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


How Not to be S.A.D. this Winter
How Not to be S.A.D. this Winter
I spent most of my youth in rainy Oregon. When I moved away it was to even gloomier England. Throughout my childhood I was known as grumpy, bratty, and moody (i.e. a “difficult kid”). I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then, arriving finally at a place of happiness, health and ease. One of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself was to move to a sunnier locale. I was 20 when I transferred colleges and ended up in sunny Arizona. Although the drama of the early 20s continued, I was able to see that with enough sunshine I was not an inherently gloomy young woman, but rather susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that corresponds with the changing of the seasons, usually provoking symptoms to start in late fall or early winter. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

Surya Namaskar: Connect with the Sun
Surya Namaskar: Connect with the Sun
Even if you’re brand new to yoga, you’ve probably heard about Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskars. Why do yogis honor the sun with physical postures and often accompanying mantras? This sequence of physical postures or asanas is a way of expressing gratitude to the sun for the energy and life it bestows upon us. It emphasizes our connection to the Universe and our profound need for the warmth and light the sun provides. The Gayatri Mantra, a beautiful ancient Vedic prayer often chanted before or after practice, calls the sun, “the one who illuminates our minds.” Honoring the sun has profound power and infuses the body with solar energy. Our inner vitality is composed of fire and we need to nourish ourselves in order to brighten our Shakti to it’s fullest potential. The practice of sun salutations transform darkness and stagnation to fire and light. We want to burn as bright as we can and Surya Namaskar is a great place to begin.

Yoga & Fitness: Bringing Different Worlds Together
Yoga & Fitness: Bringing Different Worlds Together
Yoga in itself is a very unique discipline and contrasts what fitness and exercise represent in ways. It is called a discipline simply because it is one; a very complex discipline that has existed on earth for centuries at least. Yoga is a sacred journey. It is a spiritual practice, not solely focused on health and physicality. Today, it is a positive part of the lives of a growing number of people worldwide, as it continues to gain in popularity and people practicing. Then, there’s fitness, which is growing in popularity as well. For many, the fitness lifestyle is sought-after and is more than just a hobby or practice. Most people want to look and feel fit. For some, going to the gym has even become a social event, with a sense of community. These are just a few reasons the number of gyms and fitness centers in the world have increased tenfold in a very short period of time. Although different from yoga, the fitness industry is a lucrative industry that is also doing good for people’s well-being.

Recipe: Amazeballs
Recipe: Amazeballs
If you’re an SNL fan, you probably can’t talk about one of our cleanser’s all-time favorite bite-size snacks without busting up laughing. To get the inside joke, be sure to check out SNL’s Sweddy Balls skit. Our beloved Joy Balls (recipe in our book, page 260) have been known not only as a life-saving snack during the cleanse, but also a source of ongoing office humor, banter, and silly text messages between cleansers. Is it us or do the words “nut balls” just make you smile? Our ball obsession has led us to make several incarnations of the original Joy Balls. Protein-Packed Almond Butter Balls (in our book page 261) Nut Free Joy Balls (get the recipe here) And new today…Amazeballs!

Why I Meditate
Why I Meditate
I was listening to a podcast the other night and the woman speaking said that meditation makes life a little “LSD-y.” I burst out laughing and nodded my head with understanding. Every day I feel like my senses are becoming sharper as I choose to show up more presently in life. Maintaining a meditation practice has been a priority of mine and I seem to be getting a lot of feedback that I should continue doing it. I’ve come to believe that life will give us feedback if we’re being present or not. We know when we’re taking care of our minds, our bodies, our relationships, our responsibilities… We know because life begins to flow more smoothly, we feel more confident and connected to what’s going on. Things feel lighter. Life also gives us feedback if we’re not taking care of those things, things begin to feel sloppy and awkward. Life feels a little heavy. Meditation trickles into every area of my life. Since I spend so much time teaching, that’s where I get the most information about the state of my mind. If I’m off my game, I know that it’s time to start re-prioritizing things so that I can get back on. I love teaching more than ever right now and I’m totally certain that I’m on the right path. The more present I become, the more I know what’s going on. It feels good to know what’s going on because that’s when we can begin to shape our reality and our life.

Be Vigorous : Strong, Healthy, & Full of Energy
Be Vigorous : Strong, Healthy, & Full of Energy
How is 2018 treating you so far? Are you brimming with energy and excitement and making the most of each day? If you need a boost so you can feel like the strongest, most vigorous version of yourself, we’re thrilled to offer four new classes and five tips to motivate you. We step onto the yoga mat for different reasons at different times in our lives. Sometimes our needs center on a spiritual practice, sometimes we need to release mental stress and tension, and sometimes we simply seek the physical benefits of strength, flexibility, and balance. The beautiful thing about yoga is with all the various styles; you can find classes suitable for whatever you need. This week, our focus is on practicing yoga to cultivate a sense of vigor, which is defined as being strong, healthy, and full of energy. When you feel strong physically, there’s a direct correlation to how you feel emotionally and mentally as well. It’s all connected. Building strength takes tapas or discipline, dedication, and inner fire. Here are the top five reasons focusing on your asana practice pays off for your overall health and well-being:

A Desire to be Inspired
A Desire to be Inspired
Aim to live in a perpetual whirl of inspiration. The source of inspiration is different for each individual but produces the same result- a feeling of peace, acceptance, surrender, and excitement for the flow of life. Ahhh, how great does it feel to pop out of bed, ready to kick the days booty?! If only we could infuse our lives with a constant feeling of inspiration… maybe it’s not as hard as we think. Often, you’ll find inspiration within your own heart- guiding you fearlessly and motivating your actions. Acknowledge this- inspiration will naturally arise depending on your day, your activities, and your life situation. Some periods of your life will flow abundantly with creative energy while other times, you might feel as if you’re sleepwalking through existence. Of course circumstances occur which you cannot control. You’re not alone if you find yourself on a constant rollercoaster of inspirational ups and downs. However, you do have a choice to make habit and consistency of bathing in inspiration every morning.

Crockpot Bison Stew
Crockpot Bison Stew
This time of year can be busy, making it easy to push aside our health! Simple self-care requires that we take the time to make a green smoothie, exercise, and cook good meals at home every day! Life can feel overwhelming at times, but here’s the thing – time and health are two of the most valuable resources we have. If you’ve been struck down by the flu or other health crisis, you know this to be true! And time, much like our health, is in our control. We just have to make a plan and put health on our to-do list. During our Healthy Challenge (get the details here) we’ve found many of your responses have had to do with remembering to eat or cooking food at home. Today’s recipe is made in a crockpot (or Instant Pot) so you can set it and forget it. Come home to a warm home-cooked meal without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! Crockpot Bison Stew

What to Expect When you Get Sober and Into Spirituality
What to Expect When you Get Sober and Into Spirituality
We all face a point in our life where things need to change. We can be directly inspired or have a traumatic life event shake things up. Either way many millennials are trading in the booze for green juice. For those suffering from a far greater issues of substance abuse, while challenging, it can be a simple, solvable and affordable choice. That is the good news. I love yoga but when I was drinking and doing these practices, I didn’t get the full benefits, because I wasn’t really doing the work. As a woman, society has always programed me to never feel like I was ever good enough. I didn’t look by normal standards to what people would consider “beautiful” and I struggled my whole life with the skewed perception of me as a person. So I drank. As most do to feel accepted in social settings. However, I learned some things along the way about being sober and spiritual and where these paths cross and where they don’t. So I am here to impart my humble experience about getting sober and becoming a yoga teacher and a spiritual person.

New Beginnings and Fit & Fearless 21-Day New Year's Challenge
New Beginnings and Fit & Fearless 21-Day New Year's Challenge
Welcome to 2018! The New Year offers an excellent opportunity to start anew. Sometimes we need a nudge or reminder that every day we have a chance to create a fresh start. Use this New Year milestone to release what’s holding you in the past and open up to the next step on your journey through this beautiful crazy life. Whether you like to create resolutions or not, you can benefit from treating each moment as an opportunity to begin again. Harness the energy from the Full Wolf Moon on January 1, 2018, to leave your unhealthy patterns and habits in the past. Take the time to write down your true desires and dreams for a vibrant today and a richer tomorrow. Consider your top intentions for your health, your personal life, and your career, then commit.

Cancer Full Moon: Bringing the Feminine to Life
Cancer Full Moon: Bringing the Feminine to Life
An auspicious full moon graces us on New Year’s Day with encouragement to start 2018 in alignment with your highest ideals. The Cancer full moon’s energy increases our unconscious and emotional activity, putting our hearts in touch with our minds. The past year (2017) as been rife with imbalances between masculine and feminine. Whether it be global imbalances of women’s rights and equality, national imbalances of the increased awareness around sexual assault, or earthly imbalances of natural disasters and global warming, or any other personal imbalances you encountered…it is clear that a shift and a focus on the feminine is necessary now. The zodiac sign of cancer is ruled by the moon, so to find our New Year’s moon in the sign it rules bodes well for the feminine, especially as Cancer is the “mother” symbol of the zodiac. The moon itself finds close alignment with the great goddess of the sky, Venus, improving our odds of a close alignment with feminine forces inside and outside of us. There is also a powerful relationship with Pluto, suggesting a powerful transformation in our perceptions of balance between masculine and feminine.

Stress or Peace? Our Role In Health
Stress or Peace? Our Role In Health
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a field of research that deals with the interaction of the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system, and how these systems can be altered through behavior and stress. The immune, nervous, and endocrine systems communicate to maintain health. All of the systems are interconnected. The interest in PNI is the effects of thought and emotion on our health. Stress affects the entire Be-ing, nerves, cells, tissues, and systems of the body (individual and global). Stress if held, can disrupt nervous, endocrine, and immune system functioning resulting in “dis-ease." What is our body communicating to us? Controlling stress begins with taking control of the feelings we hold in our mind, because our feelings determine our thoughts we hold in the mind. Thoughts are profound. Scientific research is showing that thought actually travels faster than light. The challenge is bringing the thoughts/feelings from the subconscious into the conscious mind. Once conscious we can cognitively work in shifting perception and behavior. Are the thoughts/feelings true? Feelings, conscious or not, are causing your thoughts and beliefs, influencing your behaviors, and the effects you are now living. It is possible, to live what you truly desire in your life. This is good news. When we venture into the journey of healing we create the space for others to heal as well. We have the capacity to heal all relationships, all contacts just through mindfulness and single pointed focus.

How to Create a Personalized Diet Plan
How to Create a Personalized Diet Plan
If you're looking at losing weight, then creating a personalized diet plan can be the way to go. It's easy, free, and puts you in control of your own diet journey. This guide has everything you need to know about creating a plan, and helping you stick with it. Why use a personalized diet plan? There's several different reasons why you might want to create a diet plan. Everyone's weight loss journey is different, and everyone has different needs. For example, you may be very active so need more calories than most dieters. You could have dietary restrictions that regular diet plans don't address. Whatever the reason, a personalized diet plan can fit you just right. They're easy to put together, and you can see exactly what you should be eating every day. Unlike regular diet programs, you can ensure that you're eating enough to feel satisfied, and you won't miss out on everything that you love. As you can see, it's the best way to diet.

Decompress from the Holidays
Decompress from the Holidays
Happy Holidays from YogaDownload.com! We hope you’re enjoying the last days of 2017, and are filled with positive energy and peaceful light. Sometimes, however, the holidays can feel more stressful than joyful. On one end of the spectrum, you can take the celebrations too far and overindulge with cookies and pie, wine and cocktails, and too many family obligations. On the flip side, the holidays could stir up mixed emotions and even sadness. Whether you love the holidays or hate them, we’re here to help you navigate the last week of the year with four new classes designed to make you sweat, smile, and shed lingering stress. Sometimes you simply need to take some time for yourself to maintain your equilibrium. A vigorous asana practice can snap you right out of your thoughts and launch you into a place where you’re tuned into your physical body. By stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself physically, you can quiet your mind and refill your emotional well.

Nearly Raw Coco Nutty Pumpkin Pie
Nearly Raw Coco Nutty Pumpkin Pie
It’s time to start planning holiday meals! While pumpkin pie is usually a Thanksgiving thing, people love it for celebrations any time of year, so I decided to do a healthy twist on this classic favorite. I must admit, I’m not much of a pumpkin pie girl, I much prefer chocolate, but this nearly raw variation is heavenly. It’s an amazing 80:20 dessert. It’s silky, creamy, rich and decadent, free from sugar, dairy, eggs and gluten. And best of all, it tastes just like the real thing! Enjoy and be sure to whip up some homemade vegan coconut whipped cream to go on top.

The Power of Gemstones & Mala Beads
The Power of Gemstones & Mala Beads
You’ve probably seen mala beads being worn by your meditation friends—they are beaded necklaces or bracelets with a tassel at the end. While mala beads are worn as beautiful spiritual jewelry, they can also be used as a powerful aid in meditation. Most places and companies that supply mala beads, have a wide selection of gemstone, wood and seed malas to choose from. We’ve come up with three ways why mala beads benefit those who wear them and the significance of different gemstones on malas.

The Sun, Moon, & Stars: Yoga & Astrology
The Sun, Moon, & Stars: Yoga & Astrology
Let’s put on our party hats and howl at the moon because it’s time to celebrate the solstice. Whether you’re in the southern hemisphere and enjoying the longest day of summer or in the northern hemisphere savoring the longest night of winter, now is an opportune time to align yourself with the natural cycles of the universe. On December 21, 2017, the Sun reaches its southern-most position as seen from the Earth and appears to be motionless before reversing its path. In Latin, solstice literally means “sun” sol “stands still” sistere. Celebrating the change of seasons on the solstice reminds us we are anchored to the earth, and are merely a tiny speck floating in a vast, mysterious universe filled with other suns, moons, planets, and galaxies. Yoga is our time to connect not only with ourselves, but also with the world around us. We can capitalize on this universal pivot point in our solar system and adjust our perspective to the subtle changes and cycles both outside of and within us. Ancient yogis recognized our bodies’ connection with the Sun and Moon. Hatha yoga’s name derives from Ha-tha, which means Sun and Moon in Sanskrit. Ha = Sun. Tha = Moon. Astrology is the study of how we are influenced by the stars, sun, and moon. By aligning the practice of yoga with astrology, we are empowered to become more attuned to the universe and achieve a deeper state of wellness and fulfillment.

The Most Important Holiday Gift of All
The Most Important Holiday Gift of All
Throughout my 9 years as a Counselor, I have realized that the holidays are truly a very dark time for many, and it’s not just for the 15% of us in the population who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For us, the literal dark and cold of the season itself is a big piece of the puzzle, and all of the stress of the holidays piles on top of an already depressing time. Stress and expectations run high, to-do lists become far too long, and the pressure slowly builds. Not gonna lie, it’s a big part of the reason I enjoy a warm life in Bali now! As the holidays draw closer, it seems like everyone is on the brink of explosion. Many feel the pressure of responsibility to hold family traditions together. Consumerist-driven comparison has us all in a tailspin. What is supposed to be the jolliest holiday turns into a disaster as we simply and impossibly try to keep everyone else happy. Somewhere along the way, we let ourselves slip through the cracks. What about YOUR needs? Where is the time to take care of the most important person of all? Your very own self. It’s an easy time to crack; to break; to give into the darkness. I get it. I see you. I’m here for you.

Chickpea Miso Soup
Chickpea Miso Soup
As many of us in the northern hemisphere approach the coldest weather of the year and flu season, I thought I would share with you my new favorite go-to soup when I feel under the weather. Over the years, as I’ve slowly worked to better my health with a plant-based diet, I’m usually a little puzzled as to what to eat when I get sick. When it comes down to surviving the flu, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking chicken noodle soup, ginger ale, saltines, toast and jelly. And even though I haven’t had any of that stuff for a few decades (or the flu for that matter!), they’re still ingrained in my mind as flu comfort foods. What I know and live by, most importantly when I’m sick, is that whatever I’m going to eat has to be nourishing and healing, and not simply comforting – although all of the above would be nice. Aside from homemade chicken noodle soup, which isn’t going to happen when you’re sick unless mom lives nearby, none of the previously mentioned foods are going to support your immune system with any extra love. When you’re sick, boosting your immune system’s fighting power with nourishing, vitamin and mineral-filled food will help you feel better faster. As a veg-head who hasn’t eaten chicken noodle soup since high school, over the years I’ve turned to miso (pronounced mee-so) soup. Miso, which has its origins in Japan, is traditionally referred to as fermented soy. It’s known as an all-purpose, high-protein seasoning that’s most often used in soups, salad dressings and veggie dishes. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and contains all eight essential amino acids. It also has quite a few healing benefits now back by scientific research – reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension and breast cancer, to name a few.

Sagittarius New Moon: Mining the Darkness to Give Birth to the Light
Sagittarius New Moon: Mining the Darkness to Give Birth to the Light
The new moon in Sagittarius on December 18, 2017 gives us plenty of opportunity to let go of what no longer serves us in preparation for the coming new year. This new moon happens just a few days before the winter solstice on December 21st, and the darkness of the new moon combined with the yearly celebration of the darkest day of the year signifies a cosmic urge to turn inward, look carefully at our shadow, and surrender whatever we deem no longer of use.

Yoga for Solid Sleep & Happy Mornings
Yoga for Solid Sleep & Happy Mornings
This week we bring you four new classes to help fall asleep, have wonderful dreams, and awake recharged and clear for lovely days. When you were a little kid, you probably battled your parents to stay up as late as possible and avoid an early bedtime. As you transitioned into adulthood, sleep still seemed optional: there can always be so much to do! And, once upon a time, when you were ready to go to sleep, you could lay your head on the pillow and drift off to dreamland. If you are lucky, falling asleep still comes naturally. For many of us, insomnia is an occasional or chronic issue. Our world is zooming at warp-speed and keeping up can launch our nervous systems into overdrive or the “fight or flight response.” Despite physical and mental exhaustion, the minute we try to go to sleep, an endless reel begins playing through our brains. We’re unable to shut off the movie documenting every detail of our day or the issues we’re contending with at any given moment. Sleep is essential for us to rejuvenate and heal our physical, mental, and emotional health. Yoga to the rescue! With the appropriate yoga practice, you can learn to not only tire out your body, but also quiet your mind and calm your heart for a solid night’s sleep.

Use your Imagination
Use your Imagination
Patanjali, author of The Yoga Sutras, shares that there are five states of mental activity; understanding, misunderstanding, memory, sleeping, and imagination. Imagination seems to be a challenging mental activity for those of us raised and living in our current cultural, social, educational, and economic system. Or so we remember. How often do we as adults imagine, like we did as a child? I remember my childhood imagination explorations including faeries, castles, mythical creatures, dances, romances, flying, time traveling, body swapping, etc. Why and when did we agree with what we were told, by elders of authority, such as to stop day dreaming in the make believe? Why is it that socially we were threatened out of our imaginations to avoid the risks of being labeled as strange, childish, or unacceptable?

What Types of Music are Best During Yoga?
What Types of Music are Best During Yoga?
The beauty of music is that it can drive you to do ‘things’. They say that music often has a positive impact on the mind, though the genre and the selection of music are important for that kind of effect. There are many medical studies that have endorsed the usage of music for restorative as well as curative purposes. Doing yoga is an activity where you have to apply your body and mind—sometimes, you feel out of the zone to put yourself in that crucible and need an inspiration or a driving factor. For some, good music or a song can provide the inspirational energy to engage in the activity. Many yoga centers incorporate music into a routine during their practices and teaching sessions. It becomes imperative to know what kind of music is conducive to yoga. Is there any subtle connection between sound and the way our body and mind responds to it?

A 2-Step Guide to Holiday Bliss: Yin Yoga & Meditation
A 2-Step Guide to Holiday Bliss: Yin Yoga & Meditation
You’re probably multitasking right now while you read this. Our lives today are so much about getting things done and going through the never ending to-do list that we forget to pause, reset and rejuvenate. Plus, with the holidays near, we may find ourselves being pulled in a hundred different directions. There has to be a Yin to all the Yang created by travel planning, gift shopping, meals, celebrations (and recovery). ‘Tis the season to be merry and nothing should dampen that spirit. Spare a little time to journey inward and focus on just being. This will surely multiply the joy of your celebrations and help in getting things done faster and more efficiently. Wondering how to put this in motion? We have a simple recipe for it - Follow our 2-step guide of Yin Yoga and Meditation, to Holiday Bliss and witness heaps of love coming your way:

Roasted Curry Chickpeas
Roasted Curry Chickpeas
Lately I’ve been hungry for more veggie protein options, so I’ve been gravitating toward eating more beans. Chickpeas, AKA garbanzo beans, are part of the legume family. They’re touted for their high levels of insoluble fiber, so naturally they’re an amazingly cleanse-friendly food. In just 1 cup of chickpeas you’ll get over 15 grams of protein, so they’re a fantastic veggie-based protein source. Chickpeas boast a wide array of phytonutrients both in the seed coat and inner bean. My favorite inflammation fighting phytonutrient, quercetin, is plentiful in this little bean, which makes it a healthy food to be eating during any allergy season. Chickpeas are extremely versatile. You can flavor them with a variety of spices, add them to soups, salads, and salad dressings. You can even eat them by the handful for a healthy and filling snack. Not only will this recipe delight your taste buds, but it will also help to satisfy your cravings for junk food and sweets. In a recent study, people who ate chickpeas were shown to eat fewer processed foods. Equally exciting, participants who ate garbanzo beans for just 1 week were able to control their blood sugar and insulin levels.