Entries in Yoga (2)


Weekly Health Challenge: Hello Sun 

Hello friends!

Last week I swore off coffee because it was giving me terribly anxious jitters. I did great for the first few days, but I must confess, I had some coffee after Thursday. I guess I'm not quite ready to give it up. But I drank less and had it with coconut milk and stevia (no sugar). Since I haven't been eating any sugar over the past two weeks, I am feeling the jolt from coffee much more, and I'm drinking less and less.

The good news is I won't be able to drink coffee in the ashrams I visit on my sabbatical, so that can be my coffee rehab if I haven't phased it out by then :)  

For this week's health challenge, I will add in a positive practice instead of eliminating something. I'm unrolling the yoga mat and committing to 6 rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) each day. 

Surya Namaskar is a wonderful way to wake up the spine, get the body flowing and increase flexibility. Ideally it is done in the morning. Here is an explanation of the sequence from the Sivananda site. Here's a video demonstrating the poses as well.

Remember, you don't have to go to a studio and pay $18 bucks for a 90-minute class to practice yoga. Sun salutations can be done from the comfort of your home any day, completely for free, and will leave you feeling limber, light and refreshed!

I'm also excited to share that I'm going to India for a big sabbatical in October, and just this week I registered for my yoga teacher training at the Sivananda ashram in Madurai! This has been a dream for so long and now it's really happening, I'm feeling very blessed.

May your spine be ever flexible and have a beautiful week!


Ode to Shoulderstand 

Image: Sivananda.org

Last week in yoga class, the teacher had us stay in shoulderstand for 4 whole minutes!  Usually we just hold the pose for 30 seconds.

I loved it, and ever since I have been setting the timer on the microwave for 4 minutes and doing shoulderstand at home.  I especially like it in the morning, to get the blood flowing to my head, or when I come home from work to unwind a bit.

Here's why I love shoulderstand so much:

1. When I practice yoga with Dharma Mittra he always speaks so highly of shoulderstand. He calls it a "complete" pose, "good for everything." He says that many yogis do only this one pose each day to keep the body young and healthy. He tells you to focus on the space between the eyebrows (the "third eye") and practice your meditation while in shoulderstand.

2. Shoulderstand increases circulation and allows the veins of the legs to rest (will prevent varicose veins). The blood from the legs comes down to the brain -- feels great after a few hours of sitting at a desk.

3. Shoulderstand revitalizes and tones the thyroid! Yes, the same thyroid gland that is in charge of your metabolism. Isn't that beautiful?

4. And this pose stimulates cheerfulness, and allows mental abilities to greatly increase.  

Here are instructions from Sivananda on how to do shoulderstand, or Sarvangasana pose.

And if you'd like a wonderful beginner's yoga practice that you can do at home, I recommend Dharma Mittra's Maha Sadhana Level 1.

I'm a huge fan of having these simple, quick and low-tech ways to unwind and de-stress at home. What's your favorite way to unwind?