13 Incredible Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a practice that can transform your life, from the inside out. Yoga isn’t only a physical workout; it is a holistic practice that strengthens the body, mind, and spirit. If you are considering implementing yoga into your workout routine, these incredible benefits just may convince you to immediately head over to the studio for your first class.   1. Decreases Stress and Anxiety: Stress and anxiety relief is one of the top reasons people keep coming back to their yoga mat. Studies have shown that yoga can help in the decrease of cortisol, which is one of the main stress hormones. If you find that your life is putting an abundance of stress on your mind and body, or causing higher levels of anxiety than you can cope with, yoga may help you work through those feelings.   2. Increases Flexibility: Can’t touch your toes? Yoga can help. As you consistently dedicate yourself to a yoga routine, you will start to notice the changes in your body, and see yourself (literally) reach for new limits.   3. Strengthens and Tones the Body: People may associate yoga with stretching more than strengthening, but the practice requires a lot of body weight muscle work and balancing, which over time tones and builds your muscles.   4. Boosts Metabolism: Yoga has been found to help people improve their metabolism, which, with a dedicated practice, over time can help you lose weight.   5. Improves Posture: Say goodbye to slouchy shoulders. Yoga brings awareness to your body, helping you to keep your shoulders back and head up high.   6. Reduces Pain in the Neck and Back: If chronic pain in your neck or back is affecting your day to day life, yoga can help you stretch and strengthen your way to feeling better and mitigating the pain.   7. Decreases Headache Frequency: People who suffer from routine headaches have found that a consistent yoga practice can help lessen the frequency of headaches.   8. Encourages Better Sleep Quality: Yoga has been frequently studied as a tool for people suffering from sleep issues, including insomnia. If you find yourself unable to turn off your brain when your head hits the pillow, yoga may be the sleep aid you’ve been looking for.   9. Promotes Blood Circulation: Yoga helps to get your heart pumping, and as a result improves your circulation. Twisting poses also help to release oxygenated blood back into your system, and inversions encourage blood flow to your brain.   10. Improves Lung Capacity: Yoga without focused breathing isn’t yoga at all. The focus on breath, or pranayama, in a yoga class (in conjunction with the physical activity) can help to expand the capacity of your lungs.   11. Boosts Memory Function: Yoga can help you keep your brain functioning in top shape. Researchers found that regular yoga practice can improve memory performance.   12. Makes You Happier: A consistent yoga practice leads to an increase in serotonin, which is often referred to as the “happy hormone.” A [...]

2019-01-02T16:34:40+00:00 By |

Twist Your Way to Spinal Health with Marichi’s Pose

One of the most significant and long-lasting benefits of regularly practicing yoga is that it can help maintain the health of the spine. Twisting poses in particular help to improve the mobility of the spine by encouraging flexibility and strength. Even if you don’t have a dedicated yoga practice, working twisting yoga postures into your stretching routine can help you preserve the health of your spine so that it is functioning at its full potential. Marichi’s Pose, or Marichyasana, is a twisting posture that is fairly gentle, but impactful enough to both stretch and strengthen the spine, while also providing benefits to the entire body. It is accessible for people of all flexibility levels, and easily modifiable.  Performing Marichi’s Pose  Start in a seated position, with your legs extended out in front of you. Relax your shoulders. Extend through your spine and lift through your ribcage so that your torso is upright. Bend your right leg and bring your knee into your chest, with your foot flat on the ground and your heel as close to your right glute as possible. Maintain length through your left leg with your toes flexed up, and rotate it slightly inward.    Place your right hand behind your right glute, with the palm fully on the floor for support. Extend through your spine, and on an exhale, begin to twist your torso over to the right. As you twist your torso, extend your left arm up, and then bend at the elbow and place it on the outside edge of the right knee. The left hand should be pointing up, with the fingers fully extended. If you are unable to reach your bent elbow to the outside of the opposite knee, you can simply grab hold of the knee with your hand.    Ensure that your weight is placed evenly on the outside and inside edges of the right foot, and that your knee remains upright, rather than tilting in or out. Your weight should also be evenly distributed between your two sitting bones. Avoid making your hips unleveled by shifting more weight onto one side. Keep your torso upright, and avoid leaning forwards or backwards.    As you remain in this posture, on your inhales, extend through your spine. On your exhales, continue to twist your torso to the right, but do so slowly and gently. Your inhales and exhales should be deep and long. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds to a minute, and then slowly release by bringing your left hand to the ground and extending your right leg out in front of you. Repeat on the opposite side.    Benefits of Marichi’s Pose  The twist performed in Marichi’s Pose provides a wealth of benefits to the body, including the following:  Massages the abdominal organs, including the kidneys and liver.  Improves digestion.   Releases tension and mild pain in the back and hips.  Stretches the shoulders and upper back.   Both strengthens and stretches the spine, helping to increase flexibility.   Opens [...]

2018-12-26T16:25:02+00:00 By |

The Calming Effects of Restorative Yoga

Taking the time to slow down, focus inwards, and give your body and mind the attention it needs is necessary in a world where we are constantly on the go. Stress and tension have become the norm, rather than an occasional affliction, and many of us aren’t doing enough to combat it. Thankfully, restorative yoga allows you to do just that. Yoga that is more movement-centered tends to be more popular in amongst modern day yogis in the West, but restorative yoga touches on techniques that allow you to fully relax—something many of us neglect to do on a regular basis.   Restorative yoga generally includes a majority of seated and reclined postures. It heavily incorporates yoga props, such as blankets, blocks, bolsters, and straps, to make poses accessible and comfortable. The classes are slow paced, generally focusing on just a few postures and holding them for an extended amount of time without force or strain, and very focused on breathing, or pranayama. The combination of slow, gentle stretching and intentional breathing allows for a rejuvenating and healing experience that we so desperately need in this fast-paced world.   Benefits of Restorative Yoga  Increases Flexibility: Holding yoga postures for an extended period of time allows you to increase your flexibility, so long as you stay dedicated to a consistent practice. The poses in a restorative yoga class rely on props and gravity to reach the pose, rather than overstretching and potentially causing strain, so you’ll be safely increasing your flexibility. Balances the Nervous System: Restorative yoga helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for feeling calmer and more relaxed. The gentle postures and deep breathing help your heart rate and breathing rate slow down, as well as lower your blood pressure, helping you to reach a healthier and more blissful state. We are often over-stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to an excess in release of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone), so restorative yoga can help to balance out those two sides, leaving you healthier and happier. Releases Stress and Tension: Restorative yoga not only calms the mind, but also lets you focus on where you are holding physical tension in your body. By doing a practice that brings a high level of awareness to the physical state of your body, you’ll be able to focus in on different areas and see where you need to relax and let go. Encourages Deep Relaxation: A restorative yoga class allows you to reach a level of relaxation that you may not be able to attain when taking a class that is more physically demanding. The gentle pace and focus on breathing will encourage you to truly let go and relax. Increases Mindfulness: Mindfulness has become a hot topic in recent times, but regular restorative yoga practitioners have been aware of it for quite some time. The practice allows you to bring awareness to your body and mind, and encourages you to fully focus [...]

2018-12-21T13:52:19+00:00 By |

Challenge Your Athletic Abilities with Downward Dog

Anyone looking to enhance their physical workout routine can benefit from incorporating yoga into their practice. Even if you don’t feel like going to a class at a studio is the right choice for you, practicing a few select poses that strengthen, stretch, and tone can help you work past your physical boundaries and explore the many capabilities that you didn’t even realize your body has.   Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a foundational yoga pose that most people are familiar with, even if they’ve never stepped into a yoga studio. The pose is central to most yoga classes, due to the benefits it has for the entire body. It’s the perfect posture to try out because anyone can work it into their routine, as it is easily modifiable for people of all flexibility and athletic levels. It is great for building up strength and power in the legs and arms, while also stretching out the hamstrings and back.   Performing Downward Dog  Start from a tabletop position, with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. On an exhale, engage your core, curl your toes underneath your feet, and lift your knees off the ground, working towards straightening your legs. Stretch your tailbone back and up towards the ceiling.   Your head should remain active, with your gaze focused in between your legs, rather than down at the ground or ahead of you. Continue to focus your weight on the inside edges of your palms, pushing through your index fingers and thumbs. If you tend to hyperextend your elbows, you may want to bring a slight bend to them.   Before settling into stillness, allow yourself to focus the stretch on the back of your legs by bending one knee and then the other. You may also choose to bend both knees at the same time, and then push back through your heels towards straight legs. Both of these movements will help gently open up your hamstrings and warm up the body. Once you have reached stillness, hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute, and release back down to your knees.  One of the great things about Downward Dog is that it is easy to modify for all levels and physical limitations. If your hamstrings are tight, you may choose to bend your knees to make the pose more accessible. If you find it difficult to put a lot of pressure on your arms or wrists, you can bring the ground closer to you by using a chair and placing your hands on the seat for elevated support.   Benefits of Downward Dog  Since Downward Dog works the entire body, there are a variety of wonderful benefits, including the following:   Energizes your body and mind.   Works to eliminate back tension and stiffness.   Strengthens the arms and legs.   Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and back muscles.   Builds bone density.  Boosts circulation by placing your heart above your head, which can help regulate blood pressure [...]

2018-12-21T13:37:03+00:00 By |

The Incredible Benefits of Cat/Cow Pose

Regularly practicing yoga does wonders for your overall wellbeing. It is an effective way to stay in shape, explore and expand your physical limits, bring your focus to the present, and calm the mind. Even those who don’t head to the studio on a regular basis can reap the benefits of the practice by working on yoga poses on their own time. Cat/Cow Pose is a great stretch to implement into your physical practice, as it is the perfect posture to warm up your body before getting into a yoga flow—or any other physical activity.    Cat/Cow Pose is the combination of two yoga asanas—Marjaryasana (Cat) and Bitilasana (Cow)—into a flowing vinyasa. This foundational warm-up pose is often practiced at the beginning of the class, as it helps to bring movement to the spine. It is performed breath to movement, so it is great for getting centered at the start of class and bringing your focus to your breath. Cat/Cow is perfect for beginners and experienced yogis alike, as it is easy to perform, yet full of incredible mental and physical benefits.    Performing Cat/Cow Pose  To practice the posture, start in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the ground. Ensure your palms are stacked directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips. The arms should remain straight in order to focus the movement in the spine, rather than the elbows.    On an exhale, move into Cat (Marjaryasana). Round your spine up towards the ceiling while tilting your tailbone down and driving your pubic bone forward. As you do this, tuck your chin down towards your chest. While your head is tilting down, elongate through your neck to ensure you still leave space between your chin and chest.    On your next inhale, move into Cow (Bitilasana). Raise your head and face forward, and tilt your tailbone up, letting your back curve. Ensure you don’t tilt your head back too far or over arch your back, as it can result in strain.    Continue slowly alternating between Cat and Cow, connecting one breath to each movement. Practice the posture for at least 30 seconds, but continue as long as feels fit for your needs. Give yourself time to fully feel the stretch in your back, abdomen, and neck as you breathe through the pose. The movement should be slow and gentle, so be patient and fight any urges to quickly shift between the two postures. The pose is safe to practice if you are pregnant, but ensure you are not contracting your abdomen too forcefully while moving between the two poses.    Benefits of Cat/Cow Pose     Practicing Cat/Cow Pose promotes a wide range of benefits for your body and mind, including the following:  Centers your focus on the present and connects you to your breath.  Warms up your body to prepare for more intense movement.   Improves flexibility in the spine.  Releases tension in the back and neck, helping to relieve pain in those areas.   Provides [...]

2018-12-21T19:02:19+00:00 By |

Find Your Strength and Power with Dolphin Pose

While yoga is often viewed as a gentler form of physical activity, many variations of the practice can actually be used to build up strength and endurance, while also stretching and toning the body. For people looking to strengthen and tone, many poses in the practice of yoga can be implemented into a workout routine to help reach fitness goals in a fun, challenging, and unique way. Dolphin Pose, or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, is a great pose to turn to for inexperienced and advanced yogis alike. It is especially impactful when it comes to building up strength in the upper body, and also helps to stretch out the legs and back.   Performing Dolphin Pose  Start in plank pose, with your palms pressing firmly into the mat. Gently lower down onto your forearms, keeping them parallel on the ground and should-width distance apart. Begin stepping your feet forward in small steps towards your arms, allowing your hips to raise. You should eventually make an upside-down ‘V’ shape with your body.   Keep your head aligned between your upper arms, with your gaze looking back towards your feet, and be sure to keep your neck active. Bring awareness to your spine, keeping it straight as you reach your tailbone up and back. Actively press your heels towards the floor to fully feel the stretch in the back of your legs.   Remain in this position for about 30 seconds, focusing on keeping your breath deep and flowing evenly. After 30 seconds, release back through plank, or by simply coming forward to a kneeling position.   If you would like to take the pose further, you can do so by walking your feet closer to your hands, to create more of an intense stretch. You can also play with the pose by lifting one leg off the ground at a time and pointing it up at a diagonal. This will help you build strength in the core, arms, and shoulders, helping you to eventually work on challenging arm balances.   If you have any shoulder or neck injuries, practice caution when performing this posture. Move into it gently, and release back down if anything doesn’t feel right for your body. If your hamstrings feel too tight to practice the full variation of the pose, you can bend your knees to make it more accessible.   Benefits of Dolphin Pose  Over time, practicing Dolphin Pose regularly will powerfully impact the entire body, as well as help bring your focus inward and remain in the present. The benefits of Dolphin Pose include the following:   Strengthens and stretches the shoulders, back, and core.  Opens up the hamstrings and calves.   Increases overall flexibility, especially in the legs and spine.  Releases tension in the upper back and shoulders, and helps fight against chronic pain in those areas.  Improves digestion.  Improves circulation and increases blood flow to the brain.   Therapeutic for certain health conditions, such as asthma, high blood pressure, and sciatica.   Relieves insomnia.  Helps reduce headache frequency and [...]

2018-12-21T11:56:50+00:00 By |

New Twists on Yoga

Did You Know Yoga Can Reduce Food Cravings?   Fitness trends come and go, and time will tell if the latest craze is here to stay: goat yoga. That's right, yoga sessions with goats. The CBS News video above features some of the instructors and enthusiasts of this unusual pairing. At Laughing Frog Yoga studio in Santa Monica, California, pygmy goats Floyd and Rosco are part of the ensemble. According to Michelle Tritten of Hello Critter Care, goats have the uncanny ability to "bring out the best in people." Many others agree. Lainey Morse, one of the first to introduce goat yoga to the world in 2016 at her farm in Albany, Oregon, tells CBS "it's impossible to be sad and depressed when you have goats around you." Since then, goat yoga has spread around the country, with a number of celebrities testing it out and spreading the word on social media. Writing for Viva Glam Magazine, actress-writer Malorie Mackey writes about her goat yoga experience at Laughing Frog, saying:1 "As the goats enter, giggles and happiness ensue. Roscoe enjoys jumping and climbing on people while Floyd enjoys walking under them. Together, they move around the class jumping on yogis and having fun under the supervision of Michelle. Perhaps it isn't the most calm, meditative yoga class, but it breaks up the norm and adds lighthearted fun to your yoga routine." Yoga Is a Powerful Mind-Body Practice While I believe anaerobic exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is key for optimal health, there's no doubt yoga can be an important part of a comprehensive exercise program. And research reveals potent mental and physical benefits from yoga, regardless of your current state of health or fitness. Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years, and while many regard it as just another form of exercise, it's really a comprehensive lifestyle practice that integrates mental, physical and spiritual elements. With regard to the latter, yoga can be viewed as a form of meditation that demands your full attention as you move from one asana (yoga position) to another.  As you learn new ways of moving and responding to your body and mind, other areas of your life tend to shift and change as well. In a sense, you not only become more physically flexible, but your mind and approach to life may also gain some much-needed flexibility. A report2 by the Institute of Science in Society details how meditative practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, just to name a few, can actually alter your genetic expression through their impact on your mind. Indeed, thousands of genes have been identified that appear to be directly influenced by your subjective mental state. Examples of genetic effects obtained through yogic- and other meditative practices include the down-regulation of cellular stress response genes and genes associated with the pathway responsible for the breakdown of proteins, while expression of heat shock proteins and immune function are increased. One study [...]

2018-09-04T17:50:30+00:00 By |

Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana) – Yoga for Strength and Toning

Having a good strong core is key, not only to looking great and to being fit, but it is also fundamental if you wish to excel in your yoga practice. A multitude of yoga moves, from beginner to advanced, rely on the strength of your core and the “Boat Pose” is a wonderful pose for laying a strong foundation within your core and preparing it for more.  Let’s take a look at the many benefits of the “Boat Pose” (Paripuna Navasana):   Tones and strengthens your abdomen Assists in relieving stress Improves your confidence Stimulates your kidneys, prostate gland, thyroid, and intestines Stretches hamstrings Strengthens your spine and hip flexors Improves digestion Maintains the metabolism   Give it a try and enjoy the benefits!   Be ALRIGHT!  Love and light,   Tracey   Source: Yoga Journal https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/full-boat-pose Yoga Outlet https://www.yogaoutlet.com/helpcenter/articles/204628490-How-to-Do-Boat-Pose-in-Yoga  

2018-12-05T13:06:08+00:00 By |

Find Your Power and with Warrior II Pose

People turn to yoga for the wide array of benefits that come with a regular practice. For many, it is the perfect physical activity for strengthening, stretching, and calming the mind all in one session. Even regularly practicing a single pose can help bring a wealth of benefits for both your body and mind—and some of those benefits can be quite unexpected!   Warrior II Pose, or Virabhadrasana II, is one of the yoga postures that includes many incredible--and some surprising—benefits for the entire body. Perhaps less surprisingly, the pose helps to build up stamina and strengthen the legs, core, and arms. One of the more unique benefits is that it can lessen the discomfort of carpal tunnel, an unfortunate condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers, and affects people all around the world. While there is medication that could effectively help subside any pain caused by this condition, some people alternatively give Warrior II and other targeted yoga postures a try to see if they can be therapeutic for their discomfort.     Performing Warrior II Pose  Begin standing, with the outer edge of your left foot paralleling the front edge of your mat. You will be facing the side of the room. Step your feet about 3 and a half to 4 feet apart, keeping them parallel to each other.   Turn your left foot about 90 degrees, so that your toes are pointing towards the top of the mat. Turn your right toes slightly in, so that they are at a 45 degree angle.   Lift your arms up to shoulder height, with your left arm pointing forward and right arm pointing back. Your palms should be facing down, and your arms should be engaged and extended straight.   On an exhale, bend your left knee, working towards creating a 90 degree angle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor, and your thigh should be parallel or close to it. Your knee should align directly over your left ankle. Ensure it doesn’t move beyond the ankle.    Your hips should be squared towards the side of the room, and your gaze should be forward, towards your left finger tips. Push through the outer edge of your right foot, and ensure that your torso is upright and not leaning forward. Be aware of your shoulders, and make sure they don’t move up towards your ears. Keep them relaxed.   Continue to breathe deeply in this pose, keeping your spine elongated, core engaged, front knee bent, and arms straight. Hold for approximately 30 seconds, and then release. To release, straighten your left knee, bring your arms down, and step your feet back together to repeat on the opposite side.     Benefits of Warrior II Pose  As stated, the benefits of Warrior II pose are varied and extensive. Some of the benefits include:    Therapeutic results for carpal tunnel, as well as other conditions like flat feet, osteoporosis, and sciatica.  Stretches the legs, groin, arms, and chest.  Strengthens [...]

2019-01-02T18:02:57+00:00 By |