Yoga, Religion And Vegetarian Debate

Yoga practitioners are always in a dilemma about the “acceptable” lifestyle. At the core of this dilemma is religion and what we consume. The general public, on the other hand, has already passed the verdict that yoga is a religious practice that mostly consists of vegetarians and hippies. It has been the most significant drawback in a lot of people being hesitant to join yoga. But, is yoga really a religious practice? Does one need to be a vegetarian? And can one lead a normal life and still be able to practice yoga?

For many people, the main concern in a yoga class is whether they are breathing correctly, they are holding the asana correctly or if they are following the class rhythm. In the western world, it is an exercise, just like Pilates, where there is no religion or God involved in the entire process. They follow a strict gym regiment which directs the actions of every individual from the time they step in the gym to the minute the leave. It is, however, not the intended purpose of yoga in the religious sense.

In India, yoga is practiced by being heavily intertwined with religious dogmas and deities. It is practiced as a way of achieving enlightenment. Deities are placed strategically in yoga schools, and particular respect is paid to them. It dictates the way of life, observance of behavior, and has strict rules to be followed in order to liberate a person from physical attachments. Although there is no diet for yoga practitioners in India, it is prohibited to eat or drink anything produced by a cow as it is viewed as a symbol of spirituality with divine power.

The church views the practice of yoga as an advancement of the Hinduism. In one of the recent confrontation, a pastor in the United Kingdom banned the practice of yoga around his church’s vicinity, claiming that it is a Hindu spiritual exercise. He argued that allowing such practice to go on, went against his belief and, as a Catholic priest, his work was in direct conflict with Hinduism clearly stating that he was only concerned with spreading the gospel of Jesus and the bible.

Other religions, such as Muslim and Jewish religions are also against the practice of yoga. They have gone as far as labeling the practice of yoga as demonic. In most Arabic countries, for example, it is highly unlikely to meet any yoga practitioners with some going as far as claiming it is a form of blasphemy.  It has, therefore, resulted in a debate about whether yoga is a religious practice or not.

However, with all these conflicting arguments about yoga, religion, and vegetarianism, a lot of people have chosen to practice yoga without adherence to any religious form. They have been able to just take it as a form of lifestyle and exercise and nothing more than that. They respect other people beliefs and have been at the forefront of spreading the yoga practice to all people in the world, regardless of which religion one associates with.

In conclusion, yoga can be practiced by anyone. One can make their own conscious decision on whether they will follow it as a form of religion or they will just take it plainly as yoga exercises. It is okay in yoga to be a vegetarian and also from any religion.

Three Yoga Intentions for the New Year

December is quickly drawing to a close, and the New Year is looming on the horizon. The end of a season is a great time to begin considering what attributes you want to bring into the new year with you. For many yogis, the new year is a great time to set an intention about what you hope the upcoming year will bring.

An intention is very similar to a New Year’s resolution. It forces you to prioritize the things that you will focus on in the upcoming year. If you aren’t sure what to ask the universe to bring you in the new year, these three yoga intentions may give you an excellent starting point.


I intend to be present this upcoming year.

Is there anything worse than realizing that you aren’t sure where an entire year went? Time flies so quickly, and you may be tempted to spend most of your day hurrying along with the daily flow. Take time to set an intention about becoming more present and aware in your everyday activities.

This may be an intention that you need to consider multiple times throughout the day. Being present and mindful of your thoughts, speech, actions, and feelings can be a challenge for yogis, even those who have been with the practice for years.

I intend to prioritize rest in every area of my life.

How many times have you gotten to the end of your work week, exhausted and mentally drained? The modern world tends to prioritize the hustle and bustle of productivity, forcing us to forego rest. Unfortunately, our bodies need to rest in order to restore and heal themselves. Our minds need a similar state of rest to help recharge and refocus on the things that are most important.

Remember to take time for rest both on the yoga mat and off the mat. Your body and your mind will ultimately be grateful for the change.

I intend to try new things regularly.

It’s easy for yogis to get stuck in a routine of doing the same things all the time. From your yoga sequence to the brand of yoga leggings you purchase, you may be tempted to stick with the status quo. However, this new year could be a great opportunity for you to branch out and begin trying new things.

This will require some bravery and commitment from yogis, particularly those who are typically anxious about new things. Consider this as a sweet time of exploration to uncover who you truly are and what you actually enjoy. You may just be surprised to discover a side of yourself that you never knew existed.

The new year brings about abundant opportunities to reinvent yourself and to make a conscious change in your life. By setting a clear intention about what you will accomplish this year, you can be more mindful of where your future will bring you. You may want to consider using one of these intentions or modifying it to fit your yoga practice and lifestyle.

Sweet Potato Curry

Do you really want to bring the best out of those sweat sessions? Fuel your body right upon completion of workouts. Even your leggings will be grateful. They will fit seamlessly and all the muscles underneath them will work to your advantage. I like to have at least two cooked meals per day. Namely, those would be lunch and dinner. Plus, it is easy to incorporate the leftovers from one into the other. The other key factor in feeling well is eating at approximately the same time each day and having routines set to when it comes to nutrition.

The construction of a meal would normally start around greens, then I think of a protein and carbohydrate. One of the latest is sweet potato. Did you know that sweet potato is actually not a potato at all? It is called that for its shape. What it is, however, is the best carbohydrate you can find. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C. Who would it think? It wards you from viruses but it also plays a big role in bone (alongside vitamin D) and tooth formation and the making of new cells. It even accelerates wound healing. When it comes to looking fresh, vitamin C produces collagen which is responsible for the elasticity of your skin. Moreover, they hold massive amounts of magnesium and potassium which both link to healthier heart rhythm and in turn to relaxation. Additionally, they regulate blood sugar levels and are, therefore, the perfect pick with anyone suffering from hormone-related ailments and diabetes. If you’re not used to their sweet taste, your taste buds will need some time adjusting. But, once they do, sweet potatoes are so versatile to use in cuisine that even that they are more of a savory ingredient, you might want to incorporate them in your sweets.

Here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes. Paired with curry spice mix.

Sauté half an onion, bake the sweet potato on it, add curry powder, red paprika, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. Let it roast for a while before adding 1/3 of a can of coconut milk. You can add more, depending on how thick or liquid you like your stew. You can also add some water or some vegetable broth to it, but I prefer it plain like that. Cook for about half an hour, depending on the softness of the sweet potato. Then it’s a good timing to add in some red lentils and an equal amount of water as they will absorb it all. Pre-soak the lentils overnight so they lose some of the waste that might make you bloat. Once the curry is done, I like to let it simmer for a while. Just when I turn off the heat, I add a good handful of spinach to the mix.

In the very end, add fresh herbs like parsley. If you want to make it extra creamy and nutty, add either a spoonful of tahini or nut butter.

You can then enjoy it is it is or serve next to some basmati rice. The combination is filling, nutritiously rich and full of goods for your body that will keep moving you around and coming up with brilliant ideas.

Do you still think cooking is an activity that takes much time and effort? Coming from someone who doesn’t attempt meals that take more than 20 minutes to assemble, I would think not. I find it easy, enjoyable, and rewarding when I feel full but still light after meals.

Body alignment during dancer pose

The Dancer pose is a beautiful combination of balance, strength, flexibility, and meditation. It will tone your legs and open your chest while also helping you focus better. Heck, it will even release negative emotions and stress. Since the Dancer pose is not a very simple asana, it requires proper preparation. So, make sure you warm up with these effective tips.

Top 5 Tips on How to Prepare & Align Your Body for Dancer Pose

1. Targeted Focus
Try to bring a balanced awareness on all four corners of your soles. During this pose, one must engage in an open-eye meditation. Just choose a spot to fix your gaze on while you shift your body weight on your right foot. Once you prepare this pose, it is time to lift your left leg off the mat, bend the knee, and grab your ankle with your left hand. 

2. Mild Pressure
While holding the Dancer pose, you must put a little pressure on your left palm by kicking your lifted leg into it. This way, you will extend your spine from the tailbone all the way up to your neck and head. The more you kick with your leg into your hand, the better your balance and stability will be. So, strength is the key to success in this asana. 

3. Thumb Positioning
When you grab your ankle with your hand, make sure to place your thumb outwards as far away from your body as possible. This way, you will be able to open your torso more and rotate your shoulder. To gain balance while doing this, your right arm should be extended in front and facing towards the horizon. 

4. Hips Square Position
Every time you perform the elegant Dancer pose, you should try to square your hips. This way, you will align your left knee with the rest of your body. Avoid opening your body out to your left side. 

5. Standing Knee Protection
A common mistake during this pose is the hyper-extension of your standing knee. This happens because the standing knee tends to bend way past its normal range of motion during a straight standing position. To prevent your knee from over-extension, engage your quads and try to just bend your standing knee a little bit.

Additional Tips
Relax your shoulders and bring them back as much as you can.
Open your chest and lift your upper torso, but don’t forget to lower your belly area and tighten your core.
Try not to put too much pressure on your spine. Don’t compress any area of your backbone. Even though you extend your lumbar area, you should try to keep it in a slightly neutral position.
If you want to do a more complex and advanced Dancer pose, you should try different variations such as using a strap and lifting your left arm up. 

Summing It Up

Although the Dancer asana is challenging, it is a great and fun yoga pose to do. It improves your strength, flexibility, and mental focus. For a full experience, you should consider trying different variations of this pose. It is a graceful asana that can make you feel as light as a feather while rocking those fashionable yoga leggings. If you like the legging pictured above, you can find it here.

Now You Can Hit Things as Part Of Your Spiritual Practice

American ingenuity finds its way into every industry, even yoga. It’s just so hard to leave an ancient spiritual practice alone. Oh, sure, yoga is good—even great—as it is, but just imagine how it could be if we added something to it, combined it with something else, packaged it so we could run specials about it on television? Why accept yoga as yoga, when the possibilities are endless?

We’ve seen innovations in the yoga industry for years. Some of the changes fashion new disciplines out of tweaks of traditional forms. Some changes involve more focused marketing, and approaching different consumers. Then there is Box+Flow. Box+Flow is, at the time of this writing, the only yoga studio of its kind, a New York gym that combines a boxing workout with a power yoga session afterwards. There may not be many boxing yoga studios yet, but Box+Flow appears poised to jump-start a new fitness craze, because here’s the upset: people love it!

I have to admit my first reaction to hearing about the combination of boxing and yoga is to ask if they perhaps could not think of two activities more ill-suited to each other and so—shrug—they went with boxing and yoga? Were the proprietors of Box+Flow really trying? Did anybody in on that brand identity meeting bring up curling?

The idea behind the combination of these two disparate activities is that people work out get their aggressions during the two-thirds of class, and use the yoga portion to strength train and clear their minds.

Classes at Box+Flow meet for just under an hour. The first third of the class is spent shadowboxing with small weights (three pounds or less) as a warm-up. Class participants are assigned to their mats and given instruction for shoulder and arm exercises. A brief explanation of basic punching technique rounds out the phase, at the end of which class participants are warmed up and ready to begin. The second part of class is spent working out with bags. Wearing boxing gloves, participants run through a battery of punches and power punches. They work alone and/or with a partner on the heavy bag. The remainder of class is spent “cooling down” doing a session of power yoga in which stretching and strengthening is emphasized. All of the exercises are performed in the same room, a darkly lit space with décor that echoes some of the popular hip-hop yoga studios. The quotes on the wall veer away from rap lyrics and tend toward the inspirational, Rocky theme, e.g. EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS INSIDE.

The classes are popular. High energy, positive, with plenty of interaction between the instructors and the owner of the gym. It turns out that the boxing/yoga combination has attracted a new market, a mostly “not into yoga” market, people who’ve never had much interest in taking yoga classes. These people heard they could hit stuff and listen to Drake, and they decided maybe yoga was okay. Before they found Box+Flow, they didn’t know yoga was like this. They thought yoga was something different, they say.

Indeed.

Yoga for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding creates a strong bond between the mother and child. The benefits that go along with nursing your baby are endless. Breast milk alters itself to provide specific nutrients for your baby. It contains antibodies that help fight off harmful viruses and prevent infections. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have health issues such as ear infections and diarrhea. However, these health benefits come at a price. Mothers who breastfeed suffer from aching necks, shoulders, and backs. Luckily, there are several yoga poses that can help combat the aches and pains of breastfeeding.

Most yoga poses that help with breastfeeding pains are heart openers. This is because heart openers relieve tension from the neck, shoulders, and back. There are several heart openers to choose from, but one great one to try is the Sphinx Pose. The Sphinx Pose is done while lying flat on your belly. It can be done on the floor, or on the bed for an added layer of comfort.

  1. Lay down on your stomach with your palms and forearms pressing firmly into the ground below.
  2. Keep your should down and away from your ears.
  3. Make sure not to overly bend the back in this pose, especially if you are still recovering from birth.

A block or bolster can be added to any heart opener for additional relief. Blocks and bolsters are traditionally added to heart openers that are taken on the back. Simply place the block or bolster under your shoulder blades and let your body release completely. This should help release tension that lies deep in the shoulder blades and upper back.

Even though heart openers are great, they aren’t the only poses that help breastfeeding mothers. Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Stretch) helps to fight that hunched-over-feeling that most breastfeeding mothers suffer from.

  1. To practice Chakravaksana, start on your hands and knees.
  2. Make sure that the spine is straight, the hands are shoulders width apart, and the knees are hips distance apart.
  3. Begin to arch your back and bring your gaze up towards the ceiling.
  4. Hold this arched position for a few seconds and then slowly begin to release.
  5. Now round your back while bringing your gaze down. Hold this rounded position for a few seconds and then release.
  6. Repeat arching and rounding your back until your spine feels mobile and loose.
  7. Make sure to exaggerate the rounding and arching of the back to get the most out of this stretch.

It is important to keep both mama and baby healthy to get the most out of breastfeeding. Newborns feed often and can cause a lot of aches and pains from constant feedings. These pains lessen as your baby grows and as they nurse less often. It’s important for mothers to take care of their own health so that they can provide the proper nourishment for their baby. A happy mama is a happy baby!

Interesting Facts About Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga and Interesting Facts about It

Restorative Yoga is the form of yoga where the main goal is to obtain mental, emotional and physical relaxation through the help of props. Their usage eases up your body and helps you achieve balance within yourself through stimulation and relaxation. Whether the postures target the entire body or only specific parts of it, all of them are beneficial.

Origins of the Restorative Yoga

This branch of yoga was first found by one of the most influential yoga teachers in the world named B.K.S. Iyengar. However, as time evolved, the style deviated somewhat from its original methods. First known as Iyengar Yoga, the style taught methods to strive for perfection of posture. Those teachings are the foundation of the modern day restorative yoga.

Poses in the Restorative Yoga

While most of the poses and postures are similar to other types of yoga, the difference here is that they are done through the support and usage of props. A typical class would begin with a warm up of vinyasa and then proceed with restorative yoga’s poses, each of which is usually held for a few minutes up to 15 minutes. Some instructors recommend the practitioners cover their bodies, to raise the levels of comfort while practicing this style of yoga.

Types of Props Used

There are a wide variety and mixture of different props. The most common ones that are used are blankets, chairs, straps, bolsters, blankets, pillows and others. Their goal is to help you achieve and hold a perfect pose. They provide support while relaxing or stretching. The selection of the props when buying them is important as they must be of proper range and size of the different type of specific poses. Otherwise, the props may cause discomfort instead of serving their actual purpose.

Benefits of the Restorative Yoga

If you feel under a lot of pressure, stress, or your body is just stiff and aches, then restorative yoga is the perfect match for you. It’s known to heal not only the body but also bring relief to the mind. It comes in handy to people that have active lifestyles to help them defuse their gathered fatigue and stress over time. Some cases have shown to help people recover from injuries and illnesses both physical and emotional such as anxiety and depression.

Advanced practitioners are known to have activated and unlocked the parasympathetic nervous system. Simply explained, this is the system that regulates all of your automatic bodily functions that you are not actively controlling when you are at rest. Examples of what is controlled by this system are salivation, lacrimation (tearing) & sexual arousal. The normal nervous system is put at rest which has its hidden, passive benefits. Regular practice of this yoga style would lead to a generally less stressful life, improved overall health and less of a vulnerability to develop mental illnesses.

Compared to other yoga styles, this one is much more demanding in terms of equipment; however, it has proven to be worthy and effective. For the latest yoga fashion trends, visit 90degreebyreflex.com. Namaste.