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Bikram Yoga and Vata – Pitta Doshas

Many styles of hot yoga have become very popular especially in the west, particularly Bikram yoga. This style of yoga was popularized in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury. While it is rooted in Hatha yoga, it varies from tradition in its fast pace, focuses on strengthening and increasing the heart rate with its heat-intensive environment. Bikram also encourages competition, which some may argue contradicts the underlying principles of Hatha yoga which are more about peace and unity.

I found myself drawn to this type of yoga. It seemed like the challenge I needed. I tried to complete the 30-day challenge: 30 Bikram classes in 30 days. I stopped because my body begged me to. I felt like I had failed. However, years later, when I dove further into my yoga studies, I found some compassion for myself. When I began to study Ayurveda, I learned that I was simply practicing the wrong type of yoga for my dosha! I have come to believe that Bikram yoga should probably only be practiced by Kapha doshas or by no one at all. In studying yoga, I learned it is most important to listen to your body. In Bikram, individuals are pushed very hard even when they are showing signs of pain and dizziness. In fact, they are encouraged to stay in the room even if they are very dizzy. This can be very difficult to do when the room is heated to over 40°C.

I have a Vata-Pitta constitution. Vata is predominant while Pitta is a very close second. Vata is air and ether, and these are people who are very fast-paced, often anxious, and often cold. Pitta is fire and water, and these are people who are hot, fiery, and quick as well. Ayurveda teaches us that it is very common for individuals to be drawn to similar qualities as themselves. It makes sense that like attracts like. However, adding more of the same elements to an already dominant dosha easily puts us into imbalance. 

This is how I found Bikram yoga to affect me. Adding more movements and quick motions to my already anxious mind and body seemed to only send my mind and heart into a faster race. Adding more fire to my Pitta dominance seemed to quickly overheat me. Essentially, it became the perfect storm to create imbalance. The relaxation I believed to feel after these classes were more of physical exhaustion. I was often feeling dizzy and unable to stand or perform tasks for the remainder of the day. This is not what a yoga practice should bring. In fact, research has found some negative effects of Bikram practice, including the consequences of extreme low salt levels caused by excessive sweating and water drinking. If you are doing this practice, it is vital you replenish your electrolytes after every single class.

Just because you’re drawn to something does not mean that it will be good for you. Tune into your body and listen to it! It knows what you need better than your ego does.

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Yoga for Travel

Traveling is great for the mind, body, and soul but it can also be overwhelming for individuals who thrive off routine. While you may want to travel and enjoy it once you arrive at your destination, if you are a planner, you may have some anxiety about your routine being thrown off track. A workout routine is the most thrown off because you are not in your normal environment. If you are a yogi, traveling can throw you off completely because you are not near your normal yoga studio or in your own home to roll out your mat. Luckily, most hotels have gyms or other workout spaces where you can roll out your yoga mat and you can even do yoga in your hotel room. It’s just a matter of having access to yoga practices. In today’s world, you can access any and everything online—including yoga. YouTube has a plethora of yoga videos for you to take with you when you travel.

The other side of traveling could be that you’re stressed and anxious about traveling in general and you feel as though you need a yoga practice to calm yourself. If you do enjoy traveling but you have anxiety and stress about the mere thought of traveling and shaking up your routine. Here are tips that will help you with traveling if you are a yogi who still wants to bring their practice with them on the road. 


1. Plan Ahead

Yes, having a plan for everything is the key to success. Yes, your plans may not always happen as laid out by you or they may actually fold out the way you laid out, you never know. But the beauty of planning is that you will always be prepared in one way or another. Share where you are traveling with friends and family because they may know someone where you are going who knows all of the yoga hotspots. Before packing your mat and yoga leggings spread the word that you are looking for a yoga studio at your destination. Once you’ve narrowed down your search for yoga studios, research the studios you are planning on going to and then choose one by picking the classes you are thinking of going to. Once you arrive at your destination, you will feel less anxious because you’ll know where you are taking your yoga class or classes.

2. When You Arrive

If you can, skip the taxi ride, take public transit or walk! That is the best way to explore the place you are staying and you get to see all of the places around the way on the way to the yoga studio. Once you have chosen a studio that you are interested in try to stick to it because jumping from studio to studio can be frustrating while traveling. Get out there and meet people, talk to people at the yoga studio and find out what they like most about the area you are in and see if you can visit local spots on your vacation. Talking to locals is the best way to find out about the area and you’ll receive the most genuine advice. Finally, send thanks to you to your yoga studio, thank them for having you and making you feel welcomed.

Traveling yogis do not have to feel stressed or anxious—there is hope for you to continue your yoga practice. It’s always fun to try out new studios, especially when traveling because you never know who you will meet. Strangers will most likely become friends when traveling and what yogi doesn’t want more yogi friends?

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Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling

I’ve spent the better part of last year traveling, and while it is the most exciting, exhilarating experience, it can be hard to maintain health while simultaneously being on the road or in different countries. When your routine is always changing, new food is being introduced, or you are trapped in airports or on buses for hours on end, keeping a healthy mind and body can be the least priority. It often leads to exhaustion at the end of a trip and trouble getting back into healthy habits. So, how can you stay healthy throughout your trip and keep your mind and body on the right track while having the best experience away from home?


  • Maintain Your Meditation Practice: Staying consistent with your meditation practice can help you stay sane in the most hectic travel moments. While traveling, we can experience our highest highs while we meet new people, see new sights, and encounter new culture, but we can also experience our lowest lows of stress and anxiety. Meditating and taking the time each day to center and ground your breath will help you ride the highs and lows or help settle your moods into a more consistent flow. 
  • Find Moments Each Day To Connect With Yourself: Traveling can be extremely fast-paced with days packed full of adventure – from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall into bed. While it is easy to get sucked into a pace when you want to see and do everything, it is important to take a small amount of time each day for your mental and physical health and slow down and connect back with yourself. It could be as simple as taking some time to journal, stretch, or stay in bed for an extra five minutes and make a gratitude list in the morning.
  • Practice Yoga In The Morning Or At Night: Practicing yoga in the morning or at night while you are traveling can help with jet lag, mental fog, and muscle stiffness. Take a few moments to practice sun salutations each morning or stretch out your tired and sore legs at the end of the day. You can print out sequences to take with you or use classes that you’ve found online if you don’t want to go out and find a yoga studio in the city that you are traveling in.
  • Pack Healthy Snacks: Being prepared with healthy, nutritious snacks will save you from the last minute hunger that may send you straight to junk food. Pack bars with minimal ingredients, dried fruit, or roasted fava beans that will keep you satisfied during travel. It’s also a great idea to pack greens powder packets that you can add to water or juice for extra nutrients and vitamins while you are traveling and in an area where you may have less access to leafy greens. 
  • Walk As Much As You Can: This one is self-explanatory, but try to walk wherever you can. It’s a great way to see the city, get better acquainted with where you are, and a wonderful way to move your body without having to think about getting a workout.

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Maharishi Patanjali’s Eight Limbs Of Yoga

Maharishi Patanjali’s eight limbs of Yoga

 

The author of Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali, divided life into eight fields – eight limbs or stages of yoga. These should be our guide in Yogic life. They lead us in the direction of full realization of ourselves and allow us to unite our body, mind, and spirit.

There are four outer limbs and four inner limbs.

  • Outer limbs reach to the Universe
  • And inner limbs reach our inner self.

 

Outer Limbs:

The outer limbs of yoga are making us aware of ourselves, and allow us to gain control over our body. They are:

 

1. Yama Principles – living our lives following natural moral codes. These are:

  • Ahmisa – nonviolence,
  • Satya – truthfulness,
  • Asteya – non-stealing,
  • Brahmacharya – celibacy (control over your sexual life) and
  • Aparigraha – non-covetousness (non-collecting, taking from nature only how much you really need).

These principles are social, directed towards nature and others. They focus on our behavior and are the first thing we should aim to purify.

 

2. Niyama Principles – more personal, directed towards our own life. The five Niyama codes are:

  • Saucha – purity. It includes hygiene, or purity of body, but also the purity of mind and thoughts,
  • Samtosa – contentment, acceptance of others and self, also acceptance of an inability to change things and an optimistic point of view,
  • Tapas – self-discipline, austerity or simple way of living,
  • Svadhyaya – the study of the self and accepting God as the only support in our life
  • Asana – Yoga postures, which are necessary to reach higher levels of yoga. It includes both, meditative and dynamic poses.
  • Pranayama – Yogic breathing. Breath is connected with the mind, and with the regulation of breath, the mind also becomes balanced.

 

Inner Limbs:

The inner limbs are directed towards the mind and consciousness, and they are:

 

  • Pratyahara – directing the attention towards the mind and its source, preparing for deep meditation. You are still aware of the world around you but are trying to detach from it. It helps us to observe ourselves, to see what we are doing wrong and also to recognize our cravings or other bad influencers on our physical and mental health. It is the transition from the inner and outer limbs.
  • Dharana – Steadiness Of Attention. The mind is focused on a mantra, an object one observes, or a particular thought. It stays focused on one thing, rather than jumping from one thing to another.
  • Dhyana – It is the reduction of mental activity, often also seen as meditation. It is continuous and uninterrupted. It contemplates the object of focus in Dharana and accepts it as it is, without focusing on specific ideas of it, becoming completely aware.
  • Samadhi – state of pure consciousness, reached with profound meditation – Yogi becomes one with the object of his meditation and the Universal spirit. There is no more distinction between them. He loses his ego and self-consciousness.

 

The purification of one limb directly influences others. Yoga translates as unity, an integration of all these aspects. When all of these obstacles are surpassed, one can reach Samadhi or superconsciousness. It should be the ultimate goal of every Yogi.

 

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How to Avoid Wardrobe Malfunctions in Backbends

Backbends are a tricky part of a regular yoga practice. They help to open up the chest and heart and encourage excellent spinal health. A healthy backbend practice can counteract much of the slouching and rounded postures that yogis tend to fall into throughout the rest of their day. It can be a very exciting and invigorating part of a regular practice.

On the other hand, backbends can also cause a lot of trepidation for yogis concerned with significant wardrobe malfunctions. Even simple backbends, such as the wild thing, can leave stomachs and other sensitive areas exposed to the wandering eyes of classmates and instructors. As you move into more intense backbends, the wardrobe malfunctions can get significantly worse as shirts come up and yoga pants ride lower than expected.

Is there anything you do to keep your focus off of your clothing and on the proper alignment necessary for a backbend?

First, you need to ensure that all of your clothing fits you properly. Clothes that are too small are going to move around in the only ways they are able as you stretch out into a backbend. Workout gear that is too loose or baggy will flop around as you lean back into a more dramatic backbend such as the wheel pose or the camel pose.

Workout tops should fit you snugly, hugging your abdomen and chest firmly. They shouldn’t be tight enough to restrict your movements or your breathing, which are two very important elements in a healthy backbend practice. When you try on potential workout tops in the store, consider how far they ride up your stomach when you stretch your arms overhead. Do they gape open when you bend over? If so, it’s a sign that you may need a snugger fit.

Tank tops are really ideal for an avid backbend practitioner because they allow the arms and shoulders to move freely without affecting the coverage of the torso.

Women should be careful to wear sports bras with adequate support. If a backbend does cause a shirt to gape open unknowingly, this allows you to still feel comfortable in knowing that none of your classmates are bound to see things you would rather keep private. It is a great peace of mind so you can keep your focus on opening up your heart and chest.

Many yogis like to wear high-waist yoga leggings if they plan to practice many backbends in a specific sequence. The higher waistline provides extra coverage for the abdomen when the back arches drastically, such as in the wheel pose. It also keeps the skin protected from the yoga mat in softer backbends like the bow pose.

Lower-waisted pants can be worn to practice backbends, but you may consider pairing them with a much longer workout top. It isn’t uncommon to see extra skin from the stomach in a backbend, and this helps you to remain covered.

Dressing for a solid backbend practice doesn’t have to be difficult but it does require some advance planning to keep you comfortable and covered during class.

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3 Elements of Yoga That Can Help You Sleep Better

It’s not uncommon for yogis to find themselves restless at night, tossing and turning instead of dreaming peacefully. Sleep deprivation can affect almost every area of your daily life from mental clarity to your physical energy. Work and relationships all suffer when you aren’t feeling your very best, which is often the case when you aren’t sleeping through the night.

A regular yoga practice has been shown to help increase the amount of quality sleep you receive each night. You don’t need to devote an entire hour to your yoga practice. All you need to do is put on a comfortable pair of yoga pants. You can incorporate these simple yoga elements into your bedtime routine to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.


Connect With the Breath

Breathing is an integral part of every yoga practice. Whether you practice the more rigorous disciplines or the gentle flow of yoga nidra, connecting with the breath is an essential element to your yoga practice. Similarly, focusing on the breath can be an important part of helping you to fall asleep faster.

Focus on taking long, slow, and deep breaths in through the nose and exhaling loudly through the mouth. A gentle inhale helps to soothe the body while the more forceful exhale rids the body of tension. Try to keep your mind focused solely on the inhale and exhale during this exercise, letting all other thoughts go.

Calm Your Nervous System

Do you often feel jittery at bedtime or anxious at the thought of tomorrow’s to-do list? Taking a few moments to relieve the nervous system and change your perspective can often do wonders for your anxiety. When worries subside, your brain is able to take a moment to turn off for a few hours of rest.

The standing forward fold can help you to lower your anxiety quickly. Hinge forward from the hips, clasping the elbows. Nod your head a few times, and then practice shaking it side to side to release tension.

You may need to don a comfortable pair of yoga pants to move into this pose more freely. You want to wear comfortable workout clothing that doesn’t restrict the breath or your ability to stretch.

Scan Your Body for Areas of Tension

Take a few minutes before bed to do a type of meditation known as a body scan. Lay flat on your back in bed, with the feet open and the palms facing up by the sides like you would in savasana. Explore and bring attention to each area of the body, noting and releasing any tension you feel in each section. Move from the toes all the way to the crown of the head.

This progressive scan helps you to physically relax the body bit by bit, preparing you to finally release the mind and drift off to sleep.


If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try adding these three yoga elements into your bedtime routine. You may just find yourself becoming a more active participant in your daily life when you wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.

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Vinyasa Yoga 101

 

 

What It Is

Vinyasa Yoga is a type of yoga that developed as an offshoot of Ashtanga yoga. It may have developed to accommodate people who felt that Ashtanga yoga was too rigid and strict. Ashtanga yoga is a type of yoga that was developed by a 20th century guru by the name of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. In comparison to most other types of yoga, Ashtanga is powerful, dynamic, and strict in terms of the way the poses are done. Unlike Vinyasa, one must master a given stage or pose before moving on to the next level.

With Vinyasa yoga, students have the freedom to progress based on their own capacity. Although Vinyasa contains almost all the poses found in Ashtanga, students do not have to follow the same sequence when performing them. One is free to move to another more accommodative pose when he or she feels that they are unable to master the previous one.

As new styles of yoga keep developing, there are numerous offshoots that have developed under Vinyasa. These include Flow Yoga, Power Yoga, Prana Yoga, Anusara, Hot Vinyasa, and Jivamukti.

The poses in Vinyasa are unique in that they flow in a dynamic sequence. The performance of Vinyasa involved synchronizing continuously flowing postures with one’s breathe. By combining these flowing movements, one can improve health, strength, flexibility, stamina, and calm the mind. The combination of breathing and postures is an important part of Vinyasa Yoga.

The Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga

Like most other types of yoga, Vinyasa offers numerous benefits to students, once a person commits to it. Here are some of them:

 

Self-understanding

The fact that Vinyasa is not as strict as Ashtanga and some other forms of yoga, it offers something else instead. A chance to self-evaluate. While members still benefit from the exercise part of it, the real benefits are in engaging with oneself, understanding yourself and even knowing how to love yourself.

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Improves Health

Vinyasa movement helps engage various organs in the body thereby improving their overall state. For example, the poses help open up the muscles, practice the joints, improving bodily air circulation, and thereby decongesting the body organs.

 

Offers a Chance to Meditate

The form of meditation offered in Vinyasa Yoga is dynamic. This is because tutors encourage participants to engage their minds fully even as they make the flow movements. There is no completeness in Vinyasa without strong mental engagement.

 

Organization of the Classes

When joining a yoga class, there are four key areas that one should endeavor to understand. These are:

Breathing and Movement – Here you learn when, how, and when to incorporate breathing into the yoga movements.

Understanding Sun Salutations – Each Vinyasa class incorporates these salutations making them a basic component.

How to Vary and Adapt to the various movements. – Since Vinyasa is not a rigid yoga class, it is important to know when to transition to the next step.

Finally, understand alignments and transitions. These are the basics of Vinyasa and they are easy to learn and understand.

 

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