Yoga Blog

7 Ways To Make 2014 The Year Of Inner Peace

Harriette Halepis : January 10, 2014 6:54 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

Life can be crazy. So many things crop up, throwing a curve ball of stress our way. Your six-year old would rather throw his breakfast around the kitchen than eat it. The car didn’t start due to the cold weather. Your boss just asked you to do a presentation for clients tomorrow, and you are grossly under prepared. How do you react when these situations occur? Do the demands of your daily life cause you to have anxiety? Do people run for the hills when some crisis begins to unfold, fearing your angry reaction?

 

dreamstime_xs_15452148All of this stress piles on, and you find yourself stressed on days where nothing entirely stressful occurs. And this is the problem – when the stress of life that each of us encounter affects our mood on days that go especially well. Where is the peace you should be experiencing? How can you feel that peace again? And more importantly, how can you maintain that peaceful feeling in the midst of all the stressful events? Here are some tips.

 

Leave me alone. When you are in the middle of your child’s tantrum in all its glory, do you find yourself thinking, “I wish I could just lock myself away in a room alone!” You probably dismissed this thought, chastising yourself for being selfish. Honestly, alone time is probably just what the doctor ordered! It is extremely important to take time for yourself in any way that pleases you – meditation, yoga asanas, prayer, reading, doing a hobby – anything to reconnect with who you are as a person. We can get so caught up in the stressful situations; it is hard to find our way back to what we love. Be sure to carve out a little alone time each day just for you.

Turn your thoughts around. Sometimes, an overstressed person finds himself or herself thinking negatively about every single thing they encounter throughout the day. When this happens to you, stop yourself. Think long and hard about the situation, and determine if you are just reacting negatively because your stress is in overdrive, or if things really are as bad as you’re making them out to be. Whatever it is, just let those negative thoughts go and make a choice to think of something positive. Our thoughts have a big impact on our inner peace, so transforming negative thoughts to positive thoughts is essential.

Less Facebook and other social media sites. The purpose of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is to stay connected to those we care about. Sometimes, people can find themselves becoming jealous of that which they see friends posting, wondering why they can’t have a life like that. It stokes the fire of insecurity, and instead of feeling happy when a friend posts an achievement, they feel resentful. How can you tell it’s time to disconnect? If you find yourself constantly comparing your life against the lives of your Facebook friends, or you start feeling worse than when you logged on, it’s probably time to take a hiatus.

Breathe. In yoga, we all know how important the breath really is. Instead of limiting this breathing to the mat, start incorporating it into your stressful moments. If you start to feel stress creeping in to your being, just focus on your breath to take your mind off of it. Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing, and become focused on your body while breathing. You’ll return to a calm place in no time!

Beautiful Woman Practicing Yoga Outside In NatureSTOP. No, this doesn’t mean stop whatever you’re doing! It’s an acronym that can change everything – Stop; Take a breath; Observe; Proceed. It makes sense, and incorporates the tips listed above. When something stressful happens, don’t react right away. Stop for a moment and breathe deeply, focusing on the situation. Look at all angles – is your six year old overtired, and that’s why he’s throwing a fit? It’s not his fault, and you can proceed in a way that is true to your patient and kind self. When you stop to assess the situation, you might be surprised to see that it isn’t at all as stressful as you initially imagined!

Start your day in a calm place. Many of us do this without even realizing it. A neighbor of mine starts each day with a cup of coffee, and if he doesn’t, it sets the tone for a series of disasters throughout the day. Another friend chooses the morning to write in her journal, while another uses this time for meditation. The mornings are a great time for your free online yoga classes! What we choose to do when we start our day can set the stage for the way we feel for the remainder of the day. Try to avoid watching the news or thinking about things you need to do throughout the day. There’s time to worry about that later. Instead, this time should be “me” time.

Relax. Easier said than done, I’m sure. However, you can find a way to bring relaxation to those stressful moments. It’s like thinking about your breath, except you’re thinking about the muscles in your body. Focus on them when you’re feeling stressed, releasing tension little by little. Some people like to start at one end, like their feet, and work their way up towards their head. By the time you’ve worked your way up your body, relaxing muscles along the way, you’ll feel a total sense of peace. If you find a certain time of day to be extremely taxing on your patience, maybe you should set aside ten minutes each day during that time period to work at relaxing your body. It might be just the thing you need to return to the calm place you started the day in!

 

If you work a little at attaining peace each day and practice any combination of these tips, you’ll find yourself living in peace more easily. Soon, it will become automatic, and you won’t need to consciously think about it. Yes, it will take time, but it is possible!

 

What brings you peace? Is working on inner peace something you are desperate to focus on this year?

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Use Yoga To Combat Insomnia

Harriette Halepis : January 7, 2014 2:39 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga As A Lifestyle, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

Are you one of the estimated 30-40% of Americans who experience insomnia at some point during your life? Whether persistent, nightly insomnia or occasional insomnia brought on by stress within your life or a hectic schedule, this lack of sleep can adversely affect many different aspects of your day-to-day life. Some instances might be brought on due to a life change; such as retirement or an impending vacation you just can’t wait to take. Others might indicate a health problem.

 

dreamstime_xs_9127654Whatever the cause, there are steps you can take to fall asleep more quickly each night. Before you take any action, however, you should talk to your doctor so that they can ensure your sleep problem isn’t due to some underlying medical condition. If no cause can be determined, you can incorporate strategies at bedtime to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep. Yes, yoga asanas are part of this strategy, but it is there is much you can do.

 

What Is Insomnia?

 

Before we look into ways to combat insomnia, let’s take a look at the disorder itself. You have insomnia if you find it difficult to fall asleep or remain asleep, waking much earlier than your planned wake-up time, sleeping for hours yet still feeling exhausted, falling asleep during the day, being more irritable than normal, or having a hard time concentrating. People who suffer from insomnia become sick more easily, have a higher risk of depression, and statistically miss more work than their well-rested peers.

 

How much sleep is recommended? The National Sleep Foundation recommends children 5-10 get 10-11 hours of sleep each day. Teens aged 10-17 should sleep for 8.5-9 hours every day, while adults should be getting 7-9 hours.

 

What You Can Do

 

There are steps you can take towards getting your beauty rest, no matter how old you are. When there is no underlying medical reason for the insomnia, the first thing you can try is a yoga pose. Of course, not all yoga poses will accomplish the goal of becoming sleepy.

 

Which poses work well? Here are ten poses that work well to send you off to dreamland:

 

Easy Forward Bend. This pose, a variation of Sukhasana, is perfect for people of all skill levels. Try it out just before bedtime and feel all of that tension in your body, especially in your hips, melt away. To relax even further, sit on a pillow while doing this pose.

 

Child’s Pose (Balasana). Often used as a resting pose, this pose brings an all-over feeling of relaxation and calmness. Be sure to take long, deep breaths, and for added relaxation, massage your forehead in a left to right motion.

 

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana). This pose is not only good for those suffering from insomnia, but can relieve headaches and reduce stress levels as well. Tension in your legs will disappear.

 

Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani). This pose is pretty straightforward – just lay on your back with your legs going up a wall. You should remain in this pose for five minutes or more, assuring that your eyes are closed. For added relaxation and stress relief, cover your eyes with an eye pillow or rolled up towel.

 

Plow Pose (Halasana). This pose gets the blood flowing. While lying on your back, lift your legs over your head until they touch the floor behind you. Keep your hands on your back to support it, or straight out on the floor. You should remain in this pose anywhere from one to five minutes to fall asleep faster.

 

dreamstime_xs_9127645Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). This gentle stretch, done with either both legs bent or one leg outstretched, brings an overall feeling of relaxation while stretching out the spine. This tension relief can be just the thing to get you to dreamland more quickly. A bonus: it aids the digestion process.

 

Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana). This is a spinal twist done while lying down. Breathe deeply, and be sure to turn your head to the direction opposite your legs.

 

Corpse Pose (Savasana). What better pose for sleep than the relaxing corpse pose? Spend your time clearing your mind of any stress or worry by focusing on your breath and relaxing your muscles, one area of the body at a time.

 

Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana). This is basically the butterfly pose done on your back. If you feel it is too much of a strain on your hips, employ the use of cushions or rolled up blankets under your knees to bring a more complete feeling of relaxation.

 

Left Nostril Breathing (Surya Bhedana). Pranayama can be beneficial to insomniacs as well. Sit with your legs crossed, or lie on your right side. Cover your right nostril with your thumb while extending your fingers. Take 5-10 deep breaths using your left nostril only.

 

Other Strategies

 

Other methods towards combating insomnia include:

 

Develop a specific routine. Although you might not stick to it each and every day, it is important you develop some form of schedule. Try to turn in for the night at the same time, and eventually, your body will listen and become tired automatically. You should also try to get up at the same time each day.

 

Don’t eat a big meal just before bedtime. You should, however, try a light snack just before bed.

 

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and excessive alcohol use.

 

Read a book or listen to soft, soothing music.

 

Take a warm bath.

 

Turn off the TV. Your brain can become accustomed to the TV when left on, which means if the TV turns off or you for some reason cannot turn on the TV, you won’t fall asleep very easily.

 

Make your bedroom a place for sleep only. Don’t hang out in bed during the day, and avoid heading to bed when you’re bored.

 

Hit the yoga mat before bed, and try some of these strategies to see if you can get a more restful night’s sleep. Don’t let insomnia take over!

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Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Yoga

Harriette Halepis : January 2, 2014 10:16 am : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

Yoga is a wonderful way to stay in shape, no matter how old you are. Children, teens, adults, and seniors can all benefit from regular yoga workouts. There are some, however, that have a hard time believing this to be true, especially those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. Looking at people performing poses makes them cringe – they can almost hear their bones fracturing at the thought of attempting them.

 

dreamstime_xs_7354727However, people with these bone disorders shouldn’t be afraid. Yes, there are some poses that you should stay away from, but yoga can actually be a way to keep osteopenia from deteriorating to the point it becomes osteoporosis. What’s the difference, and what poses are recommended for people with osteopenia?

 

Osteopenia vs. Osteoporosis

 

Most people have heard of osteoporosis, the disease marked by brittle and fragile bones, increasing the risk of fracture or break. While you might assume that bone strength would be the culprit, it’s actually bone density that leads to the disease. It’s something that people have no idea they have it until they are tested for it specifically. The test for osteoporosis is called a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, which measures bone mineral mass. It’s a complex process, especially because bones are all different shapes and sizes. Certain bones are longer and thinner than others, and give different density readings than short, fat bones.

 

The World Health Organization came up with a way to measure bone density – a system was created that compares your measurement data to measurements of women the same age, weight, and height as you, and then compares the data to average measurements for women age 25-30, when bones are their strongest. The DEXA scan measures three bones – the entire hip, lumbar spine, and femur – and then gives them two scores., the T score and Z score.

 

T Score: This is the measurement of bone mineral density compared to that of a 25-30 year old woman.

Z Score: This is the measurement of bone mineral density compared to women the same age, weight, and height as you.

 

You are diagnosed with osteopenia if you have a T score of 1 to 2.5 standard deviations below the mean. If you have osteopenia, you are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means a T score of 2.5 standard deviations below the mean or more. Obviously, the higher your T score is, the greater the chances you’ll suffer a bone fracture.

 

The Importance of Yoga

 

dreamstime_xs_9127610Bones are actually made up of two parts – the outer bone, also called the cortex, and inner bone, also called cancellus or trabecular bone. The outer bone is hard, the main component of bone strength, and protets the inner bone that is spongy and soft. Bone health is dependent on both the outer and inner bones being made stronger. But how, exactly, do we strengthen a bone?

 

The strengthening of a bone is done in two ways. The first, the force a bone is subjected to dictates the architectural strength of that bone. The second, a bone will become stronger over a period of time after being subjected to the load you bear upon it. Using our muscles actually causes bones to strengthen faster than just weight bearing by itself.

 

So yoga is a perfect fit for building bone strength. Certain yoga asanas, especially standing asanas, are weight bearing. Others combine working our muscles with weight bearing. This variety of poses ensures that all bones get a workout. What’s more, holding these poses makes all the difference – research has shown that bones strengthen after holding a pose for a recommended 20-30 seconds.

 

How To Build Stronger Bones

 

So you were diagnosed with osteopenia. Where do you begin? A 2009 study proved yoga benefits those with osteopenia and osteoporosis, and it focused on a series of 10 asanas, which included Triangle Pose, Downward Dog, Upward Dog, and Bridge Pose, which were held for 20-30 seconds. The entire routine lasted about 10 minutes, so anyone can easily add yoga to his or her day. In fact, 85% of those taking place in the study gained bone density after a two year period.

 

Practicing any amount of yoga is good for those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. You can even ward off osteoporosis by committing to a yoga routine when you discover you have osteopenia! However, it’s crucial you start out working with an experienced instructor. Improper alignment can lead to a fracture, so when starting out, hit the mat with a professional to offer you guidance on proper alignment. When you are able to do it on your own, feel free to start online yoga workouts from the comfort of your home.

 

Not all poses are good for bone density diseases, which is another reason to turn to a professional. You shouldn’t perform certain forward-bending poses, which can lead to strain on the spine resulting in a spinal fracture. Twists can be just as dangerous, contorting the spine into an awkward position. Assure that the instructor you turn to for advice understands proper technique for those with osteoporosis, and that they can keep an eye on you during the class.

 

Seven poses to strengthen your bones, which are just as important to those who have not developed the disease: Vrksasana (Tree Pose); Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I); Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II); Utkatasana (Chair Pose); Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) with arms at your sides; Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose); and alternate arm and leg lifts. Perform these poses before osteopenia sets in, and you won’t need to worry about bone loss in the future!

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Banish Your Reservations About Yoga

Harriette Halepis : January 1, 2014 3:02 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga As A Lifestyle, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

You have heard about all of the remarkable benefits of starting free online yoga workouts, but there’s something holding you back – fear. Fear of trying something new. Fear of feeling foolish. Fear of hurting yourself. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of falling over due to a poor sense of balance.

 

dreamstime_xs_20384710Maybe your fear is letting go. This is something you have to learn in yoga, surrendering your anxieties, stress, and worries for a state of relaxation. This is the only way to release those muscles and breathe properly.

 

Or is your fear being in control? You need to control muscles in ways you’ve never imagined to perform poses properly, Moving from pose to pose requires a concentrated effort as well. This balance between letting go and being in control can seem a bit difficult, turning some away from the first lesson. You feel you’ll never get it. But don’t worry; you can if you stick with it!

 

Silence Your Inner Critic

 

Are you sabotaging your own yoga workout? The majority of the time, we hinder our own progress without even realizing it! For example, we see an online yoga video where a student is doing a headstand, or maybe the difficult Crane Pose, and you think, “There is just no way my body is capable of doing that.” So you never try. Do you know what? You’re right – there is no way your body will be able to do that. But not because it isn’t capable. It’s because your mind tells you it’s impossible.

 

Instead of discounting the pose altogether, try telling yourself that one day, you will most certainly be able to recreate that pose. You don’t have to say, “In a week,” or “In a month.” Just believing it will be possible is enough. Continue practicing yoga, attempting the seemingly impossible pose in a modified variation, and one day, you’ll find yourself ready and surprisingly able to pull off the perfect Crane Pose.

 

Let go of the negativity and you’ll see a big difference – your body will surprise you!

 

Don’t Be Afraid

 

dreamstime_xs_22085372Are you afraid you just don’t have the level of balance required for asanas like Tree Pose? If you are afraid of falling down, you’ll fall down, plain and simple. When you are afraid of something, your body tenses up, something that does not work in yoga. Fear is detrimental, and leads to workouts having the opposite effect than what they should have.

 

Don’t be afraid! Even if you do fall, what will happen? If you are doing free online yoga workouts, there is no one there to see you (and your cat doesn’t count!) Even if you can’t get your foot to the proper position against your thigh, that’s okay! Just modify the pose until the day you find your foot is right where it belongs. Failure doesn’t exist in yoga. The only failure is giving up or not trying at all. There is nothing in yoga to be afraid of!

 

The Effects Of Letting Go Of Fear

 

How can our experience with yoga flourish when we let go of fear? First and foremost, we are able to do the most important component of all in yoga – relax. You have no idea how important relaxation and deep breathing is to practicing yoga until you actually start to relax. This leads to the reduction of tension in the muscles, allowing them to stretch and tone, and reducing the risk of injury. Getting the breathing just right might take time, but it’s worth it!

 

How do you breathe when you are afraid? Most people tend to breath quickly and shallowly. When we let go of fear in our yoga practice, we are able to breathe properly, getting the most out of our workout and bringing peace and calm within. Don’t relax too much though – you still need to keep your muscles in check and pay attention to the flow from pose to pose. It isn’t easy, but over time, you’ll notice you’re relaxed yet focused at the same time without even giving it a second thought.

 

No Perfectionism Allowed

 

The main reason we hold on to these fears for so long – the fears that hinder our progress or halt it altogether – is that we hate to look foolish or incapable. We see the instructor on the Internet, looking so graceful while holding the pose perfectly, and we expect to look exactly the same way. The truth is, each body stretches and bends in unique ways, whether due to our lifestyle, body shape, or other factors whether within or beyond our control. There are those people that might never be able to make a pose look the way the instructor does.

 

Never strive for perfection. You just won’t attain it. What you should strive for is learning new poses, building on the poses you already know, and continuing your practice for a lifetime. It’s not about being the best of everyone in the class, or the best practitioner of your group of friends. It’s about doing the best you can for yourself and no one else.

 

What are you afraid of? What’s holding you back from starting a routine of yoga workouts?

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Get To Know The Anatomy Of Yoga

Harriette Halepis : January 1, 2014 10:02 am : Beginner Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

If you want to excel at something, you study the heck out of it, right? Whether it’s a new job, a new subject in school, or a new sport, knowing what you’re doing inside and out will only help you to become better at that particular task. This notion applies to yoga too – and, more specifically, to your own body.

 

dreamstime_xs_11272715Yoga instructors often refer to various parts of the body during any given glass. You probably already know a number of the specific anatomical terms that will be mentioned during any yoga class. But, there are bound to be a number of terms mentioned that you’ve never heard before too. Here are some common references to the human anatomy you’ll hear in the free yoga videos you’ll find on this site, so that you won’t feel clueless (and you get the most out of your yoga workouts).

 

Sitz Bones

 

You might hear them called the “sit bones” or the “sitting bones,” but the proper term for these two bones located at the base of the pelvis is sitz bones, or more technically the ‘ischael tuberosity.’ These are the bones that press against the mat when seated, so “sitz bones” seems quite appropriate – you are, after all, sitting on them!

 

Your yoga instructor will talk a lot about this part of your body during any seated pose, most likely asking you to become aware of your sitz bones pressing into the mat.  This is important – when you first actively accomplish this, you’ll feel a comfortable relief in your spine. Some people worry too much about lengthening the spine by raising their shoulders and head instead of engaging their sitz bones. The former increases the tension in your body, something you want to avoid at all costs.

 

The more you engage your sitz bones, the more effectively you can perform certain poses that aim to stretch out the hamstring and inner thigh muscles, the muscles that are attached to the sitz bones. The complete stretching of these muscles increases overall flexibility, which results in a more comfortable pelvis and lower back!

 

Hips

 

You’ll often hear instructors calling certain poses “hip openers.” These poses are important, especially for those of us that work a 9-to-5 sitting in a desk chair all week. The hip flexors are shortened over time when too much time is spent in a seated position. This results in decreased flexibility, which can cause injury if you decide to participate in a new sport or exercise – the activity is too strenuous for the muscles to handle. Asanas that work to open the hip area will relieve built up tension and stretch out the muscles that attach the thigh bone to the hip.

 

Core

 

Your core muscles are more important than you might realize. Having strong abdominal and lower back muscles allows you to perform a variety of everyday tasks – like bending down to pick up after your kids, taking the dog for a walk, getting in and out of your car – without injuring yourself. Your core is the support system for the rest of your body, and also helps you maintain your balance.

 

Actively engaging your core during your yoga asanas will help you in every aspect of your daily life, allowing you to maintain better posture naturally. With regular yoga practice, you’ll notice that after a period of time, your core will engage all on its own. This leaves you to focus on deepening poses and achieving relaxation. You’ll be stronger, too!

 

Spine

 

Standing poses are just as important as the rest. They allow you to focus on aligning your spine properly, which will eventually improve your posture overall. This allows other muscle groups to take a break – when you have poor posture; areas that don’t typically support your spine end up taking over, which makes them sore and fatigued. Give these muscles a break by focusing on proper alignment through each pose.

 

Lungs

 

The breath is so very important to all of it. You’ll hear your instructor tell you when to breathe in and out, and sometimes where you should be breathing. For example, you might hear your instructor ask you to breathe utilizing your diaphragm, expanding the ribs; or they’ll ask you to breathe deep into your belly, relying on your core instead of your diaphragm. Each type of breath is used during different types of poses to help the proper area engage in the perfect way. Just watching how you are breathing will have a huge impact on your asanas!

 

Become more aware of your body in each pose, and you’ll notice the poses get easier more quickly. Focus on activating the different areas of your body as your instructor says and you’ll notice your practice becoming easier and more fluid, as well as more capable in your time spent off the mat.

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Yoga Can Help Cure Your Bronchitis

Harriette Halepis : December 31, 2013 10:56 am : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

It’s winter, which usually means you are going to get sick in one form or another. Whether it’s the common cold, the flu, or one of the many viruses that make the rounds, you might need to modify your yoga workouts just a bit, depending on the nature of your illness. When that cold transforms into bronchitis, this modification becomes more important than ever. Let’s look at bronchitis, and ways to keep yoga in your daily routine without aggravating your sore lungs.

 

It Begins

 

dreamstime_xs_19118270Bronchitis starts out as a normal cold or virus. The congestion from your head travels deep into your chest, and when you can’t cough it all out, it becomes an infection. Bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tree, the part of your lungs that allow air to reach deep into your lungs, located beneath the trachea. The bronchial tree is the largest air-moving tube, allowing air to reach the alveoli, where gases taken in when inhaling are exchanged. Acute bronchitis is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection – viral must be left to go away on its own, while bacterial will require antibiotics to assure it clears completely.

 

Bronchitis might be accompanied by a fever and a general sense of exhaustion. Listen to your body during this period and abstain from strenuous yoga. Corpse pose is perfect, as long as you don’t breathe too deeply. Work on relaxation and meditation instead of deep breathing and strengthening poses.

 

Chronic Bronchitis

 

Find yourself coming down with bronchitis often? Bronchitis can be considered “chronic” when you have had the illness for a minimum of three months for at least two years in a row. Other symptoms of chronic bronchitis include a low-grade fever accompanied by chills, a feeling of discomfort in your chest, fatigue, and a cough that produces mucus (in all shades, from clear to green). Those who tend to suffer from chronic bronchitis have a history of smoking cigarettes, but aren’t the only ones at risk. People who were exposed to toxic gases or dust in the workplace and air pollution can also suffer from chronic bronchitis.

 

While quitting smoking is a good start to banishing the illness, along with changes to the workplace environment, there are other medicines that might be prescribed beyond antibiotics. They include inhalers to make breathing easier by dilating the airways.

 

Chronic bronchitis requires a highly modified yoga workout, especially if the symptoms are especially severe. Poses should be practiced in a reclined position, like propped up on a pillow, instead of lying flat on your back. Lying flat can induce coughing fits that interrupt the relaxation yoga is supposed to bring.

 

Banish Bronchitis Before It Starts

 

If you’ve been practicing yoga for the year and have suffered from bronchitis in the past, you’re in luck – this dedication might just stave off the more severe bouts of bronchitis you’re used to, and might even lessen the amount of time you are down and out! Many of the basic yoga poses work to strengthen your immune system. If you weren’t as diligent with your practice, you’ll want to consider being more consistent next year to prepare for next winter.

 

So which asanas are best for lowering your risk of bronchitis? You should focus on those poses that work on the chest and rib area – deep side bends, backbends, and cat/cow poses are all great choices. They open the chest area, working to improve your respiratory system. Twists and forward bends work the rib cage and lung area as a whole.

 

Don’t Forget The Breath!

 

It isn’t just the pose that is important. The way you breath can also help you keep bronchitis away. Work on pranayama, and focus on two areas. The first is increasing your lung capacity – work towards extending the inhale and exhale. Start with a 2:2 (2 second inhale, 2 second exhale), and increase the intervals by 2 seconds as each becomes easy. If you begin to feel short of breath, take a breather (no pun intended) and go back to the last ratio.

 

The second thing to work on is your breathing muscles. Strengthen them with Skull Brightening Breath, the Bellows breath, or Kapalabhati. This will get your breathing muscles into shape, giving them the power to battle bronchitis more easily. Another great technique to try is the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique.

 

Natural Remedies For Bronchitis

 

Whether it’s just a persistent cough or chronic bronchitis, the following natural remedies are said to bring relief if an inhaler just isn’t your cup of tea:

 

Turmeric. This spice possesses anti-inflammatory powers, among many others. Spice up a glass of milk with a teaspoon of turmeric, and drink it two to three times per day on an empty stomach.

 

Holy Basil. Seek out this herb in the form of a tea at your local natural food store, which is an herb used in India to treat inflammation of the lungs. The tea form won’t be as effective in fighting bronchitis though – instead, you should look for entire raw leaves to chew on.

 

Trikatu. This spice mixture battles congestion and stimulates the senses. It is comprised of equal parts of black pepper, Piper longum (“long pepper” which can be found online), and dried ginger. Consume regularly to keep your immune system strong.

 

Meditation. Regular mediation, just like yoga, serves to improve lung function and breathing.

 

Do you suffer from bronchitis each winter? Work towards practicing yoga each day, and decrease the odds you will suffer from it this winter!

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It’s Almost 2014: Is Your Resolution Ready?

Harriette Halepis : December 30, 2013 9:55 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

When that ball drops, millions upon millions of people will be making promises. Some will resolve to quit smoking, some to be a little kinder, while others will set the lofty goal of a healthier lifestyle. Are you making the resolution to begin a daily regimen of free online yoga workouts? Although that’s a great resolution, the key to making it successful is to pare it down to something manageable to begin with, especially if you have been leading a rather sedentary lifestyle or lead a particularly busy life.

 

dreamstime_xs_19059993Everyone has the best intentions when it comes to making resolutions. By all means, resolve away! But don’t set yourself up for failure by raising the bar so high there’s just no chance of clearing the hurdle. Here’s how to make a successful yoga workout resolution, or any resolution for that matter.

 

Understand Why Past Resolutions Have Failed

 

The key to making a successful resolution is to figure out why your past attempts failed. There are many reasons for failure, and the most common reason can be blamed on our rebellious nature. When we make a resolution, we are saying: “I have to do ____________.” It becomes something we feel obligated to do, which we then end up avoiding because it’s something we “have to do.” Psychologists recommend setting intentions instead. This is a wish or desire, and is much more flexible than the traditional resolution.

 

When deciding on your intention, you need to discover why it’s so important to you. When you think about the reason it’s so important to you, it makes it more desirable and pushes you to actually accomplish it. Making the intention more meaningful to you will keep you connected as well as more determined to reach your goal.

 

Once you’re connected with your intention, you need to look at the likelihood of completion. While it’s wonderful to say, “I’m going to practice yoga each and every day,” is it realistic? Does your lifestyle support it? If you are unsure, maybe three days a week would be a good start. You can always increase the number of workouts down the road.

 

Change Your Way Of Thinking

 

How can you succeed with your intention to start practicing yoga more regularly if the little voice in the back of your head is saying, “There’s no way you can fit that into your busy schedule,” or “Who are you kidding, you’re too lazy. Just sit in the chair and pick up the remote.” That right there will stop your intentions from being realized in a flash!

 

It’s important to turn around this negative thinking. If you catch yourself thinking this way, change it to a positive thought, like “I can squeeze in a 15 minute yoga session without a problem,” or something along those lines. Stop making excuses, and think positively! You’ll see results in no time.

 

If you are going to be doing online yoga classes, plan out the exact area in your home you will be practicing in. Have the mat at the ready, and keep your surroundings uncluttered. In this way, you won’t end up thinking about the mess around you when you are practicing, tempting you to stop what you’re doing to pick up.

 

Other Ways A Resolution Can Be Broken

 

While adding yoga to your day isn’t considered a deprivation, there are many other resolutions people make that involve some form of restriction. Yoga provides a great way to get your body moving in a comfortable way while still working to whittle away the pounds. Instead of feeling tired and sore from strenuous gym efforts, yoga lets you ease into weight-loss while still working towards fitness goals. Comfort is the key to success.

 

The main thing to keep in mind is you, and only you, have the power to make or break your resolution. You need to focus on doing the work, and as long as you’ve connected with your goal and plan to gradually ease your way into it, you’ll do just fine. The power to change to a healthier lifestyle lies within you if you are willing to work at it. Over time, it won’t feel like work at all, just part of the every day routine! Take the time to think it through and write it down in order to remind yourself when you get off track. Most of all don’t get discouraged if you skip a day. Instead, celebrate the days you are able to hit the mat. Stay positive!

 

Have you set your New Year’s intention yet? Are you going to give yoga a try? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know what has (and hasn’t!) worked for you in the past. You can help others by sharing your story with us, too!

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6 Tips For Yoga At Home

Harriette Halepis : December 24, 2013 5:33 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

You want to begin practicing yoga, but you’re a bit worried about signing up in a local studio – sound about right? Or, maybe you just don’t think you have the time in your busy, ever-changing schedule for a class. You’re worried you might end up missing a few sessions, and don’t know if you should waste your money. Or, it could be that you’re nervous about joining a class where seasoned yoga veterans all around you will know each and every pose, leaving you feeling quite ridiculous. Whatever reason you are hesitant to begin, there is a solution: yoga at home!

 

dreamstime_xs_21978954The power of the Internet gives you this remarkable opportunity to practice yoga on your own terms. You can practice in whatever time you have each day, whether 30 minutes or 90 minutes. It gives you the opportunity to learn each pose in the comfort of your own home, where no one else can see you (and no, the cat doesn’t count!) except maybe your children or spouse. A beginner might find that after they become more confident on the mat, they’re ready to progress from free online yoga workouts to a real, live class!

 

So what do you need to do in order to ensure you are successful in your yoga endeavors?

 

Get The Proper Equipment

 

You wouldn’t show up to hockey practice with a lacrosse stick, so why would you practice yoga without the proper equipment? While you might think relying on your carpet instead of purchasing a yoga mat is just fine, you would be very wrong. You’ll be doing certain poses that require a certain level of traction, so the yoga mat is a key component to your success.

 

You don’t want to be in an asana that requires you balance on your hands and toes just to have your toes slip out from under you! Yoga mats are designed with traction in mind – that is, a good one is designed that way. Look for a mat that offers a somewhat sticky surface so you don’t slip. Not only will you be frustrated because you can’t hold a pose long enough, you might injure yourself.

 

You’ve probably talked to your doctor, and if you have some sort of injury he told you to take it easy. Don’t let that discourage you from starting yoga! You can modify poses with bolsters, blocks, pillows, blankets, and straps to ensure the injured area is protected. Look at what you might need before you start so that you aren’t stuck in the middle of a workout wishing you were better prepared!

 

Carve Out The Time

 

In order to be successful in your at-home yoga practice, you need to take a look at your schedule and plan time in each day just for yoga. This is important, and yes, you must write it down. Sure, you can get all high-tech and program the schedule into your smartphone, setting up reminders to chime when it’s time to pull out the mat, but there is something to writing it down that makes it more real. Of course, those smartphone reminders are important too, so go ahead and set them up.

 

Don’t stress if something in your life comes up and you miss a session. That’s why yoga at home is so incredible – it offers a degree of flexibility that allows life to happen!

 

Choose A Designated Area To Practice In

 

paper peopleYoga is about relaxing and letting it all go. How can you do that when you are gazing upon every single toy your child possesses, or a bedroom with laundry all over the place? Choose an area that is generally free of clutter. If you can, choose an area with a view. Most importantly, you need to choose an area where you can set up your laptop or tablet. Hard to follow along with an online class when you can’t get online!

 

Choose A Workout

 

After determining what it is you want to accomplish by practicing yoga – whether weight loss, increased flexibility, relaxation, increased strength, or better balance – you need to find the right online yoga classes. Check out our selection of free yoga videos, including tips for certain poses and all about starting your yoga journey. When you are confident it’s right for you, move on to one of our classes, broken into categories relevant to your experience and knowledge. Short on time? We have 15-minute classes just for you!

 

Make It A Family Affair

 

Yoga isn’t just for adults. Children and teens benefit from yoga as well! To really succeed in practicing regularly, gather the whole family and practice together. You’ll find that it motivates you to practice more often, and having others involved makes you more accountable when it comes time to hit the mat. You’ll feel like the best role model for your kids, and you’ll all be working towards a healthier, happier lifestyle.

 

Treat Yourself

 

Set a goal and plan to give yourself some form of reward for attaining it. For example: you planned out your yoga week, and your goal is to stick to it – all seven days, no excuses. If you give yourself some sort of reward, you’ll be more apt to stick to the challenge. You choose to treat yourself to that new book you’ve wanted to buy. Set more long-term goals, and choose something really special, like a new piece of jewelry, or even the pricier yoga pants you really want.

 

Don’t be afraid to start your practice at home. You can do it, and it just might give you the confidence you need to join a class at your local studio!

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Stop Making Excuses: Start A Yoga Routine

Harriette Halepis : December 18, 2013 6:13 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

You are contemplating incorporating free online yoga workouts into your daily routine, or maybe you’re starting back up again after life got crazy and you just couldn’t find the time. Either way, it’s a fantastic idea! It’s so easy to start or re-start, and our beginner yoga videos are just the thing to ease you in without overwhelming you.

 

dreamstime_xs_28422031But I can hear you out there: “I don’t know that I am flexible enough”; “This hip pain will probably get worse”; “I don’t know if I can commit to it regularly.” The negative thoughts aren’t going to help you in any way! You can very easily begin a yoga routine in the comfort of your home, and it all starts with a commitment and positive attitude. That’s really all you need to bring to the mat.

 

The Goal: Health

 

Through yoga asanas, you can heal yourself both inside and out. Your immune system will function better, your muscles will be stronger, your digestive system more efficient, and your mind clearer. I could go on and on with the amazing health benefits of yoga!

 

There are so many reasons yoga is the perfect way to stay healthy. But I know you still have questions. It’s hard to imagine you can just jump right in to some form of workout, especially one that requires flexibility and calm. What should you know when beginning yoga for the first time, or starting up again after a hiatus?

 

You don’t need to be incredibly flexible. No, you don’t need to be able to bend over and touch the floor without bending your knees! The beauty of yoga lies within the fact it is highly individualized and personal, all dependent on the capabilities of your unique body. Over time, with regular workouts, you’ll see that you can, in fact, touch the floor. Yes, you might have limitations, but if you practice patience and push a little further each day, you can break through those limitations.

 

It’s not a competition. Yoga is all about you. You don’t need to worry about how others perceive you when you start at home, because the only one watching is you. When the time comes and you feel ready for more, you can head out and sign up for a local yoga class and enjoy not caring what anyone in the class thinks.

 

dreamstime_xs_30523507Do it daily if you can. Samuel Johnson once said, “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” You might not realize it at first, but by pulling out that mat each and every day, you are convincing your brain over time that yoga is a habit. You’ll start doing it automatically, without giving it a second thought, and feeling horrible when you don’t have the chance to do it.  This can be hard to do, but as long as you are diligent, you’ll succeed. If you feel that you just don’t have the time, there is something you can do – pull out the yoga mat anyway. Stand on it, and then roll it up again. There, your brain is none the wiser! You just pulled a fast one on your brain, and it will reward you by creating the urge to practice yoga daily in the future.

 

Focus on the breath, not the pose. As I said in the first point, it doesn’t matter if you can do a pose perfectly or not. Whether you can bend to your knees or all the way down to the floor, the pose remains ineffective if you aren’t focusing on how you are breathing. Are you short of breath? Stop. It’s as simple as that. Take some time to practice your breathing techniques if you just can’t seem to meld pose and breath as effortlessly as you’d like.

 

Talk to your doctor. If you’re concerned about a health condition you have, by all means, speak with your doctor first prior to starting up a yoga workout routine. He can tell you what to watch out for. You might need to simply modify poses and incorporate things like pillows and rolled blankets for support. Maybe doing inverted poses are a bad idea. Your doctor will let you know what to be concerned about, and you can adjust your workout accordingly. Don’t let any health condition stop you from doing yoga!

 

Advance your difficulty level as you improve. You should seek to challenge yourself continually. If your workout seems to be too easy, maybe it’s time to kick it up a notch. Find some advanced workouts if you choose to do the at-home online yoga routine, or head out to a local studio to learn from an instructor in the flesh. You’ll learn some new poses to challenge your body and mind, allowing you to continue growing in your yoga journey.

 

Stop making excuses, roll out the mat, and get to work!

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This Is Your Brain On Yoga

Harriette Halepis : December 16, 2013 5:03 pm : Beginner Yoga, Benefits Of Yoga, Yoga As A Lifestyle, Yoga At Home, Yoga Blog

Your brain is responsible for so much! Without it, you couldn’t perform tasks, whether simple or complex, nor would you be alive, as it controls functions automatically so you don’t have to keep reminding yourself to breathe or digest your food. Just as it’s important to exercise in order to keep your body in shape, it’s vital that you work to keep your brain in shape too. How? Believe it or not, yoga can really help.

 

A June study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Exercise Psychology Laboratory demonstrated that just one 20-minute Hatha yoga session boosted brain function in the period immediately following the workout better than a 20-minute aerobic exercise session. Researchers also noticed that yoga is becoming increasingly popular, and although numerous health benefits have been analyzed in relation to the exercise, none have explored the question of how yoga affects cognition.

 

dreamstime_xs_15452148The Study

 

Researchers followed 30 female students throughout the study, conducting tests measuring short-term memory and concentration following a 20-minute yoga workout. Those results were then compared with the results from a 20-minute aerobic workout. Researchers wanted to see how the activity improved each facet of cognition, such as memory, learning, problem solving skills, attention, decision-making, reasoning, and speaking and understanding language.

 

The work began with a baseline assessment of cognitive abilities, followed by a 20 minute Hatha  HYPERLINK “http://www.miracleofyoga.com” yoga workout. Time on the mat consisted of numerous yoga poses with a focus on various muscle groups and regulated breathing, and the session ending in meditation and deep breathing. During the aerobic portion of the testing, participants hopped on a treadmill with an incline at 60% to 70% of their maximum heart rate. An assessment occurred after each session was completed.

 

The Results

 

Surprisingly, researchers noticed that there was no measurable difference in the participants’ performance following the aerobic workout. Following the yoga workout, however, there was a significant improvement in brain function and cognitive ability. Why is this? One researcher speculates it has something to do with the meditation and breathing components of yoga. Since the breaths and meditation calm the body and mind, the result is an increase sense of self-awareness in the areas of breathing, posture, and muscle groups.

 

In other words, the researchers believe that this sense of self-awareness translates to better brain function. Could lower stress and anxiety levels help your brain function better? It isn’t proven, but it’s certainly likely. Researchers plan to study the effects of  HYPERLINK “http://www.miracleofyoga.com/watch-yoga-videos-online/?catid=yoga-poses” yoga poses on the brain further, such as how long after a workout cognition is improved.

 

dreamstime_xs_21978954Further Evidence

 

This isn’t the first study that demonstrates the benefits of meditation. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology studied the effect of meditation on the actual physical structure of the brain. Those who practice meditation on a regular basis had indeed changed the composition of their brain, with more efficient regions controlling emotion, attention, and mental flexibility than those who did not meditate at all. Simply put, practicing meditation is a form of brain training, making your brain better at controlling your attention and making you more mindful and peaceful in your day-to-day activities.

 

It’s simple to see how meditation can improve attention when you look at meditation itself. You are focusing on your breath, tuning out all distractions. This is something that doesn’t come easy to those with attention problems! Also, you become more aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you. This means you won’t have to say, “Could you repeat that, please?” to your co-worker when they ask you a question.

 

SuperBrain Yoga

 

The concept of using yoga to increase brain function isn’t just for adults, either. A different study currently in development by a group of New Jersey doctors is testing out the impact of yoga on younger minds. These doctors are basing the study on a book titled ‘Superbrain Yoga’ (by Master Chao Kok Sui) with a group of children ages 5 to 9-years old who have various neurological disabilities. The study has found, so far, that subjects were more focused following the Superbrain yoga workout. They were also happier, could remember and retain more, and were even better behaved.

 

Scientists are now seeing the true benefits of regular yoga practice. Yes, it helps reduce anxiety and stress and keeps your body in shape, but its benefits go far beyond just that. You can change the way your brain functions by simply adding yoga to your daily routine! Have you given yoga a try?

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