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Pranayama for Beginners: Reveal the Power of Your Breath

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Pranayama is a system of breathing exercises that can significantly increase your energy level. Yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving the physical body but also as a way of controlling the flow of life energy. There is a saying that by controlling his breath, the yogi controls the thought, and by controlling the thought, he controls the breath (prana).

In this article, I will share with you what pranayama really is, what are its benefits, and how you can practice it.

What Is Pranayama?

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”.

I’m sure many of you have heard the word “breatharianism“. This is a lifestyle in which a person eats not physical food, but prana. But the paradox is that, in some way, we are all breatharians, because food is made of prana, water is made of prana, and the air is made of prana. Life is impossible without prana. We consume prana every day. But only pranayama allows us to consume prana most effectively. The pranayama practice increases the amount of energy consumed and also reduces the need for sleep and food.

The Essence of Pranayama

Breathing exercise image

Most often, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as a way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).

Prana is the vital energy that fills everything in the Universe. It saturates all living things with life, providing physical bodies with strength. Breathing allows us to absorb prana and control its flow. It is believed that the basis of the entire existence consists of “energy” and “consciousness”, which are very closely interrelated. Prana gives energy to the forming of consciousness.

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. But how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath? This is due to the fact that 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.

Buddha on Breathing

While holding the breath, there is a deep calm of the mind.

The sutras describe such an episode in the life of the Buddha.

One day, during his sermon, a disciple asked, “Why is the world so imperfect?” Then Brahma, the Creator of the world, who was also present at the Buddha‘s sermon, said that he created this world ideal, and only because living beings have too fast and short breath, their prana “jumps” in the body, and therefore there are “jumps” in the consciousness, and because of this we all see this world so imperfect. This is quite an interesting version, which is worth testing through your own experience. By stopping your breath you can calm your mind. And once your mind is calm you will be able to see the perfect world.

Quality of Prana

It is important to note that since pranayama allows you to effectively receive prana, it matters very much the quality of prana you receive.

It is best to perform pranayama in a clean place with fresh air – somewhere in nature, away from the city.

But if such ideal conditions are not available to you, then, at least, make sure to practice pranayama during a proper period of time.

The Best Time For Pranayama

Pranayama should be practiced early in the morning. The earlier the better the quality of prana. The optimal time to practice pranayama is the so-called Brahma Muhurta. It’s an hour and a half before sunrise. This is a period that has a state called “Nirguna” – the absence of the influence of energies on space. This is the best time for any spiritual practice. This period lasts 48 minutes.

The time before sunrise has the state of Sattva guna, that is, a state of joy and balance between the body and the mind. And after sunrise, begins the time of Raja guna, that is, a state of never-resting mind. And then Tamas guna period starts and lasts the whole day till evening. Tamas guna is what leads to destruction – the way by which nature destroys things. Therefore, it is not recommended to practice pranayama during this time.

Always pay attention to during what period you going to perform your pranayama practice since the time of the day affects the quality of prana! Be mindful of what prana you consume.

Pranayama Benefits

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

1.Longevity increase

Pranayama allows you to lengthen the breath, which, according to the ancient yogis, increases longevity. Thanks to pranayama, a person learns how to properly use the lungs.

The fact is that in everyday life, most often only the top of the lungs is involved, which leads to oxygen starvation and accumulation of stagnant air in the lower part of the lungs. The ability to use the entire volume of the lungs allows us to become less exposed to respiratory diseases, increases the level of vital energy and makes it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.

2. Emotional balance

Pranayama practice affects our Central nervous system. Breathing affects the hypothalamus, which is responsible for emotional responses and the transformation of perceived reality into the experience.

3. Improves Cardiovascular health

Pranayama increases the blood circulation and oxygen capacity of the blood which helps improve the cardiovascular function of your body.

4. Deep concentration

Pranayama allows you to harmonize the flows of prana in Ida and Pingala. This allows you to direct the energy into Sushumna and achieve a state of deep concentration.

5. Reduces risk of Hypertension

Pranayama allows our bodies to relax and be free of stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension.

6. Detox

Pranayama helps to remove all accumulated toxins from your body.

7. Cures Digestive problems

Pranayama helps in alleviating digestive problems and also helps reduce bloating.

8. Heals Sinusitis

Regular pranayama practice helps to treat or prevent sinusitis. Moreover, it helps in clearing out the nasal passages and stuffy noses.

9. Provides good-looking skin

Regular Pranayama can remove the blemishes and wrinkles from the skin and provide fresh oxygen making your skin glow in health.

Preparatory Practice

pranayama meditation image

As a preparatory practice for mastering pranayama, it is recommended to master the so-called “full yogic breath“. In fact, this is exactly the breath that is recommended to breathe in everyday life. And, sadly, most of us don’t breathe properly. Most of us breathe through shallow breathing, or at best through chest enlargement. With this breathing, energy costs for muscle movements are large, and the amount of assimilated air is low. How can we fix it? The answer is we should master the full yogic breath.

Full Yogic Breath

1. Close your eyes.

2. Place your hands on your stomach, slightly interlacing the fingers so that the fingertips come to the second knuckle of the opposite hand. Your navel should feel cradled.

3. Begin to breathe deeply into the navel, into the belly.

4. Practice breathing with a controlled, slow breath so that you feel the fingers slide apart on the inhale and back together on the exhale.

5. Breathe like this 15-20 times as deeply as you can without discomfort or force.

6. Slide the hands up to your ribcage. A good estimation is to have the pinky fingers hang over the edge of your ribs with thumbs right below the pectorals.

7. Keep breathing, except now inhale into the belly, into the ribs. Fill the belly first before expanding the hands on the ribs. Visualize the breath filling in your body from the bottom up. First the belly, then the ribs. Feel the ribs expand in all directions – not just forward, but sideways and into the back body.

8. As you exhale, retrace the steps from the inhale. Exhale starting from the ribs, finishing off with the belly. The navel drawing should helpfully expel your air. Don’t force your breath in either direction, in or out.

9. Repeat this another 15-20 times. Into the belly, into the ribs. Out from the ribs, out from the belly

10. Separate the hands and place them on your chest, resting the palms above the heart center with fingertips gently curled over the collar bones.

11. Continue breathing. Start into the belly, into the ribs, into the chest. Filling up your torso with breath from the bottom up, all the way to your fingertips. Feel the breath rise along the spine, expanding the insides in all directions. Exhale the way the breath came in. From the chest, through the ribs, out of the belly.

12. Keep the spine as tall as possible. Just by following the breath from the bottom to the top, from the top to the bottom, you’re already mindful of how the spine is stacked.

13. Repeat this 15-20 times.

After you’ve found your full yogic breath expanding throughout these three areas of the body, allow the breath to normalize. Pay some attention to how it feels as you inhale and exhale. Find your smooth, natural breath, keeping a tall spine and your eyes closed. You’ll know when to stop.

Pranayama for Beginners

Eckhart Tolle Quote About Meditation and Breathing Image

If you decide to learn pranayama, you should not immediately begin to practice some complex practices. In case of failure, the desire to master pranayama may disappear for a long time. Therefore, you should start with some simple techniques. One of the simplest (but at the same time very effective) techniques is called “Nadi Shodhana“.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

There are three main energy channels in our bodies: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Ida is the left channel, Pingala is the right channel, and Sushumna is the central channel.

The right channel is traditionally considered a masculine energy channel, as it shows masculine qualities. The left channel is a feminine energy channel. For the yogi, it is important to balance Ida and Pingala channels and let the energy flow through the Central channel – Sushumna. Only in this case, is balance and harmony possible. And this is the goal of Nadi Shodhana practice.

The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in the fresh air with an empty stomach.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from right nostril.
  3. Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with the right nostril and then close the right nostril and breathe out deeply with the left nostril. Do the repetition.

Bhastrika Pranayama

This is another very simple pranayama that is suitable for beginners.

In this pranayama, the body gets the maximum amount of oxygen due to complete inhaling and exhaling.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Take a deep breath through both nostrils and fill the lungs with air and then exhale completely with a hissing sound.
  3. Repeat

Kapalbhati Pranayama

This pranayama is very effective in curing stomach disorder, obesity, digestive disorder and other problems related to stomach.

Instructions

  1. Sit on a flat floor folding your legs, keeping the spine straight and close the eyes.
  2. Keep the right palm on the right knee and left palm on the left knee.
  3. Take a deep breath and exhale with all your force so your stomach will go deep inside.
  4. When you exhale with hissing sound try to think that your disorders are coming out of your nose.
  5. Do not stress on inhaling. Inhalation should not involve any effort. Inhaling will be done automatically after each exhaling.

Sheetali Pranayama

‘Sheeta’ means ‘cooling’, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. It’s great for relieving stress, anxiety, and tension.

Instructions

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra and eyes closed.
  2. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
  4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
  5. Retain the breath.
  6. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled.
  7. Repeat

Bhramari Pranayama

This is an excellent breathing practice that plays an important role in releasing agitation, frustration, and anger. It is the best breathing exercise in calming your mind.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Place your index fingers on the forehead and with the remaining fingers close your eyes.
  3. Start inhaling through both the nostril deeply and slowly.
  4. By keeping the mouth closed, exhale by making a humming sound like “hmmm”. While making humming sounds say “Om” in soft humming sound.
  5. Repeat.

The Bottom Line

Pranayama is an amazing practice that can allow you to gain quite an interesting experience. Its advantage is that pranayama for beginners and exercises like full yogic breathing can be mastered by anyone without any difficulties.

Health

Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?

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How would you describe your body type?

This includes your height, body build, muscle development, and size. Are you tall, short, thin, stout, or thick? How would you best describe your body frame?

What effect do your eating habits have on your body weight?

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Is it easy for you to gain or lose weight?

What is your skin complexion?

skin complexion ayurveda image

What's your hair type?

hair type dosha image

What is your sleep pattern?

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Some people are light sleepers while others are deep sleepers. Do you awaken easily in the morning? Or do you struggle to get out of bed?

How would you describe your dreams?

dreams ayurveda image

How do you react to stress?

stressful situations image

Stress is normal in our day-to-day lives. However, we each cope with stress differently.

How would you describe your temperament?

Are you easy-going and accepting or are you lively and enthusiastic by nature?

How would you describe your decision-making process?

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Your ease at decision-making will vary depending on your dosha type. This may also influence how well you handle stress. Are you usually calm and collected or are you tensed at the slightest provocation?

How would you describe your energy type?

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Different doshas exhibit different energies around them. You will observe that some people are more lively, talkative, or active than others.

How would you describe your sexuality?

passion and sexuality ayurveda image

What climate do you feel most comfortable in?

How would you describe your memory?

How would you describe your thought process?

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What do you consider to be your shortcomings?

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Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?
Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha Image

Vata dosha consists mostly of two elements: air and ether. You are exceptionally creative, communicative, and brimming with ideas. Generally, Vata is very vibrant and energetic. You have a very inventive and creative mind. You think outside the box but can become easily distracted. What’s more, your mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around you, and the foods you eat. Your mood can actually be quite unpredictable at times. Although you are a quick learner, your long-term memory is not that good. You are easily enthused, but run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and getting distracted by something new after just a short time. You frequently suffer from cold hands and feet. You love the excitement and new experiences. You are quick to anger but also to forgive. You are prone to worry and anxiousness and may often suffer from insomnia. According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a Vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming practices, and maintain a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather and consuming warm foods and drinks.
Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is based on fire and water elements. You have a powerful intellect, a strong ability to concentrate, and big ambitions. You have a passion for leadership and are not afraid to speak up and take charge. You tend to be quite protective when provoked and are fierce opponents. You can be quite determined and don’t give up easily. Your aim is to win. You have bursts of energy to take on challenges. And you actually love a challenge, whether that's professionally or in sport. You can be a good decision-maker, a teacher, a manager, and a speaker. You have a knack for building connections and make very good friends. You are often honest and straight to the point. Although, sometimes you can be short-tempered, easily irritated, and argumentative. Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat (e.g., weather, spicy food).
Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha Image

Kapha dosha is based on earth and water elements. You are usually calm, collected, and slow to anger, and therefore, not easily provoked. You are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. You are loving and caring, and this makes you a good acquaintance. You have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with a routine. Private joy in a stable partnership, healthy kids, and loyal friendships are the things you prioritize and that give you inner satisfaction, security, and personal happiness. You learn slowly with a high level of retention. Although you move slowly, you are very purposeful and enterprising. Most of all, you value inner tranquillity, peace, and harmony. You may tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. You may also resist change and be stubborn sometimes. For good health, a Kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintain a warm body temperature (e.g., by eating warm food), and establish a regular sleep routine.

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Yoga

Jnana Mudra: a Powerful Technique For Activating Your Crown Chakra

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Jnana mudra is one of the most widely used mudras in meditation practices, in Buddhism, yoga, and even in the martial arts of the East. The Buddha’s hand performing the Jnana mudra at the heart level is a symbol of openness to the whole universe. Being a gesture of openness to new things, this mudra also symbolizes the true knowledge of existence.

In this article, we will share with you what Jnana mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘gesture’. Hence mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras help us to correct the direction of energy in the body, to control prana, and to improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and in the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Jnana Mudra?

Jnana Mudra Practice Image

Jnana mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents wisdom and knowledge. In Sanskrit, jnana means “wisdom” or “knowledge” and mudra means “gesture.” It is a hasta mudra, which means it is performed using the hands.

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

Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing mudras, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

When practicing Jnana mudra, we connect the thumb and index finger. The thumb symbolizes Brahman, or universal consciousness, whereas the index finger symbolizes Jivatma or the individual self. Therefore, the connection of the thumb and index finger represents the union of the supreme and inner realities. And the three extended fingers represent the three gunas that must be overcome: sattva (middle finger), rajas (ring finger), and tamas (little finger).

Each of the fingers has symbolic significance:

The index finger is associated with knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. It is connected to our life force.

The thumb is responsible for our ego, will, and logic. Also, this finger is associated with wisdom, mind, and awareness.

Also, it is important to know that each finger is associated with one of the 5 elements. Thumb represents the Fire element (Agni). The index finger is associated with the energy of the Air element (Vayu). Thus, Jnana mudra can be used to balance the elements of Fire and Air within the body. When we reach the balance between the Fire and Air elements within our bodies, we are able to still our mind, concentrate, and practice deep meditation.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

Also, the connection of the index finger and thumb allows prana to circulate freely inward, rather than dissipating outwards. By directing prana inward, we can sit in meditation for longer periods of time.

Jnana Mudra Benefits

On the subtle plane, the practice of Jnana mudra activates the Crown chakra (Sahasrara), whereas on the physical plan it helps you to harmonize biological rhythm, normalize blood pressure; eliminates anxiety and anxiety. Moreover, the regular practice of this mudra provides the following benefits:

  • helps to cope with depression and fatigue;
  • improves memory;
  • stimulates mental function;
  • helps to relieve insomnia;
  • boosts creativity;
  • develops intuition;
  • restores peace of mind;
  • enhances the connection with the Higher self;
  • lifts dull energy;
  • brightens mood.

How to Perform?

Although this mudra can be practiced in any yoga asana, it is most commonly used in a stable seated position such as easy pose or lotus pose. In Kundalini Yoga, this mudra is usually practiced with the hands resting on the knees and the elbows straight.

what is jnana mudra image
To practice Jnana mudra, follow these simple steps:
  1. Tuck your index finger under the tip of the thumb to form a circle.
  2. Extend the remaining three fingers.
  3. Rest the back of the hands on the thighs or knees, with palms facing upward.

Another variation of this mudra is to touch the tip of the index finger and thumb together, thereby forming a full circle.

When practicing this mudra, make sure your body is alert but relaxed, with little to no strain in the arms or extended fingers.

For maximum benefits, practice this mudra during your meditations for at least 15 minutes, 2-3 times per day.

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Shanmukhi Mudra: a Simple Stress Relief Technique

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Shanmukhi Mudra Image

Shanmukhi Mudra is a simple and effective way to calm your mind, relieve stress, and restore your nervous system.

With regular practice of this beautiful mudra, it is possible even to improve vision and hearing. It also promotes the development of internal concentration and the ability to detach from external stimuli and objects of the surrounding world.

In this article, we will share with you what Shanmukhi mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to properly practice it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘gesture’. Hence mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras help us to correct the direction of energy in the body, to control prana, and to improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and in the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Shanmukhi Mudra?

Shanmukhi mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents closing the six gates of perception – the two eyes, two ears, nose, and mouth. In Sanskrit, Shan means “six”; Mukhi means “face” or “gate”; and mudra, means “gesture”. Thus, Shanmukhi mudra means the ‘six-gated mudra’.

The purpose of the Shanmukhi Mudra is to symbolically shut the mind from the five senses so the mind can maintain an inward focus and get ready for meditation.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps the practitioner look within himself to find the very source of his being.

When all the senses turn inward and the breathing becomes harmonious, the mind calms down. As a result, you feel inner peace and now you are able to hear the voice of the Divine Self within you.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps you to free yourself from the domination of the senses and find the strength to take your desires, instincts, and emotions under control.

Shanmukhi Mudra Benefits

There are lots of amazing benefits the practice of Shanmukhi mudra can provide. Here are some of them:

  • Balances internal and external awareness;
  • Enhances focus and introspection;
  • Calms the mind and nervous system;
  • Clears energy blocks, giving room for easy flow of prana;
  • Relaxes and rejuvenates the eyes and facial muscles;
  • Creates a state of pratyahara;
  • Ensures the smooth functioning of the facial nerves;
  • Reduces anxiety;
  • Helps to deepen the meditation practice;
  • Alleviates vertigo problems and brings a calming effect to the head;
  • Helps to remove negative thoughts and worries;
  • Promotes clear thinking;
  • Helps Kundalini awakening.

For maximum benefit, this mudra should be accompanied by pranayama or bandhas (energetic locks). Shanmukhi mudra is commonly practiced with brahmari pranayama, also known as Humming Bee Breath. In this pranayama, the mudra enables the practitioner to focus on the inner vibration created by the humming breath.

How to Perform?

Shanmukhi mudra is usually performed in a stable, seated meditation posture such as padmasana (Lotus Pose) or sukhasana (Easy Pose).

To practice Shanmukhi mudra, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit in the Lotus Pose or Easy Pose. Straighten the spine and align the position of the head.
  2. Bring your palms up to your face. Raise your elbows to shoulder level and place your thumbs in the ear canal, muffling external sounds.
    If you feel pain, place your fingers on the tragus of the auricle (small protrusions at the base of the auricle) and press them against the ear canal.
  3. Close your eyelids and rise your eyeballs up. Place your index and middle fingers on your eyelids so that the first two phalanges completely cover the eyeball area. Do not press on the cornea. Use your middle fingers to point your eyelids down, and use your index fingers to lift the upper parts of your eyelids up. Gently press on the outer and inner corners of the eyes.
  4. The pressure on the ears and eyes should be equal.
  5. Use your ring fingers to apply pressure evenly to your right and left nostrils. This will narrow the nasal passages, which will promote slow, deep, even, rhythmic, subtle breathing.

Practice the mudra for five to ten minutes.

The Bottom Line

As a result of turning all the senses inwards and concentrating on deep and slow breathing, the mind becomes calm. When performing this mudra, it’s common to experience:

  • a distinct sound in the ears;
  • the appearance of flashes of light and various images on the internal “screen”;
  • vibrations, thrusts, tingling, heat, or other sensations inside the body.

All these feelings are quite normal.

 

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Awareness3 weeks ago

What Is a Freethinker? 8 Traits That You Could Be One

Mention the term “freethinker” and a sense of rebellion, going against the masses comes to mind. You know, society quickly...

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Inspirational quotes3 weeks ago

60 Harmony Quotes To Inspire You to Find Balance In Life

Life is like a symphony, with ups and downs, surprises, and instruments that are in sync with each other. So...

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Astrology4 weeks ago

The Most Accurate Horoscope for July 2021

This article will share with you the most accurate horoscope for July 2021 based on the Feng Shui flying stars chart. This horoscope includes predictions for different spheres...

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