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Yoga, health, wellness, and recipes from YogaDownload.com


Benefits of Yoga- What You Didn't Know
Benefits of Yoga- What You Didn't Know
As a formally vocal sceptic that recently “found” yoga during a month long stay at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa, I was keen to do a little digging into the benefits that yoga could provide. The results were staggering!

Yoga As a Way of Life
Yoga As a Way of Life
Here’s why I chose yoga as a way of life. I want you to know my story, not because it has any particular significance to your own trajectory on this path called yoga, but because I want you to know that you’re not alone in feeling like you’re not really sure why you’re practicing yoga. I’ve already shared a lot of my story on this blog, in my about section, and sometimes in my classes, but what I’m about to share with you here is a little more personal. My own personal reasons for why I continue to choose yoga as a way of life.

10 Tips for a Home Practice
10 Tips for a Home Practice
At some point, it's necessary to develop a personal yoga practice to maintain your strength, flexibility and sanity. A personal routine will keep you in the game, no matter where you are or how your circumstances change. While yoga classes are a wonderful way to have fun, learn good alignment and build community, realistically, you won’t always have the luxury and time to attend class. A home practice will keep you feeling healthy, grounded and pain-free. It's simple to start, and if you make it fun and effective, it's sustainable.

This Granola Smells Like Fall
This Granola Smells Like Fall
It's a dreary day here in the Rocky Mountains, which usually begs me to bake and cook. I usually like to bake or cook things that aren't too tedious and don't require a huge recipe. I'm not sure if that's just plain lazy or just savvy. I decided to cook up some long over-due granola with an Autumn twist.

Find Yourself in a Bind? 5 Poses to Help
Find Yourself in a Bind? 5 Poses to Help
There are lots of benefits to exercise—improved muscle mass, better balance, higher metabolism. And certain specific kinds of exercises bring their own specific benefits. Take yoga: For people interested in a low-impact yet intense way to build strength and flexibility, yoga may be key. But there’s a subset of specific actions in yoga that offer even more benefits.

#GirlBoss
#GirlBoss
I’ve recently enjoyed reading #GIRLBOSS, a book by NastyGal founder Sophia Amoruso. Her story sounds all too familiar: she spent her youth as a total rebel, hating school, quitting jobs, broke, directionless, and angry at the world. Then she started selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer.

Midlife Yoga Crisis
Midlife Yoga Crisis
Coming of age in the yoga profession means facing changing realities and shifting priorities. The majority of yoga teachers start out in the profession at an early time in their lives. But as the viability of old models wanes and independent players have less impact in the face of up-scaled operations, long-term prospects for careers in yoga are less apparent. For those whose passion cannot be deterred by the odds, their faith and trust in practice will likely be tested. This year marks the twentieth that I have made my living solely from teaching yoga. It’s hard to believe that the desperate stumble I took into yoga in my early twenties has morphed a life, replete with a family, a yoga center, and a multi-media platform. There was truly no plan. I’ve just been diligent in practice, showed up consistently, taught the best class I knew how, and it has panned out well enough so far.

Yoga Breathing: The Three Part Breath
Yoga Breathing: The Three Part Breath
Yama Niyama Asana Pranayama Pratyahara Dharana Dhyana Samadhi. In English (my translation): Be a good person, take care of your Self, be aware of your posture, control your energy, withdraw from your external senses, concentrate, meditate, allow total integration. These are the steps on the path, outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, to enlightenment. I have talked about the Yamas and Niyamas a little bit, the whole world is obsessed with posture, albeit not always healthy posture, meditation is gaining popularity, and the other steps are pretty much forgotten. There are many reasons for this. It’s hard to teach the Yamas and Niyamas unless you’re ready for a self-help course with a philosophy book as a reading requirement. Sense withdrawal is the nicer way of saying sensory deprivation and that is being sold the same way tanning is sold these days. Concentration sounds boring, even though we all know it’s necessary and we could probably use it more then ever what with all the distractions of the internet. Total integration is admittedly optimistic, unrealistic, and metaphysical sounding all at the same time, so I get why people stay away.

Essential Sequence: Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Back
Essential Sequence: Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Back
Your shoulders have a lot of moving parts. Each shoulder has 4 joints (GH, AC, SC, ST), plus layers and layers of soft tissues that include muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When you add the physical demands that the shoulders undergo on a daily basis to the complexity of the region, you wind up with an unavoidable truth: Your shoulders need regular—if not daily maintenance—if you want your upper-body to be functional and comfortable. We frequently take our body for granted. Even as yoga practitioners, we often forget the intricate subtlety and profound majesty of the body. When we take our body for granted, we forget that it needs our attention and care. We forget that our body needs regular—if not daily maintenance—especially as our body ages. I’ve watched my body through my yoga practice for 20 years and it’s finally become clear that my shoulders, neck, and upper-back need a simple, quick, daily practice if I want them to work optimally. I created the following sequence for myself a few months ago and I’ve been extremely consistent with it. It’s usually not the entirety of my practice or training on any given day. Rather, it’s a supplement. It’s simple, basic, and hugely effective. Think about it as the equivalent of brushing your teeth or taking a shower. It’s just basic hygiene that helps you feel better.

How to #GoYourOmWay with Claire Petretti-Marti
How to #GoYourOmWay with Claire Petretti-Marti
What does it mean to "Go Your OM Way? Where to begin? To me, this hashtag directly translates to follow your passion or trust your heart. We receive so many conflicting messages from the world, be it from our parents, our friends, our workplace, or our community in general. Often, our true passion or dharma in life becomes subjugated to the expectations of others and we find ourselves living a life that doesn’t feel authentic.

Essential Reads
Essential Reads
A confession: I’m a book worm. I was recently asked by a teacher during a guided meditation, “Where do you find refuge?”. In other words, where do I go for support, reassurance, and inspiration? Where is my safe harbour? I immediately thought of my books! My library of spiritual guides and how-tos of yoga practice and meditation shout pretty loud and clear to me “You are not alone. Many have walked this path.” I take refuge in this great tradition of teaching and go to it when my spirits are low or if I need a good kick in the bum. Whenever I am lost in this big world of yoga, I recall Joan Didion’s directive from The Year of Magical Thinking: “Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature.” Here are my essentials.

Mid-Morning, Pick-Me-Up Smoothie
Mid-Morning, Pick-Me-Up Smoothie
Coffee seems to be one of those foods that’s either vilified or celebrated in the media. Since having my daughter, I am on Team Celebrate Coffee, but it seems most important to determine what works for your personal constitution. You can certainly make this smoothie without the coffee component. Between the coffee, the raw cacao, and the cinnamon, this is a smoothie that’s packed with antioxidants.

Get the Most Out of Your Practice
Get the Most Out of Your Practice
Yoga is an invitation to grow—to wake up and to experience your life in the most fulfilling way. The true transformation is more than just a physical change in your appearance—it’s an awakening of your inner strength, freedom and perception. There are no guarantees to this awakening though. You have to be willing to do the work, stay the course when you hit a wall or plateau, and allow your yoga practice to be about more than just your body.

Be Unapologetically You
Be Unapologetically You
At the end of every yoga class I teach, I conclude with a prayer. It sounds a little different every time. But I usually say: “Begin to slowly awaken here, noting the symbolic journey from death into new life: from the pose of the corpse, savasana, into this shape of new life, the fetal position; how we all entered this world. This is symbolic of the journey, of the death of ignorance — feeling fractured, unwhole, anything less than divine — thanks to the journey of yoga. And here now, we emerge into new life: the new you, the true you, the whole and yoked you. That is yoga. Remember that today is not yet over. That you always have an opportunity to begin again, to start anew, to be you, to choose your Self and be unapologetically you.”

Let's Get Intimate: Going All the Way With Food
Let's Get Intimate: Going All the Way With Food
Life is one beautiful mess of relationships. We can classify them. We can put them in quotes. We can add that extra long, extra inquisitive inflection at the end, but are we in a relationship? Some are transitory. Some are so interwoven into our fabric we can forget that we are separate from them. We can forget that they each deserve reflection and intention. We can forget that they are, no matter what, intimate.

Unity Not Uniformity
Unity Not Uniformity
One of the most influential people in my life was John Magill, a Presbyterian minister and my grandfather. I remember his warm, soft hand holding mine when I was a little girl squeezing it as we sang, “let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” At a young age, I developed a deep conviction that I would do something about spreading peace. It was this same conviction that led me to get on a bus when I was 11 years old and travel 5 hours across the state of Pennsylvania and joined the 6.5 million people in the Hands Across America human chain.

Fall Equinox Seasonal Check In
Fall Equinox Seasonal Check In
Roughly every three months, the season changes. In some places in the world seasonal changes are quite evident. It others, it feels the same for most of the year. I’ve always been a fan of seasons because I like variety. With each new season brings a change in perspective, whether we consciously think about it or not. New fresh fruits and vegetables, new available activities, new temperatures, new clothing to meet those temperatures and associated forms of precipitation, new colors.

Midlife Yoga Crisis
Midlife Yoga Crisis
Coming of age in the yoga profession means facing changing realities and shifting priorities. The majority of yoga teachers start out in the profession at an early time in their lives. But as the viability of old models wanes and independent players have less impact in the face of up-scaled operations, long-term prospects for careers in yoga are less apparent. For those whose passion cannot be deterred by the odds, their faith and trust in practice will likely be tested.

Vegan Kabocha Cake
Vegan Kabocha Cake
It’s always best to eat foods that are in-season, and I recently got some pure kabocha flour and simply had to put it to good use. :) It’s 100% kabocha that has been dried and turned into a fine powder. I think I actually prefer this to cans of pumpkin puree because it’s very easy to measure, you don’t have to worry about what to do with any awkward leftovers, and it gives an intense pumpkin flavor and bright orange color to baked goods.

What Chakras Can Teach Us
What Chakras Can Teach Us
What are the chakras? According to yoga, our inner bodies are full of subtle energy. This energy moves along a central channel called the sushumna nadi. These centers are thought to be doorways into the depths of awareness – awareness that is within the body, outside the body and also can expand in such depth that we come to realize the innate vastness of our true nature.

Ayurveda Life: How Ayurveda Changed My Life
Ayurveda Life: How Ayurveda Changed My Life
“Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences that developed together and repeatedly influenced each other throughout history. Yoga and Ayurveda work together to enhance their great benefits on all levels”.

Mahamantra: Meditation Made Easy
Mahamantra: Meditation Made Easy
Have you tried and failed at meditating? You are not alone! We all lead busy lives and the whole idea of meditating, for the peace that it is reputed to bring, sounds great. But when we sit down, the mind noise can be frustrating, distracting and downright irritating. Some friends have reported that they have stopped meditating because increasing their upset rather than reducing it!

Energetic Heart for Yoga Teachers – Our Collective Power
Energetic Heart for Yoga Teachers – Our Collective Power
Every teacher can feel the shift that happens in the midst of teaching when the collective energy in the class begins to synch. It is a palpable sense of connectedness - a heightened quality of flow as movement, breath, and embodied awareness come into flow. As you may know and feel, our heart has a tremendous role in such shifts of consciousness that we feel at the heart of yoga.

Smoothie Bowls
Smoothie Bowls
The smoothie bowl is a trend that I’ve been loving. They’re hydrating and cooling, making them perfect for summer breakfast or an afternoon snack. They don’t require sugar or sugar substitutes and you still feel like you’re eating a treat. Jason calls them “ice cream.”

What If You're Not Lost?
What If You're Not Lost?
If you’re reading this, you’re a seeker. A warrior of love and quester for experiences and purpose. You’ve been on the journey, maybe for a day, maybe for years. This journey of becoming who you are. And, it occurs to me that, at times (maybe at this time) you might feel lost. Your path may feel far away, and the road ahead may seem very murky and uncertain.