Getting fit is a resolution for your life. Not just the new year.

Get fit for life. Couple doing yoga

New year resolutions. They work brilliantly at building the pressure and getting us going. We are all charged up at the start of the year. We push ourselves the first week and drag ourselves the next, and then some piled up work or unplanned evenings take over. Before you know it, it’s June and you are already planning your resolutions for the next year.

The statistics for success with new year resolutions are bleak. Only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. If you feel you are one amongst the 92% who end up abandoning them after one week, then this blog is for you. YogaHive is all for healthy habits and fitness goals. We live by our mantra to ‘Keep moving’. But we look at fitness as a way of life, as life itself. It’s not just something you hold on to for the new year. Here’s why this year, you should ditch the resolutions about getting fit and adapt the idea of getting fit for life.

1. Slow and steady wins the race, remember?

Yogis should know this the best. Your 45 minutes of yoga might seem slow and boring to someone who is used to 45 minutes of mixed martial arts. You’d think MMA is more strenuous and will probably get you to your goals quicker. But no, yoga heals you slowly. It builds your muscles and enhances your core. In the long term, you will have the body of an MMA expert, the soul of a yogi and the wealth of great health.

Giving yourself a tough goal in the start of the new year and then punishing yourself mentally for not achieving it is the worst way to begin. Don’t plan for the year. Plan for life and start small and slow. Give yourself smaller goals that together give you a great lifestyle.

2. New year resolutions often force us to take up fad diets.

When we miss our first goal, we are still optimistic and believe that we can get to our second one. In the rush, we often succumb to quick fixes, like 10 days to power-abs, or 7 days of the GM diet. We become vulnerable to anything that can help us get to our missed goals. Do you remember Googling ‘magic pills’ that you can pop to get fit? These fad diets to gain muscle or lose weight, might just work if you are resilient and crazy enough (for instance, crazy enough to eat 10 bananas every day!) But as soon as you will be off the diet and on to your normal routine habits, you will undo all the good. Not only will the fad diets harm your health, whatever benefit you got from them, will also vanish.

Which is why we believe, getting fit is not a quick fix. Think of it as a life-term relationship. Just resolve to yourself, to exercise every day, 5 days a week for 45 minutes. To not eat unhealthy foods for 5 days a week. To switch from soda to juice, for life! To remove carbs from your dinner, for life! To excel in yoga alignment and all those complicated asanas, for life! If you set for yourself such goals, you will notice a healthy change inside you. You will not stress about them but accept them as a part of your healthy lifestyle.

3. It’s a new year. But what about a new day, every day?

Come to think of it, we get a new day every day. A new year begins every new day. We are blessed to wake up and witness the beauty of this new day. If we start living life, one day a time, we will notice how our worries cease to exist and how every day is like a super-packed year which needs us to be fit. Get fit. Every new day.

yoga-morning

Get fit for life.

If you have given yourself unrealistic goals this new year, look at them again from a larger perspective and try to give yourself a goal for life. Then break down your goal for life into smaller doable actions every day. If you have given yourself realistic goals and are determined to get to them this year, no matter what? Then we sincerely wish you fall in that 8% which is successful.

Keep us posted on your fitness stories on Facebook and Instagram by following our hashtag #GetFitForLife. And remember, goals or no goals, just keep moving. Feel alive and feel grateful. If you are having trouble with that, our yoga pants will surely help. 🙂

#yogaeverydamnday Taking on the 30 day yoga challenge

Woman doing yoga

Yoga studio - 30 day yoga challenge

Since joining a yoga studio earlier this year I knew I wanted to join their next studio-wide 30 day challenge. I’d scanned back through their Instagram feed and found the posts about the challenge inspiring and I couldn’t wait to join that community and push myself to do #yogaeverydamnday.

I’d previously completed two 7 day challenges on my own as well a 15 in 30 challenge and I found them so motivating to keep going, even when I’d rather be sitting on my couch for an evening of netflix and takeout. I knew the 30 day challenge would be hard, and I had a busy month ahead so it was going to take some serious scheduling, time management and dedication. What I didn’t expect (or maybe just ignored) was how tired my muscles would be from back-to-back classes. I quickly learned it’s important to keep your body nourished as well as active!

How to survive a 30 day challenge

1. Eat healthy and take supplements where necessary

Being healthy isn’t just about physical activity. You can’t eat pizza and pasta and expect your body to get the nutrients it needs. Maintaining proper nutrition will help your body recover and help you get back on the mat faster. This wasn’t an area I excelled at during my challenge and I ended up getting sick 4 days before my challenge ended! I know I don’t get enough protein and amino acids in my semi-vegetarian diet so I’ll definitely be looking into supplements that will help my muscles recover. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

2. Do your laundry… or go shopping 😉

Going to yoga every day means dressing for yoga every day. Having a few pairs of leggings, tops and bras to rotate through is essential — no one wants to wear the same pants to flow that they wore to hot the day before! Clothes that work well and fit correctly also really improve the experience. Since I was going every day I really started to notice which items I wanted to replace.

3. Make it as easy as possible

I quickly realized it would be a lot easier to fit yoga into my days if I didn’t have to worry about whether I had my mat with me so I gave myself the option of renting. I much prefer my own Manduka mat so I used it as much as possible but I knew it would take the stress off if I didn’t always have to pack my mat. If you’re planning your own challenge I’d definitely consider getting a lightweight, packable travel mat.

Why join a challenge

Sometimes you need to push yourself to do something you might not think you can do. After 30 days of yoga you’ll feel stronger, more confident and amazed that yes, you can find time. It’s also a great opportunity to try new classes and more advanced poses. And hey, it’s also a great excuse to buy new pants 😉

Yoga 30 day challenge

What I learned from my yoga challenge

What I learned from this challenge is that I can do #yogaeverydamnday, even if it’s just a little bit at home in the morning or evening. I also learned that sometimes, you need to give yourself a break. We all have busy lives and conflicting commitments and it’s okay to say, hey I can’t work out today, but I will get this and this done and that will make me feel good. Overall the challenge made me feel really good about myself. I felt stronger and even found classes easier when I used to struggle through them. I know my poses (and their names!) better and even know what to expect in the classes I usually go to. The 30 day challenge definitely made me feel less like a beginner and it made me excited to maintain a yoga routine!

*This post was shared by new yogi, Julie*

5 Myths About Yoga Alignment

Myths about yoga laignment

Every yoga teacher talks about alignment. We’ve all been there. But here are 5 popular myths that need some balancing.

Alignment is a term mostly used to define the practice of some hard-to-achieve yoga postures. Unfortunately, the way the term is used sometimes takes the positivity away from the whole act. Let’s try to bust these common misconceptions to bring back the joy in alignment and yoga.

MYTH #1: You were born with perfect alignment but with time you lost your natural balance and flexibility

That’s just wrong. Don’t be so hard on yourself. First of all, nobody was born with perfect alignment. One side is slightly bigger than the other. For most people, it is the right side. You have one dominant hand and leg. You can write better with the dominant hand, see better with the dominant eye and balance better with the dominant leg. Thus, you see, perfect yoga alignment gained naturally or genetically, is a myth.

What one can gain naturally is flexibility. There can be beginner yogis who will pull off a deep backend pose which even lifetime yogis cannot. But don’t judge yourself for this. Flexibility can also be achieved through practice. Our muscles are toned through lifestyle and postures to become less or more flexible. However, that does not mean that you can be as flexible as everyone else in the yoga class. You can only be more flexible that what you were before. When you feel like the black sheep who needs special instructions, you put pressure on yourself to master that pose. You stop using your body to get into a pose, but start using a pose to get into a body. That’s not yoga. Accept your own levels of flexibility and work on them, keeping nothing as a milestone but your body’s health and inner strength.

MYTH #2: You have got to master the perfect posture

When you try to sing your favourite song, it is not the same as Taylor Swift or Sam Smith singing it. And a 4-year-old girl will have her own rendition. But they are all signing the same song and just as melodious. Just like that, your asana is your own beautiful composition of what your yoga teacher has taught you. Yoga alignment possibly has nothing to do with it. Your yoga pose will be as beautiful as any other perfectly balanced and flexible yogi. Your bones will clash as you twist and bend. You might not be striking a pose for the cover of a yoga magazine, but as long as you are finding peace in it and strengthening your core, you are doing great yoga.

Chanting, visualization, or deep breathing and the shape of your bones, unfortunately, can affect how your yoga pose looks and feels, but not always alignment. So relax, just do your best and feel your best.

Yoga poses

MYTH #3: Improper yoga alignment can lead to injuries

Going back to point number 1. We are not naturally aligned, remember? Improper yoga alignment is very natural. And anything that is natural, cannot lead to injuries. Because that is how nature designed it to be, and it is perfect just like that. Have you heard the words, ‘Wabi Sabi’ ever? They mean ‘beautifully imperfect’ in Japanese. And that is exactly what all of us are. Injuries take place in yoga class because people push themselves to achieve a pose, that their body is not yet comfortable in, or maybe never will be. But improper alignment is not the cause behind yoga injuries.

MYTH #4: Proper yoga alignment leads to the perfect flow of energy

Yoga practitioners often believe that a perfect pose creates magic and lights up your nervous systems. Energy then flows freely in your body. But actually, it’s the opposite that is true. When we stretch or twist or bend, we are creating an obstacle for blood circulation and using it is a training course for the body to tame itself to the hardship. If you stay in a pose for too long, no matter how perfect your yoga alignment is, some part of your body will become numb. And when you will release the pose, blood will circulate freely again, leading to the feeling of Prana gushing in every part of your body. This is what yoga wishes to teach. The art of keeping calm and balanced in a difficulty, the art of endurance.

Learning the subtle art of keeping calm and balanced even in the face of difficulty is a powerful lesson—and one with profound implications outside the yoga studio as well.

MYTH #5: Some universal principles of alignment work for everyone

How many of you have heard a yoga teacher say, ‘Don’t let your front knee travel in front of your toes in lunging poses or you’ll hurt your knee!’. We’re guessing, all of you. But what about asanas like skanasana or a yoga squat? Doesn’t the knee travel in front of your toes in these. And there is another ‘universal’ rule. ‘Keep your elbows close to your body in chaturanga dandasana or it could hurt your shoulders!’ But for some people, the elbows-in position can actually be more damaging than the elbows-out position. It’s just a matter of how your shoulder joint is built.

If you’d ask 3 yoga teachers about the techniques or steps to a perfect triangle pose, you’ll learn three different methods altogether. There is no universal rule that bodies follow. Yoga is the beautiful art that makes your soul and your body communicate with each other. Chances are, each body has something different and unique to say. And the diversity is what makes yoga a developing science and not a hard-coded guide.

In truth, the human body itself is the most effective yoga teacher in the yoga room—and the best yoga teachers themselves understand that. Their teaching is as much inside-out as it is outside-in. The best yoga teachers hence, are often not the ones who can make the perfect yoga pose and impose the need of yoga alignment. But the best yoga teachers are the ones who understand and appreciate every yoga seeker. And definitely the one’s who wear the best yoga pants. 😉

 

Anti Aging Yoga Poses: How To Stay Young And Healthy With Yoga

yoga-benefits-anti-aging

It’s easy to believe that yoga keeps our body strong and healthy. We are living the benefits of yoga every day. One asana at a time. The anti aging yoga poses are some of the first ones that yoga teachers often teach beginners. You are probably already practicing them. But the benefits of yoga extend beyond our body, to our mind and soul.

A recent U.S. based study proves that yoga can help improve memory and the ability to focus, which people often lose as they age. In the experiment, over a period of 12 weeks, one group of adults with mild cognitive impairment were asked to do a series of proven memory-enhancing brain-training exercises, while another group was asked to practice Kundalini yoga and meditation. It was found that both the groups showed the same signs of development, but the group of yogis should a better ability to stay focused, de-stressed and sharp. Isn’t that amazing? So yoga not only keeps our body young, it even works its magic inwards.

What makes yoga anti-aging?

It’s easy to make a list of the benefits of yoga. Nobody will know them better than us yogis who practice yoga every day. A lot of people start doing yoga to stay fit and slim. But the world over, and especially in the east, where yoga originated, the reasons to practice yoga are often health related. Cancer patients, thyroid patients, diabetics, people with vascular diseases, depression, anxiety, the list of people who look towards yoga as the answer to their troubles is long. Making one look younger or live longer, is simply the “by-product” of all these other benefits. Those rhythmic inhales and exhales and those calm mantras that we chant while practicing yoga go deep inside. They purify us from inside, making us stronger, healthier and as a result, immune to common illnesses and troubles.

Which yoga poses are anti-aging?

anti aging yoga poses

1. Equal standing

This pose helps you develop awareness of postural tendencies.  Imagine that a string is pulling you up from the crown of your head. Notice if you’re slouching and stand up straighter, without over engaging any muscles.

2. Tree pose

Tree pose is a simple balancing posture that helps you keep your body strong enough to hold your weight as you age. Make sure you practice the tree pose on both your legs. It is important to maintain blood circulation equally in both.

anti aging yoga poses benefits

3. Squat

Strong thigh muscles will help protect the knees from pain and injury. Knee-injury is one of the most common signs of growing old. Healthy thighs will protect your knees and support your active lifestyle for a longer period than usual.

4. Downward dog

A classic and well-known yoga pose, downward dog improves upper-body strength, promotes a healthy spine and stretches the back body. It keeps fat from accumulating on common spots like the tummy, arms and chin. Keeping these areas firm is step 1 towards looking young and feeling healthy.

5. Sun Salutations with rhythmic breathing

anti aging yoga poses

Sun salutations have a long list of benefits. They keep your body in shape and work differently for everyone. If your body type is lean, they will help you stay lean. If your body type is curvy, they will help you stay curvy. At the same time, they will keep wrinkles away. When you inhale and exhale as you make those poses, your lungs purify and pump clean blood. This keeps your skin healthy and glowing. Sun salutations performed in the morning at sunrise have an even greater impact on keeping you looking 5 years younger.

What habits can be added to our lifestyle, to make our yoga more effective?

If its anti-aging benefits are the chief reason behind your yoga sessions, then you will be glad to know that you can couple your yoga asanas with some healthy habits to increase its impact.

How to make yoga more effective?

drinking water benefits

1. Drink 4 cups of hot water every day
2. Eat a bowl of fresh veggies at least once a day
3. Start your day with two glasses of water
4. Have an apple for breakfast instead of coffee or tea
5. Practice Pranayama breathing exercises daily for a minimum period of 15 minutes

Add these simple tricks to the anti-aging yoga poses and you have for yourself a true mantra for longevity and youthfulness. The benefits will start showing immediately for most, and gradually for others. But irrespectively, don’t give up. Adopt these as your regular lifestyle and keep living every day, healthier and happier. You know what else can make you happier, our yoga pants! The perfect leggings for a healthy yogi who has set out to find the secret to staying young and healthy are right here. Take a look.

 

 

Morning Yoga: Why It’s Better

Morning Yoga

At the end of a usual day, what do you remember the most? The tons of emails that you tackled that day, the exhausting meetings you had at work, the pile of clothes that you folded and placed in the drawers or do you remember your 45 minutes of yoga? If you remember your yoga then you have reason enough to move it to the start of the day. Morning is the best time to practice yoga. There are some common reasons which we won’t talk about in this article. We assume you already know about the healing effect of the morning sun and the fresh dose of oxygen, etc. etc. We are going to give you five too-good-to-be-ignored reasons to motivate you to practice a little morning yoga everyday.

1. That’s What Nature Wants

After we wake up and as soon as we have checked our phone for any notifications (let’s admit that’s the first thing we do), our body likes to stretch on its own. We involuntarily pull off some real good stretching asanas at that moment. That’s because it’s natural. It’s our body’s way of waking our muscles from sleep. Which is exactly why it’s a great time to freshen up and do some stretching. Your body will be light and flexible and you will be able to perform your yoga better. Having trouble acing that Sirsa Padasana? Try doing it in the morning.

Sirsa Padasana
Sirsa Padasana

2. You Won’t Find A Better “Me-time”

Once the day begins you are going to be caught in a race. There will be people, messages, phone calls, chores and crisis-control. The busy-ness will never let you find even five minutes to yourself. There are chances you might end up missing your evening yoga class. But early in the morning, things are still mute. The world is still slow and you can spend some time in it alone, at peace and doing yoga. Just as you like it.

3. You Will Breathe Better The Whole Day

If you set your rhythm correctly in the start of the day, your body will swing to it the rest of the day too. Yoga is all about correct breathing techniques. Inhale and exhale. Not only will you be inhaling good fresh air, but you will also be training your lungs to breathe healthier from that moment on.

Morning Yoga

4. Your Yoga Will Be More Effective

Have you been doing yoga to lose weight? Or are you trying to get a perfect and fit body? Or maybe you are trying to soothe your system and fight some disease. Whatever your yoga goal, you will reach it quicker if you do your yoga in the mornings. Your asanas will be more powerful and their strength will be able to hit your core.

5. Get Yourself The Perfect Routine

Yoga teaches us to be regular and persistent. When we try to squeeze our yoga class into our maddening days, no matter how crazy it gets, we are being persistent and determined. If we move our yoga to the morning, it will make us wake up on time and get a head start on everything that needs our attention. And the best result is the extra time you’ll find in the evening for other things you love. Like reading a book. Playing with your pet. Or trying a new salad recipe. Morning yoga is the precursor of a healthy lifestyle.

Morning Yoga

When the birds are singing and you still haven’t checked your emails. When there is no stress on your mind. That’s the best time to do yoga. Give it a try and you’ll know for yourself. And by the way, sun salutations work best with the sun. Namaste!

How to treat Thyroid with yoga: 3 easy asanas

Yoga poses for thyroid conditions

1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another! As many as 50% are undiagnosed! Thyroid related diseases are becoming more common due to our lazy and convenient lifestyles. Long hours of desk jobs, abnormal eating habits and stress can make our bodies lose the much needed hormonal balance to keep it healthy and in shape. While the dangerous effects of thyroid conditions can include heart diseases and cancer, most of us are familiar with the more common and visible symptoms. And the one which takes most of our attention is the abnormal weight gain or loss. It’s important to have a healthy and normal thyroid to look good, feel good and live an active fulfilled life, and yoga is a great remedy. A lot of doctors recommend yoga asanas to help thyroid patients improve their health. Medications are less effective when compared to some tried and tested yoga asanas.

YogaHive has compiled a list of three simple asanas that can help you keep your thyroid healthy and bring it in perfect harmony with your body. These will help you control all the symptoms of an abnormal thyroid, including those that are weight-related. And they work equally well for men, women and even kids. Even if you have thyroid issues due to a genetic disorder, yoga is powerful enough to help you control the symptoms.

Hypothyroidism

You may have hypothyroidism if you have been gaining weight and are having trouble shedding it, even with a lot of exercise. Which means you have an underactive thyroid and you need yoga to make your thyroid gland more active.

Here are 3 yoga asanas to help control hypothyroidism:

1. Shoulder Stand

Yoga Shoulder Stand

The shoulder stand stimulates the thyroid gland to function properly because of the pressure effect and also helps stimulate other glands in the head region which in turn push the thyroid gland.

2. One-legged Forward Bend

One legged forward bend

This pose stretches the spine and thrusts the pelvis inwards which helps push the right buttons for your thyroid.

3. Plow pose

Plough pose

This pose strengthens the back and makes your body more flexible. It pushes the thyroid gland to work faster.

The Fish Pose, Cat Stretch and fast-paced Sun Salutations also work really well for losing weight and hence, indirectly impact the thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism

You may have hyperthyroidism if you have been losing weight at an abnormal pace while maintaining a regular lifestyle with no diet regulations or exercise. You have an overactive thyroid and you need yoga to slow your thyroid gland.

Here are 3 yoga asanas to help control hyperthyroidism:

1. Bridge Pose

Bridge pose

This asana regulates your blood pressure and relaxes the nervous system which in turn helps calm the thyroid gland.

2. Child Pose

Child pose

This pose is great at reducing stress and fatigue which may be causing your thyroid to over work.

3. Corpse Pose

Corpse pose

This pose is great for relaxation and that is exactly what your thyroid gland needs.

Along with these three asanas, slow-paced Surya Namaskars (sun salutations) also work great for controlling symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

There is no health problem that yoga can’t conquer. And if done regularly, yoga can take you off those medications and bring you back to a normal healthy life. Namaste!

How to make Yoga interesting for kids

Yoga for kids
Aren’t you always trying to squeeze in some asanas into your busy “mom schedule”? But something or the other keeps interrupting you. Maybe your cat or your dog wants to jump right into the act. Or maybe there is something at work that needs your attention, right that minute. And if your kids are around while you do your yoga, they can react in two possible ways. They might just complain about getting bored and hence, disturb you repeatedly or they might be doing an excellent job at imitating your asanas and hence, distracting you each time. Either way, when it comes to kids, the best solution to enjoy your yoga sessions, is to get them to join you. Not only will you get your kid to start early on a beautiful healthy journey, but you will actually give yourself a fun yoga session with your little one.

Tip #1. Fix a time

Kids follow routines that we make for them. There is a time for school, for homework and for fun outside. While you can have your yoga sessions at anytime, with kids it is advised to stick to a routine. Pick a time, when they are free and have nothing to look forward to. Don’t pick a time right before they leave to play or meet their friends. That way they will be too excited for play-time and will just skip through the fun yoga session you had planned for them.

What to eat before your yoga class? Read.

Tip #2. Don’t force them

If you force them to do anything, you just take the fun out of it. Let them be silly or fool around. Don’t expect them to sit through the entire yoga session. Let them take their goofy breaks. As long as they think they are in a “yoga-class”, everything is okay.

Tip #3. Get them a mat

You might be planning to give them one of your old ones or maybe thinking they can do without it completely. But if you want to get them excited and feel like an important part of the activity, you should get them a new mat. Each time they’ll pick up and spread their bright new mat, they’ll want to do something with it.

Find some great yoga mats from the YogaHive store here.

Tip #4. They play the music

Let them choose the music each day. You’ll see how excited they’ll be to find something cool each time. And hey, you’ll enjoy a little change from those soothing and soft tunes you always do yoga to. You might just get a dose of some billboard hits. Let your little DJ get to the music.

Tip #5. Get creative, skip the sanskrit

Kids like to keep all complicated words restricted to their vocabulary class at school. Don’t get all those tongue twisting names that you know, even if you are a pro at pronouncing them right and teaching others too. Change them to names your kid will enjoy and will be excited to remember. Here’s graphic that explains the common ones.

Illustrated yoga poses
Image Credit and Copyright: Karin Ekland for joyfulbirthbaby.com

Tip #6. They won’t meditate, but they can imagine

Kids aren’t really a fan of meditating. They are meant to be restless and curious. So skip the Om meditation and get them to imagine. Let their imagination run wild. Let them lie down flat on their backs, like a dog who wants a belly rub, get them to close their eyes and then narrate a nice story, keeping them in the centre of it. Kids will love imagining being Cinderella or Mogli in their thoughts. This will probably be the best part of the yoga session for them.

Tip #7. Give them a weekly challenge

You might be struggling with the headstand, but your kid will rock at it. Give them a challenge each week and you’ll see how excitedly they work towards it.

Tip #8. Mommy does extra

Once you have your kid to join you, let them know that Mommy does extra because she is the older one. After your yoga session together is over, ask them to let you do some extra yoga alone. They will be tired and they will feel like it’s a a part of the act. Basically, they won’t disturb you.

Give these tips a shot and start enjoying yoga even more. And who knows your little yogi might just grow up to be a maestro. If nothing else, the yoga will surely keep them healthy and healed. Put this on your mental list of happy to-dos.

Interesting to-dos for yoga lovers. Read

A soul mat story

Of course, I am bias. I love pretty things. Especially if they are related to yoga. Yoga mats, mala beads, fancy yoga pants. I don’t care about cars. But I love my Onzies.

Similarly, I simply adore my yoga mats. I have a relationship with all of my yoga mats. I have different yoga mats for hot yoga, yin yoga and for my power classes.

Now, of course I don’t have to have many yoga mats to be a yogi and to follow my yoga journey. However, I believe we are here, on this planet, for a reason, and I am going to use all of these earthly “tools” to enhance my yoga journey. And if you are like me – you love experimenting with different yoga styles – you want to make the most out of this experience, here’s a quick yoga mat guide for ‘ya:

Power yoga

You want your yoga mat to be super sticky. You need that firm grip that will give you an extra support in your kicks and balances. With a dynamic flow series like power yoga, you want to make sure you are not slipping and have a firm ground for your transitions. Manduka yoga mats are hard to beat in the stickiness space. These mats are solid for any advanced or exploring power yoga practitioner.

Yin Yoga

This mellow yoga practice is reflective and deep. You want your mat to be thick, as you will be spending quite some time on the floor (or your may want to have a yoga towel for extra padding). Most of the time you won’t be concerned with the grip, but more with the texture of your mat. Affirmats yoga mats are perfect for yin, as they also offer you a mantra to focus on during your practice. I am free. I am radiant. I am healthy, wealthy, wise. You are all of those things, and your mat will gracefully remind you about it during your practice.

Hot Yoga 

If you love a hot and sweaty yoga class, you will love these yoga mat towels from Affirmat and Manduka. Both brands offer fun colours and durable, super-absorbent, non-slip and are quick drying. Cover your mat and enjoy your practice!

Keep moving. Namaste.

Spin + Yoga for Greater Balance

Yoga apparel for spin class

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more yogis in class sitting upright — on stationary bicycles. Many studios across Canada have offered spin for some time now (including the popular YYoga chain of studios) and yoga instructors are also moving towards also teaching spin classes, including the one and only Will Blunderfield (more on that below).

Why is spin so great? And why should yogis adopt spinning? (And what does a bicycle that can’t get you to and from class have to do with the 5000 year old practice of yoga?)

All great questions.

Spin is good for your body because it is one of the most cardio-vascular intense workouts that fitness exports can recommend you perform on a consistent basis. If you keep up with your instructor, it’s typical for your body to burn 500 calories an hour in the average spin class. That’s a significant level of activity, for a class that the majority of us can quickly fit into our morning.

However, the real benefits of this workout become apparently when you mix spinning with yoga. More cardio rocks, but even a low-impact activity like spin is repetitive for your body and causes your muscles to become fatigued and occasionally over-used. Yoga is ideal to stretch and naturally develop your muscles, and as you can likely already guess, fills the gap between working out and burning fat, and truly increasing strength and flexibility.

Spin is also fun! Classes typically follow a steady and engaging rhythm and tend to go by much faster than you would initially think. The bikes aren’t what you may think either — newer studios have modern machines that support movement in different directions, including the ability to lean from side to side to stimulate turning. In a neat row of stationary bikes, much of the sense of community that draws us to yoga is also present.

For our friends in beautiful Vancouver, Eastwood Sanctuary is a new spin studio that is drawing from yoga culture in a way that we can’t get enough of. At Eastwood, even shorter classes are available (45 minutes), in candle-lit rooms that feel more like a spa than a fitness centre.

Eastwood Cycle Sanctuary, at 154 W. Hastings in Vancouver
Eastwood Cycle Sanctuary, at 154 W. Hastings in Vancouver

Additionally, Spin Society is another new studio opening this Fall, just outside of Yaletown. What’s exciting about this studio is the lead instructor behind it — none other than singer-song writer and yoga teacher Will Blunderfield.

We’re happy to say that our favourite brands have adopted the trend as well — Check out these spin capris from Onzie. These are similar to Onzie’s famous yoga capris and yoga pants, but have mesh around the back of the knees, specifically to make spinning and running more comfortable.

Perhaps you love the amazing benefits of yoga as much as we do, but recognize the need to do more cardio and improve your stamina. Yoga + Spin is the winning combination.

Keep moving, be… one with the cadence.

YOGA CLOTHING FREE SHIPPING CANADA

 

Yoga for Athletes

Wait.. What do we mean by ‘yoga for athletes’? Although it may seem strange to read that title (after all, yogis ARE athletes), there still somewhat of a disconnect between the practice of yoga and traditional training programs that are used by athletes in a wider variety of sports. From athletes that train and compete in running, cycling, swimming, and even boxing — there are numerous and invaluable benefits from including yoga as part of a regular training program.

yoga athlete runner

Again, although you won’t need to tell a seasoned yogi, but the reality is that yoga builds physical strength in a unique way. If yoga isn’t part of your workout schedule yet, you may be focused on building strength through other approaches — perhaps through weight training? Although weight training and weight lifting is effective at engaging your muscles, putting your body through repetitive and stressful sequences also tends to cause muscular injury — this is why most trainers recommend putting caps on your workouts. Yoga is advantageous because it builds lean, flexible muscles. How is this different? Although yoga develops muscles more slowly, through the varied and dynamic poses taught by yoga, muscles are built to support a larger variety of movement more easily. This means yogis build muscles that are more flexible in more positions, have higher stamina and recover from injury more quickly — all desirable traits for any serious athlete.

Of course yoga also improves balance and control (key to many sports like wresting, and skiing or snowboarding). By moving through a variety of positions and holding poses as long as possible, balance is improved in a natural way. Even if balance is something an athlete already has, it’s important to remember that yoga is also as progressive a challenge as any. No one is a perfect yogi, and you can always push yourself further in yoga — whether it be through a new position or a variant on an existing position, or by providing extra challenge using yoga blocks. While we’re talking about holding poses, it’s also valuable to remember that understanding how your breathing impacts your fitness through yoga can go a long way (figuratively and literally) in other sports as well. Efficient breathing allows you to utilize your respiratory system to maximize your oxygen and reduce fatigue (increasing endurance).

The meditative qualities associated with yoga are also extremely beneficial. Particularly for team sports, where pressure can come from all angles, mental clarity and control that can only truly be realized through an understanding of your own mind through meditation can give athletes an edge and ensure they perform at the highest level possible. One of the reasons we find yoga so beneficial (and addictive) is that it forces us to isolate ourselves with our bodies and constantly understand where our energy is directed. Yoga classes are great for this — having an instructor talk you through poses and encourage doing so with a clear mind often leads to yogis focusing on their practice in ways that they didn’t know were possible previously. On the most professional level, sports like cycling are often called mental pursuits, as the separating factor between the good and the great athletes often come down to a defined ability to focus on a clear goal and coordinate with your body to achieve it.

Flexibility, balance and mental clarity — all benefits your body can realize through yoga. The bottom line? Yoga provides stretching and movement you don’t get in any other sport, and the benefits of yoga can help push you forward in every aspect of your physical activity.

Keep moving, Be.. A Yogi!

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What to eat before your next Yoga class

Hungry for nutrition enlightenment, or well, just hungry? Whether or not you should eat before your morning yoga class is a question that tends to divide the opinions of yogis. Many say that  you shouldn’t eat two hours before a class (disqualifying early risers who love doing their yoga first thing), however others suggest there is value to getting a bit of nutrition before you hit the mat, as long as the food you’re putting in your body supports your practice. Here are five simple and ready to eat snacks that make our list of go-to foods, and are worth considering if you’re looking for some sustenance before  your next yoga class.

Bananas

We mention bananas first in case you’re rushing off to a class right now and only have time to read the first suggestions — bananas have been called natural PowerBars, and for good reason! As a primary source of energy for your body, bananas are full of easily-digestible healthy carbohydrates and potassium — just one banana before a workout can function to provide fuel for your body, and helps maintain muscle function. That’s really all you need to know.

Raw Almonds

A handful or two of raw (unsalted, unflavoured) almonds is one of the easiest and most beneficial snacks to eat before any workout, however this snack is especially great for yogis because they can keep your metabolism rate high, and require absolutely no preparation. Almonds are considered the most beneficial nut by experts as they have the highest level of protein and the lowest amount of fat, allowing you to get the most from your morning yoga session without bogging you down.

Apple (plus nut butter)

What’s the saying? An apple a day, something something good health!? Apples are great for many reasons — primarily because they contain a higher level of fructose than glucose for sustained energy that won’t prevent burning of fat. But, for a more energetic option in the morning, combine an apple with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter. Peanut butter is the classic and probably already in your fridge, but others nut butters such as cashew butter or almond butter (read above) actually contain more protein and healthy fat to keep you from feeling hungry, and provide the energy you need to get through any asana.

Coconut water

Less of a snack and more of a hydration element, Coconut water works for a number of reasons and can be enjoyed before, after or even during your yoga class. Especially for Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga, which have your body sweating and depletiong itself of electrolytes, coconut water helps keep you hydrated and replenishes your body naturally. If it’s not so much a hunger issue that’s brought you here, coconut water could be your go-to for quick nourishment before (and after) every class.

Dark Chocolate

Your reward for reading all of our suggestions? Dark chocolate is actually one of them. If you ever feel like you’re suffering the exhausting effects of a low blood sugar level, dark chocolate (in moderation) is one of the healthiest ways to rapidly bring blood to your brain and help you focus on your yoga. Dark chocolate also has the added benefit of increasing the amount of antioxidants in the body. Keep in mind this refers to chocolate made with pure cocoa (containing at least 70%), not the sugary goodness you may normally find next to the checkout.

Let us know what your favourite yoga snacks are in the comments below and on our Facebook and Twitter pages — We love to hear from you! And remember to keep your soul nourished through your yoga, and your body, too.

Keep moving, be… nourished.

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Charge your body through yoga. Feel strong.

Being a yoga practitioner for over 8 years, I feel like I’ve come to the point, where I finally “know” what I am doing – I’ve done the main yoga asanas thousands of times, and I have “enough strength” to push my body to do more.

Is it a good thing?

 

This is what I’ve been asking myself this week, when I realized that most of the time my body feels beat up and I get into a vicious circle where I go to a yoga studio every day, and push myself every day. Then, at some point, I physically can’t do it anymore and I have to take a couple days off from going to the studio. Then if I miss 2 or 3 days of yoga, my body starts aching *for yoga* and I go back with full force and push myself again..

I’ve come to a sudden realization that I feel more sore, than strong. Even though I work hard, I do not feel that (much desired) strength in my body, and gaining strength is the “end goal” here, the whole point of pushing the body. Kinda catch 22, isn’t it?

In Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom B.K.S Iyengar, brings up this exact point, and he explains that this is a very common issue (especially with yoga teachers), as they open themselves and their bodies to teaching others, they literally over-stretch themselves very often if they don’t stay aware of their body and don’t work from their core.

Over-stretching occurs when one loses contact with one’s centre, with the divine core. 

This (over-stretching) happens when we listen to our mind more than we listen to our body. We are driven by the ego, that says that we can do more, even when our body is already working over its capacity.

In a way, this is one of the reasons why we do yoga – so we learn when to push and when to stop.

How to avoid this:

 

As you are going through your asanas, you have to recharge your intellectual awareness all the time. (We have to stay present, 100% aware of our movements.) The attention must flow without interruption. The moment you collapse, you are not able to recharge, and the attention is disperse. If we are not 100% aware in our yoga asanas, then our movement becomes automatic, habitual (especially if you’ve been practicing for a while, and you know the poses, as I mentioned above). Your yoga becomes habitual, and not an invigorating, creative practice, as it intended to be.

The moment you bring attention to every inch of your body – as you move – you are creating energy.

Awareness allows us to overcome tiredness and exhaustion in our yoga asanas, and in life.

This week I invite you to think – am I pushing myself too hard, am I listening to my body or my mind. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. The chances are, if you are being driven by your ego on your yoga mat, you most likely do the same in your life. What do you think?

Namaste.

Keep moving. Be…. awareness. 

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