Mar 10, 2014
If yoga is supposed to be a balancing or joining of opposites, a good question to pose (pun intended) is: How much of a strong practice do I need? How strong do I need to be? Of course, you can reverse the question: How much of a soft or surrendered practice do I need? How flexible do I need to be? It’s important to evaluate this every once in a while, especially if you’ve been feeling agitated, overwhelmed, stressed, achy, tired, or anxious.
I recently had a mentoring meeting with a younger teacher who is really starting to take off. We spoke about how building a career (in anything) can lead us into a very masculine/yang place and we can forget the feminine aspect of our work and how we relate to others (this goes for both men and women).
We get very good at making lists, setting appointments, and writing emails. She wondered why it might be harder to find the feminine and I said, “because it’s elusive, mysterious, and it calls for ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’” The unconscious feminine aspect was coined by Jung as “anima” and the masculine unconscious as “animus.” Our yoga practice can help us cultivate the “being-ness” physically and we can let that carry over to our emotional and mental states.
When we get quiet and tune into the feminine side we may get inner promptings, ideas, and encouragement to shift or change or take action. The male unconscious takes direction from the inner female and then executes those inner decisions outwardly in the world. When we only practice vigorous, active, and intense yoga, we can over-stimulate and lose sight and insight of the surrender and softer side of yoga.
Remember Patanjali’s famous sutra 2.46: Sthira Sukam Asanam. Many teachers translate this to mean steady and sweet, steadfast and good space, balance of effort and surrender. And while we aim for this yin and yang dynamic in every pose and every practice, it may be helpful to pull back completely and devote ourselves to a completely soft, surrendered, and restorative practice.
Above all, yoga philosophy always teaches us to release the victim and become self-reliant and recognize what might cause future suffering and make adjustments now to avoid pain later on. It’s empowering to practice in a soft, quiet way where you can navigate what’s going on in the body, mind, and heart. For example:
- Learning simple poses that bring overall ease and better functioning of the healing and immune system.
- Self-massage techniques to aid in detoxification and elimination.
- Soothing breath work to encourage a meditative state and the rest and digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system.
All of this helps us to remember that sometimes it’s okay to let go of the game plan and go with the flow, surrendering to what is right now from a place of strength and tranquility. Take some time exploring active/intentional surrender to create quiet confidence of inner knowing, and the radiance of a person who takes care and time for themselves.
I bow to the light in you! Shanti.
To tap into your yin-ness, try Sigrid’s online yoga class: Focused Flow Yoga for Digestion, Detoxification, and Insomnia. This yin style restorative practice is wonderful after a hard work out or at the end of the day before bedtime. As a shorter, soothing online yoga sequence, this beginner yoga video combines deeper held yoga poses with some key self-acupressure points to balance the gall bladder, kidney, liver, and spleen meridians to restore harmony in the body. (25 mins.)
Image courtesy of www.offthebluemat.com
Mar 7, 2014
Back to the basics!
If you’re a beginner yogi, here are some starting points to kickoff your journey.
If you’re a seasoned yogi, here some basic flows to build even more strength and intelligence in your practice.
- Ashtanga Yoga Basics with Joan Hyman
Learn the fundamentals of the Ashtanga Yoga system in a slow, safe, and supportive way. Learn the Sun Salutations and the basic standing postures that open up the series. This is a basic Ashtanga Yoga video designed for all levels and anyone interested in Ashtanga. The sequence is taught up to the seated poses and then moves into bridge pose to warm up the shoulders for shoulder stand at the wall, preparing for a simple pranayama to close. Add this sequence to your home practice and take it with you wherever you go! (52 mins.)
- Yoga Basics: Everyday Class with Darcy Lyon
Filmed live at Yoga Tree, this online yoga video is perfect for a morning routine, mid-day refresher or end of day soother. Beginning from the floor, move through a variety of hip openers, standing poses, twists and gentle back-bends. This is a well-rounded practice accessible to all, including yoga newbies, older yogis, or those whose bodies are more stiff. (33 mins.)
- Ashtanga Yoga Basics: Sun Salutations + Standing Postures with Kino MacGregor
This is the perfect place to learn the basics of the Ashtanga Yoga method. The Sun Salutations and standing postures form the fundamental postures and practice of all Ashtanga Yoga students. Kino will lead you through the postures with a focus on healthy alignment and coordination of breath with movement. The Ashtanga Yoga practice is built on three points, known in Sanskrit as the Tristana method. The postures, the breath and the focal point give your mind and body a specific set of instructions to train the body and calm the mind. Use this online yoga practice to build up your Ashtanga Yoga Basics. Be prepared to sweat! (32 mins.)
- Yoga for Men: Beginners with Joan Hyman
This instruction-heavy beginner yoga video is designed for men, but anyone can benefit from this slow-moving, simple flow. Learn the basics, target the hips and shoulders, and gain greater understanding of the language of standing poses. End with light stretching to create balance in the body and mind. (59 mins.)
- Sun Salutations for Beginners with Allyn Cioban
Modified for the beginner, these dynamic movements linked with breath are the essential basics you’ll need to know for just about every yoga practice. Master this sequence and you will be prepared to enter any studios’ level 1 yoga class. This online yoga class also stands alone, rooted in the 5,000 year old traditions of yoga. You may choose to practice it at home for a wonderful daily dose of yoga asana and pranayama! (42 mins.)
Mar 6, 2014
- Style: Power Yoga for Sports (Vinyasa)
- Intensity: Level 1 = All Levels Online Yoga Video
- Focus: Athletes, Runners, Beginners, Hip Openers, Yoga for Men
- Average Rating: 5/5
On the teacher.
Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy and nutrition, offers students overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for 5 Pro teams in New York, including the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the New York Rangers, in addition to major college teams such as Yale and UNC. She is well-known for her sports-specific Power Yoga for Sports flows (many of which are featured in our online yoga collection!) and training programs.
On the class.
This online yoga class is the perfect complement for all runners, from the avid runner to the weekend warrior. Running can create a very tight lower half and can take its toll on the body. This yoga video features deep stretches and long holds, so you can really dig in, dissolve tension and tightness, and get faster results. You will learn to notice imbalances, so you can address them before they lead to injury. (28 mins.)
What people are saying.
- “My legs are always more relaxed after this class, thanks!”
- “Great practice. Excellent stretch for very tight lower body. Gwen has a great voice…”
For more sports-specific flows with Gwen, check out her ever-growing collection of online yoga classes.
Mar 5, 2014
“Bow Pose…it’s like many things: misunderstood.”
Resembling an archer’s bow (with the torso and legs the body of the bow and the arms the string), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) is an intermediate backbend in the practice.
A lot of not-so-good things tend to come up physically in this pose. Knee pain, sway back, belly suffocation…
But this is only because, as Jeanne says, the pose is misunderstood. Once you get aligned, you’ll realize it isn’t so bad. In fact, it can feel super yummy. Plus, the pose comes with too many benefits to just up and ignore it:
- Stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat, and deep hip flexors (psoas)
- Strengthens the back muscles
- Improves posture
- Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
- Relieves constipation, respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, menstrual discomfort
To increase your Bow awareness and receive the Bow benefits, tune into Jean’s online yoga demo. In this free online yoga video, Jeanne will take you through three different therapeutic alignment tips that will address the common problems associated with this misunderstood backbend. This online yoga video is great education for yoga teachers who want to help their students practice a pain-free bow pose.
Try this and have a happy, open heart!
Find more of Jeanne’s helpful online yoga tips + full-length online yoga classes on YogaVibes!
Image courtesy of www.picstopin.com
Mar 4, 2014
Want to boost your productivity? Fortify your focus?
Impose a yoga break on yourself.
If this is the part where you rattle off a long list of excuses – schedules, guilt, time constraints, blah, blah, blah – hold the phone…
Because evidence shows that to stay on schedule, regular break sessions are essential! A growing body of research reveals that brief diversions from mental tasks can strongly enhance your ability to focus on the task at hand for extended periods while also improving productivity and creativity and curbing stress and exhaustion.
Contrary to popular thought and practice, constant stimulation – the go-go-go mentality – is not effective. In fact, the daily grind has a numbing effect on the brain. Constant devotion to a task is registered by the brain as insignificant, so much so that the brain starts removing it from your awareness. And so begins drifting and daydreaming…
The brain is wired to detect and react to change; thus, forced, extended attention to a single mental task (taxes, studying for exams, etc.) actually limits your effectiveness. So, deactivating your attention to that task, whether through yoga, meditation or pranayama, allows you to reactivate your focus.
If you’re in the zone, by all means stay there. But if you’re drifting and daydreaming, take a hint. Take a break from your work and workspace to refresh your internal resources and tap into your energy reserves.
Start here. Join Sean Gray for the perfect online yoga diversion: Recharge! This online yoga class is designed for those that desire a well-rounded yoga break that will hit the entire body, pump some freshly oxygenated blood through the system, and clear the brain to allow it to have a fresh start afterwards. This online yoga video is an excellent midday practice to get you back on track and reactivate your focus. (41 mins.)
For more yoga diversions, visit our ever-growing collection of online yoga videos.
Image courtesy of www.taramackey.wordpress.com