Yoga Is A Way To Explore Strength, Peace, And Harmony

The origins of yoga are shrouded in mystery, from its oral teachings to its historical text.  Dating back at least 10,000 years, it was practiced by religions, which may have had a foundation in Hinduism.  So why are we so fascinated by yoga and what makes it extremely popular in today’s society?

Yoga is no fitness fad, it’s a way of life and an outlook that many follow.  It was first introduced to the western world in the 1880s, as historical teachings.   Much later, it was expanded to include physical practice in the 1950s.  From that time to the present, yoga has grown in popularity, with many types of yoga to suit different lifestyles and needs.  Breaking down its methodology gives an overall view of its benefits:  karma yoga (action), to jnana yoga (wisdom).


Many turn to yoga looking for physical accomplishment and possibly body transformation.  Soon realizing that yoga is much more than just the physical action.  The practice has many styles, some of which include Iyengar, which focuses on precision and anatomical alignment and Vinyasa, which is a fun form of yoga poses, to rhythmic pattern.  Yin yoga, is also very popular today, focusing on lengthening and conditioning the body, whist calming the mind.  This yoga is great for those who want to master both patience and inner physical strength. Bikram yoga, commonly referred to as hot yoga, was born out of traditional hatha yoga.  This form of action yoga is currently very prevalent with the practice room heated to a balmy 95-108˚F.  The heat is believed to cleanse, focus and warm the body, so strengthening and lengthening the muscles is easier.  Action yoga in general claims many health benefits, some of which include:


  • Strengthening of body core and muscles
  • Weight reduction
  • Enriched organ health
  • Increasing spine flexibility
  • Easing arthritis
  • Improving balance
  • Regulating metabolism, while improving digestion


Although yoga combines physical and spiritual strength in all its teachings, wisdom yoga is the mental segment of yoga.  An example is Himalayan yoga, which is based in sacred texts and Vedic knowledge.  To crudely put it, this is a collection of sacred mantras and hymns.  Recited aloud, these mantras/hymns are an ancient comprehension of the scientific makeup of our planet.  Today we could categorize this as philosophy.


Osho is a form of wisdom yoga that uses meditation techniques to rid the ego and escape modern day pitfalls of self centeredness and materialism.  Restorative yoga focuses on healing and relaxation.  Many of these practices have been used to develop modern day yoga classes, one of which even includes a laughter class, which focuses on its benefits as a therapeutic release.  Wisdom yoga and its practices, have been used in schools, to calm and focus children’s attention.  In the workplace, wisdom yoga can help center creativity and enlighten thought.  Many of the claimed health benefits for this type of yoga include:


  • Stress relief
  • Greater personal energy
  • Focus
  • Happiness
  • Self Confidence
  • Creativity
  • Freedom of inhibition


Making time for your own body and mind is crucial, so why not become a “yogi” (a playful term endearing someone who practices yoga).  Whatever the stated health benefits are, yoga is a way to explore strength, peace, and harmony in today’s high pressure society.


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Avoid Injury, Lose Weight: Mindful Exercise Practices

Do you feel as if every time you embark on a workout mission you wind up injured? Have you been trying to lose weight but no matter how much you exercise, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Perhaps it’s time to place some mindfulness into practice. A couple of minor adjustments and you could be on your way to meeting goals in a more productive and enjoyable way…

Meeting of the Mindful

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in our American culture as of late. The truth, however, is that being aware and focusing on the present is actually an ancient practice. Much of what comprises a worthy meditation practice is what’s involved in a mindful approach—to anything.

Author Jon Kabat Zinn in his book Mindfulness for Beginners, describes the state of being mindful as, “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

A mindful technique is one that focuses on your feelings, sensations, and thoughts without you judging them. It’s about being conscious of sensations and all the stimuli around you. Being mindful means removing yourself from auto pilot and engaging in moment-to-moment awareness.

Exercise Minus the Pain

“No pain, no gain” is an outdated expression, not to mention unsafe. Yes, it’s good to push yourself now and then—by increments. It’s foolish to overwork your muscles or attempt a new workout without stretching, preparation, or having built up stamina and strength.

Yes, soreness may happen; but pain can be a sign of injury. Exercising with mindfulness can help prevent hurting your body. Injuries keep you from exercising regularly and can also cause long-term damage to muscles, bones, and joints.

Here are some mindful practice tips for a workout:

  • focus on your breathing
  • be aware of your heart rate
  • take deliberate physical actions, paying attention at all times
  • keep your mind from wandering
  • integrate your mind into what you are doing with your body

Perks of the Practice

When you start taking notice of how you are moving your body, lifting the weight, or throwing the ball, you are less apt to hurt yourself. You will feel the heaviness or the awkwardness. Don’t just go through the motions. Be the motions.

Have you ever taken an aerobic-type class and felt like a robot? Or does the teacher seem like a robot, playing the same music (not feeling it), and doing the same moves every time? It’s not fun. And, it’s not productive.

When you are present and move your body with deliberate motions, you can build strength, improve balance, and get quicker results from your efforts. In addition, you’ll find that you will have more fun. A workout can actually be enjoyable and feel rewarding.

Mental Methods for Exercise

Everyone’s mind wanders. But when it comes to exercise, especially if you have a goal in mind, it’s important to maintain focus. Mindful exercise coaches suggest redirecting your thoughts to the actual exercise task. Within time, you will build a habit of attending to your actions.

Elinor Fish is a former editor of Trail Runner Magazine. She now conducts mindful running retreats, helping women learn how to avoid injury and regain their love of running and exercise. Fish describes mindful running like: “Synching movement with breath, focusing your mind on a single point like the trail ahead… These are just some of the ways running creates the coherence in the body that supports present-moment awareness and flow,”

Getting it Done

If you want to exercise to be safe and second nature—and you want to lose weight—you must make a plan on what you want to accomplish each session. Whether you are running, lifting, swimming, biking, etc. decide in advance a reasonable amount of time and/or distance you’ll be participating.

If, for example, you chose a high-intensity compilation of movements for 20 minutes, stick to it. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t answer calls, check texts, or stop to jot down something you just thought of to make for dinner. Act with intention and awareness, and try not to veer from that path.

Be prepared before you start. Have on the correct shoes, get your water, and have your timer nearby. Create the proper lighting and make sure you have air. Forget about everything else for these few minutes.

You owe it to yourself to keep your body safe and healthy. Aside from losing weight, improving balance, and gaining strength, mindful exercise can also help you reduce stress. That, in and of itself, is a gift to your mental and physical health.

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Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Mindfulness for Beginners. 2012.





Here’s How to Get Yourself Motivated – and Stay That Way

It happens to all of us. Some days we just can’t seem to find the motivation to get up and get going. Sometimes it’s even longer than a few days, and that’s okay! Here are some tips to kick it into gear, get motivated, and keep it going.


Set Small and Specific Goals


Keep it simple – unload the dishwasher, make your bed, finally get around to that laundry you’ve been putting off. Tasks that can be completed easily will give you a little motivation to push you in the right direction. Specificity is important as it gives you a clear definition of your goals, being able to quantify these will keep you motivated until you reach it.


Confidence is Key


Confidence is so important in motivating you to complete a mission. Did you step out of your comfort zone and take on a project you wouldn’t normally have done? Don’t get overwhelmed – focus on the confidence it took even to agree to start it in the first place! Or give yourself some words of encouragement. Here are a few to get you started.


You are Who You Surround Yourself with


Find support from others who are positive and have goals in mind for themselves. Research shows positivity increases productivity, which goes hand in hand with motivation. Their attitude will undoubtedly rub off on you, and you can support and push each other to achieve your aspirations. Hold each other accountable to ensure you are staying focused.


Do not waste your time with energy drainers – those people that make you feel more exhausted after spending time with them. This is moving backward not forwards.


Take Care of Yourself


Eat healthy, exercise, get proper sleep. All of these key aspects work to increase our overall productivity and performance. When we have a better sense of balance, the more productive we can be. This increased productivity will serve as motivation to keep performing at this level.


Focus on the Future, but Remember to Stay Present


Always keep your goals in front of you to feed into your motivation. To maintain this focus, there’s a few things you can do – like set smaller milestones towards reaching the goal in mind. Here’s some practical tips to maximize productivity in order to achieve anything you set your mind to.

However, if you always focus on the next thing, you can feel unfulfilled. It’s important to take in the little things, and take each move towards your goals as a stepping stone to your final destination. Using these little “wins” as fuel to the fire to reach your big aspirations.

Burn Fat, Clear Your Mind, and Boost Libido with One Herb

There’s an herbal supplement that’s been known to help with focus, energy, mood, libido, and fat burning—Rhodiola. Read through to see how amazingly it works, how much to take, side effects, and other informative details.

Arctic Root

Rhodiola Rosea is sometimes called Golden Root, Arctic Root, King’s Crown, among other names. Its extracts are derived from a perennial flowering plant, which grows in cold, mountainous regions. The herb is thought to increase memory and mood, regulate heartbeat, protect cells from damage, help burn fat and more.


Many skeptics will point to the lack of human studies on the effects of Rhodiola. Also, the FDA regulates herbs as dietary supplements. Manufacturers don’t need FDA approval to sell dietary supplements. Hence, people are mistrusting of herbal supplements—with good reason.

Always know the source of your product. Check all the ingredients and their amounts within the supplement. A good Rhodiola capsule will contain approximately 3% rosavin’s and 1% Salidroside. You may prefer a herb that’s formulated and distributed in the U.S. The recommended supplemental dose of Rhodiola Rosea extract is around 250-500mg taken daily, once or twice.

Side Effects

Most sources will claim that Rhodiola has no side effects. In truth, side effects, if any, are not regarded as being “clinically significant.” Rhodiola is adaptogenic so that reactions would be mild compared to other drugs and supplements. The herb may have a stimulatory effect, which could cause agitation. Headaches have been minimally reported, but all that’s necessary if it happens is to stop taking it.

Positive Effects

A study conducted several years ago found that Rhodiola was effective in relieving symptoms of depression. A six-week trial observed 89 people with diagnosed mild to moderate depression. Those who took Rhodiola (as opposed to those on a placebo) showed improvement in overall depression levels and specific symptoms.

Rhodiola helps with weight loss, especially in the belly area. Rosavin, the compound in Rhodiola, triggers a response that breaks down fat in the adipose tissue.

Rhodiola also increases sensitivity in the brain and nervous system cells. This, in turn, balances levels of dopamine and serotonin. Use of the herb has shown to increase in memory and focus. Mood and libido can also improve.

Other positives attributed to taking Rhodiola are its anti-inflammatory properties and cortisol lowering ability. Inflammation and high cortisol levels (from stress) are at the core of most chronic diseases. It’s for this reason many are experimenting with Rhodiola supplements to decrease the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune conditions.

Final Words

Even if Rhodiola proves to provide all the aforementioned health benefits, we still need to practice clean living. Getting enough rest is essential. Eating a proper diet and daily exercise are also “musts.” Keeping our stress levels in check through deep breathing, meditation, and yoga is also recommended.

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