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Yoga Insights

Yoga in the Air

I think of flying as ‘down time’ and actually find it quite relaxing. Think about it. Once you get through the busy airport and are settled in your seat, there’s nowhere to go until you arrive at your destination—no household chores to get through, no phone calls or text, and work is on hold (unless you absolutely have to open your laptop to finish a report or something). It’s actually quite a good time to practice yoga. And there are plenty of simple exercises you can do right there in your seat. You can even meditate.

One of my favorite exercises is Shoulder Rolls—making forward and backward circles. I’m sure you know how tight your shoulders, neck, and back muscles can get from carrying your bags through the airport. Shoulder Rolls are perfect for that. Neck Exercises (turning your head from side to side, up and down, and ear to shoulder) are great too if you wake up from a nap with a stiff neck. Do them slowly and methodically. There’s no rush. Add a little neck massage to any sore spots. Notice how your body responds when you take the time to do these exercises slowly and consciously. You can also do hand and wrist exercises—clenching your fists then stretching out your fingers, as well as wrist rotations and bending your hands up and down.

On long flights, it’s especially important to move the lower limbs—ankle rotations, pointing and flexing your feet, and scrunching and stretching your toes keep you from getting stiff (I recommend taking off your shoes). A seated Cannonball, bringing one knee toward your chest, then the other, also helps keep circulation moving in the legs which can help prevent blood clots.

Waiting to use the restroom is a good excuse for some standing stretches as well, like our asana of the week: Tiptoe Stretch. Though you probably won’t be able to reach your arms straight up, you can raise your arms while holding opposite elbows.

Flying is also an excellent time to practice japa meditation.* I find my beads a great comfort on a plane—something deeply familiar when I’m out of my element. I can close my eyes and go within, repeating the soothing Yoga Sounds to myself and finding peace. So elevate your practice and do some yoga in the air.

*If you don’t know how to do japa meditation, you can learn with my Easy Meditation for Everyone Kit, which includes a set of beads.)

Asana Practice on Cold Days

I know what it’s like to get out of a warm bed into a cold room on a winter’s day before you’ve had a chance to turn up the heater. Your body feels stiff and the last thing you feel like doing is a forward bend. On cold days I always take a hot shower before I start my asana practice. The hot water takes away the chill and melts away the tension I’ve been holding in my muscles from being cold. Then I pull on some comfy clothes for my asana practice and get onto my mat.

Building Strength in Asanas

One thing I love about yoga asanas is that I can build strength simply by using my own body—I don’t need any weights or expensive machines. Holding the body in yoga’s various poses while resisting gravity builds muscle strength, while also helping build strong bones. Even moving into and out of poses, especially when done slowly and with awareness, helps gain strength throughout the body.

Simple Tips for Relieving Shoulder Tension

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t suffer from tight neck and shoulder muscles at least some of the time. Well, maybe my grandkids don’t. But for many, shoulder tension can be chronic. Left unchecked, we can get used to the discomfort and not even realize how much it’s restricting our movements. Of course, if we don’t do anything about it, at some point, it is likely to become quite painful and even cause headaches, backaches, and other problems.

3 Steps Towards Developing a Higher Consciousness

As yoga becomes an integral part of our society, people are looking to this ancient science and wondering whether it can offer them something deeper and more meaningful. The answer, of course, is yes.

Practicing yoga and living a yoga lifestyle can have a profound effect on our consciousness. If we want to experience deeper meaning in life as well as true happiness, we need to elevate our consciousness. If we want to know what truth is, to understand the real nature of ourselves and the world around us, we need to delve more deeply into the practice of yoga.

Stretch Your Hamstrings the Easy Way

If the backs of your legs scream at you whenever you do straight-leg forward bends, it may well be that your hamstrings are tight. If you don’t stretch them regularly, they’ll stay that way—or even get stiffer. That’s not a good thing because tight hamstrings affect more than just our ability to bend forward with straight legs. They can make us more prone to injury—especially if we play sports. They can also interfere with good posture, which, in turn, can contribute to back pain.

The Secret to Successful Meditation

It’s really not hard to practice meditation. Anyone can do it—even you. Having a successful meditation practice doesn’t mean you have to conquer your mind by the strength of your will and clear it of all thoughts. If you have tried to do this and have become frustrated, I’m not surprised. The mind is notorious for jumping around from one thing to another—in fact that is its nature. But don’t despair.

5 Yoga Tips for Over-Achievers

Do you have a Type A personality—always busy, a real go-getter, pushing yourself to achieve goals at home, at work, and even at play? If so, my guess is that you could be transferring that goal-oriented mindset to your asana practice as well, and this may not be in your best interest. If you always focus on a vigorous asana practice, pushing yourself to exhaustion, perhaps feeling disappointed that you’re not as “advanced” as you’d like to be, you may not be experiencing the amazing benefits yoga has to offer. Yes, a good asana session can be a great workout, but yoga is so much more than that.


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