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Win an Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1 Yoga Mat

Recently named a top yoga mat from Forbes Magazine, Aurorae is giving away one of our US-patented Synergy 2-in-1 yoga mats, which is ideal for hot yoga and those who perspire during their practice.

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Mindfulness Through Yoga: Guest Blog

By Casandra Rae Shell

Throughout yoga’s recent history in the western world, we have seen it evolve in many different ways. It’s become a well known and normal part of this culture for over the last 120 years, first being introduced to yoga and it’s concepts by Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800s. Other influential teachers such as Parmahansa Yoganada followed to pave the way from the East sharing their enlightenment & wisdom. Up until America imposed a quota on immigration in 1924.

This ban quickly influenced people from the west to travel to the east, to seek knowledge, history, and enlightenment. Indra Devi & Richard Hittleman we’re some of the American pioneers that brought yoga to the west. Within a short time, throughout the 20th-century yoga has become well known and practiced by over 30 million people across the United States today.

Yoga holds a different meaning for each of us: for some, it is simply a workout or a sport, and for others it’s more spiritual. Sometimes people find yoga or in other instances, yoga may find us. It has a unique and individual effect on each practitioner.

Over time the roots of yoga and how it came to be here have been undoubtedly overshadowed. Bringing along new elements to the mat. Maybe we have begun to equate our enlightenment with our level of physical flexibility comparing our ability to those around us. Perhaps it allowed social media to implant an unrealistic image of what we must look like or be like to participate in the practice of yoga or call oneself a yogini or yogi.

With this awareness, it brings an opportunity to invite ourselves to sit quietly, to see our intentions, to be mindful of our own individual journeys. Honoring that where we are in our journey or practice is where we are supposed to be in that moment. And although we are unable to recreate the thousands of years of history that yoga in East holds before us, we individually and within our communities can continue to have reverence for that history and be a positive part of the evolution of yoga in the west.

With Gratitude~Casandra

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Posted in Guest Blog, Perspective, Yoga, Yoga Practice

How Yoga Makes You Youthful

The therapeutic benefits of yoga are well-touted. From reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation to increased flexibility and strength; yoga practice pays off in spades. The deep stretch and sense of calm is a welcome reprieve from the daily stress of modern living.

yoga for breast cancer patients
Legs at the wall is a cooling inversion yoga pose

If you were like me when I started my yoga journey, you also wondered why headstands were so popular in yoga. To me, they seemed like a whole lot of effort for little return. I mean, didn’t we leave handstands behind in grade school? Like once our body weight went from double digits to triple digits, didn’t it make sense to just stop doing cartwheels and backflips?

But 5,000 years of yoga can’t be wrong. And no matter where I went, whether it was traditional or hot yoga, Hatha or Iyengar, in a studio or a park, I couldn’t get away from these more advanced inversions. The more I went to yoga and saw yogis who could lift themselves, the more I wanted to try. Slowly but surely, I would be able to lift a toe off the ground when I was in crow pose and then a foot and well, one day, both feet. But I still didn’t know why we did it.

All the other poses made sense. I was stretching a muscle that had been tight or I was using my core to maintain my balance, but headstands seem to put a lot of pressure on my hands and head. I could understand the sense of achievement one could get from lifting their entire body weight and the blood rushing to the head would feel good too, but for what end? Then, I decided to surrender to the process, and I learned that these inversions are a gift to humanity.

An inversion is considered any pose that requires the head to be below the heart. Examples are headstands, handstands, and forearm stands, but even downward dog and bridge poses are also inversions. Luckily, there is equipment like blocks and straps to assist you in getting into these positions.

How do inversions make you feel young?

Increases blood flow

Getting more blood flow to your brain increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to process tasks that require focus, concentration, and analysis.

Promotes Relaxation

There are inversions that are invigorating and energizing like handstands and headstands, which are known as hot inversions. There are also relaxing inversions like shoulder stands and legs up the wall. These are known as cooling poses and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm us and leave us feeling peaceful.

Initiates Detoxification

Due to muscle contractions and gravity, inversions also stimulate the lymphatic system that moves toxins through the body.

Requires Even More Presence and Patience

Yoga requires a fair amount of presence and patience to hold the most basic of poses. Inversions invite an increased sense of awareness of our bodies and surroundings. Since learning how to walk as a child, we’ve grown accustomed to balancing with our feet. So much so, that we may forget how much balance it takes to be vertical. When we invert ourselves, we are back to square one.

Strengthens Our Upper Bodies

Inversions require us to put more weight and pressure on our hands, shoulders, chest, and abs, making our upper body and core get stronger.

Gives a Fresh Perspective

It takes a willing attitude to begin the journey of incorporating inversions, which will make you see the world from a different angle. This uncommon view can give us a refreshing, new way of looking and processing what we see.

Increases Confidence

Confidence makes everyone attractive. We are drawn to confident people. Inversions are challenging poses that give a great sense of accomplishment which in turn increases confidence. When the stress and anxiety of daily life strike, a shoulder stand can do the trick.

Offers Humility

It’s very likely that when we attempt inversions we will fall once or twice (or 100!) as we get the hang of it. We learn non-attachment and perseverance on our road to yoga mastery.

This list is just a few of the benefits that inversions provide. It’s always recommended to begin with some gentle yoga poses and work your way up to more advanced positions. Hopefully, with time and perseverance, inversions will be a pose you look forward to during your practice.

Posted in Guest Blog, Uncategorized, Yoga

Girls Who Travel Aurorae Yoga Mat Giveaway

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How to Accomplish Your Goals

As we live our daily lives, we are often caught up in the day to day, and forget about our big picture. We have one life to live and no matter what you think, we all have a purpose in this life. Whether it is to make others happy, or to live a fulfilling life full of adventure, or we just want to love and be loved, humans succeed with a sense of purpose. One way we choose to find this sense of purpose is by seeking a set of goals. Whether those goals are daily goals, annual, or lifetime achievements, these are our hopes, dreams and desires. Goal setting is one of the most popular ways to find a sense of purpose in life.

Steps For How to Accomplish Your Goals

1.Write it Down

The very first step to accomplishing your goals is to write the end goal down on a piece of paper. You can type it or write it, whatever you choose. By writing it down, you are making it real and visual.

2. Create a Mantra

This may sound hokey, but you have to believe that you can accomplish your goal before you set out to achieve it. It has to be something that you believe you are capable of, and you have to remind yourself of this daily. Those who give up on their goals because they have the mindset that they cannot do it are forgetting why they created the goal in the first place.

3. Envision the Plan

You’re not just going to achieve your goal right away. You’ll need to prepare yourself mentally to take on the challenge of accomplishing this goal. Envision yourself as you perceive you will be when you have achieved your goal.

4. Break your Goal Down

A real end goal is going to be hard to achieve in one step. Therefore, you should break it down into smaller steps. For instance, if you want to start your own business one day, you’re going to have to do research, gain capital, have a marketing plan, and seek supporters. You cannot simply just start your business without accomplishing these smaller goals.

5. Break Your Smaller Goals Down Even Farther

Yep. We’re talking about the nitty gritty here. The reason for this is that you are more likely to accomplish a small task if you know what that small task is rather than staring at a to do list that says “gain capital.” You can try making a list of potential investors, saving a certain amount of money each month, investing your own money in a bank, and the list goes on.

6. Guess what? Break Those Goals Down Even Smaller!

I know you think I’m crazy, but if you can break down a goal into the most minute, menial task, you are more likely to take it on. After time, you are going to see how much you have accomplished towards your goal and feel encouraged to keep going. You will not want to put all that good time you’ve spent towards achieving your goal to waste.

7. Prioritize & Speak to a Mentor

Now that you have your …really long… list of tasks, you’ll want to prioritize them. It helps to speak to someone who has achieved a similar goal as well. Finding a mentor to help you a long the way is not only going to provide you sage advice, but you will have someone holding you accountable and a cheerleader along the way.

8. Execute

Start with the most important tasks first. You’ll know how much time you have to execute each task, so not only should you follow your priority list, but you can also squeeze in whatever tasks you have created that you have time for. Do not lose sight of #1 though. This is your end goal! You have written it down for a reason. Keep this pinned somewhere you’ll be executing your tasks and you will achieve your goal.

9. Expect Bumps and Persevere

No large task has gone without bumps in the road. Be flexible. Take a break if you are feeling down about your accomplishments. Taking breaks will help you persevere through the hard times. If it isn’t hard, you wouldn’t have to go through all this work to achieve a goal.

If you’ve gotten this far, we hope that you are on your way to finding your purpose in life. If you have already found your purpose, but you have hopes and dreams you would like to accomplish in your lifetime, we hope that you will find this short list helpful. Remember, “Don’t let life achieve your goals because achieving your goals can change your life.”

 

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Posted in Healthy Habits, Healthy Lifestyle

Guest Blog Post: Easy At-Home Exercises to do at Home

Guest Blog Post from Cassie Brewer

All of us in this world are striving for a happy, healthy life. This means eating foods that nourish us, spending quality time with the people with love, and moving our bodies with regular exercise. We also need to focus on centering our spirits and having rested, calms minds – which, I must admit, is much more difficult.

But what if there was a way to exercise our bodies, calm our minds, and center ourselves in one fell swoop? We’d be crazy not to jump at the chance! Well, yoga manages to accomplish all of the above. The benefits of a regular yoga practice are many, and anyone can do it.

easy-stretchesIn fact, yoga can be a great way to introduce your kids to healthy habits. With obesity on the rise in countries all over the world, it is more important than ever that your children learn early on to take care of their bodies. Here are a few suggestions for exercising with your kids. With these, you’ll be able to progress in your yoga practice, create healthy habits for your and your children, and spend some extra time with those little ones you love!

Start Their Day With A Little Movement

Think about how you start your day. Do you wake up, trudge into the kitchen, and sit down to a bowl of cereal? Most of us do, but this pattern does not lead us to an active life. One of the most difficult things about creating any habit is starting – for the long term and the short term. If exercise isn’t second nature to you, it can be easy to say “I’ll start tomorrow.” This is particularly true if you begin your day in a sedentary way.

Instead of letting your kids start their day sitting at the breakfast table or in front of the TV, make sure that they are taking time to move each morning. Spend a little time on the mat with them – even 15 minutes will do – practicing sun salutations, triangle poses, or simply stretching they way their bodies want to. You’ll find that you both feel better when you’re done.

Burn Off That Energy

childrenOf course, kids can’t do yoga all the time. They have too much energy (and let’s face it, it’s energy you’d love to bottle). So when your children come home from school, or when you come home from work, make sure you spend a little time burning off all that energy!

Run around in the yard with your kids. Play sports with them. Bust out some old fashioned schoolyard toys, like a jump rope, hula hoop, maybe some chalk for a game of hopscotch. The cardio will be great for you, and the quality time will help form precious memories for your both. Who could pass up an offer like that?

Get Them Ready For Bed

Bedtime can be a struggle for many people who have young children. Often this is because those little ones didn’t have time earlier to burn off all that energy. But let’s say they have, and they still won’t settle down to sleep. What could be the problem?

I’d be willing to bet that the issue is a busy mind. Kids are full of ideas and imagination, and that can’t be shut off just because it’s past their bedtime. This is why a slow, meditative yoga practice can be useful just before bedtime. A breath-centered vinyasa practice can get your child in the right state of mind for sleep. Not to mention the sleep benefits it can hold for busy parents (wink wink).

It is so important that you exercise with your children, exposing them to healthy habits early in their lives. This also gives you plenty of time to spend with your children, creating a bond between you that you’ll both cherish for years.

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Posted in Exercise & Fitness, Healthy Lifestyle

4 Ways to Give Back To The Community

November can be a very busy month.

Whether you’re dealing with planning for the holidays, traveling, work deadlines, final exams, or family chaos, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all. But really, November is a great month to set an intention of gratitude and service. Thanksgiving provides us with a perfect template to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for in our own lives. And, once we recognize and count our blessings, pay it forward and find ways to give back to the community.

This Thanksgiving, remember what is important in life. Find gratitude for the joys and blessings in your own life, no matter how busy things get. Then, find ways to give back to the community and improve the lives of people around you!

ways to give back to the communityCreative Ways to Give Back to the Community

  1. Support your local food bank

One of the greatest ways to give back to the community is through supporting your local food bank. We celebrate Thanksgiving through food, but many in the world, and even in our own communities don’t have enough to eat. Consider donating to your local food bank this month to uplift those that are in need. You can call the food bank and find out what their most pressing needs are, and then next time you are shopping for groceries, grab an extra little bit of what they ask for. This is a small way to make a big difference. You can also consider volunteering at the food bank as they are always looking for an extra hand this time of year!

  1. Foster an animal

Local animal shelters are always in need of foster families, especially during the Holidays. This time of year, shelters are usually very short staffed, and many animal shelters keep their animals outside in kennels that can get very cold and lonely this time of year. If you have the means, sheltering an animal can be one of the best ways to give back to the community. Not to mention, fostering an animal is a totally rewarding experience! The animals have so much gratitude in their hearts for having a cozy, safe, warm place to stay, and they will likely make your holiday a little sweeter and a lot snugglier.

  1. Give gifts that give back

In November, we often start thinking of holiday gifts for family and friends. And, let’s face it: many of our family and friends already have everything they need! This year, consider gifts that give back; maybe it’s a charitable donation in their name or honor, or a gift from a company that donates proceeds to a good cause.

  1. Take lunches to those working during the holidays

While many of us are blessed with time off, not everyone has that luxury. There are many doctors, nurses, first responders, and even some retail workers who work hard, long hours away from their families during the holidays. Bringing them a lunch or some baked goods can make them feel loved and more connected to the community during the holidays.

There are many creative ways to give back to the community during the holidays! Try some of these ideas out and you might just find these are the best holidays yet.

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Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Stress

Treat Yourself With A Trip To One Of The Best Spas In The World

We have been celebrating women’s self-care throughout the month on our blog. There are many small, everyday ways to take care of yourself; whether it’s taking a yoga class, meditating before bed, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular health screenings, or spending some extra time with your family and friends, self-care is an important part of living a happy and healthy life. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to treat ourselves in a big way!

A spa vacation is a great way to do this. It lets you get out of your house, work, routine and change things up. With a spa vacation, you will feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to jump back into your daily life and obligations with a sense of peace.

There are many excuses you could make to avoid a trip like this: money, time off work, family obligations, etc. But, if you can swing it, save the money, request time off, and just go! Your body and mind will relish in the time to renew.

We made a list of the best spas in the world that you can check out!

best spas in the worldAre These the Best Spas In The World?

The Lodge at Woodloch

This Pennsylvania spa and resort is located on 400 acres of woods and a 15 acre lake. There are gardens, waterfalls, pools with floor to ceiling windows looking out at nature, yoga, pilates, aerobics, and a full service spa. They offer couples retreats, girls getaways, babymoon escapes, and mother-daughter getaways. The Lodge at Woodloch is one of the best spas in the world and would make a fantastic vacation spot for any occasion!

Aqua Wellness Resort

This resort is located in the tropical rainforest of Nicaragua. Their accommodations are essentially luxury tree houses that are good for the environment and also incredibly beautiful. Your vacation can be as active or as relaxing as you want, as Aqua Wellness offers spa treatments, wellness classes, and tours, boat cruises, surfing, and day trips. When you visit, be sure to try one of their most popular spa treatments, their “Organic Cacao Body Polish,” a scrub using Nicaraguan cocoa beans, yogurt and honey, which leaves the skin feeling as soft as silk!

Hidden Pond

This Maine spa vacation is located in 60 acres of of forest. This one earns its spot as one of the best spas in the world for the earthy yet luxurious experience it offers. There’s hiking, biking, yoga, fresh vegetables from their garden, and luxurious spa treatments. As a bonus, many of their spa treatments feature fresh herbs from their own gardens, including lavender, mint, and rosemary!

Asclepois Wellness and Healing Retreat

This wellness center in Costa Rica earns its spot as one of the best spas in the world because of its commitment to offering services that are in harmony with the laws of life. There is yoga, meditation, flotation services, spa treatments, relaxation rooms, and a delicious organic restaurant. They offer purifying programs for those seeking a re-set, yoga retreats, romantic getaway packages, and much more.

So, are you convinced yet to take the leap and book a spa vacation at one of the best spas in the world? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted in Healthy Lifestyle

Healing with Yoga for Breast Cancer Patients

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer, early detection, self-checks, mammograms, and wellness for women diagnosed with the disease. Women fighting breast cancer know that it is a terrifying, challenging, and emotionally and physically draining journey. But, there are actions you can do to help alleviate some of the pain and discomforts that come with the diagnosis and treatment; yoga being one of them. 

We’re not talking about acrobatic, hand-stand heavy yoga done in a room set to 100 degrees. When we speak of yoga for breast cancer patients, we mean yoga as it is meant to be: a practice that helps you find union with your body and mind. The physical benefits of certain yoga poses can help with the aches and pains that come with most breast cancer treatments. The mental benefits of the overall practice can help you find inner peace during an incredibly difficult and chaotic time, which is one of the biggest gifts of this practice.

If you are a current breast cancer patient, or know someone that is, consult with your doctor to see if yoga might be beneficial for you. As with all yoga practice, yoga for breast cancer patients should be done carefully and with honor for the body’s limitations.

Yoga Poses To Help Relieve The Pain of Breast Cancer Patients

  1. Bridge Pose

This pose helps build strength in the thighs and back, and because it is a small heart opener, it also very gently stretches the muscle tissue around the breasts. If it’s too much, try it with a block on the lowest level underneath your sacrum. You can hold for five breaths and repeat. Be sure there is no pain in your low back as you do the pose.yoga for breast cancer patients

  1. Cat/Cow Pose

These two poses are great for your back and chest. You can make the moves as big or as small as you’d like, and syncing the movement with the breath also helps calm the nervous system and slow everything down. The chest muscles will slowly start to stretch out as you get deeper into the cow poses, and the back muscles will feel a nice, big stretch every cat pose.

  1. Legs Up the Wall/Chair Pose

This is one of the most relaxing poses in yoga. Lay on your back next to a wall or chair and let the legs relax up the wall for at least 3 minutes. You can make it cozier by putting a pillow under your head or under your back. You can let your eyes close, or use an eye pillow for extra relaxation. This pose invokes a sense of peace and relaxation in the body and mind.

  1. Neck Stretches

Stretch your head gently to the left and right. You can intensify the stretch by placing your hand on your head and applying very gentle pressure. This helps release tight muscles and also increase range of motion in the head and neck, which tends to get tight and hold a lot of pressure.

If you know someone going through treatment or recovering, send them this list of yoga for breast cancer patients. These simple poses can make a huge difference in the mental and physical well being of patients and survivors.

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Posted in Yoga Poses

Have you Tried Yoga for Menstrual Cramps Pain?

This month, we are focusing our blog posts on women’s health, and how living a healthy lifestyle can uplift women from all walks of life. A great source of monthly pain and frustration is menstrual cramps. Most women know that feeling of wishing we could call in sick from work once a month and lay on the couch and eat chocolate. But until that is an option (hey, you never know), we must find other ways to get around the pain and go on with our lives.

There are many ways to relieve pre-menstrual pains, including eating lots of vegetables, medication, staying hydrated, massage, and of course practicing yoga! Certain yoga poses can relieve abdominal cramping, low back pains, leg pain, and overall feelings of discomfort that come with your period. It’s important to note when doing yoga for menstrual cramps that you should honor your body and avoid any poses that bring pain or discomfort.

Next time you are feeling under the weather due to your monthly cramps, try these yoga poses and see if they help!

Try These Yoga for Menstrual Cramps Poses

Malasana (Squat Pose)

The hips can get really tight during your period, so stretching them out with a low squat can be very relieving. Sit down low with your toes and knees pointed out. If it feels okay, take a twist to each side for a few breaths in this pose as well.

yoga for menstrual crampsPaschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold Pose)

This can release some of the tension that builds up in the lower back. Start in a seated position with your legs extended out in front of you, but keep your knees a little bit bent to avoid too much tension. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale fold gently over your legs. Don’t worry too much about where your hands are.

Utthan Pristhasana (Lounging Lizard Pose)

This pose targets the hips and quad muscles and can also be a heart opener. Start in a regular lunge, and then walk the forward foot over to the edge of the mat so that both hands are on the inside of the foot. Drop the back knee. If the hips allow, place your forearms on the ground or on blocks to get deeper into the stretch. You can also bind the back foot with the front arm if that feels nice.

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

This is a pose of rest and ease, which is often just what your body needs at this time. Place your knees wide on the mat, sit your hips back towards your heels, and reach your arms forward. Let your belly just fall in between your legs and breathe ten full, deep breaths.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged Pigeon Pose)

This final pose  does wonders for your achy hips and thighs. Bring one shin forward and the opposite leg straight back. Be sure the front foot is flexed and the hips are squared. Make this pose even more wonderful by using props- you can place a block under your front hip and a bolster under your arms and head for maximum relaxation.

Have you tried these yoga for menstrual cramps poses before? We’d love to know if you had an instant gratification feeling or if it gradually helped. Do you have other poses you like to do when you aren’t feeling well? Let us know in the comments!

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