Sweaty Yogi – Hydrate Yourself!

Editor’s note:   This is a guest blog post by Lucas Rockwood of YOGABODY Naturals. In this post, Lucas sheds some light on the importance of proper hydration before, during, and after class.

Yoga students often become obsessed with hydration to the point where they’re never without a water bottle. It just becomes part of you. Your wallet, your keys, your ID, and a bottle of water. It’s really that important.

And yet as a teacher, I’m constantly getting questions about how to avoid dehydration. Despite the awareness, many students still find themselves with constipation, headaches, and dark circles around their eyes simply because they’re dehydrated.

Depending on the temperature of the room and the style of yoga you’re practicing, it’s possible to lose an enormous amount of water during a 90-minute practice. Hot Yoga students need to be most concerned; but on warm days, just about any Ashtanga-Vinyasa or Power Yoga class quickly turns into a sweat-fest too, so the question that arises is: “How do you properly rehydrate?”

STEP 1: Make sure you are hydrated BEFORE class. This doesn’t mean that you should drink two liters of water just before practice, but it does mean making sure that throughout your day, you maintain a healthy intake of water (and no, coffee doesn’t count).

STEP 2: During class, follow your teacher’s instructions. If it’s a class where water is accepted (like Bikram Yoga, for example), then you’ll absolutely want to bring water. If it’s a class where water is optional, be your own judge. And lastly, if it’s a class where water is not permitted, just make sure that you feel that it’s a healthy practice for you and talk one-on-one with your teacher if you have any doubts.

STEP 3: Drink water and only water. For hydration, you’ll want to reduce or eliminate all the caffeinated and flavored beverages from your diet including coffee, dark teas, and sodas. Non-caffeinated, herbal teas are fine, but for the most part, you want to drink just plain old water.

But what kind of water? Dozens of athletic studies have shown that it’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality when it comes to water. What you’re looking for are electrolytes, positively and negatively charged ions from minerals that keep your body’s electrical system working properly.

In a natural state, we’d drink our water from streams, wells, and rivers. This water is high in minerals, including the important electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. But since most of our water today has been treated, heavily filtered, and bottled, it’s often referred to as “dead” water because it’s mineral-deficient.

RE-MINERALIZE YOUR BODY & YOUR WATER

Natural mineral water is very hard to come by, and not practical for most people (unless you live near mineral springs); so the best idea for most students is to proactively re-mineralize their body and their water on an on-going basis.

There are a number of ways to boost your mineral intake, but the easiest are (a) to start eating as many dark green, mineral-dense veggies as possible, and (b) to consider adding a pinch of sea salt or seaweed (such as dulse) to your water bottles throughout the day.

Unbleached, chunky sea salt is a great source for electrolytes and can easily be added to your water. It’s high in sodium, of course, so do add just a pinch and be cautious if you have blood pressure problems.


Dulse is a mineral-dense sea vegetable that is a great source for natural electrolytes as well. Adding a leaf of dulse to a water bottle is another simple way to increase the “sticking” power of your water.

If you’ve ever had the feeling that no matter how much water you drink, you still feel completely parched; chances are good that you were suffering from electrolyte deficiency. The good news is that with a little planning and consciousness effort, you can dramatically increase your body’s ability to absorb and retain water.

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LUCAS ROCKWOOD is a yoga teacher trainer, an author, and the founder of
YOGABODY Naturals, an education and food supplement company that creates powerful yoga tools for real people. LEARN MORE HERE.

5 Simple Keys for Radiant, Glowing Skin

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Lexi, author of the blog LexiYogaIn this post, Lexi reminds us of a few simple lifestyle adjustments that can have a dramatic effect in maintaining youthful, healthy looking skin.

Our skin is our largest organ in our body. It’s up to us to maintain and keep it well hydrated, nourished and glowing, as we all strive to look and feel beautiful. We are bombarded with advertising and marketing with cosmetic products and plastic surgery to just cover up our problem skin. The truth is, our lifestyle has a lot to do with it. Glowing, clear and beautiful skin can easily be achieved by changing a few habits and focusing more on our health.

Here are five steps that will help improve the condition of your skin and give you a more youthful look. If you treat your skin right, it will love you back and be beautiful for you!

1. Sleep –

A good night’s sleep can dramatically improve your health, vitality and overall life quality. Getting your beauty sleep should be your priority, as your skin repairs itself from the daily damage caused by stress, pollution, infections and the sun. Hormone production is also regulated and tissues are repaired, as your body produces more proteins to repair itself at a cellular level. Sleep also lowers blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety by lowering your stress hormone production. Being more relaxed and calm reverses the signs of aging, and gives you beautiful radiant skin.

2. Yoga –

Ever wonder why yoga instructors always have a natural glow to their faces, and their skin seems so relaxed? Well, it is known that practicing yoga can reduce the signs of aging and give your skin a natural, clear and beautiful glow.  Yoga postures increase circulation in your body, which helps to smooth your skin. Inversions are especially wonderful, as being upside down sends blood to your brain, which nourishes your face with vital nutrients at the cellular level. Yoga postures also help to balance your chakras, which stimulate your hormonal systems that are responsible for slowing down the aging process.

3. Raw Foods

Eating raw foods can definitely improve your skin appearance, as nutrients wouldn’t be lost during the cooking process. Processed foods, sugars, salts, alcohol and cigarettes are best to be avoided for optimal results. Adding fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and seaweed to your diet are the best way to increase antioxidant levels, increase energy, strengthen your immunity, prevent diseases and give your skin a radiant beautiful glow. You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat!”

4. Water

When you pay attention to your water intake, you will definitely notice the difference on your skin. Your body is made up of 60% water, so when you’re properly hydrated your skin becomes nourished and your complexion becomes radiant. Water carries nutrients at a cellular level, flushes out unwanted toxins, improves circulation throughout your body and lubricates your joints and ligaments. As a daily requirement, be sure to drink 8 glasses of water. If you’re exercising, or in hot weather, you should increase your water intake. Just remember, water is vital for beautiful fabulous skin.

5. Natural Beauty Products

Pampering yourself has never been easier. Your supermarket contains beauty foods to keep your skin looking fabulous, radiant and glowing from the inside out. Using natural beauty products for your skin is cost effective, and will bring you beautiful results. Avoiding chemicals, toxins, parabens and sulfates from many daily used products is a sure way to better health. These substances are unwanted by the body, and affect your hormonal system in a negative way. Be sure to stick to natural ingredients for every skincare product that you use.

Visit LexiYoga to learn more about natural skin care and homemade beauty treatments that your skin will crave.

Maybe you could practice Yoga with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles on your iPhone

Get your bliss on anywhere with a new yoga app for your iPhone or iPod Touch.  iTunes has a decent number of yoga apps available.  Some look good, some look horrid, but this one featuring Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles looks promising.

Any recommendations for iPhone yoga apps?  I’m possibly in the market, but don’t want to waste money on something that’s not top-notch.

10 Reasons to Participate in Yoga Day USA 2010

Even though it’s nearly the end of January, do you still find yourself writing 2009 instead of 2010 anytime you have to date something?  Perhaps this annoying quirk just goes to show how difficult it can be to wrap the brain around something new.  Old habits die hard.  And sometimes new habits just require a little motivation.

If you’re looking for a little motivation to re-jumpstart your New Year’s intention to make yoga a habit, this weekend, 23 January 2010, to be specific, looks like an excellent time to head over to the local yoga studio for Yoga Day USA.  Read more about Yoga Day USA and find a “free – or nearly free” yoga class in your neighborhood.

Here are 10 really great reasons for cultivating the yoga habit:

  1. Stress relief
  2. Pain relief
  3. Better breathing
  4. Flexibility
  5. Increased strength
  6. Weight management
  7. Improved circulation
  8. Cardiovascular conditioning
  9. Focus on the present
  10. Inner peace

Video: How to Use a Neti Pot

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Take a Five Minute Yoga Break!

I always find it surprising how much better I feel at work if I take a few minutes every now and then to sit up, stretch my body, and take some relaxing breaths.  I found this refreshing routine at Yoga+ Joyful Living written by Greg Capitolo.  Enjoy!

Extended periods of sitting seem to be an occupational hazard in today’s information age. Even if you have good posture habits and the best ergonomic chair, your body will need a break to release muscle tension, stress, and stagnation in the joints. Fortunately, it’s easy to adapt some yoga postures for the office, allowing you to reap the benefits of hatha yoga without ever leaving your chair. Treat yourself to a five-minute break with this revitalizing sequence.

1. Breath Awareness To begin, sit at the front edge of your chair so that your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line. Adjust the height of your chair so that your knees are even with the hip joints and your feet rest on the floor directly under your knees (if your chair is not adjustable, prop books under your feet or hips). Close your eyes and focus on establishing smooth, even diaphragmatic breathing; feel the upper abdomen and lower ribs expand with each inhale and fall with each exhale. After one minute, move on to the gentle stretches below, starting each exercise from this basic seated posture.

 

2. Shoulder Rolls On an inhale, draw the shoulders up toward your ears and back; then down and forward on the exhale. Repeat two more times, then reverse the direction. This exercise increases mobility in the shoulder joints and opens the chest.

Read More…

Staying on the Path


After yesterday’s triumphant announcement about completing the 30 day yoga challenge, I just about blew it on the last day.  I got home from work, sat down in my chair to read a book, decided the bed looked more comfortable than the chair, relocated myself to the bed, clicked through a couple of pages of Pride and Prejudice on my Kindle 2, and then next thing I knew I woke up a couple of hours later; which happened to be much later than my normal evening yoga time.

As I groggily came to my senses, I realized it was going to take some serious will-power to roll off my bed and onto my mat instead of crawling under my covers and calling it a night.  Despite the invisible hands that were pulling me back towards my comfortable sheets (the bed’s a whole different story though — a military cot might be more comfortable than this spring-loaded nightmare), I managed to flip open my May copy of Yoga Journal to the “home practice” section.  I did the ten poses just like Patricia Walden instructed, took a shower, and then laid in bed wide-eyed for most of the rest of the night.  That’s pretty much par for the course after a two hour nap just before bed. Enough to make a person crazy!  But I don’t get crazy ’cause I do yoga, right?

As penance I dragged myself out of bed again this morning at 4:30 and did the hour long abbreviated Ashtanga Primary Series sequence I’d planned to do last night.  This last week or so, I noticed my motivation and dedication levels declining, which was probably caused by exhaustion from all the running I was doing on top of my daily yoga practice.  I think I sort of used running as a crutch because I started to doubt whether yoga alone would be enough to keep me fit.  Running and yoga every day was a bit much though, and the intensity of my practice suffered.  By the time evening rolled around and my dinner digested, I had a hard time getting pumped up about working up a good sweat.  I was just ready to chill out and relax.

But now that my 30 day challenge is actually complete, I’m beginning to feel the fire building up inside again and I have a new plan.  I’m going to cut back on some of my running so I have more energy for yoga and I’ll move my yoga time to the mornings so I can jump into it while I’m fresh and on an empty stomach.   I should be able to get to bed earlier and the early mornings shouldn’t feel like a drag.  The perfect way to start the day.

When all is said and done, I believe in yoga.  I believe in its power to make my body and mind healthy and happy.  And for me, yoga attunes my spirit to follow with more dedication and devotion the sacred and spiritual path that guides every thought, decision, and action in my life.  When my yoga practice is strong, my spirit is strong, and I feel more unity, peace, and balance in my body and in my mind.  And so, though my 30 day yoga challenge may be history, I remember once again the famous words of the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who said simply, “Practice, and all is coming.”  Having caught only a sliver of a glimpse of the fruits of a dedicated yoga practice, that sliver is more than enough motivation to regain my balance and coax my sleepy head out of bed for many more days to come.

30 Day Yoga Challenge: Day 10 Sleep-deprived Yoga

Today was day 10 of my 30 day yoga challenge.  So far, so good, other than it was the first day where I felt like going to bed instead of throwing out the mat.  It was just a long, exhausting day of work.  And even once I convinced myself to get practicing, every movement felt like it required more energy than I had inside me.  I ended up modifying the intensity of today’s practice so I didn’t collapse in defeat on my mat.  Nonetheless, I still practiced for an hour before I relaxed into a savasana that turned into a one hour nap.  Obviously a signal that I need more sleep.

Despite today’s struggles, it’s been great to get on the mat every day.  I can feel my body loosening up and becoming more skillful at the less difficult poses as it prepares to take on more difficult asana challenges.  I usually like to run a lot, but I haven’t ran at all this week because I wanted to see how pliable my body could become if I only focused on yoga.  Of course this is a slow, gradual process and most developments only seem noticeable when comparing beginning and end performance, but not necessarily day to day progress.  I’m just going to keep moving along in my practice and hopefully a good night’s sleep will bring more energy to tomorrow’s efforts.

Yogahack: How to Keep a Yoga Mat Sticky, Not Stinky

You don’t want to be that person, you know, the one who everyone  stays as far away from at yoga class because their mat reeks so bad and has so much sweat and bacteria growing on it that it might very well be  the next step in the evolution of yoga.  The living, breathing, stinky mat.

But no, oh no, not your mat.  You would never sweat all over your mat, roll it up sopping wet and then throw it in the sweltering trunk of your car.  Trust me, it’s not going to be so hot in the trunk that it cooks the little suckers who are throwing a party on your yoga mat.  The heat just gets them even more riled up and excited to plant a foot fungus on your forehead the next time you rest in child’s pose.  Now that’s a lovely thought isn’t it?

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written about how to clean a yoga mat, and since I initiated my freshly-delivered yoga mat last night with more than just a few drops of sweat, it’s about time for a re-attack.  Feel free to chime in with any tips or advice (“yogahacks”) if you’re already one of those who knows how to baby your mat like it’s a Rolls Royce.

First off, the method you use for cleaning your mat depends on what type of mat you have and how dirty it is.   For daily preemptive action, you should at least wipe your mat off with a towel after each use.   Some like to spritz their mat with a little mat spray before toweling it off or they use a handy wipe or it’s costlier cousin, the yoga mat wipe, to scrub away the nasties.  Beware, however, that you don’t use mat spray just to cover up a smelly mat problem.  Some people are allergic to it as well.

Even if you take the time to regularly wipe down your mat, it could still use a more thorough cleansing every couple weeks if you use the mat a lot.  Cleaning a lightly soiled  mat is as simple as grabbing a sponge or rag and rubbing out the oily spots with a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. If you don’t want to use soap, you can also create a 50% water/50% organic cider vinegar solution, which is what Manduka recommends for the Black Mat Pro and eKO if you don’t want to fork over the dough for actual yoga mat wash.   Once the mat is clean, rinse the solution off with fresh water, and then rub the mat down with a dry terry cloth towel and hang it out to air dry.

The true stinky mat. If you’ve neglected your mat for so long that it’s practically alive, then you may want to choose to fully submerse it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent or mat cleanser.   Once the mat is scrubbed off and rinsed clean, squeeze out any excess water, roll the mat up with a dry towel,  and then smoosh the moisture out by stepping on it.  Finally, hang the mat up to air dry.

One final method for dealing with a dirty mat is to throw it into the washing machine on the gentle cycle with a little detergent and cold water.  I’ve never personally used this method, so I can’t vouch for the effect the washing machine has on a yoga mat, or vice versa, but can confirm that some manufacturers like Manduka highly recommend against using the washing machine, both for the sake of the mat and the machine.  If you do choose to go this route, at the very least, remove the mat before the washing machine hits the spin cycle.

Obviously these are only a few of the numerous methods for keeping a yoga mat healthy and clean.  Just remember, don’t be “that guy.”  If you have a proven method that works for you or your particular mat and would like to share, please leave a comment.

30 Day Yoga Challenge ~ Day 5

“Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” — Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Okay, so my last blog entry was written not only for everyone else who wants to take on the challenge of a daily yoga asana practice, but also for myself. Right now I’m on day five of my own 30 day yoga challenge. Prior to the last five days of yoga, it’s been a while since I had strung out any number of consecutive days that resembled anything like a dedicated yoga practice. My list of excuses for a “lazy” practice goes go on and on. I’ll spare you the details.

Right now, even though I basically work 90 plus hours a week (12+ hours a day, seven days a week, tis my life in the military these days), I probably have more free time in my day than I have had in a long time. I go about doing my military/lawyer stuff over here in Iraq during the day, and then I’m lucky enough to have a little time in the evenings to go back to my room and chat with my family, relax, and get some exercise. A few weeks into my little adventure in Iraq, I realized that despite the nasty dust storms and wicked-awful heat, I could make my six months here memorable by really focusing on building a “constant” yoga practice; a yoga habit if you will. Funny thing is, I don’t even have a mat yet (though one is on the way). I bought a six dollar blanket that I fold in half and throw out on the floor. The idea was good in theory, but in reality it’s like a two hour battle with a large piece of polyester, with all the bunching and slipping and shifting around it does. Despite the less than perfect floor covering, I have a totally quiet room, with nothing better to do than to sweep the floor, lay out the blanket, turn off the A/C and work up a dang good yoga sweat.

Thanks for stopping by Daily Cup of Yoga and indulging me as I share a few details about my life sprinkled with tidbits of yogic wisdom. Namaste!

Ashtanga Yoga First Series Video by David Swenson

I happily surfed my way into David Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga First Series video on YouTube the other day.  The whole thing!  I enjoy reading  and practicing with Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga book, — it’s one of my favorite yoga books of all time — but have never had a chance to preview his yoga videos.

I haven’t watched the entire film yet, but so far I have a very favorable impression of both the video and Swenson as an instructor.  That’s pretty much what I expected based on his book.  Nothing flashy, but Swenson is very easy to listen to and his knowledge and wisdom of yoga seems to just kind float out of his mouth in a humble, yet authoritative way.

If you enjoy this first clip of instruction on breathing and bandhas, check out the rest of the video here in one convenient location.

Savasana ~ A Great Pose for Practicing the Art of Doing Nothing

“…every day, a little ‘bit dying.” Pattabhi Jois

Perhaps you’ve discovered, as I have, that you have some of your best do nothing time when you’re laying on your mat in Savasana (“Corpse Pose”).  For another take on the subject, check out the article “Find Serenity in Savasana” over at Yoga Journal.

And for an amazing analysis of savasana, click on the resting stick figure below:

The Art of Doing Nothing

Isn’t it nice to have those moments in life when you’ve checked off every last box on your agenda and can just let your mind and body relax?   I’m sure that happens to you all the time, right? Yeah, right.

Are you still waiting for all that free time to show up before enjoying the fruits of doing absolutely nothing? Do you know how to “do nothing?” Are you too busy or have too many thoughts running through your head to relax and enjoy those ever-present moments of  sweet nothingness?  Do you even know what that is?

For some, doing nothing is a waste of time, but for others it can be an art form that enhances their ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Follow this simple plan to master  the Art of Doing Nothing, and in the process improve your life, melt away  stress, become more patient, and make yourself more productive when you actually do have stuff to do.

Step 1:  Start small

Doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing all at once.   Most of us simply don’t know what to do with ourselves when we have nothing to do, which is why it’s best to start small.  Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a safe place — at home, not at work or in a busy public place.  Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, not a lot of people to bother you.  Just make sure your surroundings are quiet and comfortable.

Step 2:  Remove distractions

Shut off all distractions — TV, computer, cell phones, regular phones, Blackberries, and the like.  I know this might feel impossible to do, but doing nothing is tough when you’re surrounded by blinking gadgets beckoning for you to do something.  Although you may initially get that panicky feeling that swells in your chest when you realize you drove all the way to the grocery store without a cell phone, I promise, it will be all right.  I’ve been there, and I lived to tell about it.

Now, close your eyes, and do nothing.   Do nothing.  Simple, huh?  Perhaps doing nothing is more of a meditative mindset than a physical possibility.  Of course, you’re always doing something — you’re sitting, you’re thinking, you’re breathing — but if someone were to call you and ask what you’re doing, of course you’d say, “Oh, nothing.”  But luckily you’ve already turned your cell phone off, so you don’t have to worry about pesky distractions or telling others that you’re busy doing nothing.

Just sit there for five minutes and do nothing.

This is all you have to do to attain a basic level of do-nothingness.  Commit to this practice for five to 10 minutes a day and observe what happens.  To take this practice to the next level, continue on to the next step.

Step 3:  Breathe

The first place to start to master this simple art is  with your breath.  If this sounds suspiciously like meditation, just remember you’re not meditating, you are doing nothing.  (Okay, you can call it meditation if you want to:)

First, breathe slowly in and slowly out.

Next, on the inhale, notice how the breath enters your body through your nose, journeys down to your lungs, and expands your diaphragm.

On the exhale, feel the lightness of the air as it slowly escapes the body.  Feel the satisfaction of empty lungs.  Try to do this for 5-10 minutes.

You may notice while you are doing nothing that your mind starts to tell you that you need to do something.  If it makes your mind feel better, go ahead and trick it by telling it that you are “doing” breathing.  The mind just wants something to do.  Of course, you’re not actually doing anything since you can’t help it whether you breathe or not.  You’re just letting the body do what it does naturally:  BREATHE.    No effort, no work, just simply doing nothing.

Conclusion

Amazingly enough, if you commit to just this little bit of doing nothing, chances are good that you’ll find that you like it a lot.   Of course you won’t become a master of the Art of Doing Nothing overnight, but once you become proficient with these simple steps, don’t be surprised to find yourself wanting more and more nothingness.  Doing nothing is not easy.  It takes practice.  But, if you commit to taking a few minutes each day to do nothing, it will become easy, natural, and a definite item to check off your daily to-do list.

[Inspired by Leo at Zen Habits]

Save money, Use less plastic, Buy a Sigg!

Apparently advertising works because after months of seeing Sigg water bottle ads in Yoga Journal I found myself a few days ago at the Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville, VA, dropping over $20 for a .6 L Sigg.  It wasn’t exactly an impulse purchase since I was shopping specifically for a water bottle, just not one quite that expensive.  After two days at a legal conference of buying multiple flavored beverages throughout the day, I realized that bringing my own water bottle might save me a little money (and use a lot less plastic).  So, once I came across the Sigg, it didn’t take much rationalization to convince myself that we were MFEO.

Here’s one reason why the Sigg rocks:

Many people think that they are helping the environment by refilling their plastic PET water bottles. But are you helping yourself?

“Disposable PET bottles are designed for one time use,” states Simran Sethi of The Discovery Channel. “Refilling them can release harmful toxins from the packaging – especially when it gets heated. If you’re tasting plastic, you’re ingesting plastic.”

In 2008, many major North American retailers discontinued selling reusable plastic bottles made from polycarbonate #7 (brands such as Nalgene) due to concerns that these bottles were leaching Bisphynol-A. A report by Health Canada called this chemical (BPA) “dangerous.”

And not all metal water bottles are alike. Very recently there have been major recalls of Chinese-made aluminium water bottles for lead in the paint. Tests have shown that Chinese-made aluminium water bottles, like many polycarbonate #7 plastic bottles, also leach the chemical BPA.

A SIGG Bottle is your healthy and safe choice for your body. The baked-on, crack resistant bottle liner makes sure that you drink what you want to drink – and not unwanted chemicals. The SIGG bottle liner is leach-proof and resistant even to energy drinks, fruit acids and carbonation.

SIGG bottles are manufactured in Switzerland with no BPA, no lead, no phthalates – in other word, no risk to you!

So far, I think my favorite part about the Sigg is that water actually tastes like water.  No more plastic taste, no more leftover flavors like in a plastic water bottle.  It’s really nice and I’m very happy with it.  Highly recommended!

Video Review: Yoga Foundations with Hillary Rubin


If you’re into yoga podcasts, then there’s a very good chance you know Hillary Rubin.  She has a great blog full of yoga wisdom and routines that are perfect when your home practice needs some motivation.   A certified Anusara Yoga teacher, Hillary has a great story that illustrates the power yoga has to improve lives.  Taking her teaching to the next level, Hillary recently released a DVD, Yoga Foundations with Hillary Rubin.

For the last couple weeks, both myself and my four year old daughter, Kennedy, have enjoyed lining up our yoga mats and practicing to the DVD.  It’s not too long and it’s not too short.  Kennedy is a great yoga buddy and it makes me laugh every time she calls downward facing dog “hot dog.”

One of the interesting things about Hillary’s new DVD is that I didn’t really pay attention to the title of the practice, “Yoga Foundations,” until after I was partway through it the first time and started thinking to myself how grounded my body felt as I implemented the various corrections Hillary suggested.  I was surprised at how some of the subtle adjustments Hillary recommended entirely changed the way certain poses felt.  While the main practice is not too complex or physically demanding, it effectively does what it sets out to do:  create and cultivate a strong foundation.  Highly recommended for those looking for an easy-to-follow introducation to yoga.  Kennedy gives it two thumbs up.

Book: Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Find out what Hatha yoga is all about by reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

From Wikipedia

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Sanskrit: Haṭhayoga Pradīpikā) is a classic Sanskrit manual on Hatha Yoga, written by Svami Svatmarama, a disciple of Svami Gorakhnath. Said to be the oldest surviving text on the Hatha Yoga, it is one of the three classic texts of Hatha Yoga, the other two being the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita.

The text was written in 15th century CE. The work is derived from older Sanskrit texts and Svami Svatamarama’s own yogic experiences. Many modern English translations of the text are available.

The book consists of four Upadeshas (chapters) which include information about asanas, pranayama, chakras, kundalini, bandhas, kriyas, shakti, nadis and mudras among other topics. It runs in the line of Hindu yoga (to distinguish from Buddhist and Jain yoga) and is dedicated to Lord Adinath, a name for Lord Shiva (the Hindu god of destruction and renewal), who is alleged to have imparted the secret of Hatha Yoga to his divine consort Parvati.

Read the e-book here…

Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series Poster

Click here if you’re looking for the Primary Series poster…

 

Western Yoga and the Beatles

Found an interesting article at HowStuffWorks about the introduction of yoga to the West.  The following is an excerpt from:  “Did the Beatles introduce yoga to the Western World?”

Yoga actually made its first appearance in the West in the early 19th century. It was studied as an Eastern philosophy in the early 20th century and gained popularity as a part of the health and vegetarian movement of the 1930s. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that yoga really began to take off. Prominent Indian yogis began moving to Western countries to extend their teachings.

It was around this time that the Beatles were first exposed to yoga. While the group was filming “Help!” in the Bahamas in 1965, they met Swami Vishnu-Devananda, the founder of Sivandana Yoga. He presented them with signed copies of his work, “The Illustrated Book of Yoga.” George Harrison was fascinated by the book and began studying yoga and Eastern religion. His wife, Pattie Boyd, encouraged him to study Eastern mysticism, Indian philosophy and become a vegetarian. By 1966, Harrison journeyed to India to study sitar, a type of stringed instrument, under the master Ravi Shankar.

While Harrison studied in Bombay, Boyd heard of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM). The Maharishi, born Mahesh Prasad Varma, wanted to make meditation easy to understand and practical. In 1955, he wrote his first book, “The Science of Being and the Art of Living,” and began teaching TM in 1958.

Harrison and Boyd were struck by the Maharishi’s teachings and bought tickets for the Beatles to see him in London. The group followed the Maharishi to Bangor, Wales to learn more about meditation. They eventually traveled to his ashram, or religious retreat, in Rishikesh in the Himalayas where they were joined by other celebrities like Mia Farrow, Donovan and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. The Beatles studied as a group until certain members of the band began to lose interest in TM.

But after John Lennon accused the Maharishi of molesting Mia Farrow, the Beatles fell out with their former master. The allegations were unproven and no charges were ever filed, but the damage was done. Proponents of the Maharishi suggested the split was not the fault of the yogi, but was instead caused by the Beatles’ use of LSD and other drugs in the ashram. George Harrison was the only member of the Beatles to later make amends with the Maharishi.

However, the Beatles had been profoundly influenced by their time with the Maharishi. Much of the music on the White Album was inspired by the yogi’s words and their experience with TM. The Maharishi also profited from the connection. By the 1970s, more than five million people practiced TM

. Because the Beatles had helped popularize the yogi’s teachings, they were partly responsible for popularizing yoga in the West.

[Chatraw, Janel. “Did the Beatles introduce yoga to the Western world?.” 08 February 2008. HowStuffWorks.com. 28 October 2008.]

Check out the article to delve deeper.  There’s some links to other interesting articles.

Mayo Clinic – Do Yoga to Improve Your Stress Management and Relaxation Skills

Check out the following article from the Mayo Clinic for a basic introduction to yoga and the variety of health benefits enjoyed by its practitioners.

Yoga: Improve your stress management and relaxation skills – MayoClinic.com

77 Health Benefits of Yoga

If you’re still looking for a few good reasons to try yoga or do more yoga, here are 77 of them.  The list covers everything from “health benefits without,”  “health benefits within,” “emotional health benefits,” “body chemistry,” “exercise benefits,” “disease prevention,” and “symptom reduction or alleviation” that are brought about through regular yoga practice.  The list also has some good links to resources if you are interested in doing some further research.  It seems that modern science is slowly beginning to catch on to what all the old yogi scientists of yore already knew.

The same blog also has a great listing of yoga resources you may wish to browse.  There were a few sites I’d never seen.