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Shavasana or the corpse pose is one of the most classic and important asanas in the whole system of yoga. The translated name corpse pose is maybe not so flattering, but so descriptive of the amount of energy and movement that should go into it.

Shavasana looks and sounds like an easy pose. You lie on your back on the mat with your feet apart, your arms down your side a little away from the body with palms up, and your head in the middle of the back of the head. The positions of the hands are important to maintain an energetic openness, but if it is really uncomfortable you can turn your hands. If, and only if, you have a sensitive and/or sore lower back you can place a blanket, pillow or block underneath your knees or thighs.

The idea behind the Shavasana is that you do not do anything; you simply let your body settle there, which, in itself, can be difficult if you happen to be out of practice with doing nothing. Even though this sounds rather straightforward, it becomes difficult because of that expectation that something more is supposed to happen. The easiness and simplicity are also why we forget the importance of it, we tend to think we know the pose. We forget that it is something more to it than achieving the physical pose, so we move on as quickly as possible.

We do nothing in the Shavasana, on purpose, as it is a neutral pose–a pose where your pulse can settle and your mind can settle, in general, and especially after dynamic practices. When you let your mind and body settle in-between the exercises, you allow the benefits of the pose to work in your body before going on to another pose or exercise. Feeling how long it takes your pulse to settle is easy and you can feel how your heart beats slow down to a normal rhythm.

Your mind settles in a different way and it takes a finer adjustment to remember and to register. Your mind is ready to go on when your attention is somewhere else. If you pay attention next time you practice yoga on your own, in a group you might not get enough time, you will realize after staying in the Shavasana that your attention is on what you just did and what goes on in the body. Suddenly, your mind will shift and other thoughts or worries appear–that is when you are ready to move on.

The Shavasana is also useful for relaxation, which reflects back on the neutral qualities of the pose. There are no strains or strange positions for any of your body parts, which gives the mind space to go somewhere else.

Practicing Shavasana before you go to bed can also prepare you for sleep and helps settle your mind so it is easier to fall asleep. For a snug Shavasana experience, make sure you wear comfortable leggings or yoga pants and wrap up in a blanket afterward.

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga

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Did you know that yoga was practiced by out ancestors over 5,000 years ago? Well, according to ancient texts it was, and while many modern-day thinkers see yoga as another form of exercise, our ancestors have long referenced yoga as a powerful tool for nurturing the mind, body, and soul. Admittedly, the idea of bending, stretching, twisting, and manipulating your body to improve well-being may seem counter-intuitive, but modern science confirms that the health benefits of yoga are far-reaching.

Still not convinced that yoga is good for you? Let’s dig a little deeper into the health benefits of yoga.

1. Yoga Improves Strength and Flexibility

Yoga helps you build a stronger, more flexible body with its unique approach to manipulating the body’s various muscle groups. Power yoga is one form of yoga that can really strengthen and increase the bodies’ flexibility as it combines sun salutations (poses) with cardio and strength training exercises. One study carried out by the WebMD group concluded that individuals can improve their flexibility by up to 35% after practicing yoga a few minutes a day for just 8 weeks.

2. Yoga Improves Posture

Yoga strengthens core muscles which help support proper posture. While this may not seem to be a major issue, having poor posture can lead to unrelated health conditions such as cramps, headaches, and even gastrointestinal discomfort! Yoga can help prevent this and you will walk tall and proud. A study was undertaken by researchers at the School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia. This study involved 24 middle-aged females who enrolled in a 9-week program of Iyengar yoga. The study concluded that the subjects improved their posture, flexibility, and balance through Iyengar yoga.

3. Yoga Alleviates Stress

Yoga consists of mindfulness exercises through meditation and breathing exercises. This means you are more present and less concerned over past or future events which fuel stress and worry. Psychiatrist John Denniger of Harvard Medical School headed a five-year study which concluded that yoga stimulates key genes linked to stress. The study used neuro-imaging and genomics technology to measure the psychological impact of mind-body techniques with detailed accuracy. It’s reported that the findings may see approvals for doctors to use alternate means for tackling stress related conditions.

4. Yoga Improves Sleep

Yoga expels physical energy and balances the mind which means you sleep better at night. There have been numerous studies on the benefits of yoga for sleep but none more profound than a recent study undertaken by researchers at the Harvard Medical School. This study involved subjects with varying degrees of insomnia. The subjects practiced basic yoga every day for 8 weeks, subjects also kept sleep diaries prior to and during the 8-week study. The study concluded that yoga improved the subjects sleep efficiency, duration of sleep, and reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep.

5. Yoga Aides Weight Loss

Yoga isn’t the best tool for burning fat, but it can certainly help you lose a little weight. Yoga burns calories (key to weight loss), relieves pain (lengthier workouts), and reduces stress (addressing emotional eating). A 2005 study was carried out by Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH to determine the benefits of yoga for weight loss. This study involved 15,500 subjects and way too many variables to mention in this article. Their findings? “Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost roughly 5 pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds,” says Kristal.

6. Yoga Tones your Muscles

Yoga really does work various muscle groups and can help you build lean muscle and tone various muscle groups. The great thing is that this can be achieves without over-enduring workout regimens and you won’t end up bulking out and gaining excessive muscle mass.

7. Yoga Improves Mindfulness

Yoga very much focuses your attention on the present moment, the here and now, as you go about your mindful breathing, stretches, and postures. As you become more skilled in mindful breathing and relaxations, you can then carry this skill-set with you into everyday life for improved well-being 24/7.

Are you struggling to live a life of purpose and passion that’s filled with happiness? You know you want to live a positively abundant life, but there’s one problem… It’s hard! That is, until NOW.

Which of These Five Yoga Students Are You?

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You must be the peaceful, fully present woman sitting criss-cross applesauce at the head of the class. Me? Honestly, same. I’m directly behind you, practicing my ohms. This morning I had a green juice and I’ll be eating swordfish for dinner. I’m crushing the #yogalifestyle, just that #blessed. Namaste.

Maybe I’m not really sitting behind you, and maybe you’re not sure what criss-cross applesauce even means. We try, though. Even if we fall short of our ideal #yogalifestyle today, there’s always tomorrow, when I’ve booked a TM session.

Some people never miss a step in their yoga game. I’ve narrowed it down to five types. There might be more, but these five seem to appear in every studio I attend. I wonder: are they the same five yogis? Do they work as a group, hitting new yoga classes together, travelling around in a van like the Partridge family?

Plastic Woman

Plastic Woman’s yoga game is tight—or, rather, loose—so loose she can bend into any shape even a polyhedron. Nobody knows what a polyhedron looks like, so we clap for her rendition. After all, none of us can do what Plastic Woman does. When an instructor gives the choice between option one (“those of you who are beginners might want to stick with this one”) and option two (“for those of you who are a little more advanced”), we always choose option one. Plastic Woman chooses option two. Plastic Woman was made for option two. Rumors abound regarding Plastic Woman’s removal of ribs, allowing her Vinyasa to reach new heights. While we can neither confirm nor deny these rumors, we can salute Plastic Woman.

Embarrassing Sound Guy

Yoga is not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t explain the sounds coming out of Embarrassing Sound Guy. The sounds begin around the two-thirds mark of class and don’t let up until we are well through corpse pose and solemn reflection. Poor Embarrassing Sound Guy. It’s not that he doesn’t understand some things are better left within the confines of a private restroom or a solid intimate relationship. He just cannot help himself.

Save My Spotter

Save My Spotter drops a mat ten minutes before the start of class and begs you to save her spot, then disappears. You spend your next ten minutes turning away the hordes of would-be yogis who ask about the spot next to you. Oh, I’m sorry, there’s somebody coming . . .. I think, you add silently, unsure. The mat remains empty for the duration of the class, and a back row peopled with rueful eyes stares daggers into your back.

Ms. Overexposed

One yoga fashion brand had a problem a few years back with pants that showed a little more than customers wanted to during their poses. What problem? asked Ms. Overexposed, who still owns several pairs from the recalled line, always with nothing underneath, because “it’s just more comfortable.” I would alert her to this state of affairs, but I’m pretty sure she already knows.

Mr. Stinky

Nobody expects to come out of yoga class smelling like a rose, but this guy smells before he even walks into the studio. He smells in hot yoga, he smells in asana. He smells like things other than body odor and sweat. He has been known to smell of onions. The mechanics of this are elusive.

Did I miss anyone?

How Yoga Maintains Our Body Weight

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Weight has always been a troublesome issue for both men and women. Yoga being an ancient exercise style, it has numerous hidden benefits that can balance the weight of your body with just a few exercises per day. According to Dr.Phillips, a popular yoga enthusiast, she states that enjoying yoga as a day to day routine will automatically delete the idea of yoga being a chore.

With regard to weight loss, Yoga is beneficial for mental health because it helps to control anxiety. Emotional balance is essential so that one can change their behavior towards the amount of food consumption. Practice also helps improve self-control, which is great because you can practically learn to cope better with the frustrations and problems that come up in your life. And there’s more! Yoga helps in maintaining our weight because of the Asanas, that is, the postures of Yoga, which stimulate the thyroid gland, making it work more efficiently.

The thyroid is a very important gland, being responsible for the production of two hormones, T3 and T4. These hormones regulate the functioning of your body’s metabolism, so when the thyroid is not working right, the production of these hormones get impaired, slowing down your metabolism. As a result, a person tends to gain weight.

In addition, Yoga has some more vigorous styles, such as Power Yoga, which promote a large calorie burn. For example, in an hour of power yoga it is possible to lose up to 500 calories. But even softer styles, such as Hatha Yoga, are great for burning calories. For you to have an idea, in an hour of Hatha Yoga you can lose up to 225 calories.

Since yoga is considered as an aerobic exercise, it improves the breathing capacity along with providing a better utilization of oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen which is distributed in the right places helps our organs like the lungs, brain, kidney, liver and different glands to work in a more efficient and productive manner due to the proper blood circulation and adequate supply of oxygen to every cell of the body. Yoga provides an effective way of breathing; according to many studies it is proven that proper breathing results in less consumption of food throughout the day.

Yoga promotes relaxation, increases energy and disposition. It also helps the practitioner to develop important personal characteristics such as determination and willpower.

By becoming a more determined person, it is much easier to control unhealthy habits that promote weight gain. For example, practicing yoga can help you control that crazy urge to eat sugary and calorie dense foods. Yoga works gradually, helping to eliminate stress. It is also helpful in combating insomnia; those who sleep poorly are more likely to gain weight.

Yoga doesn’t focus only on weight loss but simultaneously works on decreasing stress levels, anxiety, cholesterol levels, maintaining hormone levels, and overall promotes a positive change in your daily lifestyle. The beneficial aspects of yoga include mental health which has a vast impact on the entire body. Yoga affects the mind as well as the body, this change eventually makes you feel better about yourself internally as well as your appearance, making it more easier to enjoy it!