Ashta Anga refers to the eight limbs of Yoga. According to the ancient texts, “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali,” and “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” all eight must be practiced in order for Yoga to occur. Yoga is both the means and the end. It is the combination of the practices of right action, speech and thought. What is right is defined by the eight limbs. When we follow the guidelines provided by the ancient Yogis we are more likely to be upon the right path.
The Right Practice for You
Every body is different and each one of us is unique. Just because all of your friends are taking “Hot Yoga” or “Vinyasa,” style classes that does not mean it is the right practice for you. In fact, it is rare that a hot or active practice is the best place for any of us to begin. The additional stress placed upon your body due to warm temperatures and new, challenging movements can actually hurt you. As with anything new, your first Yoga practice should be slow and well directed. You should be given the opportunity to attempt simple movements, ask questions and provide feedback to your teacher about how you are feeling throughout the session.
Living in Pain
I began practicing Yoga because all of my friends were enrolled in the class and it fulfilled a course requirement. I continued practicing because it initially reduced and then eliminated my debilitating back pain.
My pain had begun in high school as a result of scoliosis and growth spurts while competitively running in track and cross country. I continued to run while in college and continued to damage my back further. Adding insult to injury; my role as a teacher for children with autism required that I lean forward to reach desks and be at eye level with my students. There were days during which, due to the pain, I couldn't stand up straight, sit comfortably or sleep.
Yoga for Healing
Yoga Asana as well as the calming effects of breathing consciously and mindfulness practices helped me to heal. The movement was the perfect prescription for my back. The breathing helped me to remain calm when managing stressful situations and aggressive students. The mindfulness practices helped me learn to slow down and focus so that I could pause before putting my body into an unsafe position or activity.
As I continued to practice I learned the differences between the various modern styles and began to explore the various practices. When I met my teacher, in New York, I was granted access to the lineage of Rajahatha Yoga and began to develop my own practices in a way that best works for my life.
Continuing the Healing
Although I enjoy attending group classes at Yoga studios, my personal practice is what keeps me healthy. I spend less time moving actively and more time slowing down. The more slowly I move, the more awareness I have, and the better I am at addressing whatever issues; physical, emotional, energetic or mindful, that I am dealing with.
If you are ready to begin healing and to feel better through Yoga you might consider seeking out a teacher who has experience in more than just teaching classes. That which you experience physically could be a manifestation of something deeper and vice versa. Seek someone who can offer more than just poses. Find a Guru: a guide who sheds light where it is currently darkness.
“The Holidays;” the time period that begins after Halloween and ends at the onset of the following year. It seems as though the promotion of these days begins earlier every year. As a result, you may be feeling any number of emotions and energies as you prepare for and are inundated with the events of the season.
Yoga can help. Here are 5 ways to apply the practices of Yoga to your life so that you may be a bit more calm, reasonable, and in control this holiday season.
Transalated to mean non-harming this practice of one of consideration of yourself and others. We all react to stress differently. We all perceive the holidays differently. We all experience the world differently. Practice non-harming this season by remembering the following:
-Participate in that which brings you and those closest to you happiness.
-Give yourself and others space and time to complete that which they are focused upon.
-Prepare yourself by taking a few moments to breathe before engaging.
-Eat, Drink and Enjoy slowly.
Self Study is the practice of learning from others and listening for our own vibrations. While spending time with friends and family practice listening. Ask about their lives, their experiences and their opinions. Allow them to express themselves. Listen for the gems of knowledge that are revealed as they share their stories.
If you become overwhelmed with the chatter, distractions, and noise of the day step aside to a more peaceful and quiet space. Reflect upon the goodness of the day. Take the time to enjoy all that you have been given and created for yourself. Hum or Aum in honor of the wonder of your life.
Move, groove and get active. Encourage others to join you. Yoga prescribes poses for specific application, but you don’t need to be in class to experience the benefits of conscious movement. Twist gently to massage your digestive system. Move through a seated version of cat and cow to move food through. Encourage children to get moving during a game of tag. Massage your grandmother’s shoulders. Take a walk outside. Activity before and after eating will help you to digest your food and feel energized.
Moderation may be one of the most challenging practices of the season. You may feel like you “have to” buy, eat, go, give, etc. Practice moderation by pausing to consider each choice you are about to make. Reflect upon the value of the item or experience. What is your intention behind each? Choose that which improves your life and that of others rather than that which looks or sounds good in the moment.
Surrender, dedication and devotion are the words used to translate this term. Be willing to surrender to the traditions of the holidays. Have fun, be silly, try something new and celebrate with time-honored traditions. Disregard the aspects of the season that spark negativity. Instead, focus upon the joyful moments so that you may experience Yoga all season long.
If you are interested in learning more about the philosophies and practices of Yoga as well as how to transition into a Yogic Lifestyle contact us at LakeTahoeYoga@gmail.com or call the studio at (775)580-7224.
One Thing at a Time
You may think that you are getting a lot done if you are doing many things at once. However, studies have proven that you actually complete less in the short-term when you multitask. Yoga provides us with the tools to expand our focus over time by offering guidance in the form of one practice at a time. To begin we address that which is most accessible; the body.
Discipline in Practice
Discipline is learned. Embedded within the eight limbs of Yoga are practices that are ineffective unless done with discipline. As we practice, consistently, we develop focus, control, awareness, discernment and more.
Consider the practice of Satya: non-lying or truthfulness. You may think, “I am not a liar.” According to Yoga; Satya is as much about what you say as what you do not say. It is a practice of consideration of your thoughts and words before they leave you; a practice of considering if what you are about to say will help or hurt yourself and others. Often, we will not realize we are lying until the words have left our mouths. Yoga teaches us to become observers of our behavior at all times. This discipline of observation helps us to become aware of habits that are rooted in self preservation. As we continue to practice, we refine our vision and begin to see more clearly.
The Resulting Heat
Have you ever made custard from scratch? In order to do so you must heat is slowly, over a period of time, while stirring constantly. The effect of the slow heat, time and consistent movement can result in a perfectly prepared custard. A lack of discipline and focus could lead to higher heat, shorter time and reduced movement resulting in an unconcealed liquid or a thick, gelatinous mess.
Tapas has many translations: heat, cook, purify, detoxify, zeal of practice, discipline, austerity. Tapas is both the means and the end. Through discipline in movement, breath, mindful focus, time, awareness, observation, effort, restoration, etc. we create heat, purification, detoxification, clarity, transparency, awareness of the Self. Our practice of creating Tapas results in Tapas. Our discipline results in discipline. Our focus begets focus.
The heat/intensity/discipline/passion of our practice cooks impurities out of us and refines us to our base - the Self.
More Than Poses
If you are ready to remove that which you do not need, lighten the load you carry daily, purify and clear away the impurities that poison you so that you spend each day feeling healthier, happier, more joy and ease in your life then you are ready to begin the practice of Yoga.
Chose wisely, for not every practice is guided equally. According to Hatha Yoga a Vinyasa (Flow) Practice is for the advanced practitioner. Would you begin running and start with 10 miles? Would you join a gym and on your first day and lift 100lbs? Approach Yoga in the same way. Begin with a practice that aligns with your current knowledge, strength, flexibility and ability levels. Begin here to develop the discipline and, as you create Tapas, you will know how to progress.
When you're consumed with a busy work-life schedule, wellness is not a priority and often forgotten. We are too preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of life's demands. Opting for what's better is not an option. We prefer to do things that are convenient, easy, and fast. We're eating fast food, skipping exercise, and drinking numerous amounts of coffee. When you do have the spare time to work out, you're exhausted and the only thing you want to do is relax. Since you're seated comfortably on the sofa, why not zone out in front of the TV? Don't feel guilty. We've all done that. So the question remains, how is it even possible to be consistent with your wellness? It takes discipline, dedication, and perseverance with all aspects of your work-life schedule.
One of the most critical details to pay attention to is how you manage your time. Organize your time using a calendar app and a virtual assistant. It will clear some clouds from the chaos in your life. Set a schedule to plan not only work, but also your meals, exercise, and free time. A little can go a long way with wellness. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, enter it in your calendar. Set it on repeat to keep you on track. Be wise and realistic with your time allocation. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself not accomplishing tasks and goals. Inadvertently affecting your overall wellness to a negative state.
Prepare Healthy Meals
If you find yourself eating on the go most of the time, you’re likely eating highly processed fast food items that are loaded with fat, salt, carbohydrates, and sugar. Avoid that at all cost by preparing healthy meals. It’s possible to prepare healthy meals within the same amount of time as getting fast food. Based on The Statistics Portal study in July 2017, a fast food drive-thru service wait time is approximately 4 minutes. This study is based on the quickest fast food drive-thru services. This means that the wait time can be longer. You can prepare a healthy meal in 5-minutes! With meal preparation, it gives you full control to create healthy meals in no-time and done on a regular basis.
Exercise at Work
If you don’t have time to exercise at home, exercise at work. There are many exercises that you can do at your workplace. Stretch and do chair exercises every hour. You’ll forget to do this. This is when an hourly reminder set on your smartphone comes to your rescue. During a break, go for a brisk walk. If you work at a building with stairs, climb up and down the stairwell after lunch to burn off those calories. Don’t sit in traffic. Instead, go to an exercise class or the gym right after work. To make it more interesting, work out with a fellow associate. Having a workout partner will keep you motivated. However you see fit, do something that sparks your interest. You’ll look forward to doing your exercise regimen more often.
Get Plenty of Rest
Without getting enough sleep, you’ll be lethargic and unmotivated. On top of it, you’ll be jeopardizing your wellness and work performance. Make sure you sleep at a reasonable time and no less than 8 hours. Set a reminder during the weekdays if you have too. Save the partying on the weekends and on special occasions. Recharge yourself during the day with power naps from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Any later, it will disrupt your bedtime schedule. A 6, 30, or 60-minute nap will serve you best.
Wellness doesn’t only mean being physically fit and eating right. You can be in the best shape of your life and love your veggies, but if there’s a dark cloud above your head, what good will that do? When you keep a positive outlook in life, it will help you immensely. Start with practicing mindfulness and light meditation daily. You don’t need to be chanting a mantra while seated in a cross-legged position. You can do this anytime and sit however you like anywhere quietly for a few minutes. Then close your eyes, clear your mind, and take deep breaths. Try focusing on your daily affirmations. Believe in yourself and take action each day to accomplish your goals.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a few days or if you want to treat yourself. It’s okay. Consider it a break, but don’t wait too long or overdo it. Stay positive and think about the importance of your wellness. Then jump back into your daily wellness routines. After all, you’re not adopting new habits. You have a calendar. You eat and sleep daily. It’s a matter of being wiser with your time to incorporate work, life, and wellness altogether. In time, it’ll feel natural and you won’t have to struggle with your wellness again.
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.
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