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


5 Ways to Stay Inspired On and Off the Mat
5 Ways to Stay Inspired On and Off the Mat
It’s easy to fall into the habit of always taking the same yoga classes and teachers, walking or running the same routes. Suddenly, you find yourself uninspired and unmotivated in not just your practice, but also your life. Remember, your yoga practice mirrors your life off the mat. The key is to stay open-minded and curious and always keep learning. We’re here with some tips to help! 1. Venture Out of Your Comfortable Routine Try a new teacher, new class, or new style of yoga this week. We all know consistency in your yoga practice is crucial, but sometimes we fall into a rut. If you find yourself dragging your feet to get to class, try something outside of your comfort zone. If your go to practice is Vinyasa or Ashtanga, try a Yin or Iyengar class or vice-versa. Even if the class you choose isn’t one that you’ll return to, it will give you a renewed appreciation for your usual choices. And you may learn something new by slowing down or stepping it up.

Balance is a Life Skill
Balance is a Life Skill
Happy New Year and Happy New Decade! Now is the perfect time to assess whether your life feels in balance or if it’s time for a few tweaks to your routine. Except what looks like balance today could be very different than it was even a few short months ago. Our yoga practice mirrors what’s happening during the other twenty-three hours of our day. By tapping into yogic principles, you can find the perfect balance for you at this particular time in your life. In our physical Hatha yoga practice, we seek to balance the masculine solar energy (‘Ha’) and (‘tha’) the feminine lunar energy that exists within all of us. By following the guiding principle of Yoga Sutra 2.46, Sthira Sukham Asanam, which means the posture should be steady and comfortable, we are working with the principles of effort and ease. In this way, your yoga asana and pranayama practices will bring your physical body into symmetry and sustain your mental focus. By finding balance on your yoga mat, you can create a sense of wholeness in your life.

Holiday Season Recharge
Holiday Season Recharge
How are you feeling today? We’re still in the midst of the holiday season and if you’re like many of us, your typical routines have receded in the rearview. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve abandoned your usual healthy workout routine or eaten a few dozen frosted sugar cookies washed down with crisp champagne. Life is meant to be savored, enjoyed, and lived in the present moment. Sometimes this might be the only chance you’ve got to spend time with family, see old friends, or simply hibernate. But if you’ve abandoned your usual exercise, yoga, and diet, you may be feeling lethargic and heavier than usual. When your body feels bloated, your mind and emotions can also feel slower and foggier. To counteract these weighty tamasic sensations, see if you can carve out some time to recharge your body’s natural cleansing powers. What do you need in this moment to feel more like yourself until you return to your habitual routine?

5 Ways to Harness the Power of the Solstice
5 Ways to Harness the Power of the Solstice
One of the most powerful ways to manifest change in our lives is by aligning with nature and stepping into its flow. On December 21, 2019, the last Solstice of the decade occurs. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the longest night of the year and wherever you live, this momentous day marks the time to pause and reflect and renew our energy. While the world is shifts and transforms, it’s the perfect time to assess how you want to shift and transform individually. Here are 3 ways to harness the power of nature in your own life: 1. Go Outside!

Focus on Strong Foundations: Revisit the Basics for Your Best Yoga Practice
Focus on Strong Foundations: Revisit the Basics for Your Best Yoga Practice
Are you seeking to find your best yoga practice? Often, the most powerful way to manifest transformation in your life and your yoga practice is to stop wherever you are and assess the strength of your foundation. Just like you can’t build a home that will last for generations on unstable soil, you can’t build a sustainable yoga practice by focusing only on how it looks or feels on the surface. This week hit the pause button and dig deeper to ensure your foundation is solid. If you’ve been rolling out your yoga mat for a while, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of just focusing on learning new skills or taking every asana into its most advanced variation. Practicing this way isn’t necessarily the path of becoming an advanced yogi. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, cultivating an enduring yoga practice was compared to being a gardener or a farmer. Planting seeds and tending the soil on a consistent basis is key for successful growth. A healthy lifelong yoga practice at times isn’t apparent from looking solely on the surface. The strength stems from the roots, beneath the soil.

It’s All About the Nervous System: Try Yoga to Relieve Stress
It’s All About the Nervous System: Try Yoga to Relieve Stress
We’ve all been burned out and exhausted and not sure how to cope at some point in our lives. Whether it is looming deadlines, emotional demands, climate change, political battles, family drama––the result is the same. Sometimes juggling all the challenges and all the wonderful gifts in our lives can feel overwhelming and we’re not sure how to feel better. Here’s how: Yoga can help lower your stress levels and your blood pressure because it’s an excellent practice to calm your nervous system. By combining physical asanas or postures with Pranayama or controlled breathing techniques, yoga can have a profound impact on your nervous system. When we are stressed out, our adrenal glands are working overtime and we’re often in a state of “fight or flight,” which doesn’t allow for adequate rest and recovery. Over time, if we fall into this type of pattern of constantly being in heightened over-active mode, our bodies and minds begin to suffer. As you’ve heard over and over, yoga offers a three-pronged approach to improving your life: physical, mental, and spiritual. While taking your usual sweaty Vinyasa or Power class will definitely impact your mind and heart, sometimes slowing down a bit and taking a more mellow class can give you more of the mental stress relief you’re craving. Our parasympathetic nervous system is designed to soothe and lower our stress levels. Certain styles of yoga, like Yin and Restorative, emphasize postures that can reset your nervous system in minutes. Gentle Hatha classes also focus more on unwinding and relaxing you. Of course, you’re releasing tightness and tension from your muscles, but you’re also soothing your brain.

Practice Yoga with Love
Practice Yoga with Love
One of yoga’s most beautiful benefits is how it can shift your emotions in a pure, positive way. Even if you come to the practice for other reasons, your emotional makeup will transform, whether you’re trying to or not! Our subtle body, which is a blueprint of our physical body, contains our emotional energy. Through targeted practice, we can enhance how we feel. The subtle body contains the chakras or emotional energy centers. In order to feel more loving, we want to make sure our energy is balanced from the base of our spine or Muladhara (Root) Chakra to our Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra. In order to tap into your own heart and open to more love in your life, you’ve got to be willing to release fear. Yoga practices that create more space in the Anahata (Heart) Chakra will create space in your physical body to experience joy and love. The Anahata Chakra contains the essence of compassion and selflessness and symbolizes when we rise above our egos to care more for others than ourselves. Anahata is associated with the element of air, the color green, the sense of touch, and the thymus gland.

Yoga for Focus & Motivation
Yoga for Focus & Motivation
​After a great yoga practice, you’ve probably experienced how your mind feels more clear, calm, and balanced. Many practitioners find the mental benefits of yoga to be the most important, even more than a strong, supple body. Who doesn’t want to be focused, motivated, and able to experience life to the fullest? This week’s classes will release stress and boost your ability to focus and motivate yourself. Interested in why and how yoga does this? Step back about 5,000 years and tap into the wisdom of the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutra 1.2 Citta Vritti Nirodhah is often translated as: Yoga is the ability to direct the mind without distraction or interruption. This skill is difficult, takes constant practice over time, but can be achieved! Patanjali outlines a practical how-to manual to reach a state of yoga: the eight-limbed yoga path. The eight limbs are:

Yoga Quickies for Busy People
Yoga Quickies for Busy People
Leading a full life is a blessing. Leading a life where you feel you don’t have time to take care of your own well-being is a problem. In order to live your best life, you must carve out time to refill your own well. Balance is key to achieving a joyous fulfilling life. We’re here to help you with four quick powerful classes so you don’t sacrifice your yoga practice! We know you’re busy, so we’ll keep this short. Here are three tips to keep your yoga practice on track, no matter what other commitments you are managing in your life. 1. Schedule your yoga time in your planner: When you write down what yoga class you’re going to take in your calendar, it’s part of your daily schedule. You don’t need to waste time pondering if you have time. You do have time––written out clearly in black and white. 2. Remind yourself of how you’ll feel, even with a short time commitment: You’ll feel stronger, more flexible, more relaxed, and also more energetic. Your sleep will deepen, and your posture will improve. The mental benefits of a quick yoga practice are incredible: you can return to your work day with heightened concentration and a clear mind. 3. Practice first thing in the morning: Prioritize your personal yoga practice and do it first, maybe even before your morning coffee or tea. Set your alarm for twenty minutes earlier than usual if necessary. Unexpected events often arise once your day gets going and can steal your scheduled yoga time. If you take care of yourself first, you’ll be better equipped to handle your day, no matter how busy it is! Have a wonderful week!

Permission to Chill: 5 Benefits of Yoga to Relax and Recharge
Permission to Chill: 5 Benefits of Yoga to Relax and Recharge
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I’m too busy to…fill in the blank?” Once a week? Once a day? Once an hour? We all want to live a full, beautiful life, but cultivating a balance between action and relaxation is essential. This week, how about adding in a quieter type of yoga to your repertoire? Consider these 5 benefits of taking the time to chill out: 1. Pacify Your Nervous System Slowing down and settling into a relaxing, restorative pose encourages you to step away from stress. For example, in a supported Vipariti Karani (Legs up the wall pose), your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and calms your stress levels quickly. If you’ve had a tough day, restorative yoga is a way to reset. Soothing your nervous system helps keep your body and mind healthy.

Keep On Moving!
Keep On Moving!
Here’s a mini-quiz for you: In one to three words, how do you feel after sitting for six hours either in an office, plane, car or even after an extended Netflix binge? Now, how do you feel after a long walk in nature, a sweaty juicy yoga class, or your movement of choice? If you responded to the sedentary day with words like stiff, cranky, negative, or anxious, you’re not alone. And if you responded invigorated, happy, positive, or calm to activity, you’ve described how much lifestyle impacts your well-being. Your level of physical activity profoundly impacts your emotions and thoughts. We all experience periods where we aren’t exercising or practicing yoga as frequently as we would like. Sometimes it’s because of injury or illness, but sometimes we fall into a rut and stop moving our bodies enough. And when that’s the case, we often feel heavy, lethargic, fuzzy, and unhappy. According to numerous academic and psychological studies, a sedentary lifestyle negatively impacts your ability to maintain optimal health.

Yoga for Legs: Create a Powerful Foundation & Get Strong from the Ground Up!
Yoga for Legs: Create a Powerful Foundation & Get Strong from the Ground Up!
In yoga practice, as in life, it’s vital to create a healthy foundation if you want to be strong. Without a fortified and solid base, it’s impossible to progress to higher levels. Consider if a skyscraper or even a two-story building is built without properly preparing the soil beneath it: any shift in the earth, excess of rain, or other changes can cause the structure to collapse. Just like an architect plans a safe, strong building that will withstand the test of time, yogis need to create strong bodies, resistant to injury, from the ground up. A good yoga instructor will teach standing yoga poses beginning with the position of the feet and legs. Without the feet in proper alignment, the knees can be stressed, the pelvis misaligned and the spine compromised. Standing poses are excellent for creating strong flexible legs and creating the proper balance of stability and mobility in the hips and pelvis.

Why Shifting into Slow Gear Helps You Grow
Why Shifting into Slow Gear Helps You Grow
It’s universally acknowledged, that life feels too busy these days. While technology, growth, and progress are the way of the world, the acceleration of the daily pace of life can be exhausting. Between work, family, and fun, we’re often juggling a zillion tasks a day in order to “get it all done” or check off the boxes on our to-do lists. Slow down for a moment and see how you feel right now. Are you peaceful, joyous, and focused or frazzled? Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra1.2, Citta Vritti Nirodha, is the premise around which the entire Yoga Sutras are built. Yoga is all about calming the fluctuations of the mind or about learning to direct your attention where you want it to go. In our daily life, if we are slaves to the cult of “busy,” we’re at the mercy of distractions and lack of focus. Stepping onto your yoga mat is the first phase of eliminating distractions and slowing down those crazy thoughts careening around in your head

Let it Go with Twists
Let it Go with Twists
When you’re feeling heavy, congested, or blocked, nothing helps you rejuvenate as quickly as a few cleansing yoga twists. How can simple yoga postures help you clear your mind and get your digestion and circulation flowing? Twists help restore and maintain your spine’s range of motion, improve flexibility and mobility, and encourage your liver and kidneys to work at their optimum levels. All of these benefits combine to help you clear out what you no longer need and create space for what you do want. Physically, our spines are designed to work in three different ranges of motion: front to back (sagittal plane), side to side (lateral plane), and rotation (transverse plane.) The odds are you don’t do a lot of twisting throughout the course of your day. Ignoring this vital spinal movement can lead to imbalances in your muscles and connective tissues and create back pain and general stiffness and loss of range of motion of your spine. Twisting more frequently encourages a healthy spine, supple muscles, and massages internal organs.

Sweat it Out!
Sweat it Out!
Depending upon where you live, breaking out into a sweat when you step out your front door may happen regularly or never. If you reside in a hot, humid climate, you probably are accustomed to glistening and glowing. Sweat’s primary purpose is to help you maintain your body temperature as close to 98.6 as possible. Put another way, sweat is your body’s built-in air conditioning system. Sweating is beneficial for many reasons above and beyond cooling you down. When you engage in a vigorous workout or power Vinyasa class like the ones featured this week, one of the benefits is kick-starting your circulation and ensuring efficient blood flow to oxygenate and fuel your muscles and organs. Increased blood flow and heart rate work to maintain a healthy metabolism and optimal level of fitness. When your vital bodily functions are moving efficiently, your immune system gets a boost. Often, sweating is touted as a method of detoxification.

Learn Yoga Massage: Tap into the Power of Touch
Learn Yoga Massage: Tap into the Power of Touch
Did you know that the first sense we become aware of as babies is touch? More than sight, smell, taste, and sound, touch is what helps us feel a true sense of connection with the people around us. There’s nothing quite like a hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a while, holding hands with your partner or child, or simply receiving a pat on the back. In certain cultures, kissing on the cheek is a common greeting, while other countries might frown upon even a handshake. Within your family or group of friends, touching could be common or non-existent. No matter the environment, many of us can go through an entire day or days without touching anyone at all. Lack of touch correlates with feeling disconnected, and we’re here with some new ways to change that. Touch is vital for overall health and wellness on a long-term basis.

Yoga for Strength and Power: Inside and Out
Yoga for Strength and Power: Inside and Out
Did you know that practicing certain styles of yoga is an excellent way to build not only flexibility and balance, but also strength? Hatha yoga, specifically styles of Vinyasa, Power, and Ashtanga work like a functional fitness program with your own body weight. In a well-rounded yoga practice, you work your body in all planes of motion and utilize not just the large muscles, but the small ones too. When you feel strong physically, there’s a direct correlation to how you feel emotionally and mentally as well. It’s all connected. Let’s focus on the physical aspect and how yoga builds strength.

4 Ways to Make YogaDownload.com a Powerful Health Hack
4 Ways to Make YogaDownload.com a Powerful Health Hack
These days, life seems to only get busier and often it’s easy to let your yoga practice fall by the wayside when work deadlines, family obligations, travel, or fill-in-the-blank, get in the way. Staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally can be a challenge when you feel pressed for time. What’s important to remember is a consistent yoga practice will keep you healthy. When you feel your best, everything else falls into place. We’re here with a few tips and tricks to help you solidify your yoga habit. Remember there isn’t a one-sized fits all method––what’s key is having a game plan. Whether you prefer practicing first thing in the morning, later in the evening, or anytime you can squeeze in a yoga break, creating an individualized schedule will make the difference. Once you feel the benefits of a clear mind, supple and strong muscles, and a softer heart, sticking to your yoga practice becomes second nature.

The Magic of Yoga
The Magic of Yoga
Do you believe in magic? Not necessarily the kind of tricks you might see at a Las Vegas show, but more the type of magic that manifests as an intangible feeling that can’t be measured with logic or science. Whatever your initial reason for beginning yoga, you probably know you don’t keep returning simply because your hamstrings are more supple–– there is something more. Let’s call that subtle quality the magic of yoga. Perhaps you felt happy for ten minutes, ten hours, ten days, or even ten years after yoga class and you can’t pinpoint why. We often discuss the tangible physical benefits of a consistent yoga practice, like strength, flexibility, and balance. These qualities are wonderful, but not everything about yoga can be quantified. This week we’re focusing more on what is percolating beneath the surface in the subtle body. Our subtle body is said to contain more than 72,000 Nadis or energy channels and prana encompasses more than the muscles and the ligaments. It impacts our nervous system, our circulatory system, and our organs, whether we are aware of it or not. When we practice yoga, whatever the style, we are shifting and moving around our prana or life force energy. The magic of yoga impacts us on a cellular level. How? Why?

Happy and Healthy Hips: Unpack Your Saddlebags!
Happy and Healthy Hips: Unpack Your Saddlebags!
This week, it’s time to unpack those saddlebags and release the heaviness and stress weighing you down and impeding your emotions. It takes a lot of work to create the tight hips many of us are experiencing these days. Almost everything we do in our daily lives create tension: from sedentary activities like sitting at a desk and driving to running or even simple everyday stress. We accumulate unprocessed emotions in our hips and we’ve all got one or maybe fifty of those, right? Let’s unpack them. When your hips are both open and strong, you have a balanced center of gravity and are able to maintain not just a healthy spine, but also a happy heart and mind. Physically, your pelvis houses several ligaments and muscles.

5-Day Absolution Intensive with Mark Morford
5-Day Absolution Intensive with Mark Morford
Set Yourself Free! Take a moment to check in on how you’re feeling. Go ahead; take a quick scan from the crown of your beautiful head to the soles of your bare feet. If you are wearing shoes, go ahead and slip your feet out and wiggle your toes. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your feeling of personal freedom right now? Where are you physically, emotionally, and mentally today? If you are feeling restricted in any or all of these areas, rest assured that your yoga practice can help you shed the tightness in your muscles, soothe any discord in your emotions, and quiet your thoughts. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches that learning to detach or let go is necessary in order to find freedom. But what does it mean to truly let go? And let go of what, exactly?

Yoga for Self Care: Do You First!
Yoga for Self Care: Do You First!
Self-care is a priority, not an after-thought. Yes, you come first. When was the last time you were on a plane? If you were actually paying attention to the safety presentation before take off, you’d recall that the flight attendant always advises each passenger to place their own oxygen mask on first, even before their child’s. The message here, like our theme this week, is that taking care of yourself first is key before you can help anyone else. Do you ever feel guilty if you take time to go get a massage or put off a work call until after you’ve practiced yoga or worked out? Or how about feeling somehow naughty that you took a nap in the middle of the day instead of going to get your car washed? As yogis, we often consider ourselves experts in self-care when often, we are the ones focused on caring for others, and our own needs are at the bottom of the list. We get it: we are all busy and juggling responsibilities. Problems arise when obligations to your work, your family, your cat or your dog, supersede your obligations to your own health and well-being. It’s time to put yourself first before you burn out and can’t show up in your life at your best. Shifting your perspective to view self-care as a necessity and not a luxury is all you need to do for a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Yoga for the Upper Body: Heart, Shoulders, Throat & Head
Yoga for the Upper Body: Heart, Shoulders, Throat & Head
Yoga’s benefits are all-encompassing. This ancient practice affects our entire body, mind, and heart. Yoga can be approached in hundreds of different ways and can be utilized for specific areas of focus. This week, we’ll focus on how yoga benefits the upper body and that includes not just muscles and bones, but your four higher chakras or seats of higher consciousness. Many of us sit at the computer, drive a lot, stare at our smartphones, and as a result, our shoulders begin to round forward, proper posture disintegrates and we can actually become more closed off in our emotional expression. By focusing on asanas that open up the heart, shoulders, throat, and neck, we not only improve our posture, but we learn to keep the heart open and to communicate with truth and kindness. So yes, you can loosen up the physical tension and tightness that plagues you, improve your posture, and get rid of aches and pains. But the benefits go deeper by balancing out your Anahata or heart chakra, Vishudda or throat chakra, Ajna or third eye chakra, and Sahasrara or crown chakra.

Equinox: The Power of Change and Transition
Equinox: The Power of Change and Transition
"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and the seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But, there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. " - Alan Cohen Happy Equinox yogis! Whether you are celebrating the budding and blossoming of Spring in the Northern hemisphere or accepting the shedding of layers that personifies Autumn in the Southern hemisphere, we are all in the midst of powerful transition. When we align our own intentions and goals with nature’s rhythms and patterns, we strengthen our positions. We’re all living this one life on the planet together and the earth impacts everything we do, from how we feel physically to our thoughts and emotions. Why not harness these seasonal shifts to reflect, set intentions, and implement change?

Quick Yoga Fix: Ways to Stay on Track when Time is Tight
Quick Yoga Fix: Ways to Stay on Track when Time is Tight
Can you believe it is almost March? Time seems to be zooming at the speed of light these days and with that swift pace, some priorities in life seem to shift. Work, school, family, travel, all the little responsibilities…some days it’s tough to complete all the things you want to do after you’ve done all the things you need to do. And you want to do yoga, right? If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be battling the Polar Vortex and spending an hour shoveling your driveway or taking thirty extra minutes to get to the office. That precious time could have been spent on your yoga mat. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps your holidays and vacation time created a lapse in your regular yoga practice. Regardless of why you’ve not had time to practice yoga as frequently as you would like, the result is the same. You’ve fallen out of your routine and aren’t feeling as balanced, strong, and flexible as you’d like. Maybe you feel like if you can’t get a full hour or ninety-minute practice in, it isn’t worth your time to step onto the mat. Not true!