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Effects of Alcohol: How Alcohol Affects Nutrition & Endurance In Women.

There is no doubt that alcohol can have adverse effects on people who choose to drink regularly and maybe to excess. While these effects are highly dependent on the physical and genetic makeup of each individual, women who drink alcohol experience unique effects.

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There is no doubt that alcohol can have adverse effects on people who choose to drink regularly and maybe to excess. While these effects are highly dependent on the physical and genetic makeup of each individual, women who drink alcohol experience unique effects. This article will explore how alcohol affects women regarding nutrition, endurance, and other essential functions in the body.

Why Do Women Face Higher Risks When Drinking Alcohol?

When compared to men, women will experience health problems sooner and often at lower drinking levels. This is due to several factors. First and foremost, women weigh less than men on average. Another factor is the amount of water present in the body. According to information provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, when alcohol is consumed, its highest concentration is found in body water.  

On average, women have lower body water content than men. As a result, women can drink the same amount of alcohol as a man and have higher blood alcohol content. A higher concentration of alcohol in the body often leads to a higher risk of health issues among women.

How Does Alcohol Affect Nutrition and Other Body Functions in Women?

With increased and regular alcohol consumption, women can experience a myriad of health issues. Firstly, alcohol has significant impacts on nutrition in women. When alcohol enters the system, it converts the sugars to fatty acids. Alcohol has no nutritional value and can block the body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients it needs for optimal body functions. Secondly, alcohol is a depressant that acts on the body. The depressive effects of alcohol cause a decrease in stamina, endurance, and performance.

Another body function impacted by alcohol consumption in women is the production of hormones. Alcohol inhibits the functioning of the glands that release hormones. As a result, hormone levels can fluctuate, which can lead to many metabolic effects that negatively impact performance and psychological processes. 

Alcohol consumption can impact energy storage in the body, blood pressure, body growth, and reproductive issues. 

Sleep is another body function negatively impacted by alcohol use. Even moderate amounts of alcohol disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms that regulate sleep as well as energy and sex drive. When a woman’s circadian rhythm cycle is off, it is out of sync with the brain area known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This small but critical brain region coordinates sleep and wake cycles. Additionally, women who regularly drink are at higher risk of liver damage, heart disease, and have a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to the excess amounts of estrogen that is released through alcohol.

Is Alcohol Negatively Impacting your Performance? 

If you are a woman wanting to perform at peak levels, it may be worth assessing your physical and mental performance in regard to alcohol consumption While alcohol may provide some benefits to our general wellbeing and happiness, alcohol use can easily become a problem for some people.  Taking inventory of how much you drink and why you drink can provide valuable insight into your relationship with alcohol and will allow you to evaluate how it may be affecting your performance. Cutting back or eliminating alcohol from your life periodically can be the best way to truly understand its effects on your performance. 

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Caring For Aging Parents: 6 Ways to Keep Your Parents Fit In Their Old Age

When it comes to caring for aging parents, here are six things you can do to connect with them, keep their spirits up and help them feel integrated and important in their lives.

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Loneliness, isolation, hopelessness and boredom are all things people may feel as they age. They may not be able to remain as social as they once were,  their immobility could be a significant factor in making them feel isolated, there will inevitably be physical and/or mental health issues, and watching friends pass way might be making them stay at home more. When it comes to caring for aging parents, here are six things you can do to connect with them, keep their spirits up and help them feel integrated and important in their lives.

Child With Woman Holding Map

Encourage Them to Eat Healthily

Eating healthy is very important to maintain physical and mental fitness, even if you’re just starting in old age. People are more prone to illnesses as they get older, making it necessary to eat foods that can boost the immune system. Other than that, they also need all the essential nutrients from natural foods as they are better than supplements. 

Encourage them to eat foods that are:

  • Whole plant foods
  • High in fiber
  • High in protein
  • Low in processed sugars

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes are all great options. When taking care of aging parents, consider cooking meals for them in bulk (soups are a great option for this!), encouraging them to join healthy eating groups, subscribing to meal kit delivery services, or hiring in-home help to prepare meals. This is a great way to support them and help them enjoy their twilight years.

Get Them Exercising

Physical fitness is important at every age, even if someone has been sedentary for a while. If mom or dad is already quite mobile, show your enthusiastic support for this and encourage them to keep exercising. If not, check in with them and see what they might be open to. Perhaps it’s a walk around their neighborhood. Maybe it’s a silver sneakers and aqua class at a nearby gym. Perhaps it’s a membership to a yoga studio. It could even be online! Whatever the choice, get them moving everyday with a type of exercise that is appealing to them. 

Monitor Their Sleep Patterns

Ask them if they have regular sleeping patterns. Frequent waking and insomnia can be common, and we know that sleep is a vital aspect  of healthy living. Make sure there isn’t anything in the room bothering them. Replacing any annoying light or an appliance that makes a lot of noise. Make sure their bedroom is as comfortable as it can be for them.

Get Them Online

The internet is an excellent piece of technology that can have many benefits. Introduce them to social media websites, community websites and apps (like Nextdoor and Meetup), Google search, and streaming services like Netflix. It can help foster a sense of community and help them connect with new friends.

Make Sure They Get Proper Healthcare

Take them to the doctor on a regular cadence to get routine tests done. If they have a condition, visit them frequently and call more to make sure they are well. If needed and possible, look into options like hiring a nurse or enrolling in a senior home care center which can provide round-the-clock care, serve healthy food, and give them a lot of time to socialize and engage in activities.

Frequent Visits

A visit from you can make things better. You may be used to calling once in a while but making surprise visits can brighten their day. If you have kids, take them along. It’s important for all people to feel integrated in a community and family, and quality time together can make life more meaningful.

When caring for aging parents, the most important thing is to communicate often. Stay involved in their lives, help them do the things they’re interested in, encourage good habits that make life enjoyable. This will help them live more happily for longer and will strengthen your relationship with each other.

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Why Is Time Management Important? Time Management Lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What shall I do with my time? What are you going to do with yours? This is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. It is a question that necessitates a bit of inquiry.

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“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

What shall I do with my time? What are you going to do with yours? This is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. It is a question that necessitates a bit of inquiry. If I am to help you discover the key to time management, you must ponder a few things with deep concentration. Let’s begin.

My first issue concerns the use of the term time-management. I think it misses the crux of the matter. We don’t manage time…as far as I have experienced it, time flows on, or we flow through it, uniteruptedly. We don’t control time. It devours us. What we can control is ourselves as we flow through time. When thinking about time we cannot help but ponder death. Death and time are brothers, they go together. Death can create angst as it reinforces the fleeting nature of time. 

So, the issue is not time management. It is self- management. How to manage ourselves? And why manage ourselves?

This is where time can help us. Time is in fact not something we need to control, it is something we need to utilize. Time is magical; it brings change.

Time management is essential for the achievement of goals in life. Time is also essential to enjoy what we have achieved. Some people are on the hamster wheel of desire thinking that the next achievement is going to bring happiness. Learning to enjoy and honor our achievement is also essential and requires time.

“So much of our time is spent in preparation, so much in routine, and so much in retrospect, that the amount of each person’s genius is confined to a very few hours.”

–Emerson

The genius to which Emerson refers is the part of our being that, when nourished by our time and activity, floods us with satisfaction. And just like we each have a unique moment in time we each have a unique genius that is nourished in a unique way. For me it is writing and meditating that nourishes my genius. At those times I feel there is no where else I would rather be or be doing. By retrospect I take Emerson to be meaning time spent in reflection upon the past. We need to reflect upon the past to learn and yet we can also become lost in thinking about what has been or what we would have likes to have happened. Either way, it takes time.

To exist in society, to house, feed and clothe ourselves takes the majority of our day and occupies our bodies and minds. That leaves precious little time to nourish our genius, our soul. This fact leads to the key to time management.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” –Emerson

Everything boils down to choices. Our choices define our lives. We find ourselves in situations and relationships, often apparently for reasons beyond our control and defined by the family we are born into, the spirit of the times, the city and country into which we were born. We cannot always control how we arrive in a given situation but we can make conscious choices once we are in them. 

My polestar for decisions is the feeling of satisfaction. Often the choices we need to make are very challenging. Emerson’s quote can help you to muster up the courage to make them. Time is finite. Too late, comes to quickly. Live with your best discretion knowing that there may be no tomorrow. Who wants to die with regrets?

How shall we make our choices? In discussing this with a friend she stressed the importance of managing self and time gracefully. When we act with grace we are fluid and in balance, if we overburden ourselves we fall off kilter, we lose our poise, our grace. We do the same if we put ourselves under undo pressure. Managing our lives with grace allows life to flow. Winds its way gracefully, we can do the same. After all, we are 75% water!

Once these ideas are assimilated you will find time management to be very simple. The essential ideas:

  • This is your life, your unique moment in history.
  • You cannot control the overarching circumstances but you can make decisions about your life.
  • Find what gives you abiding satisfaction.
  • Flow with grace.
  • Time is limited. Act now!

**Read our other articles about Emerson’s works!

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Motivation To Start Yoga: 5 Steps to Bring Yoga into your Life Every Day.

Remember, though, that yoga should be enjoyable and should fit your mood and schedule each day. Whether you’re traveling, too busy to get to your studio, too exhausted, or can’t fit studio membership into your budget, here are five great tips to making a daily yoga practice accessible and enjoyable.

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Have you ever seen photos of chiseled yogis smiling in some acrobatic posture and thought to yourself, “If only I could do a one-handed handstand?” Well, the journey to levitation isn’t short or easy, but this article will help you create the space for a daily yoga practice and make your personal goals within reach.

For many, attending a yoga class at 6:30am might seem dreadful, and after a long day at work, it’s easy to understand if you’re too exhausted to opt for an hour-long sweat session. That’s why teachers often ask students to offer gratitude to themselves at the end of each class for having the determination to show up on their mats.

Remember, though, that yoga should be enjoyable and should fit your mood and schedule each day. Whether you’re traveling, too busy to get to your studio, too exhausted, or can’t fit studio membership into your budget, here are five great tips to making a daily yoga practice accessible and enjoyable.

1. Create the Space

Creating a physical space in your home or office that is inviting for you to move through some yoga postures can turn the thought of a tough practice into a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. 

Begin by setting the mood with music appropriate for the kind of practice you’re looking to have. If you want to sweat and flow, put on your favorite pop or electronic playlist and turn up the bass. Similarly, if you want to relax and unwind, create a soothing ambience with peaceful music of your choice. Personally, Krishna Das is almost always my go-to.

Next, adjust the temperature so that you’re comfortable; more than simply making a winter class tolerable, a good space heater can also make for a great addition to your own hot yoga practice. 

Finally, bring more serenity to your space by adding candles, a plant, or even a rock with a positive intention like strength, stability, or balance.

Having YOUR space will make the goal of practicing yoga each day a reality and bring you one step closer to that cover on Yoga Journal.

2. Do a Song’s Worth of Yoga

Who says a yoga practice has to be an hour?!

Put on your favorite song and get moving. Tune in to your breath and enjoy the benefits of stretching your mind and body even if for just a few minutes of practice.

Several half sun salutations will give your body much-needed relief from sitting hunched-over at your desk all day and awaken your body after a night’s sleep. 

Besides, if you tell yourself you must do 20 minutes of yoga, you may never find the time. One song’s worth of yoga is a great place to start, and, again, you’re one verse closer to chiseled one-handed handstands.

3. Take Yourself Lightly

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t practice. The worst mistake you can make is to create and put yourself into a box that is full of suffering, shame, and guilt. 

Focus on the positives and, if you miss a day, create the time and space to get back at it the next day.

Remember that yoga is an ENJOYABLE journey of self-improvement, empowerment, and freedom! … And chiseled abdominals. Be patient and persistent, and you will see the benefits and positivity of your efforts blossom before your eyes.

4. Goals!

Whether you want to ease stress, back pain, become more limber, or gain strength, be mindful and realistic of your goals. 

No yogi ever appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal by accident. By defining realistic goals, you will give each yoga session more meaning and allow yourself to acknowledge your efforts through achievements.

Over time, you may surprise yourself with your progress and with how your goals encompass feats that were, before, beyond your scope of vision. Start with an attainable goal, and new doors will soon open.

5. Rewards

Train your mind and body as you would any household pet and give yourself a reward for good behavior. 

Personally, I love donuts; unfortunately, there just happens to be a donut shop on the corner by my yoga studio. A while back, I began rewarding myself with a maple bar a couple times a week. I soon realized, however, that the donuts were outweighing the benefits of my yoga practice. I’ve learned to keep the donut treat to once or twice a month so that I can enjoy it without guilt and recognize my hard work. 

Similarly, make a rewards system for long-term goals. With the purpose of this article being to implement a yoga practice into your daily life, start with a realistic goal of practicing at least a song’s worth of yoga each day for a month. Set an appropriate reward for yourself, such as a day at the spa, and remember to enjoy the journey and to not be critical of yourself should you fall short of your goal. 

Tell yourself, “If I don’t honor myself, who will?”

Remember 

At the end of each practice, remember and impress upon your memory how good you feel. Each time you think of yoga, remember THAT feeling. The awareness of the benefits your practice brings you will keep you coming back to the mat – guaranteed!

Pretty soon, you might be smiling upside-down, if not on the cover of a yoga magazine, at least in your living room.

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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Mudras For the Heart Chakra: Opening Your Spiritual Heart With 3 Mudras.

The focus of this article, however, is on utilizing mudras to open the spiritual heart center, where the greatest sensation of harmony and oneness with yourself, God, and the rest of the world resides.

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There is a link between our physical body and our more subtle dimensions. Signals flow through our physical bodies via our nervous system and are translated by our brains into sensations, emotions, and thoughts. By controlling the input signal, we can then have an effect on the output, our experience. Yoga teaches this through a sequential development of tuning-in to our bodies, our breath, our emotions and thoughts, and, later, deeper states of awareness. Often, the result of yoga is relaxation and insightful introspection.

What Are Mudras?

Another way to control the signals flowing through our nervous system is by engaging the nerve endings in our fingers using mudras. Mudras, translating to “seal,” are hand gestures that bring consciousness into the nerve endings in our hands with varying effects of energizing our bodies as well as calming our minds. Neurons carry the input signal that each mudra creates from our hands through our nervous system that our brains translate into a stimulating or calming response.

Our hands have over 25,000 nerve endings which explains why our hands provide us with the richest and most intimate source of tactile feedback. Our sense of touch and feeling, of intimacy, resides in our hands. We help others with our hands, we write and communicate with our hands. We eat and nourish ourselves with our hands. For most, hands are our connection to the world around us. 

In eastern medicine, reflexology of the hand connects the various parts of our extremities with specific regions of the body. Thus mudras affect changes not only in our minds but also in parts of the body that correlate with the specific locations of the hand that each mudra engages. That being said, some mudras support the digestive system while others relieve back pain or respiratory issues. 

Mudras For the Heart

The focus of this article, however, is on utilizing mudras to open the spiritual heart center, where the greatest sensation of harmony and oneness with yourself, God, and the rest of the world resides. The heart chakra, Anahata, is associated with a love for life and unconditional, selfless love towards all creation. In unlocking this energetic center, one attains the wisdom of creation and a sense of their life’s purpose.

Concentration, visualization, and meditation are tools to tap into the heart center to harness the dormant powers within. To assist our growth and development, it is important to set an intention for our practice. Meditating on purity, the foundation of spiritual growth, is a transformative way of energizing our heart center and connecting with God; this is because purity embodies ideas and energies that can be associated with the divine, such as kindness, love, compassion, oneness, and gratitude. 

To begin practicing with mudras, first enter a meditative state using concentration and visualization techniques. Stay rooted in your breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly, deeply, and steadily. Release any tension in the body, then imagine a flower blossoming or a candle flame in the center of your chest. Form your mudra of choice, keeping the pressure between your fingers light and your hands relaxed. 

Anjali Mudra

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The first mudra for connecting with your spiritual heart is Anjali Mudra. Anjali means “to offer” or “salutation.” In the western world, this gesture is commonly viewed as a symbol of prayer. Anjali Mudra is a sign of offering yourself to God, acknowledging the divinity within you and in all, and sealing that through prayerful practice. By uniting our hands in front of our heart, we join the left and right hemispheres of our brain and bring calmness to our minds. To further deepen our inner awareness in meditation, we can concentrate on the beating of our heart against our hands. 

At the end of a yoga class, Anjali Mudra is accompanied by the word, “Namaste,” which translates to, “I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me.” Embracing this meaning, Anjali Mudra is a powerful posture to begin the journey of opening our heart center, acknowledging the creator in all beings.

Padma Mudra

Padma translates to “lotus,” and in yoga, it is no coincidence that the heart center is often viewed as a lotus flower. Moving from Anjali Mudra to Padma Mudra, we can visualize our heart center blossoming as we unite our earthly existence with our soul. Like a flower, we open our hearts when the sun, or God, gives us light. With our open hearts, we give our love to the world, fulfilling our life’s purpose the same way an open flower nourishes the insects that feed upon it. Padma Mudra fills us with loving sensations and calms our minds as we gravitate from the darkness of our desires, fears, and attachments towards the purifying light of divinity.

Garuda Mudra

Harnessing the power of the eagle, or Garuda, this mudra invigorates the body and activates blood flow and circulation. Unlike Anjali and Padma Mudras, this is an energizing gesture that should be exercised with some caution, especially by those who suffer from high blood pressure. It can be helpful, however, for relieving menstrual related pain, upset stomachs, and respiratory issues as well as stabilizing moods and negating exhaustion. Garuda Mudra symbolizes the eagle Vishnu, god of preservation, rode upon and helps cultivate discipline in our practice. 

Elevating our awareness to encapture that which is the divine is no lofty undertaking. We invoke the spirit of Garuda to carry us day in and day out to remind us of our purpose and intention – to purify ourselves and open our hearts so that we may connect with the divine that is within us and in all beings. 

A solid foundation of meditation is helpful when starting a mudra practice, but one should exercise patience regardless of their prior experience. With consistency and pure intention, you will bring peace to your body and mind, awaken your spiritual heart, and develop a greater understanding and awareness of the subtle aspects of existence. 

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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The Power Of Negative Thinking & How To Think Positive.

Like seeds, the negative ideas grow in your mind and keep you in their vice. When something triggers them, they sprout forth and ruin our sunny day. Through meditation, however, we can develop two solutions to reverse our negative thoughts and self-talk.

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Do you ever have down days? Of course – we all do. It is a part of life. But, are you aware of what’s causing this? Why are things great one day, fine the next, and gloomy the day after that? In this blog, we’ll explore the factors that drive our ups and downs so that you can recognize your own patterns and prevent another ruined day.

The answer behind our mood swings is often quite simple – negative thought patterns. Maybe you’ve recognized this when you’ve been in a bad mood and noticed feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or fear. Beneath those feelings is where we can find the patterns of self-doubt and negative self-talk that drive us, unconsciously, to bad moods.

We pick up these patterns from different sources – maybe, for example, it’s something your parents said, something that was drilled into you like, “You’ll never be a success,” or “You’ll never be good at this,” or “There’s no value in doing that. You should focus on this in life.” On the other hand we pick up negative thoughts from culture, from society, and even from those we love the most. For example, maybe a close relationship went bad, and someone said some really negative things to you. Because, you care deeply for that person, or you did, you absorb that negativity, granting their comments merit.

Using Meditation to Counteract Negative Thinking

Like seeds, the negative ideas grow in your mind and keep you in their vice. When something triggers them, they sprout forth and ruin our sunny day. Through meditation, however, we can develop two solutions to reverse our negative thoughts and self-talk.

The first is through the use of our intellect. In meditation or the yoga philosophy, the term intellect signifies your discriminating mind, your ability to discriminate between what’s true and what’s false. 

If someone had put it in your mind that you’re no good, for example, you might continue with that belief dragging you down forever. Through the practice of meditation, however, you will come to the realization that that is incorrect – “I am a good person.” Meditation enables us to embrace the power of our minds and use reason to eliminate our negative thoughts and patterns.

The other way that yoga philosophy teaches to combat negative thought patterns is to counter them with their opposites. To understand this concept we can use the imagery of waves where a positive thought wave counters the oncoming wave of a negative thought, restoring balance and evenness of mind by cancelling each other out. This process involves really identifying what’s going on in your mind and then bringing in an emotion, feeling, or thought that would cancel out the negativity.

If a negative thought pattern involves how angry you are at somebody, for example, then the way to counter that feeling would be thoughts of forgiveness. For the feeling of hatred towards someone else or even yourself, the opposite thought would be unconditional love. For self-doubt – confidence. 

You can also incorporate imagery for this exercise. If you doubt yourself, for example, and you see yourself as weak or lacking a certain capacity, you could visualize yourself as powerful, even introducing the imagery of a mighty elephant that can get through anything. 

The ability to meditate and incorporate these techniques allows you to shift your pre-conceptions and negative ideas about your emotions, yourself, and others. You will find that confidence in yourself feels so much better than doubting yourself, as forgiving others feels so much better than holding on to anger. It often takes just one or two times of realizing these patterns and shifting our response before it becomes easier to identify and eliminate our negative ways.

To practice these techniques in your meditation practice, you can use the prompt below to guide you through the process of developing your intellect to discern truth from falsehood and using positive affirmations and emotions to restore balance to your mind. You can record yourself reading the meditation, read it to yourself during your own meditation, or take turns reading it to a friend. Whichever way you choose, begin your meditation as you normally would and invite these exercises in when you feel relaxed and at ease.

How To Think Positive Meditation

Bring to your awareness a challenge that you’re currently facing or a situation or circumstance that poses a challenge. 

The source of our challenges is usually within us, so through a little bit of reflection, observe what’s making it a challenge: 

Do you have to let go of something?

Are you attached to something?

Are you afraid of something?

Ask yourself: what’s causing it to be a challenge or what qualities do you need to overcome it?

You may recognize that you are afraid or attached or insecure.

Invite this feeling’s opposite such as security, confidence, or courage.

If you’re not really sure what the challenge is but you know that there’s a quality that you need to cultivate to get through this circumstance or situation, then focus on that quality, inwardly repeating the quality as you breathe in.

Now, visualize the challenge and the quality resolving the situation. Imagine the situation as you want it to turn out. Use your imagination to feel the positive quality growing within you.

Focus on your breath, the positive quality, and the visual images of you overcoming your situation.

In the process of ending your meditation, move your mind back to your outer senses, your sense of body, sense of the room, but inwardly hold on to your sense of self and whatever inspiration or energy you got from the different visualizations and techniques.

With time and practice, you will root out your negative thoughts and develop a discriminating intellect free from falsities about yourself and others. 

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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Guided Meditation: Cultivating Gratitude.

In this meditation, you can cultivate a feeling of oneness with Earth where you recognize her as a being and even a provider. In doing so, you can offer gratitude to the source that sustains us and provides for us.

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Regardless of your experience or familiarity with meditation, sitting alone in silence can at times be challenging. Guided meditations are a great tool to focus your mind, kindle your imagination, and enliven your practice. 

Gratitude for Our Mother (Earth)

Mother Earth, as westerners often refer to our planet, is a symbolic reference to our dependence upon the place where we live. In western society, it is easy to live blind to the connection we share with our planet. We are driven by the stress of jobs, relationships, and goals. We lose sight of where our ancestors came from and the life beyond the confines of our cities. Many cultures before us, however, had a relationship with Earth and viewed her as a sentient being with human qualities. Being the provider, Mother Earth was viewed and worshipped as a deity. In this meditation, you can cultivate a feeling of oneness with Earth where you recognize her as a being and even a provider. In doing so, you can offer gratitude to the source that sustains us and provides for us. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to recall our impact on the planet and the importance of respecting and loving our her like a mother.

Below is an Iroquois prayer to Mother Earth that may give you an insightful perspective to another culture’s reverence for and relationship with our planet:

We return thanks to our mother,
the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines
for the cure of our diseases.

We return thanks to the corn,
and to her sisters, the beans and squash,
which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air,
has banished diseases.

We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light
when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
who has given to us his rain.

We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth
with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit.
in whom is embodied all goodness.
and who directs all things,
for the good of his children.

Whether guiding yourself or another through these meditations, allow for a comfortable pause whenever you’d like to focus on a specific exercise. Each should be repeated for several cycles of breath or until you are ready to move on. Enjoy!

Earth Meditation

Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Without changing anything, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body – perhaps the rise and fall of the belly, the movement of air at the tips of the nostrils, or the quiet oceanic noise of the air flowing in and out. Allow each breath to calm the body, your mind, and focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)

As you breathe in, feel your body lengthen and grow from the ground beneath you. With each exhale, feel yourself relax back into the Earth supporting you. Feel the vast ocean of energy deep inside you rooting and connecting you to the earth. (pause for several breath cycles) Now breathe awareness into the muscles around your face. On your exhale, feel the muscles release. (pause) Breathe your awareness into your lower back. On your exhale, feel the muscles in your lower back relax. (pause) Now, choose another part of your body to bring conscious relaxation. Use your inhales to focus your awareness and your exhales to bring relaxation. (pause)

Moving in to visualization, imagine yourself walking through a peaceful garden. All of the plants are green and healthy. The soil is soft and rich beneath you. The sun gently peaks through the trees above. There are birds chirping, butterflies swirling. You come to a fountain where water gently trickles and splashes and rest there to enjoy the beauty of our Earth. You feel completely free and safe. (pause)

Inhale an awareness of the majesty of Mother Earth. The depths of her oceans, the heights of her mountains, the power of her winds, the richness of her soil. She gives unconditionally and exemplifies purity in her beauty. 

Recall all that Mother Earth provides for life to exist – the rivers and rains that bring fresh water, the wood for fires and shelter, the air we breathe, the vegetation that nourishes us. Let us return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us. On your inhale, invite a growing sensation of gratitude in the center of your chest for Mother Earth. On your exhale, let the gratitude flow through you and back down into the Earth beneath you. Feel yourself connected to the earth. (Pause until ready to move on)

When you are ready, inhale and invite your awareness back to your body and your senses. Sense the relationship you’ve cultivated for our Earth and the gratitude you feel for all that she provides. As you move on from your meditation, be mindful of what you give and take from our planet and how you can have a positive impact in our world.

On your inhales, imagine that you are taking in energy from the soles of your feet through the back of your body. Follow the energy up through the backs of your legs, your back and neck to the crown of your head. On your exhales, watch the energy descend through your third eye and down the front of your body to the soles of your feet. (repeat 3-5 breath cycles)

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Benefits of Good Dental Hygiene: How Oral Health Affects The Rest Of You.

Did you know that your mouth is a gateway to your body? The state of your oral health can offer clues about whole-body health and reveal symptoms of various illnesses.

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Did you know that your mouth is a gateway to your body? The state of your oral health can offer clues about whole-body health and reveal symptoms of various illnesses.

Filled with countless bacteria, your mouth acts as the entry point to your digestive and respiratory systems. Without a proper oral health regimen to keep bacteria under control, microorganisms from the mouth can cause infection in other areas of the body, especially if the immune system is compromised by medication or disease. 

Moreover, many illnesses can negatively impact oral health by reducing saliva flow and altering the balance of the mouth’s microorganisms. This can lead to oral infections such as periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. Health conditions and systemic diseases that can be caused or complicated by poor oral hygiene include:

  • Diabetes — Gum disease is more frequent and severe among individuals with diabetes since higher glucose levels in the mouth can encourage bacterial growth. The illness can also impair blood flow to the gums, which makes them more susceptible to infections. 
  • Respiratory conditions — Certain bacteria from tooth plaque can be pulled into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other serious respiratory diseases. 
  • Heart disease — Some research suggests that cardiovascular disease, strokes and clogged arteries might be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria. 
  • Pregnancy — Pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk of delivering preterm or low birth weight infants. 

Simple habits such as brushing and flossing your teeth daily, as well as scheduling regular cleanings by your dentist, can optimize a healthy mouth-body connection. To learn more ways your oral hygiene and overall well-being are linked, see the accompanying guide. 

The Health Connection Between Your Mouth & Body

The Health Connection Between Your Mouth & Body was created by Grove Dental Associates

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tuttle is Marketing Director for Grove Dental Associates, a multi-specialty group dental practice in Chicago’s western suburbs. With more than 30 doctors and 50 years of practice experience, Grove Dental’s offices stay on the cutting edge of dentistry to better serve patients.   

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Guided Meditation for Emotional Healing.

Meditation allows us to root ourselves in the present and tune-in to our current emotional state. With practice, we can watch the rise of emotions and halt negative ones before they drive a shift in our mood.

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Regardless of your experience or familiarity with meditation, sitting alone in silence can at times be challenging. Guided meditations are a great tool to focus your mind, kindle your imagination, and enliven your practice. 

We react to our experiences with emotional responses. These emotions can be positive and joyous or depressive and anxious. Unfortunately, we spend much of our day in a stressful state rushing to work or a meeting, completing a task, responding to messages, paying bills. We easily become overwhelmed, ending each day feeling exhausted and depleted. This cycle drives a pattern of anxiety and depression, and we often don’t even realize that we are going through this until we finally crash and say, “I’m depressed” or “I have anxiety”. 

Meditation allows us to root ourselves in the present and tune-in to our current emotional state. With practice, we can watch the rise of emotions and halt negative ones before they drive a shift in our mood. For example, a good morning at work can easily turn sour when a problem arises and makes you frustrated. If you don’t recognize the rise of the emotion and intervene, you allow the emotion to drive your mood for the rest of the day. This guided meditation will lead you to a greater awareness of your emotional state so you can stay balanced through the ups and downs of each day, warding off negative emotions and moods. 

Whether guiding yourself or another through this meditation, allow for a comfortable pause of several deep breaths between techniques. You may want to return to or pause on one exercise for a longer time. Enjoy!

Emotion & Healing

The great spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, said, “Emotion tells us that the ever-increasing life-energy is constantly flowing through us, renewing and revitalizing our inner being.” 

Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breath. Observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body. Allow each breath to calm your body and mind; focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)

Tune in to your current mood – ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Notice the subtle emotions without forcing a shift or trying to control anything. Simply observe and accept how you feel. (pause) Now, inhale and watch as your breath expands first your belly, then rises into and widens your chest. On your exhales, watch your breath as it descends, first contracting your chest then pressing your belly towards your spine. Keep this cycle going as you slow your breath, consciously making your exhales just a hair longer than your inhales. (pause)

Now visualize a blue sky. Watch as one cloud slowly passes. Then another. In between clouds, there are periods of bright blue sky. Emotions are like the clouds. They may come, but they always pass. Recall an obstacle or an issue that you are facing in your life. Visualize a cloud and inhale an awareness of the issue or obstacle in your life. The cloud may grow larger or darker. Focus on the issue and the image of the cloud. Now, exhale and release your awareness of the cloud and your trouble. Let your focus rest on a blue sky and a sense of ease. On your inhales, imagine a sensation of peace growing in the center of your chest. On your exhales, let the feeling of peace wash your troubles away.

The emotion life force is a gift, the blessing of terrestrial existence from Mother Nature. Feel that pulsation and connection to creation within you. (pause) 

Now, as you breathe in, become aware of all the forces and energies- millions of years of evolution coming together and creating your wondrous mind; the ability to create, to envision, to know ourselves. Bring your awareness to a single thought or a single word that speaks to you of your highest awareness. Examples include AUM, PEACE, LOVE, and GOD. On your inhales, repeat the word inwardly. Feel the emotion associated with the thought or word. On your exhales, visualize and feel that emotion shower down through your body. 

Continue with this technique for as long as you’d like. When you are ready to move on, release the inner repetition and return to an awareness of your breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply. 

Notice how you feel now and if your emotions have shifted since the start of the meditation. Remember that you have the power to disconnect from your emotions. Like clouds, they will always pass by and peace, blue skies, will come. Take a minute to breathe with the feeling you’ve created and try to hold on to that as you move on with your day.

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.


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A Guided Meditation Reflecting on Our Oneness With Nature.

This guided meditation is an opportunity to acknowledge the singularity of existence that we share with nature. It is a chance to summon the powers of nature within you for positive growth and change.

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Regardless of your experience or familiarity with meditation, sitting alone in silence can at times be challenging. Guided meditations are a great tool to focus your mind, kindle your imagination, and enliven your practice. 

Distinct From Nature

In the western world, society often lives distinct from nature, and we may associate nature with a sense of fear. We’ve seen imagery of animals fighting and hunting, we’ve heard the clash of thunder, and we may have experienced or witnessed a glimpse of the dramatic force nature can unleash between storms and natural disasters. 

This guided meditation is an opportunity to acknowledge the singularity of existence that we share with nature. It is a chance to summon the powers of nature within you for positive growth and change. By meditating on nature, we can dismantle the mental barrier that divides us from the roots of creation to bring about peace and connect with the source and sustainer of life.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science, divides nature into 5 essential elements: fire, air, water, earth, and ether. Fire is a transformative energy that stokes our desires and determination. It is associated with heat, the sun, as well as internal processes like digestion. Air also brings change. Its dynamic mobility gives birth to new ideas and goals, allowing us to move past obstacles and accept the newness of each moment. We can associate air with the wind as well as our breath. Water has a cleansing property as well as a connection to the depths of the inner world, our subconsciousness. Both our bodies and the planet are about 70 percent water, giving us a deep connection to the world we inhabit. Earth is a grounding and stabilizing element. It is the source of abundance that nourishes our bodies. Ether is the space that our physical reality inhabits. Whereas air is a composition of matter with specific properties, ether is the infinite space that extends beyond matter and also binds matter with its energetic force. Alone it could be perceived as emptiness, but it is infinitely expansive and allows for growth and creation. In your meditation, you can focus on these elements and their qualities to bring your awareness to the energies we share with nature.

Whether guiding yourself or another through this meditation, allow for a comfortable pause whenever you’d like to focus on a specific exercise. Each should be repeated for several cycles of breath or until you are ready to move on. Enjoy!

Nature Meditation

Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Without changing anything, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body – perhaps the rise and fall of the belly, the movement of air at the tips of the nostrils, or the quiet oceanic noise of the air flowing in and out. Allow each breath to calm the body, your mind, and focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)

With each inhale, become aware of the force of Nature within you. Feel this life energy animate your skeleton, lifting your chest and lengthening your spine. Each inhalation brings awareness and alertness to your senses- the sounds near and far, the temperature, the feeling of your weight being supported by the ground beneath you, any pleasant aromas floating in the air. With each exhale, feel your body release and relax. (pause)

Inhale and recall a peaceful scene from nature. Whether you visualize the beach, mountains, or forest, move your eyes behind your eyelids from left to right, up and down taking in the different objects around. Perhaps you imagine animals grazing or birds flying up above. Imagine the sounds that would be present – a distant caw of a hawk or the sound of waves washing ashore. Feel the sun and the wind against your skin, the earth beneath you. Perhaps you can smell or even taste the pine or salt in the fresh air. Each exhale brings you a deeper sensation of serenity.  (pause)

The elements of nature – fire, air, water, earth, and ether – are the forces that drive creation, preservation, and transformation. Together, they enable the wonderful experience of life and beauty of the world in which we live. 

For each element, you will choose a primary quality and a visual image associated with the element. As you breathe in, visualize that image and feel the energy of the quality flowing into you. As you exhale, allow your body to release and relax, feeling the powers of nature within you. Repeat this exercise for several breath cycles for each element.

Starting with fire, you can visualize any image such as a candle or the sun. Choose an associated quality such as power, transformation, determination. 

For air, you may imagine the wind sweeping across the tall grass of a prairie or prayer flags flapping outside a hut high in the mountains. Some qualities you may choose include change, lightness, new goals.

For water, the many options for imagery include ocean waves, a still lake. The qualities include protection, nourishment, purity, intuition.

For earth, you might imagine a beautiful landscape or lush vegetation and choose a quality such as stability or nourishment (physical or spiritual).

For ether, you might think of outer space, the darkness in the expanses of our universe, or the subtle space between each cell in our body. You can choose any quality such as creativity, cohesion, expansion.

On your inhales, focus on one of the elements. Feel its qualities move through you – the heat and transformation of fire, refreshing tides of change that flow with air and water, the abundance and richness of the earth that nourishes and supports us, the peace and order of ether. Inhale a growing awareness of the properties of the element within you. With each exhale, feel the quality and the powers of nature flow through you. (pause)

When you are ready, inhale and invite your awareness back to your body and your senses. Tune back in to the sounds around you, your heart beat, your breath. Feel the deep connection and harmony you’ve created with nature and keep an awareness of the forces that are within you.

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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Comparing 4 Different Styles of Yoga–Find The One That’s Best For You.

Use this list of popular yoga styles to get curious about your own needs and find a perfect fit for your unique yoga journey. You might just walk away with a new favorite style in your yoga tool belt!

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Whether you’re just beginning your yoga practice or you’re looking to try a new style, the options can feel limitless. 

The benefits of yoga are innumerable. They include improved physical health, more flexibility, lowered stress levels and actual changes in your brain. Regardless of your goal for practicing, you are bound to get something out of whichever style you choose.

Comparing different styles of yoga can help you choose a practice that aligns with your goals. There is something out there for everyone. 

In my own yoga journey, I’ve dabbled in many different styles. I was eager to test out the benefits of each style and arrive at a routine that felt right for me. Exploring new styles is always a great way to tailor your yoga practice to meet your specific needs. 

Sometimes I look for a powerful energetic shift during yoga, sometimes I want a rigorous workout, and other times I need a more loving and restorative practice. Use this list of popular yoga styles to get curious about your own needs and find a perfect fit for your unique yoga journey. You might just walk away with a new favorite style in your yoga tool belt!

Hatha Yoga

Depending on the translation, the word Hatha can mean force or effort in Sanskrit, but it can also mean sun and moon. Sun and moon highlight the balance that Hatha yoga seeks to instill in the practitioner. Force and effort need to be balanced with ease. 

A Hatha yoga practice usually involves a sequence of yoga poses that are held for periods of time–perhaps a round of five breaths, or a minute. Chances are if you’ve gone to a more general yoga class, you were practicing Hatha yoga. This style can be contrasted with more dynamic styles such as vinyasa yoga (explained below). It is not geared toward fitness but instead focuses on cultivating a balance of effort and ease in each pose. 

This style involves the typical poses, or asanas, of yoga, and can be designed differently to meet the needs of each class. Some poses are challenging in nature, some are gentle–the practice seeks to combine the sun and moon for a well-rounded experience. You will focus on breathing exercises or pranayama and syncing the breath up with the poses of your practice. A session usually lasts from 40 to 90 minutes and will end with a brief meditation that can either be silent or guided.

Since the pace of this style is slower, it is great for beginners. Often, an instructor will include more challenging poses to help you grow your practice, but you can always modify a posture if needed. Because poses are held static for short periods of time, there is space to focus on alignment and purpose of the poses.

If you’re looking for a practice to help you unwind and check in with yourself, Hatha yoga is the way to go. Choose from one of the many varieties of this style and use it as a daily method for finding your center and releasing tension.

Hatha Yoga Is Great For:

  • Beginners
  • Those looking for a slower paced practice
  • Those wanting to focus on alignment
  • Those interested in breathing and meditation

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is characterized by sequences of poses that are linked with breath repeated several times throughout each session. The word vinyasa means to arrange in a special way. You link your breath with these poses–up to one breath per one movement–to create a sense of flow throughout each sequence. One of the most commonly known sequences in this style is the sun salutation.

Vinyasa flows are typically a bit faster than the Hatha style, working to achieve a continuous flow of breath and movement. However, vinyasa sequences can be conducted in Hatha’s slower, more gentle rhythm. The level of difficulty will depend on the class and the specific sequence involved. If you’re familiar with sun salutations, you’ll know that you can take a slower pace or modify the poses in the sequence to meet your needs.

The goal of this style is to work to achieve balance and flow. The connection of breath and continuous movement improves physical and mental wellness by strengthening the mind-body connection. Regardless of the flow you use, repeating postures builds strength, endurance, and focus.

Variations of vinyasa flow include Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Baptiste yoga, and Jivamukti among others. Each will vary in poses, duration, and level of difficulty, so you’re sure to find one that works best with your lifestyle.

Vinyasa Yoga is Great For:

  • Those looking for a quicker paced class
  • Those who want to build up a sweat
  • Those looking for vigorous movement

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is a style that was popularized in the 1970s. The practice is meant to cultivate awareness by activating your ‘kundalini energy.’ This energy is said to be coiled at the base of the spine and we can tap into it through certain techniques.

Kundalini practice involves awakening your energy through breathing techniques, yoga postures, chanting and meditating. The inclusion of chanting mantras adds a spiritual element to this practice that sets it apart from other styles. Awakening your kundalini energy is said to move it up through your spine through each chakra, which can help cleanse and clear any blockages.

Each session will involve different kriya, or poses, that are used to achieve a certain purpose. Since there is variability in the techniques involved, you can find a kundalini practice to work with your skill level. 

If you’re looking for a yoga style to increase your energy while building your spiritual practice, kundalini is a great method to incorporate into your routine.

Kundalini Is Great For:

  • Those looking for a spiritual dimension to their practice
  • Those wanting to try something distinctly different from other styles of yoga
  • Those looking for a body-mind-spirit experience

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is a great solution if you’re looking for a gentle practice between more active yoga sessions or during a recovery period from an injury. This style can be traced back to the style of B.K.S. Iyengar. The goal is to stretch in a gentle and loving way to release tension and relax.

This style involves prolonged, passive stretching in comfortable and unstrained positions. You can add props such as blankets, bolsters, blocks, or straps to add more support and comfort. The idea is to create a healing ritual for yourself, so adding elements like soft music, low lighting, or essential oils can also contribute to the loving sensation.

The slow pace of this style makes it accessible for all levels. Even if you’re a more advanced yogi, you can always benefit from slowing down and checking in with your physical and mental wellbeing.

Restorative Yoga Is Great For:

  • Beginners
  • Those recovering between workouts or from injuries
  • Those looking for nervous system down-regulation
  • Those looking for a slow practice

As you can see, there is a style of yoga to achieve any goal you may have for your practice. This list is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it gives you a good place to start for exploring new yoga styles to try. Whether you are hoping for a sweaty and active practice, or a more nurturing and relaxing session, never hesitate to compare different styles to find the best way of growing your practice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am a meditation instructor and expert in using brainwave entrainment and binaural beats technology to deepen the practice of meditation. I write and advocate for personal growth and spiritual development through my website, Unify Cosmos.

A friend and I developed a Free 12-Month, Progressive Binaural Beats Meditation Program, called Infinite Beats. We hope to help anyone access the benefits of brainwave entrainment.

I enjoy reading books and writings in the fields of psychology, spirituality, and awakening of consciousness. A few of my favorite writers are Alan Watts, Ram Daas, Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber, Charles Eisenstein, and David Singer

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Guided Meditation for Self-Love.

From our heart center, we can come to know our life’s purpose and a boundless love for ourselves and others, inviting a harmonious joy and sense of unity with the world. Opening your heart center requires devotion and positive intention.

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Regardless of your experience or familiarity with meditation, sitting alone in silence can at times be challenging. Guided meditations are a great tool to focus your mind, kindle your imagination, and enliven your practice. 

This guided meditation brings our awareness to our Heart Center. This is the seat of our soul where we can connect with the creator and all of creation. Most individuals identify only with their physical body and limited perspective, their ego. Through spiritual practice, however, one can progress by detaching their identity from their body to identify wholly with God. 

From our heart center, we can come to know our life’s purpose and a boundless love for ourselves and others, inviting a harmonious joy and sense of unity with the world. Opening your heart center requires devotion and positive intention.

Regarding the spiritual heart center, the spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy wrote, 

You have to feel that there is something called the spiritual heart, which is inside the physical heart. Then you have to feel that inside the spiritual heart there is something called the soul. First open the heart-door. Once you are inside the heart, feel that you are trying to unlock another door.

That is the door of the soul.

You are the soul, which is unlimited. Your soul is infinitely powerful. Your soul defies all time and space.

Whether guiding yourself or another through these meditations, allow for a comfortable pause whenever you’d like to focus on a specific exercise. Each should be repeated for several cycles of breath or until you are ready to move on. Enjoy!

Guided Meditation for Self-Love

Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Without changing anything, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body – the rise and fall of the belly, the chest, the movement of air at the tips of the nostrils, the quiet oceanic noise of the air flowing in and out. Allow each breath to calm the body, your mind, and focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)

Begin to deepen and slow down your breath. Make each inhale and exhale smooth and steady. (pause) Now, inhale and imagine that you are taking in energy from the soles of your feet. Watch as the energy ascends through the back of your body to the crown of your head. Exhale and watch the energy descend down the front of your body back through the soles of the feet. Visualize the energy having a quality of light and purity, removing darkness and negativity from your body. Repeat this exercise for several breath cycles.

Now center your awareness in your spiritual heart located in the center of your chest. Connect with the rhythm of your heartbeat. To help, hold your breath at the top of an inhale for a few seconds. Simply observe your breath and heartbeat. (pause for several cycles of breath)

Keeping the awareness of your heartbeat, inhale and visualize a bright, warm, harmonious light deep, deep inside your being shining forth from the center of your chest. Exhale and feel this light carry divine love, peace, and bliss through your body. With each inhale, imagine the light intensifying and growing around you. Perhaps it has a color or movement. On your exhales, let the peaceful feelings grow within you as your body releases and relaxes.

Your heart center is the seat of your soul where harmonious union with the world resides. Unlocking that energy, you recognize the singularity of existence and foster a divine love within you for yourself and all of creation.

Return your awareness to your heartbeat. Observe how your body breathes itself free from your control. (pause) Take your awareness deeper within you. Visualize your body as a vehicle and your mind as an instrument for your soul. Try to locate your sense of self deep within your body. (pause)

Now, visualize a vast blue sky in the center of your chest. Floating in the center of the sky, in the center of your chest, is a bright blue flower. Inhale, and watch as the flower grows and blossoms. Give your flower a quality to harness: love, purity, humility, devotion, strength. On your exhale FEEL that quality growing within you, showering down through your body. Feel a radiant energy coursing through you. 

Continue with this or one of the previous exercises until you feel ready to end your meditation. 

When you are ready, gently invite your awareness back to your breath and the physical sensations of your body. Try to hold on to the feelings of peace, joy, and love that you’ve cultivated, remembering that your breath and awareness of the present are your portals back to the harmonious union with your soul and the rest of creation.

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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How To Stop Negative Thoughts & Emotions.

I’m sure you have had that experience of seeing the effect that your own thoughts have on your mood and state of awareness. When you start to observe your mind, one of the things you will observe is negative thinking patterns: self-doubt, jealousy, insecurity, fear, etc.

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I remember when I was in high school, I noticed that some days were good days, and some weren’t so good. I couldn’t figure out why. I just knew that some days I felt great and other days not so much. At that time in high school, I wasn’t very conscious of my mind – it was just an overall mood. 

As I started to become interested in meditation, I started to notice more of my thought patterns. I realized why some days are really up days and some not so much, and it had a lot to do with the thoughts that were going on in my mind. 

I’m sure you have had that experience of seeing the effect that your own thoughts have on your mood and state of awareness. When you start to observe your mind, one of the things you will observe is negative thinking patterns: self-doubt, jealousy, insecurity, fear, etc.

It’s one thing to realize where the negative patterns came from –maybe it’s something your parents said, something that was drilled into you – “You’ll never be a success,” or “You’ll never be good at this,” or “There’s no value in doing that kind of thing. You should focus on this in life.” 

We can pick it up from a lot of places including our culture and even from a close relationship that goes bad. When some of the things that someone says to you are really negative, but you care really deeply for that person, you absorb what they say. 

Strategies For Dealing with Negative Thoughts

In the philosophy of meditation, there are two basic ways to deal with the negative thoughts. 

The first is through the use of your intellect. Sometimes you think of intellect as, “Oh, this person’s very intellectual” as if they were just thinking of abstract things all the time. In meditation and yoga philosophy, we use the term intellect to signify your discriminating mind, your ability to discriminate between what’s true or what’s false. Say someone put it in your mind the thought that you’re no good. You would go through life with that thought in your head. Through the practice of meditation, developing your intellectual mind, your discriminative mind, you would come to the realization that that is incorrect – “I am a good person.” That clarity of thought would eliminate the negative thought through the use of the power of your mind, your ability to discriminate truth from falsehood.

The other way which is recommended in yoga is that when one thought wave comes – let’s say a negative thought – you counter it with an opposite thought-wave. We have one wave coming this way and another is going against it. When they meet, they cancel each other out, and you have evenness of mind!

So, for example, if the negative thought patterns that are going on involve how angry you are at somebody – how much you hate them or even hate yourself, etc. – then the way to counter that is with the opposite which would be love, unconditional love. If the thoughts or emotions are about anger towards someone, then the opposite wave would be forgiveness, and that would cancel out the anger. This involves identifying what’s going on in your mind, and then bringing in an emotion, usually, that would cancel it out. For anger or upset-ness, the opposite would be forgiveness. For doubting yourself, confidence. 

You can also incorporate imagery. Let’s say you doubt yourself, so you visualize yourself as weak, and feeble, without capacity. The opposite, then, would be to use imagery and see yourself as a powerful tiger or a big, powerful bear, or an elephant that can get through anything. Using your ability to meditate, you free your mind from pre-conceptions and change how you see yourself as well as your emotions; in that process, you realize how good it feels to shift your old patterns.

Confidence in yourself feels so much better than doubting yourself. Forgiving people feels so much better than holding on to anger. It just takes one or two times of realizing that and then it’s so easy to push through those things or to cancel them out.

Again, when dealing with your thought patterns, there are two meditation techniques that will help you to overcome the negative thoughts and emotions. The first is to develop your discrimination, separating truth from falsehood; and the second is the idea of bringing in the opposite thought or emotion to balance out whatever you’re being challenged by.

Try these out and see if they make a difference in your life!

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.


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Benefits of Private Yoga Lessons.

If you’re thinking of pulling the trigger on private yoga lessons, a good start would be to reach out to potential teachers and screen them for a right fit. A great yoga teacher for you is someone who makes you feel comfortable and understood. You should feel safe to confide in them, ask them questions and to listen to what they have to say.

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Here’s a scenario: You walk into a group yoga class and ten minutes in, you’re already confused. Right foot here, left arm there–it’s all a big jumbled game of Twister to you. Not to mention your left hip has been bothering you for a while and you have a pinchy feeling in your wrist everytime you bear weight on your hands. Anatomical terms go straight over your head and you aren’t sure what version of a pose to do, especially since the students around you have customized their practice and are all doing slightly different things.

Group classes are great once you’re confident that you can choose the right option for your body at the right time. It’s fun to move in a group setting when class leaves your body feeling and working better afterwards. But for many people, group classes can be a tricky place to figure out the next best thing to do. After all, yoga teachers are teaching to a composite mix of all the bodies in front of them. It’s likely that not every cue the yoga teacher says will apply to you, and it’s even more likely that there are cues that would apply to you but that the teacher isn’t saying.

Sometimes in these cases, the best thing to do is to reclaim your responsibility for your body by working one-on-one with an experienced teacher.

In a one-on-one setting, a teacher can give you their full attention and can customize all of their language to your specific circumstances. Not only that, but they can customize the positions to your body and movement history, which means you aren’t getting a yoga class that was planned out in their notebook for a theoretical group–you are getting a practice customized to what you need to work on in order to see the strength, mobility and stability that you’re likely attending class for.

Working individually with teachers restores some power back into your hands. Whereas a group class is more like a monologue where the teacher instructs and the group follows, a private yoga lesson gives you the chance to stop and ask questions and follow-up on things that you might otherwise move right through in a group setting.

It’s not just that you’ll get a customized movement experience in a private setting. You also get the chance to learn and explore new concepts, check your understanding and find new ways to apply it. Because of this, your progress will likely happen much faster, with less roadblocks and frustration.

While a private yoga lesson may cost more than attending a group class, it will yield more and better results in the long-run, which may ultimately save you money over time.

A good private yoga teacher will be able to assess your movement and talk you through that assessment so that you understand areas for improvement.

If you’re thinking of pulling the trigger on private yoga lessons, a good start would be to reach out to potential teachers and screen them for a right fit. A great yoga teacher for you is someone who makes you feel comfortable and understood. You should feel safe to confide in them, ask them questions and to listen to what they have to say.

If you’re in the San Diego area, you can start by emailing info@pilgrimageyoga.com, where our studio managers will be able to recommend different teachers to you based on your background and goals. If you’re outside the SD area, private yoga lessons can also be conducted via Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. You will want to make sure to set up your web-cam so that your teacher can easily see your movement, and the benefit of this option is that you can participate from the comfort of your own home. If this sounds like the right option for you, we invite you to check out our partner’s Digital Yoga Privates at Yoga In Your Living Room, where Brentan specializes in digital private yoga and helping people feel comfortable in a digital environment.

At Pilgrimage Of The Heart Yoga, our approach to private yoga lessons includes a physical fitness evaluation. We work with you the way a personal trainer would, by evaluating your current range of motion and assessing for opportunities to improve strength, mobility and stability. We start by testing your body’s way of moving, talking about your history with movement and injuries, and ultimately devising a movement road-map designed to help you improve in all areas. After working together for a period of time, we re-test your movement to monitor improvements and changes to ensure that you are always getting the most from your private yoga experience.

Email info@pilgrimageyoga.com today to get started!

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Design 101: How to Achieve the Perfect Feng Shui Interior Design.

Feng shui is popular in the interior design. The main goal of placing everything where it should be is creating an atmosphere that will affect your mind, stress level and comfort – without you even noticing it!

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Feng shui is popular in the interior design. This art of creating a space that’s detailed and organized turns every home into the most comfortable space you could live in. Apart from that, it also creates energy that can’t be manufactured in any other way. Such a natural flow is always welcomed, especially if you want to live a healthy life and dedicate your time to taking your life to the next level. The main goal of placing everything where it should be is creating an atmosphere that will affect your mind, stress level and comfort – without you even noticing it!

Let the sunshine in

An abundance of natural light is essential for achieving good Feng shui energy in your home, so always try to keep your curtains open. Sunlight is good for getting our energy levels up and it’s so much better than light fixtures. People living in a bright space feel more relaxed, and their mood is more natural. That’s why you can notice the change in your mood as soon as you open up your space to natural light, and this will soon become a part of your daily routine.

Apart from that, it’s recommended to keep the windows open as well because of the fresh air. This is sometimes hard for people to get used to, but fresh air is important for lots of things, including great energy in our home. It keeps us fresh and energetic, minimizing our constant tiredness.

The placement of the bed

You’ve probably never thought about how your bed should be positioned and which direction it should face. There’s one rule you need to start following first: never place a bed below the window, because it needs a much safer structure. Instead of that, place your bed on the opposite side of your door, but never directly facing it.

You should also avoid having a mirror in your bedroom and, as much as we all like playing dress up in there, this will create negative energy, so it’s better to avoid having mirrors. It goes without saying that all the electronics also shouldn’t be anywhere close to your bed because they aren’t good for your rest and sleep cycle, which means you should keep them in your home office or a dedicated working area instead.

Feng shui décor

Having a bookcase in your home is more than recommended because not only can this addition serve as an effective space divider, but it will also encourage your learning process. If you don’t have that many books, you can always add different types of Feng shui decorations and fill up space. Different scented candles and sticks will be perfect for creating a relaxing atmosphere too, but it will also blend in perfectly with the rest of the décor.

When it comes to textures, you can play with different natural materials and create an appealing and sophisticated interior. By using different floor rugs, you’ll create a space that’s rich with materials and a sense of comfort which is exactly what you need in a relaxing home. Don’t forget to use different colors as well – with the earthly tones leading the way, of course – because colors play a major role in a Feng shui design. Avoid bright colors or too many colors in one space because that will have the opposite effect from what you’re looking for.

Yoga and meditation

Practicing yoga is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, and if you have a space that’s already decorated and organized in accordance with the Feng shui principle, there’s no reason not to introduce it into your life. If you’re already a fan of yoga, you know the importance of having a space that’s dedicated to health and peace, which is exactly what this design will provide.

If you like to meditate, you’ll need a corner specifically designed for meditation, because changing the area where you meditate too frequently is far from good. Due to that, think about a space in your home where you’ll feel relaxed and won’t be bothered by your family members. Many people choose their bedroom because of the tranquility it provides and all the positive energy that’s already in this space. Consider an area that you can tailor to your yoga session or meditation process, and get everything you need in just one place.

Once you start using Feng shui principles in your home, you’ll notice a positive change they bring into your life. Sometimes it’s not just about the furniture we use in our living space, but about positioning everything and organizing our home so that it’s comfortable and practical. With all these changes, you’ll soon want to introduce more and more healthy things into your lifestyle, and this is something that’s going to benefit you and the quality of your life.


About the author


CHLOE TAYLOR is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator
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How Does Oil Pulling Work? A Dentist’s Perspective.

To learn more about the efficacy of oil pulling, you need to review how the process emerged. This ancient Ayurvedic process recently has received testimonials in the press. Both celebrities and social media users have proclaimed the practice, and stories abound that oil pulling or “toxin” pulling cures bad breath, whitens and cleans the teeth, and reduces the inflammation that leads to gum disease.

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Have you ever wondered if oil pulling works?

If so, you are not alone.

In fact, I get this question quite often from my dental patients in San Diego, and this question seems to be on the rise. To say the least, there are over 54,000 searches regarding the word “oil pulling” on a monthly basis:

So if you are wondering if oil pulling will help your dental hygiene, let’s find out!

 

An Introduction to Oil Pulling

 

To learn more about the efficacy of oil pulling, you need to review how the process emerged. This ancient Ayurvedic process recently has received testimonials in the press. Both celebrities and social media users have proclaimed the practice, and stories abound that oil pulling or “toxin” pulling cures bad breath, whitens and cleans the teeth, and reduces the inflammation that leads to gum disease.

In fact, in Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text on Indian medicine references oil pulling and it benefits by stating –

“It is beneficial for the strength of jaws, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, improving gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One used to this practice never gets dryness of throat, nor do his lips ever get cracked; his teeth will never be carious and will be deep-rooted; he will not have any toothache nor will his teeth set on edge by sour intake; his teeth can chew even the hardest eatables.”

– Charaka Samhita Ch V. 78 to 80.

This supposed miracle cure-all involves swishing an organic oil, such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, or sesame oil, in the mouth for around 20 minutes. However, just like most natural remedies, these claims and the practice, itself, does not enjoy the support of the scientific community.

But, as an open-minded dentist, I wanted to know if this was a good or bad thing for my patients.

 

Does Oil Pulling Get Rid of Plaque?

 

Proponents of oil pulling state that swishing the oil around in the mouth gets rid of plaque. However, dentists, as well as most dental patients, know that plaque can also be eliminated by –

  • Rinsing with a mouthwash;
  • Chewing a sugar-free gum; or
  • Simply rinsing the mouth with water for about 20 minutes each day.

All of the above options work to increase the saliva and keep plaque from sticking to the teeth. Dental patients often find it easier to rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash—one prescribed by the American Dental Association (ADA)—that is available in various flavors or strengths.

While Ayurvedic oil pulling may get rid of some stubborn plaque, you still need pressure from a dental tool or aid, such as floss or a toothbrush. You might say that chewing on a twig can do the same thing too. This technique is yet another ancient way to remove plaque from the teeth. In fact, chewing on a twig is even more ancient than using oil for dental health.

Twigs as a toothbrush? Don’t believe me? (see a 3,000-year-old toothbrush)

According to the ADA (American Dental Association)

 

If you want to know the exact stand the ADA takes on oil pulling, you can reference the following quote, summarized as follows:

Currently, . . . no reliable [evidence suggests] that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or improves oral health. . . . Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the [ADA] does not [prescribe] oil pulling as a . . . practice. The ADA [recommends] . . . [brushing] twice a day . . . with a fluoride toothpaste and [flossing] between the teeth [daily]. . . .” The ADA also advises that patients do not use tobacco. . . .”

Nevertheless, studies  (Pubmed returns 54 research papers) are still being conducted about the efficacy of oil pulling. Some researchers admit that oil pulling may have beneficial effects. Therefore, some of the scientists are not completely ruling out this hygiene practice, or believe that the public has succumbed to some type of oil pulling hoax.

For example, one study compared oil pulling with the use of a chlorhexidine mouthwash. Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a prescription rinse that features antibacterial properties. These properties prevent the formation of gum disease. However, the same rinse can also cause the formation of brown stains on the teeth. Therefore, this type of mouthwash can only be used short-term.

Comparing Oil Pulling with the Use of a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

The comparison of using this short-term rinse and oil pulling following:

 

While oil pulling is not contraindicated for use in other diseases or by pregnant women, a chlorhexidine mouthwash should not be used when a person is sick with another disease or during pregnancy. Experts recommend that children, 5 years or under, should not oil pull.

 

How to Do Oil Pulling Correctly?

 

Oil pulling should be performed in the morning, or before eating. If you are wondering if oil pulling before or after brushing is preferred, you should always practice oil pulling before brushing.

Here Are Some Steps To Follow

  1. You should take about 10 ml or one tablespoon of organic oil.
  2. The solution should be swished around in the mouth for around 15 to 20 minutes before spitting it out.
  3. Never swallow the oil, as it may contain bacteria and toxins.
  4. Follow the practice by rinsing, and brushing and flossing the teeth, as usual.

Because regular oil pulling also combines the practice with routine flossing and brushing, scientists suggest that oil pulling can be used as an adjunct to dental health. One study that appeared in the International Journal of Health Sciences supports this conclusion.

According to researchers, a number of studies have been performed that support the use of oil pulling. This published study supports the use of oil pulling in developing countries or in remote locations, where toothpaste, toothbrushes, or mouthwashes are limited. In these instances, scientists suggest that oil pulling can provide a cost-effective option for supporting dental health.

Does Oil Pulling Really Work?

 

Given that oil pulling for teeth receives the support of some dental patients and is questioned by others, scientists still need to review all aspects of the practice. As noted, usually three types of organic oils are typically used for oil pulling teeth whitening or oil pulling for cavities ( sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, or coconut oil). Many people like to use sesame oil or prefer to find the best coconut oil for oil pulling purposes.

While you can receive the same bacteria-fighting advantages with organic oils, such as sunflower oil or sesame oil, you have an added benefit when oil pulling with coconut oil. That is because coconut oil contains lauric acid – a substance well-known among doctors for its anti-microbial properties.

By using coconut oil, you may even prevent tooth decay. While it may not reverse a cavity that has formed, the oil will reduce the strep mutans bacteria that are found in saliva and plaque. These bacteria may  lead to the development of cavities.

You may ask, “Does oil pulling work for growing back receding gums? Or, do receding gums grow back from oil pulling? While you may not see the re-emergence of gum tissue, you can tighten and condition the gums. As noted, this adjunct form of treatment is not the cure-all for tooth and gum health. However, it does support regular flossing and brushing – at least that is what the current research supports.

 

Oil Pulling – How Often Should It Be Done

 

When you first practice oil pulling, or if you decide to take up the routine, you may wonder how you should begin. After all, swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes can become quite time-consuming, if not tiresome.

To acclimate yourself to the process, start the activity by spending five minutes a day swishing the oil. You will remove a good deal of bacteria after just five minutes. Also, if your jaw begins to ache, you need to slow your pace. You do not have to use a lot of force. Gently swish, suck, and push the oil through the teeth for the best effect.

“Less Is More”

Because you should never swallow the oil, spit out the oil if you find you have too much in your mouth. Again, you only need to use about a tablespoon. Remember, “less is more,” when it comes to swishing. Also, never spit out the oil down the sink, lest you be plagued with a clogged drain. Simply spit out the oil in a trash can after you are done.

 

Final Thoughts

 

The before and after benefits of oil pulling seems to be encouraging for some people, but, there isn’t enough scientific research to back up these claims. As long as dental patients follow the practice by also brushing and flossing teeth regularly, oil pulling may benefit some people who decide to try this practice.

Any dentist will tell you that you should never replace oil pulling with brushing and flossing and routine dental visits. Once more, this alternative approach to tooth and gum care supplements the benefits you receive from brushing, flossing, and using a  mouthwash each day.

My sincere hope is that this helped clear up some confusion regarding “oil pulling” and oral hygiene. If you have any questions I practice dental care  in Carmel Mountain at Smiles By Design San Diego with Over 400 Five Star happy patient reviews.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Javaheri has participated in extensive research and has been published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the UC Davis Medical Center. He is a graduate of the prestigious NYU college of dentistry and helps patients with their cosmetic dentistry needs in San Diego, CA.

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How To Improve Mindfulness & Integrate Into Your Daily Routine.

A major aspect of mindfulness is noticing what you do as you’re doing it, a skill that hours of scrolling tends to negatively impact. Try to build habits that ground you in what you’re doing in each moment.

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Right now, mindfulness might seem like a buzzword.

Myriad brands have incorporated mindfulness into their messaging, and everyday there seems like a new app that caters towards helping one achieve a “mindful practice” in their day-to-day life.

 

But mindfulness isn’t a just buzzword—it’s vitally important to maintaining personal wellness. You also don’t need to buy a bunch of new products or eat a certain brand of yogurt to achieve it. Mindfulness can be incorporated into your life for free, and with a little bit of practice, you can build lasting habits that’ll make you a happier and healthier person.

Here are some of  tips on how to bring mindfulness into your day-to-day life:

 

No Screens Before & After Sleeping

A major aspect of mindfulness is noticing what you do as you’re doing it, a skill that hours of scrolling tends to negatively impact. Try to build habits that ground you in what you’re doing in each moment. A great way to start is by putting away smartphones and other electronic devices an hour before bed, and trying not to touch them again until an hour after you’re awake. 

 

 

Notice What You Spend Money On

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched Marie Kondo’s new show. If you haven’t, it’s all about pairing down one’s belongings to only the things that “spark joy.” This approach isn’t only useful when you’re purging your home and in the throes of organizing, it’s also extremely useful when you’re shopping. Think carefully about each purchase, whether big or small. If something makes you happy, why? Make sure everything has a unique and productive purpose. This means thinking about the impact of your purchasing decisions.

 

By the same token, don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re determining what that purpose is. For example, if you’re shopping for home decor, and you happen upon a quilt that makes you happy because the patterns or colors delight you, that’s enough. Things don’t have to have some big, grand reason behind them… but they do have to be authentic.

 

 

Focus on Gratitude

 

Gratitude isn’t an attitude we stumble upon, it’s an attitude that requires cultivation. Take some time out of your day—maybe at lunch, or during some downtime after work—and consider the things you’re thankful for. I find that writing it down in a notebook or journal is particularly helpful, especially since you’re able to return to previous pages and see what kinds of trends emerge. But do whatever works for you. If just thinking it through alone helps, then that’s your strategy.

 

 

Eat Intentionally

 

With our increasingly busy schedules, this can be one of the most difficult steps to integrate habitually. When you’re eating a meal, notice every bite. Don’t rush through it, trying to get fuel into your body. You may also find that you’re hungrier (or less hungry!) than you thought. This is essential to getting in touch with your body, and a cornerstone of healthy eating habits more generally. You don’t have to be perfect and get it right all at once, either. Next time you grab a bag of potato chips, savor each bite. Taste the salt, enjoy the crunch. Even pay attention to the crinkle of the bag. See how it changes the experience, if it changes it at all. When you’re eating, commit to doing just that one thing.

 

 

Pay Attention To Breathing

 

This can be done anywhere. Breathing practices are commonly implemented in meditation and yoga classes, but there’s no reason you can’t keep your breathing in mind during exercise or at your desk at work. In moments of stress, or moments where the world seems to be going too fast around you, take a minute to just breathe. One deep breath in, and one deep breath out. If you’re interested in going slightly more in depth, set some time aside before bed, or first thing when you wake up to work on breathing practices. To begin, search “pranayama”—there’s a wealth of breathing practices available on our site.

 

Meditate

Meditation is the big one, isn’t it? It’s the tip that you’re going to hear no matter what, especially if you’re thinking about mindfulness. Meditation looks a million different ways, and it’s all about finding what serves you most effectively. If it seems overwhelming, try to start with guided meditations. Not only are there dozens of free apps on Android and iOS that can help if you use Bluetooth on your commute, but there are also free YouTube videos. Meditations can also have different intentions too, like meditations geared specifically towards sleep, focus, or calmness. Explore it, and try it at different times. One great time to meditate is right before you wake up—it’s a great way to get you started for your day.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Casteris is an avid writer and explorer of all things travel, mindfulness, and financial health. You can find more of her work in her portfolio

 

 

 

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Will Yoga Fix My Posture? How to Fix Your Posture with Yoga.

Good posture should keep your body aligned. This starts with squared shoulders, but also includes a straight back, open chest and feet flat on the ground. No muscle should be twisted or have extra pressure placed on it. Generally speaking, good posture feels good. Let’s lean into the top medical reasons why yoga can improve your posture.

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Quick poll: are you reading this article hunched over? It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone. These days, we’re all guilty of “computer slouch” or “text neck” when reading online. But bad posture isn’t just unattractive – it can lead to aches, cramps and pains, especially in your lower back and shoulders.

 

If you’re looking for a way to ditch the droop, you should consider signing up for yoga. Yoga has a wealth of evidence-based health benefits, among them improved posture. Your chiropractor will be overjoyed.

 

 

 

What’s good posture anyway?

 

Good posture should keep your body aligned. This starts with squared shoulders, but also includes a straight back, open chest and feet flat on the ground. No muscle should be twisted or have extra pressure placed on it. Generally speaking, good posture feels good.

 

Let’s lean into the top medical reasons why yoga can improve your posture.

 

 

  1. Boosted awareness

Yoga uses a holistic mind-body approach towards exercise. Besides stressing the importance of relaxation and breathing, yoga also teaches body awareness through “poses.” With each pose, a typical yoga instructor will ask the group to focus on various physical aspects, including position, function and movement. Studies show that yoga-trained groups have better awareness of their bodies than non-trained groups. Yoga can even help students maximize body function, on par with therapies such as the Alexander technique.

 

This boosted sense of perception goes hand-in-hand with improved posture. The more you’re aware of your posture, the more likely you’ll adjust it during the day.

 

 

  1. Focus on alignment

Yoga poses also emphasize alignment correction of hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. This sense of proper structural alignment is great for improving posture. As poses are adjusted for optimal positioning, students get in the habit of ideal alignment and are able to hold poses correctly and for longer amounts of time.

 

This directly corresponds to improved posture over time. Even outside the yoga studio, students retain the habit of proper alignment and are likely to correct their slouch at the office or at home. You can even follow these tips to correct and cultivate body positioning.

 

 

  1. Core strengthening

Yoga is also linked to building core strength. Studies suggest that yoga enhances student’s core stability and core muscle function. These muscle groups are directly involved in controlling the lumbar spine, which is essential for achieving good posture. By boosting core strength, students will receive greater back support and may even see relief from lower back pain. With core muscles engaged and strengthened, your posture is sure to shine.

 

 

  1. Enhanced upper body and trunk

Studies also point to yoga as a big enhancer of upper body and trunk strength. In particular, trunk strength is related to posture control. By boosting these postural muscles, students train themselves for greater endurance and resistance.

 

Trunk strength is also key for balance, as seen in a recent study about falls in elderly people. When elderly people performed trunk exercises, they saw greater stability in their lumbar spine and better posture control.

 

 

  1. Maximum flexibility

Yoga also promotes greater flexibility in those who practice it. Flexibility is key in posture control because it aids in balance and motion range. This is good news for your posture, since flexibility can reduce muscle stiffness and tension. Moreover, by training full motion range, yoga can help strengthen your postural muscles and prevent back injury.

 

 

Yoga poses for good posture

 

 

Now that you know the benefits, let’s look at some good yoga poses for improving your posture.  

 

 

  1. Backbends

Yoga poses that incorporate backbends, including locust, cobra and sphinx poses, are great for strengthening postural muscles. They also enhance alignment by keeping the shoulders, head and back in the right positions. In addition, they promote flexibility in important postural regions.

 

How to do cobra pose: Lie down on your stomach with your hands square with your shoulders. Now, engage your core to lift up the arch of your back by pressing down on your hands. Ideally, keep your arms straight and your gaze up.

 

 

  1. Mountain pose

Mountain pose is a simple but effective standing pose to focus on alignment and be aware of your positioning. It’s also good training for balance and stability.

 

How to do mountain pose: The idea with mountain pose is to find the most neutral position while standing. Your feet should be squared with your hips and your weight balanced (not leaning forward or back).

 

 

  1. Upward/downward dog

Both upward and downward dog poses are excellent for posture for different reasons. While downward dog focuses on abdominal muscles and your core, upward dog also conditions the muscle group along the spine. This muscle strengthening is perfect for improved alignment, core strength and upper body boosting.

 

How to do downward dog: Starting on your hands and knees, lift back your pelvis so that you make an upside-down “v” shape with your body. Extend your spine and be sure to align your body.

 

 

  1. Chair pose

Chair pose also works the muscle group along the spine, as well as your hip and buttock muscles. Thus, this pose is great to increase core and trunk strength, as well as balance.

 

How to do chair pose: Once in a standing position, raise your hands and bend your knees into a sitting position. Your feet and knees should stay together.

 

 

  1. Planks

Finally, planks are great for core and upper body strengthening, including abdominal muscles and the muscle group along the spine. It’s also key for alignment, as the body must be squared for maximum results.

 

How to do planks: Get into a push up position, but keep your arms straight, your back flat and your eyes down. Engage your core as you hold this position.

 

 

 

Other posture boosts

 

 

As you can see, yoga is a great option for fixing your posture. If you’re looking for other posture boosts, you might consider contacting a chiropractor. According to a chiropractic doctor in Anchorage, one-on-one sessions can help you adjust your posture, as well as restore position, enhance flexibility and reduce pain. With a professional, you can create holistic care for your posture that includes both yoga and chiropractic, just like this doctor did.

 

Overall, we hope yoga and other posture strategies help you ditch the droop in your posture!

 

 

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.

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How to Beat Holiday Stress & Keep That Festive Cheer.

It’s a busy time of year, but the holidays don’t have to be synonymous with stress. Keep that overwhelming feeling at bay by eating right, exercising, learning to say no, and making time for yourself. With the right attitude and a little bit of effort, you can truly experience holiday cheer.

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The holiday season is upon us and that means plenty of time spent with family and friends, way too much food, and memories to last a lifetime. However, the holidays can be chaotic as you try to keep up with gatherings, shopping, cooking, and baking, all while maintaining that festive cheer. To avoid becoming the town Scrooge, here a few ways to keep the stress at bay.

 

Trust Your Gut and Treat It Well

 

When the holidays arrive, it seems that cold and flu season hitches a ride, which means you should be proactive about staying on top of your vitamins and supplements. However, did you know that your overall health actually starts in your gut? Your gut is full of bacteria, and they all play a part, but two in particular (Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium Longum) have been shown to help reduce the level of stress hormone in your body as well as your stress reaction. Consider giving yourself a healthy gift this year and add these supplements to the mix.

Another way to take care of your gut microbiome is to be mindful of what you are putting in your body. The saying you are what you eat holds true in that what you put in your mouth can affect your waistline and your mood. Resist the temptation to overindulge on sweet treats and holiday leftovers that you’ll stress over later, resulting in negative effects like acid reflux, cramps, and gas. Opt instead for whole foods, and be sure to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut to really boost your gut health

 

Don’t Skip Exercise

 

All that running around during the holidays might make you feel like you ran a marathon, but exercise needs to be done in an environment where you can focus on your body and mind. Doing so enables you to get the most benefit out of your exercise, which is the production and release of endorphins. According to Healthline, “They can trigger a positive feeling in the body, boosting mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.” A gym workout is one way to get exercise, but there are other options too such as walking, jogging, biking, or playing sports. Another form of exercise worth a try is yoga. Whether you are a beginner or a yogi, break out the mat and breathe your way through the holiday season. Yoga is the ultimate mindfulness practice, helping you to stay present, uplifted, energized, and worry-free. If you are new to yoga or simply prefer guidance and support at your fingertips, find an online yoga community such as Pilgrimage Yoga Online.

 

 

Learn the Power of No

 

Saying no isn’t something that comes easy, but never is its power more evident than during the holidays. As Hello Giggles puts it, “It’s in our nature to be socially obliging, even at our own expense, and the word “no” feels like confrontation that threatens a potential bond,” leading you to feel overextended, overwhelmed, and stressed. Perhaps you feel as though saying no is rude, but it can be said in a respectful manner. Say something like: “I wish I could, but I can’t take on anything else this week” or “I’d love to, but I’m a little overextended at the moment.” Most importantly, you should never feel guilty for saying no.

 

Make Time to Relax

 

Although this is a busy time of year, there are actually plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation. Get in the spirit by putting on your coziest pajamas and listening to your favorite music or binge watching holiday movies. Find unique activities to try that don’t involve immersing yourself in the chaos that is the mall. Perhaps you could go for a sleigh ride, go caroling, look at holiday lights, or volunteer. You could even make relaxation a new holiday tradition where the family designates an event-free day to rest and recharge in whatever way works for them. If you are crunched for time, take comfort knowing there are ways to relax that take no more than five minutes of your time – just check out this list for proof.

 

It’s a busy time of year, but the holidays don’t have to be synonymous with stress. Keep that overwhelming feeling at bay by eating right, exercising, learning to say no, and making time for yourself. With the right attitude and a little bit of effort, you can truly experience holiday cheer.

       

 

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How to Design Your Yoga Room at Home.

While heading to a yoga studio works for many of us, we have have other needs that make attending studio classes impossible. Maybe we’re introverted or have a busy schedule or need to be home with the kiddos and to take care of our chores. If you like the idea of being able to practice yoga whenever the mood strikes you, you may want to design your own yoga room at home. While you’re planning yours, try to consider the following aspects.

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While heading to a yoga studio works for many of us, we have have other needs that make attending studio classes impossible. Maybe we’re introverted or have a busy schedule or need to be home with the kiddos and to take care of our chores. If you like the idea of being able to practice yoga whenever the mood strikes you, you may want to design your own yoga room at home. While you’re planning yours, try to consider the following aspects.

 

Find Your Practice Area

 

 

The only requirement for your space is that you’re able to comfortably move your limbs in all directions when you’re lying down, seated and standing. Your space doesn’t have to be huge, you just don’t want to end up with a sense of claustrophobia. If you like to practice yoga with friends, of course, you’ll need a bigger room.

 

Many aspects of our space are up to each individual person. For instance, you may love practicing over a carpeted floor, which can give you extra padding for weight bearing postures. Or you may find that carpeted floor is too soft, which may motivate you to find a harder surface, whether you’re changing locations or placing a plank of wood under your mat.

 

Finding a suitable space can require creativity, which is part of the fun! If there’s nowhere in your home that’s suitable for a makeshift yoga room, why not create or build your own? You could install a decorated used shipping container or a roomy shed in your backyard – as a bonus, your yoga room will then be away from any indoor distractions.

 

You might be surprised at where you can find space in your home, too – perhaps if you rearrange some of your furniture, you’ll be able to create a dedicated space to practice yoga, if not an entire room. It’s important to stick to the same location for your yoga sessions, as doing so will help to keep you focused and may increase your motivation. Keeping your yoga mat rolled out will also serve to invite you to practice when your mind is on other things.

 

Curate Your Space

 

 

The only real essential that you need in a yoga room is a mat; other than that, what you choose to decorate with depends on your own preferences.

 

You might like to bring in a computer, so you can watch videos or listen to mantras, music, or white noise, or you might prefer to stick to a set of speakers to which you can connect your phone. Perhaps you prefer to practice in silence, in which case you won’t need any sound equipment!

 

Whatever you choose to place in your yoga room, try not to overwhelm it with clutter; a minimalist space will help you much more in achieving mindfulness. If you are repainting, choose a light shade for your walls. It’s worth avoiding mirrors and other distracting objects, but if you’re religious, you might like to have a statuette to bring you peace, while if you have trouble remaining calm, you might want to bring in an object that soothes you, such as candles, incense or meaningful chotchkies.

 

 

Control the Mood

 

Relaxing is much easier when you can control your lighting. For this reason, it’s a good idea to install dimmer lights so you can adjust the lighting at an appropriate setting depending on the time of day and the weather. You can also rely on candles to set the mood; they’re particularly good for meditation. If you like the idea of natural light, you’ll have to choose a room with large windows; rest assured that if this isn’t an option for you, good quality lighting will do almost as well.

 

Practicing yoga at home is a great way to both avoid a commute and to ensure that you’re able to indulge regularly. Try to set yourself a routine, either in the mornings or after you get home from work, and enjoy the freedom and peace that having your own home yoga room can give you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Johanna Cider is passionate about living and writing about a healthy, eco-responsible lifestyle. She turns to lavender-scented candles, relaxing music, and a few minutes of yoga to unwind after a long day. Discover more about Johanna on her Tumblr page: Musings of Johanna.

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Yoga Rules for Life: The Theory & Practice of Sexuality in the Context of Yoga.

What does yoga have to do with sex? Everything, because yoga has something to do with everything and sex has everything to do with being human. Our sexuality is a part of our identity. Yoga is the exploration of identity and ultimately leads us beyond our identity formed by thought and into our identity connected to the infinite.

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Sexuality is one of the cornerstones of our lives. It permeates our biology and hence our thoughts.

 

Our culture and media, which is a reflection of our shared interests, is constantly broadcasting sex and sexuality, oftentimes to influence our behavior.

 

Theory of Sexuality

 

What does yoga have to do with sex? Everything, because yoga has something to do with everything and sex has everything to do with being human.

 

Our sexuality is a part of our identity. Yoga is the exploration of identity and ultimately leads us beyond our identity formed by thought and into our identity connected to the infinite.

 

Our sexuality is part of our body. Our bodies are part of the continuation of our species and hence procreation and the raising of children are ingrained in our DNA.

 

Yoga is the exploration of our body. We become aware of our bodies through the practice of the physical postures of yoga: asanas. The asanas make our bodies strong and supple allowing for the natural flow of energy.  

 

Body, mind and emotions are intertwined. By opening and strengthening our bodies we allow for the natural and holistic expression of our sexuality.  

 

Sexuality affects our breathing. Yoga involves the awareness of breath and breath regulation. Through breath awareness and control we can become aware of our sexual energy and its intrinsic nature in our being.

 

Practice of Sexuality

 

The essence of yoga is to become aware of our deepest nature. The practice of yoga involves bringing stillness and hence the power of observation to all parts of our being. In the stillness of observation we are able to realize and utilize the vast storehouse of energy that is inside the biology and psyche of each of us.

 

This stillness is achieved through many means: mantras, breathing techniques, visualizations, meditation and exercise.

 

Yoga is traditionally thought of as having eight limbs. The first branch involves moral and ethical observations and one of these is brahmacharya, which is the observation and utilization of our sexual energy. Brahmacharya is often translated as celibacy.

 

In order to explore celibacy we do not need to take a lifelong vow of celibacy or live as a hermit in a cave. Amidst all our activities and various interpersonal relationships we can observe and learn about ourselves by observing the sexual energy in our lives.

 

Try maintaining calmness and observe the sexual energy without physically or mentally reacting to it. In this stillness, however long it lasts you can observe and learn about yourself.

 

There are many forms that sexual energy can take. It is in essence the force of creation. Try channeling your energy into different facets of life:  business, friendships, artistic pursuits etc.

 

All aspects of yoga will help you to do this: the postures, breathing exercises, meditation and study. Brahmacharya is not a moral judgment about sexual energy being good or bad. Rather it is an exploration, a scientific experiment, and a journey into the essence of the most powerful force in creation.

 

The sexual force is depicted in mystical art and literature as a snake that is coiled up at the base of the spine. Often called the kundalini, it is the power of nature, which for most human beings resides in the energy centers below and around the navel. The snake is awake but the energy is used in satisfying our base desires: lust and cravings for power, name, fame and wealth.

 

We also find the snake in the mythology of the Garden of Eden. It is the snake, the sexual force, experienced in the form of pleasure that leads Adam and Eve to a new relationship with the world in which they live. Sex with another changes our lives and destiny.

 

The mystical imagery of enlightenment often depicts this kundalini snake as awakening and winding up the spine until it reaches the brain: the top of the spine, the crown chakra. It is then when the yogi is awakened; when you are awakened!

 

 

 

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

 

 

 

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Relaxation Techniques While Driving: How to Use Your Commute Time to Amplify Your Zen.

For those of us forced behind the wheel each morning, there has to be a better way to spend those minutes than stressing about the day ahead. Luckily, commute time can also be used as impactful alone time, maybe one of the only times you get to be alone all day. Turn stress into stress relief.

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Most people don’t enjoy commuting to and from work. The minutes spent idling on the highway, the last minute gas station stops before your morning meeting, spilling coffee down your shirt!

 

For those of us forced behind the wheel each morning, there has to be a better way to spend those minutes than stressing about the day ahead. Luckily, commute time can also be used as impactful alone time, maybe one of the only times you get to be alone all day. Turn stress into stress relief.

 

Be intentional about what you do during your commute to and from work with these easy tips. Here’s how:

Meditate

 

Practicing meditation on your commute is a great way to set a positive tone for the workday ahead. While this can be particularly difficult for those who have overly-anxious minds or those utilizing public transportation to get to work, there are methods to finding mindfulness and inner peace at this critical part of the day.

 

There are many different types of meditation, perfect for different types of people. Start by meditating a few minutes before you leave the house–this can be as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths or a moment of silence in bed before you get up or as you sip on your morning coffee. Not only will this bring you a sense of calm, but it’s a good way to focus and ensure you drive safer. Meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm are great resources for beginners or those who just want a little more guidance. They have diverse levels of structure, from breathing technique and guided prompts.

 

Once you get in the car (or on the bus or on the train), take a moment to establish your posture. On your commute, pop your earbuds in or sync your phone to your car speakers so you can ride along with the app. Another alternative is to listen to meditative music or use noise-canceling headphones that can create a tranquil bubble and block out the distracting world around you.

 

Listen to Positive Influence Podcasts

 

Most commuters travel at the same time, making that hour or so in the morning extra busy and stressful. Change your mindset so that instead of this chunk of time feeling like a waste, it can be a time to learn and live a healthier life. Listening to a podcast will help your brain focus on relaxing and let the surrounding traffic and people melt away.

 

Holding Space by Dr. Cassidy Freitas is a great podcast that breaks down the scary barrier to mental health and therapy by sharing stories and connections of the human experience. Selfie is another helpful podcast that explores topics like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and balancing the body, mind, and spirit.

 

You’ll learn something new every time you tune-in during this time of the day which will help you look forward to your commute, instead of despising it. iPhones and Android phones both have built-in apps that let you download and save podcasts to listen to whenever you’d like, making them accessible both in the car or on a train that may lose service.

 

Use the time for Self-care

 

Another great use of this time is to practice self-care. Often times, our own feelings and mental state of being get pushed back behind the needs of work, family, and friends.

 

If you take a bus, train or subway, start by packing a journal that you can write in every day on your commute. The act of writing is mindful and meditative without actually meditating. Ask yourself to write out a list of everything you’re grateful for if you don’t know where to start. You’ll find that the pen takes over as soon as you start to let go and be honest with yourself.

 

Remind yourself what is truly meaningful to you in life and let your brain clear of all the clutter to come in the rest of the day. Other things to note are simply a to-do list, goals for the week, long-term goals, and even just daydreams. Physically releasing onto a piece of paper is therapeutic by having yourself let go of emotions but could also help you gain a new perspective on your life and what you want.

 

If you drive to work, take advantage of the voice-recording app found on iPhones and Androids to record your thoughts and feelings. You can also take advantage of this time to reach out to your loved ones–write them an email or text about how much they mean to you and wish them a good day. If available, call them up while commuting to check in. This is both a productive and relaxing use of commute time.

Do What Brings You Joy

 

Depending on how you commute to work, pack or download a great book for your commute that you can read as a distraction from everything going on around you. Chances are you’ve memorized your commute down to the minute, so you’ll have no trouble getting to work on time (instead of getting lost in the story).

 

Bring along a pen to highlight favorite passages that you can return to later in the day if things become overwhelming.

 

Adult coloring books are also super fun and are known to help reduce anxiety. If you can find a seat on a train, break one of these out and let your stress levels decrease as you color away.

 

And finally, there’s nothing like turning up the sound system on your favorite song. Listening to music can help boost your mood, to create a specific playlist to turn on while commuting. Add songs that are upbeat, loud, and fun for your trip to work, and more mellow, calm songs for your trip home to help you unwind. These songs can be your anthems (instead of an annoying alarm clock) and help you head into work with a positive attitude.

 

And there you have it. The next morning you hop in your car to head to work, try one of these surefire ways to get in the zone for your big day ahead. What are some ways you’ve turned your commute into quality time with yourself?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Casteris is an avid writer and explorer of all things travel, mindfulness, and financial health. You can find more of her work in her portfolio

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A Guide to the Benefits of Different Types of Meditation. [Infographic]

An infographic featuring 5 different styles of meditation and their benefits, including mindfulness, visualization, focused meditation, movement meditation and spiritual meditation.

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This infographic was created by Culinary Teas

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How To Motivate Yourself to Workout & Eat Healthy.

We start a workout plan and stick to it for a while, but then our motivation soon dwindles and we get back to the old, unhealthy ways. And it keeps happening. It starts off well, but then we run into an issue and we keep missing out more and more workouts until we stop completely. The same thing happens to our diet, and then we’re back to square one, frustrated that we can’t seem to stick to a schedule.

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While we all understand the gist of why physical activity and a good diet are important, how we’re supposed to incorporate them into our routine is another matter.

 

We start a workout plan and stick to it for a while, but then our motivation soon dwindles and we get back to the old, unhealthy ways. And it keeps happening. It starts off well, but then we run into an issue and we keep missing out more and more workouts until we stop completely.

 

The same thing happens to our diet, and then we’re back to square one, frustrated that we can’t seem to stick to a schedule. Well, don’t worry. There are a few things that you can do to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself and stick to it. If you want to know more, read on.

 

Simplify your plan

 

If your plan involves you getting up at 6 AM every other morning to get to the gym and following a complex diet with too many restrictions, it’s going to fail. Unless you have an insane amount of willpower and determination, plans that require you to turn your life around probably just won’t work. What you need is a plan that’s easy to stick to and that doesn’t require you to sacrifice too much. Get yourself a planner, then sit down and write all your obligations down. See where you can easily fit in a workout, see when you can afford the time to cook something, and really schedule everything you want to do. Do a home workout on the days you can’t make it to the gym, and create simple meal plans that don’t involve too much cooking.

 

Introduce a five-minute rule

Promise yourself that you’ll do at least five minutes of your workout. Even when you feel really lazy and really tired, promise yourself this: “I’ll just put my clothes on and exercise for five minutes.” Doing only five minutes is a lot better than doing nothing, and it can really help you train yourself to have a routine that you crave to do every day. Besides, maybe it inspires you to push past those five minutes and finish a whole workout.

 

Get some nice clothes

Clothes can inspire you! It’s kind of nice to admire your own booty in a pair of hot leggings. You can observe your progress the more you work and feel proud of your accomplishments. As long as you’re comfortable, you can also look cute.

 

Prepare meals in advance

This is the absolute best tip for people who hate cooking or don’t have the time to cook. You can make great meals for the whole week if you prepare them in advance. Do it on Sunday, just before the work week starts – chop up veggies, boil a few eggs, roast some chicken, prepare some homemade granola bars for snacks. As long as you’ve got a good stove like the one from Bosch slide-in range, you can make everything in no time at all and get all your cooking done in one day. Meal prep is the best way to ensure you always have a healthy meal on your hands, so you never have to reach for greasy food or a sugary snack to sate your craving.

 

Eat more delicious whole foods

Bear in mind that diets are not supposed to feel awful. They can actually be quite satisfying, especially if you pick fresh whole foods. The problem is that we’re used to additives in junk food so much that we’re addicted to that taste, but if you let your gut rest and eat healthier things–mostly plants, lots of water–then you’ll start realizing how good it actually is. Stick to unrefined, unprocessed foods (particularly vegetables) because this will give you a whole load of awesome nutrients that will help you reach your fitness goals.

 

Find a buddy or a support group

It’s easier to get passionate about fitness if you have someone who’s going to share your burden. See if any of your friends want to start a health journey with you, and then push each other to keep getting better.

 

Change up your exercise

Hey, if something gets boring you can always change it up. You can find excellent fitness resources here, and we recommend that you make full use of them because they don’t cost a dime and they’re an easy way to switch up your routine. Also, consider signing up for a sport or a dance class. Something that you really enjoy, and something that will motivate you because you’ll be learning a useful skill in addition to getting fit.

And most of all, find a way to enjoy your fitness journey. Don’t commit to things that you hate. Instead, make sure to create a solid plan that you’ll enjoy and that won’t leave much room for making excuses.

 

About the author: Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”

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Lifestyle Changes To Improve Health: Small Changes You Can Make to Boost Your Health Every Day.

Everyone can improve their health in some way, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Extreme fitness routines and fad diets require us to shift our daily schedule too much, making them difficult to keep up. Instead, in order to reach our goal of sustainable health and wellness, it can be as simple as making small but significant alterations each day that don’t feel like a sacrifice.

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Everyone can improve their health in some way, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Extreme fitness routines and fad diets require us to shift our daily schedule too much, making them difficult to keep up. Instead, in order to reach our goal of sustainable health and wellness, it can be as simple as making small but significant alterations each day that don’t feel like a sacrifice.

Practice Good Sleep

A full night of quality sleep can help your memory, minimize symptoms of depression, and sharpen your attention. It also reduces inflammation, aids weight loss efforts, and combats daytime fatigue. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, you may benefit from proper sleep hygiene techniques. According to Tuck.com, there are four important ingredients for a good sleep: darkness, quiet, comfort, and a cool temperature. In addition to this, you should go to bed at the same time every night and create a healthy bedtime routine to follow. For example, try meditating or reading a book before bed instead of scrolling through social media on your phone. Also consider not eating for at least two hours before bedtime. This allows food to move further in the digestion process so that our night sleep isn’t spent digesting–it’s spent repairing and building.

Pay Attention to Nutrition Information

The nutrition facts labels on food are there to help us follow a healthy diet, so pay attention to them! By looking at the label, you can compare foods to find those that are lowest in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium. Limiting these ingredients in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic lifestyle diseases. Nutrition labels also indicate foods that are nutrient-dense, helping you meet your daily nutrient requirements without excessive calorie intake. Look for foods that contain 10-20 percent of your fiber, iron, calcium or essential vitamins when shopping. Additionally, check the ingredients list to avoid additives and preservatives.

 

Once you know what you’re eating, you can begin to assess how different combinations of food make you feel. Current nutritional research is showing that there is not a one-size-fits-all optimal diet for all people. Some people feel better on a high-carb/low-fat diet and others thrive on a high fat/low carb diet. The biggest consensus in nutrition is limiting our intake of refined sugars and flours, and to eat a variety of dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, etc). Beyond that, it’s up to each of us individually to pursue education and test different foods to see what their impact is on our energy levels, mood, and inflammation.

Get Moving Whenever Possible

Too busy to exercise? That’s not an excuse anymore! You can exercise in short bouts of 10-minute intervals throughout the day instead of carving out the time in your schedule for longer workouts. Research suggests that you’ll receive many of the same health benefits as you would from one continuous period of physical activity. As long as you aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, you’ll meet American health guidelines. Go for a brisk walk during a break at work, do a quick bodyweight workout while you’re waiting for dinner to cook, or start your morning with a refreshing yoga routine.

Develop Healthy Habits for Stress Management

Stress is one of the biggest threats to our health these days. It plays with our hormones, overworks our physical body, and creates long-term psychological issues. Managing stress in healthy ways — whether by taking up an exercise regimen or finding hobbies that help lower and manage your anxiety levels — should be a priority in your life. However, avoid turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. Not only are these substances detrimental to our health, but also they can worsen stress and anxiety in the long run. Drinking is particularly risky for women, as research has revealed that women who consume at least one drink per day have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Yoga, specifically, is a great way to lower cortisol levels in the body and reduce nervous system activity.

Think More Positively

Negativity can undermine your attempts to improve your health as you face feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Positive thinking, on the other hand, can help you avoid bad habits, form healthy relationships and enjoy greater self-esteem. Positivity involves looking at the world with a greater acceptance of the challenges you experience. Although cliché, it’s about making the best out of every situation, good or bad. Of course, it can be difficult to change deeply-rooted thought patterns. This is where yoga and meditation can be beneficial, helping you focus inwardly on your own self-talk so you can make a more conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

 

As you implement some of these changes in your own life, remember why you’re doing it. Do you want to improve your body image? Wake up with more energy? Boost your productivity at work? These goals can be the motivation you need to fuel every small effort you make toward greater health.

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Addiction Treatments That Work: Hunger Hormones Could Aid Fight Against Addiction

There are many different treatment methods and beliefs of approaching the sensitive topic of addiction, but some experts believe one recent discovery in particular, may hold the key to curbing addiction rates and ensuring a better future for generations to come.

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The Persistent Problem

How many times have you heard about someone who was struggling with alcohol or drug addiction? It’s a very common occurrence as substance abuse continues to harm thousands of users and their loved ones.

Researchers and health advocates have quite the task on their hands as they try to combat the ever-growing problem of addiction. Substance abuse is a serious concern and not something to take lightly. Many lives are lost, and a lot money is spent as a result of prolonged alcohol and drug use.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the costs are high. Every year, the combined costs of addiction to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs exceed more than $740 billion. This includes hefty price tags that are related to lost work productivity, health care, and crime that result from substance abuse.

In 2011, tobacco abuse created $168 billion in health care costs alone, while alcohol accounted for $27 billion and prescription opioids cost $26 billion. These numbers keep going up as the opioid epidemic grips our nation. More and more lives are lost to substance abuse, and  new users try alcohol and drugs for the first time.

The CDC keeps track of the substance abuse problem as Americans  are adversely affected by substances that can destroy and devastate their lives. In 2016, over 64,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses alone. This includes both prescriptions and illicit drugs, which are far too easy for people to get their hands on these days.

 

Chronic Health Problems

One of the huge challenges is that prolonged and persistent use of these substances causes chronic health problems. From a poor physical appearance to heart and liver failure, there are countless health risks when it comes to abusing drugs and alcohol. That’s why researchers and medical teams are working  to come up with better ways to treat addiction and save lives.

There are many different treatment methods and beliefs of approaching the sensitive topic of addiction, but some experts believe one recent discovery in particular, may hold the key to curbing addiction rates and ensuring a better future for generations to come.

The Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior brought together some of the brightest minds and discovered a connection between the gut hormones, such as Ghrelin and Amylin, involved in obesity and overeating with the hormones that lead to addiction. These researchers believe that this accomplishment could open doors in the world of addiction treatment, as the same hormones that trigger the body’s feelings of hunger and fullness are also at play in drug and alcohol addiction.

 

New Findings

This could be the breakthrough that so many advocates and health officials have been hoping for. Researchers shared their confidence that we could soon see new and improved addiction treatments, as there are several drugs that affect gut hormones with FDA approval or awaiting the go-ahead from government officials.

Scientists have long understood that the human body reacts a certain way to satisfactory feelings like eating or drinking. These new findings point to hard-working hormones that could be causing the addictive feelings.

Gut hormones tell the human brain to regulate dopamine signaling, which affects a person’s decision to seek out pleasurable behavior or rewards, whether that be eating a certain food, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs.

If you think about it, this explains why food and water become less or more appetizing and appealing depending on how hungry or thirsty you are. Drugs use the same dopamine circuits within the brain, so it’s likely that gut hormones could trigger different rewarding effects this way.

In other words, a person’s addiction is made possible by hormones that make them enjoy and ultimately crave the feeling and sensations they experience while under the influence. Dr. Lorenzo Leggio and other members of the NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  say a hunger hormone from the stomach called Ghrelin could increase the reward factor of alcohol very similarly to the way it heightens the reward value of certain foods. In a series of experiments and studies, researchers from the NIAAA/NIDA partnership found that Ghrelin encourages alcohol consumption in people with an addiction to alcohol.

With these recent discoveries, medical professionals can apply the new learnings to their treatment programs. Perhaps by targeting these particular hunger hormones, doctors could reduce the many feelings associated with addiction. There are other gut hormones that may play a role  that tell the brain when someone has eaten enough food and is full.

Multiple animal studies have found that medications that increase the activity of these hormones lower the rewarding feelings of drugs and alcohol. Researchers are excited about the possibility that giving an addicted person certain medications could influence their hormones in a way that reduces addictive tendencies as naturally as possible.

 

Renewed Hope

At the end of the day, advances in medicine, and especially medical research could be game changers in substance abuse treatment. Discoveries and observations can open up new doors for a better addiction treatment .

Much more research will need to be done in the coming years regarding hunger hormones and their role in addiction, but for right now, it’s always in your best interests to stay current on what’s happening in this part of society.

If you, your family, friends or coworkers are struggling to cope with drug or alcohol addiction, know that you are not alone and there are plenty of dedicated resources and researchers out there ready to help you make the best choice. Organizations like A Better Today Recovery Services exist to lend support and guidance to those in need of assistance during the tough journey of addiction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenn Mullin is a freelance writer, focusing on social, economic, and political issues. Her inspiration is writing about topics which provoke thought and start conversations surrounding important and controversial issues.

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How To Keep Your Bones Healthy & Why Bone Health Should Be a Top Health Priority As You Age.

This article is a practical guide to bone health, which will not only go over common bone ailments, but will also include actionable ideas that you can implement in your lifestyle to keep your bones healthy and strong, especially as you age. 

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You fall down and hear a snap! Your bone just broke and you’ll have to be hospitalized for more than 3 months.

This scenario highlights the importance of bone health as we age. My name is Mitravinda Savanur, and I am a nutritionist specializing in food science.  I’ve written this article as a practical guide to bone health, which will not only go over common bone ailments, but will also include actionable ideas that you can implement in your lifestyle to keep your bones healthy and strong, especially as you age. 

 

How Bones Work

Did you know that your bones are alive?

Some new bone is made while old bone is broken down all the time. When you are relatively young and fit, your body makes bone at a quicker rate than it loses it. This leads to a steady rise in bone mass until you hit a peak at about 30. After this, the creation and loss of bone continues but the loss of bone is a little quicker than the creation and thus the overall bone mass reduces.

Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones lose their strength, become brittle and can easily snap. It develops slowly over a long period of time and hence is caused when you don’t produce enough bone or you lose bone too rapidly to be replaced or both.

The chance of your developing osteoporosis depends on the amount of bone mass you have developed by your peak and how quickly you lose it after that. If you have a lot of bone mass by 30, then the chances of your developing osteoporosis reduce considerably.

 

Strategies for Healthy Bones

 

 

Exercising – Helps With Bone Formation

A high or low-impact exercising regimen with weight-bearing exercises will help you create and maintain your bone density.

Weight-bearing exercises will create some good stress on your muscles which will put additional pressure on your bones. This pressure will then help you gain bone quicker than you lose it and so your bone strength will increase over time.

Some examples of high-impact exercises are-

Jogging, hiking, tennis, dancing, skipping and so on.

Some low-impact but beneficial exercises which are especially suited to older people are –

Walking, cycling, stair-step machines.

 

 

Good Diet – Creates Bone Strength 

A good, balanced and nutritious diet will serve you and your bones well.

A diet which is rich in calcium, vitamin D, fruits, vegetables and milk will make your bones healthy and strong.

Along with these, avoiding excessive smoking or drinking will help a lot.

You should also include vitamin K2 in your diet as a supplement because this greatly increases bone health.

K2 has the added benefit of decalcifying your arteries.

 

 

Regular Testing –  Know The Condition

Bone mineral density tests are used to measure the mineral content of bones. 

The heel of the foot is usually tested for measuring the mineral density. This is because this bone is similar to the hip bone which is very prone to breaking.

Based on the tests and their results, your physician will recommend more tests or certain lifestyle changes that might be necessary for you to continue having a healthy bone health-filled life.

 

 

Physical Therapy – Preventative Measure 

While there is no cure for osteoporosis, it can be prevented, it’s progressed slowed and your overall bone health can benefit from physical therapy.

For example, a therapist might help you improve your bone health by designing an exercise regimen which improves your posture, balance and stability.

Therapy will also be handy in the worst case scenario where you’ve broken a bone.

If you have osteoporosis, you can contact your doctor to see whether they think therapy can help you or not.

 

At-Risk Populations

 

Research has shown that women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men.

 

Estimates have shown that out of the 10 million people with osteoporosis in the USA, 8 million are women.

This is mainly because of the effects of menopause where the bone protecting hormone (estrogen) levels decrease very rapidly. This can be prevented by giving healthy amounts of calcium to women when they are growing so that they will have no issues with bone density later on in life.

 

 

Mitravinda Savanur is a Nutritionist at DietChart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics such as Diet Chart for Weight Loss, Health Benefits Of Green Tea, etc. Through her blogs, she wishes to help people gain a deeper understanding about the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle and health.

 

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Tips for Ideal Driving Posture.

7 adjustments for ideal driving posture. Iimplement them on your next ride!

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Infographic courtesy of Norm Reeves West Covina, Honda

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Using Yoga and Meditation to Overcome Addiction.

Western medicine tends to favor the view of addiction as an inherited disease that requires external treatment in the form of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and rewiring the brain to think differently. The western approach focuses on the affliction and supports a person in the practice of new behaviors, whereas yoga and meditation focuses on the cause of the suffering itself and supports a person in the practice of new behaviors.

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Addiction is an insidious disease that isolates the victim; both from themselves and from others. While treatment options are available to help people reconnect and rebuild relationships with those they have hurt due to addiction, there still remains a great need for helping individuals find themselves and heal the inner pain or longing that lead them to addiction in the first place.

 

According to Ken Griffin, founder of the Buddhist Recovery Network, addiction can be, “in itself … a misguided spiritual search. Many people who don’t see themselves as spiritual find that when they get sober they have some longing in them, and that their addiction, in one form or another, has been longing for a connection.”

 

Indeed, in the 12 Steps, the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous, multiple textual references to spirituality are made, although none point to meditation or body-mind connection as integral to the process of healing. While many have found success within the 12 Steps, some struggle accepting the spiritual underpinnings and overt references to God found within the text. This is where yoga could play an important role. Addiction is a form of “checking out” with reality, the ultimate form of escapism. Whereas yoga and guided meditation is the ultimate “checking in” with reality, requiring you to be present and focused on the moment.

The 12 Steps and Yoga

There are many parallels to be found between the 12 Steps and eastern practices such as yoga and meditation. For one, self-acceptance is the first of the 12 Steps, wherein individuals are asked to accept that they have lost control over their drinking. The 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism also ask followers to accept the nature of reality, that there is suffering, that there is an origin to suffering, that suffering will end, and that there is a reason the suffering will end. Similarly, the 12 Steps asks followers to be mindful of their drinking, stating that anyone can get sober and stay clean if they practice “rigorous honesty”. Rigorous honesty can be interpreted as honesty with yourself and with others, or in other words, an existential honesty or mindfulness of reality.

Looking Forward vs. Looking Inward

Western medicine tends to favor the view of addiction as an inherited disease that requires external treatment in the form of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and rewiring the brain to think differently. The western approach focuses on the affliction and supports a person in the practice of new behaviors, whereas yoga and meditation focus on the cause of the suffering itself and supports a person in the practice of new behaviors. They’re similar but different. In western medicine, addiction is treated as existing outside of the person, as an ailment of the body. In Eastern philosophy, attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain is seen as a constant, meaning addiction is just an imbalance of what is normal.

How Yoga and Meditation Support Recovery

Yoga and meditation are an effective means to help someone on the path to sobriety, but they are no substitute for the clinical assistance of a registered treatment center. The tools and methods you learn during yoga can help assist you in drug and alcohol recovery by helping you manage stress, control your thinking, and improve your overall quality of health. Whether you choose to recover through therapy, the 12 Steps, meditation, or perhaps a combination of all three, the ultimate goal is to achieve spiritual well being and happiness. The important part is to keep working and find a method that works for you. As Buddha told his students: “There is only one mistake you can make on the path to awakening, and that is to stop.”

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a drug and alcohol recovery center. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for Boston Consulting Group before he realized where his true passion lied within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.

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Music & Introverts: Kirtan For People Who Don’t Like Singing In Public.

Before I got into it, Kirtan was my idea of a personal nightmare. Holding hands and singing with strangers? No thanks. Off-key, offbeat, and uncomfortable were three words I would use to describe the experience.

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Before I got into it, Kirtan was my idea of a personal nightmare. Holding hands and singing with strangers? No thanks. Off-key, offbeat, and uncomfortable were three words I would use to describe the experience. After a while, though, Kirtan became one of my favorite parts of the several months I spent at a yoga teacher training center in New Zealand. I never thought I’d say it, but it’s one of the things I miss most from that experience.

 

Kirtan, as I practiced it, is a call-and-response song or chant. We would all sit in a circle with one song leader at the front playing the harmonium. Each time the leader sang a phrase in Sanskrit, the rest of the circle would repeat it back to her, building in volume and tempo each time around.

 

Members of the circle were encouraged to play shakers, drums, tambourines, and any number of other small instruments lying around. Some people got up and danced in the middle of the circle. Some clapped. Some silently swayed back and forth. Kirtan is a deeply personal experience.

 

Similar to how I learned to like yoga, my journey to appreciating Kirtan was slow and steady. It started reluctantly and tentatively, and before I knew it I was looking forward to evening Kirtan almost as much as I looked forward to breakfast the next morning. By the end of my time at the yoga center, Kirtan was one of my favorite parts of the entire program.

 

Introverts & Events

 

Events like Kirtan sessions can be stressful for anyone new to the practice — but perhaps especially for introverts, who are often uncomfortable in social situations that require participation and have the possibility of attracting attention to them. During Kirtan, it’s kind of unavoidable that you make yourself at least a little bit vulnerable. By participating in the singing and beat making, you put yourself out there and make your presence known.

 

For introverts, it can be tempting to recede into the shadows and not sing or participate at all. During my first few Kirtan sessions, which were required for my teacher training certificate, I wished to be anywhere else — “Give me goat yoga,” I thought, “Give me anything else.” I even considered faking illness to get out of it.

 

As an introvert, I had to take a critical look at how introverts experience events like Kirtan to figure out how I could come to love it. What was it that made me so averse to the idea? I found that the turning point came once I had the courage to develop a role for myself. Once I had a role, I had an extra reason to go and found the confidence to have fun with it.

 

Finding a Role

 

My role came in the form of a hand drum. I had taken a few drum lessons years before but didn’t remember much. Luckily, I have always had a pretty good sense of rhythm. So one night at Kirtan, I picked up the hand drum and started banging away. “I’m just going to go for it,” I thought.

 

Apparently it worked, because after that night I became the designated drummer of the group. People asked me to show them how to play, and I wondered why it had taken me so long to pick up the drum in the first place. I think the change was when I decided to focus on myself and my own personal fulfillment rather than what other people were doing or thinking. I never led a song myself, but I went to every session and found great enjoyment in it.

 

The Payoff

 

I ended up loving Kirtan, and even entertained the idea of starting a local group now that I’m back home. Given how yoga affects the brain, it should have been no surprise that something related like Kirtan could leave me feeling energized and invigorated. I was happier when I participated. It was a good lesson for me to learn to not just let life pass by as I sit on the sidelines, even if it means enduring a period of discomfort.

 

Giving Kirtan a chance also made me realize that stress isn’t always bad. Sometimes, a bit of stress is the catalyst you need to elevate yourself to the next level. In my case, I was able to transform myself into a Kirtan-loving hand drummer. You never know how something will impact you until you give it a try.

 

Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.

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How To Create a Relaxing Bedroom Sanctuary.

Inviting a sense of serenity to your bedroom will not only fill you with peacefulness, but it will also contribute to your well-being. For instance, according to different studies, clutter can make you feel stressed and even cause lack of sleep. However, if you’re mindful of your bedroom design, you’ll be able to create a soothing sanctuary that will promote wellness and better sleep.

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Inviting a sense of serenity to your bedroom will not only fill you with peacefulness, but it will also contribute to your well-being. For instance, according to different studies, clutter can make you feel stressed and even cause lack of sleep. However, if you’re mindful of your bedroom design, you’ll be able to create a soothing sanctuary that will promote wellness and better sleep.

Get rid of clutter

A cluttered environment will make you feel cramped and claustrophobic in your own retreat, so make sure to create an open, organized bedroom. Decluttering your sanctuary will give it a fresh look, make it seem bigger and fill it with an atmosphere of positivity. You should keep your bedroom design simple, removing unnecessary items and neatly arranging everything from your closet to your nightstands.

 

Key Takeaways:

●       Keep your surfaces clear

●      Remove unnecessary items

●      Organize your closet

 

Clean it thoroughly

Since your bedroom is your personal area for relaxation and regeneration, it should be completely healthy. Thus, you should clean it properly and regularly, tackling all the hidden corners and dusty spots. Make sure to wash your sheets and other fabrics at least once a week. Furthermore, you should pay special attention to your area rugs because they can be home to a high level of toxins and allergens. Finally, when cleaning your bedroom retreat, make sure to use healthy cleaning products or solutions that you’ve made on your own.  You can check the Environmental Working Group’s report on some of the most harmful cleaners that you should avoid.

 

Key Takeaways:

●      Wash your sheets once a week

●      Deep clean your rugs

●      Avoid toxic cleaners

 

Improve your air quality

 

The quality of your indoor air can affect your sleep and your general state of mind. Purifying your bedroom from airborne pollutants is an essential step that will help you make your bedroom healthier. Aside from opening your windows regularly, you should introduce an effective air purifier that will cleanse your bedroom from even the tiniest particles. Introducing houseplants can also help you improve your indoor air quality while also creating a soothing natural vibe. Peace lily, Aloe Vera, English Ivy and Boston Fern are just some of the plants that you need in your bedroom.

 

Key Takeaways:

●       Open your windows

●      Add an air purifier

●      Decorate with plants

 

Approach your bedroom design with mindfulness

 

When designing your bedroom, and other parts of your home, you should find different ways to give it a mindful refresh. Every design element that you use can have a major effect on your mood and health, so you should be careful with your decorations and other design choices. After embracing a mindful approach towards decorating, you’ll be able to create a true Zen-inspired sanctuary, perfect for relaxation, rejuvenation and meditation. This entails carefully planning your bedroom design, including your furniture arrangement, materials and colours that you use and even seemingly insignificant details such as scents and shapes. For instance, according to Feng Shui, each shape represents a certain element (square=earth). Using a single shape excessively can create an elemental imbalance, which can affect the general atmosphere in your space. Therefore, you should be mindful of the design elements you use and how you use them.

 

Key Takeaways:

 

●      Plan your furniture arrangement

●      Introduce soothing scents

●      Be mindful of shapes and objects

 

Pay special attention to your bed

 

Not only is your bed the focal point of your room, but it’s also the spot where you go to sleep and wake up every day. Thus, it becomes obvious that your bed is one of the crucial elements that affects your quality of sleep and, thus, your health. Everything from its position to its decorations should be carefully planned. According to the Indian Ayurveda and Chinese Feng Shui, placing your bed so that your head faces the south or the east can improve the flow of energy and ensure better sleep. You should also simplify your bedroom embellishments – a lovely throw cover and a few cushions can be enough to elevate your bedroom décor without disrupting its visual balance.
Furthermore, your mattress is another element of your bed that you should pay special attention to. The quality of your mattress will undoubtedly affect your sleep quality and your back health. If it doesn’t provide you with appropriate back support, you’ll wake up every morning feeling tired. You should also have enough space to find the right sleeping position. Therefore, if you believe that your current mattress isn’t right for you, you should consider choosing a new breathable king mattress that you can customise depending on your needs and sleep habits. This way, you’ll make sure that you get quality sleep every night.

 

Key Takeaways:

●      Place your bed strategically

●      Keep your bed decorations simple

●      Invest in a quality mattress

Remove technology

 

A cosy, healthy and tranquil bedroom sanctuary shouldn’t be burdened with technology. By eliminating electronic devices, you’ll create a true ambience of peacefulness. Furthermore, you won’t be exposed to harmful blue light that can interfere with your sleep cycle. So, bid technology goodbye and welcome tranquillity instead.

 

Key Takeaways:

●      Remove electronic devices, especially phones

●      Don’t use technology at least an hour before sleep

 

Soften your lighting

 

Appropriate bedroom lighting is another factor to keep in mind when designing a cosy sanctuary. It should be adjustable, enabling you to change the mood depending on the time of day or your needs. In the evening, it should be subtle and slightly dimmed so that you can fall asleep more easily. During the day, it should have plenty of natural light that will open and brighten up your bedroom. Finally, you should also consider introducing blackout curtains that will help you block off street lights that may be disrupting your sleep during the night.

 

Key Takeaways:

●      Install dimmers

●      Maximize natural light

●      Introduce blackout curtains

 

Be careful with colors

 

A soft palette of muted tones or neutral shades is the most suitable choice for a bedroom. Brighter and more vivid shades can be overwhelming and energising, which isn’t appropriate for a bedroom environment. Subtle blues, greens, soft greys and beiges are the best option because they will have a calming effect, helping you relax and unwind. By introducing them to your bedroom, you’ll create a true atmosphere of tranquillity and serenity. Of course, you can add a pop of colour for accent details and decorations, giving your bedroom your unique personal touch.

Key Takeaways:

●      Avoid vivid color

●      Use soothing tones, such as blue and green

 

Transforming your bedroom into a soothing, healthy retreat is one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote your health and well-being through design.

 

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Goat Yoga at Sugar Sweet Farm in San Diego.

If you want to combine spiritual centering with unrestrained giddiness then I recommend Goat Yoga at Sugar Sweet Farm in Encinitas.

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If you want to combine spiritual centering with unrestrained giddiness then I recommend Goat Yoga at Sugar Sweet Farm in Encinitas.  Once you get off the freeway, the serene and winding country roads begin to set the mood.  You’ll pass ranches, sprawling haciendas, and lots of eucalyptus trees. Once you arrive at the farm you are greeted and checked in by the charming Elizabeth Sugarman, proprietress.   A pebbled walkway leads you through orchards to the animal pen where goats of all sizes and breeds romp, eat and prance about (I so love the prancing!). A goat named Cowboy actually jumped up, in a single bound, atop a four-foot high fence to extend a bleating hello.  

After a bit of animal socializing we walked over to the yoga “studio,” a re-purposed tennis court with umbrellas for shade, and bales of hay around the perimeter.  We set up our mats and were instructed to put all belongings that we didn’t want eaten, out of the way. The instructor was introduced and we seated ourselves in Sukhasana (seated cross-legged pose), closed our eyes and began the journey.  And then the goats came in. We were forewarned that these critters are curious and friendly, and not to hold back the laughter. There were about ten goats of various sizes and two very young ones that just joined the herd yesterday. The babies were passed around during the class for cuddling.  We were given instruction on how to hold them – one arm securing the chest and the other around the bum and keep them level. I didn’t want to let mine go.

Once when I was supine preparing for cobra, I felt four little cloven hooves on my back.  It was Minty, an adorable black and white youngster with a garland of flowers around her neck.  Fake of course, or they would have been eaten. You can’t help but giggle. In downward facing dog, I came face-to-face with upward facing Dagmar.  There were buckets of grass around the studio for them to munch on but Gretel preferred a mat and Cowboy preferred a delicious knot on the back of someone’s yoga top.  The goats’ favorite pose was pigeon. It gave them a real opportunity hop aboard. There were 4 or 5 young girls who acted as goat wranglers and clean-up squad when nature called.

 

Periodically, sliced carrots were scattered around and the sound of stampeding hooves was hilarious.  In addition to the goats there were also a couple of llamas in the mix – Bon Bon and Tootsie. The farm also had horses, two sweet dogs, guinea pigs, and chickens.  

At the end of class as we relaxed in Shavasana, lavender scented wash towels were distributed, and I saw a red-tailed hawk flying overhead.  The instructor was a rock star for conducting a very novel yoga experience with a million distractions.

 

Namaste – eh- eh- eh – eh.

 

WRITTEN BY PATRICIA STALEY: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

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5 Health Tips for Seniors to Stay Golden in Your Golden Years.

Aging into your golden years is a beautiful part of life. It means retiring from your career, no longer raising children and living your best life. But getting older also means having to take better care of your health, both physical and mental. As you age into your senior years, improve your quality of life by taking control of your health. Here are 5 tips to get you started!

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Aging into your golden years is a beautiful part of life. It means retiring from your career, no longer raising children and living your best life. But getting older also means having to take better care of your health, both physical and mental. As you age into your senior years, improve your quality of life by taking control of your health. Here are 5 tips to get you started!

 

Prioritize your health.

Make regular doctor visits for tests and evaluations, take preventative actions and never ignore symptoms. The “wait and see if it goes away” approach might have worked in your younger years, but it won’t work in your senior years. Waiting could lead to diseases spreading or getting worse. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating well and exercising are the most controllable things you can do to prevent health issues from developing. Don’t forget about your mental health and the invisible illnesses that lurk inside. Just because a disease doesn’t cause physical damage, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Add a mental health professional to your list of doctors to see regularly.

 

Focus on eating clean.

Older people tend to have more heart and blood sugar problems, weaker bones, and higher risk for disease, so it’s important to eat heart-healthy food with balanced nutrition. Your body is more easily affected by fried foods, red meat, sugar and alcohol than before. Your aging body needs more nutrients to be healthy. This is the time to consume more vegetables and water, but don’t rob yourself of cheat meals. Living your best life should involve occasional indulgences.

 

Find an exercise that works for you.

Whether you’ve always been a fitness buff or just getting started, regular exercise is important for your brain and body. If you’re not an athlete or if you have joint and mobility problems, you can stick to low-impact exercises such as yoga, swimming and walking. Many senior centers offer fun group classes like Zumba and line dancing so that seniors can enjoy these workouts without having to keep up with their younger counterparts.

 

Adopt a companion.

As we get older, we see less of people. Our friends might not be as mobile, and our family might be busy with their own lives. If you’re living alone, a companion animal can be beneficial for easing loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. For those who enjoy caring for others, a dog can fill the void that children once filled. You get to care for someone while having constant companionship, and your dog gets to have a best friend to love. If you qualify for an emotional support dog, you can travel with your pet and live in homes that usually don’t allow dogs.

 

YOLO

Do things that you love or have always wanted to try. Wear a bikini on the beach, take a trip to that bucket list location, pick up a new hobby, go to a Rolling Stones concert, become an actor or move closer to the beach. You’ve dedicated most of your life to other people, so now you should dedicate your life to yourself. Don’t let anything stop you from living out your dreams.

 

Before you enter the aging stage, have a retirement plan that will support your financial and living situations throughout the remainder of your life. Set up a healthy living arrangement, whether it’s a grown child’s home, assisted living or your own home. Get a good medical insurance plan through private insurance or Medicare. Have a substantial retirement fund from savings, investments, or passive income. Most importantly, take care of your mind and body for an optimal quality of life.

 

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How to Plan Your Meals for Healthy Weight Loss.

The best weight loss plans consist of a healthy balanced diet along with a well-designed exercise routine. You certainly don’t need to starve yourself to reach your goal weight. Sometimes the simplest changes in your eating habits can make a world of difference to your physique. The following exercise and weight loss tips will help you lose weight quickly and healthily.

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The best weight loss plans consist of a healthy balanced diet along with a well-designed exercise routine. You certainly don’t need to starve yourself to reach your goal weight. Sometimes the simplest changes in your eating habits can make a world of difference to your physique. The following exercise and weight loss tips will help you lose weight quickly and healthily.

 

Create A Healthy Eating Plan

 

When conducting your diet meal plan to lose weight, one of the first things to do is cut out processed or packaged foods, as most of these foods are high in salt, sugar and fat. Make sure to cut out any sugary drinks from your diet like sweetened tea and coffee, juices, soft drinks and alcohol.

A healthy weight loss diet should primarily consist of fresh, whole foods. Whole grain carbs, healthy fats, and mineral rich foods are all important components of a healthy diet plan. Ideally, each of your meals should include a protein source. A good protein diet helps to build lean muscle and curb your hunger. Protein can be found in a range of foods such as fish, nuts, eggs, lentils and lean ground beef. It’s also wise to fill up on fresh veggies twice a day. The fiber and antioxidants present in vegetables can reduce levels of inflammation in the body, which can lead to healthy fat loss.

 

Don’t Skip Breakfast

 

While it may be tempting to skip breakfast when you’re trying to lose weight, this is never the right diet strategy to take. Skipping meals, in general, slows down your metabolism and can leave you craving a binge later on. Eating a hearty breakfast every day will keep you full, energized and satisfied, helping to minimize any cravings. This is a great way to start the day off right and slim down healthily. A well-balanced breakfast has a mix of lean protein and healthy fats (e.g eggs, beans or yogurt), plus fiber (e.g. fruits or whole grains).

 

Go for Regular Walks or Jogs

 

A combination of a good diet plan and a regular exercise routine is always the best way to lose weight. To ensure you burn those extra calories, make the commitment to take regular walks or jogs every day, preferably in the evenings. Evening walking can be particularly beneficial for weight loss because metabolism can often slow down towards the end of the day.

Doing about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise or even some quiet yoga in the garden before dinner may help to increase your metabolic rate for at least a couple hours. If you need some motivation to walk every day, consider buying a Fitbit to keep count of your steps, and try to beat your previous score each time.

 

Discover New Healthy Foods

 

Food that’s great for you definitely doesn’t have to be boring!  At any time in the year, you should be able to find fresh vegetables and fruit that are delicious cooked or raw. The vibrant colors of vegetables such as carrots, spinach, peppers and tomatoes are a visual testament that they are bursting with nutrients – so encourage your family to fill your dinner plates with brightly-colored red, orange, green, and yellow vegetables and fruit.

Don’t forget about the goodness of foods with mono- and polyunsaturated fats – such as omega-3-rich salmon and avocado – as well as the fat and nutrients in healthy portions of nuts (which are technically fruits). When you are more mindful about what you eat and appreciate the wonderful benefits that nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables provide our body, you will feel more relaxed about your choices and enjoy your meals more!  Less stress equals an easier weight-loss journey for you.

 

 

Johanna Cider is a New Zealand-based writer who loves writing about all kinds of fitness and healthy living topics. She enjoys running and including yoga in her daily workouts. Visit Johanna’s Tumblr page to know more about her.

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Mindful Interiors: How to Give Your Home a Mindfulness Refresh.

Not only will a mindful remodel help you design a more tranquil home that celebrates moderation, simplicity and nature, but it will also help you appreciate your space more and create a connection with your surroundings.

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Mindful living teaches you to appreciate the beauty of each moment and embrace serenity in your life. If you are setting out on a path of mindfulness, you will likely transform all areas of your life into natural peace and beauty.

This approach can include transforming your home into a mindfulness-inspired retreat that will fill you with peacefulness. Not only will a mindful remodel help you design a more tranquil home that celebrates moderation, simplicity and nature, but it will also help you appreciate your space more and create a connection with your surroundings.

Embrace Serene Colors

The power of colors is certainly not underestimated in a mindful home design. On the contrary, if you want to create a Zen-like vibe in your home and design a space that will help you be more mindful of the world around you, you need to introduce carefully picked shades. In a mindful home, the colors of nature, such as soft greens, clean blues, rich browns and other neutral tones, are an emblem of serenity. They will help you create a simple, understated base for other design elements while also introducing visual balance and peacefulness. Muted tones, chalky finishes and faded tones can all work together perfectly in designing a mindfulness-inspired sanctuary. However, a pop of dark, moody tones like deep purple or dark charcoal can encourage meditation and mindfulness, so don’t hesitate to use them.

Go Zen Where You Can, Especially the Bathroom

Designing a soothing bathroom retreat is another great way to invite mindfulness to your life. Taking some time to indulge yourself and appreciate the moment you’ve taken for yourself will fill you with tranquillity. Creating a bathroom with a Zen vibe will provide you with a calming retreat where you can do that. You should opt for a minimalist design, install subtle lighting and soothing colours. Natural accessories and calming fragrances are also welcome in a Zen-inspired bathroom.  

Optimize Your Bed

 

Your bed is an area for relaxation and your personal sanctuary where you can unwind, recharge your batteries and get ready for a new day. Thus, it’s important that you have a bed that inspires relaxation and comfort. You can go with a low ensemble bed that will be in the spirit of a Zen-inspired style. It’s important that your bed provides you with a feeling of comfort and ensure that you get quality sleep. You can go with Wabi-sabi inspired sheets that have a slightly wrinkled look. This will give your bed a cosy, lived-in look and help you create a calming ambience. Finally, you should take the time to make your bed every morning instead of just rushing out. Not only will this leave you with a beautiful bed, but it will also give you a moment before you go on with your daily duties.

Blissful light

Becoming more mindful will inspire you to embrace the flow of energy in your home. Letting sunlight permeate your home will not only make it seem brighter and more open, but it will also energise your space and have a positive impact on your mood. Thus, you should use every opportunity to welcome natural light to your home, open up your windows and feel the warm rays of sunlight. However, you should also be mindful of your artificial lighting and avoid fluorescent lights that may cause depression and anxiety. Instead, you should go with subtle LEDs, adjustable dimmers and intimate candles to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere in your home.

 

Go Natural

Adopting a mindful lifestyle will teach you to be aware of your environment and establish a deeper connection with nature. Therefore, you should adopt such an approach when designing your home and implement natural elements. Greenery will help you open up your space, make it more enjoyable and relaxing and elevate your home décor. Natural materials, on the other hand, will give your home an organic touch and fill it with a soothing natural vibe. Wood, stone, clay, marble and cork will help you design a nature-inspired retreat with timeless appeal. You can use them for authentic features, flooring, furniture pieces and decorative details, letting their flair and texture come into focus.

Stay Organized

Designing a mindful home means paying attention to what items you use and how you use them. Instead of just letting clutter pile up, you should remove it and use hand-picked items in your home. Introducing items with a specific purpose will help you appreciate them more. Furthermore, clutter can have a negative impact on your mood, making you feel overwhelmed and cramped in your own home. You should take time to declutter your space and create an open and airy atmosphere. However, you need to prevent clutter from building up, so make sure to keep your surfaces clear and your items neatly arranged.

Your home should be a place of tranquillity and serenity where you’ll be able to appreciate every moment that passes by. Thus, you should embrace these simple elements and bring mindfulness into your home.

 

CHLOE TAYLOR is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator

 

 

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How To Like Yoga: Stories From A Reluctant Yogi.

The benefits of yoga, from reducing stress to increasing compassion, greatly outweighed any discomfort I felt about plunging myself into the yoga world head first. You don’t need special clothes or an Aum tattoo or any certain level of flexibility to do yoga.

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I had always liked the idea of being a yogi but could never quite picture myself fitting into the peppy, Lululemon-clad hordes of Zen-seekers that I saw in perfect headstands as I passed by the windows of the many yoga studios in my neighborhood.

Everyone looked so flexible and intimidating, so I’d keep walking and do a few stretches in the morning on my own, wondering what it would be like to join in on yoga as a group experience.

So when I decided to spend a year working and traveling in New Zealand, I surprised myself by signing up for a month-long yoga teacher training course on the North Island. I told myself that this was my year to learn about the things I was interested in but had never tried — and that included yoga and meditation.

 

Why Do It?

 

In addition to the many benefits of exploring a new culture, I looked forward to specifically dedicating time to pursue yoga and meditation with no excuses — no more saying, “I’ll do it later” or “maybe next month.” I knew about how stress affects our health, impacting circulation, anxiety, and weight, and knew I could benefit from some stress-relieving routines like a regular yoga practice.

 

I didn’t trust that I had the personal resolve or discipline to make myself develop a yoga practice on my own, so I hoped that the month-long intensive would make the habit stick so I would have an easier time continuing it when I returned home.

 

What Was Yoga Teacher Training Like?

 

I was immediately drawn to the incense wafting between rooms, the bells of mindfulness tolling throughout the day, the brightly colored yoga mats splayed out on any and every surface big enough, and even the obtrusive sound of the harmonium that could be heard from across the grounds.

 

However, as an introvert who generally doesn’t like an audience, I was pretty apprehensive about the actual yoga teacher training thing because you’re training to be a yoga teacher, which, you know, inherently involves an audience.

 

But it turns out that group yoga is not as intimidating as I thought. Don’t get me wrong — I definitely considered escaping many, many times. The night before I had to lead my first yoga class in front of my peers, my partner had to talk me out of booking a taxi to get me out of there immediately.

 

And yet — everyone was very supportive along the way and often experiencing the same level of nervousness that I was. Everyone was more focused on what they were doing rather than looking at the person on the mat next to them. It seems obvious now, but this was such a road block for me to getting into yoga in the first place that it felt like quite a revelation once I figured it out.

 

Between learning yogic theory, practicing asanas, performing ancient yogic cleansing techniques, singing kirtan, guiding meditations, and cooking traditional Indian meals, there wasn’t much time to ask myself, “what the heck am I doing here?”

 

My Takeaways

 

As yoga, meditation, and kirtan became parts of my everyday existence, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to give these things a real try.

 

At first, when I learned we’d be doing kirtan every night, I experienced an unparalleled dread. Singing? In a group? No thanks, I’d rather poke my eyeballs with a hot stick. It’s funny how things work out, because kirtan ended up being my favorite part of the entire month — a place where I could let go and discover an unknown talent for drumming. Who knew?

 

Several years removed from this experience, I still incorporate things I learned during my yoga intensive month into my life, like when I’m feeling anxious at work or tight and sluggish from too much sitting. A quick and basic series of poses or a few minutes of regulated breathing exercises do wonders for my well-being, and I’ve been able to share these techniques with friends and family.

 

The benefits of yoga, from reducing stress to increasing compassion, greatly outweighed any discomfort I felt about plunging myself into the yoga world head first. You don’t need special clothes or an Aum tattoo or any certain level of flexibility to do yoga. As long as you do it for you and focus on your inner transformation instead of your outward appearance, you won’t be a reluctant yogi for long.

 

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Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.

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What Are Adaptogens & How Do They Work?

Adaptogens are a unique class of plants that can have particular healing abilities. They may be able to help balance, protect, restore your body, and normalize psychological functions.

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Have you ever heard of “adaptogens”? They sound like something out of a science fiction movie, right?

Something like, “Our defenses are crumbling! We need to release the adaptogens!”

But they’re very real, and they can do wonders for your body.

If you’re not sure what adaptogens are, where you can find them, how you should use them, when you should consume them, and more, then you’re in luck.

We’re about to teach you everything you need to know.

Adaptogens: The Basics

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are natural, non-toxic healers.

In fact, it’s quite possible you’ve been consuming adaptogens your entire life without knowing it, unwittingly reaping adaptogenic benefits.

We’ll stop here for a minute, because we know what you’re thinking. Adaptogens aren’t the newest, hottest wellness trend that’s come to stake its claim over beet juice smoothies, rose water, and quinoa.

Adaptogens are more than a trend. They’ve been a part of medicine for centuries.

Simply put, they can be described as natural substances that work with a person’s body to help them adapt (hence the term “adapt”ogen) to the various challenges of life. Most notably, they’re said to help your body regulate homeostasis and return to its natural balance, especially when it comes to stress.

That’s the 30,000 foot view. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Adaptogens: The Nuts and Bolts

Our bodies have a built-in fight-or-flight system that is triggered in response to stress. This system is incredibly useful in emergencies or when we’re threatened and need to take immediate action.

Cortisol is released, which then triggers the adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system. Blood pressure is increased and your digestive secretions are restricted. Essentially, your body readies itself to either run or to stand and fight.

Unfortunately, we increasingly live in high-stress environments in which we encounter stressful situations multiple times per day. The meeting with the boss. Driving through heavy traffic. Dealing with irate customers. Caring for a screaming baby.

Each of these stressors triggers our fight-or-flight response, releasing a flood of cortisol through the body. Our bodies weren’t designed to handle so much cortisol, and it can lead to the adrenal glands failing, stress on the digestive tract, and rapid aging.

Cortisol levels and stress are only meant to exist in your body in short bursts — as a hormonal response designed to protect you in survival situations. Adaptogenic compounds (whether in food or in herbs) help mitigate the body’s stress response and get your adrenal system back into balance while overcoming adrenal fatigue. These compounds keep your body at a balanced level.

A natural ally to your body, adaptogens can help your body deal with persistent stress and fatigue, and help get you back to proper, functioning order. They work with your body to help regulate hormones and adjust your cortisol levels over long periods of time to help regulate chronic stress.

You can think of them like a thermostat for your body. When your stress “temperature” begins to rise, adaptogens can support your body as it comes back to its normal levels. They can help keep stress hormones from running rampant throughout your body.

For example, studies of Panax ginseng, a well-known adaptogen, have suggested that it can be significantly helpful in reducing the body’s overall response to stress. The same goes for numerous other adaptogens.

But that’s not all. Adaptogens also may boost your immune system, help you manage a healthy weight, increase your physical endurance and your mental focus, reduce discomfort, reduce cortisol levels (which contribute to stress), and encourage a balanced mood.

Adaptogens: Sources

Consuming Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a unique class of plants that can have particular healing abilities. They may be able to help balance, protect, restore your body, and normalize psychological functions.

The list of helpful, healing adaptogens is long – so long we can’t possibly include all of them in this article. But, we’ll list out of a few helpful adaptogens you can utilize in your daily routine.

In fact, you might already use some of these without knowing how much you’re helping your mind, body, restoration, and balance.

Some of the most popular adaptogenic herbs are things you’ve probably heard of, such as:

  • Ginseng
  • Basil
  • Mushroom
  • Rosemary
  • Aloe
  • Licorice root

Others, you might not be so familiar with include:

  • Rhodiola
  • Astragalus root
  • Ashwagandha
  • Milk thistle
  • Bacopa
  • Schisandra
  • Moringa oleifera
  • Gotu kola
  • Ginseng eleuthero

These adaptogens can be consumed in a variety of ways, including food and supplements. The main point is simply to start getting a number of these adaptogens in your diet, especially if you find yourself constantly under stress.

Adaptogens: In Your Diet 

Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogens that are most notable for helping lower or balance your cortisol are compounds like rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha (indian ginseng), milk thistle, asian ginseng, holy basil, and panax ginseng. You’re probably going to be challenged to find ways to include milk thistle in your diet, meaning you’ll need to consume it in supplement form.

However, adaptogens can be present in food as well. Just like the herbs and other compounds, there are specific foods that can contain the healthy adaptogens your body can benefit from. Add basil to your meals to gain adaptogen benefits, eat specific kinds of mushrooms, or spice up your dishes with rosemary.

Additionally, consider things like ginseng tea and other herbal mixes. The goal is simply to find numerous ways to get adaptogens into your diet, whether it’s through supplements, food, or mixes.

And while most adaptogens can be used individually, many herbalists prefer to blend them together to create an even more potent effect. In essence, they stack the benefits on top of each other.

A Few Cautions With Adaptogens

The benefits of adaptogens seem endless, but knowing what they are and what they can do for you doesn’t answer a few of the remaining questions you probably have about the compounds.

For example, when should you take them? How do you know how long you should take them? In what amounts should you take adaptogens?

The positive thing about adaptogenic compounds is that there are only a few instances in which you can overdo it or they can cause you harm. In fact, one of the driving features of adaptogens is that they’re safe and non-toxic.

However, it’s possible, however, that some herbs can cancel each other out when taken together. For example, if you’re taking an herb that stimulates you and one that helps you sleep, the effects will probably cancel each other out.

It’s also possible that some of the herbs should only be used for limited amounts of time or once every few months. Herbalists and doctors often recommend rotating the adaptogens you use every few months.

As always, it’s important to check with your doctor before you start taking any form of medication or herbal remedies. Some herbs and foods that contain adaptogens can interact with other medications you’re taking, so ensure that you’ve approved any new herb or botanical with your doctor before you consume it.

Additionally, consider reading The Botanical Safety Handbook, which contains all the information you need to know about adaptogens.

If you’re breastfeeding, use particular caution. While no adaptogens have been shown to be of any concern for breastfeeding children, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. Again, talk to your doctor.

Adaptogens and You: Final Thoughts

Natural Adaptogens

If you’re thinking about about adding adaptogens into your diet, you might find yourself wondering, “Do I really need them?” The answer is both, “Yes,” and, “No.”

You don’t need them in the sense that you need an antibiotic to treat a particular infection. You do need them to help you body stay in balance amidst the constant stresses of life.

It’s important to note that adaptogen supplements don’t treat specific conditions. Rather, they help boost your overall well-being. Instead of wondering if you “need” them to solve a problem, ask yourself if taking adaptogens can help you feel better, more balanced, less stressed, and healthier?

Ask yourself how you feel. Is your digestive tract functioning to the best of its ability? Do you have a healthy appetite? Is your skin vibrant and healthy? Are your stress levels easily manageable? If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s possible you’re a candidate for adaptogen inclusion in your diet!

Adaptogens help adjust your body’s stress response and keep it at a desirable level, similar to how you’d adjust the temperature from becoming too high or too low.

If you want to keep your body in balance, adaptogens might be the perfect solution to add to your diet and supplement plan!

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Yoga and Brain Function: How Yoga Affects the Brain.

You know yoga is good for your body, but did you also know it’s good for your brain? All types of workouts can positively impact mental health, but yoga seems to be particularly good at positively affecting the brain.

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You know yoga is good for your body, but did you also know it’s good for your brain? All types of workouts can positively impact mental health, but yoga seems to be particularly good at positively affecting the brain. This goes for the pranayama (breath control), asana (postures), and meditation.

 

According to Dr. Jonathan Greenburg at the Massachusetts General Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School, yoga has been effectively used to treat insomnia, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and other mental diseases and illnesses. He says it helps to increase the sense of self-control and well-being and has been well received in mass populations such as prisons. Dr. Greenburg attributes this largely to yoga’s ability to control stress. “We know stress is a very fertile ground for many physical and mental ailments,” he explains. No wonder yoga (or stress reduction) can work wonders for mental health.

 

Consider the research featured in the Frontiers in Immunology journal, which suggests that yoga actually decreases inflammation that can happen from chronic stress. Yoga has the ability to lessen stress while helping you get a better perspective on reality. It’s a type of healthy coping mechanism, though in most yoga classes it’s simply called getting your zen.

 

The pranayama aspects of yoga can also help because it’s tapping the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the brain. Also known as the HPA axis, it’s in charge of your sympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is where your fight or flight instinct takes place. The parasympathetic nervous system is the system that tells you everything is okay and that you can relax. Ultimately, yoga has been shown to minimize the SNS while increasing the PNS. This can mean lower blood pressure and heart rate, according to Greenburg. Your brain is always asking your body for cues of what to do—and the other way around, of course. You’re a machine, and your brain is at the helm. It could use a little help, and yoga might be the key.

 

So, why not work on optimizing the PSN around the clock? Too much of anything isn’t good for you. You’d be chill, but pretty non-functional. That’s why meditation isn’t recommended 24/7. You need balance, which is also what you often hear in yoga class, and that includes between the PNS and SNS. Dr. Amy Wheeler, who is on the board for the International Association of Yoga Therapists and also a professor at California State University, says that yoga is all about teaching your SNS that it doesn’t need to be on constantly. You need to be alert and focused without having to go into your fight or flight instinct. Calm yet alert is the goal of yoga and should be the goal of life.

 

There’s also evidence that yoga can help your brain as you age by reversing the signs of aging. A study in the International Psychogeriatrics journal revealed that those 55+ who have cognitive impairment enjoyed significant differences in memory retention after only three months of yoga. A control group was used, and the non-yoga group showed no changes in memory, but also no changes in depression symptoms. According to Dr. Greenberg, meditation can make a big difference in the brain because it has been shown to increase self-related thinking and awareness. However, it’s the memory that he’s particularly interested in. “After eight weeks of meditation training, research found that the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory, developed more gray matter density,” he points out.

 

It’s true—we can actually increase the brain matter simply through the yogic practice of meditation.

 

There’s also the influence of yoga in recovering addicts, particularly in an era of an opioid epidemic when the elderly are at particular risk. Yoga has been effectively used to both wean people off of opioids as well as soothe withdrawal symptoms. The effects of substance abuse on the brain can be severe. However, protecting this damage through yoga intervention and perhaps reversing the damage can be possible. Overall, studies have shown that yogis responder calmer to challenging events. Dr. Greenburg suspects it’s because those who meditate have a bigger “right insula,” which is the part of the brain linked to awareness. When stressed, knowing how you’ll react can prevent you from overreacting.

 

Yoga has been a popular form of natural “medicine” for thousands of years, and with good reason. It can be used as a tool to not only grow the body but also the brain. Since the human body is an interlinked system, it simply makes sense to treat it entirely with kindness.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joshua Butcher is an ex-addict and founder of the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.

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Sujantra McKeever: An Interview with Pilgrimage Yoga Online Founder.

Sujantra now owns two Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga studios, in the heart of North Park and Normal Heights, California.  He instructs 5 classes a week at both locations, teaching all 8 aspects of yoga and exploring the relevance of this ancient art in our modern society.

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This piece is written by Molly Flores, a student at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego. 

In a dimly lit foyer, sunlight cascades over potted olive trees and illuminates trails of incense, seemingly swaying to its own Asana.  In the background, gentle flute music resonates in my ears and fills me with a sense of elation. The walls surrounding me are adorned with vivid paintings and inspirational sayings such as “Yoga is union” and the tables display crystals and sweet smelling herbs.  In this space, I am grounded and filled with euphoria. I close my eyes to embody the feeling entirely. I am drawn back earthside as a gentle hand rests on my shoulder but a voice does not disrupt the silence.

I have come to Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio and have already succumb to it’s grace.   Sujantra McKeever, the founder and owner, stands before me with the presence of a redwood tree that has seen many seasons pass before it;  insightful and strong. His salt and pepper hair flows around his face freely and his infectious smile seems to suggest that he holds dear the secrets of the universe.  He wears loose earth-toned clothing and worn oxford loafers; the combination suggests he is a spiritual man with business to conduct. He gestures me to follow him and I am surprised to discover a den tucked away, hidden behind folding French walls in the back of the studio.  

Unlike the foyer, the den is cramped, filled with books on meditation and pictures of a small Indian man with the same infectious smile: Sri Chinmoy, a world famous inspirational leader who mentored Sujantra for 27 years.  The desk across from me is used as an altar; miniature figurines of Buddha and Hindu goddesses are carefully displayed. The desk also showcases many mementos such a group pictures and event flyers, representing a sense of family: a community of people that Sujantra’s passion has united.

As I prepare myself, Sujantra is already seated ready to explain his juourney.  His aura alludes inner-peace and this the very reason I chose to interview this man regarding his journey to self-enlightenment. As I shuffle through my notes, a look of overwhelment is obviously splayed across my face.  “Where do I begin?”, I giggle nervously. This man before me has seen so much…Without a cue, the silence is interrupted by the soft tone of a gong and just like that, his story unfolds before us.

“I was raised a Roman-Catholic, even as a boy, I had a good feeling for going to church…and I really liked that feeling of that shift between the day to day world and the sacred world.”  

Sujantra McKeever, was born in San Francisco in 1962.  As a boy, he attended cataclysm classes which evolved to a Prayer and Contemplative Meditation course while attending Jesuit High School.  During these classes, Sujantra and his peers, were guided by the priest into spiritual visualizations. “On one of those days, I had a very profound experience about my sense of self and sunk to a really deep place within myself- this was very eye opening. I had never felt that dimension before…”

Now awakened to his passion, Sujantra began to nourish his mind, body and spirit; combining physical exercise with the spiritual practice of yoga and meditation.  Running and basketball were essential to his physical routine as they allowed him to practice breath control, referred to as Pranayama. The peaceful postures (Asanas) of yoga nourished his longing for reflection and a higher sense of self.  

“What I was really motivated to deepen was my ability to meditate.”  Sujantra felt a longing to expand his knowledge and practice of meditation.  Unfortunately, the priest who had ignited the passion within Sujantra originally, was limited in his expertise and was unable to satiate Sujantra’s need for more knowledge on the practice.  

After about a year and a half of searching for a teacher, Sujantra met Sri Chinmoy here in San Diego in 1980. He was teaching a class and the feeling Sujantra left with was similar to the bliss he had experienced as a boy.  He then attended a free concert held by Sri Chinmoy in Phoenix, Arizona. A connection was made and a lifetime of mentor ship was established. Sri  Chinmoy became Sujantra’s spiritual teacher and remained so for the duration of his life, until his passing in 2007.

“I shared with Sri Chinmoy that I wanted to create a space that would be a real vehicle to convey love and inspiration for the practice of meditation and yoga and he created the name The Pilgrimage of the Heart.”  This safe space eluding love and spiritual practice started as a new age bookstore in 2006, providing literate on the practices of yoga.  From there a few yoga classes were hosted throughout the week, word then spread and many more yoga classes were being taught, with this the need for more instructors emerged.

Sujantra now owns two Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga studios, in the heart of North Park and Normal Heights, California.  He instructs 5 classes a week at both locations, teaching all 8 aspects of yoga and exploring the relevance of this ancient art in our modern society. His classes include, Beginning/Gentle Yoga, Yoga for children and Hatha levels I and II, as well as guided meditation as well as a musical meditation course. Continently, for those who can’t make it out to the studio, instructional meditation videos are now provided on www.pilgrimageyogaonline.com.

Not only had Sujantra created a platform to bridge the gap of ancient aspects of yoga to a modern group of people through his studios and website; but he has written 5 books and has lectured in more than 25 countries on the practices as well.  “ I find that the hardest job a teacher faces, is connecting with his audience, so what I’ve tried to accomplish with my lectures and writings is making meditation very accessible to people and to demystify yoga in that sense.” His writings include: Learn to Meditate, Paths Are Many Truth Is One: A Journey to the Essence of Spirituality and Religion, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Lives: The Mandukya Upanished, 7 Secrets to Super-Health, and Strategy for Success.  

As I glance down at my notes, realizing I haven’t prepared anymore questions, I am ready to improvise.  I look up, about to impose a question about his own personal practice and finding the time amidst his busy schedule; only to find that Sujantra has taken it upon himself to find the time right then.  Very clearly deep within his practice, I smile, realizing this was the most appropriate cue for the conclusion of our interview. I head for the door, feeling extremely inspired as I turn to exit I hear “I hope our practices emerge one day, Molly.  Be well.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Molly Flores is originally from New York and has been living in San Diego for the past 10 years. She has a busy life as a mom of two, and is deeply interested in expanding her practice and understanding of yoga and meditation. This piece originated as an interview with Pilgrimage Yoga Online studio founder, Sujantra McKeever. Molly is a student is Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in Normal Heights and North Park in San Diego. 

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Is It Good to Do Yoga During Pregnancy?

Yes, yoga can be difficult, but the level of difficulty is entirely based on the capability and the comfort of the person who’s participating, and the classes you choose to take. In many ways, yoga is the perfect physical activity for pregnant women.

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Pregnancy showcases huge changes to our minds and our bodies. Any woman who’s ever carried a growing child over those 40 weeks can testify to this. It’s also a time that can be extremely stressful and demanding on several levels. Women are expected to prepare themselves and their families for the miracle of birth, while keeping up with their previous activities.

Sure, it’s okay to slow down, but far too many women push themselves beyond their boundaries in an effort to live up to that supermom status. The most important thing you can do for yourself during pregnancy is to understand your boundaries, and to respect what your body is telling you.

If you don’t feel like doing something, then don’t. In the same instance, it’s a good idea to embrace things that can help you relax and that can improve your physical stature.

In just nine short months, it’ll be time to turn some of the attention away from yourself to focus on your new baby. Because of this, it’s very important to embrace yourself and care for your body prior to giving birth.

Yoga is an excellent way to do this without causing yourself any additional exertion or harm. In fact, yoga has a way of calming people down and teaching them different breathing exercises that can be beneficial during the birthing process itself.

 

What is Yoga?

Most of us have heard of yoga. If you’re not familiar with the practice, then you may envision some stereotypical slender men and women folded into all sorts of contortion-worthy shapes. In truth, yoga isn’t just an exercise. It’s a way of life that focuses on connecting your breathing to your body and your body to your mind.

Not only does it improve flexibility and muscle tone, it also teaches us how to remain calm in the face of a stressful situation. It operates on the principle that all of these things come together to bring balance to both your physical and mental well-being.

Yoga is a practice; they call it this because you’re always striving to improve your knowledge and ability of the process. It’s not strenuous exercise that pushes you to constantly progress towards a heightened sense of physical strength.

Yes, yoga can be difficult, but the level of difficulty is entirely based on the capability and the comfort of the person who’s participating, and the classes you choose to take. In many ways, yoga is the perfect physical activity for pregnant women.

Yoga promotes a sense of calm and teaches us to slow our breathing down. This can be incredibly beneficial when a woman is facing the prospect of birth.

According the Yoga Alliance, “Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga.”

 

Yoga’s Positive Impact on Pregnancy

Many women ask themselves the question, “Is it safe to exercise while pregnant?” This is a question that should always be answered first by your physician, and second by your overall level of comfort during physical activity.

Most women are able to continue with their standard exercise routine as long as it doesn’t elevate their heart rate too much or cause them to place themselves in positions that could be harmful for the baby. Starting a new and strenuous type of aerobic exercise can put too much stress on the body and end up being a poor choice for advanced pregnancy.

Yoga, on the other hand, has proven itself to be an excellent resource for those trying to continue with their physical activity. It requires the constant movement of breath while stretching and using a variety of different muscle groups.

Yoga also embraces frequent periods of rest in between postures and doesn’t necessarily elevate the heart rate in the same way that other exercises do. This prepares the body for eventual birth, increasing a woman’s ability to stretch and move with contractions. It also continues to improve blood flow and oxygenates the rest of the body. These are all beneficial to the baby, and to the woman during and after birth.

It’s important to clear it with your doctor first anytime you begin a new exercise regimen while pregnant. It’s also important to make sure that you’re working with an experienced yogi who can show you the appropriate way to do postures and to modify them for your expanding midsection and comfort.

 

Prenatal Yoga

The Mayo Clinic promotes the use of yoga to improve pregnancy and your mental state throughout the process. It does, however, advise against participating in Bikram Yoga. This is the hot yoga practice that takes place in temperatures far exceeding 100°F.

It’s a good idea to look for a prenatal yoga class. This will involve a curriculum specifically designed around pregnancy and the different styles appropriate to any physical limitations. Most of these yoga styles combine restorative and relaxation yoga practices geared towards improving flexibility and helping to promote mental clarity.

This is a great way to reduce stress and to help avoid insomnia in later pregnancy. If you’ve been used to more involved types of yoga, like a Vinyasa flow, you might want to consider modifying some of the postures and avoiding some of the more difficult inversions. Your center of gravity will change drastically, and it’s very important to remember this before trying to balance on your forearms for hollow backs.

During pregnancy, your body is going to release certain chemicals that can actually increase your flexibility—this is to enable you to better open up when it’s time for the baby to be born. You can use this to your advantage during some of your yoga practice; it can actually maximize the effects—allowing them to last long after the baby is born.

 

Modifying Your Style

The following are a few modifications and suggestions that can help to make yoga more accessible during pregnancy:

  • Always tell the yoga instructor that you’re pregnant!
  • Avoid suspensions or inversions that demand balance to avoid a fall
  • Don’t focus as much on getting your forehead to your knees during your forward folds— remember that you need room for your baby and your growing midsection
  • Back postures should be stopped or modified after about 18 weeks of pregnancy
  • Take frequent breaks, and don’t be afraid to immediately stop any posture that causes pain or discomfort
  • Pregnancy requires more oxygen and can compress the lungs— avoid breathing exercises that require you to hold your breath beyond your comfort level during this time

Continuing the Practice After Birth

Whether you’ve just started yoga, or it’s something you’ve been doing for years, it’s important to speak to your OB/GYN prior to continuing the practice after pregnancy. Make sure that you’re healthy enough for exercise, and that the stretching won’t irritate already sensitive areas.

You may need to wait for several weeks prior to participating in any physical activity. If you had a C-section or any type of difficulty during your pregnancy, it’s important to make sure that you take care of yourself before pushing for any type of physical exertion.

Yoga is a fantastic practice before during and after pregnancy. Once you’ve cleared it with your doctor, embrace the lifestyle and all the benefits that it can afford you.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenn Mullin is a freelance writer, focusing on social, economic, and political issues. Her inspiration is writing about topics which provoke thought and start conversations surrounding important and controversial issues.

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Mental Health Solutions for Seniors.

Humans are social beings that seek other humans from the moment they are born all the way to their senior years. Here are 6 tips for improving social integration and mental health as we grow older. 

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Humans are social beings that seek other humans from the moment they are born all the way to their senior years. However, it can be quite hard to maintain a rich social life once you get older—you’re retired and separated from your work colleagues, your physical condition stops you from participating in sports events and some of your old friends might not be with you anymore.  All this can lead to depression – that’s why it so important to have a rich social life all through your life. Here are 6 tips for improving social integration and mental health as we grow older. 

 

Say Hi to People

Being outgoing and friendly to people is a guaranteed road to happiness and a rich social circle. So, don’t hesitate to be open to new friendships and casual acquaintances. For instance, next time you go out to throw away the trash, take a look around the neighborhood. Do you see a friendly person you didn’t get a chance to talk to yet? Go say hi! And, next time you go to the farmer’s market, say hi to some regulars you’ve seen before. Some of them might be looking for new friends too and would love to grab a cup of coffee sometime.

 

Get Moving

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One of the easiest ways to maintain your social life and stay mentally healthy is to get moving! Regular exercise brings so many amazing benefits with it—it keeps you fit, improves sleep, builds stamina, reduces falls and relieves stress and depression. Additionally, if you take up an activity that requires teams or groups, you’ll get to meet new people! You can go as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood to going to the gym, depending on your physical health. For instance, yoga is always a great choice because it has many levels of difficulty, involves groups and it keeps your body and mind active. Yoga also improves flexibility and balance, which are quite important for seniors.

 

Move to an assisted living facility

Even though it can be a very difficult decision to make, moving to an assisted living community is a great way to have a rich and active social life, especially for those seniors with complex care needs, dementia or young onset dementia. Living in aged care facilities can be an amazing experience that provides its users with freedom and independence to socialize, move and have fun AND it gives them professional assistance every time they require it! It’s a real micro-community!

 

Learn to use technology

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Computers sound like a dirty word to some seniors and they don’t want to have anything to do with them. However, once you overcome the initial shock and learn how to work the basics, you’ll see how many things you can do on that thing—the best being social networks! Joining Facebook is a great way to get in touch with old friends and distant family members and meet new people. Additionally, if dating is what you’re looking for, you must know that there are many senior dating services online!

Take a cooking class

Taking a cooking class is really a win-win situation: you’ll eat more healthy food AND meet new people. If you just recently realized you need to boost your cooking skills, find a local cooking class and you’ll meet many different people. Chat about food, tastes and your favorite meals. And, once the class is over, invite your new friends for dinner to show off what you’ve learned.

Play brain games

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Mental stimulation is a great way to stay in top shape, but doing crosswords alone is not the only way to boost brain activity. Join a chess club, go to bingo nights, organize game nights with friends (charades is a great way to activate both the body and the brain) or try reading to children. All of these will keep your brain sharp and provide you with social contact.

All of these social activities will provide you with more energy, reduce stress and depression, give you better appetite and better sleep and improve your general quality of life. So, go out there, get engaged and you’ll be much happier and even healthier!


CHLOE TAYLOR is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator

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Yoga for Opiate Withdrawal: Why Yoga Can Be More Effective Than Traditional Treatment.

When people ask the question, “Why is opiate addiction so hard to treat?” it’s because they haven’t considered a more holistic option. Holistic medicine is any type of treatment that considers the treatment of both the mind and the body equally important.

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Opiate addiction has become more than just a national epidemic, it’s become a fact of life for far too many Americans struggling with it. This isn’t just about the addicts themselves—It’s also about their families, communities, and others that care about them.

It’s no secret that our current treatment modules haven’t been particularly effective. More people are still dying from overdoses each year than they are from any other accidental cause of death. Because of this, many people are starting to turn towards alternative treatment options.

Addiction is a chronic disease that can impact anyone from any walk of life. All it takes is one introduction to drugs or alcohol for a person to start down the path of addiction. Because of this, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how to treat each person individually.

The disease has an impact on both the psychological and physiological aspects of a person. It requires a multitier treatment approach that can only be successful with the help of trained professionals.

It’s important to understand how opiate addiction differs from many of the other types of addictions that we’ve encountered.

 

A Look at Opiate Addiction

Opiates are some of the most addictive drugs in existence. This is because of the way that they mimic certain other chemicals in the brain and increase levels of these chemicals by blocking other receptors.

This creates an initial feeling of extreme euphoria and well-being. It can also instill a false sense of confidence along with pleasant physical changes. Not only do these medications block pain, they also have a profound psychological effect that many people quickly become dependent on.

This is why we’ve dealt with so many people beginning their addiction with prescription medications. They may end up with an injury or an illness that requires a prescription of some sort of narcotic painkiller.

Once they’re feeling better, many will continue to try and get these medications. If they’re unable to obtain them legally, they may turn to illicit drugs to get the same feelings. This can lead to heroin addiction, or in any number of other illegal activities.

The other thing that drives many people to continue using opiates are the withdrawal symptoms that occur during detox. As the brain becomes more and more accustomed to heightened levels of these drugs, it develops a tolerance. A tolerance means that a person must use a larger amount in order to feel any sense of euphoria.

As soon as levels of the drug start to fall within their body, their brain starts to send out distress signals. It’s no longer equipped to fill that chemical void, and a person will start to experience traumatic physical symptoms.

These symptoms can include everything from body aches to extreme nausea and can last for well over a week for long time drug users. This is only the physical repercussion of the detox period. There are any number of psychological issues that a person can develop as they try to stop using drugs as well.

 

A Mixture of the Mind and Body

Choosing to seek help for an addiction to opioids can be difficult for some people. Not only are they admitting that they have a problem and that they’ve lost control over their drug use, they’re also committing themselves to a period of withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important that they seek out a treatment center that understands the impact that addiction has on both the mind and the body. This multi-tier treatment approach is the best way to make sure that someone has a chance of success in recovery.

There’s a big difference between alternative and complementary types of addiction treatment. An alternative treatment program is one that deviates from traditional medicine. A complementary one is one that has a holistic approach to treating addiction.

When people ask the question, “Why is opiate addiction so hard to treat?” it’s because they haven’t considered a more holistic option.

Holistic medicine is any type of treatment that considers the treatment of both the mind and the body equally important.

When a medical facility adds a number of treatment options geared towards your spiritual and psychological health, then they are working as a complementary treatment program. They are using two different kinds of treatment that complement one another to provide the best possible addiction treatment available.

 

Complementary Addiction Treatment

For many people, having access to programs that have a focus on their spiritual and mental health as well as their physical health makes a huge difference. Many of these places will offer a number of different programs like animal therapy, music therapy, and even yoga that can help you to focus on healthier habits.

All of these are things that stimulate a positive chemical reaction in the brain and help to return balance to your life. Simply treating the physical aspects of addiction isn’t enough to help somebody stop using drugs and alcohol.

Many people use drugs and alcohol because of psychological issues. They could be that they are suffering from some sort of trauma and feel that drugs are the only way they can escape. Or, they could have things like anxiety or deep depression, and turn to drugs to help them feel better.

Self-medicating is the term that’s usually used for people that do this. Unfortunately, self-medicating is very dangerous and rarely beneficial. If someone is suffering from an issue like this, they need to contact a medical professional who can put them in touch with a psychologist.

When people choose to seek sobriety, they’ll need to detox both physically and mentally. This often results in a sudden onset of depression or anxiety that will need to be treated on a psychological and spiritual level.

 

Finding Sobriety

Sobriety is a definite possibility for those who truly want it. It’s important to remember that you deserve a better life, and that regardless of your problems there is help available.

Contacting a licensed treatment facility is the first step in a long road to recovery. Life can get better when you remember that you’re a unique person who has more to offer the world than just the stigma that comes along with addiction.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenn Mullin is a freelance writer, focusing on social, economic, and political issues. Her inspiration is writing about topics which provoke thought and start conversations surrounding important and controversial issues.

 

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A Complete Guide to Yoga & Injury Recovery.

Can yoga really help you come back faster and stronger after an injury? If your doctor has approved yoga as a movement regimen, here are a few tips to help you navigate your options when it comes to yoga and injury recovery.

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Along with supporting physical, mental and emotional wellness, injury recovery has proven to be a fundamental benefit of routine yoga practice. Yoga focuses on both the mind and the body, which gives it the potential to address both the physical and nonphysical aspects of an injury.

In general, yoga lengthens muscle tissue, strengthens muscle through applying healthy stress in various shapes, and enhances range of motion of the skeleton. These traits are excellent both for recovery from overuse muscle injuries like low back pain and as physical therapy intervention for pain management and correcting postural imbalances associated with musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Perhaps even more importantly, yoga reduces cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that has been linked with a number of adverse effects that inhibit injury recovery. Finally, yoga has proven benefits in terms of joint health, so if you suffered something like a back, neck, or knee injury, yoga classes may be the right place to go.

But the greater question is: Can yoga really help you come back faster and stronger after an injury? If your doctor has approved yoga as a movement regimen, here are a few tips to help you navigate your options when it comes to yoga and injury recovery.

 

Choose the Right Class

 

Each yoga class is designed for a certain body type, learning preference, and skill level, and when you are walking into a yoga studio in 2018, you are likely to find that there are hundreds of styles to choose from.

When choosing a yoga class, it is important to consider:

  • The pacing of the class — How quickly do you want to move? Flowing styles of yoga will take you from posture to posture about every 10 seconds, whereas a Hatha class will spend full minutes in postures before moving on.
  • The setting of the class — How big is the studio space where you’ll be practicing? This will give you an idea of the potential teacher-to-student ratio. Do you want a lot of personal attention or does it sound better to be anonymous in a crowd? Are we talking about an outdoor session? A gym? A private yoga session in someone’s house? Does the setting have extra mats and a full selection of yoga props?
  • Your goal — What are you looking to achieve? Yoga styles span from highly rigorous to spa-like and gentle. Knowing your goal will help you narrow down which styles are best suited for you.  

Most yoga studios have websites that you can browse to learn more about each teacher, class style and what to expect during the practice. If you have additional questions, reach out to the studios directly through email or phone, or plan to stop by before or after a scheduled class to take a tour and ask questions. The MindBody Connect app is a useful tool to browse local studio class schedules.

 

Choose the Right Teacher

 

Finding the right yoga teacher for you can feel a lot like shopping. Sometimes you need to try a few options before you find the right fit for you.

The best teacher for you is a likely a teacher who:

  • Has used yoga to recover from their own injuries (to find out, read their bio on the studio’s website or show up to class a few minutes early to chat)
  • Checks in with you individually before class ( ← although sometimes it gets busy so the best advice to approach your teacher if they have not checked in with you 5 minutes prior to the start of class)
  • Makes you feel comfortable to be yourself and ask questions
  • Explains the poses in a way that makes sense to you
  • Encourages you to try new things and simultaneously respects your boundaries
  • Observes your practice and is able to offer expert insights

A yoga teacher is not a substitute for a doctor. They are a coach to help you interpret your experience and make intelligent movement choices. Most yoga studios feature yoga teacher bios on their websites and in the studios. But the ultimate test is to try a variety of teachers with different backgrounds and personalities. You’ll know the “good ones” because you’ll want to go back to their classes.

 

Supplements

 

Broken bones, normally due to a fall or perhaps a car accident, are among the most common traumatic injuries. To a greater or lesser extent, all these injuries are treated in the same way. A doctor must surgically repair the bone, and then the patient requires some physical rehabilitation. Sometimes, the surgery is a very invasive procedure that involves metal pins, plates, and screws. Other times, the doctor must only manipulate the bones back into position to they can fuse back together.

Intensive surgery usually requires intensive physical rehabilitation, and a lot of it. But the milder injuries, which are also the more common ones, require a much milder dose of physical therapy. Yoga is great in situations like this. Certain poses target strength and range of motion in certain parts of the body.

To hasten the recovery process, take advantage of the many available boots for improved mobility and other such tools. Larger boots completely immobilize the broken bone while still allowing some limited freedom of movement. Then, as healing progresses, patients can transition to a smaller boot that stabilizes the healing bone but does not greatly interfere with daily activities, including most yoga poses.

 

Summing up

 

When it comes to healing traumatic injuries, the mental aspect is almost as important as the physical component. Yoga is one of the only activities that effectively addresses both elements, making it an excellent part of your overall healing and recovery plan.

If you struggle with pain, postural imbalances, and limited range of movement due to an injury or other musculoskeletal condition, yoga practice could be just the exercise and physical conditioning your body needs to facilitate healing. Guidance from a knowledgeable instructor who is familiar with yoga exercises for injury recovery, as well as supportive aids (like orthotic braces, yoga blocks, straps, etc.) can help you embrace yoga more successfully during your injury recovery journey. Happy healing!

 

joeJoe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…The goal is to help others “rebel against age”.

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Spiritual and Other (Mis)Adventures On and Off the Grid.

There’s a saying, and the title of a wonderful book by Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go, there you are.” My own bad habits and lack of spiritual discipline had followed me from the city to the remote mountain cabin, and back into life in a new city. To change the way I felt about my life, I didn’t actually need a radical change in scenery, but a commitment to live the way I wanted to live every day.

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Everyone has an escape fantasy—perhaps it’s a life of endless surfing in Bali, or running a vineyard in the south of France. Six years ago, I left my job as a yoga teacher to lobbyists and lawyers in Washington, D.C. in pursuit of my own escape fantasy: modern homesteading in the Colorado Rockies. I had probably read too many books about a simple life in harmony with animals and nature—so many, in fact, that I thought that’s what it was really like: part Little House on the Prairie, part Walden, part Charlottes’ Web. I had never so much as grown a tomato on the balcony, but believed in a life more homemade, more ideals-driven, and more spiritually profound than I thought the city could offer. So, what came next?

Buying 36 acres and a cabin in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, one heart-stopping hour’s drive on a backcountry mountain road away from a tiny little town. And dragging my reluctant husband, my two-year old son, and the baby in my belly—due in six months—along for the ride. Of course!

I was idealistic to a fault, to my detriment, to the annoyance and sometimes infuriation of everyone close to me. There was much I rejected about the city: the rampant exploitation of people and the earth to fuel a consumerist model of economic growth, the attachment to stress as a status symbol; the traffic and air pollution. Through hard work and food self-sufficiency, I believed I would finally fulfill my desire to do more good and less harm to this living planet while cultivating the ability to be deeply present that, despite my job as a yoga teacher, was lacking for me and my family in our city life. My meditation practice had only shallow and scattered roots—I had tried so many methods, and had drifted away from the path as much as stayed on it. As a condo-living city dweller, I lacked all connection to dirt, and believed that the natural environment and my spiritual practice were somehow fundamentally linked.

In place of forgettable character-themed birthday parties and high-pressure schools, I wanted my children to hold day-old chicks in their hands and live their whole lives with wild places imprinted in their memories. We would trace the fine pinpoints of constellations instead of the coarse fog of light pollution; our imaginations would be fed by the narratives of animal and plant life unfolding around us, not the manufactured dramas of television. We would know that real food isn’t packaged in plastic because our hands had coaxed nourishment from the ground.

As my husband and I quit our jobs and packed up an entire life’s worth of city accouterments, I convinced my dad to go in on the venture because I knew he longed for fiery orange sunsets backed by a vast, mountain scape on a piece of land he could call home. The 36-acre homestead brimmed in my mind’s eye with wonder and potential. I could build a yoga yurt set against the breathtaking mountain vista and bring students for classes and retreats: a combination sustainable homestead/yoga and spiritual center. Possibilities were endless.

I found that I no longer needed to-do lists; the first year of homesteading goals were etched plainly in my mind: Grow the biggest, best food garden ever. Raise all kinds of animals, humanely, for milk, meat, eggs and wool. Hunt, dress, catch and freeze game and fish. Knead, bake, can, sprout and ferment every manner of food I knew—and more that I didn’t. Fix, patch, sew, darn and knit. Form instantaneous and lifelong bonds with neighboring homesteaders. Transform a family marked by anxiety and convenience-addiction into a resourceful, hardy, multigenerational mountain household. Love every minute of it.

People grow food and raise animals all over the world, I told myself. I was tough and outdoorsy. I had read all about modern homesteading. I had this—no problem. Right?

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As it turns out, homesteading was nothing—nothing at all—like the glossy magazine photos of pretty women in stitched aprons with broad smiles and a fiddle in one hand, a skillet apple pie in the other. Instead, cold penetrated every fiber and left our cheeks permanently frozen and raw—until the heat came. That brought its own dry form of suffering. Spiders dropped from the many crooks and crevices of our picturesque cabin onto our pillows at night. Big spiders. Food gardening, begun with starry-eyed optimism, soon proved technical, rife with battles between human and small mammal—not at all like my fantasies of communing with a giving earth. The farm animals we tried to keep were threatened by fox, bobcat, snake and bear. I soon felt more—not less—scattered and discombobulated than I had in the city. Presence eluded me, and my yoga and meditation practice languished in the dust of all the chores and worries.

Isolation proved the toughest burden of all.  By seeking a closer bond with my husband, our son, the baby to come, and with my father, I had unwittingly isolated us from everyone else. I had imagined a community of homesteaders on the mountain—though no evidence had existed for them—and when that proved the stuff of fantasy, we were left mainly looking at one another. Ironically, without a wider interpersonal safety net, even those closest family relationships were strained because we needed the village, or city—the social ecosystem that provided inspiration, comic relief and technical support to the many endeavors of life. The 36 acres of untamed mountain beauty and the picturesque little cabin began to feel more like a prison than a vehicle of liberation.

There was also the incident where my husband met me at the door with a gun because he thought I—noisily wresting bags and parcels out of the trunk of our car—was a bear breaking into the garage. And so sooner, rather than later, we pronounced ourselves unfit for the job of homesteading—we fled.

***

I should have been devastated by the loss of a dream. Our financial burdens mounted under the humiliating shadow of having to move ourselves and our son into the upstairs half of my in-laws’ home in Orange County. My husband and I were both unemployed for over a year, our second baby was due imminently, and Orange County—with its tangle of freeways, chain stores, and affluent suburbs as far as the eye can see—was the last place I would have imagined living. Yet there was peace in my heart, at long last, in compromise.

Ideals are just that—to strive for, not to be realized all at once. After giving homesteading my all, and failing pretty spectacularly, I realized that I’d rather be happy than righteous. And for me, happiness is both an inside and an outside job: working on that steady connection to my center through asana and meditation goes hand in hand with finding a community and a place to feel at home. Here, at last, in San Diego, I’ve journeyed further than ever along the path of cultivating both the inner sources of contentment, as well as the community of like-minded yogis and natural-living folks that inspire and support me.

I’ve learned that life is messy and full of wrong turns. The world doesn’t conform to my ideals. I may never wake up and say, this is the culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted. For as long as I could remember, I’d had a sense that finding the right city, state or country, the right property and house, the right way to earn a living, the right community, would signal, now my life is starting for real. But no, I realize, life is here and now, happening under my nose. I couldn’t be truly present with my spiritual practice in Washington, D.C., nor did I find the lasting peace I sought in the country. But that wasn’t the fault of either place. It was my own. And it could be changed.

There’s a saying, and the title of a wonderful book by Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go, there you are.” My own bad habits and lack of spiritual discipline had followed me from the city to the remote mountain cabin, and back into life in a new city. To change the way I felt about my life, I didn’t actually need a radical change in scenery, but a commitment to live the way I wanted to live every day—with wonder and appreciation for my abundant blessings, with deeply rooted presence for myself, my family, and my yoga students. After all these years of talking about the benefits of gratitude and meditation, and of practicing them on and (mostly) off, I finally find myself with the motivation, and the ability, to practice daily.

***

While trying to live my dream, I discovered that I’m not as alternative, nor as tough, as I thought. And that’s actually alright. I’m a person with ideals and contradictions. Accepting life as it is—and myself, as I am—inclusive of all the flaws, while stumbling along half-blind: that’s a more realistic view. When my kids are older, I’d like to give homesteading another try, but in a more incremental way, and in a place that suits me better.

Meanwhile, there’s much I can do in a city like San Diego that I couldn’t do on the mountain: walking my kids to school, and biking to work. Bartering goods and services with those in my community so that we can all have more while buying less. Shopping local. Maybe experimenting with a little urban homestead in my postage-stamp North Park yard—because although I’m done with the full-tilt rural homesteading fantasy for now, I’m not done searching for our good life. We could have a small organic garden and a few hens. Maybe even some bees, and a couple of milking goats (the city of San Diego permits two miniature goats on single-family lots)—when we’re ready. And one day soon, I’m pretty sure we will be.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Danielle Simone Brand (aka Danielle Brand-LeMond) is a mother of two, a die-hard idealist, and a breaker of conventions. An instructor of Flowing Yoga and Prenatal Yoga at Pilgrimage of the Heart and elsewhere, she has been teaching yoga since 2003, and practicing since 1996. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MA from American University and has worked as a staff writer, an academic editor, and a researcher on issues of international conflict resolution. Having grown up in suburban Hawaii, Danielle had no practical rural skills, nor any reason to believe she could handle a true Colorado winter. All she had was her yearning for a homemade life for her family—and the willingness to write about it. Her memoir manuscript about following that dream is entitled, A Good, Good Life: Misadventures (Almost) Off the Grid.

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Mental Health in the Workplace: How to Use Meditation to Ease Depression.

Brain scans done on meditators learning mindfulness have shown that they have decreased activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain associated with stress and anxiety) when exposed to negative thoughts.

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I first began studying and reading about meditation in the late 1970’s. At that time everything I read focused on meditation as a practice rooted in spiritual philosophy and the practice was centered on the attainment of mystical experience. I began practicing and found that it worked.

That was nearly 40 years ago. These days meditation and mindfulness have both been found useful not only for the attainment of enlightenment but also for performance enhancement, stress reduction and managing depression.

Mystical teachings lay out a simple and straightforward plan for using meditation as a pathway to enlightenment. Meditation is also a fast, easy way to clear the clutter of your mind, still your thoughts and reduce stress.  It works.

Enlightenment can take a lifetime. Stress reduction can happen in minutes. And even a few sessions of meditation can work wonders.

 

How Meditation Works

Brain scans done on meditators learning mindfulness have shown that they have decreased activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain associated with stress and anxiety) when exposed to negative thoughts.  Meditators were better able to notice negative thoughts without responding to them by getting upset or anxious.

Research has shown that adding mindfulness practice to treatment plans can help reduce the recurrence of chronic depression.  Mindfulness has also been successfully used to augment treatment of a variety of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, and others.

Depression is the leading cause of disability affecting some 7% of the population. The challenge of calming our minds can be daunting especially when dealing with depression. One of the first steps is acknowledging that we need to start.

 

Depression in the Workplace

Researchers also have measured far higher incidences of depression among entrepreneurs. In the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley and a highly successful talent pool of entrepreneurs, the 2-Minute Mind Check now encourages employees to take a short, mental health survey that measures where you stand on the depression scale. This initiative, organized by the ADAANAMI-SFWeWork, and Meru Health, also offers free resources to help employees manage those symptoms. 

 

 

Websites like PYO.yoga offer dozens of meditation exercises with guided visualizations and imagery (on a pay as you wish basis). Meditation apps like InsightTimer and Calm are available which allow you to learn and practice meditation in the comfort of your own home. You can also check online in your local area for meditation classes.

My journey of learning meditation was helped immensely by meeting and practicing with those who knew how to meditate. Seek out local teachers.  There are also many books available on the subject. The writings of Jon Kabat Zinn are highly recommended as he was a pioneer in identifying many of the health benefits of meditation.

 

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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Benefits of Yoga In the Classroom (Spoiler Alert: It Helps Everyone).

Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent or administrator—the benefits of yoga in the classroom extend to an entire network of individuals.

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There are many stereotypes and clichés that surround the practice of yoga. Many people have not been able to explore the benefits of yoga because of these stereotypes, but lately, it has grown into a mainstream activity and the stereotypes that have existed for years are slowly fading. However, not many have ever thought about yoga in schools and how this could impact the performance of both teachers and students.

Here are some of the ways yoga in the classroom can leave a positive impact on the lives of students, teachers and families.

 

Enhances mind-body awareness

When students are trained to pay attention, they are able to grow the relationship between their bodies and minds. Therefore, school-based yoga is one of the ways students can benefit from the development of mind-body awareness. Also referred to as mindfulness, this awareness can impact the behavior of students in many ways. For example, when you encourage your students to undertake a 5 minutes breathing exercise that help to relax their tight stomachs instead of going for some chips, it helps them develop a behavior that largely improves their choices in life.

 

According to preliminary studies, it was noted that of children between the ages of 8 and 15 who completed a yoga program at school, four children’s low self-esteem improved, and there was an average weight loss of 2kg among all students. This led to the conclusion that classroom yoga is beneficial to students not only for improvement to mental functioning (like attention), but it also has an impact on their overall physical well-being.

 

Cultivates physical fitness

There is also a difference between yoga and mindfulness meditation, and this is the fact that yoga is also about doing physical postures. Essentially, yoga includes both mindfulness and motion. Ogden CL, Flegal KM, Kit BK, and Caroll MD (2012) conducted a study to measure the prevalence of obesity among adolescents in the U.S.. From their findings, they drew the conclusion that American children tend to get more obese over time (a period of 12 years to be exact).

Satya Prakash Purohit conducted research to establish how yoga impacts physical fitness among adolescents and the findings were that one of the benefits of yoga is it improves the respiratory function and reduces obesity risk factors. Therefore, embracing classroom yoga only serves to make the lives of the students better and this also ensures teachers have easy time while dealing with their students because they are healthier and more attentive.

 

Supports positive classroom climate and enhances teacher resilience

In addition to providing room for improvement in the cognitive ability among students, classroom yoga has also shown to help teachers. When educators are provided with yoga training focused on acquiring mindfulness skills, they gain different perspectives that positively affect moods, concentration, stress and reasoning.

What this means is that teachers are assured to have the best classroom climate. And with the good mood that comes with yoga, it becomes easy to improve the development of relationships with students. The overall effect is a better learning climate, as most of the performance in learning achieved is as a result of the resilience and ability of the teacher to deeply connect with the students and create lasting relationships.

 

Improves performance, mental state, and student behavior

The CASEL (2015) established that social-emotional learning is a function of five core competencies: Self-management, self-awareness, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. The conclusion of this study suggests that all schools would benefit from having programs that help students build these competencies so they are set up to succeed both personally and academically.

Part of the solution suggested that one of the ways students build these competencies is by embracing yoga and meditation, which are known to improve self-awareness, rational decision making, and emotional management. Additionally, the findings also showed classroom yoga boosts academic achievement and classroom behavior. It may lead to different positive outcomes including reduced risk of psychological disorders, enhanced cognitive performance, and improved mood.

 

Flow, integration and connection

When poses are stringed together in a yoga practice, kids are given a picture of what it feels to move seamlessly. It helps improve the awareness that movements are made up of coordinated efforts between bones, muscles, nerves, and joints. Yoga helps kids to boost that sense of feeling integrated, and to understand how their body moves in space (proprioception). Improvement in these areas has shown to improve self-esteem and confidence, which translates into more empowered social skills, both at school and at home.

 

Putting it all together

Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent or administrator—the benefits of yoga in the classroom extend to an entire network of individuals. Classroom yoga might involve bringing in a specialized yoga teacher to work with a group of students, offering yoga as a physical activity, or bringing in a yoga teacher for after school programs. If your school is in the greater San Diego area, Pilgrimage Yoga Online would be happy to work with you to develop a program and find the right yoga teacher for your needs. Contact us today to get started by sending an email to info@pilgrimageyoga.com.

 

 

SCOTT GROZA is an education expert who has been pursuing various developmental subjects that impact the performance of students and one of his latest findings reveal that yoga is an essential part of enhancing the performance of students in the classroom.

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Yoga to Overcome Addiction: 4 Tips to Jumpstart Recovery.

With more than 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone, addiction is touching more lives than ever before.

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Addiction is a disease that can wreak havoc on the mind and body. Therefore, it seems only natural that a practice with mind and body benefits would help. Enter yoga. Many rehabilitation centers have been using yoga as part of their program, and yoga’s contribution to recovery has not gone unnoticed. A small but growing body of evidence supports yoga as a legitimate method to help people successfully recover from addiction.

With more than 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone, addiction is touching more lives than ever before. If you or a loved one is struggling with any type of addiction, you may be interested to know that yoga can help.

Here are a few ways yoga can help with overcoming addiction.

 

1. Reduce stress levels

Stress is a major obstacle to recovery for multiple reasons. For starters, many people turn to substance abuse as a way to handle stress, so they begin the recovery process without healthy coping skills. Once they reach the Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) phase of recovery, which occurs after physical symptoms of withdrawal subside, they may find it even more difficult to deal with stress. At this point, the brain is re-learning to regulate stress hormones without a substance. The brain reacts to drugs like painkillers and heroin by reducing its natural flow of endorphins and increasing opioid receptors. When the opioids are removed, the brain must readjust. This can be especially problematic in dealing with stress because endorphins are responsible for reducing our perception of pain. With higher endorphin levels, we are less likely to feel the physical effects of stress.

Fortunately, yoga is showing some promise in this area. An Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine study found that integrated yoga decreased anxiety-related symptoms and decreased cortisol (a stress hormone). The same study also found that all types of yoga decreased depression and stress while increasing feelings of hopefulness.

 

2. Greater understanding of self

When you’re under the influence of a substance, it’s easy to lose yourself. Recovery is all about finding yourself again. Yoga is an excellent tool for helping anyone gain a greater understanding of who they are. By paying attention to what is happening in this moment—whether it’s a yoga pose, a breathing technique, or a meditative visualization–

With a great deal of focus on mindfulness, anyone who practices yoga will get a glimpse of their mind its unmodified state. After some practice, you may find a better understanding of yourself through yoga. A Complementary Therapies in Medicine study supports using yoga and mindfulness as promising therapies for treating addiction.

 

3. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is an 8-week intervention that combines cognitive-behavioral strategies with meditation and mindful movement. Its purpose is to help patients get through cravings and difficult emotions, like anger or fear, without reacting.

MBRP teaches mindful movement that includes light stretching and gentle movements. A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology study of 168 adults with substance use disorders found that MBRP significantly reduced relapses at a 2-month follow-up.

4. Solidifying healthy habits

It’s crucial for anyone in recovery to change the ways that led them down a path of addiction. This includes replacing bad habits with more productive ones. By practicing yoga regularly, the person in recovery can spend time improving his or herself each day, which reinforces positive habits.

Recovery is a long road with many twists and turns. Unfortunately, there isn’t a silver bullet that can blast this disease into oblivion. But with a comprehensive treatment program designed to heal the mind and body, there is hope. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. Start the conversation about getting help and what the recovery path should look like.

Yoga is just one tool in the recovery arsenal, but it has shown a great deal of promise.

 

AUTHOR BIO: Joshua is an ex-addict and founder of the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.

 

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Improve Employee Engagement with Mindfulness Practices at Work

Big companies like Google, Aetna, and Intel know the secret to better employee engagement. So, what is it? Mindfulness.

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Lack of employee engagement in your workplace can be frustrating.

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s in your best interest to know about the current levels of employee engagement, and moreover, how to improve it. In doing so, you can take both preventative and corrective action to address it, before it starts impacting your bottom line.

 

How Job Stress Affects Employee Engagement

Stress at the workplace is higher than ever. The American Institute of Stress highlighted the leading causes of workplace stress as:

  • Workload à 46%
  • People issues à 28%
  • Difficulty of juggling work/personal lives à 20%
  • Lack of job security à 6%

Most of the workers who are stressed on the job don’t know how to manage it. As a result, it leads to the following consequences.

  • Accidents
  • Absenteeism due to complaints of back pain, stress, fatigue, and headaches.
  • Reduced productivity.
  • Higher employee turnover because workers aren’t happy about their current situation.
  • Violence in communication, behavior and actions

 

Unlocking the Secret to Better Employee Engagement

Big companies like Google, Aetna, and Intel know the secret to better employee engagement. Moreover, they’re already reaping the benefits of it. So, what is it? Mindfulness. Positive Psychology Program summarizes the benefits of mindfulness provided by experts and organizations who practice it as:

  • Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention and be nonjudgmental.
  • Mindfulness teaches you to focus on yourself, your thoughts and your behavior
  • Mindfulness increases awareness of your environment and the people around you.

 

How Mindfulness Benefits Your Company

Better employee engagement is only one of the benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace. The additional advantages you can expect from it are the following:

  • Better employee retention: Workers are less inclined to look for another job as mindfulness helps lower their emotional exhaustion at work.
  • Better health of employees results in lower incidences of absences and healthcare costs.
  • Better productivity¾because employees are happier and healthier!

Nowadays, many companies host corporate mindfulness programs for the benefit of their employees. Not only does it serve as a training ground for employees to learn how to manage job stress, but it also helps them acquire the skills to cope with it later on.

 

Ways to Implement Mindfulness Practices in the Workplace

Aetna provides its employees with mindfulness and yoga training programs. It is part of the commitment of itsCEO Mark Bertolini after his severe skiing accident. In an interview with CNBC in 2013, Bertolini reported turning to yoga to ease the pain he suffered from nerve damage. Because of the benefits he achieved from it, he sought to apply it to his company’s workforce. The result was lowered stress and better productivity.

If you’re a big company like Aetna, then you could consider doing the same. If not, there are several budget-friendly ideas to implement mindfulness in your workplace. Rest assured you can achieve the same results for less:

  • Take advantage of technology. Many meditation apps are available. You could provide it to your employees for free or shoulder half the cost of a subscription.
  • Hire an expert to conduct a mindfulness training program for as little as 30 minutes. You can even hold it during the office lunch break. However, you might consider paying for lunch (or at least offer a snack¾like toast and Manuka honey) to encourage employees to join.
  • Schedule yoga classes after work to teach employees how to meditate.

Mindfulness expert Pandit Dasa reveals to TechTarget the key to the success of any mindfulness program is the involvement of leadership¾this means you! That said, your attendance and participation are a must.

High-functioning employees don’t happen overnight. Achieving employee engagement requires the combined efforts of management and workers to make this happen. Hence, mindfulness practices are worth considering for the positive benefits it delivers. In doing so, your company attains greater stability and efficiency as your employees can manage stress better. Are you ready to start your own mindfulness program? Contact Pilgrimage Yoga Online’s team of experts (zach@pilgrimageyoga.com) to find out the best way to start! 

 

CHERYL CHANDOLA Director, Editing and Testing, ReadPlease.com
Cheryl conducts hands-on reviews and extensive testing of products as well as manages the editorial and testing teams at ReadPlease.com. In her spare time she runs an ecommerce store and loves spending time with her daughter and dog, Blue.

 

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Corporate Mindfulness Training: The Key To Happier & More Productive Employees

Corporate Mindfulness Programs are designed to help employers create a healthy work environment.

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When employees are constantly trying to keep up with the assigned tasks of the hour, a company’s bottom line can be as negatively impacted as morale.

Corporate Mindfulness Programs are designed to help employers create a healthy work environment that contributes to positive work-life balance, increased problem-solving and emotional skills, low employee turnover, and better productivity. The practice highlights how mental and physical fitness of the employees can have major financial benefits and improvement to morale.

 

How do I know a Corporate Mindfulness Training Program is right for my company? 

Here are some symptoms that indicate it’s time to start looking into Corporate Mindfulness Programs as a sustainable method of improving your company’s bottom line and ensuring your workers love coming to work every day:

  • Constant disputes and disagreements between employees
  • Increased absenteeism at work
  • Reports on ill-health and low-activity
  • An Increase in complaints and accusations
  • Persistent decrease in professional outcomes without concrete background
  • Reported periods of mood swings and anxiety

This article explores the different features and uses of Corporate Mindfulness Programs and the change you can expect to see in your employees, work environment and bottom line when you sign up for a Corporate Mindfulness Program.

 

What features does a Corporate Mindfulness Training Program have? 

Corporate Mindfulness Training programs are usually customized according to the requirement of the client. The program can be conducted in both a group setting or on a solo basis in order to help certain employees manage specific psychological issues at work. Each training is offered in a different package and format. An average session can last anywhere from 60-90 minutes and can be focused on a number of topics including, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, stress-reduction and more. Mindfulness programs can be conducted virtually through video chats and webinars, or on location in a large space like a conference room or auditorium. (For example, PYO offers a mindfulness program both remotely and locally to the San Diego area.)

While there are no two programs exactly alike, here is you’re likely to receive from a Corporate Mindfulness Training Program:

  • Mindfulness training sessions tailored for the workplace environment
  • Stress-reduction sessions aimed at providing employees the tools necessary to stay mentally clear at work, no matter what situation is going on
  • Yoga and movement classes geared toward enhancing mental and physical energy

 

How do I know my program representative is qualified?

They will be an experienced yoga teacher or meditation expert who has previously worked in a corporate environment and is aware of the flaws and rewards of corporate life. It is important that each representative has a thorough background in teaching meditation to beginners, as most employees may have had limited exposure to this activity.

 

What changes will I see in my company from participating in a Corporate Mindfulness Training program? 

  • Reduce stress levels of the employees
  • Higher levels of job satisfaction
  • Help increase cognitive capacity and emotional intelligence
  • Lower anxiety and backlash behavior
  • Decrease absenteeism
  • Improvement in interpersonal and communication skills
  • Better self-awareness and improved decision-making capacity
  • Better attention space and ability to concentrate
  • Hone creative and intuitive skills for developing innovative thought patterns at work

 

Pilgrimage Yoga Online is a virtual Corporate Mindfulness Training Program. The bulk of our program exists right here on this online platform, and includes access to hundreds of yoga and meditation videos, designed to do both at the office (check out our office yoga) and at home. Contact us today to learn more about starting your own program.

 

UTTAM GHOSH‘s fascination for yoga developed in childhood when he experienced the bhakti form of yoga with his grandfather. Through hard work, dedication and experience, he was initiated onto the Kundalini Yoga Path by Swami Vidyananda. Swami Vidyananda also honored him with a spiritual name as “Rishi Raj”. Uttam teaches a wide range of Transformational Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga in Rishikesh. He also conducts various workshops around the globe concerning meditation and yoga therapy.

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Keeping Healthy Feet: 8 Tips For Proper Foot Treatment

It is important to know how to keep your feet happy and pain-free. Here are some tried and true easy tips for healthy feet.

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It’s easy to forget about our feet. Even though they bear our entire weight every day, we still tend to stuff them into confining, heeled, pointy or dead-flat shoes, or forget entirely to clean and stretch them. Foot problems lead to discomfort and may also cause knee, hip or back pain. To prevent these conditions, it is important to know how to keep your feet happy and pain-free.

As a student of podiatry, I am interested in preventative and corrective treatment that keep our feet healthy and functioning optimally. Here are some tried and true easy tips for healthy feet.

 

1. Wash Your Feet Often

Healthy feet start with proper hygiene. Just letting the water splash on your feet is not enough. Wash and scrub them thoroughly with soap and water, including your toes. Do not soak your feet for a long time as it doing so will reduce the natural oils of the skin.

  • Scrub your feet gently with a pumice stone to get rid of dead skin cells, focusing on toes and heels.
  • Dry your feet completely as leftover moisture provides a perfect breeding ground for fungi and bacteria, which causes foul odor and infections.
  • Change your socks every day. You may also consider sweat-absorbing socks to reduce moisture.

 

2. Moisturize Daily

Apply moisturizer daily to keep your feet soft and supple. After showering, dry your feet thoroughly and massage your feet with your favorite moisturizer to keep healthy oils replenished. Consider investing in a good foot cream that contains active ingredients to keep your feet smooth and healthy. Some of the ingredients to look for are urea, shea butter, karanja oil, tea tree oil and neem oil.

Do not apply too much moisturizer between your toes. It may lead to fungal growth or infection if this area stays wet or damp.

 

3. Wear Proper Shoes

Spending the day in a pair of ill-fitting shoes can result in serious foot conditions, such as Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis and Charcot Foot.

  • Pick shoes that accommodate your foot arch. For neutral-arched feet, choose shoes with firm midsoles. For low-arched or flat feet, choose straight choose. For high-arched feet, find shoes with good arch support.
  • If you are looking for running or hiking shoes, look for a pair with a roll bar feature to prevent excess movement in the heel area.
  • Other features that you may want to consider are Achilles notch, padded midsole, big toe box, ankle collar, and shock absorbing feature.

 

4. Cut Your Toenails Regularly

Trim your toenails regularly and clean under with a nail brush and manicure stick. Do not cut too short as it may allow dirt and fungus to penetrate between the nail and skin, which may cause bacterial or fungal infection.

  • Cut your toenails straight, not rounded or angled at the edges, to prevent ingrown nails. Use an emery board and nail file to smooth the edges.
  • Nail polish can be applied on healthy nails. However, do not use polish on unhealthy nails. Discolored nails could also be a sign of an infection and covering the area will keep it from clearing up.

 

5. Yoga

Yoga can help in developing balanced alignment of the feet, giving you better posture and improved posture throughout your body. It can also treat and prevent various foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and bunions.

Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise in that it’s practiced barefoot and the foot has a specific job to do in each posture. In the course of a one-hour class, you are likely to move through poses that strengthen and stretch the feet in all directions. For example, standing and balancing postures strengthen the inner arch of the foot and stabilize the ankle bone from left to right. These poses also renegotiate the relationship between the foot, the leg, the pelvis and the spine, allowing the feet to work more optimally within the body’s framework. Other yoga poses stretch the foot by moving it in all directions and applying healthy stresses when the foot is pointed and flexed.

The elasticity of tendons and foot muscles is important to enhance body movements and avoid injury. In this way, yoga is beneficial for preventative and corrective treatment, and many people with foot pain recommend yoga for pain management and healing of plantar fasciitis and other painful foot conditions.

6. Feet Exercises

In addition to yoga, performing some feet exercises can heal and stretch your feet. Try the following to relieve symptoms of bunions, stretch ankles and calves, and ease plantar fasciitis.

  • Towel Scrunches – Sit with your knees bent at 90 degrees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Spread a towel under your feet. Scrunch your toes to take a small part of the towel. Pull it toward you until it gathers into your arches.
  • Squeeze and Flex – Sit in a chair and keep your heels on the ground. Flex your toes while inhaling. Exhale as you squeeze your toes in a fist form. Repeat five to ten times.
  • Weaving – Weave your fingers at one hand between your toes of the opposite foot. Massage and stretch your toes with a firm grip

 

 

7. Consume Plenty of Calcium

Everyone knows that calcium is essential for developing and building strong bones. However, many do not realize that bone loss or osteoporosis appears first in the feet. One of the best tips for healthy feet is to consume plenty of foods rich in calcium. Our body needs 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium daily to stay healthy and strong, and the following can be included in a calcium-rich diet:

  • Dark green vegetables
  • Soy beans
  • White beans
  • Edamame
  • Oranges
  • Figs
  • Almonds
  • Salmon

Get enough vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium you need. The main source of this essential vitamin is sunlight. You can also get it from mushrooms, liver, mackerel and tuna, fortified orange juice, tofu, oatmeal, cereal and almond milk.

 

8. Prevent Communicable Infections and Diseases

There are many viral, bacterial, and fungal issues that can negatively affect both health and appearance of your feet, such as warts, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot.

  • Wear flip flops in gyms, swimming pools, spa and communal showers to protect your feet from fungus or bacteria that may be present on the floor.

Symptoms of fungal infection include itching, burning, swelling, and peeling of the skin.

 

Final Word

These are the best tips for healthy feet. If you often experience foot pain, consider visiting a professional for a proper diagnosis as it can be a sign of plantar fasciitis, which requires being treated with orthotics and physical therapy. With good hygiene, exercises, proper diet and healthier lifestyle, you can keep your feet free from various foot conditions.

 

Amanda Roberts is a professional blogger and a podiatry student. She is an enthusiast who loves to write on several niches, particularly in foot health, including plantar fasciitis, toenail fungus, foot massage and reflexology.

 

 

 

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Sudarshan Kriya Yoga & How It Beats Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) is a rhythmic breathing technique, derived by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to help de-stress and remove toxins from the body.

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Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) is a rhythmic breathing technique, derived by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to help de-stress and remove toxins from the body. It’s practised through controlled breathing patterns ranging from slow and calming, to rapid and invigorating. Through these breathing techniques, SKY becomes a powerful management tool for health conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

 

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a long-term illness consisting of several symptoms including severe tiredness, feeling unwell and in some cases – pain. The causes of CFS are still unknown, but can be triggered by infections, weak immunity or mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety. There is no cure or agreed treatment plan for sufferers, and traditional medicine—such as painkillers—only provide short-term relief.

 

Living With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A typical day with CFS involves feeling depleted and tired throughout the day, possibly starting with getting out of bed in the morning. Daily tasks may involve muscle cramps and joint pain, and even simple commitments may be met with an inability to concentrate, and frequent headaches.

 

How SKY Can Help Reduce Physical Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

SKY has become popular in helping reduce the stresses of daily life by calming the mind and body through yogic breathing exercises. This technique offers a low-cost and effective alternative treatment for numerous physical ailments related to CFS. These conditions—like muscle fatigue and aching joints—gradually diminish with SKY due to the increase in respiratory sinus arrhythmia(RSA) that occurs. When your RSA rises, so does your heart-rate variability, which has been shown to accelerate the physical recovery of high-level athletes.

 

How SKY Can Help Reduce Mental Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

CFS can be caused by several triggers including psychological stressors, such as mood dis-orders and depression, are often linked to the onset of CFS-related symptoms. Rapid breathing combined with slow controlled breath used in SKY techniques, has been shown to greatly reduce cortisol levels, thus improving stress-related symptoms. This results in better sleep, reduced anxiety and increased mental clarity.

 

SKY Breathing Techniques For CFS

Poor breathing habits lead to constricted blood vessels and higher alkaline levels in the blood. This restricts what is known as the Bohr effect, or attaining proper levels of carbon-dioxide in the blood in order to utilize oxygen more effectively. This results in less oxygen reaching the brain and muscles, causing light headedness and lethargy, both of which are closely linked to CFS. The four breathing techniques within SKY all offer different benefits without inhibiting the Bohr effect.

There are four breathing techniques within SKY offering different benefits.

  • Ujjayi: The Ujjayi breathing technique, also known as ‘oceanic breath’, relaxes and stimulates the body and mind simultaneously. This deep rhythmic breath can help reduce the dizzying symptoms of CFS.
  • Bhastrika: Bhastrika breathing may help manage emotional issues—as well as blood pressure and heart rate—using swift, powerful inhalations and exhalations.
  • Kriya: Kriya is the practice of slow, medium and fast cyclical breathing patterns which can detox the body from toxins and purify the system.
  • Om: Extended exhalation of the Om sound through repeated chanting, provides soothing internal vibrations which helps connect the mind and body.

 

In Closing

With a slew of holistic benefits, SKY is a great option for combatting CFS. Since SKY isn’t a physically demanding style of yoga, it’s appropriate for all body-types. Despite this, it’s not recommended for pregnant women, those with extreme mental illnesses, or those going through alcohol and drug abuse. It’s strongly advised to only learn SKY breathing techniques under the guidance of a trained professional.

To learn more about SKY and find a certified instructor near you, visit The Art Of Living. Founded by SKY founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself, it has all of the resource you’ll need to begin your journey towards ending chronic fatigue syndrome.

 

LANA ANDERSON is the head instructor of Yoga By Blisstopia in Blaine MN. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling and Psychological Services, and is a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner through Healing Touch International. She’s also a certified Doula through Doulas of North America(DONA), and has helped deliver over 400 babies.

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Health Issues Affecting Seniors & How Yoga Helps

With the seemingly endless pitfalls and conditions seniors tend to worry about when it comes to health, yoga proves time and again to be of benefit. This article explores some common conditions we are prone to as we age, and how yoga helps mitigate these risks.

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Vanda Scaravelli took up a yoga practice in her late 40s. She once said, “There is no age to yoga.” Thank goodness for this! As a tool for physical, mental, and emotional wellness, yoga practice is quickly becoming a go-to activity for seniors, and for good reason.

With the seemingly endless pitfalls and conditions seniors tend to worry about when it comes to health, yoga proves time and again to be of benefit. This article explores some common conditions we are prone to as we age, and how yoga helps mitigate these risks.

 

Diabetes

 

25% of seniors over 65 (roughly 12 million) have diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association—predominantly Type II diabetes. Overtime, when the body’s blood sugar levels remain high because of poor diet and inactivity, the insulin used to help metabolize glucose and move it into cells for energy no longer works. Either the cells become insulin resistant or the body simply isn’t able to produce enough insulin needed to maintain proper blood sugar balance. This can lead to a host of problems including nerve damage, vision loss, hypertension, kidney disease, and stroke, among others.

 

Much of Type II Diabetes cases are potentially reversible if not preventable with diet and exercise. Yoga practice generates enough low-impact physical activity to help seniors burn calories and exercise their heart and other muscles, while putting healthy stress on bones and joints, which also often weaken as we age. In addition, the mind-body awareness component of yoga practice may make practitioners more body aware and sensitive to the needs of their physical and mental health.

 

Alzheimer’s

 

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors over 65 will develop Alzheimer’s, with that number doubling for folks over 80. A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive and degenerative disease where the cells in the brain and the neural pathways connecting them become damaged and die off. The primary culprits for this damage include plaques and neurofibril tangles in the brain that starve cells of the nutrients they need to live. This damage leads to memory loss, confusion, agitation, difficulty with making decisions, and more debilitating behavioral symptoms.

While some younger adults under the age of 65 develop Alzheimer’s, the biggest risk factor is increasing age. Researchers are not totally clear why older adults are most afflicted by Alzheimer’s but they believe some age-related brain changes like atrophy (shrinking), inflammation, production of free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction might contribute to damage that leads to Alzheimer’s. There is currently no cure for reversing those developments. However, researchers have found that reinforcing brain health and strengthening cells and synapses may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

 

Therefore, activities that exercise fine motor skills, learning new skills and languages, as well as social interaction and conversing with others are just some of the neuroprotective things older adults can do to stave off cognitive decline. Low-impact exercises like practicing yoga in a class with others and developing new social relationships with classmates can generate some of these beneficial properties.

 

Osteoporosis

 

Bone loss and low bone density afflict over half of all older adults over 50, making older adults much more susceptible to unexpected fractures. Women are at higher risk for bone loss post-menopause, in part because the natural process of aging which decreases the body’s production of estrogen (a hormone which aids in the development of bone density). In fact, women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.

 

A growing body of evidence has shown that weight-bearing practices like yoga (and hiking and jogging, for example) may help stop and reverse bone loss, especially when combined with sufficient calcium intake. By “stressing” bones through weight-bearing exercise, it cues a biological process in which bone cells migrate to the areas of stress and start laying down new bone to reinforce it.

 

Falling

 

Unfortunately, the most injury-related fatalities for seniors come in the form of falling. An estimated 1 out of 4 seniors experience a fall each year, many resulting in a hospital visit with bruising, lacerations, and bone fractures. One fall can take away our ability to stay mobile (and thus exercise), to live on our own, and to remain self-sufficient. After a fall, our chances of falling again increase exponentially, which means that refining balance and coordination skills as well as strengthening flexibility and muscle tone play an important role in preventing falls.

 

In-home equipment like grab bars, shower stools, and railings can help make a senior’s living environment less hazardous, while the steadying poses and strengthening movements of yoga practice (even chair yoga) can improve a senior’s ability to balance and correct their body position when they feel off balance.

 

In addition, lengthening and strengthening the spine promotes better posture and can help alleviate muscle tension and joint tightness that affects our ability to walk, sit, and move in general. This is where yoga becomes very helpful. Yoga styles like hatha, gentle, chair and restorative are all designed to move slowly and mindfully from one position to the next. Most practices are designed to lengthen the muscles and skeleton in all directions, and help establish new strength and patterns of posture.

 

Anxiety and Depression

 

Losing the ability to drive or experiencing mobility issues that require a walker or other aid can leave seniors stripped of their sense of independence and confidence. Pile on top of that a chronic condition (almost 90% of adults over 65 have at least one chronic illness according to AARP) which requires care, as well as a tendency to become isolated socially, and you have a recipe for anxiety and depression.

 

The meditation component of yoga, as well as the opportunity for it to be practiced in a group or class setting with others, make yoga a prime candidate for alleviating stress and feelings of anxiety and depression. Hatha yoga practices designed to align and calm the body have been shown to help control your body’s stress response as well as boost mood and feelings of positivity.

 

Pilgrimage Yoga Online is an online yoga and meditation studio and resource center. We have hundreds of videos with plenty of styles suitable for seniors, including chair yoga, gentle yoga, and hatha yoga. Sign-up for our 10-day free trial today.

 

 

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…The goal is to help others “rebel against age”.

 

 

 

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The United Nations & Human Rights: A Roadmap For Solving Humanity’s Challenges.

What are my rights as a human being? What should I expect my government to provide me with and what is my responsibility?

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What are my rights as a human being? What should I expect my government to provide me with and what is my responsibility?
These are challenging questions that lie at the heart of most of the seemingly complex issues that face individuals, nations and inhabitants on planet earth. Yoga can help us navigate these challenging issues.
Yoga philosophy is rooted in the concepts of truthfulness, non-harming, compassion and empathy. At the heart of these teachings is a core respect for the tremendous value of each human life.
I help to organize a yearly yoga festival that celebrates the ideals of the United Nations.
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These ideals are rooted in yoga. The United Nations honors June 21st of every year as the International Day of Yoga.
An example of yoga taking form in our modern world can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This declaration was created to complement the United Nations Charter by creating a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual on the planet.
The Commission on Human Rights, which was tasked with the creation of the UDHR, was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the drafting committee.
The entire document is readily available online. The UDHR provides fundamental ideas and principles that, if valued and honored, would profoundly help individuals and leaders make decisive and clear choices regarding issues we currently face.

Health Care as a Human Right 

Let’s take the issue of health care.
Our current system is not meeting the simple and straightforward goal stated in Article 25 of the UDHR: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…”
Let’s apply this universal human right to those living in the United States by asking a few questions about the standard of living and healthcare in the United States. Does our nation value the goal of everyone having the right to adequate health and well-being? Does our government put energy and resources towards these goals? Is our national intelligence applied towards this goal?
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness we have over 500,000 homeless in the United States. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that over 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. Over 45 million Americans live below the poverty level. Over 30 million Americans have no health insurance.
We spend over 600 billion dollars a year on war. We spend more on our war machine than the next 8 countries combined. Are we creating something of value for humanity or perpetuating a mentality that is doomed to failure?
Mikhail Gorbachev, who was instrumental in the ending of the Cold War and the human rights that its end brought to hundreds of millions of people wrote, “The time has come to choose a new direction of global development, to opt for a new civilization.”
That new direction means reaching towards goals that serve the well-being of humanity and the rights of each human life. What is the benefit of another nuclear warhead? What is the value of a child going to sleep feeling safe and secure?
Yoga gives us each the opportunity to expand truthfulness, non-harming, compassion and empathy within our own hearts. These emotions and feelings will then give rise to actions that can begin a wave of change.
What can one person do? What steps to take? If you ignite the fire of your determination to move towards change the universe will provide you an opportunity to help with creating a new direction. Guaranteed!
Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.
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3 Tips for How To Heal After Trauma.

An estimated 70% of adults have gone through at least one traumatic event in their lives. Here are three ways a major life transition can be turned into something good.

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An estimated 70% of adults have gone through at least one traumatic event in their lives. A death in the family, a divorce, abusive relationships, accidents, or a change in living situation can all bring about depression and sadness, and many people find it hard to cope and move on.

And yet, there are several ways we can cope with these changes, and even turn them into something positive. Here are three ways a major life transition can be turned into something good.

 

Make Physical Health a Priority

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, even our most basic human instincts are muted. It’s not unlikely to find ourselves disinterested in food, sleep, movement, or companionship. However, developing sustainable routines for eating, sleeping and moving is a key factor in maintaining health and releasing the residue of trauma.

It’s important to take care of yourself during this time and make sure you get enough rest, enough to eat, and enough daily exercise. It can be difficult to find the energy to do these things, and many people feel they don’t have an appetite when they’re going through a major loss. If this is the case, start by keeping small, healthy snacks in the fridge, rather than worrying about making a big meal. Fruit, nuts, and dark leafy greens are a great start, as they’ll boost your energy and help you feel better. Scheduling these tasks is the key to ensure positive routines are created and kept up.

When it comes to sleeping and getting enough rest, consider your home environment, which has a major impact on the way we think, feel and act. If your home is cluttered, filled with unhealthy or painful memories, or lacks a place to safely retreat to meditate or relax, it may be worthwhile to make adjustments. Fortunately, this is easier than it may sound. Learn more about how to create a home environment optimal for health here.

And even if we lack motivation, it’s important to move to move our bodies everyday. Movement can reset the nervous system, help optimize organ function and stimulate psychological shifting. Consider calm wholistic practices like yoga, swimming or tai chi; or more rigorous passion practices like tennis or running.

 

Make a Connection with Others

One of the best things a person can do after a trauma is to use their experience to help others. If you’ve dealt with the loss of a loved one to cancer, or are a newly singled parent going through a divorce, you have invaluable wisdom and insight that can help others move through a similar time in their lives.

Consider starting a blog to write about your experiences, or get involved in a charity that’s related to something you’ve been through personally. It can be difficult to face the thoughts and feelings that arise on the topic of our trauma, but sometimes that’s exactly what is needed to get through to the other side.

 

Take some time for yourself

It’s important to take some time for yourself, if possible, by actually physically getting away. By completely changing routines and environments, new perspectives have space to arise. Purposefully delegate your normal daily responsibilities to those willing to help out around you, and purposefully give yourself nothing to do in a new environment.

Taking a big change and making it work for you can be extremely empowering and can help you feel more in control of your life, which is exactly what you need after going through a difficult time.

A traumatic event can stop us in our tracks and alienate us from feeling connected to all living things. These methods are tried and true to ensure that we’re releasing the residue of our traumas, and enjoying life again. It’s time to get back on that horse!

 

At Pilgrimage Yoga Online, we specialize in the field of mindfulness and meditation, offering simple to implement techniques designed to balance the movement of the mind. We know life’s many events can difficult to process, and it can get confusing weeding through the psychological layers of the mind. Meditation and mindfulness are designed to bring awareness of the present moment in the present moment, so that we are empowered to notice our thoughts as thoughts and not as realities. These tools and techniques have helped thousands of people all over the world establish a healthy mindset and live more comfortably. We’ve worked with San Diego‘s best yoga and meditation teachers to create an online yoga studio, which offers yoga and meditation classes for all people of all levels. Join us for a 10-day free trial–we’re sure you’ll love it!

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Yoga for Good Posture: Correcting Text Neck.

Forward Head Syndrome, or as most of us refer to it–text neck– is a common form of postural misalignment. This article explores how yoga can help!

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According to the American Journal of Pain Management, posture has an impact on every physiological function. This includes the ability to breathe properly, hormonal functions, spinal health, blood pressure, lung capacity and more. And with 85% of the US population admitting to experiencing back pain at some point in their lives, it’s perhaps time for us to dive into our daily postural habits head on (no pun intended).

Forward Head Syndrome, or as most of us refer to it–text neck– is a common form of postural misalignment. It’s characterized by the shoulders rounding forward, the chest caving inward and the skull lunging forward of the rest of the spine.

Forward neck posture extends the upper cervical spine (think lifting the chin) and flexes the lower cervical and thoracic spine (think rounding the shoulders forward), which is a complicated way of saying it pulls and strains critical muscles attached to the spine, which can cause inflammation and tightness. Experts claim that for every inch of forward head posture, the pressure on the spine increases by an additional ten pounds.

While this is fortunately a highly correctable condition, it can be easy to dismiss as a new way of living. Our daily activities of sitting, driving and working at desks, predisposes us to this sort of condition, which means that we must make a special effort to correct the balance.

For instance, a regular yoga routine can help counteract forward head syndrome, by strengthening all areas of the body and putting emphasis on joint alignment and healthy stress. Additionally, there are other tools to choose from, such as form-fitting back braces to speed up the process of improving your posture.

 

What is Correct Posture?

 

Looking at posture with an anatomical lens, you must first understand how the spine itself is constructed. 33 bones (vertebrae) individually stacked on top of one another interlock to form what is known as the spinal column. It protects the spinal cord and essentially gives you the primary foundation for your body to be able to stand up straight, twist, bend, and so on.

Attached to those vertebrae are an array of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves. The spine is built in four sections, each with a different number of vertebrae, and each with a different structure and function. An s-shaped curvature is the natural layout of the adult spine where the neck (cervical spine – 7 vertebrae) and lower back (lumbar spine – 5 vertebrae) have a natural curve inward towards the front of the body, and the upper back (thoracic spine – 12 vertebrae) and sacral spine (back of the pelvis down through the tailbone – 5 bones in the sacrum and 4 bones in the tailbone, some of which are fused together) have a natural curve outwards, away from the front of the body. This natural shape plays a critical role in helping you maintain balance and absorb the shock of impact when you walk, run, sit—you name it.

With this in mind, correct posture can then be defined as the spine, bones, and joints all in proper alignment when sitting and standing – shoulders over hips, chin over chest, feet flat to the ground, and natural curve of lower back supported.

 

Assess Posture and Build Strength

 

This is a simple way to assess posture. Stand with your back on the wall, and gently notice the position of the spine. Notice if there’s a tendency for the shoulders to round away from the wall, the chest to sink in at the armpits, and the skull to hang heavily forward. Then, gently open the chest and armpits to bring your shoulders towards the wall. Keep torso and abdomen gently engaged and the low ribs knitting in to each other, and slide your head back without raising your chin. In people who have FHS, because of the tightness in the neck, the head will tilt back and the chin will rise as if the person is trying to look up.

Try to keep your chin down – as if you’re trying to make a double chin. When the alignment feels right, keep the spinal arrangement and move about off the wall. Do this in repetitions as it starts to feel more natural.
 

Realign with Yoga

 

Yoga is a particularly useful form of exercise when it comes to reworking postural habits, because of its emphasis on full body movements and heightened mental awareness. All yoga poses are designed to strengthen and align the spine to its natural curvature, and there are several series of postures that are especially useful for this work:

 

Peace and SerenityStanding postures – Standing postures emphasize optimal spinal alignment, and train the arms and legs to take individual movements without disrupting the stability of the spine.

Backbends – Belly backbends like locust pose, cobra and sphynx pose strengthen the back and neck muscles, and helps open the chest, move the skull back in line with the shoulders, and move the upper back vertebrae towards the front of the body (in the opposite direction of FHS).

Forward bends – Forward bends emphasize spinal flexion (when the torso and thighs move towards each other). FHS is characterized by improper flexion of the neck, so forward folds can help re-establish the spine’s relationship to flexion, and optimize the position of each section of the spine in forward bending movements.

Twists – Twists improve the mobility of the ribs and spine, and generate more openness through the chest and throat areas. These are great poses to bring the spine back into its natural alignment.

Core/arm balances – Core work helps to firm and strengthe the foundational stablizers of the spine, which includes the lower abdomen and pelvic floor muscles. Arm balances restructure the arms’ relationship to the torso and can renegotiate incorrect shoulder placement due to FHS.

 

In our San Diego yoga studios, we’ve worked with thousands of students to improve posture and health in a number of areas. Our skilled teachers have worked with us to film hundreds of unique yoga and meditation videos, designed for students of all levels, interests and abilties. If you experience pain due to postural habits and live outside the San Diego area, join us for our online yoga classes, designed specifically for you to do at home. We’ve also filmed chair yoga classes, which can be practiced in the car, at the office and any other place we find ourselves sitting and slumping. Join us for a free 10-day trial today!

 

 

AUTHOR BIO: Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is help others “rebel against age”.

 

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Yoga for 12 Step Recovery: How Yoga Helps With Addiction

Below are four ways yoga can treat the physical, emotional, and spiritual disease of addiction, and help you to stay on the path of recovery.

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“For me, drugs and alcohol were a solution to an emotional and perhaps even spiritual problem, a feeling literally of disease, unhappiness, and an inability to cope with life. And I think that when people stop using drugs and alcohol, they need another system or program of behavior.”

– Russell Brand, actor, comedian, writer, and recovering heroin addict and alcoholic.

 

As elucidated in the famous 12 Steps to Recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the pathway to recovery is a spiritual one (though not necessarily religious) that includes surrendering to a higher power and admitting that some things are beyond our personal control. As explained by Russell Brand, another belief system or program of behavior is required to walk the path of abstinence-based recovery from addiction.

Brand, in addition to being a famous actor and recovering heroin addict, is also a devoted practitioner of yoga and meditation, and he often credits these practices for his ability to remain substance-free.

But how exactly does the practice of yoga help to treat the feelings of “disease, unhappiness, and an inability to cope with life” that are so often the fuel of addiction? Below are four ways yoga can treat the physical, emotional, and spiritual disease of addiction, and help you to stay on the path of recovery.

 

  1. Asana (Postures)

Asana, or the physical postures of yoga, are what we in the West commonly refer to as yoga. Flexibility, patience, balance, and concentration are qualities that are cultivated as we move through and hold different yoga postures.

Child’s pose, for example, symbolizes humility, surrender, and let go to a power that is greater than ourselves. Warrior pose represents the cultivation of strength and courage in the face of challenges. Balancing postures, such as tree pose, balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and the opposing left and right sides of the body, bringing equilibrium to both body and mind.

The qualities of strength, endurance, balance, and humility that are developed “on the mat,” in both body and mind, are qualities that can easily be taken “off the mat” and used as armor on the often perilous path to sobriety.

 

  1. Pranayama (Breathing Techniques)

Pranayama, which is the regulation of the breath, cleanses the nervous system, increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, and improves our mental clarity. A practice such as Nadi Shodana, or alternate nostril breathing, which also reduces stress and anxiety, balances the hemispheres of the brain, and detoxifies the body, and can be done in just 15-20 minutes a day. In this way, the practice of pranayama can develop the conditions that support a clear, balanced, and sober mind.

 

  1. Mindfulness (Meditation)

Mindfulness is being in a state of awareness that allows us to be fully present in the moment so that we aren’t continuously thinking about the fiction of the past and future. Minfulness is a quality that can be cultivated through meditation, which can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes a day for silent sitting (there are also plenty of guided meditations that can assist us through the process). By engaging in meditation, we gain greater control over the reins of our own lives by observing our thoughts and feelings, rather than letting them take us over.

By carving time out of our schedules to stop and meditate, we learn to respond intentionally to problems, rather than follow through on knee-jerk reactions, and this can help us avoid relapses into drug or alcohol consumption.

 

  1. Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to God)

The 11th step of the 12 Steps of AA, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out,” elucidates the connection between surrendering to a higher power (although it is up to the individual to decide what exactly that means to him or her) and successful recovery from addiction.

This practice is consistent with yoga sutra (the foundational texts of yoga) 1.23, which describes the practice of Isvara Pranidhana. Ishvara is a Sanskrit word that translates to ‘supreme,’ ‘personal,’ or ‘God.’ Pranidhana translates to ‘dedication,’ ‘devotion,’ or ‘surrender.’ As explained on jivamuktiyoga.com, “The practice of Ishvara Pranidhana… will help to cure the afflictions of the mind that cause pain and suffering, as it is designed to redirect our energy away from our selfish desires and personal dramas, and towards the ultimate pursuit of Oneness.”

As explained by Brand in the quote beginning this article, the problem of addiction is primarily an emotional and/or spiritual one. Speaking of his own experience, Brand states: “From the onset of adulthood, drugs and alcohol were just my way of coping with the world.” The reality is that the modern world can sometimes seem cold, cruel, and uncaring, and people often turn to substances to heal feelings of pain or emptiness within.

 

However, using the above four yoga practices of asana, pranayama, meditation, and surrender as an alternative system or program of behavior to heal our bodies, hearts, and minds and connect us to something greater than ourselves, we can transform the state of our lives from that of self-medicating just to exist in this modern-day world, to that of creating meaningful lives centered in well-being, happiness, and sobriety.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online is an online yoga studio featuring hundreds of yoga and meditation videos taught by expert teachers in San Diego. Our classes and programs are designed specifically for yogis and spiritual enthusiasts who are on the go, live around the world, or find it challenging to sync schedules with the local yoga studio. With thousands of hours of combined experience, our staff has seen huge success helping others create and maintain healthy habits and sustained mindfulness. Whether you’re looking for fitness, mindfulness, meditation, or even learning how to chant kirtan, we are ready to practice with you every step of the way. Sign-up today for a complimentary 7-day trial!

 

AUTHOR BIO: Hi, my name is Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.

 

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How to Reduce Stress at Work: 6 Tips for Staying Balanced In Chaotic Circumstances

There are pretty obvious signs when we’re feeling stressed at work. Irritation, anxiety, impatience…

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Image from Pixabay.

There are pretty obvious signs when we’re feeling stressed at work. Irritation, anxiety, impatience, lack of enthusiasm and interest, working on a short fuse—we all know them, and we’ve probably all felt them at one time or another.

Work-related stress is not an uncommon occurrence and, its triggers are usually pretty straightforward. For example, how familiar is the following list of stress triggers to you?

  • Sudden change of pace and environment
  • A lost promotion
  • Communication barriers
  • Sudden crisis
  • Long, continuous working hours
  • Poor salary and lack of timely appraisal
  • Role conflicts and poor job description boundaries
  • Lack of career development
  • Monotonous work profile (aka assembly-line work)
  • Unmet expectations
  • Chaotic and emotional work environment.

And stress comes with all sorts of behavioral and physiological modifiers. For instance, it’s not uncommon for us to find ourselves irritable, confused, and without interest when we are experiencing stress. Our bodies may show other adjustments, like irregular blood pressure, migraine headaches, changes in appetite and weight gain, sudden hair loss.

The good news is, once we fully understand the problem, it’s easier to find a solution to match. The following tips are tried and true for successful stress management.

1. Clean Your Workspace

 

This is wherever you do most of your work, be it at home or at the office. Give it a good cleaning. Re-instate your work station. Give yourself a fresh start and your workstation too. Stress management at work starts with ‘chaos management’ –it’s important that our immediate environment is organized to avoid confusion and burnout. By simplifying our work station, we open ourselves to being more organized and productive, and small tasks that tend to fall through the cracks are more easily caught and can be incorporated into manageable workflows. Sometimes our stress is simply due to a lack of organization and an inability to keep all our changing tasks clear in our minds.

2. Organize your Calendar

 

The next step is to gear up and organize your schedule on a calendar– set it with prior notifications so you can manage your time and tasks with much more efficiency. If we are constantly holding our to-do list in our heads, it can spiral out of control very quickly.

Our calendar is our tool to keep our tasks our of our minds until it’s time to take action on them. This frees up our mind to be action-oriented instead and allows us to shift from a reactive mental state to a proactive state.

3. Avoid Multitasking

 

Studies have proved at multi tasking is more of a quality-deteriorating activity rather than a time-saving gift. People who indulge in multi-tasking are more likely to perform poorly in assigned projects, compared to people who focus on accomplishing one project at a time. Moreover, the cumulative time consumed in accomplishing two projects simultaneously has been recorded to be much longer than the sum amount of time consumed in accomplishing two activities, one after another. Multitasking greatly contributes to the added pressure and results in additional stress. Hence, it is best to avoid it.

4. Communicate

 

Once we maximize our efficiency by clearing our workspace, organizing our calendar and focusing on one task at a time, we might still find that we’re encountering a lot of stress. For example, our workload might be altogether unreasonable, or our project teams may not be working together as well as they could be. In these situations, communication is the key.

In order to maximize the likelihood that we will get what we want from these situations, it’s important that we are clear about our feelings, needs and requests before we walk in the room or send the email.

For example, in a recent email I sent to my manager I indicated that I was feeling stressed out due to too much work. I was able to identify that my some of my basic needs were not being met: autonomy (feeling like I have control over my life and my time), safety(stress does not feel safe in my body), and rest & recreation. Once I identified my unmet needs, I made a request to have more scheduled breaks during my workday. While we may not always be granted our requests, we will at least gained clarity about unmet needs and strategies for getting those needs met

5. Practice Meditation

 

But, Meditation is a magical remedy when it comes to dealing with any kind of mental stress. All it takes is a 20-minute of non-monetary investment and you are on your way to a stress-free mind. The most important quotient is — how to ensure we practice meditation well enough to reap its benefits well? In what way can we make sure those moments spent in the practice of meditation technique are the moments well spent. Let us glance at that.

There are two major components that combine the practice of Meditation – Breath Awareness and Posture.

‘Breath’ is the bridge between the body and the mind. And, ‘posture’ is the vessel that facilitates this divine process.

6. Indulge in some Yoga practice

 

Practice yoga for instant relief from stress-related symptoms. Asanas like Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose), Marjariasana (Cat Stretch), Paschimottanasana (Two-Legged Forward Bend), Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend), AdhomukhaSvanasana (Downward Facing Dog), etc. are ace yoga asanas for dealing with work-related stress. Alternatively, you can also practice chair yoga poses if you are unable to find space for ground exercises.

Here at our online studio, we have hundreds of yoga and meditation videos to choose from, some of which can be practiced right at the office!

These tips help you refurbish your work-life towards its betterment.

Here’s to living a happy and stress-free life! 

Author Bio :

Predeep KumarisPradeep Kumaris a passionate Blogger, Yogi, Traveler and a Yoga Teacher. He teaches Yoga in a Yoga School in India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. . His strong connection with Yoga and the Himalayas has made him to organize yoga, meditation and Ayurveda tours and Yoga retreats in Himalayas.

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How To Maximize Athletic Performance With Minerals: Magnesium Edition

Are you feeling exhausted or getting unusual muscle cramps during workouts?…

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By Brian Bishop

Are you feeling exhausted or getting unusual muscle cramps during workouts? Have you eaten enough but still find that you lack the energy to move the way you want to?

It could have something to do with magnesium.

What Is Magnesium & Why Is It Important?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body needs in large amounts in order to produce energy. It participates in over 300 bio-chemical reactions on a cellular level, and its primary role is to balance the body’s ability to function properly by acting as enzyme co-factors (agents that allow enzymes to do their job better). One of magnesium’s vital roles is in the chemical reactions that generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the fundamental unit of energy inside our cells.

The organelle in each cell responsible for producing ATP are the mitochondria, which are small power generators that convert oxygen into ATP. A key benefit of magnesium is its ability to help produce more mitochondria during exercise, which ultimately means more ATP and more sustained energy.

There are two ways to become a high performing athlete:

1. Increase the total number of mitochondria

and

2. Increase the efficiencies of the mitochondria

More magnesium in our diets can set off a chain reaction by increasing mitochondrion in the cells, which facilitates the creation of more ATP, which we experience as stamina, endurance and strength.

maximize2

How Does Magnesium Help Improve Performance?

To increase exercise performance, cells must be able to consume more oxygen. This is known as ‘oxidative capacity’ and is the ability to breakdown oxygen in your muscle cells via the mitochondria, which we now know is crucial in the development of ATP, which is essentially our biochemical way of storing and using energy in our muscles. This means that to be an efficient athlete, we must produce more ATP than we are consuming. Otherwise we will feel muscle fatigue, tiredness and may even experience muscle cramps.

How To Maximize Both Magnesium & Mitochondria

Studies have shown that exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can increase the development of new mitochondria. This is done by cloning the cells via enzymes that require magnesium as a cofactor. Low magnesium levels reduces our ability to make new mitochondria and thus our ability to maximize exercise performance diminishes.

Here are daily optimal magnesium intakes for women and men:

  • Women – 310 mg
  • Men – 420 mg

Try out these sources for incorporating more magnesium into your diet:

  • Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens.
  • Fruits like avocado, banana and figs
  • Nuts like sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, and cashews
  • Beans
  • Dark chocolate

 

About The Author:

Brian_bioBrian Bishop is a true health and nutrition enthusiast. He loves to read, watch and listen to anything about health. He is the best nootropics guide as he is always experimenting on himself for best results. Brian wants to share his knowledge so others can enjoy the benefits.

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Chronic Pain: How Yoga Helps.

Nobody wants to experience chronic pain or be diagnosed with a long-term illness…

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Marion Michele

Nobody wants to experience chronic pain or be diagnosed with a long-term illness.

But because life doesn’t always work out the way we plan, many people around the world are living with these conditions and more are diagnosed each day. A staggering 1.5 billion people worldwide are living with chronic pain, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. If you’re one of these people, you know intimately the torture of living each day in excruciating discomfort.

When you’re dealing with chronic pain, the simplest daily events can turn into heightened ordeals. You might wake up in the morning feeling sleep-deprived because you were tossing and turning all night long. Basic daily movements like walking or bathing can be excruciating at times. These ordeals tend to snowball, leading to more long-term pain, constant feelings of exhaustion, frustration and even depression and addiction.

Popular belief would have you thinking that chronic pain is just something you’ll have to suffer through for the rest of your life. And while every person’s pain condition is unique, there are many, many ways you can take your health into your own hands. Some of these options will require that you make lifestyle changes–for example, you may want to switch to a different diet or get some help handling daily tasks, like housecleaning or yard work. Some options require that you open your mind to treatments you may not have considered before, such as yoga.

This article will discuss just a small handful of the many techniques available for chronic pain management and pain relief.

Yoga & Pain Relief

Yoga, meditation, and breath-work go hand-in-hand, and can be essential for teaching us to breathe through our pain. As public speaker Scott Ginsburg notes, yoga can be helpful in teaching us to simply notice the pain, recognize it for what it is (without the need for an emotional connection to it), and then “send your breath where it hurts and ride it out.” This might be difficult for those who are new to yoga, but over time it becomes surprisingly relaxing.

According to Yoga International, yoga is becoming a more common treatment method for fibromyalgia, migraines and other conditions that cause chronic pain. In fact, there are now DVDs available specifically designed for using yoga to treat fibromyalgia and related illnesses. Popular yoga poses like child’s pose, savasana (corpse pose), cobra, or even simply laying flat on your back with your legs up the wall can provide pain relief for a variety of conditions.

Kundalini yoga can be especially helpful for those with chronic pain. If you experience chornic pain, you know it can be all-consuming. While the pain is obvious, it often isn’t clear where it comes from or what it’s made of. Kundalini is a practice that helps you become more self-aware, which can make it easier to identify unavoidable pain versus avoidable pain. When this becomes clear, you can mold your yoga practice around poses that bring relief.

Of course, before starting any new treatment, it is important to consult with your doctor first to make sure the treatment is right for you. Even with a gentle practice like yoga, there is always the potential to injure yourself. Together with your doctor, it can be possible to identify the source of your chronic pain. From there, a highly-trained certified yoga teacher can help make recommendations for gentle, restorative yoga poses that can specifically help your unique pain condition. Even if your doctor approves yoga for you, be sure to listen to your body – and remember to breathe!

As certified yoga teacher Liz Rosenblum of DoYouYoga says, “The goal here [with yoga] is to quiet the mind and find a bit of relief from your pain.”

If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain, yoga may certainly be worth a try. Perhaps the most important tip for pain management is this: try to stay positive. Having the right mindset will be crucial in trying new methods for healing the body.

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6 Surprising Benefits of Yoga

Those who practice yoga regularly probably find this title a little surprising in itself. Practitioners often speak…

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By Sally Holland

Those who practice yoga regularly probably find this title a little surprising in itself. Practitioners often speak of the many benefits that yoga brings to their lives – a greater sense of calmness, new opportunities for social interaction, a boost in self-confidence or enhanced physical fitness, and many more. But beyond our personal experience with yoga, there are many documented benefits for body, mind and spirit as well. The next time you speak to someone who doubts the extent to which yoga can change their life, mention these recent scientific findings:

1. Yoga reduces stress

Studies have shown that the regular practice of yoga reduces stress hormone levels, improves mood and battles fatigue, even in life-changing challenges such as breast cancer. Yoga is currently recommended for those who experience chronic stress and is a popular supplemental therapy in a wide range of settings, including rehabilitation centers and counseling sessions for individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and eating disorders.

Peace and Serenity

2. Yoga encourages compassion for others and ourselves

In Buddhism, there is no distinction between compassion for others (being kind and understanding with someone, no matter the circumstances) and self-compassion (being kind and forgiving with ourselves). The yogic frame of mind involves self-acceptance, which elevates us to a higher plane than mere self-confidence. Confidence enables us to be proud when we achieve great things, yet self-compassion is more important because it encourages acceptance even when we have failed to meet our own or others’ standards.

3. Yoga can help with back pain

A recent study published in January 2017 in the Cochrane Library found that yoga may lead to a reduction of pain and increased functional ability in people with chronic, non-specific back pain. Other studies have shown it can help with chronic neck pain, and even migraines.

4. Yoga can help battle anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental conditions on a global scale, and is characterized by the constant arousal of the fight of flight reaction. During an anxiety attack, individuals can feel dizzy, think they are having a heart attack, or have a full-blown panic attack which involves hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is caused by rapid inhalation (flooding one’s system with oxygen). This is why someone having a panic attack is often given a paper bag to breathe into. Yoga can help with this because it places great importance on controlled breathing (pranayama). This type of breathing instantly lowers the heart rate, thus being of great use to stop a panic attack from arising. An interesting report published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, shows that yoga helps those who suffer from anxiety, who also tend to worry constantly and get locked in patterns of negative thinking. These types of thoughts are often linked to the past or the future. Yoga is very much a mindful activity, which involves ‘being in the here and now’, focusing on aspects such as breathing and the correct performance of asanas.

5. Yoga can help stave off depression

One study shows that Sudarshan Kriya yoga (which is centered around breathing) can alleviate symptoms of severe depression in individuals who do not respond well to antidepressant medication.

6. Yoga can help with arthritis

Studies have shown that yoga is safe and effective for people with arthritis, bringing significant improvement in mood and symptoms. In one study carried out by scientists at John Hopkins Medicine, it was found that eight weeks of yoga classes improved the physical and mental health of people with knee and rheumatoid arthritis. Compared to a control group which did not practice yoga, those who attended the sessions had a 20% improvement in pain, mood, physical functions and vitality! They were also able to increase their walking speed and complete more physical tasks at work and at home. Chair yoga in particular is very useful for those with limited mobility, since it provides them with the support and sense of safety.

A considerable body of scientific research has focused on the many benefits of yoga. Over the past decade, many more findings have been made. These include yoga’s ability to stimulate brain function, improve the quality of life of people with certain types of heart disease, encourage mindful eating, reduce pain associated with fibromyalgia and so much more.

If you have never tried yoga before, discover how it can change your own life after just a few sessions.

 

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7 Dos and Don’ts Of Juicing

Juicing can be an efficient and powerful way to get a dose of nutrients…

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by Or Maman

Juicing can be an efficient and powerful way to get a dose of nutrients – particularly when you struggle with a demanding timeline or schedule that prevents proper meal planning. When you start the day with a glass of fresh juice and a delicious breakfast, you make sure that you instantly get access to all the wonderful vitamins and minerals your body needs!

What’s more, certain fruits and vegetables can help to boost your performance for the rest of the day, helping to enhance your focus, improve your energy levels, and leave you feeling amazing for longer.

Whether you choose to juice at home or stop by your local juice bar, how do you make sure that you’re getting the most from it? Follow these simple dos and don’ts.

1.    Do Follow Recipes

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A glass of fresh juice is one of the best things you can consume each day. Not only are they good for you, but these wonderful drinks are tasty too – you just need to make sure that you add the right amounts of fruits and vegetables to create the right taste. Remember that the ingredients you choose need to mix well, and although there’s nothing wrong with making up your own recipes, you might find that it’s a lot easier to follow existing juicing recipes for weight loss and nutrition when you’re just getting started.

2.    Don’t Use the Same Produce Every Time

When you start to learn more about juicing, you’ll discover that certain items, such as beetroots, kale, and bitter gourd are some of the best vegetables for offering a huge dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and all feature a low-calorie intake. While drinking plenty of these ingredients can be great for your health, remember that variety is still important, and you don’t want to get stuck in a rut of consuming the same produce every day. Try out different recipes and additions to shake things up.

3.    Do Go Organic

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The most important aspect of juicing is finding a way to get healthy substances into your body. Organic vegetables are grown with a focus on preserving as much of the natural nutrition that fresh produce can offer as possible, and they lack the chemicals and preservatives that are often used with non-organic ingredients. If you really want to get the most out of your juicing experience, then you should choose organic every time, and leave the pesticides outside!

4.    Don’t Just Let It Sit

One of the biggest benefits of juicing is that it’s a quick and easy process. You can drink on the go, which means that you don’t have to leave your freshly made concoctions sitting on the kitchen counter or in the fridge. Research shows that the longer juice is left to sit, the more it oxidizes, causing nutrients to degrade and reducing the number of benefits you’ll get from your glass. At the very most, you can leave your juice over night, but you’ll need to make sure that you use an airtight container, and add a squeeze of lemon for a natural preservative.

5.    Do Drink Juice on an Empty Stomach

If you’re using juice to help you lose weight, then you should always drink it on an empty stomach. Not only will the juice help to kick-start your metabolism so that you can begin burning calories instantly, but it will also be easier for your body to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients in your blood stream. Try to wait at least thirty minutes after juicing before eating a meal.

6.    Don’t Use Juice Instead of Whole Produce

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Just because juicing is a great way to get fresh produce into your system doesn’t mean that you should swap your daily veggies for juices. Consuming organic juices is a wonderful way to add some extra health to your day, but it’s not a replacement for a good hearty meal, unless you’re using a specific cleanse.

7.    Consume Juice Carefully

Finally, as quick and convenient as juicing can be, it’s worth remembering that you don’t necessarily have to gulp your entire drink down as soon as you make it. Take your time on a morning to sip your juice and enjoy the flavors. After all, juices aren’t just for health – they can taste amazing too. Plus, taking your time will help to reduce the impact on your digestive system, giving your body more time to absorb the vitamins and minerals available.

These guidelines ensure mindful and intelligent choices so that we can absorb all of the many benefits of juicing. What’s your favorite juice?

 

 

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3 Tips to Keep You Healthy Throughout the Year

We know our fitness and health should be a priority year-round, but

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We know our fitness and health should be a priority year-round, but it’s all too easy to make excuses not to work out in winter when it’s too cold or summer when it’s too hot. The truth is, when we are consistent with our eating habits and working out, the healthier we will be. If you’re looking for ways to be more consistent throughout the year with your health and fitness routines, these three tips will help you achieve your goals.

1. Work Out at Home

If the weather is a deterrent for exercise, take the weather out of the equation by working out at home more often, especially during the winter and summer. If you’ve been hesitant because you think you need to buy expensive gym equipment, you’ll be happy to know there are only a few basic items you should have and that expensive machines are not necessary for getting a good workout. For the most part, all you need is your body and a plan.

You can do pushups, crunches, squats, work your abs, and sculpt your legs and rear end. Add some weights when you want to work out your arms in different ways. Either purchase a dumbbell set or use items from around the house such as canned vegetables and water jugs. Cardio and stretching are easy to do at home, too. You can do jumping jacks, jog in place, use your steps for repetitions to tone your legs, dance, and do yoga right from home.

If you don’t think you’ll know how to develop a routine, look on YouTube for some routines you can follow along with in the comfort and privacy of your home. Many fitness videos range from beginner to advanced, and you’ll feel like you’re in a class once you start moving along with the video. Some people find that setting an alarm on their phones and sticking to a fitness routine at a certain time each day helps with accountability.

2. Work Out with a Friend

One of the reasons people don’t stick to a health and fitness routine throughout the year is that they don’t hold themselves accountable. If you have this problem, start working out with a friend. Not only will your workouts be more fun, but you’ll stick to your plan when you schedule time for it and know that you need to show up not only for yourself but also for your partner. Friends also make good spotters when you head to the gym for lifting day, and they can add a friendly face to an otherwise intimidating setting.

Sometimes, having a workout buddy is beneficial simply for the motivation factor. When you feel like eating a piece of cheesecake, ditching your workout, or giving up altogether, your friend can help you reset your intention. And you can do the same for her.

Your workout buddy can be of the four-legged variety, too. Many people find that walking their dog is a good form of exercise that also helps reduce stress. Playing with and walking your dog increases your oxytocin level, which helps you relax. If you add a vigorous walk to the mix, you also increase your endorphin levels and feel happier. Walk your dog around your neighborhood, take your dog hiking, or plan a play date at the local dog park to spend more time with your dog. If your dog is athletic, you can roller blade, skate or bike with them too.

3. Develop Healthy Eating Habits

The key to eating healthier is to make it a habit. Now that the holidays have passed and you aren’t tempted by Thanksgiving meals and Christmas cookies and treats, it’s easier to start developing healthy eating habits that will carry you through the year and next holiday season.

A helpful tip for creating new habits is to remain true to portion sizes rather than completely giving up your most loved foods. When you eliminate favorite foods from your diet, you are more likely to binge on them because you feel deprived. Another tip for staying on track includes making a plan for your weekly meals each Sunday to help yourself stay on track instead of being tempted to order a pizza at the last minute after a late night of work.

It is possible to implement health and fitness routines throughout the year to help you consistently stay on track toward your goals. Once you develop healthy routines, they will become habits, and you’ll be more likely to stick to working out at home, working out with a friend, and eating healthy all year.

by Paige Johnson

Image via Pixabay by stevepb

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Philosophy Podcast E40 – Nurture Oneself

How to nurture oneself. Exploring dimensions ourselves through health and wellness…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 40 – How to nurture oneself. Exploring dimensions ourselves through health and wellness.

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FED UP: A Movie Review by Sujantra

You can call the people who created the movie FED UP true yogis…

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FED UP

 

The yamas are the foundation of the yoga practice. Ahimsa, non-violence is one of the yamas. This can be taken to mean both not performing violent acts and trying to prevent violence. In this sense you can call the people who created the movie FED UP true yogis.

Fed Up

The film is about the modern American diet and the harm it is doing to all of us. According to the movie, the essence of the problem is that the processed food industry is choosing private profit over public health, in particular: children’s health.

This heart retching film takes you inside the tragic world of childhood obesity. We are shown the addictive nature of sugar (more addictive than cocaine says the movie) and the tragedy of children who become addicted. To profit financially by addicting children to drugs could be considered by some to be a crime.

Obese Child

Photo by Robin Corps, License.

This 2014 movie narrated by Katie Couric takes you inside the “world’s deadliest diet” and shows the manipulation of the United States Congress by monied interests. It also explores the exploitation of children by unregulated television advertising.

As our population surpasses the 30% obesity rate and we usher in the first generation of children to deal with Type 2 diabetes the film offers a simple antidote. The change has to start locally, as local as your own fork and kitchen: prepare and eat real food.

This movie is worth a watch for anyone concerned about their own health and the health of others.

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A Nudge towards Vegetarian

If you have been on the fence about adopting a vegetarian diet only watch Forks over Knives if you want to take the plunge…

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Forks Over Knives

If you have been on the fence about adopting a vegetarian diet watch Forks over Knives if you want to take the plunge.

I was looking for a documentary recently on Netflix and came across the 2011 film and was captivated. I like science and the film is built around the lifetime work of two pioneering doctors, who both discovered the significance link between nutrition and health. Another way to phrase it was they both discovered the significance between certain diets and heart disease and cancer.

Bottom line: they both live and teach the importance, both personal and planetary for a plant-based diet.

Forks Over Knives

A Plant Based Diet

Forks Over Knives presents a strongly persuasive, scientifically backed argument for the health and life benefits of a plant based diet. That is defined as a diet of fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes. Yes, you could say that is a vegan diet, though that word rarely comes up in the film, as there are subtle differences. To get a sense of those nuances I suggest watching the interview with Teekhnata Metzler, who has a Ph.D. in Holistic Health and is one of the senior instructors at Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, CA.

Forks Over Knives centers around a group of doctors and their success in treating a wide range of diseases through a plant based diet. The movie also draws on a number of significant studies that have been done in the United States, India and China. The studies are conclusive and compelling.

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Awareness through Yoga

Yoga teaches us to look at ourselves and our actions with a clear mind. In that clarity arises which can then be the fuel for change. Every breath is precious and the yogi does all she can to sustain and nourish the life force. Diet affects our body, mind and emotions.

Cancer and Diabetes

The movie is well made and has a series of story threads running simultaneously which keeps the learning curve high throughout the film. From studies in China involving 65,000 people to 24 patients given less than a year to live, their story is our story as we all share the human body.

Give the film a watch and see what it does for you!

 

 

 

 

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21 Ways to Eat Your Water

Our bodies need water to survive. Water makes up more than half of our body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to…

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Our bodies need water to survive. Water makes up more than half of our body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to function effectively. Water also helps the body maintain temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints.  That’s why experts recommend drinking 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water each day

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How do we lose water

We lose water each day when we practice yoga, go to the bathroom, sweat, and breathe. Hot weather and being physically active accelerate water loss. If we don’t replace the water we lose, we can become dehydrated.

Snack on Water Rich Fruits and Veggies

Snacking on fruit and vegetables that are largely made of water is a great way to hydrate. We like 21 Ways to Eat Your Water from Skinny Ms.

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Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Getting Vegucated

This 2011 documentary is described on Amazon as “a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers…

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On Amazon and Netflix

This 2011 documentary is described on Amazon as “a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about.” The follower and director is Marisa Miller Wolfson who has created a great film that explores the vegan lifestyle. Her self-deprecating humor helps introduce the topic and draws in the viewer.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

This film relies on humor and a strong ethical and humanitarian point of view to make the argument for a vegan diet. The movie chronicles the cruelty of the meat, fish and dairy industries and takes three New Yorkers on a journey into a vegan lifestyle. The lifestyle includes food, fashion and life decisions.

Vegucated

Forks over Knives

Like the film Forks over Knives this movie explores the science of the vegan diet and our planets needs while at the same time it diverges from that movie and explores the vegan lifestyle. It lets people know Oreo cookies are a thumbs up for the vegan. It’s an interesting juxtaposition: one film holds firm to strict dietary guide lines while the other makes a case for eating whatever you want so long as it does not involve animals.

Both films rely heavily of the China Study and feature T. Colin Campbell and his groundbreaking work with a plant based diet. Both films also make it quite clear that we are “…killing the planet with our growing meat and dairy habit.”

Einstein

It is fascinating to watch the three participants as they go through the transformation of understanding the impact our societal eating habit is having on the planet. They visit an animal sanctuary and slaughterhouse in the same day and the contrasts are compelling.

For me one of the highlights of the film is a quote by Einstein: “”Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

 

–Sujantra

 

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Yoga: A Remedy for Sleepless Nights?

Having trouble getting a sound sleep? Yoga might be the perfect remedy. A Harvard study on insomnia concluded people who practiced yoga consistently…

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Having trouble getting a sound sleep? Yoga might be the perfect remedy. A Harvard study on insomnia concluded people who practiced yoga consistently for eight weeks slept better and longer compared than those who did not practice.

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Helpful to Relax the Bodypic

Legs-Up-The-Wall(Viparita Karani) can be practiced at night before getting into bed or in the middle of the night, if you’re having trouble sleeping and waking up.  Try Nikole Fortier’s 7 minute class at Pilgrimage Yoga Online.  It’s ideal for beginners and advanced yogis.

Hope Knosher, founder of Hope’s Yoga, suggests: “Sit sideways with your right side against the wall. Exhale and gently swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Coming into this pose may take some practice. Your sitting bones don’t need to be right against the wall, depending on the tightness of your hamstrings. Experiment with the position until you find the placement that works for you.

This pose is not intended to stretch the backs of the legs, so if you feel pulling in the hamstrings move farther away from the wall. Keep the lower back grounded to the floor. Make a small roll with a hand towel to place under your neck if the cervical spine at the base of your neck feels too flat. Open your shoulder blades away from your spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.

Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. If you struggle to keep your legs upright, take a yoga strap or something similar and place it around your legs just below the knees and gently tighten to hold the legs up right, allowing you to further relax into the pose. Gently close and soften your eyes, then scan the body. Soften into any tightness you find along the way.” *

Calm, Steady Breathing

Practice for 5-20 minutes. Focus on calm and steady breathing.

When you are ready to come out, bend your knees halfway toward your chest and roll to one side. Use your arms to help you sit up, moving slowly and mindfully.

Raising your legs vertically, higher than the heart, can also help with blood circulation.

Hope cautions, “those who are pregnant or that have been diagnosed with glaucoma, high blood pressure, or any serious problems with the neck or spine, should consult their doctor first.”

If sleepless nights are on your mind, consider adding a meditation and relaxation class at Pilgrimage Yoga Online to your morning.

How do you deal with sleepless nights?

* Thanks to MindBodyGreen.com for permission to share this excerpt.

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Review: Michael Stribling: A Better Place

A Better Place is the first album from keyboardist/composer Michael Stribling in several years. It was worth the wait for A Better Place, an album sure to…

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by Kathy Parsons

A Better Place is the first album from keyboardist/composer Michael Stribling in several years. I was introduced to Stribling’s music back in 2007 with Out of the Darkness, Into the Light and have reviewed (and enjoyed!) six more of his albums since then. After becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist, Stribling worked in the mental health field for many years, returning to music in 2005 during a transitional period in his own life.

Inspires and Uplifts the Human Spirit

The mission statement of Leela Music sums up Stribling’s goals with his music: “to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit. (Leela means ‘divine play’).” Stribling’s albums have always been visual and spiritual, but A Better Place seems to come from the heart of someone very much at peace with himself and his life. Using keyboards and synths, Stribling creates music that tells a story using a broad range of instrumental sounds and rhythms. The fourteen tracks on this album are diverse and range from ambient and floating to more uptempo rhythms that invite toe-tapping and moving your body to the beat. It is a pleasure to have Stribling’s music as a backdrop to other activities, but I think it is even more effective when listening with eyes closed, letting the beautiful waves of sound envelop you.

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Happiness and Carefree Spirit

A Better Place opens with “First Light,” a piece that begins with the sound of birds chirping contentedly and then goes into a peaceful and colorful depiction of early morning light. Fully orchestrated as the birds continue to sing in the background, the music gently coaxes us to a place of warmth and tranquility. “Looking Up” begins with a quietly ambient introduction/prelude that picks up the tempo considerably about a minute in. This wonderful piece overflows with happiness and a carefree spirit – my favorite track! “Winter Encounter” moves in quite a different direction, but is still very soothing and peaceful. The music paints a picture of icy stillness in all of its splendor – another beauty! “Dream Waves” is hypnotic with its smooth, ambient flow – a mind massage!

Ambient and Dreamy

The next several tracks continue in an ambient and dreamy mode with a varied palette of musical instruments. The title track is a bit more dramatic and symphonic, although still very peaceful and warm. “Quiet Certainty” takes us back (or moves us forward) to more melody and an infectious rhythm. I love the titles for “Dust Yourself Off” and “Time for Bed, Sweetheart,” both very soulful and heartfelt pieces. “Ever Onward” is light and breezy, and seems to reflect on the power of love  and positive thinking/living – a great way to end the album!

It was worth the wait for A Better Place, an album sure to take you to a better place, if only for an hour or so! Recommended!

Michael’s Website     Amazon     iTunes     CD Baby

Kathy Parsons writes music reviews and interviews artists for MainlyPiano.com.  She is a regular contributor to the Pilgrimage Yoga Online blog.

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My Journey of the Heart to Weight Loss

Difficulty is an opportunity for a depth of growth that is not present when everything is flowing easily. Difficulties have the ability to show us our inner reserves…

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By Nagesh

Personal Growth Through Weight Loss

 Difficulty is an opportunity for a depth of growth that is not present when everything is flowing easily. Difficulties have the ability to show us our inner reserves-depths, which we have yet to tap into. Not that I go looking for difficulties, mind you, but life does have a way of giving us ‘opportunities for growth.’

In June of 2014, I was offered such an opportunity. My profession is a tennis teaching professional in San Francisco. Early in that month, I sustained 3 unrelated injuries, though all related to tennis. I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder, tore the meniscus in my right knee, and fractured my right hand. I needed to make it through the summer before I would have the surgeries, so I grinded my way until the end of August.

Nagesh still 3

Before

Unwanted Weight

During this time, partly because of these injuries, a general depression set in and I put on weight. This was all new territory for me as I had always prided myself on being in great shape, spending many years as a competitive tennis player. I played 3 years of college tennis followed by many years of semi-professional tournaments in California and Europe, driven to become the best tennis player I could be.

Fitness was always a huge part of ‘my game’ because I came to tennis very late in life and I was always competing against players far more experienced than me. Being super fit gave me a key advantage that helped me overcome my lack of tennis experience. When my body began to break down and my weight ballooned up to 225 lbs. (my playing weight was always around 170-175lbs), it is not difficult to understand how depression began to take hold of my psyche.

I had my first surgery in August 2014 (shoulder) and waited until December to have my knee done-Surgery was not needed for my hand. From the end of August until April I was off work. Though I was very happy to have my shoulder and knee repaired, the weight remained, as I was not able to do much but sit around.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

Trip to San Diego

For months, I had been ‘knowing’ that it was time to “lose it” and get my body back to a more normal weight for me, however, it wasn’t until my trip to San Diego, to perform a music concert at the Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio, that the vehicle to embody my ‘knowing’ formulated. While in San Diego, someone mentioned the Atkins diet to me. After some research on the philosophy behind the diet, I decided to give it a try. On April 1st 2015 I jumped head first into my new way of eating, inspired that I had found my ‘way’ to embody my ‘knowing’ to ‘lose it’.

Meet the Atkins Diet

As per the instructions of the Atkins plan, I brought my carbs down to about 20 grams per day, increased my fat intake (up to about 60-70%), along with a moderate amount of protein. This flew in the face of everything I had learned about nutrition up to this point. The conventional wisdom was that a low fat, high carb diet was the best and healthiest. The results of my low carb, high fat diet, however, countered this conventional wisdom. I started to drop pounds immediately (about 4-5 pounds per week). Not only that but I began to feel much better. Gone were the energy spikes and mood swings and, in their place, was a steady energy level all day long-with no hunger cravings!

Nagesh After

After

This fascinated me and had me studying everything I could find about this way of eating, often referred to High Fat Low Carb (also known as HFLC), because I wanted to understand how this could be happening to me and if this was also happening for others as well. What I discovered was that, ‘Yes, it IS happening for others’, but also, that Atkins was not the only one recommending this way (HFLC) of eating.

It’s so awesome to, once again, be reminded that difficulties do indeed offer us ‘opportunities for growth’, along with opportunities for incredible life changes!

In upcoming posts I’ll explore some of the other HFLC plans out there and the wonderful world of weight loss that is available to everyone willing to put in the effort.

 

Nagesh is a musician and tennis professional living in San Francisco. He writes and performs original kirtan and bhajans inspired by his spiritual studies and journeys to India. You can find his music on Google Play Music store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Sleep Soundly

Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Mental stress from life and work often makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Meditation, physical exercise,…

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Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Mental stress from life and work often makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Meditation, physical exercise, nutrition and yoga practice, are ideal ways to balance stress and sleep soundly.

In Sleep the Mind Taps into Higher Consciousness

Sleep is a magical time when our mind taps into higher consciousness and the soul comes to the fore, says spiritual yogi Paramahansa Yogananda.  “In sleep, the astral life forces are withdrawn not only from the muscles but also from the sensory instruments. Every night each man accomplishes a physical withdrawal of the life force, albeit in an unconscious way; the energy and consciousness in the body retire to the region of the heart, spine, and brain, giving man the rejuvenating peace of subconscious contact with the divine dynamo of all his powers, the soul. Why does man feel joy in sleep? Because when he is in the stage of deep, dreamless sleep, unconscious of the body, physical limitations are forgotten and the mind momentarily taps a higher consciousness.”

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Here are some sleep suggestions for those suffering from sleepless nights.

1. End use of computers, TV, and handheld devices an hour prior to sleep time

The blue light from your electronic devices shuts down the production of melatonin, a major sleep hormone that we produce at night.

2. Reduce Caffeine

It takes 4-6 hours or more to metabolize caffeine, which prevents a helpful sleep-promoting chemical called adenosine from working. Several hours before sleep avoid wine, alcohol, red bull, coffee, chocolate, chicken and soda.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise regularly and you’ll sleep easier and more soundly. Whether you’re jogging, swimming, playing tennis or working out at the gym, exercise is a great way to feel and look your best, and you’ll also promote a great night’s sleep.

4. Watch your diet

Foods helpful for sleep include cherries, which contain melatonin, a chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock, says Keri Gans, a registered dietician in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. Bananas are helpful because they contain natural muscle-relaxers magnesium and potassium. Sweet potatoes provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates and contain muscle-relaxant potassium. When combined with complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat toast or crackers, cheese and dairy products can help bring about the onset of sleep. Carbohydrates release insulin which promotes the movement of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan then converts to serotonin and melatonin, which are sleep-promoting neurotransmitters.

5. Cool the Room

At night our core body temperature drops and this tells the brain it’s time for sleep. Sleep with a room temperature of between 62 and 70 degrees.

6. Meditate

Right before sleep try a guided conscious relaxation tour and relax to beautiful images of nature and the comforting sound of guitar music. If you enjoy the relaxing sound of the flute combined with nature scenes, this short meditation video may help. Or listen to music like “Edge of Eternal” and find a peaceful calm.

7. Yoga

Make Halasana the last thing you do before sleep. It’s a pose done while lying on your back. Set yourself up to create a strong base in the back of your shoulders and arms, just as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). Kick your legs overhead and press your toes into the floor behind you. Stay in the pose for up to 5 minutes and slowly draw the legs back over head and return them to the floor. This pose is therapeutic as it calms the mind. A calm mind reduces stress and anxiety.

8. Alarm clocks should be heard, but not seen

Avoid visually bright-screened alarm clocks and ticking wall clocks. Keep your wakeup devices out of mind and sight and let them do their jobs at the appointed times.

9. Pristine quiet

If it’s too noisy where you sleep, try wearing earplugs. If your spouse’s snoring is keeping you awake, there are medical solutions you can try. If snoring is an issue, you might try a “bedroom divorce”.

10. A comfy mattress

Find a mattress that is firm or soft enough for you. You’re going to be sleeping on a mattress for an average of 7 years. So find a one that is comfortable and supportive.

How are you dealing with sleepless nights?

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Best Stretches for Tight Hips

If you’re working at a desk all day at an office or in a school classroom, stretching your hips is probably the last thing on your mind…

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If you’re working at a desk all day at an office or in a school classroom, stretching your hips is probably the last thing on your mind. Most people haven’t stretched their hips for years and decades.

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Stretching Releases Tension in the Hips

The less you use your hips, the tighter they get. Hip stretches are helpful for counteracting our often sedentary lifestyles. Stretching releases all the tensions that we store in the hips. Stretching can also help avoid pains in the back and hip that occur in the course of aging.

Feel your best with these hip stretching suggestions from PopSugar.

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How are you keeping flexible?

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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5 Tips for Improving Your Focus

Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives. If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news […]

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Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives.

If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news alerts and instant messages.  One day I decided to shut off the notifications on my iPhone.  Now I now check for messages on my own time versus being interrupted by notifacations.

“Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s an inner alert that says, “Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.”

And sometimes life gets out of balance. So working on personal focus is a great way to find your center again. Here are some practical tips for staying focused.

1. Meditate in the Morning

Morning meditation can be a transformative, life-changing experience if done regularly. Take any of our online meditation classes to learn productive meditation techniques. Practice a few minutes each day. Be patient with yourself; it took a lifetime to get you clogged up and unbalanced. It takes some time for a lifetime of reverberations in one’s mind to dissolve into the focused stillness that regular meditation practice enables.

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2. Be Creative First Thing

Creative time can be a release us from the distractions of life.  Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Being creative opens the door to an inner dimension where we reflect, expand ideas, and see life in new ways.  I say be creative – sing, paint, play music, blog, or keep a diary daily. Be creative.

Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” suggests writing daily Morning Pages — three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. Morning pages are not intended to be high art. Cameron suggests, “they are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

3. Run and Become

Running a few miles a day is a great way to let go of the distractions of the day. Rather than listening to music on Spotify when you run,oractice mindfulness while running. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the quiet.  Accomplished runner and leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham combines mindfulness with physical movement for more energy, more focus, and more. His book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” shares ways to connect with the present moment through synchronizing body and mind.

4. Commit to Your Calendar

Keep a physical or online calendar. That’s where you can schedule and prioritize time for activities that nurture focus. Add calendar listings for morning meditation, yoga, being creative, running and more. Be fair to yourself — create a schedule you feel you can keep. Then keep to the schedule; that’s the commitment. The longer you do the more you’re providing your ability to focus. Fulfilling your calendar puts your focus into action while nurturing good practices for life.

5. Control Instant Notifications

Author Stephen King says the one thing a writer needs is a “door” to close. We’re living in an instant notification world. Consider reducing or eliminating persistent notifications on mobile phones and laptops from social media, email, stores and friends. Check messages on your own time versus allowing them to intrude on you every moment of the day – as if your door was always open to strangers.

 Shambhu writes for the Pilgrimage Yoga Online blog.  He’s also an accomplished guitarist and composer. Learn more at ShambhuMusic.com.  

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Can We Affect Aging?

Can we affect aging? New age guru Deepak Chopra believes that good practices and positive intention can affect more than our health and wellness…

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New age guru Deepak Chopra believes that good practices and positive intention can affect more than our health and wellness in this moment – but over our lifetime. They can affect how we age over time. He calls intentions “the triggers for transformation in the body. If you want to wiggle your toes, you do it through intention. There are two components to biological information in the body, one is intention, the other is attention.”


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In an interview for People and Possibilities, Chopra stated his belief that people don’t die of simple old age, they die of the diseases that accompany old age which are often preventable. 

Deepak Chopra: “Most people think that aging is irreversible and we know that there are mechanisms even in the human machinery that allow for the reversal of aging, through correction of diet, through anti-oxidants, through removal of toxins from the body, through exercise, through yoga and breathing techniques, and through meditation. Most people believe that aging is normal but nobody defines what normal aging is. What we call normal may be the psychopathology of the average. Most people think that aging is genetic and yet if your parents lived to age 80+ that will add three years to your life.

The Way You Think Can Influence Your Life

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years. Most people believe that aging is universal but there are biological organisms that never age. Most people believe that aging is painful and we know that pain is from diseases that are preventable, not from aging.

Reality is Nothing Other than Your Perception of It

People have to change their concepts of aging and I am not asking them to do so based on some fanciful notion, but on scientific fact. When they change that, then their perception of aging will change and it will become clear to them to grow old and to become wiser, to become more creative, to become the springboard for creativity and affluence. Once your perception of the whole phenomenon changes, your reality will change, because reality is nothing other than your perception of it.”

How are your staying healthy? If you’re looking for a practical yoga routine, try a Pilgrimage Yoga Playlist.

Deepak Chopra is the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.  The Chopra Center is founded on three pillars of timeless wisdom: meditation, Ayurveda, and yoga.  He is also the author of more than 65 books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. 

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3 Yoga Poses for Children

If you’re a stay at home parent, yoga and mindfulness can help to stretch and strengthen a child’s body while calming and focusing their mind…

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If you’re a stay at home parent, yoga and mindfulness can help to stretch and strengthen a child’s body while calming and focusing their mind.

Yoga Reduces Stress in Kids

Yoga contributes to improved concentration, more confidence and reduced level of stress in children. Parents should practice gentle yoga poses and breathing exercise with children and teenagers. It’s a wonderful way to help your kids reduce their stress and develop a lifelong appreciation for yoga.

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Three Yoga Practices

Here are three yoga practices you can try with your child, with video links.

1. Upward Facing Dog Pose – Calms the mind and energizes the body. Stretches the upper body area and reduces back aches.

2. Bridge Pose – Stretches your back and neck. Removes stress and strengthens the legs.

3. Mountain Pose – Improves body posture and strengthens legs and muscles.

Which are your favorite yoga practices for children?

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Meditation: How to Stay Inspired

Having trouble finding inspiration to meditate as part of your yoga practice at home or destress at work?…

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It’s common to momentarily lose the inspiration to continue a daily meditation practice especially in today’s non-stop, notification-driven world. Like any life activity, meditation needs to become a priority.

Say Yes to Activities that Add Value to Our Lives

Writing in Harvard Business Review, author and speaker Tony Schwartz suggests we need to say “yes” to activities that add value to our lives and learn to say “no” to the rest. ‘Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, [we need] to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.”

One day I was feeling ‘unsatisfied’ after a very busy day and I asked myself why. It turned out I was occupied with activities that brought little true value to my life. I decided to prioritize meditation and other tasks and activities that added value: exercise, yoga, healthy eating, and music.

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If you’re ready to prioritize regular meditation practice in your life, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda shares inspiration on the importance of preparing for your meditation:

“The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained.  Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind. In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul.”

Spiritual Books Help

Your meditation practice can also benefit from reading spiritual books, says spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy.

“If you are an absolute beginner, then you can start by reading a few spiritual books or scriptures. These will give you inspiration. You should read books by spiritual Masters in whom you have implicit faith. There are Masters who have attained the highest consciousness, and if you read their books, you are bound to get inspiration. It is better not to read books written by professors or scholars or aspirants who are still on the path and have not yet attained illumination. Only those who have realised the Truth will have the capacity to offer the Truth. Otherwise, it is like the blind leading the blind.”

Power of Imagination

What happens if you’re uninspired to meditate on a particular day? Sri Chinmoy suggests: “Think of a time when you had a most sublime meditation, and consciously dive deep into that experience. Think of its essence-how you were thrilled, how you were jumping with delight. At first you will just be imagining the experience, because you are not actually having that meditation. But if you enter into the world of imagination and stay there for ten or fifteen minutes, power will automatically enter into your meditation and it will bear fruit. Then it will not be imagination at all; you will actually be deep in the world of meditation.”

How do you stay inspired to meditate?

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Yoga at Home Is Key to Healthier Lifestyle

A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet…

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A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet, exercise and improved mental health. Home practice of yoga is also a better predictor of health than years of class practice or class frequency.

Tosca Braun, a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga instructor and 500-hour Integrative Yoga Therapist notes, “In my own experience, home practice is sweetly satisfying. It can also become stale and rigid without continued inspiration from teachers or attendance at classes or retreats. Hitting the mat can sometimes become another box to check off, with my mind racing through the day’s events as I lose the anchors of body and breath. At other times, the strength or motivation to practice may desert me, due to life’s emotional upheavals. It is then that I am most likely to attend class or seek community, where I find the support, inspiration and belonging I have longed for in my home practice. When I return to my home yoga mat, it is that much sweeter for having been touched by sangha and a skillful teacher’s reminder to inhabit my body and breath with compassionate presence.”

Yoga Promises Healthier Life

According to the report, Yoga shows promise as an intervention targeting a number of outcomes associated with lifestyle-related health conditions including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cancer. While aerobic exercise long has been a valuable tool in combating these health conditions, a review of clinical trials comparing exercise to yoga found yoga to be equal or superior to aerobic exercise in improving a number of outcomes associated with chronic health conditions.

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Home Practice is Key

The frequency of home practice appears to be very important— more important than how long an individual has been practicing or how many classes one takes. It’s not enough simply to learn how to do healthy behaviors. Rather, healthy behaviors must be incorporated into one’s daily life. While these findings suggest that individuals will only glean benefits from yoga practice that are proportional to the energy they are willing to invest in making it a part of their lives, the findings also suggest that they do not have to practice for years in order to reap the rewards.

What one practices, be it the different types of physical poses, breath work, or meditation, is important because the different aspects of yoga practice may well have different health benefits.

From: Alyson Ross, Erika Friedmann, Margaret Bevans, and Sue Thomas, “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 983258, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/983258

 

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OM – A Mantra for Every Moment

A mantra is a sound or vibration that you can use to journey into the realm of meditation or find calm inside any moment. A mantra represents…

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A mantra is a sound or vibration that you can use to journey into the realm of meditation or find calm inside any moment. A mantra represents an aspect of the Highest, and each mantra has a special significance and inner power.

Vibrational Harmony

OM (AUM)  is said to be the soundless sound of the universe. Chanting OM helps us get into a vibrational harmony with the universe so it’s the ideal way to start and finish one’s yoga practice or meditation session. Om is also the perfect antidote to finding calm inside any stressful situation at home or work.

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Repeat A Mantra Every Day

“If you want quick results in your inner spiritual life, you should repeat a mantra every day without fail, for a least half an hour: fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening,” says spiritual yogi Sri Chinmoy.  “There can be no mantra more powerful than the mother of all mantras, AUM.”

If you want to get the best results, repeat OM every day. To learn more about the power of mantras, watch our De-Stress with Mantra video.

Chant: “Ommmmmmmmmm”.

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Why I Practice Yoga

Stepping on my mat is coming home. And as we grow up, the idea and definition of “home” becomes amorphous. It doesn’t have clean edges anymore…

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Finding Home

Stepping on my mat is coming home. And as we grow up, the idea and definition of “home” becomes amorphous. It doesn’t have clean edges anymore. Maybe it never did. Is it in San Diego, where I’ve lived for the past decade? Is it where I go for the holidays? Is it wherever my mom is? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Life gets topsy turvy sometimes and anxiety :: worry :: doubt :: fear :: loneliness often become my regular, unwanted companions. Sigh. But when I practice yoga asana I feel “home” wherever I may be: an airport waiting area, a beach somewhere, the yoga studio down the street. Lately I’ve been intentionally cultivating that home feeling within myself as I move through the world; making it a goal to find that feeling of wholeness :: safety :: okay-ness.

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Being Grounded

And each time I get on my mat, I remember: Oh, right, this is what it feels like to be grounded :: to have my feet on the earth :: to be supported :: to take risks and fall :: to try again :: to get back up :: to breath deeply :: to take flight :: to exhibit courage :: to have my own back :: to challenge myself :: to be enough as I am today :: to rest.

 

Here’s what I’ve found helps me most:

Start with Sun Salutations.

*  The moving, repetitive flow of the sun salutations is a mindless meditation that gets me out of my head, into my body, and connected with my breath.

Sun Salutations

 

Move with breath:

*  As I take deeper breaths my body relaxes, my thoughts quiet, and I find myself more connected with what’s actually happening in the present moment.

Yoga Pose on the Beach

Photo by Mario Covic

Practice outside:

*  When I get on my mat (or on the grass :: sand :: dirt) out in nature I breathe in fresh air and remember that I’m part of this universe :: earth :: world :: community. (Try it. It’s magical. And maybe you’ll inspire someone else to take a breath :: slow down :: and remember their own wholeness.)

 

Set an intention:

* Sometimes I dedicate each sun salute to a friend or choose an affirming word for each breath. It helps me feel purposeful :: connected :: home.

 

 

Lena Schmidt

 

by Lena Schmidt

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Regularity and Yoga – Yogananda

We all want to look, feel and perform at our our best and yoga can help. That’s why we’re here…

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I’m have a friend who has run 2 miles a day for almost 40 years without missing a day.  He has shown up every day to run 2 miles because completing that task is high on his personal priority list.

Many of us are living lives interrupted by constant incoming messages and notifications that can intrude and capture our schedule. We all want to look, feel and perform at our our best and yoga can help. That’s why we’re here.  So how do we become regular in our personal yoga practice at home and work?

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Whatever we want to achieve from yoga practice – health, wellness, fitness, mindfulness, calmness and more – requires focus, practice and patience.  Spiritual guide Swami Paramahansa Yogananda offers empowering wisdom and inspiration on mindfulness, enthusiasm, a strong will and calmness.

yogananda

 He suggests that that “the habitual inclination of our thoughts determines our talents and abilities, and our personality.” In other words, if we envision a lifestyle where we’re practicing regularly and prioritizing health, we’re likely to see our lives transformed with an expanded horizon of opportunity. If we approach life with an attitude towards failure, prospects for success may be diminished. Here are some inspirations from Yogananda:

Be Mindful

Live each present moment completely, and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant. Do everything with full attention, never in a haphazard way.

Be Enthusiastic

Without unquenchable enthusiasm nothing can be gained.

Be Strong

Learn to keep your will strong—a calm will, not a nervous will—and your body will then be full of energy. It is by the power of will that you bring energy into the body and utilize it. The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.

Be Calm

Be calmly active and actively calm.

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4 Summer Drinks That Will Keep You Slim

Oscar Wilde stated “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” and this couldn’t ring truer in our current balance-obsessed culture…

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by Sara

Is maintaining balance stressing you out?

 

Here’s 4 summer drinks that will keep you slim without going to extremes.

Oscar Wilde stated “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” and this couldn’t ring truer in our current balance-obsessed culture. I’ve always tried to approach health without going to extremes but like most twenty-something females living in Southern California I’ve definitely done my fair share of experimenting with juice cleanses and strict vegan or gluten free diets. In the end I’ve found that the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to value mindful balance and let go of perfection.

As a personal chef and food-documentary junkie, I have my fair share of opinions when it comes to eating. There are some things I won’t touch like soda or artificial fruit juices. Other times, I throw out the rulebook and enjoy some delicious French cheese on baguette with a glass of rosé for dinner! Quality over quantity and moderation over deprivation.

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Learning to approach health without going to extremes will be incredibly helpful in the long run. If maintaining balance is stressing you out, you’ll likely never receive the benefits of a moderate lifestyle!

Most people associate the holidays with packing on the pounds, but summertime, with its weekly BBQs and sugary drinks, can put a serious damper on your weight loss plan. Instead of reaching for that soda, try these delicious drinks that will increase metabolism, detoxify your body and curb your appetite. You’ll find yourself shedding a few pounds easily, in a completely healthy way!

Metabolism Tea

Metabolism Boosting Iced Tea

A simple cinnamon, ginseng or green tea can stabilize your blood sugar, boost your metabolism and detoxify your system. Keep a pitcher in your fridge and enjoy unsweetened or add a small amount of raw honey when the tea is still warm.

Breakfast Smoothies That Fill You Up

A morning smoothie can be a great way to get a serving or two of fruit in before you start your day. Adding a tablespoon each of flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds will provide enough fiber and protein to suppress your appetite and fill you up until lunchtime. Try this simple and delicious green smoothie.

Green Smoothie

De-stress with Adaptogenic Herbs

Did you know that chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels which trigger hunger and keep you from losing weight? Adaptogens are ancient herbs that can help improve your body’s hormonal responses and balance the adrenal system. Ashwagandha, Ashitaba and Rhodiola can help stabilize hormones and keep your body in balance. Try this simple recipe to reduce stress and lose weight.

Fat Burning Apple Cider Vinegar

When insulin levels spike, fat is more easily stored in the body. Apple cider vinegar can help to stabilize your blood sugar and suppress your appetite. While some choose to take a shot of the vinegar straight, I prefer a smoother approach by adding a tablespoon of ACV to a glass of half water, half freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Drink a glass an hour before each meal to curb the appetite and improve digestion.

A long-term healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables will almost always lead to successful weight loss and it never hurts to go for a few walks or do a bit of yoga or strength training, too. The secret is to find joy on the path to your goal weight and always focus on lifestyles changes rather than quick fixes. Incorporating healthy ways to hydrate into your day-to-day life is a great place to start!

 

SaraSara is a health food enthusiast and has been practicing yoga for over ten years. She currently works as a personal chef and as Natural Lifestyle Specialist for Purtylife.com.

Photo by Vince Marcial.
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3 Ways To Feel Your Best

We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being…

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We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being or make the world a better place?

Do Worthwhile Things

Feeling good results when we do things that are worthwhile for ourselves and those around us. Practicing yoga, working out regularly, eating healthy foods, and living harmoniously with nature – all can contribute to a personal sense of well-being.

Motivation guru Earl Nightingale wrote, “We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”

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Think Positive

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become,” says Buddha.

Lets say life is great, but your job feels like it’s going nowhere. Be patient. Avoid saying self-defeating and/or negative things to yourself. Try replacing them with positive thoughts.

Author Normal Vincent Peale advises an approach to positive thinking, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”

Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are things you can say to yourself either out loud or quietly to help enable positive outcomes. Try affirming to yourself whatever it is that you want to occur. Let’s say you’re recovering from a broken arm, you can repeat to yourself, “I have a strong and healthy arm.”

Holistic Health writer Liz Parry, suggests several positive affirmations that you can use to influence your life:

  • I have a healthy body and a happy mind.
  • I have plenty of energy.
  • My mind is calm and relaxed.
  • I have an enjoyable and fulfilling job.
  • Money flows easily and naturally into my life.
  • I radiate love and happiness.
  • I have a happy, loving relationship with my partner.
  • I am successful in all that I do.

What do you do each day to feel good?

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Top 10 Yoga Pants

Looking for yoga pants? Here are some recommendations from Pilgrimage Yoga Online…

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Looking for the ultimate in comfy yoga pants ? We love these recommendations by Getting Balanced author Kristina Cappetta.  (Mouse over this ThingLink interactive image.)

Which are your favorite yoga pants?

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Throw a Home Yoga Party

Create an evening as a healthful experience for your guests. Forget the burgers and dogs, and”Party Like a Yogi”…

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Want to have friends over for a really fun time? Throw a home yoga party.

“Party Like a Yogi” — Go Healthy!

Create an evening as a healthful experience for your guests. Forget the burgers and dogs, and”Party Like a Yogi”– go with healthy food and drink choices that will transport your friends into yoga heaven.

Need a teacher to lead the group?  Play the 35 minute Pilgrimage Yoga Evening Playlist for a group of classes you and your friends can take together. This includes:

1. Sunset Flow with Courtney–20 min

2. 3 part breath with Lauren–10 min

3. Conscious Relaxation with Space Imagery and Guitar–5 min

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Organize a “Pot Luck”

Organize your party as a “Pot Luck” where each guest brings a healthy dish or drink of their choice to be shared amongst the group. After practice, you all get together for a great meal.

Recipes You Can Try

If you’re an ambitious host, you can also download these tasty SaucyPants recipes (pdf) and prepare healthy and festive snacks for your guests.

The Recipes

Kale Walnut Pesto
Bruschetta: Gorgonzola + Fig, Strawberry + Goat Cheese, Goat Cheese + Soybeans
Pineapple-Peach Smoothie
Avocado Pudding
The Prana Cocktail
Pineapple Quinoa Salad

Throwing a yoga party? Tell us about it!

Image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Five Office Yoga Exercises You Have to Try

Are you stuck at a desk all day staring at a computer screen? Making office yoga a part of your work life…

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Are you stuck at a desk all day staring at a computer screen?

Making office yoga a part of your work life can keep you fresh and revitalized through the day. The exercises take a few minutes. They are ideal for addressing job-related strains the neck, shoulder and back muscles, which leads to tension and stiffness. The exercises can be done together or one at a time. They take only a few minutes.

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Suggestion: If you are wearing tight, uncomfortable shoes remove them before starting the stretches. You may also wish to first loosen your neck tie or scarf, and remove a tight jacket or sweater.

Here are a five office yoga exercises from The Art of Living you can try for a start.

Neck Roll

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Let your chin drop down to your chest.
  3. Begin the circular motion of your neck slowly, by moving the right ear to the right shoulder, taking the head backwards and then bringing the left ear to the left shoulder.
  4. Keep your shoulders loose and relax.
  5. Rotate your neck 3-5 times and then switch directions.

 

 

Cow Stretch

  1. Keep your feet on the floor.
  2. Bring both hands on your knees.
  3. While inhaling, stretch your back backwards and look towards the ceiling.
  4. While exhaling, stretch your back forward and drop your head forward.
  5. Repeat this exercise for 3-5 breaths.

 

 

 

Seated Forward Bend

  1. Push your chair away from your desk.
  2. Remaining seated, keep your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Take your arms behind the lower back, keep your back straight and interlace your fingers behind your back.
  4. Bending forward from the waist, bring your interlaced hands over your back.
  5. Rest your chest on your thighs and relax your neck.

 

 

Eagle Arms

  1. Stretch your arms straight in front of your body and parallel to the floor. Palms facing the ceiling.
  2. Cross your right arm over the left (bend your arm slightly at the elbow if needed). Bring both palms together.
  3. Lift both elbows. The shoulders slide down your back.
  4. Repeat this exercise with the left arm over the right.

 

 

 

Seated Spinal Twist

  1. Sit sideways in your chair.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Holding the back of the chair with both hands, twist your waist to the right towards the back of the chair.
  4. Turn to the other side. Repeat this exercise a few more times.

 

 

 

Temple Rub

  1. Keep your elbows on your desk and place your hands on your temples.
  2. With small circular motions gently rub your temples first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
  3. Do this for 10 – 15 long deep breaths.

 

 

Thanks to The Art of Living for these inspiring yoga practices. Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Mosquitos Biting? Try a Natural Bug Repellant

Did you know that dusk or dawn are the times when mosquitoes are most active and most bites occur? If you’re practicing yoga outside…

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Did you know that dusk or dawn are the times when mosquitoes are most active and most bites occur? If you’re practicing yoga outside in the early morning or evening, it’s not the male mosquitos that you have to worry about – it’s the females that are out for blood.

Mosquitos Use Scent

Mosquitos finds their prey using scent, exhaled carbon dioxide, and chemicals in a person’s sweat. If you do get bit, you’ll know it by the red bump and itching resulting from the body’s reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.

Here’s an essential oils recipe for avoiding painful and annoying bites from Jennifer Freitas at The Truth Beauty Company .

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 Ingredients*

 

  • 2 oz of Sweet Almond oil – or some other neutral carrier oil, like Jojoba or grapeseed.
  • 20-25 drops of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Lavender, Clove or Mint (not 20-25 of each but TOTAL – sometimes, I like to do a blend to achieve a smell I enjoy; for example, I don’t really enjoy the smell of tea tree so I might use 5 drops of that and 20 of lemongrass).

 

Mix the carrier oil and the essential oil drops in a dark colored glass. Shake it up and presto! Natural Bug Repellant. I find I only need to apply a few drops to my pressure points – the crease of my elbows, the backs of my knees, on my neck and behind my ears. No bugs seem to bother me.

To be honest, I can’t tell you the science of why these essential oils work to repel the mosquitoes but I know they do!! I have been hiking in a heavily wooded area, after a rain fall at dusk (worst time EVER if you want to avoid bites) and did not get ONE bite!!

Say some of these pesky pests do get to your lovely skin – what to do in order to speed healing and to stop the itch? Some of these suggestions with ‘drawing out’ properties may be effective.

 

  • A paste of baking soda (made with warm water) left on the bite for a few minutes should help with the itch;
  • Activated charcoal (which you can buy in a capsule form). Break one open and sprinkle the contents on your skin, cover and keep bandaged for a day;
  • Clays – used in the same way as the activated charcoal;
  • Vinegar – soak a cotton ball and apply it to the bump and keep it there until the pain subsides;
  • Of course this list contains Aloe Vera! It is such a super star for all skin injuries and issues. In this case, Aloe is very helpful for removing the heat that comes with bug bites – very soothing, almost instant relief!  It will also help with the swelling and even aid in the healing of the wound;
  • Onion – as if having an itchy bug bite wasn’t bad enough – now you will smell like onions too! Oh well, all in the name of skin saving! All you need to do is take a fresh slice and place it on the bite, until the itching subsides;
  • Honey – another skin superstar with multiple uses! It will help with the swelling and honey actually possesses natural healing abilities that make it great to soothe the inflammation. Just rub the area with a little of this sweet goodness;
  • Salt. Similar to the baking soda paste, all you need to do is take a bit of finely ground salt and mix it with a bit of water until you have a thick paste – and apply it directly to the bite.

 

How do you manage mosquitos where you live?

*Use caution with essential oils as they should be diluted before being applied directly to skin, and be advised that some essential oils can cause skin reactions.  

NOTE: If there is serious swelling, muscle cramping, breathing problems, headache, nausea, fever or fainting as a result of a bug bite, you should seek medical attention.

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Setting up a Regular Place for Meditation

Ideally we should have a regular place for our individual meditation, whether it is a corner of our room, an entire room in our home, a park bench…

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by Sujantra McKeever

 

Ideally we should have a regular place for our individual meditation, whether it is a corner of our room, an entire room in our home, a park bench, or any place where we can go and be free of distractions.

Be Free of Distractions

The reason for this is twofold: by consistently meditating there, having this sacred spot for our practice, we create a meditative vibration in that area. Every time we sit down to meditate that energy becomes stronger. Secondly, just as we have various rooms in our house—when we go into the breakfast room, we know we ill eat breakfast; when we go into our bedroom, we will sleep—so, too, when we go into our meditation area we know exactly what will take place in that room: meditation. We want to make that place free from distractions: ringing telephone, other people, television, and other common distractions.

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Create an Altar or Shrine

In the place where you practice your daily meditation it is essential to create an altar or shrine towards which you can focus your attention when practicing your meditation. On your shrine you can place objects which will inspire you, remind you of your own spiritual journey and be practical aids in your practice. I suggest: candles, flowers, incense, photographs (either of people or places that offer you spiritual inspiration), uplifting music and books. In essence you are creating your own church or sacred, holy ground where you can commune with the spirit and potential within and around you. Freed from the pull of the mundane, your consciousness can dance with the limitless aspect of existence. You can then infuse this new energy and feeling into your daily activities. I know a number of individuals who use the daily practice of meditation as an oasis amidst the intensity of their business careers. They enjoy the focus and concentration needed in their careers. They also find it essential to meditate and infuse the intensity with joy and gratitude which they derive from their meditation.

By creating this sacred spot you are also saying to yourself and those you know you: “The spiritual quest is a reality for me and this is the sacred area where I sit to seek and know the vastness of all that is.”

Author Sujantra McKeever founded Pilgrimage of the Heart studio in 2006. He began exploring yoga and pranayama at the age of 12. Sujantra has authored five books on eastern philosophy, success motivation and meditation. Since 1987 he has delivered over 1000 lectures on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.

(Candle photo credit Shawn Carpenter)
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Exclusive Interview with Unity Director Shaun Monson

Pilgrimage Yoga founder Sujantra McKeever recently sat down with Shaun Monson, the writer, creator and director of Unity, an enlightening new film…

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Pilgrimage Yoga founder Sujantra McKeever recently sat down with Shaun Monson, the writer, creator and director of “Unity”, an enlightening new film set for release in August.

Sujantra: I watched your entire film and was very motivated by it. At the same time, to watch a film such as Unity, it’s not pleasant in terms of what we usually think of as entertainment. It really takes attention and determination. I’m wondering what you would say to people to energize them, to take the time to watch a film such as yours.

Shaun: It’s interesting that you have all these different mediums such as literature, music, film and that each medium sort of has these unwritten rules that they have to follow. And perhaps the content of Unity would be better suited for books where we are more prepared to read statistics or philosophy or whatever the case may be. Movies have been hijacked by entertainment and not much else. But there is this genre called documentary film, which is nonfiction film, and there’s no revelation there, but I’m glad it exists because you can be a little more honest. Sometimes it’s a little harder to take, so what happens when you’re editing these films, like Unity you start debating how much truth to put into it and how much truth to take out of it because you have to think of the audience. That’s a long answer to your question, but I think it’s important to see that stuff. Like the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Why turn away from it? Why label it positive or negative? If we really want to be honest with ourselves then we should be willing to have one genre in the canon of filmmaking that allows us to look at stuff like this, and that is the documentary.

Solutions For Humanity’s Problems

Sujantra: I’ve been a vegetarian for thirty-five years and I’ve watched a lot of films that present stark imagery but from many of them I’ve walked away with a feeling of hopelessness. There are these huge corporate power structures that we can’t do anything about, but from your film I came away with a feeling of hope because you kept juxtaposing the problems but you also presented a lot of solutions.

Shaun: Mankind, humankind is coming up with solutions. There’s a great quote in the film from Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of human history is long but it then does a tour of justice.” So we are seeing that we are evolving and we are less and less brutal and savage as we evolve. At one point in time we used to crucify people in Rome on the way to the gates of the city, we don’t do that anymore as you walk into a city. And slavery is abolished, women have the right to vote, and now this topic of equal rights and gay marriage are on the forefront. All these issues are coming to a head. We are getting more and more accepting of everything. That’s very hopeful to me. And the treatment of animals and the environment. And yes, you can look at a series of only negative images but if presented in a proper context you will see the great strides we are taking as human beings so it gives me hope.

Underwater ocean scene

Sujantra: Speaking of the growth of humanity, I like the section of the film where you take us from the Roman Emperor who created some human rights to the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence. One thing you don’t often see in films is that you put energy into and highlighted the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Could you talk to that a little bit?

Shaun: It was part of a longer piece but I thought the animation was a great embodiment to encapsulate the human struggle to respect one another, which was the original formation of the UN right after WWII or right around that time. People get into political arguments about this or that on the surface, but at its base you can see we are trying to find a way of diplomacy with one another of getting along, of working together. This comes back to the main focus of the film that we are not the same but equal. This is the main take-home message of the film, not the same but equal. I think if that alone somehow got through to the world, that one simple phrase, ‘not the same but equal.’ Just imagine the world we live in if people understood that. We are not the same but equal. Just think of the effect that would have on the planet. Think of it in just the smallest terms like road rage, the food we eat, construction, rainforest, wars, I mean, not the same but equal. That simple principle could come through to people and create an entirely different world.

Sujantra: As the creator, writer and director of this film, where does your creative process start in a gigantic undertaking such as this? Is it one simple idea you want to get across and it grows from there? How do you do it?

Shaun: I guess every filmmaker is different. They say a movie is born three times, once in writing, once in shooting and once in editing and it’s true. Documentaries are a little different because I wrote all the text and was comfortable with the text going into the project. In a documentary we are interviewing people and going out shooting footage but it’s not like scenes from a script that you’re specifically shooting. It’s happening live, or your licensing footage or getting newsreel footage and creating a collage. It kind of evolves as you’re making it. The text was there from the beginning. What inspired me to make this film was a question as to why we can’t seem to get along or what we come up with seems to better our lives but it doesn’t seem to stop us from wanting to kill each other. And that nagged at me a lot. I started looking at history and all the inventions throughout the ages whether it was literature, science, technology, yoga, veganism or any number of things humanity’s come up with and still there’s this collision we have with one another. It occurred to me that I don’t think anything we invent will stop us from killing each other. I don’t think the new Hubble telescope will do it, I don’t think a new quantum physic equation will do it. I think something has to awaken within us. I was interested in that and I wanted to shine a light on this inner shifting and that was sort of the genesis of it. Then of course I felt a bit overwhelmed and thought maybe it should be a book instead of a film but I felt the visual would be more effective so I started assembling it together, step by step.

The Evolution into Homo-spiritus

Sujantra: I remember well part of the film when you’re talking about how all of these things we’ve created have not provided a solution and yet you talk about the emergence of homo-spiritus, the being with conscious spiritual awareness and I was really thrilled to see Ramana Maharshi in the film because I’ve read him quite a bit. So those teachers do point us to forms of practice to help us achieve the transcendence you’re talking about.

Shaun: Right. I didn’t come up with the term “homo-spiritus.” I interviewed a man named David Hawkins. He’s since passed away. I had the opportunity to interview him twice. He’s written several wonderful books. Probably the best known is Power vs. Force, where he talked about how Hitler used force, which is a very brief encounter of force, but Gandhi used power. The interesting thing about power is that power will endure long after the person has passed away. We still speak about Gandhi or hear about Gandhi or teach others about him, and this shows how his power endures and that force is like a rocket. It has propulsion but it can only take you so far before it runs out. I had the chance to interview him twice and he also talked about how the spirit is the highest evolution of physical consciousness of mortality. I thought it was good to show human rights evolution over the ages and also the physical evolution from Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal all the way up to this capacity of homo-spiritus. We know it exists because if you look at Gandhi who was a contemporary of Hitler, there is two beings right there living at the same time in the world that personified opposite ends of the conscious spectrum. So that capacity exists. It doesn’t mean we have to be bad or we have to always be primitive or always use force, it also shows that we can be like homo-spiritus. That capacity in the human being exists. That potentiality is very interesting to me. We have to cultivate that in one another.

Moral Consideration for All Beings

Sujantra: I think that came across really strongly in the film, which is great. You talk about the key idea of the moral consideration for all beings, that we are all one. A big part of your film was when you got into the body section about we are what we eat. It seems to me that that’s something that’s starting to catch on in our society. My nephew who’s going into high school this year is required to read a book about healthy eating, getting away from chemicals and getting back to natural food.

Shaun: There was talk early on about the body section when I was cutting and we were testing the film in focus groups. Some of my colleagues, who are backers of the film, the body section would always say this was a tough one because that’s where some of the animal footage was. Some of them felt it was out of place, it’s almost like this “come on kids, let’s eat our fruits and vegetables ” section of the film suddenly. I fought to keep it in because this is an entire kingdom of beings that are drastically, absolutely affected by humankind. It seems if we are going to talk about the expressions of life, the expressions of being, then we couldn’t just remove an entire kingdom of beings. Even so, the movie is ninety-eight minutes long and I think there are only fourteen minutes of animals, and really no blood. I couldn’t leave this out because we do affect other life forms. I think it’s healthy for people even if they feel a bit squeamish sometimes. It’s odd actually because we have way more war footage and human destruction footage than animal footage. Rarely, if ever, am I asked about the human violence in the film because we are so accustomed to it. It’s the animal footage that people go “Oh I don’t know if you should show this stuff,” meanwhile we have executions and horrible stuff. I find that very interesting. This always comes up, this concern. Even with exhibitors this concern came up. I find that to be a strange contradiction. We fictionalize or romanticize violence or romanticize pain, which we see a lot of times in TV shows or even on the news. So that’s okay, but actual pain shown in a documentary may not be politically correct. I think this kind of dialogue is actually very healthy.

polar bear

Photo by Alastair Rae(https://www.flickr.com/photos/merula/) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

Sujantra: I also like the contrast between showing people in suffering and pain and then showing people in meditation, you showed some yoga postures and I think that’s something else we are seeing in our society, the awareness of yoga.

Shaun: Yes, definitely. It’s great and encouraging. It’s hopeful.

Spiritual Practices

Sujantra: Hopeful. Yes. Do you have any specific practice you do in your own life that refreshes you or gives you a fresh surge of energy?

Shaun: A couple different kinds, not just one. I have dogs; I’ve rescued a lot of dogs, so just living with animals I get to see their personalities or expressions, or their little nuances that I find to be a marvel. I think it helps ground me in nature. I also love to surf and I enjoy just going out, sitting on a board in the ocean and connecting with nature that way.

New Style of Release for the Film

Sujantra: The way you’re releasing the film is very unique in my experience. Can you explain how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it that way?

Shaun: Movies are released so many different ways nowadays; they are released in theatres or as a digital download. It’s just so different from how it’s been before. This idea of a very limited release is sort of an event release on a wide scale is different from independent films from even last year, just one year ago. Getting that traditional limited release, let’s say, five theatres only maybe in big cities for one week for a full run or what they call a split-run, which would be maybe a couple times a day for a week. It’s just a week to see if it attracts attention and then maybe it goes away if it doesn’t or it expands to twenty or thirty theatres. We are trying something new and quite different with a one day release but in twelve hundred theatres in the U.S. and another five hundred theatres overseas. That is not a decision I made, that’s something the distributors and exhibitors are thinking of experimenting with. They call it “event cinema.” We add extra content that you can’t see online. For instance, someone will introduce himself only in theatres, he will do it in-show and out-show on camera which is part of the screening you saw. There will be a panel discussion at the end from our premiere up in Los Angeles. It’s just something new that we are doing and I am curious to see how it does as well.

Sujantra: That’s great. It’s a great film and I hope lots of people go out and watch it.

Shaun: Thank you so much.

Sujantra: All the best of luck to you. Thank you so much, Shaun. If you’re ever in San Diego, stop by our yoga studio, Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga and the vegetarian restaurant, Jyoti-Bihanga

Shaun: I’ll keep it in mind when I’m in that part of the world.

Sujantra: Okay, thanks a bunch, Shaun.

Shaun: Thanks so much, have a great day.

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Thirsty? Why Staying Hydrated Matters

Are you thirsty more than you care to admit? We need water to survive. All of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs require water to function…

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Are you thirsty more than you care to admit?

We need water to survive.  All of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs require water to function. Water helps the body maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Drink up – water is essential for optimal health.

How do we lose water?

Did you know that water accounts for more than half of our body weight?  When we visit the bathroom, sweat, and breathe, we lose water.  When we’re working out, when it’s hot and sweaty outside, and when we’re sick – we lose water more rapidly. It’s important to replace the water we lose, or we can become dehydrated.

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Dehydration

Make sure to consume enough water. Experts suggest 6-8 eight ounce glasses daily. If you feel any of the following symptoms, you might just be dehydrated, according to FamilyDoctor.org.

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Feeling confused, dizzy or lightheaded
  • No tears when crying
  • Little or no urine, or urine that’s darker than normal

Water is a Great Workout Partner

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you during the day.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Drink water as part of any weight-loss plan.
  • Set up a water schedule. For example, drink at at meals, or every hour or two hours.

What’s your plan for staying hydrated?

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Yoga and Weight Loss: Find Balance

The practice of even the gentlest style of yoga helps make everything in life a little easier — including weight loss. Overweight people who practiced yoga…

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The practice of even the gentlest style of yoga helps make everything in life a little easier — including weight loss.

Alan Kristal, lead researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, studied 15,000 adults in their 50s. His study showed that overweight people who practiced yoga at least once a week for 4 or more years lost an average of 5 pounds, while those who failed to practice packed on an average of 13.5 pounds. That’s a difference of almost 20 pounds.  And folks who practiced yoga regularly maintained their weight more effectively than those who did not.

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Stress Affects Weight Loss

Still, stress is a factor in weight loss. According to Harvard’s Medical Health Letter, “Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating. And an American Psychological Association survey indicated that about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.”

Balance Playlist

If you’re stressed out more than you want to be or if you’re trying to get your diet under control, here’s a great 30 minute Pilgrimage Yoga Online playlist for getting into balance that you can practice in the morning, evening or over lunch at work. Yoga a great way to balance the stress of your day.

  1. Sun Salutations (10 min)

Surya Namaskar. Connect your breath to your movement as you flow through one of yoga’s most popular series of asanas, also known as sun salutations.

  1. Crow Pose (5 min)

Bakasana. Balance the weight of your body on bent arms.  Strengthen your arms and wrists and improve focus and balance.

  1. Tripod Headstand (5 min)

Sirsasana. Rest the crown of the head lightly on the floor as the body is completely inverted and held upright, supported by the forearms.

  1. Savasana (10 min)

Savasana. Savasana is consciously letting go, actively surrendering to gravity; being pulled into back into earth. Allowing ourselves to melt into harmony with all.

How are you using yoga for weight loss?

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Wisdom: Prana — The Life-Force

One of the great secrets of yoga is that breath, body, mind and emotions are all intertwined. Pranayama literally means…

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One of the great secrets of yoga is that breath, body, mind and emotions are all intertwined. Pranayama literally means breath-control. By controlling your breath you will strengthen your body, find peace of mind and gain clarity in your emotions. In just minutes a day you can gain incredible results.

by Sujantra McKeever

To achieve a complete understanding of the forces at work in our existence let us begin with the primary life-force of the universe—prana. Prana is the great vital energy breathing and circulating through all of existence. Breathing, the most basic and fundamental function of the living organism, involves the intake and regulation of prana. Review our Pranayama online classes.

Primary Life-Force

Prana is the life-force of the nervous system upon which we depend for existence. Once we become aware of the power of prana and the significance of each breath we take, we gain an immediate insight into the underlying principles upon which various Eastern disciplines are based. These include the martial arts, Chinese medicine, Indian medicine, Hatha Yoga (a branch of yoga which seeks to gain illumination beginning with a perfection of the body through various physical poses, or asanas), breath control—pranayama (prana = life force, yama = control). These and other practices stress an awareness of prana and control of life-force, via breathing. Without this life-force coursing through our system, we will quickly die. All that we do—move, think, feel—is dependent upon prana.

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Five Categories

The life-breath, prana, when thought of as sustaining life in the human body, is classified into five main categories according to the various functions performed by the energy. The five categories into which life-force is classified are: apana, which moves in the region of the lower abdomen and trunk and presides over the lower functions; samana, which maintains the equilibrium of the vital forces and stokes the gastric fire and digestion; vyana, which distributes the vital energies derived from food and breath throughout the entire body; prana (here the word is used to note a particular aspect) which dwells in the upper part of the body and controls the heart and respiration, in effect, bringing the universal force into the physical system; and finally udana, which moves upward from the body to the crown of the head and controls the intake of food as well as channels the communication between the physical life and the greater life of the spirit.

Three Principle Channels

There are three principle channels, or nadis, through which life energy flows throughout the human organism. These channels are ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida carries prana from the left nostril through the left side of the body and down to the base of the spine. Pingala carries prana from the right nostril through the right side of the body and down to the base of the spine. Ida is the nadi of the mood and Mercury and is felt in mildness, calmness and coolness; pingala is the nadi of the sun and Mars and is felt in power and heat. Our “health”—both emotional and physical—is based upon the balancing of these different aspects of our being: masculine-feminine, yin-yang, power-calm, heat-cool. This essential balance can be maintained and regulated through constant awareness of our breathing patterns and their regulation when necessary. This practice is known by the Sanskrit word pranayama.

Bring Balance

The regulation of breathing which occurs naturally is an excellent way to regulate prana and bring vigor and balance to our system these include times of deep, relaxed breathing such as the regulation of our breathing during and after exercise and developing a keen awareness of our breathing. Physical exercise brings peace, calmness and a natural balance to our system. Any further regulation of prana should only be done under the careful guidance of a knowledgeable yoga teacher.

Author Sujantra McKeever founded Pilgrimage of the Heart studio in 2006. He began exploring yoga and pranayama at the age of 12. Sujantra has authored five books on eastern philosophy, success motivation and meditation. Since 1987 he has delivered over 1000 lectures on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.

 

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10 Ways to Increase Your Imagination

Imagination is a uniquely human ability to form ideas — new images and sensations in the mind that are not in our present perception…

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Imagination is a uniquely human ability to form ideas — new images and sensations in the mind that are not in our present perception through senses such as sight, hearing, or other senses.  Imagining is helpful if you’re practicing yoga or meditating at home or work. Just imagine yourself centered in the morning starting your day feeling calm and energized.

When I compose and improvise music, I am imagining sounds and then giving them physical form through my guitar, sounds on a recording and notes on a page.  When I’m writing a blog post, I’m reflecting on a subject and then an idea (hopefully) emerges in my minds eye.

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Imagination is helpful for envisioning our own success says Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who described imagination as “a portal through which you can transcend the imposed limitations of this world. With wisdom and will, whatever you can imagine, and continue to imagine, can become real.”

We like these 10 ways to increase imagination for better creative thinking by Operation Meditation:

Open your mind to unexplored paths

Creativity is often tagged together with originality. To come up with new ideas may be challenging and even oftentimes daunting, as unexplored paths may pose unexpected threats. It is also an avenue where one can find genuine ideas that can result to a successful endeavor.

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Creativity and imagination is sparked by learning. One’s willingness to learn new things gauges one’s ability to accept and adapt to change. It improves one’s adaptability to imaginative reasoning and creative thinking.

Tell stories

People love to listen to stories and each person has a story to tell. Practice imaginative and creative thinking by telling as many stories as you can. Let it be descriptive. Let it allow you and your listener to visualize what is being told. Visualization is an important part of increasing imagination. Visualization is often perceived as one’s ability to create a clear and vivid picture in the mind. Yet this concept entails various senses as well. Visualization also involves one’s sense of touch, smell, taste, and other senses. Visualization enables you to imagine the story being told or the object being described. The more imaginative and creative the mind becomes, the more elaborate one’s visualizations can be.

Be curious

Learning new things sparks creativity and increases imagination. A part of learning new things is being curious. Children tend to be more imaginative because of their curious nature. Our inherent nature to seek answers or to learn new things does not disappear over age. Feed curiosity by learning and experiencing new things and notice how your imagination improves. Feed your curiosity by asking questions and build your ideas with the help of insight from others.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

It is often said that if you keep on doing the same things, then you will keep on receiving the same things. Challenge yourself to experience new things or embark on new adventures and endeavors.

Expand your interests

Creativity is fueled by passion. Expand your interests by shifting your focus to include other interests that you may be passionate about.

Develop your talents

Everyone has a set of skills or talents. Focus on developing and honing these talents to express your creativity and imagination in areas that you excel in or in things that you know how to do best.

Spend time with creative people

Synergize your energies by spending time with people who share the same interest as yours. Brainstorming, planning, or simply talking to people will keep creative juices running, giving new and fresh ideas.

Look at things differently

At the points when you feel tired or bored, and, and you feel that your creativity is running low, look at things in a new perspective. This will give you a fresh approach to things that may even trigger new ideas that you once thought were not possible.

Condition your mind to relax through meditation techniques

A well-rested mind has a higher potential to learn new things and come up with more creative ideas. There are various meditation methods that you can do to help increase imagination.

How are you increasing your imagination?

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Top 10 Yoga Mats

Whether you’re practicing yoga at home or at work, a yoga mat is essential for your practice…

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Whether you’re practicing yoga at home or at work, a yoga mat is essential for your practice.

Hover your mouse on the image below to explore Top 10 Yoga Mats.  What’s your favorite?

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How Yoga Can Improve Your Golf Game

As a TPI Level 3 Fitness Instructor and long time personal trainer and yoga instructor, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible…

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by Michael Brantl

As a TPI Level 3 Fitness Instructor and long time personal trainer and yoga instructor, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible fitness benefits that yoga provides for golfers of all levels. Golf conditioning yoga is one of the easiest ways to restore, improve, and maintain optimal functional movement patterns and maximize golf performance. Why? Because yoga or yoga asana (yoga for exercise) is ultimately about proper breathing patterns, and high levels of stability, internal strength, muscle endurance, and balance.

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Flexibility

Most yoga teachers and students mistakenly regard flexibility as the paramount goal of yoga. This is incorrect. When yoga conditioning for golf is practiced in a proper progression protocol, it creates natural improvements in functional flexibility. Functional Flexibility is a combination of Mobility – ROM (range of motion)  around a joint site, and Flexibility – Muscle Elasticity or Tensile Resilience of muscles or muscle groups being dynamically challenged to lengthen. I use the term functional flexibility because this is not about getting your leg behind your head. Yoga is not about extreme flexibility. In fact, that can be detrimental. I think this is one of the reasons so many male golfers avoid yoga/flexibility work. Lets take a look at how a golf conditioning yoga program can improve each component of fitness.

The following is an excerpt (Chapter 3) from my book, The Empowered Golfer – Yoga for Optimal Golf Performance

Chapter 3: The Components of Fitness (And Why Yoga Improves All of These)

Here are some of the generally agreed-upon or accepted ways to measure fitness in an individual. Golfers need all of these to perform at an optimal level. I will explain how yoga improves and increases all these various parameters of fitness.

Muscular Strength

Muscular Strength is the ability to exert force with the muscles in a given exercise. This can
be measured by a certain number of reps for that particular exercise. For golfers, generally an 8 reps maximum is used.

Yoga poses require a high level of muscular strength. Many yoga poses utilize the weight of the body against gravity to exert force. This produces higher levels of muscular strength. Golfers need above average amounts of muscular strength to achieve a powerful golf swing.

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Muscular Endurance

Muscular Endurance is the ability to hold an isometric position (i.e. a wall squat) or to perform a certain number of repetitions of a certain exercise. Isometric refers to muscular effort involving stationary muscle endurance; in other words, effort without dynamic movement. The ability to hold isometric muscular contractions while performing a yoga pose for an extended time frame (30 secs. to several minutes) increases muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is very important for golfers. It gives golfers the ability to perform at a high level for a sustained period of time, such as in a round, tournament, season, career, or lifetime.

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Functional Flexibility/Mobility

Functional Flexibility/Mobility is the ability to move muscles and joints at different angles and ranges of motion (ROM) specific to the task or athletic movement at hand. In this instance, the athletic movement is the golf swing. Flexibility refers to the tensile elasticity of the muscles, mobility to the ROM at the joint sites. Yoga poses provide a vast array of shapes that both strengthen and stretch the body at many different angles in all ranges of motion.

A regular yoga practice will increase functional flexibility and therefore naturally improve mobility.
This may be the most important fitness component for a golfer to enhance and maintain. Speed in golf is determined by the ability to accelerate in a controlled fashion. Flexible muscles move faster and help enhance mobility in the joints. Increases in clubhead speed and better accuracy are easily achieved when a golfer has higher levels of functional flexibility/mobility.

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Balance

Balance is the ability to sustain our center of gravity when external forces are placed upon it. In sports, an opponent could throw you out of balance. In golf, the wind or an awkward, uneven lie can significantly challenge balance. Balance is also our ability to maintain grounding energy and our center of gravity while moving (golf, tennis, etc.).

Stability

Stability is the ability to sustain balance in different areas of the body and remain in balance while different body parts are moving, or when external forces are placed upon the body. The speed of the golf swing can take us out of balance if we are not stable.

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Yoga improves both balance and stability dramatically. Most of the standard standing poses in yoga require a tremendous amount of stability and balance. Any of the one-legged balancing poses or arm balancing postures requires even higher levels of balance and stability. Golfers obviously need high levels of balance and stability in order to create and maintain a powerful, reliable golf swing. Regular practice of yoga provides this.

Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular Endurance is the ability to sustain an increased level of aerobic exertion over an extended time frame. Any form of exercise has some effect on this. Yoga works directly on this because deep breathing is the primary focus of the yoga presented in this book. Yoga poses require sustained, powerful levels of isometric muscular contractions. When this is merged with deep and full yogic breathing, it increases the ability to utilize and access more lung tissue, which increases lung capacity.

This form of cardiovascular conditioning is actually more refined than aerobic exercise. Traditional cardio or aerobic exercise utilizes increases in heart rate to overload the cardiovascular system. Basic cardio work like a brisk walk is excellent for circulation, but it does not provide the access to the lung tissue that refined yogic breathing will stimulate. Both forms work well and should be used regularly to improve overall fitness. Golfers need above average cardiovascular endurance to achieve peak performance.

Body Composition

Body Composition is the ratio of lean tissue (muscle) to fat tissue (adipose) in the body. Yoga poses utilize dynamic isolated active stretching and strength routines that sculpt and shape the body. This changes the internal fabric of connective muscle tissue. Appearance also changes: as the ratio of lean tissue to fat is increased, the body naturally shifts things around. The more fit the golfer, the easier it is to maintain appropriate levels of body fat for their age group and gender. This is not about being skinny, and I don’t get too carried away with this one as a trainer and a yoga teacher. Life and golf are about the ability to function at an optimal level for a long period of time, not an unattainable perfect physical appearance.

The golf swing is a complex movement pattern, a blend of stability and mobility. In the golf swing, some joints are challenged to provide stability: feet, knees, pelvis, and shoulder blades. Other joints are required to be mobile: ankles, hips, spine, and shoulder joint. Proper kinematic sequencing is necessary to perform with both distance and accuracy. I like the model the Titleist Performance Institute uses of how the joints are stacked from bottom to top in terms of stability/mobility in the golf swing:

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As you can see, the pattern is stable, then mobile. Obviously, if something is askew at one of these
joint sites, then golf dysfunction of some kind is bound to occur. Yoga is a blend of strength/endurance (stability) and flexibility (mobility), and immediately provides the golfer with higher levels of both of these. Yoga will finely tune your body, and when the body is finely tuned, better golf is easily achievable.

Yoga and Fitness

If you are a golfer, you are an athlete. If you are an athlete, you need to be fit. There are many ways to get fit. Yoga is an excellent and important part of your fitness regimen for golf. The benefits of yoga and the yoga described in this book will immediately carry over to your golf game and your life. Obviously, the more time and energy spent on the discipline of yoga, the quicker the improvement. All components of your fitness will improve with regular yoga. As to what constitutes “regular” yoga, four or more sessions per week, with adequate rest or off days, is regular yoga.

Many people, especially men, think that yoga is all about flexibility. People say “Oh, I’m tight. I can’t do yoga.” That is exactly why they should do yoga! Ultimately, yoga requires strength, endurance, core power, stability, and mobility before it requires flexibility. That is why I use the words Functional Flexibility, which refers to joint mobility as well as muscle elasticity (flexibility).

The amount of flexibility we need and have is relative to many factors: skeletal design, space around the joint sites due to skeletal design (especially hips and shoulders), current levels of fitness, exercise history, injuries, and surgeries. Notice I did not mention age. Age can be a factor, but there is so much variability in what people can do at a certain age. Most of the variances are due to the amounts of activity people get at any time period in their lifespan. Besides, the golf ball doesn’t know how old you are. The golf ball knows physics and the laws of dynamic energy. The faster and more efficiently you swing, the straighter and farther the ball flies. Being fit highly increases your chances of playing better golf.

Exercise and Aging

The benefits of exercise exactly counteract what we think of as the results of aging. Increases in muscle strength, muscle endurance, bone density, levels of energy, lung capacity, and ranges of motion are
just some of the benefits of regular exercise, regular movement, and a more active lifestyle. Obviously, aging has some effect on overall fitness, but it is inactivity that causes the more dramatic decreases in all parameters of fitness and overall health than any other factor. I’ve had people say to me, when looking at a picture of themselves at a younger age, “Look at what happened to me.” Did it really happen to you, or were you just lazy and stopped moving, and that is what caused the dramatic shift? Do something now, right now! Go for a walk, lift some weights, do some yoga, walk the golf course, anything, please! It’s your life, and you can make the changes you need to by exercising on a regular basis. It is way harder to be sick than to exercise. You are never too old, and it is never too late.

Michael Brantl is co-owner of Jayani Yoga, Inc. in Pennington, New Jersey. Mike is a TPI Level 3 Certified Fitness Instructor, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and a Certified ACSM Health Fitness Specialist.

For more information about Mike and his book The Empowered Golfer – Yoga for Optimal Golf Performance, please visit his website: www.epgfitness.com.  

Photos courtesy: Michael Brantl.

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How To Embrace and Enjoy Running

Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or putting in the miles as part of your yoga practice to keep yourself in shape…

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Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or putting in the miles as part of your yoga practice to keep yourself in shape, running requires a positive attitude. Yes, some days running is a chore, and other days it’s a personal joy.

Running is About Improving Yourself

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level,” wrote Haruki Murukami in “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. “But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday.”

Enjoying Each Mile

Here’s how runner Amanda C. Brooks learned to enjoy each mile and how you can, too.

  1. Embrace it.

I’ve never found a faster way to get through discomfort than to simply embrace every inch of it. The second I stop fighting, things begin falling in to place.

When we try to push through, everything feels hard. But the second you let go and just allow the run to be slower or harder, our brain seems to sigh and muscles relax, and suddenly you’ve gone further than you hoped.

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  1. Let it be a reminder.

Maybe embracing it didn’t help one bit, maybe the entire run sucked! What we all hate to acknowledge about a bad run is that it gives us an opportunity to truly appreciate those times where it feels like you could go for days without stopping and you can’t seem to wipe the grin from your face for hours after.

Thank your bad runs for being your best reminder. Allow them to wake you up to changes that need to happen with your nutrition or sleep or checking in with a doctor!

  1. It’s just running.

Non-runners tend to throw out this nugget when we’re feeling down, and in our moments of frustration it’s very hard to hear. Running is more than sweat and calories; it’s a chance to get to know ourselves. But at the end of the day, a good run or a bad run doesn’t say anything about you or your training. A bad run doesn’t mean you’re on your way to a bad race.

 

Amanda Brooks is an eight-time marathon finisher, running coach and ultra passionate runner. On her site, RunToTheFinish, she shares tips for every part of the running journey through group challenges, detailed training tips and of course delicious recovery meals!

 Thanks to MindBodyGreen.com for permission to share this excerpt.

 

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Success Starts with an Idea

Every great achievement starts with an idea. Ideas come to us with a possibility of successfully bringing them to life…

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Every great achievement starts with an idea. Ideas come to us with a possibility of successfully bringing them to life in ways that others can share in them.  The late comic genius Robin Williams said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Often an idea stimulates a more complete vision about something on your mind: a new yoga posture, a song, a book, a poem, dance, a life shift, whatever. Sometimes an idea feels like a perfect solution. The right idea can bring one’s dreams closer to reality.

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Ideas are Gifts

They pop into our minds from nothingness. When I pick up my guitar at any given moment and start playing extemporaneously, like magic – music flows.  Music is coursing through my consciousness like a stream all the time.  A guitar in my hands is a soundboard for the flow of ideas, an aural reflection of my inner consciousness and what I am feeling inside a given moment.

Value and savor your ideas for they are far from trivial. Write them down in a creative journal or record them so you can return to them.  Even if they suck at the outset, they are instructive and evolutionary; they are build-able and often morph to power the successes to which one aspires.

Ideas are essence

Ideas are essence. They take time to grow into physical reality. “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else,” noted artist Pablo Picasso.  Give yourself time, patience and perseverance and allow unformed ideas to grow into their full potential.

Meditation and Contemplation

 I find that meditation really helps open my creative channels. Quietude helps me hear and see the flow of ideas.

Practice

Practice and perfecting your craft enables the flow of ideas. The time you devote to practice generates an inner momentum for your ideas to come through and your dreams to come true. So work hard.

Trusting Your Ideas

Contemplate an idea in a quiet place. Imagine life with the idea fully manifest. How does it feel to you?  Treat ideas as gifts and may they transform your life for the better.

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20 Affirmations for Achieving Happiness

Visualize Health and Success – Feeling happy is more than a state of mind. Like yoga, it requires practice and seeing the brighter…

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Are you using the power of positive thinking in your life?

Visualize Health and Success

Feeling happy is more than a state of mind. Like yoga, it requires practice and seeing the brighter side of life at every moment.  Always visualize health and success in your life and positive outcomes from your actions. And believe that you will eventually rise above any obstacles and difficulties on your life path.

Embrace the Brighter Side of Life

We like these affirmations by author Marc Chernoff that you can use to focus on the bright side of life and achieve positive results from all your actions.

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Exercise the Mind

“Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength.  It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time.  If you haven’t pushed your mind in thousands of little ways over time, of course it’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging,” suggests Chernoff.

Repeat these affirmations aloud or silently until they are imprinted inside your subconscious mind.

  1. “I cannot control everything that happens to me; I can only control the way I respond to what happens.  In my response is my power.”
  2. “I will not get caught up in what could’ve been or should’ve been.  I will look instead at the power and possibility of what is, right now.”
  3. “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
  4. “Making mistakes is always better than faking perfections.”
  5. “I will never be as good as everyone tells me when I win, and I will never be as bad as I think when I lose.”
  6. “I will think less about managing my problems and more about managing my mindset.  I will keep it positive.”
  7. “A challenge only becomes an obstacle if I bow to it.”
  8. “I will get back up.  Again, and again.  The faster I recover from setbacks, the faster I’ll get where I’m going in life.”
  9. “I will not try to hide from my fears, because I know they are not there to scare me.  They are there to let me know that something is worth it.”
  10. “There is a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion.  Life is too short.  I will invest in the activities that deeply move me.”
  11. “If I don’t have time for what matters, I will stop doing things that don’t.”
  12. “I cannot build a reputation and legacy for myself based on what I am going to (maybe) do someday.”
  13. “The future can be different than the present, and I have the power to make it so, right now.”
  14. “Happiness will come to me when it comes from me.”
  15. “Getting ahead is essential, and I will never get ahead of anyone (including my past self) as long as I try to get even with them.”
  16. “I will focus on making myself better, not on thinking that I am better.”
  17. “I will be too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.”
  18. “I will eat like I love myself.  Move like I love myself.  Speak like I love myself.  Live like I love myself.  Today.:
  19. “My next step in the right direction doesn’t have to be a big one.”
  20. “All the small victories are worth celebrating, every step of the way.  It’s the small things done well that make a big, exciting life in the end.”

How are you using the positive thinking and affirmations in your life?

Thanks to Marc and Angel Chernoff, authors of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

 

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Recipe: Insanely Simple Curried Chickpea Salad

This protein-packed, uber-simple recipe is ideal for taking to work for a lunch on a bed of greens, in a butter lettuce…

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by Roberto Martin

This protein-packed, uber-simple recipe is ideal for taking to work for a lunch on a bed of greens, in a butter lettuce cup, or just eaten with crackers. It can be used as a sandwich filler, a wrap, or scooped onto seasoned sliced tomatoes when they are in season. It’s super versatile. My 9-year-old likes it, and that’s saying something.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked then cooked until very tender, or two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 celery ribs, diced small
  • 1 large organic Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 whole scallions, green parts thinly sliced and white parts minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Preparation

1. Place half of the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse them once or twice to chop them up a bit. This can also be done in a bowl with a potato masher.

2. Place the chickpeas and the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix them with a rubber spatula until well combined.

3. Season the salad with salt and pepper then cover and refrigerate it for 30 minutes minimum before serving.

Roberto Martin is the author of the New York Times bestseller Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, and Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking, and is the Owner and Head Chef of Elevate, a Los Angeles-based vegan restaurant. As a personal chef (working with celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi), he focuses on nutrition and health. Martin lives with his family in Southern California.  Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to excerpt.

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The Weather is Beautiful; Why am I Feeling Depressed?!?

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers…

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by Nicholas Sieben, M.S., L.Ac.

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom? Why the blues?

I think many of us are reacting to the climate: the same type of humid-hot weather inside us is resonating with the weather outside, causing lethargy.

The Weather Outside and the Weather Inside

The problem comes from blockage in the chest. The Lungs are feeling stifled and our energy feels depleted. The Classics of Chinese Medicine speak about our relationship to nature. We are part of nature. Therefore, what’s inside us reacts to what’s outside of us. Symptoms that occur with a particular type of weather indicates we are harboring the same type of weather within. This is the nature of weather in our bodies: it only gives us problems when the surrounding environment is also expressing a similar state.

Chinese Medicine

So for those of us who are struggling with Damp Heat: some insight into the problem can be helpful. Chinese Medicine views all conditions physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually. Chinese Medicine is a physical science, as well as a philosophical system. What is happening physically in our bodies can give insight into what we need to do mentally and emotionally to evolve and heal. The same is true when we are experiencing mental-emotional systems. They are signs of some physical imbalance in our bodies.

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Damp- Heat

Damp-heat is philosophically seen as desires that are being dampened: we want to do or express something, but for some reason we’re not able to. Something is holding us back: the dampness. Or, it can come from something we are holding onto, which is creating heat from being stagnant. The dampness is a response to control the heat. The dampness can also be our resistance to fully letting something go. Or, the dampness can be our confusion about a situation: we don’t quite know what to let go of, or which direction to go. If it sounds sticky, it is! That is exactly the type of environment that is created internally. The heat thickens and dries the fluids in the chest and abdomen into a thick-sticky mess. This interferes with vitality, sinks the mood, and can even lead to digestive problems.

Damp-heat can also be the result of a bug caught in a prior season that we have not fully eradicated. The bug is kept in the chest, waiting to be expelled. For some reason, the body lacks the energy to fully expel the problem. The chest and diaphragm tighten to keep the problem from moving deeper into the abdomen. Chest tightness creates depression. It also blocks the chest, which is the area where the energy for the body undergoes its final production before it is circulated throughout the body.

When the chest is blocked, a whole host of symptoms can occur, including depression and lethargy.

Focus on Letting Go

To move past the sense of stuckness which comes with Damp-Heat blockage in the chest, we must focus on opening our chest, and letting go. We must also be careful not to consume foods that will further complicate the condition: excessive dampening or heating foods. Spicy foods, tropical fruits, hard cheeses, alcohol and fried foods can all exacerbate the problem: they will create more dampness and more heat. We may crave these things, and feel comforted by them; but after the rush of pleasure or ease, they will make the problem worse.

Talk About It

We must also be willing to talk and get things “off our chest.” Exercise that makes us sweat is helpful, including Tai Ji, Yoga or Qi Gong. We probably won’t feel like it, but we should do it anyway: to get things moving. Even stretching the arms high above the head can help: to release the diaphragm.

Get Energy Moving

An emotional release can also be helpful: to watch a tear-jerking movie or read a poem that moves us, or listen to some music that will move our hearts. Anything to get the energy in the chest moving!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment can also be helpful. If the chest is blocked and unable to release, the help of an energetic medical system can provide the needed boost to open up. Chances are: we just need a little adjustment to get back on tract.

Nicholas Sieben has been working as a healer for over 10 years. He has a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture from the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences.  He continues to study under the internationally renowned Jeffrey C. Yuen, Taoist priest and Master of Chinese Medicine: 88th generation Taoist lineage: Yu Ching Huang Lao Pai. His mission is to promote greater freedom of body, mind and spirit through compassionate self-awareness. Through the use of ancient medical practices and the spiritual philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, Nicholas helps illuminate the path to healing.

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The Ultimate Green Juice

Juicing Offers Life Enhancing Benefits – According to weight loss expert Joe Cross, “Juicing offers many life-enhancing…

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Who juices?

Juicing Offers Life Enhancing Benefits

According to weight loss expert Joe Cross, “Juicing offers many life-enhancing health benefits including a faster, more efficient way to absorb immune boosting nutrients naturally found in fruits and vegetables.  It provides a way to access digestive enzymes typically locked away in the fiber matrix of whole fruits and vegetables.”

The founder of Moon Juice, Amanda Chantal Bacon believes that food is equal part art and medicine; as much about pleasure as healing.  Her ultimate green juice, which she describes below, has five key ingredients. “My Goodness Greens juice leans toward the practical and potent; it was the impetus for my own healing journey and exemplified what consuming plants could do for our bodies and minds.”

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Ultimate Green Juice

  1. Celery

Celery is a great juice-producer and can be used with all the rest of the leafy greens as a vehicle — alternate celery stalks with celery leaves in the juicer for juiciest results. Celery’s green, ribbed stalks are rich in minerals, amino acids, and B vitamins. Its alkaline minerals calm the nervous system, serving as an alkalizing, rehydrating nerve tonic with electrolytes.

  1. Parsley

Historically, parsley has been honored as a medical cure-all. Extremely high in chlorophyll, it contains more vitamin C than any other vegetable, which helps with iron absorption, and is also high in iron, magnesium and potassium. Wonderful for teeth and eyes, parsley is a diuretic and a uterine tonic that will help regulate menstruation, as well as a general stimulant and aid to digestion.

  1. Spinach

These dark green leaves are loaded with vitamins K and A, folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, minerals, amino acids, and iron. Spinach mitigates toxins in the body and leaves us with beautiful skin. It’s particularly good for treating acne, improving hair growth, aiding alkalinity, healing wounds, gum maintenance, constipation, depression, fatigue, weakness and regulating the thyroid gland.

  1. Dandelion

Dandelion is rich in calcium and great for bone health. It’s the best liver cleanser, and it heals, tones and protects both the liver and the gall bladder by producing bile. It’s also great for blood sugar maintenance, it’s a germicidal and fungicidal, it’s lovely for the skin and intestinal maintenance and it’s a powerful diuretic and rich in iron to improve your energy and treat anemia.

  1. Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, contains more calcium than milk and is way more bio-available, and is especially good for the eyes, skin, and muscles, and is a super anti-carcinogen.

What’s your favorite juice recipe?

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt.

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5 Yoga Tips for Healthy Skin

Admiring those glowing faces in beauty cream advertisements, we often wonder if we too could have a skin so young…

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by Pritika Nair

Admiring those glowing faces in beauty cream advertisements, we often wonder if we too could have a skin so young and beautiful. Well, it’s not a far-fetched dream anymore! Now you too can flaunt healthy, radiant skin that draws attention. And the good news is: no chemicals and no pricey beauty packages. Just a simple four-letter word –yoga – and a glow on the face that lasts for long is yours to keep.

5 yoga tips

  1. Practice asanas (yoga postures) which help increase blood circulation to the head and face area. These postures also increase oxygenation to the system; as such are called chest openers. All inverted postures and forward bends, which increase blood supply to the head, can help achieve clean, glowing skin.

  2. Cooling pranayamas (breathing exercises) can help provide a cooling effect to the skin and retain its glow.

  3. To improve the digestive process, try doing Alternate Nostril Breathing on empty stomach.

  4. Meditate twice a day, every day. The more you do, the more you will radiate from within and without. Meditation will be your natural make-up that lasts long and makes you look beautiful!

  5. Practice at least 20 minutes of facial yoga exercises everyday at home. These will help tighten the face muscles. Massage your jaws to reduce stress, massage your eyebrows for a dose of instant relaxation, try the ‘kiss and smile technique’ (push out your lips as though to kiss a baby and then smile as broadly as you can) to exercise your face muscles.

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Other tips to keep your skin glowing

  • Drink lots of water: Lukewarm water with lemon and honey helps detoxify your system while keeping your skin clean and healthy.

  • Eat fresh: Make sure you include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C in your diet. Papaya can work wonders for your skin. You can either eat it or apply it on your face for a massage. Potato is also effective in reducing dark spots and scars, tan and sunburn. Also, try and avoid too much of fried or junk food and excessive spice or sweets. Substitute chips or fried rolls with dry fruits or some other healthy snacks. It’s also a good idea to check your body type – Vata, Pitta, or Kapha (an Ayurveda doctor can help you find this) – and know the kind of diet that is suitable to your unique body constitution.

  • Rest well: When your body is deeply rested, it automatically shows on the face. A minimum of eight hours of good sleep is ideal.

  • Apply natural stuff on your skin: Go for Ayurveda facial packages. These treatments are chemical-free, made from natural herbs and leave your skin fresh, rejuvenated and glowing. Use Ayurvedic face scrubs once a week and massage your face with an oil that is particularly suitable for your skin type. Vitamin E oil is recommended. Moisturize your face twice a day and make sure you wash your face after returning home from a long day. Also, splash water on your eyes at least 2-3 times a day. Give yourself a weekly body massage with an oil suitable to your body type. It cleanses the toxins away.

  • Smile: This is the best and the easiest make-up you can apply on your face. The more you smile, the more your face would naturally glow! Also, keep a positive attitude. How you look at yourself reflects on your face. Yoga practice can help you become positive about yourself and others around, and this positivity will make you glow!

Thanks to Art of Living for this contribution to Pilgrimage Yoga Online.

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A Beat You Can Breathe To: Yoga and Music

Music Affects Our Emotions – We know intuitively that music affects our emotions. It hits us deeply, unconsciously…

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by JC Peters

Have you ever noticed the music yoga teachers play in class?

Music Affects Our Emotions

We know intuitively that music affects our emotions. It hits us deeply, unconsciously,  elevating us, calling forth an old memory, or even causing us to squeeze on the gas pedal a little harder. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, in his book Musicophilia, explains that the parts of our brains that understand music are intertwined with our limbic (emotional) and motor (movement) systems. Sacks writes, “Rhythm in this sense, the integration of sound and movement, can play a great role in coordinating and invigorating basic locomotor movement.” No wonder we can’t help tapping our toes when a certain song comes on the radio.

Your Breath

In Vinyasa or Flow yoga, we intend very clearly to connect with the rhythm of the breath. We breathe Ujjayi, a slowed down, smoothed out breath that sounds a bit like a whisper, and link every transitional movement to either an inhale or an exhale. Your breath becomes a dance partner, and when you are really in the zone, your breath leads the dance.

Classically, Ujjayi breath is a four count inhale and exhale. Some teachers count the breath out loud, but a good song in 4/4 time with a steady tempo can get everyone in the room breathing together effortlessly. The yoga playlist is an unsung art: if we listen with our bodies, a good groove can help, while an irregular beat can throw us off. What we need is a beat we can breathe to.

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Yoga Playlist

The yoga playlist can also set musical moods, from calm and contemplative to fiery and intense. Since we hear music both physically and emotionally, we must be mindful about using it in a practice with such physical and emotional resonances. Whether it’s Tibetan monks chanting or Avril Lavigne, we must acknowledge that the music we choose creates an emotional flavor for our slow dance with the breath.

Many of my students love my yoga playlists, but I’m also aware that some of them must really, deeply hate them. Everyone has their preferences, and some people like their yoga in silence, with the steady beat of the heart as their only metronome. It’s good to acknowledge that you can’t please all the people all the time, but in the end, the music isn’t for my students. It’s for me.

Entrainment

If you put a few pendulums in a room together, swinging at different phases, they somehow hear or feel each other and sync up. This is called entrainment, and it also happens in a yoga class. As the teacher, I need to be the pendulum whose rhythm everyone else matches up with. No matter what’s going on in my life, and even if no one else notices the actual tunes, I know my playlist will get me in sync with the tempo and mood I am trying to share.

In your teaching or home practice, explore how music affects your movement. Some songs even make me want to do backbends or inversions, while others make me crave deep, seated forward folds. There’s a secret language in the music that can accompany our dance with breath. As the poet Mary Oliver has said, “Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.”

This post was originally published on Spirituality & Health. To view the original post, click here.

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You only use 10% of your brain?

First of all, as stated above, it’s a bit misleading. The brain is a continuously active, living organ that is always functioning, always on…

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First of all, as stated above, it’s a bit misleading. The brain is a continuously active, living organ that is always functioning, always on and no area of the brain is ever off or unchanging. There may be heightened or lessened periods of regional activity, but the brain, in any event is always 100% on and in use.

In my opinion, the critical point that is being missed in this concept is that we only use about 10% of our brain’s functioning capacity for maintaining a state of consciousness.

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And that begs consideration, don’t you think?

The brain and its extensions controls everything about the body. Most functions are autonomic, operating in the background, constantly maintaining peak bodily operation. Other parts are used for our sub-conscious dealings, sensory inputs and sorting, habits, emotions, memory, plans; again, mostly automatic. These two make up over 90% of all brain activity.

The roughly 10% is the part that we use for our awareness, our perceptions, our mindfulness, our discernment. It’s the part that recognizes Itself. It’s the part that senses a bigger picture. It’s the part that remembers the spark within. And I am of the belief that we can, in fact, use more than 10% of our brain functioning for our consciousness.

This is what yoga teaches. This is what meditation teaches.

To become more aware!

We accomplish this by concentrating our will to direct more brain activity to our state of consciousness.

At some point, the barbarian recognizes that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

1%

Then they include someone else in their sphere, as a, ‘Second self’ (spouse, children).

2%

Then they bring the ’stranger at the gate’ into their inclusiveness. (friends)

3%…

The percentage of our brain activity used for Self-awareness grows and builds. Our brain wrangles functional capacity for consciousness and awareness. Our perception sphere expands. More and more brain activity is applied toward questioning, contemplation, introspection. And as consciousness enfolds, eventually, inevitably everything becomes our inclusion sphere. We expand our perception beyond everything… beyond the universe… to perhaps repose with the ‘Supreme.’

Yoga and meditation are tools that build awareness. Yoga and meditation help develop our ability to use more of our brain activity for consciousness more often and for longer periods of time. And when we exercise our consciousness, our awareness, we are building New Neural Pathways by which we are better able to perceive this new, heightened consciousness.

What does all this mean?

You have the ability to use your will to concentrate your consciousness, your Self-awareness. With practice you can move beyond 10% and use more of your brain functioning for continuous mindfulness. Slowly, steadily, with practice, your universe opens.

Let’s try for 20%.

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Corporate Wellness Programs Pay for Themselves

Are you thinking about starting a yoga, meditation or wellness program at your company? Whether we like it or not, work can be stressful…

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by S. Neil Vineberg

Are you thinking about starting a yoga, meditation or wellness program at your company?

Whether we like it or not, work can be stressful. New York Times reporter David Gelles described his experience as a reporter at the Financial Times in his new book, Mindful Work. “The job, instantly, was overwhelming. For the first three months I had breakfast meetings, lunches, and after-work drinks on top of long days at the office. Anytime a deal broke, or was even rumored, I was expected to match the story or take it forward. It was exhausting, and I noticed my stress levels ratcheting up. Luckily, I knew what to do. Though mindfulness works best as a preventive medicine, it can also prove an effective remedy. And after a few intense weeks of M&A reporting, I sensed it was time to recommit to meditation.”

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Google, Apple, Target, and Aetna are among top companies engaging in corporate wellness programs that include yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices to reduce the cost of health care, increase employee productivity, reduce absenteeism, and increase job satisfaction.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online has helped companies plan and offer corporate wellness programs that include in-office and online yoga, and wellness and meditation classes that are available to every employee.

The benefit of corporate wellness programs can be as high as $3 for every dollar invested, says Ron Goetzel, director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (IHPS) at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Wellness Council of America suggests that a company needs an operating plan for creating and managing a wellness program, and they offer 7 essential steps you can take:

  • Write A Vision/Mission Statement For The Wellness Program That Incorporates The Organization’s Core Philosophies
  • Set Specific Program Goals and Measurable Objectives That Are Linked To The Company’s Strategic Priorities
  • Set a Timeline For Implementation
  • Establish Roles And Responsibilities for team members who are engaged
  • Create a Budget To Carry Out The Program
  • Market and Promote The Wellness Program In-House
  • Create Evaluation Procedures To Measure The Stated Goals And Objectives.

Interested in starting a wellness program at your company?

Contact the corporate wellness group at Pilgrimage Yoga Online for more information.

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Yoga Practice at Home

On a recent post-nap early evening I struggled to consciousness wondering how in the world I was going to coerce myself…

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On a recent post-nap early evening I struggled to consciousness wondering how in the world I was going to coerce myself into

doing some yoga. I had plans for later that evening and I wanted to be as conscious as possible to enjoy the evening’s activities.

I had already gotten in a cardio workout earlier in the day and knew that 20-30 minutes of yoga would get me feeling great but as I struggled to consciousness I knew the challenge ahead of me. My body only wanted more sleep and my mind was not interested in any discipline.

5 minutes of yoga works wonders!

The first thing I decided upon was that I would remove all pressure from myself by setting the goal at five minutes of yoga. Deep down I know that once I get going yoga feels to good to stop but in this case the challenge is getting going and so I set the five-minute goal. That worked.

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The next thing I did as I lay on the couch was think of something that I really enjoy that I could link to my minutes of yoga… music. I decided to put on one of my favorite groups for my five minute practice: Monk Party. It’s upbeat and dynamic yet soulful sound would make five minutes seem like nothing.

At this point I had turned the corner. This yoga practice was going to manifest. The trump card was fresh air. I realized that my sleeping had made the room a bit stale and the thought of fresh air motivated me to activity. I got up, opened the front door, air played from my iphone to my stereo system and started my very doable five-minute session.

Savasana

I know the way I am and my plan worked. Sure enough twenty-five minutes later was winding down a great yoga practice with a deep relaxation savasana that would carry me into a great evening!

Know thyself…and it’s easy to motivate!

Namaste!

Sujantra founded Pilgrimage Yoga Online designed to make yoga accessible to everyone in the comfort of their home. He is the author of 5 books and has taught meditation to over 25,000 people. He guides the Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio in San Diego, CA and studied meditation for 27 years with Sri Chinmoy.

 

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Jerry Seinfeld goes Transcendental

Transcendental Meditation – Watching the recent interview of Jerry Seinfeld talking about the power and significance of meditation…

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Transcendental Meditation

Watching the recent interview of Jerry Seinfeld talking about the power and significance of meditation, specifically a technique called Transcendental Meditation was very inspiring for me. The ability to stay calm amidst the storms of life lies behind the success and creativity of many acclaimed men and women. It was great to hear him talk about the importance of meditation in his life.

David Lynch

I first found out about Transcendental Meditation, started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in 1978 when I was 17 years old. I went to an introductory seminar with my mother who was a neurologist and my cousin who was an airline pilot. The seminar’s validation of meditation was rooted in in medical studies and was very convincing. Meditation works! These days, 35 years later, they are using MRI machines to show the power of meditation. David Lynch, the famous movie director, is a strong and vocal proponent of the technique.

I ended up connecting with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and found in his teachings and meditation techniques a path that resonated with me, although I have drawn inspiration from the Maharishi’s efforts to spread meditation globally. I once gave Sri Chinmoy an article about all that their organization was doing.

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Japa and Mantra

Transcendental Meditation is rooted in a meditation technique called japa, which is the repetition of a mantra. A mantra can be anything from a seed sound such as “AUM” to a phrase such as: “Let Thy will be done.” The mantra can be repeated in one of three ways: out loud, silently (inside one’s mind and heart) with the lips moving; and silently with the lips and tongue motionless.

Aum” also spelled “Om” is the universal seed sound and is recommended in the ancient books of meditation as the mantra which can bring about the highest level of spiritual experiences. Mantras can also be created by various other seed sounds such as Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam and Ham . Sounds can also be combined. The benefits and science behind the repetition of seed sounds, and also the word “one,” has been methodically explained and explored in the book: The Relaxation Response by Dr. Herbert Benson is a must read if you are interested in this type of meditation.

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At PYO.yoga we have videos that explain more about meditation and videos that lead you through the experience of chanting Aum.

–Sujantra

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Get Your Skin Summer Ready!

Bring Your Skin and Hair Back to Life – Spring is one of my favorite seasons; I can probably relate…

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by Jen Freitas

Bring Your Skin and Hair Back to Life

Spring is one of my favorite seasons; I can probably relate that to how much I detest winter. Finally I see buds on trees, tulips popping up, and the sweetest thing of all, is the sound of the birds singing in the morning. I love watching the entire world start to come back to life after a long, cold winter!

But there’s one thing that I don’t love about spring, and that’s the transition from the thick, cozy clothing of winter to lighter warm-weather clothes that tend to show a bit of skin. Skin, unless properly prepped, can look and feel dry, flaky, and pale—and don’t forget about the mane, which can be frizzy and dull! Luckily, with a bit of at home beauty TLC, you can bring your skin and hair back to life just in time to bury your gray and black tights in the back of your drawer and pull out the sleeveless shirts and bright summer dresses!

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Here are 2 of my favorite DIY, all-natural beauty treatments for the perfect spring makeover:

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

The first step to spring weather ready skin is to literally shed your winter skin! This exfoliating scrub does a superb job, plus it incorporates one of my favorite natural beauty superstars, coconut oil.

Here’s the how to:

Mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with ½ cup sugar. I use organic cane sugar. If you want a gentler scrub, you could opt for oats instead!

In the shower, use your hands to scrub the mixture vigorously all over your body. Rinse off with warm water then towel dry. Your skin will feel silky smooth and hydrated, as some of the coconut oil will stay on your skin and act as an intensive moisturizer.

You could add a few drops of Lavender essential oil for some scent, if you would like. Plus, it will contribute to the spa like feeling. 

Dry Brushing

This is a great daily tip to carry with you through all seasons. Purchase a long handled brush made for dry brushing. It should be made with natural fibers. Gently run it over your entire body every morning. This will help remove dead skin cells, which contribute to dry, flaky skin. It will also stimulate blood flow, improving circulation and assist your body in detoxifying.

Easy peasy! Now bring it on Mother Nature! This winter was too long!

 Do you have any natural at home beauty tricks that you incorporate in your daily life or as you prepare for the warmer weather?

Thanks to author Jen Freitas, founder and president of The Truth Beauty Company. Jen is a leader in the field of eco-friendly and cruelty free Beauty. She is also a Holistic Skin Care Consultant, avid Beauty Blogger, public speaker and mother.

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Recipes: Chickpea, Cucumber + Avocado Salad

Perfect for Summer Lunches and Dinner Parties – With the weather getting warmer, a delicious, cold, refreshing salad…

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by Abigail Keeso

Perfect for Summer Lunches and Dinner Parties

With the weather getting warmer, a delicious, cold, refreshing salad is sometimes just what the body needs. This delicious chickpea, cucumber and avocado salad does the trick. It only takes 10 minutes to throw together, and is perfect for summer lunches and dinner parties.

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Chickpea, Avocado + Feta Salad

Serves 4 – Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (19 oz.)
  • 1 cucumber (diced)
  • 4 green onions (diced)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

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Preparation

1. Combine chickpeas, cucumber, green onion, parsley, avocado, baby spinach and feta cheese together in a large salad bowl.

2. Drizzle with lime and lemon juice and add the extra virgin olive oil.

3. Toss well until evenly distributed. Divide into bowls and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

About the Author

Abigail Keeso is a Registered Nurse, Culinary Nutrition Expert and co-founder of That Clean Life, a platform that makes eating healthy simple and fun.

Thanks to mindbodygreen.com for permission to reprint this excerpt.

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Open Heart, Open Mind

In this blog I’d like to review a video on Pilgrimage’s online studio called “Heart Opening Sequence” with Nikole Fortier. I have…

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In this blog I’d like to review a video on Pilgrimage’s online studio called “Heart Opening Sequence” with Nikole Fortier. I have taken classes with Nikole. She is a powerhouse of talent and an amazing teacher. In this video, Nikole shows us the restorative side of her teaching by walking us through a gentle heart opening sequence. In addition, there is a student in the video that really helps demonstrate the sequence and proper positioning more clearly.

This session is a series of passive and active backbends, which by their nature opens your chest and heart. The sequence is best done at home as it requires the use of props. You will need 2 or 3 blankets, a folding chair, a bolster and a brick/block. The props are used for support, comfort and to assist with proper alignment. Even with restorative postures it is very important to have the right alignment.

How to Open your Heart

In order to open your heart you first have to open your chest. The process starts by lying on your back on a partially rolled up blanket. As the student in the video demonstrates, the rolled portion of the blanket serves to arch the back while the flat part is for your head to rest on. As Nikole states, this simple posture will begin to open your heart and at the same time expand your chest and prepare the student for deeper breathing.

Next is lying on your back on a bolster with a blanket under your head for support. This prop lifts you higher up than the blanket and of course helps to open your chest and heart even more.

The last “phase” of this sequence is called “supported west side stretch”. For this phase you will need the folding chair, block and 2 blankets. This is where you can really open your heart because you are seated on the floor but your head, shoulders and chest are on the seat of the chair. Being in this position allows for a full extension and opening of the heart. It also opens the abdominal/digestive organs.

Benefits of an Open Heart

Everyone can benefit from a more open heart, both spiritually and physically. This video shows you how to do just that in a relaxed, restorative manner. Aside from feeling really good and relaxing, this sequence of opening your chest will help expand your lungs, which in turn leads to improved breathing. Pathways for air entering your lungs are expanded, which in turn allows for more oxygen flow throughout your body and ultimately to your brain. And that, my friends, is a good thing, no matter who you are.

Namaste

 

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10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

Start with these 10 ways to practice self-love. Ten. Forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others. Nine. Go to bed at the same time…

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Start with these 10 ways to practice self-love.

Ten.

Forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others.

Nine.

Go to bed at the same time as often as you can and allow 7-8 hours of rest nightly.

Eight.

Eat real food. Eliminate anything that comes out of a package or box from your diet.

Seven.

Get 10 minutes of exercise daily: take a walk at lunch or after dinner.

Six.

Drink water throughout your day.

Five.

Spend 10 minutes of your day in silence. Close your eyes and rest your senses.

Four.

Consider letting go of the past, contemplate what a life free of resentment and regret would provide.

Three.

Once a week do an activity just for you, take yourself out on an adventure, it doesn’t have to cost a thing or take up much time. Schedule it and keep the appointment with yourself.

Two.

Journal. Journal your thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Look back periodically at what you wrote and get to know yourself through the words on the pages.

One.

Share some of your time or fortune with someone who needs assistance.


How do you practice self-love? Let us know in the comments below!

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Yoga for Weight Loss – Does it work?

How does the body lose weight? – The body gains and loses weight based on the amount of food (a.k.a. calories) it uses to metabolize…

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How does the body lose weight?

The body gains and loses weight based on the amount of food (a.k.a. calories) it uses to metabolize to keep the body thriving. If a person consumes more food and drink than needed, the body eliminates the fiber and excess nutrients in the feces and urine, respectively, and stores the excess fats. In order for the body to lose weight, it must be under one of the two circumstances. One, the body loses weight when the food it intakes equates to less calories than the energy it needs to thrive. The second circumstance is that the body loses weight when the amount of energy it uses is higher than the amount of calories that it intakes.

Can Yoga Assist in Weight Loss?

Considering how the body loses weight we can look at the question of whether or not yoga can assist in weight loss. The answer to that is not a clear cut yes or no. First, a yogi must tally body weight, the amount of calories that he or she consumes daily, then subtract the amount of calories used during the week including the yoga practice he or she is following. For example, if Serena weighs 155 pounds, consumes 2,000 calories a day and practices yoga twice a week (a one hour Hatha Yoga class for a woman at 155 lbs will use up 298 calories) she will burn 596 calories of the 14,000 that she intakes weekly. Depending on her physical activity for the rest of the week, she may or may not lose weight practicing yoga. If she has a sedentary life, as most Americans do, working at a desk, driving a car and watching a few hours of TV each night, we can assume no weight loss will be realized. If however, if she lives an active life or reduces the amount of calories she intakes, we can assume that she may realize a stabilization of body mass, if not experience some weight loss.

The Real Deal

If you reduce the amount of food and drink that you consume compared to the energy you use or you increase the amount of energy your body uses above the the energy it intakes, weight loss will occur, with yoga or otherwise. Without knowing your weight, weekly intake of energy and use of energy, I couldn’t tell you whether you could lose weight using yoga, that is a very personalized calculation. What I can express is this: yoga is utilized optimally as a philosophy more than a physical practice. Within the context of yogic philosophy, one is on a journey to be connected with the self. A regular practice of yoga, tuning into the self, will assist in most goals in life, whether that goal is to trim down body mass, reduce stress, increase innovative thoughts or remain strong and flexible as the body ages.

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The Benefits of Meditation

Why Meditate? – The benefits of meditation are undeniable. Meditation calms the mind. From the moment we awake and open our eyes…

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Why Meditate?

The benefits of meditation are undeniable. Meditation calms the mind. From the moment we awake and open our eyes until we put ourselves to bed, it’s typical to have a stream of thoughts flowing through our minds. This is why we practice yoga and part of yoga, as a whole, is meditation. When the mind is calmed by meditating we can balance our emotions, quiet our thoughts and create a higher level of self-awareness.

How to Meditate

There is no secret mystery to meditation. Just like learning to ride a bike or drive a car, meditation takes some basic, initial instruction and then it takes practice to enjoy the benefits. Anyone can meditate. Meditation is free. Meditation can be done anywhere. Meditation can be done anytime. You can take a class at a meditation center or a yoga studio if you’d like to have a personal guide. Pilgrimage Online offers great, free resources for meditating you can find HERE.

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Newbie Meditating

Try meditation and then try it again and again. Don’t be concerned that you aren’t doing it right. At first, it may seem odd to to take no other actions outside of sitting and breathing. The stillness may be uncomfortable, initially, as most of us have zero experience with quiet time in our day. You may find that sitting quietly highlights just how active your mind is and that might be uncomfortable. The odd discomfort of being new to meditation is only temporary. It’s normal. Remember: you’re trying something new so give yourself some space to learn and grow.

Getting to Know the Real You

When you meditate, you take time to just be you. Not the you that has a name that was given at birth. Not the you that wears clothes in the style that is acceptable to society. Not the you that has emails to read and to-do lists to complete. In meditation, you see you for who you really are: the being, or soul, some might say, that is behind the thoughts. Your thoughts and who you are, are two separate things.

Letting Go

When you see yourself, sitting quietly and letting go of the racing mind, you will feel a sense of contentment and calm. You will see that all there ever is, is right now. Yesterday and what will happen in the next hour don’t exist when you are in the right now, being you. In fact, meditation prepares you for the future. People who meditate regularly are more innovative on average. Meditation also helps you heal from the past. Taking that time to sit quietly helps you release what you’re holding onto: thoughts and emotions about the past.

A New Practice

If you are new to meditation or renewing your interest in meditation, I invite you to meditate for at least 3-5 minutes this week, then again next week and so on. I invite you to start a regular practice of meditation and, in turn, gain the most valuable of benefits: a higher level of self-awareness.

If you found this information helpful or have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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Turn Your Work Seat Into a Yoga Chair

Got chair? – Chair yoga refers to the use of a chair to sit in or hold onto in order to do yoga poses. A yoga teacher of mine once told me…

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Got chair?

Chair yoga refers to the use of a chair to sit in or hold onto in order to do yoga poses. A yoga teacher of mine once told me he could do almost every yoga pose from a chair. That’s good news for me, because my job requires me to be in a chair working at a computer almost all day. Plus, my doctor said I’m showing early signs of arthritis in my wrists and hands and I’m only in my early 30’s! Rather than starting to take medication for the discomfort, my doctor recommended “some type of movement to keep the joints lubricated and or physical therapy.”

So, how am I supposed to do “some type of movement” when I am stuck in a chair all day? I found at least part of the solution actually in my chair after watching and practicing the techniques in this video (Chair Yoga – 10 Minutes with Lena Schmidt) from Pilgrimage Yoga.

My doctor said that most people, when they find out they have arthritis, tend to minimize movement of the joints when in fact proper movement can actually help the situation. This video was perfect for me because I learned various techniques I can do while at work on my break or even while working. The video focuses on breathing and coordinating the breath with movement, stretches for the shoulders and neck and techniques for lubricating the wrist and ankle joints. Plus, the instructor also demonstrates a gentle spinal twist and a technique for stretching the arms and fingers. All of which I need and I can do it from my chair in 10 minutes!

Benefits of Chair Yoga

The video instructor is very gentle in her approach and clearly the first benefit I found from watching this video was to focus on my breath and posture. Many times I find myself hunched over my computer, which is obviously bad for my posture as well as restricting for my breath. Since watching the video, I have been practicing sitting up straight and reminding myself to breathe and I do believe I feel more energetic because of this practice.

I also benefited greatly from the wrist and ankle rotations and the gentle spinal twists from side to side. Sometimes I feel a bit stiff before I practice, but in the end I always feel more “loose” and not as much discomfort.

Application: Chair Yoga in everyday life

The techniques taught in this video don’t require a mat or props. All you need is a chair – it can be a chair at home or work or in the park. You just have to be seated comfortably and you can begin. I often practice the techniques I’ve learned at my work during my break or at lunchtime. I’m sitting anyway. I just have to turn my chair around from under my desk and get started! I’ve used these techniques before starting work, during work and before going home. I also do them at home on the weekends or during the evening. That’s the beauty of chair yoga – it can be done anytime or anywhere – Got chair? Get started!

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Pranayama – Energize your Life Force through Breathing

Prana what? – My boyfriend thought I was talking about some new motorcycle when I tried explaining what Pranayama is and what…

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Prana what?

My boyfriend thought I was talking about some new motorcycle when I tried explaining what Pranayama is and what it can do for you – or more precisely what your breath can do for you. I had just watched one of Pilgrimage of the Heart’s Yoga videos on their online studio called “Pranayama energizing flow – 10 minutes with Lauren McLaren” and I couldn’t believe the different ways someone could breathe and even more importantly the enormous benefits that could be attained in just a few minutes. According to my boyfriend, “a breath is a breath” and he couldn’t understand how I could be so excited about something you don’t have to do anything about. But that’s the whole point. You CAN do something about your breath and it will improve your health!

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the life force”. The word is comprised of two Sanskrit words, Prana or life force (breath) and ayama meaning to extend or draw out. In the video the instructor focuses on two breathing techniques designed to expand the life forces we already possess. It also highlights the importance of doing these exercises properly and with a split screen gives the viewer a great means of how to do just that. The first technique is called Kapalabhati breath – Kapal means skull and bhati means polishing or shining. Kapalabhati, as the name suggests, is a method to make the head “sparkling clean” and devoid of toxins. On first glance, it sort of looks like you’re panting like a dog on a hot day, but you quickly build up an energy that moves through your limbs and your whole system. The other technique is called Nadi Shodan Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing. This is where you block one nostril at a time while breathing in and out. The video lays out very clearly how to hold your fingers and how to properly breathe using this technique.

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Benefits of Pranayama

While the ultimate goal of Pranayama is to enter higher states of consciousness, there are many immediate benefits. When we can control our breath we can keep our physical body healthy through the intake of oxygen and we can help affect our emotional and spiritual state through the meditative practice of breathing. These breathing exercises also help in calming and centering the mind, which brings the mind back to the present moment. Through this practice we can also release accumulated stress toxins and that in turn brings clarity to our mind and energy into our body. And all of these benefits come with just a few minutes of practice! The other underlying benefit of Pranayama (and this video) is that it brings attention to your breath, which a lot of us (including my boyfriend) don’t even think about. As an athlete, I’ve always sort of noticed that there are times in intense situations when I stop breathing and now I will not only be more aware of my breath, but also have options for improving my breath and my health.

Application: Pranayama in everyday life

Pranayama can easily be applied in everyday life because you don’t need a yoga mat or props to do it. Everything you need you already carry with you – your nose, your lungs and your fingers. Once you learn the techniques you can practice anywhere, anytime – waiting in a long line, on a break from work or even riding on the back of a motorcycle where the driver can’t see you 😉 My boyfriend is cool, but I disagree with his assessment that “a breath is a breath”. I mean really, are all motorcycles the same? Pranayama shows us that not only can you breathe in different ways, but there are enormous benefits in doing so.

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Finding my Toes

Before today I couldn’t touch my toes. As a seventeen-year-old girl about to be a senior in high school this always seems…

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Before today I couldn’t touch my toes. As a seventeen-year-old girl about to be a senior in high school this always seems to strike people as odd, though it has been a reality for most of my life. The story starts a bit earlier though…

Investing in Fitness

About a month ago my Dad and I decided it was about time to start investing further in fitness, during the ever so lazy summer season, so we joined a gym close to our house. We try to work out 5 days a week incorporating cardio and weights in order to burn calories while building muscle as well as trying to eat as clean as possible as often as we can, and it’s been great so far.

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Reaching my Splits

I was a dancer for 9 years so stretching has always been a big part of my warm up and down from a workout but I didn’t always enjoy doing it as it was usually used as a starting block to reach my splits (which I was never able to do)! It was a constant frustration that though I may be only three inches from my splits I still was unable to touch my toes.

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The Importance of Yoga

Yoga and stretching has become more important to me since I joined my high school swim team my freshman year and sustained a shoulder injury from overuse. Doctors were unable to give any advice besides to take Aleve, to not work as hard in practices and to do proper stretching. As summer progressed without competitive swimming, this new, more consistent workout schedule has forced me to put more value into my time stretching and use it not just as a time to make sure my body is happy but that I am as well. After a hard day of cardio coupled with weights that seem to make my muscles scream, a long stretch often does the trick to calm down.

I can now proudly say that after many years of simply not being able to touch my toes, I can!

-Teenyogi

 

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3 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training in 2013 the head instructor asked me what was going on with me physically and…

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On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training in 2013 the head instructor asked me what was going on with me physically and spiritually. I told her I hadn’t been sleeping well, wanted a better night’s sleep and there was a lot on my mind at the time. The projects I was working on filled my head as soon as I laid down at night. She gave me a yoga prescription for my sleeplessness and told me to do Halasana (a.k.a. Plow) right before bed. She explained that I must make sure this pose truly is the last thing I do before sleep, i.e. teeth brushed, no more communicating with family or on my phone, lights out, pajamas on. I took the prescription and it worked. There are countless poses that reduce insomnia. Here are a few.

Halasana

Halasana is a pose done while lying on your back. Set yourself up to create a strong base in the back of your shoulders and arms, just as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). Kick your legs overhead and press your toes into the floor behind you. Stay in the pose for up to 5 minutes and slowly draw the legs back over head and return them to the floor. This pose is therapeutic as it calms the mind. A calm mind reduces stress and anxiety.

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Uttanasana

Uttanasana (a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold) is a standing pose. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose) inhale and raise your arms up alongside your ears. Exhale and fold forward from the hip, keeping the spine long, as the crown of head lowers to the floor. If your hamstrings are tight, keep a bend in the knee to avoid rounding in the spine. This pose diminishes insomnia through the therapeutic properties of inversion.

Sukhasana

Sukhasana (a.k.a. Easy Pose) is a seated pose. Sit on the ground or a block. Adjust your seat height so that your hips are higher than your knees. Cross the legs at the shin, knees wide apart, heels of the feet are tucked under the opposite leg. Rest your hands, either palms up or down, on your legs. Sit up well, with a tall spine. Close your eyes and focus on your