7 Yoga Books for Yogis

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Anyone with a passion can DIVE IN DEEP and educate yourself on what YOU LOVE . Our brains are immensely powerful and can handle all the information we want to feed it, we just need to start the journey!

Below are 7 Books for Yogis – anyone can read these and benefit from the amazing information provided. Highly recommend these books for anyone looking to deepen their practice. Some of these read very easily like a sweet song, while are harder to digest. Whatever the end goal, reading anything is a break from our typical online browsing… SO GET COZY, light a candle, make a cup of tea, and bury yourself in these beautiful novels.

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1. Light on Yoga

Written by the man who is credited with introducing yoga to the West, Light on Yoga illustrates and meticulously explains 200 postures with over 600 photos. HOLY WOW! There is no shortage of knowledge here. BKS Iyengar models each pose and provides detailed instruction on how to perform and teach the posture. His style of yoga emphasizes proper alignment, making Light on Yoga – “The Rule Book for Asanas”.

2. Light on Life

This book is absolutely stunning and one of my favorites to recommend. The title itself is enough to make a yogi swoon – Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. BKS Iyengar recounts his past 70 years of practicing, teaching, and spreading the art of yoga. The context will take the reader deep into his thoughts providing AHA! moments with every page turned. Make sure those reading tools are close by for this one!

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3. Meditations from the Mat

Like the title states, this book offers daily reflections on the practice by outlining the eight limbs of yoga. The writings are simple, relatable, easy to digest, and lighthearted. This is a great book to read first thing in the morning, at night when winding down, or whenever you need some feel good yumminess. It is also perfect for anyone interested in learning the principles behind the yoga practice. **I gifted my mom one for the holidays, she absolutely loves it!

4. The Bhagavad Gita

Referred to as the Gita, this is a 700 verse Hindu scripture. The entire book is a conversation between a prince (Arjuna) and his guide (Krishna). The reading’s purpose is to reveal our life purpose, our dharma, and a framework by which we should live. It is a beautiful, short read that can be repeated time and time again, each time revealing a new concept. *Fun Fact – Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by this book during his fight for independence. It is said that the Gita never left his side, acting as a “spiritual dictionary”.

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5. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Sutras can be thought of as the bible of yoga or the framework from which the practice is built upon. The author, Patanjali, is a revered sage who compiled ancient Indian traditions to create the Yoga Sutras. The book is comprised of four chapters, two focusing on the eight limbs of yoga (Ashtanga) and the other two on action yoga (kriya yoga). Personally, I haven’t read the book yet. If looking to seriously learn where yoga comes from, bury your head here and have those reading tools handy!

6. Nourishing the Teacher

This book was recommended by my YTT program as a vehicle for teaching. It is comprised of five chapters or theme based inquiries: The Gifts of Embodiment, The Wisdom of Yoga, The Hindu Gods & Goddesses, The Alchemy of Nature, and The Wheel of the Year. Each theme concept provides readers with posture ideas, on & off the mat inquiries, inspirational phrases to use, breathing techniques, and a closing class ritual.

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7. The Body Book

Written by Cameron Diaz, this is a phenomenal book for anyone interested in how the body works. While it doesn’t directly relate to yoga, it does contribute to upholding a healthy lifestyle which is extremely important as a yoga practitioner. The book is divided into three parts: Nutrition, Fitness, and Mind. Each portion provides extensive facts, helpful tips, medical opinions, and lighthearted advice from Cameron’s personal journey.

9 Tips to Protect Your Wrists During Yoga Practice

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The alignment often taught in plank requires the (fore)arms to be at 90 degrees with the palms. Furthermore, in chatturanga, the shoulders move over the wrists, further compressing the angle of the (fore)arm to palm to less than a right angle.  This alignment may be too aggressive for some bodies who might feel strain or, even worse, pinching in the wrists when attempting it.

The bad news is that wrists lose flexibility over time, so you should be kind with yourself whenever returning to your mat. The good news is that you can regain some of that flexibility if you practice with awareness toward yourself and follow these easy tips that will protect the wrists, while still promoting opening in areas where there is space available.

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1) Practice your planks, chatturangas and arm balances on a hard surface. Soft yoga mats or fluffy carpets are a no-no, because they let the heels of your wrists sink, decreasing the angle between your forearm and the palm.

2) Plant the entire palm on the mat, then extend the fingers and plant them on the mat.Bent fingers aggravate the wrist! Shift the weight evenly into all of the joints of the palm, moving the concentrated weight away from the heel of your palm.

3) Do rounds of “wrist lifts.” From table top, lift the heel of the palm then lower it. Repeat 15-20 times or until you feel the forearm muscles get tired. Keeping the muscle memory of the wrist lifts still fresh in your mind, try plank or downward facing dog and feel the lightness in your wrists.

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4) Elevate the heel of your wrists by placing your palms on a folded hand towel, purposely increasing the angle between your forearms and the palm. The fingers and the finger mounds stay off the towel, sloping downward.

5) Shift the palms forward of the shoulders in plank to release the wrists. Note that this is not an option for crow or other arm balances because you don’t have your feet on the ground for balance.

6) Modification: bend your elbows during plank to help move the strain away from the wrist area. Elbows must bend backward (toward the toes) and not laterally.

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7) Don’t be scared to bend your knees and lower them to the floor! This is another way to move the weight out of the wrists and into the legs.

8) Try planting your fists instead of palms on your mat. This modification takes the weight completely out of the wrists and helps strengthen it.

9) Use blocks under your palms. The elevation under your palms moves some of your weight into the legs, alleviating the stress on the wrists. You may either keep the palms flat on the block or fold the fingers down, bringing them parallel to the earth.

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Your ideal alignment should be free of pain and it should follow a level of challenge that is appropriate for you. Happy planking!

For Guys – 5 Simple Yoga Poses to Get You Started

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Here’s a compilation of 5 key yoga poses for men to jump start your practice. Let’s face it. Guys are built differently than gals. While yoga is accessible to men and women equally, there are certain poses that prove more difficult for the male anatomy. You’re either born with strength or flexibility; but not both. The good news is that yoga has the ability to both strengthen and increase flexibility. These 5 simple yoga poses will prepare your body for a satisfying and fulfilling yoga practice.

1. Upward Facing Dog

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Men are naturally built with a lot of upper body strength. This translates to tight chest and shoulder muscles that make certain poses more challenging (like those Chaturanga push-ups your yoga teacher loves so much). Up-Dog will give your chest and shoulders an effective, deep stretch.

2. Downward Facing Dog

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From the top down, Down Dog has some awesome benefits. While your head hangs heavy, it’s helping to release tension from the neck. As your heels reach towards the mat, your hamstrings and Achilles tendons are deeply stretched. This pose will prepare you for other poses that require flexibility.

3. Prayer Twist

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Twists are incredibly good for the spine. A lot of guys will work out hard at the gym, but not follow up with adequate stretching. The spine needs to be stretched as well, especially after weight-bearing exercises. Twists decompress the spine and help to re-hydrate the spinal column keeping discs hydrated and preventing deterioration.

4. Pigeon Pose

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Pigeon Pose is a hip opener. Men typically have less flexibility in the hip flexors, and this tightness over time can lead to a decrease in range of motion. Fascia is a fibrous tissue that coats muscles in the body. Think of it as saran wrap that gets tighter over time. The way to loosen this fascia is by deep stretching. Holding pigeon pose for several breaths will help to loosen the hip joint and gain flexibility over time.

5. Tree Pose

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Balance is another aspect of yoga that men often need help with. Start simple with Tree Pose. This requires balancing on one leg. Start by bringing your right foot to rest on the inside of your left ankle. Bring your hands to heart center and balance there for five breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. Next time, bring your right foot to rest on your left calve, and then work to bring it all the way up to your inner thigh. This will build focus, balance, and confidence.

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Incorporating these 5 poses into your yoga routine will make you flexible and balancing with the best of them in no time. Enjoy.

10 Things Your Yoga Instructor Wants You to Know

You see them smiling at you as they walk around the room or demonstrate poses, but do you ever wonder what your yoga teachers are thinking? Here are some things yoga instructors want newbies to know about their classes.

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1. They’re not checking you out to see how flexible you are (or aren’t): If your teacher is looking at you, it’s not to judge whether or not you can straighten your legs in Down Dog (so don’t quickly press your heels to the floor if you catch a glimpse your way!). He or she wants to make sure you’re doing a pose safely and comfortably.

2. They don’t like when you push yourself too hard: You’re always encouraged to try new poses, but not if it means struggling in pain. When working on backbends, trust that you know whether it’s better for you to do a beginner version like Cobra versus an advanced version like Scorpion.

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3. They wish you’d ask questions or for assistance: Yoga classes tend to be pretty quiet with only the instructor’s voice heard, but if you have a question, please ask! Chances are the other students are wondering the same thing. Also, don’t be shy about asking for help — they’d much rather stand next to you and help you lift into headstand than to hear you crash to the floor after trying it on your own.

4. They don’t care if you pass gas: Yoga instructors are human too, and they of all people know that certain poses can make tooting happen. Why? Because it’s probably happened to them! I know it’s a little embarrassing, but if you accidentally have a loud outburst from your tush, just pretend like it didn’t happen.

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5. They aren’t grossed out by your sweat: If an instructor likes to give assists in poses, no need to apologize for your slippery sweatiness. They’re used to touching clothes and bodies drenched in perspiration, and if it bothered them, well then they wouldn’t be yoga instructors.

6. They want you to speak up if an assist hurts or makes you uncomfortable: You have every right to tell the instructor to press more softly or to back off entirely. It’s your body and you know your limits; without your input, a teacher won’t know what you like and what adjustment is about to pull your hamstring.

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7. They wish you didn’t come to class to “sweat out your sick”: If you’re congested with a cold, a little exercise can do you some good. Heat can help loosen mucus, and moving the body relieves body aches. But you want to be careful not to pass along your germs to others, so sweating out your sickness in a packed yoga class with your snotty tissues collecting around your mat is not the best idea. Feeling under the weather is the perfect time to do a home practice, and you can hit the studio once you’re feeling better.

8. They love when you bring your own yoga mat to class: Borrowing a studio mat for your first five or so classes is welcomed, but after that, it’s time to buy your own yoga mat. Using a mat that only you sweat on helps prevent the spread of germs, which we all appreciate, and purchasing your very own mat also shows a deeper devotion than someone who pops into class every once in a while.

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9. They want you to practice at least twice a week: A Sunday afternoon yoga class will offer amazing benefits, but if you really want to improve your practice, you should include another class or two that week. If it’s impossible to get to the studio that many times because of time or money, unroll your yoga mat and do a practice at home, even if it’s for only 20 minutes.

10. They like when you get to class a little early and prefer you stay until class is over: We all have tight schedules and obligations to work and family, so the occasional late entry to class or early skip-out is OK, just don’t make it a habit. Show yourself, your fellow students, and your teacher respect by being physically present for the entire class.

5 Partner Yoga Asanas You Should Try

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Do you hardly get to spend quality time with your spouse? It is no surprise that most of us are running against time. Between hectic schedules and various other commitments, we do not get any quality time to connect on a deeper level. With so much stress being put on health and fitness, the only way that you can get the best of both worlds is partner yoga, or couple yoga. This form of yoga combines the traditional yoga practices into the realm of relationship, allowing you and your spouse to connect on a deeper physical and emotional level. It keeps the chemistry alive in your relationship while also awakening the senses!

1. Boat Pose:

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· Sit facing your partner

· Ensure that a gap of 3 feet is maintained between the two of you.

· Now hold each other’s hand.

· Raise your legs as high as you can and balance for a few minutes before returning to your normal sitting position.

· This pose helps in stretching and strengthening your arms, legs,  abdomen and shoulders.

2. Forward Bend:

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· Start by sitting cross legged in a back to back position

· Reach back and link elbows with your partner.

· Exhale as you lean forward, entering into a forward bend and pulling your partner into a gentle back bend.

· This is an easy technique to master.

3. Bow Pose:

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· Ask your husband to lie flat on his back on the floor mat.

· Ask him to bend his knees while you take position and sit on his soles holding his ankles for support.

· Now your husband must raise his legs up in the air so that his hips are in a straight line with his ankles.

·This pose helps you, sitting on the top, to stretch your torso, and shoulders, while your husband below exercises his lower back as well as legs.

4. Face to Face Twist:

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· This partner yoga pose is performed sitting face to face, as the name suggests, with knees touching each other.

· Place your right arm behind your back with your forearm parallel to the floor.

· Now reach for your left hand and grasp your partner’s right hand.

· Be mindful of your right shoulder while doing this as you pull the left hand of your partner into a twist.

· This posture massages your abdominal organs and improves blood circulation.

5. Child’s Pose:

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This posture helps you re-explore the childlike innocence and calm. It restores peace in the body and relieves muscle tension.

· Ask your partner to lie on your back so that both your spines are aligned and touching.

· Now ask your partner to extend their arms upwards or out to the sides, with legs extended downwards.

· This engages your abs and strengthens your partner’s spine!

Good Morning Yoga Sequence

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This is a 10-15 minute morning sequence designed to wake up the body and target all of the places that might need a little extra space and life breathed into them after a night of sleep. I designed this to be a flowing sequence, allowing one pose to flow into the next. I invite you to try it like this, or if that doesn’t work for you and you prefer to complete one pose at a time, guide yourself through it that way by returning to Downward Facing Dog in between each pose. Otherwise, just flow with it.

1. Malasana – Yogi Squat

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Separate your feet a little bit further apart, maybe even as wide as your mat. Turn your toes out slightly. Bend your knees and lower your hips down towards the earth. Bring your hands to prayer in front of your heart and allow the elbows to gently guide the knees and thighs open, keeping length in the spine. Engage mula bandha to experience a greater sense of lightness. Stay here for at least five full breaths. Repeat everything on the second side.

2. Forearm Plank

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With toes tucked, lower down onto your elbows and forearms. Keeping the hips in line with the shoulders and your knees off of the ground, stack your shoulders over your elbows, which should be no wider than shoulders distance apart. Keep the back of the thighs pressing up towards the sky, while guiding the heels back and the heart forward. Maintain a strong core and hold here for 30 seconds.

3. Triangle Pose

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Tuck the back toes under and spin the left heel down so that the heels are more or less in line with each other. Pressing down through the outer edge of the left foot, begin to straighten your right leg. Engage both legs and consider stacking your left hip over your right. Slide your right hand as far up your right leg as you need to so that you are not collapsing anywhere. Open the left arm up towards the sky, reaching out through the left fingertips.

4.Low Lunge Variation

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With your right toes pointing straight ahead and the outer edge of the right foot parallel to the outer edge of the mat, lower your left knee down to the earth. Place your hands on top of your right thigh or reach them up to the sky. Soften the tailbone down and draw the low belly off of the thigh. Stay here for five breaths allowing the right heel to energetically draw back and the left hip to energetically move down and forward towards the right heel.

5.Easy Lunge Twist

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Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand so that your right foot is closer to the right edge of the mat. Turn your toes out to a 45 degree angle (like 10:00). Keep the left knee lifted and press the thigh up towards the sky. Press down into the earth with the left hand and open the right arm up towards the sky. Stay here for at least five breaths.

6. Open Hip

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From Downward Facing Dog lift your right leg all the way up to the sky behind you. Keeping the arms very strong, bend your right knee and stack your right hip over your left, opening up the hip, groin and thigh. Gently press the left heel down into the earth, being mindful to keep that heel from splaying out to the side.

7. Chest to Thighs with Interlaced Hands

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Stand at the back of your yoga mat with your feet together and carefully bow forward, hinging from your hips and not your low back. Reach your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers, pressing the palms together. Bend your knees and press your chest into and down your thighs, keeping your neck long. Hold for five breaths.

5 Yoga Moves To Practice Daily

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It’s sometimes hard to make room in your busy schedule for fitness, let alone an activity like yoga that require peace and quiet! However, these five quick and easy moves barely take any time at all. Do them right when you wake up to center and prepare yourself for the day, or do them right before bed to reflect on a long day.

1. Cow Stretch: This pose is perfect for stretching out your lumbar muscles.

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2. Cat Stretch: This pose is similar to the Cow Stretch, but this time you get to embrace your inner fierce feline.

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3. Warrior Pose: Don’t forget to breath deeply when performing this pose. You’ll feel it in your entire body.

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4. Downward Facing Dog: For a little mommy-and-me fitness, you can even get your kids to do this one with you!

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5.Child’s Pose: You can definitely get your kids in on this one! Child’s pose is the perfect finishing pose; you can center and prepare yourself for everything coming your way.

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6 Fat-Burning Yoga Poses

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That’s right, yoga isn’t just a bunch of stretching—it can torch major calories! It builds muscle, which causes fat to melt, and can also increase your heart rate, which aids in boosting your metabolism.

These poses are some of the best to burn calories. Do this entire sequence three to five days a week, and any extra padding on your body will turn into sleekly sculpted muscle in no time.

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1. Down Dog Split, Knee-to Nose-Repetitions

From down dog, inhale your right leg high, opening the hip if that feels nice. On an exhale, start to round your right knee to your nose, drawing your navel toward your spine. Inhale your leg back to down dog split. Do 10 reps, then repeat the sequence with your left leg.

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2. Plank with Arm-Leg Lift

From down dog, roll out into plank with your shoulders and wrists lined up, lengthening from the crown of your head through your heels. Reach your right arm forward and lift your left foot off the ground. Take three deep breaths here, then repeat with your left arm and right foot. Do 5 to 10 reps on each side.

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3. Dolphin Push-ups

From all fours, place your forearms on the ground shoulder-distance apart, then tuck your toes and lift your hips. From here, start to lower your chin toward your thumbs on an inhale, coming almost to a forearm plank but not quite since your feet are too close to your elbows for that. Use your exhale to lift back to dolphin, raising your hips back toward the ceiling. Do 20 reps.

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4. Forearm Stand

From dolphin, walk your feet toward your elbows and lift one leg toward the ceiling. Start to rock forward and lift both legs off the ground. (You can also do this against a wall.) Try to stay here for 5 deep breaths.

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5. Wheel

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet on the ground hip-distance apart. Bend your elbows and place your hands on either side of your head shoulder-distance part, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Pressing into your feet and hands equally, lift your hips and lengthen your arms. Keep pressing into your feet (especially through the big toe mound) and reaching your chest away from your feet as you stay here for 5 deep breaths. Be sure to tuck your chin to your chest before you slowly come down.

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6. High Lunge Twist Repetitions

From high lunge with your right foot forward, inhale to straighten your legs and lift your arms high. On your exhale, come back down to high lunge, reaching your left arm forward and your right arm back. Inhale back to center. Do 10 to 20 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.

Top 6 Morning Meditation Mantras

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Morning is the best time for meditation as it promotes your transition from the passing moments to a complete new state in which you can start your day. And the best way to enter a meditative state is by practicing mantras. Being spiritually-oriented, mantras can work as ‘higher energetic vibrations’ and help you achieve a whole new level of enlightenment. Here, we have compiled a list of 10 best morning meditation mantras for you. Please do have a look.

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1 OM :

‘Om’ is the most common as well as sacred mantra that you can practice in the morning for expressing the ‘original vibration of manifestation’. This word is taken from Sanskrit language. It generates an extremely comforting sound when the vibration is allowed to loiter in the throat. In order to enter the deep meditative state, you have to focus on that ultimate silence which produces and absorbs the sound. It comforts and relaxes the soul irrespective of your spiritual inclinations.

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2 Love :

‘Love’ is the second most popular mantra in this list. It is a very powerful way to create a lovable ambiance around you. When you utter the word ‘love’, you feel great and it reflects on your physical appearance. During meditation, you need to focus on this physical feeling that comes from repeating the word aloud. It simply eliminates all your anger and depression and fills your heart with love.

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3 I Am :

Identifying self-existence, recognizing self-power and acknowledging self-divinity are some important aspects of meditation. This mantra is absolutely perfect for chanting at the start of a day and honoring yourself for who you are. When you add positive affirmations with ‘I am’, you eventually strengthen your inner-self and step towards success.

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4 So-Hum :

Here is a natural mantra, which is known to be universal for morning meditation. The vibration generated during the pronunciation of ‘So-Hum’ is actually a part of your regular breath. As air enters your lungs during inhalation, the ‘soooo…’ sound is produced. On the other hand, ‘hummmm….’ is generated when air goes out of the lungs during exhalation.

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5 Lam :

There are a few morning meditation mantras, which focus on certain parts of the body and improve their functionality. ‘Lam’ is one among them. It is intended for your spinal cord, especially its base region. In order to practice this mantra, you need to position the tip of your tongue on the back of the upper palate by bending it up as well as back.

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6 Vam :

‘Vam’ is another mantra that you can practice in the morning during your meditation to focus on your genitals and improve its functionality. Start with holding the center of your lower lip with your upper set of teeth. Do not press your lip with the teeth. Rather, place them gently on it. Now, create a breathy consonant, which should sound like ‘fvam’.

8 Steps to Prepare for Handstand

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If you’ve been playing around with how to do Headstands and Forearm Stands, Handstands are another fun inversion to try. If you have your heart set on getting upside down, here are eight moves to practice. They’ll help you build strength and stability, so you’ll be standing on your hands in no time!

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Push-Ups

It may seem like Handstands are all about balance, but in order to be able to hold your body straight upside down, you need major upper-body strength. Push-ups are by far the best exercise since they’ll target your arms, shoulders, upper back, and core. Basic push-ups work great, but you can strengthen other areas of your body by throwing some push-up variations into your weekly routine as well.

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Back bend Push-Ups

Here’s another push-up variation that will really target your shoulders and upper back, as well as your quads and core. It’ll also get you used to being upside down. Do three sets of 10 a few times a week, and you’ll really notice a difference in your upper-body strength.

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Headstand

Since the Handstand is a pretty advanced inversion, it’s good to work on the most stable inversion first, Headstand. Try this one known as Bound Headstand to build your strength and balance.

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Forearm Stand

After mastering a Headstand, a Forearm Stand is the next hardest inversion, but not as hard as the Handstand. Since you’re resting on your forearms, there’s more surface area to balance on. Do this move in front of a wall at first to prevent falling, and then move to the middle of the room.

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Crow

Crow pose is a great next step since it requires upper-body strength, balance, and core strength. It’s like a little mini-Handstand and a great way to get your hands and wrists used to holding up your body weight.

 

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Handstand Split

Although the goal of the Handstand in yoga is to be able to hold your body in one straight line, it’s really difficult to find that balance at first. Doing a Handstand with your legs in a split position is much easier. Do it in front of a wall with your toes leaning for support, and eventually move away when you master the balance.

Handstand-Against-Wall

Handstand Against the Wall

Here’s the next step in being able to do Handstands freely. Place you hands six or so inches away from the edge of a wall. Kick your feet up, press the top of your head against the wall, and move your legs away. This will get your body in the correct alignment with your hips and shoulders stacked. Hold this position for as long as you can, and you’ll really feel your core and upper body working hard to keep your body up. When you’re ready, start pulling your head away from the wall, balancing in a full Handstand.

Handstand

Handstand

After mastering Handstand against the wall, you’re ready to move to an open area to work on balancing without any help. Kick up with control into Handstand Split, and slowly scissor your legs together. Concentrate on holding your gaze at one point on the floor below you, keeping the hips stacked over the shoulders, fingers spread wide. Hold for as long as you can.