Are You Ready To Transform Your Life Through Yoga? Look no further! In this box set you'll find not 1, not 2, but 3
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Are You Ready To Transform Your Life Through Yoga? Look no further! In this box set you'll find not 1, not 2, but 3
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Are You Ready To Transform Your Life Through Yoga? Look no further! In this box set you'll find not 1, not 2, but 3
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YOGA & CHAKRAS FOR ONE INCREDIBLE LOW PRICE! BOOK 1: This "Yoga" book contains proven steps and strategies
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Table of contents :
Book #1: Yoga for Beginners
Chapter 1: Yoga 101 Where Did Yoga Come From?
Chapter 2: “But I’m Not Flexible”
Chapter 3: Common Yoga Lingo
Chapter 4: Benefits of Yoga
Chapter 5: Tips for Beginners
Chapter 6: The Poses
Chapter 7: Inner Peace Through Yoga
Book #2: Yoga for Weight Loss
Chapter 1: What is Yoga?
Chapter 2: Yoga for Weight Loss
Chapter 3: 15 Yoga Poses for Weight Loss
Chapter 4: Yoga, Food and You
Chapter 5: Mindful Eating
Chapter 6: Healthy Habits to Lose Weight
Book #3: Yoga the Advanced Lessons
#1: Crow Pose
#2: Lord of the Dance
#3: Scale Pose
#4: Firefly Pose
#5: Upward Plank Pose
#6: Standing Split
#7: Supported Headstand
#8: Shoulder-Pressing Pose
#9: Peacock Pose
#10: Plow Pose
#11: Noose Pose
#12: Monkey Pose
#13: Heron Pose
#14: Half Frog Pose
#15: Eagle Pose
#16: Dolphin Pose
#17: Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose
#18: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
#19: Side Crow Pose
#20: Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff
#21: Wide Angle Seated Forward
#22: Wild Thing
#23: Scorpion Pose
#24: Iron Cross Headstand
#25: Big Toe Bow Pose
#26: One-Legged Inverted Staff
#27: Supported Shoulder Stand
#28: Cow Face Pose
#29: Wheel Pose (Upward Bow)
#30: Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Yoga Mastery Series Box Set #1 Yoga for Beginners, Weight Loss & The Advanced Lessons Olivia Summers
Copyright © 2016 by Olivia Summers All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. Disclaimer: Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.
Table of Contents Book #1: Yoga for Beginners Book #2: Yoga for Weight Loss Book #3: Yoga the Advanced Lessons
Yoga For Beginners 30 Essential Yoga Poses to Transform Your Mind, Body & Spirit Learn Yoga in Just 10 Minutes a Day Olivia Summers
Introduction Thank you so much for purchasing my book “Yoga For Beginners.” My name is Olivia Summers and I’m a Certified Yoga Teacher and for the duration of this book I’m going to personally be by your side coaching you along for the next 30 days. One thing I’d like to point out, though, is that the time frame I use is just a starting off point. You can spend as much time as you’d like on each pose. In the book I suggest just 10 minutes as you’re starting point and that’s perfectly acceptable. You will gain a much better perspective of yoga just by committing to that amount of time each day. However, if you really want to boost your practice and flexibility, I would suggest spending as many days as you’d like on each pose until you feel like you’ve “got it.” For some people this might be a few days, for others it may just be 10 minutes. Another suggestion I’d like for you to keep in mind as you move through each day on your journey, is that if you really want to cut down on your learning curve and the time it takes you to go from newbie to advanced is to practice each yoga pose that you’ve learned up until this point. For instance, if you’re on Day 4, start your practice with the poses from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and so on. This will keep the poses fresh in your mind and also work more parts of your body. Once you get to Day 30 you’ll have an entire workout at your disposal. Again, thank you for downloading my book and I hope that it helps you to have a better understanding of what yoga is and how it fits into your life.
And who knows, maybe you’ll love it just as much as I do!
Chapter 1: Yoga 101 Where Did Yoga Come From? If you’re like most people just starting out on their yoga journey then I’m sure you have lots of questions. And we’ll get to those, I promise. First, though, I’d like to give you a very brief history of the origins of yoga and summarize how it came to be the yoga we all know and love today. Yoga is actually a philosophy that came into practice in India about 5,000 years ago! Although it is sometimes part of practicing Buddhism and Hinduism, yoga in and of itself is not a religion. The founding father of ashtanga yoga and author of the Yoga Sutras was Patanjali. Unfortunately, very little is known about who he was or where he came from—or even when exactly he lived. One thing is certain, though—if Patanjali had not completed his Yoga Sutras we probably wouldn’t know much, if anything, about the yoga we practice today. Patanjali’s Sutras were a collection of 195 different philosophies about the practice of yoga. His book also outlined the eight individual “limbs” or types of yoga—asana (postures) being the most popular in Western culture. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries many of the yoga gurus from India introduced yoga as a practice to Western civilization. However, it wasn’t until around the 1980’s that yoga became a more popular form of physical exercise in the Western world. Many “serious” yoga practitioners and gurus frown upon our commercialized version of yoga in the United States. The reason for this is
because they believe that yoga is meant to be much more than just exercise. Its traditional roots are founded in meditative and spiritual upbringing— becoming in tune to oneself in the process. I agree with these gurus and in my personal practice I use yoga for spiritual and meditative purposes. However, everyone has to start somewhere. And if you just want to have fun, increase your flexibility and learn some poses along the way I think that’s wonderful! I don’t think that yoga needs to be a strict set of standards that only a few people here and there are worthy of experiencing. I think that no matter where you start from, as long as you do, you’re going to be better off.
Main Types of Yoga Aerial—Basically this is yoga…in a hammock! Aerial yoga was introduced in New York and is one of the newest forms of yoga. If you’re the adventurous type and already have the more run-of-the-mill yoga classes under your belt then it might be time for you to give this a try. Ashtanga—This is one of the oldest forms of yoga (remember Patanjali’s Sutras?) and what we’ll be using throughout this book. Ashtanga is made up of six different series’ of postures and is used prevalently throughout the West. Bikram—Bikram yoga was introduced and made popular in the 1970’s. Most people looking to lose weight and torch calories during a yoga session turn to Bikram yoga. It’s also known as “hot” yoga—and for good reason. The classes are 90 minutes long and consist of a series of 26 poses that are repeated twice during the session. The catch? The room is heated to 104F and a humidity of 40%! Hatha—Hatha yoga is what all other types of yoga are founded on and uses a more holistic approach than newer variations of yoga. It is a combination of meditation, purification, breathing and postures. It is very gentle and is great for beginners. Kundalini—This can be one of the most fun forms of yoga, in my opinion. Kundalini yoga is founded on the belief that there is latent energy coiled at the base of our spines and it needs to be released. Kundalini yoga uses meditation and breathing to activate your chakras and release built up energy.
Restorative—This one is pretty self-explanatory. This type of yoga is focused on using different props to restore your physical body with your mental state. It’s a very gentle and relaxing form of yoga. It is especially beneficial to those who need to learn to slow down and relieve stress. Vinyasa—The term Vinyasa originates from the Sanskrit language and actually means “breath-synchronized movement.” Which is exactly what you’re doing during this type of yoga. You move through a series of poses while at the same time using your exhaling and inhaling breaths to “dance” your way through each pose. It is also sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow. Feel free to experiment and play around with the different types of yoga and find the one that feels best to you. Just because something is deemed “intermediate” or “advanced” doesn’t mean you can’t try it out. You don’t have to limit yourself to beginner types of yoga. The best thing you can do to figure out where you “belong” in the yoga world is to find a gym or yoga studio that offers bundles—that way you can sample different classes to find the one that fits you best.
Chapter 2: “But I’m Not Flexible” As a yoga instructor, this is one of the biggest hesitations and objections I hear when it comes to trying yoga—“I’m not flexible.” Well, I’m here to tell you that that is perfectly okay! In fact, it’s a wonderful reason to start practicing yoga. Do you think that when I first started out I was a super-bendy obscenely flexible human being? I definitely wasn’t. I was actually the opposite and it took me almost a year to feel “flexible.” Either way, don’t be discouraged. Everyone is different and just go at your own pace. Unfortunately, the older we are and the more we have neglected our physical selves from lack of stretching the longer it takes to get back to being flexible. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or a couch potato—if you don’t incorporate some type of stretching, either through yoga or other body opening exercises you’re inevitably going to lose the flexibility we’re all born with and even become injured much easier. It’s not enough, though, to just stretch or do yoga every once in awhile. To reap the benefits of flexibility you actually have to stay on top of it and make it an almost-daily habit. Once you’ve done it often enough and you increase your flexibility, yoga will become more fun to you. It won’t seem like quite as much “work” and you won’t have as much of the discomfort as you do in the beginning. Who knows, you may even start to love it and crave doing it every single day like I do!
Modifications If you have any sort of physical limitations or restrictions I get that yoga can be somewhat intimidating. But it shouldn’t be! Yoga is actually one of the most adaptable and modifiable forms of exercise that exists. For this reason, it’s perfect for people who have certain injuries or restrictions. There are even special kinds of yoga just for pregnant women! Obviously if your physical restriction is a wrist injury then you should avoid putting direct pressure on it. Poses that would cause aggravation to your wrists might include Downward Facing Dog, Four Limbed Staff or Plank Pose. In this situation I would suggest doing a modified version of these poses. How? Simply place your forearms flat on the floor instead of your hands. This will remove the pressure from your wrists and make the moves considerably easier, but still challenging. You can do this with any sort of restriction and with any pose. If you can’t figure out a suitable alternative for you to do the pose comfortably, then just skip it. There is no reason to hurt yourself or cause yourself physical discomfort. In fact, yoga should NEVER be painful. It is a time for relaxation and stress relief and to heal our bodies—not to hurt them. With any pose in this book you should never go past the point of slight tension. You should feel a good stretch, but it shouldn’t hurt. Ever!
Other Common Hang-Ups & Objections
“I Don’t Know What I’m Doing” I truly feel that the best way to learn yoga is by attending a class—especially one geared towards beginners if it’s your first time. The reason for this is because you’re sure to learn the poses properly to avoid injury and you can also gain a better understanding of the technique. Not to mention, nothing can beat the feeling you get when you’re part of a massive amount of energy like you are when taking a yoga class. However, I get that not everyone is at a place in their hearts and minds to feel comfortable practicing yoga in front of others. That’s why I created this book! You don’t have to know what you’re doing, you just have to follow along and commit to some positive change.
“I Don’t Have Anything to Wear” Yes, we all want to look our best. However, that’s the beauty of practicing yoga at home—you don’t have to dress for a fashion show and you don’t have to worry about who’s going to see you. If you do attend a class and you’re stressed about what to wear there are a few things to keep in mind: Wear clothes that fit you properly (avoid loose tops where everything is hanging out or too-small clothing items that you’ll constantly be pulling at) Pick an outfit that allows you to move freely No need to bring shoes or even socks Aside from these few guidelines there really isn’t any need to worry about your clothing choice—I assure you most people aren’t paying attention.
“I Don’t Live Near a Yoga Studio” You don’t need to! You can start exactly where you are: at home, with this book. And once you finish this book I’ll have plenty of others waiting. There are also great resources online for free yoga tutorial videos and classes you can do at home. YouTube is a wonderful site to access free yoga classes. One of my favorite channels is Yoga By Candace—she has a wide variety of videos for all experience levels and they’re free. If you’re looking for a website that offers yoga videos DoYogaWithMe.com is 100% free and has plenty of content to keep you occupied.
“I’m Not Religious, or Even Spiritual For That Matter” That’s completely fine. No one is going to try and change you or “convert” you. Yoga is not a religion. It’s true that a lot of the yoga practices are founded in spiritual philosophies and traditions, but that shouldn’t deter you from attending a class or practicing at home. Spirituality looks different for each and every person. At the deepest level, yoga is about simply connecting with yourself and finding inner peace and awareness. You don’t have to label yourself as religious or spiritual to gain these benefits and no one expects you to.
“Yoga is For Girls” Really, guys? It’s 2016. This is the best that you can come up with? I feel like I shouldn’t even address this hang-up because it’s completely ridiculous, but I’ll simply say this: men were the first to practice yoga. Remember Patanjali? Are most modern classes in the Western world full of women? Yes. Should that stop you? No. If you’re truly that concerned about it being “for girls” then try BrogaYoga. Or as mentioned previously you can practice yoga at home if it makes you uncomfortable to be surrounded by women.
In case you haven’t caught on: there’s never a good excuse not to practice yoga!
Chapter 3: Common Yoga Lingo I know that for a lot of people, yoga can be intimidating just because there are so many new and overwhelmingly long words and terminologies for everything. Not to mention a lot of it is in Sanskrit (an ancient Indic language originating in India). When you throw a foreign language in there it makes it that much scarier. Not only do you have to learn all these new poses, but you have to learn all these foreign phrases, too. Well—I promise it’s not that complicated. And you don’t even need to know the specific yoga terms to reap the benefits of practicing yoga. In time, though, the knowledge will come to you. Until then, I’ve compiled a basic dictionary of the most prevalent terms and what they mean. Please keep in mind that these are very simplistic definitions. If you’re interested in learning more about a term or idea please research it further to get a more complete understanding of the subject.
Sanskrit Yoga Dictionary Ahimsa—Non-violence/non-injury (yama). Ananda—A slow and gentle type of yoga that uses affirmations along with the asanas. Anusara—A type of yoga that is heart-oriented and combines alignment of your body with energy-filled asanas. Aparigraha—Non-selfishness (yama). Asanas—Most commonly it refers to yoga postures. Ashram—A secluded place where yoga and meditation are taught. Ashtanga—One of the most common forms of yoga, it is physically challenging and helps with flexibility, strength and stamina. Asmita—Represents your ego and individuality. Asteya—Non-stealing (yama). Bikram—A strenuous type of yoga in a very high temperature room. Brahmacharya—Purity, non-lust (yama). Brahman—Representation of God.
Buddhi—The intellect. Chakras—The 7 sources of life force and energy that radiate from the spinal column from the crown of the head to the base of your spine. Dharana—Literally means “to hold firm,” mindfulness. Dharma—Self-discipline and doing the right thing. Dhyana—The process of meditating to quiet the mind. Guru—Spiritual teacher. Hatha—The yoga style of physical well-being that focuses on centering the mind, body and spirit. Ishvar-pranidhana—Center of the Divine (niyama). Karma—Destiny or fate based on a person’s actions. Kundalini—Cosmic energy inside our body that is coiled at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened. Kundalini yoga—The focus is your breathing and chanting to awaken and release your Kundalini energy. Mandala—A geometric circle that represents one’s spiritual journey, often referred to as a labyrinth.
Mantra—A sacred chant. Meditation—Practice of guiding your focus inward to achieve inner peace. Mudras—Different hand gestures believed to direct life current throughout the body. Namaste—Translated from Sanskrit it means, “The divine light within me salutes the divine light within you.” It’s a friendly greeting that is supposed to represent our soul connecting to another soul through our heart chakra. Niyamas—Outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as the 5 observances of inner discipline. Om/Aum—Vibration of the Universe, often chanted during meditation or yoga. Prana—Life force or energy—also referred to as ‘chi’ in Chinese culture. Pranayama—The practice of breath control. Pratyahara—The practice of dulling the senses to still the mind during meditation. Santosha—Contentment (niyama). Satya—Honesty and truthfulness (yama).
Samadhi—State of super-consciousness, pure bliss. Shanti—This means ‘peace.’ In Buddhism and Hinduism you chant ‘shanti’ three consecutive times in order to promote peace in body, mind and speech. Shauca—Purity inside and out (niyama). Shodhana—Cleansing ritual. Svadhyaya—Self-reflection about your own nature and beliefs and how it fits into the Universe’s spiritual journey (niyama). Swami—Respectful title for a guru. Tantra—Type of yoga that practices strong breath techniques combined with visualization, chanting and asana to release Kundalini energy. Tapas—Self-discipline (niyama). Ujjayi—A type of breathing exercise that, when you inhale, creates sound in your throat. Vinyasa—A type of yoga that is a continuous flow of movement where postures are linked with breath work. Yamas—Defined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as 5 yamas (moral conduct): non-stealing, non-possessiveness, moderation, honesty/truth and nonviolence.
Yoga—Yoga literally means yoke or union. This is why yoga represents the practice of connecting our body, mind and spirit as one—not just with ourselves but with the Universe as well. It all becomes inter-connected. Yogi/Yogini—A person who practices yoga. Yogini is the female form.
Please note: you do not have to be a walking dictionary for all of these terms in order to practice and be good at yoga. This is just included for your reference because I personally think that the history and roots of yoga are very important. Knowing more about what I’m practicing has given me a higher level of understanding and satisfaction from my practice of yoga. I promise if you spend the time learning and growing in the culture of yoga you will be rewarded ten-fold through much greater levels of self-awareness and spirituality.
Chapter 4: Benefits of Yoga The benefits of yoga are pretty much limitless. I mean, where do I even begin? It’s hard to narrow it down because there are so many benefits that can’t be described. I mean, yes, of course there are all of the health benefits that most people know about, but so many of the best things about yoga are hard to put into words—it’s an internal shift of your human vibration. Yoga has helped me look beyond myself, to change my focus so that it’s more about the needs of others and the greater good of the Universe and human race. All of this sounds cheesy, I’m sure, but if you stick with practicing yoga long enough I’m sure you’ll begin to understand what I mean. If you’re more interested in the benefits that can be put into words then keep reading, I’ve got you covered.
Improves Lung Capacity & Breathing If you’re a yogi, then overall you’re going to take deeper breaths—this is much more efficient and calming than the traditional shallow breathing technique that most people develop. By utilizing this type of breathing you are increasing the oxygen levels in your blood significantly. Also, the breathing techniques in yoga promote breathing through your nose, which is actually healthier since you’re filtering the air of all its dirt and dander that would otherwise go into your lungs.
Promotes Deeper Sleep Too much stimulation is definitely a bad thing and yoga gives you relief from the stress and fast pace of every day life. One of the best types of yoga to practice for a better night’s sleep is Restorative yoga.
Releases Tension We all have bad habits that actually lead to muscle fatigue, soreness and chronic tension—all of which can put you in a bad mood. The longer you practice yoga the easier it will be for you to identify where exactly in your body you tend to hold tension and it will also slowly help you to rid yourself of these habits.
Improves Balance & Posture By regularly practicing yoga it helps you to become more aware of where your body is at in relation to space at any given moment. Because of this it means you’ll automatically achieve a better sense of balance. Did you know that when you have better balance you’re also going to have better posture? Yes, it’s true. And if you’re anything like me then you definitely need help in this area. Most of us spend the majority of our days sitting and slouching— yoga can help with that!
Promotes Relaxation Because yoga promotes relaxation and slow breathing techniques, it actually helps you carry these habits over into your everyday life. The reason this is a good thing is that it shifts your nervous system and utilizes the parasympathetic nervous system instead of the sympathetic. If you’re unsure why that’s a good thing, suffice it to say that it simply makes you more calm.
Keeps You Focused Yoga, as you know, helps you to focus on the present moment. If you practice yoga regularly then the benefits are going to compound and you’ll have a better memory, improved coordination and reaction times and even a higher IQ! Why? Because through yoga you have learned to be less distracted by your thoughts.
Increases Muscle Strength If you believe yoga is a lazy person’s exercise, then I’m sorry but you’d be way wrong! Yoga can be an incredibly challenging and toning form of exercise all combined with the added benefit of flexibility. Sure you can build up your muscles in the gym all day, but when it comes down to it you’re not going to be much more flexible.
Keeps Your Spine Healthy Did you know that the spinal disks can only get the nutrients they need with movement? That’s right. So if you’re sitting all day with little to no movement it’s a recipe for disaster for your spine. But there’s an easy fix: yoga! If you’re doing a well-rounded yoga routine with lots of forward bends, twists and even backbends you’re sure to keep the nutrients flowing and your spinal disks well oiled.
Promotes Lymph Health & Immunity Because yoga combines lots of stretching and movement with its different poses and postures you’re sure to be moving your organs and muscles regularly. This is good because it keeps your lymph system flowing which helps to obliterate cancer cells, get rid of toxic waste and fight infection. Impressive!
Increases Happiness You might not know it, but yoga can actually relieve depression. That’s right! If you practice yoga regularly you can increase your serotonin levels and decrease cortisol—all of which means a happier you.
Improves Self-Esteem Before I started practicing yoga I didn’t feel very good about myself. I was always pointing out my own flaws and constantly bombarding myself with hateful comments day after day. Because of this I had incredibly low selfesteem and in turn it only made me treat myself worse—by eating foods I knew were bad for me, not getting enough sleep…you get the picture. And as cliché as it may sound, yoga changed all that. Obviously it didn’t happen overnight, but as I found myself returning to yoga I realized it was because it made me feel better about myself—good even and I think that we all could stand to benefit from more positive feelings like that.
Decreases Pain This is one of my favorite benefits of practicing yoga! Quite a few years ago I was hit by a car while crossing at a crosswalk—although I was lucky enough not to break any bones (thank you, Universe!) my lower back was in an enormous amount of pain. Yoga has completely turned all of that around for me and for many many others as well. It’s not just back pain, though: people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel and other chronic pain conditions have all seen improvement through regular practice of yoga.
Provides You With Inner Strength Through practicing yoga it gives you a sense of discipline that you didn’t know you had before. It helps you overcome other bad habits in your life without even making a conscious effort or decision to change them. Without even thinking about it, as a direct result of practicing yoga, you may slowly start to eliminate habits that are innately bad for you even if you had a hard time doing so in the past.
Relationships Improve Yoga actually helps to cultivate health and healing through your relationships. Why? Because the longer you practice yoga you learn to develop certain traits that make you better (e.g. compassion, friendliness, selflessness). Not only that, but in turn your sex life will become better as well. You’ll be more confident and outgoing—and not to mention more flexible!
So what does this all boil down to? If you expect change and expect to become better, then you will be. You just have to be open to receiving the benefits that yoga has to offer. If you open your heart and mind to all that it provides, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Chapter 5: Tips for Beginners In this chapter we’re going to go over some tips and hints that I wish I would have known when I first started practicing yoga over 13 years ago. When I began my yoga journey I really didn’t have a mentor or anyone to turn to for advice. And back in 2002 it wasn’t nearly as popular or prevalent as it is now—hooray for change! So without further ado, here is my advice to you, new Yogi…
Enjoy Being a Beginner So many times in life we are focused on becoming “the best.” We strive for perfection in everything and all of this is at the expense of our enjoyment. I wish I had learned to slow down just a little bit and relish in the fact that I was a novice! I promise no one is analyzing your every move or judging you for being a beginner. It just doesn’t happen. So relax and be still in the moment. And this might seem obvious, but…you’re not going to be a beginner forever. Embrace all the silliness and newness of everything and just soak up all the knowledge with a smile on your face. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions—if you don’t know what ‘pranayama’ is or you forget how to do a certain pose—ask! Or if you’re practicing at home, research. The Internet is an amazing tool that we have access to. There’s no reason for you to go without getting the answers you’re looking for.
Avoid Comparison It’s true what Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This can be especially true as a newbie taking a class for the first time, but heck, even advanced yogis can fall prey to comparing themselves to others. It’s easy to do in any aspect of your life. But here’s the good news: if you’re focusing on your practice and your inner mindset you don’t have time to compare. And not only that but the more you practice yoga the better you’ll get at loving yourself and being okay where you’re at. It’s all about the present. The truth is, there will be certain people every now and then in all areas of your life that are going to judge you and maybe even make you feel uncomfortable. And guess what? You can’t change them, but you can change yourself and how it makes you feel. So if you do happen to be in a class with someone who appears judgmental or disapproving, brush it off. Hold your head high and focus on bettering you—after all, that’s what you’re practicing yoga for anyway. As a side note, I realize that we live in the snap-happy 21st century where Instagram prevails and it seems like everyone is posting pictures of himself or herself in a crazy new yoga pose every single day. It’s easy to want to compare yourself to your favorite Instagram yogi—especially when it seems like it all just comes so naturally and effortlessly to them. Try to remember, though, that what you’re seeing is a tiny moment of where they are in their practice. It has probably taken them years to get to this point and who knows how many pictures they had to take before they got the pose just right? So try not to be too hard on yourself.
Respect Your Body Oftentimes, especially when just starting out, it’s natural for us to have preconceived notions about how deep we should be able to get into a pose or what we should look like when we do them. But please please remember: yoga is not about what you look like when you’re in a pose, it’s about how you feel. Don’t let your ego get in the way of the experience and the feeling of being present with your body. Don’t force your body to move in ways that it isn’t yet comfortable with—you should never be in pain when practicing yoga. If you are, you’re pushing yourself too hard and you need to back off a little. Listen to your inner voice and the limits of your physical self, push slightly past where you feel comfortable. This is how you will grow in your practice, but you won’t run the risk of injuring yourself. Also, there’s no set rule as to how often you should practice yoga. Just listen to and respect your body. It will let you know when it needs a break and when it’s ready for more.
Focus on Your Breath This is one of the most important facets of yoga, hands down. You’ll be able to tell when you’ve pushed yourself too far if your breathing becomes labored or jagged and uneven. Back off until you can once again resume the steady flow of breath. The breath is the life force of yoga and if you’re restricting it then you’re not doing yoga.
Let the Om’s Flow I remember when I first started practicing yoga I was so scared to chant and do the mantras. I’m a naturally quiet person so it was rather intimidating for me. I see the same thing in my classes that I teach. Almost always there’s hesitation there—almost as if it’s wrong or they’re going to get in trouble. Don’t be scared! Let it all out. You’re vibrating in tune with the Universe and you are not alone. This simple, albeit uncomfortable at first, practice is an amazing reflection of the greater vibration of the Universe and how everything connects as one. It’s an incredibly powerful experience— especially if you let go and just be.
Have FUN It’s very easy to get caught up in all of the technicalities of yoga, but you should strive for a carefree simplicity. There’s no need to stress over all of the pronunciations or whether you should do this pose or that pose. Do what feels good! Do what feels natural. It all comes down to how you feel and you should always be having fun. If you need an icebreaker on how to let loose and get your flow going try a Kundalini class. After that you should never feel out of place or uncomfortable again.
Get a Yoga Mat—And Possibly Other Equipment Now, I don’t want any of what I’m about to say deter you from starting your yoga practice. You can and certainly should start right where you’re at, right now, with what you’ve already got. However, if you’re going to practice yoga long-term and make it a hobby then I do suggest purchasing a few helpful tools of the trade. First and foremost you need a yoga mat. They sell these virtually everywhere now and you should be able to find one quite easily. However, my suggestion would be to invest in one with quite a bit of foam. I see lots of thin yoga mats that look like nothing more than a shelf liner and it’s not conducive for a lot of the poses. They don’t provide enough padding and it often prevents the proper form of certain poses—especially on wood floors. My second recommendation would be to get a couple yoga blocks. These are especially beneficial to less flexible people and beginners. They alleviate tension and provide comfort in some of the more complex poses that aren’t so easy when you’re first starting out. There’s plenty of other gadgets out there, but I think that just starting out you don’t need to overcomplicate things—stick to the basics and you’ll be fine.
Be Open to Advice Sometimes it’s hard to take advice, especially if we feel like we’re being criticized or judged. If you’re taking a class and the instructor offers guidance to you, try not to take it personally. Speaking from experience, instructors are only looking out for their students and we want them to get the most out of our class. We don’t correct your posture or point out a mistake to embarrass you—we do it because we truly care. If you find it happens a lot and it really bothers you try giving your instructor a heads-up after class. Simply let them know that it messes up your flow and you’d appreciate it if they would refrain from calling you out in class. Most instructors will be more than understanding.
Don’t Give Up Plenty of times I’ve seen someone come in to a beginner’s yoga class and feel like they just don’t “get” it. They feel like there’s something wrong with them if their pose doesn’t look exactly like mine or they can’t go quite as deep. I understand that it can be frustrating, but try not to have expectations of how you should be or look. Especially in the beginning. Focus on your breathing and how you’re feeling. Yoga should not stress you out and if it does, something’s not right. Either you need to adjust your state of mind or erase your expectations or maybe you need to ease off your intensity level. But no matter what, don’t quit after your first experience with yoga— whether it’s at home or in a studio, keep going. There are going to be some rough patches and bumps along the way, as with anything. It’s going to take hard work and practice to get better, but try and remember to enjoy the journey and the process and not be so hard on yourself.
It Doesn’t Always Need to Be “Go Hard or Go Home” (Restorative vs. Vinyasa) There are plenty of people (yogis and non-yogis, alike) who believe that Restorative yoga is not as beneficial or healthy as Vinyasa Flow yoga. Don’t get me wrong—Vinyasa Flow is intense physically, but Restorative is as equally as intense mentally. So just because you’re not sweating and grunting and feeling the burn it doesn’t mean that you’re not working hard. One of the things I love about yoga is the fact that it is a mental challenge and provides an escape from the rigors of everyday life. Whether it’s in the form of physical sweat, or mental sweat they’re both beneficial and have their place in yoga.
You Might Get a Little Emotional Whether you’re aware of it or not, we store a lot of emotional energy in our physical bodies, especially in the hip and shoulder areas. When you practice yoga you open up these areas and release a lot of the pent up emotions and energy that reside there. This is why it’s sometimes unsettling to perform certain poses that open your hips and shoulders—but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually quite the opposite. It gives our bodies a chance to release from whatever we’ve been holding onto. However, sometimes this can mean after an especially intense and opening yoga session you may have unexplainable outbursts of emotions and maybe even tears. Let it flow through you and pass out the other side. Feel the emotion and then let it go so you can make room for positivity and love.
Never Skip Savasana This is actually my number one pet peeve: students who leave class without completing Savasana (Corpse Pose). Yes, it’s an easy pose and you’re ready to go about the rest of your day, I get it. But it’s so much more than that! When you skip out on Savasana at the end of your yoga session you are bypassing the most important thing: the processing of all that you’ve just been through. If you don’t give your body and nervous system time to come back together as one and reflect on the last 60 minutes or so and all that you’ve learned then you’re not going to get the complete benefit out of the session you’ve just had. It’s just a few minutes and I’m sure that you’ll notice the difference it makes in the clarity of your mindset when you’re done.
Chapter 6: The Poses Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for: the asanas (poses)! As I mentioned earlier on in the book, please remember that you should go at your own pace. If you feel like 10 minutes is enough for you each day that’s wonderful and you’ll get a solid base level introduction to practicing yoga. However, if you prefer to spend more time on each pose I highly recommend it. As you get more comfortable do each pose that you’ve learned up until the day you are on. For instance, if you’re on Day 5: do all poses 1-4 up until Day 5 so that they stay fresh in your memory and you can build on the flexibility you’re developing with each pose. Ready? Let’s get started.
Day 1: Mountain Pose This pose might look like you’re just standing there, but if done correctly it serves a much greater purpose and is generally the starting position for other standing poses. Step 1: Stand upright so that your big toes are completely flat and touching the floor. Keep your feet about hip width apart and parallel to one another. Now, flex your toes upward and wide—really stretch. This is going to gauge
whether or not you’re balancing your posture correctly. If you lose balance then most likely you’re not centering your weight evenly on all points of your feet so you need to correct your balance so that it’s spread evenly on your feet. Step 2: Contract your thigh muscles and try to lift your kneecaps, but do so without contracting your lower abdomen. Lift the inside of your ankles to help strengthen those inner arches and visualize an imaginary line of energy that spreads the length of your inner thighs to your groin and then from your core (or torso) to your neck, head—all the way out exiting through the crown of your head. Now turn your upper thighs slightly inward and visualize lengthening the tailbone down to the floor while lifting your pubic bone toward your belly button. Step 3: Now focus on pressing your shoulder blades back and then slowly stretch them out and release down your back. Lift the upper part of your sternum toward the ceiling without pushing the lower part of your ribs outward. Widen and stretch the collarbones, then hang your arms at your sides, palms facing forward. Step 4: Finally, balance your head completely above the center of your pelvic area. Make sure that your chin is parallel to the floor and keep your mouth and throat soft as well as your eyes. Stay here and breathe slowly and intentionally for 1 minute or however long you feel comfortable.
Day 2: Tree Pose Step 1: First, stand in Mountain pose and begin to shift your weight a little bit onto your left foot. Keep the inside of the foot firm on the floor and bend the right knee. Slowly reach down and grab your right ankle with your right hand.
Step 2: Pull your right foot up and place it against your inner left thigh as high as you can to where it feels comfortable. Your goal should eventually be to press your right heel into your left groin completely flat with your toes pressing down toward the floor. Keep your pelvic bone directly over your left foot. Step 3: Visualize lengthening your tailbone, getting it as long as you can. Press your right foot into your inner thigh and then place your hands in the prayer position in front of you, looking straight ahead. If you don’t want to put your hands in prayer position you can place them on your hips or at your sides. Stay in this position for 1 minute, breathing evenly. After you’ve completed this, go back to Mountain pose and do Tree pose with your opposite leg.
Day 3: Bridge Pose Step 1: Begin by lying flat on your back. Bring your knees up to a 90-degree angle and place your feet flat on the floor with your heels as close to your glutes as possible. Step 2: Exhale while pressing your feet and arms firmly into the floor, contract your tailbone up toward your pubic bone and firm your buttocks muscles. Now lift your butt off the floor keeping everything parallel. Step 3: Place your hands below your back on the floor either flat or you can clasp them together if that’s more comfortable. Keep your abdomen muscles engaged and try to lengthen your back. Step 4: Keep your chin lifted slightly above your sternum and your shoulder blades firm. To keep your shoulders from closing in, firm your outer arms and broaden the shoulder blades, stretching them across the base of your neck.
Stay in this pose for 1 minute and when you’re ready to come out of it, do so by exhaling and rolling each of your vertebrae slowly down onto the floor.
Day 4: Extended Triangle Pose Step 1: Stand in Mountain pose and as you exhale, spread your legs about 34 feet apart. Place your arms in the air parallel to the floor and then reach out to your sides, shoulders wide, palms facing down. Step 2: Position your left foot slightly to the right and then place your right foot at 90 degrees. Rotate your right thigh so that it’s facing outward and the
center of your right knee is in line with your ankle. Step 3: Now, exhale and bend your torso to the right placing it over your right leg. Do not bend at the waist, but rather at your hip. Strengthen your left leg and press your left heel into the floor. Rotate your torso to the left and let your left hip move forward a bit. Step 4: Next you can rest your right hand however is comfortable—on the floor, your ankle, shin, etc. Now, stretch and raise your left arm up high to the ceiling lining it up with your shoulders. Be sure to keep your head neutral or you can turn to the left to look up at your left thumb. Stay in this pose for 1 minute and then slowly inhale and come out of it by raising your arm toward the ceiling and pressing your back heel into the floor. Follow the same steps for your opposite side.
Day 5: Half Twist Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs flat in front of you. Bend your left knee and place your left leg over your right so that your left foot is resting on the floor at the edge of your right hip. Step 2: Now, move your right foot over your left knee so that it’s positioned outside of the thigh. Be sure to keep both sides of your butt evenly on the ground.
Step 3: Next you’re going to lean back onto your right hand and then inhale while place your left arm over your head to lengthen your torso and spine. Step 4: As you exhale twist to your right and bring your left elbow outside of the right thigh. Look over your right shoulder and be sure to keep length in your neck. As you continue to inhale try to lengthen your spine more. As you exhale, twist deeper into the pose. Stay in this position, inhaling and exhaling for 1 minute. As you come out of the pose, do it on the exhale and release gently. Switch to the opposite side.
Day 6: Child’s Pose Step 1: Get into a kneeling position on the floor and sit back on your heels. Separate your knees hip width apart. Step 2: As you exhale, lay your torso down on the mat between your thighs. Once you’re settled in, lengthen the tailbone and neck. Step 3: Now you can position your hands either straight out in front of you, palms toward the ground or you can place them at your sides palms facing up. Whatever is most comfortable to you. After all, this is a resting pose. Relax in this position for 1 minute or longer, releasing the tension in all areas of your body.
Day 7: Cat-Cow Step 1: Start with both hands and knees on the floor. Be sure to keep your knees under the hips and wrists under the shoulders. Your spine should be neutral and back flat. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and breath in deeply. Step 2: As you exhale, round the spine upward as far as you can towards the ceiling. It helps if you imagine pulling your belly button into your spine. At the same time pull your chin into your chest and relax your neck. This would be considered the cat pose. Step 3: When you inhale, arch the back and relax your stomach, keeping everything loose. Raise your head and tailbone upward making sure not to add pressure to your neck. This would be considered the cow pose. Step 4: Flow back and forth from cat to cow for as long as you like, just be sure to connect the movements with your breathing and really stay conscious of each vertebrae as you inhale and exhale. Again, you can do this for as long as you wish. It’s a great spinal warming exercise and helps alleviate low back pain. I recommend at least 1 minute.
Day 8: Bound Angle Pose Step 1: Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Exhale as you bend the knees and bring your heels inward to your pelvis. Lower your knees out to the sides and press your feet together. Step 2: The idea is to bring your heels inward as much as you can without it hurting. Once you’ve found your spot grab your big toes with your fingers. Step 3: You should be sitting upright with your pelvic bone in a neutral position. Keep your shoulders back and your torso up as you lengthen your body.
Step 4: Don’t try to force your knees toward the floor, but rather focus on pushing your thighbones into the floor. Stay here for at least 1 minute, preferably closer to 3 minutes.
Day 9: Chair Pose Step 1: Begin in Mountain pose. As you inhale, bring your arms perpendicular to the ground. You can clasp your hands together or you can keep your arms parallel, palms inward—whatever is most comfortable.
Step 2: As you exhale, bend the knees and bring your thighs as parallel to the ground as possible. Your knees will be over your feet and torso will be slightly forward above the thighs until you’re at a right angle with the tops of your thighs. Press your thighbones down into your heels. Step 3: Keep your shoulder blades firm and push your tailbone down toward the ground and inward to your pubic bone. Try to keep your lower back elongated. Stay in this position for 1 minute. Inhale and lift your arms, as you exhale release and bring your body back into Mountain pose.
Day 10: Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose Step 1: Determine the distance you need to be from the wall: if you’re tall move farther away, if you’re shorter get closer and adjust as needed. If you feel like this pose puts too much pressure on your lower back or you’re uncomfortable, you can use a rolled up towel or a bolster to provide support in your lower back.
Step 2: Sit sideways and start with your right side facing the wall, as you exhale, swiftly bring your legs up onto the wall in one fluid movement and then slowly lower your shoulders and head onto the floor. If you feel like you need support at the base of your neck feel free to place a rolled up towel or wash cloth there to ease the pressure. Step 3: Be mindful of the position of your chin—make sure you’re not pushing it into your chest. Keep your shoulders pressed down flat towards the floor and place your arms out at your sides, palms facing upward. Step 4: Keep the legs slightly taut to keep them from “drooping” and then sink the weight of your lower body down toward your pelvic floor. Stay in this pose for as long as you like—it’s exceptionally comfortable for getting into a meditative state. Just be sure that when you come out of the pose you’re not twisting your back, but rather roll gently to one side instead.
Day 11: Cobra Pose Step 1: Lie on your stomach in the floor with your legs out behind you and the tops of your feet touching the floor. Next, place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders as you press your elbows back and into your sides. Step 2: Place pressure on the tops of your feet and thighs and pubic bone as you press yourself firmly into the floor. As you inhale, straighten your arms and lift your chest off the floor. Make sure that you don’t go so far that you’re pubic bone is off the floor. Step 3: Keep your shoulder blades firm as you “puff” your chest forward, lifting through the top of your sternum. Be mindful not to tighten your lower back. If you notice quite a bit of lower back pain or pressure, feel free to widen the distance between your legs as this should help.
Stay in this pose for 30 seconds as you continue to breathe slowly and evenly. On the exhale you can release.
Day 12: Standing Forward Bend Step 1: Stand in Mountain pose with your hands on your hips. As you exhale, bend slowly forward at your hips. At the same time you should be drawing your stomach inward and engaging your abdominal muscles. You want to focus on lengthening your mid-section as you descend.
Step 2: Now, with your knees as straight as you can keep them, place your fingertips or palms on the floor in front of you. If this is too much of a stretch just grab wherever you can reach to—maybe your ankles or even your calves. Remember not to push yourself too hard. Step 3: Press your heels into the floor and lift your butt into the air. As you inhale, focus on lengthening your mid-section. As you exhale release yourself deeper into the forward bend. Step 4: Be mindful of your neck and keep it loose—let it hang freely. Stay in this pose for 1 minute and then gently bring yourself out of it by unrolling your torso as you inhale.
Day 13: Extended Side Angle This pose is somewhat similar to the Extended Triangle—the difference being that instead of both legs staying straight you will come down into a lunge position with the leg you’re leaning into. Step 1: Stand in Mountain pose and as you exhale, spread your legs about 34 feet apart. Place your arms in the air parallel to the floor and then reach out to your sides, shoulders wide, palms facing down.
Step 2: Rotate your right thigh outward and keep your kneecap in line with your right ankle. Now, you’re going to roll your left hip forward and to the right, but make sure you’re upper torso goes back and to the left. Step 3: Firmly keep your left heel planted into the floor and as you exhale bend your right knee into a lunge position over your right ankle, making sure not to go past your toes. Try to aim for your right thigh being parallel to the floor. Step 4: Keep your shoulder blades firm and extend your left arm up to the ceiling, turning your palm to face your head. As you inhale, reach your left arm over your left ear. Focus on stretching and lengthening your entire left side of your body. As you do so, look up at your left arm and also be mindful to lengthen your right side of your torso as well. Step 5: As you exhale press the right side of your mid-section down onto your right thigh and press the fingertips of your right hand onto the floor. Your right thigh should be parallel with the floor. Stay here and breathe for 1 minute, focusing on staying as open as possible. Reverse your feet and do the same thing for your left side.
Day 14: Camel Pose Step 1: Get on the floor with your knees hip width apart. Visualize yourself drawing your glutes up into your body, but keep your hips soft while you plant your shins and tops of the feet into the floor. Step 2: Place your hands on your hips as you rest your palms on your butt with your fingers pointing down. As you inhale, keep your shoulder blades
pressed back and your head high. Ideally you want to keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, but if you’re a beginner it’s perfectly okay to give yourself some slack. If you can’t go straight back to touch your feet you can turn slightly to one side and place your hand on your foot, then go back to the neutral position and place your other hand on your other foot. Step 3: Make sure to lift your pelvic bone upward and focus on lengthening your spine and releasing pressure. As you do so place your hands against your heels and your fingers pointing down to your toes. Don’t squeeze your shoulder blades together and don’t tighten your neck or throat area. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute, however long is comfortable to you. If you feel pressure in your lower back you can counteract this pose by going into Child’s pose for a minute or so.
Day 15: Warrior I Step 1: Start off in Mountain pose and then exhale as you bring your left foot back behind you 3-4 feet. Now, turn your left foot outward to 45 degrees as you keep your right foot forward.
Step 2: Make sure to keep both of your hips facing forward and parallel to the floor as you bring your shoulders forward as well. Inhale and then raise both arms perpendicular to the floor. Be sure to keep them open and shoulder width apart. Step 3: Reach up towards your fingertips and face your palms inwards while pulling your shoulders back away from your neck. As you exhale engage your ab muscles and bring your pelvic bone down. Step 4: Carefully move your right knee forward and align the knee over the heel. Keep breathing and make sure the pressure is located in your right heel and not your toes. Step 5: Be sure to keep your head neutral by either looking forward or by tilting your head back to look up toward your thumbs. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute and then repeat on the opposite side.
Day 16: Warrior II Step 1: Start off in Mountain pose and then exhale as you bring your left foot back behind you 3-4 feet. Now, turn your left foot outward to 90 degrees as you move your hips out toward the left and your right knee moves over the center of the right ankle. Step 2: As you inhale, raise your arms parallel to the floor above your thighs. As you do so keep your shoulder blades wide and open up your chest as you face your palms downward. When you exhale, bend your right knee over your right heel and make sure your balance is evenly dispersed.
Step 3: Tuck your tailbone under and toward the pubic bone. Keep stretching your arms wide and parallel to the ground. Don’t lean to your right; keep your sternum tall and neutral. Step 4: Your eyes should be focused over your right arm to your middle finger. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute and then repeat on the opposite side.
Day 17: Warrior III Step 1: Start off in Mountain pose and then exhale as you bring your left foot back behind you 2 feet. You should keep your weight focused over your right foot and your toes facing forward. Step 2: Move your hands to your hips and make sure the hips and shoulders are aligned perpendicular to the floor. Focus on drawing your belly button into your waist, inhale, bring your left foot off the ground and lean forward at the hips. Step 3: Stare straight down as you bend forward from your hips and move yourself parallel to the floor. Be careful not to lock your knees and stop once your hips are aligned.
Step 4: If you want to practice more balance you can stretch your arms out in front of you or to your sides. Stay in this pose for 5-10 breaths and then repeat for the opposite side.
Day 18: Downward Facing Dog Step 1: Get on the floor on your hands and knees so that your knees are right below the hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders as you keep your toes pointed under. Step 2: As you exhale, bring your knees away from the mat and keep a slight bend as you lift your heels away from the mat. Focus on lengthening you tailbone and gently press it toward your pubic bone. Lift your butt high toward the ceiling and bring your ankles into the groin. Step 3: On another exhale stretch your heels down to the mat and straighten your knees—but don’t lock them. Keep your arms firm and press your palms into the mat as you draw your shoulder blades back and stretch them. Keep your head in line with your spine making sure to not let it hang.
Stay in this pose for 1 minute.
Day 19: Upward Facing Dog Step 1: Lie in the floor on your stomach and extend your legs out behind you with the tops of your feet pressed against the floor. Move your forearms perpendicular to the floor and place your palms on the floor on either side of you. Step 2: As you inhale, press your hands into the floor like you’re going to do a push up, straighten the arms as your lift your torso and legs off the floor. Step 3: Push your tailbone down toward your pubic bone and lift your pubic bone to your belly button. Push your shoulder blade back and lift your chest, but don’t puff it out. Be careful not to create tension in your lower back. If this happens you can spread your legs wider to relieve the pressure.
Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute. If you feel like you need to counteract the backbend you can do a Child’s pose afterward.
Day 20: Pigeon Pose Step 1: Get on your hands and knees and bring your right knee up toward your right hand. Angle your right knee slightly and then slide your left leg back as far as you feel comfortable. Step 2: Be sure to have your hips as square to the floor as possible, otherwise you’ll put pressure on your back and this whole pose will be pointless. If you don’t feel a deep enough stretch in your right glute then you can slide your right foot forward until you feel like you’re in the right position. Step 3: If you’re brand new to this pose you’ll probably be most comfortable being up on your hands to keep most of the pressure off your hips. However, if you feel you need more of a stretch you can rest on your forearms or even chest! As a beginner I recommend staying in this pose for around 30 seconds or whatever is most comfortable to you.
Day 21: Locust Pose Step 1: For this pose, be sure to either have a soft mat or towel to lie on because otherwise you may be uncomfortable. Start out lying on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and the tops of your feet against the floor. Your arms should be beside you with your palms down. Step 2: As you inhale, lift your legs and feet, arms and hands, and chest and head off of the floor as high as possible. Keep your shoulders back and engage your back muscles while at the same time relaxing your glute muscles. Step 3: Be sure to elongate your neck and don’t strain while you look forward and breathe in and out. Stay in this pose for 1 minute and engage your abdominals the entire time.
Day 22: Plank Pose Step 1: Start in Downward Facing Dog. As you inhale bring your torso forward until you have your arms perpendicular to the floor with your shoulders right above your wrists. Step 2: Be sure to keep your arms straight as you draw your shoulder blades together and broaden your collarbones. Step 3: Next, engage your core and bring your tailbone toward your heels being sure not to curve your back—you want your spine to be completely straight. You can stay in this pose for as long as you like or until exhaustion.
Day 23: Half Moon Pose Step 1: Start in your Extended Triangle Pose on your right side, then rest your left hand on your left hip. As you inhale slightly bend your right knee and move your left foot forward 6-12 inches. As you do this move your right hand forward at least 12 inches. Step 2: On the exhale push your right hand and heel into the floor as you straighten the right leg. At the same time, lift your left leg parallel to the
floor. Don’t hyperextend your right knee—it need to be aligned forward not inward. Step 3: Now move your torso the left and keep your left hip slightly forward. As a beginner it would be best to keep your left hand on your hip and your head at a neutral position. Step 4: Be sure to keep most of your weight on your right leg and if you need to you can help steady yourself with your hand on the floor. Stay in this position for 1 minute and then repeat on the opposite side.
Day 24: Corpse Pose Step 1: As you lay on your back, focus on lifting the pelvis and sliding the tailbone down to spread out your lower back. Don’t arch the back unnaturally and lengthen your legs, resting them hip width apart. Let the feet and legs roll outwards to their natural resting position. Step 2: Raise your arms and spread your shoulder blades so that they are away from your neck. Rest them at your sides at about a 45-degree angle with your palms up. Step 3: Visualize and lengthen the neck by placing your chin closer to your chest. Inhale deeply and then exhale as you sink your body into the floor and become quiet and still. Visualize your entire body and it rests and feel your eyes relax and your mouth and face soften. Use this position as a time for self-reflection and rejuvenation. I suggest doing this pose for at least 5 minutes a day.
Day 25: Four Limbed Staff Step 1: Get into Downward Facing Dog and then go into Plank Pose. Keep your shoulder blades firm and your tailbone pulled toward your pubic bone. Step 2: As you exhale, gently lower the torso and legs just a couple inches parallel to your mat. Be mindful to keep your back properly aligned and straight and keep your pubic bone tucked inward toward the belly button. Step 3: Make sure to broaden your shoulder blades and keep your elbows close to your sides as you press your fingers into the mat. Left your sternum and head so that you’re looking forward. Stay in this position for up to 30 seconds if you can.
Day 26: Low Lunge Step 1: Get into Downward Facing Dog. As you exhale bring your right foot up to rest between your hands making sure that the right knee is aligned over the right heel. Next, rest your left knee on the floor and slide it back until you feel a slight stretch in your thigh and groin area. Once you feel the stretch you can rest the top of your left foot on the floor.
Step 2: As you inhale, bring your torso up and in a sweeping motion bring your arms to the sides, perpendicular to the floor. Be sure to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders pressed back. Step 3: Bring your head up and move your pinkie fingers up to the ceiling. Hold here for a minute and then exhale moving your torso back to your right bringing your hands to the floor and your left toes under. As you exhale again, bring your left knee forward and get back into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat this pose for the opposite side.
Day 27: Boat Pose Step 1: In a sitting position put your knees and feet together with your knees bent. Hold the backs of your knees and focus on lengthening the spine as you lean back slightly making sure not to fold over as you find the edge of your butt bones. Step 2: Stare straight ahead and as you inhale bring your feet a couple inches off the ground, balancing on your butt, breathing in and out as you find your balance. Step 3: Stay tall as you gently raise your heels to knee level, keeping your knees bent. If you can complete this easily and you’re comfortable then let go of your legs and bring your arms forward as you keep chest broad. If you still feel good and steady you can raise your legs at a diagonal in the air in front of you taking care not to round your back.
Stay in this position for as long as you can, but at least 30 seconds.
Day 28: Happy Baby Pose Step 1: Lie on the floor on your back. As you exhale, bring your knees into your stomach. Step 2: On an inhale, grab the outside of both feet and open your knees up a little wider than the width of your torso. Pull your feet up towards your armpits. Step 3: Bring both ankles directly over your knees, making your shins perpendicular to the floor as you flex through your heels. Gently push up
with your feet while at the same time pulling your hands down to create a resistant stretch. Stay in this pose as long as you’re comfortable or 1 minute.
Day 29: Garland Pose Step 1: Get into a squatting position with your feet as close as you can get them to each other, keeping your heels flat on the floor. Step 2: Make sure your thighs are a little wider than the width of your torso and as you exhale, lean forward to fit comfortably between your thighs.
Step 3: Bring your elbows to the inside of your knees and place your palms together in prayer position being mindful of keeping your torso upright and not slouching. Stay in this position for up to 1 minute.
Day 30: Fire Log Pose Step 1: First, sit down on your mat and bend your knees out in front of you so that your feet are flat on the floor and your palms are resting on the floor behind you.
Step 2: Lean back and cross your right ankle over the left knee keeping the right foot flexed and away from the knee until you feel a stretch in the right hip. Step 3: Slowly walk your left foot back to the right as you move your hands forward to sit up straight and stack the legs. Next, line your right foot over the left knee and then the right knee over the left ankle. The goal is to make the shins be parallel. Step 4: If you want more of a stretch you can place your hands out in front of you and lean forward, otherwise just stay in the upright position. Stay here for up to 1 minute then release.
Chapter 7: Inner Peace Through Yoga Is it Really Possible? By now you should be caught up on all the basics of yoga and you may even consider yourself more intermediate than novice at this point. But before you move on to practicing more advanced moves and techniques I just want to share with you what yoga means to me and why it’s more than just how flexible and bendy you are. It’s completely okay, if in the beginning, your biggest concern is how flexible you can get or simply becoming more toned. I was exactly that way when I first started yoga; I’ll admit that it was mostly for vanity purposes. As time has passed, though, and I’ve delved deeper into my practice yoga has become so much more than just a form of exercise to me—it has become my livelihood. This might sound a little extreme, but trust me when I say that yoga has completely transformed my mindset and personality and that I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. Over the years something just clicked inside of me—my reasons for practicing yoga slowly changed and the things that once motivated me to do it (like the challenge of a new pose) got replaced by an inner need for my “me time.” I needed a time to reflect and be quiet in my mind and yoga became that outlet. I know that not everyone is into the spiritual or religious side of things and I get that. If I’m being honest, when I first started practicing yoga I didn’t
really feel all that spiritual and I sure as heck wasn’t religious. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that if you give yoga a chance it might just change your life. You will experience more happiness and inner peace and tranquility than you ever even knew was possible. It all might sound too good to be true and I’m definitely not saying all of this to try and put yoga up on some sort of pedestal. I love it and I hope that you love it, too, but I realize that it’s not going to be the same experience for everyone. And personally I think that that’s 100% okay. If we all just embrace our own version of yoga—whatever that may be—and use our time in practice to become the best versions of ourselves that we possibly can I think the world would be a much better place and we’d all find the everlasting happiness and tranquility we’ve all been searching for all along.
Conclusion So you’ve made it to the end of this crazy rollercoaster of a book! I feel like a proud parent watching her child walk across the stage at graduation. But really, though, congratulations on completing Yoga For Beginners. If you’ve made it the full 30 Days—how does it feel? Are you practicing a little each day, working to become better at each pose? Or maybe you’ve even moved on and taken a class or tried some more challenging poses? Either way, you should feel proud of yourself for sticking through and reaching the end—even if that doesn’t mean you’re “done” with all the poses in the book. And it’s okay if you feel slightly overwhelmed by all that you’ve just read and you haven’t even started—I get it. My only request from you is this: please don’t make the mistake of never starting. Give yoga a chance to change your life and your mindset. I promise you won’t regret it! Love and light, Olivia
Yoga For Weight Loss Yoga Weight Loss Secrets to Melt Fat, Trim Inches and Get a Youthful Sexy Body—FAST! Olivia Summers
Introduction Thank you so much for downloading my book “Yoga For Weight Loss.” My name is Olivia Summers and I’m a Certified Yoga Teacher and in this book I’m going to share with you some of the best secrets of losing weight through yoga. The framework of this book is based on my 13+ years of experience in the practice of yoga and what has helped guide me along the way. It may be hard to believe, but I actually used to be more than 50 pounds overweight. Did yoga magically transform me and help me drop those 50 pounds overnight? Absolutely not. But I can honestly say yoga has been the catalyst for my new healthy lifestyle and my dramatic weight loss results. And I know that yoga can help you as well! Is it going to be easy and without hard work? No, you’re going to have to truly want to change and make the commitment to do so, but I know that yoga can help get you there. I hope that the tips and advice I’ve compiled in this book help you to have a better understanding of how yoga can help you accomplish your weight loss goals and point you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle overall. I know that if you follow and apply my advice to your life then you can have the same healthy and life changing results that I’ve gotten from yoga.
Chapter 1: What is Yoga? A Brief History of Yoga Traditionally speaking, the term yoga actually comes from the Sanskrit root word ‘yuj’—which means “to yoke or harness.” How does this relate to yoga? Well, in India, in order to control an ox you would have to harness it to a wagon. This is basically a metaphor for yoga—you use it as a way to train and unite your body, mind and spirit. A lot of people think yoga is a form of religion, but it is actually a philosophy that came into practice in India over 5,000 years ago! Although it is sometimes part of practicing Buddhism and Hinduism, yoga in and of itself is not a religion. Oh and just a fun fact for you: did you know that there have been images discovered from ancient Egypt over 5,000+ years ago that depict Egyptians in Tree poses and other asanas? Pretty cool! The founding father of ashtanga yoga (or the Eight Limbs of Yoga) and author of the Yoga Sutras was Patanjali. Unfortunately, very little is known about who he was or where he came from—or even when exactly he lived. One thing is certain, though—if Patanjali had not completed his Yoga Sutras we probably wouldn’t know much, if anything, about the yoga we practice today. Patanjali’s Sutras were a collection of 195 different philosophies about the practice of yoga. His book also outlined the eight individual “limbs” or types of yoga—asana (postures) being the most popular in Western culture.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries many of the yoga gurus from India introduced yoga as a practice to Western civilization. However, it wasn’t until around the 1980’s that yoga became a more popular form of physical exercise in the Western world. It’s true that over the course of its lifetime yoga has taken on many different forms—when it started out it was much more about inward reflection and learning to just sit and be still. Now, however, our society’s needs have changed and grown. Yoga has become much more of an exercise and a way to showcase our physical abilities. Many “serious” yoga practitioners and gurus frown upon our commercialized version of yoga in the Western world. The reason for this is because they believe that yoga is meant to be much more than just exercise. Its traditional roots are founded in meditative and spiritual upbringing— becoming in tune to oneself in the process. I agree with these gurus and in my personal practice I use yoga for spiritual and meditative purposes as well. However, yoga is something different for everyone and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If you want to use yoga as a tool to lose weight then I think that it would be incredibly beneficial—it’s all about what you make it and it’s okay for that to look different for different people.
Most Popular Forms of Yoga Aerial—Basically this is yoga…in a hammock! Aerial yoga was introduced in New York and is one of the newest forms of yoga. If you’re the adventurous type and already have the more run-of-the-mill yoga classes under your belt then it might be time for you to give this a try. Ashtanga—This is one of the oldest forms of yoga (remember Patanjali’s Sutras?) and what we’ll be using throughout this book. Ashtanga is made up of six different series’ of postures and is used prevalently throughout the West. Bikram—Bikram yoga was introduced and made popular in the 1970’s. Most people looking to lose weight and torch calories during a yoga session turn to Bikram yoga. It’s also known as “hot” yoga—and for good reason. The classes are 90 minutes long and consist of a series of 26 poses that are repeated twice during the session. The catch? The room is heated to 104F and a humidity of 40%! Hatha—Hatha yoga is what all other types of yoga are founded on and uses a more holistic approach than newer variations of yoga. It is a combination of meditation, purification, breathing and postures. It is very gentle and is great for beginners. Kundalini—This can be one of the most fun forms of yoga, in my opinion. Kundalini yoga is founded on the belief that there is latent energy coiled at the base of our spines and it needs to be released. Kundalini yoga uses
meditation and breathing to activate your chakras and release built up energy. Restorative—This one is pretty self-explanatory. This type of yoga is focused on using different props to restore your physical body with your mental state. It’s a very gentle and relaxing form of yoga. It is especially beneficial to those who need to learn to slow down and relieve stress. Vinyasa—The term Vinyasa originates from the Sanskrit language and actually means “breath-synchronized movement.” Which is exactly what you’re doing during this type of yoga. You move through a series of poses while at the same time using your exhaling and inhaling breaths to “dance” your way through each pose. It is also sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow. These are just a few of the more popular types of yoga practiced today in Western culture. The types of yoga best utilized for weight loss stem from these more popular versions of modern yoga, which we will cover in the next chapter.
Chapter 2: Yoga for Weight Loss How Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight In the previous chapter I outlined some of the most popular types of yoga. Logically, you might be asking yourself, ‘What is the best type of yoga that will help me lose the most weight?’ My answer: the type of yoga that you will actually do on a consistent basis. As with any new diet or exercise program, it’s easy to get caught up in all the details and trying to learn everything and making sure everything’s just right. Sometimes we get so busy doing all this that it distracts us from the most important thing: doing! You have to take action to get anywhere, so find the type of yoga that speaks to you and your body and makes you want to come back and practice day after day. With all that said, however, there are certain poses and types of yoga that are better for weight loss than others.
Best Types of Yoga to Lose Weight Vinyasa Flow—If you try Vinyasa Flow as your weight loss yoga practice of choice, then expect to feel some burning muscles. Vinyasa yoga focuses on changing things up and keeping your body moving at a quick pace to give you an intense burn. These types of classes are often one of the liveliest types of yoga and if you hate the mundane and repetitive nature of other forms of yoga then you might prefer Vinyasa since no two classes are going to be the same. You can expect to burn around 600 calories per hour. PowerYoga—This is actually a type of Vinyasa yoga, but it goes at a much faster pace. The intent of this type of yoga is to maximize calorie burn while strengthening muscles to get an overall challenging workout in. This is also a more interpretive style of yoga so each teacher will probably have his or her own variation on the practice and as such, the style can change quite a bit from class to class. You can expect to burn around 500 calories per hour doing PowerYoga. Bikram Yoga—As I mentioned previously, Bikram yoga makes you sweat! This means good news for weight loss and it also provides a cleansing effect on the body. The 26 more traditional hatha poses are designed to address each function of all your bodily systems to help re-oxygenate and invigorate all the different parts of your body. You can expect to burn around 500 calories per hour doing Bikram yoga.
What About Yoga for Relaxation? Just because I didn’t include the more calming forms of yoga on my list (like Hatha, Restorative and Ashtanga)—it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in your weight loss journey to practice these types of yoga. I actually believe that restorative and relaxation yoga both provide immeasurable benefits and can help aid in weight loss tremendously. I wouldn’t personally recommend restorative or relaxation yoga to be your sole forms of practice if you’re trying to lose weight, but they are great to supplement with the more intense yoga workouts. My suggestion would be to do your more intense and cardio-type yoga workouts in the mornings or early afternoon to start your day and give you energy. Then, 2-3 evenings a week you could do a restorative or relaxation yoga class for stress relief. This would help ease sore muscles and also help improve your flexibility at a much faster rate. Not to mention, if you do it in the evenings at home before bedtime it puts you in a better state of mind to fall asleep more peacefully. Restorative yoga can be especially great for people who tend to have trouble sleeping because it forces you to focus on being still and quieting your mind. When you spend 30 minutes to an hour basically meditating you’re going to increase your ability to be more restful and at peace while sleeping as well.
Yoga and Stress Relief By practicing the restorative and relaxing forms of yoga you will also decrease your stress and tension levels by lowering your blood pressure and reducing your cortisol levels while all at the same time increasing your flexibility and strength. Did you know that regular practice of yoga can actually re-program the way you react to stress? It’s true. When you have to learn new poses in yoga class it can be a stressor in your mind—you learn to respond to the physical demands of stress on your body with steady breathing and mindfulness. Because of this your nervous system is going to learn to respond differently to stress over time and what you learn through yoga poses will also be carried over into other areas of your life that you may find stressful. This won’t come naturally, and at first you’ll really have to focus on thinking positive thoughts and staying in control of your breathing. With enough practice, though, you will have programmed a new automatic response inside of your nervous system that helps you deal with stress day in and day out. Maybe you’re not so impressed with this new revelation. After all, stress isn’t all that bad, is it? I mean, yes, it’s annoying, but does it really hurt anything? Isn’t it natural? Well, let’s take a look…
Why is Stress Bad? Causes disease— Did you know that chronic stress can lead to the development of certain health problems like diabetes, heart disease, depression/anxiety, Alzheimer’s and even death? Ruins your teeth— When you’re stressed out you tend to grind your teeth, which can lead to tooth pain, jaw tightness and even gum disease. Weakens your immune system— When you’re stressed out your immune system’s defenses are going to be considerably lower, making you much more susceptible to catching colds and infections. Yuck! Accelerated aging— When you’re under a lot of stress you’re actually preventing your cells from growing as quickly as they would under normal circumstances, which in turn leads to weak muscles, bad eyesight and even wrinkles! Weight gain— When we’re stressed we tend to eat 40% more food than we would otherwise consume, which adds up to a lot of extra calories. If you’re constantly stressed you could be overeating quite a bit –and packing on the pounds as well. Are you convinced now? I hope that I’ve illustrated just how important it is to banish stress from your life—not only for your overall health, but especially if you have weight loss goals you want to achieve. Being in a constant state of stress is only going to make it harder for you to keep from overeating and it will also make you crave the kinds of foods that
are bad for you. Not to worry, though! With regular yoga practice and physical exercise as a part of your daily routine it will be easy for you to kick your stress habit to the curb and be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be.
Chapter 3: 15 Yoga Poses for Weight Loss
Tree Pose Step 1: First, stand in Mountain pose and begin to shift your weight a little bit onto your left foot. Keep the inside of the foot firm on the floor and bend
the right knee. Slowly reach down and grab your right ankle with your right hand. Step 2: Pull your right foot up and place it against your inner left thigh as high as you can to where it feels comfortable. Your goal should eventually be to press your right heel into your left groin completely flat with your toes pressing down toward the floor. Keep your pelvic bone directly over your left foot. Step 3: Visualize lengthening your tailbone, getting it as long as you can. Press your right foot into your inner thigh and then place your hands in the prayer position in front of you, looking straight ahead. If you don’t want to put your hands in prayer position you can place them on your hips or at your sides. Stay in this position for 1 minute, breathing evenly. Targets: core and sides of abs, as well as stabilizing leg muscles
Chair Pose Step 1: Begin in Mountain pose. As you inhale, bring your arms perpendicular to the ground. You can clasp your hands together or you can keep your arms parallel, palms inward—whatever is most comfortable.
Step 2: As you exhale, bend the knees and bring your thighs as parallel to the ground as possible. Your knees will be over your feet and torso will be slightly forward above the thighs until you’re at a right angle with the tops of your thighs. Press your thighbones down into your heels. Step 3: Keep your shoulder blades firm and push your tailbone down toward the ground and inward to your pubic bone. Try to keep your lower back elongated. Stay in this position for 1 minute. Inhale and lift your arms, as you exhale release and bring your body back into Mountain pose. Targets: butt and thighs
High Lunge Pose Step 1: Position yourself in the Standing Forward Bend pose and bend your knees slightly. As you inhale, step back with your left foot to the edge of your mat, making sure that the ball of the foot is what’s on the floor. You want to be back far enough that your right knee forms a right angle.
Step 2: Now, position your torso over your front right thigh and stretch, making yourself as tall as you can. Loosen your groin region by imagining that your right thigh is melting towards the floor while looking forward. At the same time, keep your left thigh firm and pull it up toward the ceiling while you keep your left knee straight and stretch the left heel down toward the floor. Step 3: As you exhale, step the right foot back and go into Downward Facing Dog. When you inhale again, step your left foot forward between your hands and repeat the lunge on the opposite leg.
Stay in this position for 1 minute, breathing evenly. Then repeat on the opposite side. Targets: abs, arms and glutes
Intense Side Stretch Pose Step 1: Start off in Mountain Pose. As you exhale, step your feet apart 3-4 feet and rest your hands at your hips. Rotate your left foot inward about 4560 degrees to your right and place your right foot out at 90 degrees. Be sure to keep your heels in alignment. Keep your thighs firm and push your right thigh outward—the goal is to align your kneecap over your ankle. Step 2: As you exhale, rotate your torso to your right so that your pelvic bone is square to the edge of the mat. As you point your left hip forward, press your femur bone back to help ground your heel. Visualize pressing a block between your inner thighs and firm your shoulder blades as your
lengthen your body down toward the floor. You should be arching your torso slightly back. Step 3: Exhale again and lean your torso forward over your right leg, stopping when you’re parallel to the floor. Now press your fingers onto the floor beside your right foot, stabilizing yourself. If you can’t touch the floor then use a block or a chair. Lift the top of your sternum as you press your thighs back and lengthen yourself. Step 4: Be mindful to keep your front hip soft while continuing to squeeze your outer thighs. The base of your big toe and inner heel should be planted firmly into the floor as you lift your groin and front part of your pelvis. Step 5: Keep your head and torso parallel to the floor and breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths. If you can do so, start to deepen the stretch by bring your torso even closer to the top of your thigh being mindful not to round your back. Hold for 15-30 seconds and release on the inhale. Stay in this position for 1 minute, breathing for 5-10 breaths then switch to the opposite leg. Targets: abs, hamstrings and legs
Downward Facing Dog Step 1: Get on the floor on your hands and knees so that your knees are right below the hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders as you keep your toes pointed under. Step 2: As you exhale, bring your knees away from the mat and keep a slight bend as you lift your heels away from the mat. Focus on lengthening you tailbone and gently press it toward your pubic bone. Lift your butt high toward the ceiling and bring your ankles into the groin. Step 3: On another exhale stretch your heels down to the mat and straighten your knees—but don’t lock them. Keep your arms firm and press your palms into the mat as you draw your shoulder blades back and stretch them. Keep your head in line with your spine making sure to not let it hang.
Stay in this position for 1 minute, breathing evenly. Targets: arms, abs and legs
Cobra Pose Step 1: Lie on your stomach in the floor with your legs out behind you and the tops of your feet touching the floor. Next, place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders as you press your elbows back and into your sides. Step 2: Place pressure on the tops of your feet and thighs and pubic bone as you press yourself firmly into the floor. As you inhale, straighten your arms and lift your chest off the floor. Make sure that you don’t go so far that you’re pubic bone is off the floor. Step 3: Keep your shoulder blades firm as you “puff” your chest forward, lifting through the top of your sternum. Be mindful not to tighten your lower back. If you notice quite a bit of lower back pain or pressure, feel free to widen the distance between your legs as this should help. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds as you continue to breathe slowly and evenly. Release on the exhale. Targets: abs, arms and glutes
Warrior I Pose Step 1: Start off in Mountain pose and then exhale as you bring your left foot back behind you 3-4 feet. Now, turn your left foot outward to 45 degrees as you keep your right foot forward. Step 2: Make sure to keep both of your hips facing forward and parallel to the floor as you bring your shoulders forward as well. Inhale and then raise both arms perpendicular to the floor. Be sure to keep them open and shoulder width apart. Step 3: Reach up towards your fingertips and face your palms inwards while pulling your shoulders back away from your neck. As you exhale engage your ab muscles and bring your pelvic bone down. Step 4: Carefully move your right knee forward and align the knee over the heel. Keep breathing and make sure the pressure is located in your right heel and not your toes. Step 5: Be sure to keep your head neutral by either looking forward or by tilting your head back to look up toward your thumbs. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute and then repeat on the opposite side. Targets: hips, abs and thighs
Fish Pose Step 1: Start out lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, lift the pelvis off the floor slightly as you slide your hands (palms down) to the base of your butt. Rest your butt on the backs of your hands and keep yourself planted for the duration of the pose, never lifting up off your hands. Keep in mind to tuck the forearms and elbows into the side of your torso. Step 2: As you inhale, press the forearms and elbows firm against the floor and your shoulder blades into your back. On another inhale, list the upper part of your torso and your head off the floor and then slowly release your head back onto the floor. You should either be resting your head on the back or the crown—it just depends on how high the arch is in your back and how high your chest is lifted. Just be sure to avoid placing a significant amount of weight on your head so you don’t hurt your neck. Step 3: You can either straighten your legs or keep them bent. However, if you choose to straighten them you’ll want to be conscious to press out through your heels so that your thighs stay engaged. Stay in this position for 30 seconds as you inhale and exhale deeply.
Targets: arms, abs, legs and back
Upward Facing Dog Step 1: Lie in the floor on your stomach and extend your legs out behind you with the tops of your feet pressed against the floor. Move your forearms perpendicular to the floor and place your palms on the floor on either side of you. Step 2: As you inhale, press your hands into the floor like you’re going to do a push up, straighten the arms as your lift your torso and legs off the floor. Step 3: Push your tailbone down toward your pubic bone and lift your pubic bone to your belly button. Push your shoulder blade back and lift your chest, but don’t puff it out. Be careful not to create tension in your lower back. If this happens you can spread your legs wider to relieve the pressure.
Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute. If you feel like you need to counteract the backbend you can do a Child’s pose afterward. Targets: arms, abs and legs
Boat Pose Step 1: In a sitting position put your knees and feet together with your knees bent. Hold the backs of your knees and focus on lengthening the spine as you lean back slightly making sure not to fold over as you find the edge of your butt bones. Step 2: Stare straight ahead and as you inhale bring your feet a couple inches off the ground, balancing on your butt, breathing in and out as you find your balance. Step 3: Stay tall as you gently raise your heels to knee level, keeping your knees bent. If you can complete this easily and you’re comfortable then let go of your legs and bring your arms forward as you keep chest broad. If you still feel good and steady you can raise your legs at a diagonal in the air in front of you taking care not to round your back. Stay in this position for as long as you can, but at least 30 seconds. Targets: abs and back
Chaturanga Pose (Four Limbed Staff) Step 1: Get into Downward Facing Dog and then go into Plank Pose. Keep your shoulder blades firm and your tailbone pulled toward your pubic bone. Step 2: As you exhale, gently lower the torso and legs just a couple inches parallel to your mat. Be mindful to keep your back properly aligned and straight and keep your pubic bone tucked inward toward the belly button. Step 3: Make sure to broaden your shoulder blades and keep your elbows close to your sides as you press your fingers into the mat. Left your sternum and head so that you’re looking forward. Stay in this position for up to 30 seconds if you can. Targets: arms, shoulders, abs and back
Bow Pose Step 1: Start off lying on your stomach in the floor with your hands on either side of your torso, palms facing up. If you need to, you can roll up a blanket to provide extra cushioning if it hurts your stomach. Step 2: As you exhale, bend the knees and bring your heels as close to your butt as you can. While doing this, reach back with both hands and grab onto your ankles. Keep your knees hip width apart for the entire length of the pose. Step 3: On the inhale, lift your heels away from your butt and thighs away from the floor with a significant amount of strength. By doing this you’ll pull the upper torso and your head off of the floor. Soften your back muscles
and push your tailbone down into the floor. Focus on lifting your thighs and heels higher into the air and press the shoulder blades firmly into your back in order to open up your heart. Be sure to keep the top of your shoulders away from your ears and look straight ahead. Please note: this pose makes it somewhat difficult to breathe smoothly and deeply, but keep breathing! Focus on breathing into the back of your torso. Stay in this position for 30 seconds, focusing on your breathing technique. As you exhale, release yourself gently and lie flat for a couple breaths. Targets: back muscles and core
Supported Shoulder Stand Step 1: First, you’ll want to prepare your space. Do so by folding several firm blankets into rectangles stacked on top of each other. You’ll want to make them big enough that you have enough room to position yourself into
the pose comfortably—about 1 foot x 2 feet. If you want to you can also put a mat over the blankets so it’s easier to grip while in your pose. Step 2: Now, lay on the blankets with your shoulders being supported and head on the floor as you keep your arms out to your side. Next, bend the knees and put your feet on the floor with your heels in close to your butt. As you exhale, push your arms into the floor and your feet away from the floor as your draw your thigh into your torso. Step 3: Curl your pelvis and back torso up and away from the floor as you continue to lift yourself and your knees come to your face. Next, position your arms parallel to the edge of your blanket and press your fingers against the floor, thumbs pointing behind you. Bend the elbows and draw them to each other. Your upper arms should be resting against the blanket and palms spread against the back of your torso as your raise your pelvic bone over your shoulders so that you’re perpendicular to the floor. Slowly walk your hands toward the floor (up your back) as you focus on keeping your elbows shoulder width. Step 4: As you inhale, life your knees up to the ceiling and line your thighs up with your torso while you let your heels hang down by butt. Press the tailbone into your pubic bone and squeeze your upper thighs. On another inhale, straighten your knees and press your heels up to the ceiling. When you’ve fully extended your legs, lift through the balls of your big toes and hold yourself here. Step 5: Be mindful of your body and soften the places that are tense. However, keep your shoulder blades firm against your back and press your sternum up toward your chin. The forehead should be parallel to the floor
and chin perpendicular. In order to strengthen your base you can press the backs of your arms and tops of your shoulders into the blanket for more support. You should be trying to lift the upper part of your spine off the floor and be looking at your chest. If you’re a beginner, stay in this position for about 30 seconds. You can increase this amount my 5-10 seconds each day that you practice until you become more comfortably. Eventually you should be able to hold this pose for several minutes at a time. Take your time coming out of this pose as you exhale and bend your knees, while rolling your back and torso slowly back onto the floor. Targets: arms, abs and glutes
Side Plank Pose Step 1: Start off in Downward Facing Dog and then shift to the outside of your left foot. Stack the right foot on top of the your left and then place your right hand on your right hip. As you do so, turn your torso to the right and place the majority of your body weight on your left side. Step 2: You don’t want your left hand below your shoulder—keep it slightly in front so that it’s at an angle in relation the floor. Straighten your arm by engaging your triceps and then press your index finger into the floor. Step 3: Keep your shoulder blades firm and pressed into your back as you tighten your thighs and press your heels into the floor. Your entire body should be aligned in a diagonal—from crown to heels. Step 4: For more of a challenge you can raise your right arm up to the ceiling, parallel to your shoulders as you keep your head in a neutral position or turn to look at the top of your extended hand.
Stay in this position for 30 seconds, breathing evenly and keeping your core muscles engaged. Go into Downward Dog for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side. Targets: wrists, arms, abs and glutes
Handstand Step 1: Start in Downward Facing Dog so that your fingers are a couple of inches away from a wall—shoulder width apart. If you feel like you have
tight shoulders you can turn the index fingers out a little, otherwise keep them parallel. Tighten your shoulder blades into your back and pull them to your tailbone while rotating the upper arms out to broaden your shoulder blades. Keep the palms spread and press your index fingers firmly into the floor. Step 2: Bend one of your knees and step your foot in closer to the wall, while you keep the other one extended through your heel. Get into your pose mindset by doing a few small hops before completely putting yourself upside down. When you’re ready, take your extended leg and kick off the floor while at the same time pushing through your other heel to straighten the knee. Once both legs are off the ground, keep your core engaged to help bring your hips over the shoulders. These practice “hops” might be all you can do for now and that’s okay—just keep practicing until you feel comfortable and do strengthening poses like Plank to engage your core muscles. Step 3: However, if you feel strong then go for it. Kick your leg off the ground so that you can bring both legs up onto the wall. If you feel like your groin and armpit areas are tense then the lower back might have a rather deep arch. If you need to lengthen it, draw your ribs into the torso and push your tailbone to your heels while sliding them higher up the wall. Keep your head between your shoulder blades and look out into the center of the room. As a beginner, try to stay in this pose for at least 15 seconds as you focus on breathing deeply. Keep practicing until you can do this pose for a minute or more. Also note that you should alternate your kicking leg each day. Targets: wrists, shoulders, arms and core stabilizing muscles
By practicing these poses you will gain strength in areas that may feel quite weak to you right now. Over time, though, you will begin to feel strong and what was once hard for you will soon become your warm-up. After you master these poses you might even feel comfortable enough to take a Vinyasa Flow or PowerYoga class!
How Does Yoga Promote Weight Loss? Many people would say that yoga is much too tame and relaxed of an exercise to provide weight loss benefits. And when you think “yoga” you might not think of cardio. For most forms of yoga that may be true— however, when you look at the practice of PowerYoga then you quickly realize that yoga can be even more beneficial than sweating it out on the treadmill at the gym for an hour. PowerYoga and other vigorous forms of yoga practice offer tremendous cardiovascular and fat burning benefits through their intense breathing techniques and fast paced and challenging movements and flows—just like other forms of aerobic exercise. But remember: exercising for weight loss isn’t just about how many calories you burn, it’s also about the muscles and parts of your body you engage. In order to maximize your time and effort spent I would suggest making it a goal to practice yoga at least 5 days a week for a minimum of 60 minutes per day at a rather intense rate of pace. The weight loss benefits of regular yoga practice don’t just show up on the scale. You’ll also begin to notice subtle changes in yourself and your thinking patterns. You will be more open to change and have a much greater mind-body connection that will help you overcome bad habits that were previously hard to get rid of. The habits you develop through yoga are long-term and life changing habits. The difference between changing yourself through yoga and “going on a diet” in the traditional sense of the phrase—is that yoga gives you internal
power and motivation: a reason for change. When you “go on a diet” it’s an external force that you’re trying to make yourself go along with, whereas the changes that stem from yoga practice are long-lasting and come from a place of love—for yourself and others.
Tips for Beginners: Practice somewhere without mirrors—this lets you focus on how you feel and not on how you look Rest when you’re tired—don’t push your body to do more than it feels capable of On the same note: be mindful of your “comfort zone” and push slightly past that point Set a schedule and stick to it—commit to a certain time each day to work on your yoga practice Learn to focus on each movement and how every part of your body is feeling and responding to it Be patient with your body and talk to yourself lovingly Realize that your yoga practice brings you closer to who you really are —inside and out—and by becoming the best version of you, you are inspiring others to do the same Just because it’s possible to lose weight through the practice of yoga, it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. However, as long as you commit to the exercise regimen and take an honest look at your diet in the next chapter, then there won’t be anything stopping you from achieving your weight loss goals through yoga.
Chapter 4: Yoga, Food and You So now that you know all about the different types of yoga and how they can help you lose weight, let’s take a look at the other side of the spectrum: your diet. When I use the term ‘diet’ I don’t mean it in the modern sense of the word, which generally translates to mean restriction more than anything else. This is not what I am referring to at all. No, when I say ‘diet’ I mean your habitual eating patterns and how we can change those eating patterns to better suit a healthier lifestyle and long-term weight loss success. If we look at traditional yogic philosophy, their diet was considered one of the most important aspects of their practice. Why? Because if you’re not nourishing the tissues and cells of the body with the correct food then you’re not going to have proper control over your mind or emotions. However, there are no specific menus or guides laid out in ancient yogic texts. Patanjali didn’t include a chapter in his Yoga Sutras about what a typical “yogic diet” should be. Many yoga practitioners focus on Patanjali’s 5 yamas for inspiration with their diet—more specifically, Ahimsa (nonviolence/non-harming). When it comes to diet, most yogis interpret this to mean that you need to be vegan or vegetarian if you are trying to practice Ahimsa in all aspects of your life. It all comes down to your inner voice—what you feel will promote health, longevity, peace and clarity in your own life. This is going to be different for everyone and should be celebrated and respected as an individual’s choice of how best to honor his or her own body.
There are plenty of people who try to be vegan or vegetarian, but just don’t have good luck with it. They commit to it for years and cling to the hope that this is “how it’s supposed to be.” But the truth is: not everyone was designed to be compatible with following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Some people feel and operate their best with a little meat in their diet, some a lot. Don’t get too hung up on what other people are eating or not eating. Also keep in mind that you should eat to live, not live to eat. If a type of diet is making you sick and causing you to not function normally then it’s not the diet for you—whether it’s vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Listen to your body: it will tell you what it needs. Maybe you’re curious as to what options you have as far as your diet goes. Below I will go over a few different diets and what they consist of. Feel free to experiment and see which one makes you feel best. Maybe it’s even a combination of a few different diets. I encourage you to really listen to your body and pick what makes you feel the best—don’t feel pressured to fit into any certain label or have a bunch of “rules.” Remember: there is one truth, but many paths.
Defining Diets Vegan—a person who does not eat or use animal products. Diet staples: Almond milk, tofu, beans, nuts/seeds, brown rice, quinoa, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, coconut oil—and of course lots of fruits and veggies. Avoids: Meat, anything made of animal by-product (butter, eggs, dairy, leather, fur, honey, etc.) Vegetarian—a person who does not eat meat. Depending on the person, this may or may not include dairy or eggs. Ovo-Vegetarian—a person who does not eat meat, but does eat eggs. Lacto-Vegetarian—a person who does not eat meat, but does eat dairy. Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian—a person who does not eat meat, but does eat eggs and dairy. Diet staples: Plant-based oils, eggs (depending on whether or not you’re ovo-vegetarian), nuts/seeds, legumes, whole grains and again—lots of fruits and veggies. Avoids: Meat, eggs & dairy (depending on the type of vegetarian), gelatin. Omnivore—a person that eats both plants and animals.
Diet staples: meat, eggs, fish, dairy, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Avoids: Not much of anything, unless the person has a particular allergy— this is the least restrictive type of diet on the list. Pescatarian—a person that doesn’t eat meat, but does eat fish. Diet staples: fish, shellfish, nuts/seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoids: Meat from land animals and depending on how strict their diet is they may choose to refrain from any animal-based products. Sattvic/Yogic—a person that eats foods based on the sattva qualities (energetic, clean, conscious, honest, seasonal, etc.). This is sometimes referred to as the traditional Yogic Diet. Diet staples: legumes, whole grains, tofu, plant-based oils, nuts/seeds, natural sugars, sweet spices, all fruits and vegetables (but no garlic or onions). Avoids: Meat and fish, eggs, processed foods, animal fats, garlic/onion, anything spicy, white flour/sugar, canned foods, microwaved food, GMO’s. Plant-based—a person that eats mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes. Different from vegetarian in the sense that people who follow plant-based diets do eat meat on occasion.
Diet staples: Meat (sparingly), whole grains, legumes, plant-based oils, almond milk (or other non-dairy milk), nuts/seeds, lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoids: Excessive amounts of meat, dairy products, eggs, white flour/sugar. Raw Food—a person that eats only raw, living foods. This includes vegetables, fruits, leafy greens and nuts and seeds. These foods are never cooked. Diet staples: All raw fruits and vegetables (they avoid tubers), dehydrated fruits and vegetables, raw nuts/seeds, freshly pressed vegetable juices. Avoids: Anything cooked. This would be the most restrictive diet on the list. I think that you’ll find the longer you practice yoga, the more in tune you will become to how your body feels after you consume certain types of foods. If you eat something that upsets your digestion and makes it harder for you to perform certain poses or focus, then chances are you’ll learn to avoid it. Your goal here should be to eat for clarity and nourishment of your body on all levels. There should be no pressure to conform to any certain label and I actually encourage you to refrain from labeling yourself as any one thing. Please keep in mind, though, that our body’s needs do change: just because you didn’t do well on a vegan or vegetarian diet 10 years ago doesn’t mean
you wouldn’t now. It’s all about experimentation and being willing to change your diet to meet the needs of your body right now.
Yoga & Digestion If you truly focus on how your diet affects your yoga practice then you’ll also want to think about the role that digestion plays as well. It’s so important, in fact, that many instructors suggest waiting 3-4 hours after eating a meal to practice yoga. Otherwise your body will be putting all of its energy into digesting your meal and you won’t have any to expend during your practice. This is why you need to fuel your body with foods that promote lightness and vibrancy. This is also why many people who are serious about their yoga practice follow the Sattvic, or Yogic, Diet. Sattvic foods are those that provide prana (or life force) for our bodies and are grown harmoniously within nature. The Sattvic Diet also believes that the foods we eat should be prepared with positive intentions and love, which is another reason to eat at home more often.
Sattva Approved Foods Vegetables, but avoid garlic and onion Fruits Nuts and seeds (raw) Legumes Rice, wheat and oats Plant-based oils (olive, sunflower, sesame) Maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar Spices like cardamom, cinnamon, basil, mint, turmeric, cumin, ginger and fennel
Foods You Should Avoid Meat, including eggs Processed food Margarine or animal fat Anything fried Canned food, except those canned at home Anything spicy White sugar and flour Overly cooked food Anything microwaved GMO’s Eating in this manner ensures that your mind, body and spirit are all in tune with each other and your energy levels are stable and digestion is optimal. By keeping your digestive needs in mind when eating certain foods you’re less likely to cause upset in your body and more likely to feel your best at all times. If you know that certain foods don’t digest properly for you—then avoid them! I personally cannot consume dairy or wheat products. They just don’t serve my body well and I end up having all kinds of issues after eating foods containing these ingredients. For me, it’s just not worth feeling bad for a moment of pleasure. And honestly, foods like that aren’t pleasurable to me any longer because I’ve learned to associate them with the harmful and negative effects they have on my body.
When you start caring about your body and what you put in it, your body can start caring for you as well—the way that it was meant to. Most of us have never experienced what true health feels like so we don’t know what we’re missing out on. I used to binge on pizza and ice cream and chips and feel like crap afterward, but I just told myself that that was normal. And for a lot of people that is normal behavior, but only because they don’t know what the alternative could be. If you’ve ever woken up feeling excited and light and happy to take on the day then you know what I’m talking about. If you eat in such a way that you wake up feeling sick or groggy or in pain almost every morning, then something needs to change. I’m not saying these things to make you feel bad about your choices, I’m saying them to you because I care and I want you to feel what true health feels like. That should be your goal: not a number on the scale. I promise if you invest a month to really focus on your body’s needs and taking care of it to help it run its best, you won’t ever want to go back to your old way of living—you’ll feel too good to turn around and slip back into your old eating habits. It helps if you also get an accountability partner—maybe a friend or family member or even your spouse to join you on your journey. When you surround yourself with likeminded people it makes it much easier to stay on track and feel good about what you’re doing. Don’t worry, though: if you don’t have an accountability partner it’s not the end of the world, it
will just take more work on your part to keep yourself on track, especially if you have family members who frown upon whatever you’re doing. Have no doubt: there will be plenty of people in your life (whether they’re people you know, or strangers) who will have an opinion about the different choices you’re making in regards to your health. Most of the opinions will be negative, unfortunately, but just know that those opinions are coming from a place of misunderstanding and negativity. The human race is a pack and when someone strays from the pack and does something that is considered “different” or “weird” it tends to make others feel threatened—especially if these people are uninformed about the choices you’re making. It causes them to feel uneasy with themselves, like they’re doing something wrong. And believe me, people don’t like to be made to feel that way. If people have negative opinions or thoughts about what you’re doing and the changes you’re making in your life, simply brush it off. You know your body best and the needs that you have—politely move along and keep at it. These same people who are trying to scare you away from your new lifestyle are going to be the same ones that, in a month from now, will want to know what you’re doing because you look fantastic. All you can do is smile and spread your light and continue on your path of healing and change.
Chapter 5: Mindful Eating Mindfulness, as a broad term, is simply the ability to focus on the present moment and I’m sure you’re aware that through practicing yoga regularly you can begin to develop this habit and be stronger in this area. In this chapter we’re going to focus on mindful eating. Mindful eating goes beyond your diet to focus on the entire eating experience and the nourishment of your body through the proper foods. Based on the definition you might assume that this is an easy thing—to focus on the experience of eating, but with the number of distractions we have in our lives today it’s much more difficult than it should be. Our culture has made eating such a production that, to eat mindfully, can sometimes appear as though you’re being rude. Eating has become a powerful and dominant form of social interaction. When we go out to eat with friends or family we are expected to participate in the busy conversation and excitement of whatever else is going on that our thoughts are usually not on our food and what we are putting into our bodies. And heaven forbid if we decline the offer to go out to eat with them. Not to mention, there are televisions everywhere (at restaurants, in every room of the house), smart phones out, books and newspapers to read, mail, homework, a work project, computers—all of this adds up to major distraction when you’re eating at the same time.
My advice to you would be: stop it. Cut out all of these distractions and simply focus on your meal and the sensations you get from eating your food. Be mindful of each and every bite—the taste, texture, smells—engage all of your senses in the eating experience. Consciously chew every single bite until it’s the consistency of apple sauce (this ensures proper digestion). If you feel like it’s too difficult for you to be mindful at every meal throughout the day then start out small. Be mindful of one meal a day, or even a snack and see how it feels. How does the experience change for you? At first you might feel like it’s a tremendous waste of your time to eat this way. After all, we all want to view ourselves as these masterful multi-taskers who should be able to do several different things all at once. Not to mention we view ourselves as being so busy that we can’t even make time to cook for ourselves or our families. However, if you give yourself time to adjust to the experience and increase the amount of time you practice mindful eating each day then you will begin to notice great benefits from it. By practicing mindful eating you will start to eat less because you will be in tune to your body’s internal cues that tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full. Often if we’re distracted we end up overeating at each meal because we don’t notice our body’s cue to stop. It can be quite subtle and if you’re not listening to your body or consciously checking in with yourself every few minutes then you’ll completely miss it. I use the 80% rule when eating, and being mindful helps to ensure that I’m successful with it. The 80% rule comes from the Okinawan culture. Its originations are from the ancient Confucian teaching ‘Hara hachi bu’—
which translates to ‘eat until you are eight parts full (out of ten)’, hence the 80% rule. As a result, if you’re overweight and begin practicing the 80% rule you’re going to lose weight. If you’re at a healthy bodyweight then following this rule will help you maintain your weight with very little effort. If you look at the Okinawans in Japan you’ll actually see that their average BMI of adults age 60 and over is much healthier than that of the United States. It’s also worth noting that they have the highest population of people over the age of 100—more so than any other culture in the world. So not only is being mindful while eating great for weight loss and increasing the longevity of your life, but it also offers a more peaceful eating experience overall and helps to foster more gratitude in all aspects of your life. The world we live in is incredibly fast-paced—we eat on the go, at fast food restaurants, in our cars, at our desks—none of this is conducive to a positive eating experience. When we eat fast food it literally has the word ‘fast’ in the title. Do you think you’re going to sit down and savor every single bite, being conscious of the taste, texture and smell? No. You’re not going to want to, either because if you did you probably wouldn’t want to keep eating it. It’s no secret that the quality of fast food is not the same as eating a crisp, refreshing organic salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods or a thoughtfully prepared meal made at home from scratch with love and positive intention. All food has energy and the more you’re aware of where your food comes from the better you can direct the right types of energy into your body for the best eating experience.
Yoga and mindfulness create an awareness inside of you that makes you want to take care of yourself and do the best for your body that you possibly can. In turn, you also want to take care of and respect other living things. This is why most people who practice Ahimsa refrain from eating animals— they don’t want to contribute to the unnecessarily inhumane treatment of animals. However, as I stated in the previous chapter there are different diets that work for different people. If you’re a person who chooses to eat animals, be conscious of your decision and vow to make more of an effort to eat locally sourced animals that are treated humanely through the duration of their life and death and respected for their sacrifice.
How to Be a More Mindful Eater Respect and Honor Your Food— Breathe deeply before digging in and say a simple prayer or expression of gratitude for the meal that’s in front of you. When you take the time to consciously give thanks for the food you’re about to eat, it nourishes and fosters gratitude for all things in your life. Try a silent meal— If you live alone this should be somewhat easier than those with families, but I encourage everyone to eat in silence for at least the first 20 minutes of your meal. No TV, no phone, no talking —just focus on the meal and your eating experience. You don’t have to do this for every meal, but at least a few nights a week I would suggest it. Serve yourself a smaller portion— Being more mindful of your portion sizes and eating in moderation it makes it much easier to keep yourself from overeating. Know that there will always be other opportunities for you to eat and that if you’re still truly hungry after eating what’s on your plate you can always go back for some more. Don’t skip meals— When you don’t give your body an eating schedule it’s harder to stay on track with your dietary goals and being a mindful eater. When hunger strikes there’s not much time to prepare if you continually ignore the signs from your body that it needs to eat. Doing this can cause you to simply scarf down whatever is in sight and lead to definite overeating. Be prepared by keeping a healthy snack with you at all times or in your car for these emergency situations so that you don’t eat out of desperation.
Focus on all your senses— As you eat, make it a pleasurable experience. If you find it comforting to eat in dim light, put some candles out and sit somewhere that’s most comfortable to you. You can even put on some light and relaxing music. Also be mindful of the taste, smell, texture and color of everything you’re eating. As you begin to practice being more mindful about the taste of your food and how it makes you feel you might notice that your tastes change. You may no longer crave junk food or heavy foods, but instead you might enjoy crisp salads and juicy fruits more. Try going vegetarian once a week—or even one meal a day— If you’re the type of person who doesn’t feel your best on a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, try having one meal a week as such. This helps out the environment drastically and also boosts your health since you’re cutting out some extra meat and increasing your veggies. Eat slowly— This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you might actually be eating much faster than you think. I know that when I started practicing mindful eating I became so much more aware of how hurried and rushed I had felt before while eating my meals—so much so that sometimes I wouldn’t even sit down. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy your meal slowly, savoring each bite and giving thanks as you do. It might seem somewhat strange to eat this way at first, but as you practice yoga and being more mindful during your practice, it is only natural for it to flow over into the other aspects of your daily routine.
Mindful Meditation to Beat Cravings If you’re someone that tends to have a hard time battling food cravings, then you’re not alone. A lot of us are triggered to eat foods that are bad for us based on stress, depression, anger, sadness or even addiction. If you find that it’s hard for you to just simply make the choice to stop eating foods that you don’t want to eat any longer then I encourage you to start using a meditation technique developed by Dr. Jamie Zimmerman. Using the acronym STOP, you will learn how to handle your food cravings by being aware and intentional about whatever action you choose to take. Step 1: S = Stop. Stop whatever you are doing and just take a minute. Step 2: T = Three deep breaths. Breathe deeply and focus on your breaths. Step 3: O = Observe. What triggered this craving? What will happen if you act on it? How will you feel afterward? Step 4: P = Proceed. Move on from the craving. Shift your focus to something else that will distract you until the craving subsides. Get outside and go for a walk or write in your journal. Mindful eating is one of the most effective habits you can master in order to get control over your eating patterns and your battle with the scale. It’s not going to solve all of your problems overnight, but with long-term use, the practice of mindful eating will help you effortlessly shed the weight you’re wanting to get rid of and help shape you into the best version of yourself.
Chapter 6: Healthy Habits to Lose Weight In this chapter we’re going to go over a simple goal setting technique to help you stay focused throughout your yoga weight loss journey and get the most out of the experience.
Setting Weight Loss Goals The ultimate goal you should keep in mind when using yoga practice to help you on your weight loss journey is how you feel. Yes, it’s a good idea to weigh yourself, especially at the start of your journey so that you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. However, most people (women especially), tend to get caught up in this ideal number or goal weight that they want to be at. And there’s nothing wrong with having an idea in your mind of where you want to be: that’s what goals are. The problem, though, lies in the fact that we usually aren’t flexible with these goals. We tend to take an all or nothing approach and beat ourselves up when things don’t go exactly as we think they should or we don’t lose as much weight in a week as we want to. Somehow this equates to failure in our minds and tends to derail us from any progress that we’ve actually made. For me, as a teenager and college student, when I would diet and attempt to lose weight I would weigh myself constantly. At least once a day, but many days it would be several times a day! This is a ridiculous way to live and it’s not conducive to your long-term weight loss and health goals. There is no reason to weigh yourself more than twice a month. In fact, if it were up to me, everyone would get rid of their scales and focus on the habits they’re creating and how they feel. Who cares if you’re counting calories and losing 2 lbs. a week if you’re angry and miserable the entire time? Yes, you’re seeing results fast, but
you’re probably going to feel starved after a few weeks and end up bingeing on all the calories and foods you’ve been “missing out on.” Ultimately, you should be creating a lifestyle that you enjoy and a health routine that you actually get excited about each day. If you’re not having fun, then you aren’t living. Yeah, it’s great to be skinny, but if you’re not happy or healthy then what’s the point? You might be asking why you should even care about setting a weight loss goal? If you have an idea in your mind of where you want to be, isn’t that enough? No, it’s not. The key is to write down your goals. People who write down their goals accomplish significantly more throughout their lives than people who don’t. It’s not enough to just have an idea of where you want to go in your life; you want to be specific so that the Universe can provide for you. So now that we know the ‘why’ of goal setting, let’s get to the ‘how.’
How to Set a Weight Loss Goal Step 1: Write down everything you want to improve in your life that has to do with your health. This could be how you want to look physically, certain things you’d like to be able to do athletically, any pain you’d like to get rid of, bad eating habits you want to break, a certain clothing item you want to fit into—whatever they are, write them down. Be specific. Step 2: Next, create a timeline for each of these goals—when you want to accomplish each of them by. Step 3: Pick the one that’s most important to you and write a paragraph about it—visualize and be specific about how it will feel when you’ve successfully reached this goal and why it will mean so much to you. Phrase it as if it’s already happened. Step 4: Look at your goals every single day. Visualize yourself achieving these goals and focus your mind to help you reach them. Step 5: Don’t let anything get in your way of achieving your goals—not Friday night pizza, a physical injury, negative people, or self-doubt. You are bigger than your fears and you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. You can truly achieve anything you want in life.
Goal Setting Tips & Tricks Get a whiteboard and write your daily, weekly and monthly goals on it so that you have them visible Create a vision board Post your goals all around your house—on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the ceiling above your bed—keep yourself reminded why you’re doing this Have an accountability partner Use positive affirmations Also, always remember to reward yourself and celebrate all of your successes. If you happen to reach a particular milestone by a certain date then celebrate it! Let’s say you meet your 10 lb. weight loss goal in record time—why not reward yourself with something special. Examples of a healthy reward could be a new outfit, a massage, or even just something you’ve had your eye on for awhile, but couldn’t justify purchasing. It’s always important to celebrate your victories, no matter how small because they keep you motivated and excited about the positive changes you’re making. My suggestion, though, is to not reward yourself with food. Especially if you have a particularly bad food addiction—you’re only hurting your progress by slipping back into your old routines and eating habits. It might not seem like a big deal since it’s “just this one time,” but more often than not it leads to many more meals than just the one. That’s it! You’ve got all the tools to make it happen. As long as you follow the guidelines I’ve laid out for you and focus on your goals each day, then you’re sure to overcome anything that stands in the way of reaching your
weight loss goals. It’s not a race, but rather a journey—be mindful during every step of the way and enjoy the process.
Conclusion Throughout this book we covered quite a bit of information and lots of different techniques and habits that will help you be successful on your yoga weight loss journey. In order to be the best version of yourself you must incorporate all of these wonderful habits into your life so that you can reach your maximum potential and live the life you were meant to lead. There will be challenges and roadblocks along the way—even naysayers. But as long as you stay focused on your goals then I have no doubt you’ll reach them. Weight loss is just a positive by-product of living the yoga lifestyle. You can go as fast or as slow as you feel is best for you and your body. It’s not a race to the finish line—stay positive and enjoy the journey. As long as you never stop pushing forward with your goals and intentions then you will always be a success.
Yoga: The Advanced Lessons 30 Challenging Yoga Poses to Take Your Yoga Practice to a Whole New Level Olivia Summers
Introduction Hello and thank you for purchasing my book “Yoga: The Advanced Lessons.” My name is Olivia Summers and I’m a Certified Yoga Teacher and for the duration of this book I’m going to be your personal instructor. My goal is to help you become even more flexible and connected to your mind and body through advanced yoga techniques and poses. The postures in this book are not for the faint of heart. I suggest having a partner or spotter for the majority of these poses, at least the first time or two until you get the hang of them and feel comfortable. Obviously, the more difficult the pose, the higher the risk of injury so please be cautious and careful. We definitely don’t want any broken bones! If you follow the advice in this book and practice these poses with diligence then I have no doubt you’ll take your yoga journey to the next level and then some. I know that at times you might get frustrated when something seems too difficult, but as with anything in life: practice makes perfect. Just keep going and pushing forward and you’ll eventually get to where you want to be. Two years ago I couldn’t do a Scorpion to save my life. Now, it’s amazing the difference just a few years of practice has made. So remember, it is possible as long as you stick with it. If you’re ready for a challenge and feel comfortable with the basic yoga poses then please read on.
Remember: Take these poses at your own pace. You may need to focus on just one posture per day or even per week until you feel comfortable enough to add it to your regular arsenal of poses. Don’t take on too much at once because that just opens the door for frustration and even injury. Focus on how you feel, not how you look.
Yoga for the Non-Beginner Chances are, if you purchased this book you’re not a total beginner when it comes to yoga. So for your sake I will skip over a lot of the introductory information that I include in my beginner yoga books and stick with the basic overview of what yoga is and how you can benefit from it as an advanced yogi. I’m sure you know that yoga was born in India over 5,000 years ago and that the founding father of yoga is considered to be Patanjali. But did you know that the yoga we practice today has evolved into a much different form of yoga than what was outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras? Many of the advanced poses in this book have actually taken inspiration from other poses that were born in ancient India and developed into something more modern and appropriate for our society and culture’s needs today. And this was exactly the intention of the Yoga gurus of ancient India. I believe this is why Patanjali didn’t include specific instructions and guidelines for what exactly a yoga practice should look like for everyone. People’s needs are different—cultures’ needs are different, for that matter and it is all constantly changing and fine-tuning itself to be what society needs at any given time in history. Yoga has slowly developed into an art form—and the more we practice the better we get at it. Just look at Instagram and it’s easy to see that Yoga has
definitely evolved into an effective way to communicate with the world and also connect with your own body and mind. Now, let’s take a look at some of the major benefits of yoga.
What Can Yoga Do For You? Promotes better sleep Releases stress and tension Improves your posture and balance Helps you breathe deeper and better Increases mental clarity and focus Ensures that your spine stays healthy Keeps your lymph system moving Inspires you to take better care of yourself Increases muscle tone Improves your relationships Helps with pain management Teaches you how to love your body—the way it is, right now The list could go on, but I think you get the picture. And chances are, you’ve experienced at least a few of these positive benefits from your yoga practice —that’s why you’ve stuck with it for the long haul and are now in the ‘advanced’ group of yogis. Don’t take this lightly! You should be proud of your accomplishments and the dedication that it has taken for you to reach this point in your practice. It is my wish that by practicing the poses in this book you are able to strengthen your mind-body connection and grow an even greater love for yoga and your own self. We’ll go through inversions, balances, backbends and twists so that you can be sure to get your fill of challenging poses and push your body to the limits (in a safe way). Alright!
Are you up for it? That’s what I like to hear! Let’s get started.
#1: Crow Pose Step 1: Start out in Mountain pose and then squat down, keeping your feet a few inches apart. If you can’t keep your heels on the floor in this position then feel free to place a rolled up towel underneath your heels for extra support. Keep your knees wider than the hips and lean forward, placing your torso between your thighs. Stretch your arms out in front of you and bend the elbows, placing your hands on your mat and your upper arms against your shins. Step 2: Get comfortable and keep your thighs against the sides of your torso. Your shins should be into your armpits and your upper arms should be as low on your shins as possible. Once you’re in a comfortable position, life onto the balls of your feet and continue to lean forward as you take the
weight of the torso onto the back of your upper arms. You should focus on contracting your torso and rounding your back. Step 3: As you exhale, lean forward even more, until the balls of your feet are no longer on the mat or floor. You should now be balanced on the back of your upper arms. If you’re new to this pose then stop here. Step 4: To push yourself even further, you can work on straightening your arms and keeping your head in a neutral position. Your eyes should be focus on the floor. Try to stay in this pose for up to 1 minute. When you’re ready to come out exhale and lower your feet to the floor—you should look like you’re squatting.
#2: Lord of the Dance Step 1: Start in Mountain pose. As you inhale, shift the majority of your weight to your right foot, then lift your left heel toward your butt, bending your knee. Press your right thighbone into your hip joint and pull your knee up. This helps keep your standing leg strong. Step 2: There are two ways to do this pose when it comes to your arms. In both variations keep your torso upright as much as possible. The first
variation is to bring your right hand behind your back and hold onto the inner left foot. Then you want to reach your left hand back and grab the outside of your left foot. Once you’ve grabbed on with both hands keep your left thigh behind you and also parallel to the mat or floor. Step 3: The second variation is to reach behind you with your left hand and grab the outside of your left ankle. You will want to focus on lifting your pubic bone toward your belly button to keep from putting pressure on your lower back. Step 4: Now, lift the left foot up off the floor and away from your torso. Extend the thigh behind you and also parallel to the mat or floor as you stretch your right arm out in front of you, also parallel to the floor. Stay in this pose for up to 30 seconds. You will want to repeat this process for the same length of time on the opposite leg.
#3: Scale Pose Step 1: Start out in Lotus pose and place your hands on the floor (palms down) beside your hips. Step 2: As you exhale, push your hands down into the floor and engage your core while lifting your legs and butt up off the mat or floor.
Hold yourself up in the air for 15 or so second. Repeat on the other side with the opposite leg on top for the same amount of time.
#4: Firefly Pose Step 1: Start out by squatting, legs slightly less than shoulder width apart. Then, tilt your pelvic bone forward and bring your torso between the legs. Keep your body low and straighten the legs so that your pelvis is lifted to knee height. Step 2: Now, place your left arm and shoulder underneath the back of the left thigh as far as possible and then put your left hand beside your foot on the floor, fingers forward. Step 3: Next, place your right arm and shoulder underneath the back of the right thigh as far as possible and then place your right hand beside your other foot on the floor, fingers forward. Step 4: Slowly shift your center of gravity and lift yourself up off the mat or floor. Keep your hands pressed into the floor as you begin to rock back and forth, shifting your bodyweight from your feet to your hands. You want to keep your inner thighs as high up on your arms as you can. Step 5: As you inhale, stretch the legs out to your sides as straight as possible, making sure to keep your pelvis elevated so that your legs are parallel to the floor. Step 6: As you press through your big toes, pull them back to your torso and spread them wide apart. Your feet should be slightly angled forward.
Step 7: Keep your arms as straight as possible and hollow your chest while at the same time widening your shoulder blades. This helps to round your upper back and lift your torso. Keep your neck in a neutral position and look forward. Hold this pose for 15 seconds or more.
#5: Upward Plank Pose Step 1: Start by sitting on the floor, legs straight out in front of you. Yours hands should be flat on the floor behind your hips and your fingers should point forward. Now, bend your knees and put your feet on the mat or floor, turning your big toes inward. Your heels should be at least a foot away from your butt. Step 2: As you exhale, you want to press the inner feet and your hands down into the floor and then lift your hips into reverse tabletop. Your thighs and torso should be about parallel to the floor and your arms and shins should be about perpendicular. Step 3: Now, without dropping your hips, straighten each leg one at a time. Without contracting your butt muscles, lift your hips higher and press your shoulders together to lift your chest. Step 4: Without compressing your neck, gently lay your head back.
Stay in this pose for 30 seconds and as you exhale, come back to a sitting position on the floor.
#6: Standing Split Step 1: Start out in Warrior II pose with your right foot forward. As you inhale, bring your left arm up over your head as you open your chest. Step 2: As you exhale, twist the torso to your right and pivot on the ball of your left foot as your lift the heel off the mat or floor. As you do so, lean forward and place your torso on your right thigh. Both hands should be on the floor on each side of your right foot. If you can put them on the floor comfortably you can use a block under each hand. Step 3: Now, walk your hands forward and shift your bodyweight to your right foot. As you inhale, gradually straighten the right leg as you lift your left leg parallel to the mat or floor. Step 4: Balance is important here and you should focus on trying to keep your pelvis parallel to the mat. You can do this by rotating your left thigh inward. You will also want to pay attention the leg you’re standing on—your knee will want to rotate inward so focus on keeping the kneecap straight ahead. Step 5: Your focus should not be on how high you can raise your leg, but on directing energy equally between both legs. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute and then repeat on the other side.
#7: Supported Headstand Step 1: You’ll want to start out with a blanket or thick mat to help protect your head and your forearms. Once you’ve got your padding in place, kneel on the floor and lace the fingers as you place your forearms on the floor. Your elbows should be shoulder width apart. Start by rolling your upper
arms outward slightly, while at the same time pressing your inner wrists into the floor. Place the crown of your head on the floor as well. If you are just starting out with this pose you can place your palms together and push the back of your head into your hands. If you are more experienced then you can put your head into your open palms. Step 2: As you inhale, starting lifting the knees up off the floor. Slowly walk your feet toward your elbows with your heels slightly elevated. Now, lift through your thighs to form an upside down “V.” Press your shoulders into your back and lift them into your tailbone. The goal is to keep your torso as long as possible to prevent your shoulders folding into your neck or head. Step 3: As you exhale, lift the feet off the floor at the same time. This might mean bending the knees and lightly hopping off the mat. Now you want to press your tailbone into your pelvic bone and raise your legs perpendicular to the floor. Your upper thighs should be turned inward just a little and you should focus on pressing your heels to the ceiling. The arches of your feet should be aligned over your pelvic bone and also the crown of your head. Step 4: Keep your outer arms firm and fingers soft as you continue pressing your shoulders into your back, focusing on drawing them toward you tailbone as you lift your heels upward. Once you have straightened your legs, maintain the length and press through the balls of your big toes. If you’re just starting out you should shoot for 10 seconds in this pose. Each time you practice you should work on adding slightly more time until you can hold it for 3 minutes or longer!
#8: Shoulder-Pressing Pose Step 1: Start out by squatting. Your knees should be wide and your feet should be slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Step 2: Now, tilt the torso so that it’s positioned between the inner thighs. Keep your torso low as you raise the hips getting them close to being parallel to the mat or floor. Step 3: Get your left shoulder and upper arm as snug as possible under the back of the left thigh, slightly above your knee. Place the left hand on the floor just outside the edge of the left foot. Your fingers should point forward.
Step 4: Now, place your right shoulder and upper arm as snug as possible under the back of the right thigh, slightly above the knee. Place your right hand on the floor just outside the edge of the right foot, fingers pointing forward. As you get in position it will round your upper back. Step 5: Next, press the inner hands into the floor and rock back and forth so that your weight shifts from your feet to your hands. When you straighten your arms your feet will begin to lift off the floor because you’re shifting the center of gravity. Step 6: Be sure to keep your outer arms squeezed into your inner thighs, then cross the right ankle over the left ankle, looking straight ahead. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds and then repeat with your left ankle on top.
#9: Peacock Pose Step 1: Start out kneeling on the floor with your knees wide, sitting on your heels. Now, lean forward and push your palms into the floor keeping your fingers turned toward the torso. Your thumbs should point outward. Bend the elbows a little and press the pinky side of your hands all the way up to the outside of the forearms together. Now bend the elbows at a right angle and place the knees on the outside of the arms. Lean your upper body onto the back of your upper arms and bury the elbows into your stomach. Step 2: If you can’t hold this position you can use a strap to bind your elbows. It should be positioned just above the elbows. If the next step proves to be too difficult you can use a block to support your feet. Step 3: Now, engage your core muscles and slowly place your forehead to the mat as you straighten each knee and stretch the legs out behind you. The tops of the feet should be on the ground. You’ll want to tighten your butt muscles and round the shoulders downward. Be sure to lift your head up off the floor and look straight ahead. Next, you’ll want to lean forward a little as
you shift your weight off the floor. Your legs and torso should be about parallel to the mat. Try to hold this pose for at least 10 seconds and you can increase the length each time you practice—up to 30 seconds or so.
#10: Plow Pose Step 1: First in order to get to Plow pose, you’ll need to start out in Supported Shoulder Stand. Start out by folding a couple of blankets into 1 ft. x 2ft. rectangles and then stack them one on top of the other. If you need to you can also place your mat over them to keep your upper arms in place. Step 2: Now, lay your shoulders on the mat and blankets so that they’re supported and your head is on the floor. You’ll want to keep your arms beside you on the floor and bend the knees with your feet on the floor. Your heels should be close to your butt. As you exhale, press your arms into the floor as you push the feet off the floor by bring your thighs into your torso. Step 3: As you continue lifting, curl your pelvic bone and your back off the floor. Your knees should be near your face. Now, stretch the arms parallel to the blanket and turn your arms outwards so that your fingers are against the floor. Your thumbs should be pointing behind you. Bend the elbows and then draw them together as your lay the upper arms on your mat and place your
palms against your back. You’ll want to raise the pelvic bone over your shoulders so that you’re mid-section is close to being perpendicular to the floor. Move your hands up your back so that you’re getting them closer to the floor, but keep your elbows from getting wider than shoulder-width. Step 4: As you inhale, life your knees to the ceiling and line the thighs up with your mid-section, while letting your heels hang down by your butt. Be sure to keep your pubic bone and upper thighs turned inward slightly as you inhale and straighten your knees. It helps if you press your heels to the ceiling. After you have fully extended your legs you should lift through your big toes—this makes your inner legs longer than the outer. Step 5: Press your shoulders into your back and push your sternum forward toward your chin. In this position the forehead should be somewhat parallel to the floor and chin perpendicular. By pressing your upper arms and shoulders into the mat you should be able to lift your upper spine away from the mat or floor while staring at your chest. You are now in Supported Shoulder Stand. Step 6: To get to Plow pose, as you exhale you’ll need to bend your lower body (at your hip joints) so that you can lower your toes to the floor behind your head. Your goal here should be to keep your mid-section perpendicular with the floor and legs should be completely extended. Step 7: Now, with your toes on the ground lift through your thighs and tailbone to the ceiling as you draw your groin into your pelvic bone. Keep your chin away from the sternum and keep your mouth soft.
Step 8: You can either keep your hands against your back to support you, or you can put your hands flat on the floor behind you—opposite of your legs. From there you can clasp your hands and press your arms into the floor as you continue to lift your thighs to the ceiling. Focus on staying in this pose for about 30 seconds or so. Continue to add 510 seconds to the length each time you do it so that you work your way up to 5 minutes.
#11: Noose Pose Step 1: Begin by standing in Mountain pose near a wall so that your feet are hip-width apart and are parallel to one another. Measure you distance from the wall so that you are about forearm’s length away. So for example, stand in Mountain pose so that the wall in on your right and then turn and place your right palm on the wall to adjust your distance. The goal is for your forearm to be parallel to the floor.
Step 2: Now, bend the knees into squatting position so that you’re sitting on your heels. If you can’t do this with your heels flat on the floor then you can place a folded blanket under your raised heels for added support. Step 3: Next you’re going to swing your knees to the left a little bit and as you exhale you’ll turn your mid-section to your right and put both hands against the wall. When your left hand is on the wall your elbow should be touching the outside of the right knee. For support you must use your right hand to leverage you. Your focus should be to close the gap between your left side of your torso and tops of your thighs. To do this you need to move your left arm down your leg so that your left shoulder is to the outside of your right knee. Step 4: You’ll want to firm your arm and knee against one another. It should help you to lengthen your mid-section. When you’re doing this it’s important to keep your stomach muscles soft. Step 5: Keep your right hand against the wall or you can put your palms together so that your elbows are angle away from each other. You can use your palms to increase the depth of your twist. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds and then release and repeat on the other side.
#12: Monkey Pose Step 1: Begin by kneeling on the floor and then bring your right foot forward (approximately a foot in front of the left knee) and then rotate the right thigh outward. This can be achieved by lifting your inner sole from the ground and resting your foot on your outer heel. Step 2: As you exhale, tilt your mid-section forward and press your fingers into the floor. Then, carefully slide the left knee backward while straightening your knee. At the same time you should be pushing your right thigh down to the floor. Be careful to stop straightening your back knee before you get to the limit of the stretch. Step 3: Start to push your right heel away from your mid-section as you also slowly turn your leg inward so that it brings your kneecap toward the ceiling.
Once your front leg is straight, start pressing your left knee back as you bring your font left thigh and back your right leg down to the floor. The center of your right knee should point straight up to the ceiling. Step 4: Be sure that your back leg is extended straight from your hip (and not angle to the side). You back kneecap should be going straight into the floor. If you’re comfortable here then you can put your arms straight up to the ceiling or in prayer pose in front of you. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds and then release and repeat on the other side.
#13: Heron Pose Step 1: Start out in Staff pose (sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you). Carefully bend your left leg so that your heel is right by your butt and flat against the floor. Step 2: Next you’ll want to bend your right knee and put your foot flat on the floor, just in front of your butt. Then put your right arm on the inside of
your right leg—your shoulder should be pressed against your inner knee. Step 3: Now cross your hand over your right ankle and grab the outside of your right foot while also grabbing the inside of your right foot with your left hand. Step 4: Next, slightly lean back while focusing on keeping your torso long. Firm your shoulders against the back to help lift your chest. As you inhale, raise your leg at a diagonal to the floor (about 45 degrees) so that your foot is slightly higher than your head. Hold this pose for 30 seconds or up to 1 minute. You should repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.
#14: Half Frog Pose Step 1: Start out by lying on your stomach with your forearms pressed into the floor. Lift your head and upper part of your torso off the floor. Step 2: Now, bend the right knee and bring your heel to your right buttock. As you support yourself with your left forearm, carefully reach back and (with your right hand) grab the inside of your right foot. Gradually rotate the elbow to the ceiling as you place your fingers on top of your foot and put them over the tips of your toes. Your palm should be pressed down on the top of your foot. Step 3: Begin pressing the foot into your butt—after doing this for about 10 seconds, if you feel like you’re flexible enough you can take your foot to the side a little and start pressing it to the floor. You want to make sure you are keeping your knee lined up with your hip. If it starts to hurt, back off.
Step 4: Keep your shoulders square with the mat and be sure to not slouch into your left shoulder. To keep from doing this, press your elbow down to open your chest. If you feel flexible and open enough you can try doing both legs at the same time—which is the full pose. Start off holding this pose for 30 seconds and then switch to the opposite leg for the same amount of time.
#15: Eagle Pose Step 1: Start out in Mountain pose and then bend your knees a little bit. As you bend your knees, lift the left foot up and balance only on your right foot. Then, cross the left thigh over the right thigh. Be sure to point your left toes
down toward the ground, press your foot back and hook the top of your foot behind the bottom part of your right calf. Continue balancing on your right foot. Step 2: Now, straighten your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Keep your shoulders wide and open then cross your arms in front of your mid-section. Your left arm should be below your right arm as you bend them at the elbows. Your right elbow should be tight against the crook of your left as your raise your forearms so that they’re perpendicular to the ground. The backs of the hands should be against each other. Step 3: Press your right hand to the right and your left hand to the left. Your palms should be facing one another and the thumb of your right hand should be in front of the left pinky finger. Step 4: Finally, press your palms into each other (as much as you can) and lift the elbows up as your stretch your fingers to the ceiling. Hold here for 30 seconds or so and then repeat with your arms and legs reversed.
#16: Dolphin Pose Step 1: To start, get on your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be right below the hips and forearms should be flat on the floor so that your shoulders are right above the wrists. Press your palms into each other and forearms into the ground. Step 2: As you exhale, curl your toes under and lift the knees off the floor. At first you’ll want to keep your knees bent slightly and your heels lifted off the floor. Focus on lengthening your tailbone and pressing it toward your pubic bone. Now lift your butt to the ceiling and draw your inner legs into your groin. Step 3: Keep pushing your forearms into the floor as you keep your shoulders firm into your back. Keep the shoulders wide and pull them to
your tailbone. Keep your head neutral between your arms—don’t let it hang or press into the floor. Step 4: If you want to, you can straighten the knees—but only if you can do so without rounding your back. Keep focusing on lengthening your tailbone as you pull your pelvis and sternum away from the floor. Stay here for up to 1 minute.
#17: Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose Step 1: Start in Mountain pose and then slowly bring the left knee in to your stomach. Step 2: Take your left arm and reach to the inside of your thigh, crossing it over the front ankle, while holding the outside of the left foot. If you feel
like your hamstrings are too tight you can use a strap around your left foot for some assistance. Step 3: Keep your thigh muscles firm on your standing leg and press your outer thigh inward. Step 4: As you inhale, extend your left leg out in front of you—straightening as much as possible. If you feel balanced, swing your left leg out to the side. Focus on breathing steadily, as it helps you keep your balance. Step 5: From here, grab hold of your left foot with your left hand—either at the tips of your toes or the outside of your foot, whichever is most comfortable. Stay here for 30 seconds then come out of the pose and repeat for the same amount of time with the opposite leg.
#18: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose Step 1: Start on all fours—your knees should be right below your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Slide the right knee forward so that it’s right behind the back of the right wrist. At the same time, bring your right shin at an angle under your mid-section and the right foot to the front of the left knee. The right shin should now be resting on the floor. Next, carefully slide the left leg backward. As you do so, straighten your knee and bring your front thigh down to the floor. Carefully lower your right buttock down to the floor. Your right heel should be positioned just in front of your left hip.
Step 2: It’s okay if your right knee is angled slightly to your right (past your hip line). Now, look behind you at your left leg—is it straight? If not, adjust it so that it’s not angled and rotate it inward slightly. It should be pressed against the floor. Once you have your positioning, as you exhale lay your mid-section down on your inner right thigh and breathe for a few breaths, stretching your arms out in front of you. Step 3: Next, slide both your hands back to the front shin and place your fingers firmly on the floor. Lift your mid-section away from your thigh. Focus on lengthening your lower back as your press the tailbone down—at the same time you should be listing your pubic bone into your stomach. As you do this, roll the left hip toward your right heel. Step 4: If you feel comfortable here and can stay upright with your hands on the floor, bring them to the top of your pelvis and push down heavily. Focus on listing your rib cage and drop your head back. To help lift the chest, push your sternum up to the ceiling. Stay here for 1 minute, then reverse your position and repeat on the other side.
#19: Side Crow Pose Step 1: Start by bending at the knees in a half-squat position—your thighs should be parallel to the ground. If you can’t rest your heels comfortably flat on the ground then you can put a folded blanket or towel under them for added support. Now, take the left elbow and put it on the outside of the right thigh, focusing on keeping your stomach muscles soft. Step 2: As you exhale, twist the torso to your right as you bring the lower left part of your ribs across to your right thigh as far as possible. Step 3: Now, slide the backside of the left arm down to the outside of your right thigh. The goal is to get the outside of your armpit as close to your outer thigh as possible. Keep your arm in place and do a slight back bend as you draw the right should back so you can twist your mid-section deeper.
Step 4: Each time you exhale, repeat these backbend and twisting movements as you alternate between them to get to your maximum depth of rotation. Now, slide the upper left arm forward to the right hip and press it firmly into the right thigh. You want to keep this pressure up as you draw your upper arm back to the right knee—you don’t want your skin to slide. Doing this will rotate your flesh on your upper arm so that it “locks” in place. Once you’ve got your arm into position on the thigh take note of where you’re at in the pose so that you can focus on holding it here for the duration of the posture. Step 5: Now, squat down so that your butt is just above the heels. Put the left palm down on the floor, outside the edge of the right foot. If you can’t do this easily, tilt your mid-section to the right until you can. Maintain the contact between the upper arm and outer thigh as you lean more to your right until you can put your right hand down flat on the floor. Your hands should ideally be shoulder-width apart. Your fingers should also be parallel to one another and most of your bodyweight will be on your feet. Step 6: Focus on keeping your left arm and right thigh pressed together as you carefully lift the pelvis and shift to your right so that your stomach is between both hands. You might have to play around with the exact balance point, but this should get you close enough so that you can find it easily on your own. You’ll know when you’ve got it because the weight on your feet will decrease as they lift off the ground and the weight on your hands will increase. Step 7: Once you’re balanced, keep the feet together and press through as you draw the heels to your butt. As you exhale, focus on softening the stomach muscles as you pull the left hip down and lift your feet up.
Straighten the left arm as much as possible without letting your legs fall down. Step 8: Straighten the right arm completely and lift the right shoulder as your twist the spine even more. Be sure to lift the chest and head to look forward. Try to hold this pose for at least 15 seconds or more. Repeat on the other side.
#20: Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose Step 1: Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor. You heels should be under your knees and slightly wider than hip-width. Bend the arms and place the palms of your hands on the ground next to your ears. Your fingertips should face your shoulders—shoulder-width apart. Stop here and focus on breathing for a few breaths. Step 2: On an exhale, press the knees away from your mid-section and lift the hips, head and shoulders off the floor while straightening the arms. Keep your shoulders wide and draw them into your tailbone so that you can lift them and take some weight off your arms. Step 3: Now, bend both arms and place them at the crown of your head (on the ground between your feet and hands). Keep both elbows shoulder-width apart. They should also be positioned right above the wrists. Be mindful to keep your neck from being strained. Exhale and press both hands into the
ground as your draw the shoulder blades to your tailbone—keeping your chest open. Step 4: On another exhale, slide one of your hands to the back of your hand as your bring your bodyweight onto your forearm. Do the same thing with your other arm then lace your fingers behind your head. If you have to, you can also position yourself on your tiptoes if you can’t get into this position otherwise. Step 5: On a big exhale, press the inside of your elbows and wrists down while at the same time, raising your chest and head off the floor. When you lift your head, press the heels downward if you can. Step 6: If you can successfully lift your head off the floor it will help ease your muscle tension and put your weight on your upper arms. Avoid straining your shoulder joints by keeping your bodyweight distributed evenly between the elbows and wrists. Don’t let them be wider than shoulder-width. You can stay here and hold the pose, or for more of a challenge you can follow the next set of instructions to get into the full pose. Step 7: Walk your feet away from the hands until both legs are almost straight. As you do this, place both feet firmly into the floor and exhale, stretching down to your calves straightening the legs completely. Step 8: Put the crown of the head back onto the floor and cup it in your hands while pressing both elbows into the ground and draw the shoulders to your tailbone. Be careful when coming out of this pose and release each body part consciously.
Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute.
#21: Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend Step 1: Start in Staff pose (sitting with both legs straight out in front of you), then slowly lean back onto your hands. Lift your legs to form a right angle with your pubic bone (about 90 degrees). Press both hands into the floor and slide your butt forward so that you widen your legs about 20 degrees more. If you don’t feel comfortable in this position, sit on a folded blanket for extra cushion and support. Step 2: Now, slowly rotate the thighs outward while pinning them against the floor. Your kneecaps should point straight up to the ceiling. Reach through the heels and stretch the soles of your feet. Step 3: While the thighs are pressed into the floor and knees are pointing up to the ceiling, move your hands forward between the legs, keeping both arms long and extended. Be sure to move from your hip joints and lengthen your torso. When you notice yourself starting to bend at the waist, stop. Relengthen your torso and if possible keep bending as long as you can keep proper form.
Step 4: Keep increasing the bend forward each time you exhale until you feel a slight stretch at the back of each leg. Stay here for 1 minute or longer.
#22: Wild Thing Step 1: Start out in the Downward Facing Dog pose. Step 2: Then, bring your bodyweight onto your right hand and roll to the outer part of the right foot, like you would if you were performing Side Plank pose. Step 3: As you inhale, lift both hips. Keep strong in your right hand by making a clawing or scratching motion with your fingers. As you exhale, step the left foot backward and put your toes on the floor as you bend your knee slightly. Step 4: Push back through the upper back and create a sweeping motion in the blades of your shoulders, opening your chest.
Step 5: Inhale again and lift the hips even high until you are in a more intense backbend with the right foot flat on the floor. Step 6: As you breathe, lean your head back and extend the left arm. Hold the pose for up to 10 breaths and go back to Downward Dog and repeat the pose on the opposite side.
#23: Scorpion Pose Please do not attempt this pose without a spotter if it’s your first time. You must be proficient with Handstands and Forearm Balances to be able to physically do this pose. Step 1: To get into Scorpion pose you must first get into a Forearm Balance. To start, get on your hands and knees and place your forearms under your shoulders and parallel to each other. Your shoulders should be right above each elbow. Now, bring your right toes under and lift your knee up,
positioning your right leg straight behind you. Repeat this with your left leg so that you’re now into a forearm plank. Push your elbows into the floor and lift your shoulders. Hug your upper arms inward and push your chest outward while keeping your stomach and legs engaged. Hold here for 30 seconds or so and then take a rest in Child’s Pose. Step 2: From here, grab a yoga strap and adjust it so that it’s the width of each shoulder apart. Slide it around your arms above your elbows. This will help you to keep from collapsing. Now, grab a yoga block and put it widthwise against the wall so that your thumbs and index fingers form an ‘L’ on each corner of the block closest to you. Your forearms should still be parallel to the floor. Now, curl your toes and lift your knees and hips up, straightening your legs. If you can, walk your feet in towards your elbows— making sure that your lower back remains over your elbows. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths. Step 3: Next, lift your right leg in the air as if you were doing the Standing Splits pose while keeping your inner thigh back to square your hips. Draw up through your core and entire length of your leg, reaching your toes like you’re trying to pull something down from the ceiling. After about 5 breaths bring the leg down and repeat with the opposite side. Rest in Child’s Pose again. Step 4: Get into Standing Splits again and bend your bottom leg as you make tiny hop kicks to practice. If you’re not kicking all the way to the wall, put a little more power into your kick. Once your legs are on the wall, flex your feet and drag your heels up the wall to help lengthen your back. Be mindful not to arch your back and continue to engage your elbows with your strap as you look forward in a neutral position.
Step 5: Now, from Forearm Balance, bend the knees and point your toes, pushing firmly through the arms as you lift the chest forward and up. Be sure to keep the core strong as you move your feet down to the top of your head. Hold here for 30 seconds, and then lower yourself back down to your mat.
#24: Iron Cross Headstand Step 1: Start out with both hands and knees on the floor. Place your head on the floor in front of your hands (like you would if you were about to do Tripod Headstand). Now, walk both hands out to each side of your head, making sure to keep your elbows bent a little bit. Step 2: Once you feel like you’re stable be sure to straighten your legs and walk the feet as close as you can to your head.
Step 3: Shift the hips over the shoulders and engage your abdominal muscles so that you can lift your legs into the air, or if you need to you can also kick lightly off the ground. Be sure to keep both legs together and to point the toes. Step 4: Once you’re balanced, walk both hands out so that the arms are straight beside you and your head is in the middle. You’re now in an Iron Cross! Stay here for 5 breaths and then slowly lower yourself back to the ground.
#25: Big Toe Bow Pose Step 1: Start off lying on your stomach in the floor with your hands on either side of your torso, palms facing up. If you need to, you can roll up a blanket to provide extra cushioning if it hurts your stomach. Step 2: As you exhale, bend the knees and bring your heels as close to your butt as you can. While doing this, reach back with both hands and grab onto your ankles, then move your hands up to your toes. Keep your knees hip width apart for the entire length of the pose. Step 3: On the inhale, lift your heels away from your butt and thighs away from the floor with a significant amount of strength. By doing this you’ll
pull the upper torso and your head off of the floor. Soften your back muscles and push your tailbone down into the floor. Focus on lifting your thighs and heels higher into the air and press the shoulder blades firmly into your back in order to open up your heart. Be sure to keep the top of your shoulders away from your ears and look straight ahead. Please note: this pose makes it somewhat difficult to breathe smoothly and deeply, but keep breathing! Focus on breathing into the back of your torso. Stay in this position for 30 seconds, focusing on your breathing technique. As you exhale, release yourself gently and lie flat for a couple breaths.
#26: One-Legged Inverted Staff There are two ways to get into this pose—from backbend or from headstand. Below we’ll cover both and you can pick which one works best for you. Backbend Variation Step 1: Start out by lying on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the ground and as close to your butt as possible. Bend each
elbow and place your palms on the ground just above your shoulders. Your fingers should be facing your feet. Step 2: On an inhale, press both palms into the floor and lift your shoulders and head up off the floor, positioning the top of your head on your mat. Then, place both elbows on the floor on both sides of the head in front of your face. Then, lace both hands behind your head. Step 3: Bring both feet together and raise the right leg into the air. Press into the sole of the left foot to help lift the right foot even higher. After 5 breaths, lower the right foot back to the floor and switch by raising your left leg into the air and breathe 5 more times. Headstand Variation Step 1: Start out with both your hands and knees on the floor. Lower your elbows so that you’re in forearm plank and then lace your fingers so that your hands are in a semicircle. Put the back of your head up against your palms and crown of your head on the mat. Next, extend both legs so that they’re straight and walk both feet to your face as close as possible. Step 2: Now, shift your weight from your hips over the shoulders as you keep both elbows pressed into the floor. Then, lift the right leg up to the ceiling and then your left leg as well so that you’re now in a complete headstand. Step 3: Next, stabilize your head and elbows as you start to bend both knees and lower both feet to the ground behind you. To do this, you’ll have to arch your back quite a bit. Once you’ve reached the floor, put both feet together and slowly raise the right leg straight up into the air. Hold for 5 breaths as
you press your left foot into the floor to help ground you and open your chest. Step 4: Bring your right foot back down and repeat the extension with your left leg for 5 more breaths.
#27: Supported Shoulder Stand Step 1: First you’ll want to make your space comfortable by folding a couple of blankets into 1 ft x 2ft rectangles and then stack them one on top of the other. If you need to you can also place your mat over them to keep your upper arms in place.
Step 2: Now, lay your shoulders on the mat and blankets so that they’re supported and your head is on the floor. You’ll want to keep your arms beside you on the floor and bend the knees with your feet on the floor. Your heels should be close to your butt. As you exhale, press your arms into the floor as you push the feet off the floor by bring your thighs into your torso. Step 3: As you continue lifting, curl your pelvic bone and your back off the floor. Your knees should be near your face. Now, stretch the arms parallel to the blanket and turn your arms outwards so that your fingers are against the floor. Your thumbs should be pointing behind you. Bend the elbows and then draw them together as your lay the upper arms on your mat and place your palms against your back. You’ll want to raise the pelvic bone over your shoulders so that you’re mid-section is close to being perpendicular to the floor. Move your hands up your back so that you’re getting them closer to the floor, but keep your elbows from getting wider than shoulder-width. Step 4: As you inhale, life your knees to the ceiling and line the thighs up with your mid-section, while letting your heels hang down by your butt. Be sure to keep your pubic bone and upper thighs turned inward slightly as you inhale and straighten your knees. It helps if you press your heels to the ceiling. After you have fully extended your legs you should lift through your big toes—this makes your inner legs longer than the outer. Step 5: Press your shoulders into your back and push your sternum forward toward your chin. In this position the forehead should be somewhat parallel to the floor and chin perpendicular. By pressing your upper arms and shoulders into the mat you should be able to lift your upper spine away from the mat or floor while staring at your chest.
If you’re new to this pose, try to hold it for 30 seconds. Each time you practice you should focus on adding 5 seconds to the length until you can hold it for up to 5 minutes.
#28: Cow Face Pose Step 1: Start by sitting on the floor, your arms to your sides and your legs stretched out in front of you. Slide your feet toward you until they are flat on the floor with your knees bent. Slide your left foot under your right leg, lay your right knee on top of your left knee and place both feet on the outside of the opposite hip. Shift side to side to make sure you are sitting evenly on your glutes. Step 2: Lift your left arm up toward the sky, making sure your palm is facing forward. While your arm is lifted straight upwards bend your elbow and lower your left hand to your spine. Reach your right arm outwards to your side while your palm is facing downward. Rotate the arm until the palm faces backwards. Bend at the elbow and bring your hand to the center of your back, tucking your forearm into your lower back.
Step 3: Try to hook your fingers together as you roll your shoulders down and back. Stretch your top elbow upwards and the lower elbow downwards. Don’t extend the elbows outwards, instead draw them inwards. Step 4: Make sure you breath softly and gaze upwards. Your collar bones should be broadened and your shoulder blades should be firm against your back ribs. Don’t puff your ribs forward, instead be sure you draw them in. Step 5: Hold for about 1 minute or so. Release your legs and arms and come back into the seated position you started in. Repeat the same steps for the opposite side of your body.
#29: Wheel Pose (Upward Bow) Step 1: Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be as close to your butt as possible. Then, bend both elbows and your palms beside you on the floor by your head. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the mat or floor and fingers should be pointing toward the shoulders. Step 2: Push your feet into the floor and as you exhale, push the tailbone up to your pubic bone as you firm your butt and then finally lift your butt off the floor completely. Be sure to keep your thighs and feet parallel to one another. Pause here for 3 breaths and then press your hands into the floor as
your firm your shoulders against your back while lifting up on the top of your head. You arms should stay parallel. Hold here for 3 breaths. Step 3: Now, press both your feet and your hands down into the floor. Firm your tailbone and your shoulder blades and as you exhale, lift your head off the ground as your straighten both arms. Position your upper thighs inward as you firm your outer thighs. From here, bring your hips in and focus on lengthening your tailbone to the backs of your knees while lifting your pubic bone up to your belly button. Step 4: Finally, position your upper arms outward, but focus on keeping your weight at the base of your index fingers. Be sure to spread and widen your shoulder blades as you let your head hang in a neutral position. Stay in this pose for 15 seconds or more, keeping your breathing steady.
#30: Wide-Legged Forward Bend Step 1: Start off in Mountain pose and face a long edge of your yoga mat. Step your feet apart about 3-4 ½ feet and rest both hands on your hips, making sure your feet are parallel to one another. As you do this, lift the inner arches from your inner ankles as you press outward on the edges of your feet and push each big toe into the floor. Be sure to engage your thigh muscles and then inhale and life the chest so that the front of your torso is longer than the back of your torso. Step 2: As you exhale, focus on lengthening your mid-section as your lean forward at your hip joints. As your mid-section gets closer to the floor and is almost parallel, push your fingers into the floor so that they’re parallel to each other. Position your spine so that it’s slightly concave. Then, bring your head up while keeping your neck long and focus your eyes to the ceiling. Step 3: Be mindful to lengthen your torso by pushing your thighs back and drawing your groin inward to widen your pelvic bone as you breathe here. While maintaining the concave shape of your back and lift of the sternum,
move your fingers between both feet. Breathe a few times here and then as you exhale, bend both elbows and lower your mid-section and head into a forward bend. As you move downward, keep as much length as possible in your torso. If you can, rest the top of your head on the mat or floor. Step 4: Next, push your palms into the floor with your fingers forward. If you’re flexible enough to do a full forward bend then you can walk both hands back so that your forearms become perpendicular to the mat and your upper arms are parallel. Be mindful to widen your shoulders across your back and away from your ears. Breathe here for up to 1 minute.
Taking Yoga Outdoors Now that you’ve got the poses down and you’re feeling pretty confident, how do you push yourself even further? Here’s an idea: take your yoga practice outside to shake things up. If you thought Crow pose was challenging on your mat, try it doing it in the forest —or even on the sand. Practicing yoga in a studio has its perks: no bugs (I hope), private setting, air conditioned (unless you’re doing Bikram)—but there’s a lot of things it lacks as well. Did you know that traditionally speaking, yogis (until fairly recently) didn’t practice yoga indoors or in a studio at all? Taking your yoga practice outdoors in a beautiful setting gets you back to yoga’s roots, so to speak. I’m sure you’ve noticed that a lot of work is usually put into making a yoga classroom have a certain ambience—music, mood lighting and sometimes even aromatherapy is used to put you in a different mindset. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this type of yoga practice at all, but when it comes to connecting with your inner self and Mother Earth it’s much easier to do in a natural environment that is unhindered by walls and fake scents and carefully selected lighting. So basically we’re putting all this work into making our yoga studios “natural” when really the answer is simple: practice in nature. Sometimes this isn’t possible—for instance if you live in the Northeast in the winter it
obviously wouldn’t be the best idea. But I think when you can, you definitely should. By practicing yoga outdoors it gives you an enhanced experience and takes your experience to a whole new level that otherwise couldn’t be attained. Yoga outdoors on a beautiful day is a natural high and once you’ve experienced it you will long for it when you’re in a yoga classroom indoors and catch a glimpse of the sun peeking through.
Perks of Practicing Yoga Outdoors An intensified experience Better focus on your awareness and breathing More depth to your poses as the sun makes muscles more flexible Heightened sense of smell and sounds Vitamin D! Poses are more challenging due to differences in terrain More relaxed meditative experience Savasana is incredibly peaceful and beneficial here Enjoy the experience of nature—even after you’re done practicing. That’s one of the best parts of practicing outdoors: if you’re not ready to get back to the real world just yet, you don’t have to. Once you’ve unlocked the door to practicing yoga in nature—it’s really the only way to go. Practicing yoga in a studio setting doesn’t hold the same appeal as it once did. Again, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t practice in a studio—obviously I’m an advocate for doing just that, but I do think that moving your yoga practice outdoors can have many more lasting benefits.
Some Things to Keep In Mind As much as I’ve talked up practicing yoga outside, I should also mention the opposite side of the coin. It does have some downfalls and things to keep in mind for your safety and well-being. Practice in early morning or evening sun so that you’re not exposing yourself to such damaging levels of UV rays. If you absolutely must practice during the sun’s peak hours be sure to slather on the sunscreen or find some shade to practice under. Be sure that wherever you choose to practice has a nice view. Just because you’re outside doesn’t necessarily mean your line of sight is inspiring. Try to find a clearing in a field or among the trees. If you’re going to be on the beach try to find a more secluded spot so there aren’t as many distractions. You might need your mat! Or not. This one really depends on the type of terrain you’re going to be practicing on. If it’s an uneven surface with lots of little rocks and twigs, then a mat (or two!) would be a good idea. The same goes if you’re practicing on a boardwalk or deck. You don’t want any splinters. However, on the sand or grass I personally prefer to ditch my mat. If you’re going to practice in the grass, be sure it’s clear of any dangers before you begin. Look out for anthills, twigs, rocks and other hazards that might make your experience less than enjoyable. Make sure to layer your clothing that way you’re comfortable no matter what the temperature. If you’re near the beach in the morning or there’s not a lot of sunlight you may need sleeves. Not to mention, your jacket or sweatshirt can double as a pillow and eye mask in Savasana.
Sunglasses are a lifesaver! Just be sure to wear a pair that is fairly tight so that they aren’t constantly falling off anytime you do an inversion or bend over in the slightest. Find a natural bug spray that you feel safe using. Nothing is more annoying than trying to be one with nature—only to become nature’s snack. Remember your water! This might seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the number of students who forget their water bottles when we switch up class outdoors. As long as you keep these tips in mind, then I know you’ll have an amazing outdoor yoga session. Remember: it’s all about perspective and state of mind. If you’re focused on having a good time in the moment, then you will and nothing can get in the way of that. It’s also important to note that you should start out gradually. Just because you normally practice for 90 minutes indoors, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do the same outside—at least not at first. Sometimes nature can be distracting, especially if we’re not used to the environment. Over time, however, I think you’ll find it’s more of an enriching experience than you ever thought was possible.
Connecting Your Body, Mind & Spirit As you know, yoga just isn’t about the posture or how you look. It’s also about unity and becoming one with the Universe and your own body. What this looks like for one person won’t be the same as it is for someone else. That’s completely okay! And since we’re talking about taking your yoga practice to the next level then we really need to talk about meditation and mindfulness as well. As a beginner we’re often too worried about how to do each pose to really pay much attention to where our focus is at. We haven’t yet mastered the breathing techniques and postures and so it’s hard for us to pay attention to much else—let alone be zen. This is why being an advanced yogi is much more rewarding and fun. You’ve put in all the groundwork and attention to getting your poses and breathing down pat so now you’re able to be rewarded with a more meditative and mindful experience when practicing yoga. So the good news is now you can do your postures while also finding inner clarity and a new level of peace that wasn’t possible before.
What Are the Benefits of Meditation? Helps you focus Manages pain Reduces stress Relieves anxiety & depression Improves learning abilities Regulates emotions Keeps your mind young Boosts your immune system So obviously meditation as a part of your yoga practice is incredibly beneficial for us, but how do we incorporate it seamlessly into your routine? For starters, when you’re doing each posture don’t just go through the motions. When we’re so familiar with something it can be dangerous in the sense that we’re no longer mentally engaged. As long as we’re utilizing that free mind space for something constructive it can be good, however it’s easy to get in the habit of just doing the postures and not thinking much further than that. Here’s where we’re going to change things up: when you do each of your poses start focusing on each and every single little movement—I’m talking right down to how relaxed your eyelids feel, how tense your fingers and toes are, the way your tongue feels in your mouth (yes, it can be tense, too). But don’t just stop there. Start paying attention to how your body responds to certain poses and what your limits are for each pose. Take mental notes on
how you can improve, but also celebrate your achievements no matter how little or insignificant they may seem. Another way to be mindful is to use positive affirmations during your practice. Here are some examples of things you might say to yourself silently as you go through your postures.
Affirmations “I am awakening my heart.” “I open myself up to positive change.” “I am proud of myself for pushing myself just that little bit further.” “I am releasing all of the negative energy I’ve been holding onto.” “I am bowing to the Universe and its beauty.” “I love my body and appreciate all that it does for me.” “I am grateful for this day that I’ve been given and will use it to the best of my ability.” These are just some of the examples of affirmations that you could use while going through your postures. The sky is the limit! Have fun with it and be creative. There is never a wrong answer. My suggestion is to just go with the flow and repeat what comes to you in the moment. Our bodies and minds are much more intuitive than we give them credit for and we often know what we need to hear—even if it is subconsciously. Another idea that will help you to be more mindful and present in your mind and body is to truly let yourself be in Savasana. Don’t think about what you’re cooking for dinner, the financial problems you’re having, whether or not you’re going to make it to the parking lot before the rest of the crowd— forget it all. At first, this won’t be easy. I recommend practicing Savasana at home. It’s a great way to learn to be still and enjoy the quiet of your own mind without
all the other distractions you get in a class environment. You can even try this outside, although it’s a little more challenging. Try using a facemask or a towel to cover your face and help block out distractions. Obviously these are just a few of the possibilities when it comes to practicing meditation and mindfulness. Get creative and let yourself be flexible enough to try new things. Just remember to trust yourself and you can’t go wrong because only you know what’s best for you.
Conclusion So what did you think? Are you inspired to take your yoga game to the next level? I hope that you found each of the poses encouraging and my words inspiring. I know that with determination and dedication you’ll grow into a better person because of yoga and I believe that these Advanced Lessons can get you there. You might not be up to practicing all of these moves in one day—in fact, I don’t recommend that at all. What I do suggest is taking things at a slow pace. Try a pose a day, or even a pose a week—not moving on to the next until you’ve mastered the previous posture. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it feels right and good to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not where you think you should be. What matters is that you’re trying every single day to conquer your fears and overcome weaknesses. Always remember: if you try with all your heart then you can never fail. Thank you for reading this box set. I hope you enjoyed. Click here to see my other books and box sets.