10 Signs You are a Yogi

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1. Your laundry each week is mostly yoga pants. However, unlike many college girls and freelance writers, they are there because you actually do yoga, not just because they are more comfortable than any other pants on the planet.

2. You catch yourself standing in tree pose while waiting in line at the bank. Or the grocery store, or the coffee shop, or while watching TV . . . basically, you are slowly morphing into a flamingo.

3. “Happy hour” for you means an hour spent on your mat. An added bonus over the traditional happy hour is that yoga can lead to endorphins and improved physical health rather than an expensive bar tab and regret.

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4. You begin an inordinate number of sentences with, “My yoga instructor says . . .” Yoga instructors seem to have a knack for introducing a class theme at the exact point in your life that you need it. Have you been thinking about decluttering and having a garage sale? Your instructor talks about detachment. Feeling stressed and spread too thin? Your instructor talks about the importance of meditation and refocusing on your priorities. They always know . . . which means they are probably wizards.

5. You have practiced lion breath in your car . . . and caught other motorists looking at you funny. But who cares–haters only hate when they have not done enough yoga.

6. Wearing shoes feels weird and constricting. Oppressive foot prisons is what they are.

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7. “I’m holding a lot of stress in my body,” is a phrase you have started to say a lot. The best part is that you know exactly what poses you need to do to release that tension and get yourself back to center.

8. Your day has not truly started until you have done a sun salutation. Even if you wake up at noon.

9. When packing for a vacation, your yoga mat is the first item that goes in your suitcase. What else do you need other than (maybe) underwear and a toothbrush?

10. You feel happier, calmer, and as soon as you are done with a practice, you cannot wait to get back on your mat. Almost never would you hear someone say they regret spending time doing yoga. You might, however, hear someone regret eating cheesy poofs and watching reality TV when they could have done yoga.

 

(The original article link: http://www.42yogis.com/yoga/item/how-to-keep-a-yoga-journal)

How to keep a yoga journal?

Keep a yoga journal. Writing down details about your practice will make you accountable and have a stronger awareness of your yoga progress. Keeping a journal has mental health benefits. It gets your creative juices flowing and can give you an outlet for emotions. Are you feeling frustrated with your yoga practice? Write it down. Are you feeling joyful about your yoga practice? Write it down. Don’t keep those feelings bottled up. That won’t serve anybody. If you are a pro member, we would suggest you to start with some yoga programs in our app and the reminder will keep you alert to the time of practice. Namaste :)

1. Find a blank book you enjoy writing in.

2. Find a pen you enjoy writing with.

3. Make a commitment to log your practice.

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What to write about

Each of my journal entries includes the following information.

· Date and time of practice

· Practice details: Did I go to a class? Did I do a home practice? Did I supplement my home practice with a yoga video? What style of class was it? How long did I practice? Who was the teacher?

· How did I feel before practice?

· What asanas did I have difficulty with?

· What asanas did I finally conquer?

· What do I want to work on next time?

· How do I feel after practice?

(The original article link: http://www.42yogis.com/yoga/item/how-to-keep-a-yoga-journal)

3 Reasons Men Should Do Yoga

Today, there are more yoga studios and yoga classes than ever, but a lot of people—men in particular—remain confused about what happens inside those classes and how they should feel about it. Is it stretching, meditation, some combination thereof, or something else entirely? Could it be the secret to unlocking your tight hips and superhuman athletic potential, or will it just make you sprout a man bun and go all new agey?

Wonder no more! Here’s why you have nothing to fear—and everything to gain—from adding a little yoga to your life.

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1. Yoga Increases Range Of Motion

You may think that range of motion is the same thing as flexibility, but it’s a little different. Many guys know they have a tight muscle group or two—most frequently the hamstrings, glutes, pecs, and shoulders.

But they may not realize the limitations any of these place on their ability to train through a full range of motion. The more you train them through a limited range of motion, the more limited you become as a lifter—and a functional human being.

2. Yoga Improves Breathing

You might think that you breathe perfectly fine. But you’d probably find yourself challenged by how much yoga asks you to focus on inhaling and exhaling, particularly while you’re attempting to hold tough poses in unfamiliar movement planes.

As a yoga class gets more intense, the breathing slows down rather than speeding up. This teaches you to take in long, slow breaths when you need them most, expanding your lung capacity to allow you to take in the same or greater amount of oxygen from fewer inhalations.

More importantly, you’re training your body to oxygenate itself more efficiently. That’s important for cardio activity, strength training, and yes, muscle-building.

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3. Yoga Enhances Overall Health

Most athletes take as a given that their athletic activities are healthy, which, of course, they are. But training in the red all the time eventually causes wear and tear on the body, particularly without space for diverse movement and quality rest. Yoga not only helps you feel good after hard training, but it provides other more distinct health advantages.

More efficient breathing helps reduce blood pressure and lowers the stress response, for one. Yoga has also been shown to be excellent for helping to prevent or reduce problems associated with sciatica, carpal tunnel, or even rotator-cuff issues. In most cities, you can even find classes that are designed specifically for people rehabbing from injuries or with back pain. Don’t take any of this to mean that yoga is “easy.”

Sure, it can be sleepy and new-agey, but it can also give you a challenge that you totally didn’t see coming. But even when it’s intense, a well-run yoga class is somehow gentle on the body. This is a great way for you to live a longer active life. Don’t fear it. It’s not weird, exotic, or demonic. Start at an appropriate level—even if that’s at the bottom—and give it a serious try. Then report back in the comments.

(The original article link: http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-reasons-men-should-do-yoga.html)

6 Meditation Tips For Beginners

Meditation is a great way to recharge and enjoy the benefits of being centered, calm, peaceful and effective throughout the day. There is more and more scientific data that speaks to the power of meditation. By being aware of simple ways that can lead to a deeper experience, you can build a strong foundation for your practice.

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1 Choose a Convenient Time

Meditation is your time to relax and to be present with yourself, so it should be done entirely at your convenience. Therefore, choose a time that fits well with your schedule, a time when disruptions and distractions are unlikely. By dedicating a convenient time for mediation, you will be free to enjoy it.

At sunrise and sunset nature transitions from night to day and back again. These times are also ideal for meditation.

2 Choose a Quiet Place

The place you choose to perform your meditation techniques is equally as important as your choice of a suitable time. Consider selecting a location that is quiet and peaceful, somewhere you feel comfortable. The stillness around you can help facilitate stillness within you.

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3 Sit in a Comfortable Posture

Your posture can make a big difference too. Meditation exercises are best done in a position that allows you to be relaxed, comfortable and steady. Often people feel that they have to remain in the lotus position (Padmasana) for the duration of their practice. However, this is not necessary. If you find this position uncomfortable, simply sit straight with your spine erect, your shoulders and neck relaxed, and your eyes closed.

Again, just as with the other tips what is most important here is your comfort. When your body is at ease it does not distract your mind. In turn, fewer distraction make meditation easier and allow you to go deeper.

4 Meditate on a Relatively Empty Stomach

In order to meditate properly it is helpful to have an empty stomach. Mediation works best before meals or at least two hours after having eaten. When the stomach is full one can become drowsy or even distracted by indigestion!

On the other hand it is best not to try and meditate when you are extremely hungry, otherwise you may find that the only thing on your mind is the prospect of food! Needless to say this does not enhance meditation either.

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5 Warm-up Your Body

Before starting your meditation do a few warm-up or Sukshma yoga exercises. These will help to improve circulation, remove any inertia or restlessness, and will make your body feel lighter.

A short warm-up before meditation will also allow you to sit peacefully for a longer period time.

6 Take a Few Deep Breaths

Just before you begin your meditation take several deep breaths in and out, devote just as much attention to exhalation as you would to inhalation. You can also do a few rounds of Nadi Shodhan pranayama as well. These simple breathing exercises help to steady the rhythm of the breath and lead the mind into a peaceful, meditative state.

6 People You Get In Every Yoga Class

1. The super-flexible yoga show-off:

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She skips the warm-up moves and bends straight into a pose that looks really fucking uncomfortable. When everybody else is groaning and struggling, she asks in a “polite” loud whisper if she can please move into full bhujangasana now?

2. The one who can’t do any of the moves:

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At the other end of the spectrum is the person whose inflexible body is actually hewn from the trunk of an old tree. They can barely touch their knees, let alone their toes, and their downward dog looks more like a dog crouching for a wee. The whole thing is very embarrassing for them and they probably won’t come back next week, despite having optimistically paid £66 in advance for eight classes.

3. The token man:

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If the worst you have to suffer is a whiff of his luscious armpit hair, you’re lucky. Worst-case scenario is an accidental eyeful when his baggy shorts slip to one side during the lotus position.

4.The much older lady putting everyone else to shame:

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When you first arrive in class you’re pleased to see her – wrinkly, grey-haired, she’ll slow the class down and take the heat off you. In the end, she just makes you feel much, much more depressed about being in your late twenties and barely able to bend over without breaking a massive sweat.

5. The heavy breather:

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The class raise their hands as one, then gently roll forward into uttanasana. Everyone breathes slowly, deeply, and quietly, except ONE PERSON who sounds like they’re having sex. At least it covers up the sound of any accidental farts.

6.The injured person:

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She’s rehabilitating after a terrible desk-related neck strain, but isn’t actually able to do any of the moves at this point. She annoyingly occupies about 75% of the teacher’s time and loudly complains that she can’t do that because it’ll hurt.

5 Beginner Poses for a Strong Core

A strong core is important for maintaining a safe yoga practice. Having a strong core helps keep your lower back safe in poses (especially backbends), makes holding your body weight in arms balances easier, and aids in ensuring that you’re maintain correct form in poses. In this post, there are 5 beginner yoga poses for a strong core.

To practice these beginner yoga poses for a strong core, hold each pose for 3 to 5 breaths, and work your way up to holding them for longer periods.

Half Boat Pose

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How To: Begin by seating with your legs bent, feet on your mat hip distance apart. On an inhale, engage your core and shift your weight backwards to your sit bones while lifting your feet off the mat. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing in towards your spine, and your chest lifting up towards the ceiling. Reach your arms straight out in front of you, and strongly towards your toes. Your thighs should be at a 45 degree angle from the mat, and your legs parallel to the mat. Keep your legs engaged by flexing your toes back towards your body. To come out, slowly lower your legs to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the core and quadriceps muscles.

Dolphin Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward, lower your forearms to the mat, and drop your hips to bring your whole body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the core, arms, and leg muscles.

High Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward and bring your body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the whole body.

Knee to Nose Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee in towards your chest. On that same breath, round your back, push the mat strongly away and tuck your chin in to bring your nose towards your knee. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine. To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Don’t forget to do the left side!

Benefits: Strengthens the core, wrists, arms, glutes, and legs.

Knee to Forearm Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee to the outside of your arm, and up on your forearm. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine, and your leg close to your thigh.  To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Practice on the other side.

Benefits: Strengthens the core, shoulders, wrist, hips and glutes.

6 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

If you’ve ever been stressed out, you know that stress can accumulate and manifest itself physically. But most often it originates in the mind. In society, the to-do lists can feel never ending, leaving very little time for self-care. It’s imperative to set aside some time every day to focus on your own health and well-being. This will help you reduce stress, prevent sickness and disease and help slow down the aging process. Try these 6 yoga poses — each one simple enough that anyone can do them — and, with time, you will see your flexibility improve, your stress levels reduce and notice a refreshing feeling of well-being and inner peace.

1. Mountain Pose

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Even though this pose looks like one of the simplest, it can be one of the most difficult to really perfect. HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight with your feet planted firmly and evenly on the floor. Make sure that your knees stack over your ankles but aren’t locked straight. Engage your glutes and maintain a neutral pelvis. Brace your core muscles and bring your shoulders back and down. Keep your hands at your side with palms facing out or bring them to your heart center. Close your eyes and remain here for five to 10 breaths.

2. Forward Fold

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This pose is a partial inversion, reversing the blood flow and releasing the lower back, hamstrings and spine. HOW TO DO IT: Start standing, then fold forward and reach for your toes, ankles or, if you have severe tightness, your thighs or knees. The key is to relax into it. Lengthen from the lower back and allow the crown of your head to hang down toward the floor with your neck totally relaxed. Breathe deeply as you draw your torso closer to your legs. Stay for five to 10 breaths to start, and notice how your flexibility improves with each breath.

3. Extended Pigeon

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This seated hip stretch is wonderful for people who sit at a desk all day or spend hours in a car: It opens the front hip and back hip extensors and strengthens the core and lower back. If your back is not strong enough to stay extended for more than a breath or two, don’t worry. You’ll become stronger and more flexible with practice. HOW TO DO IT: Start seated with one knee bent in front of you and the other leg extended behind you. If necessary, use a block under the bent-leg hip to elevate the hips. This will alleviate some of the pressure and make balancing easier until your flexibility improves. Lengthen from the lower back and use the strength of your core to lengthen your spine toward the ceiling. Try holding for five to 10 breaths on each side and increase the duration as you gain strength, endurance and flexibility. Be sure to repeat on both legs.

4. Cobra

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This fundamental yoga pose is a wonderful spinal stretch that opens the front of the body and strengthens the muscles along the spine. HOW TO DO IT: Start on your belly. Place both palms under your shoulders, fingers spread wide, pelvis rooted into the mat. Pressing evenly into both palms, lift the chest up and draw the shoulder blades together behind your back. Allow your shoulders to drop down away from your ears to create space between your ears and shoulders. Lift your heart and look forward or slightly up. Take a few breaths and lower slowly back down.

5. Half Happy Baby

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As you complete this series, it’s nice and relaxing to end in the supine position (lying on your back). This leads toward your final relaxation pose, also known as Savasana, and releases the hips one last time in a different variation. HOW TO DO IT: Starting on your back, bend your right knee and bring it toward the floor on the right side of your body. Grab your foot and use your arms to pull it down toward the floor while keeping the foot flat and facing the sky. If your hip is too tight to reach the foot, use a strap or towel around the foot to be able to reach it. Hold for five to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

6. Supine Spinal Twist

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The intention of this pose is to release any last tension from your body and relax. HOW TO DO IT: Lying on your back, breathe deeply and press the knee toward the opposite side of your body as you press your opposite shoulder down toward the mat or floor on the other side. The twist should take place on the exhale as you release any last feelings of tension or stress. Feel your body open. Feel the sensations of relaxation wash over you as you repeat this on both sides and end with a nice meditative silence. Notice the inner peace and contentment you feel. Let go of all thoughts and surrender to the beauty of this moment.

6 Yoga Poses For Kids

Learning about yoga early and developing a practice is a wonderful habit for young children. It gets kids moving and engaged in a fun physical activity, and it also helps children feel more focused, calm and less stressed.

Bridge Pose

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Any inversion that reverses the blood flow is beneficial for reoxygenating the body. This is important for full-body circulation and energy levels.

To accomplish this position, have your child lie on her back and bend both knees so that her feet are flat on the ground. Have her bring her heels as close to her bottom as she comfortably can and then lift her hips high to the sky. Most kids have a very flexible spine, so they can press their hips up very high. This pose is also great for leg strength, ankle stability and energy.

Downward-Facing Dog

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This pose is not only great for oxygenating the body (again due to reverse blood flow), but it becomes a resting pose for stability. It also serves as a “home base” for yoga. When positioned properly — with heels reaching for the ground, shoulders relaxed and elbows spiraling outward while pressing through all fingers and through the palms — this is a strengthening stability pose. The yogi is fully grounded through both hands and feet. The more effort put into the physical position, the more the mind is free from wandering.

Instruct your child to begin on hands and knees and then tuck her toes and lift her bottom high so her body and the mat create a triangle, pressing her chest forward with her head hanging down. Instead of allowing kids to stand on their tiptoes, which may happen naturally, have them focus on keeping their feet firmly on the ground, bending their knees if needed.

Crescent Moon

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This pose benefits the flexibility of the sides of the body. Most injuries are caused by overextending the body because the side of the body is typically very tight.

You should help your child extend her arms into the air and stretch her fingertips off to both sides, which will cause her to balance the weight of the torso while at the same time strengthening obliques and adding the necessary flexibility.

The most important reminder to give yogis is to remember to breathe while doing this pose to allow the full stretch to occur.

Tree Pose

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This is a pose to quiet the mind and work on balance. Holding the tree takes concentration and tightening of the core. Stability comes from within the bandhas. Most children find difficulty quieting the mind and drawing focus within. This is the perfect pose to quiet the mouth, quiet the mind, pull everything in and hold the tree while breathing in and out through the nose.

Standing steady on two feet, have your child press one foot firmly into the mat while lifting the opposite heel. When she feels stable in this position, she can turn out the knee with the heel lifted and bring the heel to the inner ankle. If the child feels steady here, she can experiment with lifting the toes completely off the mat and setting the foot on the opposite leg.

Notes:

Most kids will set their lifted foot on their mid-calf. If they are very steady, they can place their foot a bit higher, as long as they don’t press it directly into the knee joint.

Happy Baby Pose

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Have your child lie on her back, pull her knees toward her belly and then grab on to the outsides of her feet. Then tell her to open her knees as wide as the torso and press her feet into her hands. Kimberly notes that this pose is great for the spine, so it is important to instruct your child to keep her tailbone on the ground during this pose.

The more the tailbone is planted on the ground, the more the spine will get the full massage/alignment that is necessary. This also is hip-opening, which is great for the body.

Child’s Pose

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This list wouldn’t be complete without the pose of the child, which Kimberly refers to as “the place of safety.” From all fours, tell your child to sit back on her heels, resting her head on the mat. Then let her “walk” her fingers away from her body to stretch the hips, thighs and ankles.

This is a grounding pose that is a mind soother and a fabulous resting pose. Remain quiet and calm when getting kids into this pose so they reference it as just that. It is where you go in a yoga class when you need to regroup and collect yourself.

Yoga For Kids

Exercise is a big part of our daily routine. We love to go walking or jogging with friends in the morning and in the evenings when The Mister gets home from work we usually head outside with our bikes or go bouldering. Kids love riding the bike and climbing for sure. Before bed each night let’s stretch out a little before story time.

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Here are a few tips to make Yoga for Kids easy and fun for the whole family.

1. Designate a special time each day to spend stretching and practicing your poses. Routine is great for kids and it gives them something to look forward to.

2. Purchase their own yoga mat. No, you don’t need a special mat to practice these moves, but kids will take ownership in the equipment and it will be special to them and their routine.

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3. Let them chose the music! I love to have a favorite jam playing when we stretch. Involve them by having them chose their favorite music to practice to.

4. Have fun and be silly! Have the kids pick out their favorite poses and when you are done, let them jump around and get the wiggles out.

5 Yoga Poses For the Work Day

The alarm rings. You roll over and see there’s still half an hour before you have to leave. BAM. You hit the snooze button. Sound familiar? Whether you love your job or dread the thought of having to drag yourself out of bed instead of lovingly tapping the snooze button about fifteen more times, I think we can all agree that a long work day is taxing on our bodies.

Below is a sequence of 5 poses that are guaranteed to have you feeling rejuvenated, focused and ready to tackle any task that comes your way!

Seated Cat /Cow Sequence

An alternative to the hands and knees variation, cat and cow can provide much needed relief and movement for the spine and back.

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Begin by sitting up tall in your chair reaching your head towards the ceiling. On your inhale, lift from the upper chest and arch your back. Exhaling, squeeze your belly button to your spine and round your back deeply, tucking the chin to the chest. Repeat this sequence for several breaths.

Note: Bracing your hands can deepen each movement. Gently use the knees as a resistance point.

Seated Half Moon Pose

Often ignored, a flexible side body is an important part of our posture, practice, and overall health. Practicing this seated side bend will help you find length in your torso and relief from long days at the computer.

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Inhale, your arms up, and grasp your left wrist in your right hand. Exhale, rounding over to the right and making a “C” shape with your left ribs. Inhale back to center, switch your grip and repeat on your left side.

Reminder: Draw your shoulders away from your ears so as not to crowd your neck.

Eagle Arms

Originally taken from Garudasana, or Eagle pose, eagle arms are an easy way to never leave your desk but still feel a juicy stretch in your shoulders and upper back.

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Inhale and bring your right elbow underneath your left. If you can, wrap one more time around to grab onto the wrist, or place the palms together. Exhale, draw your elbows down away from your shoulders. Hold for a few breaths. Inhale, lifting your elbows towards the ceiling for a completely different sensation.

Repeat with the left elbow under your right.

Puppy Pose (Against a wall)

Another great pose to bring relief for the shoulders and upper back.

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Start by standing parallel to the wall. Place your palms straight in front of you pressing into the wall and slowly begin to walk your feet backwards. Stop when you feel an adequate sensation in your shoulders.

Reminder: Engage your core, squeezing belly button to spine, in order to keep from arching your back and putting tension into the lower back.

Standing Forward Fold

An all-around crowd favorite is a forward fold. It releases tension in the lower back, the neck and shoulders. A gentle inversion, it can help change your perspective on an otherwise stressful day.

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Flow into the fold by inhaling your arms up to the ceiling. As you exhale, fold forward from your hips and release your hands towards the floor. Shake your head yes and no to release any tension still remaining.

Modification: Hands don’t reach the floor? Hamstrings screaming? Bend your knees and grasp each elbow in the opposite hand, completely surrendering to the fold.

Now you are ready to get to work! These poses can also be repeated as a break each hour to keep you limber and focused throughout the day.