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

Jalanhandra Bandha

Jalanhandra Bandha is the throat lock that regulates breath and energy to blood vessels and your neck. It is said to aid in sinus problems as well as well as the circulatory and respiratory systems. Is it performed in conjunction with breath exercises. To do Jalanhandra Bandha, sit cross-legged or with your bottom on your heels. Place palms up on your knees and inhale deeply, lower your chin to your neck while raising the sternum to meet your chin. Straighten your arms and pull your chin further back and hold as long as you can. On exiting, inhale some more and lift your chin, the exhale.

Jalanhandra Bandha

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

Posted under Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Grace on August 7, 2014

Uddiyana Bandha

Uddiyana BandhaUddiyana Bandha is the second of the inner lock in yoga. Uddiyana in Sanskrit means to ‘fly up’ or ‘rise up’. This suggests all your inner organs – the abdomen, the diaphragm and the stomach – moving up and rising toward your spine. In the abstract, it means moving your energy from your mula bandha upward.

To find Uddiyana Bandha, stand with feet hip distance apart. On an inhale, raise your arms by your ears and on exhale, through the mouth, fold and place your hands just above the knees. Without inhaling, straighten your arms and suction your stomach to your spine, concaving it up and back toward the back. Hold the pose as long as it comfortable before inhaling through your nose while straightening with arms again raised by your ears. Then exhale  through your nose to bring your arms down by your side.

Uddiyana Bandha massages the inner muscles of the lower back while it moves energy upward creating a feeling of lightness. This allows for lightness in movement and deeper twists. It aids in constipation and indigestion as it stimulates the digestive juices, increases your metabolic rate and tone those problematic abdominal muscles.

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

Posted under Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Grace on July 23, 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

5 Yoga Questions You Never Knew the Answer to – Until Now!

Thought you knew it all about yoga? Think again! Take a look at the list below to find out five things that may surprise you!

1. What is the ultimate “goal” of yoga?

Chitta Vritti Nirodhah

The ultimate goal of yoga is simple but powerful: Chitta Vritti Nirodhah – Cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. This Sutra conveys the essence of the science of yoga, which is: “if you can control the fluctuations of the mind you will experience yoga”.

2. Wait one minute! What’s a Sutra?

Sanskrit verse from Bhagavad Gita

The word sutra is the Sanskrit term for a rule or saying in Sanskrit literature, and translates literally to what sews or threads things together. A comparable way to relate it to our own modern day American culture is thinking of commonly used, sensible sayings such as “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Granted, the Citta Vritti Nirodhah sutra is a bit more refined than that.

3. Who is Patajnali? I’ve heard that name mentioned a few times since beginning my practice, but I don’t know who they are!

Patanjali

Patanjali is an Indian sage known by many as ‘the father of Yoga’. He is the creator of The Yoga Sutras, a collection of 196 sutras created around 400 CE from original and ancient texts that make up the foundation of Ashtanga Yoga that we know today.

4. As a yogi, I’ve heard the phrase “eight limbs” referred to many a time, in everything from studio names to casual conversation. What does “eight limbs” refer to?

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Eight limbs refers to the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, referenced in Patajnali’s Yoga Sutras. The word “Ashtanga” translates literally to mean “eight limbs”, their names being: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

5. One last thing: a couple people have told me they choose to not practice yoga on New or Full moons. Why is that?

Phases of the Moon

Good question! Some yogis prefer not to practice during a new or full moon because of the change in the tides. This change can directly affect the water in your body (as it does with the tides), and changes in the Moon can affect your emotional body. Because of the various effects of both Full (bringing things to their full state) and New (renewing, revision of thought) moons, some prefer to refrain from their practice on these days.

Thanks for reading!  We hope you enjoyed and learned from the facts above. For all your yoga needs, come visit us today at BarefootYoga.com!

Posted under Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Carolina on July 8, 2014

5 Mats for 5 Practices: Finding What Works for You

Need help figuring out what the ideal mat is for your ideal practice? Look no further than our list below!

1. Travel Yoga

Travel Yoga

Now that’s what we call dedication – and also what we would call a situation ideal for a travel mat!

Need a mat you can bring with you no matter where life takes you? Then a Travel Mat may be exactly what you’re looking for! Its thin, lightweight design makes it the perfect mat to fold up into the front pocket of your suitcase or backpack.

However, many yogis find a travel mat too thin to provide substantial support on its own, which explains its popularity on top of more padded surfaces (such as a hotel room floor or on a grassy lawn). If you’re looking for a mat that’s still extremely easy to transport but has a little more heft, check out our new Hybrid Eco-Lite Mat! It’s likely to become your new favorite mat whether you’re Bali bound or relaxing at home.

2. Restorative or Prenatal Yoga

Restorative Yoga

In need of a bolster, soothing eye pillow, or blanket to complete your comfort? We’ve got you covered!

If you’re practicing a more gentle form of yoga, such as restorative, gentle, or prenatal yoga, some extra support and cushion is going to come in handy. We recommend a ¼” Hybrid Eco Mat to facilitate in comfort, style, and function!

3. Bikram/Hot/Power Yoga

Hot Yoga

When practicing Bikram, hot, or power yoga, we find that the best mat is going to be one on the thinner side with superior traction to keep from slipping (especially with Bikram or hot yoga!). Check out our new Hybrid Eco-Lite Mat or Performance Grip Mat to get the grounding and traction you need.

4. Hatha Yoga

Pattabhi Jois

World renowned teacher and Ashtanga yoga pioneer Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Hatha yoga covers a broad aspect of yoga, and is basically the incorporation of postures and breathwork into your practice and includes popular styles such as Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga.

If you’re just starting out and aren’t quite sure if or what specific yoga style speaks to you, we recommend starting with a good quality mat. Especially one that will provide great traction and cushion while giving a beginner yogi the chance to explore what their personal practice and prop style is. We recommend going with a 1/8” mat like our 1/8” Hybrid Eco Mat or a Natural Jute & PER Mat.

5. Aerial Yoga

Aerial Yoga

Even aerial yogis need to come down for a landing! When they do, a mat that provides a sturdy, grounded surface is ideal. Try out a 1/8” or thinner mat, like our 1/8” Hybrid Eco Mat, Hybrid Eco-Lite Mat, or, for a more textured traction check out our Natural Jute & PER Mat.

Want to keep exploring what props work for you? Come visit us at BarefootYoga.com to expand your practice today!

Posted under Styles of Yoga, Yoga Mats, Yoga Supplies

This post was written by Carolina on July 1, 2014

Yoga Studio of the Month:
Yoga Yoga

The name ‘Yoga Yoga’ came about from teaching two forms of yoga at the same time in a newly leased studio for owners Mehtab and his wife. This was in the year 1997, after sporadic practice before that of almost 20 years. A life crisis motivated them to delve into their beloved Kundalini practice and discover their passion for Ashtanga and Hatha yoga.

Yoga YogaToday, they welcome their students to 4 studios in Texas to continue on their journey of self-discovery. They aspire to ‘make it for more people, for all people, to do yoga’. Their experiences with different forms of yoga gave them an appreciation of the benefits and beauty of each type of practice, and the people they attract. They embrace and strive for diversity in their teaching forms, focusing on their students. Teachers are encouraged to teach from their hearts and connect with their students in the spirit of yoga.

Yoga Yoga believes in yoga of action, elevating oneself so one may elevate others. They are active in the Austin community with free yoga classes for non-profit organizations, helping families in need and fund-raising for cancer, AIDS and other research. Their teachers volunteer their time to train and pass on the tradition of teaching to aspiring candidates.

Yoga Yoga offers Kundalini, Hatha, Flow-Based Hatha, Family, Relaxation, post and pre-natal, private and business classes. You can also enjoy their spa services at their Westlake branch.

Yoga Yoga has been Barefoot Yoga’s loyal client since 2003. We applaud and encourage them for spreading yoga. See our mats, rugs, blankets, bags, eye pillows and zafus in use at their studios.

Posted under Styles of Yoga, Yoga Studios, Yoga Supplies, Yoga Teachers

This post was written by Barefoot Yoga on June 26, 2014