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Yoga Practice

When it comes down to it, yoga is all about practice—the day-to-day experience that eventually makes yoga our own. Here are tips, musings and commentary on the practice we all love!
  • International Day of Yoga: 4 Ways to Celebrate

    Depending on where you live in the world, today may be the longest day in the year. Summer solstice can fall anywhere between June 21st and 22nd. Here in Salt Lake City, solstice occurred last night at 10:24 pm. In Mumbai, it happened this morning at 9:24 am. The year’s longest day is reason enough to celebrate. But on December 11, 2014, the United Nations gave us another reason. At the request of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the UN designated June 21st as the annual International Day of Yoga. Modi requested summer solstice to honor the yoga tradition because...

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  • Yoga Poses for Hiking: 3 Asanas to Prepare You for a Trek

    Here in Utah, the time is ripe for getting outdoors. The creeks and rivers are raging with runoff from winter’s voluminous snow. As temps climb into the 90s in the Salt Lake valley, mountain air remains crisp and crystalline. Down south, the slickrock desert beckons too. While it’s considerably hotter, the red rock and contrasting royal blue skies, along with the deep silence, provide much-needed solitude. No matter where you choose to spend time outdoors, it’s time to hike. The benefits of being in nature are well documented. Studies have found that spending time in nature promotes sleep, increases vitamin...

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  • Going to a Yoga Festival? Here Are Some Tips

    Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets—or at least for practicing yoga all day and dancing all night. Yoga festivals have pretty much supplanted the yoga conferences of old. These celebrations combine all-day asana with evening music. It pays to be prepared. The days are long, and if you want to take advantage of as many classes you’ll be doing a whole lot of practice. A few weeks to a month before you go, you might want to ramp up your practice a bit. If you plan on going to every available class, you’ll want...

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  • Eagle Arms: Dissolve Upper Back Tension

    Garuda, the eagle god known in Buddhist lore for his 40-foot wingspan, is revered for his special powers, such as shrinking and growing at will. A single flap of his gargantuan wings is said to move mountains. Garuda is ubiquitous in the East. His image is the national symbol of Thailand and Indonesia, and his legends span across Hinduism and Buddhism. He plays a starring role in the first book of India’s epic, Mahabharata. Garudhasana (Eagle Pose) expresses Garuda’s powers by strengthening and rooting our legs and feet. The arm position expresses the eagle god about to take flight. In...

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  • What is Kundalini Yoga?

    Kundalini Yoga is a form of yoga practice derived from the Tantra and Shakti schools of Hinduism. Kundalini practice was introduced to the West by Swami Sivananda through his 1935 book on the subject. But the practice became popular when Yogi Bhajan introduced his own method to the U.S. in 1968. Yogi Bhajan’s style of Kundalini Yoga is propagated by 3HO—Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization. The name comes from the Sanskrit adjective kundalin, meaning “circular or annular.” Wikipedia says this about the origin of the name: “ … It as a noun for ‘a snake’ (in the sense ‘coiled,’ as in...

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  • Relax and Stretch: Yoga for Fibromyalgia

    Today is World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. In case you’re not familiar with fibromyalgia, here are some facts: According to the National Institutes of Health, some 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. Eighty to ninety percent of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Fibromyalgia is most often first diagnosed in middle age. So what is fibromyalgia? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say: “Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. “Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical...

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  • Home Yoga Practice: 5 Tools for the Journey

    Home Yoga Practice Doesn’t Always Have to Be Solitary Yoga is everywhere these days. Not only do studios abound in most cities, but asana classes can also be found in health clubs, schools and even some medical facilities. It’s safe to say yoga practice has “arrived” in Western culture. If you haven’t yet partaken of a class, it’s hard to know where and how to start. A few months ago, I wrote a post giving suggestions as to how to find a class that’s right for you. Once you’ve found a class you enjoy, and spent some time learning...

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  • Anjali Mudra: Simple Greeting or Divine Salute?

    Few positions are more ubiquitous in yoga practice than Anjali Mudra (Prayer Position). We often practice Anjali Mudra to begin and end a class. We begin and end Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) in Anjali Mudra. On silent meditation retreats, since verbal communication is verboten, it can mean lots of things:  “I acknowledge you,” “thank you,” “may I pass by?,” or “hello.” Anjali Mudra’s roots span Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh traditions. As such, its meaning, and the meaning of its often accompanying verbalization, “namaste,” is subject to lots of interpretations. In many Western yoga asana classes, Anjali Mudra, accompanied by...

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  • New to Yoga? 4 Essential Props to Bring to Class

    Are you thinking about trying a yoga class? Or have you just started a class? In either case, the tools you use to assist your practice can make or break it for you. It’s true that many studios and health clubs provide props. But sometimes they don’t, or the community props may not be in fantastic shape. In this case, bringing your own can really make or break your practice. In addition, having your own props can inspire you to practice at home—the heart of asana practice. If you’re new to yoga practice, choosing a class that fits you can...

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  • Parvrtta Ardha Padmasana: Lotus with a Twist

    Lotus Pose (Padmasana) may be yoga asana’s most recognizable pose. This is a bit odd, since many Westerners do not have hip joints that will perform the pose safely. Lotus Pose requires a whole lot of external rotation, more than many Western hip joints can muster. Perhaps Lotus Pose became an asana icon because of the practice’s East Indian origins. My own completely anecdotal observation from time spent in India revealed that Indian hip joints appear to externally rotate much more easily and universally than those of my students in the U.S. Poses such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose...

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