Who Owns Yoga? The people!…and the documentary is pretty interesting too…

Trying to answer the question, “Who owns yoga?” this Al Jazeera documentary is a pretty fascinating look at current trends in the yoga community, highlighting the variety and creativity of the modern yoga practice (which sort of drives me crazy sometimes, but to each their own…) as well as the tension between the ancient spiritual practice and the ancient never-ending desire to make a buck.

The documentary’s apparently been out for a few months, so perhaps you’ve already seen it, but I just came across it last night on Yoga International’s website and thought I’d share in case it hadn’t hit your radar. If you’re interested in yoga, it’s pretty entertaining from start to finish and includes a great cast of characters from the modern yoga community.

Pocket Yoga-Practice Builder iOS App Gets a Great Update…and we’ve got redemption codes!

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I’m sure most of us enjoy a little spontaneity in our yoga practice, but there’s also a lot to be said for showing up to a yoga class with a prepared teacher that puts on a smooth-flowing class.  I do most of my yoga at home, but I don’t have many worse yoga pet peeves than practicing with an online yoga video where the teacher goes through a bunch of asanas for one side of the body and forgets to do the same thing for the other side.

Frustrating, distracting, and seems to happen all to often given the frailty and forgetfulness of the human mind…

Fear not! Pocket Yoga-Practice Builder, an iOS app I’ve used for a long time, came out with a great update this week that adds the ability to create repeating sequences with the app and export the sequence to a downloadable PDF. Very helpful for teachers planning classes or even us home-practitioners who like to plan our practices out.  And most importantly, no more forgotten poses!  Just build the routine, roll out the mats, and practice or teach away.

The app makes it easy to create routines, adjust pose duration, and even add your own music.

PBcreate@2xHere’s a sample practice PDF and click here to check out a video with an overview of what Yoga Builder has to offer.

That’s all good news, but the best news for you is that we have 10 free download codes (currently priced at $6.99) to give away! 

To Enter:  Since yoga apps make it super simple to practice yoga just about anywhere, comment below on the weirdest place you’ve ever practiced yoga and you could be one of our random winners!

Update (12 Jan 15): Contest closed… Thanks for sharing the creative and crazy places you’ve busted out a yoga move or two! 10 lucky yogis are now having a fun time building yoga sequences with Pocket Yoga-Practice Builder. Have an amazing week!

5 Yoga Mistakes to Avoid this Year

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Some of us might have been practicing yoga for a while now, but how do we know if we’re truly benefitting from it? When we put our yoga practice on autopilot, we often tend to overlook our mistakes or fall into ruts or bad habits. Continuing to make the same yoga mistakes, instead of correcting them, might hurt our form and awareness level, not to mention raising the risk of injury.

However, practiced mindfully yoga is something we can  constantly improve in and enjoy.  We can benefit from continually fine-tuning our efforts and maintaining a healthy understanding of how our actions are helping or holding us back. With that said, here are a few common yoga mistakes to avoid as the year kicks off to enhance yoga’s benefits and reduce any risk of injury.

1.  Wavering Mind

When we do yoga, our focus must be completely on the moves we’re performing. When done mindfully, there is complete coordination between body and mind, which is imperative in deriving maximum benefits from yoga. Without mindfulness, we’re simply stretching muscles without a whole lot of benefit. It’s important to immerse ourselves in the present moment and focus on every single body movement.

2.  Inconsistency

Yoga is a practice that must be practiced consistently for optimum results. “Results” shouldn’t be the main goal in practicing, but by being inconsistent in yoga practice, we can shock our bodies the next time we jump back on the mat after a break. Inconsistency is a big yoga mistake to avoid, but even just a few benefits of yoga a day can keep our bodies and minds moving in the right direction. My yoga experience tells me that consistency is imperative to benefit from yoga and that each session builds on the previous one.  Try to hit the mat every day.

3.  Pushing Too Hard

When it comes to yoga, sometimes less is more. True, it helps to push ourselves beyond mild discomfort, but not at the risk of ignoring what our bodies tell us. If we push too hard and ignore our body’s warning signs, we risk hurting ourselves. It’s important to feel internal sensations and respect the body to prevent unnecessary injuries. Instead of always pushing, we should focus on assessing how our body reacts to each pose and respond to our heightened awareness.

4.  Comparisons

Just because a super-flexible friend can perform any asana in impressive fashion, getting overzealous with comparisons and trying to keep up can end with a crash landing. Silly comparisons with peers is by far one of the biggest yoga mistakes people commit. Remember, it’s a personal practice because, well, it’s personal. The extent to which we stretch and push ourselves depends on our individual bodies and physical limitations. Yoga is about focusing on your individual body, not your friend’s.

5.  Yoga on a Full Stomach

True, some yoga poses aid in digestion, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to show up to a yoga class on a full stomach. Food is fuel, but only if eaten at right times. We suggest our students eat at least one hour before they come to yoga class. A full stomach makes it uncomfortable to practice different poses while funneling blood supply to the stomach, leaving muscles with little energy to perform successful yoga asanas. Yoga’s just not that much fun with too much food in the tank.

By keeping these five tips in mind we’ll be well on our way to enjoying a wonderful start to our yoga practice in the New Year!

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ravneetEditor’s note:  This is a guest post by Ravneet K. on behalf of Spirit Charger. Check out Spirit Charger on Facebook and Twitter to read more. Ravneet is a professional writer, with over seven years of writing experience. Working from home, her passion for writing and love for creativity keep her going. An alternative healing enthusiast, Ravneet loves to explore the world of natural healing and enjoys practicing it herself. She loves nature and everything natural!

Photo credit: lululemon on Instagram

 

What We Have is Enough–Moving Beyond Mental Scarcity

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I often meditate on trusting that I will have enough.  Enough of what?  Well, enough courage, enough inner strength, enough wisdom, enough energy, enough love, enough happiness, enough peace, and yes, enough money.  When life becomes intense, the prism of mental scarcity often grows and distorts our view. We start to think that we are going to run out. However, we cannot attract abundance if we think this way. Abundance and Scarcity are mutually exclusive entities.

Do you suffer from what Stephen Covey describes as a scarcity mentality? Do you frequently have feelings of jealousy? Do you often compare with your colleagues, friends, or family? Do you constantly measure what you have? Do you have any sort of loss aversion?

How is Scarcity Mentality Defined?

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the scarcity mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.”

–Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I have recently noticed a scarcity mentality epidemic. More than anything else—even more than love—my wish for all is that we have enough faith. The first definition of faith that I am aware of stems from the Bible. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). Through faith, we can see that although heartache or hurt exists in the world, we will recover.  Helen Keller says it like this, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

How do we trust in enough? Well first, we must accept that Faith is active. It is something in which we participate.  We can’t expect personal healing if we aren’t interested in being healed. And to be interested in something means that we actively seek it out.

At some point in our spiritual evolution—through effort and perseverance—we realize that we don’t need more to be happy. As a yoga instructor, I teach that what we do on the mat can become the way we live our lives. What we do on the mat is enough: We can save a little for next time. Practice appreciating life’s messiness and with enough faith, we let go of unrealistic expectations and let our story unfold knowing we’re not going to run out.  Through faith in enough we begin to trust that the universe wants us to have enough happiness, courage, love, and peace.  So I wish you all enough (not more, not less).

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough.”

-Unknown Author

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Screen Shot Front Silvia CardEditor’s note: This is another amazing guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at http://www.alchemytours.com ; or http://www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com. Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.

Photo credit: Manduka Yoga on Instagram

5 Ways Yoga Helps

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Yoga means union. In a world that bombards us with clichés regarding a mind, body & spirit connection, this is very important. But in real people terms, what is the connection between the poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama), philosophy, and Western psychology? David Frawley, author of Yoga and Ayurveda writes:

Yogic methods cover the entire field of our existence – from the physical, sensory, emotional, mental, and spiritual to the highest Self-realization. It includes all methods of higher evolution in humanity – physical postures, ethical postures, breath control, sensory methods, affirmations and visualizations, prayer and mantra, and complex meditative disciplines. Yoga understands the nature and interrelationships of the physical, subtle and formless universes into the boundless infinite beyond time and space, and shows us how these also exist within each human individual.

But even more basic than that, “How does yoga help me?”

Here are 5 ways yoga helps:

1. Yoga reduces stress by triggering the Relaxation Response.
This is achieved through conscious breathing, practicing poses, learning relaxation techniques, and meditation. The antidote to the Stress Response is the Relaxation Response, which activates the para-sympathetic nervous system. More importantly, yoga teaches us how to remain peaceful in the face of discomfort and challenge. We learn the art of surrender.

2. Yoga helps us pay attention.
Many people notice that they are more physically, mentally and emotionally self-aware. Often, this self-awareness begins by paying attention to our breath and all its habits. Then, we move to our thought cycles, and finally, to where we hold tension in our bodies.

3. Yoga heals our bodies and minds.
The poses, conscious breathing and visualization serve as therapy to reduce physical pain as well as emotional anxiety. I have found this to be true in my own recovery from a traumatic brain injury. We learn practical methods of self-comfort. And through active effort, we advance our practice into one of self-love and self-acceptance.

4. Yoga breaks our bad habits.
With yoga, we learn new, healthy patterns that override harmful habits. Through yoga, we learn discipline and commitment to our own health. Letting go of the unhealthy habits allows us to see the possibilities more clearly.

5. Yoga reminds us to be responsible.
I have seen students move time and again from a place of blame to a mature place of responsibility. First, we become responsible for our physical bodies. Next, we observe our thoughts and begin to take responsibility for our inner dialogue. Eventually we accept authorship of our own lives in a co-creative expression with the universe.

Certainly, the yogic benefits go beyond this list…in my experience, yoga can help us to experience the best life ever! Feel free to weigh in with more in the comments below.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia CardEditor’s note: This is another amazing guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com. Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.

Photo credit: Cam Lee Yoga

How Yoga Can Help You Stop Feeling Like You’re Not Spiritual Enough and Love Your Life

yoga-warning1I used to feel like a bad yoga teacher, like someone who wasn’t living up to the title. Because I like to wear stylish clothes, love when my Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines arrive in the mail, and the amount of pleasure I get from a good dark chocolate bar is almost indecent. So, I figured, I wasn’t really a true yoga teacher, just a gal teaching yoga.Then I discovered Tantra. There are worlds within worlds in yoga. Varying schools of thought, ways of categorizing our experiences, and branches that we can stand on. Tantra’s about embracing life in a way that acknowledges and embraces the soul.We are embodied beings–spiritual beings having a human experience–and through our yoga practice we can unite with the universe.And in that universe, there are a whole lotta wonderful things. Things like clothes that feel like ‘you’ when you wear them, glossy magazines that remind you of creative, uplifted people staking a claim on their talents and expressing them to the world, and really good dark chocolate.Tantra is the study of the universal from the point of view of the personal: we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. It’s all about realizing the highest ideals of spiritual philosophy in daily life. In practical terms, that means that our life becomes our practice, and we learn about and embrace the truths of the universe through learning about and embracing our life.Awareness is sacred. Tantra recognizes that anxiety, loneliness, and continual dissatisfaction often stem from desires that come from a less enlightened place. But, it doesn’t ask that we sever ourselves from our desires. Instead, we become aware of how what we desire causes us to feel—basically, more shackled, stuck and less liberated, or in a state of flow, grace and ease? Our more love-based selves—the part of us united with the universe—has desires, too. These desires ignite in us our state of flow, grace and ease.And they’ll be unique to you.Where we go next with this is important: since your unique desires are a reflection of the way your soul is uniquely incarnated, whatever lights you up is what is spiritual for you. Whatever lights up your unique spirit is spiritual for you. These are the ideas, actions, activities, and thoughts that incite in you your greatest sense of expansion, liberation and freedom.These are soul-based. These are spiritual. These are ideas, actions, activities and thoughts that will help you be more “spiritual”—love-based—and love your life. And, they’re ones that likely have a role to play in the role you’re here to play for the world.Enjoy!
xL

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Editor’s note: We hope you enjoy another inspiring guest post from Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.  10420191_10152444358197984_2357758816176846111_n