6 Green Ways to Stay Warm This Fall & Winter

6 Green Ways to Stay Warm This Fall & Winter

While there are certainly lots of creative and eco-friendly ways to keep cool during the summer, it’s now time to switch gears as we prepare to turn up the heat to withstand the colder weather that comes with the fall season now really setting in and the eventual arrival of winter.

Cranking the thermostat up or taking extra long hot showers are indeed common ways to deal with the cold, but they’re not very eco-friendly — or wallet-friendly either. Believe it or not, being kind to the environment while saving energy and money during the colder seasons is easier than you might think.

Build Heat in Your Practice

You can definitely work up a good sweat while on the mat. Consider working more poses into your practice that really challenge your muscles. Something as simple as flowing through your Chaturanga-Up Dog-Down Dog Vinyasa and practicing your Warrior poses (Warrior I, Warrior II, Reverse Warrior, Warrior III) can be enough to really build heat and even get those little beads of sweat forming.

Skip the Ice-Cold Smoothies

Smoothies are deliciously refreshing and nutritious, but if you blend them with ice, they’re likely to make you cool off a little too much if you sip on them in the winter months. If you can’t give up your smoothies, at least try skipping the ice and frozen fruit. Go for a creamier texture by using room temperature liquids (water, coconut milk, etc.) and fresh fruits.

Embrace Hot Comfort Foods

When we say “comfort foods,” think hearty soups, healthy slow cooker recipes, whole grain pasta dishes or casseroles, and herbal teas. Take advantage of some of the season’s fresh produce like sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, and more. Your kitchen may get a little warm-up from all that cooking, but more importantly, it will warm you up from the inside out when you sit down to enjoy it!

Curl Up With a Hot Water Bottle

Sitting in one place for too long can definitely cause your body temperature to drop, so other than getting up and moving around a little to warm up, another eco-friendly way to stay warm is to sit with a hot water bottle. This is a great alternative to an electric blanket or a hot shower since you can reheat the same water again and again, and it’s wonderfully soothing when you’re on on the couch or lying in bed!

Light a Few Candles

While they may not compare to a real fireplace, a few candles placed safely out of the way in may help bring the temperature of the room you're in up a little bit. Try choosing eco-friendly soy candles scented with essential oils rather than going for paraffin candles. Just be sure to use them when you’re in the room and put them out when you leave!

Make Heat-Friendly Tweaks to Your Home

There are lots of easy little changes you can make to your home to ensure that it stays warm. Insulated curtains will keep the heat in and cold out while area rugs will prevent heat from escaping through the floors. Examining all windows and doors any sealing any cracks will also make a big difference. And lastly, consider closing the doors to empty nearby rooms, which will provide a barrier for the heat to stay only where you need it.

There’s no need to spend this fall and winter perpetually cold for the sake of keeping your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in an effort to help out the environment. And anyway, spring and summer will be back before you know it!


4 Things Yoga Can Teach You About Building Habits

A habit is an action or a behavior that comes naturally and is extremely difficult to stop doing. We all know that there are both good habits and bad habits, and that most of us would rather swap our bad habits out for the good ones.

Good habits – even the simplest ones — are often difficult to develop and stick with for any long-term period. Whether it’s our own thoughts and emotions that sabotage us, or unforeseen/uncontrollable life events that take our awareness elsewhere, long-term habit formation remains one of the greatest and most mysterious challenges of many people’s lives.

Yoga, however, can help break down the walls that so many of us face in breaking bad habits and building better ones. After all, yoga is more than just poses — it’s a way of life that can change the relationship you have with yourself, with others, and with all of reality.

Authentic Self-Discovery

“The practice of yoga brings us face to face with the extraordinary complexity of our own being,” — Sri Aurobindo

Too many of us pursue habits that have nothing to do with what we really want, deep down. There are habits that society says will make us good and healthy and desirable and successful, and of course since we all want to fit in, we convince ourselves that we really want to build these habits into our lives when in fact, we really don't — because they don't match up with our authentic desires.

For example, many people decide they want to make yoga a daily or weekly habit in order to get fit. Those who manage to stick with their yoga practice, however, often discover that what they really want is to love themselves fully and unconditionally as they are. Years of social conditioning only made them think they really wanted to be fit, in order to love themselves.

Freedom from Victimhood

"Every waking moment we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act." — John Lembo

Yoga creates a space between pure awareness and all the jibber jabber that’s constantly running through the mind. In our everyday lives, we’re often not nearly conscious enough to notice how consumed we are by our own thoughts — especially those that are negative and completely untrue.

When we tell ourselves that a habit is too hard, that it’s not working out the way we expected, that it’s not happening fast enough, or whatever else — we turn ourselves into victims and become more resistant to what we want, making it all the more difficult to move in the direction of what we want. A daily yoga and meditation practice frees us from this way of thinking just by becoming more aware of the fact that it’s happening.

Growth Over Results

“Do your practice and all is coming.” — Sri K Patthabi Jois

Yoga is a journey that has no ending. Long-term habits that need to be constantly maintained are the same way, but most of us are obsessed with the results we’re looking for rather than the learning process in the practice itself.

A genuine yogi knows that it’s not the skill and performance of a particular pose or sequence that matters, but the positive growth in mind, body, and spirit that took place since yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. When it comes to building habits, what truly matters is getting our footing on each stepping stone. The rest will come.

Your Existing Abundance

“The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” — Yogi Bhajan

Anyone who develops their yoga practice will eventually discover that everything they want is accessible to them and that they already have everything they need to get it. Gratitude attracts abundance, and when we’re in this state while trying to form good habits, we’re far more likely to succeed.

People who are always focused on what they don’t yet have will never be satisfied, because everything they achieve will never be enough. In reality, no habit itself will ever be perfect, nor will it ever be powerful enough to change the relationship we have with ourselves on an inner level, and yoga teaches us that we need to go inward first to unlock our source of abundance.

Habits aren’t easy to build for the average person, but for the average yogi who takes their practice very seriously, transformation may only be a sun salutation away!


Essential Oil Blends Inspired by Autumn

Essential Oil Blends Inspired by Autumn

Autumn is associated with certain seasonal scents. Baked apple pies, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and even the smokey scent of burning leaves are a few common ones.

Unless you’re a master baker or plan to have a huge bonfire in your yard with all the leaves you’ve collected, there are easier way to recreate the scent of autumn using essential oils. Blended with multiple oils in a diffuser, you get to enjoy the beautiful aromas waft through your home while also experiencing some of their therapeutic healing benefits.

Here are a few blend suggestions to try.

Warming

Spice essential oils come with a natural warming effect — perfect for welcoming colder weather. Some of the most common include black pepper, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, oregano and star anise.

Citrus essential oils are known to go well with spice essential oils, so consider blending them with lemon, lime, sweet orange, mandarin, grapefruit, bergamot or tangerine. Just be sure to use caution and start with small amounts when working with spice essential oils (or any essential oils for that matter) as they tend to be stronger than others.

For a simple fall aroma with just the right amount of spiciness, try this warming diffuser blend:

  • 2 drops ginger
  • 3 drops cinnamon
  • 5 drops sweet orange

Woodsy

The smell of earth and decay is in the air this time of year, so what better way to celebrate autumn than by recreating the scent of a forest in your own home? Common woodsy essential oils include cedarwood, cinnamon, cypress, juniper berry, pine and sandalwood while earthy ones include angelica, patchouli, valerian, and vetiver.

Woodsy essential oils are very versatile and blend well with earthy, floral, herbaceous, minty, spicy, oriental, and citrus essential oils.

Want to feel like you’re walking along a cliff or mountain top in the crisp fall air? Try this woodsy diffuser blend:

  • 6 drops Douglas fir
  • 1 drop sweet orange
  • 1 drop vetiver

Tasteful

Autumn kicks off baking season in a lot of households, sending scents of pies, pastries and other seasonal foods wafting through the home. Choosing essential oils that are spicy, herbal, and citrusy that remind you of ingredients you might use in a favorite fall recipe are ideal to recreate that yummy aroma. Just keep in mind that this is not a recommendation to consume essential oils. They should be diffused only!

Although it may be a bit difficult to completely recreate exactly how a fresh apple or pumpkin pie baking in the oven might smell with just essential oils, there are lots of other yummy scents you can recreate — like chai tea or cider.

For a sweet and spicy candy-like aroma, try this delectable blend:

  • 3 drops sandalwood
  • 2 drops vanilla
  • 1 drop cinnamon
  • 1 drop clove

If you want to get the full therapeutic benefits from your essential oil blends in addition to their aromas, consider using a cold-air diffuser, which doesn’t heat the oil and alter the chemicals. And before you go ahead and do anything with essential oils, make sure you review the safety guidelines provided by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy to ensure that you handle them properly.


3 Tips for Taking a Perfect Break

3 Tips for Taking a Perfect Break

We could all use a break from time to time. This is especially true when we’re using so much mental, emotional, and even physical energy to work toward something ambitious.

Whether it’s a big project at work that calls for some serious problem solving, a college assignment that requires a lot of creativity, or maybe even a tough yoga pose/sequence that you really want to nail down in your practice — making sure you take the right type of break at the right time is critical to keep you going strong.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to take the perfect break. Either we work so long and so hard that we eventually lose our steam, or we take unproductive breaks that suck us into distraction and make it harder to get back into the flow of working toward our goal.

Taking the perfect break requires enough discipline to stop what we’re doing at the right time, take the right course of action during out break, and get back to work when the time is right. The following tips will help you pinpoint exactly when and how you should be taking your breaks.

Take Short and Frequent Breaks

According to a study that examined the work and break habits of 97 employees over the course of a 5-day workweek, shorter and more frequent breaks were linked to better allocation of both mental and physical resources. This applies to yoga too. After a demanding sequence, pressing back into downward dog or child’s pose and remaining there for several breaths gives us the rest we need to continue on with our practice.

If we want to get specific about time periods, some research suggests that 50-minute work sprints and breaks lasting 15 to 20 minutes tend to hit the sweet spot for the best work-break balance. There’s also the popular Pomodoro technique, which involves working for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break, and completing a set of four of these before taking a longer 40-minute break.

Get Out of Your Environment

The environment that you’re working in or practicing in keeps you connected to the energies that you’re creating there, and sometimes, that can get overwhelming. Simply stepping out of the room or quickly outside can refresh both your mind and body on a very deep level as it forces you to disconnect for a moment from what you’ve been doing and come back to where you are right now.

Be mindful during your break in another environment, but don’t hold back from allowing your mind to wander, which has shown to improve creativity and problem solving in some studies. A natural environment like a park, garden, or courtyard would likely even enhance these effects, given the growing body of scientific evidence on nature’s therapeutic effects.

Get Moving

Moving our bodies is especially important for those of us who work at desks for long periods. Using your break to get up and walk around your environment or ideally walk around outside if your break is long enough for it has incredible effects on the brain by boosting creative thinking.

And if walking around isn’t really an option because you’re working in a cramped space of you’re limiting yourself to a 5-minute break, you may want to consider just getting up and moving around a bit to work out any stiffness, rest your mind, and get blood flowing again. Try some of these beneficial yoga poses that counteract the effects of sitting all day.

As a final bonus tip, remember to be intentional with your breaks. Breaks should be enjoyable, but they shouldn’t be an excuse to indulge too far in what you love so much so that it drives you completely off track. With practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to find your perfect break routine in no time!


3 Reasons to Practice Forest Bathing

3 Reasons to Practice Forest Bathing

Forest bathing — called “shinrin-yoku” in Japan — is a Japanese form of healing therapy that started to grow more widely as a trend back in the 80s. The idea behind it is simple: take a slow, mindful walk through a forest for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits.

Many spas, resorts, and retreat centers now offer guided forest bathing experiences as part of their services, but you don’t necessarily need a guide to take a nice walk yourself (or with a partner/friend). All you need is a park or forested area to visit, a pair of good outdoor walking shoes, and possibly some sunscreen to get in on this wellness trend!

Now couldn’t be more of a perfect time to do it either, given that we’ve now entered that late summer sweet spot where it’s not too hot, not too cold, and the mosquitos are mostly done for the season. Here’s why forest bathing is so beneficial.

Positive Physiological Changes

Immersing ourselves in nature literally changes our bodies on a physical level. Field experiment evidence from 24 Japanese forests showed that walking through a forested area resulted in lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, lower pulse rates, lower blood pressure, increased parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity when compared to walking through an urban setting.

Forest bathing may even give people an immunity boost. Another Japanese study that examined blood and urine samples from participants who spent three days and two nights on a forest trip revealed that some components of the immune system had increased significantly after the trip was completed compared to before the trip.

Brain Function Enhancement

Walking through a forest is perhaps just as beneficial as viewing the surrounding trees, plants, water, birds, and other natural aspects. Our minds get a break from critical thinking and problem solving as the pleasure-seeking and empathetic parts of the brain become activated. The same effect can sometimes be experienced by looking at photos of natural environments, although it’s much weaker in comparison to actually being there yourself.

Natural environments provide us with a mood boost too. Research has shown that those who live in urban areas have a 20 percent higher risk of suffering from anxiety and a 40 percent higher risk of having a mood disorder when compared to those living in rural areas.

Spiritual Connection

Forest bathing is a form of mindfulness meditation. It’s a grounding activity stemming from Buddhist practices that gets you back in touch with the here and now. And because forest bathing is a totally immersive experience that activates all senses, it opens us up to rediscovering the very reality that we are not separate from nature.

If you can walk in a forested area and use your sense of sight, smell, sound, touch, and yes, even taste to experience the natural environment around you, then you’re doing it right. To make things even more interesting, try tracking how you feel both before and after a forest bathing trip as a record of how much it’s really benefiting you.


How Yoga Helps You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

How Yoga Helps You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Society is pretty infatuated with IQ these days given that smart people are praised and rewarded so for it. But what about EQ?

You probably already know that IQ has everything to do with an individual’s thinking skills. EQ, on the other hand (or EI - emotional intelligence), is an individual's capacity to become aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others.

EQ is actually more important than IQ. Think about it. Brains don't connect you to yourself or to other people — the feelings from your heart do!

When you use self-awareness to recognize your emotions as they happen, you can find ways to regulate them so that you don’t blow up in someone’s face, spiral into misery, embarrass yourself, or end up causing a scene. Likewise, when you recognize other people’s emotions, you can empathize with them better, you can understand what motivates them, and you can communicate with them more effectively.

Unfortunately for us, our traditional childhood upbringings and schooling don’t teach us much about EQ, and we often suffer the consequences in adulthood. Yoga, however, is wonderful for improving EQ. Here’s how.

Mindfulness

“Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” - Lao Tzu

Mindfulness is an integral part of yoga. It’s paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally. While we have no control over what happens, we can at least choose how we want to influence the way it might continue to unfold.

The same applies to EQ. We have no control over what we feel, but when we take a moment to simply notice what we’re feeling and accept it for what it is, we enter that space where we can make more clear-minded decisions about how we want to react. This, essentially, is where the somewhat illusory state of self-control comes from. Self-control is really just self-regulation supported by mindfulness.

Breathing

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” - Etty Hillesum

Emotions are physical experiences. Think sweaty palms, a shaky voice, a racing heartbeat, and tears streaming down your face. Slow, deep breathing — a practice all yogis are encouraged to maintain both on and oft mat — is a physical experience that can counteract the physical effects of negative emotions.

When it comes to EQ, deep breathing naturally calms the mind and body so that we can increase our awareness and avoid getting totally swept up in the emotion itself. If you’re interested in knowing more about how deep breathing physically affects the body, see these 5 science-backed health benefits of deep breathing.

Oneness

When yogis say “Namaste” to each other, they’re acknowledging the divine spirit inside of them that connects them and brings them together as one with the Universe. Yogis and personal growth enthusiasts often refer to this state of oneness as “the higher self” or “the highest self.”

EQ is not limited to oneself only. When we connect with another person and come to a closer state of oneness with them, as some might refer to it as “stepping into their shoes,” we can push our own stuff aside so we can tune into what that person is currently feeling. Many of us feel lost in what to say or how to act around someone who’s going through something difficult, but when we have a higher level of EQ that allows us to tune into their emotions, the right words or actions will reveal themselves.

So, what can you do to improve your EQ? Keep practicing yoga. Keeping being mindful of yourself and the world around you, keep breathing slowly and deeply, and keep tuning into others. That’s all you really need to do.


3 Delicious Recipes to Try for Your Next Apple Smoothie

September is that special month when we get to enjoy an incredibly wide variety of fruits and vegetables that have been harvested after the growing season. Apples just happen to be one of them!

You can find some of the sweetest, reddest, juiciest apples this time of year at your local farmers market or at a nearby orchard, making them perfect to add to your smoothies. Now is the time to switch from those tropical fruit and kale smoothies toward more seasonal foods to keep your energies balanced throughout the season.

Looking toward foods and flavors that say, “hey, it’s autumn!” should make a big difference in how you feel as the days grow shorter and colder. It also just gives you the opportunity to shake things up a little with more variety in your regular smoothie routine.

Check out these healthy autumn-themed apple smoothie recipes that will make you wish apple season lasted all year-round!

Apple Pie Smoothie

Apple Pie Smoothie

Want the taste of apple pie without the calories? An apple pie smoothie is the way to go. Although it won’t be piping hot with flakey crust, this smoothie has a creamy texture and just the right amount of spices added to it to really give you that fall apple pie taste!

Ingredients to blend:

  • 2 medium-sized red apples, core removed and sliced
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of ginger
  • 1/2 - 1 cup ice cubes (optional)

Caramel Apple Smoothie

Caramel Apple Smoothie

Nothing quite says autumn like caramel apples. Unfortunately for our teeth and for our waistlines, they’re not exactly the healthiest choice. For this smoothie recipe, we replace traditional caramel with a sugar-free version and use other ingredients to add to the sweetness.

Ingredients to blend:

  • 2 medium-sized red apples, core removed and sliced
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp sugar-free caramel syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 - 2 tsp sweetener (like Stevia) to taste
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1/2 - 1 cup ice cubes (optional)

Apple Pumpkin Smoothie

Apple Pumpkin Smoothie

The two smoothie recipes above are very seasonal already, but if you really want to pump up the flavor for autumn, then try adding one of the season’s other most popular foods — pumpkin, of course! In this case, canned pumpkin puree will do just dandy.

Ingredients to blend:

  • 1 medium-sized red apple, core removed and sliced
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (try coconut milk yogurt, soy yogurt, or rice yogurt as a vegan alternative)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 - 1 cup ice cubes (optional)

Stick to the ingredient amounts listed above for each recipe, but feel free to play around with them after trying it once to blend your smoothie so that it tastes the way you want. You may want more sweetness, or less. You may want a creamier consistency, or a thinner consistency.

That’s the beauty of smoothies — they’re pretty hard to mess up, and you can continue to add or take away certain ingredients to make them satisfy your tastebuds!

 


5 Science-Backed Benefits of Deep Breathing

5 Science-Backed Benefits of Deep Breathing

In yoga and meditation, our breathing unifies mind, body, and spirit as we flow through each pose or sit/stand still through our practice. It’s the breath work — better known as “pranayama” in traditional yoga — that allows us to focus on the present moment, move or hold our bodies in uncomfortable positions, and stay calm the entire time.

We don’t necessarily need scientific evidence to prove that deep breathing has its benefits. After all, anyone can try it immediately and observe the effects on their own body for themselves. Despite this, it never hurts to have the science to back it all up — especially for beginners and even skeptics of yoga and meditation.

Stress Reduction

Deep breathing is perhaps best known for relieving stress and anxiety. In one particular study, the effects of both slow and fast pranayama were examined in 90 healthcare students and their perceived stress levels. After students completed 12 weeks of breathing exercises for 30 minutes three times a week with a yoga teacher, results showed that both the slow and fast pranayama experiments were linked to a significant decrease in in perceived stress.

Mood Enhancement

Less stress and anxiety leads to better psychological health. In a 2005 German study, a group of women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” completed a 90-minute yoga class every week for a period of three months. By the end of the three-month period, depression had improved by 50 percent, anxiety improved by 30 percent, and overall wellbeing was up by 65 percent.

Improved Cardiovascular Function

By working on your breathing, you’ll eventually be able to breathe better through your practice and avoid getting winded so easily. In a study that sought to determine the effects of short-term pranayama and meditation on cardiovascular function, 50 participants engaged in two hours of daily yoga led by a certified yoga teacher for 15 days. By the end of the 15 days, results showed a significant decrease in resting pulse rate and blood pressure.

Improved Digestion

Most people wouldn’t think that their breathing has anything to do with their digestive issues, but it certainly does. Stress can lead to shallow breathing, meaning that the breath never reaches their lower abdomen, which can may contribute to digestive issues like constipation. More research is needed to study the effects of yoga and breathing techniques on certain medical conditions – especially digestive issues — but some evidence exists that it helps. In a study on yoga practice and its effects in gastroesophageal reflux disease, researchers concluded that practicing yoga in conjunction with medication can help control or alleviate some digestive disease symptoms.

Asthma Relief

According to the CDC, 1 in 13 Americans have asthma — a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airway, which can cause mild to severe symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Most treatments involve medication (like an inhaler) and lifestyle changes to avoid triggers like dust, pollen, air pollution, vigorous exercise, and more. Interestingly, a 2009 study showed that pranayama breathing exercises — specifically expiratory — improved lung function in 50 participants with mild to moderate asthma over a period of 12 weeks.

If you’re not sure whether you’re breathing properly in your practice, seek guidance from a yoga or meditation teacher who can work with you one-on-one. They’ll be able to show you what you’re doing right and what you could improve on so that you can maximize the benefits of deep breathing mentioned above.

Image via Nikolai Kashirin


3 of the Best Yoga Poses for Focusing Inward

In autumn, we all experience physical, emotional, and spiritual transformations — whether we’re aware of these changes or not. As Mother Nature begins pulling her energies inward, so too can we on an individual level.

Incorporating yoga poses into your practice that promote a sense of calm and grounded inner awareness will help you keep your focus turned inward so that you can be more intentional about the personal changes you wish to see happen this season. This is especially important for balancing excess vata dosha, which naturally becomes provoked this time of year and can give rise to negative states like anxiety, depression, irritability, and more.

Here are three inward focusing yoga poses to consider incorporating into your daily practice this autumn, or anytime you need to promote inner awareness.

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Child's Pose
Image via Amy

Child’s pose involves positioning the body so that it resembles a fetal position, with the shape of the spine lengthened the same way it would be while in the womb. This is naturally calming and great for relieving stress and anxiety — especially as you feel your spine lengthening further while breathing deeply into the pose. A true resting pose, child’s pose will also help ground your mind and body as you allow your head to come down to touch the mat.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Standing Forward Bend
Image via Amy

Standing forward bend brings the benefits of both inversions and and forward bends together. With your head below your heart, more oxygen can make its way to the brain, which soothes the nerves and relieves your mind of negative emotions. The goal is to straighten the legs while lengthening the front torso, but if this isn’t possible, you can keep your knees slightly bent and rest your abdomen on your thighs to help maintain your heightened state of inner awareness.

Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Bend)

Seated Forward Bend
Image via kellinahandbasket

Seated forward bend is just like standing forward bend, but of course sitting down. This pose may be more appropriate if you have trouble straightening your legs since you can bend forward from the hips and reach to grab your shins, ankles, or feet if you can. Like the two other poses listed above, this one also calms the mind by relieving stress and mild depression while also elongating the spine. If you have trouble reaching forward, you can try wrapping a strap around the soles of your feet and holding it firmly while keeping your elbows completely straight.

Remember to Breathe

When it comes to focusing your awareness inward with the above poses worked into your practice, it’s important not to rush. Aim to stay in these poses for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute, gently lengthening your body with each deep breath. Breathing will help calm your mind and body as you sink deeper into the pose. You could technically do any one of these poses outside of your regular practice as well, anytime you need it — as long as you get into position slowly and gradually to protect your muscles and joints that haven’t been warmed up from prior practice.

As you hold each pose, you may want to silently say a mantra to yourself to help facilitate positive change. Check out these simple mantras to help make your personal transformation more intentional and abundant this autumn season.

Image (edited) via Evelin Bandeira


Win a 6 Day, 5 Night Mindfulness Meditation & Yoga Retreat in Mexico

Mexico has always been a popular vacation destination for its rich Mesoamerican cultures and gorgeous beaches. A top 5 nation in biodiversity out of all the nations on Earth, Mexico is home to over 30,000 plant species and sees 39 percent of all the planet's marine wildlife live in or visit Mexico's Sea of Cortes at some point over the course of their lifetime.

This September, one lucky Yogi Surprise will get the chance to win a retreat to the Punta Monterrey Beach Resort Hotel situated in the Bahía de Banderas — a beautiful bay off of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. With a retreat location like this, getting deeply in touch with nature and the sea has never been this easy!

5 Night Beach Retreat to Calm and Center Your Mind

 

Win this month's yoga retreat giveaway!

Punta Monterrey brings nature right to the forefront of its yoga and meditation retreats. Surrounded by 300 acres of protected jungle and kept to a minimum of just 12 rooms with a maximum capacity of 35 people, the resort takes the crowded tourist part out of traveling in order to cater to small groups who are looking to enjoy practicing yoga in a quiet and private natural setting so that they can bring balance to their mind and body.

You’ll join yoga ambassador and instructor Tracey Delfs to learn how to de-stress and live more in the present moment. All activities are optional for participation and the classes are designed for all levels of both yoga and meditation, so there's no need to worry about not being an advanced-level yogi or missing out if you’re unable to attend!

This month’s exciting retreat package includes:

  • 6 day, 5 night stay at the Punta Monterrey Beach Resort Hotel
  • 3 meals a day with locally-sourced foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Daily yoga classes
  • Daily meditation classes
  • Discussions on mindfulness
  • Time to spend enjoying the beach
  • Optional activities like snorkeling, paddleboarding, and a trip to Marietas Islands

Hotel Punta Monterrey amenities for this retreat include:

  • Access to the beach
  • Yoga studio classroom and deck with equipment (mats, straps, blocks, bolsters, blankets)
  • Roundtrip ground transportation to and from the airport
  • Internet access
  • Air conditioning

Win this month's yoga retreat giveaway!

Enjoy breathtaking jungle and ocean views as you practice your yoga and meditate in a serene, secure environment. The yoga studio is an impressive 9.2 x 12.5-meter room featuring teak wood flooring, an open-sided palapa roof to let the sea breeze in, enclosable glass doors, bathrooms, fans for ventilation, and dimmer lighting.

Punta Monterrey is a yogi’s dream destination that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the end of your retreat.

Ready to get your chance to win? Learn more by clicking the link below:

Learn How to Win This Retreat >

Win this month's yoga retreat giveaway!