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Month: March 2021

Fitness Shopping Guide | March 2021

By Carla Snuggs for Posh Lifestyle & Beauty Blog.

In 2021, we are putting self care and health at the forefront and making ourselves a priority. With a focus on great health, I’ve compiled a shopping guide to help you find the best fitness and wellness products. If you have suggestions, let me know in the comments! Let’s get it!

OnlinePilatesClasses.com Pilates Mat Exercise Flashcards 

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Take your Pilates practice with you wherever you go. These flashcards are a Pilates Studio in the palm of your hand. Draw a few cards to do if you only have 5 minutes to do Pilates or do the whole deck! Create the Pilates Mat class that works for you. Use the back of the card for tips and instructions or use the QR code to watch the video. Shop: Onlinepilatesclasses.com 

Fit Buddy  

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Fit Buddy fitness tool is a versatile self use personal care tool with over 20 uses on the body from head to toe. It helps with recovery, muscle tension relief, mobility, flexibility and even breaking down cellulite. Used by a variety of people including professional athletes, personal trainers, yogis, tennis players, physical therapists, office workers, drivers and teenagers to the elderly. Relief at your fingertips when and where you need it. Made out of sustainable natural wood, lightweight and fits into your carry on bag or backpack. $59.95 includes mat. How to use Videos at www.FitBuddy.us  

Lexi Miller Cora Cycling Jersey 

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Finally, fashion meets fitness! Beautiful and technical cycling apparel for women.  Made in California by women, for women. Shop: Leximiller.com 

Fitletic Blitz

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An athleisure must-have for anyone on the go. Whether you are traveling, walking the dog, taking the kids to the playground, or running errands, being hands-free never felt and looked so great! It’s so comfortable, you’ll forget it’s there, and its sleek and low-profile design is perfect for everyday! Fits your big phone, passport and all your essentials. Shop: Fitletic.com

Moxie Fitness Apparel Leakproof Leggings 

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1 in 3 women experience “stress incontinence” while exercising.  Moxie’s leakproof leggings have a patent-pending liner, wicking moisture into a center, absorbent layer, trapping it from the outer shell.  Wear, wash & repeat! Shop: Gowithmoxie.com   

Sticky Be Socks Be You Marbled Grip Socks in Begonia 

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Sticky Be’s core “be”liefs are woven into every pair of our inspirational grip socks. Choose your favorite mantra to keep you motivated both mentally and physically! Shop: Stickybesocks.com 

EcoSan – Eco-Friendly, Portable, Reusable Sanitizing Wipe 

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EcoSan is your Eco-Friendly, Reusable Sanitizing Wipe. Small enough to fit in any purse or pocket for frequent flyers and grocery buyers! Reduces plastic waste by 97% compared to leading wipes brands! Shop: www.SanitizeWithoutWaste.com 

Freshen Up Fresh Start Kit 

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Transitioning to natural, non-toxic deodorants can be overwhelming and intimidating. Whether you’re new to the world of natural skincare or just new to our brand, this kit will make your transition a bit easier and give you the confidence to survive your day naturally, so you don’t have to switch back to your synthetic deodorant. Shop: Getfreshenup.com 

Motto + Fleur- Struggle // Strength Activewear Tank 

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With every ounce of struggle, comes two ounces of strength. Double down with this encouraging workout tank and reach your goals! Available in sizes S – 3X and features moisture-wicking fabric with UV protection. Shop motto + fleur 

Royo Roller 

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ROYO Roller is a versatile, adjustable length self-massage roller allowing you to roll on your own anywhere, anytime. Simply adjust the length to fit the length you want and need. Use for health, sport and fitness activities. The ROYO Roller helps relieve aches, pain and stiffness in muscles and joints so you feel better and recover faster. Shop: Royoroller.com 

The HurtSkurt 

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The HurtSkurt® is a revolutionary, patent-pending, stretch-to-fit hot/cold sleeve comprised of 2”x4” individual gel packs stitched in to a custom printed soft stretch fabric. Each panel is separated with stretch stitching on all sides and sewn together at the ends, creating a highly flexible ring of gel packs that can double in circumference when stretched on to the body, allowing you to move about while wearing it. Shop: Thehurtskurt.com 

All Moringa Premium Organic Moringa Leaf Powder and Organic Moringa Leaf Powder in Vegan Capsules 

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If you are an endurance athlete, sportsperson, yoga enthusiast, swimmer, or just someone looking to boost your overall health, the Moringa Oleifera tree, a nutrient-rich tree in which its fruit and leaves have been used for centuries, will provide you with nutritional and healing benefits like no other nutritional supplement.  

Strenuous exercise can deplete the body’s protein, vitamin and mineral reserves making it extremely difficult to recover from injuries. Moreover, competitive or physically demanding athletic activity produces lactic acid in the body that raises acidity levels in muscle cells resulting in muscle tension, pain and loss of flexibility. During intense athletic activity, it is difficult for the body to compensate for the free radicals that result from this activity. This is where we come in! Our nutritional superhero 100% organic moringa leaf powder and Moringa leaf powder in vegan capsules contain all 18 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids to form all the proteins your body needs, have anti-inflammatory properties to help to reduce pain and soreness after a workout, anti-oxidant properties that reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage and help the body recover faster, anti-fatigue properties that boost the body’s energy reserves, a significant concentration of electrolyte minerals, and vitamins B, C, Iron, Magnesium and Calcium, all of which can and WILL help your body in its healing and strengthening process.  

Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm 

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Protect your skin against rubbing that causes chafing, irritation and raw skin. The balm is sweat and water resistant – it keeps pores clog free by allowing sweat to escape and lets skin breathe. The effective and long lasting formula gives you all-day protection. Use daily in humid and dry conditions for a pain free active lifestyle. Shop: Bodyglide.com 

Jillian Michaels: The Fitness App  

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Why it’s unique: The Fitness App has been a top awarded app on both Apple and Google. Not only does it offer custom workout plans based on your specific fitness level and goals, but it also includes customizable meal plans to follow throughout the training period, a free daily 5-minute circuit, and access to over 1000+ unique exercises with an HD video to help you perfect your form, and so much more. Two sample classes: Dad Bod workout program, Kettlebell Burn program. Price: You can try a 7 day trial for free, or $14.99 a month.  

Strala Yoga App  

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Why it’s unique: Strala Yoga combines the movement and healing wisdom of tai chi with the form vocabularies of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Traditional Chinese and Japanese Medicine to help people release stress, move easily through challenge, and live radiantly inspiring lives. Members get live weekly classes, a complete class library in yoga, meditation, tai chi and qigong and exclusive workshops and lectures. Strala Yoga is available via app or online within your browser. Price: 19.99 / month. Sample Classes: Workout Yoga with Tara, Strong Yoga with Tara  

Yoga Medicine® Online  

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Why it’s unique: Yoga Medicine® Online offers a new resource for yoga teachers and students of all levels to enjoy Yoga Medicine’s unique yoga and well-being guidance at home. Led by world renowned yogi Tiffany Cruikshank and other highly trained Yoga Medicine Therapeutic Specialists, the yoga classes coupled with purposefully curated three-dimensional wellness programs incorporate innovative, research-based techniques with a therapeutic focus to help support all aspects of health and wellness. Sample Classes: Strength & Resilience: Whole-Body, Lung Capacity & Longevity. Price: $39/month  

Bouncyband No-Roll Weighted Ball 65cm for Adults and Kids Over 5’6” Tall in Blue 

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Bouncyband No-Roll Weighted Ball is great for use at home while sitting at your desk or exercising!  The weighted feature prevents the ball from rolling away. Shop: Amazon.com 

Shoe Bubble Original – Micro Size Orthotic 

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A micro-size orthotic support that adds maximum comfort to any shoe. This amazingly small insole adds the perfect amount of arch support to prevent over-pronation and relieve pressure from the heel and forefoot. It fits into any shoe without causing the heel to slip out, and without crowding the shoe. No squished feet! No more needing to buy shoes one size larger to fit a comfortable orthotic insole. Have some relief and protection in your dress shoes, heels, flats, flip flops, running shoes and more! This new revolutionary design is durable, self-sticking, easy to clean and can move from shoe to shoe. Also available in a thinner version, the Pro-Lite. Shop: Soulinsole.com

How to Beat Sugar Cravings: Tips to Reduce Your Intake of the Sweet Stuff

By Sarah Munn for Weight Watchers.

If you crave sugary stuff, you know how strong those cravings can be, and how tough it can be to ignore them. So how do you even go about cutting down the amount of sugar you consume?

Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine® and teacher on Yoga Medicine® Online, sees two ways you can do it.

“The first is to go cold turkey and know you’ll feel much better after a week,” she says. “The second is to ween yourself over time with healthier sugars and allow your palate to slowly adjust along the way.”

The second option, she says, takes longer, but both methods work well.

“The other main thing to consider – that I can’t stress enough – is supporting your blood sugar,” Cruikshank says. “During the process it is crucial that you eat enough fats and proteins to support your blood sugar, which is such a critical component of our mood and energy level. I often give patients a healthy protein powder to take through the day, especially for those with busy schedules.”

The biggest challenge she sees when people are trying to cut out sugar is that they end up not eating all day, then crashing and giving into cravings because they’re exhausted and starving.

A Word on Substitutes

You may have heard of or even tried sugar substitutes, and if you’re trying to cut down on sugar, they may help, but generally a balanced diet is the cure.

“Stevia and xylitol can be a helpful support when needed,” Cruikshank says, “but the real issue is the cravings and energy level, which often boils down to eating enough good fats to support blood sugar. Our bodies are smart and when we don’t have a steady energy source, they crave an instant energy fix – and sweets are just that. Often the best way to overcome sugar cravings is to cut it out for a few weeks. I recommend going into it knowing the first week is going to be the worst. After that, most people get a renewed energy that will carry them through. And many find a whole new perspective on food.”

It Gets Easier

You may have heard people say that they stop craving sugary things after they’ve been eating in a more balanced way for a while – and while it might sound hard to believe, it’s true.

“Most of the foods we eat are so overstimulating to our taste buds that we start to need that intense flavor and become addicted to it,” Cruikshank says. “I believe a big part of the process is adapting your taste buds to more nuanced flavors. Once you’ve cut out sugars for a couple weeks, you start to appreciate flavors you might not have tasted before. This effect definitely builds over time as well. As you support a more level blood sugar, you find more even energy levels and mood, which ultimately creates the staying power of what you’re doing.”

Find the Root

For registered dietitian Cassie Christopher, reducing sugar intake is all about getting to the root of the craving.

She says the root of sugar cravings is often either hormonal or emotional.

“Oftentimes, hormonal sugar cravings are due to an imbalance of the stress hormone cortisol and/or [a] blood sugar imbalance,” Christopher says. “Skipping meals and eating meals without protein or fat can cause these hormone-fuelled cravings.”

Making sure your meals combine protein and fibre can help put things more in balance, she says.

And if the root of your craving is emotional, it could also be related to a stress hormone imbalance, so this strategy may work for that, too.

But “for true freedom from emotional sugar cravings,” Christopher adds, “you also need to let yourself feel your emotions. Emotional eating is often done to numb or avoid having to feel an emotion, and when emotions are avoided, they stick around making you feel worse. In this case, the only way out is through. I recommend my clients use mindfulness-based self-compassion techniques to learn to feel their emotions without needing food to comfort.”

And, Christopher adds, “If you don’t believe you can safely feel your emotions, or you would [like] more intensive support around this, reach out to a licensed mental health counselor for strategies.”

With all of this information in mind, here are three more proactive tips to combat sugar cravings from Abby Vichill, a registered dietitian with FWDfuel Sports Nutrition:

  • Eat regularly: Vichill suggests eating meals every three to four hours, and never skipping them. “Doing so will drive hunger later in the day, causing the body to crave the most bioavailable nutrient, sugar,” she explains.
  • Start your day with protein: “Many common breakfast foods are carbohydrates-dominant, causing a blood sugar response from the start of the day. This will result in a subsequent crash, causing sugar cravings to creep in. Start with some scrambled eggs in addition to your granola bar, add crushed nuts or nut butter to your oatmeal, or protein powder to your fruit smoothie.”
  • Stay hydrated: If your water intake is low, Vichill explains, your body can crave sweet things like fruit in an effort to get more water.

Walk This Way

By Sarah Munn for Weight Watchers.

With spring weather finally upon us, and National Walking Day (April 7th) just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to incorporate regular walks into your routine.

Not only is walking an accessible way to get some activity in your day, it’s also got tons of mental health benefits. And one of the best parts? It’s free!

You don’t need to invest in special clothing, equipment or pay a monthly membership to reap the benefits of walking, says Rachel Land, a Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist and teacher for Yoga Medicine Online.

And the benefits of walking are many.

Increased Muscle Strength and Bone Density

“Walking is a body-weight exercise, so when we walk more, our muscles and bones become stronger to adapt to that load,” says Land. “Over the long term, this strength can delay the onset of common age-related conditions such as osteoporosis.”

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

“By challenging our heart and lungs to fuel the additional workload that walking represents, these systems become more efficient, making day-to-day physical tasks feel easier. Over time, this offers regular walkers a reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, plus improved blood sugar management, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Land says.

Longer Life Expectancy

Regular walkers have been shown to have a reduced “all cause mortality,” Land explains, when compared with sedentary people and even when they started walking later in life.

In addition to all those physical health benefits, walking is also great for your mental health.

“By now most of us are aware of the physical benefits associated with regular exercise, but newer research suggests that it has a powerful impact on our mental well-being, too,” says Land.

Some of the mental perks of walking include:

Sound Sleep

We all know how critical a good night’s sleep is to us feeling physically and mentally well, with established benefits to long-term health as well as attention, mood and memory,” says Land, adding that a 2016 study showed that daily walking for as little as four weeks resulted in participants reporting better sleep quality and duration.

Stress Relief and Mood Boost

“Walking regularly, especially in nature, has been shown to lower anxiety and rumination, leading to a reduced risk of depression,” Land says. And, she adds, even a one-off 10-minute walk could help improve your mood.

Better Brain Function for Life

“Regular activity as we age, like walking, has been shown to actually increase the amount of grey matter in our brain,” Land says. This translates to better attentiveness and memory and a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

So with all these benefits in mind, why not go for a walk today? Here are Land’s tips for starting a walking routine that’s right for you.

Fit It into Your Existing Routine 

“The best time to take a walk is when you are actually likely to do it. If your mornings are already jam-packed, try a lunchtime or evening walk instead. If you work late, try a morning walk. One thing the experts agree on is that you are more likely to stick to a healthy new habit, like walking, if you create a routine by tying it to an existing behavior. So add your walk into your existing routine (such as walking on waking, to your morning coffee, during your lunch break, around the school run, on finishing work or after dinner). Set a walk duration that fits the time you have available and get started.”

Keep It Regular

Regularity is more important than intensity or duration, Land explains.

“Standard health recommendations suggest that we walk for more than 30 minutes at least three times a week, but studies on older adults have shown that as little as 14 minutes three times a week can make positive differences. So if you can’t imagine having an uninterrupted block of time every day, break your walk into smaller, more manageable chunks. Set an alarm every couple of hours to remind you to get up and walk around the house, around the office or around the block.”

If you’re taking public transport, Land suggests getting off one stop early and walking the remaining distance, or finding a new coffee or lunch venue a little farther away than your usual spot.

Make It Enjoyable

“Figure out what motives you,” says Land. “You might be more likely to walk if you listen to your favorite music, podcast or audio book at the same time. Or perhaps you relish the challenge of finding a new route to walk every week, setting targets to increase your distance or speed, or adding in hills or stairs.”

And, she adds, if you want to double-down on the mental health benefits, try walking with a family member, friend, colleague or pet.

How to Create the Ideal Space to Practice Yoga at Home: Experts Tips

By Cassandra Rosas for Porch.

Whether you are an avid yoga practitioner or completely new to yoga, sometimes you just need a moment with yourself to slow-down and relax, and this practice seems to be perfect for that purpose, to reconnect with your body through your breath, attention to movement, and to the present moment. If that is your case, you may be wondering how to create an ideal space at home that helps with relaxation and focus, which is why we gathered the expert’s advice on how to achieve that vibe at home and the recommended exercises to do safely, either on your own or following an online or a virtual yoga class. So keep reading to discover what the experts told us!

Where would you set up a dedicated yoga space at home, and what do you need for this?

The ideal space to practice is usually the quietest one. You don’t need lots of space but plenty of natural light is always good. Clear the space of clutter as much as possible – even if it’s only the area around your mat or the end of the room where you are practicing. The less distractions, the better. I always like to face a window as it’s lovely to have the sun on your face or be able to see the sky or trees. You just really need your yoga mat and props if you use them. A plant or two can really help to make the space feel calm and more relaxing. Use an essential oil spray and mist the space before you start. Spend time sitting and connect to your breath.

By Nichi Green from The Yoga Space

How do you suggest setting up your own yoga studio at home and achieve a Zen vibe for your yoga practice?

A “home practice” is a concept that many of us have grown (willingly or unwillingly) quite familiar with over the last year!

While your yoga studio offered a chance at peace, community, and even escape; your home practice now attempts to fill those shoes. But can it?

The old saying: “where there is a will, there is a way” comes to mind here.

Here are our tips for achieving a “zen vibe” at home!

Get intentional with your space. You don’t want your “home studio” to be an afterthought 60 seconds before class starts! Find a private (or semi-private) space and consider what you love about your studio space:

Is it very simple, minimal, and clean?

Are there plants, crystals, and singing bowls?

The beauty of your home practice is you can take the best of your studio experience and leave the rest behind- this is your chance to make your space exactly what you need.

What about heat/humidity? If you are used to practicing hot yoga, this may be a stumbling block that feels overwhelming to overcome.

There are options! Hot Yoga Domes, DIY heaters and humidifiers, the outdoors, and even your guest bathroom could fit the bill!

As much as we love getting creative around getting sweaty- please remember that the heat itself does not make a practice. If you need to give up the heat for a space that feels welcoming, comfortable, and conducive to consistency, then we urge you to explore your non-heated practice with curiosity and optimism.

Ah consistency! Our last tip is to do what it takes to find some consistency in your home practice.

We have heard many a student tell us about “giving it a shot at home” and almost immediately decided it wasn’t for them. While we respect that decision, we encourage you to explore your options before writing off a home practice completely.

Space, lighting, music, ambiance, time of day, level of privacy, and your own mindset can greatly impact the experience you have!

By Monica LeBansky from Pure Yoga Texas 

How can you create the perfect ambience in your yoga space to help with relaxation and concentration?

In a perfect world, we would all have a room dedicated to our yoga practice -but in reality, we often have to tuck our mat between the bed and the wall. You can make the most out of your space, or lack thereof, by attending to lighting, props, and sound. Overly bright lighting can be overstimulating, so consider adding dimmers to your overhead lights or turning on a smaller light source such as a lamp. Your props will help to make your practice more comfortable, so make sure you have at least enough room to have them nearby. Ideally, you should have enough room on either side of you, not only for your props but also to take a supine twist on each side. Lastly, many people find music to be a soothing addition to their practice. Music can not only reduce the effect of distracting noises but also it can have a powerfully soothing effect on your nervous system.

By Cristina M. Kuhn from Yoga Medicine®  

How would you achieve the ideal Zen vibe at home for your yoga practice?

We would say there’s not one specific answer to this question, but overall you would need to make sure you create a corner or room with a totally different atmosphere. Don’t just start a yoga class in your living room or home office without changing some stuff around. Get out of your day to day surroundings and create a space where you can get extra zen and escape from everyday life.

By Chris Bakker from Onefit

What advice can you give us to embrace our Yoga practice from home and not lose motivation while in lockdown?

Practicing in the same room each time reinforces a connection with Yoga within the home environment, so create a dedicated space for Yoga practice. Tune into nature and beauty – even in a tiny space you can light a candle, burn incense, have fresh flowers or shells from the beach for example. This sets the tone for practice and helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (moving us into a more relaxed and receptive state).

Rise a little earlier each morning and start the day with meditation, movement, or conscious breathing (or all three if you have time). You will most likely feel brighter, more positive, and have increased energy, vitality, and focus. If you are not a morning person, find a time that works for you and put it in your diary – protect that time in your day.

Society, in general, is very goal-oriented, and sometimes we carry this through to our Yoga practice, hoping to attain the perfect posture or feeling that we have somehow failed to practice properly if we are short on time. When we lose our routine, we can be hard on ourselves and it can be difficult to find the motivation to start again. My advice is to prioritize doing a little every day, even if some days that means you only have time to sit and take a few conscious breaths or contemplate gratitude for a couple of minutes. The very act of making contact with your mat and moving into the present moment will make it easier to practice again the following day.

Finally and probably most importantly, find an experienced Yoga teacher who offers live Zoom classes (not just recordings), to guide you and provide live feedback while teaching – this can really increase motivation and at the same time address any difficulties you may be experiencing. It makes a huge difference when we practice as part of a live community, (even a virtual one), as we benefit greatly from the energy and support of a group, especially one with a shared desire to deepen the practice of Yoga.

By Paula from Ashtanga Yoga Dublin 

Which yoga styles are best for trying at home?

Restorative and gentle Hatha are the best for practicing at home. They are slower, so less likely to injure- Iyengar too if you know it.

Ashtanga and vinyasa are more vigorous and only should be a home practice if you have already learned from an experienced teacher who has taught correct form, breathing, and focus.

Nidra and yin can be done at home too, but it might be more beneficial to have someone guiding you online.

Kundalini is quite challenging to do on your own, so I suggest online or using manuals if you have studied it before!

Any of these forms can be found online if you are not versed enough to practice at home. However, if you are new to Yoga, the first two mentioned would be safest and very beneficial.

By Donna Amrita Davidge from Sewall House

Which aspects should we consider when picking the type of yoga to practice from home?

When practicing yoga at home, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a class.

First, I highly recommend that you attend classes with a live instructor (whether in-person or virtually) who has met you face-to-face.  Visual information gives yoga teachers a lot of information about how we can help you align yourself in any given yoga position.  Additionally, the relationship between an instructor and student is very important in your overall comfort and it’s difficult to build this without any live interaction.  Although YouTube classes can be a great way to try out yoga, there is no denying that real progress usually comes from studying with a live teacher.

Second, make sure the class you pick won’t utilize props you don’t have.  Usually, we can give some ideas for DIY props you can use at home.  But if you’re attending a Restorative or Yin class and don’t have some combination of pillows, blankets, bolsters, blocks, and/or straps, the class might be very challenging for you.  If you pick a Yoga Burn class but don’t have any free weights, the class may not be challenging enough.  If you don’t have a yoga mat, you can use a towel instead.

Third, if you’re just starting out, very inflexible, or recovering from a significant injury, picking a very fast-paced or difficult class (level 2 or 3, power yoga, ashtanga yoga, etc.) may not suit your body just yet.  You might prefer to start in a gentle, beginner, or level 1 class to get your bearings before you advance your practice so that you don’t hurt yourself.  Remember, there’s no rush!

Most importantly, practicing yoga should feel good.  If you ever feel pain, back off and consult with a registered yoga teacher (RYT).

By Erin Haddock from Five Keys Yoga, LLC 

What is the easiest style of yoga to start practicing at home as a beginner and should be taken into consideration?

If you are new to yoga, welcome! When you first start, it’s great to work with a yoga teacher 1-on-1 so that they can access your current fitness level, help you to learn the correct breathing and poses, and help you work with any injuries or pre-existing conditions. If that is not accessible to you financially, I would recommend trying a slow flow class or a level 1 Hatha vinyasa class. If you don’t see these types of classes on your local studio’s schedule, reach out to the studio to ask them what the most beginner-friendly class is! Always make sure to let your yoga teacher know if you have any injuries or anything going on in your body so that they can help you modify poses. Once you are familiar with the basics of yoga, it’s great to try a variety of classes to see what you like most.

By Amanda Kingsmith from Mastering the Business of Yoga

What is the easiest yoga sequence for a beginner to do at home?

An easy way to start your yoga practice at home is the traditional Sun Salutation A, which is a set sequence of yoga poses that are linked to each other in order to create a smooth flow of movement.

Once you’ve found a nice and calm spot at home to roll out your yoga mat, step on the front of the mat with the feet hip-width apart. Bring your hands in front of your heart, close your eyes and take a few breaths to tune into your body.

On an inhale, open the eyes and lift the arms up over your head. Exhale and bow forward, bringing the fingertips to the ground. You can bend the knees as much as needed.

With the next inhale, make a big step back with the right leg so that you’re in a runner’s lunge position. The fingers are still on the ground, and you lift the chest and the head up.
Exhale and step the left leg back as well to arrive in the iconic position of Downward-Facing Dog. Lift the buttocks up and push the tailbone back until your ears are between the biceps. You can keep the knees bent to have more space to tilt the pelvis forward and lengthen the back. Imagine the pose as an upside-down V.

With your next inhale, shift your body weight forward so that your shoulders are stacked above the wrists, and you arrive in a push-up position. Exhale and lower the body down to lie on your belly. Lift your head and chest up with the inhale and exhale to return to Downward-Facing Dog. Feel free to stay here for a few breaths and tune into your body again.

With an inhale, step the right foot forward between your hands (or grab the foot and place it there) and lift the chest and head up again. You’re now in the same runner’s lunge position as in the beginning, just with the other leg in front. Exhale and step the left foot forward to meet the right one at the front of your yoga mat. With the inhalation, you lift the torso back up into a standing position and bring the arms overhead. Exhale to bring the hands in front of the heart again. You are now in the starting position and can repeat the same sequence starting with the left leg.

As you may have noticed, this is a closed-loop, and you can repeat it as many times as you like. This simple sequence moves all the limbs of the body in various directions. Depending on the speed at which you perform it, it also trains your cardiovascular system, raises your awareness and calms your mind.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your at-home yoga practice, check out TINT Yoga, where you can train with the world’s greatest yoga minds and find classes for all levels.

By Doreen Stolle from TINT Yoga 

What is the best advice you can give us for practicing yoga at home?

To experience the most benefit from your yoga practice, consistency is key. And to develop consistency in your home yoga practice, your best bet is to make Yoga a part of your daily routine. Many people find that the best time to practice Yoga is first thing in the morning before their children wake up, and other life responsibilities take over their day. Everybody is different, so you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. Are you more likely to be able to practice during your lunch hour, after work, or before bedtime? Spend a little time reflecting on what time will work best for you, then commit to it by scheduling it as an appointment on your calendar. Make your best effort to practice every day, but if life gets too busy and you miss your practice one day, don’t stress over it. Just try again the next day.

The second key to developing a successful home yoga practice is finding the right style for you. There are many, many styles of Yoga. You can find Yoga that is fitness-based, spiritual, gentle, strong, beginner-friendly, chair-based, relaxation-focused – the styles of Yoga are endless. Start out by trying a class or video. If you love it, great! If you don’t love it, try something else. You’ll eventually find a yoga practice that’s just the right fit. Yoga can provide so many benefits for your body and mind; it’s just a matter of finding the right approach for you.

By Zelinda Yañez from The Yoga Room

Which tips can you give us to inspire our daily yoga practice at home and not lose motivation?

There are benefits to be discovered in your home practice altogether. Whether you are new to yoga and looking to start your practice or a lifelong yogi seeking to maintain motivation, here are some ways you can inspire your practice at home.

#1 Keep your mat rolled out. It sounds simple, but it really works. Skipping the step of having to actually roll out your mat limits the time your mind has to talk you into doing something “more important”, which trust me, we all do. When your mind thinks yoga, you simply go to the mat and do yoga. This also allows the opportunity for your body to tell you when it is time to practice as opposed to the logical mind choosing a time. Sometimes a simple inversion like Adho Mukha Svanasana in between work emails is better than a cup of coffee (and yes, down dog is an inversion!).

#2 Create your safe space. Create a safe space for your mat. This can be next to your bed, a corner of the living room, or in that spare guest bedroom that is never used. It doesn’t matter where or how much space there is, it just needs to fit your yoga mat. Liven the space up with whatever makes you happy. Some ideas include a colorful tapestry, candles, essential oil diffuser, palo santo, and of course, house plants. It will be your sanctuary so make it the cozy place that you want.  Make a commitment to yourself that when you are on your mat, in this space, you will treat it as you would a studio. No shoes, no phone, and no expectations!

#3 Find your Flow. Practicing at home is an excellent opportunity to dive into your own personal movement. In all reality, yoga instructors are here to guide you through your own personal journey of yoga. Therefore, YOU are your biggest teacher and you learn from listening to your body. Take this opportunity to throw on some music, close your eyes and move in whatever way you feel called to. Being alone gives you the luxury of not worrying what others may think, so let loose!

By Nicole Lennox from Yoloha Yoga 

What kind of props do we need to have at home for a restorative yoga session? 

Restorative Yoga is an incredibly beneficial tool, especially for busy, stressed, or very active people. On our 4-day Restorative Yoga Course at Byron Yoga Retreat Centre we teach participants how to use an abundance of blankets and bolsters to correctly set up positions to support their bodies to allow them to fully relax in each pose. While there is an abundance of websites and shops selling a myriad of yoga props, you can always just make do with soft furnishings you have at home.

If you are practicing some Restorative poses at home, you can use any blankets or cushions you have around the house and adapt by rolling or folding them to meet the needs. You don’t even need a yoga mat! You could use a blanket, a rug, or just a carpet as your base. If you choose to, then I would say the number one prop to invest in is a yoga bolster. This will make it easier for you to set up for and be properly supported in key Restorative poses.

One of the most beneficial Restorative poses is legs up the wall. You simply set yourself up at right angles to a wall, torso on the ground, sit bones up against or close to the wall, and – as the name suggests – legs up the wall! All you need for this pose is a blanket to lie on … and a wall.

Restorative Yoga can help with physical, emotional, and mental issues by restoring balance. Practicing just a few key poses regularly can assist those working with conditions such as high blood pressure, adrenal and chronic fatigue and is particularly useful for women’s health and for pregnant women. Restorative Yoga offers supported postures that facilitate the passive release of tension stored in the body, activates that parasympathetic nervous system, and allows for deep, nourishing rest.

For more information on the 4-day Restorative Yoga Course go to Byron Yoga Retreat Centre.

By Becky Buckwell from Byron Yoga Centre

Which tips can you give us to create a yoga sequence to practice at home?

Cultivating a home practice is an important part of developing an authentic relationship with Yoga. Practitioners can create simple sequences at home that help them intuitively connect to their breath and their body. When we develop the skills to create sequences for our home practice, we strengthen our bond with Yoga. Follow these steps to create safe and accessible sequences for your home practice.

First, find a place to roll out your mat. You want the space to be bright, clean, and relatively quiet if possible. You might want to bring in items that help you connect to your practice like blocks, bolsters, blankets, and a strap. It’s nice to add little touches that help you connect to the five elements like incense, crystals, singing bowls, or salt lamps. If you have space and the supplies to make your yoga space your own, you will be more likely to practice.

Next, you want to start slowly. Explore your range of motion in the hips, shoulders, and spine. Notice where you are tight, where you are more flexible, and where you feel unstable. You might start in a tabletop position or flat on your back; from here, you can move the legs, arms, and spine to notice where there is sensation. Link your movements to your breath. If you are looking for energy, you can use your inhales when you expand and exhales when you contract.

An example of this is cat and cow poses. When you inhale in cow you are bringing breath into the body when the spine is in extension. When you exhale in cat, you are releasing breath when you contract and flex the spine.

Keep moving with the breath and adding on postures that increase flexibility in areas where you feel tight and adding postures which build strength in areas that feel more flexible. When we build strength and flexibility, we increase stability overall. An example of a pose that invites flexibility in the hips might be Warrior II and an example of a posture that builds strength in the pelvis is crescent lunge. Listen to your body, resist the urge to push yourself to your edge. We actually want to work within our range of motion so that our range of motion and strength will build over time. When we lean into our edge, we can invite injury.

Take up space and express yourself as you feel appropriate. A home practice is a beautiful way to develop a deeply personal relationship between yourself and your body. Listen to your body, honor your body, and use your breath to bring your awareness back onto the mat when you get distracted. Over time, your practice will help quiet the mental chatter that distracts us from our present moment. When this happens, you can start to notice how your body responds to certain postures; you can use your breath to regulate your nervous system and maintain balance and peace of mind.

Developing a home practice and sequencing intuitively is easy to do when you listen to your body through a process of self-inquiry. Over time, this will help you take these valuable skills off the mat and into your life.

By Michelle Young from My Vinyasa Practice

Which tips can you give us to make time for our yoga practice at home and stick to it without losing motivation?

When it comes to practicing at home, we realize that it can be tough to stay focused. That is why we have a few recommendations that will help you find focus and clarity as you work to build your home practice:

  1. Find a space: your home space should be a place that you can dedicate to practice. A space that you can focus and relax without distraction. Avoid areas of heavy traffic, loud noises, and pets (even though we love them to pieces; it can be hard to show yourself love when your pup says it’s time for a WALK).
  2. Declutter: It’s important to remove all excess clutter from your practice space. Clutter is just another distraction that can leave you feeling anxious. By decluttering the junk, you declutter the mind so you can stay focused on yourself.
  3. Plan ahead: get a calendar and hang it somewhere that you will see it daily. Schedule your yoga practice and write it on the calendar. Make sure you are specific with the time and day. This will be a subtle reminder to show up for yourself a little every day, and it will help you stay on track even when you have 101 excuses.
  4. Play music: Music can have many benefits. Make sure the music sets the stage. If you are doing a very active practice you may want to choose songs that keep you motivated. If you are doing a meditative practice you will want something more soothing and calm. Whichever you choose, you can use the music to help stay focused while drowning out any background noises.

Building a home practice can be very rewarding. We recommend following these few simple tips to help you stick to your goals as you develop your home practice.

By Jess Bycraft from Torch Yoga

Which yoga postures do you recommend practicing to ease the fatigue of working from home?

One of the greatest challenges of working from home is inertia. We’re spending a lot more time seated with fewer reasons to get up, get supplies, move to another room for meetings, or interact with co-workers. This can lead to sluggishness and mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon lag. Movement is a natural neuromodulator and can help improve focus and productivity, so get up and try this simple sequence once or twice a day.

  1. Stand up and reach your arms over your head, clasping your left wrist with your right hand. Take a deep breath, stretch up to the ceiling and slowly bend to the right on an exhale. Hold for 2-3 breaths using the inhale to stretch the left side and exhale to come deeper into lateral flexion. Repeat on the left.
  2. Keep your arms over your head, interlock your fingers and flip your palms to the ceiling. Take a deep inhale breath, look up, lift your chest up, and create a long body stretch. If you’re comfortable, reach over your head and feel a slight backbend.
  3. Inhale back to center and fold from your hips, placing your hands on the desk in front of you. Relax your neck, drop your head and chest, and slowly try to straighten your legs in an upside-down L position.
  4. Come back to a standing position. Separate your feet hip-width, toes turned out, and slowly sit down into a squat position, as low as you can go comfortably. Press into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and stand all of the way up, opening your hips. Repeat 5-10 times, slowly if you’re feeling stiff and increasing speed if you’re looking for an energy boost.

Repeat the whole sequence to fill 5-8 minutes or until you feel a noticeable shift in your mood. To really top it off, finish with a minute of somatic heel drops. Shift your weight to your toes and lift your heels. Keeping your body, shoulders, and face relaxed, rapidly bounce up and down so that your heels barely touch the floor. Use each downstroke to release more tension from your face, jaw, and upper back. You might feel a little silly at first, but you’ll feel amazing after!

You can check this YouTube video to help guide you with the movements.

By Sara Curry from Blaze Yoga & Pilates

Which asanas do you suggest doing for pregnant women who want to do prenatal yoga at home?

Yoga is great for pregnancy, but one has to be careful that they don’t ‘overstretch’, which can happen because the body produces ‘relaxin’ in preparation for birth. Once overstretched, ligaments cannot go back to ‘normal’.

In my experience, having taught many prenatal yoga classes, there is one particular pose that I would specifically recommend….

This pose helps not only stretch fascia, but can help with a common pregnancy condition; plantar fasciitis, and help prepare for the ‘discomfort’ of labor, enabling the practitioner to ‘breathe through the discomfort’.

Come to all fours, bring knees together and curl toes under behind you. Reach back to curl any reluctant toes under.

Have a folded blanket handy, which can be placed between the calves and back thighs if necessary, so there is no discomfort in the knees

Bring the sit bones to the heels and roll the inner thighs towards the floor. Take one hand at a time to the kneecap and lift the knees slightly to release any tightness around the knees. Lift the pelvic floor muscles and draw the lower abdomen (between the pubis and naval) back to lengthen the flesh of the buttock down towards the toes and avoid overarching the lower back.

Sit up straight with a long spine, take a deep breath in, and open the arms to the sides in line with the shoulders, palms facing forward. Draw the arms back to open the chest, but careful not to overarch the lower back.

With a full breath out, sweep the arms forward, place the palms together and tuck the chin towards the chest so you get a stretch in the upper back muscles and lengthen the whole back of the spine.

Repeat as many times as possible – 10 times if possible, then lower the hands, and untuck the toes.

We call this pose ‘Toecrushna’

By Suzanne from 532Yoga

What kind of asanas do you recommend for a pregnant woman to do at home?

Modified yoga poses and movement can really ease the aches and pains that come along with pregnancy.  Try a “down dog at your countertop” by placing your hands on the kitchen counter or a table with arms straight.  Move your feet back about 3-4 feet and lean your chest forward until your torso is parallel to the floor, and you feel a nice stretch in the shoulders.

By Jess Pierno from Yoga Heights

Which items and props would you suggest having at home for practicing yoga with kids?

The only thing you need at home to practice Yoga with kids is space to move. A yoga mat is nice, but not necessary.

We suggest eliminating, or at least minimizing, all distractions (especially screens), including props, until children are in their teen years. What’s needed most working with growing bodies, brains, and hearts is presence. Your full attention – playful, calm, and connected. This is the greatest gift you can give.

Parents and children of all ages can breathe, move and rest together modelling nature’s teachers like mountains, stars, trees and animals or download our IYK® High 5 Method for all ages. These healthy, happy habits help you be Your Best YOU and create a Positive Force in our world.

By Michelle Wing from It’s Yoga Kids 

What are the best yoga poses to teach kids practicing from home?

Would like some new quick, and easy tools for calming your kids? Perhaps you see the impact of stress and anxiety on your children and want to help? Or maybe you do Yoga and would love to share the benefits with your family.

Welcome to the world of teaching yoga to your kids and to the community of thousands of parents all over the world who are not only doing something fun together but also taking care of the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their children at the same time.

Take just 10 minutes at the beginning of your day to get those little bodies moving, energize them in a calm way, and clear the brain for a focussed, calm, and happy day.

Do this together, and you will both enjoy the benefits of increased health and greater connection.

Top Tips For Yoga With Your Children

  1. Get Moving. The fastest way into children’s minds, emotions, energy and physical health is through movement, but not any movement. Use fast, repetitive yoga movements that synchronize the breath to channel energy and calm the mind and emotions.
  2. Breathe. The breath is the key that distinguishes Yoga from all other forms of movement. The inhale and exhale play a significant role in having a specific effect on the body and mind. Watch your child calm down quickly when you include the breath.
  3. Have Fun. Yoga for children is not the same as adult classes, and unless children are engaged and having fun they will soon lose interest. This doesn’t mean that Yoga has to be silly, and all play with no physical substance. Bring the play to the asana rather than the asana to the play.
  4. Make it Special. Yoga with your child will be one of the best memories you have together. It will be a time each day that you cherish, where you connect and that they remember for the rest of their lives. Always start and end your practice together with a special ritual to connect you to the practice and each other.

Yoga for Building Strong Backs:

  • Back Release. Lying on back. Knees bent. Hands behind head. Squeeze knees. Exhale, drop knees to side. Inhale, back to centre (x 10).
  • Froggy Legs. Lie on back. Hands behind head. Soles of the feet together in a ‘froggy’ legs position Exhale, Lift hips. Inhale, back down (x 10).
  • Cat/Cow. Come onto hands and knees. Inhale arch back up to the ceiling, suck belly up and round the spine. Exhale, drop the belly down, lifting the chin and looking up to the ceiling (x 10).
  • Swimming. On belly. Forehead down. Arms and legs out wide into a starfish.  Exhale, Lift Right arm and Left leg up. Inhale, down. Exhale, Lift Left arm and Right leg up. Inhale, down (x 6).
  • Cobra with knee bent. On belly. Hands near your shoulders. Elbows in close to your ribs. Bend one knee out to the side. Place foot of bent leg next to the knee of the opposite leg. Exhale, straighten arms, lift the chest off the mat. Face looking up. Inhale, lower down (x 10).
  • Belly Swings .On belly. Hands interlaced behind the head. Feet wide apart and toes dug into the floor. Exhale, lift the chest off the floor. Inhale. Exhale, twist to your right and look at your right foot. Inhale, back to centre. Exhale, twist to the left and look at your left foot. Inhale, centre (x10).

Have fun doing these sequences with your kids, and at the same time, you’ll be strengthening your own back.

Enjoy the magic of seeing your children grow in confidence as their sense of self builds.

If you see the immediate benefit and impact on your children and want to learn more, then come join our kids yoga online training course. It can be one of the most rewarding things you do.

By Loraine Rushton from Zenergy Yoga 

How can we introduce yoga to kids when practicing from home to awaken their interest in the practice? 

As a certified children’s yoga instructor, and a mommy, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing yoga to young children, starting at toddlers on up–and oh what fun it’s been! You may even see your younger baby doing some traditional yoga poses naturally (downward dog and happy baby are some early favorites)! Kids and yoga just make sense–kids love to move, and they have great imaginations, allowing them to bring the poses to life with an extra element of fun. Yoga all started with poses that were created to imitate things around us. The mountains, trees, animals…and kids are great at “make-believe”! As a bonus, yoga does some really great things for our bodies and our brains.

What Age Should we Start At?

I’ve found that preschool age, on up, is a perfect fit! Children 3 and up really grasp the instructions, and know-how to listen to their bodies if something doesn’t feel right or is too hard, and can communicate that important safety aspect with you. Some 2-year-olds will be able to follow along with some of the early poses, but I would caution against going beyond a few beginner yoga poses at a time, unless working with a professional kids yoga teacher. Occasionally young toddlers will just be rolling around and come into a perfect yoga pose on their own, out of nowhere. Downward Facing Dog is an early favorite, even with kids as young as 1 or 2. If you see it, cheer it on. “Hey, you are doing yoga! That is a doggie pose–way to go!!”. They love the praise and will most likely repeat the pose several times. They also love to follow along with big siblings or hold hands with mom and dad while trying out standing poses. That’s awesome! However, remember that toddlers don’t have great balance yet, and should always go at their own pace.

What You Need

  • Comfy clothes to move and stretch.
  • A safe, open spot to move around (carpet, or on a rug/mat works best to avoid slipping and to protect tender kiddo tailbones).
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – yoga poses that are adapted to be age-appropriate for kids!

What Poses Should I Start With?

Keep it simple and playful! Even if you are an experienced yogi yourself, you want to make sure to keep the children’s yoga poses very basic to avoid injury, and to keep it engaging for little ones. Play up on that imagination–I’ve found the most favorite beginner poses are the ones named after things kids love the most  (airplanes, stars, dogs, cats, snakes). Open a children’s picture book, find animals and objects you might remember a yoga pose for, or create one together! This also provides a very fun format and structure for your yoga adventure. Encourage sounds and smiles! Children’s yoga doesn’t have to be silent and serious, although of course, you can teach breathing, mindfulness, and stillness along with playful poses. All of which are beneficial for our bodies and brains.

Start Slow & Encourage — as, with anything new, some kids may want to watch you a few times before they feel comfortable trying themselves. Let them know that balance, strength, flexibility, are all things that take practice. They will get better the more they try (but don’t force it–that takes the fun out of “playing yoga!”). P.S. Try not to over-correct. If the poses don’t look “perfect”, that is just fine! As long as there is not a risk of injury (for example: putting weight on their head or neck, overstretching, falling over), then generally, it is best to let your children express themselves in whatever way they enjoy doing the pose.

Praise is Key! Use lots of excitement, and like any new thing your children are learning, when they figure it out, cheer for them!

Verbal Prompts. Once you and your children are familiar with the poses, you can shorten the instructions down to prompts such as: “Show me your butterfly wings!” “Can you  squat like a froggie?” “Do your doggie yoga pose!” (then, of course, follow with praise!).

With Safety in Mind. As with any “exercise” program, you definitely want to have some basic understanding about proper alignment and safety from a professional before you, yourself, give it a try, or try to instruct your kids. Become familiar with the do’s and don’ts of the poses first, so that you can safely teach them to your kids. It also helps to find a certified yoga teacher, that specializes in children’s yoga, who can give in-person advice on proper alignment, and getting the most benefits out of the poses. 3 super important guidelines to be aware of:

  1. Remind kids to keep breathing throughout the poses. It’s best to avoid any poses that put pressure or weight on the neck or head. (example: fish pose).
  2. Let children go at their own pace. Don’t try to move their body into a position, or push them into a deeper stretch. This can lead to injuries. Use words to instruct, and better yet, demonstrate the pose yourself, for your little one to copy.

Adding fun noises, or other teaching points/questions (“What color is your butterfly?”) just adds to the experience! Showing them a picture of the pose, or a picture of the object/animal you are teaching also helps spark the imagination of how the pose should look.

Small stuffed animals or toys work great as props. For example, you can teach downward facing by placing a toy in front of a small toddler and asking them to reach their hands down on the floor next to the toy and balance. Or have them reach their toy high in the sky during extended mountain pose. During bridge pose, drive a toy car under your child’s bridge to bring it to life. When teaching breathing exercises, use a small stuffed animal to show how the belly rises high during a full inhale (buddy goes up), and the belly sinks back down on a full exhale (buddy goes down). So many fun ways to use lovable toys during your yoga play. Of course, group lessons are a fantastic way to learn and explore yoga. Many classes have gone virtual these days too. For more tips and class information, here is a great place to start.

By Amber Johnston from Little Twisters Yoga 

What is the best way to introduce the yoga practice to a teenager from home?

Scientific studies have proven that yoga can have a positive impact on one’s mental and physical health. Teenagers have suffered from the loss of their social and academic communities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has negatively impacted their mental health. The practice of yoga may help teens navigate through this difficult time.

During the more than 30 years that I have been teaching yoga, I introduced the practice to many students who were teenagers. Based on my experience, the following suggestions may be helpful in introducing the practice of yoga to teens:

  1. Welcome the individual, or class, to the session with a smile (or find a class or teacher who does this). Teens are going through many changes, offering an inviting and engaging space is important.
  2. Storytelling is an ancient, cross-cultural practice that has been used for millennia to establish a connection. Consider sharing (or finding) a story about the practice of yoga or any story that reflects the teen’s interest. Teens may sometimes appear distracted, or disinterested, sharing a story will help them focus and become centered.
  3. The breath is important as it promotes relaxation and increases awareness of one’s body. Introduce Dirgha (three-part breath) or Sitali (cooling) breath; the art of rolling the tongue may be of interest to teenagers. Teachers should maintain awareness to their own breath to help stay connected to students.
  4. Use physical or mental images of humans, animals, plants, etc. to engage teenage students.
  5. Select or help them choose postures that are easy to do; this often help the teen develop an individual practice.
  6. Encourage ending the session with the practice of relaxation. Teens can sit or lie on their backs in Savasana (repose). I suggest appropriate music during this time. Relaxation is usually 10 minutes; use your own discretion.
  7. After relaxation, students can be offered the chance to share their feelings. End with the change of Om or place hands in front of the heart (palms together) and bow the head. Make time for the next session!

By Maya Breuer from Yoga Alliance

Now that you have all the insight and advice from experienced yoga professionals, you can create your special yoga space at home and start putting to practice some of the exercises, postures, and sequences proposed. You’ll see that in no time, you’ll have your yoga routine all settled down.

I Completed a Yoga Teacher Training During the Pandemic. Here’s What I Learned.

By Rina Deshpande for Yoga Journal.

With many of us still bound by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be wondering if now is the right time to undergo a 200-hour yoga teacher training (YTT); I certainly did. It’s a big commitment, both financially and time-wise, but the draws of increasing your understanding of the practice, learning about the history of yoga and its sister science, Ayurveda, and spreading the joy of a sequence are ever-present. When it comes to making a big life decision, like completing a teacher training, though, there’s never a right time; wisdom comes from making the leap and adapting.

There are myriad ways to go about yoga teacher trainings. Some might prefer the immersive experience, where you and 60 other yogis spend a month at a retreat, practicing yoga, mindfulness, and meditation day in and day out. For others, a months-long approach may be better suited to your schedule. With COVID-19 putting a halt to many forms of travel and large gatherings, a hybrid or solely online YTT is, arguably, the most readily available option. I’m here to tell you that if you choose to take the hybrid in-person/online route, you won’t be missing out on a life-changing experience.

The Setup

Back in October of 2020, I embarked on a hybrid 200-hour YTT with Amana Yoga in Yoga Journal’s hometown of Boulder, Colorado. Since it was a hybrid class, that meant we would meet in-person on the weekends from 9am to 5pm and on Friday nights from 6pm to 9pm. Masks were worn at all times. Students were given the option of either livestreaming the classes from their homes or attending in-person. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were only allowed to have six students plus the instructor, Alia Sebben—the founder of Amana Yoga and Fiteo—in the room at any given time.

On occasions, a different instructor would come in to lead us through a more specialized class in Restorative YogaYin Yoga, and the like. Throughout the week, we would complete homework assignments by watching yoga and meditation videos on Fiteo and keep a log of the classes that we took and some personal notes from our experience with the practice. The anatomy section was also completed online through Tiffany Cruikshank’s course on Yoga International, and it was part of our homework to complete sections in the anatomy training every week. Right before Thanksgiving, everybody completed their formal test-out which is comprised of an hour-long class built by you. The class could be taught via in-person attendance or through a virtual meeting service, like Zoom. From there, it was on us to stick with our practice and log at least five yoga classes or meditations each week from the end of November until December 31, 2020.

What’s In A YTT?

“OK,” you might be saying, “that doesn’t sound too bad”. The time commitment is very real, but the structure is inclusive of your availability and comfort being in small groups. If you live far away from a brick-and-mortar teaching facility, it actually opens up the door to completing a YTT in the first place.

Throughout our time spent together, the classes went over the history of yoga, yogic philosophy such as the yamas and niyamas, the doshas and other facets of Ayurveda; the principles of a vinyasa class; human anatomy; the different poses with their Sanskrit names and uses; how to properly cue; how to make adjustments; the business of yoga; lots and lots of practice; and much more. A standard 200-hour YTT will likely be in the Hatha Yoga lineage which prepares you to teach a vinyasa class at your local studio. Teaching more specific classes such as Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga require trainings outside the scope of the introductory 200-hour course. The key underpinnings of a YTT educate you on this ancient practice and prepare you to lead others through a sequence safely.

Pros and Cons

While our class made the best of the situation, it wasn’t always perfect. Here are some pros and cons I observed from my experience:

  1. Pro: The small class size meant intimate engagement with everybody in the room. We were able to ask questions whenever they appeared and had what felt like an above-average opportunity to practice teaching. We would frequently partner up and troubleshoot our cues.
  2. Con: Larger class sizes might have certain advantages. You may be looking for a larger class size since there’s certainly value in undergoing this transformation with many people by your side. Large gatherings are still restricted in many areas because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Pro: Flexibility in attendance. If life got in the way, all of the classes were recorded so you could watch them later if attending wasn’t possible on a specific day.
  4. Con: Zoom fatigue is real. The prospect of sitting through an eight-hour session on your computer might be challenging.
  5. Pro: The 1-on-1 connection. By having such a small group, you really get to know everybody in the course, adding a layer of comfort when you’re being vulnerable. Plus, it can’t be understated how valuable the extra time to practice, teach and work on adjustments is in a small class setting.
  6. Con: Connectivity issues. Literally. Your screen could lag which makes you feel like you’re missing out on what’s happening, and if you never attend in-person, teacher training may start to feel like a solo venture.
  7. Pro: The anatomy section. Learning anatomy online was actually wonderful. We were able to pause and rewind the lesson, enabling us to take copious notes. If anatomy was taught in person to a large group, it may be difficult to take notes fast enough or ask for a repeat if you missed something.
  8. Con: Touching people during a pandemic. This varies greatly by comfort level but for many, the prospect of breaking the recommended six feet of social distance to practice your adjustments is an absolute no-go for many. You’ll learn in your YTT that cueing and demonstrating an adjustment yourself, before resorting to physical adjustments, are still exceptionally important.
  9. Pro: Practice at your own pace. When it came to the homework assignments, you could take classes or meditate on your own time instead of needing to attend an in-person class. If you have really busy days, this opens up the door for early-morning or late-night classes without the commute.
  10. Con: Completing your 10-hours of shadowing a yoga teacher is a challenge. Pre-COVID, many studios would let you sit in on classes so you could easily rack up your shadowing hours, but in a pandemic world, yoga studios have restrictions on the number of people allowed in class; paying students tend to be priority, partly for the longevity of the studio. This will make shadowing complicated.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the hybrid 200-hour YTT. I made the leap after practicing yoga for over 10 years, and being able to share a smart and safe sequence with others is a skill that I will have for a lifetime. The extra hours of practice teaching really refined my cues and taught me what to look for in students who may be positioning themselves in ways that could injure them. I loved getting to know our small pod of yogis and rooting for everybody’s success. The homework assignments made me take what I had learned into my everyday life, which made work less stressful and play more fulfilling. A few of my fellow yogis opted to attend class mostly from the comfort of their homes and doing so worked very well with their other commitments and comfort levels. If you are considering embarking on a 200-hour YTT now, during this time of continued social distancing, doing one online will still empower you with the necessary knowledge to launch your yoga teaching journey, with the added bonus of a generally smaller (and more intimate) class size.

Ayurveda 101: Self Care Using The 5 Elemental Approach

2020 has brought significant transformation to all of our lives; some certainly more so than others.

Transformation can be stressful on our bodies and minds, particularly if we are of the mindset that we should be somewhere other than where we are. Being in the present moment is such a simple solution to stress, one of the greatest acts of self-care, but actually doing it can seem like an insurmountable task. By taking an Ayurvedic approach and establishing a daily routine, we can simplify that task into manageable bites that can potentially enhance our relationships, our work, and our lives.

Ayurveda is the sister science to Yoga and is a five elemental approach to nourishing one’s complete self. It can be used in a simple way, and still be powerful, making it accessible to all.

Ayurveda (Ayur – Life, Veda – Knowledge) is the knowledge of life. This knowledge guides us towards maintaining health in daily life and therefore supporting longevity. The key to this knowledge is that it is individual. When we study ourselves we learn how to nourish ourselves, because what is medicine for one, can be poison for another. Essentially anything can be a medicine or a poison; it all just depends on the person and the dosage.

Dosha means that which goes out of balance, so the goal in Ayurveda is to maintain balance in the doshas. There are three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata is composed of air and ether, vata season is fall to early winter, and the vata time of day is 2-6 a.m/p.m. Pitta is composed of fire and water, pitta season is summer, and the pitta time of day is 10-2 a.m./p.m. Kapha, composed of earth and water, kapha season is late winter to spring, and the kapha time of day is 6-10 a.m./p.m.

Using this knowledge, one can establish a daily routine that helps to keep the doshas in balance. Since vata is the only mobile dosha, it tends to cause the most issues, and a routine will balance this mobile and irregular dosha.

Dinacharya – Daily Routine

Vata 2-6am

Do you find yourself waking at 2 or 3 a.m.? This is a sign that you have excess vata, so try massaging sesame oil on your feet before bed or add weight to your bedding. Try to wake at the same time daily (ideally before 6am to take advantage of the lightness of vata), scrape your tongue to remove the post-digestive buildup, then drink a warm glass of lemon water, evacuate your bowels/bladder, then brush your teeth. Removing what is there before consuming anything will help to support your digestive fire. This is also a good time of day to meditate and/or practice pranayama.

Kapha 6-10am

This is the time of day when you might find that you have the most stamina and that any knowledge you take in will “stick” a little better. Given that, kapha time is the best time to be productive with your self-care. Practice yoga or any exercise you enjoy, abhyanga (self- massage with oil), shower, eat a light, seasonal, breakfast without distraction, and read/study.

Pitta 10am–2pm

Pitta is primary in digestion, so lunch should be the largest meal and eaten without distraction, sometime between 11am and 1pm, but ideally when the sun is highest in the sky.

Vata 2–6pm

Do you experience a mid-afternoon crash where you crave sugar and caffeine? This is another sign of excess vata, but in this case there is so much that it has burned you out physically and mentally. This is a great time of day to practice pranayama and/or meditation and drink something warm that is caffeine and sugar free. Naps are not recommended, unless you are sick or have a long term condition.

Kapha 6–10pm

This is the time of day to follow the natural inclination of kapha and slow down your day. Eat a light dinner without distraction, the closer to 6 p.m. the better, try a relaxing yoga practice, begin to get ready for bed by 9 p.m., get into bed with a book or soothing music by 9:30 p.m., then go to sleep before 10 p.m.

Pitta 10 pm–2am

As mentioned before, pitta is primary in digestion, but during this time of day it is not food, but thoughts, feelings, and emotions, that need digesting. This is why it is important to be asleep by 10pm so that the “janitor” can come in and clean up. If everyone is still up, the janitor cannot clean and just goes home, so the cleanup never happens and everything begins to build up.

If doing this seems overwhelming, pick one thing that you can do during the time window assigned to its dosha. Once that one thing becomes a part of your regular self-care routine, you can add something else. Most importantly, do not fret if you do not get everything 100% “right”. The best thing you can do to improve your self-care is to cut yourself some slack. An 80/20 approach can go a long way towards maximizing your health and wellbeing in an otherwise unstable time.

Hunched Over and Dealing With Back Pain? Try These 12 Exercises for Better Posture

By Kaitlin Vogel for Parade.

The age-old advice “stand up straight” is something we’ve heard for most of our lives, starting from our parents at the dinner table to our teachers in class all the way through adulthood.

As kids, we may have rolled our eyes at this advice, but as it turns out, posture affects our overall health and wellbeing—and now that we’re a year into the pandemic, many of us are feeling the effects of too many months of poor posture and are in desperate need of a few exercises to help us stand up straight again.

Why It’s Important to Fix Your Bad Posture

Chronic poor posture can lead to repetitive stress on our bodies. It negatively impacts the alignment of your skeletal system, joint movement, balance and more.

“This kind of stress can contribute to neck and shoulder tension, headaches, jaw pain, stiffness, low back pain, alter how you engage your core, and can even make breathing more difficult,” says Melissa Oleson, DPT, RYT, CDNT, INHC, physical therapist and Yoga Medicine instructor. “Making sure you focus on good posture will help keep those aches and pains at bay, reduce stress to your body, and make sure your body is performing optimally.”

If your posture is a problem, the physical signs are hard to ignore.

Dr. Gregory Funk, chiropractor and founder of Ideal Health Chiropractic, explains, “When you have bad posture, your muscles surrounding your spine will always be tense and unbalanced, which can negatively impact the rest of your body.”

By focusing on improving your posture, you can relieve bodily pains, improve your circulation, increase your self-confidence, experience better core and scapular strength, have more energy throughout the day, Funk adds. It can even make you appear taller!

Do You Have Poor Posture? Here Are a Few Signs that You Might

If you experience pain or tension after sitting or standing, it’s a strong indicator that your posture needs to be adjusted.

“To detect if you struggle with bad posture, look for forwarding head positioning, thoracic kyphosis (an enhanced forward curve of your mid-back), rounded shoulders, overarching low back or a flat back,” Oleson states.

Dr. Ashok Gupta, DPT, COO of Theranow lists the common warning signs and symptoms of poor posture that you should not ignore:

  • Chronic pain, most common in neck, back and shoulders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Limited range of motion and/or pain with movements
  • Deviation from normal body posture like hunched back, rounded shoulders, misalignment of the body, head that either lean forward or backward, bent or side facing knees while standing or walking
  • Potbelly
  • Frequent headaches
  • Numbness and tingling in arms/legs

Simple Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Correcting poor posture can take time, especially if you’ve been experiencing chronic pain.

“Most of us who have bad posture find corrections for good posture to be kind of uncomfortable, tiring, and painful because those muscles have been out of commission,”Dr. Chris Airey, MD,a physician and Medical Director at Optimale, a telehealth clinic for men’s health, says. “Exercises that strengthen your core, back, shoulders and buttocks will help you maintain good posture in a way that is comfortable and second nature, but it takes some time and effort.”

Dr. Amir Vokshoor MD, Spinal Neurosurgeon and Chief of Spine at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California recommends these two exercises:

Posture Exercises

 

Wall Angels

Why it’s great for posture: 

  • This exercise trains you to pull your shoulders back while maintaining a strong core and neutral spine.
  • It improves thoracic spine (T-spine) mobility which is essential for maintaining good posture and staying pain-free in a healthy active
  • May reduce neck pain by creating space between the vertebrae that extend through your neck

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back against the wall and walk your feet out just far enough that you can keep your entire back and head against the wall. It’s important to maintain this positioning throughout the exercise.
  2. With slightly bent arms, bring the backs of your hands up to touch the wall overhead. Keep your hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders in contact with the wall while you drag your elbows out and down until you have a 90-degree bend at the elbow like a “field goal”.
  3. Continue this motion and repeat 3-5 times.
Foam Rolling

 

Why it’s great for posture:

  • Reverses “rounded” shoulders and “tech” neck
  • Increases joint mobility
  • Relieves tension and strain by massaging the shoulder blades and aligning your back and neck
  • Aids in muscle recovery and may prevent injury
  • Increases circulation

How to do it:

1. Keep your needs hip-distance apart
2. Lie on your back with the foam roller on your thoracic spine
3. Cradle your head in your hands
4. Engage your glutes to lift up your hips into a bridge position
5. Relax your upper back into the roller and start rolling
6. Repeat 6-8 times

Dr. Mike Evangel, sports and family chiropractic physician, suggests these simple exercises to improve posture:

Neck Exercise

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Prevents a forward motion of the head

How to do it:

  1. While sitting upright, slide your chin straight back without tilting your head.
  2. Extend your head backward from the base of the neck without picking up the chin and then hold for 7 seconds.
Upper Back Exercise

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Prevents the shoulders from slouching

How to do it:

  1. While sitting upright, move the shoulders back to bring the shoulder blades towards each other.
  2. Hold for 7 seconds.
Low Back Exercise

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Helps maintain a lumbar curve

How to do it:

  1. While sitting upright, move your navel forward to increase your lumbar curve
  2. Hold for 7 seconds.

These exercises should initially be performed with about a 50% effort. They are to be done with a 7-second hold and a 5-second rest between repetitions.

You can start off with 2 repetitions of each and build up to a 75% effort and 10 repetitions of each. When doing the exercises, you should not feel any increased pain or discomfort.

If you do, use less effort and if you still feel increased pain or discomfort, you should stop doing the exercise completely and consult your doctor.

Dr. Gupta recommends the following yoga poses:

Child’s Pose

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Good for stretching of the back muscles

How to do it:

  1. Kneel with your legs together, stretch out your arms and aim to put your forehead on the ground, or if you need a bolster or block (some books work too) to bring the ground to your head, put your forehead on the surface.
  2. Stay for at least a few breaths to a few minutes.
Cat and Cow

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Stabilizes the core
  • Helps in maintaining pelvic tilt
  • Stretches and strengthens the entire length of the paraspinal muscles

How to do it:

Start with knees under hips and hands under shoulders (tabletop pose). For cow move your chest forward and your head up, dropping your stomach, then go into cat by dropping your head down and rounding your back. Repeat several times.

Chest Opener

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Stretches the pectorals
  • Helps in maintaining the natural curvature of the thoracic spine preventing kyphosis

How to do it:

  1. Clasp your hands behind your buttocks.
  2. Lift your hands/arms as high as possible.
  3. Hold for a few breaths, then lower them.
  4. Do this 4 to 5 times.
Downward Facing Dog

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Aligns the entire spine
  • Strengthens the arm and leg muscles
  • Stabilizes the core

How to do it:

  1. Start in a top of a pushup position, lift your buttocks into the air and make a downward facing V-shape with your body.
  2. Bend your knees if needed to keep your back straight
  3. Hold for several breaths.
High Plank

Why it’s good for posture:

  • One of the best exercises for strengthening your core – the strength of your core is directly connected to your posture

How to do it:

Hold the top of a pushup position for several breaths. If you have wrist issues stay up on your forearms instead of your hands.

Side Plank

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Strengthens the core muscles and the muscles at the sides of the trunk

How to do it:

Support yourself on your side with your arm (hand or forearm) and lift your hips up. Try to stay for a few breaths.

Shoulder Shrugs

Why it’s good for posture:

  • Strengthens shoulder, neck and upper back muscles
  • Aligns the upper spine

How to do it:

  1. Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your shoulders up to your ears as you inhale and put them down as you exhale.
  3. Do this 10 times.

Sources

The Benefits Of A Quick Nighttime Stretching Routine

By Danielle Cheesman for The Good Trade.

Plus, four soothing stretches to try!

Every instructor of movement emphasizes the importance of stretching, from those in our elementary school gym classes, to the ones leading the barre sessions we take as adults. We gently pull and press and bend ourselves before and after any activity to avoid injury. And less intentionally—when we wake or have been sitting too long—our bodies instinctively reach, lengthen, and twist.

And yet, for years, I skipped the guided cool-downs after working out, even if I wasn’t pressed for time. It wasn’t until I unexpectedly learned from a doctor that I had a mild case of scoliosis that I felt the urge to make movement a priority. How long I’d had scoliosis, why it’d gone unchecked for so long remained unknown; but what was encouraged as treatment, among other things, was daily stretching.

I’m not a morning person, so instead I searched YouTube for evening movement practices and came upon what has since become one of my most revisited clips: a bedtime yoga session filmed on a Nicaragua beach, the instructor surrounded by candles and trees. Now, I recreate the mood in my own space—well, as best I can. I turn off my offensively bright overheard light, drape a flimsy red scarf over my desk lamp (safely!), play nature noises or a sound bath found on Spotify, and move. Slowly.

Stretching at night feels complementary to me. The unhurried movements mimic the sun’s slow set. And as the day comes to a close, so does my body. There are no errands to run afterward, no tasks left to complete but sleep. It’s the perfect time.

Regardless of the hour, however, experts agree that it’s essential.

“Gentle and slow stretching shifts the nervous system from fight-or-flight mode into rest-and-digest mode, which causes the heart rate to slow down,” says registered yoga teacher Carla Roberts-Oss, founder of Practice With Clara. She adds that stretching can also increase the blood flow and circulation to our muscles and brain which helps “recover and repair tissues,” as well as release feel-good hormones—dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine—for a calming effect on the mind. “The perception of pain lessens, allowing the body to enter a state of relaxation,” says Roberts-Oss.

Pointing to a 2016 Journal of Cellular Physiology study, Tiffany Cruikshank, L.AC, MAOM, founder of Yoga Medicine and Yoga Medicine Online, adds that passive, held poses can also have anti-inflammatory effects as they target the Ruffini endings, a type of sensory nerve; the effect being a decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity—otherwise known as the stress response. Ultimately, she says, “Stretching at night can be a great way to down-regulate the nervous system.”

And how we breathe as we stretch can do our body good, too. By breathing deeply, Roberts-Oss says we slow the activity of the vagus nerve that connects to our organs, including the brain, heart, lungs, and stomach. “Stretching the body goes hand-in-hand with the breath,” she says. “And when we move slowly, we’re more likely to pay attention to how we breathe and to breathe more deeply.”

As we connect our breath and our bodies, we become more mindful, too. Everyday distractions can often keep us from checking in with ourselves in real time and acting accordingly based on our needs. According to Daniela de Silva, founder of Blue House Yoga, stretching can bring us back to the present moment and can help us recover from the common stresses we endure during the day.

And if, like me, you’re inclined to nighttime routines, de Silva explains that incorporating a stretching ritual before bed can especially help us return to our bodies and release the accumulation of stress in our fascia and muscles. This will ultimately improve our sleep quality which, de Silva reminds, is strongly tied to our overall health. “A restful night of sleep is one of the strongest pillars for sports performance, wellbeing, and cognition,” she says.

Tara Stiles, global yoga expert and author of “Clean Mind, Clean Body” echoes the sentiment on the importance of sleep. “It’s really helpful to have a simple practice that transitions you from taking in information, thinking and doing things, to coming back to yourself at night,” she says. 

According to Stiles, not being able to “power down” is directly linked to not getting good rest. “If your mind is racing, your body is tense and it can be impossible to relax. A simple routine of getting down on the ground, slowing down, connecting with your breath, and moving how it feels good can go a long way.”

If you’re ready to start stretching, here are four stretches you can try tonight.

A Simple Bedtime Stretching Routine

When I stretch for my spinal health, I opt for movements that align or create space between my vertebrae. I reach from side to side and return to center, making sure to proudly elongate myself. I lay down and lift and lower my hips, imagining I can feel each interlocking bone curl away from and return to my mat. I gently twist my upper body, glancing over each of my shoulders before slowly swiveling back. But I also love to practice poses I once did daily as a dancer in high school to see how accessible they still are. (It’s humbling.) Do what feels good to you. And keep in mind, much like self-massaging, the pressure shouldn’t result in pain.

Happy Baby

Recommended by Daniela de Silva

Lie in bed flat on your back. Bend your knees toward your chest at a 90-degree angle (soles of your feet should be toward the ceiling). Grab the inside or outside of your feet with your hands. Bring your knees toward your armpits at the same time that you bring the soles of your feet a little higher. Remain in this position for several breaths, inhaling and exhaling deeply.

Lying Down Twist + Knee Hug

Recommended by Tara Stiles

Lay on your back on the ground. Hug your knees into your chest gently and hang there for a few long, deep breaths. With arms relaxed and extended out to the sides, let your legs fall over to one side. Breathe. Let your legs fall to for the other side. Breathe. Bring your legs back to your center and give yourself a hug.

Forward Fold

Recommended by Tiffany Cruikshank

Begin in a standing position, hips aligned over your ankles. With knees slightly bent, slowly lean forward at the hips, lengthening your torso as you descend, and let the crown of your head hang. It it feels better to do so, spread the legs bit wider. Try rounding the spine to target a larger area of tissue along the back. And support yourself with your hands, yoga blocks, or other household items so you can stay there and relax the tissues.

Cat/Cow Undulations

Recommended by Carla Roberts-Oss

Position yourself on your hands and knees (hips-width apart), with hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Keep your head in a neutral position. Inhale as you drop your belly towards the ground, lifting your chin and chest. Exhale as you round your back and draw your belly toward your spine, releasing the crown of your head toward the floor. Repeat.

7 Ways Yoga Can Help With Healthy Aging

Buddha said: “Nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change. Being is always becoming.” 

From the moment we are born until our lives end, we experience constant physical and mental change. Even if we strive for healthy aging, change (and therefore aging) is inevitable.

In our youth, we often celebrate these changes – they represent growth and development, accumulation of skills, and life experiences. But as we move through our lives, many of us become less excited about our altering state.

The aging process is different for each of us, but is usually accompanied by a range of changes – some of which we perceive as positive and some of which we don’t.

We gain skills, life experience, and perspective. But it’s also common to lose muscle mass and bone density, and for our connective tissue to become stiffer and less readily hydrated.

Our skin and hair can change. Hearing and eyesight can diminish. Declines in cognition and memory are also common. Many of us will also experience changes in our lifestyle, household structure, or level of community involvement.

To learn more about how yoga can help with healthy aging, click here to read the full article originally published on YogiApproved.com.

6 Night Affirmations That Will Help You Sleep

By Lauren Krouse for saatva.

Stressful times call for simple and easy self-care strategies —which may be why night affirmations for sleep are surging in popularity. Night affirmations, aka bedtime affirmations, are positive statements you can quietly say to yourself, write out, or repeat in your head to support a good night’s sleep.

If your wind-down routine has nothing on racing thoughts fueled by doom-scrolling or Sunday scaries, night affirmations could help ease your mind by rooting you in the present and reminding you that you can fall asleep.

“When you create a bedtime affirmation practice, you make peace and calm a priority,” says Valerie Knopik, PhD, psychologist and teacher for Yoga Medicine Online. “This is thought to change your pre-sleep thoughts, and by extension, make peaceful sleep more of a reality.”

Learn about the science behind night affirmations for sleep and how to add them to your bedtime routine.

How Night Affirmations Work

Changing the way you think about sleep may help improve your ability to sleep, says Barbaranne Branca, PhD, certified neuropsychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher at Studio Be in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Brain scans of people practicing night affirmations show increased activity in neural pathways—connections between different parts of the brain—linked to corresponding behavior changes in the future, per a 2015 study in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience.

Night affirmations can help you take advantage of neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to strengthen certain pathways, to ease your stressboost your self-esteem, and up your ability to adopt healthy habits.

How to Use Night Affirmations for Sleep

Use nighttime affirmations as a final step in your evening ritual to get yourself into the right mindset for sleep. After you’ve crawled into bed, repeat your chosen affirmation with thoughtfulness and presence about 10 times, advises Branca. Repeat as necessary for about three minutes, giving your mind and body permission to rest.

Keep in mind that night affirmations won’t make negative thoughts or feelings magically disappear—and that’s OK. “Think of your mind as a muscle,” says Knopik. “You’re strengthening the positive thought patterns that serve you.” Practice and patience are key.

Best Night Affirmations for Sleep

To get started with night affirmations, use these prompts.

“I release today.”

Hung up over a bad day? “Give yourself permission to leave the burdens and stresses of the day behind in order to start fresh and renewed tomorrow,” says Knopik. “The less you carry, the lighter you become, and the easier it is for sleep to carry you.”

“I choose calm and peace.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a flood of negative emotions, especially when the list of stressors you’re dealing with during the day is long. This nighttime affirmation gives you permission to choose peace over anxiety, says Knopik.

“I am not my thoughts.”

When your thoughts take over, it can feel as if they’re your only reality and they’re in control. Repeat this night affirmation to remind yourself you’re not your thoughts and you have the power to observe them without latching on, says Knopik.

“I am grateful.”

A great theme for bedtime affirmations is gratitude, says Knopik. Ending your day with feelings of gratefulness can help lower your blood pressure, increase your optimism, and improve the quality and duration of your sleep.

“I am doing the best I can.”

Stressed out about work? Use nighttime affirmations to replace negative self-talk with positive statements, says Branca. Beyond “I am doing the best that I can, customize your night affirmations to address specific concerns.

For example, if you’re worried about giving a presentation, remind yourself of your qualifications and previous successes by repeating the following: “I am well-educated and prepared, and I have all the abilities I need to do a good job tomorrow.”

“I can do this.”

When negative thoughts about sleep are the problem, it might help to simply remind yourself you’re capable of getting a good night’s sleep.

If you’ve tried night affirmations for a week or so and you’re still struggling night after night, you may have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Since sleep is vital for your health and well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider for help.

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