May 14, 2013
How do you prepare for a deep meditation? How do you meditate comfortably? How do you release the thinking mind during your meditation practice? Let’s turn these questions over to Gigi Yogini…
Sometimes one of the biggest distractions for our meditation practice is how uncomfortable it is to sit. Even if you want to start with only 5 minutes of conscious breathing, it’s often a good idea to prepare yourself with some yin yoga to deeply stretch the hips. Otherwise, discomfort can become a distraction and meditation will seem unattainable.
In addition to feeling uncomfortable, the other problem I had when starting meditation with the business of my mind. I thought I was supposed to immediately be able to erase all thinking from my mind, but it doesn’t always work like that.
I started to use simple breathing techniques, such as counting, in order to keep my attention on the my breath. In my online yoga video, Yin Yoga to Begin Meditation, help yourself find a comfortable seat and concentrate on the breath. Use props if you need them. If 5 minutes feels easy, perhaps try another 5.
Happy and comfy meditating, yogis!
Photo Credit: Meditation via www.weheartit.com
May 7, 2013
Does shoulder stand freak you out? Does it feel so unpleasant that you shun it away entirely? Don’t worry. You’re not crazy. You’re not any less of a yogi. Freak-outs are normal in the yoga practice, especially when it comes to this mild inversion.
Shoulder stand aversion is a pretty common condition. Eventually, however, your distaste for this inversion will dissipate. Eventually, through lots of trial and error and play with modifications and variations, you will find a comfortable place to work in this pose so you may soak up all of its awesome benefits.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Gigi Yogini…
When I first started yoga I would often suffocate in shoulder stand (sarvangasana). Not only was it uncomfortable, it was incredibly confronting. For a long time I had to stop practicing because I didn’t know my options.
Sometimes, taking the time to get into a pose properly can really help us feel better. Other times we might need to use a prop to find a modification that can help us. If the pose really isn’t right for you, there are always other variations or substitutions that can be used to get similar effects.
So if you have a hard time with shoulder stand, use this online yoga video to show you how to properly prepare and get into this beneficial inversion without injuring yourself. If it really isn’t working for you, practice the variations and modifications using props like blankets, a block, and/or a strap. Let me know how it goes.
Don’t get bent out of shape if the shoulder standing is not progressing as you would like. Just keep practicing it. Keep exploring pose modifications and variations. Keep your spirits high. Release frustration. Release impatience. Release your attachment to outcome. And breathe. Always keep breathing.
Photo Credit: Shoulder Stand variation via www.yogaposeoftheday.com
May 6, 2013
Let’s be real. Practice ruts are inevitable. But hey, don’t you worry about it. Ruts are just signs that it’s time to explore. Ruts are opportunities in disguise. They exist as catalysts to help us elevate and expand in yoga (and in life).
If you are stuck in a rut, here are some ideas to get ya back on your yogic track:
- Go upside down.
Exhilarating and liberating, inversions are awesome opportunities to shift your perspective, release the thinking mind, and have some fun. What’s more, inversions are incredibly beneficial to your mental and physical bodies. Practice Shoulder Stand, Headstand or Viparita Karani once per day to restore vitality and blow away the cobwebs.
- Use all the resources at hand.
We are so happy to be building this online yoga community. We have partnered with so many stellar, nationally recognized yoga studios and teachers to offer you an awesome mixture of free online yoga videos and full-length online yoga classes. There is something here for you regardless of your age, shape, and level. Use our class search feature to find exactly what online yoga experience you require.
- Reserve time for stillness.
There’s more to yoga than asana (the poses). It seems as though the physical, heat-generating element of yoga tends to draw people in more than the other forms, such as pranayama (breathing exercises) and dhyana (meditation). While there is a time and place for asana, there is also a time and place for stillness and surrender. Set aside time to meditate, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day. Practice a few rounds of breathing exercises before or after your home practice. No need to get crazy about it to start. Just invite it in regularly.
- Go back to the basics.
Sometimes when I’m in a practice rut, I like to revisit the basics. Even if you don’t consider yourself a yoga newbie, try out some beginner yoga videos. The stronger your base, the stronger your over-all practice.
Block out time for one weekly restorative practice to reset and renew.
- Prioritize and plan.
If you can’t seem to find time to practice yoga at home, it might be that you need to ditch one or more things. Is there an activity (or activities) in your life that you could do without? Is there stress in your life that you need to release? Assess your situation. Then, devise a plan. Put your practice schedule on a calendar. Hold yourself accountable.
- Set up a support network.
Ask friends and family to hop on the yoga train with you. Maybe create and commit to a yoga challenge with your peeps. Capture your daily practice on Instagram or Facebook to really unite the community. Make it fun!
- Sanctify your space.
Devote a space to your practice. Spruce up the space with an alter, candles, incense, a mandala, plants, a Buddha statue, or anything else that holds meaning for you. You want your space to be simple, with few distractions, and to evoke peace.
- Set the timer.
Be realistic and clear on how long you intend to practice. If you only have 15 or 30 minutes, you want to be sure that you make the most of it and find an online yoga class that fits your time criteria. Pick a time. Choose a class. Commit to its completion.
- Listen up.
Some days you just won’t be feeling it. That’s okay. If fatigued, don’t overdo it. Take an online restorative or yin yoga class. Try Dharma Mittra’s Yoga Nidra class. On the flip side, if you’re experiencing a surge of energy (or a bad case of lethargy), you might want to work that out with a more intense, dynamic yoga at home experience i.e. Vinyasa or Ashtanga. Ask your mind and body what’s up. Be real with yourself on what you need.
Photo Credit: Handstand via www.artofbeinghealthy.tumblr.com
Mar 19, 2013
This week’s Strike a Pose yoga video is brought to you by Rolf Gates of the Pleasure Point Yoga studio in Santa Cruz, CA. In this free online yoga video, Rolf will run through a demo of Revolved or Twisting Triangle (parivrtta = to turn around or revolve; trikona = three angle or triangle) and offer modifications to make this very difficult pose more accessible.
First, let’s mediate on the geometry of this pose. Let’s think about the posture. Let’s geek out on it for a moment. Then, we can move into it intelligently.
The Triangle and Revolved Triangle poses are what I like to call the “holy trinity” poses. When you practice Triangle or Revolved Triangle you are making not one, but 3 triangles with your body. And when you revolve your triangle, something even sweeter happens. As you twist, you express the spiral line of the body – the connective tissue sash – that starts at the arch of the back foot and runs across the torso of the body up to the extended arm and fingertips.
To maintain the integrity of this pose and avoid torquing your spine, Rolf will teach you three modifications. 3 angles. 3 modifications. Let’s do it!
First, you’ll integrate a block into the equation to keep spinal integrity. This will allow you to better square the hips, lengthen the spine parallel to the earth, and stack the shoulders.
Okay, but what if your hamstrings are too tight, causing the hips to be off or the spine to torque? That brings me to the second modification. To free up a stuck hip resulting from tight hammies, simply come on to the ball of the back foot. Yes, it’s a bit more tippy and unstable, but this will allow the hips to better square and the spine to be parallel to the earth. After you establish this correct alignment, feel free to take the twist.
The last point Rolf makes has to do with the proper engagement of the core before attempting to revolve. Pre-twist, draw the belly button to the ribs and the ribs to the belly button, stack the shoulders, and then, go for it.
Try out these 3 modifications for yourself:
Please don’t feel like a cheater if you rely on props in this pose. Props are your friends! If you learn Revolved Triangle with the assistance of prop modifications you will, with time, be able to go deeper and deeper into the pose in a safe and efficient way. Props allow you to build better body intelligence, to find ease in the pose, and to feel exactly where your body should be. Just because it is modified, doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Don’t force it. Grow into it.
Photo Credit: Revolved Triangle via Bocsányi Gábor
Mar 18, 2013
Stress. What a buzz kill, right? Life can be moving along just delightfully and, suddenly, stress rears its ugly head and rains on your hunky-dory parade. It’s unfair. It’s annoying. But guess what yogis? It’s life. Stress is a part of each human experience. Maybe that’s a buzz kill, but don’t you worry. We’ll conclude this post on a high, positive note. Just stay with me.
So, maybe you’re thinking that there are clear ways to avoid and ward off stress. I agree.
You could definitely sit down right now and devise a plan that minimizes your current stress and potential risk for stress. In fact, I think this is a good idea. I believe that most of the stress we experience is the stress we create or choose. For example, if you have a relationship that has you in a chronically stressed out state, maybe it’s time to cut the cord on that. If your job causes you an unhealthy level of stress, maybe it’s time to reflect and redirect. It’s super important and helpful to realize all the stress in your life that you are creating/choosing. Why? Because then you have the power to choose to a different, less stressful path!
I can only imagine all the excuses and “buts” bubbling up in your head: “But I can’t because…”, “But you don’t understand…”, “But this is all I know…” I get it. Change and letting go is messy. Here’s another buzz kill moment…that’s life! What will you choose?
Yet, even with a solid, stress-reducing plan in the works and even if you choose all healthy, self-supporting decisions (let’s face it…we all slip up on this), stress will still show up to your party uninvited and unwarranted. Unfair! Yes. But, again, that’s life.
There’s good news here. Again, you have a choice. You have the ability to choose how you allow that stress to effect you. Do you catastrophize the situation? Do you let that stress own you? Do you blow up in rage? Do you let it gain a strong hold on you? Do you allow it to leak into other areas of your life? Do you place blame? Do you give up? Do you tense up? Or…do you choose something different?
If you’re like me, you want a different, less dramatic reaction to stress. You don’t want to freak out in the face of it. You don’t want to carry it around in the form of chronic tension. Instead, you want to release its strong hold, let it go, blow it off, and move on. But how?
If you so choose, you can hit the mat to release the tension you accumulate from stress. Instead of venting to your partner, putting a hole in a wall, or pouting like a baby…hit your mat.
Here are some yoga videos with a special focus on tension relief:
- Shoulders, Neck and Head: A Practice to Relieve Tension with Gigi Yogini – Headaches are one of the most common ailments among American adults today. They can be due to a variety of reasons, including tension in the neck and shoulders. Practice these simple exercises in this online yoga video to loosen and relax your shoulders, neck, and head, for stress relief. (18 mins.)
- Time to Unwind with Rolf Gates – This online vinyasa yoga class is perfect for releasing stored tension from a long, intense day. (31 mins.)
- Wring Out the Day with Shala Worsley – Move your spine in all directions, throw off stress, and wring out tension in this online vinyasa yoga class. Burn away the unwanted layers built throughout your day and emerge calm and vibrant. This online yoga class includes backbends, hip openers, shoulder openers, inversions, and pranayama, and blends the heat building properties of vinyasa with the deep tissue release found in yin yoga. (86 mins.)
- Yoga Nidra: Psychic Sleep Relaxation Method with Sri Dharma Mittra – Guided Relaxation removes tension and fatigue in the physical body, relieves depression and anxiety, relieves headaches, reduces cravings and desires, rejuvenates and energizes the entire system, bolsters the body’s natural healing capacities, and normalizes the circulatory system’s functioning. No previous experience is needed to experience this amazing online yoga practice! (45 mins.)
- Wrists, Shoulders and Neck with Gigi Yogini – In this free online yoga video, practice some simple, restorative exercises to release tension in your wrists, shoulders and neck. These are surprisingly fun and helpful and perfect for a mid-day yoga break.
- Chair Yoga Break: Neck Opening with Margaux Permutt – In this free online yoga video, run through some simple chair yoga exercises to release tension in your neck.
Choose something different. Choose yoga.
Feb 26, 2013
Yoga Nidra is an incredibly accessible practice. Anyone can do it. It’s highly recommended for all and can be especially beneficial for bodies that are restricted from the more physical elements of yoga such as asana.
Yoga Nidra is sometimes referred to as yogic sleep. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not the time for some traditional shuteye. Yoga Nidra is better described as sleep with awareness. It’s a period of time ranging from 20 to 45 minutes where the body experiences no movement. The body sets up in a comfortable corpse pose and then receives direction from the teacher. Guided imagery and body scanning are techniques that the teacher will use to induce deep relaxation.
The Yoga Nidra experience varies. Not everyone will have the same experience and not everyone will reach the advanced stage of the practice: Nirvana, enlightenment, or total bliss. Even if you don’t reach this blissful state, you will still experience a ‘wow’ feeling post-practice and soak up all the benefits:
- Total body and mind relaxation
- Stillness and silence (quieting of all the “noise”)
- Better sleep
- Helpful for PTSD treatment
- Enhanced focus, concentration, and awareness
- The experience of a super nap (Some say Yoga Nidra feels better than true, traditional sleep)
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Meditation preparation
- Potential bliss
To press your system’s refresh button, practice Yoga Nidra under the guidance of an experienced, master teacher: Sri Dharma Mittra.
Sri Dharma Mittra teaches that stress is the number one cause of injury and illness, and that we must explore methods to keep balanced and joyful in the thick of everyday life. Guided Relaxation removes tension and fatigue in the physical body, relieves depression and anxiety, relieves headaches, reduces cravings and desires, rejuvenates and energizes the entire system, bolsters the body’s natural healing capacities, and normalizes the circulatory system’s functioning. In this online yoga class, you will be guided into a state of deep relaxation where the breathing and the thoughts are slowed almost to the point of stopping, which can be as restorative as a full night’s sleep. When done regularly and with pure intention, one can depart the body and cross over into Psychic Sleep, briefly experiencing the Astral Plane. It is through this deep practice that one can gradually come to recognize that you are so much more than the body or the mind. The benefits of this practice are cumulative – the more you do it, the greater the benefit. No previous experience needed! (45 mins.)
Put stress, tension, and fatigue to sleep. Quiet the noise. Experience bliss.
Photo Credit: Corpse Pose via www.suburbanyogini.com
Feb 25, 2013
I’m sure this comes as no surprise: Prenatal yoga is incredibly beneficial for expectant mothers. Prenatal yoga offers moms-to-be a way to maintain the health and well-being of their physical, mental, and emotional bodies. Prenatal yoga can enhance sleep, lessen stress and anxiety, increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles involved in childbirth, and alleviate lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath associated with pregnancy.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Prenatal yoga is not only beneficial to the mother; it’s also good for the health of the little human evolving inside. Decreasing the risk of pre-term labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and intrauterine growth restriction — a condition that slows a baby’s growth – prenatal yoga offers many benefits to the baby.
A typical prenatal yoga practice usually takes an integrated approach. Gentle stretching, breathing exercises (pranayama), mental centering, asana, and deep relaxation are all incorporated and encouraged. These classes are incredibly accessible and usually verge on the more restorative side of the yoga spectrum.
We’ve recently added two free prenatal yoga videos with the lovely Ashley Albrand, featuring a pose to relieve back pain and a beneficial form of pranayama.
Grab two blocks and a blanket for this free online yoga video. This restorative yoga pose is a wonderful way to relieve back pain associated with pregnancy. If you are in your 3rd trimester, you should not roll over on your back, but rather sit up. In this online yoga video, Ashley is about 4-1/2 months into her pregnancy.
This form of pranayama is great to add into your prenatal yoga practice. In this free online yoga video, Ashley will teach alternate nostril breathing with mula bandha, an ancient technique for activating and toning the first energy center or chakra located at the pelvic floor.
Also, learn a simple yoga pose – Legs-Up-the-Wall – with Desi Bartlett in this free online yoga video to alleviate edema or swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet during pregnancy.
The 9 month journey of pregnancy is a time to be gentle with yourself. It’s also a time of preparation. Turning to yoga will help prepare the body, mind, and spirit for labor and childbirth. Yoga teaches all the essential tools – concentration, focus, breathing techniques, and strength – required to bring life into the world.
Note: To find YogaVibes’ selection of full-length prenatal yoga videos please use our Class Search feature. Just check “Prenatal” under focus to choose a class.
Photo Credit: Tree Pose via www.tuckertiayra.tumblr.com
Feb 22, 2013
If you’ve had a wildly busy week, take an opportunity this weekend to settle down and shift into complete stillness.
First, experience some deep, passive stretching to open up your body and help set you up for a comfortable, seated meditation.
As an athlete, this is Ted’s favorite sequence. Whether you’re on the slopes, on the golf course, on the bike, on a run, or on the court, it doesn’t matter. Even if you are not an athlete this sequence will benefit you by relieving tension, lengthening connective tissues, and cleansing your energetic system for a healthier body and calmer mind. It is best done in the evening before bed. You won’t regret making it a regular part of your routine! Life is really grand, and now you’ll feel why! Have blocks and towels or a blanket available to modify the poses. (19 mins.)
Sometimes one of the biggest distractions for our meditation practice is how uncomfortable it is to sit. Even if you’re a beginner and want to start with 5 minutes of conscious breathing, it is often a good idea to prepare yourself with some yin yoga to deeply stretch the hips. In this online yoga video, open your body and concentrate on your breath. After some yin yoga poses, you will practice a simple counting technique to stay focused during meditation. Have a blanket available to prop up your hips. (21 mins.)
Follow up your yummy yin session with one of two simple online meditation videos with Ashley Turner:
Ashley Turner will talk you through a short pranayama practice and guide you through a short meditation to access your inner power, located at your third (manipura) chakra, in this free online yoga video.
This free online meditation video is designed to introduce you to the practice of meditation. Ashley Turner talks you through setting up for, and practicing, a short, seated meditation.
Give your body and brain a period of stillness and silence this weekend to recharge and renew.
Photo Credit: Shoelace Pose via www.yogaaddict.ie/blog
Feb 20, 2013
This week’s Strike a Pose yoga video is brought to you by David Kyle, co-founder of It’s Yoga Puerto Rico. In this free online yoga video, David will break down Chaturanga Dandasana, guiding you through three different variations on the pose.
In Sanskrit, Chatur = four. Anga = a limb. Danda = a staff. Four-Limbed Staff pose doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite as nicely as Chaturanga Dandasana, does it now? This may be the reason why the Sanskrit has been preserved and you never really hear the English translation cued.
Chaturanga Dandasana is essentially the push-up position of yoga. It is a very important asana within the practice and one that I feel gets overlooked. It is repeated a lot, so it is important to be aware of what you want, what level you are at, and how you want the pose to feel in your body. To avoid potential discomfort and/or injury, proper alignment is key.
In this online yoga video with David, you will learn the proper alignment for Chaturanga and discover where you are at within the posture. You will literally work the pose from the ground up, beginning with a beginner’s variation on your belly, an intermediate variation with block support, and, finally, the advanced, full expression of the pose. So, wherever you are at, you will, with practice, be able to strengthen the pose and rock Chaturanga comfortably.
“All postures should be comfortable. Make sure where you are at so comfort can be the way you lead.” ~David Kyle
Be honest with yourself on where you are. Do not try to force it. There’s no need to be a Chaturanga over-achiever. It’s more important to practice intelligently and to find that sweet balance of effort and ease in all of your poses.
Lead with comfort,
Photo Credit: Chaturanga via www.youthofathousandsummers.tumblr.com
Feb 19, 2013
Ever stepped off a plane only to find your ankles swollen to twice their normal size? Yeah…that’s edema.
Edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissue spaces beneath the skin. Clinically, edema presents as swelling. This uncomfortable swelling most commonly occurs in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs, but it can occur anywhere in the body. Mild cases of edema often occur during the later stages of pregnancy, after standing or walking for prolonged periods of time, or after sitting or remaining in one position for too long. A high sodium diet is further cause for edema, as is premenstrual syndrome.
For these more mild cases of edema, yoga may offer some relief.
Enter Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose.
Learn this simple, accessible yoga posture, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), in this free online yoga video with Desi Bartlett to alleviate edema or swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. This mild and supported inversion is a fantastic pose to practice during pregnancy, during menstruation, while traveling, or after remaining in a fixed position for a long period of time. Desi suggests practicing this calming, restorative posture right before you go to bed because it also promotes solid sleep.
What’s more, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is thought to abolish old age. Anti-aging properties? Calming, restorative benefits? Sleep-inducing effects? Edema relief? Wow! Sign me up. I’d say this pose is a great one to sprinkle into your regular, home practice and bring with you on your travels.
To get going, simply grab a bolster, some pillows, or two thickly folded blankets. Find a wall (shouldn’t be too hard). Then, tune into Desi’s video for tips on how to safely set up the pose. Feel free to enjoy this pose for 5 to 15 minutes. Then, consider following it up with Savasana or a seated meditation.
Restore your extremities back to their normal state. Unruffle your mind. Preserve your youth. Sleep soundly.
Photo Credit: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose via www.sunroseyoga.com