The Mission of Ananda Dan Heinlein, Editor in Chief A few months ago, I was settling onto my mat before my favorite yoga class, when I looked around the room and noticed, once again, that almost all of the other yogis waiting for class to start looked pretty similar to me: white, female, and relatively slim. It’s true that I live in Boulder, Colorado, a notoriously homogenous town. Even so, it was a subtle reminder that while yoga has the potential to unite us, it also has a reputation for being pretty exclusive. This is not new. When yoga first emerged in India, it was taught and practiced by men, and only men. But as the ancient practice migrated West, it evolved. Today (in this country at least), classes, trainings, events, and media dedicated to yoga (this magazine not excluded) are predominantly filled with similar-looking, able-bodied, financially stable women. Part of my mission as editor of Yoga Journal is to expand the conversation and include a more diverse group of yogis in print and on the web. We’ve dedicated nearly half of the June 2017 issue to the subject of yoga inclusivity. In the following pages, you’ll meet four incredible yogis, including Chelsea Jackson Roberts, a black yoga teacher who says that even after 10 years of teaching, new students still act surprised that she is the teacher. You’ll hear from Anna Guest-Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, who shares her path to body acceptance and being at peace with being the curviest yogini in the room. You’ll be inspired by Dan Nevins, a soldier turned yoga teacher whose transformative experience of embracing yoga may very well have saved his life. And you’ll also meet Teo Drake, a trans yoga and meditation teacher who asks not for sympathy from those who hear his story, but rather a commitment to finding a commonality. “I want them to feel empathy,” says Drake, “and to act in solidarity.” That is my ultimate wish, not only for this issue, but for the yoga community as a whole: that we, as yogis, commit to remembering that we are all united and to doing what we can to make this beautiful, accepting practice available to anyone who wants it, regardless of gender, race, size, ability, or socioeconomic status. In that spirit, I’ll ask you the same question I promise to continue to pose to myself. What is yoga for you?
Creator, Founder, CEO Dan Heinlein President Koen Olsen Vice President Miles Millar Executive Director Clark Duke
Table of Contents
Starting a Home Practice
Summer Yoga Essentials
Summer Yoga Style
Yoga With Adriene
The Fundementals of Yoga
Recipes for Vinyasa
Thought Connection: Family Yoga
Words of wisdom from Anandaâ€™s Editor What this magazine offers you, the reader Who we are and what we do
Everything you need to start yoga at home Styles and guides for the summer solstice Summer yoga fashion and lifestyle Interviewing Youtubeâ€™s online yoga master Yoga for body, mind, and spirit Foods for the yogi lifestyle
Twitter advice from family yoga practitioners
Managing Director Paul Jackson
Copy Editor Jeremy Malak
Editor At Large Brejik Vulkar
Marketing Jessica Smith Brianna Tendyl Bao Dur Atris Canell
Editor In Chief Kandon Ark Staff Photographer Jamie Murray Creative Director Juhani Meera Senior Designer Yuthura Ban
Production Rowan Valdez Nathaniel Arroyo Allisson Gonzales Riley Glover Keagan Harrell Ashlyn Santos Jesse Richardson Kobe Oconnor
Contributors Mareli Brooks Clayton Chavez Trevin Zavala Taylor Shea Asia Walters Aniya Hester Natasha Mcdonald Jax Levy Jazlene Clarke Selena Francis Arjun Andersen Jovanny Thomas
This is Y
oga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga. Today, many millions of people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such diverse areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth. Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living. Among Yoga’s many
source texts, the two best known are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Both explain the nature of—and obstacles to—higher awareness and fulfillment, as well as a variety of methods for attaining those goals. As in any field, some aspects of Yoga are too subtle to be learned from books or lectures; they must be acquired through experience. Hence Yoga’s time-honored emphasis on the student-teacher relationship, in which the teacher helps the student develop a practice that brings deeper understanding through personal experience. Since the individual experience of Yoga is quite personal and may differ
for each practitioner, there are a wide variety of approaches to its practice. Yoga has in recent times branched out in many new directions, some of which are quite different from its traditional emphases. All approaches to Yoga, however, are intended to promote some aspect(s) of wellbeing. As a result, today’s practitioners have more options than ever as they seek to gain the most from the vibrant, ever-expanding field of Yoga. But that isnt who we are here at Ananda. You must be wonderings, what is Ananda? What does this mean to you? What will this magazine achieve in your daily life? There are so many questions that I am sure you are asking of yourself. Here at Anan-
da, we are your guide to all that is Yoga. The themes, the poses, everything. We are here for you. We love you in your entirety. Within this magazine you will find everything that encompasses the yoga lifestyle. You’ll find everything from poses to food recipes. Testimonials of professional yogi’s to beginners as well as your own personal guide to beginning a practice of your own. There are so many reasons to love this lifestyle, and whats really wonderful is that all of these things are as functional and malleiable as the world around you. Yoga has been a regular part of my life for over 20 years, during which
time my practice has dramatically changed and my teaching style has evolved to reflect my personal experiences. After years of teaching anatomy for yoga teacher training programs, I had collected an extensive list of questions about how asana was actually affecting our anatomy and function. I enrolled in graduate school and found many of the answers to my questions were to be found by studying biomechanics. Partly due to my own injuries and partly due to the public perception that yoga is mostly stretching, my Master’s thesis project became a comprehensive literature review on the science of stretching, referencing the most current collection of scientif-
ic research on the topic of flexibility. During the process, I discovered that the emphasis on stretching in the yoga community is often misunderstood, resulting in anecdotal information unsupported by the vast body of evidence published by exercise scientists. Additionally, I discovered that our bodies (systems, organs, tissues, cells) respond to tensile loading in ways far beyond stretching for flexibility purposes. “Stretching” had to be redefined in order to see the bigger picture. So now this is what I do. This is what I love. I couldn’t imagine a life without it. Mission Vao - Contributor
Starting Your Home Practice
By Karen Gillan
Getting a home practice going
comes down to three basic elements: finding a method that works for you and then committing some time and space for it as regularly as possible. Don’t worry about what you’ve been told is the “right” way to do it. If DVDs, online classes, or apps work for you, that’s great. You can get inspired by sequences published in magazines or your favorite yoga websites. When you’re ready to cre-
ate your own free-form flow, go for it. Establishing a warm-up sequence, maybe followed by sun salutations, that you do every time is a good way to ease yourself into each yoga session. No single technique is going to work for everyone but you are much more likely to stay committed if you are honest with yourself about what works best for you. Time is also pretty crucial. You’re going to be most successful if you find a regular time that fits your schedule
and don’t worry about what anyone else says about the “best” time for your practice. Morning, afternoon, evening, it’s all good if it works for you. You don’t have to find an hour in every day to make a home practice worthwhile You can do a lot in less time, especially if you keep it super consistent. Set your alarm a half hour early and roll right onto your mat. An evening session to help you relax and get ready to sleep is also a great option.
The GAIAM brand is cheap, affordable, and a great first purchase for any aspiring yogi. Their yoga mats are lightweight, durable mat is suitable for all types of yoga and is extra-thick for great additional cushioning with textured nonslip surface for excellent traction keeps you on the mat.
While not necessarily an essential, yoga blocks provide stability and balance to help with optimal alignment, deeper poses and increased strength. The HalfMoon brand makes blocks that are made of eco-friendly material and are comfortable behind belief.
Foam Roller Foam rollers are a fantastic tool for after practice sore muscles. A roller is ideal for balance, muscle strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises. Many are made from molded polypropylene to maintain firmness Lightweight, easy to clean and easily transportable.
Athletic Balls For the yogiâ€™s with a little more strength and flexibility, athletic balls are a fantastic purchase for more difficult movements, perfecting your balance, and adding some extra challenge to your practice.
My Summer Yoga Essentials With all the fun new ways to practice yoga outside, there is even more reason to keep up with your yoga practice this summer season. to find bliss in the great outdoors.
1. Summer Festivals
2. Pack Light
3. Protect Your Skin
Research the many yoga festivals happening this summer and participate in events that spark your curiosity and inspire you to practice outside! For a full weekend experience, check out Boulder’s homegrown festival, Hanuman Festival, scheduled June 15-18th in beautiful Boulder, CO. For a shorter one-day experience, check out Wanderlust 108, a mindful triathlon including a 5K run, yoga practice and guided meditation, happening in numerous cities all across the country.
Consider a travel mat that is lightweight, foldable and easy to transport. You might even select an eco-friendly mat option that is BPA free and easy on our environment. I love my Elite Hybrid by Kulae because this mat-towel combo is super light-weight and 100% recyclable. Grab your favorite mat, a reusable water bottle and a pair of shades and you’ll be ready for your practice outside!
Our skin is the largest organ in our body so we must be sure to protect it. Apply natural and organic sunscreen every few hours and wear sun hats to shade your face from the sun. You can find lots of great skincare options at any natural and organic health food stores; just be sure to check the labels and avoid any products with alcohol as that will dry out your skin. Stay informed and stay protected!
4. Buzz Off
Opt for a DEET-free insect repellant like Buzz Away Extreme, a plantbased natural repellent that protects your skin from mischievous bugs up to 4 hours. With an environmentally friendly non-aerosol spray applicator and convenient towelettes, Buzz Away Extreme is an eco-positive alternative that works!
Drink Water! While it is recommended to drink half of your body weight in ounces every day, it may be wise to double that amount when stretching and sweating in the sizzling summer heat. If you’re practicing at higher elevations, be sure to increase your H2O intake even more. I always think it’s better to drink too much water than not enough.
There is nothing more simple and elegant as a onytail when practicing. Itâ€™s easy, eďŹƒcient, and almost never gets in your way
Donâ€™t overspend on name brand yoga pants. Something that is comfortable and made of eco-friendly and organic weave is just as good.
An easy, ďŹ‚exible tee is your best friend. It allows you not to just be comfortable in pose, but also lets your body breathe during exertive practice
While there are plenty of good reasons to take a class or do some group yoga in a ďŹ tness center, sometimes just being outdoors is the thing to make you shine
Yoga With Adriene
What are the fundamental, or central, themes to focus on, and most of all, poses. Adriene Mishler, certified yogi and professional instructor, who also happens to be a famous Youtuber, shows us what fundementals mean to her and her practice. With a professional theatre background, Adriene works in television, voiceover and film and has 2 million subscribers on YouTube. She is a regular contributor for magazines and blogs and voices several characterâ€™s in DC Universe Online including Lois Lane, Supergirl, Powergirl and Raven. Recent acting credits include American Crime directed by John Ridley, Everybody Wants Some directed by Richard Linklater and Joe directed by David Gordon Green. Adriene co-founded Find What Feels Good, a video subscription website, providing creative Yoga and Yoga Lifestyle content across all devices. On a mission to get the tools of yoga into schools and homes, Adriene also produces and hosts Yoga With Adriene, a successful online community that provides high quality yoga at no cost to inspire people of all shapes and sizes across the globe. YWA was recognized by Google as the most searched workout of 2015, has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal and was awarded a Streamy in Health and Wellness in 2016.
Yoga is really the art of waking up. Getting back to the true you. It can be that simple. Yoga offers up a way for us to see a world that is working for you instead of against you. Yoga reminds me that everything is connected so we must live, act, dance, breathe with awareness. If the journey really is the reward, then by golly I choose to enJOY the journey. For me, It is vital to pay attention to alignment, or symmetrical range of motion (ROM) right to left, in any given position. Yoga practice can help students discover how to monitor the intensity of forces needed to achieve strength and stability in any given pose for the purpose of stillness and meditation. All yoga teachers need a strong knowledge of anatomy. This means not just memorizing muscles and bones, but learning about joints their capabilities and structure and the associated muscular attachments. Paramount in the teaching of yoga is the understanding that we are responding to force. We must understand how a force
becomes a resistance; learn how to apply force; and look at what in our anatomy opposes and creates force. We have muscle that is designed to develop tension and to directly or indirectly oppose forces that occur inside and outside of the body. There are reasons for limitation and tightness in the body. It is fundamental for yoga practitioners to understand the reasons for their tightness. One cause of muscle tightness can be weakness. Since yoga is about holding isometric positions, it can strengthen weak areas if poses are performed correctly. The most important aspect of yoga that many teachers and practitioners miss is attention to the individual. Realizing that not every body can fit into every pose is crucial. We must see that in addition to having general anatomical knowledge, there is also the anatomy of the individual to consider. Yoga practice should never violate the bodyâ€™s current status and ROM.
(A) What’s your sign? What do you feel that says about you?
(A) What made you decide to start your amazing Youtube channel, Yoga With Adriene
(Adriene) I am a Libra. I used to really be into the zodiac but I have kind of loosened my grip on all that. I love to be around people and I’ve always loved to be the hostess. I find comfort in making sure everyone is comfortable. It’s important for everyone to be happy or feel welcome in order for me to find ease and enjoy myself.
(Adriene) The channel was not my idea but the awesome idea of my business partner and friend Christopher Sharpe. Chris and his wife Hilah have a successful (and brilliant) YouTube cooking show called Hilah Cooking. Chris is super creative and super smart. We met working on a film of his years prior.
I’m always introducing people at parties and making sure everyone knows each other. We have done two yoga meet ups (one in NY and one in LA) and both have been hosted by YWA and essentially set up our team of two – Chris and I. I think that is cool. On the road, I am the person sweeping the floor and lighting the candles and making sure everyone fits. It feels personal and I like that.
After the cooking show was up and thriving he knew he wanted to do something in health and wellness next and approached me about YOGA. Together we explored ways to bring yoga to the tube in a way that was fun and inviting. We both aimed for videos that truly inspired you to do something nice for yourself.
I also love to set up the room for my regular classes, making sure the room feels beautiful and welcoming wherever we may be. It’s very important to me that yoga is affordable and that everyone feels welcome. As we know, the hardest part is getting on the mat or arriving at a class. I try to create an environment that is creative and fun-loving so more people show up for themselves. (A) How and when did you first find yoga? Was it love at first asana? (Adrienne) I grew up in theatre and dance and was introduced to Yoga at a young age – but I was 18 when I took a college course Kundalini yoga class and fell in love. That led me to take classes outside of the university and shortly after that I enrolled in a 200hr Hatha Yoga teacher training. I fell deeply in love with the magic of yoga and felt good on my mat. I was young, agile and had the world ahead of me. Yoga was there for me during my first big break up and now recently there for me after the passing of my dog of 10 years. Yoga has had my back. Originally I thought teaching yoga would simply be a (very healthy) side job as I grew my acting career. It sure beat being a waitress or a bartender at the time. I’m blessed to have stuck to my guns and manifested my two dream jobs. I really do believe my two career paths could not be happy or fruitful without each other. My practice balances out the grind of the film and commercial industry – for sure. My theatre training has no doubt assisted me in letting go on my mat and now on camera for the YWA channel and sharing the tools of yoga with others. It’s an awesome lesson in gratitude and trusting that it’s all connected baby – because it IS.
Chris and I make a good team and I am so grateful for the invitation to collaborate. We have so many cool things in store! I’m excited for the potential of the channel and the amazing community (A) What is your favorite type of yoga class to TAKE and why? (Adrienne) My favorite class varies. What kind of mood I am in, where my body is at, what my week or weekend is like or what the weather is. I love all kinds of classes and think its great to change it up in order to practice listening and becoming the one in charge of your own happiness. Sometimes I like to go to what I call “yoga gym” and throw in some weights and sometimes I like to rock out with some deep breathers and feel the joy swirl around the room. And sometimes I prefer to light a candle at home and just see what happens. (A) What is your favorite movie? (Adrienne) What?! What does this have to do with yoga?? This is a hard question!!! Just kidding. But it is a hard one! One of my favorite movies is My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carole Lombard. (A) What is the biggest thing that has changed in your life since starting YWA? (Adrienne) I’ve learned that taking time for myself is important. Taking good care of myself so I can take good lovin’ care of the ones I love. Serving myself so that I can better serve others. Also -I have learned to laugh it off more and trust the process and the big picture. Yoga reminds me to surrender. Since starting the YWA channel I have learned to aim for always being myself. Some days it is hard and I feel vulnerable but ultimately it is good for me and even good for business to just be myself.
Find What Feels Good - Adriene Mishler
Mind Body Spirit Balance
The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down. â€œMinds are like flowers, they only open when the time is right.
Yoga For The Mind Mental health is an essential part of the Yoga lifestyle. With the philosophies within a daily practice, Yoga deepens understanding of the mind and our bodies, and vice versa.
By Carth Onasi For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that I don’t like the terms “mind-body connection” and “mindbody medicine” too much. From what I’ve seen, most people who use the phrase “mind-body” seem to mean the way your mind, primarily your thoughts, can influence the functioning of the body. While that notion may have once seemed radical, to the yogi it’s pretty obvious. In yoga, however, we learn that this aspect of the mind-body connection is really only part of the story. The Mind-Body Connection: I’ve heard yoga teachers describe the mind-body connection as something elusive, a link we hope to forge with our yoga practice. In reality, the mind-body connection is present all the time—for better and worse—whether we or our students are aware of it or not. Consider a few examples. If your mouth waters at the thought of a dish you love, you’re experiencing the mind-body connection. If you’ve ever felt the butterflies in the pit of your stomach as you prepared to make a presentation, you’ve felt how your thoughts affect the functioning of your intestines. An athlete who “chokes” at a big moment in a competition, performing worse than usual, is similarly seeing the results of a fearful state of mind on his or her ability to coordinate muscular actions. Experiencing the mind-body connection is a routine occurrence, not something that only the advanced yogi can achieve. The problem—and the reason we’ve got the concept of mind-body medicine at all—is that often the connection is all too real, and it causes problems. You may have students who are so anxious or stressed out that they can’t sleep well or concentrate on their work. Others may be carrying around so much anger that they’re setting themselves up for bleeding ulcers or heart attacks. What we are doing when we teach our students techniques like pratyahara (the turning of the senses inward) and dhyana (meditation) is getting their minds out of the way. Without the interference of their usual anxious or angry thoughts, the stress response system relaxes and the body can do a better job of healing itself. You could say, in a sense, that mind-body medicine works by severing the mind-body connection, at least for a little while.
At Harvard Medical School’s Mind-Body Medical Institute, Dr. Herbert Benson and colleagues teach a technique they call the Relaxation Response, which is a demystified system of meditation, modeled directly on Transcendental Meditation (TM), a type of yogic mantra meditation. Numerous studies have shown that when you quiet the mind with these techniques, a variety beneficial physiological responses—including reduced heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones—result, benefiting conditions from migraines to high blood pressure to infertility. Although most yogic practices have not been studied as much as TM and the Relaxation Response, it makes sense that wide variety of yogic tools, from chanting to Pranayama practices like Ujjayi (Victorious Breath) and Bhramari (Buzzing Bee Breath) to other meditation techniques, all of which cultivate pratyahara and quiet the mind, would have similar health benefits. And many yogis believe that there are additive benefits from combining different practices—for example, by doing pranayama as a prelude to meditation. Most people have discovered that exercising, whether it’s going for a walk or doing a vigorous yoga class, can lift their mood. A massage or a hot bath can relieve stress. It works the other way too: Regular exercisers may notice themselves feeling grumpy if they are denied their usual physical outlet several days in a row. “Take a deep breath,” the simple injunction commonly given when someone is angry or stressed out, is an acknowledgement of the body-mind connection. And this is, of course, the principle that we are taking advantage of in asana practice in particular. Yogis have discovered that certain poses, like backbends and side stretches, tend to be stimulating to the mind, while others, like forward bends and inversions, tend to promote a quieter, more introspective state.
Yoga For The Body The physical benefits of Yoga are proven. Wether it’s increasing flexibility, building muscle strength, or maintaining your nervous system, Yoga is a fantastic addition to your workouts
By Bastila Shan
myself have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest. Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I’d arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn’t exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand. My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, Pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back. Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear.
That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings canlead to bad things. Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility. Yoga is great for posture and the spine. Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine. Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads. It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.
Yoga For The Spirit Spirituality is a key aspect for those practicing Yoga. The lifestyle is steeped in tradition lasting many hundreds of years, and can be found in the cultures of many different countries
By Jolee Bindo
oga is physical, for sure. Regularly practicing yoga develops your stamina, your strength, and your rockstar abs. Postures challenge the body. However, yoga is also a mental practice where you work through emotional stress and psychological challenges you may even meditate.
about holding your pose regardless of the circumstances through an awareness of yourself and your experience.
If you sign up for yoga classes because you want a thin body or the ability to master a handstand then you are skimming the surface of the practice. If you enjoy yoga for the health benefits then you will certainly feel better with regular sessions. But without the spiritual side, yoga is simply a stretch class, a gym session, or a space for relaxation. Go deeper, and you’ll find so much more.
Most of the time, we are busy analyzing our actions and focusing on our physical performance instead of simply being. How can you develop awareness without taking the time and space to connect deeper within yourself?
Cultivating Awareness When committing to yoga practice on a regular basis, yogis seek to experience and become aware of the spirit, or the energy, within and without. We’re not talking about ghostly spirits here, or some supernatural being – spirit is higher consciousness; a driving force, a motivation, a reason behind everything we think and everything we do. Being aware of this energy is something spiritual. Therefore, awareness is critical to yoga as a spiritual practice. Think of the expression “the mat is your mirror.” When you turn up to the mat you bring yourself – only yourself and all of yourself. If you practice yoga with an awareness of yourself you come to learn about the different ways you act, how you react, and what you are like – in creating awareness of yourself you can transform your mind, which in turn affects how you live your life and how you interact with others.
Relinquishing Control Watch out - awareness doesn’t always lead to the place you want to go. Yoga as a spiritual practice is not about changing your life so you can earn more money, be a “better” person, or score a job you love. Yoga is not about getting rid of the negative by controlling your mind and your environment. Rather, practicing yoga reminds you there is no “sweet spot” – there will always be a barking dog, a car that runs out of gas, a bad-tempered boss or an inattentive lover. There will always be something you could do without, or improve. Developing a spiritual side with yoga is
A Quiet Mind
Yoga gives you the space to do just that. Many teachers will talk of the importance of the quiet mind – push yourself through the highly physical postures in order to be exhausted enough to let go into your quiet mind or sacred inner space. Just be. Don’t expect positivity, peacefulness or happiness, but if it does come, be aware of it. Be aware of what you experience, and be grateful. Taking this attitude of gratitude and surrender into your everyday life away from the mat makes yoga a spiritual practice.
Yoga Is Not a Religion You can be of any faith or have no faith to practice yoga – yoga is not a religious practice, and the spiritual side of yoga is not linked to any organized form of worship. The word yoga means to join or unite, and yogis view this unison in different ways – the unison of body, mind and spirit, uniting all the aspects of yourself, or uniting with a higher power or spiritual force. You can believe in a God or gods, or nothing at all. Sometimes working through asanas can be like a prayer – moving quietly, reverently, focused on the breath. But equally your prayer could come the next day, when you feel a jolt of recognition and completion, and are taken back to how you felt when you were truly in the moment, on the mat. Perhaps yoga is a way of cultivating wholeness, remembering wholeness, and recognizing this wholeness everywhere – for many yogis, that is the spiritual side of the practice.
The Natural Body A Yogi’s Guide to Diet and Nutrition By Canderous Ordo Isn’t it enough just to practice the Yoga asanas/ poses, do I have to regulate my food?’ wonder many. In itself, practicing Yoga asanas is one of the most beneficial regimes, but when complemented with the healthy food habits, it can really create wonders. In fact, eating the right food is an essential part of living a Yogic life. What we eat, not only influences our physical well being, but also our emotions and thoughts. Yoga, does not dissect food into proteins, carbohydrates or fats, instead it classifies them according to the effect they have on the body and mind, into three types – satva, rajas and tamas. Tamasic food is the kind of food which makes us lethargic or sluggish, while Rajasic food is that which brings about activity or restlessness. Whereas, Sattvic food is the kind which makes you feel light, energetic and enthusiastic. Not just the right kind of food, it is vital to eat the proper quantity of food at the right time. Overindulging leads to lethargy while under eating will not provide enough nourishment. Most of the times we know that our stomach is full but tempted by the taste buds we tend to indulge. The right amount of food cannot be quantified into cups or grams, when we listen to our body attentively we will know when exactly to stop! We might eat the right kind of food in the right quantity but if we are irregular with our timings then the whole system goes for a toss and the natural rhythm of the body is hampered. Therefore it is of prime importance to eat food at the same time everyday and eat it at regular intervals. It is said that the state of the mind of the person cooking/ eating also affects the food. The energy in the food cooked by someone while he/she was angry will definitely be lower than that of someone who cooked it with a feeling of love, contentment and gratitude. Listening to some soothing music or chanting while cooking and eating can help retain the Prana (life force energy) in the food. Yoga also prescribes a more personalized diet according to the nature of our constitution.
Heat boosts the sweetness of fruits. Berries, which are in season now and get their rich color from disease-fighting anthocyanins, are great candidates for a quick sauté.
A syrup stand-in on French toast; a mixer for
1. In a 10” no-stick skillet over medium-high
oatmeal or Greek yogurt
heat, combine the apples, pears, butter or oil, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Try it Coat a medium skillet with 2 tsp grapeseed oil
2. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to
and place over medium-high heat.
5 minutes, or until the fruit softens slightly.
What You’ll Need
3. Add the maple syrup; cook and stir for 5 min-
3 large sweet apples (such as golden delicious),
utes, or until the syrup is thick.
large pear, sliced
4. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a
teaspoon butter or oil
dash of nutmeg.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 pinch of ground nutmeg 1/4 cup maple syrup
Stock up on spring greens to put together this simple yet delicious salad from Natasha Rizopoulos, founder of the Align Your Flow vinyasa system.
This salad is a great, nutritious addition to any warm, summer brunch.
What You’ll Need
1. In a bowl, toss greens, carrot, avocado, walnuts, seeds, cheese, and cherry tomatoes.
cup spring greens (like arugula or baby kale), torn
2. Top with lemon juice, oil, salt, and black
medium carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 avocado, diced 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 1/8 cup salted, roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds 2 oz hard, aged cheese, cut into bite-size pieces (Gouda, Gruyere, or Manchego are my go-tos) 8
cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 lemon, juiced 2
tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt (I like Himalayan or Maldon) ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Stock up on spring greens to put together this simple yet delicious salad from Natasha Rizopoulos, founder of the Align Your Flow vinyasa system.
This recipe is a protein packed recovery meal that helps your body rebuild after a session.
What You’ll Need
1. Heat oven to 400°. 2. Coat an 8-by-11-inch baking dish with cooking spray and place salmon in dish, skin-side
Olive-oil cooking spray
down. In a bowl, combine apricots, garlic, and
oz wild-caught salmon, sliced into 4 fillets
zest. Spoon mixture over salmon and bake until
dried apricots, chopped
apricots brown and salmon flakes when pressed
garlic cloves, minced
with a fork, 12–15 minutes.
orange, zest and juice
cups baby kale
3. In a second bowl, combine baby kale, broc-
cups broccoli florets
coli, red cabbage, and navy beans. In a third
cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
bowl, whisk together orange juice, sesame oil
cup canned, unsalted navy beans, rinsed and drained
mustard, and garlic salt; pour sesame dressing
tbsp sesame oil
over vegetables and stir until evenly coated.
tbsp Dijon mustard
Divide vegetables among four plates. Remove
tsp garlic salt
skin from salmon and place fish over vegetables.
cup almonds, chopped or slivered
Garnish with almonds and sesame seeds, serve.
tsp sesame seedsr
A Thought Collection Some internet stories from families who enjoy yoga together
@MarthaMay21 Being a parent doesn’t have to mean zero personal time and a slimmed-down social life. Today yoga classes are not just for the super-fit, super-flexible, and super-serious. Anyone and everyone can find a class that suits his or her needs—including parents and children. For me, it was my job to consider opening my studio’s doors to families. Let parent and child classes evolve out of my pre- and postnatal offerings, and evoke more play, creativity, and spontaneity in my teachings so that yoga time can be family time.
@Vinyasaqueen312 For new moms and dads, the transition into parenthood also infuses one’s practice with a deepened sense of offering and devotion, observes Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams, a yoga instructor based in Bangkok, Thailand, who specializes in pre- and postnatal and mommy and me classes. Women practice yoga in these classes for the health, happiness, and well-being of not only themselves but for someone even more precious to them. That infuses their practice with a brilliance that is breathtaking. For children, Wise finds that these classes plant the seeds of a future yoga and the benefits of meditation practice.
@KenwinQuick No matter how you structure your classes, be prepared to weave breastfeeding breaks and temper tantrums into the sequences. Wise finds that the biggest challenge rests in creating a seamless class for the parents while enjoying time with their children and their sometimes-unpredictable moods. “If a child is about to bean another child on the head with a toy,” she says, “that needs to be addressed—then back to Downward Dog!”
@Jenny_Blithe I have learned to adjust my class plans not only according to energy levels or asana adeptness, but in response to the contagious effects of both crying and giggling fits and the utterly unpredictable attention spans of infants and toddlers. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, consider offering classes for different age groups. Wise suggests having an infant-only class for children aged six weeks to walking, and other classes for mixed ages, all the way up to six years old or even older
“Change is not something that we should fear.” “There is always room for change, but you have to be open to that change.” “The very heart of yoga practice is ‘abyhasa’ – steady effort in the direction you want to go.” “Yoga means addition. The addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul.