When life gets busy, it’s easy to find yourself in a nonstop routine that cultivates tension and anxiety. Awareness of not only your surroundings but also your inner emotional state is fundamental to yoke the energy of concentration. The practice of incorporating mindful practices as well as physical effort can help you establish a happier and healthier life.
Your yoga practice doesn’t have to stop when you leave the mat. Whether it’s running out of the house to pick up the kids from sports, making dinner for a family of 8, or even coping with a lost loved one, check out these mindfulness exercises to harness your ability to deal with life’s challenges.
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Maintain awareness of your breath and focus your attention on moving the breath in and out. This exercise can be done at any time of the day and in any position anywhere. The results can be tremendous.
Now that you’ve focused on your breath, follow your breath beginning to end. Sustain your awareness and let fleeting thoughts pass.
Awareness of Your Body
Tension in the body can be released by the mind. Awareness of the body can help bring oneness to the body and mind. The more peace and harmony in your breathing, the more it will reflect in your body.
Self-reflection is essential to appreciating the wonders of life and letting go of the things that hold us back. Mindful walking is a simple technique that can enable you to find your purpose, increase your well-being, and give you the clarity to navigate yourself through the world.
A warrior never rushes. Combat the addiction to rush and stay present. Slowing down can sometimes be the best way to speed up. Whether it’s moving slower, taking time to think about the things you speak, find perspective on balance by calming the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
The combination of mindfulness and physical activity is the crux of combating negative thinking and emotional distress. Although this practice requires discipline and self-control, mindfulness can transform your ability to concentrate and make a breakthrough.
The focal point of mindfulness practices is meditation. The combination of physical and mental practices can train the body to stay calm and be observant. This concentration allows one to
wake dormant energy toward awakening.
Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes for InsiderEnvy with an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.
Jason Lewis, Strongwell.org
A Busy Life can Create Stress
Many Americans struggle with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and other symptoms of a busy lifestyle, all of which can lead to exhaustion, issues with family members, and problems at work. These feelings can actually cause physical pain or depression, and in some cases, can even lead to substance abuse. When your entire body is involved, it’s hard to see a way out or imagine finding a way to make it better.
Yoga is More than Exercise
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to feel better, and incorporating yoga life is one of them. Largely hailed as one of the best forms of wellness for your body and mind, Yoga can help to you relax, learn to focus on the present rather than being anxious about the future, and find inner peace even when you’re in the midst of a stressful event. It can be done alone or in a group, meaning you can find balance no matter where you are, and it doesn’t require a gym membership.
Learn to Relax
Yoga Asana can help you to loosen your muscles, guide you to taking deeper breaths, and help you to find inner peace so that you can work toward letting go of stress. If you have a very demanding job or work long hours, practicing Yoga can help you stay calm when those stressful situations kick in, and it can also help you find ways to manage your emotions. This is especially useful for individuals who are single parents and have a lot going on, or for people with high-stress jobs.
Yoga is a great way to chill out, but did you know it can be fun, too? You can play your favorite music while practicing Asana, try it outdoors for a change of scenery -- head to the Beach or Paddle Board. Seek out a practice that suits your desires, at first. For example, some teachers are allowing you to bring pets while you practice Asana. It’s not always about teaching them the poses--although some do participate--but rather, showing them how to be calm. This may be the place for you to begin, but remember, the practice is much more than just doing poses. For more info on places that welcome dogs during the asana practice, click here.
Many first-timers are surprised at how much energy it takes to get through a single yoga asana session, because it tends to look easier than it is. It’s a great way to build up muscle strength and perfect your posture if the instructor guides you through proper alignment in the poses. This is perfect for individuals who sit at a desk all day. The best part is, because Yoga can be done just about anywhere. Some instructors can even offer adaptations of the various poses for chairs and with tools (blankets, straps, blocks, etc.).
The practice of Yoga includes 8 Limbs or aspects one of which is learning to focus your mind so that meditation may happen. This practice can bring you closer to spiritual health. This can mean different things for different people, so think about what it means to you and allow Yoga to give you a bit of a boost when you need it. Simply practicing mindful practice, directing your breathing and physical body can help you learn to be more present in the moment and appreciate your strength. For a guide on all the ways Yoga can help your body and mind, read on here.
Because Yoga is appropriate for any age, can be done almost anywhere, and is beneficial to many different parts of the body, it’s ideal for many different kinds of people. Not only can it help alleviate symptoms of various health disorders, it can also prevent them. Talk to your doctor about whether Yoga is right for you.
Lake Tahoe Yoga began as an idea. For years I would joke about various locations being "a great place for a studio." I never thought I would actually become a studio owner. It wasn't until I was approached by some locals who were curious about my skills beyond counseling that I considered starting my own business. I began with just a few classes, some private sessions, and free classes. Once I began actively teaching, I realized how much I had to learn about business, people and community.
Giving too Much Away
I am enthusiastic about instructing, guiding, and helping others to discover their paths. The teacher in me is always proud to see my students demonstrate their understanding, develop new skills and grow as individuals. While instructing others, I am always learning. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized the very people that I had been supporting, guiding, and instructing were planning on attempting to become my competition. Upon leaving Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio they took more than the knowledge I had shared; they took practitioners, ideas and more.
It is incredible to look back to 2008 and review how rapidly technology, advertising, marketing and business has changed. During this time there have been positive and negative shifts in every field. I have had to change everything about the way I market my business. What will never change is the roots of Lake Tahoe Yoga.
Many of the studios, gyms, etc. in town may be listed on Mindbody or some other app. They may have pretty photos with people posing on their instagram. Maybe they are offering classes at breweries, art studios, wineries, with goats and cats and dogs. They are viciously competing with one another. Lake Tahoe Yoga continues to remain focused on our roots: the practice, the knowledge and sharing it with others.
Putting our Money where it Matters
Lake Tahoe Yoga wouldn't exist if it wasn't for our community. It was the locals that encouraged me to begin instructing and who continue to support the studio. I didn't practice at any other studio in Tahoe. I didn't train with a studio here. I didn't learn how to run a business by working for another studio. Everything at Lake Tahoe Yoga grew through active learning, community engagement & support, and the dedication I have to the practice, studio, and practitioners.
Our social media photos are of Tahoe and people just like you and me doing their best to access more than a pose. They are trying to access Yoga. They are living in this world, working beside you. They are breathing, moving and observing themselves and the world around them hoping to bring forth positive change.
Every penny spent to advertise Lake Tahoe Yoga is purposeful and focused. From local memberships for TRYP, SLTWHS and Tahoe Chamber to social media the advertising is calculated to be the best way for us to reach the community and to give back.
Supporting Small, Local Yoga Studios & Businesses
Over the past 10 years I have learned much about Tahoe South, business, and people. I have grown as an instructor, business owner and individual. I have deepened my understanding of Yoga and what it means to truly practice. I know I am not perfect. I remind my students that not everyone lives life with an open mind and that most people are in service only to themselves. Taking this lesson to heart, I have chosen not to advertise on the popular apps so that I can donate a portion of Lake Tahoe Yoga's profits to local and international non-profits.
When traveling, I seek out the small, locally owned studios that are not listed on Mindbody and do not have fancy advertisements or websites. I have discovered wonderful studios, new instructors, friendships, connections and more. I have expanded this practice beyond Yoga studios and have begun seeking out small businesses, as well. It has opened many new doors.
Go Small, Support Locals
There is no guarantee that the studio you find listed on Mindbody is the best, nor is there a guarantee that the teacher instructing in the basement of her house is any good. You will never know if you don't try it out. How about giving that new teacher in the basement a try before heading to the studio paying to be noticed? Step into that funky little shop on the corner instead of going to the one with thousands of reviews. Ask a friend for a recommendation, ask a local where they go, step off of the beaten path and try something new. For it is only when we try that we know.
When the thermometer reads single digits, and the window shows nothing but wind and snow, the idea of working out can send chills down your spine, literally. The cold has a way of deterring us from fitness goals and leading us to the couch, fireplace and hot chocolate.
There are plenty of indoor and fun options for staying fit and focused in the winter.
Make a plan
As with any time of the year, an important part of maintaining a healthy routine is by planning to commit to a daily dose of exercise.
Try yoga asana as an exercise at home
Changing up the routine can help you make your workouts a little more exciting and give you new feats to discover. According to Healthline, yoga asana is the easiest way to stay fit in winter. You can be any fitness level to start and it can be done at home. Try a new yoga asana class this winter or commit to a fitness plan that can be done at home, with friends, or at the gym.
Yoga asana can be done almost anywhere, especially indoors, which means you can stay out of the cold while you work out. There are plenty of free online classes and tutorials that can teach you the basics and get you started.
The Yoga Journal maintains that yoga asana can keep you healthy this winter. By implementing certain poses you can increase circulation and help your body clear out bacteria and viruses by filtering them out through the lymph nodes. A regular yoga routine can also help you stay warm and prevent aches and stiffness.
Build your home gym
Taking some time and a little investment in a simple home gym can really pay off in terms of motivation. All you need is your body and a few basic tools to help. Having a specifically designated space in your home for your workouts will set you up for success. With just a few basic tools and equipment, you can ensure a full-body and effective workout, even as the snow falls outside.
Don’t let your body down this winter. Keep it active with a creative approach to in-home training. Remember to make a plan and a commitment to yourself and your goals. Implementing exercise as a regular part of your day can bring years of well-being and health.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Yoga + Focused Concentration = Less Stress
Stress from work, school, and family can build throughout the day until, when it’s finally time to get some much needed rest, you have trouble closing your eyes. You need a full night’s sleep, that’s a solid seven to eight hours every night, to rejuvenate, energize, and refresh the body for a new day. Yoga and focused concentration both offer ways to help clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and prepare your mind and body for better sleep.
Yoga, especially those forms that use directed breathing, reduce the inflammation brought on by stress. Focusing your mind and body before bed has measurable benefits by reducing the activity of proteins that cause stress-related inflammation. Yoga Asana also helps relieve tension and tightness in muscles.
Focused concentration that centers on mindfulness is another way to help center your mind, putting stressful events and thoughts in the background for better sleep. Mindfulness concentration encourages practitioners to focus on the moment so that thoughts and emotions center in the present rather than dwelling on the past or speculating about the future. This type of concentration helps relieve symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and conditions like high blood pressure.
Yoga for Better Sleep
Yogic and concentration techniques can be performed before getting into bed or after you’ve laid down. When doing poses in bed, your mattress type may prevent you from getting a stretch with the same intensity you are used to on the floor, but that doesn’t reduce the relaxing benefits.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with the feet hip-width apart, folding from your hips toward the ground. Reach your arms to the ground. You can grab your elbows with your hands and let your arms gently dangle for a better stretch. Slightly bend your knees to relieve any strain. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm.
Seated Spinal Twist
Start by sitting on a mat or your bed with both legs out straight in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing your left foot over your right leg. Gently hold your left leg with your right hand, and twist your torso so you’re looking over your left shoulder. You can keep your right leg straight or bend it toward your left hip. Take up to eight deep breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.
On your knees, sit with your knees wider than your hips and bring your big toes together. Lengthen your torso between your legs. Extend your arms out in front or rest them beside your legs. Let your forehead drop toward the ground or your bed. Take up to eight long, deep breaths before releasing.
Focused Concentration works well once you’re lying in bed. Start by focusing on your breath. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm and listen to the sound of the air entering and leaving your lungs. Focus your mind on the calming sound of your breath. If it helps, focus on a calming word with each inhale and exhale. As you continue breathing, keep your mind focused by pulling it back to your breathing when it begins to wander. Continue until you feel calm, quiet, and relaxed. You may even drift off to sleep.
Special thanks to TUCK for their contribution of this blog and active work in the study of Mindfullness, Sleep and accessing Dhyana (Meditation).
Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
Weight Loss is about more than Diet
When most people think of yoga, they think of it for the stretching, the centeredness, the Zen. Most people don’t think about yoga as a way to lose weight—but maybe they should start to reconsider this ancient practice. There are physical, behavioral, and emotional benefits to this holistically-based process.
Of course, it starts with the type of yoga you practice. Some practices focus upon relaxation rather than activity—but some practices combine physical fitness with mindfulness . For example, Vinyasa is dynamic and also focuses upon breath and movement. Some yoga classes add heat into the mix, which helps to boost the physical challenge.
There’s a benefit from yoga that translates outside the yoga studio that may have health effects related to managing your weight. Yoga, of course, encourages mindfulness, and mindfulness is necessary when it comes to eating and eating well. What else do you need to know? This graphic explains it.
About Yoga & Weight Loss
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Although most of Sanskrit can seem like tongue twisters and silliness, as you learn what each word means and how it can be used, things become more interesting.
The Importance of Practice
Throughout my practice as a Yogini and then during my Yoga teacher training, my guru would talk about the balance between practice & effort (Abhyasa) and non-attachment and letting go (Vairagya). Being that my primary interest in Yoga was rooted in the physical benefits, I really didn't care if I was "letting go" of anything, I was more interested in that fancy headstand and holding Caturanga.
Be Willing to Let Go
As my practice deepened, and as I began teaching, I started to learn that if I didn't let go, then I got nothing. What I mean to say is, the more I held on to the practice and the more my focus was on having large classes and making lots of money, the fewer students I had and the more frustrated I grew.
When I opened Svadhyaya Yoga Studio, I had so many other things on my plate that all I could do when it came time to teach was allow my passion to flow outward to my students. I would have classes of 0, 1 or maybe 2 students. I got to know them well and their dedication to the practice was a reflection of mine.
Practice to Grow
Now, almost two years down the road, I continue to be driven by the practice and I try my best to let go of the results. It's very difficult, and it's sometimes a challenge to walk the line between what I want and what I need.
Abhyasa and Vairagya are so important because we have to constantly be practicing in order to grow. We have to always be letting go of the old growth so that we can become new. Just as the snake must shed it's skin, so must we be able to let go of the past and move foward.
Do the Rewards Equal Your Efforts?
Everything you do has an equal return. Every thought you have, every word you speak and every action you take will result in a reaction. You have control only over that which you think, say or do. You cannot control anyone else or the results of what they do. Yoga teaches us to practice observing our thoughts, words and actions and becoming aware of the intention behind each. If the intention is to make yourself look good, hurt someone else or to improve your life alone, then Karma results. I like to imagine Karma as a small seed. One is not a big deal, but a bag, bushel or box of seeds can get very heavy. The more Karma seeds you create, the heavier they get.
Throughout your life you have stitched together various activities, people, and experiences that all have something in common. Reflect upon the work you have chosen to do, the places you have spent time, the topics that you have studied and the people to whom you have become close. Can you identify the common thread?
That to which we are drawn is most often our Dharma; our life's duty. Once you begin observing and reflecting you may be able to see the common thread throughout your life. You may even notice that it is something for which you feel passionate. In addition, it is something that effects more than just you. Typically, it is something that you are able to do that makes life better for others.
Can you identify your Dharma?
Before, throughout, or to close any Yoga class, your teacher will offer some guidance in discovering your Dharma. Knowing what to look for is the first step toward identifying your life's work. The Dharmic Topic of the day will give you something upon which to focus as you move through asana. A good instructor will weave this theme throughout the class. While you move, he or she will guide you in considering the theme. While practicing, you may make connections to how you are feeling physically, energetically, or emotionally.
Consider the Dharmic Focus of Divinity.
Your teacher may suggest that you consider the idea of recognizing divinity in all things, including other people, even those with whom you do not get along. While you move through asana, rather than getting lost in mindless chatter, perhaps you will begin to think about those who have wronged you; people with whom you are frustrated or angry. Perhaps you will begin to see that their divinity is blocked by their actions. Next, you may begin to reflect on how your behaviors may make it difficult for others to see the divinity within you. As you continue to practice, observe and reflect, you may begin to bettter understand yourself and, thus, see your Dharma.
Remaining on the Path of Dharma
Upon identifying your Dharma, the next step is to continue to do your life's work without over-doing it. Yoga is a practice of balance; we must always be seeking Sattva (harmony). Just because you finally know what to does not mean it is time to become forceful. Your eyes have been opened and you know what to look for. Opportunities to practice Dharma will present themselves as appropriate.
While you practice observing and reflecting, it helps to have some guidance. Gathering useful knowledge about Dharma can help. We recommend attending practices that include a Dharmic Focus. On your own, you can read books that provide such focus. One of our favorites is Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates.
You may also choose to book a Private Session during which we can focus on exploring the common thread within your life. Contact us to begin the process.
Lessons Learned in the Bahamas: Always carry a Machete
Any job can be made easier if you choose the correct tools. On a trip in the Bahamas I decided to collect various coconuts in order to experience the difference between young coconut water and the meat of a mature coconut. I did my research and knew what to look for, then went around the area collecting. When it came time to open the coconuts I discovered that the only tools available to do so were kitchen knives. Oh how a machete would have made a difference! After hours of whacking, smashing, shaving, and cutting, I opened all of the coconuts and was able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Had I a machete, the work would have taken one quarter the time.
How to Practice Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga focuses on the practice of asana, pranayama and kriya. It is the most popular practice in the United States. As a result, there are hundreds of companies selling products to help you improve your practice. Traditionally, there are just 3 tools you need in order to practice Yoga everywhere: your body, your breath and your mind. However, being able to create a space and access poses with ease often requires some assistance. When you don't have your instructor near, a few tools can change everything.
Tahoe Yoga Tools: A Unique Souvenier
Over time we have tested a variety of asana tools. Due to our small retail space, we carry very few. Those that are on our shelves have been tested and proven. These are the tools we use in our studio and the ones we recommend for you to use during your practice. Manduka Mats stay clean, show little wear (over years of use) and are easy to clean. Our foam blocks are lightweight which make them durable and easy to toss to the side, or lift over head. We also get a pretty sweet bulk discount from Yoga Direct. Our Yoga Straps are sold exculsively in the studio. Our director, Jenay, makes them from organic cotton and YKK clips. You won't find these anywhere else. The same goes for our Lavender Eye Sachets. Filled with organic lavender and buckwheat, they are unique to LTY.
Support Your Self, Support Small Business
As you begin to practice Hatha Yoga more seriously, consider the tools with which you approach your practice. Consider the source and the quality. Consider for whom you practice. Join us for a class and gain more than just awareness. Develop the physical skills to access deeper areas of your own body. Lengthen your breath and become aware of your emotions. Learn to listen to the chatter in your mind and quiet the unnecessary thoughts. Do so with the correct tools and you will develop a stronger practice.
1 Manduka eKO Mat
2 Foam Blocks
1 Yoga Strap OR Eye Sachet
Visit Lake Tahoe Yoga to purchase. Orders may be placed online for pick-up at studio.
Yoga vs yoga
During a recent video stream, the difference between capital "Y" Yoga and lowercase "y" yoga was described. The first being the traditional practice as described by the Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The latter, being the practices commonly engaged in by modern Americans. What is the difference? INTENTION: Yoga practitioners are seeking betterment, contentment, enlightenment, while yoga practitioners are seeking a better body, group affiliation and fun. The traditional practice of Yoga has been copied, cut, split, divided and sectioned out. There are hundreds of styles that focus on just a few of the aspects of the practice. As a yoga practitioner, you are only getting a tiny taste of a very big pie.
Be Willing to Listen
To truly practice Yoga you have to be able to honor the traditions outlined in texts from over 5000 years ago while still existing and functioning as a human living in today's society. This is not easy. Many Yogis are perceived as weirdos who are out of touch with the rest of the world. Look at Jim Carey; he understands Yoga, but his words are falling upon deaf ears. Many of those with whom he speaks are not practicing Yoga. What he has to say is difficult to grasp, therefore, it can sound as though he has lost his mind. Yoga practitioners are willing to listen, even if we don't quite understand. We are ready to learn, to experience, to gain wisdom.
Be Willing to Compromise
You perceive the world based upon your upbringing and experiences. You see the world through your own eyes. You will never be able to see it as your brother, best friend, grandfather, or aunt does. At all times, we must do our best to attempt to see the world in another way, even though it will always be shaded by our own perspective. We can compromise. We can reach out to others and meet them where they are. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we do this by offering our weekly Vinyasa & Vino practice.
We are seeking yoga practitioners who are willing to attempt to see the world differently. We want to meet you and hear about how you see the world. We have opened our door to invite you in to learn about the traditional practice of Yoga and to encourage you to try it out.
We want you to feel good, to look good and to have fun as well as to listen, learn and discover your Self.
Join us on Friday evenings for Vinyasa; a sequence of interconnected movements that encourage grace. Then stay for a glass of wine and Satsang; a conversation among like-minded people.