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

Barefoot Yoga’s Inspiring Teacher of the Month:
Stan Woodman

Stan Woodman

Our teacher of the month for June is Stan Woodman, co-owner of Kaia Yoga in Connecticut. Stan took his first yoga class in 1991, and eventually completed his 1,000 hour certification with Beryl Bender Birch. Stan’s practice is rooted strongly in traditional Ashtanga Yoga, but he sings the praises of various styles of meditation and yoga, including Restorative Yoga: “Targeted breath work—particularly that connection between the inhale and exhale—creates a rhythm in our nervous system, in our wiring, that settles the organs, increases blood flow, and re-energizes us.” (source)

Stan and his wife, Gina Norman, founded Kaia Yoga with an eye towards a holistic way of living, incorporating meditation, spa treatments, a café offering whole foods and juices, and yoga for people of every age, including prenatal and kids’ yoga.

In a mission to relieve suffering, they are also deeply involved with charitable work through the Kaia Foundation, which currently supports four charities directed mainly towards benefiting women and children.

Kaia Yoga has been a long-time customer of Barefoot Yoga, and offers a number of our yoga props, mat bags and eye pillows for customers in their boutique. Stop by one of Kaia Yoga’s three locations in Westport and Greenwich to enjoy the beautiful space that they have created, and flow through one of Stan’s amazing classes to develop your strength, flexibility and mindfulness.

Posted under Styles of Yoga, Yoga Studios, Yoga Teachers

This post was written by Barefoot Yoga on June 13, 2014

5 Fascinating Facts about Yoga You Didn’t Know

Thought you knew everything there was to know about yoga? Think again! Check out the five fascinating facts even we didn’t know below!

1. According to a 2008 study, around 16 million Americans regularly practice yoga.

Yoga in Times Square

Yogis on June 21, 2013, practicing in New York City’s Times Square

2. One of the first Westerners to practice yoga was Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss psychiatrist known for founding analytical psychology and his friendship with well-known neurologist Sigmund Freud.

Carl Jung

Carl Jung

3. The Rig Veda is one of the oldest Hindu scriptures, as well as one of the oldest texts in the world. It documents the first mention of yoga, specifically Veda yoga, which is the oldest known form of yoga.

Rig Veda

The Rig Veda

4. Om is part of both Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, and in Hinduism the three major sounds of OM (A-U-M) are representative of the three major Hindu deities (called Trimurti). They are: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer.

OM

5. The Sanskrit definition of the word yoga is simple but powerful. It means unity. This reflects yoga’s power to positively influence the body, mind and spirit, integrating them into the whole and harmonious person that is uniquely You! Once we have achieved unity in ourselves, we can create more unity in the world around us.

Yoga on the Beach

Yogis practicing on the beach

Looking to expand your practice?
Come visit us at BarefootYoga.com today!

Posted under Health and Fitness, Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Carolina on June 12, 2014

Top City Parks for Yoga This Summer

As summer approaches, there are lots of outdoor yoga classes throughout the country that offer instruction for a variety of skill levels – many of them for free! Consider stopping by your local park for some yoga fun in the sun.

Bryant Park Yoga

  1. New York City – Bryant Park
    Tuesdays at 10:00am, Thursdays at 6:00pm
    Admission: FREE!
    Vinyasa Flow under the trees with YogaWorks instructor Lindsay Ashmun. These athletic classes focus on alignment and graceful flow.
  2. Seattle – Seattle Center
    Wednesdays at 11:30am
    Admission: FREE!
    Have fun learning the basics of Hatha Yoga as you gently stretch and breathe your stress away.
  3. Boston – Boston Common
    Thursdays at 6:00pm
    Admission: FREE!
    Enjoy the beauty of trees, grass, and water found at historic Boston Common while practicing power Vinyasa flow. Classes are geared towards students of all levels.
  4. Chicago – Millennium Park
    Saturdays at 8:00am
    Admission: FREE!
    A variety of area instructors offer classes throughout the summer on Millennium Park’s Great Lawn.
  5. Miami – Bayfront Park
    Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00pm, Saturdays at 9:00am
    Admission: FREE!
    These classes offer a unique atmosphere to relax and invigorate, with a stunning view of the bay!
  6. San Francisco – Golden Gate Park
    Saturdays at 11:00am
    Admission: By donation.
    Enjoy rejuvinating flows and meditation for your mind, body, and spirit in one of San Francisco’s most beautiful parks.
  7. Los Angeles – Runyon Canyon
    Daily at various times
    Admission: By donation.
    These classes have been held at Runyon Canyon for over a decade, with a casual vibe that is welcoming to yogis of all ages and fitness levels.

For yoga supplies to maximize your practice indoors and out, visit www.barefootyoga.com!

Posted under Styles of Yoga, Yoga Events

This post was written by Lauren on June 10, 2014

Spotted: Celeb Street Yogini!

Rosario Dawson

Who’s that practicing yoga on the go? None other than talented actress Rosario Dawson! The Rent star looked happy and healthy as she and her friend held a pose in sunny Venice Beach. Dawson keeps in shape (mentally, physically and emotionally) by attending yoga, spin, and Pilates classes. For sustenance to fuel her busy life, Dawson enjoys a mix of fresh fruit, veggies, lean protein and complex carbs (think whole grain) while enjoying the less healthy stuff in moderation. All we can say is, we’ll have what she’s having!

Looking for some yoga props of your own to strike a pose in style? Visit us at BarefootYoga.com to find star-quality props at prices that will leave you starry eyed!

Posted under Styles of Yoga

This post was written by Carolina on May 22, 2014