The Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana) for Stress

Aug 25

Feeling overwhelmed by everyday worries, stress and anxiety? Try the Big Toe Pose for relieving stress. This yoga pose is involved with the nervous system. This pose confers an upper body release, being able to relax the mind because of the gentle inversion which is brought by it. The Big Toe Pose aka Padangusthasana can help you alleviate insomnia and headaches plus the practitioner can become more flexible because of the hamstring stretch.

Follow the instructions listed below:

  1. Stand up with your feet parallel to each other and around six inches (15 cm) apart.
  2. Tighten the front thigh muscles and elevate the kneecaps.
  3. Maintaining your legs entirely straight, exhale while you bend in front of you, moving the upper body and the head in a straight line; lace the index and middle finger of both hands between the big toes and the second toes.
  4. Next, twist these fingers under and grab the big toes steadfastly, placing the thumbs around the other two fingers to ensure a secure wrap.
  5. Push the toes against the fingers; inhale and elevate the upper body as if intending to stand up again, unbending the elbows.
  6. Extend the upper body, exhale again and elevate the sitting bones.
  7. Depending on each practitioner’s flexibility, the lower back will curve more or less.
  8. While doing this, relax the hamstrings and contract your lower abdomen at the same time, slightly lifting it towards the pelvis back; elevate the sternum top as high as possible, however pay attention not to elevate the head so far as to compress the neck back.
  9. Maintain a relaxed forehead.

The Big Toe Pose brings numerous benefits to different body parts, among which:

  • Since this pose involves a lot of stretches, it increases the blood flow to the brain, improving the concentration and retention ability;
  • The blood pressure and anxiety are regulated, while relaxing the practitioner;
  • This pose is also helpful for flat feet;
  • Tired muscles can become invigorated.

Why practice the Big Toe Pose

The Big Toe Pose should be practiced by anyone who wants to:

  • Relive stress, calm the brain and fight anxiety;
  • Alleviate insomnia or sleep issues;
  • Stimulate his or her kidneys and liver;
  • Improve the digestion;
  • Stretch the calves and hamstrings.

This pose is not recommended to individuals with neck and lower back injuries. Please make sure you consult a physician before exercising the Big Toe Pose.

For more details about the Big Toe Pose and its benefits, we invite you to get in touch with our friendly staff members.

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How To Choose The Best Yoga Mat For Your Practice

Jul 31

Have you been wanting to try yoga but you do not know the first place to start? I am sure you have thought about how you would start looking for a yoga mat but not just any yoga mat, a great yoga mat. Or maybe you are an experienced yogi but are still trying to find a great mat for your practice. Choosing the perfect yoga mat for your practice can be a bit of an adventure but not to worry because this article will cover what to look for when honing in on the perfect mat for your practice.

If you have ever taken a yoga class, whether hot or non-hot, you know how slippery your hands and feet can become. A yoga mat that suddenly turns into a slip-and-slides is not fun, nor is it safe. Every yoga mat brand has their own reasons why their brand is the best for yoga mats.

There are important characteristics that a beginner and/or experienced yogi should consider when looking for yoga mats. These are non-slip, sweatproof and well-cushioned. It is important to do research to find out which yoga mat is the best fit for you. A specific criterion is recommended. Sensitivities, dry tech, weight, stickiness, feel durability, thickness, eco-friendly, size and appearance.

Sensitivities
If you have sensitive skin you will need to look for yoga mats that are made from certain materials. Whether you choose a certain material due to an allergy or preference, it is important to do your research. The most common materials used to make yoga mats are latex, hypoallergenic and/or non-permeable microfiber. It is best to choose the material that feels the best to you.

Dry-Tech
Certain yoga mats have certain features that increase your hand grip steady and keep itself dry as the temperature increases during class. These features keep your hands and feet from becoming sweaty and slippery, which in turn keeps your mat dry during class. When looking for a good yoga mat, it is a good idea to look for a mat with the most up to date features or at least features that will last a very long time.

Weight
For some, the mere thought of having to lug around a heavy yoga mat makes yoga class not very zen. Having to lug a heavy mat to class may prevent some from actually going to class because it may turn into a chore. You may want to look for a yoga mat that is lightweight and easy to carry around. A heavy yoga mat is not always good for your posture either.

Stickiness
Stickiness on a yoga mat is a good quality because it helps the yogi from slipping and sliding during class. If a yoga mat is extremely sticky, that is a great quality for the mat to have; the stickier the better. Yogis appreciate a sticky yoga mat because the opposite can often lead to sliding around your mat during class.

Feel
If you hone in on how you feel during standing and kneeling poses on your mat, you will know what type of mat to buy. Some yoga mats have raised designs that you can feel. Other yoga mats have a smooth finish without a raised design. Choose the yoga mat that feels the best to you during all the poses that you do.

Durability
If you’re looking for a good non-slip yoga mat, you will want to look for one that will last you for a very, very long time. Durability should be one of the main factors when searching for the best yoga mat. Durability may cost a pretty penny upfront but it will save money down the road.

Thickness
A thick yoga mat may be heavy in weight and may be quite a pain to lug around but this is when an individual must decide what they from a yoga mat. If an individual cares about having thick cushioning to kneel on, look for very thick mats. But if an individual prefers less cushioning during standing poses, look for a yoga mat with less thickness. The level of thickness of a yoga mat all comes down to personal preference and/or physical health.

Eco-friendly
Some yogis care a great deal about whether or not a yoga mat is environmentally friendly. These types of yoga mats are made with materials that are not harmful to the environment; organic and natural. You do not need an eco-friendly yoga mat for a yoga class but for some, this can be a dealbreaker when choosing the right yoga mat.

Size
Yoga mats are made in various lengths and there is a length for every yogi. If you are tall, medium or short yogi there is a yoga mat out there for you. Size should be an important factor when choosing a yoga mat because you do not want to be uncomfortable on your mat during class.

Appearance
To some yogis, looks do not always matter but to some yogis looks are everything. If you snag a yoga mat of your choice, hopefully, it is in your favorite color or design. At the end of the day finding a yoga mat that is comfortable for you to practice on is all that matters.

Finding a great yoga mat can be challenging but not impossible. You may be a beginner yogi and have no clue where to begin your search. Or you may be an experienced yogi and already have a yoga mat but are having trouble finding the perfect mat. Do not worry, if you stick to the above criteria you will find the perfect mat in no time! Once your search is complete you can walk into a yoga class feeling confident that you have found the right mat for you!

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Using Yoga to Recover from Injury

May 09

Humans are accident-prone creatures. We break, we bruise, we cut and scrape. At some point in your life, you will undoubtedly injure yourself. When that happens, don’t write off exercise entirely! You may not be able to run laps or lift weights, but you can keep your muscles engaged and your body strong while you recover. Many dedicated yogis started out as regular people who suffered from a debilitating injury or chronic pain, then found relief in asanas.

You may have heard of a specific type of yoga offered in studios that are geared towards those in recovery – restorative yoga. This type of practice is gentle, slow, and involves many props to help you modify and adjust in any way you need. You should still tell your teacher about any injuries you have, but you can rest assured that this class will not be as physically demanding as most others. Restorative yoga poses to keep you on the ground and focus on breathing, stretching, and releasing tension.

If you are struggling with pain or injury, try a few of these gentle poses:

Legs Up the Wall

Lie on your back with your legs propped up against a wall and a bolster or thick blanket under your lower back. Get your sit bones close to the wall, about an inch or so away. You want your legs to be almost completely vertical. Lay here for about five minutes. If you need to, you can place a pillow under your head to encourage complete relaxation. This pose is good for gently stretching the back legs, neck, and providing backache relief.

Modified Child’s Pose

Regular Child’s pose has you rest on your knees while sitting back on your heels, but the modified version incorporates a bolster under your torso and blanket under your upper thighs. You can also either stretch your arms out in front of you or let them rest at your sides. Your whole torso should be resting on the bolster for added support to the back. Child’s pose gently stretches the back and neck, relaxing your body.

Reclined Bound Angle

Lie back on a bolster, but keep your sit bones on the mat. Bring the soles of your feet together so that your knees are pointed out to the sides. Set a couple of bolsters or blankets underneath your knees if you can’t bring them all the way to the floor. This is a nice gentle stretch for tight hips and a way to relieve back pain.

Corpse Pose

Lie on your back with your arms out at your sides, palms facing up. Spread out your legs slightly, giving each limb its own space. The corpse pose is a recovery pose, so let your body relax and melt into the floor. Place a pillow under your head if you need extra support.

While all of these poses are very gentle, you should always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regime. It will be helpful also to dress in the appropriate yoga attire.

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Two Creative Ways To Wear Jewelry To A Yoga Practice

Feb 13

Jewelry has a long reputation of being nixed in the yoga studio, with instructors teaching students to leave the flashy pieces in their yoga bag. A long necklace or a dangling pair of earrings can undoubtedly leave room for injury during a yoga practice, but should all jewelry really be banned? New designs and styles have made some yogis start experimenting with what a few touches of metal and gemstone can add to their practice and their yoga outfit. 

What are a couple of simple ways to add some nondescript jewelry to your yoga practice? 

Find A Short Necklace With A Yoga-Inspired Symbol:

Long necklaces are out when it comes to yoga. They dangle too far down during standing poses and can shift around dangerously during headstands and other inversions. No yogi wants to be knocked in the face by a long strand of beads while focused on their practice. Instead, yogis should look for shorter, choker style necklaces that symbolize essential aspects of their training.

 

Look around for necklaces with symbols that mean something personal to you. Perhaps they could have an image or a word that relates to a long-term intention you’re trying to set. It could be a reminder like a lotus flower or the ohm symbol to remain centered and at peace with yourself throughout the day. Choose an image that has a meaning to you that you will see during your practice and throughout the day. 

Make sure both the charm and the chain are very dainty and lightweight to avoid any injury that would be possible with longer necklaces. 


Wear Stackable Rings 

The new fad with modern jewelry steers clear from the large gemstones and gaudy rings of past years. New stackable rings are low profile and dainty in size, making them ideal for yogis who want to wear jewelry to their practice. The thin nature of these rings makes them comfortable on the hands during the yoga flow and keeps them from being overly distracting. 

However, take caution not to stack them too high, where skin could get painfully squeezed between the rings during poses like the downward facing dog. Limit it to just one or two rings per finger during your yoga practice. 

Stackable rings come in a wide array of styles and colors. Consider a ring that is engraved with a word that means something to you or maybe a mantra that is significant. Other yogis may prefer them to be embedded with specific gemstones that they believe can open and influence their chakras or energy. Both of these are great ways to bring even more to your yoga practice through this decorative item. 

Jewelry in the yoga studio doesn’t have to be taboo, but it does have to be worn with caution. Take care to select pieces that won’t interfere with your overall sequence or practice. Safety should be considered first and foremost when deciding on anything you wear to your yoga class or home yoga practice. 

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Sahasrara: Bringing Balance to the Seventh Chakra

Jun 03

 

As we have been making our way up the seven chakras we have progressively learned to embrace and assert our right to have, feel, ask, love, speak, and see. The seventh and last chakra Sahasrara now comes with the guidance of encouraging us to affirm our right to know. With its Sanskrit word meaning “thousand-petaled,” this chakra represents the revered symbol of a lotus flower, which stands for purity and divine beauty.

Sahasrara can be found on the crown of the head and it is seen as our connection with the divine and our higher self. It is associated with the pituitary gland as well as the hypothalamus and consequently with the endocrine and nervous systems.

When you attain the state offered by this chakra you emerge from your murky surroundings to shine like an enlightened lotus flower. You are freed from the cycle of Samsara and are finally liberated from the chains of the ego, mind, and body; reaching unity with the infinite universe.

If this wheel of energy is out of balance, we feel isolated and lonely as if we had no ability to connect with others. We feel as if our life is meaningless and so committing to goals is hard because it seems to make no difference whether we reach them or not. Being over-intellectual or finding relief in the material are also symptoms of misalignment.

Physical and mental signs of a blocked crown chakra can be manifested through neurological disorders, nerve pain, thyroid and pineal gland disorders, Alzheimer’s, chronic headaches or migraines, insomnia, depression, or delusional and schizophrenia disorders.

Five asanas or yoga postures that can aid you with opening this seventh chakra are:

Anjali Mudra or Standing Prayer Backbend

Matsyasana or Fish pose

Parivrtta Baddha ArdhaChandrasana or Revolved Bound Half Moon pose

Garudasana(variation) or Baby Eagle pose

Savasana or Corpse pose

 

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(Part of feeling great is looking great shop the above look here.)

Just as for all spiritual chakras, if not for all, meditation is the best practice for realigning Sahasrara. The constant and disciplined practice of bringing your mind into a contemplative state will allow you to claim back the power of your own life as well as to reach a state of complete peace, grace and bliss. Some might say that to reach enlightenment one must lead a secluded life such as the lifestyles practices by monks, saints or gurus; but this is not true. We all have different spiritual paths, and it just takes a pure and authentic intention along with a focused and loving discipline to attain this pure state. Read wise and inspirational texts, practice silence, re-learn to cultivate patience, understanding, acceptance, love and compassion towards yourself and every single sentient being that surrounds you and the access to the Sahasrara divinity that has always been locked within you will merely be a few steps away.

 

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Safety Precautions You Should Consider When Performing Yoga

Mar 05

 

 

Do you need to observe any safety precautions when practicing yoga? Yes, you do. Yoga, like any other sport, has various risks that can easily lead to injury. When precaution is not observed, there are increased chances that you will be visiting a clinic with a yoga related injury.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 5,500 people reported yoga injuries in the year 2007 alone. This figure is similar in magnitude to the number of injuries reported in many other sports. Likewise, all physical activities, both indoor and outdoor carry a certain degree of risk.

Although yoga may be safer than most of the other intense sports, there still needs to be a certain level of precaution during practice. Here are a few precautions you should always bear in mind during a yoga class.

Consult Your Doctor

If you have had a medical history that may be cause for concern, it is wise to consult your doctor before proceeding any further. This could be on past injuries, ongoing medical cases, or other issues like pregnancy.

Women who are menstrating need to be careful not to strain their abdomen either by stretching or contracting too much. Any condition that may be adversely affected by doing exercises should be brought to the doctor’s attention.

 

Approach Any Training with a Learner’s Mind

Even if you have been involved in other sports such as body building, attend your initial yoga classes with a beginner’s mind. There is always a challenging aspect of anything new that you start with. Starting with beginner classes will help you gain comfort in various aspects of yoga.

Build yourself a good foundation on what is expected of you before trying the harder classes. If a class does not offer a foundational class, it doesn’t hurt to look around.

 

Train with a Qualified Instructor

With the increased number of yoga trainers in the country and around the world, it is wise to consider the qualifications of any yoga teacher. It is not uncommon for someone to decide to open a yoga class and make some money from this new trend.

However, having certification as a yoga tutor is key to ensuring that every practitioner stays safe during exercise. Insist on knowing the background, qualification, experience, approach, and style of your tutor. Not every style or class will fit every person. A factor like age largely determines who you choose to be your yoga instructor.

Consider Your Body’s Response

The most important thing to consider is how your body responds to the exercises. Ensure that you go only as far as your body can accommodate. Overstraining or stretching yourself too far is a recipe for injury.

That is also why it is wise to not get carried away by what other people are doing. Doing a pose just because everyone else is doing it is taking unnecessary risk. Getting to understand your body and staying in sync with it is a key principle in yoga. Pain, injury, and meditation cannot work together.

 

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