online pranayama

  • Simple Spring Detox Tips

    The spring season is a natural time to detox. We welcome the shift from heavy, warming foods to more fresh greens, sprouts and berries and start to spend more time in the sunshine! Tap into the momentum of this season with these simple detoxification tips: Hit up your local farmers market for some interesting greens. Instead of getting the same old spinach and kale, try out some spicy mustard greens, colorful chard varieties, mild mache, and more. Take a break from heavy processed foods. Feeling light and energetic isn't necessarily about weight loss. Decreasing the burden on your body to handle those heavy meals will leave you with more energy! Turn your workouts up a notch. Spring is kapha season, which means that there's more stamina available. Fire up your digestive juices with kapalabhati, breath of fire. Keep a tissue handy, especially if you have a runny nose from allergies. Use your Yoga practice to support your bodies' detoxification practice, twists support your liver and digestive tract. Here's a few yoga classes specifically focused on detoxification:

    Spring Detox Flow with Heather Lilleston

    Deep Twist and Hip Detox Flow with Laura Burkhart

    Detox & Flow with Joan Hyman

    Find the rest of our detox focused Yoga classes here.

  • 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?

    ~TJ

  • 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."

    Spine

    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

    ~TJ

     

  • 5 Practices to Get Movin' & Groovin'

    warrior II

    Moving sloth-like? Stuck in a slump? Rebounding from sickness? Sounds like you could use a heavy dose of energizing yoga.

    Find liberation from stagnation and lethargy by taking yourself to the mat. And when you get there, bring it on. And by it, I mean an invigorating flow. I know your mental body is tricking you into a slower-paced, restorative-esque yoga at home experience. Don’t be persuaded by these slippery, sneaky thoughts. Sometimes what you need is the opposite of what you want. If your desire is to get pumped and overcome a state of “blah,” you need a yoga booster...not a yoga sedative.

    Battle and beat the blah-ness in the following online yoga videos.

    1. 30 Minute Pick Me Up! with Joan Hyman

    This fun moving online yoga flow will start off with breath of fire to get the Shakti surging. Stretch out your hip flexors and move into Ustrasana (camel pose) to boost your energy and receptivity!

    2. Invigorating Morning Flow with Ashley Turner

    This is the ideal online yoga class for energizing, detoxing, and building mental focus. Begin with a luxurious opening sequence of two invigorating kriyas to wake up the physical and pranic bodies and flush out any stagnation or lethargy. Then, dive into a strong, comprehensive standing sequence of twisting and balancing poses to wring out every corner of the body. End feeling energized, clear, and awake. (92 mins.)

    3. Ten-Minute Tune Up with Taj Paxton

    I know you’re busy, but I’m sure you can manage to set aside 10 minutes. In this short online yoga class, use powerful breath work, core exercises, and long, deep stretches to awaken and energize.

    Pre-practice, join Pete Guinosso for a brief pranayama practice:

    4. Using Your Breath to Energize Your Practice

    The breath connects 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 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 to where your awareness and breath goes. (7 mins.)

    5. Kundalini Practice to Fortify the Body's Stress Defenses with Maya Fiennes

    In this online Kundalini yoga class, musician and yoga teacher Maya Fiennes combines her talents to create a stunningly beautiful Kundalini practice focused on fortifying the body's stress defenses. Maya uses movement, breath, mantra, and chants all set to her own exhilarating music to awaken the spirit, energize the body, and relax the mind. These sequences are designed to detoxify and strengthen kidneys and adrenals, the body's first line of defense against stress-induced illness. Among the easiest styles of yoga to learn, Kundalini can produce dramatic results quickly. You will feel more awake and aware, healthier, and better able to face everyday challenges. Enjoy live music from Matthew Moon (www.matthewmoon.com). (88 mins.)

    Get moving, yogis.

    ~Tess

    Photo Credit: Warrior II via www.aliveinthefire.com

  • 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.

    Breath

    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.

    ~Tess

    Photo Credit: Pranayama via www.mikehoolboom.com

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