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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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a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

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a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

Who doesn't wish they could squeeze in a few more zzz's? Sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing, proper immune function and lowering our stress levels. Although we might be aware of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, sometimes it can be challenging to transition from the busyness of everyday life into a restful slumber. If you could use a bit of help winding down for bedtime, check out the restorative yoga sequence below. Taking 20 minutes before bed to slow down and unwind could be your ticket to snoozeville. 

For this practice you will need:

2 blocks or firm pillows, some wall space, a blanket (optional), and an eye pillow (also optional)

Short and sweet meditation

Begin in a crossed leg seated position, back facing the wall. You might want to sit on your block or blanket for additional support. You can also use the wall for back support if this is helpful. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. Before you change your breath in any way, notice the natural rhythm of your breath. Take note of where the breath wants to live in the body and the quality of the breath. Be aware, there is no right answer to these questions. This is not about judgement but rather building awareness. Take this time to check in how you are feeling at the beginning of your practice.

After a minute or two gradually begin to deepen your breathing and begin:

3-part breath (dirga swasam pranayama)

Divide the inhale into 3 equal parts, breathing into the belly, the ribs, and the chest. If it is helpful, you can use your hands to guide your inhale as you move the breath up the torso. Allow the breath to be continuous as you initiate your inhale from the low belly, lift the breath into the rib cage/diaphragm, and then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale, take a long, continuous exhale, following the same path in reverse. Repeat 5-10 rounds. You may slowly start to lengthen the breath as you feel ready.

*as with all pranayama (breathing exercises), stop if you become dizzy or lightheaded

 
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Legs up the Wall:

Snuggle one hip next to the wall, knees facing up toward the ceiling

Lay on your back as you simultaneously swing both legs up the wall. You can place your hands behind you to help this action.

Cover your eyes with an eye pillow. 

Take long deep breaths into the belly. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes

*If the legs fall asleep, you can either come out of the pose or hug the knees into the chest for a few breaths and re-stretch the legs when you are ready.

*If the hamstrings are tight, the knees can stay a little bent in this pose. 

 
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Supine Twist

Bend the knees into the chest 

Rock the knees over to the left with your feet  gently pressing into the wall

Stretch your arms out on the floor, in line with your shoulders, chin turned towards your right shoulder

Optionally place your left hand on top of your right thigh to gently encourage the leg toward the floor, thus deepening your twist. 

Breath deeply, finding a smoothed out version of that same 3-part-breath with which we started practice. Hold 10 breaths, then switch sides

 

Supta Baddha Konasana

Lie on down on your back with an optional low folded blanket under your head. 

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Bring the soles of your feet to touch, open your knees to the sides, laying the thighs on either your blocks or firm pillows. 

Gently place an eye pillow over your eyes and a blanket over the belly. A blanket placed on the abdomen adds a sense of grounding, which is very helpful as you ease your way towards dreamland.

Enjoy this pose for 10 minutes. 

When you are ready to finish your practice, draw your knees together and rock side to side a few times. Roll to one side to press yourself up to sit.

Take a few breaths in a seated position, take note of how you feel. Then head to bed for some seriously sweet dreams!

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legs up the wall: the cure-all yoga pose

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legs up the wall: the cure-all yoga pose

Legs up the wall is sometimes know as the cure-all yoga pose. It boasts healing benefits for ailments ranging from anxiety to headaches to insomnia, making it a go-to yoga pose for just about anything.

I practice this pose almost every day as I find it to be a brilliant way to rest my legs after running around the city all day. It is also a wonderful way to find a bit of energy when you feel like you could use a boost.

Check out the video below for a rejuvenating, relaxing 5 minute restorative practice. This video includes a short and sweet meditation followed by legs up the wall with optional variations. You can practice this sequence any time of day, but it is especially helpful as an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening wind-down at the end of a busy day. I hope you enjoy this powerful healing pose as much as I do!

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Rest & Restore with Legs-up-the-Wall

Rest & Restore with Legs-up-the-Wall

Only have 5 minutes to squeeze in a yoga practice? No problem! Let me introduce you to one of my all time favorite yoga poses, Legs-up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani). This restorative gem can help restore energy, boost circulation, reduce stress as well as help with jet lag and insomnia. This pose is a restorative inversion, making it the perfect pose for tired, swollen legs and feet, at the end of a long day. All you need is a spare wall and a few minutes to transform your day.


The step by step:

Sit beside a wall, with your hip touching the wall and your knees bent up towards the ceiling. Gently lie down on your back and slowly swing your legs up the wall. 

A couple of sweet additions to this pose include a low folded blanket under your head, a blanket under your hips and/or an eye pillow over the eyes. Feel free to add one or more of these calming options to your practice.

Stay for 5-10 minutes. If your legs fall asleep, bend your knees in and then re-stretch them as you are ready. 

To exit the pose, roll to one side, pause here for a few breaths and then make your way up to sit.

Enjoy the rest of your day or evening, feeling rested and restored.  


*Consult your doctor before trying this pose if you have any concerns about practicing inverted poses

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.