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Yoga

How To Change The Perception Of Your Body With Yoga

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Change Your Perception Of Your Body Image

The sad fact is that about 95 percent of women and 30 percent of men have issues about the way their bodies look. We, modern humans, have a very unstable perception of our bodies: from showing off our over sexual images on social media to absolute body-hate and not wanting to see ourselves in the mirror. We quickly go from one polarity to another, however, both of them have nothing to do with self-love. If your perception of your body is dependent on how much you weigh or if your muscles are toned enough, then you are most likely a prisoner of a delusional self-image made by society norms and standards.

The unhealthy tendency of modern people is that we all struggle with bad body image from time to time. Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves is always changing depending on the situation or circumstance. It takes constant awareness, mindfulness, and willingness to create a balanced and harmonious relationship with our bodies. But, unfortunately, most of us are too busy with self-hate and self-pity that we can’t hear what our bodies are trying to tell us.

Ancient traditions and mindfulness practices offer us practical ways to stabilize our relationship with our bodies. And one of them is yoga. In this article, we want to share with you how yoga practice can change your perception of your body and create a healthy and harmonious relationship with it!

4 Ways Yoga Can Positively Affect Your Body Image

Now let’s take a deeper look at what 4 solutions yoga offers you to change your perception of your body.

#1: Mindfulness through movement

yoga self love image

Yoga helps us create a good relationship with our bodies through movement.

In yoga, we do not try to prove anything to ourselves or to others. Rather, performing each asana is our personal way of cultivating harmony. Every time we face the challenge of new asanas, patiently endure discomfort, and respect all our bodily and emotional experiences, we express gratitude to our body.

When performing asanas, pay attention to how much your body can do – how it allows you to twist, stretch, balance, and bend. Notice all the different parts of the body that make this or that asana possible and thank them. In this way, you can cultivate awareness of the power of your body, and, as a result, change your perception of your body.

#2: Mindfulness through positive self-talk

yoga positive self talk image

One of the best lessons yoga teaches us is to focus on our opportunities instead of limitations.

It’s always so easy to get influenced by our negative self-image, to see that there is always something wrong with us, judge our bodies, and compare them with others’. Such negativity makes us rigid and stifles our natural playfulness.

Yoga can help us let go of the habit of negative self-talk and self-judgment.

Next time you practice yoga, pay attention to how you talk to yourself and to your body. Listen to your inner talk. Are you criticizing yourself for not being flexible enough? Are you comparing your yoga skills to others? Learn to talk to yourself in a caring positive way. Only use positive and compassionate words in your self-talk. Develop the skill of practicing yoga joyfully and cheerfully, and not with judgment and perfectionism. Remember – yoga is not just the asanas but also your inner growth and the self-realization that is happening during your practice.

#3: Mindfulness through observation

yoga mindfulness practice image

It is impossible to establish a good relationship with your body if you do not break out of the vicious circle of judgment and self-criticism. In order to let go of these negative habits yoga suggests us to take an observer’s position.

The observer’s position is neutral. You observe your practice, your life, your body without judging it – whether it’s good or bad. You observe but don’t shape the result of your observation into the form of opinion.

When you practice yoga, just notice everything that you feel – your breathing, the way different parts of your body touch the floor, the sensations in your muscles, the thoughts rushing through your head. Just notice everything without judging. As you get used to practicing this way, you will notice that you have become more aware of your body’s capabilities, as well as its unique qualities. And there is no need of judgement or opinion – whether it’s good or bad, it is rather a neutral state of noticing the results of your observation.

#4: Focus on the present moment

yoga changes body perception image

Yoga is the best practice to cultivate presence.

When we think negatively about our bodies, we are not present in the moment. We are mentally transported to the past or future by comparing ourselves to how we used to look in the past or how we want to look in the future. As a result, we never appreciate and love the bodies we have this very moment. You are taking your focus away from the body that needs to be loved NOW, that needs to be appreciated NOW, and needs to be noticed and accepted NOW! However, it’s never good enough in the present moment.

We have high expectations of how our bodies have to look in order for us to love ourselves. This is how pressure and stress get created. And the most dangerous thing about this mindset is that our bodies can feel what we think of them. They feel our hate, our stress, our high expectations. And often, these negative emotions create such a big pressure in our bodies that they start to get sick.

Moreover, our feelings of shame and guilt lead to a loss of connection with the present moment, and it becomes even more difficult for us to feel confident about our bodies.

Through breathing exercises and yoga asanas, we learn to be “here and now” – and this is an important factor in order to reduce anxiety and negative thoughts.

Our breath connects us to the present moment. So take a little time to just sit and observe it. Observe how your breathing affects your ability to balance and twist. Observe how conscious breathing changes how you talk to yourself and how you perceive your body. With every exhale let go of negative self-image. With every inhale, fill your body in with self-love and positivity.

The Bottom Line

Mindful movement, self-talk, observation, and focusing on the present moment are four keys that you can use to change your perception of your body towards a positive self-image, self-love, self-acceptance, and awareness. If you start using mindfulness during your yoga practice, very soon you will notice that you are becoming more mindful in your everyday life. You will become more mindful in your self-talk which will help you to create a positive self-image and more confidence in life.


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Demystifying Aerial Yoga: The New Yoga Trend

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What Is Aerial Yoga Image

Aerial yoga has become one of the most Instagrammable wellness trends. This new concept that is quickly becoming popular amongst devoted yogis and beginners alike. What does it mean? What is in store for you, especially when you are self-isolating due to a global pandemic? And which basic exercises can you use for your practice? But first, let us understand this practice.

The History

Aerial yoga dates back to 1991 in New York. Christopher Harrison, a Broadway choreographer and former gymnast came up with the practice. At that time, all he wanted were aerial moves that a group of gymnastic athletes could do when they retired from the competition. However, its success made the practice a hit and spread nationwide.

Today, you can enjoy a fulfilling aerial yoga session at any Crunch gyms for barre practice. Or, enroll for Unnata Aerial Yoga in various studios nationwide. And, if you prefer the privacy of your home, get a hammock and workout videos, and you can start your aerial yoga exercises at home.

What Is Aerial Yoga?

Aerial Yoga Image

Aerial yoga is a hybrid type of yoga that combines traditional yoga poses, Pilates, and dance with the use of a hammock.

Aerial yoga involves using a sling-like hammock made of a silky fabric and hanging from the ceiling. This hammock will support your full body weight as you engage in various poses, using the sling as your assistant. Think of doing headstands, pushups, back-flips, swings, and triceps dips while suspended in the air.

If you are steady, expect to crush your in-shape goals in no time. The yoga is so powerful; trainers describe it as a moderate-intense workout. Hence, it can borrow from ballet, HIIT, and Pilates, to feature in an athletic curriculum for such sports.  Notably, a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) on women doing aerial yoga found that doing three, 50-minute aerial yoga sessions a week for six weeks can: –

  • Help cut weight by 2.5 pounds on average
  • Reduce body fat by 2%
  • Trim the waist by 1 inch
  • Raise the VO2 max by 11%

Aerial Yoga Benefits

Aerial fitness Image

Despite starting as a high-end workout for the elite in New York, aerial yoga is now easy for anyone to practice. All you need is a hammock and the urge to grow your fitness level. This routine offers the following unique benefits for each participant: –

#1: Burns Fat

Besides the known scientific proof of how aerial yoga can help the participants to lose weight, this yoga has a significant effect on your body fat. The activities you engage in offer a full-body workout for cardio and strength training. Hence, at the end of an hour’s practice, the participant will have engaged every muscle in their body.

#2: Boost Fitness Level

There are at least ten parameters you check when gauging your fitness level. These are: –

  • The plank exercise – Measures the strength and stability of your core
  • The head-turning activity – Checks for neck flexibility
  • The vertical jump test – How high can you jump?
  • Push-ups – Checks for your upper body strength
  • Wall sits – Checks for leg muscle strength and endurance
  • Loop the loop – Confirms posture and shoulder movements
  • Waist to hip ratio – Measures fat concentration around the waist in comparison to the hip area
  • 12-minute run or walk – Measures cardiovascular fitness
  • Resting heart rate – Indicates the robustness of the cardiovascular system-
  • Wet footprint test – Checks for pronation and supination

Aerial yoga can help you complete all the fitness goals as per the above parameters. For example, the training assists you to connect to your core, similar to doing planks. And, when you work out on gravity, you free the tension in the joints and also correct your posture and flexibility.

#3: Beginner-Friendly

Antigravity for beginners image

Christopher Harrison’s gain in using aerial yoga for the first time shows that for sure, anyone can do it. You don’t need any prior training, any specialist sportswear, or any fancy gear to get your body back in shape.

#4: Makes Tough Workouts Fun

Are you practicing for your acrobat’s competitions? Well, your one-hour long session of aerial yoga will be a fun experience, because, this yoga makes it seamless to learn new gymnastic tricks. And, if you are training for your ballet, you can also perform many stunts with little help from the barre. Likewise, if you never used to enjoy your workouts, with aerial yoga, you will be looking forward to your next training session each time.

#5: Excellent for the Abs and Cardio

Aerial yoga is excellent for achieving that ripped stomach you always wanted. Its off-the-ground moves will engage your core, improve your stability, and curve that six-pack abs for a boost in self-confidence. Similarly, any lady struggling with excessive weight in the upper body will experience strengthening of the upper body in about six weeks. In this time, they will notice more defined shoulders and arms. This way, ladies can sculpt and firm the body they always wanted.

#6: Assists in Mastering Yoga Mat Poses

Silk wraps used in aerial yoga offer excellent support for various yoga poses. The wraps give you a feel of how you should turn when on the mat. Similarly, if you struggle with inversions or any other back-breaking poses, opt for the aerial yoga to master such mat poses.

Tips for Practicing Aerial Yoga at Home

aerial hammock image

Now that you have an idea of what to expect from aerial yoga, here are some tips to get you started: –

  • Practice it with an open mind. Allow yourself to explore your body and enjoy the experience.
  • Hydrate your body before practice. Avoid overindulging in alcohol or food. You don’t want to hang upside down, swing, or move up and down with a full stomach.
  • Wear tight-fitting, comfortable clothes to minimize friction. Shorts should reach below the knee. Avoid tops that are too revealing as they can get uncomfortable when doing your flips.
  • Enhance your safety by removing all jewelry before starting your session. Hair clips, piercings, or rings may get caught up in the hammock and cause an accident.
  • If training as a group, use mild perfume on your body.

Conclusion

Aerial yoga is ideal for everyone, including persons living with a disability, nursing an injury, or struggling with obesity. You can start by enlisting at a local studio. Find out about the studio’s policy and prepare well. Then, continue the practice in the comfort of your home. Or better still, watch videos from yoga gurus to learn and start practicing at home.


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Yoga

The Essence And Benefits Of Sheetkari Pranayama

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Benefits Of Sheetkari Pranayama Image

Sheetkari pranayama is a breathing practice that cools the body and reduces thirst. Therefore, performing this pranayama will be especially beneficial during hot summer days when you want to naturally restore body temperature, protect it from overheating and dehydration. In this article, I will share with you the essence and benefits of Sheetkari pranayama and will give you step-by-step instructions for this practice.

What Is Pranayama?

Pranayama is a system of breathing exercises that can significantly increase your energy level and provide many different health benefits.

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands. During pranayama practice, the nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.

What Is Sheetkari Pranayama?

Sheetkari pranayama is a yogic breathing practice that calms the mind and cools the body. The sound “shee” or “sheet” is made during inhalation in this practice. The Sanskrit word kari means ‘that which produces’. Therefore Sheetkari can be translated as the “Pranayama that produces that sound ‘shee’”. In English, the practice is usually called ‘the hissing breath’ or ‘the cooling breath’.

Sheetkari pranayama is a variation of the Sheetali Pranayama. In Sheetkari pranayama, the tongue is not rolled into a tube; instead, it is rolled up to touch the upper palate. The teeth are then clenched and the lips are kept apart. Those who find it difficult to perform Sheetali Pranayama can easily practice Sheetkari pranayama and get similar benefits.

Sheetkari Pranayama is usually performed after practicing other asanas and pranayamas.

Benefits Of Sheetkari Pranayama

hissing breath pranayama image

Sheetkari Pranayama has many benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Calms the nervous system;
  • Purifies the blood;
  • Treats diseases of the tongue, mouth, throat, and nose;
  • Normalizes high blood pressure;
  • Treats diseases of the liver;
  • Normalizes body temperature;
  • Relieves sleepiness and laziness;
  • Energizes;
  • Stimulates body functions to digest, move, and eliminate the food (improves digestion);
  • Improves the health of teeth and gums;
  • Cures fevers, enlarged spleen, colic, and disorders of the bile;
  • Eliminates the feeling of hunger and thirst;
  • Increases mental capacity;
  • Supports mental health;
  • Reduces anxiety;
  • Cools and relaxes the entire body and mind;
  • Balances Pitta dosha (heat) and neutralizes Kapha and Vata doshas.

Contra-Indications of Sheetkari Pranayama

Keep in mind the following precautions before you get started:

  1. In this practice, breathing occurs through the mouth, so the air does not have time to heat up and clear. In order not to provoke bronchitis and angina, do not perform this pranayama in the cold season and in a room with polluted air.
  2. Sitkari pranayama reduces the amount of heat produced by the excretory organs. Therefore, this pranayama is not recommended for people suffering from constipation.
  3. This pranayama should not be practiced if you are suffering from heart problems.
  4. Those who are suffering from low blood pressure should be cautious as this pranayama may lower your blood pressure even more.
  5. If you have a cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory diseases refrain from practicing Sheetkari Pranayama.
  6. Avoid practicing Sheetkari pranayama during cold days since cold air can aggravate your lungs.
  7. It is not recommended to practice this pranayama during pregnancy.

How to Perform Sheetkari Pranayama?

Now let me share with you quick and simple instructions on how to perform Sheetkari pranayama.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, legs crossed, back straight, eyes closed.
  2. Gently press your lower and upper teeth together. Separate your lips as much as possible and expose your teeth to the air (as if you smiled).
  3. Take a breath through clenched teeth and focus on the hissing sound. Feel the cool air coming in. Raise your chin towards the ceiling.
  4. At the end of inhalation, close your mouth and relax the tongue.
  5. Exhale through your nose without opening your mouth and feel the gush of coolness into your nervous system and mind.

Repeat up to 20 times.

Additional Tips:

  • Sheetkari pranayama should be practiced in hot weather, as well as after vigorous asana or other pranayama practices.
  • Never practice this pranayama in cold air – it can damage your lungs.
  • Stop practicing Sheetkari pranayama if you feel any discomfort.

The Bottom Line

Sheetkari pranayama is quite a simple yet very effective pranayama. Its practice will help you cool your body and get rid of thirst, which is very convenient in situations when you are in a hot environment for a long time without access to water. Many women noticed that Sheetkari pranayama can help with hot flashes during menopause and balance mood swings.

As you can see, Sheetkari pranayama has many benefits, however, it is not recommended to practice in a cool room with working AC or during a cold season. Since when performing Sheetkari pranayama the air does not enter through the nose as usual, but through the mouth, it does not have time to warm up. Therefore, inhaling cold air can lead to angina, bronchitis, or other respiratory diseases.


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Yoga

5 Simple Mudras For Anxiety And Fear

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Mudras for anxiety and fear image

Negative emotions are hard to avoid especially during uncertain times and crisis situations. If we don’t know how to deal with them they become pretty destructive and may bring unpleasant circumstances such as exhaustion and even physical illness. Anxiety and fear are the most common emotions that we feel during difficult times. But what if I told you that relief from these emotions is right at your fingertips? Yes, you read it right! In this article, I will share with you 5 simple yet effective mudras for anxiety and fear that will help you to find inner harmony, to get rid of the obsessive feelings, and even heal emotional pain.

Read on!

Fear And Anxiety As Energy Disorders

Almost everyone on this planet is sometimes accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling of anxiety and/or an incomprehensible fear of something. If these are momentary emotions, they pass quickly and do not cause much harm. But if such emotions are kept in the head steadily, regularly spoil your mood, and exhaust you, then they become a problem. There can be different reasons for that. However, most often the problem is related to your chakras – most likely, either Manipura or Sahasrara. Let’s dive a little deeper into this!

Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra

It is responsible for will power, personal power, motivation, and inner potential.

Manipura is mainly Associated with the digestive system: the stomach, gastrointestinal tract, small intestine, but also with the upper part of the kidneys, adrenal glands, liver, spleen, and spine at the level of the Manipura chakra itself.

Solar Plexus chakra is connected to ring finger and middle finger.

Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra

It is responsible for our connection with the Universe, God, the Higher consciousness. Therefore, when we feel fear it is an indication of the disconnection with the Divine. You see, when we are connected with God, we feel so aligned with our Divine nature that we cannot feel any negative emotions, especially anxiety and fear. What do you have to worry about if the Universe has your back? What do you have to be afraid of if God is surrounding you with His presence?

That is why when we feel anxiety and fear we should focus on reconnecting with the Divine.

The Crown chakra is directly connected with the head, and when there is an imbalance in the Sahasrara chakra, you may experience psychosis and headaches. When the disconnection is very big, people may even have epilepsy and experience the excessive use of psychoactive substances.

Sahasrara is connected to the thumb. Also, it has a connection to the center of the palm.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra” can be translated as “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”.

Mudras are symbolic gestures often practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, you can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body, restore the flow of energy, and eliminate “breakdowns” in diseased organs.

How to Choose the Right Mudra for Anxiety And Fear?

To understand what mudra will help you, you should be clear about what emotion you’re dealing with and what caused it. Then read the description of the mudras below and determine the most suitable ones for yourself. Note that each mudra has a specific orientation, so study it in detail before performing the gesture as a therapeutic method. Usually, people use 3-5 mudras, each of which should take 7-10 minutes to complete.

5 Mudras For Anxiety And Fear

#1 Abhaya Mudra

Abhaya mudra image

This mudra is also called “a gesture of fearlessness”. It helps to acquire fearlessness, self-confidence, and find inner strength. This mudra strengthens the psyche and helps to take a stable position in life. It represents protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear

The Abhaya mudra encourages the acquisition of inner strength. The gesture symbolizes patronage and benevolence and does not promise the appearance of aggression in a person. On the contrary, it becomes stronger in order to help the weaker ones.

How to perform Abhaya mudra:

  1. Bend your right arm at the elbow and position it so that the palm is parallel to the chest.
  2. Turn the palm outward from yourself, straighten the fingers so that they look up.
  3. Stick out your thumb so that it goes a little apart from the others.

You can perform mudra with one hand or both. You need to keep your hand in the air, do not lower your palm and do not raise it too high.

#2 Shield of Shambhala

Shield of Shambhala Mudra Image

This mudra effectively protects from negative energies and helps to recover your strength. It can also provide vitality, create a calming effect, and bring inner peace.

Shambhala is a legendary country. It is inhabited by enlightened beings. It is connected to the Highest principle, and therefore inaccessible to the forces of evil. If you feel unprotected or oppressed by others, this mudra is designed for you.

How to perform the Shield of Shambhala Mudra?

The hand positions are reversed according the gender.

For women:

  1. Clenched your right hand into a fist and hold your palm facing down, against the Solar Plexus area.
  2. Press your left palm against the right fist. The open palm should always face upwards.

This position is held for five to twenty minutes and used in conjunction with conscious breathing.

For men:

Clench your left hand into a fist and press against the right palm, remembering to hold the hands in the same area.

#3 Anjali Mudra

Anjali Mudra Image

Anjali means “offering,” and in India, this mudra is often accompanied by the word “namaste.”

Without a doubt, Anjali mudra is known to almost everyone, but not everyone knows the true purpose of this gesture.

Anjali mudra helps to find balance, restore harmony, and create energy balance in the body. It also gives a sense of peace and calmness.

If you need to collect your thoughts, Anjali mudra can also provide invaluable help. Also, this position of the hands indicates respect for the surrounding creatures and unity with them. It is considered a greeting.

How to perform Anjali mudra?

  1. Place both hands at the level of the Anahata (Heart) chakra.
  2. Put your hands together so that each finger adjoins the corresponding one on the opposite hand.
  3. Tilt your head slightly and say “Namaste”.

#4 Ardhapataka mudra

Ardhapataka mudra image

Ardhapataka means ‘half-flag’.

The ardhapataka mudra eliminates the hassles due to the opening of the energy centers throughout the body and releases inner energy.

This mudra represents the banks of a flowing river upon which the bridge between spiritual and material can be build.

Through an open palm, the energy flows can be directed to the world, which will supply you with life forces from the outside upon your return. Due to this exchange of energy, you can get rid of your problems, worries, and fears.

How to perform Ardhapataka mudra:

Hold your palms flat. Then bend your ring and pinkie fingers inward while extending your index and pointer fingers. 

#5 Varada mudra

Varada mudra image

This mudra symbolizes the dispensing of boons. It helps to get rid of guilt, tension, toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment, or envy. Also, this gesture helps to clarify thoughts, it gives ease, allowing you to get rid of dissatisfaction with yourself. If you are frustrated with people, Varada mudra can help you understand and forgive them, helping you develop compassion.

How to perform Varada mudra:

  1. Come to a stable sitting posture with an upright spine.
  2. Rest your hands on your knees.
  3. Turn the left palm to face forward and point the left fingers downwards.

Hold Varada Mudra for as long as it feels comfortable, throughout a meditation.

How and when to practice mudras for anxiety and fear?

Find a quiet, deserted place where no one will disturb or distract you.

The most suitable position for concentration is the Lotus position. If this position is uncomfortable for you, then you can take any other sitting position, you can even squat or sit on a chair.

The neck should be shifted slightly back.

In whatever position you are sitting, the main point is a straight back. Try not to slouch.

The optimal time for mudra practice is in the morning, immediately after waking up, and in the evening, before going to bed.

It is very good to chant mantras when performing mudras. Mantra chanting helps to concentrate and calm the nervous system.

The Bottom Line

Mudras for anxiety and fear are designed to lower your stress level and provide the support you are looking for during difficult and uncertain times. By making these mudras for anxiety and fear a part of your daily routine, you will increase your energy level and feel more confident, centered, and protected.

Remember that inner peace creates outer peace. Therefore, by performing mindfulness we are creating a peaceful space not just for ourselves but also for those around us.


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