Tag Archives: Mindfulness

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

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.

 

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

AngelaBlog5           Kundalini, yoga, yoga lifestyle, yoga retreat, health and wellbeing, yoga and meditation, mantras, yoga poses        Fighting Winter Depression         My Yoga Journey: Donna Davidge

 

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.

If you liked this you might also like the below posts.  Just click on the pictures to go straight to the article.

Angela_Collins001               Green is for Go                 What does Yoga Actually Do?         Go Get Your Dreams in 2015!

 

 

12 Quotes to Encourage You To Go Get Your Dreams in 2015!

In a little over a week we will be welcoming in a brand new year and for many people that means a time for making new plans or starting afresh with old ideas.   It’s the beauty of this stage in the holiday season that most people make their plans with a confidence and conviction that is not always present at other times of the year.

So to help keep that positivity pumped once the festive eagerness has fizzled a little,  here are 12 life-affirming  and reassuring quotes to help you really go after your dreams in 2015.

 “Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”  William J. Reilly

“Throw your dreams into space, like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”  Anais Nin

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”  Lao Tzu

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  Helen Keller

 “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”.  Oprah Winfrey

“In order to carry a positive action we must first develop a positive vision.”  Dalai Lama

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”  Benjamin Franklin

“Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it.”  Osho

 “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”  Maya Angelou

“Do or do not. There is no try.”  Yoda 

 

 Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyu 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.

Photo credit: Eddy Ballardi

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.

If you liked this you might also like the below posts. Just click on the pictures to go straight to the article.

Angela_Collins001      Beautiful Woman Practicing Yoga Outside In Nature

 What Does Yoga  Do?             How Your Words Can Prevent Injury

4 Airplane Yoga Poses for Long Haul Travelers this Holiday

Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends but for many people that means taking long-haul flights back to hometowns or holiday destinations.   While there’s much to look forward to by making such a journey, sitting still for a long time on a plane can be less than fun, especially for your joints and muscles.  Practicing certain yoga poses during the flight can keep your blood flowing and so prevent chances of swelling,  stiffness and in,  rare cases,  developments of blood clots in a deep vein known as deep vein thrombosis.

Calming the mind – especially if you boarded your flight after a largely hectic pre-Christmas workload – and reducing overall anxiety about flying, are two further benefits.

So,  while I’m not suggesting you start with sun salutations in the aisle once the seat-belt sign has blinked off, here are 4 flight-friendly yoga poses that you can practice either while seated or when stretching your legs in the cabin and without drawing too much attention to yourself.

1. Seated Cat Cow

Aim: This is a wonderful exercise if you suffer from a fear of flying as it frees the tension or stressed emotions that you may be holding onto by releasing blockages within your spinal column.

How: On the edge of your seat, align your feet with your hips.  Place your hands lightly on top of your thighs, inhale, and roll your shoulders to arch your chest upwards and outwards.   Look towards the tip of your nose and, as you exhale, roll your spine forward.  Allow your body to follow the flow and length of every breath. Continue for 10-20 breaths.

2. Seated Spinal Twist

Aim: Relieves stress and relaxes your back.  Especially great if you’ve fallen into a crumpled sleep over your arm rest or have just finished watching two back-to-back in-flight films without standing up at any stage.

How: Sit on the edge of your seat.  Gently place the back of your right knee on top of the left, place your left hand on your right knee, and your right hand on your right armrest.  Inhale and straighten your spine (feel like the top of your head is reaching to the hand luggage storage).  Keep this length and slowly exhale while turning towards your right side.  Stay here and take 4 deep breathes before repeating on the other side.

3. Thigh Stretch

Aim: Wakens your legs and prevents stiffness in your thigh muscles.

How: If you have an aisle seat, stand next to it and place your left hand on the headrest.  Straighten your back and tuck in your navel. Lift your right foot off the floor and bend your knee (so your lower leg is behind your body). Grab your right ankle with your right hand and gently pull up until your heel is touching or moving toward your butt. Hold for 6 to 8 breaths. Gently release and switch sides.

4. Side Stretch

Aim: Lengthens the muscles between the ribs and pelvis, including the lower back. By opening the sides of the rib cage and expanding the lungs, this makes breathing easier, which is particularly helpful in the small, sometimes stuffy, confines of a plane.

How: Go for a stroll around the cabin to re-energize your body.  Find a little space – usually there’s a little more room outside the bathroom area towards the back of the plane.  Step back with your feet hip width.  Raise your right arm, sideways, toward the sky. When you exhale, keeping your chin tucked in, lean over to left side until you feel a gentle stretch on your right side.  Hold for 5-10 breaths before repeating the other side.

Of course, do be mindful of others and your own safety when practicing these or any other yoga poses on the plane.  Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the flight also to keep yourself hydrated.   Most of all, though, breathe deeply,  stay energized and have a happy and healthy holiday.

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyu 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.

Yoga; Yoga Asanas; Meditation              Yoga; Yoga Asanas;

How Yoga Slows You Down        What Does Yoga Actually Do?

 

United Nations Declares 21 June as ‘International Day of Yoga’

The United Nations have adopted the India-led resolution to declare 21 June International Day of Yoga.   India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who appointed a Minister for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy,  Unani,  Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) last month,  also used his September address to the United General assembly to promote the practice and to create a global day of yoga (we wrote about it on the Muuyu blog here).

Obviously his words created a huge impact for the resolution, which was introduced by India’s ambassador to UN Asoke Mukerji, also had 175 nations joining as co-sponsors,  the highest number ever for any general assembly resolution.

Additionally, what makes the adoption of this proposal even more unique and shows just how influential yoga has become, is the fact that this was the first time such an initiative has been proposed and implemented by any country in the UN body in less than 90 days. Now, that’s pretty impressive!

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyu 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.

Skin problems? Not a problem with weeds and herbs!

The following article is an excerpt from Doris Richardson-Edsell’s book ’10 Tips on Herbs, Spirituality and Food as Medicine’, which she has kindly allowed Muuyu to republish here on our blog.

Weeds and herbs can be wonderful for helping your skin.   Starting with acne,  here are some first steps to help:

Most of the time acne is caused from too much sebum (oil) on the skin.  This oil can bring about bacteria, causing plugged hair follicles in the skin pores.   If it is lodged near the surface of the skin, blackheads and other spots will form.   If a blockage ruptures, it becomes a pimple.  Sometimes the problem is hormonal,  stress,  diet or irritating ingredients in make-up.

So, what to do?

Yarrow

Yarrow is a true remedy for acne. For a yarrow infusion place dried yarrow flowers into a quart jar and fill with boiling water.  Steep overnight, strain and store in a plastic bottle.  Dampen a washcloth with it and use to clean your face every morning, evening and in-between!

Burdock seed or root

Herbalist Susan Weed believes that brewing up some burdock can help and be used to clean the skin.  “For acne rosacea take 10-20 drops of burdock seed or root tincture three times a day which will bring slow but steady improvement.”  You can buy burdock tincture at a health food store where it is generally named Actium Lappa.  You can also make a very strong tea from dried burdock root, brewed overnight, and which you can then drink several times a day.

Herbal steam bath

Herbal steaming opens embedded pores.   You can use a combination of herbs such as yarrow, elder flowers and chamomile.  Put these herbs into a large pot.   Cover with a quart of cool water and bring to a slow simmer.   Cover your head with a towel and lean over the pot so that the steam touches your face,  keeping your eyes closed.  Remember not to get to close as you don’t want to burn yourself.  Steam for about 15 minutes.

Natural first aid for burns, bruises, cuts and scrapes.

Here are some remedies that work for burns and minor cuts:

Aloe Vera

For soothing a minor burn,  including sunburn,  try some aloe.   You can use fresh aloe by snapping off a piece from a mature plant and applying the transparent gel onto your skin.   Aloe has also been used as a first aid for frost bite because it acts against thromboxane, a substance that constricts blood vessels.   When aloe is applied,  the blood vessels relax, helping to heal the frost bite.

Lavender

This plant can help with minor cuts and scrapes.   Mix 15 drops of lavender essential oil with an ounce of aloe vera juice.   They are both available at a health food store.  Place the mixture in a spray bottle and store in the refrigerator for a soothing,  cool mist that works wonders on small cuts and scrapes.

Plantain

This common weed can be found in most lawns and it can help to soothe pain,  bind together torn tissue and strengthen the skin’s surface.  When used fresh, crush a few thin leaves and apply to minor cuts and scrapes.   At the health food store you can also find some plantain salve which eases itching and promotes healing.

You can buy ’10 Tips on Herbs, Spirituality and Food as Medicine’, along with Doris’ many other books and booklets  on amazon.com. (Muuyu Tip: These books are great Christmas gifts for anyone hoping to lead a more healthful life.  Just saying!)

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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.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read or hear more of Doris’ expertise, you can check out her  previous blog posts here and here or visit  Doris’ webpage, Body Mind Health, where she discusses and advises on all topics concerning holistic healing and health.

 

How Your Words Can Prevent Injury

When you take a yoga teacher training, a lot of concepts are thrown your way in a short period of time.  You may even start dreaming in Sanskrit. The experience is intense and by the time it is over, you may feel the same way first-time parents do when they take their child home from the hospital. It is the whole, “What the F$%# am I doing?”

You remind people to breathe deeply on a regular basis, so the first step is to take a deep breath for yourself.  Remember to put on your oxygen mask first before anyone else’s.  Then, when you have a class in front of you, it is about them.  As you teach, the words you use can be as important as the sequence you prepare.  Here are six phrases to make part of your repertoire:

 

  • Use your breath. You may start to feel like a broken record. “Move with your breath.” “Use your breath as a guide.” Or sometimes: “Just breathe.” You can never say it too much. Students have the tendency to hold their breath when they are holding a pose.  The quality of the breath will help to enhance the quality of the yoga practice.  Also, if they are listening to their deepest inner teacher, they will notice if a pose affects their breath.  Make sure that they know that if there is an abrupt breathing change that they must listen.  It may be their body’s signal to get out.
  • Everything you do in yoga is a pose.  Make sure the students keep their transitions slow and mindful.  Otherwise, students may have a tendency to snap out of the pose as soon as you cue the second side.  The body is likely already in an unnatural position and a quick exit can be the quickest route to injury or exacerbating a pre-existing condition.
  • Do less. When we get into a shape, many students try to take it to its full extension right off of the bat.  Make sure that they aren’t overzealous and that they are giving the body time.  Yoga is a way to rush less and be more.  Even so, many people are using the yoga mat as a microcosm for the rest of their lives by rushing the process.  By doing less, they will be very clear of their ‘edge.’  The edge is not the edge before they fall off a cliff.  It is the edge of bliss.
  • Start with bent knees.  It is the lucky few who can forward fold with a long straight spine and straight legs.  Most students have tight hamstrings, tight shoulders or a tight spine and will have to round to get closer to the floor.  Rounding causes the spine to bend in the opposite way that it is supposed to and may leave the student achy (not what you’re looking for).  In Uttanasana or Paschimottanasana  you can cue bent knees for everyone to start.  After five breaths, you can invite them to move further if you see that your class is more flexible or advanced.  Nine times out of ten that will not be the case.
  • Move within the space of the joint.  Yoga is about becoming more spacious and flexibility is determined by the amount of movement available at the joint.  We can access our students’ hamstrings by getting them to note their knees and hips.  This is also why it is important to know if your students are nursing any particular injuries.
  • Start from the ground up.  Alignment helps your students to find their energetic anatomy, but also to stay safe.  So many time, poses may look off kilter or unsafe by something as simple as the fact that the feet were turned out.  Start there and have your students build a solid relationship with the ground.

Your students come to yoga to get out of their own heads.  This can be a good thing and a bad thing.  You want to be sure that they aren’t listening to your words more than they are their own bodies.  As a teacher, it is your job to help them to find their inner teacher. Accessing this benevolent voice can help to keep their injuries to a minimum.

CourtneySunday

Courtney Sunday is a freelance writer and RYT500 who teaches globally.  She runs small and affordable Yoga Alliance teacher-training programs set on developing conscious and well-versed teachers.  It is her belief that every teacher has a specific light and a specific gift to give the yoga world.  Contact her at www.courtneysunday.com if you are interested or if you would like to practice with Courtney through muuyu.