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Month: December 2019

Easy Couples Yoga Poses You’ve Got to Try With Your Partner

By Emily Shiffer for Parade.

Finding time for both yourself and your relationship can be one of the most difficult balances in life. You may assume that to meet the demands of one, you must sacrifice the other. But couples yoga can enhance not only your individual physical, mental and emotional health, but the health of your relationship.

We asked Tiffany Cruikshank, L.Ac. MAOM, founder of Yoga Medicine, to create a sequence of easy yoga moves that couples can do together and bring them closer.

How can doing couples yoga benefit your relationship?

“As with any health or wellness practice, it’s helpful to have a partner who supports you in the lifestyle and schedule shifts needed to maintain a new routine,” says Cruikshank. “As a couple I think one of the greatest things we can do to enhance our relationship is to deepen our own self-awareness and self-reflection to take ownership of our feelings and reactions.”

According to Cruikshank, this can help improve your communication with your partner.

“We all know that communication is key for a good relationship but this communication is also dependent on our self-awareness. Yoga captures this so eloquently with its practices focused on untangling the filter of our judgements and emotions, so we can see things more clearly,” says Cruikshank. “Not that our relationships magically become effortless, but that we start to see how it’s all entwined and begin to unravel it simply through our nonreactive awareness, self-reflection and compassion.  Or better yet, a commitment to continuing to learn and grow together.”

Couples Yoga Poses

Pose #1: Child’s Pose

“This one is great for creating the foundation for self-reflection, sensing that there’s not a right and wrong in the noticing. This is a great place to come back to when you notice yourself stressed or emotional during your day,” says Cruikshank. “You can even just tune into it without the pose. Allowing yourself the space to notice how the terrain here changes, both influencing and being influence by our emotions and the world around us.”

How to do it: In this simple bowing posture, you need only sit back on your heels and bow your head forward to rest on the floor. If you have trouble sitting on your heels, try putting a pillow or blanket under your ankles or under your hips. You can also put a pillow or blanket under your forehead if it doesn’t easily reach the floor. As you allow yourself to be still here, notice the experience of being in your body and all the sensations under your skin. Notice the breath, areas that feel light or heavy, if you feel tired or energized, thoughts that come and go and anything else you notice here. Allow your mind to be the canvas as you paint a picture of the landscape of your experience in this moment. Stay for 2-5 minutes.

Pose #2: Couples Butterfly Pose

How to do it: Start seated with the soles of your feet together and knees spread apart. If sitting with the soles of the feet together is uncomfortable, you and/or your partner can opt to sit in a simple cross-legged position instead. Sit upright back-to-back and begin by noticing the breath, both yours and your partners.  Then slowly start to deepen your breath for a 4-count inhale and a 5-count exhale.  Repeat for 5-10 rounds.  This is a great way to quickly induce the relaxation response to counteract stress and build stress resilience while you feel the support of your partner doing the same. 

Pose #3: Supine Twist

Courtesy Tiffany Cruikshank

How to do it: Start on your back, bending the knees in toward your chest and taking them off to one side. Allow your legs to rest on the floor in a comfortable position, using pillows or blankets under your knees if you like. Stay for 2-3 minutes on each side. Follow the same thread of nonjudgmental awareness you found in child’s pose above as you relax here and notice. A great pose to both wring out the day or prepare you for the day ahead, both rejuvenating and relaxing as needed. This supported twist gently massages the spinal nerves along each side of the spine that innervate and regulate both the organs and muscles. An efficient and effective pose on its own when you’re short on time.

Pose #4: Partner Savasana

“Traditionally yoga practice ends with this final relaxation, which can be a great time to reconnect with your partner (my personal favorite),” says Cruikshank

How to do it: For this one simply lie on your back, hand in hand, without any effort. Allow yourselves to enjoy a deep relaxation as you sense the physical and energetic connection and support between you.  Relax here for 5-10 minutes. This final relaxation is often overlooked, but it’s an important time for the body and nervous system to integrate the effects of your practice. This is also a valuable way to increase vagal tone, associated with better stress resilience, greater heart rate variability and cardiac health, improved digestive health and everything else influenced by a decreased stress response.

Pose #5: Partner Meditation

How to do it: Sit side by side in a comfortable cross-legged position with your hips on a folded blanket or cushion so you can be comfortable here.  Ideally you want your hips as high as your knees so adjust how many blankets/cushions you have underneath you to achieve that.  Set a timer for 2-10 minutes, whatever you have time for.  If you’re new to meditation start with 2-5 minutes.  As you both close your eyes begin by noticing the breath inside your body. Allow yourself to be curious to the sensations and experience of the breath.  Then allow your attention to expand out to notice the awareness around you and that of your partner.  Sense the current of life that flows through both of you, however you experience that (the breath, heartbeat, blood flow pulsing through your, energy or vibration). When the timer rings slowly bring yourselves back to greet the rest of your day.

Optional: if you like and it’s comfortable you can do this side by side, hand in hand.

Meditation has so many benefits from stress reduction to mental clarity, focus and well-being.  Notice how it affects the rest of your day and your time together or apart.

Find out how mindfulness therapy for couples can boost your connection.

The Balanced Boss Podcast Interview

Tiffany Cruikshank: How To Heal Your Mind Naturally

Lauren Zoeller interviews Tiffany Cruikshank for The Balanced Boss Podcast.

In this episode, Tiffany speaks to:

  • How yoga medicine helped her on her journey to healing
  • Tips to begin to heal your mind naturally
  • The Placebo Effect
  • Your innate power to heal yourself and how to tap in

FOLLOW LAUREN:

IG: @laurenzoeller

Website: laurenzoeller.com

Yoga Techniques for Stress: Calming the Nervous System for Mental Health

By Valerie Knopik PH.D for Yoga Medicine®.

Engaging in yoga for stress is a common therapeutic modality to calm the nervous system and work towards greater mental health. Valerie Knopik PH.D talks about the stress response and shares a yoga-related technique to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

Find the original video on Yoga Medicine’s Youtube channel.

Sensitivity, Yoga, and Mental Health: A Personal Discovery

By Rachel Workman for Yoga Medicine.

Increasing sensitivity is encouraged in the yoga practice. You are invited to tune into subtle engagements, explore energetics, notice thoughts, and experience emotions. It is thought that a continuous practice will increase awareness and sensitivity in all aspects of the human condition so up until recently I had wondered why, after 10 years of dedicated practice, I still felt disconnected from my emotions.

When I began practicing yoga, I was drawn to certain components that were missing from a regular workout regimen. Yoga allowed me to explore something that I had long forgotten — sensitivity. I enjoyed the deep relationship to my physical body that yoga provided, but as others were sharing experiences of emotional release within the practice, I became aware of how long it had been since something had warmed my heart or allowed me to cry. Although I remembered being a sensitive child, I realized as an adult I felt emotionally numb.

What happened to that sensitive kid? How could I feel so disconnected to myself when I was the most connected to my body that I had ever been?

Introducing Nature vs. Nurture

Recently, I found my answer rooted in both the Western and the Eastern world. This summer at the Mental Health and Wellness module with Yoga Medicine, we explored the concepts of nature and nurture. Nature refers to the biology of our genes which can also be thought of as what we inherit and Nurture is the perception that our minds are a “blank slate” and that we are molded by our childhood experiences, lifestyle choices, and our ‘life as a fetus’.

At this training, teachers Valerie Knopik and Diane Malaspina shared that “what makes us who we are” has often been thought of as nature or nurture dichotomy, but when in reality it is a combination of both. Our genetic make up, perceptions, environment, and our sensitivity factor into who we become and how we behave.

Although we are born with a specific genetic code, it can be altered by environmental factors like stress, lifestyle, community, and maternal exposure. The study of these changes that modify our gene expression is called epigenetics.

As I considered our environment’s effects on gene expression, I realized that I may have come to the practice with a genetic predisposition to be sensitive, allowing me to connect to the physical aspects of the practice more readily, but my lack of emotional connection could be a conditioned response to past traumatic events.

Connecting the Past and Present

I grew up in a home that had little tolerance for being emotional. Most of my parent’s time was spent on making ends meet. My dad worked and my mom tried to make what little he made stretch to cover all of our basic necessities. The lack of space for expression of fear, anxiety, worry, and sadness when the outcomes were less than desirable, eventually took a toll on my mother.

When I was 12, she suffered her first nervous breakdown. No longer was she able to cope with life’s challenges. It was intense. The person I had known—the one who had been so good at hiding her anxiety, fear, and worry—was now an emotional wreck. My mother had finally succumbed to the environment where she was not able to openly express her emotions. Instead, she bottled them up and as financial circumstances worsened, she would ultimately break under the pressure.

I believe I was conditioned for that very moment because the years of seeing my mother hold in her emotions prepared me to do the same. Instead of breaking down at the thought of losing her, I became stoic. I became numb. As one break led to another, as one diagnosis was replaced with another…depression, schizophrenia, mania, anxiety… I shut down. This was the only way I knew how to cope with what was happening.

Gaining Clarity

Fast-forward 25 years and I am beginning to see that my mother’s nervous breakdown was a combination of genetics, environment, and sensitivity. Studies show that everyone carries genes that contribute to mental health disorders. Research on epigenomes has proven that environmental factors like stress effect gene expression and that our vulnerability and susceptibility can create a better or for worse outcome. Before my mother’s illness, I had always thought of her as “tough as nails.” Now looking back, I realized she was incredibly sensitive but wasn’t allowed to express herself.

Adapting to Survive

This childhood experience translated into years of creating boundaries to insure that I would not end up like my mother. There were long stints away from home in those early teenage years and as I grew older, I ignored phone calls to avoid her ruminations on past events or worries about the future. Without realizing it, I was reducing my exposure to an environment that I was highly susceptible to. I was living in survival mode.

So, what happens when the dysfunctional environment no longer exists?

Unfortunately, the past experiences that helped me adapt to dysfunction in my youth continued to play out into adulthood. I associated being emotional with my mother’s nervous breakdowns so I thought that if I let myself become emotional, then I would eventually lose control. I learned to be afraid of emotions and the result was to subdue my own and avoid anyone else’s.

Putting It All Together

I lost my mother August 1 st , 2018, six days before I was to attend Yoga Medicine’s myofascial release training. I told no one for fear I might not be able to control my emotions. As the week went by and we worked deeper into the connective tissue, I could no longer ignore the connections emotions have with the tissues of the body. I cried more at that training than I was capable of at her funeral.

Now, after years of practicing and studying yoga, I’m beginning to truly understand why I am so drawn to yoga and its lessons on life. I am slowly rediscovering that sensitive kid I spent years learning how to protect through avoidance. The simplicity and familiarity of the asana and pranayama practices are teaching me how to feel again before I realized that I was missing this capacity. I went to the mental health module expecting to gain insight and affirmations about my mother’s illness. However, I left that training with the fledgling understanding of how her illness affected my own mental health and emotional development as well as influenced the lessons within my yoga practice.

MFR for Joint Conditions – Specifically Osteoarthritis in the Hip

By Emily D’Alterio for Yoga Medicine.

2. Quadriceps

Place ball on your quad starting above knee & work slowly up thigh. Roll & compress on trigger points. Lower leg can relax or slowly moving heel to glutes.

3. TFL

Top of ITB – Lay on your side, please ball on the front of your hip (at your pocket), below bony protrusion. Compress then move lower, cover the whole outer edge of hip.

4. Erector Spinae & QL

Place two balls on either side of the spine, above the pelvis. Roll up & down the back, pausing to compress in lower, middle & upper back. Pause in the lower back, take knees to one side and pause. Repeat other side.

5. Feet

Place ball under foot – make slow circles under the foot, pause on trigger points at toe mounds, ball of foot and arch, scribble the heel, roll from toes to heel covering entire surface.

References:
1.“OA is the most common joint disorder in the United States” Zhang, Y., & Jordan, J., 2011, ‘Epidemiology of Osteoarthritis’. Clin Geriatr Med. 2010 Aug; 26(3): 355-369 –> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920533/
Tuhina, N. 2013, ‘The Epidemiology and Impact of Pain in Osteoarthritic. Osteoarthritis. 2013 Sep; 21(9): 1145-1153 –> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753584/


2. WHO Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion. Available at: http://www.who.int/chp/topics/rheumatic/en/
3. ‘The Epidemiology and Impact of Pain in Osteoarthritic. Osteoarthritis. 2013 Sep; 21(9): 1145-1153 –> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753584/
https://www.arthritis.org
https://www.arthritis-health.com/types/osteoarthritis


4. “research indicates that patient education, manual therapy, or exercise intervention…” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7621.php https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/treatment.php
Svege, I., Nordsletten, L., Fernandes, L., & Risberg, M. (2015). Exercise therapy may postpone total hip replacement surgery in patients with hip osteoarthritis: A long-term follow-up of a randomised trial. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 74(1), 164. Poquet, N., Williams, M., & Bennell, K. (2016). ‘Exercise for Osteoarthritic of the Hip.’ Physical Therapy 2016 Nov; 96(11):1689-1694.
https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/guidelines-by-topic/view-all-guidelines-by-topic/musculoskeletal-health/hip-and-knee-osteoarthriti

As Insta Posers Get Injured, Have We Finally Reached ‘Peak Yoga’?

By Sarah Berry for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Are the 5000-year-old traditions of yoga, which use the body as a vehicle for spiritual transformation, being trashed by competitive posing? And, as the practice rooted in spareness and discipline gets ever more tricked up and meme-ified, could we have finally hit peak yoga ridiculousness?

Gosh I love yoga, but  given how the practice is merchandised, touted and packaged it strikes me as ironic that what is meant to be a practice towards the dissolution of ego and transcending individualism and grandiosity attracts so many big egos.

As stars of the western yoga industry compete like the influencers they have become for ever greater online followings, now we learn that in the pursuit of the perfect promotional shot more of them are sustaining injuries.

Instagrammable poses have seemingly become synonymous with a more advanced practice – whether or not the person doing them is “yogic” on the inside.

The Telegraph, London reported last week that a “leading British physiotherapist” had noticed a spike in patients who were inexperienced yoga teachers intent on getting a picture-perfect pose.

“Social media has definitely contributed to this feeling of having to take it to the next level and that’s purely for aesthetic reasons,” the physio said. “Just because you can get your head to touch the floor, you might manage to get an ego boost but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have a huge health boost. You are just leaving yourself with more problems.”

You sure are.

2018 study by Central Queensland University found yoga-related injuries had increased by 80 per cent over a seven-year period (though it should be noted, compared with other physical activities, rates of yoga injuries are still relatively low).

“Influencers on social media are showcasing yoga based on the sex appeal of difficult poses, while wearing tight-fitting clothing and often in risky environments,” lead author Dr Betul Sekendiz said.

“Due to this attention-grabbing promotion, we know that many people are attempting the same type of poses to upload to their own social media.”

In August, a 23-year-old Mexican woman broke 110 bones after she fell six floors after attempting an “extreme yoga pose”, hanging from her balcony, while her friend took a photo for social media.

In March, an American Instagram yoga influencer, Rebecca Leigh spoke about the “terrifying” stroke she experienced in 2017 while performing a hollowback handstand for the benefit of her 26,000 followers.

“No pose or picture is worth what I have been going through. Don’t be so tempted to push over your limits,” she said.

Dana Diament is a Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist and teaches anatomy for Byron Bay’s Creature Yoga. She says many of the people competing to post the most difficult pose are missing the point of yoga.

“As much as it’s cliched … you’re meant to be using your body to set up this environment where you can learn about yourself rather than just trying to get into the pose,” she says, adding that many of the people who can do those poses without injuring themselves are naturally hypermobile or have “ligament laxity” issues.

“Aesthetics are definitely part of it … but is it just what we see on social media or a lack of education and anatomy training for many yoga teachers?”

Probably both.

I remember feeling unequipped after I did my 500 hours teacher training nearly 10 years ago and I had already been practicing for a decade. I remember thinking if I felt that way, how must it be for teachers who are unleashed after just 200 hours, which is the more common training length.

There is a natural desire to fill the gap between your own lack of confidence as a new teacher and the image of a seasoned, zen yogi you want to portray. The easiest way to do that is to show off how capable you are of impersonating a pretzel.

There is also a tacit pressure to look the part.

“My own journey of one was one of trying to force myself into these poses so that I could take better-looking pictures, so that I could have a better Instagram following,” admits Diament, who has been teaching for seven years. “For me, it didn’t really work out that well. I did actually get injured. I had a hip injury that I dealt with for about three years and it changed the way that I practice.”

Some see them as art, but Diament doesn’t post many pictures of herself in yoga poses these days because she worries it sends the wrong message.

“I want people to come for how it makes them feel better … not just because they can get their head to their knee or whatever. And for teachers as well, there is this [feeling they] need to do more and be more and push every position,” she says. “I just think it’s sad that we are in this day and age where the number of followers you have means you get more bookings or sell more products.”

So have we hit peak yoga? I don’t think so, but I do think we’ve hit peak ridiculousness when it comes to the desire to portray ourselves as perfect.

My hunch is that this isn’t so much of a “yoga” problem as a broader problem many people face, reluctant to reveal our fallibility and flaws often to our own detriment and certainly to the detriment of feeling connected with ourselves and others (arguably the real point of yoga). After all, people are injuring themselves generally trying to get the perfect Instagram shot and I’ve heard of plenty of other fitness professionals snapping tendons and generally hurting themselves as they try to out-do one-another for social media.

From this problem,  no one – yoga teachers and yoga students included – is immune.

Yin Yoga for Chest & Hips

By Shannon Stephens for Yoga Medicine®.

Sit a lot? Shannon Stephens, 500 E-RYT Yoga Medicine teacher, created this Yin Yoga sequence to open the chest and hip flexors; and it is an easily accessible practice for yogis of all levels. For most of us, the front side of the body is inherently tight. Less than ideal postural habits and lots of time on our seat results in tight pectoral muscles, rigid sides, tense hip flexors, and shallow breathing. This short yin sequence offers poses that free the front of the body and support the respiratory system by lengthening the tissues around the chest and ribcage. Note that Shannon is showing only one side of two-sided postures. Be sure to pause the video to complete your second side and have a way to keep track of time.

Find the original video on Yoga Medicine’s Youtube channel.

Yoga Medicine® Seva Foundation

What does it mean to be born in privilege? To have the financial support and education that has enabled you to follow your dreams? To have supportive and loving friends and family that you trust with your whole heart? Being born with privilege applies to anyone who is fortunate enough to have all of those things. And there is no denying that if born into these circumstances that it is easy to forget how fortunate we really are.

Born into a big, loving family, I spent my childhood carefree – laughing and playing with my sisters and friends in our happy home by the sea. My biggest resentment was wearing a maroon blazer and boater hat to school each day! That’s not to say my life has been completely pain-free. When I was 16, my dad died of cancer, leaving my family distraught. Mum became a shadow of her former self and as a teenager, I learned life is fragile and precious, and how dramatically it can change in such a short space of time. Life moves on and it is true that time, to a certain extent, is a healer. However, it took more than time for me to overcome my trauma of loss. I needed a ‘toolbox of support’ to get me through this period of my life and without the love of my family and friends, education and financial support; I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Consider what happens if you are born into unimaginable poverty. What happens if you and your family live on the streets without food or roof over your head? How do you survive on a daily basis, let alone cope with trauma? In 2016, the Seva Trip with Yoga Medicine® supplied an opportunity to see firsthand how people born into poverty in India live day to day. This trip was an opportunity to understand how these women and children, who are victims of such horrific forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, can rebuild their lives in the wake of such trauma.

The Yoga Medicine® Seva Foundation (YMSF) supports shelters in India that provide what I consider to be similar to my own ‘toolbox of support.’ They are given a safe place to sleep, health care, food, education, and vocational training as part of their rehabilitation process. When I met and listened to the workers at the homes and shelters, it was clear to see how each person is passionately involved in the process of improving the lives of these women and children. Above all, they were a non-judging family providing love and care for all.

The shelters provide a safe haven for women and children who have been abused, trafficked, or exploited. Each new arrival has counseling to help them overcome the traumatic experiences and also takes part in trade skills training. There are a number of different skills to choose from, including block printing to jewelry making. Training the women and children with trade skills is a vital part of the rehabilitation process because it means that when they leave the home at 18 years old, they have the capacity to independently earn a living, which in turn reduces the risk of falling prey to the cycle of exploitation again.

When local women in the sex industry were asked how they would like to be helped, many had resigned to the fact that prostitution was their only form of income. Their main concern was not to change their own lives but to protect their children from joining the same industry. The shelters funded by YMSF provide a safe place for children before and after school while their mothers are at work. Here, children have a safe place to continue their studies, eat a meal, have regular health checks, and even practice yoga. While visiting the shelter, we met several young adults who used to come to the shelter during their younger school days and were now at college with plans to go into further education and training.

When I heard about YMSF and decided to take part, I thought that I would go there to help the women and children. However, in truth they have helped me. Their smiles, laughter, and beaming sense of pride were contagious. The people I met reminded me that the future is in our hands and does not need to be dictated by sadness from the past. Every woman and child taught me that no matter where we live in the world and what traumas we have faced, we are able to grow with love and support from the people who surround us. Moreover, it reinforced the importance of education as a tool of self-empowerment that can enable anyone to move forward and build a new life. Although financial support is essential to a certain extent, the simple lives that many of these empowered women and children lead served as a poignant reminder that so often, less is more. Our role as Yoga Teachers is to be of service to our local and global community, and I feel fortunate to be connected to such a worthy charity in India that I can continue to support with the Yoga Medicine® Seva Foundation.

15 Best Yoga Gifts on Amazon

For the yoga lover on your list this holiday season, don’t miss these highly rated yoga products you can buy on Amazon.

By Jenn Sinrich for The Healthy.

Say “Yes” to Yoga

Researchers and trainers consider yoga to be a healthy exercise—and a great one to add to your workouts. There are plenty of physical benefits, such as enhancing flexibility and promoting the circulation of blood and oxygen to our organs, explains Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based weight-loss coach and corporate wellness trainer. But there are plenty of mental benefits as well. “Mentally, we become more mindful, quiet our thoughts, feel more peaceful, and become more relaxed,” Mansour says. So if someone on your gift list is big into yoga, gift them something that will enhance their practice and encourage them to continue. Here are some of the top-rated yoga gifts on Amazon to inspire your holiday shopping.

1. AmazonBasics Yoga & Exercise Mat with Carrying Strap

$17 – Shop Now

An affordable, easy-to-travel-with yoga mat is a no brainer for any yoga lover. It has all the basic qualities you’re looking for with a super-low price tag, so you can easily just stick it in your car or keep it in your gym locker. “It’s great for all types of yoga—hot, gentle, slow flow, etc.,” says Mansour “You can be rough with these and not feel guilty if you need to buy a new one or ruin it.”

2. Gurus Cork Yoga Mat with Natural Rubber Bottom

$99 – Shop Now

Yoga lovers will not only appreciate the natural and eco-friendly design of this cork-made yoga mat, but they will also love its supportive layer of sustainably sourced rubber. “It’s a true non-slip mat because it’s topped with a thin layer of cork that naturally displaces moisture and gets gripper when wet,” explains Ashley Matejka, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga Alliance RYT 200 Yoga Instructor, and Yoga Nidra Facilitator. “The best part is that Gurus has teamed up with Trees For The Future and a tree is planted for every Gurus product sold.”

3. Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga Travel Mat

$38 – Shop Now

Many yogis are always on the go—to and from class. That’s why a travel-friendly mat can come in handy. This one, by Manduka, is a favorite of Nealy Fischer, certified yoga teacher, founder of The Flexible Chef, and author of Food You Want. “It’s thin, lightweight, offers amazing grip, folds into any available spot in your tote bag or suitcase, is made of biodegradable plastic, and it won’t flake or fade,” she says.

4. Alo Yoga Women’s Moto Legging

$77 – Shop Now

These made-for-yoga leggings are also very stylish so you can wear to and from class without feeling like you’re wearing workout clothes. They’re made from a breathable fabric with mesh detail so you don’t overheat in the middle of a warm class.

5. Yoga Jellies

$55 – Shop Now

Have bad knees? Instead of folding your mat one or two times, consider these handy gels for extra padding. “Most of us have been conditioned to persevere through pain, but Yoga Jellies allow you to challenge your body during your practice without the counterproductive pain,” says Matejka. “They’re a great way to protect your joints during practice, especially your knees and wrists.”

6. Manduka eQua Yoga Mat Towel

$32 – Shop Now

A yoga towel is a handy accessory to bring with you to any class, from Bikram to vinyasa. “It’s great for absorbing sweat, keeping your mat dry, and helping your hands and feet stay in place,” says Fischer. “I also love how it’s soft, lightweight, and offers split microfiber technology for better moisture absorption and wet-grip.”

7. Yoga Block Cork

$18 – Shop Now

A yoga block may seem like just one more thing to carry around, but they are so important for proper alignment and flexibility, according to Matejka. Like their yoga mat, Gurus makes a natural cork yoga block that’s sustainably sourced.

A yoga block may seem like just one more thing to carry around, but they are so important for proper alignment and flexibility, according to Matejka. Like their yoga mat, Gurus makes a natural cork yoga block that’s sustainably sourced.

A yoga block may seem like just one more thing to carry around, but they are so important for proper alignment and flexibility, according to Matejka. Like their yoga mat, Gurus makes a natural cork yoga block that’s sustainably sourced.

8. REEHUT Yoga Strap

$6 – Shop Now

Mansour uses this yoga strap to work out the tightness in her shoulders and neck when she’s at home—but it’s great for use in a yoga class as well to work out any kinks before you begin. “Just sit on your mat and do some shoulder and chest opening exercises while holding onto the strap,” she says.

9. Get Loved Up Nutrition Organic Vanilla Protein

$30 – Shop Now

Koya Webb, celebrity holistic health coach, yoga teacher, and author of Let Your Fears Make You Fierce, relies on this protein powder for a quick energy boost after a tough yoga class. “It allows my body to recover faster and relieves any soreness I might feel the next day,” she says.

10. Uhawi Yoga Mat Bag Large Yoga Mat Tote Sling Carrier

$28 – Shop Now

Any yoga lover lugging around the equipment they need for their practice will have trouble doing so without a bag to fit everything in. This one can store up to two mats, yoga blocks and anything else you’ll need for class. It has two velcro and zipper pockets to keep your small items safe too.

11. YogaAccessories MAXSupport Deluxe Rectangular Cotton Yoga Bolster

$40 – Shop Now

With nearly five stars and more than 160 ratings, it’s clear to see this bolster is a hit with the yogi crowd. Alison Heilig, running coach, personal trainer, yoga teacher pursuing her 500-hour certification with Yoga Medicine®, and author of The Durable Runner: A Guide to Injury-Free Running, is a huge fan. “The cover is removable and washable and it’s super thick and sturdy, which is excellent for restorative poses.”

12. Liforme Original Yoga Mat

$150 – Shop Now

This yoga mat might be on the pricier side, but its 4.5-star rating from 331 reviewers attest that it’s worth the expense. It’s made from entirely biodegradable materials and has an impressive grip that won’t slip even in the sweatiest of classes.

13. ANDI Women’s The ANDI Small Tote

$158 – Shop Now

For a carry-all tote that a yoga lover can take to and from class, or just about anywhere, this is a great buy. Its camo print is super in-style and it can be worn in three different ways. “They’re so great for a busy yoga teacher who is between locations,” says Megan Kearney, Yoga Medicine® instructor. “My bag holds a laptop, headphones, change of clothing, water bottle, personal effects, and a yoga mat.”

14. YogaDirect Deluxe Mexican Yoga Blanket

$26 – Shop Now

Most of us look forward to the end of class where your teacher instructs you to get into Shavasana, or corpse pose. This is where you can use your blanket to warm your body as you let go of all your muscle tension and simply melt into your mat. Heilig loves this blanket, which she gets compliments on all the time. “It’s thicker than other yoga blankets, it’s way more durable, it’s machine washable, and it comes in 11 fun colors!”

15. Free People Jaden Ribbed Knit Fringe Shawl/Wrap

$48 – Shop Now

A cold day won’t keep a yogi away from class, so a nice, warm scarf is essential. “This scarf does multiple tasks in my life and rolls up and tucks into my bag at the end of the day,” says Kearney. “I take it when I travel, rolling it around my neck for air travel, and as a blanket on red-eyes between coasts.”

Yoga for Mental Health: Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and a Practice for Community Support

How can certain yoga related modalities get “under the skin” to positively impact our mental health? Yoga for mental health can be a powerful tool but when teaching or practicing this as a therapeutic practice it’s important to understand the role of epigenetics and neuroplasticity in reframing our experience to paint new neural connections. Valerie Knopik PH.D and Professor at Purdue University speaks on the subject of epigenetics as it relates to our DNA expression and how we can use neuroplasticity and emotional regulation to take control of our mental health.

After the lecture at 7:00, Valerie welcomes you into a short yoga technique based on the idea of community support. For this yoga practice, you’ll need a partner or a wall. This technique for mental health can be access by a yoga student of any level, including beginners, and is an exercise you can integrate into your yoga class if you are a teacher interested in utilizing community support and mental health techniques in a yoga setting.

Find the original video on Yoga Medicine’s Youtube channel.

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