Root Chakra: Ground Yourself

The first chakra is the beginning of life force. It is associated with our roots, our survival, and our connection with the earth. The first chakra says "I am here," "I have all I need," and "I have purpose." It is the wheel of energy that grounds the body.

If you find yourself constantly needing to escape, living in a fantasy, or not really feeling "all there" this could be an issue in grounding. Anxiety as well as fear are the results of unhealthy cycles in the first chakra. Practice grounding exercises to connect the body with the energy of the earth, and fear will start to dissipate.

When energy is flowing freely through all of the chakras, one can experience a heightened state of consciousness. Energy flows from the base of the spine upward to the third eye and back down again like an electric current. To set our chakras in alignment, begin with awareness in the first chakra and work upwards:

ROOTS:

In order to set the flow of energy within our chakras we must first be aware of our roots deep within the earth. At the base of our spine we have nerve endings that connect to our legs and feet. The nerve endings resemble roots and they react to the energy in the ground beneath our feet. They are the base of the nervous system.

The entity that connects our being with the earth is gravity: A basic first chakra principle. Gravitation brings energy into form. The gravitational pull of the earth pulls the physical body to position, giving it place on the earth. Knowledge of our roots and their pull to deep within the earth helps to ground and center us as we realize that we are apart of the grand cycle of life energy.

Remind yourself: "I am here."

SURVIVAL:

Associated with the first chakra are our basic survival instincts- our basis for what we need to live. A healthy energy in the first chakra will allow us to know that we have all we need on the earth. We do not lack anything but all we need is within us. We are all connected and we have a right to be here on this earth. Believe that you have everything you need.

Remind yourself: "I have all I need."

CONNECTION:

The more we feel connection with the earth, the more we will feel purpose.

There is freedom from anxiety when you feel your energy flowing in tune with the earth as a whole. Our being is one yet connected with all of earth at the same time. We are ever evolving, growing, and changing like all of nature on the planet. When we connect with this energy we become actively aware of the present moment and what we need to do.

Remind yourself: "I have purpose."

Tips to connect with the earth:

  • Go somewhere in nature where you can go barefoot to feel the grass or dirt under your toes.
  • Play with the earth. The natural earth is designed like a playground, so let yourself play!
  • Observe the ground and how everything rests on it. Feel the energy pulsing from beneath it.
  • Play with the dirt, don't be afraid to get dirty. Maybe even give yourself a mud bath.
  • Play with gravity.
  • Go for a run and feel the gravitational pull as you move.
  • Some of the best therapy for fear and anxiety is to get in nature and play!

Poses to activate the first chakra:

  • The Bridge Pose
  • Half Locust and Full Locust
  • The Elephant Pose
  • Head to Knee Pose

Quiet Your Mind During the Holiday Clutter

The holidays often start long before any specific date, and likewise, usually last until long after. Family may be staying in town, or you may find yourself still doing some last minute gift giving or traveling to see old friends.

At this point in your "break" you may find yourself looking for ways to quiet your mind and maintain balance, as its natural for your body and mind to take time and adjust to your new surroundings. It can be difficult, especially if you're away from home and the usual spots you prefer to sit and meditate, but it's not impossible. Consider these few techniques for regaining mental clarity, and try applying them to your own holiday (or sharing them with a stressed loved one!).

Get Present with yourself

First, get comfortable where you are. The most important thing is to let go of that feeling of rushing around, and that means you need to let go of anticipations and get present with the moment at hand. Take a few deep breathes and allow your body to relax and come to itself. Don't worry about adjusting yourself as much as feeling where your body is. Think about where you body was before the holiday, and consider what's changed. Take a moment to just work through a few sets of breathing, focusing on the inhalation and release of your breathe.

Remember the Heart of the Holiday

With your mind tuned to the present moment, I suggest taking a few minutes to reflect not on the past events of the holidays, but on the inherent purpose and heart of the holidays. What holiday did you celebrate, and why? What does it mean to you, and what does it mean in general? This about this for a moment before moving on.

Often times, our adoration for the mission of a holiday eclipses our actual actions, putting us at odds with the very reason we are so jubilant. Stores lines become long, parking lots become full, and naturally people become frustrated. Perhaps you had a frustrated bout or two over the last few weeks. It's not something to be ashamed of (in fact, dealing with these challenges is where we develop the mindfulness and strength to improve future action!). Instead, what's most important is to constantly remind yourself of the purpose that has brought your friends and family together over the holiday. By doing so, you calm yourself in stressful situations and will notice a certain lightness about your step – some might say that's the holiday spirit!

Make Time for You

The holidays are certainly a time for giving, but you must remember that you – your vessel – is still deserving of attention and affection. It can be tough to step out of the family environment at times, and sometimes family can make it even harder to go, but by allowing yourself short periods of rest and solitude. Go for a short walk, a jog, or a simply go spend an hour at a cozy coffee shop, perhaps catching up on that book you recently started.

Keep Yourself Balanced

Over the next few days, remember to focus not just on the energy around you but the energy within you. Maintain balance by remaining present with yourself. Take time to both reflect on why you're celebrating a holiday and how your treating yourself while you  do it. The holiday is supposed to be a time of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation – let it be!


3 Exercises to Complement Your Practice

Yoga is both a spiritual and physical practice, and depending on the type and intensity of your practice, your body can seriously benefit from your daily sessions. From developing your longer, lean muscles to improving core strength, flexibility, and balance, yoga is a great way to tune and center the body in a healthy lifestyle.

But for some, yoga alone isn't enough when thinking about improving fitness – perhaps you're training for an decathlon or have a specific fitness goal. With this in mind, let's explore a few exercises that specifically complement yoga and can help add variety and new challenges to your work out routine.

1. Cardio (Running, Swimming, Hiking)

There is some debate if yoga (even hot yoga) really counts as cardio. Truth is, it doesn't really provide a vigorous enough exercise to keep the heart rate up, unless you're committing to brisk, continuously sun salutations.

This is where complementing your practice with a regular cardio exercise can really benefit body.

First, depending on your choice of cardio exercise, you'll be targeting specific muscle groups that will be stressed for growth. Hiking, running, or jogging have some great examples of this, improving strength in the legs (quadriceps, calves, glutes), torso and back (obliques, lower back), and shoulders and arms if you hike with a pack or use hiking poles (deltoids, trapezious muscles). These exercises can also improve joint and bone strength, and even better, can help clear a cluttered mind.

Beyond building muscle mass, though, it's important to remember that cardio is an aerobic exercise, meaning it puts stress on the heart and lungs, demanding large amounts of oxygen. This encourages these vital organs to become strengthened, evening helping to aid in respiratory ailments like lung disease.

2. Bouldering or Rock Climbing

Another great complementary exercise to yoga is bouldering or rock climbing. If you've never attempted to climb before, it can be a little strange your first time. But one thing will be apparent – your agility and dexterity when combined with the need for brute strength and balance.

First, this type of exercise does a great job at working a variety of muscle groups and tendons, throughout the back, arms, and legs, knees, and feet, as the various levels and "courses" put climbers in unique positions, often needed to use multiple limbs in tandem with each other. Mixing just a bit of calisthenics with rock climbing can provide a significantly taxing exercise for body (meaning more muscle built).

Next though, bouldering/rock climbing also is an exercise I've found to quiet the mind. In yoga, there is an emphasis on a still yet very aware state of being, where one doesn't so much seek things around them as they do to allow things around them to come. Just by doing simple climbs, you'll discover that throughout the climb, your mind is acutely focused on the present moment, a goal many of us seek in meditation. I've found that reflecting on this experience can help you return to in during your yoga sessions.

3. Tightroping and Slack Lining

Similar in both it's symbol and the muscles exercised, tightroping or slack lining as an exercise can be a great addition to a yoga practice. Where yoga is slow, calm, and centered, slack lining requires a certain jubilance of energy and ferocity – you'll be jumping on to a rope about a half inch across, after all. As in yoga, your mind is focused on maintaining a specific posture, and bodily awareness is a distinct element to both exercises. As with yoga (and our last exercise mentioned), slack lining also places emphasis on continued focus.

Keep Exercise Varied

Key to keep in mind is that an active lifestyle is one that provides a various amount of exercise for the body. Remember to work different parts of your body regularly, even if it just means adding a few reps of pushups in your day. For the most success, find a complementary exercise that you personally enjoy, making it easy to add as a commitment.


Atma and the Ocean of Consciousness

"The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you." - David Lynch

The science of consciousness is called "Vedic science." It is the study of the laws of nature, the constitution of the universe and how it all unfolds in creation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi refers to this science as an ocean of pure consciousness.

In Vedic science the ocean of pure consciousness is called "Atma," the self; "Know thyself." How do you reach this state of connection with nature, and the constitution of the laws of the universe itself? By knowing yourself. And how do you know yourself? By meditating. Deep meditation allows you to dive deep within yourself and reach the ocean of pure consiousness. And each time that you reach this place you can grow more and more until you reach enlightenment.

The Conscious Experience

When you reach this ocean of pure consciousness you experience pure joy, and bliss. It's like being wrapped up in a cloud and only seeing white light. No worry, no expectations, no negativity. Just pure joy. What is comforting is that we all can reach this place of transcendence and access this light any time we choose. The better we get at meditating the easier it is to experience this ocean of bliss throughout all we do during the day.

The reason that it gets easier is because naturally our mind wants to experience this state of pure bliss.

A Natural State of Joy

One of the main motivating factors in this life is happiness because your mind in its most natural state is joyful and content in an ocean of purity. It's something that is already inside of us, not something that we have to go find and obtain. The key to reaching this happiness isn't material, or a certain success in this life. Most things in life that promise happiness leave us empty and searching for more. When we base our happiness on the material things in life, we will always want the next best thing, always consuming and never giving. We might get that great job, or a promotion that we thought would make us happy and instead it just brought new stress along with that bigger pay-check.

The key to happiness lies in knowledge of the self by diving deep into the transcendence of light. It is here we have access to the keys of the universe, it is here we can play, create and have the joy that our mind is searching for.

There are so many distractions of the everyday life that demand our attention that we have to take the time in order to dip into this ocean of consciousness.

Once we do, we will "Know thyself." By dipping into "Atma" we will feel happier, and have more to give to the world around us.


Top 5 Yoga Retreats for 2015

Part of a healthy yoga practice is making time for rest, relaxation, and the rejuvenation of your body and mind. While it can feel hard to get away times, making the conscious effort to plan ahead and set aside vacation time can do a lot for  managing stress and keeping yourself centered and balanced. We've handpicked five of the best yoga retreats for 2015, detailed below. Your next retreat is closer than you think!

1. Yoga Rocks Retreat to Triopetra

Off the coast of Greece rests the island of Crete, the country's largest and most populous island, and on the pristine southern coast, you'll find Triopertra Beach. Named after the three rocks just off the coast, this magical destination provides a serene environment, perfect for meditation, daily yoga, and relaxation. The Yoga Rocks Retreat has quickly become a favorite in the region, offering week long retreats with luxurious yet homely accommodations, often overlooking the sprawling undeveloped beaches. Each retreat is rounded off with a celebratory feast at a traditional Cretan taverna, making this an delightfully authentic and incredibly intent-filled escape for any yogi.

2. Shoals Yoga Retreat to Tulum, Mexico

On the white sandy beaches of Tulum, Mexico, the Shoals Yoga Retreat offers one our favorite places to unwind and relax. Just a short journey away from Mayan ruins and cenotes, this blissful stretch of paradise will help you reach awareness of the present moment and truly ease the quieting of the mind. For those who love to be pampered, the retreat also provides some of the finest Swedish and deep tissue massages, as well as bio-energy work based on Ayurvedic principles. For the adventurer, you're able to hop in the sea within minutes and swim with local wildlife, like the local sea turtles.

3. Yoga Breaks in Spain

Located in sunny Alicante, Spain, Yoga Breaks is all about energizing the body while also providing a source of rest and relaxation. Seasonally themed, you'll be able to choose from a variety of activities to enjoy with your day to day, including hiking, pilates, horse back riding, and rejuvenating therapies. The owners of the retreat also traditionally use local venues for yoga practice, adding a bit of exploration to your trip!

4. Summer Solstice Yoga Retreat Greece

Found on the Ionian sea, on the Greek island of Ithaca, you'll discover an enchanting experience during the Summer Solstice – an incredible yoga retreat themed with the changing of seasons in mind. It's here that Greek sunshine mingles with unforgettable foods, passionate practitioners, and an supremely serene sense of calmness and solitude.

5. Yoga & Diving Cruise Indonesia

Yoga Natura offers a truly unique form of yoga: traveling yoga! With classes offered throughout the year, each in unique parts of the world (like Morocco, Spain, or Indonesia) you can align your adventurous, wanderlust soul with Sandra Bicker's own passion for new places and new people. We suggest checking out the diving cruise on the crystal clear turquoise sea in Indonesia, which starts in September.

6. Win a Trip from Yogi Surprise!

Did you know you could also win a yoga retreat, simply by being a member of Yogi Surprise and joining in our monthly giveaway? Every month, we select a new yoga retreat to giveaway to our members, all expenses paid. In the past, we've featured retreats close to home, like Kalani in Hawaii, and this month, we're sending one lucky member to the Sea of Cortez off eastern coast of Baja California. Next month, it could be you!

Plan for a Retreat

With an amazing, prosperous year ahead of you, start planning now and make sure you provide yourself with plenty of that well earned me-time. Changing your surroundings and exposing yourself to new practitioners in new places can truly transform your practice, bringing you closer to balance and understanding of the self. Go out there and explore!


Free Boxes for Life!

Free Boxes For Life!

For every 3 friends you invite that join Yogi Surprise, a free box is on us! There's no limit to how many friends you invite. So 1000 friends would earn you 333 free boxes!


5 Yoga Subscriptions to Support Your Practice

Part of following the path of yoga is understanding that it is indeed a journey – one doesn't simply become enlightened, forever moving forward with infallibility. Instead, yoga understands that we are continuously faced with changing circumstances, and by practicing bodily and spiritual awareness, we can make the decisions that most benefit us and the world around us (decisions based on such things as The Five Yamas).

Simply put: life's challenges will very likely never go away, but how you choose to react to them and live your life is what decides how happy you truly are.

Yoga is then a very daily practice, and here at Yogi Surprise, we're always looking for new sources of inspiration that can help keep us focused on our practice. What we've discovered is that there are number of communities and free sources of information that can fuel a powerful yogi. Here are some our favorite subscriptions – we hope they're as useful to you as they've been to us:

1. Headspace

Meditation is one of the best things you can do for the mind – it can change the shape of your brain, increase longevity, and help you better enjoy your life. Even so, it can often be tough for many people. The mind is so busy, and making time each day to meditate can seem impossible.

Headspace makes meditation easy, and whether you're a beginner or pro, it can do a lot for your practice. Learn more at Headspace.

2. Yoga Works

Can't find yoga classes near you or does your schedule just not allow for a common practice time? You can still learn online, and Yoga Works is a great source for educational videos and tools to refine and perfect your practice. Over 500 classes are organized by level and difficulty, making it easy to find new poses at your level.

3. Om Magazine

Om Magazine has a very fundamental belief: it's not just about doing yoga, it's about living it. From articles on 'Problem Poses' to 'Taming My Monkey Mind,' the magazine breathes a light, humorous tone around the oh-so-common thoughts and confessions of yogis everywhere, while offering powerful advice and lessons that are worth reflecting on.

4. Gaiam TV

Gaiam TV is perhaps one of the best sources of inspirational and informative content for the yoga community. Gaiam offers original programming, movies, and fitness and yoga tips and practices. Plus, it has content appropriate for the whole family, making it a great choice for the homes with children.

5. Yogi Surprise

You guessed it! Among our favorite subscriptions is Yogi Surprise – a yoga retreat in a box. With organic superfood snacks, inspiring content, and copious amounts of intent and love packed in every box, it makes for the perfect complement to your yoga practice. Plus, you can even win an all expense paid Yoga Retreat! Subscribe today! 


9 Last Minute Gift Ideas for Your Yoga Friends

With the holiday on our heels, you might be scrambling to pick the perfect present for your yoga buddies. Worry not – we've got the perfect gift ideas that are guaranteed to delight all yogis, whether they're new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner.

1. Yoga Poster

Sometimes the thing we need most is a little bit of reinforcement. Consider the simple, yet powerful presence of a yoga poster (or any positive motivational or inspirational posture). Choose something that reinforces a good principle, or think hard on what message your friend would really benefit from. Provide them with that constant reminder, and support their passionate and purpose!

2. Vegan Chocolate Box

Just about everyone loves good chocolate, and not many make better chocolates than Chocoveda. 100% vegan and crafted with purpose, this delightful chakra-inspired chocolate box will swoon tastebuds while encouraging the mind to consider the lessons of balance and positive thinking.

3. Yogitoes Skidless Towel

A favorite towel among yogis, this is the perfect gift for the daily practitioner. A super hygienic, extra absorbant addition to the yoga mat, the Skidless Towel helps keep the mind focused on posture and clarity, not worrying about a squirming or poorly gripping yoga mat.

4. Yummi Yogi cookie cutters

These awesome little yogis shape the poses you know and love in deliciously cookie shapes. The perfect gift for the yogi friend who loves to spend time in kitchen (or at least make cookies), these playful, cute, and inspired cookie cutters make for a perfect gift. Mindfulness with every bite!

5. Lululemon Blissed Out Circle Scarf

Made with natural Merino Wool, this reversible extra-long length Blissed Out Circle Scarf is a comfortable, conscious way to beat the seasonal cold. Warm, cozy, and fashionable, it makes for a great gift that's guaranteed to be a hit with any yogi friend.

6. A Yoga Retreat

This month, we've got a special offer: 4 nights off the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula. While one lucky member of ours will win the vacation, this promotional offer from Villa del Palmar at Loretto is open to all of our members (and readers!). Daily yoga and meditation classes on the beach, unlimited access to fitness trainers, and facials/massages from an experienced and passionate staff. Don't miss it!

7. A Yoga Retreat in a Box!

Hand-packed with love and intent, Yogi Surprise is the perfect gift for yogis at any level. Delicious organic & vegetarian snacks find home alongside purpose driven products, like Yoga Straps, Tiger's Eye Mala beads, and natural tools to cleanse your space and aura. Your giftee could also win the retreat (#6 in our list!). Subscribe today!

8. Singing Bowl

Singing bowls are powerful additions to any yoga practice, and because each is custom made, no two are exactly alike. Show your love this season by gifting one of these artisanly crafted Singing Bowl, and make your loved one smile ear to ear with gratitude!

9. A Yoga-Powered Subscription

There are a ton of tools you can use to support and empower your practice: check out our favorite five. Each built with the healthy, balanced practice in mind, a yoga-powered subscription makes for a constant source of inspiration and creativity, and you can rest assured knowing your loved one is gaining from gift everyday.


Creating more Space for Cozy Me-Time Moments

Cozy is a feeling, as well as an ambiance, and only you know what can help to create these moments to their fullest. It’s up to you to carve out the intentions of warmth, clarity and creation in your day.

Morning

Before you pour your morning cup of hot tea or coffee, slip into a robe and slide on your fuzzy slippers. Get your body in a place where you can awaken from a place of comfort, and then revitalize your energy by washing your face with warm water and a citrus essential oil soap. The soothing skin cleansing ritual will clear space for fresh energy, preparing you for a nourishing breakfast before you start your day.

Afternoon

Whether you are at your desk or out and about around lunchtime, commit to a few moments when you can unplug and ground down. If you are craving an energy shift, enjoy a walk, run, bike ride or yoga session — the movement will then allow you to settle your energy into cozy productivity for the remainder of the daylight, whether that is spent engaged in a project, catching up on correspondence or baking some wholesome treats.

Evening 

The hours when the day is winding down is the ideal time to really embrace some quality me-time moments. Be sure to nourish yourself and your loved ones with a delicious and nutrient-rich dinner, putting love and strength back into what may feel depleted. Let your day fall away with a hot bath or some herbal tea, and then set aside a little time to spend with a good book.

If we allow ourselves to relax and cozy up, we smooth any harsh details or deadlines that are breaking our balance. Once cozy becomes more than a warm fire and a fuzzy blanket — once you can embody that state of peace — then you can take it with you in any moment, wherever you go.


restore and renew practice|yogi surprise

Practices That Restore and Rejuvenate

What's the very first thing you do when your eyes open in the morning?

This is the ideal moment for setting the tone for our day. It's where our first ritual begins.

Every day is an opportunity for a refreshing look at the world and our place in it. It doesn't have to happen the moment we wake up. We can reset at any point during the day. But if we do it at the very beginning of the day, we have that much more time to work towards daily goals that encourage feelings of contentment and clarity about our desires.

Each day offers us a fresh start, a new outlook, and opens us up to every possibility we can imagine

Let's trend towards deciding on what we're not going to do anymore. It lends permission to scolding thoughts, and we don't have time for those.

Developing a habit of dedicating time to each morning to reflect on the present and how grateful we are for the current life we are living by revisiting our fortunate circumstances and goals we are in the midst of pursuing will connect us to the day and all the beauty that lays in wait.

We've all hit snooze a few times too many, it requires us to hightail it through the getting ready to leave the house process in a jarring way. It forces us to condense the morning into a chug of coffee, grabbing the first outfit we can get our hands on and a too quick brushing of our teeth to get where we need to be on time. And on those mornings, it's tempting to allow the tone for our day to be one of rushing, not being present or grateful and ignoring what really matters.

4 ways to refocus on rejuvenation any time of day

Do this in the morning whenever possible. But when it's not, find a few moments as early in the day as you can to poise yourself to have the very best a single day can offer. Our goals are what keep us focused, excited, and leaning into the present that offers us a future we can revel in.

  • Begin with 'Thank you'. Say it out loud and often. You can direct your thank yous to anything or anyone. "Thank you pillow for helping me have such a restful night of sleep. Thank you coffee for already being made. Thank you person whom I love for being the first face I see upon opening my eyes." Being grateful for what we already have positions us smack dab in the sights of reaching our desired goals and rejuvenating our spirt.
  • Reach for your journal instead of your phone or tablet. Write down any interesting memories from your dreams, goals for the day, creative ideas, quotes you want guiding you, and things you feel especially happy about. Even if it's just one word, that word has as much power as you give it. It fuels our fires.
  • Practice. Whether it's a short meditation, breath work, or asana, practice with intention and gusto. If you only have two minutes, make those minutes count. Practicing sets us up for success and gives our brain a rest from the zillions of thoughts that race around whenever we don't let it relax.
  • Set an intention. If touchstones help you, use them. Bracelets and pocket-sized crystals are terrific for this. "I will be more patient. I'll be a better listener. I'll slow down today. I'll reach out to three friends I haven't talked to for awhile. I'll finish my proposal. I'll be outside as much as possible. Today, I'll be the most mindful version of myself."  There is no judgment when it comes to intention. You're the only one who needs to understand how it influences and affects you. Knowing that helps you offer more to the world around you simply by thinking and acting with intention. Knowing what we are doing and WHY we are doing it makes all the difference. It will revamp your connection to your soul.

The beauty of these exercises is you can do them as many times throughout the day as you need or want. It can be in your car, walking to meet a friend for lunch, right before making a call to a colleague, or answering an email.

We all need practices. Denying ourselves these simple yet highly effective pleasures that help us firmly press the reset button halts our ability to be as present as we'd like. Give it a go. I did this practice immediately before writing this and I feel so excited about the day ahead. I wish the same for you.

 

Reset Every day

Yogi Surprise helps you endeavor to be your best self with a monthly offering of yoga products designed to help you rejuvenate and realize your goals, dreams, and deepest desires. Join today and find both the touchstones and tools that will assist you along your specific path.