Tag Archives: meditation

5 Great Books on Yoga & Meditation

One of the many advantages of practicing yoga on the Muuyu platform is the ‘live and interactive’ element.  As classes are relatively small (usually between 6 and 12 in each session) students have the chance to query their yoga instructor on all aspects of their practice,  hear anecdotal details of their teachers’ own yoga journeys and generally engage in a way that quite quickly allows them to deepen their practice through personal guidance and insights from their instructors.

Sometimes this is enough.  Other times it leads students on a quest to find further information on the theory of yoga and mindful living and to learn from the great yogis of our past and present.

Of course there is no substitute for practice but widening your knowledge of yoga is a lovely gift to give yourself if you are eager to embrace a more conscious lifestyle.

With that in mind, here are 5 great books on yoga and meditation:

AutobiographyOfAYogiThe Autobiography of a Yogi by Swami Paramahansa Yogananda.

Autobiography of a Yogi introduces the reader to the life of Paramahansa Yogananda.  Swami Paramahansa was born in 1893 in India but moved to the US in 1920 where he taught yoga and meditation for over 30 years.

This book is a beautiful story of his remarkable life and a fascinating introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and the art of spiritual living.

Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Every Day Life by Judith Lasater

Judith Lasater guides you into moving your yoga off the mat and into your real, every day life.  Calling on the wisdom of the Yoga Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita,  Lasater takes yoga beyond the breathing exercises and positions and helps you to find more meaning in your relationships and the world around you.

The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Joy Devi

As over 80% of all yoga practitioners in the West are female,  this book will be of great interest to those who want to know what is the link between femaleness and yoga.  Author and world-class yogini Nischala Joy Devi, writes from the perspective of the feminine to discuss the health, emotional and spiritual benefits of this ancient art.

YogaBooks02Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is considered one of America’s leading spiritual teachers and in this warm, down-to-earth book, she teaches how the Buddhist path of lovingkindness can help everyone discover a way to maintain loving relationships.   Great for anyone interested in learning about Buddhism, meditation …or how to be kind to yourself.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

A gorgeous introduction to the skills of mindfulness from Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh.  He uses, anecdotes, stories and offers practical exercises so show how to achieve a fully present and mindfully conscious mind throughout your daily life, whether washing dishes or peeling fruit (I should give this to my partner whose peeling of an orange is like an extreme sport!)

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content withMuuyu and a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy these two posts.  Just click on the pictures to bring you directly to the article.

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for New Yogis & Yoginis   

Beautiful Woman Practicing Yoga Outside In Nature

  How Your Words Can Prevent Injury

Lighting Yoga’s Inner Fire

In 2011 a young yoga teacher in Vancouver decided to develop a small business selling her authentic yoga props and meditation cushions.  In the last four years that modest one-person business has developed into Inner Fire Apparel, a thriving international company creating yoga apparel and lifestyle products.  Muuyu was delighted to have the chance to discuss organic business growth,  following passions and giving back to your community with inspiring Inner Fire founder,  LEAH EMMOTT.

When did you establish Inner Fire Apparel and what was the momentum behind it?

Back in 2011,  I was working as a yoga teacher when I suddenly had to be rushed to the hospital for the removal of a giant ovarian cyst, which left me in recovery for 6 weeks.  I had a lot of friends who were yoga teachers so I decided to make some gifts for them while I was off during the holiday season.  The first items I made were yoga props and meditation cushions.

After giving some out as gifts, I had some people from my yoga studio ask if I could sell them some there.   I just followed the demand and started to make and sell yoga props,  bit by bit.  After selling a fair amount I decided it was time to call the company something.  I decided to call it Inner Fire because the area of my belly where I had the cyst was the same area where the 3rd chakra resides.  It is an area with fiery qualities that is responsible for passion, creativity and drive.  I really felt like this fire got lit during those 6 weeks off.

When I was back teaching,  I started to brainstorm some cool shirt design ideas that had been mulling around in my brain for a while.  I took a local screen printing workshop and then started to print my own shirts at home.  I would wear them out and to class and had even more people ask me if I could make some for them. It grew very organically.

About a year ago, I added a line of eco-friendly leggings made from recycled water bottles as a medium to express my love for nature and art.  The clothing side of the business grew so quickly that I decided to no longer offer the yoga props. It’s funny how a business evolves!

How difficult was it to progress without a background in fashion design or experience in setting up a business (that needed a home, staff, funding, etc)?

My business never intended to be a fashion business when I started out.   It was strictly yoga props and casual tanks and tees at the beginning.  I didn’t even want to get into cut and sew apparel until a couple of years in (and with the help of people with actual backgrounds in the fashion world).  I let it grow organically;  letting my creativity drive the direction rather than the industry.  I was just lucky that what I was doing ended up being what the industry was looking for!

As for the business side,  I have a degree in business  but I can’t say that it helped much when it came to all the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.  I was lucky to be able to move back home to focus on the business,  which allowed me to put a lot of sweat equity into the project without too much financial risk.  I bootstrapped the entire business off of my savings and worked on the side when I started.   As the business continued to grow,  I experienced some major growing pains.  It was clear after the first year and a half that I needed to move into a proper space and hire staff.  At the time,  it definitely was scary to be taking those risks,  but I am so glad I made the decision to go big or go home.

As a fashion brand Inner Fire is fun and playful but can you explain how you keep it grounded in a genuine yoga philosophy.

My inspiration comes from my experience as a yoga practitioner and as a yoga teacher.  To me, yoga,  at its core,  is simply the practice of being fully present and connected.  Being in that state of mind opens up the potential for more fun,  joy and playfulness in one’s day-to-day life.  It can be expressed in so many different ways.   For me it is through words and art.  I always make sure that the phrases I put on my shirts honor the practice of yoga and the person wearing it, however tongue in cheek the saying might be.

I feel so indebted to yoga for helping me get through tough times and reminding me what is important in life.  It has also introduced me to a community of deeply loving and conscious individuals.  It has humbled me in so many ways.  The practice reminds me that we are all connected and that we can really create a positive impact through our actions.

Inner Fire, Yoga, Muuyu    Inner Fire, Yoga, Muuyu

You are now the designer and the CEO of a yoga clothing company – what inspires you in both these roles, and do you find one role fits you more easily than the other?

As with any business,  the founder needs to wear a lot of hats to get the work done.  The business side and the creative side have to go hand in hand in order for the whole business to be successful.  It’s less compartmentalized and more of a continuum for me though. They blend with each other because that’s the nature of the day-to-day of small business.  The business side is primarily about people, whereas the creative side is primarily about thoughts and feelings. The two roles balance each other out naturally.

I’ve had people refer to me as the CEO before, and for some reason, I never liked that title.  Although I believe in leadership  I don’t see the need for corporate hierarchy.  This company is definitely something that came from me but I feel like now it’s grown bigger than me.  It’s created a community of conscious individuals,  of which I see myself as an equal.

Which of your collections (or pieces within a particular collection) are your favorites and why?

It’s really hard to choose any one collection, but I would have to say my favorite is the ‘Laughing Yogi Collection’.  It was my original collection of yoga puns and funny sayings.  When I initially came up with it,  I thought that no one would have the same humor as me but it turns out I was definitely wrong!  I love that it brings out the lighthearted side in people.

An important part of the Inner Fire philosophy is giving back to the larger community – can you talk about why this is integral to the company what it entails exactly?

When I started the company I finally felt like I had found my life calling.  I felt like the fire was lit within me to make a positive impact in the world.  One day while meditating I felt the need to somehow give this same feeling to others.  Everyone has a passion – but not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means to make it a reality. I had a friend in university who had started an organization called the School Fund.  Their mandate is to help link up youth in developing countries with micro-donors in order to fund their education.  The light bulb went off in my head – I could donate a portion (10%) of my profits to The School Fund to help other young people realize their dreams too!

Most of the students we support are looking to attend post-secondary or vocational programs in their communities.  It’s been quite eye-opening to learn how little there is out there for students in their late teens and early twenties.  In order to maximize our contribution we usually engage in matching campaigns with other organizations.  So far we’ve funded educational scholarships for over 10 students in Africa and Ecuador.

 The company has grown at quite a rapid rate – how have you coped with that?

2014 was the turning point year for me.  I can’t believe how fast it’s grown!  I went from making everything myself to having to locally outsource production just to keep up.   It was super rewarding to see how far I was able to take it on my own.  Of course, I had a lot of help from friends and family during those first two years – of which I am eternally grateful.

I did find it hard to let go and give up some control but I found myself overworked and unable to enjoy the things I used to enjoy when I had spare time.  I had to hire some help so that I could live a normal life again. The people on my team have been amazing. I feel like the big growing pains phase is finally over.

What are the future priorities for you and Inner Fire Apparel?

I hope to continue to build a strong team of conscious people who enjoy working in a dynamic environment.  I have plans to expand the wholesale side of the business into international markets, like Australia, the UK, Singapore and Dubai.  It’s been really crazy to see how many people from all over the world know about Inner Fire. Gotta thank the internet for that one!  I hope to be able to impact more people through our philanthropic activities as well.

As a business woman as well as a yoga practitioner and teacher, what advise can you give to other working women in relation to using yoga both on and off the mat to live a fulfilling life? 

I have learned many things along this journey and one of the biggest things is that the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and open your heart to those around you.  When you live in a state of authenticity,  gratitude and selflessness you attract the things that you are looking for.  You attract the right people and from there the opportunities start to flow.

You can call it the Law of Attraction or manifestation, but it’s basically about living as though we are in this together. It really works!

Oh, and it’s OK to show up to a class and spend the whole time in Savasana! I think there’s a shirt for that! 😉

All Inner Fire Apparel products can be found on  their website http://www.myinnerfire.com 

If you liked this, you might also enjoy these two posts.  Just click on the pictures to bring you directly to the article.

weargrace01      Juices  Yoga Fashion’s Gift of Grace       3 Juice Recipes to Help Fight the Flu  

 

Why Meditation Is Good For Your Gut

You may have remembered to have green smoothies during the holidays.  You may have learned not to neglect your yoga practice. Yet even with the best of intentions, chances are you ate more and moved less in December.  Although Buddha rocked his distended belly with a sly smile, you aren’t so certain the look is one that you want to maintain.

You may assume that the best way to get your optimal digestion back is with a kick-butt fitness sequence that has you miserable.  In fact,  sitting intentionally might be just what the yogi ordered.  Not sitting with a big bowl of dessert,  mind you,  but meditatively.

This may be the part of the article where you become absolutely certain that life is harder work than that.  However, don’t discount how difficult it can be to meditate on a consistent basis.  It is a challenge and one that can help heal your gut and balance your body.

Here are the three points that we think are absolutely fascinating and even more reason to carve out regular quiet time in 2015:

  • Tension can be everywhere.  If you are stressed (even the “good” stress that stokes your ambitious fire) it is likely your gut will be stressed as well.  Our body needs a little parasympathetic action to rest and digest.  Meditation can help the whole body to function more optimally as you re-learn how to relax and recover. Your digestive health will have no option but to follow suit.
  • You can control more than you think. You certainly can breathe without thinking about it (thank goodness!).  However, by taking the reigns every once in awhile and breathing deeply into the pit of your belly,  you can start to affect your own physiology.  Deep breaths with a straight spine will massage the internal organs, helping with peristalsis.  Let your belly be soft.  Most of us don’t take a deep breath all day long, so this may be one of your healthiest new habits.
  • Stress eating starts in the mind.  Sure, there are moments when it makes sense to eat a piece of chocolate rather than another head of kale.  But if the first thing that you are grabbing tends to supply quick energy that burns out quickly, you need to slow down.  Without slowing down,  you won’t be as able to control your cravings.  Some time in quiet can make your realize that your 3pm sweet craving is related to an emotion,  making it have a lot less hold on you.

There are many theories as to how long you should maintain a habit to make it stick. Give 30 days a try with tuja wellness and their absolutely free meditation challenge.  Every day, you will get a guided meditation sent to your inbox to bring you peace and pause. Sign up here and see if this calm lifestyle leads to a happier gut.

 

CourtneySunday

Courtney Sunday wanted to write her first book by the age of 10.  Although she has not lived up to her own expectations, she now happily works as a freelance writer.  She is particularly pleased to be one of the writers for the Canadian healthy living website tuja wellness.   She also teaches yoga and Pilates and leads yoga teacher trainings and retreats around the world.  Visit her at her website or contact her through muuyu.

Meditation,Muuyu, Health, Wellness

 

Photo credit: Meaghan Eady

Angela’s Yoga Lab: A Mantra for 2015… or anytime, really!

For many yoga practitioners a mantra is a powerful tool to use to deepen their practice.  Sound is particularly powerful and the repetition of sound can help focus the mind on that which is outside of and bigger than yourself.

The mantra below is perfect for any time you need to feel grounded and centered.  If you have only 5 minutes,  this will still be powerful and effective, but if you have more time – you can invest as long as you need into the mantra as a way to focus energy and attention on what you need most,  especially  transitions such as the one you will be making  into the New Year.

The type of mantra I have created here is a simple and highly effective version of mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra).  With this way of using internal vibration of ‘So-Ham’ we journey from Gross to Subtle,  and the mantra will center and focus the mind on an object through the chanting itself.

How to do this mantra:

    • Find a comfortable seated position, preferably somewhere where there is natural sunlight,  a window open for fresh air ( ideally you want to be not too hot,  not too cold) and where you have some quiet and privacy uninterrupted. Turn off the TV, computer, radio and your phone.  You can light a candle or some incense if you will not be distracted by the smell.  You do not need a candle or incense as you can do this mantra wherever you are and in whatever position,  though seated is best.

     

    • Sit with your spine straight and keep your eyes closed to draw your focus inward.  Only if you are too sleepy should you keep your eyes opened.

     

    • Take a few long deep inhalations (breath inward) focusing on creating space in the internal body and then with every exhalation (breath outward) focus on releasing any tension, pain or stress –  anything that does not serve you right now.

     

    • Roll your shoulders down away from your ears, unlock your jaw and move your tongue so your mouth is relaxed.  Feel the earth/mat/ground below your sitting bones which are supporting you.  Focus on the sensation of your lungs lifting on the inhale and falling on the exhale.  Soften your face,  the base of your neck and behind your eyes.  You can rest your hands lightly on top of your knees, or in your lap.   Keep wrists relaxed.

     

    • For this mantra we begin with So-Ham Pranayama (breathing technique).   Whilst seated, bring your focus to your breath. While inhaling think “So”, and whilst exhaling think “Ham- or “Huumm”.  With the latter you may observe that this will lengthen the quality of your breathing,  which is the goal here.

     

    • Continue the flow of So-Ham and attempt to match the length of your inhale with your exhale so the flow is even.  However, do not obsess over this.   After feeling confident breathing So-Ham  begin to observe the natural pause between your inhale and exhale.  This is a pure moment of sweet stillness, a cessation of thoughts between So and Ham.  Do not hold your breath here to control or create this but rather observe how it naturally occurs.

     

    • Once you have completed a few rounds of So-Ham breathing you can begin with the mantra.

     

    • Out loud chant, “I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now.”

     

    • Repeat for at least 20 rounds at any volume or pitch you like. You can change the volume of your voice to what feels right.  Once you get into a rhythm you may find you do not want to stop at 20 rounds so,  in that case,  keep going until you feel compelled to stop.

     

    • Stay connected to the words and stay present in your body as you chant.  Do not zone out or lose connection to what you are doing.

     

    • Once you’ve stopped chanting out loud keep repeating the mantra inside your mind,  feeling the sensation of vibrations of your chanting rippling through you and the power of the words settling inside of you.

Benefits of this mantra:

This has the dualistic effect of being both a grounding mantra while also being empowering.   From a place of being grounded and anchored in the present you are able to tap into the potential of that moment with no expectations.  Often the lead up to a new year is filled with expectations.  We place so much pressure on resolutions to shift and change the various parts of ourselves and our lives – and sometimes others – which we feel are inadequate.

We enter with the premise “I am not enough”, “I /my life needs to change because who I am right now or how things are now – is not of any worthy”.

We can also get swept up in the hype of the idea at this time of year that things should or must shift and while change is healthy,  often these expectations lead us to over-promise,  over-commit and under-deliver, making us feel even more helpless and worthless when we cannot follow through.

Life being fluid is filled with death and rebirth, coming and going.  A new year is just another entering and exiting.  Having an equanimous mindset and connection to the present,  being here and now, anchors us so that we can handle any weather that may come our way both in 2015 and in the rest of our life.   We do not need an arbitrary date to make changes that need to take place.  We need to be in touch with ourselves so we can see from a place of clarity.

Whatever we enter the new year with is the place we take off from. The year before is gone but the year ahead is also unknown.  So all that matters IS as the mantra promises – the here and now.

 

Yoga Teacher; Forrest Yoga; Asanas; Vinyasa; Muuyu;

Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin.  RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga,  Angela is committed to nourishing  mind and body both off and on the mat.   She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs.  Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.

Connect with her here on Muuyu.com or on her own website  www.endorphinyoga.eu as well as on Twitter.

 

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5 New Year Resolutions for New Yogis & Yoginis To Make

So 2014 was the year that you began your yoga journey in earnest.  And now, with 2015 almost here and happening,  perhaps you’re wondering how you can continue to develop your life on a yoga path, possibly without too many radical changes that might have you giving up by mid-year or earlier!   Well, here are 5 New Year Resolutions to make which will lead the way to a happier and healthier yogic life!

  • Regular Practice: This may seem pretty obvious but if you want to ensure yoga remains not just a relevant but an effective part of your life it is necessary to maintain a regular practice.   Yoga has immense benefits but as many people first turn to yoga with a physical need (i.e. wishing to increase their body flexibility, weight loss, etc) it can take a while to bring postures,  pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation together to reach that true harmony of a unified body, mind and spirit, which is,  of course,  the greatest benefit of yoga.    Of course, ‘regular’ may mean anything from 10 to 60 minutes daily for some folk or twice a week for others.  You yourself will know what’s best for you.  The point is, that in developing a good ‘yoga practice’,  the second part of that phrase is equally as important as the first!
  • Live the Simple Life:  In western society there is,  unfortunately,  a constant incitement to consume.   It is great to have the things that we need, no doubt about that,  but can we say that we truly need all that we have?   One of the primary principles of living a yogic life is ‘greedlessness’ (aparigraha).   So if 2015 is your year of moving towards a more yogic lifestyle then you could begin by removing – slowly,  if you need time – all the things around you that are unnecessary to living a more modest life.   Part of this journey is also to refrain from coveting what others have and learning to see the real riches in your life, which may include the friends and family that love you regardless of whether you have loads of gadgets or the time to pursue interests that got lost in the maelstrom of making and spending money.
  • Eat Your Greens:  Adding more veggies to your daily diet (and eliminating processed foods in addition) is one very easy way to resolve to live a more yogic lifestyle.   Outside of any moral reasons to develop a more plant-based diet,  there are huge health benefits to be had by increasing your consumption of vegetables.  These not only include increased energy levels and healthier skin, but a vegetable-rich diet is known to lower the incidences of many diseases  including obesity,  hypertension, diabetes and many heart-related illnesses.   Living a healthful life and making conscious decisions as to what you put into your body are all steps on the yogic path.
  • Take New Steps on Your Healthy Path:  Oil pulling,  herb infusions, keeping a gratitude journal, doing daily mediation?  Often when you begin a yoga practice and find yourself becoming more attuned to your body, mind and spirit you naturally want to start taking better care of yourself.   There are so many healthful ways that you can increase your well-being on a daily basis from the moment you wake to the minutes before you retire to bed.  This can include starting your day with 5 or 10 minutes of mindful meditation to taking up the ancient Ayurvedic technique of oil pulling (specifically, that means rinsing your mouth with a tablespoon of oil on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes).   This former practice can establish a positive mindset for the day ahead while the latter practice of oil pulling not only promotes oral hygiene but helps cleanse the skin and increase energy levels.
  • Put Yoga into Words and Actions:  The philosophy of yoga is one that promotes peaceful living (ahimsaor), respect for natural life,  being true to yourself and living with honesty and integrity.  That doesn’t mean turning yourself into a modern day Pollyanna, but by trying to be wise with your words, kind in heart and joyful in spirit you may just find that living the yogic lifestyle is more gratifying and personally gainful than you’d ever dreamed it could be.

Happy 2015!

 Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content withMuuyu and a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.

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Angela’s Yoga Lab: Yoga for All Seasons – Fighting Winter Depression

I am a native Australian.  I was born in Sydney and spent the first 22 years of my life there.

Moving to Berlin in the height of winter I experienced for the first time a physical and emotional coldness as well as a darkness I had never known was possible.  The coldest it gets in winter in Sydney is around 5 degrees (usually overnight or early hours of the morning). And even in winter it would be light outside until at least 7pm in the evening.   Before moving to Berlin I had never seen or touched snow!

Berlin winters can sometimes drop to -20.  It can snow and it is pitch black by 4pm.  It can be harsh.  In fact, it is not uncommon to wake in darkness and to come home in darkness.

Like a bird flying south,  the past few winters I have flown to warmer countries or back home to ‘escape the winter’.  However, this year we will be staying in Berlin and so I have a plan to get me through and to fight fatigue and winter depression through yoga practice and specifically inversions.   (I’ve talked in greater detail about inversions here if you would like to read more).

Research on the use of yoga for depression, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included studies with a total of 3,515 participants.  Findings highlighted that just 30 minutes daily meditation can improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain.  Furthermore, when the researchers compared the magnitude of the gains with those taking medications the effectiveness was similar but with no side effect.

A Swedish study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry and which was built on previous research from 47 clinical trials, also discovered that group mindfulness training proved as effective as the established psychological treatment for depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

As mindfulness and the meditative state can be a vital part of yoga practice it stands to reason that incorporating yoga into your routine can thus have a therapeutic effectiveness in beating back the blues.

Yoga asana builds confidence and strength in the physical body and helps to calm the mind.  By balancing the hormonal endocrine system, strengthening the balance between our para-sympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system,  asana practice maximizes our opportunity to allow the body to function at optimum by producing the right hormones to keep us balanced and feeling in control.

I believe the yoga mat is a monitored environment to work under the controlled stresses that we apply in varying degrees to body and mind,  an environment where we can develop effective coping mechanisms.  When I am feeling unbalanced or depressed yoga has become a useful go-to-tool for moving through it.

During winter time when we have less exposure to Vitamin D (i.e. less hours in sunlight) and have less opportunities to exercise due to extreme coldness and darkness yoga asana takes on even greater importance.

Here are some instant mood and depression boosters:

  • Yogic Breathwork

Yogic breathing clears and maintains healthy internal organs. Pranayama such as Agni Sara connects the mind to the core of the body, actively pumps fresh blood around the body and creates internal Agni (fire) that heats us from the inside out.

  • Flowing Asana Practice ( such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga)

This type of practice keeps the joints supple and lubricated, which is great for when coldness causes crunchiness and stiffness.  Asana where we sweat detoxes us and flushes our system.  This works to boost our immune system which is also essential at this time of year when we are more susceptible to colds and flu.

  • Inversions

Going upside down is a great way to chase depression from cell tissue as it offers an instant mood-shifter and energy boost.  The key in mastering this is to take baby steps to build your core and upper body strength. This journey itself can be deeply healing and gratifying – seeing something build and build to the point where you exceed your preconceived limits of what you thought or imagined was possible on a physical and mental level.

Entry level / Intermediate Inversion Practice

  • Downward Facing DogAdho mukha śvānāsana

After some time and when ready to up-level you can move downward dog onto the wall.  Press your feet into the wall with legs at a 90 degree angle.  Hold here for up to 10 breaths, come down and pause in child’s pose, then move up again for a round of 10 breaths, building up stamina and confidence.  Explore transitions with one leg straightened, and then the other.

  • Dolphin

This asana is ideal for those with tweaky wrists or sensitive people who also cannot do downward facing dog.

Again, after some time when you’re feeling more confident, you can move dolphin on to the wall. Keep legs at 90 degrees to the wall, straightened if possible, bent legs if new to the pose)

Intermediate/ Advanced Inversion Practice

All of the asana listed below can be built up to variations such as straddle, lotus or baddha konasana:

  • Headstand – Shirshasana
  • Handstand – Vrikshasana
  • Forearm Balance – Pincha mayurasana

Do remember that when trying for the first time, only attempt the mentioned asana under the guidance of an advanced teacher, and be sure that you do not have any contraindications to inverting the body or going upside before attempting them.

If you would like any further advice or guidance with anything mentioned in the post also feel free to contact me here.

Yoga Teacher; Forrest Yoga; Asanas; Vinyasa; Muuyu;

Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin.  RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga,  Angela is committed to nourishing  mind and body both off and on the mat.   She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs.  Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.

Connect with her here on Muuyu.com or on her own website  www.endorphinyoga.eu as well as on Twitter.

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Yoga Fashion’s Gift of Grace

Since its establishment the yoga attire company weargrace has become brand of choice for women who want their clothing – both on and off the mat – to spark a deeper, authentic personal style.    Muuyu was fortunate to recently catch up with weargrace Founder, KAREN JOYCE, to find out what inspires the former Gucci Image Director as the woman at the helm of this unique yoga clothing collection.  

 When did you establish weargrace and what was the momentum behind it?

I have been practicing yoga for many years and in 2009 after 20 years in the fashion industry, I left my business and traveled to Asia in search of more meaning, deeper self-understanding and a greater awareness of the ancient disciplines of the east.

In my travels and study I found that the ancient teachings and philosophy inherent in yoga and meditation are very different from their western interpretations.  There is a very pure and simple side, a more meaningful foundation that gets lost in our hectic lifestyles and conditioning.

The creation of weargrace was an opportunity to use a language that I know (fashion) as a vehicle to share these precious teachings by embodying them in the brand values and the clothing itself.

This idea was born in late 2009 and developed through many subsequent trips to Asia and many yoga experiences in different parts of the world.  The first collection was produced is 2012.

You’ve talked before about there being three specific events that woke you up to the fact that you needed to change the work/life you were leading, but at what moment did you start to think about setting up your own yoga fashion line and were you not worried that the work might consume you once again?

I started thinking about a yoga line in 2009 when I sat in my teachers training workshop in Bali, listening to the profound, life changing philosophy behind this ancient discipline and observed that everyone was dressed the same.  Yoga attire was totally disconnected to the teachings.  It occurred to me that the clothing could be a vehicle to remind people of the precious values inherent in yoga and to keep these teachings alive.

I trusted that if my work could be a natural extension of who I am and the values I sustain, that I could stay aligned and not fall into the old work patterns.

“Living” the precepts of yoga and meditation is much harder than studying it on an island or in the Himalayas.  The real challenge comes in the integration of this wisdom into the ups and downs of everyday life. This remains a continual challenge for me and is what stimulates me to keep weargrace growing and to stay true to the message behind the brand.

Weargrace is so much more than a fashion brand. Along with the weargrace collection there are also grace retreats and a philosophy that promotes the practice of yoga – Can you explain further how these strands all tie together? 

Grace retreats and the weargrace philosophy are all vehicles to remind people to live from the inside out. To connect to their unique inner wisdom and guidance.  The clothing, the retreats,  the philosophy, are all part of  the same message.

You may buy a weargrace legging because you see it on Net-a-Porter or because you like the particular color or style.  Maybe you read about the prayer flag symbolism and it helps to bring more compassion to your day, or the text in the weargrace mantra inspires you to take a yoga or meditation class and you begin to live from a different space.  It is my hope that weargrace plants a seed that can lead people to their own unique path of personal growth.

You are one of the 16 hand-selected fashion lines that debuted as part of Net-a-Porter’s new, luxury activewear offering, Net-a-Sporter. How did that come about and what can we expect as part of your future relationship with them?

I first contacted Net-a-Porter in 2012, introducing the brand message, philosophy and product selection.   Candice Fragis, the buyer who I was in touch with, was very kind in her feedback, recognizing the unique offering but relaying that there was not yet a place for this niche market on the N-A-P platform.  In March of 2014, I received a call directly from Candice, senior buyer of the activewear segment.  She had remembered the brand and explained the plan to launch the Net-a -Sporter platform, and came by to see the collection.

As an avid yogi, Candice connected immediately with the deeper message behind the brand, as well as its simple and elegant style, versatility and comfort that made the offering different from all other activewear brands.

Being in the right place at the right time and having someone who understood what the brand was trying to communicate, this was grace!

In July, 2014 weargrace was the only brand to represent the yoga sector on the Net–a-Sporter platform launch.  Our presence on this important channel reaching over 170 countries is the perfect opportunity to share our unique message and offers all women simple, stylish and comfortable clothing that inspires a more personal, authentic part of themselves.

What are the future priorities for the company?

Weargrace aims to establish itself as the most modern, tasteful and meaningful brand in yoga attire, encouraging women to live from the core of their being, and connect to their unique personal style and inner guidance.

As a business woman and an avid yoga practitioner, what advice can you give to other working women in relation to using yoga both on and off the mat to live a fulfilling life? 

Yoga is not just a physical practice.  It is a tool that helps us to align with who we really are.   Approach your practice with compassion and presence.  In this connection, you will discover an inner knowing, a guidance that will help you to live from a more peaceful and authentic space.

This is living from the inside out and is my challenge every day.   To live from this space is our greatest gift.

KarenJoyce

US-born Karen Joyce is the founder of weargrace.   Following her graduation from Providence College and Rhode Island School of Design, Karen moved to Venice, Italy where she worked as a consultant for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.  From there she moved to Milan where she joined Gucci as a graphic designer, then as Art Director before relocating to London as Director of Image for the Gucci Group.  In this position she managed an in-house creative agency for all Gucci’s brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga.  However, after almost two decades in the business Karen decided to make some personal changes that would greatly impact her professional life …and weargrace was born.

Weargrace products can be found on weargrace.com, Net-a-Porter and, from next year onwards, across the USA in 9 locations of the luxury department store chain, Barney’s.

How yoga slows you down (in a good way!)

Slowing Down is Good

As you age you may notice that you are slowing down a bit.  It may take you a little longer to get ready for the day, or you may have some aches and pains that you did not have before.

As you move into yoga asanas, be aware of your posture; shoulders are back and straight.

I have been practicing yoga for many years and recently I had to slow down myself and savor the moments of a deeper kind of mellowness that I get from Yin Yoga.  When you move in and out of Yin poses such as pigeon and shoelace, you benefit your body.

Yin Yoga is a slower, deeper yoga that helps bring your body back in to alignment; working the hips, back and shoulders in a soft way. When you practice, it is like a very slow Hatha type yoga, using assistance with blocks and straps.

Aging and your Health

Remember that aging can be a good thing for you; you slow down and are mellow when you practice modalities such as slow, purposeful breathing and meditation.  And slowing down is a good thing in yoga poses, especially if you stay in the pose for more than a few breaths.

The first thing that comes to mind is the pose pigeon.  This pose is a deep stretching of the hips, and many people as they age begin to have some hip difficulties.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could do some prevention work on yourself by staying in pigeon or shoelace until your intuition gives you the nod to come out of the poses?

Yoga and Weight Loss

For weight loss yoga is a good way to slim down.  When you practice the 3 areas of yoga:  Asanas, breathing and meditation, you begin to be so much more mindful of yourself that it travels to your mind’s eye and you also become more mindful of your eating; slowing down, looking at your food and savoring each moment.

Life unfolds and we move along strong, centered and balanced in shoelace.

You may even become more mindful of your meal presentations; using special plates that are colorful and wonderful to look at along with a candle on your table and special tablecloths to brighten your meals.

Yoga Stretching

There is evidence that the yoga stretching, flexing and elongating poses can also help with digestion and weight reduction.  And the good news is that you do not have to stretch and flex in an aerobic way because a passive, slow Yin way can help you in your goal of staying healthy in mind, body and spirit.

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Doris Richardson-Edsell is a a registered nurse, yoga instructor, author, mother and grandmother.  She has worked as a counselor and group therapist at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, New York, for over 25 years.

As an author she has penned a series of books on the topics of health and wellness, including plant based dieting, weight maintenance and vegan cooking.   Her latest e-book, ‘Maintaining Your Weight: Staying in the Center’, is currently available on Amazon.com.

You can connect with Doris on Muuyu here.  Or if you would like to read or hear more of Doris’ expertise, you can check out her other blog posts here and here or visit her webpage, Body Mind Health, where she discusses and advises on all topics concerning holistic healing and health.

Photo credit: Eddy Ballardi