yoga at home

How Can Yoga Help Promote Beautiful Skin?

AN ARTICLE BY FREELANCE CONTRIBUTOR SALLY KEYS

Photo by  Aiony Haust

Photo by Aiony Haust

Eight in 10 Americans are affected by stress, according to a Gallup poll, and that spells danger not only for our heart health, but also for our skin. Over the past two decades, study after study has shown that yoga has the power to lower levels of stress hormone (cortisol), which is a good reason why it is is part of therapies for everything from addiction recovery, right through to eating disorders. If you are worried that your skin is losing its luster, or that you are developing lines and wrinkles, a yoga retreat (alongside a healthy diet) can help you turn back the hands of time by keeping stress at bay and by promoting circulation and oxygenation of skin.


What Effect Does Stress Have on Skin?

High cortisol levels can hamper skin health by promoting inflammation - thus potentially worsening conditions such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. Some animal studies have shown that stress can also contribute to the development of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology (APA) therefore recommends that those battling skin conditions take part in stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, while following the treatment recommended by their dermatologist.

Yoga can Reverse Skin Aging

A study published in the journal Future Science OA has found that practising yoga has powerful biomolecular effects that can reverse the process of skin aging. Asanas and pranayama lower activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which can become overactive when we are stressed). Additionally, yoga actually reduces the inflammatory response, thus enabling us to stave off skin sagging and the formation of lines and wrinkles. Finally, asanas that build strength and flexibility in the muscles promote better glucose uptake by the muscles, thus reducing levels of blood sugar in the body. Keeping blood sugar levels down is particularly important if you have a condition like diabetes, because high glucose levels hamper your immunity. This is the reason why people with diabetes tend to have a higher level of bacterial skin infections such as impetigo, folliculitis, etc.

What Asanas Should You Try Out for Beautiful Skin?

As mentioned above, asanas that promote good circulation can help skin cells function optimally. Three of the many asanas that do just this include the sarvangasana (or the shoulder stand - which promotes blood circulation to the face), utthanasana (or forward-bending pose, which boosts oxygen supply to the skin cells), and the trikonasana (or triangle pose - which opens up the chest and supplies abundant oxygen to the skin). Pranayama can also help you release stress, toxins, and negativity, so give it your full concentration at your next yoga class.

It is amazing to think that yoga - which quells stress, improves our mood, and hones our strength and flexibility - can also have beneficial effects on our skin. Since stress and inflammation are inexorably linked, lowering one can improve the other. At your upcoming yoga retreat, ask your yoga teacher about the best poses for circulation and don’t forget to practice what you learn when you get back home!

Creating a Yoga Sanctuary in Your Home

AN ARTICLE BY FREELANCE CONTRIBUTOR SALLY KEYS

Photo by  Form

Photo by Form

One of the greatest benefits of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere. Many of the 20 million yoga enthusiasts in the US choose to lay down their mat and practice in the comfort of their own home in addition to attending outside classes with instruction from professionals. Setting up a home studio can help to build up your strength and stamina, allowing you to work your way up to more advanced yoga classes. Here are some tips on how you can transform any space in your home into your own personal sanctuary.

 

Choose Your Space

Whether you live in a studio apartment or a four-bedroom house, it’s easy to carve out a space in your home that’s specifically dedicated to your spiritual well-being. You should aim to look for a space that’s free of distractions such as electronics, pets, or children. Your space should feel like a sanctuary, so it’s a good idea to add scents you find soothing and perhaps even some soft music. It’s also important to look for an area that gets plenty of natural light or that offers views of the great outdoors. Spending time around nature can help to ground us as we practice yoga and enhance our mood. If you have a garden, you may want to consider setting up your yoga sanctuary outside.

 

Gather Your Tools

While there’s no one-size-fits-all idea for a yoga studio, there are a couple of key elements that you should make sure to include. In addition to a yoga mat, you may want to invest in extra props such as a bolster, a set of blocks, or a yoga sandbag to improve posture and balance. A meditation pillow can also come in handy to help improve comfort and focus during your meditation sessions.

 

Create a Calming Atmosphere

Even within the sacred space of your home, it can be difficult to concentrate if you’re surrounded by clutter. Your yoga space should be a reflection of your inner self--peaceful and serene. Decorating your yoga sanctuary may seem like a trivial task, but it can make all the difference on your spiritual journey. Your decor should stimulate all five of your senses to keep you grounded in the present. In addition to artwork, you should also include water fixtures or windchimes to evoke your auditory senses and incense or candles to stimulate your sense of smell. Plants can also create a more balanced space and help you to keep in touch with nature during your yoga sessions.

 

Setting up a home yoga sanctuary makes it easy to practice your routine every day, even when you aren’t able to make it down to your gym or yoga studio. By carving out a special space in your house, you can better concentrate on your spiritual growth. A home yoga studio helps to remove you from the daily distractions of life and allows you to achieve clarity and focus.

Behind The Asana: Episode 29 - The Story of Vishvamitra

Vishvamitra was a king in India, who is known for his spiritual journey. One day, when visiting the sage Vashista, Vishvamitra saw and demanded that Vashista give him this cow who could manifest anything. When Vashista denied his request, as it was a divine gift, Vishamitra declared war on the sage. Vishamitra and his entire army fought against Vashista and his cow, but the cow manifested a great army and soon, Vishvamitra was defeated. Realizing all he had lost, and all the happiness that Vashista, this spiritual man had, began Vishvamitra on his journey. 

The spiritual growth of Vishvamitra is one that we can look to as guidance, as it is not straight forward. When we begin on the path towards light, it's not always clear, and it is not easy. However, as the story of Vishvamitra tells us, we must keep going.

Please like, comment and share! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at adishaktrirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 28 - Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means ‘devotion’ and this is often seen in the yoga community as a heart centred practice. Bhakti yoga can be explored through things like singing and dancing, but is practiced in anyway that we can use our acts to express gratitude to the Divine. When we use Bhakti yoga, we are allowing our action, in what ever form that manifests for us, to show our devotion and gratitude to the Divine, whether it be singing, dancing, sharing or even in our asana practice.

Please like, comment and share! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

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Behind The Asana: Episode 27 - Taking A Spiritual Name

When you take a spiritual name, you are undergoing a rebirth and committing yourself to your sacred path. Spiritual names are traditionally given as part of a ceremony, where your teacher gives you the name that will connect you to this sacred way of life. I was gifted my name, Adi Shakti, by my teacher Yogrishi Vishvketu, and it is something that I carry through life as I pursue my passion and my purpose. 

Going deeper into what it means to take a spiritual name and what my name in particular means, this video explores the meaning of my name and why people take new names on their spiritual journey. Please like, share this video. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 26 - Three Primary Learning Styles

As a student, you might have an idea of what your learning style might be. The three primary styles most commonly found are auditory, visual and kinesthetic, and most people favour one of these. When taking classes, it’s good to seek out a teacher who uses your primary style in their teaching, so that your experience is one that is enjoyable and engaging. As a teacher, it is important to utilize all of these styles so that your students, regardless of how they learn, can engage in your class.

In this video, I go through the different ways that the three primary learning styles might appear in a class and some ways to engage them. Please like, comment, share this video! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out by email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 25 - Three Types Of Adjustments

In the Passion Yoga School teacher trainings, we talk about the three different types of physical adjustments in a yoga practice - to correct, to deepen into a posture and energetically enhance a posture. By using these adjustments, teachers can help students in class to remain safe in poses, to engage in their practice and to make small changes, guiding students to deepen their awareness in the class.

Please share, like and comment. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 24 - Chandra Bedhana

Last week, I talked about surya bedhana, which is the way in which we use pranayama to balance the solar energy in our body. This week, we are focusing on how to bring balance back to our bodies with chandra bedhana. Chandra bedhana is the lunar, or feminine, energy in our life, and in this video, I explore how we can bring more of it into our lives through our pranayama practice.

Please like, share and comment. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 23 - Surya Bedhana

Surya Bedhana is the pranayama practice used to cultivate and balance our solar energy. As humans, we are made up of solar and lunar energy that ebbs and flows as we go through life. When it gets out of balance and we have too much lunar energy, we can use pranayama to reorient ourselves and bring that solar energy back into balance within our bodies. 

Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 22 - Seva

Understanding yoga as “union” calls us to serve others, in selfless service - seva. When we begin to use our energy efficiently, we can begin to give back to others. On a small scale, seva can be done just in our daily lives - serving our friends, family, community selflessly - but it can also be done on a larger scale. Within the yoga community, it has been amazing to see how the social activism, but it is also important to remain conscious, and serve the community and projects through grassroots movements, so that we can avoid ahimsa.

Please like, share or comment and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 21 - Japa Mala Meditation

Similar to rosaries in Judeo-Christian traditions, japa malas act as a tool in meditation to maintain focus as well as having a tactile movement as you go through your mindful practice. I used a japa mala when I first began my meditation practice, and it is a great tool to use for mantra. 

In this video, I explain the japa mala and how to use them in meditation. Please like, share, comment and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 20 - Sthira & Sukha

Sthira is structure - keeping alignment as you move through the asanas and keeping a routine in your daily activities. Sukha is softness, and it can be found in releasing tension in your poses or allowing for fun and freedom in your daily life. Sthira and sukha allow us to maintain balance in our lives, the structure and softness, that keep us growing, learning and enjoying our lives and our practices.

Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 19 - Planes of Movement

In the physical practice of yoga, we move our body along three physical planes. In this video, I review the coronal plane, the sagittal plane and the transverse plane. By keeping them in mind throughout your practice, you are able to focus and understand the alignment as you move through twists, folds, backbends, and side bending. It will support you in doing the postures correctly and safely.


Please like, comment, share! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 18 - The Anatomical Process Of Breathing

In yoga, we spend so much time focusing on our breath. This week, I go over the anatomical process of breathing. In this video, I explain what exactly happens to our body when we breathe deeply in our practice and the benefits of conscious breathing.  

Please like, share, or comment to let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 17 - Travelling To India

Throughout my time in the yoga community, I have been very blessed to travel to India five times. The motherland of yoga is a parallel universe with so many amazing sights and an incredibly vibrant culture. In this video, I share my tips for travelling to India so that you can enjoy the motherland with more ease.

 

 

Please like, share or comment to let me know what you think! If you have any questions, you can send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 16 - Jnana & Vijnana

In the Bhagavad Gita, we find the concept of jnana which means wisdom and vijana which is the application of wisdom. In yoga, we understand what we are “supposed” to do - we read the scripture, we know we are supposed to eat well, we know in theory of how we are supposed to act  - this is the jnana. Vijana is when we begin to apply this knowledge into our lives - actually eating well, staying dedicated to our meditation practice. These concepts help us find balance in our lives, and challenge us to keep growing in our practice.

Please like, share or comment, letting me know what you think! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 15 - Hinduism & Polytheism

Hinduism is often described as being a polytheistic religion, a religion with multiple gods. However, this idea can be misleading. In Hinduism, there are so many different gods, but they are not necessarily separate. Rather, the different gods in Hinduism are simply different aspects of the same divine energy that exists in you and me. The face of God isn’t uniform - it exists in all of us, and when we pray to Ganesh, or invoke Saraswati, we are calling on a certain aspect of the Divine.


In this episode, I go over Hinduism as I understand it and offer a fresh perspective for Western thinkers. If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 14 - Yoga Teacher Trainings

There are so many different options when considering yoga teacher trainings - where to do one, immersion or non-immersion, whether or not you are even ready. While the decision to do a yoga teacher training is a personal one, studying yoga for me was so much more than just being able to teach classes. For so many students, a training is a time of great exploration and development, one that leads to a deeper understanding of yourself and your practice.

 

 

In this episode, I go over what my yoga teacher training meant to me, as well as what you should consider before choosing a program. Please like, share, or comment to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com

Behind The Asana: Episode 13 - Sanskrit & Mantra

Sanskrit is the ancient language of India, and when we chant Sanskrit, we are actually working to create balance in our brain and energetic body. Mantra is repeating a phrase to focus the mind and create a particular vibration in the body.

In this video, I share my favourite mantra and educate you on the benefits of chanting Sanskrit. Please like, share or comment to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please let me know at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 12 - Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama is something that is very common to find in yoga classes, especially challenging vinyasa flow classes. Ocean’s Breath as it’s called is one of the more widely practiced breathing patterns used in yoga and has so many benefits. In this video, I explain the process of Ujjayi Pranayama more deeply and review why we do it.


Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please let me know by email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.