Real life weight loss story — Ishita Singh lost 12 kgs in 10 weeks with yoga!

Ishita Singh

THE BEST NEW MUSIC FOR YOGA: OCTOBER EDITION

The Best New Music for Yoga: October Edition

Piano compositions predominate in this month’s collection of music for yoga—perhaps because slow and spacious piano has a strong affect on creating the introspection that autumn invokes. Whatever the reason, we certainly welcome the shift from summer’s upbeat, fun and funky tunes to more calming and contemplative compositions.

Footfalls Echo by Visionary Hours

These simple yet mesmerizing compositions of strings, guitar, flute, french horn, and clarinet float on top of shimmering and undulating ambient drones. These mellow tracks would be best to place at the start or end of a yoga playlist.

Lost Lands by Richard Raiding

This mysterious two track album’s 40 minute long piano compositions are best suited to be played for a gentle yoga practice, bodywork or general relaxation. Both songs start and end with minimal and repetitive notes but have a rich and complex center.

Europe, She Loves by Library Tapes

This original score by Swedish pianist David Wenngren is haunting yet beautiful. These eleven piano, synth, and cello compositions are gentle, spacious, soft, and introspective.

Cantando EP by Dom La Nena

This collection of four cover songs from Brazilian singer and cellist Dom La Nena have a happy and sweet lullaby sound due to their slow tempos, bright strings, and minimal arrangements. Each song is beautifully sung in a different language to further mesmerize and entrance the listener.

Solo Acoustic by Alan Gogoll

Mr. Gogoll does not disappoint with his latest release of solo acoustic guitar compositions. These eighteen songs exude a deep and complete sense of joy and sweetness with his unique fingerpicking and guitar thumping style.

Owl Music by nicoandmartin

Composed specifically as instrumental lullaby music for children and their parents, this lovely album also works well for a bedtime yoga practice. A nostalgic and soulful French gypsy jazz vibe emanates from the use of the double bass, piano, harp, concertina, guitar, shruti, and sansula.

No Going Back by Dan Mehta

While these beautiful piano, synth, and string compositions were scored for a short documentary they easily translate for a soundtrack to a mellow yoga practice.

Cavalcade by All Sum Null

These solo piano compositions from the land down under are simple and sweet and would work best at the end of a yoga playlist.

Just One Drop by Radharani

This sweet and soaring kirtan album is the result of musician Radharani spending four years in India studying mantra and devotional chanting. Blending Eastern and Western instrumentation, Radharani has created a beautiful and well produced album of original and traditional melodies. She earns bonus points for including an unexpected cover of the 80s classic “Higher Love.”

4 WAYS YOGA CAN DEFEAT YOUR EGO

4 Ways Yoga Can Defeat Your Ego

 

Pain, unhappiness, criticism, and impatience are all common ills of an out-of-whack ego. The ancient yogis believed that ego, or Ahamkara, is the primary source of suffering. This Sanskrit term translates to “I-making” and refers to the function of the mind that creates our sense of self and identity. If our ahamkara is healthy and balanced, we’re able to meet all of our needs to survive, grow, and achieve our goals. If our ahamkara becomes distorted by negative thought patterns and false beliefs, it can lead to feelings of separation, pain, and suffering. Fortunately, yogis have developed and cultivated many different techniques to balance the ego and reduce much of our day-to-day mental misery.

1. Get to know yourself

The first step in overcoming ego is to see it and understand it. Yoga forces us to take a good, hard look at ourselves. Sitting on our meditation cushions or breathing deeply in our downward dogs will naturally produce states of introspection, contemplation, and self-reflection. Combining yoga and meditation techniques with journaling and philosophical study will further encourage the mind to notice the unhealthy and unhappy patterns of the ego. Studying modern psychology can also be helpful to understand and appreciate the positive functions of a healthy ego.

2. Embrace stillness. Practice silence.

Being immersed in a busy, noisy, and hectic environment will naturally increase the fight-or-flight protection function of our Ahamkara. As the stressors of our surroundings increase so does our mindset of seeing others as threats to our body and ego. The ancient yogis created the idea of a hermitage to retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life and to examine and subdue our egos. While a traditional yoga hermitage was hidden deep in the forest or high up in a mountain cave, we can create a quiet space inside our homes to embrace stillness and counteract the distractions of modern living. Spending just a few minutes of meditation every morning in a clean, quiet, and calming space can reduce stress and soften our armor against the outside world. Spending a longer and dedicated time on a yoga vacation or meditation retreat will have even more profound effects on balancing our egos.

3. Learn to move inward

The ego is born from looking outward and is kept alive by our constant obsession with everything around us. In order to weaken the ego and find that sense of oneness, turn inward. Practice closing your eyes in a particularly challenging asana flow. Ask your body to speak to you. Next time you fall out of a pose, instead of looking around the room to see if anyone noticed, focus on your body and breath.

The less we compare ourselves with everything around us, the less we worry about what other people are doing, and the more we can turn inward and look inside ourselves.

4. Go where you don’t want to go

Somewhere deep down our ego is aware of its own fragility. It is afraid of oneness for when we feel oneness, it challenges the very notion of self. Because of that, our ego will try to keep us from any practice that will bring us closer to oneness.

So stay in pigeon for a few more breaths. Add an extra five minutes to your meditation. When your brain gets overactive during savasana, return to your breath. The more you go where your ego is avoiding, the closer you will get to defeating that ego.

Buddhist and yogic philosophies both discuss the idea of oneness and the idea that our ego creates a divide between us and this sense of oneness. This divide causes deep pain and suffering. Yoga works to erode the illusion of separateness and return us to the oneness we’re all a part of.

CAN YOGA HELP DISADVANTAGED WOMEN?

Can Yoga Help Disadvantaged Women?

A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University suggests that the stress-reducing power of yoga and mindfulness can be a powerful tool in helping disadvantaged women cope with symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. After two months of practicing yoga these women showed significant mental health benefits. Several national and international organizations have also been using yoga to help disadvantaged women improve mental health, heal trauma and create overall empowerment.

What exactly does this study reveal?

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-researchers focused on mindfulness-based stress-reduction and its potential usefulness for women in a Federally Qualified Health Center. Thirty-one African American women between the ages of 18 and 65 that had previously exhibited symptoms of depression took part in the study. Common symptoms of depression include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, and pessimism.

The women in the study participated in eight weeks of mindfulness training. At the end of the study, researchers found a significant decrease in stress levels and symptoms of depression in the participants. The results also showed a significant increase in mindfulness and self-acceptance.

The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions to combat depression among disadvantaged women in a Federally Qualified Health Center, which provides comprehensive community-based medical care to low-income individuals. Overall, the study suggests that mindfulness-based programs can be extremely beneficial for disadvantaged women and may help these women treat depression and other mental health symptoms.

Is anyone putting the results of the study into action?

Yes! There are a handful of organizations that have been working to help disadvantaged women obtain the mindfulness benefits of yoga and meditation.

Empower Shakti International brings mindfulness education to women around the world. ESI’s mindfulness classes integrate the mind, body, and breath with the goal of creating communities full of mindful and empowered women.

Women Empowered is another organization harnessing the power of mindfulness. WE integrates mindfulness education into its programs for disadvantaged women in hopes that these mindfulness techniques will help women gain greater self-confidence and empowerment.

yogaHOPE brings yoga and mindfulness to women around the world who have been victims of trauma. yogaHope has even developed its own Trauma Informed Mind Body program to help women learn to heal themselves.

In addition to these amazing organizations, there are plenty of others bringing mindfulness and yoga to other populations in need. Mindful Yoga Therapy offers trauma-informed yoga to veterans;Yoga of 12-Step Recovery uses yoga to help people succeed in their recovery process; andHeadstand teaches yoga and mindfulness to at-risk youth.

It seems as if people are discovering ways yoga and mindfulness can help people every single day. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are incredibly powerful for the brain; they can help prevent dementia; and they can help beat drug addiction. The fact that mindfulness can help disadvantaged women comes as no surprise, but the evidence in the study serves as a great reason to support organizations that are sharing the power of yoga.

FALL YOGA FASHION TIPS FOR 2016

Fall Yoga Fashion Tips for 2016

HAREM PANTS BY BUDDHA PANTS • LEGGINGS BY HARD TAIL FOREVER • BODY ART BY TRIBETATS

As fall approaches you’ll hear a lot of yogis talking about surrendering and greeting the new season, and it’s no wonder why. Fall is a time when many of us crave tranquility and need to tap into our inner strength. Even the “in colors” of this season are meant to help us stay optimistic to embody the serenity and power many of us need right now.

The Pantone Color Institute listed “riverside” and “airy blue” as top colors of the season because of their serene and calming tones. The fall 2016 palette also includes shades of red, pinks, purples, greens, golds, and grays that will bring more confidence and elegance to your look. Check out the full color report to keep your fall yoga wardrobe on point.

Of course color is only part of the game. Follow these fall yoga fashion tips to make sure you look your best every time you hit the yoga mat.

Add a dash of sheer

With the temperatures dropping it’s time to put your yoga shorts and capris on the shelf. But wearing ankle-length pants doesn’t mean saying goodbye to feeling sexy. A big trend in the yoga scene is the sheer look. If you want to keep it hot in the cool autumn weather, opt for a pair of leggings accentuated by sheer patterns.

★ Recommended: Jala Vega Leggings. Go for the magenta to really embrace the fall look.

Bring back the poncho

Remember a few years ago when everyone had a colorful, hooded, knit poncho? Well that trend went to the wayside, but it’s come back in a new and improved way. Now ponchos are much subtler (think neutral colors and thinner fabric) and way more appealing. The ponchos look especially attractive when paired with tight leggings. They are the perfect thing to keep you warm when coming and going from the studio.

★ Recommended: Jala Cold Shoulder Poncho Top

Accessorize with gold

Though the shade changes (this year it’s spicy mustard) there is always a golden hue in the fall wardrobe. Accessorizing in yoga can be hard as jewelry gets in the way of practicing. That’s why we love the temporary tattoo trend. In summer it was all about bracelets, but your fall sleeves will cover those. Our pro tip? Use the bracelet or armband tattoos as a choker instead.

★ Recommended: Tribe Tats

It’s all about the cut

In summer backless shirts and crop tops were a hit. Obviously neither of those are ideal for fall weather, but v-neck sweaters are a bit old fashioned. So how do you embrace the funky shapes of summer while staying warm this fall? It’s all about the cut. The fashion world is still loving simple fronts with complicated backs, only now it’s moved into sweater form. So when picking a sweater to pull on over your yoga top, pick something with a fun cut or twist in the back.

★ Recommended: LVR Pullover Cowl Neck Hoodie and Glyder Deep Sea V Yoga Top

Keep quality in mind

There are a lot of fun yoga leggings with bright colors and exciting patterns, but many of them aren’t durable. When you choose leggings for the season, make sure you prioritize quality. This is especially important in the fall as you need fabric that can keep you warm when the wind is blowing but remain airy and light while you’re sweating in the studio.

★ Recommended: Hard Tail Forever Leggings

Embrace the autumn colors

I’ve already said quite a bit about what colors are in season, but one of the fun things about your yoga wardrobe is the chance to get a little more colorful regardless of the season. In yoga fashion it is totally acceptable (encouraged even) to find some funky looks that add a playful vibe to your practice. This fall that is still very in. So why not find a pair of yoga pants that shows off all the colors of the season?

THE ROUNDUP! BREASTFEEDING, GOATS, AND BALLERYOGA

The Roundup! Breastfeeding, Goats, and BallerYoga

This month’s yoga link roundup includes stories that are funny, unusual, and serious. Sometimes we need a mix of all three.

This Mom’s Breast-Feeding Yoga Moves Are Seriously Impressive—Texas mom and yogi Carlee Benear did yoga throughout her entire pregnancy. Once she gave birth, she felt that it was only natural to continue her daily routine with her daughter. She started practicing yoga and breastfeeding her daughter at the same time, and she said a spark ignited. “We were connected again in harmony,” she said.

Mom Defends Right To Breastfeed In Public With Epic Yoga Photo—Another yogi and mom is using her yoga practice to defend her right to breastfeed in public. After her father put a cloth napkin over her while she was breastfeeding at a restaurant, Kelly Stanley took to her yoga mat and Instagram account. She posted a photograph of her breastfeeding while practicing yoga and wrote, “Because no woman should ever feel like she is being inappropriate or immodest by feeding her baby, anywhere, ever. Breastfeeding is NOT indecent exposure.”

I Went to a Yoga Class with Miniature Goats—There’s been cat yoga, yoga with elephants, and now—there’s goat yoga. Hosted on a farm outside of Portland, Oregon, goat yoga combines traditional vinyasa flow with the company of free-roaming miniature goats. According to this author’s first-hand experience, goat yoga may also include goat’s pooping, goat’s eating your yoga mat, and lots of giggles.

New $1,000 mat made of football leather gives brogis chance to practice truly ‘BallerYoga’—We can’t help but laugh while reading this headline. A $1,000 yoga mat? A yoga mat made of football leather? Simply to appease brogis and ballers? It turns out that the name of the company is BallerYoga and creator Cedric Yau says that these mats have good grip and control, so that “ballers can tackle yoga.” Let us know how that goes, bro.

Yoga in 100 Chinese varsities to help fight depression, stress —Because over 90 million people suffer from depression in China, the Chinese government called for the launch of a yoga campaign in 100 universities. For the next 100 days students will learn pranayama, meditation, and yoga asanas. We sure hope it relieves some of that competitiveness and pressure within the Chinese education system.

Three Reasons You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore the Mindfulness Trend—Everyone’s talking about mindfulness these days. And for good reason: Research has shown that we perform optimally and feel at our best when we are focused on the present. According to one poll, the mindfulness industry produced 1 billion in sales last year. And for many reasons, the industry is only growing.

CONSENT IN YOGA CLASS—TO TOUCH OR NOT TO TOUCH

Consent in Yoga Class—To touch or not to touch

 

For most of us, yoga studios offer a haven of safety and peace, a welcoming and inclusive space to collectively share the experience of movement, breath, and meditation. Every teacher has the responsibility to hold this sacred space for their students. The recent discussions swirling around the yoga community regarding affirmative consent (including the sexual harassment claims against Bikram Choudhury) have highlighted the importance of establishing a framework that supports consent and communication between teachers and students.

Many people understand the concept of affirmative consent as it relates to sexual relationships, but how does it pertain to yoga? Consent is a clear agreement between people that touch is welcome and that boundaries are understood and respected. Consent is about clear communication, which rings true for any kind of relationship, sexual or not. Because everyone comes to yoga with a different background and different comfort level when it comes to touch, teachers need to be extra vigilant in ensuring that every student’s needs and boundaries are met and respected.

While some of us may enjoy the experience of offering an adjustment or receiving a hands-on assist, for others this can be alarming, triggering, or even downright scary. In the United States alone, one out of every six women, and one out of every thirty three men have been the victim of rape or related physical trauma. Each one of these people might carry an energetic memory of that experience within their body. As teachers we may simply want to offer a gentle touch or guide someone into a deeper twist, but our touch may unintentionally trigger someone in very real ways. Taking that into account, as well as acknowledging the importance of physical autonomy and the personal experience of being in the body, it is imperative that a student gives consent before touch is shared.

Many students, especially those new to a class, may not feel comfortable telling the teacher that they would prefer not to be touched. Luckily, there are creative methods to communicate this without having to verbally say it. At a yoga class that I attended recently, the teacher walked around the room offering each student a card. With beautifully painted images and simple meditations on them, these cards served as intentions for our personal practice and communicated consent to the teacher. Image up meant that touch was welcome, image down meant that it was not desired. There are many other ways to incorporate similar ideas into a class. Stones or shells could be used in place of cards, with each student picking one up and placing it by their mat if they are open to adjustments. The yogaflipchip was designed specifically for this purpose.

Yoga has the power to bring us a deep awareness of our bodies. Expressing ‘yes’ to touch or ‘no’ to touch breeds an even deeper awareness of our bodies and a strong sense of empowerment. By providing a welcoming, open space with clear communication, we can ensure that people feel comfortable expressing consent, and thus create a space for people to flourish in their bodies.

CONSENT IN YOGA CLASS—TO TOUCH OR NOT TO TOUCH

Consent in Yoga Class—To touch or not to touch

 

For most of us, yoga studios offer a haven of safety and peace, a welcoming and inclusive space to collectively share the experience of movement, breath, and meditation. Every teacher has the responsibility to hold this sacred space for their students. The recent discussions swirling around the yoga community regarding affirmative consent (including the sexual harassment claims against Bikram Choudhury) have highlighted the importance of establishing a framework that supports consent and communication between teachers and students.

Many people understand the concept of affirmative consent as it relates to sexual relationships, but how does it pertain to yoga? Consent is a clear agreement between people that touch is welcome and that boundaries are understood and respected. Consent is about clear communication, which rings true for any kind of relationship, sexual or not. Because everyone comes to yoga with a different background and different comfort level when it comes to touch, teachers need to be extra vigilant in ensuring that every student’s needs and boundaries are met and respected.

While some of us may enjoy the experience of offering an adjustment or receiving a hands-on assist, for others this can be alarming, triggering, or even downright scary. In the United States alone, one out of every six women, and one out of every thirty three men have been the victim of rape or related physical trauma. Each one of these people might carry an energetic memory of that experience within their body. As teachers we may simply want to offer a gentle touch or guide someone into a deeper twist, but our touch may unintentionally trigger someone in very real ways. Taking that into account, as well as acknowledging the importance of physical autonomy and the personal experience of being in the body, it is imperative that a student gives consent before touch is shared.

Many students, especially those new to a class, may not feel comfortable telling the teacher that they would prefer not to be touched. Luckily, there are creative methods to communicate this without having to verbally say it. At a yoga class that I attended recently, the teacher walked around the room offering each student a card. With beautifully painted images and simple meditations on them, these cards served as intentions for our personal practice and communicated consent to the teacher. Image up meant that touch was welcome, image down meant that it was not desired. There are many other ways to incorporate similar ideas into a class. Stones or shells could be used in place of cards, with each student picking one up and placing it by their mat if they are open to adjustments. The yogaflipchip was designed specifically for this purpose.

Yoga has the power to bring us a deep awareness of our bodies. Expressing ‘yes’ to touch or ‘no’ to touch breeds an even deeper awareness of our bodies and a strong sense of empowerment. By providing a welcoming, open space with clear communication, we can ensure that people feel comfortable expressing consent, and thus create a space for people to flourish in their bodies.

HOW TO CREATE A YOGA RETREAT AT HOME

How to Create a Yoga Retreat at Home

 

In today’s hectic world we could all use a few days dedicated to self-care. While yoga retreats are exciting and designed for self-care, they are also expensive. Every yoga retreat advertises an experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Why not feel this same sense of relaxation from the comforts of your home without having to spend any money?

Step 1: Disconnect

If you can, take a few days off. If not, dedicate your weekend to self-care. Make it clear to your friends and family that though you may be in the area, you are not available during your specified retreat time. If you cannot get away with disconnecting for days on end, pick certain hours over the weekend. Whatever time works for you, really make that your retreat time. Turn off the computer, put away the phone, and let that time truly be yours.

Step 2: Create a peaceful space

One of the things that make yoga retreats so alluring are the locations. They whisk you away to these stunning countries and house you in unbelievable spaces, but you don’t have to go thousands of miles across the world to find peace and tranquility. Before your at-home yoga retreat officially starts, create a designated space for your retreat. De-clutter the area and hide anything that makes you think of work and responsibilities. Light candles or put up some peaceful pictures. Make a playlist to add to the atmosphere. Whatever makes the space feel magical to you is perfect.

Step 3: Practice, relax, rejuvenate, and reflect

Now that the space is ready and you’ve designated a set time for your retreat, it’s time to start enjoying it. If you are not confident in your home practice, you can find some great yoga videos onMyYogaWorks or consider signing up for an online yoga conference. Decide if you want this to be a retreat about pushing your boundaries and trying something new or a retreat for relaxing and nourishing your body. Then act accordingly and gather the resources to support your retreatintention.

Anyone who has been to a yoga retreat knows the retreat is about so much more than the yoga. It’s about taking time to just be with your body and mind. It’s about discovering what you need and giving that to yourself. It’s a chance to reflect on how you have been living and what changes you want to try.

Step 4: Enjoy the resulting bliss

Whether you create a half-day or a week-long yoga retreat at home, simply giving yourself the time for self-care will have a powerful impact. After the retreat enjoy your refreshed spirit and quiet mind. Feel everything that comes with taking care of yourself. And consider when you can plan another yoga retreat at home again soon.

5 THINGS TO DO EVERY DAY FOR YOU

5 Things To Do Every Day For You

 

To-do lists can feel a bit overwhelming from time to time. Sometimes it seems like the more you get done the longer your list gets, and prioritizing what to do when can feel like a herculean task. But how many of those items on your to-do list are actually serving you? Rarely do we bother to think about what we could do for ourselves. If you don’t take care of yourself, everything else gets harder. I’ve found five essential things to put on my to-do list that make my days more mindful, productive, and healthy.

1. Move your body

Carve out at least a few minutes to move your body every single day, especially if you work a desk job. Go for a walk, do a 10-minute yoga sequence, attend a full hour-long class at your local studio… it doesn’t matter how you do it, just get up and get moving. Regular movement can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight off heart disease, maintain low levels of cholesterol, keep your blood sugar down, and so much more.

2. Take a breather

Adding five to ten minutes of meditation to your morning routine is ideal, but even taking time throughout the day to focus on your breath can be extremely powerful in helping you reduce stress and manage anxiety. Next time you are in a long line at the grocery store or stuck in traffic, rather than stressing about the wait, use the pause as an opportunity to connect to your breath.

3. Practice gratitude

Gratitude has been scientifically proven to lead to healthier relationships, better physical health, better psychological health, higher empathy, lower aggression, better sleep, higher self-esteem, and more mental strength. So whether you start keeping a gratitude journal or just pause once a day to remind yourself what you are grateful for, gratitude should absolutely be on your daily to-do list.

4. Spend time in contemplation

How often do you sit down with no other agenda than to sit and contemplate? We are always moving, doing, and acting, often with little or no time spent considering why. By giving yourself just five minutes a day to sit with your thoughts, you can bring intention to everything you do. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I need?” and “Are my thoughts and actions helpful?” When you contemplate questions like these you clear the way for more meaningful and focused behaviors.

5. Embrace silence

Recent studies have shown that silence can be incredibly beneficial for our brains and bodies. By adding silence to our daily practice we are giving our brain some much needed TLC. I like to wake up before the rest of my household every morning and sit with a cup of tea and a journal, just contemplating in silence and writing anything down that might pop up. I know others who prefer to sit in silence for a few minutes before going to bed. Even just showering in silence instead of playing music can be a worthwhile change to try.

I created this list as a framework. It has a few general ideas of ways to improve your day every day, but don’t become obsessed with trying to follow this (or any) to-do list. Every day is different and we are all imperfect beings, so take it day by day and minute by minute. While I think this to-do list can be extremely powerful if practiced every day, the real goal is to learn to take care of yourself and carve out a little bit of time every day to do things that make you a happier and healthier person.