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  “In sleep, the astral life forces are withdrawn not only from the muscles but also from the sensory instruments.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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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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Yoga at Home Is Key to Healthier Lifestyle

A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet…

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A research report titled “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners” suggests that home yoga practice is key to a healthier diet, exercise and improved mental health. Home practice of yoga is also a better predictor of health than years of class practice or class frequency.

Tosca Braun, a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga instructor and 500-hour Integrative Yoga Therapist notes, “In my own experience, home practice is sweetly satisfying. It can also become stale and rigid without continued inspiration from teachers or attendance at classes or retreats. Hitting the mat can sometimes become another box to check off, with my mind racing through the day’s events as I lose the anchors of body and breath. At other times, the strength or motivation to practice may desert me, due to life’s emotional upheavals. It is then that I am most likely to attend class or seek community, where I find the support, inspiration and belonging I have longed for in my home practice. When I return to my home yoga mat, it is that much sweeter for having been touched by sangha and a skillful teacher’s reminder to inhabit my body and breath with compassionate presence.”

Yoga Promises Healthier Life

According to the report, Yoga shows promise as an intervention targeting a number of outcomes associated with lifestyle-related health conditions including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cancer. While aerobic exercise long has been a valuable tool in combating these health conditions, a review of clinical trials comparing exercise to yoga found yoga to be equal or superior to aerobic exercise in improving a number of outcomes associated with chronic health conditions.

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Home Practice is Key

The frequency of home practice appears to be very important— more important than how long an individual has been practicing or how many classes one takes. It’s not enough simply to learn how to do healthy behaviors. Rather, healthy behaviors must be incorporated into one’s daily life. While these findings suggest that individuals will only glean benefits from yoga practice that are proportional to the energy they are willing to invest in making it a part of their lives, the findings also suggest that they do not have to practice for years in order to reap the rewards.

What one practices, be it the different types of physical poses, breath work, or meditation, is important because the different aspects of yoga practice may well have different health benefits.

From: Alyson Ross, Erika Friedmann, Margaret Bevans, and Sue Thomas, “Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health: Results of a National Survey of Yoga Practitioners,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 983258, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/983258

 

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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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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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Getting Into a Yoga Mindset at Home

How do you get into a yoga mindset at home? We hear from Om Yoga founder Cyndi Lee is the author of five books and the inspiration for great yoga instructors.

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OM Yoga founder Cyndi Lee is the author of five books and one of the most influential yoga teachers in the U.S. She is the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teaching. Her OM Yoga Center in NYC has become a mecca for yogis worldwide.

The Path is the Practice

Cyndi recently shared her thoughts on the best way to get into the yoga mindset at home.

“The best way to get into yoga-mind is to do yoga. The path is the practice. But if you are anything like me, you might have resistance to doing your practice even though you know you want yourself to do it. I look to the traditions I was taught by my gurus and the first thing to do to prepare for practice is to clean your space. Sweep the floor, dust your altar, gather together props you want to use that day. Don’t make this such a big project that it keeps you from practicing; just let the process of cleaning be a way to honor your practice and cultivate appreciation and excitement for it. Now you have created a home shala, a home practice zone, and it will call you to participate in it.

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Start a Yoga Library and Read

Another way to prime the pump is to stimulate your yoga-mind by reading. Begin to develop a yoga library: biographies of great yogis; practice books; philosophy books. Start each practice with a little bit of reading right on your mat. And, of course, you can always use a yoga video. Sometimes I practice to my own videos and after a while I stop following my own instructions (!) but it gets me started and then I can flow as I like that day.”

Videos Let You Take a Second Look

She also offered advice for those practicing at home with yoga videos.

“Sure, it is ideal to have an excellent yoga teacher who can give you personalized hands-on adjustments and verbal instructions but that is just not always available. So, let’s do yoga anyway. And I really feel that so many of us yoga teachers who have been teaching for decades have gotten very good at giving articulate verbal instructions which means you don’t have to look at the screen all the time anyway. You know, if you were in a live yoga class with me, you would not be looking at me but you would be listening to me all the time. So in this way, a video class and a live class are very similar. A video also offers the opportunity to rewind and listen again, to take a second look and really integrate study with practice.”

How do you get into a yoga mindset at home?

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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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Writing a Home Yoga Journal? Tips for Yoga Lovers

Do you keep a yoga journal? Many of us practice yoga at home to achieve improved body tone. For some, the practice of yoga…

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Do you keep a yoga journal? Many of us practice yoga at home to achieve improved body tone. For some, the practice of yoga is a peaceful meditation at the beginning or end of a hectic day. Others practice Yoga at the Office, a range of yoga classes that can be done either seated in your chair or in the cubicle.

Record Your Daily Practice

Whether your practice at home or office, yoga is a journey and that’s why keeping a journal is a great way to record one’s daily practice.

During a yoga teacher training program, Morgan Turley’s instructors suggested that she keep a yoga journal. “I could see how it could improve my life, and yet it felt out of reach somehow. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. I would stare at a blank page and wonder what to write about.”

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Helpful Tips

If you’re thinking about what to write about in your home yoga journal, we found some helpful tips.

42Yogis suggests a journal entry might include:

• Date and time of practice

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

• How did I feel before practice?

• What asanas did I have difficulty with?

• What asanas did I finally conquer?

• What do I want to work on next time?

• How do I feel after practice?

Anna Oldfield, Yoga London, added, “There are many different ways of keeping a journal, and everyone’s method will be slightly different. Some people just keep a note of when they practiced, for how long and the style of yoga, possibly with a few comments. Others may record lengthier descriptions of how they felt, their experiences surrounding the practice and the sequences used. Once you have found your journal style, filling it in regularly will provide you with great material for future reference and will help you to keep track of your personal development.”

What do you plan to write about in your yoga journal?

 

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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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Yoga Home Practice Room Ideas

Embrace Nature – Love doing your morning asanas surrounded by nature? Chant Om in an airy room that’s flooded with light…

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If you’re learning yoga and meditation online, then consider setting up a special place in your home or apartment where you can practice in a clutter free, calm atmosphere.

Go Minimalist

If you’re recreating a room for yoga, aim at a minimalist design free of distractions. A hardwood floor is ideal. You might need several yoga mats if you’re practicing on a concrete floor. If your room is carpeted, you might be able to practice without a mat.

Meg DePriest, a mother and yoga instructor in Denver, suggests you find a special place, “You don’t have to spend a ton of money or have a huge space. Just find a space in your house that makes you happy, chase the kids out every once in a while, and enjoy your practice.”

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Mediterranean Yoga Room

A peaceful, clutter-free atmosphere is ideal.  Most yoga spaces have bare floors, but adding a large rug can provide some extra cushioning.

 

Embrace Nature

Love doing your morning asanas surrounded by nature?  Chant Om in an airy room that’s flooded with light.

 

Yoga Heaven

Unsure what to do with the attic or basement in your home? Transform it into yoga gym. Add a yoga mat, some free weights, a stationary bike, and you’re ready.

 

Lighting is Key

Whether you’re transforming the corner of a room or an entire room, lighting is also important. Use dimmable lighting and shades so you can adjust the room for mood, style of practice and time of day.  “Traditionally, the lights are dimmed throughout the practice, and savasana, or the final pose, occurs in the dark,” added DePriest.

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