Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cool Yoga Postures for Hot Summer Days

Do you want to stay cool while practicing yoga during those hot summer days? We tend to move more in the summer months, which is a great thing! But when the sun's too oppressive or the day's too muggy, outdoor activities drop off. So, in the hot days of summer, you would do well to practice yoga poses that actually keep you cool.

Generally speaking, forward extensions are the cooling yoga postures practiced during hot days. Find a nice breezy location near an open window or door. The fresh air helps. Don't attack the poses. Remember to move into each of the yoga postures with deliberation and set up your alignment properly. The names of yoga poses that will give you a relaxing and cooling practice without overheating are Janu Sirsasana (Head Knee Pose) and Marichiasana (Seated Twist with several variations). Along with these basic poses, more can be added depending on the time you have available, your energy level, and how much experience you have had. You may add Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend), Triang Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana (Three Limb Face Down Forward Bend), and Paschmimottanasana (Full Forward Bend). There are so many variations on how they can be performed, yet that does not mean one can be sloppy! These five yoga postures translate into forward bends with a knee to the side, one leg in lotus, one leg in Virasana and twisting, with the final version of the pose looping arms around legs and the torso and using leverage. The final yoga pose is a plain forward extension with legs fully straightened.

In seated yoga postures, press your legs down into the floor, keep that action as you bend at the hip joint, not the mid-back. Then lengthen your front spine as you stretch forward. In Iyengar yoga, yoga postures are supported with props like straps to catch a foot, or a bolster to support your torso. This way you should get the benefits of wonderful yoga by: 1) keeping yourself moving during hot summer days which is good for your lymph system that cleanses your issues, 2) keeping yourself cool which is not only appropriate but satisfying and 3) keeping your tissues toned, strong and alert. Practicing yoga postures is all about appropriate balance in the self, both in the moment and in life.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Yoga Practice at Home - It Is Time to Get Real

Moving towards opening a yoga practice is the next step to incorporating yoga as a lifestyle. As instructors encourage learners to embrace personal yoga lifestyle at home, classes become a place to connect with others, regroup and get help from seasoned instructors.

Blending yoga into your personal life is paramount to understanding yoga as a whole. As you become more advanced in your practice, adopting a yoga lifestyle into your life should be happening on a more global scale. Personal practice displays commitment, motivation and maturity. Once included into personal practice, a practitioner will notice a shift in consciousness to a deeper awareness to self and the environment.

As a meditative practice, yoga promotes you to be mindful of your actions and aware of those around you. Once you realize that yoga classes do not grant the student enlightenment until the student takes yoga home, the further along the spiritual development path you'll be.

Developing a personal practice at home does not come easy. It takes intuition as to what your needs are for that day or even week, for that matter. Setting aside times to do yoga at the times that your body or mind really need them is a challenge. You want to address the now, so you must be flexible enough to switch routines for the day.

Write out the sequence of poses that will work for the type of yoga you feel you need to perform for that day. You will end up with several versions for your different needs. Some sequences will be active and invigorating while others will be calming and insightful. When incorporating bends and twist, remember to include counter-moves to balance the body. Forward bends will counter-balance back bends and twists to the left should be paired with twists to the right.

This may sound daunting, but it is not. Start out small and work from there. A thing to note, though, is to create a special space for your practice. Multi-use areas tend to thwart even the most dedicated yogi. If you have to move 5 things from the space in order to practice yoga, chances are you will find reasons not to do yoga that day. Obviously, your props should be stored nearby for convenience. In the beginning, check out music from the local library to try first. Be creative. Move beyond some of the contemporary New Age tracks to find your yoga groove.

Ultimately, you should feel refreshed and energized when you are done with your yoga practice. Remember to approach each pose from a calm and centered place. You will gain so much more. You shouldn't feel exhausted when you're done, not even with Bikram yoga (hatha yoga performed in 105 degree room). So give yourself credit that you can bring yoga home and incorporate it into your real life.