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  • 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

  • Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

    If you’re in the States, Thanksgiving is the designated day to express thanks. Almost all cultures have such a day – a day reserved to realize and acknowledge the positive in life, to celebrate supportive and loving families, friends, and communities, and to embrace all the abundance such as yoga, delicious food, a safe home, and, most importantly, health and happiness. We all have something for which to be grateful. In fact, each breath is a gift – a gift to be fully received and celebrated. You are alive!

    Most of us are fortunate to have our most basic and fundamental needs met. Still though, desires and wants always creep in. There is an endless yearning for more. Sometimes, however, less is really more. Sometimes more means more headaches and pulls us further away from what truly matters: happiness, love, peace, and self-realization.

    In our desire for more, we forget to be grateful. That’s why we have a special day to remind us! Really, though, every day should be a day for giving and receiving thanks. Each day, we should express gratitude for the fact that our needs are met. Each day, we should practice contentment for all that we have in life. To quote Sheryl Crow:

    "It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you got."

    Want what ya got.

    Today, take a moment to realize all there is to be grateful for in your life. Acknowledge all the blessings you have received– a loving partner, beautiful children, a true friend, supportive parents, loving siblings, and/or a loyal pet. Be grateful for your body and breath. Be grateful that you can create your world - that you have the free will to change your life as you choose.

    To celebrate this day, here are three online yoga videos featuring practices of gratitude:

    Grateful for Good Postural Awareness with Joanie Flavin (80 mins.)

    This class explores improving the health of your shoulders by strengthening the postural muscles. In the backdrop of our physical practice we will emphasize a practice of gratitude as a means to improve our perspective and perception. Please have two blocks and a strap.

    Alchemy of the Heart: A Backbending Class with Pete Guinosso (75 mins.)

    This online yoga class will guide you in exploring the powerful practice of mindful gratitude, and how such a practice can open you to a life of grace. In this class we will utilize deep hip releases to detoxify the mind and body of negative emotions, experience heart opening backbends to learn where joy and gratitude reside in our bodies, and explore inversions to tap into our spirits' sense of playfulness. Please be sure to watch the free videos entitled - Tucking your Tail and Low Cobra, Revealed - before practicing this all levels online yoga class.

    Strong Roots = Strong Tree with Gigi Yogini (67 mins.)

    This is an invigorating online yoga class with the theme of Grounding with Gratitude. This class will activate your inner power through intention setting, core strengthening, balancing, and a fun (but challenging) tree pose flow.

    Have a beautiful day practicing gratitude! Also, (how could I forget!) enjoy a boundless supply of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and all other delicious Thanksgiving Day delights.

    ~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

     

  • Saddle Pose with Jennifer Beyt Coffin

    This week’s Strike a Pose yoga video is brought to you by Jennifer Beyt Coffin of The Glowing Body yoga studio in Knoxville, TN. In this free online yoga video, Jennifer will walk you through Saddle Pose – a yin yoga posture resembling Supta Virasana (Relining Hero Pose).

    Saddle Pose

    Saddle Pose can be a tricky yin posture because it is a fairly deep backbend. In this pose, you will deliberately apply pressure to the lumbar spine, which, for some, may feel like murder. For folks suffering from lower back pain, SI joint pain, and/or flattening or degeneration of the lumbar spine, the full expression of Saddle Pose may be problematic.

    Fortunately, there are many pose alternatives and options you can explore in Saddle to reap the long-term benefits. In this online yoga video, Jennifer will run-through these variations, which rely on the usage and support of bolsters, blankets, and blocks. So, make sure you have these handy before you begin your exploration.

    When you determine your edge and settle in, this pose can feel oh-so-delicious. As a total front body stretch, this pose is super beneficial to athletes and people who do lots of standing or walking. Connective tissue stimulation is felt in front body. The quads and hip flexors will be stretched. Pressure stimulation around the SI joints will create a deep opening in the lumbar-sacral arch of the spine. Sweet, sweet expansion!

    But remember: If the knees, ankles, SI joints, or lower spine protest, it’s very important to back off and prop up. As Jennifer says, “Don’t deny yourself the prop. Please!” Be okay with where you are at and accept your physical limitations. If you feel any sharp or burning pain, your body is signaling you to take it easy. Don’t create murder on your spine. Just don’t.

    Once you find your appropriate edge - your place of comfort - it is recommended that you hold Saddle for one to five minutes. Iyengar recommends 15 minutes. For most, this long of a hold will be too intense at this stage in the game. Consider it a goal.

    With time and practice, Saddle Pose has the potential to re-establish the natural curvature of the lumbar-sacral arch of the spine if any flattening or degeneration has occurred. It’s also a great pose to maintain the natural curvature of the spine and to simultaneously stretch and work many areas of the body: the tops of the ankles, the knee caps, the hips, quads, hip flexors, lower back, and upper chest (if you bring your arms up).

    Simply lay back, relax, and enjoy the stretch.

    Want a great bolster? Sign up for our annual subscription, and get a hand crafted bolster from Inner Space as your gift! Or you can take a look at all of Jennifer's creations at innerspaceyoga.net

    Saddle Pose

    ~TJ

    Photo Credit: Saddle Pose via www.therawyogini.blogspot.com

  • Yoga for Tension Relief

    corpse pose

    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?

    Yoga.

    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.

    ~Tess

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