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.

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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

7dos3

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.

PYO

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

PYO

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.

PYO

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.

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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.

Pilgrimage Yoga Online

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.

ChickpeaAvocadoFetaSalad4-850x565

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 breath, drawing long, controlled inhales into and out of your nose. Stay seated in this pose for up to 5 minutes. The act of taking time to sit and solely focus on breath cultivates a high level of mental clarity.

If you’re experiencing sleepless nights, try one of these poses right before you lay down to sleep tonight. If it works for you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a note below in the comments section.

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Asana & Pranayama – Feel the benefits of your yoga practice!

In the ancient books of yoga is says that the postures, asanas, should be firm but pleasant. We can think of our posture not only…

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In the ancient books of yoga is says that the postures, asanas, should be firm but pleasant. We can think of our posture not only in terms of our yoga practice but also our posture in life and our daily activities. There is our physical posture, how we stand and support ourselves, and also our inner posture: the condition of our minds, hearts and sense of self.

Asana & Pranayama

Through the practice of asana we bring awareness, strength, balance and flexibility to our physical body. Through the practice of breath control, pranayama, we bring awareness to our breath. Breath is the great passageway into our inner dimension. Once we have learned to concentrate on our breath we can begin to refine our inner posture. We can learn to channel our mental and psychic energy in various ways.

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Our Meditation Classes

In our meditation classes we suggest that you use the concentration power of your yoga to reveal the qualities of your spiritual heart: love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude and oneness. Feel and manifest these qualities in your life. It will benefit not only you but everyone whose path you cross. We create the world by our thoughts, feelings and actions. Create consciously and remember the significance of your role in creating this world of ours. Happy Spring.

Yoga Tips

Linking breath and movement is one of the keys to yoga. Try this exercise: stand in Tandasana, mountain pose, with your arms by your side. Do a few shoulder shrugs to loosen up your shoulders and a few head rolls to relax your neck and head, then focus in on your breath, if possible breathing in and out through your nose. As you breath in open our hands as wide as possible: spreading your finger as if they were your lungs filling with air. At the same time lift your toes off the ground. Now as you exhale clench your hands into a fist and grab the floor with your toes. Repeat this cycle, linking breath with precise movements for 3-30 breaths. Feel the results.

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