Longevity Secrets From a 120-Year-Old Monk

Longevity Secrets From a 120-Year-Old Monk

Age really is a strange thing. We can find ourselves feeling like children again at age 90 or we can feel like our lives are already over at age 25.

Whatever we feel, most of us can probably agree that we don’t really want to die young. Living a healthy life without any health complications well into our 80s or 90s sure would be nice and is a common longevity goal for a lot of people, but would you ever consider aiming to live past 120 if you knew it was possible?

In a truly inspiring article published by the Bangkok Post, a 120-year-old Indian monk (born in 1896) named Swami Sivananda claims to be the oldest person alive and is entering into to the Guinness Book of World Records. He admitted to having three big secrets to longevity.

Yoga

Sivananda’s physical appearance and fitness level is impressive for his age, and he accredits much of it to a daily yoga practice. Looking at his photos, he barely looks a day over 60.

This isn’t a man who does a light 20-minute yoga session a few times a week either. He practices yoga for hours a day and was actually interviewed for this particular story after a two-hour yoga session.

Discipline

Sivananda said he lives and eats very simply. A man who grew up extremely poor and went to sleep many nights on an empty stomach, he admits to avoiding “fancy foods” like fruit or milk even today.

He said that he sticks to boiled food like rice and lentil stew with some green chillies, but no spices or oils are added to it. He also sleeps on a mat on the floor every night using a wooden slab as his pillow.

Celibacy

Abstaining from sex is Sivananda’s third secret to living a long and healthy life. He was orphaned at age six and then handed off to a spiritual guru by his other relatives, still living an independent life of his own today and even traveling alone when he chooses to do so.

While two hours of yoga, a strict diet of boiled rice, a piece of wood to sleep with, and complete abstinence from sex certainly is far too strict for the average person in today’s modern world to adhere to in terms of a disciplined lifestyle, a glimpse into Sivananda’s everyday life paints a picture of what many of us are so completely out of touch with these days...

The peace we can find in living more simply.

Maintaining Simplicity

“Earlier people were happy with fewer things,” Sivananda explained in the interview. “Nowadays people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot. I just want people to be happy, healthy, and peaceful.”

As you might have already guessed, Sivananda isn’t a fan of modern technology and prefers to go without it. He originally had no interest in entering into the Guinness Book of World Records because of the publicity it would attract, but he was eventually persuaded by his followers.

Let this story of Swami Sivananda the 120-year-old healthy and happy monk inspire you to reflect on your own life and identify areas that may be overly complicated. Seek to simplify them in ways that restore that connection between yourself and all of nature for better peace of mind and a healthier body.


Give Your Workspace a Yogi-Inspired Makeover

Give Your Workspace a Yogi-Inspired Makeover

“What you are will show in what you do.” - Thomas Edison

Whether you’re heading back to school after the summer or just planning to finally declutter your desk in your home office, a workspace that’s both functional and pleasing to the eye is what will set you up for optimal productivity when it’s time to get down to work.

As a yogi, weaving hints of nature, self-love, and oneness into your workspace can help you get focused and sustain your workflow as you work. A workspace that looks dull and dreary in a way that reminds you of the drudgery of work is no way to set yourself up for success.

Here’s are a few beautiful, yogi-inspired ideas to dress up your workspace. Take these ideas and customize them the way you like!

Add a Plant or Two

Besides the fact that houseplants are welcoming little pieces of nature from the outside that can offer a calming effect, research has actually shown that workers who keep flowers or plants on their desks experience improved concentration and task performance. Pretty neat, right? Take it a step further by choosing a plant that purifies the air — like the snake plant, the Boston fern, or the peace lily.

Charge It Up With Crystals

If you’re interested in harnessing the healing powers of crystals, keeping one on your desk is an easy way to do just that. Sodalite is great for boosting creativity while hematite can help you focus on your work. If prosperity is more along the lines of what you’re looking for, try a tiger’s eye for attracting profits or citrine for a promotion.

Use Colors of Abundance

If you know anything about the art of Feng Shui, then you know that there are quite a few dos and don’ts to follow when it comes to interior design. An easy way incorporate Feng Shui design into your workspace is by picking a color theme that attracts abundance. Purple, gold, green and red are colors of abundance, so try adding a green mousepad here or a gold stationary holder there.

Stimulate the Mind With Scents

Essential oils like lemon, cypress, peppermint and several others have long been used to help people stay focused and alert. Using an essential oil diffuser, try combining some oils to boost your mind power. Go for 3 drops of rosemary plus 2 drops of lemon — or 4 drops of cypress and 1 drop of peppermint. Make sure you handle them safely to prevent accidents!

Keep It Minimal

Last but not least, don’t go overboard on recreating your workspace. Yogi philosophy teaches us to let go of attachment to things, which we often fall into when we unconsciously think that we need things outside of ourselves to fulfill us. There’s nothing wrong with using decorative accessories to authentically express yourself or to help you work, but anything unnecessary should be removed.

Bonus tip: If you can put your workspace near a window, the added benefit of an outdoor view and natural light can give you a serious inspirational boost. If not, that’s okay — stick to the desk plants and maybe consider adding a framed piece of art picturing a gorgeous green landscape or some ocean waves rolling up on a beach!

Image (edited) via Sean Hobson


7 Bad Health Habits Yoga Can Help You Eliminate

7 Bad Health Habits Yoga Can Help You Eliminate

Yoga can be a life-changing journey. It can help you discover new things about yourself and the world around you in ways that no other exercise regime or trendy diet can.

While it does take time, patience, persistence, as well as an open heart and mind before you may be able to see some of these seemingly miraculous changes, they’re certainly accessible to anyone who’s willing to develop their practice. Bad health habits that you didn’t even know you really had may be transformed or completely eliminated for the better.

Here are just a few examples of common bad habits that often go unnoticed for lots of people. Yoga can help you become more aware of them if they apply to your life.

1. Obsessing Over the Scale

Yogi philosophy teaches us not to become attached to a particular outcome, and for many, the idea of working toward a goal weight is especially difficult to let go of in their minds. Bringing together mind, body, and spirit in our practice, we’re encouraged to expand our awareness so that we may become curious about our physical bodies and observe our mental processes from a calm distance. This allows us to develop unconditional self-love just as we are in the present.

2. Overtraining

Cardio workouts and strength training can both be pretty taxing on the body. Do it 5 or 6 times a week for a prolonged period and your body may show signs of overtraining — like fatigue, injury, mood changes, sleep problems, or an increased resting heart rate. While you can definitely work up a good sweat with yoga, it’s a very low-impact form of activity and certain styles like restorative yoga are wonderful for nurturing your body while keeping everything balanced.

3. Forgetting to Stretch

It’s always ideal to stretch a little after warming up before a workout and then taking a little extra time to stretch as you cool down. This helps to improve flexibility and prevent injury, but it also means taking extra time to do this before and after your main traditional workout. The great thing about yoga is that in most practices that aren’t simply just meditative, flexibility is worked right into the sequences.

4. Eating ‘Healthy’ Processed Foods

Is food really healthy if it’s heavily processed? Anyone on a regular diet or fitness journey may only be concerned with calories, fat, carbs, and protein, but yoga teaches us to connect with Mother Nature and become more conscious about what we put into our bodies. Many yogis are vegetarians and vegans who aim to eat organic foods that are as close to their natural states as possible.

5. Not Breathing Properly

Failing to learn how to inhale and exhale properly during physical activity can cause your performance to suffer and even make you feel faint or nauseous — especially if it's high-intensity. It’s an integral part of yoga to synchronize the breath with our body movement so we can build our strength, remain calm when we have to hold uncomfortable poses, sink deeper into certain poses, and elegantly flow through the sequences. There’s perhaps no better form of physical activity than yoga that gets you in touch with your breath.

6. Not Listening to Your Body

As we work hard to eat very specific healthy foods and work out in very specific ways, sometimes it’s easy for us to get caught up in making sure we're always checking those tasks off our daily to-do lists even when our bodies are asking us to change something. This is how overtraining, injury, weight loss plateaus, stress, anxiety, sleep problems, cravings, and all sorts of other things can manifest. Yoga naturally helps us become more mindful about tuning into the subtle signs our bodies are giving us so we can nurture them accordingly.

7. Avoiding Inner Change

Lastly, yoga has one huge advantage over traditional diet and fitness plans, and that’s the component of personal growth that happens on a very deep, individual level. Other diet and fitness plans often place all emphasis on developing the physical body and not enough on developing the mental or emotional parts of ourselves. Yoga is the most well-rounded, integrative practice you can do. After all, it’s not just a fitness trend — it’s a way of life!

Image (edited) via Kane Z Chen


Natural Ways to Balance Hormones

Natural Ways to Balance Hormones

Hormones act like chemical messengers that flow through your bloodstream after being secreted by your endocrine glands (like the thyroid and the pituitary gland) so that they can help regulate all the different and intricate ways that your body functions — from sleep and appetite, to reproductive function and mental alertness. Balanced hormones ensures you’ll feel great, look great, and be able to go about your day performing tasks and actions at your best ability.

Although they sure can be tricky to figure out, imbalanced hormones can be at the root of all sorts of different health issues. According to WebMD, common signs of a hormonal imbalance include weight loss difficulties, sleep problems, digestive issues, sluggishness, a low libido, food cravings, stress, depression and more.

If you experience any one of the above issues or think something might be seriously off, it’s always best to speak to your doctor about it. But in the meantime, several lifestyle changes can be made to help to potentially aid in rebalancing your hormones.

Try an Elimination Diet

Sometimes certain foods or entire food groups can be what's causing sluggishness, weight problems or other issues. Even if you don’t suspect something you’re eating could be at the root of the problem, sometimes you never known until you take it away and then reintroduce it later. You may want to consider eliminating gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, peanuts, corn, alcohol, caffeine, or even eggs one at a time for a couple of weeks to see if it has an effect on you.

Improve Your Sleep Environment

Lying in bed for a good 7 to 8 hours at night is fine, but how’s your sleep quality? Poor sleep quality prevents your body from getting the rest and restoration it needs, which is indeed made possible by the hormonal shifts that occur during different stages of sleep. Try limiting use of blue light-emitting devices before bed, avoid caffeine and sugar after lunch, lower the temperature slightly below normal (or crack a window if the weather is cool enough), and consider doing something relaxing like a body scan meditation to help improve sleep.

Practice Restorative Yoga

When it comes to imbalanced hormones, intense physical activity may only exasperate the problem. Shift your practice to something more restorative with an emphasis on stillness and slow, gentle movement. This type of yoga is designed to calm and relax your entire body by soothing your nervous system and encouraging mindfulness. Any other relaxing activities you can do in addition to your yoga practice — like leisurely walking, going for a massage, or taking a bath — can also go a long way.

Rethink Your Scented Products

This may be a bit of a long shot, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to consider it. Slowly but surely, start replacing chemical-based products you used that are heavily perfumed with natural alternatives. Think cosmetics, cleaners, detergents, air fresheners, and candles. The Environmental Working Groups has everything you need to know about the 12 biggest endocrine disruptors plus tips on how to avoid them – so you may even want to go beyond the stuff that’s scented and aim to replace everything that contains these chemicals.

None of the above lifestyle shifts are absolutely guaranteed to balance out your hormones, but they’re certainly worth moving toward just for the sake of making healthy lifestyle improvements. Try tracking your habit changes and how your feel in a daily journal so you’ll have something to go by if you decide that you need to see your doctor.

 


Yoga Arm Balances

Simple Beginner Tips for Yoga Arm Balances

Yoga Arm Balances - Some Simple Tips

Yoga arm balances are those poses where only your arms are in contact with the floor — which can seem intimidating and even impossible to beginners or to those who aren’t used to activating the strength of their upper bodies. Not only do you have to hold yourself up with the strength of your arms and core, but you also have to somehow figure out how to balance out the weight of your whole body too!

Luckily, yoga arm balances are not just for advanced yogis. No matter how experienced or inexperienced you may be, you can learn how to do them. Everybody is different, and while some people may be able to master them in as little as a a week, for others it could take months or even years.

If you’re just stepping into arm balances, here are some beginner tips you may want to consider.

Build Strength

Not all arm balances involve balancing on just the arms. Poses like plank, dolphin plank, side plank and even good old chaturanga dandasana are all considered arm balances, but these all involve keeping the feet on the ground as well. They do, however, challenge the upper body and core, which is exactly what you need if you want to work up to balancing solely on your arms. Making simpler arm balances like these a regular part of your practice will help you build the strength and confidence you’ll need to seamlessly lift yourself up from the floor with the power of your arms at some point in the future.

Help Your Hands

Yoga arm balances can be quite tough on the hands and wrists, so if you experience any weakness or pain, make sure to speak to your doctor first in case you have reason to lay off the arm balances. If it’s safe to do so, consider doing some helpful hand, finger, and wrist exercises to help strengthen and improve your range of motion. Check out this previous Yogi’s Journal post for a few exercises that can help strengthen your yogi hands.

Go for Crow

Once you feel confident enough about the strength of your upper body and wrists, you may want to start with a modified crow pose. Crow pose (bakasana, pictured above) is probably the most basic yoga arm balance to practice if you’re looking to eventually take your feet right off the floor, making it great for beginners. After warming up, you can place a pillow beneath your head, squat down, and practice placing your knees on the back of your arms as you spread your fingers wide on the ground and play around with balancing your weight. For a modified crow pose, you don’t have to take your toes off the ground just yet. When you’re ready, however, you can take one toe off the ground until you feel confident enough to take both off!

Stay Curious

Remember that yoga is not necessarily about mastering certain poses. It's really about discovering new potential in yourself and getting deeply in touch with your own body. In our everyday lives, we spend so much of our time sitting or standing or walking — often only using our upper bodies to grab or hold onto things in front of us that aren’t all that heavy. Arm balances can give you the opportunity to learn about how your body works as you continue to experiment with unifying the strength of your upper body muscles and the calmness of your mind.

Feeling courageous? Try working your way up to supported headstand next!

Image (edited) via rcvictorino


5 Simple Things You Can Do to Ground Yourself

When life gets hectic and we find ourselves so consumed by thought that it puts us completely out of touch with our own bodies, grounding ourselves can help rid us of the excess energy and bring us back to our current physical perspective. People who are grounded are simply more prepared to take on life’s challenges.

Grounding involves working with the root chakra, which can be found at the base of the spine. The root chakra governs our sense of safety and security, and we can envision it as glowing red.

Anyone who doesn’t feel safe in their current body can benefit from grounding. By plugging back into Mother Nature, we essentially plug back into our bodies as well, pulling us out of focusing on traumatic past memories or anxious future what-ifs.

Here are some simple ways to ground yourself.

Practice Grounding Poses

Tree Pose

Grounding yourself is as easy as working some yoga poses into your practice that involve connecting to the ground and focusing your energy downward. Some good examples include warrior II, triangle pose, mountain pose and tree pose. Visualize yourself rooting into the ground and connecting with the Earth’s energy as you hold these poses.

Walk Barefoot

Barefoot

Perhaps one of the simplest ways you can ground yourself is to kick off your shoes and feel the grass, sand, or dirt beneath your feet. You can also lay down completely on your back or your stomach with your forehead touching the ground for a deeper grounding practice. Another suggestion is to engage in one of the most grounding activities there is — gardening.

Eat Root Vegetables

Potatoes

Root vegetables are vegetables that grow underground, so incorporating them into your diet is a great way to connect your entire body to the Earth while also getting the added benefit of absorbing healthy nutrients that will benefit your body and mind overall. Some of the most common examples of root vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips and radishes.

Use Stones and Minerals

Stones

Picking up a stone and connecting with its vibration is easy enough to do by feeling the weight of it in your hand, noticing its cool temperature, examining its colors, or tracing your fingers along its textured surface or edges. You can also use grounding stones by wearing them, carrying them in your pocket, or keeping them nearby (like at your desk or bedside table). Examples of stones that are good for grounding include hematite, smokey quartz, red coral, onyx, ruby, garnet, pyrite, tiger iron, and black opal.

Sniff Earthy Scents

Aromatherapy

Stepping outside (ideally in a natural area) where you can smell Earthy scents like soil, grass, flowers, or rain can be a very effective grounding practice given the powerful nature of scent. You can also use essential oils in a diffuser or in a spray bottle around your home that remind you of the Earth. You may want to try cedar, sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, balsam, or frankincense.

Whether you’re feeling stressed, angry, overworked, overwhelmed, drained, triggered, or any other negative emotion that pulls your energy out of your body, the above tips can help. Get back in touch with your physical state of now, and you’ll be alright.

 


Making Time for Silence

Making Time for Silence

“Silence is a source of great strength.” — Lao Tzu

How much of your day is spent in silence? If you have a busy career and personal life, probably not very much.

Many people living their modern lives in the Western World at least are constantly surrounded by people and noise. In fact, going to sleep may be the only time they're not constantly being bombarded by other people’s voices, traffic, music, and sounds from all their noisy devices.

The Benefits of Sitting in Silence

Sometimes it can be hard enough to find even just an extra five minutes to sit in silence. But the mental, emotional, and even physical health benefits are worth it if you can schedule it in. Quiet time can:

  • remove you from other people’s thoughts/expectations that you’re worried about or being influenced by;
  • give you the opportunity to tune into what you’re truly feeling and desiring;
  • make it easier for you to hear and listen to your intuition; and
  • physically relax the muscles in your body to relieve stress and tension.

If you use your quiet time for a deeper meditation, that’s totally up to you, but quiet time itself can be considered a simple form of meditation if you choose to use it to turn your awareness inward. Here are some ideas for how to find a bit of extra time in your day to be alone in silence for just a few minutes.

Get up earlier than everyone else. If you have a family or live with roommates, chance are it can get hectic in the morning when everyone is getting ready to go where they need to go. But if you get up even just 10 minutes earlier than the earliest riser, you can sip your coffee or tea in silence and think purposefully about your new day.

Set the intention to unplug from all your devices for at least an hour a day. You may need your laptop or smartphone while at work, but you certainly don’t need it all day. Same goes for TV. Challenge yourself to go at least an hour (or several hours) every day with no technology to get your quiet time in. Tip: Check out these other science-backed reasons to mindfully unplug!

Schedule time to head out for a walk along a trail or in a park. A natural area with green space is perfect for finding silence. The rustling of the wind through the trees and the chirping of birds don’t really count as noise since it's really the more “toxic” noises of cities and people we need to remove ourselves from every so often, so these calming sounds of nature may offer an extra healing benefit. Try to get out for a short walk early in the morning, during lunch, or in the evening to enjoy the peace nature has to offer.

Invest in a pair of high-quality, noise-cancelling headphones. If you can get a pair, they’ll be of great use to you while commuting (on public transit or in your car) and at work if you share workspace with other coworkers. When you simply have to be in a public place but don’t need to answer to anyone for at least a few minutes, break out the those headphones or earbuds to just sit in silence for a bit.

Take an evening bath. Nobody bothers anyone who’s in the bathroom, so taking a bath and locking the door can be a good excuse to get some much needed quiet time into your day. If you’ve got pushy family members or roommates, verbally tell them not to bother you. Setting boundaries like this will help ensure you get the time to yourself that you need.

A few extra minutes of quiet time can really make a huge difference in your day. On those super busy days where you can't possibly find any time at all for yourself, you may want to do a quick body scan meditation right before you drift off to sleep.

Image (edited) via Brian Tomlinson


5 Places to Look for Inspiration

5 Places to Look for Inspiration

Whether you’ve set a bold new intention for your life or you just want to get through the rest of the workday, it can help to have a source of inspiration to put you in the right mindset and get the ball rolling. Sometimes wanting or needing to do something simply isn’t enough.

Inspiration is everywhere around you. You just need to open your eyes a little further to be able to see it. Once you do, you’ll be able to harness its message or symbolism in a way that really sparks the emotional desire you know you have deep down inside of you that’s moving you toward what you feel you want or need to  do.

Here are some good places to look.

Nature

You don’t necessarily need to head into the woods for a long walk to be inspired by nature. Simply looking out your window to gaze at the sun’s rays shining through the clouds or noticing that little houseplant in the corner can be all it takes to get inspired by what Mother Nature offers us. Practicing mindfulness while looking toward nature for inspiration can help you experience awe and appreciate the fact that you have this one life to do what you feel you came here to do.

Books

Both fiction and non-fiction books can help shift your mindset when the story or information speaks to you deeply enough. If there’s a particular celebrity or high-profile individual who you admire, you may want to look into seeing if they’ve published an autobiography. If you’re short on time, you can even purchase books that contain collections of inspirational quotes for bite-sized helpings of inspiration.

Your Past

If you’ve ever written in a journal — whether it was back when you were a kid or maybe even just last month — now’s the time to get it out and read it. Reading past journal entries will bring you joy and give you a sense of how much you’ve grown, which can certainly be enough to inspire you to move forward. If you haven’t kept a journal from the past, consider grabbing a pen and piece of paper to start journaling about your past right now with a focus on how much you’ve grown up until now, making sure to mention big achievements and lessons learned along the way.

Future Possibilities

Just like becoming aware of the personal growth you’ve experienced over the past several years can inspire you to do something, so too can thinking about what’s in store for the future. Thinking about the future as a source of inspiration, however, can only work when it’s done from a positive and curious state as opposed to a negative and anxious state. Consider what positive things you'd love to achieve or experience and how it would make you feel.

The People in Your Life

Finding inspiration in other people can be as simple as noticing a funny quirk about a coworker or watching children play in a nearby park. Look toward your parents, your siblings, your other relatives, your friends, your neighbors, and even complete strangers you meet in public places — like the cashier at the grocery store or the mailman. Every single person has unique gifts to share with the world, so ask yourself what you see in them or what you already know about them that might inspire you to become your best self.

Inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. To find out how to get the active momentum going after finding inspiration, check out these 10 simple ways to motivate yourself.

 


Healthier Vegan Alternatives to Your Favorite Indulgent Foods

Healthier Vegan Alternatives to Your Favorite Indulgent Foods

A diet that’s high in healthy fruits and vegetables is always ideal, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up some of your favorite not-so-healthy foods for good. In fact, with a little creativity, you can actually replicate them with healthy vegan alternatives that take all the fat, sugar, and processed junk right out of the equation.

Get ready to be blown away by how some of these foods you probably already eat can be made into something so different — and delicious! You may never even want to go back to the original, less healthy version ever again.

Zucchini Instead of Pasta

One of the biggest new trends in nutrition is to replace pasta noodles with zucchini slices that have been cut to take on the same form as pasta. The trick is finding the right tool that gets the job done. There are lots of options out there, like the Veggetti, but look around and read the reviews to find one you like. Zucchini noodles are a super light and healthy way to still enjoy traditional pasta dishes without the extra calories. Top it with tomato, pesto, alfredo, or any other favourite pasta sauce!

Coconut Oil Instead of Butter

When it comes to the effects of butter on human health, science keeps hasn't quite figured it out just yet. Recent findings suggest that there’s almost no link between butter consumption and chronic disease or risk of death — but you know there’s always new research coming out about the downsides of eating too much saturated fat. Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, but it's one of those unique foods that actually boosts “good” HDL cholesterol levels, making it a nice vegan alternative to butter when used sparingly.

Nutritional Yeast Instead of Cheese

One of the major downsides of going for vegan cheese alternatives is that a lot of them are often highly processed. If you enjoy just a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on your meals or a nice cheesy sauce once in a while, consider using nutritional yeast, which can be bought at many health food stores and has a pleasant nutty, cheesy taste to it. It’s high in vitamin B12, which is great for vegans and vegetarians since most B12 sources generally come from animal products.

Bell Peppers Instead of Sandwich Bread

For those who are sensitive to wheat/gluten or just want to keep their carb intake low, bell peppers are wonderful alternatives to bread for sandwiches and wraps. Simply cut one in half, remove the stem and seeds, fill it up with your favourite sandwich or wrap ingredients, and then combine both halves together like two pieces of bread. It’s deliciously crunchy, full of water, and a great source of vitamin C!

Avocados Instead of Dessert

You wouldn’t believe how many decadent chocolate desserts you can make with avocados. Since avocados easily take on the flavor of chocolate while maintaining their creaminess, they're ideal to mix with cocoa and any other ingredients to bake with for healthier pies, cookies, cakes, or fudge. You can even go for no-bake options like chocolate avocado mousse or pudding. Try searching “avocado dessert” on Pinterest for some recipe ideas!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean green smoothies and salads at every meal for the rest of your life. With these amazing substitutes, you can still indulge a little without putting your health at risk!

 


The Surprising Benefits of Water Yoga

The Surprising Benefits of Water Yoga

Yoga can be just as vigorous or just as relaxing as you want it to be on dry land, but water yoga (also referred to as aqua yoga or pool yoga) can be an exciting way to shake things up a little in your practice. If you have access to a pool or natural body of water that’s safe to swim in, why not go for it while it’s still summer?

You might be surprised by what you can learn and discover when you take your practice to the pool or to the beach. Here are some of the main benefits to expect just by experimenting with the different sensation of body weight and movement underwater.

Practice Your Balance

It can be frustrating and even downright terrifying to try to master certain balancing poses like garudasana (eagle pose) or ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) when you’re constantly feeling like you could topple over at any moment. Performing poses like these in water is so much easier and can help you build your confidence next time to try it on dry land. It’s also a great way to practice inversions like salami sirsasana (supported headstand) as long as you don’t mind holding your breath for a bit!

Recover From or Relieve Pain

Like most forms of water exercise, water yoga is very low-impact and gentle on the body, making it a great alternative to other types of exercise that put more stress on the muscles and joints. You don’t even have to hold your body weight up when performing certain poses, which can be a huge relief for those who may be recovering from joint pain or injury.

Focus on Alignment

One of the best things about a water yoga practice that takes all the effort out of having to hold up your body weight like you would on land is that you can place your awareness on maintaining proper form and alignment. For example, you may be completely preoccupied with holding yourself up and extending your leg out in virabhadrasana III (warrior III), but in the water, you float, so you can focus on other components of the pose — like hip alignment, core engagement and arms extended behind or in front of you.

Discover New Challenges

While water yoga makes it a lot easier to preform certain poses, it can present new challenges for others. When it comes to poses like vasisthasana (side plank), parsvottonasana (pyramid), or trikoasana (triangle), gravity is typically our friend. Even in shallow water, however, it’s normal to experience trouble staying put in poses like these. You may feel the need to use your hands to tread water a little and engage your core much more than usual to maintain the pose.

Find Peace Underwater

Submerging yourself underwater is a great way to bring stillness to your mind and even meditate for a few moments until you need to come up for air. Take a big breath of air as you allow yourself to sink down deep in a cross-legged position or half lotus pose. Embrace the quiet calmness of being fully submerged as you slowly breathe out the air you’re holding in. Just remember not to force yourself to stay under for longer if it feels uncomfortable.

If you look around or do some research for your local area, you may be able to find water yoga classes that actually show you how to enjoy some of these benefits. Do a Google search or ask your yogi teacher if he or she knows anything about it!