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Yoga, Meditation, Healthy Recipes & Natural Lifestyle Tips


I read an interesting article on the New York Times "Well" blog about “How meditation changes the brain and body” It discussed a study published in Biological Psychiatry Journal which was conducted on 35 unemployed men and women who were experiencing considerable stress during their job search.

Dr. David Creswell, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University who conducted the study, said half the subjects were taught formal mindfulness meditation at a residential retreat center; while the rest completed a kind of sham mindfulness meditation that was focused on relaxation and distracting oneself from worries and stress.

At one point in the study they had everyone do stretching exercises. The difference was that mindfulness group paid close attention to bodily sensations, including unpleasant ones, whereas the relaxation group was encouraged to chatter and ignore their bodies, while their leader cracked jokes.

After three days of studying the 35 participants, they found that everyone reported that they generally felt better and less stressed, but when they did brain scans on them, they found that the ones who had been taught the genuine mindfulness meditation techniques exhibited more activity in the areas of the brain that process focus and calm. Four months later those who had practiced the genuine mindfulness meditation showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation. Dr. Creswell believes that the changes in the brain led to the subsequent reduction in inflammation but he and his colleagues couldn’t determine why that was.

It is a good thing to be mindful, in other words to be present in the moment as we engage in our daily activities. Yet while scientific studies that demonstrate the benefits of meditation can be helpful in convincing skeptics, there is often a very important understanding missing from what is commonly taught as mindfulness. And that is the appreciation of who is the perceiver. In other words, who it is that is experiencing stress, perceiving the mind, and is desiring to be mindful.

Empirical scientists tend to conclude that if they can’t observe something with their senses, it does not exist. So they reduce all phenomena to the actions and reactions of atoms, molecules, and cells. In other words, they have concluded that everything has a chemical origin. So they are unable to recognize the existence of the mind as a separate and distinct from the brain. When in fact, the mind is a subtle material energy which cannot be perceived by the senses, no matter how powerful a microscope one may have.

From the ancient Vedic scriptures, the source of yoga wisdom, there is a clear distinction made between the brain, the mind, and the perceiver of both. It is, of course, undeniable that the mind affects the brain and that the brain affects the mind. But to fully understand the interaction between the two, we need to understand their true nature, function, and how they relate to the individual living being.

The Bhagavad-gita teaches that material nature manifests itself as both gross physical and subtle energies. The atoms, molecules, and cells that make up the human body are gross physical energy, by which we mean they can be observed by the senses. But the conscious individual being, experienced by each and every one of us as “I,” is actually spiritual in nature. This spirit soul is eternal and does not die when the body dies. It is the source of consciousness, feeling, and will. While neither the mind nor the spirit soul can be observed as having a chemical origin, their presence can be perceived once we come to understand Aham Brahmasmi, that I am an eternal living being. This is such an important point, and it is a world-view that is rarely discussed. However, as I will touch upon in future posts, it’s a world-view that offers so many solutions to the problems we face as individuals and as a society. If we are mindful of our actual true nature and spiritual existence, we will truly experience the relief from stress and anxieties that we all seek.

Wishing you well,
Wai Lana

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Meditation as an Alternative to School Detention

I recently stumbled upon James Gaines intriguing piece posted on Upworthy called: This school replaced detention with meditation.The results are stunning.

Gaines reflects back on his school days. How being punished with a detention didn’t motivate him or give him much reason to change his ways. It didn’t help him understand what he’d done wrong or make him feel sorry, but instead made him bored. In the end, detention always left him feeling like it was “stupid and unfair”.

In contrast, Gaines brings his reader’s attention to a non-traditional alternative to detention, an approach aimed to help inspire children positively.  At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, instead of “doing time” in the detention room after school, or visiting the principal’s office, children learn to relax and reflect within a serene and environment called the Mindful Moment Room.

In the Mindful Moment Room students are given tools to calm and center themselves. To breath deeply. To observe their thoughts and “talk through what happened”—to bring a level of awareness to their own situation.

Gaines goes on to describe the additional programs put in place at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, created in partnership with Holistic Life Foundation where children regularly practice yoga asanas, visit nearby farms, and get involved in planting and tending a garden, as practical ways to help them de-stress. They also learn to support their communities by teaming up together to clean up local parks.

It seems to be doing the trick. Results show that school attendance is up and suspensions are down. Pretty amazing! Programs like these, which focus on giving children coping tools are both effective and beneficial—not only to individuals, but also to their peers, friends, and families.

My favorite part of the article describes one young student taking part in the Holistic Life Foundation program, and how she encouraged her mom to de-stress by asking her to sit down and take a moment to learn how to breath after a long, hard day. Heartwarming stories like these make us take a moment to realize that if our children can learn great coping skills, then we can all learn!

In my own life, the practice of yoga asanas, yoga breathing, and yoga sound meditation have brought me great happiness and deep peace. Passing that on to my children was something important that came very naturally to me. From a very young age, my children began learning yoga and meditation techniques that nourished them on all levels. In their own lives they’ve embraced these practices and have passed along what they know to their children as well.

Knowing that not only my children, but my grandchildren also, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to face life’s great challenges is satisfying. As parents, we all hope that our children grow up happy, healthy and strong. In order to help parents set their children on a lifelong path of health and happiness, I have developed my Little Yogis line of instructional yoga DVDs for kids. The yoga DVDs for kids include fun animation and songs to give kids the chance to explore different yoga asanas and breathing techniques that will help build their confidence, improve concentration, develop balance and coordination, and help their bodies be strong and flexible.

In addition to DVDs, my Little Yogis line includes games, fun & coloring books, music and even their own kid-sized yoga mat in a tote with a poster they can hang up in their room, to give them encouragement along the way. As a companion to the Little Yogis DVDs, I also offer my Daydream line to help children relax before naps or bedtime, and to leave their stress behind.


Wishing you well,

Wai Lana

Here are some fun, educational cartoon videos for kids by Wai Lana


Tips for a Safe Beginners Asana Practice

In Avocadu’s blog post, “A 20 Minute Beginner Yoga Workout for Flexibility" they’ve included some of my favorite yoga poses. This is a great sequence for energizing and flexibility.
I also loved the YouTube video of "The Health Benefits of Yoga by The Health Nerd: — a very entertaining way to learn about just some of the cool things yoga poses can do for us—based on science.


In the interest of safety, I just wanted to make a few comments about the workout since Alex and Lauren titled it for Beginners. If you’re a fairly flexible, young, and athletic person to begin with, you may not have a problem with any of these poses and the workout may be perfect for you.
On the other hand, if you don’t exercise much or are older, maybe you’ve had a few injuries, sit at a desk all day and have never done any yoga before, I’m not so sure you’d find this an easy sequence. In fact, just starting with Upward Facing Dog could leave you groaning and giving up. So I wanted to take this opportunity to offer some alternative options for people who really are stiff as a board and can barely reach their toes.
First of all, a gentle warm up always makes a good start when you’re stiff—whether you’re naturally still, or when practicing first thing in the morning or when it’s cold out. This is the warm up sequence I like to do before I move on to more challenging poses

In fact, I recommend doing this warm up before practicing with my TV shows on public television. There’s not enough time to include a full warm up in a half-hour show!
Also, sometimes there may be poses that really don’t work for us, for one reason or another. This sequence has a nice variety of poses, but if it’s hard to get your legs off the floor in Upward Facing Dog, try Cobra Stretch instead. It’s a great back strengthener. In Revolved Chair Variation, you could practice with your hands in Namaste. If Camel is too hard for you, either turn your toes under or bend back just a little way with your hands on your hips. If it doesn’t feel safe, leave it out altogether. There are several other backbends that will provide the flexibility you’re looking for. And if there’s absolutely no way you can reach your arms up and back in Pigeon, make it easy on yourself—do it with your hands supporting you on either side of your hips.

While these poses are great for increasing back flexibility and strength, I’d definitely suggest that anyone with back problems check with a doctor, chiro, or physical therapist, just to make sure the poses are suitable—there are all kinds of back issues and not all poses that are “good for the back” are good for all kinds of back problems. You don’t want to make a problem worse. At the very least, listen carefully to your body and don’t do anything that hurts. No pain, no gain is NOT the way to approach your asana practice.
Then (hope you don’t mind my suggestion, Lauren and Alex), I would probably do this practice in a different order to gradually loosen up my spine for Camel, which is a pretty intense backbend for most people.

This is the order that would work better for my body:

1.    Standing Back Bend
2.    Standing Half Forward Bend
3.    Downward Facing Dog
4.    Extended Triangle Pose
5.    Warrior 1
6.    Revolved Chair Variation
7.    Pigeon Pose
8.    Upward Facing Dog
9.    Camel
10.  Head to Knee Forward Bend
11.  Seated Forward Bend
12.  Upward (Reverse) Plank Pose

As for doing all these poses in 20 minutes, let alone doing the sequence 3 times, you’d have to be really fast! I prefer holding poses longer when I practice, so I’d be more likely to just go through once and do the 2-sided poses on both sides. And end with Savasana, of course.

Wishing you well,
Wai Lana


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Meditation Made Easy

There is increasing worldwide interest in meditation as people’s lives in modern society get faster paced and more stressful. This is a welcome trend because ultimately the peace and joy that we seek can only be found within the core of our being, and cannot be found in the fleeting and temporary nature of our material surroundings and activities.The journey into the core of our beings can be made through meditation. recently carried a helpful article entitled “Five Simple Tips to Make Meditation a Daily Habit"

Their advice entailed:
•    Start small
•    Practice at the same time every day
•    Create a dedicated meditation sanctuary
•    Celebrate your journey
•    Make it enjoyable

Yoga wisdom shines important light on the process of meditation and I would like to share some of this wisdom with you. Firstly, yoga meditation means to have one’s heart and mind focused one-pointedly upon the Supreme Soul, our Supreme Friend, Bhagavan. This will bring you to the point of actually experiencing the loving union (“yoga”) between the individual atma (“you”) and the Supreme Atma (“Bhagavan”).

Yoga Sound Meditation is the easiest method to achieve this condition of dhyana or meditation.
Start Small
Start with a manageable amount of daily time commitment, so you are not overwhelmed at the beginning. 10 minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening is a good starting point, and increase gradually from there at a pace that works for you.

Practice at the Same Time Every Day
It is certainly helpful to set aside specific times of the day to meditate. For thousands of years yogis have recommended sunrise and sunset as especially conducive times for meditation. But there are no hard and fast rules on this, so you can actually meditate at any time of the day or night.

Create a Dedicated Yoga & Meditation Sanctuary
While finding a peaceful and quiet environment to meditate with minimal distractions is always desirable, it is not a requirement. Everyone has different circumstances in life and finding the perfect spot to mediate may be difficult for many people.You can actually practice Yoga Sound Meditation anywhere, including while you are stuck in traffic or waiting in a grocery store line.

Celebrate Your Journey
Yoga Sound Meditation is a gradual process, a lifelong journey. Just as the sweetness of a ripe mango can only be experienced if you taste it, if you want to experience the sweet and lasting benefits of Yoga Sound Meditation, the only way is to practice it. Unlike a mango though, the sweetness of meditation increases over time, so this is the aspect of the journey that we can celebrate.

Make It Enjoyable
The most important thing to know about Yoga Sound Meditation is that it is the most natural and effortless activity that you can engage in.The peace and the joy that we all crave is right there in the sound vibration itself and all you have to do is come into the aural association of this spiritual sound. The enjoyment is right there.

If this meditation is practiced regularly, the wonderful benefits of Yoga Sound Meditation will manifest in your life over time.To get you started, here is an easy meditation technique that you can practice with me right now

I have also recently released an Easy Meditation for Everyone Kit that is designed to make your learning and practice of meditation very easy and enjoyable.

I send my best wishes to you for a successful journey into the wonderful world of meditation.
- Wai Lana


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Wai Lana Yoga - Heartfulness for Deeper Sleep

I was recently reading an article “A Meditation Teacher's 3 Tips for Deeper Sleep in Just 7 Minutes” in which the writer describes his experience with heartfulness together with some tips from his teacher for a deeper sleep.

After reading the article, it prompted me to share with you some of yoga’s secrets to a good night’s sleep. In addition to helping calm the mind and relax the body through heartfulness and many other pre-meditation techniques, yoga takes you to a deeper level of relaxation and meditation—one that will help get to the root of your sleep problems and more!

Since time immemorial, yogis have practiced a technique known as yoga nidra.This ancient yoga technique is very effective in relieving the physical and mental stress that is often the cause of poor sleep. We offer a unique version of this ancient yoga relaxation technique by combining it with Yoga Sound Meditation to make it even more effective in helping overcome insomnia and disturbed sleep.

Over the years, we have heard from so many people who have found relief from insomnia in this practice. One lady told us that her friend’s mother-in-law, who suffered insomnia for more than ten years, fell asleep the first time she heard our guided Yoga Relaxation & Meditation CD. This technique is very easy to practice. First you will be guided to consciously relax each part of your body, one at a time. This will help soothe the nerves and release stored tension and stress from each part of the body. Then, in a deeply relaxed condition, you can rest your mind and heart in the Yoga Sound Meditation that follows.

Yoga Sound Meditation is the ultimate panacea for stress and anxiety. According to the ADAA, stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems or exacerbate existing problems. Anxiety is a lot deeper than stress. At the root of anxiety is an inner spiritual emptiness that can only be fulfilled with spiritual food.

As we describe in more detail in our recent Asana Journal article, it is explained in the yoga texts that our true identity is spiritual, not material. We are not our physical bodies, but rather we are the atma, or spirit soul temporarily residing in the material body. Just as we need material food to sustain our body, we (the spiritual living being) require spiritual food.

So what is that spiritual food? Let me read an excerpt from our upcoming book that answers this question in a nutshell:

What is it that can actually bring me the spiritual peace and happiness that I need? Yoga Sound Meditation. This is the conclusion of yoga scriptures and the most enlightened yoga spiritual masters. They have concluded that in order for us to experience inner peace, freedom from fear and anxiety, and deep happiness, we need to cultivate perfect wisdom and pure love. And the means for us to do this is the practice of Yoga Sound Meditation. Indeed, they have concluded that Yoga Sound Meditation is the means to cultivate such perfect wisdom and pure love. The transcendental sound, which is at the heart of Yoga Sound Meditation, is in fact the sound incarnation of perfect wisdom and pure love … it is actually the food which our hearts long for.

In the article on heartfulness I referred to earlier, the writer describes meditation as “imagining there is a light filling your heart and expanding and focusing on the lightness of your heart”. Techniques such as these are described as pre-meditation techniques because they help calm our minds and prepare them for actual meditation. Pre-meditation techniques such as heartfulness may offer temporary relief from stress, but without the power of spiritually potent yoga sound vibrations, such techniques cannot dissolve deep-rooted anxiety. Simply by adding the transcendental sound to such practices, however, they become surcharged with spiritual potency.                                                                                

So regardless of your choice of premeditation or relaxation techniques, I highly recommend you enhance it with Yoga Sound Meditation for an even deeper sleep. You can learn how to practice Yoga Sound Meditation here. We have also recently released an easy meditation kit that is designed to make your learning and practice of meditation very easy and enjoyable. You can practice Yoga Sound Meditation any time during the day. Most people also find it very helpful to relax and just listen to and immerse their mind and heart in the soothing transcendental sounds on our Yoga Sound Meditation CDs for 30-60 minutes before going to bed.

In addition to getting a better night’s sleep, you’ll find many aspects of your life are improved by this simple yet wonderful practice.

With that, I wish you a good night’s sleep!

Wai Lana

Competitive Nature and Yoga

We often hear new yoga asana practitioners sharing their experiences of going to a yoga studio and feeling discouraged or a bit embarrassed as they watch others arch high into a graceful backbend or achieve beautiful form in a pose. These newbies sometimes feel they are the odd one out, and they become disheartened because they are unable to do the poses with such ease and grace.  Does this mean yoga is not for them? Isn’t it helpful to compare ourselves with others to help us be motivated to do better? In other words, is yoga meant to be competitive?

To find the answers to these questions, we asked renowned yoga icon Wai Lana about what is the real meaning of yoga.

Q:  What is yoga?

A: While some people think of yoga simply as physical exercise, it is actually a complete, holistic system for overall health and well-being. This yoga system has been practiced for thousands of years and includes everything from physical postures (asanas), personal hygiene, and a healthy diet to premeditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques. The most advanced forms of meditation and self-realization are also a part of yoga. Many thousands of years ago, yoga asanas were scientifically developed to keep the body in a healthy, balanced state—one conducive to inner peace, creativity, and meditation.

Q: What do you have to say about yoga practitioners comparing themselves with other students?

A: In many yoga asana classes, it is very common for students to look at the person beside them to see how far the other is twisting and bending. They think, “Oh that person twisted 10 inches. I only twisted 2 inches.” Classes like this are always full of tension and may even result in injuries because of the competitive atmosphere. One of the objectives of yoga asanas is to relieve you of tension and heal your body of minor ailments, not worsen your stress and cause you injury.


Q: Is yoga competitive?

A: Yoga is simultaneously noncompetitive and competitive. While practicing yoga you should never compete with another person. You should not judge yourself by how far another person is stretching or how long he or she holds the pose and so on. I know some people who use their ability at yoga asanas to impress others. They become yogi show offs and there are people who look at them and say "Geez, I wish I could be as good as they are." It reminds me of what my spiritual teacher once said, "Monkeys are more agile and flexible than even the best hatha yogis, but their consciousness is far from the yoga consciousness." So to be a successful practitioner of yoga you must transcend that kind of competitiveness in your practice.

Q: So how do we improve in practicing asanas if we are not competitive?

A: Yoga practice does involve a type of competition, but you are not competing against another person, rather you are competing against your own physical and mental obstacles. On the physical level, you compete against laziness, inertia, tightness and so on. Mentally, you may compete against impatience, lack of confidence, or procrastination. So forget about competing with anyone else.  You will do far better at yoga if you learn to compete against and beat your own personal obstacles.

Q: What do you have to say about the yogi show-offs?

A: This desire for recognition reveals an agitated mind and a sense of false pride—not the signs of a real yogi. True yogis are humble. They may not be doing extreme backbends or advanced balancing poses; in fact, they may not be practicing asanas at all. But because they have achieved inner peace and calm through meditation, they have attained yoga’s higher goal.

Q: Regarding this competitive nature, do you have any words for young practitioners?

A: Asanas should not be practiced in the spirit of competition nor should they be performed for the entertainment of others. They should be practiced only for our own well-being. This is especially important to remember when doing more advanced asana routines. Stay in tune with your body and progress step by step, allowing your body time to adjust to its expanding limitations. I always reiterate to all my students that doing yoga asanas is not a competition. You simply need to go as far as your body can go, according to its own condition. This means you need to feel and listen to your body. In this way, you will be careful and sensitive and you will not push yourself beyond your limits. Do not worry if you can’t twist as far as the other person or if you can’t stand on your head like the person beside you. It is irrelevant. A broom stands on its head!


Juice of the Week: Nature’s Bounty

Providing an abundance of essential minerals that have been absorbed directly from the earth, this tasty root juice has for years been a popular source of strength and stamina in my family.


Add a small clove of garlic or a dash of cayenne pepper.


This juice strengthens your blood and circulation. It also cleanses your liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, helping prevent toxicity and disease, especially cancer. Carrots and parsnips help preserve your eyesight and reduce acid conditions like acne and arthritis. Root vegetables are by nature cleansing, ground foods.

Simple & Delicious Cauliflower Tomato Soup

From Wai Lana’s Favorite Soups: Cauliflower Tomato Soup with Fresh Paneer

Making paneer, or fresh cheese, is a ritual I’ve grown to love. It’s both relaxing and rewarding to stir the milk and watch the curd magically separate from the whey. When you taste it pan-fried to perfection and added to this sumptuous curried cauliflower soup, you’ll definitely agree it’s worth a little patience! This soup itself is very straightforward and simple to make. It goes well with basmati rice and samosas or pakoras.

Juice of the Week: Sweet Clover

This zesty combination provides a burst of sprout energy, including a wealth of protein, vitamins, and iron. It also guards against cancer, tumors, and heart disease and helps purify your blood.


For extra energy and health protection, add an ounce of aloe vera juice and/or a teaspoon of green grass powder.


Rich in chlorophyll, sulfur, protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and plant-based estrogen, this juice is a superb source of nutrition. It helps lower cholesterol, relieve sore throats, and beautify your skin. Thanks to spicy clover and arugula, it can also stimulate your metabolism, improve circulation, and detoxify your blood and tissues.