Must-Read Monday: alleged crystal theft, and craploads of self-help shit

Extremely important yoga news: California yoga studio accuses Dennis Rodman of stealing a 400-pound amethyst crystal.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 3.42.06 PM.pngGreat, let’s do that: How to be a yoga teacher. How to prepare for the major shit about to go down this week in astrology, and get ready for the Scorpio full moon. The power of micro-steps: take tiny steps forward. Also: Twenty positive tips to be happy now.

This is a thing and we are so glad: How to plant a chaos garden.

Hello, lovahhh: how yoga can help you to reconnect after the honeymoon phase. How to stop hating your body.

Watch this: Netflix documentary “I Am Maris”

Remember this: Westin is starting to incorporate more green into hotel rooms to help you get better sleep. How to make vulnerability your new superpower. How to make your life matter, even if it lacks purpose or direction.

Get this: The best grippy yoga mats. (We heart this cork one.)


Perfection in yoga and other lies the ego tells us

It was an innocuous-enough question: what breaks your heart about what you do in yoga? And, immediately drew forth one of two frequently frustrating things yogis hear. Both, let’s be clear, are loud and furious statements of fear and disinclination to curiosity, both deeply seated in ego.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 6.18.21 PM.png

Perfect: not a word you’re gonna hear a lot in yoga. Like, ever. 

The first one: Yoga’s not for me; I’m not that flexible. My answer is always the same: It has very little to do with flexibility; if you can control at least one of your lungs, there is yoga I can give you.

More on that one in a future post.

The other: I tried yoga once, I wasn’t that good at it. Not my thing. 

This one is never easy to hear because it means, on some level, this person didn’t hear the message that yoga is a practice, and not a perfect. Literally nobody nails it the first time, and the longer you practice, the more you realize there is forever more to learn. Sure, a long and devoted yoga practice can bring change and let practitioners see progress sometimes. But the progress isn’t the point; the practice is.

But this one is hard for people to wrap their heads around. Especially in a culture driven by constant forward momentum with language that supposes only the best will do with phrases like “killed it” or “crushed it” to mean, simply, “did well.”

Yoga is a process, and nobody’s body will do the same every day, as any yoga teacher will say. But to enter a yoga practice with the expectation of perfection almost completely sets up the student for feelings of failure.

As yoga teachers, we can help mitigate some of this, and use language to support newcomers as well as experienced practitioners, language that says it’s not only okay but important to simply be where you are, to extend yourself patience and compassion and trust, and the space to listen to your body and let it be where it is and go where it wants to go.

Ahimsa extends to ourselves on the mat, and allowing and simply noticing without necessarily reacting or forcing can not only build a yoga practice, but can change an entire outlook.



Monday Must-Reads: hip openers, getting real with fear, and how to glow

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 4.20.37 PM.pngOh, heyyyyy: 5 reasons why your boo might make the best yoga partner. (If your boo is your “person,” then you might be way beyond this from the jump.)

This is, no shit, really beautiful: How to glow.

May is Mental Health Month: Transcendental mediation proven effective in PTSD treatment.

Posture clinic: try these hip-openers to help address hip discomfort. Also, five reasons to feel the fear and do difficult poses anyway.

Yeah, I’ve been meaning to redecorate: how to zen-out your home and turn it into a calm af oasis. And, 12 gorgeous Himalayan salt products for your home. (Kinda partial to this one, though because who doesn’t need a beautifully glowing rosebud in the house?)

Nurture your yoga business, too: 10 tips for teaching corporate yoga.


Five yoga blogs we love this week

Some days we just fall in love with an entire yoga blog. Also, we don’t ever mean “blog post” when we say “blog” because 2019. So by “fall in love with an entire yoga blog” we mean the whole blog; the posts, the writer, the content, everything.

Okay, with that said, here’s who we are loving this week:

Bad Yogi Magazine. No explanation needed. We heart this blog.

Body Divine Yoga. Lovely, little deep-dives on great topics related to yoga.

Body Positive Yoga. The woman behind this entire site and program is amazing. The end.

Daily Cup of Yoga. Newsy and informative, great for feeling up-to-date.

Fuck Yeah Yoga. Truly one of the finest things on tumblr for yogis.


Mudras: three to know and use daily

Studying the mudras, the hand gestures we often do in moments of yoga stillness, pranayama and meditation (and the subtle-yet-wonderful thing for which this blog is named), can be a deeply rewarding practice. It can also be confusing as hell, so here are three easy ones to start with that you can use anytime you want to bring about the good vibes.

In Sanskrit, mudra means “seal” or “closure” and we use these hand gestures to direct focus and energy within the body, by using the hands.

Different areas of the hands are connected, neurologically and/or energetically, with different areas in the body and the brain. So by placing our hands in various yoga mudras, we theoretically stimulate different areas of the brain and create specific energy circuits in the body and help generate a specific state of mind.

Anjali mudra: 
You’ve definite done this one. Simply the palms together in front of your heart space to express love and gratitude, and as a gesture of honor and respect to yourself, toward others, and toward the universe. Say it: AHN-jah-lee MOU-dra

Gyan mudra: You’ll, no doubt, see this one a lot, too, as it’s probably one of the most used in yoga after the Anjali mudra. To do it, simply bring the tips of the thumb and index finger together, and keep the other three fingers together, lightly stretched. (Envision giving someone an “ok” hand gesture to get an idea of the shape.) This mudra is said to increase concentration, creativity, and is a gesture of knowledge. To receive energy from it, keep your palms facing upwards with this mudra. To help feel more grounded, go palms down on top of your legs. Say it: GIE-ahn MOU-dra

Prana mudra: This is a really lovely and energizing mudra, as it is said to help activate stagnant energy in the body and mind. To do it, bring the tips of your thumb, ring finger, and little finger together. This mudra is said to encourage the flow of prana energy (prana = the vital life force in all things), making you feel energized and strong. Say it: PRA-nah MOU-dra

Want more? He’s a great, in-depth tutorial about these and other mudras from the Chopra Center.

Complete guide to the heart chakra

The fourth chakra, also known as the heart chakra, or anahata (“unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten” in Sanskrit), is set in the center of the chest and connects us with our emotions, abundant love, true forgiveness, security, a sense of balance and harmony, compassion, gratitude, and deep sincerity. When not properly nurtured, blocked or, for one reason or another, out of balance, the heart chakra can bring up abandonment issues, codependency, jealousy and suspicion, feelings of isolation, neediness, and even not-necessarily-productive forms of anger.

Anahata is depicted as a lotus flower with twelve petals. Inside two triangles intersect, creating a shatkona. In addition to the heart and its physical and emotional fuctions, anahata is also connected to touch and its related actions, and thus is associated with the skin and hands. It’s also associated with the thymus, an organ of the immune system.

There are many ways to love and help lovingly heal this fourth chakra that we’ve compiled below. See what resonates and feels nurturing for you with regular practice.

Think heart-warming and heart-opening poses in your yoga practice to show this fourth chakra the tender and indulgent care it deserves. Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Uttanasana (forward bend pose), and Marjariasana (cat pose) are great basic poses to strengthen the heart chakra and help it to open gracefully and with self-compassion. Also try Dhanurasana (bow pose), Purvottasana (upward plank pose) or any of these for more challenge.

Gyan mudra is also associated with this chakra, especially when placed with the back of the hand against the lower area of the chest.

Affirmations and mantra
Because this is the heart chakra, affirmations of self-care, self-love and self-compassion are especially healing. Try: I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I am compassionate and balanced. I trust that my needs will be met lovingly and abundantly. (Feel free to tweak that to suit with what resonates with you, but do be mindful of using positive language– as in, saying what you want and not what you don’t want– and showing yourself gentleness through your language.)

Mantra “yam” is also chanted to connect with and support this chakra. You may also use a Tibetan bowl attuned to the fourth chakra or an f-note singing bowl (the key of this chakra) in your practice if that resonates with you.

The color associated with the heart chakra is green, which symbolizes harmony, creativity, health, abundance and nature. As a point to consider, it’s worth noting that green is the result of combining of yellow (the color of soul) and blue (the color of spirit). Green, nature’s signature color, is all about energy and revitalization. (Much like how we crave nature when we’re frazzled.)

Nourish your heart chakra with foods that vibrate the came color energy as this chakra: green. Kiwi, avocado, green grapes, pears, broccoli, zucchini, celery, peas, spinach, chard, kale, leeks, cabbage, lettuce, peppers, bok choy and collard greens. Author Deborah King adds, of food to nourish this chakra: “The fourth chakra is also about balance, and green veggies are neither yin nor yang in Chinese medicine, so they maintain the equilibrium that is essential to the health of this chakra. Try adding kale or spinach to your morning smoothie, or include a small salad with every meal.”

Staying with the vibration of green, look to jade, green tourmaline, emeralds, peridot, moss agate, chrysoprase, aventurine, green jasper, or malachite.

Breathe deeply, with eyes closed, and envision a green, vibrant seedling growing in the center of your chest in the spiritual body, leaves unfurling, growing and growing, with shoots and new leave reaching out in all directions. Then imagine a single green bud forming and growing bigger and stronger, right in the center of the chest, slowly opening and blossoming and growing more beautiful with each breath. Imagine letting go of anything that’s no longer serving you on each exhale and allowing the flower to blossom more and more fully with each inhale.

While we think about fire when we think of the heart, this chakra’s element is air. Nurture and care for it by breathing deeply and fully, by enjoying, facing and embracing the breeze of the day, or by putting the sunroof or top down on the car.