Yoga, Meditation, Healthy Recipes & Natural Lifestyle Tips
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!
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, host of the long-running PBS series Wai Lana Yoga, shares tips on liver health.
Knowing the important role that my liver plays in keeping me healthy, I often share this simple truth with others: “Take care of your liver now, and your liver will take care of you.” A healthy liver will cleanse and nourish your blood, regulate your hormones, break down fat and cholesterol, form blood-clotting proteins, and store iron and other essential vitamins throughout your entire life.
Unfortunately, environmental pollution, chemicals and pesticides in our foods, and over-consumption of painkillers and other medical drugs are far too common in today’s world. In excess, toxins can overwork your liver. When your liver is weak, instead of purifying the pollutants that enter your body, it sends them into your bloodstream. When this happens, it can make you feel overly tired and sick. A sluggish liver can also lead to allergies, bad skin, mood swings, weight gain, and even obesity.
Mother Nature, as always, provides us with safe remedies in the form of foods and herbs that can help nourish, detoxify, and strengthen our livers. Here are a few healthy ways to make your liver sing. Remember too that regular gentle exercise such as hatha yoga, walking, and swimming will help you assimilate these nutrients and assist with the detoxification process.
Beets have such a vibrant bright red color that it’s not hard to imagine they are an excellent blood purifier. Try grating them on top of salads for a colorful and crunchy topping, or make a traditional Russian beet soup called borscht, which can be served hot or cold depending on the season.
Herbs like milk thistle, which is strengthening for the liver, and dandelion, which is detoxifying, have traditionally been used as liver tonics to keep the liver’s lifeline flowing and healthy. My Liver Support supplement combines these two potent herbs to gently cleanse and nourish your liver.
Bitter, leafy salad greens like arugula, endive, chicory, and dandelion mixed with regular salad greens are one of my favorite ways to end a meal. Bitter salad greens, when eaten after the main course, help your organs digest the starchier foods from the meal. They also stimulate bile flow from the liver, which helps your liver naturally cleanse itself. With an herbal vinaigrette (or, if you prefer, a creamy ranch-style dressing), bitter greens can feel very soothing and renewing to your liver.
Hot water with a little squeeze of lemon is a good way to start the day. It also helps cleanse and detoxify the liver. I recommend doing this for a few days in a row and then stopping for a few days since lemon juice in excess can be hard on the stomach.
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.