Have you ever wondered why taking a deep breath during tough situations can actually help you feel better? It’s simple. Control your breath to control your thoughts. It is no secret how breathing can directly affect the parasympathetic system of our brain which is responsible for our fight or flight reflex. One of the best things that you can do is to learn how to breathe deeply while decompressing bodily tensions. This can benefit your overall mental and physical health.
Ease into Comfort
During panic attacks, the mind goes haywire and a lot of not-so-nice things can possibly happen. Yoga has been applauded for centuries due to the amazing natural healing abilities it possesses. One of these is how it can dramatically counter panic attacks. Strike the following poses to calm your storm and let the sunshine in:
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This is a simple yet powerful yoga pose that effectively relieves anxiety. It also gives the spine and the back of the legs a gentle stretch while massaging the abdominal region.
To do the pose: Begin in a comfortable seated position with your legs extended together. Take a breath in, lengthen your spine and place your hands on the outer sides of your thighs. As you exhale, gently fold forward and walk your hands towards your feet. Remember to avoid slouching. Keep deepening the stretch with every exhalation until you are holding your feet. Stay in this pose for 3-5 breaths.
Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This is an easy pose to fight your rushing irrational thoughts. This position promotes better circulation towards the heart, producing well-oxygenated blood to the brain for better focus and relaxation. It also stretches the neck, the lower back and the back of legs.
To do the pose: Start by sitting close to a wall with your knees tucked on your chest. Extend your legs together and let them rest on the wall with your hands placed on your sides. Lay on your back and slide closer towards the wall with the assistance of your hands until your legs are fully resting on it. Let your shoulders drop and relax and stay in this position as long as you desire.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This is the most comforting pose that will take you back to childhood and relax all your senses. This restorative yoga posture calms the nervous system and helps boost focus. It also offers relaxation along the neck, spine, and thighs.
To do the pose: Sit on your heels with your knees together and hands placed on your thighs. Upon inhalation, feel your spine lengthen and slightly tuck your chin. As you exhale, bend forward and slide your hands in front of you. Keep folding until your torso is resting in your thighs, place the forehead on the ground and fully extended the hands. Rest on this pose as long as you want.
Panic attacks are horrible. With this modern day stresses, it is highly possible to suffer from anxiety and other mental disturbances. The next time you come across with a panic attack, take a moment to compose yourself and strike these poses. Breathe fully throughout the flow and live life with a smile on your face.
Recently, I’ve noticed that many people in my life are veracious readers.
So, I’ve decided to start a series called “What We’re Reading” to give a rundown of what everyone is currently reading.
Today, I’ll be listing the books that my sister and father are reading.
My sister has always loved mystery novels and strong female characters.
So she was pleasantly surprised by The Sinister Gathering by Diane Ezzard, a book about a women’s bonding retreat that goes horribly awry. The interplay between the main characters humanized them in a way that elevated them above most one-dimensional female characters.
She’s also reading a book with her 6 year old daughter: How Grandpa Tata Caught a Ginormous Fish Without a Hool by Dhan Reddy. It’s based on a parable that the author heard as a child, about a man who is never satisfied by the size of the fish he catches. It’s a great way to teach a child about the power of working harder than others and never giving up.
Finally, she’s reading The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients by Dr. Irvin D. Yalom, a guide for patients and therapists to get the most out of therapy. Dr. Yalom’s storied career as a therapist has spanned decades, and his book is chock-full of real case studies that couch his points in real world events.
My father is a manager at a large Fortune 100 conglomerate.
His literary tastes are more practical and targeted towards his work.
He’s currently reading two books: the first is Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust by Edgar and Peter Schein, a primer about a new type of leadership. In the past, corporate management was defined by rigid hierarchies, professional distance, and a brutal, almost anti-humanist approach towards interactions in the workplace. In this book, the Scheins outline a new type of leadership based on humanizing workplace interactions and functioning as a group.
The other book is Key Management Models, 3rd Edition: The 75+ Models Every Manager Needs to Know by Gerben Van den Berg and Paul Pietersma. This tome is a comprehensive rundown of management techniques and frameworks used in the modern workplace.
On another note, my BF just received a new shipment of geek gifts.
First, a Fisher Space Pen Point Pressurized Refill, Black Bold, an ink refill for his space pen (it can write in zero gravity!).
Next, a package of Himalaya Organic Bacopa Monnieri/Brahmi Brain Suplement, an herb that helps with cognitive support and mental alertness.
Finally, a Rode VXLR Plus XLR to 3.5mm Female TRS Transforming Adapter to connect my BF’s gaming headset to his professional audio mixer.
These affordable items should hold him over until his next large purchase.
Thanks for reading!
Hey there! 🙋♀️
Recently, I’ve been having issues with my back… 😔
I work in a beautiful office in Manhattan, but they still give us crappy rolling chairs with squeaky wheels and minimal lumbar support. 🤷♀️
After hunching over my laptop for 40 – 50 hours per week, I began to develop knots in my upper and lower back. 🤕
I eventually purchased an external monitor so I could work with better posture: the Acer SB220Q 21.5″ 1080P monitor. The thin frame and relatively small 21.5″ screen means that I can use it even at my tiny little desk.
I also purchased an air vent phone clamp for my iPhone so that I could use my phone during my commute without hurting my neck: the Mpow UPGRADE Air Vent Car Phone Mount.
However, I still had to deal with the knots that had already built up.
I’m not a millionaire (yet… lol 🤣) so I can’t afford to spend $50 – $100 per day on a full body massage.
However, there is a more affordable alternative: the LuxFit Foam Roller!
There are thousands of videos on YouTube explaining how Foam Rollers work.
Basically, you just roll the injured area back and forth over the foam cylinder, slowly breaking down any scar tissue or adhesions that you’ve developed.
The LuxFit Foam Roller comes in multiple sizes and color schemes, so you should be able to find one that works for your living space.
It’s quite firm compared to some other rollers, but as you become a more advanced user you will appreciate the truly deep massages that the LuxFit can provide.
This is the first post in my Yoga Tales series, where I share real life stories about how yoga has changed people’s lives.
This inaugural post is about my boyfriend’s journey from weak geek to flexible hottie.
This is my boyfriend on December 15th, 2017.
He was a great person, but he was in terrible shape.
He would sit at home, reading obscure historical novels like The Progressive Era (a summary of politics and economics in the US from the 1880s to 1920s) and The Castrato (a history of boys who traded their manhood for beautiful singing voices in Enlightenment era Europe).
Of course, I could never get through these historical tomes. The heaviest thing I’ve read this year is Due Process by Scott Pratt, a thrilling novel about a defense attorney who must defend a university football player who is accused of sexual assault. With all of the #MeToo drama coming to a head, it seemed like a book that was relevant for today. I’m about to start The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, which is a guide to understanding and treating traumatic stress. Hopefully that will be more applicable to my daily life (lol).
But regardless of our literary compatibility, I was having second thoughts about our relationship.
My BF could certainly hold a conversation, but he couldn’t hold a downward dog pose to save his life.
Eventually, I gave him an ultimatum. Either he shaped up, or I shipped out.
He grudgingly agreed to attend hot yoga the next day.
He had a difficult time getting through it, but I could tell he enjoyed it more than he expected.
This is my boyfriend last week:
Yoga has made him more flexible, more confident, and more of a complete person.
He would have never rocked such a bold style before he started his yoga practice.
Of course, he’s still a geek at heart. I just bought him a ViewSonic XG2760 27″ Gaming Monitor for his birthday (he says it’s great for high-paced shooting games, he keeps bragging about its “one millisecond refresh rate”).
Finally, we picked up a D-Link COVR Dual-Band Whole Home WiFi Mesh System so that our high-speed WiFi would work throughout our entire house.
Needless to say, these are some nerdy gifts.
But now when we go out together, nobody knows he’s a nerd at heart.
I see other women noticing him all the time.
Too bad he’s already taken! 😉
I met up with my girlfriend at the gym last Saturday, and she looked FABULOUS!
After we finished our workout, we chatted over avocado toast (yum…) and acai-agave smoothies.
She started off by thanking me for the gift I’d given her niece for her 7th birthday: the Craftster’s Woodland Animals Sewing Kit, an educational kit that teaches kids to sew stuffed animals. Her niece had a bit of trouble sewing straight lines, but she loved the uniquely mangled woodland creatures she helped bring into the world.
Then, my friend moved on to other news…
Her BF had just given her a new Android phone for their first anniversary, so I presented her with a Google Play Gift card so she could buy some decent apps.
I know she used Garageband on her iPhone to make sick beats, so I suggested FL Studio Mobile for her Android phone.
She also loves podcasts, and I know she used the Overcast app to automatically download and keep track of them.
So, I suggested Pocket Casts, which my BF loves to use on his Android phone to download podcasts for his commute.
She seemed to appreciate my suggestions, since she’d never had an Android phone before.
Coming down from the post-workout high, I suddenly noticed how awesome her leggings were.
I asked her point blank: “What type of leggings are those? You look AMAZING!”
She blushed as she told me her fashion secret: 90 Degree By Reflex!
I checked them out online, and they seem to have great leggings for a reasonable price.
Happy 4th of July!
I know a lot of people love hitting the beach during Independence Day.
But my parents are of Nordic heritage, so I’ve never been much of a beach-goer 😞
I remember hiding in the shade during summer camp and family vacations.
To this day I’m very fair-skinned and wary of sun damage during the spring and summer months.
So whenever my girlfriends go jogging around Brighton Beach, I always decline their invitations 🚫
However, I’ve finally discovered a hoodie that is light enough to run in, but will also protect me from the sun 😍
It even wicks sweat and guards against bad odors, keeping me presentable after my toughest runs.
It’s made of stretchy Polyester with stylish Raglan sleeves: it’s the first hoodie that makes me feel safe and beautiful during summer workouts.
With its translation being “Eight Limbs Yoga,” Ashtanga Yoga’s series of breath synchronized Asanas or postures not only help detoxifying and strengthening one’s body but are also made up of parallel procedures that complement them and can guide us through a path of internal purification for revealing the Universal self. The eight limbs or spiritual practices are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama; Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi and in accordance to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ book Yoga Mala, they can be understood and practiced the following way:
The first limb is made up of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha which stand for:
Practicing non-violence towards sentient beings in all word, thought, and deed.
Always telling the truth in all word, thought, and deed.
Not cheating or stealing from others; and not envying others.
Retaining of vital fluid, which makes reference to focusing the mind in Brahman without losing concentration or allowing the mind to wonder; as just the strong minds will be able to realize the Self. This non-wanted wondering includes all kinds of external and sensorial distractions from eating and playing to having sex or working.
Eating pure, untainted food that was acquired through righteousness; while just eating the amount your body needs to maintain itself.
The second limb or step is made up of the five sub-steps of Shaucha, Santosha, Tapas, Swadhyaya and Ishwarapranidhana:
Internal purification achieved by viewing every being as a friend and treating all with affection considering everything to be a reflection of God; and external purification achieved by washing the body’s surface with red clay and water.
Feeling content despite the circumstances.
Discipline the body and sense organs to destroy impurities.
The correct recital of Vedic verses and prayers to unite oneself to one’s deity.
Carrying out all actions for God and remaining detached of whatever results these actions may be aiming for.
This third limb consists of the yoga postures, through which first the body is purified and then the mind’s strength developed. It is important though to take into account the fact that body and mind are inseparably linked to one another, and that the body and sense organs largely depend on the strength of the mind; thus, the method for concentrating the mind is extremely important.
Once you have learned the asanas, you should learn how to bring your breath under control, this will help purify the breath and eliminate diseases of the body.
Directing our attention internally rather than externally for observing our inner world; the fifth limb of yoga means sensory transcendence.
Once we have achieved pratyahara, we seek to stop being distracted by the turbulence of the mind in order to achieve concentration or attention on a single point.
The seventh limb of yoga consists of meditation or contemplation, which could be described as a state of deep and uninterrupted concentration that ultimately leads to a complete condition of awareness, stillness and quietness.
The eighth and final limb can be understood as a state of trance in which the mind has reached a complete stillness that may allow the person to experience ecstasy and a connection to the universal Self.
In previous articles we have addressed the first two wheels of energy known best by chakras. The root chakra has opened our way for finding safety and calmness within ourselves, whereas the succeeding sacral chakra has allowed us to listen to and express our emotions in a healthy way, whilst developing a nourishing relationship with others as well as with pleasure.
Now the fiery third navel chakra of matter better known as Manipura, which basically stands for “lustrous gem” represents our self-esteem, personal capacity, and warrior spirit. This disk of energy can be found around the navel, including the solar plexus region reaching up to the breastbone. When this one is aligned we feel self-confident, self-motivated, and have a strong sense of purpose. When the navel chakra is blocked or out of balance though, we may feel lost and confused when it comes to making decisions, we may feel powerless or suffer from low self-esteem and/or have problems related to anger control.
Some physical symptoms of an imbalanced third chakra can include constipation, ulcers, pancreatic, liver or colon issues, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, or eating disorders; whereas mental symptoms can involve aggressiveness, controlling or irritable behavior, perfectionism, as well as a fixation on a victimized mentality, or lack of self-esteem.
Five asanas or yoga postures that can aid you with unblocking and re-aligning this Manipura chakra are:
Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations
Virabhadrasana or Warrior poses I or II
Ardha Navasana or Half Boat pose
Navasana or Full Boat pose
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana or Upward Extended Feet pose
Performing a few rounds of Bhastrika Pranayama or “Breath of Fire” (aka “Bellows Breath”) is also helpful to stimulate your inner energy. For carrying out this breathing exercise simply sit up tall in a relaxed and comfortable quarter lotus position or simply on a chair with your feet touching the ground and your hands gently resting on your laps; using your diaphragm begin exhaling strongly through your nose and inhaling the same way at a rate of one second per cycle. While you are sitting and breathing, remember to keep your entire body as still as possible as your abdomen moves in and out.
Meditation is also extremely useful for bringing a chakra back into balance. So, sit on your own, quiet and motionless while you bring your mind into a relaxed state, join the eternal observer within you, and tap into the wisdom of knowing that real power comes from your inner self only and it is independent of your career, title, bank balance, or any other external thing that you feel is defining you. Fortunately, we all unavoidably have this great power and strength within us independently of anything that has happened to us or of the things with which we tend to identify ourselves.
Other tools that you may want to consider for when working towards aligning the Manipura chakra is its corresponding sound “Ram,” its color yellow or gold; gemstones such as yellow topaz, golden yellow labradorite, and tiger eye stones that you can place on the chakra’s region while lying down, also using essential oils like lavender, mandarin, rosemary, and bergamot while eating whole grains, legumes, bananas, corn, pineapple, chamomile, lemons, and spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin, or cinnamon.
Yoga clothes are amazingly comfortable. They stretch and move easily, they are made of soft fabric that feels good against the skin, and they are designed for exercise so they’re perfect in warm weather. It’s really no wonder that people are wearing their yoga clothes outside of their classes more and more, incorporating them into their everyday wardrobe. There is a lot of debate over whether this trend is good or bad, with passionate arguments on every side, but the comfort of the clothing would seem to be a deciding factor. With that in mind, here are some tips for wearing your yoga clothes outside of classes and still look good.
Carefully Choose Where You Wear Them
This obviously must come first. Do not go into a super formal workplace in your yoga pants, or to a black-tie dinner. Yoga pants may work in a few circumstances outside of exercise class, but there is still a ban on them in certain situations. To determine if they are appropriate, you must know the culture and tone of the place you are going into. And, if in doubt, don’t wear them.
Make Sure Your Clothes are in Good Repair
This is not an excuse to wear your ugly, holey pants or that T-shirt with stains all over it out in public. For this trend to look good, and not a sign that you are too busy to care for yourself, the clothes must be in pristine condition. No exceptions, no matter how busy you are.
Sometimes, it can be the additions that bring the yoga clothes from the gym out to the street. Accessorize to be congruent with the sporty, athletic feel of the clothing while at the same time lifting it above the pure function. This could be as simple as a pair of mirrored sun glasses that carry on the sleek feel of the yoga clothes while lending a more casual touch.
Add a Third Piece to the Look
Don’t just walk around in your yoga pants and top, add a third piece to the outfit, such as a jacket or a bold accessory, to give your look instant chic.
Because yoga clothes are usually tight, they are perfect for adding bigger pieces over the top. Whether it is a big jacket or long jumper, layering pieces with more volume over the top can give you a lot of warmth, and make your yoga pants look like a planned part of the outfit rather than a choice made for comfort
Always look your best even in yoga clothes! Shop the above look here.
This is the final tip and it’s an obvious one. Whatever other strategies you are going to use to dress up your yoga clothes outside of the gym, most of them won’t work if your yoga clothes are brightly colored or have a lot of assorted colors in them. If you intend to wear them as part of a more casual look, it’s best to stick to neutral colors so they don’t draw more attention than you want them to.
Fashion trends come and go, and the recent trend for wearing yoga clothes outside of classes will probably be replaced with something new soon. But what will not change is that yoga clothes can be amazingly comfortable to wear. This means that ideas for how to make them appropriate in different situations and incorporating them into everyday wear, will always be welcome.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of gray. My house is decorated with shades of gray, beige and the occasional white. My clothes often end up being white, gray, black, or striped, sometimes with some chambray thrown in there for variety. I think this is because I know that these colors will “go with anything” so they always seem like a safe choice! If I buy something bright-colored or with a bold print, how do I know that it will go with everything? When I purchase yoga attire, I follow the same thought process, but since the weather is becoming warmer and sunnier outside, I’m feeling inspired to add in a little color and print to welcome spring!
The first obvious solution to welcome spring is to just add a pop of color to your regular yoga attire. Last year I found a great bright green tank top that is flattering and also just helps me get excited about the new beginnings that spring brings.
You can also try and change things up with some pattern. Florals have been a popular trend this season and what better way to welcome spring, than with some flowers. I’ve seen some beautiful and elegant, rose-patterned ballet style yoga pants that I’m dying to try. If bold is more your style than there are some really great tropical floral prints out there too!
I find I get a little more active in the warm spring and summer months; whether that means walking and running more, or doing more vigorous forms of yoga. Either way, it’s always a good idea to have a little extra support. You can welcome those spring months with a fun-patterned sports bra or simply just a bright-colored one. I love wearing a neutral top and then being able to see a little bit of a pop of color or print in the back!
I have a hard time buying something just because I think it’s pretty. It has to have some functionality as well. With warmer weather approaching or if you’re taking hot yoga classes, the material and type of yoga attire become increasingly more important. Cotton is more absorbent and gets heavier when you sweat. You want something that will keep sweat away from your body not only because it doesn’t stick to you but also to avoid issues like chafing. The best breathable materials are made of polypropylene, spandex, polyester blends, or wool. Wool is a better option for cooler weather. Wearing clothing that is breathable and comfortable will help you get excited about yoga and working out this spring.
Spring is one of my favorite seasons because it seems to bring a renewed spirit and excitement to everyone. It’s an opportunity to take advantage of the nice weather, and achieve any fitness goals you may have. Yoga, in general, is just a great exercise that helps you embrace change and new opportunities. Try and welcome the new season with some new clothes that pop in color and are also functional!