Summer is amongst us and in full bloom. It usually signifies a happy season for most of us. As children Summer meant no school, longer daylight hours and more time to just enjoy youth. As an adult, it usually means vacations, barbeques, and delicious seasonal foods. I remember as a child looking forward to the last day of school because it meant that boating with my family on the Long Island Sound was coming-up.
Unfortunately, sometimes the warmer seasons don’t bring joy to everyone. There have been many studies that suggest that suicide increases in warm weather. Annie Hauser, writing in Weather.com, talked with Professor Grady Dixon in 2014 and writes,
“ Spring is when severely depressed people can be motivated enough to take action and do something. In most people, depression creates overwhelming feelings of listlessness and disinterest, so the idea of putting together a plan to commit suicide is too difficult during the winter, when depression symptoms may be worse in some people, he (Dixon) said. "Another hypothesis: [Patients] know how they're affected by seasonal winter depression. They anticipate they'll feel better when spring and summer roll around," Dixon said. "When they don't, that's a catalyst for suicide." One of the oldest theories holds that people who are depressed and withdrawn during the winter don't bounce back in spring, as other people do.”
I am a minimalist, but like many of you – I struggle to keep it simple. Both mentally and in the physical worlds.
National Simplicity Day was founded to honor Henry David Thoreau, on the day of his birth, 12 July , 1817, and his insistence that a simple life, lived without busy clutter and in nature, was the way to glimpse the “universal truths” that inherently lie deep within each of us. He suggests that these truths get buried by our attachment to the material and the status quo. Celebrating the mundane, the simple acts of daily life, the arrival of the first spring flower or bird, as miraculous and soul sustaining.
A life of simplicity, lived in natural surroundings is ideal, maybe a goal to try to attain, but impractical for the majority of urban dwellers. Maybe you don’t have two years to go live in the forest. Maybe, like me, you can’t even take the whole day out of your busy schedule to idle in the wilderness. However, the neighborhood park or arboretum could be just the ticket for an afternoon of unplugging. Take a copy of Walden Pond with you for some inspirational reading, or as the case may be, re-reading. Make a point to get down to the most basic of equations, ( you plus nature equals biophilia) for at least an hour or two. Biophilia is the recently scientifically determined phenomenon that humans feel good in nature. Proven by millions of dollars and countless hours of research, and not by millennia of humans liking to watch sunsets, take picnics with loved ones or sit by waterfalls or in our gardens. When I was in Japan recently I went “ forest bathing “
The oddly paradoxical aspect of this theory is that Nature, taken in its entirety, is really anything but simple. It is a complex interwoven net of conditional systems,constantly varying and completely dependent on the absence or presence of one another.
If you think finding a deeper connection with your partner, decreasing stress, enhancing your sexual relationship, and getting fit all at the same time sounds like a sweet deal, you might want to consider rolling out a yoga mat (or two).
Couples yoga is changing the way we look at the the role of exercise in relationships.
What are the benefits of couples yoga?
The benefits of couples yoga are similar to an individual yoga class and include stress reduction, increased range of motion, relief from pain, cardio and circulatory health, improved respiration and energy, better posture, and much more. Couples yoga takes these benefits one step further and also includes the element of bonding with your partner in a new way.
By creating a shared experience, the poses in couples yoga allow you and your partner to listen to each other and work together. “Couples yoga helps bring couples closer physically, emotionally, and energetically,” explains Beth Shaw, founder and CEO of YogaFit.
The word “Yoga” comes with a deeper and more spiritual meaning. It denotes the union of almost all elements of life with the holistic version of this universe. Yoga stretches its boundary beyond the true essence of human existence yet remains a constitutive part of humanity. It is about the physical, emotional, and spiritual actuality of life. The idea and notion of Yoga can only be enjoyed at the deepest layers of your soul. The beauty of the ancient science enters our blood and soul to make us enlivened to the highest level of soulful rejuvenation. It is all about the happiness and prosperity of the planet, according to many ancient yogic texts.
Now is the time to discuss and analyze the ways Yoga helps one feel the real him/her.
A coaching client recently shared her concern of holding space for everyone in a yoga class. She was preparing to lead a series of classes abroad. My initial response; she was not solely responsible for the energy in a collective space. This mental picture has stuck in my mind.
Most of us can relate to the desire of holding space for others. We want to help our tribe feel safe and loved. Similar to a yoga teacher, maybe the greatest gift we can oﬀer, is showing our branch of humanity, how to create and maintain their own sacred space. We can do this for our families, friends and even strangers.
Before I hold group meditations, I ﬁll the space with love and gratitude. I welcome in our guides and all forms of love and inspiration into the space we will collectively be sharing. My intention is that everyone will experience the presence of peace, love and gratitude during the meditation. I imagine many yoga teachers do something similar. We are really just creating a place for people to slow down, and open up to the unseen. Once the connection is made, it is always available. Peace and love can be pulled into any situation, no yoga mat required.
There’s everything from chocolate yoga to cat yoga to trap yoga, but there’s also a not-so carefree counterpart: grief yoga, which has provided healing for those suffering since long before cats made their way to the mat. We spoke with Beth Shaw — founder and president of YogaFit, the largest yoga training and certification program in the world — about the merits of this often-overlooked method of healing and how to practice it.
Shaw first experienced the interaction of grief and yoga after a breakup in her late 20s. She says she immersed herself in yoga daily to the point where it became her new “anchor,” replacing the old one of her ex-boyfriend and their romantic connection. “You know, science has shown that a broken heart is legitimate,” shares Shaw. More than simple sadness, grief can be all-consuming. “Grief is a mind-body experience,” Shaw agrees, explaining that it can affect one’s hormone production, cortisone levels, appetite, sleep patterns, energy levels, heart rate, and more. It makes sense, then, that yoga, a bodily activity, can help mitigate the overwhelming emotion. Yoga is a “healing tool,” Shaw says. “It can lift you from the depths of despair.”
The embodiment of Love
- Location: is located at the centre of the chest.
- Colour: Green
- Season: Spring
- Sense: Touch
- Element: Air
- Body parts: Lungs, heart, thymus gland and breasts.
The fourth chakra, also referred to as the heart chakra, is at the centre of the seven chakras with three below and three above. This is the area where physical energies from the three lower chakras meet with the spiritual energies of the three chakras above the heart. This is where the physical stability you’ve created for yourself, along with your creativity and energy collide with your goals, visualisations and authenticity of the chakras above the heart chakra – allowing you to express your true hearts desire and live a life with love, empathy, forgiveness and gratitude every day.
Eating junk isn’t the only cause for weight gain. Other factors that are involved in the process are:
- Insulin levels: High level of insulin causes excess energy consumption into the fat cells resulting in weight gain.
- Leptin resistance: Leptin is responsible for reducing the appetite of an individual. Leptin resistance reverses the process and causes weight gain.
- Genes: Eating behavior of parents affects their genes which will be carried by their children. Therefore, some people are vulnerable to weight gain and obesity.
- Excess of fructose: Sugar is composed of glucose and fructose. Glucose is the natural sugar of the food compound whereas, fructose is the added sugar. The excess of fructose in the diet causes weight gain.
- Incorrect information about nutrition and health: Some food companies misinterpret the results of scientific studies to promote their weight loss supplements leading to weight gain or zero results in weight loss.
If this has complicated the whole process of weight loss for you and consulting a doctor is the only option. The following blog will tell you how you can manage these factors in a modest way which will induce weight loss.
Start practicing yoga at home or at a yoga center near your place. Apart from weight loss, yoga has many physical and mental benefits such as emotional stability, improved heart health, enhanced metabolism, and fertility, etc. You can also learn more about it if you enroll for 200-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
The Will to Power
- Location: Located around the navel in the area of the solar plexus and up to the breastbone.
- Colour: Yellow
- Season: Summer
- Sense: Sight
- Element: Fire
- Body parts: Adrenal glands, stomach, pancreas, liver and skin.
The Solar Plexus (Manipura), which means ‘lustrous gem’ is our home of energy and power. It is a source of personal ambition and governs self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. Simply put it is your energy chakra. Your powerhouse where drive, ambition and willpower come from. It’s where you can make your dreams come true and every step you take towards these intentions helps to strengthen your third chakra.
The Manipura chakra also controls metabolism and digestion and gives us the energy we need to go out into the world and strive for the goals and dreams we have for ourselves.
You can recognize the people with an overactive solar plexus as the kind of people who are always complaining about being too busy. They are the over-achievers who are never content with their daily productivity. They write exhaustive lists of daily tasks and beat themselves up for not achieving every item on their list. They always have a huge goals they are working towards and would feel lost if they didn’t have such a goal to strive for. They are prone to burnout and often run on caffeine or other stimulants to keep their energy high.
Among other debilitating side effects, it keeps individuals from being in the present moment and fearful about the future. Other common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive worry
- Being easily fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep disturbance
- Muscle tension
But the good news is that yoga helps keep people grounded in the now. If you're feeling tense, worried, down, restless or have trouble concentrating, then you can benefit from starting and maintaining a yoga practice.
Yoga is the 6,000-year-old science of body mind health. Yoga poses (asanas) help release tension and stress from the body by regulating hormones and increasing endorphins.
While a general yoga practice can help easy anxiety symptoms, you can also pick specific poses that address the challenge. But first remember to consult a doctor or mental health professional.
Twenty-three years ago, I moved to Los Angeles from Boston. I can’t remember if I had ever heard of yoga before I made the move, and even then, there were only a few yoga studios in the Los Angeles area.
Now, yoga studios are like Starbucks – you can find one on almost every street corner in every city across the nation. Lately, the trend seems to be “combining something” with yoga; boxing and yoga is probably my favorite -- absurdity wise. What’s next? Improv and yoga?
Look, I’m not a hater, I’m just (still) a little east coast sarcastic. I’m all for whatever helps people feel better and become the better version of themselves.
Imagine if I told you 20 years ago that there’s this thing call “yoga”, and it’s going to be huge. Well, that’s where meditation is right now. Meditation studios are popping up in LA and NYC, and soon they’ll be found in every city the same way yoga is. An increase in immune function, grey matter, positivity, memory, focus and attention, and a decrease in stress, anxiety, depression and inflammation are just some of the benefits to meditation. It’s a no-brainer, really. And in this high paced, stressed out, cell phone obsessed world…who doesn’t need to take a moment to stop and shut it all down?
The Seed of Creation
- Location: Above the pubic bone and below the navel.
- Colour: Orange
- Season: Winter
- Sense: Taste
- Element: Water
- Body parts: reproductive organs, small intestine, immune system and kidneys.
Svadhisthana, also known as the creativity and sexual chakra is deeply connected to the relationship we have with ourselves as well as others. The word svadhisthana can be translated as ‘the dwelling place of the self’. The element of the second chakra is water, which equals cohesiveness and an ability to go with the flow. When change occurs in our lives we can find our sacral chakra either resisting or accepting this flow based on how healthy our sacral chakra is.
The Root of Security
- Location: Base of the spine
- Colour: Red
- Season: Late summer
- Sense: Smell
- Element: Earth
- Body parts: Bone and muscle structure, circulatory system and large intestine.
The root chakra (Muladhara) is responsible for your sense of safety and security on this earthly journey. The word Muladhara breaks down into two Sanskrit words: Mula meaning ‘root’ and Adhara, which means ‘support’ or ‘base.’ Balancing the root chakra creates the solid foundation for opening the chakras above. Imagine that you’re laying the foundation for a house in which you’re going to live for a long time. A solid foundation embedded in firm soil will provide the stability you need to create a home filled with joy for years to come.
Grandparents are like the root of a family. Being the senior most in the family, they are looked upon as mentors and role models for the younger generations. Grandchildren are the ones who usually get all their love, support and companionship. And during times of distress, parents often consult these senior members of the family for the right advice. So, it’s clear that the role of grandparents in a family is much more than we can comprehend.
However, to enjoy their companionship and to let them be the way they are, it is important to take proper care of their health. With old age come various health issues which if not taken care of properly can wreak havoc on their health. Routine visit to the doctor and all is fine but, it is more important to make them stick to some healthy regimen for their overall wellness (both physical and mental). This is where the holistic practice of yoga and Ayurveda comes in handy.
Yoga and Ayurveda are the age-old systems of preventative and curative medicine. A holistic approach to life and health, both the ancient practices have taken the health and fitness industry by storm.
It is said, bad habits are hard to break. But we’re the ones who can undo it making space for other good habits and train our mind to bring the necessary change. Know how to use yoga to control and break bad habits with a holistic approach.
“The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.”
- Bryant McGill
Got a bad habit that you can’t just break? Fret not; apply the holistic approach to hack them away.
When we leave our mind to itself, it follows certain habits like a groove. This can be amazing only if the habits are not hampering the body’s balance. In the process of devising certain habits, we often ignore both the emotional and physical need. Certain habits or bad behavior are hard to change. Even after many efforts, most of the old habits are relentless.
Enter Yoga! That makes us aware of our ability to change our mind in order to turn down the habits.
Being a yoga enthusiast, if you likely toyed with the idea of unearthing the deeper layers of yoga through the intense and vigorous study or want to be a yoga teacher yourself, then you must be ready for yoga training. Explore the blog and know if you are ready for a yoga teacher training.
Yoga is the practice of the body, mind, and soul, an inward journey that makes us connect with the true ‘self’. The holistic practice was developed thousands of years ago in the lap of Himalayas, and today it has become the trendiest workout regime amongst the fitness freaks. Many of the yoga aspirants aspire to be an eminent practitioner and a yoga teacher themselves.
If you're contemplating with the idea of deepening the learning of ancient art of life through vigorous and intense training, then yoga teacher training is surely for you. Goals for undergoing yoga teacher training improve the home practice, allow you to have a better understanding of the holistic art and enhance your love and passion towards it. Yoga training even makes an entire career shift by transforming you into a full-time and refined yoga teacher.
In spite of being deeply involved with yoga practice, some yogis feel confused whether they really want to be a yoga teacher. With the mentioned five ways, find out if you’re ready to take a step in the transformative voyage of the body, mind, and soul with yoga teacher training.
Most people associate yoga with an asana practice, but yoga isn't just about flowing through a series of poses, twisting yourself up like a pretzel, going upside down and sweating your butt off (although that part can be super fun and highly beneficial both physically and mentally in its own right). What I have come to learn is yoga is most importantly about how you live your life in all contexts.
The word ‘yoga’ signifies any form of connection and that when applied to the human experience, can be used to celebrate the union between the mind, body & spirit. At its most practical level, yoga is a process of becoming more aware of who we really are. As such, yoga is a process of self-discovery. Through its practices, we can still the mind and merge into oneness with the divine; to act with truth and authenticity. We are able to discern who we really are and what our purpose is. Hooked yet?
Winter is when all life force burrows deep in the bosom of the earth and it can certainly be a trying time both mentally and physically. The days are darker, shorter and not to mention colder. Your body naturally wants to hibernate, you feel the need to sleep and eat more. Inevitably, finding balance can be a little more trying during this time (it’s so temping to stay inside and hide from those grey skies) but being proactive about your health and wellbeing is an important goal during this time. Ensure you take time to replenish, so that when spring comes, the gathering energy will burst forth with new growth and you and your body can enjoy those active, sunshine filled months of spring and summer.
I am going to show you how to find balance during the winter months by tuning into this dormant season, aligning yourself with the magic of Mother Nature and the chakra energy system. My recipe book titled ‘The Yoga Kitchen’ follows the 7 energy centres within your energetic body known as the chakras. This invisible energy is vital life force, which keeps you vibrant, healthy, and alive. Each of the seven chakras, has an important part to play in your overall balance and have long been the traditional method for yogis to understand the anatomy of the subtle body.
The exact counterpart of stress is of course relaxation. There are so many ways to reach a level of relaxation so that stress isn't a bothersome issue in our lives.
In the daily humdrum business of our existence the stress response occurs naturally. During ancient times stress existed in a miniscule fashion of course compared to today's situation. It also had very different reasons. People were hassled and stressed mainly due to life threatening situations by predators, etc. In today's day and age stress is triggered through everyday situations at work, at school, at home, in relationships, or there could be a competitive situation in a game or even living up to the Joneses could trigger stress.
Our brain is the source of all thoughts, emotions and feelings. It is the center for creativity, imagination and exploration. The brain is an information processing organ and keeps records of our past. The emotional residues, preconceptions and the negative thought patterns that are recorded in our brain keep us from reaching our full potential. We then develop addictions to numb these negative feelings hoping that the pain of our past will go away.
Yoga means “union” but it is mainly known to us as series of physical exercises (asanas). In my personal experience, during workout routines my brain is running in the opposite direction to my body. It is busy trying to problem solve, create to do lists and think about non-essential things. But during my yoga practice my body and brain are more connected. In actuality, every part of our physical body is connected with the brain. Information is constantly being exchanged between brain and body through the nervous system. By awakening the body’s senses through practices of yoga and by moving the body in new and different ways, we can awaken different part of our brain. In addition, a flexible body creates a more flexible and adaptive brain.
Meditation is the practice of focusing our mind. I realized that during the meditation portion of my class, my body, brain and soul were in alignment as my mind was focused inside by body on my True Self.