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yoga and fitness

Surprise Yourself

One way to get better at yoga asanas is to imagine it. While I’m not advocating pushing too hard, sometimes just imagining you can go further into a pose will get you there. It gives you the will to try just a little harder. For example, if you’re doing Bow, visualize the beauty of the pose: the graceful arc formed by the arch of the back, the legs lifted high, feet moving back to open the chest. Then make your body into that shape—not violently or suddenly, but using your intelligence, your breath, and gradual movements from the inside to achieve the best pose possible.

So next time you’re doing a pose you find difficult, instead of doing it halfheartedly, thinking, “I can’t do this pose,” try this little trick of mine. Say to yourself, “I can do it.” Use your mind’s eye to see yourself a little deeper in the pose and then go there.

By the way, this will also help you hold a pose longer. Summon up your will power, take deep, even breaths, and see yourself holding it longer, a second at a time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see just how well you can do!

Relax into Yoga

Want to make your asana session more enjoyable and more beneficial? Then relax as you practice. Whether you do yoga for exercise, to relieve stress, or both, you’ll get more out of it if you relax. Don’t stress about how stiff you are; don’t strain to get into a pose. Just do your best and enjoy it.

If you’re always thinking about where you “should” be, you’ll miss what’s going on in your body at the moment. But that awareness is the key to practicing asanas correctly. So instead of worrying about how inflexible you are, just notice your tight spots. Watch your breath; notice how it affects your body, and let it help you open and release into the pose. Observe your mind—keep it focused on the pose and the breath. Don’t let it bully you into pushing too far. It’s best to hold a pose just this side of your limit. As you breathe and relax into the pose, you’ll be able to hold it longer and gradually extend your boundaries

You can even relax in strengthening poses. While contracting certain muscles, relax those that don’t need to work. Don’t hold unnecessary tension in your face or jaw, in your neck or shoulders. This tension blocks the flow of energy in the body that yoga is designed to enhance. And it’s that free-flowing energy that makes you feel good. So relax into yoga and yoga will help you relax.

Wai Lana: 5 Tips for an Easy Spa Day at Home

Do you ever want to escape the stress and strain of daily life and just be pampered a little bit? You don’t have to spend thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars to enjoy the relaxing, soothing atmosphere of a spa. When you’re feeling tense, why not set aside a little time to soothe those jangled nerves with these simple steps for an easy spa day at home …

1. Nourish Your Body with Healthy Snacks and Juice

You don’t want to be hungry or thirsty while you’re trying to relax. Prepare something light, healthy, and tasty ahead of time, such as a nourishing soup, enlivening salad, or (my personal favorite) fresh juice or a smoothie. For recipe ideas, try Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices or Wai Lana’s Favorite Soups.

2. Relax with Music

What could be more important? Sound vibration has such a powerful effect on your physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual well-being. Try soothing soundtracks like Wai Lana’s Rest and Relax or Yoga Music of the Heart. The beautiful, uplifting music will help quickly transport your mind away from the stresses and strains of daily life.

3. Take a Scented Bath

Your sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses of your body. The right fragrance will soothe yet invigorate your nervous system, uplift your spirit, and pacify your mind. My personal favorite for relaxation is combined scents such as Wai Lana’s lavender and sandalwood bath salts or bath oils. Combine the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy with the healing and soothing power of water by taking a relaxing, scented bath.

4. Soothe Your Nerves with Fragrant Massage Oil

The ancient science of Ayurveda praises the use of healing scented oils for balancing the dosha of vata (wind), which tends to be aggravated in the cooler, drier weather of autumn. Fragrant massage oil will help seal in the moisture of your skin and make you feel cozy and peaceful.

5. Pacify Your Body and Mind with Yoga Nidra

Now that you’re totally relaxed and peaceful, this is the perfect time to practice the relaxation pose, Yoga Nidra. Simply lie on your back with your arms slightly away from your sides, palms up, and legs slightly apart, completely relaxed. Breathe slowly and evenly and allow any trace of tension to completely drain away from your body. Try following the guided relaxation on Wai Lana’s Rest and Relax. By incorporating the physical benefits of Yoga Nidra with the healing sound vibration of Yoga Sound, you will transport your mind to a place of beauty and inspiration.

Relieve Your Headache with Yoga

For many people, a headache is almost an everyday occurrence.  It can range from minor discomfort to debilitating, agonizing pain. Some people experience headaches everyday all day long, while others don’t get them at all.  (I’m sure they’re a minority!)

There are so many causes of a headache and the solutions for it are just as many.  Sometimes the solution can be as simple as drinking a glass of water.  If you live in a hot place, for example, chances are your headache is caused by mild dehydration.  So get out of the heat, chug down some water and head for a long cooling shower.  You’ll feel much better afterwards.

Some headaches, however, are caused by a serious health problem.  So seek medical attention as needed.  Depending on the cause, yoga asanas and yoga meditation can actually prevent and alleviate a headache, especially if it is triggered by stress.

Stress is one of the most common causes of a headache.  This is where yoga can help you.  By combining asanas, pranayam and meditation, you can have a powerful tool in combating a tension headache.

Yoga asanas can help by relaxing the neck and shoulder muscles.  When you are stressed, you tense up these muscles and the ultimate result is a headache.  So instead of reaching out for a dose of painkiller, take out your yoga mat for some gentle neck and shoulder stretches.  End each session with yoga nidra and proceed to Yoga Sound Meditation.

If you regularly practice Yoga Sound Meditation, you will come to a point where you will see the troubles and problems that give you headaches simply as a temporary, passing show.  Problems will come and go.  There is no need to immerse in it.

Even if the cause of your headache is an irritating person, Yoga Sound Meditation can still help you.  Sounds hard to believe?  Here’s why.  Through repeated practice of sound meditation, you will be more tolerant of others.  The obnoxious person won’t disappear, rather you will be more patient and will not be bothered as much.

So make time everyday to practice your asanas, pranayam and Yoga Sound Meditation and prevent your headache from getting worse.  If you already have a regimen to follow to manage your tension headaches, you can still incorporate these techniques I have just shared with you.  In fact, yoga will complement your current regimen and you’ll notice that nagging headache will nag you no more.

Breathing & Yoga

The way you breathe can either help or hinder your asana practice. When you breathe smoothly and evenly, you’ll notice that your breath helps you relax into a pose, gives you more stamina, and eases tension. In fact, it’s because of the relaxing effect of the breath that we’re often told to “take a few deep breaths” when we get angry or upset. It’s also true that full, deep breathing clears the head and improves concentration. Actually, breathing right helps improve the functions of all the systems in the body.

On the other hand, taking short, shallow breaths can be detrimental to our health, decreasing our vitality. When you practice asanas, if your breathing is uneven, too shallow, or if you’re holding your breath when you don’t need to, your body will be tense and probably uncomfortable, you’ll be more likely to strain, and you won’t get the full benefits of the poses.

Asanas are meant to remove blockages and increase the flow of the subtle energy, or prana, in the body—which improves our overall health. Because your breath can really enhance the flow of this energy, become aware of your breathing as you practice asanas. If your breath tends to be shallow, uneven, and fast, try to slow it down a bit and make it a little smoother and deeper. With practice, it will improve quite quickly because you’ll notice how much better it feels!

But don’t get so caught up in your asana or breathing practices that you forget to do your yoga meditation. After all, the purpose of asanas and pranayama is to prepare you for meditation. And it is in meditation that you’ll reap the greatest rewards of yoga—inner peace and true happiness.

Wai Lana’s Asana of the Week: Lying Stretch

Banish tension with this feel-good stretch whenever you need a pick-me-up.

The steps to do this Lying Stretch Asana are :

  1. Lie on your back and raise your arms over your head.
  2. Inhale as you stretch the right side of your body, keeping the left side relaxed. Your right leg and buttock stretch down, while your right arm and the right side of your torso stretch up. Extend away from the waist in both directions. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  3. Exhale and relax, then repeat, stretching the left side of your body.
  4. Now inhale and stretch your whole body. Stretch upward from the waist through your chest and arms, downward through your hips, legs, and toes.
  5. Exhale and relax completely. Repeat the entire exercise once or twice.

Learn this easy yoga pose with Wai Lana.

Focus in the Pose…

Stretch through your fingers and point your toes. Lengthen the side of your body that you are stretching.

Benefits…

  • Quick tension reliever
  • Relieves fatigue
  • Stretches the entire body

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