The Benefits of Anuloma Viloma (Pranayama)

Anuloma Viloma is a popular pranayama, and it is also my favorite of any pranayama that I have learned to date. This can be used as a part of meditation practice, a yoga practice, or on its own. I had a friend who taught private yoga sessions who shared she would often use this pranayama on the way to see clients in her car if she was feeling nervous about the session. I began to use this practice too, and I found it to be incredibly helpful!

Anuloma Viloma is alternating nostril breathing. It is meant to be done using the Vishnu Mudra with the right hand. This mudra has the middle and index fingers resting on the pad of the palm. We use our thumb to control our right nostril and the pinky and ring fingers to control the left nostril. It is also meant to be practiced using a certain ratio. Always beginning and ending the practice on the left nostril, we breathe in for four counts, we retain our breath for 16 counts, we exhale on the opposite side for eight counts, and continue by inhaling for four counts on the same side you have just exhaled from. This process goes on for a predetermined amount of time or count of breaths. To bring the most benefit, it is beneficial to have either a timer or some way to track the number of breaths, i.e., mala beads placed on your left hand. 

Pranayama means to control the life force – the breath. Any pranayama is beneficial in stimulating the flow of energy (prana) within the body and connecting our awareness to our breath. This particular pranayama appeals to many who experience anxiety or other extreme emotions.

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Anuloma Viloma is said to purify the nadis or the left and right energy channels. These nadis intertwine and travel throughout the body from the Muladhara (root) chakra up to the Ajna (brow or third eye) chakra. The left channel is the Ida nadi. It is related to feminine qualities, including emotion, cold, and water. The right channel is the Pingala nadi, related to masculine qualities like action, heat, and the sun. These nadis reach through the left and right nostrils.

Often, people may notice during the practice of Anuloma Viloma a blockage in either nostril. This may indicate a blockage in that energy channel. By using this pranayama, we can purify these channels and restore balance to them. This can manifest in more harmony in your feminine and masculine qualities and energies.

The process of alternating the breathing, encouraging the prana to move throughout the nadis, stimulates the circulation of these vital opposing Ida and Pingala energies. This moves throughout the body from the Muladhara chakra upward, twisting through and additionally energizing each other chakra.

I believe this pranayama to be one of the most beneficial due to its balancing properties. It is my go-to pranayama if I am feeling an imbalance in my thoughts, body, energy, or in my actions and behaviors.

Importance Of Mudras During Meditation

A mudra, in Sanskrit, means seal. They are hand gestures that can be used during meditation to improve the whole experience and also fasten the time taken to get into a meditative state. Mudras date back to as far as when people started practicing meditation. In most of the Buddha statues, we can clearly see these gestures. They are an integral part of yoga. It is believed by yoga practitioners, gurus, and energy workers that these gestures are very powerful and they act as circuits in our external bodies that once closed; they can alter our mental and metaphysical environment and hence contributing to a spiritual journey. By adopting a given posture and then sealing it with our hands, we can cultivate the ‘chi’ or the life force in our body.

There are hundreds of mudras that can be used to activate different regions of our bodies by only using our hands. The simple explanation is that our fingers represent all the five elements of the universe: earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. These elements control all aspects of our internal bodies and, depending on the combination of mudras we are holding; we have different experiences.

The Five Fingers And Their Representation

  1. Thumb: It represents the earth element and corresponds to the mouth, the stomach, and the spleen.
  2. Index Finger: It is represented by the wood element and corresponds to the liver, the gallbladder, and the eyes.
  3. Middle Finger. It represents the fire element and corresponds to the organs, the heart, the small intestines, and the tongue.
  4. Ring Finger. It represents the metal element and corresponds to the large intestines and the nose.
  5. Little Finger. It represents the water element and corresponds to the kidneys, the bladder, and the ears.

How To Integrate Mudras In Meditation

You should find a mudra that works best for them and which you can use during the meditation. To use the mudra, you need to be in a comfortable meditative state and the right posture. Next, you should now hold your ideal posture. While maintaining a mudra, you should avoid using a lot of force, as it is not necessary. You should also not struggle while holding this gesture. Focus all your thoughts and energy in meditation.

In case you are wondering which mudra to use, Gyan mudra should be practiced. It is one of the simplest mudras available with a lot of benefits. It is performed by touching the tip of the thumb finger with the index finger and extending.

Do You Wear Makeup to Yoga Class?

Are you ever self-conscious about your appearance, even if you happen to be headed to the yoga studio? Female yogis often give into the mainstream media’s influence that they should be picture-perfect at all times. Many experienced yogis who try to follow the traditional yogic philosophy may wonder whether wearing makeup to yoga class interferes with the intention of the practice.

One of the prominent Yoga Sutras from Patanjali refers to having compassion and love for yourself. This sutra is often left open to interpretation, and each yogi will have their own impression of what it means. How does having self-love and compassion for your body apply to wearing makeup?

Makeup is fundamentally designed to alter your outward appearance. Whether you want to wear thick black eyeliner or a thin coat of foundation, the end goal is to make yourself more beautiful than you were before. If you truly loved and accepted yourself the way you are, it would seem that makeup may be an unnecessary addition to your morning routine.

In particular, it may not truly be necessary to wear your cosmetics to a yoga class.

A yoga class is designed to be a sacred space and a time when you can focus on integrating your mind, body, and breath. This sacred space shouldn’t need any frills or extra effort to modify your outward appearance.

However, some yogis may put on their makeup because it’s a practice that makes them feel better about themselves. It could easily be argued that wearing makeup is an act of self-love and compassion in these circumstances. Self-love can take many different forms, and all yogis should have an open mind about what that entails for others.

Having an open mind to interpret the Yoga Sutras in your own way is an important part of embracing the yogic philosophy. You may have to consider the intention behind the practice of wearing makeup before coming to a final judgment.

From a less philosophical standpoint, wearing makeup to your yoga class may not even be in the best interest of your skin. A rigorous yoga practice will cause you to sweat, but makeup isn’t designed to hold up under these circumstances. The combination of perspiration and foundation may clog the pores and lead to breakouts.

Wearing makeup to a yoga class is ultimately bound to be an intensely personal issue. It depends on your interpretation of the Yoga Sutras and your view of cosmetic items. Take some time to truly evaluate the reasons why you choose or desire to wear makeup. This may help you to decide where you stand on this prominent issue.

It should be noted that it is essential to yoga philosophy to select cosmetic items that are non-harming, another core tenet of traditional teachings. This allows your cosmetic items to be beneficial for your own personal life and experiences, as well as the environment. You can truly embrace both yoga and cosmetic items when you ensure that they are responsibly-sourced.

Simple Stretching Routine

I might not have always liked stretching, but I have grown to love it. Most of the weeks I would dedicate a day on the weekend just to stretching. The poses I enjoy the most are twisting poses as they release toxins and make you feel lighter, taller and reenergized.

There are a few simple ways you could approach stretching without feeling overly pressured to do a workout routine of it. Think of it rather as if you’re performing a meditation in flow. I like to focus on my breathing while performing any kind of stretching, as I feel it makes it that much more powerful. The music or background noises are minimized and preferably calming. The scent of the room should be calming as well.

So, slow down your breath and try to imagine a place that puts you at ease.

I like to think that I’m sitting on a Mediterranean beach, the sound of waves lightly crashing to the shore in front, and the sound of pine trees leaves in the back with crickets chanting away their song. I know the exact smell to be a mix of salt water and pine trees.

Imagining this part instantly calms me down.

Put on your favorite leggings and sit cross-legged on the floor, bring your arms up above your head with an inhale and down with the exhale. Repeat a couple of times and add twists to it – bring one arm forward and the other back, follow the gazette the back hand, opening up the heart at the same time.

The second simple sequence is that you place one hand on the opposite knee and twist – make sure that with an inhale your feel your spine elongating towards the sky and keep your shoulders relaxed. With an exhale, feel the space creating in your spine.

Another similar exercise requires you to extended your legs while sitting down. Cross one leg over the other so your foot is placed next to the opposite knee. Bring the opposite elbow to hook it around the knee, look back and relax with every next exhale. Repeat on the other side. Twists are a great way for your body to release toxins, your joins to stay hydrated and limber.

I know that a lot of times when we set out to reach some fitness goal, we would like to see results immediately. And we go all out working hard the exercises that makes us sweat or lift crazy amounts of weight. But forget or underrate the importance to stretch afterwards and, therefore, feel the burn in the muscles afterwards for days justifying it with the hard work we’ve done. I’ve even been at classes when the instructor leaves the class after performing their last exercise planned (and I’m having no intention to returning to the same instructor again). Elongating the muscles after they performed hard work is just as important, if not more, then the workout part itself. It keeps your muscles flexible, strong and healthy. And we need flexibility to maintain the range of motion to our joints. It’s what keeps us limber and looking fresh and young.

So, make a stretching routine ‘a time for you’ and if only it is a couple minutes of it – let me know how you feel at the end of it. I would love to hear back from you.

What Is A Yogi Diet?

After breathing and ingesting water, eating is one of the most basic vital actions that keep our hearts beating as well as one of the most fundamental aspects when it comes to our health and general wellbeing. If you happen to be a disciplined and dedicated yoga practitioner, it is crucial to understand that your time on the table should be seen as equally important as your time on the mat. One’s body is one’s temple, and yet it is surprising to see how modern society has neglected this unarguable truth; turning their backs on such an elementary facet of existence.

There are no ancient texts or set of instructions that explain and illustrate what a suitable yogi menu looks like. Even if there was some guidance on the topic, every individual’s body is unique and therefore it would be impossible to find a diet that suits all. When it comes to the ancient Indian medicine system of Ayurveda, which is perhaps one of the closest guidelines one may find for providing proper nourishment for one’s body and a stable support for yoga practice; a suitable diet according to this system will not only depend on a person’s vikriti or constitution, but also on the person’s prakriti or current state. Meaning that an appropriate diet will not only vary from person to person, but it will also change throughout a person’s life.

Food is the base for a strong body and calm mind. An Ayurvedic diet or a diet that enhances your yoga practice should therefore include foods that nourish your body and promote lightness and clarity; while being in line with your personal values and perception of yoga. Another important element to take into account when outlining your food menu is your corresponding dosha or mind-body type; providing your corresponding dosha, you can consequently build an eating plan that will best support your mind and body.

Generally speaking, the best way to approach choosing your ideal diet is to consume fresh foods that are prepared consciously, while also including all Ayurvedic tastes of salty, sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and astringent in each meal. Trying to include all the colors of the rainbow in your plate is often suggested too. Paying attention to the cravings of your body is another way to make sure it is getting all the necessary nutrients. Lastly, it is also relevant to eat in line with your own values and view of yoga. If you are into practicing the principle of ahimsa or non-violence, for example, go ahead and make food choices that are in accordance with this: decide for local rather than foods that have been shipped from the other side of the world, limit or stop your consumption of meat products, beware of foods that are packaged in plastics or harmful materials, come up with a simple system that helps you recycle waste food like composting, and so on.

Remember that yoga is all about finding unity and freedom, and one of the first things to do in order to achieve this is to live consciously. So, practice awareness while you choose, prepare and eat your food; and even in moments when circumstances do not allow you to choose the ideal meal, simply be aware of it, be thankful, and enjoy.

8 Amazing Facts You Did Not Know About Yoga

Most people who have heard about yoga did so through a TV program or read about it online. However, not many know about the basic facts about this seemingly modern and popular practice. Listed below are some uncommon and amazing facts about yoga. Read on enjoy.

It’s an Ancient Practice, Not A New Trend

It may seem as through the practice of yoga started recently and quickly got popular. In reality, yoga has very ancient roots. It isthought to have started around 4500-2500 BCE. At the time, it was merely practiced as a mental exercise done through breathing rituals, meditation sessions, practicing proper philosophies, values, and life mantras. It was after this practice gained root in India around 1700-1800 BCE that the physical exercises version got introduced and grew.

Yoga Means Uniting

The root word for yoga is derived from yuj, the Sanskrit root. Its literal meaning is joining together. What does it join together? The term is used because yoga is meant to unite the body, spirit, and mind.

Founded by Patanjali

Although yoga may have been practiced long before the birth of Patanjali in 150 BC, he is still considered the founding father of this ancient practice. This is because he made the practice accessible to everyone through Yoga Sutras.

It Is Not a Religion

Although yoga incorporates numerous elements from religions such as Hinduism, it is not a religion. Rather, yoga is a way of life.

Yoga Has Numerous Different Schools

Most people know just a few schools of yoga that are popular. However, there are currently over 100 different yoga schools. These schools are varied in their way of teaching and the practices undertaken. Yet, they all have a singular goal; achieving oneness in the mind, body, and spirit, as well as with the universe.

Yoga Is Not Just the Physical Exercises

While this is the best-known practice, yoga has three key elements. These are achieving different postures (the physical exercises), breathing in different patterns, and finally meditation.

Yoga Is Not A Practice Taught by Dirty Yogis

Owing to the use of essential oils and possibly the environment where yoga was practiced in the past, there was a perception that yogis are dirty people. However, that is a wrong perception because yoga rules (The Niyamas), require practitioners to exercise the purity of mind and body.

Yogis are expected to maintain personal hygiene through taking a shower on waking up, detoxifying the skin with a dry brush, using oil to swash the mouth and prevent diseases. The use of essential oils may leave a funny smell, but it’s just that.

The First Yoga Studio

The first yoga studio to open in the US was introduced by Pierre Bernard. The studio, which was known as The Yoga Center, was located on 53rd Street in Manhattan. Bernard also wrote a book titled Hatha Yoga, making Hatha the most popular type of yoga in the US.

Do you know any other fascinating facts about yoga? Share with us, we would love to hear it.

How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

After yoga class, sweat among other things can attract germs, bacteria and viruses! Since we want yoga to do the opposite of get us sick, it’s a good idea to remove these germs right away. I have learned a few cleaning methods and heard of some other popular methods to easily and effectively clean your yoga mat.

Interestingly, cleanliness itself is part of the yoga tradition. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika text explains that by keeping the body and mind pure, clean, and simple you can access spiritual wisdom without obstacle.

It is not as hard as you may think to clean your yoga mat. You can clean your mat by:

Using Soap and Water

This is an easy and affordable method. Make sure to keep the solution on the watery side to avoid taking off the sticky part of your mat, which prevents slips and injuries.

To make a soap solution dilute dish soap with water in a container. Lightly scrub your mat with a damp sponge or rag. Avoid scrubbing with harsh materials like steel wool. Finish, by rinsing your mat with hot water.

Submerge Your Yoga Mat in Water

If your yoga mat at is very dirty, you can submerge your mat in warm water with dish soap or mild laundry detergent like Woolite. Pat dry with a towel, and hang dry outside, overnight.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are a natural and pleasant way to clean your mat. Make a solution, in a spray bottle, of one or two drops of essential oil with water. Spray down your mat and rinse with hot damp towel. Try:

  • Tea tree oil: antifungal
  • Lavender oil: mild antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • Lemon Oil: mild antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • *Baking Soda: to reduce odors, add a teaspoon of baking soda to your solution.

Washing Machine

I actually haven’t tried this method personally, but I have heard that you can actually wash your mat in the washing machine! As long as your mat is not meant to be hand washed, you can put it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle with cool water. Use a small amount of a gentle detergent like Woolite.

Commercial Yoga Mat Cleaners

These are convenient but may contain more chemicals. To use these just spray a fine mist over your mat and wipe clean with a hot towel. Try not to use too much water so it will dry quicker!

To dry your mat you can also place a towel over the mat, roll it up, and squeeze out the water. Follow by drying it again with a terry cloth a hang drying it for a minimum of one night. One thing you don’t want to do is throw it in the dryer!

I clean my mat by lightly spraying lavender oil on it after practice and hang my mat to dry. Every couple months I will give it a deeper clean, depending on my schedule. Cleaning your mat is easy and a great way to remove negative energy from your area.