Yoga + Activewear Brands We’re Currently Obsessing Over

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As a yoga publication, a big (and super fun!) part of our job is exploring all the yoga and activewear brands out there. And there’s a lot to choose from! Yoga and activewear brands can be a dime a dozen, which is why we have high standards for what we approve. We look for brands that are high quality, trendy + fashionable, and offer something unique.

Looking for your next favorite yoga and activewear brands can be time consuming. That’s why we’ve created a list of the current brands we’re obsessing over to help you narrow down the search. Whether you’re looking for timeless fashion, comfort and style, performance, or unique design, we’ve got you covered!

Here are the yoga and activewear brands we’re currently obsessing over:

While there are lots of brands we love, and some we may have missed, here are the ones we’re loving right now.

1. Montiel

Montiel

Montiel hails from sunny Los Angeles and their clothing definitely brings the heat when it comes to style. They partner with local manufacturers and strive for quality over quantity. The have amazing designs, flattering cuts, and luxe fabric. You might find yourself wearing their products off the yoga mat (like in bed, to brunch, and maybe even to work).

2. Inner State

<a href="Inner-State

Inner State aims to marry college campus style with yoga. Some days, you may want to rock your inner state on a tee, rather than your alma mater. This fun yoga clothing company has shirts with phrases like Gratitude State and Fearless State. So go ahead and get a shirt to show off your Ph.D. in positivity.

3. Naja

naja

Naja strives to empower women by hiring single moms and female heads of households (and they pay above market wage and offer health benefits). This brand’s vision for a better world flows into their beautiful and soft clothing. Their activewear is eco-conscious and super fierce.

4. Cory Vines

cory-vines

Cory Vines products are made with sustainability in mind. Their activewear essentials are 100% biodegradable and they have the basics down, dog. Find comfy clothes, like light pullovers and sports bras, in grays and blacks. And they have essentials for yoga dudes, too.

5. Outdoor Voices

outdoor-voices

Outdoor Voices has lots of options from tanks to sweats for women and men. The best part: you can build yoga and activewear clothing kits based on your preferred activities and styles. They have super soft leggings that range in color from neutrals to baby blues reminiscent of ballet class for the yoga babes.

6. Adidas

adidas

Adidas is one of the only mainstream brands that incorporates social and environmental responsibility into their mission. They make awesome yoga clothes and activewear with performance, functionality, and endurance in mind. We love the fit, style, colors, and vibes they are putting out.

7. Om Collection

om-collection

Om Collection brings creativity to the yoga apparel industry. From festival wear to a night out on the town, their sexy, bohemian clothes perfectly merge fashion and function. It is clear that Om Collection wants you to shine from the inside out.

8. Wolven Threads

wolven-threads

Wolven Threads yoga and SUP wear are made from recycled bottles and inspired by nature. You can rock sacred geometry patterns when you surf, swim, and do yoga in their gear truly merging art, intention, and practice. We love that their radiant designs match our wild and free (in)sides.

9. Daughters of Culture

daughters-of-culture

From soft jumpsuits, wild kimonos, and gorgeous bra tops, you can live and yoga in Daughters of Culture. Their latest release of Egyptian-inspired designs makes us want to travel the world and strike a yoga pose on a cobblestone street or secluded beach somewhere. And yes, you can yoga in a jumpsuit or kimono!

10. Spiritual Gangster

spiritual-gangster

Why wear your heart on your sleeve, when you can rock your inner warrior on your heart (or your bum) in leggings and crop tops by Spiritual Gangster. We love their minimalist basics, each carrying a bold statement. With this brand, you might find your inner Don Corleone (of bliss).

11. Ivy Park

ivy-park

Ivy Park merges fashion, design, and innovations for babes on the move. Did we mention that Ivy Park was co-founded by Beyonce? So yes, you can look and feel at the top of your game with this fiery and fierce activewear brand.

12. Alo

alo

Alo yoga apparel is sexy, slimming, and it moves with you. They have clothing for men and women and a wide variety of colors, styles, and fits. From strappy sports bras to ribbed leggings, their creative design will inspire your workout and yoga routine. From the studio to your next retreat, Alo brings the leisure to athleisure.

13. Vuori

vuori

Vuori has performance activewear for men and women for a range of activities. From boardshorts to sweatpants, from yoga leggings to graphic t-shirts, Vuori has lots of options for everyone. They also know how to mix the perfect apparel cocktail of comfort, quality, and performance.

14. Hard Tail

hard-tail

Hard Tail is an activewear brand that invokes and evokes the female power. They know that girls can do anything and it comes through in the design and structure of their clothing designs. This family-owned and operated business brings badass to activewear that is always made in the USA.

15. Ripple Yoga Wear

ripple

If synthetic fabrics rub you the wrong way, you will love this brand. Ripple Yoga Wear is made with natural fabrics that are soft on the skin. You can sweat it out in performance gear or down dog in loungewear. They have a men’s collection, too.

The post Yoga + Activewear Brands We’re Currently Obsessing Over appeared first on YogiApproved.

TheAffordable Secret Khlo Kardashian Uses to Tone Her Abs

This article originally appeared on InStyle.com.

Khlo Kardashian is no stranger to the gym. You’ve probably seen the 32-year-old star running drills and lifting heavy weights on social media. But there’s one specific gym tool that she praises for transforming her stomach.

“Don’t ever do another situp again, honey,” Kardashian explains on her website and app. “There are way more effective moves for toning your abs and strengthening your core while torching major calories. All you need is a BOSU ball.”

If you have no idea what a BOSU trainer is, it’s that blue piece of equipment that looks like a fitness ball cut in half. You may have seen gym goers using it to intensify lunges or make their squats a bit more challenging. The unstable surface strengthens muscles in a way that flat surfaces can’t compete with. That’s why it has become a favorite amongst stars like Kardashian.

The best part about a BOSU ball is that they don’t take up too much space, and it’s much more affordable than complex fitness machines. The one above comes with a workout DVD and a pump to inflate the ball for only $88.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can get it two-day shipping for free (because summer is here). So you might as well grab one to keep at home for those moments you don’t feel like going to the gym.

Prep for Headstand With These 5 Yoga Poses

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Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a beginner, inversions or upside down yoga poses like headstand probably excite and scare the hell out of you. Although daunting at first, there’s something extremely liberating in trying, trying again, practicing . . . and finally nailing that inversion pose you’ve been working on for what feels like a lifetime.

Wondering why in the world you’d want to go upside down in the first place? Here are 10 Reasons to Do Inversions.

Physically, you feel ready ready to grow into your inversion practice and finally take on the challenge of a headstand. But mentally, you can’t get past the image of your legs flailing wildly through the air before crashing down to the ground with a big, anything-but-graceful . . . THUD.

Odds are, you’re going to a take a tumble (or thirty) during the process of learning how to do Headstand Pose. However, the most important thing to understand with this practice is that you can’t fear failure. If falling is the only thing on your mind while practicing, it’s quite obvious what the universe is going to present you with falling!

Interested in learning about the benefits of Headstand? Read All About Headstands & 7 Tips to Do Them Safely.

Instead, focus on succeeding. Imagine nailing that headstand. Make it the clearest thought in your head. Have courage in yourself and concentrate on reaching your goal. If you’re not too keen on the idea of throwing yourself upside down in the air using just the power of thought, there’s an easier way to accomplish this exhilarating inversion.

Prepare yourself for Headstand by practicing the five yoga poses below:

1. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is known to be one of the most restorative all-over stretches, as it stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet, and the hands. It’s a fantastic pose to prepare for Headstand because it strengthens both the arms and legs.

Downward-Dog

How to Practice Downward Facing Dog:

  • Start on all fours with your hands slightly past your shoulders
  • Plant your palms, pressing actively through each fingertip
  • With your feet hip-width distance apart, tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back
  • Keep your knees bent at first to lengthen the spine, then straighten the legs as much as possible
  • Hold for ten breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • When starting on all fours, the creases in the wrist should be parallel to the top of the mat
  • If your spine is rounding, bend your knees generously
  • Send your gaze toward the toes or thighs

Looking for more tips on Downward Facing Dog and proper alignment? Watch our Down Dog Tutorial video.

2. High Plank

High Plank Pose is great for strengthening and toning the entire body. It develops core strength and stability. High Plank is an amazing pose to help prepare for Headstand because it strengthens the core and arms.

High-Plank

How to Practice High Plank Pose:

  • From Downward Dog, shift forward into the top of a push-up (shoulders stacked directly over wrists)
  • Your body should make one straight line like a plank of wood
  • Spread your fingers apart and press your fingertips and palms firmly into the mat
  • Engage your core strongly and lift your hips slightly as you draw your navel in towards the spine
  • Hold for ten breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep the body in one straight line from shoulders to heels. Do not let the hips or butt sag
  • Keep the neck in line with the spine and gaze slightly just beyond the front of the mat
  • Keep a micro-bend in the elbows for increased strength and joint support

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3. Cat Pose with Lifted Knees Variation

Cat Pose with Lifted Knees is a variation of Cat Pose that helps engage and ignite the core. It builds the strength you need to balance and stay upright during Headstand.

Cat-with-Lifted-Knees

How to Practice This Cat Pose Variation:

  • Find Tabletop Pose, with your hands and knees on the floor and toes tucked under
  • Arch your back so your spine curves upward while relaxing your head toward the floor
  • Tuck your tailbone
  • Press so firmly into your fingertips and toes that your knees lift off the mat
  • Hold for five breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep your shoulders pressed away from the ears
  • Do not force your chin to your chest

4. Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold

This Wide-Legged Forward Fold helps build strength in your legs and gives you the sensation of being upside down. It also stretches the hamstrings and helps open up the hips.

Wide-Legged-Fold

How to Practice Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold:

  • Take a four foot step into a wide straddle and slightly turn your toes inward
  • Fold at the hips while keeping your spine and legs straight
  • Place your hands on the mat directly beneath your shoulders
  • Begin to walk your hands back, bringing your wrists in line with your ankles, if possible
  • Bend at the elbows and bring your bodyweight forward into the balls of your feet
  • Hold for five breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Option to bring a slight bend into the knees if the stretch feels too intense
  • Try different arm variations, like walking the hands in front of you for an extended Down Dog, or grab the ankles for a deeper stretch

5. Tripod Balance

Tripod Balance is a wonderful pose for strengthening both your shoulder and core muscles. It also helps to improve balance and will ultimately help prepare you for Headstand. Tripod is the first step towards a full Headstand. You’re getting close now!

Tripod-Balance

How to Practice Tripod Pose:

  • Find Table Pose and place the crown your head on the floor
  • Place your hands slightly in front of your face and out to the side, creating a shelf directly beneath your elbows
  • Tuck the toes and lift your knees off the ground
  • Place your right knee on your right tricep and your left knee on your left tricep
  • Hold pose for five breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Hands should be shoulder-width distance apart and directly below your elbows
  • Be sure it’s the top of your head that’s planted to protect your neck
  • If it makes you feel more comfortable, do this with your back a few inches away from a wall for added support

Okay, now let’s give Headstand a go!

How to Practice Headstand

If you find yourself capable of steadily holding Tripod Balance for 10+ breaths, and feel confident enough to straighten the legs, you are ready to try Headstand!

Headstand-730

How to Practice Headstand Pose:

  • From your Tripod Balance, keep your knees on your triceps for a moment to find balance
  • Use your abdominal muscles to push the legs upward into the air and squeeze your thighs and knees together
  • Keep your gaze steady ahead focusing on one single point (moving your gaze might throw you off balance)

Alignment Tips:

  • Hips should be stacked over your shoulders and your ankles should be stacked over your hips
  • Keep your body in a straight line by engaging your core muscles
  • To exit the pose, keep the core engaged and slowly lower your legs down (option to come back through Tripod for an added strengthening challenge)

Important Note: If you still don’t feel confident enough to make your way into a freestanding Headstand, a great solution is to practice Headstand against a wall. Start with your Tripod Balance, except this time, do so approximately one foot away from the wall. Push your legs skyward using the techniques above and then rest your flexed feet against the wall behind you, as needed.

Need help preparing for other inversions? Try these 5 Yoga Poses to Prep for Inversions.

Usually, the holding and balancing in Headstand is the hardest part, so propping yourself against a wall will help you find balance with much more security. It will also help you learn and understand how your body will feel while balancing in this inversion.

Enjoy Your Journey to Headstand

Whether you’re new to the world of inversions or experienced in upside down yoga poses, always remember to listen to your body. Never judge yourself for not being where you would like to be in your practice. Instead, be grateful for all of your abilities and strengths.

Continually honor your body, find joy in the journey of practice and learning, and be proud of the progress you’ve made, no matter how big or small.

The post Prep for Headstand With These 5 Yoga Poses appeared first on YogiApproved.

How to Make a Japa Mala Necklace + Charge It With Intention

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If you are a yogi or just spiritual AF, you’ve probably seen Japa mala necklaces . . . maybe you even own one. If you do, maybe you wear it as a fashion accessory or use it during meditation and you probably paid a pretty price for it. But, did you know that you can easily and affordably make your own Japa mala necklace, charged with your creativity, good vibes, and positive intentions?

What is a Japa Mala Necklace?

Japa malas or malas are beautiful strands of 108 sacred beads that have been used in meditation for millennia by Hindus. And modern yogis are now finding empowerment and enlightenment in these sacred beads.

In Sanskrit, Japa mala literally translates to prayer beads for spiritual practice.

Hindus traditionally hold their malas in their right hand and slide their thumb across each bead to count each time a mantra is recited, for a total of 108 times. As a yogi, it was only a matter of time until I learned how to make my very own Japa mala. Making a Japa mala is a very meditative practice that can be just as healing as actually using the mala to recite mantras.

What is the significance of 108?

Ever wonder why mala necklaces have 108 beads? The exact meaning of the number 108 is open to interpretation across cultures and disciplines, but there is no denying its significance. Look at where 108 shows up:

  • In the ancient text of the Vedas, there are 108 Hindu Scriptures (or Upanishads)
  • In Vedic Astrology, there are 12 zodiac houses and nine planets when multiplied the total is 108
  • There are 108 Qi energy lines (or meridians) within the body
  • In numerology, the number 1 stands for God, 0 is the wholeness of spirit found through enlightenment or non-attachment, and 8 represents infinity

Japa Mala Necklace Materials

Mala beads are made from many different materials stone, wood, bone, or seeds from the Rudraksha tree. Japa mala necklaces are traditionally strung on a hand-knotted cord with 108 beads, plus a guru bead (the anchor at the center of the mala, above the tassel), and a tassel.

To choose the beads, it may be best to go to a bead store and let the energy of the beads speak to you. You can also find most of these items in a bead store, so it’s a good option for a one-stop-shop.

  • Beadsmith or a board to lay out your beads and accessories (optional)
  • Jewelry tweezers or pliers (they should have a sharp point)
  • Bead cord (I like to use the ones with the needle already attached for easy stringing)
  • Yarn or fabric cord to make the tassel
  • Jeweler’s glue or crazy glue
  • 1 medium-sized stone or 12 mm bead for the guru bead
  • 108 6-8mm beads
  • Additional options charms or accent beads

How to Choose Beads Based on Their Energetic Properties

Crystals and gemstones carry different frequencies of vibration, giving them specific properties that help you heal, amplify your energy, and even invite love into your life. You can choose a crystal based on its healing properties, color, or just simply because it calls to you. Here are a few ideas to start with:

Healing: Apache Tears, Amethyst, Obsidian

Grounding: Agate, Jasper, Smoky Quartz

Calming: Blue Lace Agate, Blue Calcite, Aquamarine

Love: Emerald, Rose Quartz, Chrysoprase

Abundance or Luck: Jade, Aventurine, Citrine

Happiness: Ocean Jasper, Peridot, Carnelian

Intuition: Apatite, Lapis Lazuli, Moonstone, Sodalite

Clarity: Clear quartz, Calcite, Hematite, Azurite

Traditionally, Japa mala necklaces were never to touch the ground as that was believed to be a sign of disrespect. And when not in use, they were to be placed in a pouch, away from the elements. Malas (and crystals alike) are believed to carry the energy of the individual who wears them, so they are not be handled or touched by anyone else, as to not absorb their energy.

How to Choose Beads Based on Your Astrological Sign

In Hinduism, Vedic Astrology plays a major role in daily life. By choosing beads based on your astrological sign, you can support and strengthen the characteristics that your sign embodies. Find the stone allies for your sign below:

Aries: Agate, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Dolomite, Jade, Tourmaline

Taurus: Emerald, Malachite, Amber, Angel Wing Agate, Chrysanthemum stone

Gemini: Agate, Apatite, Citrine, Emerald, Natural glass

Cancer: Bornite (Peacock Rock), Citrine, Moonstone, Ruby

Leo: Carnelian, Onyx, Golden Topaz, Sunstone

Virgo: Malachite, Unakite, Calcite, Cluster Quartz

Libra: Gold Rutilated Quartz, Fire Opal, Fire Agate, Flourite

Scorpio: Smoky quartz, Topaz, Amethyst, Sodalite

Sagittarius: Blue topaz, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, Tourmaline

Capricorn: Agate, Tiger’s Eye, Smoky Quartz, Black Tourmaline

Aquarius: Garnet, Hematite, Amethyst, Rainforest Jasper

Pisces: Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Blue Lace Agate, Lapis Lazuli

Follow this step-by-step guide to create your very own Japa mala necklace, charged with intention:

Stay open in the creative process and follow your intuition. Creativity flows best when you do not overthink the process. Before you begin, set an intention for your mala so that whenever you wear it, you can channel and manifest your specific intention.

1. Gather All Your Materials

On a flat and clean surface, prepare your 108 beads for stringing. If you are using a variety of beads, you may want to lay them in the order you want to string them. Note: This is where the beadsmith board is helpful.

2. Tie the End Knot

Take your bead cord and measure a 2-inch segment from the end, without the needle. Tie a large knot at this 2-inch mark, leaving the extra bit of cord at the end. This will be the starting point for your mala and you will need the extra 2 inches of cord to tie the guru bead and tassel.

Note: You will place the guru bead under this knot. Make sure you are organizing your beads in the correct order, starting from here.

3. Thread the First Bead

Taking the end with the needle, thread your first bead onto the cord, and push it all the way to the end with the knot. It should be pressed firmly against the end knot.

4. Add a Knot

Extend your index and middle finger (use your less dominant hand for this step). Wrap the cord around these two fingers twice. You can hold the cord in place with your thumb. Take the needle end of the cord and slide it into the loop, sliding it behind your fingers/hand. Grab your tweezer/plier with your dominant hand.

Next, pull the cord taut, until a knot starts to form toward the top of the bead. Try to get the knot as close to the top as you can. Then use the tweezer/plier to slide the knot down so that it tightens snug against the bead.

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5. Add Beads + Charge Your Japa Mala

Continue the process of adding a bead then tying a knot. Remember, the knot should fit snugly against each bead. Channel the energy of your intention as you go chant a mantra or bring your intention to mind with each knot you tie. This process can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple weeks. Take your time and enjoy the creative process!

6. Add the Guru Bead

Take your guru bead and insert both ends of the thread into the hole in the bead. Once threaded through the bead, tie the ends into a knot. Then tie a second knot. Tying it twice symbolizes the complementary nature of masculine and feminine energies. This will also firmly secure the bead in place. Leave the two strands hanging for now we will use these in the next step for the tassel.

7. Make the Tassel

Take a 35 inch card (a credit card or a piece of stiff cardboard is perfect) and start wrapping the yarn or cord around the card. The amount of times you wrap the cord is up to you. The more you wrap, the thicker the tassel will be. In this example, I wrapped it around the card about 25 times.

Slide the cord off the card, but hold it securely so it does not unravel. Take the two pieces of string hanging from the guru bead and tie two knots on the inside portion of the tassel. Once secure, take your glue and dab a little on the knots. Allow the glue to dry for approximately 5 minutes. Once the glue is dry, cut the excess string close to the knot.

Cut another 8-10-inch piece of yarn or cord and wrap it around the tassel (about half an inch from the top) 5 times. It is wrapped 5 times around the tassel to represent the 5 elements (earth, air, fire, water, ether). Tie a double knot, then dab a little glue onto the knot. Allow this to dry for 5 minutes. When dry, cut the excess string and smooth it against the existing tassel threads.

Lastly, cut the bottom of the tassel loop and trim the ends so they are even. This is symbolic of letting go and releasing any past energy that is no longer needed.

Note: You can also purchase a pre-made tassel online if you prefer. You can find them at jewelry supply shops or even on Etsy.

Don’t Forget to Cleanse + Charge Your Mala

It is important to cleanse and positively charge your mala, as many hands have touched the beads, cord, and guru bead. You can do this by lighting palo santo or sage and wafting the smoke around the mala. You can also soak your mala in saltwater or fresh spring water or place it under the light of a full moon.

To maintain the integrity of your mala and ensure it thrives through the years, polish any wood beads with sandalwood oil, clean healing stones with chemical-free soap or coconut oil, and handle it with loving care.

You now have all the tools and instructions you need to make a Japa mala that is uniquely yours and a reflection of your soul! Use your Japa mala for meditation or simply wear it as a reminder of your intention.

The post How to Make a Japa Mala Necklace + Charge It With Intention appeared first on YogiApproved.

What Are the REAL Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

real-benefits-gluten-free-diet

The growing gluten-free trend has received a bad rap, seen as bourgeois . . . not to mention a complete nuisance to pastry chefs worldwide. So, what is gluten anyway? And why are so many people banishing gluten from their diets and beauty cabinets?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in many foods, including wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. Gluten is added to foods to maintain their elasticity during the fermentation phase of food production. Without gluten, foods like bread wouldn’t be chewy and would have a sticky, crumbly texture instead.

Gluten Allergies: An Overview

According to Livescience, researchers revealed that between 2009-2014, the rate of celiac disease diagnoses remained steady. Yet, researchers noted that the number of Americans without celiac disease who adopted gluten-free diets steadily grew.

Not sure if gluten impacts your health? Gain insight into your health and your gut with this Simple, Holistic, and Practical Guide to Healthy Digestion.

Whether gluten intolerance, or distaste for processed food, is responsible for this trend, it is clear that the gluten-free fad is here to stay. Here are the two main types of gluten allergies:

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes people to not be able to digest gluten normally. If someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it will attach to the small intestine and cause digestive issues, including bloating, weight loss, and diarrhea.

Gluten Intolerant

Some people don’t have a full-blown allergy to gluten, but they may be intolerant. Once gluten is removed from their diets or even their beauty regimes they see a reduction in inflammation, an increase in energy and vitality, and healthier skin.

3 Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Although research on the impacts of gluten is still underway, a gluten-free diet and lifestyle may lead to the following health benefits for some people:

Improved Digestion

If you suffer from digestive issues, you may notice a significant difference in your tummy troubles by eliminating gluten. If you have celiac disease, gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine. If you don’t have celiac, but you have gluten intolerance, gluten can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and other issues.

Reduced Inflammation

Small proteins called cytokines, released during an inflammation response, can cause inflammation in other body tissues, aside from the digestive system. Some individuals who have gluten intolerance can experience numb legs, muscle cramping, and joint pain by consuming gluten. By following a gluten-free diet, these issues could be reduced.

Continuing to consume gluten may cause chronic inflammation, which may lead to further pain and even cancer. Inflammation can also appear on the skin: following a gluten-free diet can improve skin conditions, including eczema.

Improved Mental Clarity

Have you ever felt brain fog? If you have, you may have been unable to focus, think, or get your thoughts out verbally. Following a gluten-free lifestyle may help you think and focus more easily. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness states that people who have gluten sensitivity experience depression, brain fog, and headaches all due to inflammation in the brain.

How to Replace Gluten in Your Diet (and Still Eat Your Favorite Foods)

Whether you are diagnosed with an allergy or just want to give it a try, giving up gluten can seem overwhelming at first. The best thing to do is focus on what you can eat, rather than what you can’t eat.

Concerned about how eating gluten free will impact your wallet? Read How to Be Gluten-Free on a Budget.

Gluten-Free Grain Alternatives to Try

Going gluten-free doesn’t mean that you don’t have options in the kitchen! There are many delicious, healthy grain alternatives. Here are 6 grain alternatives to try:

  1. Amaranth
  2. Buckwheat
  3. Millet
  4. Quinoa
  5. Sorghum
  6. Teff

The grains above are awesome alternatives to gluten-based grains. These ancient grains also pack powerful nutritional punches, including magnesium, protein, zinc, fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, and more. Check out this helpful chart to learn more!

gluten-free-grains

Source

Keep in mind that just about anything that has gluten can be made gluten free. You don’t have to give up your wraps, bread, or even pasta. And yes, you can eat snickerdoodles and brownies! Get creative with the grains above to stay gluten free and eat your favorite food.

The post What Are the REAL Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet? Here’s Everything You Need to Know appeared first on YogiApproved.

Master One-Legged King Pigeon Pose 8 Yoga Poses to Help You Flip Your Grip

master-one-legged-king-pigeon-pose-featured

Does flipping your grip in One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Dancer Pose (Natarajasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), or any backbend pose seem impossible? Do you feel you are not bendy enough to practice One-Legged King Pigeon?

No worries! Many yoga practitioners have the same thoughts. But there are a few key yoga poses that will help prepare your body for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. And the good news is that when you practice these preparatory poses regularly, the road to flipping your grip will be even faster.

One-Legged King Pigeon is a beautiful heart opening backbend that requires more than just a bendy spine to find the full variation . . .

Flipping your grip (and One-Legged King Pigeon in particular) requires an increased range of motion in several key parts of the body like the shoulders, spine, chest, and quadriceps. The yoga poses below will help prepare these key areas in the body so you can flip your grip in this advanced yoga pose and other backbend poses too.

Practice the following yoga poses to help you flip your grip and find the full expression of One-Legged King Pigeon Pose:

1. Supported Fish Pose (Supported Matsyasana)

Supported Fish Pose gently opens your thoracic spine, chest and shoulders, and also allows you to connect to your breath. As a yoga teacher, I love the many variations available for Supported Fish Pose to accommodate different levels of flexibility and what your body needs.

fish-supported

fish-shoulder-stretch

How to practice supported Fish pose:

  • Grab two yoga blocks and begin seated on your yoga mat
  • Place one yoga block vertically along your thoracic spine (upper spine) and slowly recline onto the block with your legs extended
  • Place the second yoga block under your head for support or allow the crown of your head to relax towards the mat (similar to traditional Fish Pose)
  • Option to keep the legs extended or bring the soles of the feet together with the knees wide for a Reclined Butterfly variation to slowly open the hips
  • Keep the arms by your side for a few breaths as you focus on opening your chest and spine
  • If you would like to add a shoulder opener, slowly extend your arms toward the ceiling
  • Stay here, or to add intensity to the shoulder and chest stretch, reach the arms overhead
  • Remain in your chosen variation of Fish Pose for 30 seconds
  • To exit, press your forearms into the mat and engage your core to come back to seated

If you would like to use a yoga wheel instead of yoga blocks to enhance your Supported Fish Pose, check out the video tutorial How to Use a Yoga Wheel.

2. Shoulder Warm-Up With Yoga Strap

To flip your grip for the full variation of One-Legged King Pigeon, your shoulders need to be warm and open to stay safe and find the full rotation in the shoulder joint. A simple yet effective daily shoulder opener will help prepare your shoulders for the intense external rotation needed to flip your grip.

shoulder-stretch-strap

shoulder-stretch-raised

shoulder-stretch

How to practice this:

  • Find a long yoga strap (or belt or towel) and stand at the top of your mat
  • Grip the strap and extend your arms forward at about shoulder height with your hands wider than your shoulders
  • Slowly bring the strap overhead and behind your back to allow your shoulders to full rotate (if you cannot easily bring your hands behind your back, then make your grip wider on the strap)
  • Continue to warm up your shoulders by rotating the arms in front and behind you
  • To add a gentle stretch, shorten your grip on the strap and bring your arms overhead until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders
  • Pause here for a few breaths and then release
  • Repeat 3-4 times

Want to learn more ways to deepen your yoga practice using a yoga strap? Watch this video tutorial to learn 4 Ways to Deepen Your Practice with a Strap.

3. Cat/Cow Pose

Combining Cat Pose and Cow Pose to gently warm the spine is a favorite among yogis. Use your breath to connect the poses and feel free to pause in either pose to allow a deeper stretch in the chest and back. Cat/Cow Pose also continues to warm-up the shoulders to help prepare you for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose.

cow

cat

How to practice Cat & Cow pose:

  • Begin in Table Top Pose
  • To practice Cow Pose: inhale and lift your chest and gaze toward the ceiling allowing your belly to relax down towards the mat. Cow Pose opens your front body
  • To practice Cat Pose: exhale and draw your navel toward your spine, and press your hands firmly into the yoga mat to round your spine. Cat Pose opens your back body
  • Continue connecting Cat Pose and Cow Pose with your breath for a few rounds
  • Again, feel free to pause in either pose for a few breaths to find a deeper stretch

4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose will continue to warm up the spine and open the chest and shoulders. Cobra Pose will also activate your lower body, including your glutes, which are also needed when practicing backbends. When practicing Cobra Pose, focus on lifting the chest to find length in your spine to protect your low back.

cobra

up-dog

How to practice Cobra pose:

  • Begin in prone position on your yoga mat with your hands under your shoulders and resting on the mat
  • Make sure your legs and feet are hip-distance apart and your toenails are pressing into the mat
  • On your inhale, press your hands firmly into the mat and engage your back body to lift your chest
  • Keep your knees and feet on the mat
  • Slowly straighten into your arms to add intensity and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together to bring the bend into your thoracic spine
  • Hold and breath for 15-30 seconds and then slowly release

5. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Flipping your grip is not just about open shoulders and a bendy spine. To flip your grip, your hip flexors, psoas and quadriceps need to be open as well to get your back foot closer to the body. This will help your shoulders rotate more easily when you flip your grip. Low Lunge is a great yoga pose to invite a gentle stretch in your lower body.

crescent-lunge

crescent-lunge-backbend

How to practice Low Lunge:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, bring your right foot forward and place it in between your hands
  • Be sure the right knee is stacked directly over the right ankle
  • Release your left knee to the mat. Feel free to place a yoga blanket under your knee for added cushion if needed
  • Slowly shift your weight forward to invite the stretch in your left hip, psoas and quadricep
  • After a few breaths, extend your arms toward the ceiling and allow your hips to sink closer to the ground
  • Add a gentle backbend with arms extended or elbows bent (cactus arms) to continue to warm up the spine
  • Hold for a few breaths, and then bring your hands to the mat
  • Repeat on the opposite side

6. Lizard Pose With Quadricep Stretch

Lizard Pose provides a deeper stretch for our inner hips and the added quadricep stretch is the perfect bonus for our One-Legged King Pigeon Pose prep. The key to this pose is to connect to your breath and focus on releasing tension in your hips. The more you release the tension in your hips, the more your quadriceps will open as well.

lizard-lunge-twist

lizard-lunge-twist-forearm

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How to practice Lizard pose:

  • Begin in Low Lunge with your right foot forward and your left knee on the mat
  • Place your hands inside your right foot and focus on keeping your right knee close to your right shoulder
  • Hold for a few breaths
  • Bend your back left knee, and reach back for the left foot with your right hand
  • You will find a big rotation in the right shoulder by reaching back to grab the inside of your left foot (use a yoga strap if you’re not yet able to reach the back foot)
  • Spiral your chest open toward the ceiling and draw your left foot closer to your body to add intensity to the quadricep stretch
  • Drop down to your left forearm for a more intense stretch
  • Take a few deep breaths, then slowly release
  • Repeat on the opposite side

7. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon Pose is the base pose to flip our grip for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose and offers an amazing stretch to the outside of the hip and the hip flexors. This pose can be very intense if your hips are tight, so always keep a yoga block or yoga blanket close by for modifications as needed.

pigeon-seated

pigeon

How to practice Pigeon pose:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog, then lift your right leg out behind you
  • Plant your right knee behind your right wrist and bring your right foot toward the left side of your mat
  • Keep your left leg extended and resting on your mat
  • If your right hip is lifted off the mat, rest your hip on a yoga block or yoga blanket
  • Make sure your hips and shoulders are square to the front of your mat
  • Inhale to lift your chest and lengthen your spine, then exhale and lower the chest closer to the mat
  • Depending on how tight your hips are, you can keep the palms on the mat, bring your forearms to a block or the mat, or extend your arms and rest your chest on the ground
  • Stay for 15-30 seconds and then release to a three-legged Down Dog and shake your right leg out to bring circulation back into your hip
  • Repeat on the opposite side

8. Mermaid Pose With Shoulder Stretch

Mermaid Pose is the perfect prep pose to flip our grip in One-Legged King Pigeon. The full expression of Mermaid Pose will open the chest, quadricep, side body, shoulders and hips, and also help you understand some of the mechanics needed to eventually flip your grip. Plus, prepping for Mermaid Pose offers a great shoulder stretch to help you open your shoulder for One-Legged King Pigeon.

mermaid

How to practice Mermaid pose:

  • Begin in Pigeon Pose on the right side
  • Make sure your hips and shoulders are square toward the front of the mat and your palms are on the floor
  • Bend your left knee and bend your left foot close to your seat
  • Reach your left arm forward and make a big rotation in your left shoulder to reach back and grab your left foot (use a yoga strap if needed)
  • To feel the shoulder opener on your left shoulder, keep a firm grip on your foot, keep your arm straight and then slowly bring your left shoulder forward
  • Pause when the stretch is intense and breathe deeply

After holding the shoulder stretch for a few breaths in Mermaid Pose, you have the option to move directly into the full expression of Mermaid Pose.

mermaid-full

How to practice the full expression:

  • Slowly bring the left foot closer to your body to stretch the quadricep and psoas
  • Once you feel comfortable, slide your left foot into your left elbow crease and reach your left hand toward the ceiling
  • Reach your right arm forward and make a big rotation in your right shoulder to allow your right hand to reach back and grab the left hand (your foot is still in the elbow crease)
  • Pause here and breathe deeply
  • When you’re ready, slowly release and repeat on the opposite side

Now You’re Ready For One-Legged King Pigeon Pose!

As a yoga teacher, I have found the prep for the flipping your grip is absolutely key. Now you are ready to try what we came here to do: flip your grip in King Pigeon Pose! If you did a proper warm-up by practicing this sequence, then you are prepared to teach your body the movements needed to flip your grip.

king-pigeon

How to practice the peak pose:

  • Begin in Mermaid Pose with the shoulder stretch (pose #8)
  • Bring your left foot as close as you can to your body
  • Actively flex your left foot and turn the toes away from your body
  • With your left hand, grip your left foot so the palm of your hand grabs the top of your foot. Try to grab as much of your foot as you can to help flip your grip
  • If you can, bring your left foot even closer to your body so your shoulder can rotate easier
  • Be sure you are bending with your thoracic spine (mid back) and not just your lumbar spine (low back)
  • If your shoulder feels ready, keep a grip on your foot and slowly rotate your shoulder to flip your grip
  • Once you have it, continue to open your chest and shoulders by pressing your foot into your hand
  • If you’re feeling comfortable, bring your right hand to the left foot as well for the full expression

It is important to remember your yoga practice is a journey, and part of our yoga practice is learning to enjoy the journey. Always honor your body and where you are in your practice. If you want to experience the amazing heart opener in One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, then continue to practice yoga daily and invite this sequence into your practice.

With time and practice, you will flip your grip in One-Legged King Pigeon, other backbends, and beyond! Namaste, yogis.

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