breathing technique

  • 15 Yoga Practice Tips & Strategies for the Holidays

    Maintaining a yoga practice during the holidays can get tricky. We tend to eat heavy, drink heavy, and play heavy. Mix in kids and travel and it becomes that much more difficult to hit the mat. Yes, difficult...but not impossible.

    Here are some tips and strategies to ensure you maintain a little mat action amidst all the holiday madness:

    1. Get family members, friends, and visitors on board. Commit to a class or practice yoga at home together. You can even include the kids with this practice by Lindsey Valdez!
    2. Keep your mat unrolled on the floor at home as a reminder and invitation to practice a short asana sequence, meditation, pranayama technique, or a brief, yet blissful savasana.
    3. Read a book on Ayurveda and food. I highly recommend The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook. This book will inspire clean eating, a health-conscious lifestyle, and maybe some creativity in the kitchen.
    4. Drink warm water and lemon every morning to keep the system alkalized and promote digestion.
    5. Stay hydrated!
    6. Eat in moderation.
    7. Enjoy plenty of rest so food can digest properly.
    8. Cleanse and detox the body with some sweet, long twisting poses. Enjoy these online yoga classes, focusing on twisting postures:
    9. Inhale deeply, exhale fully. This mantra becomes especially effective if you are dealing with confrontational family members or traveling with rambunctious kids. Repeat as much as needed to remind yourself to breathe. Infuse your experience with some deep Ujjayi breathing, as well.
    10. Take extra long walks.
    11. Leave the holiday parties before things get too wild.
    12. Practice a short meditation every day to soak up the moment and facilitate stillness and calm. Enjoy our abundance of online meditation videos.
    13. Infuse some grounding restorative postures into your home sequence. Check out these short practices (under 15 minutes) for inspiration.
    14. Cut yourself some slack and have a good time with friends and family. Adjust your practice accordingly. It is just a few days out of the year, so no harm done if you break your normal patterns of practice.
    15. Lighten up, enjoy the festivities, have a restful and merry Christmas Day, and live fully in each moment.

    What practice tips and strategies do you suggest for the most wonderful time of the year?


  • Grow a (Yoga) Spine!

    Is your spinal health something you give much thought? Most often, spinal health takes a back seat. We mind our spines only in the aftermath of something gone wrong. Let’s not, however, allow it to reach that point. Let’s, instead, take our spines to yoga.

    Yoga is a blessing to the spine. Supporting strength, flexibility, mobility, and proper alignment, yoga helps to prevent spinal degeneration and potential injury. Maintaining a diligent, mindful yoga practice will render your spine strong and healthy, and also, enhance your total state of health.

    Spinal health is a solid indicator of overall well-being and vigor. In yoga, the spinal column is referred to as Brahma-danda, which literally translates as “the walking stick of God.” This implies that the spine is pretty darn important. According to master teachers, "A Yogi is one whose spine is full of energy."


    Yogis consider the spine to be a channel through which the power of the universe may manifest. It is through Sushumna Nadi, the central channel within the spinal column, that the potent Kundalini energy rises from its dormant state at the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

    The Sushumna, the most essential Nadi (channel), plays the most important role in the expansion of our intellectual, moral, and spiritual journey. It is the path through which our vital energies travel upward, resulting in self-realization, union with the divine, and enlightenment or nirvana. When your chakras are balanced and aligned, a current of Kundalini energy is free to flow and flourish through this channel.

    Because of this upward movement of energy, it is important to maintain a "yoga spine" during a meditation practice. Remaining vertical and erect is paramount to facilitate this vertical surge of energy. Asanas are intended to support the development of a yoga spine. By strengthening and realigning the spine, an asana practice will help prepare you for a deeper, sustained meditation experience.

    To set up a strong yoga spine, practice this new online meditation with Jeanne Heileman. Grow tall and strong. Realign. Awaken your energy.

    Sushumna: Centering the Energy Along the Spine - This online yoga video is great to practice after the Twisting: Balancing the Nadis class and can also be used after most yoga classes or on its own. Start laying down to transition from mental and physical activity, using a Tantric Technique called 61 Points to shift the mind's focus. Sitting in a straight and aligned position, the pranayama technique of Nadi Sodhana is practiced into a Tantric Technique of Prana Shuddhi, a method of developing concentration that allows for meditation. Play with the energy in the spine. Bring awareness to that energy in a calm, enjoyable process. (34 mins.)

    Jeanne Heileman



  • Weekend Intention: Lengthen the Breath, Increase the Prana

    My teacher started off our practice yesterday with a discussion of prana.

    Prana…what is this? In yoga, prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. There is prana – energy or life force – in everything. Prana is in the concrete, in your cup of coffee, in the air you breath, in the words you read, in everything. All things consist of prana, as do you.


    The consequence of living in an urban environment is that the prana concentration is lower. Within concrete jungles, there is less room for the prana to flow freely as compared to more natural, open environments.

    Returning to my home, Yosemite National Park, I can instantly feel the higher prana concentration. Life moves at a gentle, calm pace and my movements and breath follow suit. On the flip side, when I venture to NYC from Philly, I instantly feel the much lower prana concentration. Everything is moving so quickly. Everything is more congested. As a result of less prana, I can feel my breath begin to shorten – to get caught up in the prana surrounding me.

    This is normal. We definitely get caught up in the prana surrounding us. We begin to move with the pace of the prana. If you are an urbanite like myself, you may find that your breath is always short, quick, and strained because you are constantly caught up in the prana of your environment. This is not ideal.

    The length of the breath matters. A longer breath translates to a calmer person. A longer breath in the yoga practice translates to a deeper practice. You can deepen the breath to deepen your journey, deepen the pose, and deepen your experience. A long, conscious breath keeps you rooted and fully alive in the present moment.

    You can consciously choose to lengthen the breath and, thus, increase your prana and the prana in your environment. You can breathe for the people and life around you. All you have to do is breathe longer and fuller. Easy.

    This weekend, take time to really feel your breath. Feel the beginning, the middle, and the end of the breath. Practice a 3-breath count. Inhale, 1, 2, and 3. Really savor the moment at the top of the inhale. At this point, your chest should be fully expanded and completely filled with breath. Feel it. Then, slowly exhale, 1, 2, and 3. At the bottom of the breath, feel it. Draw everything in. The bottom of the exhale is a great opportunity to activate and feel all of your bandhas working.

    On the mat, practice a 3-count breathing technique or alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana), keeping up with the 3-breath count. Check out these free online yoga videos demoing these highly accessible forms of pranayama.

    Alternate Nostril Breathing with Sarah Starr

    Alternate Nostril Breathing with Sarah Starr

    3-Part Breathing Technique with Shala Worsley

    Pranayama with Shala Worsley

    Don’t get caught up in the rhythm of urban prana. Use your breath to set your own gentle, relaxed rhythm.


    Photo Credit: Pranayama via

  • Yoga for Pregnancy

    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.

    Tree Pose

    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.

    Prenatal Back Pain Relief

    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.

    Back Pain Relief

    Prenatal Breathing Practice

    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.

    Alternate Nostril Breathing

    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.

    Yoga for Edema

    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

  • Gigi Yogini on Throat Chakra Healing

    Do you experience difficulty expressing yourself? Speaking your truth? Do you silently conduct negative, self-critical conversations with yourself about yourself? If you experience any of these communication drawbacks, you may be up against an imbalance, or blockage, of your throat chakra.

    Throat Chakra Opening

    Worry not. This is not an incurable condition. In fact, there are ways to heal a throat chakra imbalance through the physical practice of yoga.

    Gigi Yogini teaches that simple exercises combined with song can unblock this subtle energy center and unleash your ability to express yourself freely and genuinely:

    These days, it’s not often that you sing in a yoga class. But singing is a great way to open the fifth energy wheel in the body, the Throat Chakra (Vishuddha), which is known as the purification center that relates to self-expression.

    It is said that when our throat chakra is open we can transform negative experiences into wisdom.

    Opening this energy wheel can bring about balance between the past, present and future. When we learn how to express ourselves by using our voices so say what is most true, and to ask questions when we need clarification, we create a sense of freedom.

    This chakra not only reflects verbal communication but also includes non-verbal communication and the way we silently speak to ourselves.

    Sometimes I hear how critical the negative mind can be and my observing mind is shocked. I often try to counterbalance the mean and insecure thoughts with a powerfully positive and uplifting mantra or statement. Using affirmations with my actual voice helps me overcome the limitations expressed by my subconscious one.

    While opening the throat chakra is often an energetic practice, it can also be aided physically.

    In the video below, we do some simple physical exercises to release any tension in the jaw, face, neck and we even sing a little song you might know and love. The point is to loosen up physically, and mentally, to have some fun.

    Speaking your truth takes practice and sometimes it’s easier when you can smile and laugh. This way you can remind yourself of who you really are.

    Practice Gigi Yogini's Throat Chakra Opener - a playful online yoga class exploring mantra and affirmative singing.

    Throat Chakra Opener with Gigi Yogini

    Smile, maybe laugh, and find balance in the way you communicate to the world and to yourself.


    Photo Credit: Image via

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