Yoga not just for Fitness

Many people think that Yoga is a form of exercise that is specifically meant to keep the body in good shape and nothing more. However, apart from keeping the body fit, yoga is very important if practiced daily since the benefits of yoga go beyond these physical boundaries. The practice of yoga is not limited or fixed at a certain age since anybody can practice it and experience tremendous results. However, various misconceptions have developed about yoga practice. For example, a lot of people believe that the practice of yoga is purely meant for exercise and body fitness while some people also tend to think that yoga movements are too complex to perform. 

Indians introduced yoga to the Western world between the 19th and the 20th century. The Indians wanted the westerners to learn the practice of yoga so that they could also have benefits. The westerners welcomed the practice until they decided to commercialize it to the public. What was once a respected piece of art now was reduced to a mere training session! However, yoga is supposed to be used with the right intentions, not for achieving personal gains.

Yoga is a habit that develops as you practice it, it is a general way of life and as such, it is aimed at liberating an individual, thereby it has a great impact on people’s lives.

Principles of yoga

For you to be a yoga practitioner you need to master the following five general principles:

  1. Postures (also called Asana)
  2. Breathing control (Pranayama)
  3. Relaxation of your body (Shavasana)
  4. The diet (Sattvic)
  5. Meditation (Dhyana)

The practice of yoga allows you to be in harmony with the universe as you channel energy from the experience.

The benefits of yoga

Apart from the physical benefits associated with yoga, other benefits directly influence our lives and the way we think. These include:

  • Yoga gives balance and posture to our physique. It makes us be in good shape and more confident about our bodies.
  • Yoga is beneficial to our emotional wellbeing. As you take deep breaths into your body during yoga practice, the body gets accustomed to more oxygen and ultimately relaxes. This relaxation of the body helps you to get rid of unhealthy emotions such as anger. When this practice is done regularly, your body will get used to positive emotions that in turn make your life happier and uplifted.
  • Yoga practice helps you to stay focused. The practice of yoga involves meditation where you let go of every thought that makes your soul feel heavy and replace it with good thoughts by concentrating fully on your yoga sessions. This deep concentration of the mind and body alleviates any discomfort and helps you to stay focused.

Medical Benefits of Yoga

  • If you are suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma, practicing Prayana helps to strengthen the lungs and make you less susceptible to cases of difficult breathing.
  • Yoga practice helps you to develop stronger muscles, which in turn protects you from developing conditions such as hamstring injuries, arthritis, and even back pains.
  • Yoga practice will help you develop a stronger spine by making it very flexible as you bend back and forth in your daily activities.
  • Yoga practice also helps your body to have a good circulation of blood during the breathing exercises (Pranayama) which in turn helps the body have enough oxygen and the result is a decrease in blood clots and ultimately reduced heart attacks.

In conclusion, the benefits of yoga are much more than mere fitness exercises. Yoga cuts across the entire sphere of our daily life hence we should start practicing yoga whenever we can.

Find Balance, Reconnect with Breath and Tone Your Body at Once

My number one resort when I wish to feel more toned is pilates. It is a mat class in which you really might not sweat, but that does mean that you won’t be working hard. Pilates targets all your muscle groups within the same practice and, in most instances, within the same exercise.

I came across it once I was done competing in sports professionally (or at least I put competition aside until further notice) and was looking into a class that will keep me toned even if I’m not running and doing any heavy lifting. It is an exercise which you can look at as a less meditative and more active version of yoga. I compare it to yoga, as it uses the breath to dictate the pace of the movement.

It is moreover a low impact cardio practice that mainly builds flexibility and muscle strength. It focuses on spinal and pelvic alignment, reconnecting the breath with movement while improving coordination and balance. It requires you to focus and concentrate and is, therefore, a good practice of mindfulness. It establishes one’s body control. A constant movement throughout the practice is the contraction of pelvic muscles, making pilates a great option for all the pregnant ladies out there as well as post-delivery exercise, as it quickly strengthens them back.

Each pilates move is designed to promote proper alignment of the spine. In turn, it increases flexibility and moreover relaxes the shoulders, neck and upper back. Upright posture is one of the most prominent contemporary health issues. We tend to sit crouched behind our computers for long consecutive strands of time. Make sure to wear comfortable soft leggings and let’s start practicing!

Pilates is a great form of exercise for a couple of reasons:

  • It gives strength to the body, shaping and toning the muscles.
  • It decreases stress by elongating muscles and it even promotes endurance.
  • I’ve seen the best results deriving from one solo type of exercise, coming from pilates.

And if I had to choose my favorite pilates moves, it would be these 5:

1. Pilates 100

  1. Lay down on your back, bring head, neck, shoulders, and legs just above the ground.
  2. Squeeze your core and relax your shoulders.
  3. Pulse with your arms up and down, performing 5 brief consecutive exhales, then 5 brief consecutive inhales.

2. Spinal Balance

  1. Done either on your knees or a more advanced option, starting from a plank position.
  2. Staring from a tabletop position, extending one arm forward and reaching out, while at the same time extending the opposite leg back.

3. Single-Leg Bridges

  1. Lay on your back with legs bent and bring hips up towards the sky.
  2. You’ll feel working the back muscles, booty, and hamstrings.

4. Saw

  1. Sit tall and open your arms to the side, legs wider than shoulder-distance apart.
  2. With an inhale, rotate your trunk and round over the opposite knee.
  3. With an exhale, return to the starting position.
  4. Then, repeat on the other side.

5. Scissor Crunches

  1. Lay flat on your back.
  2. Bring head, neck, and shoulders off the ground and hands behind your neck.
  3. Also, bring one leg strain up in the air while the other one is hovering just above the ground.
  4. Bring opposite elbow to the knee of the leg that is pointing straight up.
  5. Then switch and continue switching for 8 to 12 repetitions on each side.

I like to start beginners with sequences of at least 8 repetitions. They can also have a break in between. A general goal of progression is that with a regular practice a couple of times a week, you are able to do 12 consecutive reps of each move after a month of practice.


If you’re new to pilates, I hope I lighted a spark of interest for the practice especially because of its wide range of benefits. It would definitely be my top recommendation for anyone trying to tone up and improve posture and flexibility.

The Little-Known Facts about Leggings for Women

When it comes to yoga leggings for women, every woman has her own individual style and choice. Women with exceptional bodies actually don’t mind putting on tight-fitting lycra bra tops, which is the normal yoga attire for younger ladies with better bodies.

However, it should be noted that yoga leggings will be moving and stretch during awkward positions when lying on the floor, making them prone to exposing parts of the body. Loose fitting yoga pants are the choices for women who don’t want to expose their bodies in a yoga class. There are several diverse kinds of workout leggings options for women such as the shiny lycra stirrup tights, lycra footless tights, cotton stirrup tights, footless tights, footless leggings and Capri leggings. The choice is yours as each style can serve a different purpose.

Leggings for women are the most comfortable items you can wear including sporty solid, printed athletic, pop of bold colors, casual prints and funky patterns. In fact, these simple stretchy pants you know and adore have a prosperous record and faced a major development before they became the foremost comfortable leg wear of anybody’s choice. These unbelievable multipurpose bottoms have become an indispensable staple in the wardrobe of every woman.

Why Yoga Pants for Women are the Best

  1. Yoga pants for women are arguably the best way to cover your backside, although they may not have buttons, pockets or zippers.
  2. When you swap the top of your leggings, they can make the bumpy transition from the workday to working out less of a pain.
  3. Leggings give the limbs the freedom they deserve.
  4. Nothing shows off this asset better for women who are proud of their incomparable derrières.
  5. High-waisted leggings have solid day-to-night potential.
  6. They make putting on a boot bunch-free and easy.
  7. This body shaper makes yoga practice much more bearable and they don’t ride up, move around, chafe, rustle or get caught in things whenever you are in throws of rigorous yoga exercise.
  8. Knit leggings are a number of the warmest bottoms around, aside from snow pants, particularly when they’re fleece-lined.
  9. A high-waisted legging does the trick when you want to suck everything inside.
  10.  Leggings are a statement of defiance in a society that tells us to constantly cover our blemishes.
  11. If you are one of those who object to these women’s pants as being see-through, be assured that they can be as thick as you want them to be.
  12.  Shapewear for women is a creative canvas even though some women take them too far.
  13. Leggings are one of the most comfortable clothing you can wear to a yoga class.

Final Thoughts

Nowadays, the designs for yoga leggings for women have grown more complex unlike those days when they used to be produced with simple designs. But, you will be sure to be comfortable while wearing whatever style yoga pants you choose to buy for a wide array of yoga practices.

Yoga Attire – What To Wear To Your First Yoga Class

Yoga is all around us, on social media, on the Internet or walking down the street. You may have heard common misconceptions about yoga: flexibility is non-negotiable, certain body types are important, specific clothing, and the perfect yoga mat. Those misconceptions are just that… misconceptions. Yoga accepts you just as you are in that moment and every moment thereafter.

You just signed up for your very first yoga class and you couldn’t be happier. Then suddenly panic hits you and it feels like a punch in the gut. What are you going to wear? No need to fret! After reading this article you will be ready for your first yoga class and every class thereafter. 

No matter the yoga class, you will need a yoga mat. An inexpensive one will do just fine until you feel comfortable and begin exploring different brands. Pick a yoga mat that feels good to you, not a yoga mat that feels good to others. A large water bottle or a few medium water bottles and a towel are also good to bring. Yoga studios usually have extra yoga mats to rent and other props such as yoga blocks and straps that are used during practice; you can bring those props if you’d like but it’s usually not necessary. 

Now onto the attire. What is good to wear? Any clothing that makes you feel comfortable. Honestly, you can wear leggings (high or low waisted), yoga pants, yoga capris, workout capris, gym leggings or any other type of workout clothes for women. Running leggings or comfy women’s shorts are always great choices. I would highly recommend a comfortable sports bra and top.

( A simple attire like the one pictured above will do perfectly. You can shop yoga leggings here.) 

Your first yoga class will involve a tremendous amount of moving and getting used to the poses and being comfortable in your attire is the most important. A sizable bag to transport all of your belongings along with a change of clothes and post-yoga snack because you will sweat and work up an appetite! Lastly, I recommend that you bring an open mind and a non-judgmental approach.

The Top 10 Yoga Poses You Need to Know

According to a Hatha Yoga text known as The Gheranda Samhita, there are 84 basic poses. Lord Shiva is said to have created 8,400,000 asanas in total, and a yogi named Sri Dharma Mittra once photographed himself in 1,350 postures. In short, there are A LOT of yoga poses. With so many to choose from, where should a beginner start?

 

 

Below is a list of the 10 most common poses you will encounter throughout your yoga practice and how to do them:

Mountain

While this looks like an easy pose, it actively works to improve balance, posture, and focus. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides, palms facing forward. Without holding onto any tension, make your body as tall as possible, imagining a string at the top of your head pulling you up. Keep your feet firmly grounded, close your eyes, and bring your focus to the present.

Downward Dog

Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned over your wrists and hips over knees. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed across your hands. Tuck your toes under and lift up and back, reaching your pelvis towards the ceiling. Touch your heels to the floor if you can, but if not stay on your toes. Your body should resemble an “a” shape. Relax your head, neck, and shoulders.

Forward Fold

From Mountain, slowly begin to bend from the hips and reach your arms down to the floor. Draw your forehead to your knees, bending them as needed. It’s important that you bend from your hips and not your lower back, as this reduces strain on the back.

Triangle

Step your feet 4-5 feet apart, turning your right foot 90 degrees so that your toes are pointing to the front of your mat. Your left foot should be at a 45-degree angle. Keep your hips facing forward and both legs straight. Raise your arms up to shoulder height, then reach your right arm forward, bend at the hip, and draw your right arm down to your right shin, keeping the left arm straight up pointing to the ceiling. Do the same on the left side.

Warrior I

Starting in Downward Dog, bring one foot forward into a lunge, turning your back foot to a 45-degree angle. Bring your torso up, keeping your pelvis facing the top of your mat. Raise your arms, bend back slightly lifting the chest, and hold.

Warrior II

Start off the same as Warrior I, going from Downward Dog into a lunge with your back foot at a 45-degree angle. This time, turn your hips out and face your pelvis towards one side of your mat. Raise your arms up to shoulder height. Gaze softly over whichever hand is facing forward (same side as the leg that is bent). Hold this before coming back into Downward Dog to switch sides.

Tree

Start in Mountain and firmly ground your feet into the floor. Begin to shift your weight to one foot, engaging your core and keeping your foot as stable as possible. Bring the foot your weight is not on to your calf, then slowly higher if possible. The optimum placement for your foot is against the inner thigh close to the pelvis. Do not rest your foot on the side of your knee, only above or below it. Bring your hands into a prayer position in front of your chest and focus on an unmoving spot in front of you.

Plank

Planks are prevalent in many exercise routines. The key to a proper plank is keeping your spine straight and not allowing your hips to either dip down or reach too high. Engage your core and avoid putting all of your weight your hands, which should be aligned under your shoulders but slightly wider than them. Planks are often used in yoga to transition to other poses, so proper form is important to reduce the chance of injury.

Child’s Pose

Rest on your knees while sitting back on your heels, hands resting on your thighs. Spread your knees apart and slowly bend forward, stretching your arms out in front or letting them rest at your sides. Your whole torso should be resting on your thighs, with your forehead on your mat. You can also come into Child’s Pose from Plank by resting your knees on the ground and reaching your hips back to your heels, keeping your arms stretched out in front.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie on your back with your arms out at your sides, palms facing up. Spread out your legs slightly, giving each limb its own space. The corpse pose is a recovery pose, so let your body relax and melt into the floor.

These common poses will serve you well no matter what level of yogi you are. They make up the foundation of yoga practice, and knowing these will help you master the toughest postures!

Fashion Do’s for Yoga Leggings

Yoga leggings are almost ubiquitous with time spent in the studio with your yoga instructor. They’re comfortable, effortlessly stylish, and often very affordable options. Many yogis even love yoga leggings because they are so versatile that they can be worn for an afternoon in town instead of simply during their regular yoga practice. What can you do to make sure that you’re wearing yoga leggings in the most fashionable way?

We know it can be overwhelming to hear the rules of fashion stated over and over again. So we compiled this simple list of fashion do’s to help you wear your yoga leggings with style.

Do Pair Them With a Longer Top

Yoga leggings are typically made from spandex, which means that they’re going to hug your curves a little closer. Many yogis become self-conscious about exposing the lumps and bumps that they would usually keep private. A longer tunic top can help to cover everything above your mid-thigh. This gives you a little bit more space to conceal areas that usually make you feel self-conscious.

Do Make Bold Choices With Color and Pattern

Black yoga leggings are typically the most popular selection for yogis and other fashionistas. While these are certainly classic and timeless, you don’t have to be limited by darker shades. Bold colors and patterns can be an excellent way to brighten up your wardrobe, make a serious fashion statement, and help you to stand out in a crowd.

Do Retire Them When They’re Finished

One of the most crucial decisions that you’ll have to make is deciding when your yoga leggings have reached the end of their life. You won’t want to extend their lifespan longer than necessary because it can mean some serious fashion faux pas. A pair of yoga leggings should be retired when they start to get thin in areas where friction occurs or along the seams.

Do Layer Your Outfits

Layering is essential to help balance out your yoga leggings and help make your outfits look more polished. When you have several layers on, it becomes less noticeable that you’re actually just wearing sweatpants. You can wear yoga leggings to the office with a short dress, a long boyfriend cardigan, and a blanket scarf. With all of those fancier layers, the spandex material of your leggings becomes significantly less noticeable.

Do Choose the Right Shoes

Wearing the right shoes can be a challenge with yoga leggings. You want something that is both casual and chic at the same time. You may want to consider a pair of leather riding boots or a simple pair of strappy wedges. Both of these can help you to feel comfortable and maintain an elegant appearance.

Wearing a quality pair of yoga leggings can make your outfit appear more fashionable and ultimately make it more comfortable. You should know how to wear them properly in order to make the most impact and avoid some major fashion mistakes. These key tips will have you styling your yoga pants better in no time at all.

3 Key Tips to Finding the Perfect Yoga Bralette

The popular bralettes that first made a debut on the scene of mainstream music festivals have slowly integrated their way into yoga apparel. Yogis shouldn’t be surprised at this quick crossover. After all, the stretchy bralettes are comfortable, particularly as you move, bend, and stretch.

If you’ve been considering replacing your trusty sports bra with something hipper and more comfortable, a bralette is the way to go. Here are three handy tips for helping you figure out which one is absolutely perfect for your body.


Remember That Sizing Is Going To Be Different

Many sports bras adhere to the traditional sizing system for regular bras, using a band size and cup letter. Bralettes are a little different, which means you should plan to try some on in store prior to making a purchase. These new additions to the bra category are typically very stretchy, being made of cotton or microfiber for the most part. Decorative bralettes can be found in lace.

As a result of their stretchy nature, they’re sized more like a good pair of yoga pants. Most companies will size them in groups ranging from extra-small to extra-large.

Look for Bralettes With Lightly Lined Cups

If you’re going to wear your bralette as a top to your next yoga class, you should really look for options that have lightly lined cups. Many are completely unlined, which can be great and more comfortable when wearing them underneath another shirt. However, an unlined bralette in the middle of a crowded yoga class can lead to some uncomfortable moments for you and your classmates.

As you move through rigorous practice, your body naturally builds an incredible amount of heat. Wearing a bralette is a great way to stay cool during a practice like this. Your body slowly starts to cool down by the end of class, which could mean an embarrassing faux pas in an unlined bra. Keep yourself covered and protected with some light liners.

Keep In Mind That You Won’t Have Much Support

If you’re a large-busted yogi, a bralette may not be the right fit for your yoga practice. Unlike many sports bras that feature thick fabrics and possibly even underwire, bralettes offer very little support in the larger sizes. This could lead to pain and discomfort if you’re accustomed to an extremely rigorous yoga practice. Not to mention, you may not relish the idea of having your chest bouncing around during your practice.

Yogis who have larger chests may want to search for a bralette with an underwire or one that allows you to wear a more supportive bra underneath. This can allow you to capitalize on the trend without sacrificing your comfort.


A bralette could be the perfect addition to your trusted pair of black yoga pants. You can opt for a lace version to dress them up or a sportier version to match your workout vibe. Whichever style you choose, you’re bound to be comfortable and cool during a heated yoga practice.

Yoga and Music: What Is the Connection?

 

 

The Debate

There is a great debate that has been going on for a long time over whether music is beneficial in a yoga class. There are those who feel that music makes that movements, poses, and breathing sync much easier when there is music going on. On the other hand, there are those who consider music to be a distraction.

How can you know if music is beneficial for your yoga practice or not? The first thing to consider is that there can never be complete agreement on this factor. The preference for music in yoga is as varied as it is in normal life. People’s choices in diverse types of music vary greatly.

The Benefits

On the positive side, music has been part of human history from the earliest civilizations of man. It is for this reason that music is an integral part of every culture in the world. Even though people may not love the same music genre in a yoga class, given a choice, each person can choose at least some form of music.

Music also has some obvious healing and therapeutic benefits. When combined with yoga, the health benefit is further enhanced. Depending on the postures and movements that one is doing, there is a place for both instrumental and lyrical music in a yoga practice. Understanding this factor can enhance the sense of community, the flow of the movements, self-awareness, and reflection.

Music can be especially beneficial in Vinyasa yoga classes, syncing well with the fast pace and the breathing motions. In some classes, tutors count the breathing motions to help students catch the pace. When music is incorporated, the steady tempo can make it easy for people to perform effortless breathing motions. This is key to Vinyasa yoga practitioners since breath is like a dance partner.

 

The Downside

According to the co-director of the Pennsylvania Center of Well Being, Dean Lerner, music is organized noise that is bound to affect the human mind. This means that it is not possible to draw your mind and consciousness into a meditative state when music is playing.

Lerner also agrees with a San Francisco based Iyengar instructor, Karl Erb, on the negative effects of music in meditation. There is a chance that music will compete with yoga in achieving the eight sacred goals, Pratyahara. Music may have the effect of acting as a distraction rather than a motivator in meditations.

The main goal of meditation in yoga is to reign in on wandering thoughts and focus them in one place. When music prevents this from happening, then it is not beneficial in yoga. What is interesting though is that there are still times when Lerner and Karl have used music in their yoga classes. According to them, there are times when it is appropriate.

 

How to Know When It Is Appropriate

With all the diverging points on the benefits of music in yoga, there are factors that one can consider when deciding on whether to use music.

The Intended Goal – If a teacher feels that the music may aid in achieving certain movements and poses, then it would be a good idea to use the music. However, if it appears to be a detraction, then it should be avoided.

Is it Private or Public – Every person has a preference in music that may not be shared by others. If it works when used in private, then it may be beneficial.

Previous Experience with Music – It may not be wise to start experimenting with various genres of music if you are new to yoga. It is wiser to break rules when you have already applied them in the past.

 

Chaturanga: For The Sake Of Your Shoulders

If you’re not familiar with Chaturanga, it’s basically holding a push up in its low position. Simple yet very demanding! Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the poses that a Yogi encounters often during practice. It is widely used due to its vulnerability. But many practitioners performing Chaturanga have been doing it wrong for a long time and usually this can only be corrected through years of practice or by a teacher’s guidance. Practicing poses with improper form time and again can cause unimaginable damage to your body, so its important to really focus on correct form.

The socket and the ball of our shoulders are different in nature than those in our hips. Our hip joint is stable while the shoulder joint is not in the same regard. The head of our femur rests squarely in the socket, making it independent from other muscles to keep it intact.

But the case is different for the shoulders. The sockets are composed of ligaments and muscles and only the bottom part where the humerus rests is made of bone, creating shallow attachment to the scapula. To make sure that the ball stays intact to the socket, the ligaments and the muscles surrounding the bone have to put in a collective effort and if it fails to work properly, the ball may be dislocated.

So how do you properly perform Chaturanga Dandasanaa without damaging your shoulders?

In any Yoga posture, proper form is important. And patience plays a vital role in the practice. Here’s a secret to build your way to Chaturanga without sacrificing your shoulders’ happiness:

Stability holds the key. Stabilizing your shoulder can save you from injury while approaching Chaturanga. Pull your shoulders away from your ears. Avoid dropping your shoulders too low. This happens when the pectoral muscle is too strong and is used more than the serratus anterior muscles and rhomboids which support the shoulder girdle. Stay at 90 degrees. Do not lower any further or it will force your shoulders into extension, placing them in bigger risk.

Here are two things that can greatly contribute to your stability. Slowly develop them with patience. Don’t rush. Listen to your body. Be mindful of your movement, breathing and thoughts.

Build strength. Starting your journey with no strength at all shouldn’t discourage you. So a great way to assist your weight is to hug your elbows to the side of your body. Keep them in line with your torso and squeeze them against your sides.

Fully engage your core. If the core isn’t engaged enough, it’ll put a lot of weight and pressure to your shoulders, causing you to develop improper form. Make sure that the ribs and abdominals are pulled in, thighs are pushed up and your heels’ pushed back. Hold all the muscles in your body as one system.

Approaching the posture. Start in a plank position. Wrists, elbows and shoulders are properly aligned vertically. To lift your thighs off the floor, tuck your heels to engage the quads. Suck the belly in as you inhale, engaging your core. Exhale, shift your weight forward, lowering the body, keeping the elbows at 90 degrees, in line with your torso. Inhale to Upward-facing dog to release.

Alternatively, if you can’t hold your full weight on your arms, you can drop to your knees. Follow the same principles. It’ll help lessen the weight your shoulders and arms have to carry while still familiarizing your body with the proper form and developing arm and core strength.

Remember to be patient with the practice and yourself. Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the hardest poses that need time and effort to be fully understood. With regular practice and dedication, it is not impossible.

Trust the journey and have fun discovering yourself!