Category Archives: Yoga Poses

Wind Down with a Calming Evening Sequence


Prepare yourself for deep, restful sleep with this 10-minute, relaxing sequence that stretches all the major muscles and quiets the monkey mind.

An evening practice is wonderful for calming the mind and preparing your body for deep rest. In this evening practice, you will focus on looking inward. Forward bends and hip openers help relax you and set the mood for sleep. This short practice can provide a really beautiful end to a busy day. Simply slow down and tune into your body and breath. Sweet dreams!

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A Twisting Practice to Connect to Your Steady Center

Bring yourself back to “the good place” within that isn’t swayed by anxiety, fear, insecurity, and distraction.

“Practicing asana with an awareness of the spinal column and midline of the body is a way of physically connecting to your center,” writes Barrie Risman, author of Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice. In this piece, she offers a twisting practice to connect to your innate steadiness within.

“The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.” —Bhagavad Gita 2.23-24

Snow was still piled up on the sidewalk outside the studio as I sat down to teach my Friday class. It was February in Quebec, which means temperatures barely reached minus 3 Celsius (26.6 degrees Fahrenheit) on a good day. The students, like me, were all bundled up. Though the coats, hats, scarves, and gloves came off in the reception area, the layers remained: thick socks, leggings covered by leg warmers, tank tops covered by long-sleeved shirts, and those in turn covered by cardigans. We felt safe and cozy beneath the layers that protected us from the elements. As we started to move and build heat, the layers slowly came off.

On another level, of course, we all bring layers of different sorts with us to the practice: the various roles we play in our lives; the other people and things we are responsible for; and indeed full spectrum of our experiences past and present. In some form, all these come to the mat with us as well.

But yoga brings us back to an essential sense of who we are, free from …

Rest Your Way to Self-Love

Try this variation of Savasana to give your mind, body, and spirit a break from everyday stress and a view into contentment.

When I took my first yoga class, I did not like Savasana. Not even the tiniest bit. I had enjoyed the active stretching poses, and when asked to lie down on my mat at the end of class, I felt confused about what we were doing and why we were doing it. I had negative judgments about “lying here and wasting time.” Needless to say, I was soon sold on the absolute value of being still. Now, I fly all over the world teaching people to do nothing—and I’m here to show you how it’s done.

See also Tempted to Skip Savasana? 10 Top Yoga Teachers Explain Why It’s the Most Important Pose

This pose…

  • Is familiar to almost all yoga students. 
  • Creates the potential for very deep relaxation. 
  • Can be practiced with a variety of setups, with or without props, depending on the circumstances. 
  • Is the most basic pose of Restorative Yoga and thus the most important. 
  • Lowers blood pressure. 
  • Effectively slows heart and respiratory rates. 
  • Remains a good choice for practitioners with no lower-back issues.

Avoid this pose if you…

  • Cannot easily get up from or down to the floor. 
  • Are past the first trimester of pregnancy. 
  • Have experienced some form of trauma that makes you anxious or uncomfortable to lie on the floor in a vulnerable, open position.

Props…

  • 1 sticky mat 
  • 1 bolster 
  • 1 block (If you are using a round bolster, you do not need a block.) 
  • 5 firm blankets, including a covering blanket (not shown) 
  • 1 eye bag or hand towel to cover your eyes 
  • 2 large eye bags, one for each hand (optional, not shown)

See also The Best

Boost Bliss (& Loosen Your Hips!) with This Restorative Gomukasana

It’s the perfect release following an energetic yoga practice.

Craving change but feeling too stuck, sluggish, or restless to take aim? Join John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com, and Larissa Hall Carlson, Ayurveda Yoga Specialist, for Ayurveda 201: Six Weeks to Transformation and Bliss Through Ayurvedic Psychology. In this new online course, you’ll experience: unique yoga practices; inspiring discussions backed by science; and recipes, herbs, and a short, gentle cleanse. Sign up today!

After an energizing yoga flow, there’s one restorative pose that can help you boost harmony and bliss. (In Ayurveda, this easeful quality is called sattva.) This supported, supine variation of Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose) provides deep rest by elevating the legs and loosening tight hips. This soothing inertia rejuvenates!

See also 6 Bonus Sattva-Boosting Tips

You’ll need the following props: 2 blocks, 1 bolster, 1 blanket, and an eye pillow

Instructions

  • Place a block in the highest position about 6 inches from the bottom of your mat. From there place another block in the second-highest position about 6 inches up the mat.
  • Drape a bolster over the blocks to make a ramp for your legs.
  • Place folded blanket (and any additional supportive props you need) on the top half of the mat. 
  • Lay yourself down on the blanket with your knees pulled into your chest, placing your buttocks close to the bottom of the bolster ramp. 
  • Mindfully lengthen your left leg, crossing it to the right and placing your thigh on the bolster. Cross your right leg over y left thigh. 
  • Even out the weight in your hips and let both feet hang. 
  • Comfortably position your eye pillow, then broaden your shoulders and rest your hands on your belly. 
  • Hold for 1-3 minutes. Then reverse your leg crossing for another 1-3 minutes. 
  • Rest and renew!

See also:

Quiz: What Is Your Dominant Element?

If you’re the life of the party and tend to burn out, you might be a…

If you’re the life of the party and tend to flare up and burn out quickly, you may be a…

Is your dominant element Water, Wood, Fire, Earth or Metal—and why does it matter? Well, according to the Five Elements, a system that arose 5,000 years ago out of the holistic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it says a lot about what happens to your mind, body, and relationships when they’re under stress. It guides you in restoring balance. Even better, the elements also examine and explain why you relate to folks at work and at home in the way you do, in hopes that with awareness you can stem conflicts and find common ground.

“Knowing your dominant element helps you understand how you operate in the world and gives you a deeper insight into your motivations and actions. It’s the lens through which you see the world, as well as the lens through which you get ill and heal,” says Lauren Walker, creator of Energy Medicine Yoga, which combines yoga sequences with the wisdom of the Five Elements (as well as eight additional energy systems in the body) learned from her teacher, renowned energy healer Donna Eden.

“It’s empowering to understand your strengths and weaknesses, so you can come in balance, health, and joy. You also gain so much compassion when you recognize that other people are operating from their own set of challenges and blessings,” says Walker.

See also How Energy Testing Helps You Find Balance in the Subtle Body. 

So, ready to find out for yourself? Answer these 10 questions to identify the element that defines you

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