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Yoga, Health, and Wellness Articles + Recipes

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


Pre and Post Workout Yoga
Pre and Post Workout Yoga
What’s your go-to warm up before you start your favorite workout? And do you cool down and stretch after you hike, bike, run, or do a HIIT class? To enhance your performance and to prevent injury, it’s important to warm up properly as well as allow your system to return to normal after exercise. If you’ve never tried yoga before or after your favorite sports and activities, this week we’ve made it easy for you. Many cardio activities, like cycling and running, consist of repetitive movements in one direction and in one plane of motion. Sports like golf and tennis are focused on using one side of the body, which over time develops certain muscle groups to the detriment of others. Over time, this creates imbalances in the muscles and joints leading to overuse injuries. Yoga is dynamic and moves your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. A well-rounded yoga warm up is a great way to stay balanced and aligned.

Yoga for Rebirth and Hope
Yoga for Rebirth and Hope
Yoga is an incredible way to renew our mind, body, and spirit each time we step onto our mats. We’ve heard over and over from our students that one of the best benefits of regular practice is the feeling of softening or a sense of being more content. And physically, if we aren’t keeping our bodies moving, we literally become stiff and inflexible. We’ve just celebrated the Vernal Equinox, which is a perfect time to celebrate the changes in the seasons. When we align ourselves with the cycles of the earth, we harness the strength of nature to become our most balanced, strong selves. Depending on where you live, you’re either eagerly awaiting the flowers blooming or watching the leaves fall. It’s a great time to shed what no longer is serving you and create space to invite in the fresh and new.

Yoga for the Best Sleep
Yoga for the Best Sleep
Does anyone else have trouble falling asleep at night? You snuggle under the covers, lay your weary head on the pillow ready to drift off to dreamland and boom––your mind is racing. If you can relate, you’re not alone. Many of us are stuck in the “fight or flight” syndrome and our nervous systems have trouble switching into “rest and digest” mode. Quality sleep is essential for us to rejuvenate and maintain our physical, emotional, and mental health. If you’re ready to have your best night of sleep tonight, read on for a few of the ways yoga and meditation can help.

Ready, Set, FLOW!
When we are going with the flow, we are aligned with ourselves and with the world around us. But with the busy-ness and fast pace of life, it’s easy to slip into a state of distraction and lose sight of your center. Yoga is all about clearing out the mental clutter and finding freedom in your mind, heart, and body. A “flow state” is when you are immersed in an activity to the point you no longer reason you’re “doing” it, you’re simply in it. For some people, finding their flow is playing or listening to music, running, dancing, surfing, gardening, or whatever activity allows them to settle in an energized state of freedom. Yoga is an excellent path to finding your flow. When we focus on connecting the power of physical movement with the practice of breathing in certain ways, we can expand our prana or life force energy and get energized or relaxed, depending upon the technique.

The Way of the Peaceful Yogi
The Way of the Peaceful Yogi
oga is many different things to many different people but at its core, yoga is a tool to create a quiet mind and a serene heart. Yoga reminds us that we cannot control external events; we can only control our reaction to them. Our world is a hectic place these days and if you’ve felt helpless seeing all the suffering, you aren’t alone. The power of the individual can radiate out to the collective. So if we work to increase our own love and compassion and share it with those around us, and others do the same thing, we can create a more peaceful world. An excellent starting point is to balance our Anahata (Heart) Chakra. Love lives in our hearts and Anahata is associated with selflessness and with enlarging our capacity for compassion. Love and fear are two sides of a coin and when we’re stuck in fear, or when we cannot forgive others, we shut down. We aren’t as kind to others because we fear being hurt and our energy impacts those around us.

Take a Chill Pill
Take a Chill Pill
Yoga’s gifts are numerous but one of the best is the ability to move from the reactive state called fight or flight where we’re operating with high stress levels and taxing our nervous systems. Through asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathwork), and meditation, it’s possible to move into rest and digest mode, which is a receptive state. If stabilizing your blood pressure, balancing your heart rate, and lowering stress hormones sounds like what you need, read on. Depending on what style of yoga you practice, you can energize or relax. To become more calm, poses like forward bends, twists, and restorative postures will help you quiet your mind and pacify your nervous system. By slowing down on the mat, you’ll create the space to feel more clear and relaxed. This week, we’ve hand-picked classes to help you chill out, naturally.

Good Morning Flows
Good Morning Flows
You’ve heard the expression “waking up on the wrong side of the bed,” right? Well, some days when your alarm goes off, you and want to burrow beneath the covers instead of getting up and facing the day. Our emotions and moods are always changing. And depending on what’s going on in your life, you may be facing serious challenges at work or in your relationships. We can’t control a lot of what’s happening around us, but we can take steps to control our reaction to them. Yoga and meditation are powerful tools to help us create tangible space in our reaction time to external events. No matter what’s happening in your day to day, practicing yoga in the morning sets you up for a positive experience.

Moon Energy Yoga
Moon Energy Yoga
Ready to align with the moon? February 10th marked the Lunar New Year, which celebrates the New Year based on the lunar calendar. This week, we’ve got four classes designed to attune your physical and subtle body to the energetics of the moon. Light can’t exist without darkness and vice-versa. Hatha is the physical practice of yoga and “Ha” means sun and “tha” means moon. The sun provides us with light and life, but the moon wields significant power on the Earth and on us. On a grand scale, the moon controls the ocean tides with its gravitational pull. About 71% of the earth is covered by water of which the oceans are 95%. So, as the moon waxes and wanes, it influences everything from fishermen’s livelihood to tsunamis to daredevils surfing fifty-foot waves off the coast of Nazaré. Of course we all feel the moon’s impact on our moods and emotions so aligning with the moon’s energy can be really impactful.

Core and Spine Love
Core and Spine Love
A strong core and a healthy spine go hand in hand. Visualize the muscles of your core, which include your abdominals, back, and glutes, as a natural girdle supporting your spine. Keeping these muscles strong and supple will protect your spine, improve your posture, maintain and improve alignment, and help you avoid lower back pain. Whether you’re taking a yoga class specifically designed to focus on core/spine health or a core/Pilates class, you’ll garner these benefits. Back pain is often the result of weak abdominals, tight hip flexors, and inflexible hamstrings. It’s vital to ensure all three of these elements are addressed to keep your core and spine in optimal health.

And Breathe
And Breathe
B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the yoga teachers credited with bringing yoga to the West taught that pranayama was more advanced than asana. In his classes, he instructed his students to master the physical postures prior to attempting pranayama techniques. Pranayama allows you to sink into deeper meditation. A well-rounded yoga practice includes asana, pranayama, and meditation. What is Pranayama? Pranayama is the practice of extending and regulating your prana or life force. Simply by focusing on mindful breathing, we can learn to change the way we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Simply by utilizing different techniques, you can calm your nervous system, boost your energy, quiet your mind, and soothe your emotions. Pranayama gives you the ability to manage your prana.

Yoga with Style
Yoga with Style
Are you ready to mix it up on your mat? Yoga fusion classes run the gambit of combining yoga with weights, barre, Pilates, HIIT, cardio––the variety is part of the fun! These special classes emphasize getting stronger, but also staying flexible. Whether you are short on time but want to fit in your fitness and your yoga or whether you get bored easily, we’ve got some awesome classes for you.

Short and Effective Classes for Yogis on the Go
Short and Effective Classes for Yogis on the Go
Can you believe we’re more than halfway through January? If you started the year out with the intention to expand or maintain your yoga practice, how is it going? If life has gotten busy and you over-estimated just how much time you actually have, we’re here to make it easier for you to be consistent with your yoga routine. Don’t waste energy stressing about why you’ve not had time to practice yoga as frequently as you would like. Instead, focus on how you can fit in your yoga, even when you’re short on time. Consistency is key to feeling balanced, strong, and flexible. Quality not quantity! You don’t need an hour or ninety-minute practice to garner all the mind, body, and spiritual benefits of yoga. Even fifteen to twenty-minute classes will help you find a better mood, vibrant energy, and a stronger more supple body. Practicing yoga several times a week is an investment in your health––both inside and out. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali referred to yoga as a process of being a gardener or farmer. Each yoga practice is planting seeds for your future health and well-being. You might not see the benefits today but you’re setting yourself up to feel your best tomorrow and beyond.

Yoga All the Time
Yoga All the Time
“The very heart of yoga practice is ‘abyhasa’ steady effort in the direction you want to go.” ― Sally Kempton Has someone told you that you MUST practice yoga in the mornings or the evenings or when the moon is full or fill-in-the-blank? It’s simply not true. No hard and fast rules exist. The best time to practice is when you can step onto the mat! In our busy lives, every day can be different and so you can adapt your practice based on your schedule. One of the greatest benefits of practicing yoga at home or on the road is you choose. There are advantages of practicing at different times.

Twist it Out
Twist it Out
Like a spark of lightning or a crash of thunder, our lives can transform in a flash. We can’t control external events, but we can control our reaction to them. Think of your yoga mat as the preparation zone for the rest of your day. Life isn’t linear, it’s a winding twisting journey so why not twist it out on your mat first? Twists are an excellent way to invite in a feeling of lightness, to release negative thoughts and emotions, to keep your spine healthy, and to benefit your internal organs. Here are 3 ways twists help. This week’s classes focus on twisting postures, not simply to benefit your physical body but serve as a tool to navigate life’s twists and turns. Enjoy!

No Mat (No Excuses!) Standing Yoga
No Mat (No Excuses!) Standing Yoga
Consistency is a concept we discuss frequently in yoga. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1:14 states, sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkarasevito drdhabhumih: Practice that is done for a long time, without break and with sincere devotion becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation. In other words, you must be consistent in your yoga practice to reap the physical, emotional, and mental benefits. A few classes here and there won’t do it. Sometimes it’s simply not feasible to practice full length classes regularly at a studio. One of the biggest benefits of online yoga with us is you can practice anytime and anywhere. Consistency and discipline looks different for all of us. If you’re a YogaDownload yogi, you understand the importance of yoga most days. If you only have fifteen minutes, you can squeeze in a quick practice at home or when you’re traveling. On the days you have plenty of time for a longer class, great! It’s more about the commitment to settling into your breath and movement each day, no excuses.

Yoga for the Holidays
Yoga for the Holidays
Whether you celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, or Kwanza, it’s that hectic yet slow time of the year. Add in that we’re in the midst of Mercury Retrograde––the time when the planet of communication is traveling backward––and you may be feeling off your game. It’s the time of year to release expectations and attachment to how the next few weeks will unfold. According to Patanjali’s Eight Limbed-Yoga Path, the final Yama is Aparigraha which is: A=”not”, the absence of, the freedom from Parigraha=hoarding or collecting. In other words, Aparigraha means not being greedy and not attaching too much importance to possessions, outcomes, and even relationships. Yes, this concept can be confusing. In relation to the holidays, it can be a reminder not to worry too much about what you cannot control.

Yin for the Win
Yin for the Win
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year! Despite our best intentions to maintain our healthy routines and remain balanced and grounded, we often find ourselves feeling stressed out. If you usually practice active, flowing styles of yoga, it might be the perfect time to slow down and focus more on Yin yoga to tide you over to 2024. Yin yoga is a quieter style of yoga that soothes your nerves and relaxes your fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced yogi, you can adapt Yin yoga to your individual abilities and needs.

In a Flow State
In a Flow State
It may sound like a contradiction to discuss flowing and stillness as co-existing, but they actually go hand in hand. Learning to still or quiet your mind and focus on your breath flowing through your body enables you to find your zone, where you stop doing and you’re simply being. When you’re able to filter out distractions, you’re able to access a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process. Perhaps you feel in the zone when you are totally immersed in a favorite activity, like running, surfing, dancing, or gardening.

Mobility = Flexibility
Mobility = Flexibility
You may have heard the terms flexibility and mobility used interchangeably but although they are complementary, there are distinctions. Think of flexibility as the muscle’s ability to stretch passively. Mobility incorporates flexibility but also requires strength to actively move a joint through its full range of motion. It’s important to work on both flexibility and mobility and guess what? Yoga provides a way to improve and maintain both. Mobility and flexibility provide a myriad of benefits to help you feel your best. The combination of both helps you move your body through your full range of motion, whether you’re swinging a golf club, picking up a heavy box, or flowing through chatarangua dandasana. When your muscles are tight or inflexible, they can create restriction of the joints and restrict range of motion.

Empower and Energize
Empower and Energize
Are you ready to feel energized and empowered and embark upon your day? Or do you just feel like lounging on your couch or staying in bed with the covers over your head? If you’ve been feeling stressed out or simply lethargic, yoga is one of the most powerful ways to lift your spirits and feel better. Often, we feel depleted because we are focusing on external events, or we’ve slipped into a pattern of being sedentary. This week, take some time to rebuild your strength, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Choose Your Mindset Each Morning
Choose Your Mindset Each Morning
How do you usually begin your day? And have you noticed how different your day is depending on whether you start out with a ritual or start out running around? Mindset or perception is everything and is a vital concept in yoga philosophy. According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, humans suffer because of our perception. If we can change our viewpoint, if we can polish the lens through which we see the world, we will encounter less suffering.

Slow & Low, That’s the Tempo
Slow & Low, That’s the Tempo
We’ve just survived another time change! In the Northern Hemisphere, we’re moving into Winter with shorter days and much, much longer nights. Even if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and entering summer, you’ve experienced a change in nature, as well. We’re all connected to the earth and life flows along so much more smoothly when we align with the changes in season. Transitions are excellent moments to breathe and experience the shifts. If you usually gravitate toward intense style yoga classes because you feel like you need more work, why not try something different! We promise that a slow flow class won’t be boring or effortless.

Hone Your Technique
Hone Your Technique
Renowned yoga teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar based his system of yoga on proper alignment. He backed up his methods with theory that resonated not just when he was alive but stands the test of time, regardless of what style of yoga you practice. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi––technique matters. There is no perfect pose, but by learning what works best for your body, you can create a yoga practice that will help you feel your best, inside and out. We all have different anatomies, starting from our bones, our joints, our muscles, and our innate ability to move. You don’t have to be naturally flexible or strong to practice yoga.

Unravel from Travel
Unravel from Travel
Hello fellow travelers, how are you feeling this week? Have you been consistent in your practice? Are you feeling grounded yet energized, calm yet revitalized? If you’re on the road right now or just returned from a vacation or work trip, it’s possible you’ve skipped yoga and regular workouts. You’re not alone but never fear, we’re here to keep you on track and/or ignite your desire to step back onto your mat. Part of why we created YogaDownload is for yogis who prefer to practice at home. But another part of our vision was to provide a portable platform (hello App!) so you can maintain your flexibility, mobility, and fitness when you’re on the road. And once you’ve returned home, you can press play and center yourself in familiar territory. Stepping back into your routine will have you feeling balanced in no time.

Reset and Renew: Take a Break!
Reset and Renew: Take a Break!
You know how you’re accustomed to powering off your phone or computer when it’s not working properly? You’ve tried everything else but sometimes the only thing that fixes the issue is shutting it down. Allow the screen to fade to black and hit the pause button before starting over fresh. Well, sometimes, we need to power off our brains, our bodies, and our hearts. Between global events and our personal lives, sometimes it is simply time for a total reset. By implementing rituals like yoga, meditation, and pranayama, we can clear out the noise from the inside out and reset our systems to better handle whatever may be unfolding next in our lives.