Health Is Becoming All the Rage

You can hardly go to any drug store in the country without finding a hint at natural remedies. From essential oils to products made without the harsh ingredients, consumers are becoming more mindful of how they treat their bodies. It’s only one small leap from natural health remedies into caring for your body well through a routine yoga practice.

Yoga Creates A Community

One of the things that we tend to lack in our social-media-driven culture is a true connection to one another. You may go throughout your day liking photos and reposting tweets, but when was the last time you had a meaningful connection? Yoga creates a tight-knit community among the members of a particular class or culture. In an attempt to forge a friendship with someone physically near us, yoga offers the perfect setting for nervous individuals to start making meaningful relationships.

More People Want to Be Physically Fit

Western culture certainly emphasizes the need to maintain physical fitness. While yoga may evoke images of peaceful meditation, many people are now starting to realize what a well-rounded workout yoga truly provides. Popular social media experts are using Instagram and Facebook to share their intense yoga poses in scenic locations. Looking at the musculature and overall fitness of these yogis will likely inspire a few individuals to roll out their own yoga mats in the coming year.

Yoga has always been a popular pastime, proving itself through the ages and being passed down from one generation to the next. With the current state of affairs in the world, it seems that yoga is going to be more popular than ever in 2019. Take stock of how frequently you see yoga appear in the mainstream culture, and we bet you’ll notice its popularity skyrocket by the end of the year.

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How Do Yoga And Fashion Exist Simultaneously?

Feb 19

There is a stereotype of traditional yogis that portrays them as more concerned with spiritual disciplines and practices than with the accouterments of pop culture. Yogis of yesteryear are viewed as aloof when it comes to prominent social norms, choosing to focus more on their practice than their appearance. Many envision a traditional yoga in simple white garments, barefoot, with their eyes closed in meditation. 

Modern-day yoga and yoga fashion is certainly challenging this long-held stereotype about what it means to practice yoga truly. Yogis these days are very concerned with their outfits, believing that what they clothe the body is just as important as the physical work they do with their bodies during a practice. 

If traditional yoga has just as much to do with philosophy and spiritual discipline as it does with the practice, how can yoga and fashion exist simultaneously in the modern world? 

The truth is that yoga fashion isn’t so much about what the pieces of clothing look like in comparison to modern trends. High-waisted Capri leggings are popular among contemporary yogis, but it’s about more than just the pants themselves. One of the most often discussed elements of yogic philosophy is the concept of self-love or self-compassion. Dressing comfortably in clothes that make you feel attractive and confident can certainly be one way of carrying that principle into your daily life. 

Your yoga leggings, pants, or workout tops should also allow your body to move in the ways it was naturally created to move. The breath should flow smoothly in and out of the lungs instead of being restricted. You should be able to stretch, bend, and flow easily throughout your practice and your day. 

Many yogis will also look for pieces that have beautiful patterns or coloring, which can be a valid way of boosting their own prana energy. Surrounding yourself with bright colors can give your mood a boost and give you more energy as you travel through the day. 

Keep in mind that understanding where yoga fashion comes from also plays a big part in honoring traditional yogic philosophy. It is one of the largest areas where yoga and fashion overlap. Taking good care of the earth and the people who reside in it is central to the teachings from the Yoga Sutras and other traditional texts. 

As a result, yogis have a responsibility to ensure that their clothing and fashion come from a non-harming environment. This concept applies not just to the materials used to make them but to the environments provided to workers. Yogis should be concerned with what they wear, ensuring that it was sustainably resourced and produced by workers who were paid fair wages for the work they performed.

Fashion in yoga is about more than just the appearance of your outfit and how it compares to the other students in your yoga class. It represents foundational thinking and beliefs, giving yogis a real-world application to practice the traditional yogic philosophy that is so important to extend your practice off of the mat. 

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Fashion Inspiration: ‘80s and ‘90s Yoga

Mar 30

Fashion loves nostalgia, and yoga fashion is no exception! A safe bet when it comes to any style is that sooner or later, things that are old become new once more. So why not ahead of the game? We’ve compiled some insight into the hottest trends in ‘80s and ‘90s yoga fashion. Read on to get inspired!

1980s:

While many of us agree that leaving the perms and blowouts behind was a good thing, there are a few things we can learn from yogis from the ‘80s. There’s a reason why leg warmers have never really gone out of style, and lately we’ve been seeing an uptick in yoga brands offering leg warmers as stylish and functional accessories for practice.

Another style to keep your eye on: Unitards and bodysuits. These are swinging back into fashion as well, with many yogis wondering how we left behind a clothing staple so easy to wear! Leave behind the decision fatigue with these one-piece designs—there’s nothing easier or more comfortable (provided you find the right size and material).

And don’t forget those sweat bands and headbands! As long as they’re not so tight that they threaten circulation, these accessories can actually be quite useful as well as stylish. No one needs sweat dripping into their eyes during a long Bikram practice, and these are the perfect solution.

1990s:

‘90s style has been coming back in full force lately—chokers, flannel shirts, and overalls have been gracing the pages of Vogue and Elle in addition to the streets. Ride the wave of 90’s nostalgia with these throwback apparel pieces.

“My Calvins”: Calvin Klein sports bras have become all the rage again, and they actually work quite well for exercise as well as looking good. Feeling the need to add some extra color to your practice as well as a DIY aesthetic? Dust off those old tie-dying kits or find a ready-made set online. Tie-dye is as ‘90s as you can get, and there’s no reason to restrict this fun activity to old T-shirts.

Finally, remember those cute double braids you used to wear in high school? They’re coming back in style too! Braids are actually a great workout hair style—they keep hair away from your face and do less damage than most buns and ponytails. And most importantly, they look great.

Fashion is ever-changing, and it’s easy for those of us who don’t have the time to keep up on every new trend to feel lost and out of the loop. But there’s one rule of fashion that never changes—what was popular 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago is bound to re-emerge at some point. So, stay ahead of the game and embody these throwback yoga styles the next time you want to show off at the studio.

 

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5 Most Basic Yoga Styles

Jan 26

This quick rundown of the 5 most basic and well-known yoga styles can help familiarize you with the concepts and terms behind modern yoga practices and the emergence of other popular styles today. Understanding these styles can also help you choose the most suitable one for your own practice from the increasingly wide variety of options in today’s gyms.


Hatha


Hatha in Sanskrit translates to ‘force’. It is a broad term that describes the physical practice of yoga and generally comprises any type of class that teaches asana (yoga posture or exercises). This means most popular styles of yoga is technically Hatha yoga. Today, when a class is advertised as ‘Hatha’, you can often expect a tame and slow-paced program teaching you basic yoga postures and pranayama (breathing exercises). As such, Hatha is a suitable style to begin your yoga practice. For the more experienced, this class could help you work on your flexibility, alignment, and relaxation.

Ashtanga


Often touted as ‘classical Indian yoga’ in modern practice, Ashtanga yoga was established by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1950s. An Ashtanga class typically leads you through one of six established series of asana sequences, which advance in difficulty from the first series. Each series is performed in the same order every time, moving you from posture to posture in a fluid, non-stop manner synchronized with each breath. This heats up the body intensely causing profuse perspiration, making it a vigorous and demanding style of practice.

Vinyasa


Vinyasa – meaning ‘to place in a special way’ in Sanskrit – refers to the linking of movement to each breath. Vinyasa yoga generally describes styles that are flowing and intense in movement, progressing from one posture to the next with each inhale or exhale. This makes Ashtanga a style of Vinyasa practice, but while Ashtanga follows a prescribed sequence, each Vinyasa class can be different. Popular variations such as Flow Yoga and Power Yoga stem from this style – the latter an aerobically-intensive adaptation of the Ashtanga by Bryan Kest, a student of Jois.

Bikram


Bikram is a style of yoga that takes place in a heated room of 95-108°F (35–42 °C) and humidity of 40%. Although commonly marketed as a beginner’s class due to its basic poses, new students should note that practice becomes markedly harder in the hot tropic-like conditions. Popularized by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, Bikram is performed the same way every time – a sequence of 26 poses, each done twice, the whole session lasting for 90 minutes. Since any deviation from the original sequence cannot be named ‘Bikram’, and only Bikram-certified instructors can teach the class, many gyms offer other ‘Hot Yoga’ variations instead.

Iyengar


Iyengar is characterized by its focus on physical alignment of the body in asana or the precise way of performing each yoga posture. To do this, Iyengar classes provide a unique element – props – such as straps, towels, blocks or cushions. These support students in achieving their best alignment without the risk of injury or strain, while they progressively perfect their practice. Props also allow the weak, aged, or injured reap the benefits of asanas without the full strength of supporting one’s body in a pose. Another distinguishing feature is that Iyengar instructors teach by actively verbalizing incorrect postures, unlike styles which take on an independent and experiential approach of ‘learn by following’. B.K.S. Iyengar, who pioneered the style in the 1970s, believed that developing body balance and strength can promote well-being in mind and spirit.

Thanks for reading!

 

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