Meditation for Beginners

Meditation for Beginners

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Meditation is the practice of creating peace with oneself and occurs when the mind is calm and silent. This practice dates back to around 1500 B.C. There are a few different ways to approach meditation, but the most common form for beginners is through mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a simple way to ease into growing your practice and can help open up your mind to other styles of meditation later on. There are many physical and mental benefits that come from practicing meditation on a consistent basis.

Meditation can:

  • Help relieve stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve sleeping habits
  • Gain clarity and peace of mind
  • Increase energy levels

Before you begin any type of meditation you will need to find a quiet place away from any distractions. Make sure to put away and turn off any technology that may interrupt your practice. When choosing your meditation spot you should find a place where you can relax and one that you can visit on a consistent basis. The more frequently you meditate in a repeated location the more comfortable and at ease you will be to take your meditation to a deeper level. Feel free to use a cushion or blanket to sit on while you meditate or simply take a seat on the ground.

After you pick a location, take a seat with legs loosely crossed and sit upright. Palms rest facing down on the tops of your thighs and eyes will shut as you begin to concentrate on your breath moving in and out through your nose. Tuck your chin in a little to create added length to the back of your neck and relax your jaw.

Once settled, place one palm over your heart and one over your belly. Feel your heart beating into one palm as your belly fills and empties in the other. Keep your hands here and engage your pranayama, Sanskrit for breathing, to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation. The most common form of pranayama is 4-4-4-4 breathing. This means you will fill up your lungs as you count to 4, pause at the top for 4 seconds, exhale for 4, and hold at the bottom of your breath for 4 seconds. Keep breathing like this for 10 rounds.

Meditation For BeginnersRelease your hands back to your thighs, palms can face down again or palms can face up as you connect your index finger to your thumb creating your Jnana (juhnah-nuh) Mudra. This mudra will clear the mind and improve concentration. Find stillness in your thoughts, bringing awareness to your breath and its natural movement, rising and falling in your chest. Bring attention to your third eye, the spot between your eyebrows, as you silence your mind. This may be difficult to do at first, but remember it’s okay if thoughts come and go throughout your meditation. Allow yourself to gently acknowledge those thoughts and then release them, just like waves rolling in and out on a beach. Welcome any miscellaneous thoughts with a light heart and let them be taken back out to sea.

Meditation for Beginners
Let your body ground itself to the Earth below you as you continue to find stillness for 5 more minutes. It’s okay if your practice ends up short or past the remaining 5 minutes. Once you find yourself slowly starting to bring yourself back to the present, bring your hands to your heart’s center so that your palms face one another. Give yourself permission to slip away from what your day has in store and allow yourself to enjoy a brief moment of peace. Slowly blink your eyes awake as you complete your meditation. Note that this is your practice and there are no rights or wrongs. Your practice will continue to develop the more you meditate. Consistency is key to meditation rather than how long the duration of meditation lasts.

Meditation For Beginners
Namaste.

5 Heart-Opening Yoga Poses

5 Heart-Opening Yoga Poses

April 14, 2016
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We naturally shield ourselves from previous experiences in our life by closing our hearts off in order to protect ourselves. It’s important that we encourage ourselves to reopen our hearts again so we are able to flourish and grow, surrendering to the present and allowing more room for joy to enter back in. These five heart-opening yoga poses will challenge you physically and mentally to help build a grounded foundation for a more open heart.

*Please listen to the wisdom of your body while practicing these poses. Also, please warm up properly before attempting these poses with a SUN A sequence.

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

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Lay flat on your belly with toes tucked under. Zip up your legs, squeezing them together, hands by your ribs. Inhale and begin to push the Earth away as you peel your chest from the ground, keeping a micro bend in your elbows, pressing into the tops of your feet and making sure to keep your gaze at the top of your mat. Exhale as you slowly lower back down to the floor, resting your forehead on your mat. Flow through this a couple times. This is your Baby Cobra variation as you continue to warm up your spine. On your final inhale rise all the way up, extending your arms as straight as you can, pulling your shoulders back. You can hold at the top of this pose for a few breaths before releasing back down as you exhale.

Anuvittasana: Standing Backbend

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Start standing at the top of your mat with feet hip distance apart. Inhale, your arms up above your head. Exhale, cactus your arms creating a 90° bend at your elbows, pinching your shoulder blades back and drawing them down your spine. Push your hips forward as you begin to lean back, and go as deep into this bend that your body allows. Hold here for a couple rounds of breath.

  • For a deeper variation interlace your fingers above your head with the exception of your index and thumb, creating a steeple mudra. Extend your arms straight above your head and begin to lean back.

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On your next inhale slowly rise back up to standing and exhaling to a forward fold, releasing your lower back.

Ustrasana: Camel Pose

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Begin by kneeling on the floor with knees hip distance apart, pressing your weight into your shins and tops of your feet. Square your hips, with arms down at your sides. Inhale your hands to the small of your back, fingers pointing down. Exhale slowly start to recline back puffing up your chest and keeping thighs perpendicular to the floor. This might be enough for some, but if you feel comfortable you can slowly extend one hand down at a time to your heels. Keep your neck neutral or relax it by dropping it back, being mindful to not tense the back of your neck. Hold this pose for a few rounds of breath and when you’re ready to exit inhale your hands back up to your lower back, pushing your hips forward as you start to rise up, leading with your heart and allowing your head to lift last. Exhale into child’s pose.

Matsyasana: Fish Pose

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Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Inhale lift your pelvis and slide your hands beneath your bottom with palms facing down. Exhale lower your pelvis back down on top of your hands, squeezing your forearms and elbows to your side. Inhale grounding down into your forearms and elbows puffing up your chest and lifting your head up from the floor creating an arch in your lower back. (If your back is flexible enough the crown of your head should be able to rest on the floor. If your head is resting on the floor be mindful of not crunching your neck and allowing little weight pressing between your head and the ground). You can keep your knees bent or exhale, straightening out the legs, activating your thighs by pushing weight through your heels. Take a few inhales and exhales here. On your final exhale slowly lower your back down to the ground, drawing your knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around to give yourself a big squeeze, releasing your spine.

Urdhva Dhanurasana: Wheel Pose (Variation)

Lie on your back, knees bent, heels hip distance apart, and fingertips at your side. Inhale, placing your hands by your head. Exhale, pushing your hips up to the sky for wheel pose keeping knees pointed forward and legs parallel to each other.

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Take another inhale in wheel pose and as you exhale begin to bend into your elbows as you lower your head to the floor gently, bringing your forearms down to the mat one at a time to frame your head, interlacing your fingers. Inhale expanding your chest. Exhale to soften. Inhale squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing them down your back. Take a couple breaths in and out here. This variation will help guide you to eventually reach Two- Legged Inverted Stagg Pose.

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On your last exhale release your hands and bring them back by your head. Slowly melt down onto your back and adjust yourself for savasana.

NAMASTE

Post-Holiday Stress Releasing Yoga Poses

Post-Holiday Stress Releasing Yoga Poses

April 14, 2016
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As we wrap up the holiday season, here are some of our favorite post-holiday stress releasing yoga poses put together for a simple 5 minute yoga flow. Please feel free to modify any poses and let your soul practice where you most feel comfortable. Invite a friend or family member to practice with to enter the New Year stress free!

*Please listen to the wisdom of your body while practicing some of these poses

1.Balasana: Child’s Pose

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Sit up right on your legs bringing big toes to touch.  Open knees wide while reaching forward with finger tips stretched out in front of you. Place forehead to the floor, sinking hips down to deepen the stretch. Take one big inhale expanding your lungs, then slowly let your breath out as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.

2. Marjaryasana/Bitilasana: Cat/Cow Pose

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Start in a table top position, knees directly below your hips, shoulder stacked over wrists, face pointed down for a neutral spine.

  • Cow –  Take one big inhale and begin to lift your sitting bones and chest towards the ceiling. Let your belly sink to the floor, while gazing up towards the ceiling.
  • Cat –  As you begin to exhale your breath slowly start rounding your spine to the ceiling, keeping shoulders away from ears.

3. Uttana Shishosana: Puppy Pose

 

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Return to table top position shoulders stacked over wrists, hips directly above your knees. Walk hands forward, while keeping toes curled under. Inhale deeply and as you begin to exhale shift hips back towards heels, keeping arms active and reaching forward, not letting your elbows touch the ground. Let your forehead or chin gently rest on the ground, allowing your lower back to slightly curve. Press hands into the ground stretching your arms as you continue to pull your hips back. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds while maintaining your breath.

4. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Bridge Pose

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Lie supine (spine) on the floor, bending your knees with feet set on the floor, inch your heels back to your fingertips. Inhale deeply and as you begin to exhale slowly raise your hips to the ceiling keeping thighs parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep knees stacked above your heels. Firm your shoulder blades against your back pressing into the top of your sternum to your chin. Continue to breath as you firm your outer arms, broadening the shoulder blades, try to lift space between them at the base of the neck, holding for 30 seconds.

5. Savasana: Corpse Pose

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After lowering your spine back to the ground from bridge pose, extend one leg out one at a time, pushing through the heels. Release both legs, softening your body down to the ground. Stay in this pose for however long your body needs. To exit, gently roll onto one side, pressing hands down lifting your torso up with head following after.

For more stress relieving yoga poses visit Yoga Journal.com

NAMASTE!