Category Archives: Balance

Rewilding: How to Return to Your Essential Nature

This moving meditation will help you reconnect with all that’s wild and free.

Adapted from REWILDING: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature, by Micah Mortali. Sounds True, December 2019. Reprinted with permission.

It wasn’t long ago that our ancestors were living according to the earth’s seasons and cycles. Today, most of us (myself included) are more familiar with corporate logos and social media companies than the wildlife and vegetation growing right outside our doors. We’ve alienated ourselves from the natural world. Our modern environment—think fluorescent lights, stale air, computer screens—is dulling our senses and contributing to major health concerns and the global environmental crisis. It’s about time we reassessed, recalibrated, and reset. It’s time we got back to our roots.

By stepping outdoors, lifting our noses to the sky, smelling the air, taking a long view, and becoming students of nature, we can learn to respond skillfully to real-life conditions on earth. We need to be aware and alert, and we need certain skills to help us discern the wisdom of nature and stay close to it.

With time, the following practice will transform how you enter the outdoors. Bring awareness to your rewilding (which is a return to our essential nature—an attempt to reclaim something of what we were before we used words like “civilized” to define ourselves)
to be mindful of your surroundings and how you show up. In time, you will grow into a comfort and
a belonging on the land.

See also Try This Calming Trend: Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)

PRACTICE GETTING OUTSIDE

Before embarking on a hike through a forest, meadow, or other wild space, take a few moments to center yourself. Close your eyes. Take some slow, deep breaths. Allow your exhalation to be twice as long as your inhalation. Let …

What is Ahimsa?

Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is one of yoga’s ethical principles. Explore its origins and how it might be interpreted and practiced in your everyday life.

Ahimsa in Sanskrit

When we hear about concepts like nonviolence, we often think of historical figures such as Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. leading movements for peace in the face of oppression. Several articles mislabel Gandhi as a “father” of nonviolence, not aware that he was symbolically reclaiming India’s rights and identity from the British Raj by embodying what had long been integral to ancient Indian spiritual teachings: ahimsa.

Ahimsa, commonly referred to as “nonviolence” but more literally translated from Sanskrit as “absence of injury” is an ancient concept originating in the Vedas—Indian spiritual and philosophical wisdom dating from as far back as 1900 BCE, or nearly 4,000 years ago. The Vedas, approximately meaning “divine knowledge,” were considered authorless and were originally passed down in oral tradition for centuries. Four Vedas, which make up the Bhagavad Gita, were eventually compiled and written down in Sanskrit by a sage known as Vyasa. Another sage, Patanjali, is said to have studied these Vedic texts and developed what we know as the Yoga Sutra and the basis of classical yoga’s eight limbs.

See also The First Book of Yoga: The Enduring Influence of the Bhagavad Gita

Ahimsa is part of the first of the eight limbs known as yama, or practices of self-regulation designed to free us from being victims of our own human impulses. Yama practices are likened to cleaning techniques for our minds, bodies, and spirits that allow us to live more conscious, liberated lives. In addition to being a yama in yoga, ahimsa is also a foundational principle of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

See also 10 Ways to Bring the Yamas +

The Best Balance Boards

Whether you’re doing yoga, cardio, or just at your standing desk, balance boards are a great addition to your daily routine because they improve your balance and burn calories.

Most Portable

EveryMile Wobble Balance Board

This board from EveryMile is a wobble board, which allows 360-degree rotation and a stronger core workout. The board, which is 15 inches long and has a 15-degree tilt, will give you a less extreme workout than other wobble boards. This style of board is perfect for a variety of exercises, such as meditation, yoga, and push-ups. The soft, non-skid surface is designed to be anti-tear and keep you secure at every angle. Available in three colors, it is designed to be lightweight and portable – it even has two handles built into the board. It will hold up to 300 pounds. Buy here!

Best Starter Roller Board

Revolution 101 Balance Board Trainer

The Revolution 101 is a roller style board, which means it balances a skateboard-style board atop a roller. It’s 30 inches long, which will allow you to position yourself comfortably. It also allows wide angles, which will give you a more intense workout. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, though – it has roller stops along its edges to prevent you from falling if you shift too far. This board is lightweight and portable, but it’s still heavy duty and can hold over 400 pounds. The grip is even softer than normal grip tape so it won’t scratch your feet. Ding: Because of its shape, it’s usable in a limited number of yoga positions. Get it here!

Best Starter Wobble Board

Yes4All Wooden Wobble Balance Board

This Yes4All board is another wobble board. It’s 15 inches long and has a 15-degree tilt and non-skid surface made of thick grip tape. This board …

Is Corporate Mindfulness Training Just Zen Washing?

A recent study that highlights the benefits of daily meditation practices in the workplace has people talking about the commercialization of mindfulness, and whether it has gone too far.

Is mindfulness training the solution to burnout? 

It’s difficult to dispute the benefits of mindfulness, especially with a mounting stack of research published on the topic. One of the more recent studies—a paper published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes in early September, on how mindfulness impacts interpersonal relationships at work—is a good example of the empirical evidence pouring in. But are corporations and organizations now using mindfulness programs as a salve to treat overworked and highly stressed employees? 

See also 5 Mindfulness Practices to Rewire Your Brain and Improve Health

The study

In this particular study, a team of business professors researched how the behavior of employees changed when they participated in mindfulness practices at work. At a large insurance company in the U.S., the researchers had employees meditate between seven to ten minutes a day for five days and then fill out assessments in the morning and afternoon about their helpful behaviors for the day. At an IT consulting company in India, for one day, select employees underwent a brief mindfulness intervention in the morning and then their coworkers reported on how helpful they were that day. The final study was conducted in a lab with the aim of discovering why mindfulness practices make people more helpful, while the field experiments tested if mindfulness makes people more helpful. In the lab, participants were asked to either complete a 15-minute focused breathing meditation, a 15-minute loving kindness meditation, or listen to a New York Times article as a control. The participants then had to deliver bad news to a fictitious subordinate, and respond to a survey that …

6 Cheap and Practical Ways to Practice Yoga

Are you a broke college student or simply living on a tight budget? No worries! There are plenty of ways to practice for very little dough or even for free.

There are so many ways to practice yoga for free. 

Free Classes in Your Community

It might take some sleuthing, but there could be a variety of free yoga classes offered in your town. If you’re enrolled in an academic institution, go online or visit the fitness center to find out what’s being offered. But, no need to stop there! Local libraries and churches often offer free or donation-based classes. Many yoga clothing stores like Lululemon and Prana offer free weekly in-store classes. If you’re into Kundalini Yoga, sadhana (daily morning practice) is always offered free of charge.

Work Trade Programs

Many studios offer exchange programs where you can exchange time working in the studio at the desk or cleaning after class for a free or discounted membership. Many studios have this opportunity listed on their site, but for those that don’t, reaching out to studios and inquiring is definitely worth it.

YouTube

There are many skilled yoga instructors that have their own YouTube channels offering high quality and free video classes with a wide variety of styles and lengths. Some great channels to check out are (links) Yoga With Adriene, Body Positive Yoga, and DOYOUYOGA.

YogaJournal.com

You’re already here. Stay a while! Head on over to our sequences and video pages to find hundreds of free practices: from stress and anxiety reduction to vigorous strengthening workouts.

Donation-Based Classes

Many studios have at least one donation-based or free class on their schedule. Check out some of the local studios in your area to see if they offer these more accessible classes. Attending these free classes at multiple …

Yoga Foster: A Non-Profit with a Mission to Bring Yoga to Schools

Nicole Cardoza’s organization Yoga Foster gives teachers free and low-cost training and mats, so they can practice yoga with students.

Nicole Cardoza

In 2012, Nicole Cardoza was volunteering at P.S. 140 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan through a community initiative. When school staff learned that she practiced yoga, they approached her about sharing the practice with students. “They were looking for a way to stir the kids to move without needing a gym or going outside,” Cardoza says. Although she wasn’t a trained yoga teacher, she’d been practicing since college and found that yoga “was the first thing I did that made me feel at home in my body,” she says. “It made me feel like I was enough.” 

See also Nicole Cardoza Is Changing the Face of Wellness. 

Cardoza began teaching yoga to third- and fourth-graders in hopes that it would help them feel comfortable in their bodies, too, and give them time when they didn’t have to worry about bullying, issues with their teachers, or what would happen when they went home. After a few months, both the school and Cardoza saw that the students were more present and focused in class and performing better on tests. Teachers began saying they wished they could bring yoga to more kids.

A light bulb went off for Cardoza: She began hosting trainings for teachers in New York City and founded Yoga Foster. Two years later, she left her job in tech to focus solely on Yoga Foster and to bring yoga to more elementary and middle schools where gym classes and recess were being cut. “We really do have a health crisis happening in our country,” she says. “Giving kids the opportunity to move and breathe can be really powerful.”

See also Yoga in Schools

Dig Deep to Heal and Change Your Life

The process that leads to change can be fiercely difficult. Here, yoga and meditation teachers share personal stories of the messy work of self-discovery and their best tools and tips for tapping into your own inner wisdom, love, and curiosity—so you can allow for real healing.

There’s something about physical transformation that fascinates us. We look at before-and-after photos to marvel at what a difference a month, a year, or three years makes. Kids in elementary school stare in amazement at images of the butterfly life cycle, while their parents are busy compiling digital collages marking their children’s growth over the months and years. Follow the hashtag #transformation, and you’ll find an onslaught of people losing weight, gaining weight, flexing muscles, and showing off new hairstyles. Look at #transformationyoga, and you’ll see people moving deeper—sometimes dangerously—into backbends or splits over time.

But aside from all of the changes that are visible and shareable, there are the other forms of transformation that happen entirely out of view. They’re within us. You might look the same, mostly act the same, yet there’s been a profound shift in your inner world. “Sometimes subtle transformations are the most powerful,” says yoga teacher Jennifer Pastiloff, author of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard. “You find one day that you’re not chanting, ‘I’m a loser’ or ‘I’m a bad person’ 500 times a day. The phrases are no longer tattooed on your mind. Instead, you have moments of quiet where you realize ‘I’m enough and I’m here.’ Your internal wiring is transformed.”

Recovering After Loss 

When Pastiloff was eight, her father died suddenly of heart failure, and she says she spent most of her life trying to avoid the pain of losing him: “I didn’t want to feel …