Yoga Clothes: What Sea Turtles Wish You Were Wearing

If a giant sea turtle (Honu) was responsible for dressing you in the morning what sort of clothes might he or she pick out? Before you answer with “wetsuit” or “flippers” consider that these giant peaceful creatures are an endangered species.

Nicole Sherman is a Hawaii native. She grew up swimming with the dolphins and giant sea turtles. Out of her deep affinity for these majestic creatures sprung her passion to create a line of clothing to benefit and honor the majestic sea turtle. Honu Yoga Design was born!

When you get dressed in your stylish new Honu Yoga gear you can feel great knowing that a percentage of all proceeds go directly to www.kurmalliance.com an amazing charity helping to save our beautiful sea turtles from extinction.

Nicole Sherman is no stranger to difficulties of her own. Her love for yoga began as a way to understand and heal her scoliosis. Now Nicole shares the transformative benefits of yoga teaching locally both to groups and private clients.

Above are a just a few of the fun T-shirts and Tanks from Honu Yoga Designs. My red “I Love Handstands” Tank never fails to start interesting conversations with perfect strangers wherever I go.

When you consider all the different messages people send off  via the text on their shirts I consider wearing these shirts as a way of spreading the yoga gospel. Why not send out a positive message while rockin’ some threads that directly benefit some of nature’s most vulnerable creatures?

Resources For The Sanskrit “Yoga Speak” Newbie

Angela Kukhahn in Upward Facing Dog in the Tuscan sunflower fields (yoga pose) photo by Tara RiceWhen I first found myself in a yoga class figuring out how to actually do Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) was a challenge enough,… let alone trying to learn the ancient language of Sanskrit. (the language of yoga)

To say I found Sanskrit intimidating is to put it mildly. All I knew is that  all the names of the poses sounded alike since the name of each pose ends in the word asana. (asana means pose, so Trikonasana is Triko which means Triangle followed by asana which means pose.) All I have to say is Yogi rappers have a huge advantage, but I digress….

After deciding I wanted to become a yoga teacher I was a little distraught  when I learned I was going to have to learn this ancient language of rhymes whether I liked it or not.

I must admit, at first I didn’t really see the point, however, as a teacher it has become essential for me to have a good grasp on both the Sanskrit names of the poses and basic Sanskrit terminology.

Click below for a few  great online resources to acquaint yourself with the Sanskrit names of poses, and commonly used yoga terms from the Sanskrit language.

I found these websites extremely helpful for you “new to Sanskrit” yogis!

This one www.tilakpyle.com is great because it has audio. The guy recorded his voice pronouncing the names of the poses in Sanskrit. If you click on the name of the pose it takes you to a page with photos of the pose and a description.

Also try www.YogaJournal.com for pronunciation and great photos and descriptions as well!

Also check out www.YogaDancer.com which gives you the all of the poses (even ones I’ve never heard of! ) and when you click on the pose it shows you all the different variations as well,…very cool!

Also for the meanings of a lot of commonly used Sanskrit terms check out Yoga Glossary.

Good Luck on your yoga journey!

3 Hormones That Make You Skinny and How To Make Them Work For You!

toned female abs3 Hormones That Make You Skinny! (drum roll please!)

So what are these super hormones? How do they make you skinny? Most importantly though, how can you make them work for you?

The good news is that these hormones are already  being produced by your body, all you need to do is to give them a little boost!

With a little help your hormones you will turn your body into an amazing, efficient, fat burning machine!

These 3 fat-melting hormones are, Testosterone, HGH (Human Growth Hormone), and Prostegene.

Testosterone Fat Burning Hormone #1:

Testosterone is responsible for making it possible for men to lose fat and retain muscle more easily than women. The good news is that women’s bodies produce it too, and there are many ways in which we can increase its production. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t want to have a hairy chest and a deep voice”. Never fear, that is only a problem if you take synthetic hormones like steroids.

Testosterone Benefits:

  • Builds muscle
  • Burns fat
  • Boosts energy
  • Increases sex drive
  • Strengthens bones
  • Lifts depression
  • Increases optimism.

Testosterone Boosters:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Must eat some fat (even saturated fat) Testosterone relies on the right balance of fat in the diet.
  • Watch consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
HGH (Human Growth Hormone) Fat Burning Hormone #2:

Human Growth hormone is a fat burner. Your body usually uses glucose before burning fat, but HGH forces your body to use its fat reserves first! Yippee! This turns you into a fat burning machine even when you are sleeping! It also helps your body make new muscle cells. Usually your body stops growing new muscle cells after your teen years due to inadequate HGH in your body.

HGH Benefits:

  • More energy
  • Higher sex drive
  • Silky Hair
  • Youthful glowing skin
  • Fat Loss
  • Muscle Gains
  • Better sleep
  • Body repairs itself more quickly
HGH Boosters:
  • Cut back on carbs at night. Your body pumps out more HGH when your blood sugar is low. This way you will boost your metabolism while you sleep!
  • Eat foods high in B vitamins (Avocados, Beef, Bananas, Tuna, Potatoes, Oats, Brazil Nuts, Legumes, Kefir. ect.)
  • Zinc (Chocolate, Peanuts, Oysters, Pumpkins seeds, Sesame seeds, Tahini ect.)
  • Proteins
  • Go organic
  • High intensity exercise triggers HGH release
  • Get a good nights sleep (deep sleep is when your body produces HGH)
Progesterone Fat Burning Hormone #3:
Progesterone is useful in shedding fat stores as it facilitates the utilization of stored body fat as energy. When your body produces enough Progesterone  it helps you burn an extra 100-300 calories a day! (That’s two of my favorite organic chocolate truffles,…but who’s counting…) When your body does not produce enough of it you overeat. Poor liver function suppresses Progesterone production. Progesterone also helps you to correct estrogen dominance as it does the following:
  • Helps use fat for energy
  • Natural diuretic
  • Normalizes blood sugar levels, thus reducing food cravings
  • Is a natural anti-depressant
  • Essential for proper thyroid function and thus fat burning
  • Delivers more oxygen to the cells
  • Restores sex drive
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Stimulates bone building
Progesterone Boosters:
  • Reduce stress. Stress greatly reduces Progesterone production in the body. (slow down, do yoga, meditate, breath deeply ect. all are beneficial when it comes to stress reduction.)
  • Avoid products like soy, tofu and soy milk. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, these foods contain natural plant estrogen. More estrogen in your bloodstream enhances estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes fat storage and a slow metabolism.
  • Foods containing B vitamins, Zinc and Magnesium boost the body’s ability to produce Progesterone. Eat Yams, Walnuts, Whole Grains, Red Meat, Chicken, Shellfish, Turkey, Turmeric, Thyme and Oregano.
  • Drink warm water with the juice of one organic lemon upon rising to boost liver function. Do this before consuming anything else.
  • Watch processed foods, high refined carb intake, alcohol, medications (Tylenol, Aspirin ect.) and environmental pollutants (household cleaners, perfumes, air fresheners ect.) as they suppress the liver.
Happy Fat Burning!
Watch for my next article on the hormones that make you fat….

The Top 15 Unofficial Golden Rules to Live By

cartoon of guru on mountaintop

So here they are, The Top 15 Unofficial Golden Rules to Live By…according to your non-guru yogi sister Angela..

1. Say “I Love You” to those you care about as often as possible. Look past the petty stuff and blurt those words out as often as you can muster. You can’t say them enough!

2. Remember to say “Thank You”. Let’s face it, you have it goooooooooood! I mean for one thing you are reading my blog, which is a huuuuuuuuuuge! Jokes aside, gratitude is good for you! When you celebrate your blessings you magnify the pleasure you get from life.

3. You are fallible. Everyone is. Get over it!

4. Believe that good will overcome. It always does. Truth prevails.

5. Don’t burn bridges, you never know when you are going to have to take a stroll down the path you came up on.

6. Forgive others so that you may be forgiven. Hatred towards others is hatred for yourself disguised. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Hatred is heavy. Forgiveness is light. Let go!

7. Make your word your bond. If you don’t honor what you say, neither will anybody else.

8. Don’t play the martyr, because you’re not! Everybody has a cross to bear so carry yours with a smile. You might just inspire someone else to do the same.

9. Let your actions speak of your character instead of your words. Don’t say who you are. Be who you are! People who need to brag about themselves rarely live up to the hype.

10. Nice guys finish first. Sure, there are people who will say this isn’t true, and usually they fall into two categories. 1. People who are’t nice. 2. People who think they are nice but are worried they won’t finish first. Problem is, they are both missing the point. Karma catches up with the first kind and frankly the second kind just don’t get it. Doing the right thing is its on reward, and what comes back to you is simply icing on the cake.

11. Be yourself. It’s your story, tell it how you want to. Be different. Be silly. Be amazing! Do it now, and never look back!

12. Be Happy! If finding joy is not enlightenment then it’s pretty darn close!

13. Love! Love till it hurts, love till your heart breaks, and then do it again. Love unconditionally, love wildly, love  because love is all there is. If love is not the meaning of life, I don’t know what is. Love!

14. Don’t listen to the critics. Believe in yourself. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t!

15. Laugh as often and as much as possible.

Body Detox ~ 10 Amazing Yoga Poses to Kickstart Cleansing

Need a yoga detox routine?

Here is a quick body detoxifying yoga sequence! When you are feeling sluggish and need a full body cleanse these yoga poses will kickstart the process!

Even the best laid plans this time of year tend to get derailed by the many bbq’s, picnics and poolside  gatherings that are customary during the warmer summer months. As lovely as that mac n’ cheese, burger or in my case 5 gardenburgers (In my defense I didn’t eat the bun,..but did I really need 5 gardenburgers smothered in bbq sauce? ) looked the day before you end up waking up the next day feeling like you are about to give birth to a bowling ball. Ugh!

So what’s a person to do? Besides of course sitting around rubbing your tummy, groaning and muttering things like “I am never eating such and such (insert food you overindulged in) EVER again” to anyone who will listen?

Yoga to the rescue!!! Here are 10 detoxifying poses that will kickstart your digestion, elimination and get you back on your livers good side in no time!

Start with a gentle warm up, nothings fancy, just 5 Surya A Sun Salutes to get the joints, tendons and ligaments warmed up and the blood flowing to all the major muscle groups. As a bonus this alone is already helping the lymph glands to eliminate waste, and Cobra, Up Dog and Forward Fold are all excellent for detoxing as well!

Detox Pose 1: Breath of Fire.

Benefits: Breath of Fire is a super detoxifier as it works expel carbon dioxide. This is one of the ways the body expels excess acid. Exhalation of carbon dioxide represents an excretion of acids. So this breathing technique helps to restore the bodies pH. As an added benefit, Breath of Fire is also one of the most effective way to engage and strengthen your Transversus Abdominals which act as a corset around your middle!

Detox Poses 2 and 3: Navasana and Ardha Navasana Cycle (Boat and Half Boat) Go slowly and do 10-20 reps depending upon how strong you are. On the last Ardha Navasana hold for 30-60 seconds.

Benefits: Navasana works to clear gunk from the intestines while Ardha Navasana works to clear the liver, gall bladder and spleen. These will tone your abs and get you back into those skinny jeans pronto!

Detox Pose 4: Dhanurasana/Bow Pose. Do 3 rounds holding each one for about a minute with even breathing.

Benefits: The pressure on your abdomen when performing this pose aids in digestion, stokes the gastric fire and helps with in flatulence issues you may have.(Oh sure, you can play dumb..I believe it wasn’t you..really…)

Detox Pose 5: Child’s Pose/Balasana

Benefits: Stretches your lower back muscles around the kidneys bathing them in fresh oxygenated blood and compresses the liver and abdomen promoting digestion and de-bloating after a big meal.

Detox Pose 6: Bridge/Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana and/or Upward Facing Bow/Urdhva Dahnurasana Start with bridge and if your body feels open enough come into full wheel posture.

Benefits: Chest opening poses are good to counter congestion or stagnation. Backbends are also very useful to increase metabolism…and let’s face it we could all use a little extra metabolism after a big day of indulgence!

Detox Pose 7: Marichiyasana C (Seated Sage Twist)
Benefits: Yoga twists stimulate digestion and help with the elimination of impurities and waste products from the body. The abdominal organs are squeezed during twists, stimulating the kidneys and liver, and forcing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When the twists are released, then fresh, clean blood enters these organs, bathing the cells in nutrients and oxygen.

Detox Pose 8: Head to Knee Forward Fold Pose/Janu Sirsasana
Benefits: Forward bending poses are a good way to compress the abdominal organs. The digestive system is stimulated, helping with the elimination process.

Detox Pose 9 and 10: Plow Pose/Halasana and Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulderstand Use several blankets to ease any tension on the neck. If you still feel tension take your legs up the wall instead into Viparita Karani.

Benefits: Inverted pose, such as Plow, Shoulder stand, or a simple “Legs up the wall” pose helps to drain accumulated lymph fluid from the legs and re-circulate it through the body. This benefits the immune system. Inverting is also good for increasing metabolism as it stimulates the thyroid gland!

Finish with Fish Pose,  Supine Twist and then rest in Savasana for 5-15min, you deserve it!

The Gunas, Yoga Philosphy and Your Yoga Practice

What Do The Gunas Have To Do With Your Yoga Practice? 

Yoga philosphy says that all of creation is made up of three energies or the three Gunas. We can see these energies at work in the ways in which we approach our practice and life.

The three energies are Tamas (heavy energy), Rajas (fiery energy) and Sattvas (balanced energy).

The yogi should avoid the fearful attitude of the Tamasic nature, and demanding attitude of the Rajasic nature. The third Guna however is the serene Sattvic nature in which  you are showing up in your yoga practice and in your life doing your best, and then letting go of the results.

Is it with fear? Doubt? Complacency?

The attitudes with which we approach our yoga practice are the same attitudes that show up in our life.

What can you learn from your yoga practice about the ways in which you are moving through your life?

Do you notice a pattern of liking only the things that you feel you are good at, or do you gravitate to things that are really hard all the time?

Are you the type that as my friend Marysia says “When the going gets tough, you take child’s pose“, or are you on the opposite side of the equation and you like to push, punish and muscle your way through every yoga practice trying to grasp the next pose?

Somewhere in the middle there is a balance between the two.

All of creation is made up of three energies or the three Gunas.

The three energies are Tamas, Rajas and Sattvas.

The yogi should avoid the fearful attitude of the Tamasic nature, and demanding attitude of the Rajasic nature. The third Guna however is the serene Sattvic nature in which  you are showing up in your yoga practice and in your life doing your best, and then letting go of the results.

What do you most look forward to in your yoga practice?

What do you find yourself dreading?

Do you love the heart-quickening Sun Salutes, yet loathe letting go in Savasana?

These realizations can offer deep insight into what is happening beyond just the yoga poses.

I like inversions the best, because they require a level of faith that is exhilarating and helps me believe in the limitless potential inside of me.

It wasn’t always that way however. I was absolutely terrified of going upside down. I told myself that I didn’t want to. In truth, didn’t believe I was capable.

I approached my practice with fear, shame, and a feeling that I wasn’t worthy.

Inversions were for people stronger than me.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As in,”since I think I will suck at this and completely embarrass myself, I will decide to not even try?” I think we all have done that once or twice.

It’s sad. It crams us into a tiny box of limited potential.

We clip our own wings so nobody else has to.

It took me four years and a good kick in the sitting bones from the people at the Yogaworks TT to get me upside down the first time.

It was scary. I wanted to cry. Too late.Two other girls beat me to the waterworks. Since crying seemed played out at that point I sucked it up and kicked up into my first handstand.

I did it!

I felt limitless!

A strength began to grow inside me.

If I had the courage to do handstand,  who knew what else I was capable of?!

Probably just about anything I figured as I dangled upside down, seeing things literally and figuratively from a whole new perspective.

So here is a little push from me to take the leap out of your comfort zone and see what happens.

Approach your yoga practice with curiosity, and then watch what happens in your life.

The Yoga Foot is Miraculous Indeed!

Sole (foot)
Image via Wikipedia

I was cruising around Facebook when I came across Leanne Carey’s yoga page. I gotta say I am so impressed with all of the cool yoga tips that she gives every day! So, I thought I would post this one to my blog!

The foot is so crucial in yoga alignment because it serves as the platform for the entire body in almost every yoga pose. (If the foot ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy so to speak..) I love the instruction she gives here on correcting your foot imbalances in standing poses. Take off your shoes and try it out!

Leeanne Carey Yoga Daily Tip: The foot! What a miraculous part of the anatomy. Just like my earlier post about the hands, the pada (foot) plays an important role in finding proper alignment of the foreleg and upper leg. And boy, does it inform other body parts. They weren’t kidding when they said the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone. Well, you know how the rest of the song goes…There are so many things to examine about the feet, so let’s just look at one simple concept similar to the outer and inner edges of the hands in my earlier post. In simple standing (not Tadasana), notice where you naturally tend to distribute your weight; inner and outer feet. And then notice front and back. It’s one of the first things we learn on the mat, but it’s the easiest to forget. The next time you are in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), if you stand more on the outer edges of your feet, try to stretch from the outer heels of the foot, across the sole of the foot to the big toes. And if you tend to stand more on the inner edges of your feet (or on one foot), consider stretching from the inner heels to the baby toe sides. Notice which, if any, adjustment helps to set you in your feet without scrunching the toes or hardening the ankles. And perhaps the next time you are in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) notice if what you discovered in Uttanasana, shows up here. Apply whichever principle makes sense and allows your ankle bone to talk to an upright shin bone, balanced knee and thigh bone. It all connects, you know. It’s food for feet! Enjoy your weekend, everyone! xo leeann

Flying Upward to Infinity and Beyond – Uddiyana Bandha

Uddiyana-bandha-yogaUddiyana Bandha which means “Flying Upward” is the second of three energetic locks in the body. It is often engaged along with Mula Bandha (read my article here on the “root lock” Mula Bandha)

benefits:

1. Strengthens the core muscles as when breathing this way the transverse abdominals are strongly engaged.

2. Stimulates the organs of digestion and elimination

3. Creates a lightness in yoga practice especially when practicing balancing postures including inversions and arm balances.

Caution:

Not recommended if you are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, have high blood pressure or experience dizziness. This is considered an advanced breathing technique so if you are new to yoga try it under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.

To practice Uddiyana Bandha

1.Stand with the legs a little wider than hip width apart and knees softly bent.

2. Inhale reach the arms overhead

3. Exhale all of the breath out through the nose, lean forward, press the palms into the knees, and engage the abdominal muscles to strongly pull the belly in and up under the ribcage.

4. Hold the breath as you hold the abdominal lock and take a mock inhale (perform the same action of an inhale without actually pulling any air into the body.) drawing the belly further up and in.

5. Hold for as long as comfortable.

6. Inhale soften the abdominals and let the belly drop.

7. Breath in and out through the nose and let the breath return to normal.

8. Beginners start with 3 rounds eventually working up to as many as 10 rounds for advanced practitioners.

Tapas In Our Yoga Practice: Inviting in the Fire

Simon-ParkDetermination and a passion are descriptive of the Sanskrit word tapas. Tapas (austerities; discipline; literally “heat”) is one of the Niyamas (niyamas describe actions and attitudes that we should cultivate to overcome the illusion of separation and the suffering it causes) the fire that we create within our yoga practice that helps us burn through all of the heaps of emotional, mental and physical baggage that we have aquired along our lifes path.

I love this next quote, and do not know the author to which to give the credit…

“Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal.”

Tapas is not easy by any means. Nope! It is meant to burn through the ego. Trust me when I say, the ego definitely does not appreciate toppling over in yoga class or for that matter looking ‘foolish’ in any way shape or form! In fact the ego when bruised will usually take the form of anger. Oh yes, it’s true, yogis can get angry! For some yogis not being able to do a pose not only opens a can of worms it can turn into a tub full of snakes! (Make that hissing snakes) I once watched a student curse out a teacher and then turn to the entire class and call us a couple of unmentionables as well.

I had the pleasure of taking a class from Rusty Wells a few weekends ago at Wanderlust and he talked about being open, curious, and childlike. (And not in a terrible twos temper tantrum kind of way) He spoke about what was it like for you when you first began practicing yoga? You were cool, you did what the teacher said, you tried new things, you were willing to invite new poses in, new sensations, new challenges. At some unfortunate point alot of people become yoga “experts” (yawn) and put the brakes on their tapas, that fire that brings about transformation, growth and keeps the yoga love flame burning. Yoga is a relationship, you have to put the work in. You have to be willing to give, to burn and ultimately transform or the flame will go out. It requires everything that you have and then more at times. It will test you to your breaking point, because therein lies the beauty, the alchemy, the truth of who you really are. Beneath the frustrion, the anger, and after you’ve gone through your own ring of fire you will arrive at something familiar something real, and a person you can proudly call your true self.