May 21, 2013
Fortifying the core is a timeless fad, especially when it comes time to suit up for the beach. Sure, I get it. Looking strong and sculpted is a reasonable intention in my book. Yet, a solid core delivers much greater benefits – benefits that reach far above and beyond a beach ready bod. Fortifying the core will serve you well in mind and body and, as mentioned by Gigi Yogini, may also relieve a very common, frustrating issue: Back pain.
Got back problems? Most of us do…and guess what!? You can cure a lot of back issues by strengthen your core. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Granted, some back issues are more serious than others. But the scary truth is that back pain is second the most common ailment in Americans next to headaches.
So if you want to strengthen your core center, practice these powerful exercises that work not only the front body, but also the back and side body. You activate your muscles and you will tap into a strong sense of willpower and determination.
This is a perfect practice if you have an arm or leg injury, but still want to practice yoga and build strength. You will also increase your ability to balance and improve your posture.
Enjoy Gigi’s 19-minute online yoga class – a Vinyasa flow designed to fire up all muscle layers of the core.
For more core-activating classes with Gigi Yogini check out these online yoga videos:
This online yoga class, filmed at Bhakti Yoga Shala, awakens Shakti, the manifesting energy of the Universe, with chanting, powerful core exercises, a dynamic warrior flow and more. It is an exploration of the breath as it rides sacred sound waves and intentional movement, helping us to remove obstacles like magic. (75 mins.)
This is an invigorating online yoga class with a theme of Grounding with Gratitude. This Vinyasa flow will activate your inner power through intention setting, core exercises, balancing and a fun (but challenging) tree pose flow. (67 mins.)
Photo Credit: Navasana via www.rachelbrathen.com
May 16, 2013
Injuries suck. I’m dealing with one currently and I’m not gonna lie – I was dealing with it poorly. At first, I allowed it to blow up into a big, fat catastrophe. Initially, I felt pretty damn sorry for myself and incredibly frustrated that I couldn’t hit the mat in the way that I wanted to. After some self-defeating days of pouting, I realized that I was becoming a negative Nancy. No one likes a negative Nancy. So, I said to my self: Self, get over it. Self, stop being a bum. Self, you got this.
If you have an injury, I know it sucks, but it’s no excuse to enter negative Nancy mode like I did. So please, do yourself a favor and rebound quickly from the “poor me” attitude. You got this. If you need some help and inspiration to get over it, read on for tips to avoid morphing into a post-injury bum.
- Meditate. Come on. You know it’s good for you. Now that your physical body is temporarily relenting, this just may be the perfect opportunity to sit and be still. Maybe the idea of meditation – of stillness – freaks you out. Guess what? That’s normal. The only way to get over it is to actually meditate and work through the freak-outs. Start now. Check out some of our guided online meditation classes.
- Breathe. When the universe deals me some crappy cards, I find that there’s one super effective way to get over what I’ve been handed. Enter Breath of Fire. I know I shouldn’t have favorites and that I shouldn’t be super attached to any particular thing, but I most certainly am addicted to this form of pranayama. First, it’s killer core training. Second, it’s a sweet release. This forceful, powerful breath allows you to let go of the thinking mind and expel all the garbage that comes along with it. You may also release some nasal garbage. It’s cool. Let that go, too.
- Do what you can. Don’t entirely give up on the physical practice of yoga if you don’t have to. My current injury is neck related, so I’ve taken this opportunity to really focus on standing balances and stabilizing core work. It’s also given me the opportunity to create sequences that those with neck worries and injuries could handle. See…this is an opportunity in disguise! The universe is sneaky.
- Restore. Whip out the restorative party favors. Grab your blankets, blocks, and bolsters and go to town with some restorative yoga at home. But wait. Don’t stop with the restoration process post Namaste. Don’t step off your mat and enter bum mode. Keep feeding your body healing, pure foods, hydrating, and engaging in mentally stimulating and renewing activities.
- Surrender. Consider this minor setback a cosmic wake-up call. The universe is telling you to slow down. Listen up and surrender to this cosmic cautioning. You’ve now been warned.
- Release excuses. It’s easy to just throw in the towel and say, “To hell with all of this.” It’s easy to slump into your couch, numb the brain with crappy TV, and pig out on ice cream and beer. It’s easy to let an injury totally break you down in brain, body, and spirit. Don’t let it. Commit to a positive healing process. Being hurt isn’t an excuse to totally let yourself go. If you do, you’ll only make it worse.
- Stay positive. Don’t let this injury distract you too much. Handle it. Be mindful of it. But don’t let it consume you. This is NOT a catastrophe. This is NOT the end of the world. Consider this obstacle an opportunity to train the mind and body in new, unexplored ways.
- Affirm your healing. Write down some self-supporting affirmations to promote healing and keep your vibe high. Recite them daily. Examples: This too shall pass. All is temporary. Obstacles are opportunities…You get the idea.
- Recite mantra. Chanting is an awesome way to release tension, anxiety, and all the chatter of the thinking mind. Sing out loud to free your self-pitying, woe-is-me blues. Create elevating, positives vibes.
- Remember: Warriors get hurt. They get knocked down. They get roughed up. But then, they get back up. They brush off the crap and keep forging ahead. Getting knocked down and roughed up doesn’t make you any less of a warrior. Just don’t stay down. Get back up. Brush off the crap. This is the stuff of life that makes you strong, yogis.
Photo Credit: Warrior I via www.thatsmyyoga.tumblr.com
May 15, 2013
Looking for an effective post-game game plan?
Enter yoga for athletes.
Yoga does a body good, offering a way to rejuvenate and heal after you’ve endured some pretty heavy, physically taxing action. What’s more, yoga supports a speedy, successful recovery so you can enter your next game in topnotch, beastly, don’t-wanna-be-messed-with form.
Here’s an online yoga sequence you athletic types can get down with to mentally reset and physical renew. Lengthen and loosen up your muscles to ward off potential aches and pains and the accompanying moans and groans in an online restorative yoga class with Sage Rountree: Post-Game Recovery.
Join Sage and the Cornell women’s lacrosse team in this mellow, low-to-the-ground practice for post-game recovery. Start with a supported backbend and breath meditation to encourage letting go of the past and focusing on the now. Move through gentle stretches for the spine and hips, including a series of twists to open up the chest, back, and legs. All along the way, you will use the breath as a tool to stay anchored in the present. Find comfort and support in this restorative yoga experience for athletes. (66 mins.)
Can’t get enough post-game restoration?
Here’s another online yoga class with Sage appropriate for the morning after a tough game, or for anytime you are approaching a peak event. Again, you will remain close to the floor in supported poses and twists, gently working the shoulders, spine, and hips, all the while paying close attention to your breath. Finish in legs up the wall, a great pose for recovery and mental resetting. (55 mins.)
Get on the mat to get on the road to recovery.
Photo Credit: Legs Up the Wall via www.sunroseyoga.com
May 10, 2013
We’ve added some fresh and fab online yoga videos this week to entice your yoga palate. Check out the latest.
To start with, we’ve launched two new online yoga practices with Pete Guinosso.
Feelin’ worn out? Stuck in a slump? Suffering from a lethargic stupor? Wake up!
Set aside some time to just breathe in Pete’s online pranayama practice: Using Your Breath to Energize Your Practice.
The breath integrates the mind, body and spirit. Pranayama (breath/energy movement) is a powerful tool for working the nervous system in your yoga and in your life. Learn how to use your breath in this online yoga practice to energize your nervous system and, therefore, you. Explore the advanced practice of getting the breath to reach different parts of your body. Energy flows where your awareness and breath goes. So, send your breath to areas that need some extra love. (7 mins.)
Feelin’ tight? Are those habitual sitting and slouching tendencies coming back to haunt you? Or maybe all that intense running and cycling has you so knotted up that bending over to pick up your shoes in the morning has become a challenge paired with moans of agony. Man. You gotta loosen up and do Pete’s new online Vinyasa flow: Hips and Hamstrings.
Move in a struggle-free way to work your edges in this online yoga class. Use deep hip and hamstring opening poses to access these areas physically, and use your breath to mindfully work the realm between uncomfortable and comfortable. This is a great practice for athletes (runners and cyclists) who commonly suffer from tight hips and hamstrings, but it’s also beneficial for anyone who sits for long periods each day. Is that you? (40 mins.)
Maybe you just crave a change of scenery – a shift in perspective. Turn things around in Ashley Turner’s short online yoga practice: How to Do Headstand.
Break down the king – the big boy – of all poses, Headstand (Sirsasana), so you can rock this beneficial inversion safely and smoothly. Learn methods to get into and out of the pose and a couple of different variations to spice things up. (12 mins.)
Lastly, add some zing to your workout routine in this free online yoga video with Desi Bartlett: Warm Up Your Body Pre-Workout. Prepare your muscles and mind for a run, an intense gym sesh, or a fiery yoga practice in this short yoga sequence.
We trust that this is enough newness to entice and excite your yogic appetite this week. Eat up and enjoy.
Happy Friday, yogis!
May 8, 2013
This week’s Strike a Pose yoga video is brought to you by the lovely Jeanne Heileman of YogaWorks in Los Angeles, California. In this free online yoga video, Jeanne and student will demo how to properly do Locust Pose or Salabhasana – a pose lumped into the group of so-called “baby backbends.” Though Locust is one of the more simple and mild poses of the backbending family, it still presents its unique set of challenges.
As Jeanne will point out in this asana teardown, most of us don’t like this pose (myself included.) After watching this demo, I now have a better understanding of why this pose tends to get on my nerves.
The thing is, a lot of people have the wrong idea when they approach Locust. They try to rely on the external muscles when actually, the internal muscles must be accessed. Also, the breath is super important in Locust. You must learn how to breathe into the pose to discover its sweetness.
First, Jeanne will show you how most of us incorrectly do Salabhasana (the classical version). Sure, it looks okay, but it’s not very expansive in the heart and thoracic region (mid back). You can see that the student is dumping everything into the lumbar region of the spine. This annoys the spine and makes you cranky. No good.
Next, Jeanne will show you how to correctly set up the pose by first engaging the core, scooping the pelvis off the floor and creating a hallowing in the belly. Learn to get long. Learn to create more space and expansion in the pose. Sure, this will make the pose more difficult. Yet, it will also allow you to work the diaphragm more, so you can breathe more.
Try it out…
Let this pose be more about receiving an inhale. If approached in this way, this pose will eventually begin to feel good and expansive and you will be able to receive its many delicious benefits.
Photo Credit: Locust Pose via www.yogaxtc.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
May 3, 2013
This upcoming weekend devote 30 minutes of your time to lend your lower body some love and support. Why the lower body?
Let’s ask the joyful and inspiring Gigi Yogini:
When I first started practicing yoga regularly, I was slightly intimidated. The image of yoga women looked half my size. But it wasn’t long until I realized that yoga had benefits for everybody’s shape, big or small.
I started to appreciate my body for all the incredible things it could do, even if it didn’t look like the images I saw on the cover of yoga magazines. I felt incredible relief from hip opening and started to get stronger with lunges and warrior poses.
Now that yoga is my full-time business, I’m committed to helping people strengthen their mind-body relationship and love the body that they have. In the short video, Lower Body Love, I encourage you to practice love for your legs because they carry you from point A to B with ease every day.
Enjoy this practice as a way to appreciate your legs, warm-up or cool down before or after a run, or to get a quick stretch in the middle of your day.
Feel the love with some deep lunges and stretches in Gigi’s lovely 30-minute online yoga class: Lower Body Love. Practice gratitude for your legs and release any self-judgment you’re clinging to so you can continue to gracefully and confidently move around the world.
Happy Friday, yogis!
May 2, 2013
Join mind-body psychotherapist and yoga teacher, Ashley Turner, in this online yoga class designed to relieve the symptoms of depression. Ashley is passionate about sharing the power of yoga, science, and meditation to help us in Western world (and all around the globe) deal with common afflictions, such as depression.
At some point, we all suffer from some form of depression. Some of the key components of depression are lack of motivation, low energy, and apathy. To overcome these symptoms, the system requires “charging.” Yoga provides a way to up level and resuscitate the system – to get the body and mind up and running again.
In this online yoga practice you will work with a “charging”, activating breath. You will work to stabilize your body’s biochemistry through twisting, backbends, and fiery sun salutations. You will focus on the middle back – the bra-strap region where the kidneys and adrenals live. It is here where we tend to hold the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenalin. The intention of this yoga practice is to flush out these stress hormones and activate the endorphins.
Oxytocin and serotonin – the “happy” hormones” – help us to feel better and create a shift in our brain and blood chemistry, which dramatically influences our mood.
This is where the power of yoga comes into play. Yoga creates a shift. Yoga activates. Yoga uplifts. The activating movements wipe out the stress hormones and get those “happy” hormones surging. That’s why it is so important to get the body moving when you are experiencing a depressive episode (even if it is all you can manage that day).
Now, get ready for some serious re-charging. Start this online yoga practice with breath of fire – a very activating breath that fires up the lymphatic system.
And remember throughout your practice and your day….
“You are supported, you are loved, and you are upheld by this life-affirming flow of Prana.” ~Ashley Turner
Elevate your mood in this space of compassion and acceptance.
Apr 29, 2013
If you want to spice up your current “dryland training” regimen, consider adding a bit of flow into your program. Yoga will provide many benefits to your stroke including: restoration of body alignment and balance, improved core and over-all body strength, enhanced flexibility and body extension, greater stamina, heightened breath awareness, stronger kicking power, and greater concentration and mindfulness. All of this will make you a more balanced athlete and an even stronger swimmer.
Test out the yogic waters in this half-hour online yoga practice, specifically designed for swimmers and appropriate for any level of yoga experience. Relieve neck, shoulder, and back stiffness in this Vinyasa experience with Sage Rountree, author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga. Stretch out the areas of the body that tighten as a result of heavy swimming. Sage will offer clear demonstration and cues to bring you through a simple series of asana and breath exercises. Work your focus, observe your breath, and better your stroke by enjoying these longer holds of highly accessible yoga poses. (30 mins.)
For more of an intense strength building experience, try out our Vinyasa yoga videos or Ashtanga yoga videos. To deeply integrate the breath and body and increase your breath capacity (very important in the pool), practice our Pranayama yoga videos.
Hit the mat to strengthen and support your performance in the pool.