Category Archives: Yoga 101

4 Head Coverings for Kundalini Yoga and Other Spiritual Practices

You don’t have to wear a white turban when practicing Kundalini Yoga, but you might want to. Here’s why.

An “urban turban” is cinch to wear. 

Walk into any Kundalini Yoga class and you’ll likely see many students with white scarves and turbans tied around their heads. Head coverings are worn as an expression of faith in many religious and spiritual traditions, including Islam, Christianity and the Sikhism. Kundalini Yoga, a practice rooted in Sikh Dharma, borrows certain traditions from this faith, such as chanting mantra, early morning sadhana (practice), not cutting body hair, and wearing turbans, among other things. Head coverings in Kundalini Yoga are entirely optional, but here’s why you might consider wearing one. 

1. Covering the head focuses the energy at the third eye.

Yogi Bhajan, the father of Kundalini Yoga in the West, emphasized the importance of head coverings during practice as a means to focus and contain your energy and clarify your thoughts, creating a meditative focus at your third eye or Ajna Chakra.

2. A snugly-tied turban creates a natural cranial adjustment. 

According to the technology of Kundalini, a tightly tied turban stabilizes the many tiny bones in the skull, which affect our neurological system and electromagnetic field. Proponents claim that a light pressure on the cranium provides a sense of calm and wellbeing.

3. A turban can symbolize your devotion to your practice. 

Rituals like covering your head and sitting facing an altar or sacred space, may help set the stage for a deeper practice by signaling a transition from the physical to spiritual world. I find that when I settle down in front of my altar covered with images of gurus and departed loved ones, light incense, anoint my wrists with essential oils, and cover my head, I am …

Essential Oil Mixology 101: Learn How to Mix Your Favorite Scents

Discover benefits of essential oils for headache relief, skin toning, and energy clearing

Essential oils can dial down stress, zap zits, and even help you power through an afternoon slump. That’s if you’re using the right blend at the right time. To help you get the most out of your essential oils and blend them like pros, we turned to Jennifer Rose Goldman, an Advanced Clinical Aromatherapist and founder of Essential Rose Life, and Nada Milosavljevic, MD, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Integrative Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Here, their 10 must-have essential oils, plus four recipes for blending them.

1. Lavender

If you’re new to essential oils, put lavender on your list. It’s a harmonizing and balancing oil because the scent mixes well with others, Goldman says.

It’s also the most studied aroma, Milosavljevic says, with research suggesting that it can do everything from lower anxiety to improve sleep. When you take a deep inhalation, the scent engages your olfactory nerve, which is one of the most direct connections to your brain, Milosavljevic says. Lanvender, she says, can induce a sense of calm and lower stress. For this reason, it’s great to drop some in your bubble bath (try 15 drops) or even a foot bath (8-10 drops will do). You could also put a few drops on a towelette or tissue and breathe them in.

See also 5 Essential Oils Combos That Smell Better Than Your Favorite Candles

2. Tea Tree

This essential oil is cleansing because it has antiviral, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties, Milosavljevic says. Preliminary research has shown that it could be helpful for treating acne, nail fungus, and athlete’s foot. In fact, one review found it to be just as effective at fighting acne-causing bacteria as …

This Iyengar-Inspired Chair Challenge Is Fun—and Seriously Works Your Muscles

Try this playful take on Side Plank Pose to engage your entire body.

Routine got you in a rut? Shake up your usual Side Planks with a creative approach that builds full-body strength. Here, Carrie Owerko—who explores innovative ways to build resilience in an upcoming series of video practices called Iyengar Yoga for Strength and Agility—shows you how to use your desk chair as a prop for some playful exercises. Work your muscles in just two minutes—and have a blast while doing it.

Want to get stronger and more resilient—and have a lot of fun while you’re at it? Join Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko for Iyengar Yoga for Strength and Agility, a series of 11 dynamic video practices that help you move with better form, fluidity, and function. Learn more and sign up today!

How to Add Spring to Your Practice (and Your Step!)

Bring on the bounce to improve agility, coordination, and balance.

Want to improve agility, coordination, and balance? Then bring on the bounce! Carrie Owerko, who leads our upcoming collection of video practices called Iyengar Yoga for Strength and Agility, shows you how to fuse elastic recoil play and other movement exercises with familiar poses like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) and Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose). Hop to it and have fun!

Want to get stronger and more resilient—and have a lot of fun while you’re at it? Join Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko for Iyengar Yoga for Strength and Agility, a series of 11 dynamic video practices that help you move with better form, fluidity, and function. Learn more and sign up today!

YJ Gratitude Challenge: 5 Things on Karen Mozes's List

Business of Yoga expert Karen Mozes, who has a lot to be grateful for this season, shares her unique personal practice.

My Gratitude Practice

My gratitude practice unfolded over time and today I use contact with water—and I mean any water, like washing the dishes, taking a bath or shower, washing my hands, getting in the ocean—as opportunities to release (for-give, let-go) and to find gratitude. Of course, I also usually have several spontaneous moments of gratitude throughout the day, and these are wonderful too.

See also A Water Meditation To Relieve Stress

How I Get Grounded for Gratitude

I live near the ocean (which I am very grateful for!), and the sand and the sounds of the waves always help me to get grounded in those times when I am agitated and disconnected. After a morning walk and a quick dip in the ocean, I typically feel full of life and love inside.

My Gratitude List

1. My baby girl, coming into the world soon
2. My parents for their support and encouragement
3. My new apartment with lots of natural light and dedicated spaces for the baby and work
4. My furry baby, Shasta, for her unconditional love, playfulness and companionship

The Yoga Pose I’m Most Grateful For

I am expecting my first child and through my pregnancy, I have had different poses, which I am very grateful for. The poses I am most connected to right now are Cat and Cow, which offer a huge release for my lower back. I can do that for 30 minutes and then sit in meditation and that’s a great yoga practice for me right now.

Karen Mozes is a successful entrepreneur, executive and life coach, and leadership expert. Karen is also the co-founder of the Business of Yoga LLC. Learn more in her online course …

How Energy Testing Helps You Find Balance In the Subtle Body

Strengthen your underlying energy systems with this Energy Medicine Yoga technique.

Want to keep your subtle body in balance? Try energy testing. Here, teachers Lauren Walker and Donna Eden—who both lead our course, Energy Medicine Yoga—share how this technique can be used to strengthen your underlying energy systems. 

Watch also Why Skeptics Should Try Energy Work

In YJ’s new online course, Energy Medicine Yoga: Transformation Through the Subtle Body, renowned energy healer and Eden Energy Medicine pioneer Donna Eden and Energy Medicine Yoga creator Lauren Walker lead an eight-week training that will shift longstanding patterns in your underlying energy. Find out more and sign up today!

A Yoga Therapist Shares The Truth About Trauma

Yoga therapist and psychologist Gail Parker, PhD, applies restorative practices in an innovative way to help people heal from racial wounds.

Gail Parker, PhD

Yoga Journal: Can you summarize your work?

Gail Parker: I’m a psychologist, a certified yoga therapist, and a yoga therapist educator. I am a lifelong practitioner of yoga. 50 years. As a practicing psychotherapist of 40 years, I pioneered efforts to blend psychology, yoga, and meditation as effective self-care strategies that can enhance emotional balance, and contribute to overall health and well-being.

I closed my psychotherapy practice four years ago, which allowed me to focus all of my attention on the therapeutic benefits of yoga, and in particular on how Restorative Yoga and meditation can be utilized and taught as self-care practices for managing ethnic and race based stress and trauma. I also teach mind-body strategies for reducing stress and healing emotional trauma to aspiring yoga therapists in the Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy in Royal Oak Michigan, the only hospital based yoga therapy school in the nation.

Yoga therapy is a type of therapy—grounded in the ancient philosophical teachings of yoga—that utilizes yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation as self-care strategies to improve mental and physical health and well-being.

See also The Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Yoga Classes

YJ: How do you apply this work to racial trauma (and can you define that term)?

GP: Ethnic and racial stress and trauma refer to the events related to real or perceived experiences of discrimination, threats of harm and injury, and humiliating and shaming events. The terms also apply to witnessing harm to other individuals caused by real or perceived race-related events.

Stress and trauma are stored in the body. Effective interventions involve physical engagement. Restorative Yoga is a form of yoga that is not intrusive; …