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meditation

Your Instant Chill-Out Practice: Alternate Nostril Breathing

Your Instant Chill-Out Practice: Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing, Nadhi Shodhana Pranayama, is a calming and grounding breathing exercise.

This simple yet powerful practice is a wonderful way to chill out the nervous system. Alternate Nostril Breathing is a holistic way to wind down after a stressful day or event.

Just a few minutes of this practice will leave you feeling balanced and restored.

See below for the step-by-step video guide, list of benefits, and written instructions. Give this balancing practice a try to replenish energy and find instant stress-relief.

Alternate Nostril Breathing offers a variety of benefits. Give this calming pranayama a try to relieve stress and anxiety.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana:

  • Reduces stress & anxiety

  • Balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain

  • Rejuvenates the nervous system

  • Improves respiratory function

  • Replenishes energy

Let’s Try it:

  1. Find a comfortable seat

  2. We will use the right hand to guide the breath: Curl your index and middle finger into the palm of your hand.

  3. Lightly place your ring and middle finger on your left nostril and you thumb on your right nostril.

  4. Close off the right nostril. Breathe in through the left nostril.

  5. Close off the left nostril. Breathe out through the right nostril, then breathe in through the right nostril.

  6. Close off the right nostril. Breath out through the left nostril.

  7. Repeat Steps 4-6 for 5-10 reps. *

  8. Sit in meditation and bring your breath back to a natural cadence. Take note of how you feel post-pranayama practice.

  • Discontinue the exercise if you become dizzy or light headed. Avoid this practice if your nasal passages are congested.

Alternate Nostril Breathing offers a variety of benefits. Take a few minutes to connect your mind, body, and breath with this powerful pranayama.

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Use These 4 Restorative Yoga Poses for Immediate Stress Relief

When we are at ease in body and mind, we feel open, expansive, and grounded. We are able to show up for ourselves, others, and our work fully, and we are our best selves.

However, when we experience stress, we tend to feel scattered, uncomfortable, and unsettled. The physical manifestation of stress might express as inconsistent and short breaths, tightness in the body, and tension in the face.

Stress is a mindset that we adopt (either consciously or unconsciously) in response to a given situation. More often than not, stress is an unsupportive addition to our daily lives.

Restorative Yoga is an antidote to the harm caused by stress, offering an opportunity to step back and reset the mind and body. A restorative practice offers a reprieve from stress that allows us to reframe our approach toward external stressors.

 
It can feel counterintuitive to take a time-out from our day when we feel pressed for time or burdened by an approaching event or deadline. Perhaps the very reason we feel stressed is because we feel short on time.

However, there can be value in taking a few minutes to change the channel in our minds and slow the pace of our inner dialogue. By taking the time to reassess, we might recognize the stress we carry to be unnecessary, and we can address the role of stress as an obstacle to our end goals.
 

Use These 4 Restorative Yoga Poses as Your Go-To Yoga for Stress Relief:

The Restorative Yoga poses below offer a holistic approach to stress relief. Restorative Yoga can imbue our lives with a fresh perspective, introspection, and a broader understanding of our response – a stark contrast to the narrow-minded thought pattern imprinted by stress.

Taking a moment to pause and break the cycle of tension can do wonders for your day, offering ease in the body, mind, and breath. The next time you need to recenter, give one or all of the poses below a try.
 
Props You Will Need: 4 blocks, 2 blankets, 1 bolster, optional eye pillow.
 
If you do not have the yoga props listed, please feel free to supplement with items found around your home. Firm pillows and/or a couch cushion can be a great substitute for the yoga props used in the poses listed below.

1. Restorative Twist

This Restorative Twist is a wonderful way to quiet the mind and gather grounding energy. Support under your belly offers a soothing effect, which alleviates feelings of worry and strain.

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Let’s try it:

  • Place two blocks on your mat, the first block on its lowest height and the second block on the second height

  • Lay your bolster over the two blocks so you create a slope with the bottom edge of the bolster touching the floor

  • Snuggle your right hip at the base of the bolster with your knees bent to the left and your hands framing your props

  • Keep your navel as close to center as possible and lie down so the front of your body is supported by the bolster

  • Tuck your arms underneath the bolster and between the blocks

  • Your head can turn toward or away from your knees. Choose whichever option feels best for you neck

  • Enjoy each side for up to five minutes

Check out the other poses and the full article on YogiApproved

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Stop the Negative Self Talk! Thank Your Body With This Gratitude Meditation

full article published on YogiApproved

A body scan meditation mixed with a gratitude meditation is an excellent way to promote a harmonious mind-body connection. In this simple meditation, you have the unique opportunity to thank your body for all it does for you on a daily basis to radically improve your body image in a new way.

Your body is an incredible system, one which offers you the ability to live and enjoy your life. However, it can be all too easy to forget this and take your body for granted.

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By switching up the dialogue and offering your body this gratitude meditation, a different perspective emerges. This newfound perspective focuses on the amazing capacity of the human body rather than on shape or size.

Here’s How to Practice Your Body Scan Meditation:

Find a quiet place. Either sit in a comfortable cross-legged posture or lie down on your back. Begin by taking a few deep breaths.

As you go through the body scan meditation, start at the top of your head and move down through your body. First, create awareness in the body part you are focusing on. Tune into how it feels and all sensations that arise there.

Then, offer it thanks as you bring in the gratitude meditation . . .
 
 Continue reading this article on YogiApproved

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Too busy for Yoga?

Too busy for Yoga?

There is an old Zen saying, "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are very busy; Then you should sit for an hour." 

This saying rings so true as I am currently moving out of my apartment where I have lived for the past 7 years. Between sorting through papers, organizing clothes and getting the room ready for the next tenant, this Zen reminder is just what I have needed to keep my practice going, even when super busy.

I think of all I have to do in order to get ready for my move (on Sunday!) and it feels like any spare moment when I am not teaching, I should be working to prepare for the move. However, knowing myself and knowing the power of meditation and yoga, most days I have carved out time for practice. Having a little time on my mat has given me the calm focus I need to stay on task and not get too distracted. This post-yoga focus has been a sharp contrast to days when I was 'too busy', didn't practice and somehow wasted more time than if I had spent just a bit of time on my mat.

I always love a nice, long yoga practice but it is true that we do not always have the time. That's why we could use a break from the all or nothing mentality. A 15-30 minute practice can do wonders, leaving you grounded, centered, focused and ready to take on whatever tasks are at hand. 

For this reason, I have been creating short yoga sequences and sharing them on YouTube. (You can subscribe here if you haven't already!) Anytime you need a shift of energy but don't feel like you have the time, try a video from the Urban Om Yoga channel, like the one below. Just 13 minutes is all you need for an afternoon boost :) Check out the video and, as always, let me know if you have any questions! 

xoJenny

This video was filmed in the loft I have called home for 7 years. Excited for a change but I will miss this dance floor!

Traveling Yogi

Traveling Yogi

I recently returned to Brooklyn after a 10 day vacation in California. I love traveling and California always feels like my home away from home so I was happy to head west for a bit. 

Traveling can be an amazing adventure, one that encourages you to leave your comfort zone, try new things and experience different cultures. It creates opportunity to discover fresh perspective by nudging you out of your usual routine.

Combining your travels with a bit of yoga here and there can keep you feeling grounded and calm while on the road. Below are a few tips to help squeeze in some yoga and healthy habits while exploring new terrain. Happy travels yogis!!

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Pack a yoga mat

You can purchase a mat bag for as little as $10. Lightweight and easily portable, you can carry your bag onto the plane as a carryon and slide your mat under your airplane seat. If you have your mat during your travels, you are much more likely to practice. It can be great to find a class at a local studio but sometimes when one is visiting family and friends, there is not time for a full yoga class every day. Find a quiet space to practice for as much time as you have available.

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

A 10 minute yoga practice can make all the difference

Really. Taking time to center yourself, set an intention for the day and move your body makes you a happy traveler and travel companion. Even if you only have a few minutes to stretch and breathe, you will find yourself making healthier choices throughout the day. So often traveling is the opposite of structure. We are often going with the flow and ‘winging’ it, so to say. By adding a bit of structure to your day in the form of a yoga or meditation practice, you will find that you can relax and go with the flow a bit more. 

Practice first thing in the morning

I know it’s vacation and you want to sleep in but if you can wake up just a few minutes early to squeeze in a practice, your body will be happy with you for the rest of the day. 

Meditate

I personally love the Headspace meditation app. It has super simple meditations and cute animations to boot. Choose from several minutes of meditation up to one hour. They also have 1 minute kids meditations if you are traveling with kiddos. On my recent JetBlue flight there were several Headspace meditations in the inflight entertainment so check your flight’s channels and you might be so lucky. 

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Pack Healthy Snacks

Keep your blood sugar even to avoid sugar crashes. I always love having snacks such as Lara bars, almonds, and fruit in my bag as to avoid the hangry stage ;) It is also always great to have options while at the airport where food is often overpriced. 

Find a local studio

It can be a lot of fun to check out a local yoga studio while traveling. Often times family or friends will have a recommendation or they will be up for trying a new class with you. Just as it can be eye opening to experience a different culture, it is always interesting to try a new practice and experience a new view on yoga and meditation.

Know that it’s ok if you stray from your yoga plan

Also, remember that you are on vacation and if you fall out of your usual yoga routine, it is not the end of the world. Sometimes we need a break from practice for one reason or another. Often it is the absence of our yoga practice when we realize how much benefit our practice offers. Do your best while on the road and then get back into your usual routine once you are back home. 

I wish you safe and happy travels!

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You can do everything you want to do... just not all at the same time

You can do everything you want to do... just not all at the same time

A few years ago, at a time when I felt overwhelmed with the task of finding balance between my workload and all that I wanted to accomplish and experience, a friend offered me some poignant advice. She said, "You can do everything you want to do, just not all at the same time." Especially because I live in a city that never sleeps, where everyone seems to be working both constantly as well as on multiple projects or jobs at one time, this came as very welcomed and comforting advice that I have returned to again and again. 

It is all too easy to feel scattered and begin one project only to desert it when remembering another. This might be a big culprit for why many of us don't get to all the the things on our list. If we focus our efforts on one subject at a time, we have much more of a chance to complete not just the one goal but all of our goals rather than if we scatter our efforts among multiple jobs, only to complete them half way. 

There is the ancient wisdom, "When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit". Perhaps this same wisdom can encourage us to truly commit to what we have decided to do. Doubt can be such a distraction as can the feeling of needing to be one hundred places at the same time. True focus has the ability to cut through doubt and distraction in a way that enables us to efficiently tackle our to do list and goals.

Yoga practice teaches us to gather our attention. We learn to strengthen our ability to focus by drawing the mind to the breath and the body. Once we tether the mind to the breath, distractions have less of an ability to take hold of us. The chatter in the mind begins to dissipate and we are able to concentrate.

So, if you start to feel overwhelmed about how to complete multiple tasks or which project to focus on and when, here are a few things that can help : 

1. Practice yoga and/or meditation- even a few minutes per day can make a big difference in strengthening your ability to focus.

2. Focus on one task at a time. Pick one project or task and complete it before moving onto the next. If it's helpful, break down each task into bite size, manageable pieces and take it piece by piece.

3. Set a time limit for each task. Designating 15 minutes to purely focus on one goal can yield more productivity than you might think, and over time it is an effective way to chip away at your bigger goals, especially those tasks that seem daunting or out of reach. Set a timer on your phone to keep you honest and so you don't need to keep checking the clock.

4. Know that you can do everything you want to do.. just not all at the same time. 

A Meditation for When You Feel like You are Going to Lose it!!

A Meditation for When You Feel like You are Going to Lose it!!

It would be lovely if your yoga and meditation practice spared you from that moment that occurs every now and then, when you absolutely feel like you are just going to lose it.

Yoga allows us to process stress in a healthier way but it does not negate the actual feelings that arise both in every day life and on the mat. The practice does, however, give us some tools to better cope with some of the stronger reactions we might have.

Whatever your triggers might be for said potential freak out, we could all use a rescue plan for when we feel like we are at our wit's end and need to keep our cool.

See below for a super simple meditation that can be done anywhere, anytime. Eyes can be open if you prefer and you don't need to fold your legs into a fancy position (unless you want to!)

Breath Count Meditation:

Sit up tall and bring your attention to your breath. Eyes can be closed or open, with a soft gaze.

Begin to count the breaths up to the number 10:

Inhale: one
Exhale: two
Inhale: three
And so on..

Once you reach 10, begin again. No worries if the mind wanders- just bring the breath back to the number you were last on and continue.

Repeat as many times as you like, whenever you need.

Winter Inspiration

Winter Inspiration

We welcome the month of December with twinkling lights, warm sweaters, sweet treats and holiday parties with family and friends. This month is meant to be a joyous one, filled with cheer but sometimes the cold, dark days can leave us feeling a bit down and uninspired.

Inspiration is not a quality reserved for artists, writers or musicians, but rather it is a feeling we all need in order to experience life in a full and enthusiastic way. It provides energy to the present and light to the future.

Sometimes when we are feeling uninspired it can be a welcome reminder that the word inspire means to breathe. The etymology of the word breaks down as: in = into and spire = breath. So often we look for inspiration in our external world but, similar to many of the teachings of yoga and meditation, it can prove more advantageous to turn our focus inwards to find that inner lift or boost that inspiration gifts. 

The word inspire is also related to the word, spirit, from the Latin spiritus. When we feel like we are lacking inspiration and spirit, our yoga and meditation practice can be a place to turn to in order to find that inner enthusiasm that drives us forward.

As a dancer, I will often take a yoga class before heading to rehearsal. Class not only prepares me physically, but it enables a calmer, more open mind, receptive to creativity, trying new things, and ultimately, inspiration. Yoga and meditation give us a break from our regular internal mental chatter so that the mind is more clear headed by the end of our time on the mat and thus more open to new ideas and perspectives, a much needed requirement for finding inspiration. 

If you feel like you could use a little more internal enthusiasm these winter days, find a way to practice. Whether that means a few minutes of meditation, going to a yoga class or practicing a few asanas on your own, find a way to look inwards so that you are fueled to move forward with inspiration.