The Curious Yogi – 5 of Your Yoga Questions Answered

Want to Brush up on Your Yoga Knowledge? 5 Questions & Answers about Yoga You Always Wanted to Know Below!

1. I’ve heard quite a few yogis identify as vegetarian or vegan, and I’m wondering if there’s a specific reason why?

Vegan Food

While we can’t speak for everyone, the answer is generally that when it comes to yogis, there are a couple of yogi-specific reasons. One is a reason similar to why many vegetarians and vegans don’t eat meat, which is non-violence, referred to as “Ahimsa” in the yoga world. Another main reason is because meat doesn’t contain “Pranic Value”, otherwise known as life force. One goal of yoga is to increase your Prana (life force) in not only your practice, but in all aspects of your life, which for some yogis means they would rather pass on that roast chicken or hamburger.


 

2. I’m new to yoga, and in class I’ve heard the word “nadi” referred to a couple of times. I’m not sure what it means, and I’m interested to find out!

Nadi

Nadi refers to an “energy channel”, of which there are (as recorded in many Tantric texts) 72,000 in the body. The main three utilized in yoga are: Susumna (the spinal column), as well as Ida and Pingala (both of which criss cross up the spine). The point they all converge is referred to as the “Ajna Chakra”, which is located between the eyebrows. Want to find out more about the Ajna Chakra? Check out Q&A number 5 below!


 

3. Sometimes when I’m in class my yoga teacher will adjust my posture during a position. While helpful, sometimes I feel like I was already doing the posture correctly and didn’t need any adjustment or help holding it. Are there really benefits to yoga teachers doing this?

Adjusting

While you may feel like you were doing the pose correctly, your teacher is able to accurately view how the posture is held while you’re doing it and knows the correct way to hold and practice it, which in turn is going to be the most beneficial for you.

When your teacher helps you through a pose the correct way, your muscles’ memory will adjust and help to create and keep that memory of an accurately done pose during future use, further increasing your abilities and skills in yoga.


 

4. Savasana is often a calming and positive way to end a class for me, but sometimes it’s difficult to just lie there and relax! I’d like to know if there’s a back story to Savasana, and how it came into being.

Savasana

As many people and all yogis know, Savasana, also referred to as “Corpse Pose”, is done at the end of class as a way to relax and find your center. What some yogis are surprised by though is that it’s sometimes a very difficult pose for people to perform. It requires a high level of calmness and surrender (similar to mediation), which can be difficult to be comfortable in with the busy nature of our daily lives. It’s worth it to try and get comfortable though, because not only can Savasana be relaxing, it also creates an “anabolic state”, which is a physiological reaction that causes the body to heal and grow new tissue – perfect for the end of not only a yoga class, but also other forms of exercise such as a jog or bike ride.


 

5. I’m a bit familiar with the term “chakra”, but still somewhat unclear about what a chakra actually is and how many there are. Can you help me out?

Chakras

click image to enlarge

In Hinduism and many yogic traditions, energy centers, or chakras, are points in our spiritual or subtle (i.e. non-physical) body that are energy points for the corresponding area. Our naddis (referred to earlier in this post) are thought of as the kind of “road” through which this energy travels by, with the chakras serving as a meeting point of that concentrated energy. To find out more specific information about each of the eight chakras, take a look at the information in the picture above!

Want the perfect props to go with your practice? Come visit us at BarefootYoga.com today!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Carolina on September 16, 2014

Yoga for Stress Relief

Stress is an integral part of our lives, whether at home or at work. Stress is a reaction to our environment, when we are overwhelmed or feel incapable about handling a situation. A little stress is a good motivational to get something done or solve a problem. Constant and prolonged stress causes anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, eating disorders not to mention the more serious symptoms like hypertension. Here are some poses to help relief that stress when you need it:

Child’s Pose – This child-like pose is very relaxing as it gently stretches the back. This is the go-to pose when you need relief in the middle of your practice or the middle of the day. This restorative pose is a also beneficial to the nervous and lymphatic systems.

Child's Pose

Supported Bridge Pose – The gentle support offers relief from headaches, back aches, insomnia and supposedly aids high blood pressure as well.

Supported Bridge Pose

Standing Forward Bend – This pose allows the reversal of blood flow and it’s a great stretch for the hamstrings, thighs and hips. Holding this pose with bent knees offers relief from fatigue and mild depression.

Standing Forward Bend

For yoga supplies including eco-friendly mats and props, visit www.barefootyoga.com!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Styles of Yoga, Yoga Supplies

This post was written by Grace on September 11, 2014

Top 5 Calming Foods, Scents, and Drinks to Bring Yoga into Aspects of Your Everyday Life

Sure, we all try to bring yoga into our everyday lives anyway! But with the hustle and bustle of school, work, and family, sometimes it’s helpful to have a calming yogic aspect not just in our practices, but in the practice of the foods we eat, drink and smell.

Check out the recommendations below to add that extra dose of tranquility to your life!

1. Sniff and Eat: Green Apple

Green Apples

The smell of green apples (actual green apples, not an artificial scent!) can offer headache relief, and is an easy way to de-stress and alleviate any head pain you may encounter during your day.

2. Drink: Tea

Tea

Need to focus up? Try drinking some caffeinated green, oolong, or black tea to keep your mind sharp! Researchers at the Journal of Nutrition have found evidence that an amino acid called “theanine” paired with caffeine may be the culprit in strengthening focus and alertness.

3. Sniff, Eat, and Drink: Lavender

Lavender

The smell of lavender has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and induce a calming, soothing effect when inhaled. Why not try some foods with lavender too (again, real lavender, not an artificial scent)? We vote for lavender iced tea or trying a lavender cupcake. Plus, if you smell the genuine lavender scent of what you’re eating or drinking, you’ll still reap the relaxing rewards.

4. Sniff and Drink: Peppermint

Peppermint

Do you tend to overeat when life throws a curveball your way? If so, try inhaling the scent of peppermint or brewing a cup of peppermint tea (and no, this doesn’t include peppermint candy!) During one study, researchers found that those who inhaled peppermint had significantly fewer food cravings and were less likely to overeat.

5. Eat: Whole Grain Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Have a case of the blues? Try incorporating more complex, whole grain carbohydrates into your diet! Researchers have found that those who regularly eat more whole grains are likely to be happier due to a serotonin release your brain triggers when processing complex carbs such as oatmeal and whole wheat bread.

If this list has got you thinking about adding even more zen into your life, check out our variety of relaxing products – lavender scented eye pillow anyone? – today at BarefootYoga.com!

Posted under Food and Cooking, Health and Fitness

This post was written by Carolina on August 19, 2014

Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating can help us focus on staying healthy, relieve stress and get rid of any hang-ups we may have about eating. You do not have to deprive yourself of your favorite food. You do have to take one bite, and notice its texture, smell and flavor. Think about what you are feeling at that moment. Meditate on the purpose and give in to the experience.

Mindful eating is based on ancient Buddhist teachings that strive to expand the consciousness by meditating while eating. It focuses on awareness, not only of the food, but also of oneself. It is not what you eat, but what you are thinking while eating. Pausing to savor the morsel in your mouth will become second-nature, and with your senses fulfilled, you may decide that you do not need the next bite.

It might be difficult at first as we are a society of instant gratification, so be encouraged with every small step taken. Practice mindful eating one meal a week or do something simple like unplugging from your phone at your next dinner. Try eating in silence or enhancing the area where you eat. Take note of the fresh blooms outside your window at your breakfast table. We may surprise ourselves how eating mindfully could change our perspective on eating and our body image.

For meditation supplies to focus your mindfulness in other new ways, visit www.barefootyoga.com!

Posted under Health and Fitness

This post was written by Grace on August 15, 2014

Barefoot Yoga’s Inspiring Teacher of the Month:
Farzaneh Noori

Farzaneh NooriOur teacher of the month for July is Farzaneh Noori, co-founder of Yoga House in Pasadena, California. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 20 years, and has studied with a number of influential yogis in the process, including Tias Little, Paul Grilley and Jill Miller. She focuses strongly on the healing properties of yoga, and some of her most popular classes include Prenatal Yoga and Therapeutic Yoga for Cancer.

Farzaneh began her Therapeutic Yoga for Cancer classes in 2012. After her own cancer diagnosis and treatment, she attributed her recovery in a large part to the practice of yoga, and wanted to share its healing benefits with others coping with the disease. The classes are offered free of charge as a service to the community, and over time attendance has blossomed from a few participants to 20 or 30 per class. According to Yoga House’s website, “Each class offers a synthesis of several natural healing modalities: restorative yoga; gentle yoga; breath work; meditation; and hands-on healing, all of which promote a state of deep relaxation which enhances the body’s ability to heal itself.”

Yoga House was co-founded by Farzaneh Noori and Bruce Schwartz in 1997 and they’re a valued long-time customer of Barefoot Yoga, offering our yoga mats, bags, eye pillows and more. To experience Farzaneh’s inspiring and healing classes for yourself, visit Yoga House in Pasadena!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Yoga Studios, Yoga Supplies, Yoga Teachers

This post was written by Lauren on July 24, 2014

Demystifying Mula Bandha

 

Mula Bandha

Mula in Sanskrit means ‘root’, ‘base’, ‘foundation’, ‘beginning’, ‘origin.’ Bandha means ‘catching hold of’, ‘fetter’, ‘bondage.’ Mula Bandha, or root lock, is one of four bandhas mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradiprika and the Gheranda Samhita. The root refers to the pelvic floor or more precisely, the perineum. It is not the muscle that is the sphincter or those you use to hold your bladder. It is in between these two muscles.

Mula bandha allows us to lock the prana or life-giving breath in our body and move it up our central system. Mastering the locks allows us to the master of our practice in our physical body as well as our inner mind. Mula bandha aids is holding poses for long periods of time, transitioning to new asanas, steady concentration, controlled breath and a calm and clear mind.You are advised to hold mula bandha throughout your practice and that might be challenging at first but with practice, it will get easier.

To activate Mula Bandha, exhale and engage the pelvic floor. You might contract the muscles around the anus and genitals at first, but try to isolate the muscles between those 2 areas. You want to draw up the perineum and to the back of your spine. Do not hold your breath.

Engaging Mula Bandha forces your energy to flow up and not down and out. This gives you a ‘light’ feeling, making your limbs limber and thus lighter on your mat. This also helps you from fatiguing during long holds on poses. Mula Bandha stimulates the pelvic area, genitalia, the endocrine and excretory systems and relieves depression and constipation.

For yoga supplies to help with your practice, visit www.barefootyoga.com!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Grace on July 21, 2014

Top 5 Tips for Your First Yoga Class

Excited for that first class but don’t know quite what to expect when it comes to etiquette? Check out our list of do’s and don’ts below to get in the know!

Yoga Class

1. Try to get there about 10-15 minutes early (and don’t be late if you can help it!), and once you’re there, stay for the whole time. It’s disruptive to others to get up and go before you’ve gotten your Savasana in.

Cake

2. Don’t eat for 2-3 hours before class! This is an important one, even more so than the old “wait an hour after eating to go swimming”. If you eat too soon or too much before class, it’s possible you’ll experience nausea, cramps, or even vomiting (especially in a pose like prayer twist!)

Intention

3. Create an intention. Creating an intention before class and holding it during can help keep you centered and focused. Your intention can be anything from aiming to be more compassionate or kind to simply intending to be in the moment and not let your mind wander to what the next days holds. After class, reflect on both what you learned and how you feel. Awareness and reflection is key, in both expanding your practice and your mind.

Class Props

4. Treat studio props with care and respect. After class, pick up and neatly put them away for the next yogi to use.

Savasana Cat

5. Be kind and gentle to yourself; don’t push it. Listen to what your body tells you and don’t strive for that perfect warrior pose if you’re body says no. It’s also helpful to let your teacher know about any injuries so they can help you find what works for you.

Need to stock up on some props before that first class? Come visit us at BarefootYoga.com to find everything you need!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Yoga Studios, Yoga Supplies

This post was written by Carolina on July 17, 2014

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga

We all know that yoga is good for your body and mind, but new research is showing that yoga offers many specific health benefits that you might not have expected!

Yoga Split

  1. Prevent arthritis – Building muscle tone has been linked to reduction in arthritis and back pain. Developing flexibility and balance also helped elderly yoga practitioners to avoid falls.
  2. Keep migraines at bay – Studies have shown that three months of yoga practice for migraine sufferers led to fewer and less painful migraines. This improvement seems to be caused by a combination of stress reduction and proper body alignment.
  3. Improve sleep – Eight weeks of daily yoga improved the sleep quality for sufferers of insomnia, but even twice-weekly practice can offer some improvements. Researchers theorized that yoga helped with the anxiety that can often prevent restful sleep.
  4. Fight osteoporosis – Certain poses which require you to lift your own weight, such as Downward Dog, help strengthen bones to prevent osteoporosis. Yoga also lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which is thought to help keep calcium in the bones.
  5. Lower blood pressure – Even the restful Savasana pose is good for you! Researchers found that subjects who tried Savasana instead of lying on the sofa had a measurable drop in blood pressure after 3 months of practice.

From all of these findings, it seems that the key is sticking with your practice! For yoga mats and clothing to get you started, visit www.barefootyoga.com!

Posted under Health and Fitness

This post was written by Lauren on June 23, 2014