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


The Art of a Well-Paced Class
The Art of a Well-Paced Class
Every day during my teacher trainings I give my students time to practice on their own—at their own pace. The practice period is only 15 to 20 minutes, but it gives everyone a little quiet time to integrate the work we’ve been doing as a group. And, it gives everyone the opportunity to work on whatever it is they need at the time. I’ve watched hundreds of students practice in this environment and one thing that stands out: No one goes fast. No one. I’ve never seen one person choose to move at a pace that outstrips their breath. I’ve never seen someone go so fast that they get winded. I’ve seen people choose to practice quiet, restorative poses. I’ve seen people choose ridiculously demanding poses. I’ve seen people choose everything in between. But, I’ve never seen someone move so fast that they can’t breathe deeply.

Essential Sequence: Winning in Warrior III
Essential Sequence: Winning in Warrior III
I spent my first two years of yoga avoiding Warrior III. Then, I spent another year avoiding it. Finally, after avoiding it for an additional 15 years, I’ve made it a mainstay of my practice. What can I say? I guess it takes me a while to warm up to things that expose my weaknesses, knock me off balance, and frustrate my ego. I have to admit, I actually like it now.

5 Ways To (Re)Inspire Your Yoga Practice
5 Ways To (Re)Inspire Your Yoga Practice
We all get stuck in a rut from time to time—even yoga teachers. In fact, the question that comes up most frequently in the group of teachers that I mentor is, “How do I keep my practice and teaching fresh?” After all, it’s hard to inspire and connect with your students when you’re feeling stale. The first thing to remember is this: All relationships, vocations, and passions go through different phases. If things feel a little lackluster from time to time it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or your relationship to yoga. Try not to go crazy if your practice and teaching feel stagnant. Acknowledge and allow the feelings. And when you feel ready try these simple tips for getting back to what matters most.

Essential Sequence: Learn to Love Camel Pose
Essential Sequence: Learn to Love Camel Pose
Students who love Ustrasana praise the pose for the way it opens the shoulders, chest and upper-back. And, they’re right. Ustrasana is hard to beat when it comes to extending the thoracic spine. Students who loathe Ustrasana invariably complain about discomfort in the neck and lower back. They’re also right. It can be tough to do Ustrasana without creating excessive compression in your lower back and neck.

Essential Sequence: Immune Booster
Essential Sequence: Immune Booster
Whether you’re in hyper-drive, ticking your way through the holiday to-do list or you’re feeling too depleted to get off the couch and do yoga, the sequence here is invaluable to have in your back pocket during the winter months. It’s not a high-intensity practice – it’s a healing, nurturing, immune boosting yoga practice. The poses encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and facilitate circulation throughout your whole body. These are the three most effective things that yoga asana can do to help support your immune system.

Essential Sequence: Fold into Lotus Pose
Essential Sequence: Fold into Lotus Pose
Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is one you were likely familiar with before you ever set foot in a yoga studio. Surely you’d seen sculptures of Siddartha or photographs of Indian sadhus with their legs tightly folded together in a pretzel shape. It’s a pose that’s associated with serene states of meditation — and the shape of the pose really does encourage quiet.

My 5 Favorite Yoga Postures (And Why I Love Them)
My 5 Favorite Yoga Postures (And Why I Love Them)
Common wisdom tells you to work on the postures that bring up resistance and challenge you. Personally, I’m okay with this sentiment—after all, there’s plenty of value in exploring the edges of your comfort zone. As a practitioner and teacher, though, I tend to emphasize the opposite—I choose to indulge the postures that I love with egregious frequency. I encourage the teachers that I train to do the exact same thing. We love the poses that we love for good reasons: they awaken us, they ground us, they soothe us, they challenge us, and they nurture our mind’s ability to focus and settle down.

Essential Sequence: Quick Hip Openers
Essential Sequence: Quick Hip Openers
This sequence focuses on stretching the muscles around the whole circumference of the hip joint. It’s great for relieving tension that can accumulate from long periods of sitting or standing and it’s also incredibly grounding. I like to do it after traveling or just at the end of a long, intense day. Spend 5-10 breaths in each pose (or longer if you’d like) and do both sides before moving to the next pose.

Essential Sequence: Wake Up And Flow
Essential Sequence: Wake Up And Flow
Full disclaimer: when it comes to the morning, I’m a coffee first kind of guy. Yoga is a close second. But, it’s second nonetheless. It wasn’t always this way, but nothing is permanent. So, if you’re like me and you prefer some liquid inspiration to get yourself on the mat first thing, don’t judge yourself. Once you’re ready, here’s a solid, get-up-and-go practice.

Essential Sequence for Lower Back Pain
Essential Sequence for Lower Back Pain
I know back pain. I’ve dealt with varying degrees of back pain—from mild to severe—for more than 20 years. I’ve also worked with hundreds of students that have similar challenges. In fact, many students turn to yoga when they’re facing lower-back problems.

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.

Essential Sequence: Evening Wind Down
Essential Sequence: Evening Wind Down
I’ve spent many an evening, after a long, hard day doing these poses in our living room while family life happens around me. That might mean that my daughter is jumping on me, or that there’s an occasional sports newscast on in the background. My evening wind down practice isn’t pristine (and yours doesn’t have to be either), but I still find it incredibly helpful to spend a few minutes on self-care in the evening. It provides a buffer zone that helps me relax so that when it’s time for sleep, my mind isn’t buzzing and my body isn’t calling out for more attention.

A New Take on Twists
A New Take on Twists
Spring has sprung and all throughout yogaland, studios are hosting “detox flow” workshops that emphasize deep twists and side bends. And, no doubt, the vast majority of these workshops will declare that you need to keep your pelvis “stable” when you twist in order to keep your lower back and sacroiliac joints safe. Although the word “stable” in this context is slightly misleading, teachers are trying to keep their students from turning their pelvis when they rotate their spine. This is the way I taught twists for over 15 years — adamantly no less.

5 Tips for New Yoga Teachers
5 Tips for New Yoga Teachers
Like all livelihoods, teaching yoga comes with challenges that can lead to burnout if they’re not managed. Here are five essential tips to help you manage the stresses of teaching yoga so that you can savor your career and guide your students without crashing and burning.

The Best (and Worst) Modifications and Alternatives for Chaturanga
The Best (and Worst) Modifications and Alternatives for Chaturanga
Yoga is for everybody. But, not every yoga posture is for everybody—including Chaturanga Dandasana. For many practitioners, the pose is simply too demanding to be done with safe, stable alignment.

A Smart Flow for Hamstrings
A Smart Flow for Hamstrings
I am a vinyasa flow girl through and through. I believe that spending time studying alignment is vital to a lifelong yoga practice — whether in the form of Iyengar classes/workshops or with a flow teacher like Jason who occasionally slows things down. When you learn to understand and tune into the details of alignment you not only stave off potential injuries, you truly learn the skill of connecting your body and mind.

4 Propped Poses to Build Your Hanumansana
4 Propped Poses to Build Your Hanumansana
Hanumanasana feels different each time I do it. There are days when I can get my pelvis to the floor with my hips square. But these days I focus more on getting the benefits of the pose instead of going all the way into the pose.

Essential Sequence: Stretch into Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Essential Sequence: Stretch into Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
WHY THIS SEQUENCE WORKS Nothing beats a good side-bending practice. And, truthfully, the recipe for the classic posture Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is simple: the practice needs to focus on stretching the hamstrings, adductors, and the sides of the torso (which are largely comprised of the lats, obliques, and the quadratus lumborum). The sequence above sticks to these three basic focal points. Let’s break it down a little further:

Combat Work Stress with These Simple Yoga Poses
Combat Work Stress with These Simple Yoga Poses
In this post, yoga teacher Adam Hocke shares his coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and gives advice on simple tricks you can do to chill out when work gets on top of you, either at home or on the go.

A Thank You Note to My Bod
A Thank You Note to My Bod
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – about consciously thanking my body for all that it does. When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s easy to feel like your body has betrayed you. Like it’s been sneaking around behind your back, hanging out with rogue cells in alleyways making dirty deals. It’s a horrible feeling, that.

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