Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel Abroad to These Incredible Yoga Retreats

Traveling to embrace a passion has become more popular than ever, and many yoga practitioners visit locations around the world both to relax and to improve their practice. Many yogis choose to go to India, where yoga originated. If you want to engage in fulfilling, authentic practice with luxury accommodations, you may want to investigate Shreya Yoga Retreat in Bangalore. Owned by the Relais & Chateaux group, the retreat center offers a number of amenities beside regular practice, including vegetarian cuisine made from locally grown, organic produce.

Another popular destination is Amansala on the beaches of the Riviera Maya in Tulum, Mexico. Visitors enjoy morning Vinyasa sessions followed by meditation and time to relax on the beach. You can also explore the unique Tulum culture or investigate nearby Mayan ruins.

A great European getaway is Silver Island in Evia, Greece. This retreat, run by two sisters, brings practitioners to a private island just a few miles from Athens. The simple, comfortable accommodations overlook amazing cliffs where you can practice yoga as the sun comes up over the Mediterranean Sea.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Virasana Offers Challenges for All Students

A seated pose that requires flexibility in the knees and quads, virasana, or hero pose, doesn’t look like it would be all that difficult upon first glance. To enter this unassuming pose, begin by kneeling with the knees gently touching. In this position, the shins and the tops of the feet are flat against the mat and the feet are hip-width distance apart. With the hands, roll the calf muscles outwards and then slowly begin to lower down, settling the buttocks between the ankles.

Beginners and less-flexible individuals (or those suffering from knee or ankle injuries) can support this pose by placing a blanket or block beneath the tailbone. From this upright version of virasana, students can introduce gentle arm and shoulder stretches. Those seeking a deeper sensation can begin working toward supta, or reclined virasana. Once the buttocks reach the floor, if the knees don’t reveal any major strain, students can lower backwards onto the elbows before relaxing completely onto the floor. More advanced students can add an additional challenge by raising the arms above the head rather than leaving them beside the body.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage, the most well-known kind of massage in the Western world, is, for most people, a good introduction to the world of massage therapy. The technique addresses the whole body with the goal of relaxing its joints and muscles. A Swedish massage therapist may alternate kneading, vibr
ation, tapping, long strokes, and deep circular movements as he or she works.

As a tradition, Swedish massage grew out of Western physiology and anatomy, rather than the energy-based traditions used in some types of Asian massage. Swedish massages usually last an hour or so, but longer sessions can allow the therapist to achieve better results.

During the massage, the therapist will typically begin by spreading oil on the skin and then use a series of strokes to warm up the muscles and break up knots or adhesions of other tissue. Massage therapists will ask about injuries or other conditions that may affect the massage, and patients can tell their therapists about preferences they have.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How Yoga Teaches Us to Be Kinder to Ourselves

In yoga, as in life, it's easy to start making comparisons. Not only do we compare ourselves to others, we also compare our performance on a given day to how we performed last week, last month, or last year. In some situations this can be a helpful and even necessary exercise, but when measuring our abilities in yoga, it quickly becomes detrimental. Although some people make the physical aspect of yoga the central focus of their practice, we can deepen our relationship with yoga and with ourselves if we instead approach yoga as a way to achieve mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Even a student who has been practicing yoga only for a short time has probably noticed that some days his body blesses him with great balance or deeper flexibility, and some days he just can't reach his toes no matter what. Rather than getting frustrated when your practice fluctuates, you can use these changes as opportunities to learn to accept your body and live in the present moment. Adopting this approach, rather than comparing yourself to previous classes or even other yogis, can help you cultivate a practice of being kinder to yourself, both in yoga and in everyday life.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Seniors Can Enhance Their Well-Being through Yoga

An increasing number of older adults are discovering the numerous benefits—both physical and emotional—of practicing yoga. The nonprofit group Yoga Across America is one organization focused on bringing the discipline to people of all ages and backgrounds, with classes held in senior living facilities, recreation centers, public parks, and other venues.

For seniors, yoga can enhance flexibility, muscle tone, bone strength, and stamina. It can alleviate minor aches and pains and the effects of some of the physical conditions associated with aging. In addition, yoga has the potential to calm and focus the mind and to help restore mental agility. It can even take the edge off the discomforts associated with menopause. Because yoga promotes a positive mental attitude, it can also help seniors navigate some of the stressful situations of today’s fast-paced world.

Yoga has earned its reputation as a safe, individually paced practice. An older beginner should search out local classes that offer a gentle introduction, rather than jumping into an intense hot yoga workout. Many classes are specifically designed to meet the needs of senior adults, who may have to deal with some initial physical hurdles, such as tightened hamstrings or mobility issues. A gentle hatha yoga practice can be an excellent introduction. A class focused on the Iyengar style, with its use of props to accommodate special physical and structural needs, may also be a good fit. In any practice, an experienced instructor should be able to guide older beginners through a series of poses and practices that take the students individual needs into account.                          

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Role of Yoga in the Treatment of PTSD

A group study conducted in 2009 under the auspices of Major Jon Greuel involved 70 military personnel stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. Using randomized experimental and control groups, the study looked at the impact of hatha yoga on the symptoms of combat stress in deployed members of the military. The study concluded that hatha yoga significantly reduced anxiety when compared to the control group. The yoga practitioners experienced less irritability, had more of a desire to socialize, and struggled less with concentrating and performing daily tasks. At the same time, they slept better, attended to their self-care more readily, and demonstrated improvements in mood.

Participants who regularly practiced yoga had the opportunity to share feedback about the experience. Many felt calmer and more relaxed and more than half reported an improvement in sleep patterns. More than a quarter of yoga practitioners noted other physical benefits.

This study shows the significant promise of yoga as part of a treatment plan for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While more research needs to be done on the direct link between yoga and the treatment of PTSD symptoms, yoga holds a great deal of promise as a real option for veterans and other people with PTSD.                            

Monday, September 8, 2014

Yoga Helps Adolescents Build Coping Skills

In today’s world, virtually all adolescents live with stress, whether from school, family, friends, or their living environment. Even small children often have a large amount of stress in their lives. Unfortunately, many children do not have the tools necessary to deal with stress in an effective manner. This inability to process stress could manifest in inappropriate, violent outbursts or steer children toward the use of drugs and alcohol. In Parker, Colorado, a yoga instructor has envisioned a different scenario. She sees yoga as a primary way of teaching coping skills. Through yoga, these children learn how to develop their sense of inner peace and discover the value of creating and maintaining quiet time devoted only to themselves.

In addition to learning how to manage stress in the present, yoga can teach children and adolescents a number of valuable lessons that they can apply in various other parts of their lives as they grow older. Through yoga, individuals can learn how to let go of stress and channel it into something productive.

On a more practical level, yoga instruction helps children and adolescents perform better at sports and avoid certain injuries because of greater flexibility.