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Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care

Posted on April 28th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Be Your Own Sunshine

Everyday Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care Right at Home


By Sabrina Samedi

Let’s face it, we may strive to nourish our soul with self-love and put ourselves as a priority on our to-do list, but as the perfectly flawed humans we are, we don’t always pass with flying colors on a self-care test. If you are crunched for time or can’t afford a trip to the spa, why not bring the bliss-inspired effects of self-care home with you?! Here are some tips to help you feel renewed and rejuvenated this spring season and hopefully every season.

1. Gratitude is the Best Attitude

  • Symbolizing the bookends to the chapters that fill our days, allow the essence of gratitude to energize and seal your day. Wake up thinking of one thing that you are grateful for and before slipping away into a dream state slumber, again think of one thing you are grateful for and utter those magic words- THANK YOU! I’m sure your gratitude list is pages long, but in case you have writer’s block and a post-it is seemingly the size of a daunting 8’ X 10’ canvas- just repeat any one of these prescribed stress-relieving affirmations that are more than enough to warm up your heart with no ill side effects, we promise!
    • My life is unique and wondrous and for this fact alone, I am thankful.
    • I am grateful for all the health, love, laughter and goodness that my life has revealed to me.
    • Any day I am able to feel the support of the earth beneath me and breathe in the fresh energizing air around me is a good day. I am thankful for these precious moments.
    • I am enough- I am grateful for everything that I am, I love every fiber of my being.


2. Breathe

  • Take a few minutes, even two minutes is enough if that’s all the time you have and breathe. Yes, it’s that easy. Breathe. We do it every second of every day, but how often are we actually aware of this magical cycle- mindfully taking in prana, vital force energy and exhaling all that does not serve us- letting go of emotional turmoil, doubting thoughts and replaying negative experiences in our heads. Elongate the inhalation, perhaps to the count of four, expanding your lungs to take in all the radiating positive life energy around you and match your exhale to the count of four as well releasing all that does not serve the growth and balance of our well-being. Take a few rounds of breath just like that- matching the duration of the inhale to that of the exhale. An uplifting sensation travels up your spine, through your heart center and towards the crown of your head as you inhale and on your exhale such an invigorating breath generates soothing effects as it travels out of your physical body as a bright light illuminating the spaces outside of yourself that you hold sacred.


3. Good Ol’ cup of Joe

  • The best part of walking up is coffee in your cup or in this case, on your face! You can use a coffee scrub on your face and your entire body. Coffee scrub has several renewing and immediate benefits that include: exfoliating and anti-inflammatory effects thus temporarily reducing cellulite, improving circulation, reducing eye-puffiness and cleansing away dry or dead skin spots; therefore, leaving your skin feeling smooth. Be mindful however, not to use day-old dry coffee grind leftovers as the consistency would be too harsh for the skin. Ideally, to create the coffee face and body scrub mix quality and fresh coffee grounds with natural ingredients such as honey, coconut oil or lemon rinds or peels to create a unique self-mastered blend that will leave your skin feel hydrated, nourished, moisturized and perky-fresh. And an additional goodie- your skin will smell fabulous all day!


4. Be Your Own Cup of Tea

  • Oftentimes, an old-fashioned cup of tea not only overwhelms you with serenity but magically and with certainty makes all your problems vanish into thin air– out of sight and out of mind. Served iced or hot, tea is always in season and the benefits are beyond refreshment. In relation to your physical health, tea helps to fight free radicals in the body and contains antioxidants projecting and boosting your immune system as well as your exercise endurance. Despite the caffeine in certain flavors, tea is hydrating to the body. Take a some much-deserved “me-tome” today and match your cup of tea to your mood and needs. For example, if you need help sleeping, a soothing batch of chamomile tea can do the trick, if you need a stress reliever STAT, a mug of herbal honey-lavender tea works like magic and in case you ate something that threw your belly off track and left you feeling nauseous, an herbal ginger tea is a great remedy while peppermint tea aids in digestion.


5. Aromatherapy Bliss

  • Be your own champion in relation to well-being- seek and promote a state of balance within your body, mind and spirit through aromatherapy! Aromatherapy, also occasionally referred to as Essential Oil therapy (it is ESSENTIAL to your well-being), is the magnificent blend of the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to harmonize your physical, mental and emotional bodies. Benefits of aromatherapy include its ability to reduce anxiety, ease depression, boos energy levels, induces sleep, strengthen the immune system, boost cognitive performance while helping to eliminate headaches. To get started in your aromatherapy practice, collect a few basic oils of your favorite scents aiming the scent with the perfect purpose. For example, lavender is ideal for relaxation while rosemary is often used to aid in concentration and lemon as a deodorant or to freshen the air. Rub a single drop of two of your desired on the palm of your hand or onto in the inside of your wrist, run your palms together and then gently inhale the scents. If you prefer to avoid oil-to-skin contact, then a diffuser works wonderfully. A ceramic passive diffuser is used to get the essential oil into the air without using heat and scents a small area without irritating those around you whom might be sensitive to such scents.


6. Eat the Rainbow

  • Fuel yourself with healthy, delicious treats! Tune in and hear your body’s cravings as a sign of reflective needs. If you have a jam-packed day ahead, make sure you give yourself more protein to keep you running on all cylinders or if you’ll be seizing the great outdoors for a majority of the day, plan mindfully and stay hydrated. Your body is here to stand strong with your, feeling it’s best rather than depleted. The Deep Blue Sea Blend is one of our favorite morning smoothie recipe coming straight from The Plantpower Way. Check out the delicious and healthy blend recipe below:
    • The Deep Blue Sea Blend brims with manganese, thiamin and vitamin C, this sweet, tropical island elixir supports a healthy immune system. The spirulina delivers the ocean within by providing potent detoxifying properties, phytonutrients and a high level of protein from the sea. Drink this blend and immerse yourself in the healing aqua waters of Hawaii. Aloha!deepbluesea blend
    • Ingredients
      • 2 cups chopped pineapple
      • 1 frozen banana
      • 1/2 cup raw coconut
      • 4 cups coconut water
      • 1/2 teaspoon spirulina
    • Preparation
      • In a Vitamix or high-powered blender, add all the ingredients, blend on high for a minute. Drink!


7. Catch Up on them Zzz’s

  • Cat naps are even acceptable! Beauty rest is pivotal here as it not only makes you feel better, boosts your mood and banishes those less-than illuminating under-eye circles, but getting the adequate 7-8 hours of REM sleep per night is an intricate part to leading a healthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep improves memory, stabilizes concentration and keeps stress at bay. Thus, go ahead and hit that snooze button.


Let your movement throughout the day be mindful. Thus, eliminating the results of burn out and injury by being honest with yourself. As you start the day with gratitude, use those morning minutes to check in with yourself, plan for your day and prepare in body, mind and soul. To keep yourself grounded and focused throughout the day, embody self-love through any one of the self-care tips and remember, your practice is here to support you! To aid in your self-care journey, we offer the timeless wisdom of master yoga teachers such as Gary Kraftsow and Paul Grilley via DVDs and online courses to not only enrich you’re practice, but deepen your yoga and meditation education.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on March 2nd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Dwipada Pitham


Dwipada Pitham:  Two-footed Bridge Pose

The breath is the soundtrack to your well-being. Let’s allow such a vital and energetic essence to guide us to surrender not simply into an asana, but to release all tension and allow relief to pleasantly overwhelm the body. Throughout our yoga therapy practice, the breath remains constant as the asana changes and even as the body slowly deepens into the sequence or pose through repetition, the breath should always remain the priority: the leading proponent to any movement. As we stay with our breath, we slowly relax into the subtle movements of the pose while embracing and enjoying every second of our yoga practice. Thus, cultivating mindfulness and inner peace.

A suitable alternative to sarvangasana or shoulder stand, Dwipada Pitham or two-footed bridge pose, activates the thyroid gland that is responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Begin going into this backbend by laying on your back, your knees bent with the soles of the feet on the mat, feet hip-distance apart with your arms by your sides, palms facing down and chin tucked towards your chest so that the back of the neck is neutral and long. As you take in a deep and gentle inhale, push into the souls of the feet and slowly, mindfully use the entirety of the breath to help lift your pelvis, articulating the spine, lifting one vertebrate at a time off the mat. Upon the exhalation, permit the complete duration of your breath to guide your spine back on the mat vertebrate by vertebrate.

One variation of dwipads pitham is to lift your arms over head as you simultaneously inhale the pelvis and spine up off that mat making sure that the pace of your movement matches the pace of your breath. The connection between the breath and the asana is akin to a dance with the breath leading and the asana consciously following along. We can’t help but feel grateful when engaging in such a breath-focused movement; therefore, increasing our awareness to our body’s needs and sensations while also aligning the physical body to our emotional and spiritual body.

Physically the asana stretches the front body, which opens and expands the chest; moreover, facilitating and improving the breath. Stretching the spine backward not only rejuvenates the spine, but relieves lower back pain while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.

Viniyoga master teacher Gary Kraftsow guides you through a mindful breath-centric practice in his Viniyoga Therapy for Complete Back Care.


Embracing Self-Love via Self-Care

Posted on February 24th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


To Care For Yourself is to LOVE Yourself

By Sabrina Samedi

The month of love, or rather the month of being visually stimulated with an abundance of oversized heart-shaped and bright pink color-coated candies and balloons in almost every shop you walk into nationwide is coming to an end, but that does not mean you should stop showing yourself true love! Love is always in the air with us. Between modern-life schedules, responsibilities, chores and deadlines we are often putting on our own Cirque de Soleil juggling act; thus, setting aside time for ourselves gets lost in the shuffle. We are here to help you slow down (even if it is for five minutes) and prioritize self-care because to care for yourself, to nourish your mind, body, spirit and soul, is to practice self-love and such a graciously manifested affection cultivates nothing but healing powers.

Have an Appetite for Life.

Yes, sometimes we think of routines as the monotonous and soul-crushing enemy to creativity, but let’s shift our focus away from any preconceived notions and stereotypes and remind ourselves of the importance of balance. The routines act as the skeleton, strong foundation of our days and how we build ourselves up from there is OUR choice. This is where you can tune in, listen to the truth of your heart and even let your inner child play. Perhaps your day is occupied with domestic chores- we all eventually have to attend to such housekeeping responsibilities and it has to get done, so why not make it enjoyable instead of using the presence of such tasks as the fuel to the cranky attitude fire? Play your favorite song while you’re folding the laundry, dance around the house as you put the clothes away or dry the dishes. Let your movements be playful. If you have to be up early for work and are more of a night owl, rather than lament the world for your sleep-deprived state of mind, why don’t wake to song of mother nature-the sound of ocean waves or birds chirping- I promise there is an app for that! Wake up to something that will remind you that you are grateful to be alive. Stuck in traffic? Not a problem, use the time to call a loved one you haven’t heard from in a while (while using a hand-free device of course) or use the time to practice breathing techniques that keep you calm and centered. It’s all about how you look and treat the situation more than the situation itself and once you overcome an obstacle or previously-identified frustration, you gain more appreciation for your demeanor, your character, your learning process and wisdom. Noticing growth and appreciating the learning process is an act of self-love.

Nourish Your Mind, Body and Soul with Goodness.

Let your perspective push you or rather help you stand strong in believing in the beauty of life. Our thoughts have the ability to root us down into our intentions and help us grow or push us down into the light-deprived dungeons of our doubts and fears. Therefore, the direction we go in simply boils down to our sense of gratefulness: start and end your days by reminding yourself of all that you are grateful for. Empower yourself by being grateful for your brilliant mind, compassionate soul, warm heart and strong body. Gratefulness is a game-changer as it shifts our scattered and sometimes rushed movements into feats of mindfulness. In all that we do, let us remember to be mindful- be present in that moment, be cognizant of how such a mental-body awareness in our attitude and our perspective is cultivating an empowering rather than a defeated stance. You are capable of achieving your dreams, living authentically to align yourself with your intentions, but honor yourself by being grateful for your efforts each and every day. While you nourish your mind and soul with compassion, nurture your physical body with the same state of presence. Eat the rainbow, the gardens and all the treats that sustain you; be kind to your body by tuning into how you feel. If you over-indulge in a few too many chocolate chip cookies, then be mindful of the after-affect feelings to prevent such discomforts and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself almost immediately for the bumps along the road to well-being because guilt and shame are not invited to join you on your self-guided self-care retreat. Nurture your spirit by keeping the internal dialogue with yourself kind- you are enough, please remember that. Compassion along with gratitude can not only help you survive the tough days, but such vital essences give you the strength and determination to thrive going forward. Tune in to see what you are craving and why and feed yourself soulfully: consume what feels good and does good for your body.

Keep Up to be Kept Up.

The old adage is true: a body in motion stays in motion and let’s keep our bodies moving and grooving to the best of their abilities. However, let us first ask ourselves what type, style or level of motion is good for us in this present moment (as the day before or the day after your body might feel and move differently; thus do not judge yourself if how you move today is more or less energized than yesterday). If you are suffering from an injury or your mind is cluttered with scattered thoughts about your to-do lists for the next week, then maybe it’s time your movement reflects your needs. Tune in and take note if the voice you are listening to is that of the inner self, the soul or the ego: yes, you’ve identified that you want to move, but are you honestly too drained for a 90-minute sweat fest? If so, then honor your body by stepping away from the ego and move from your heart instead. Clear your head and soak in some vitamin D by taking an energizing walk outside or maybe a stroll in the crisp air and under the moonlight is better served for you to get the creative juices flowing. Cleanse your body of any tightness and stretch or perhaps let go, release and surrender into a Viniyoga practice. Allow the breath to guide you- not just in the physical yoga practices, but as often as possible in daily life. Let such a powerful and vital life force cleanse the toxic stale air out of your lungs and flourish your mental and physical body with rejuvenated energy. To help get you started with your practice, we offer the timeless wisdom of master yoga teachers such as Gary Kraftsow and Paul Grilley via DVDs and online courses to not only enrich your practice, but deepen your yoga education.

Slow Down and Smell the Roses. (I prefer Sunflowers, but you get the gist)

Yes, it might seem counter intuitive to my suggestion to get the body moving, but remember, life is filled with balance. I’ve mentioned tuning in quite a bit, but what is tuning in? Tuning in is self-discovering, it is listening to your inner self, it is trusting your intuition and that ‘gut feeling.’ To begin to deepen the journey of self-discovery and become more familiar with what we truly need and desire, we oftentimes have to slow down, close our lips and open our ears and our minds to receive the energy and intuitive voices from within. Close your eyes, deepen your breath, still your physical body, let go of your thoughts and let your subconscious body guide you in the right direction. Even if it’s for a few minutes every morning before devouring a delicious latte or a few simple moments before slipping away into your dreams, take the time to mediate. Not only does meditation aid in helping you feel more connected to yourself and appreciate life more, but such a mindful practice reduces anxiety caused by stress and makes you happier. We are here to support you on your journey within; thus, we have meditation courses and DVDs available to get your practice started.



Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 23rd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.



Vajrasana: Kneeling or Diamond Pose

By Sabrina Samedi

Advancements in technology are not only coming at us from both left and right field, but are competing for our attention on a daily basis- cue the introduction of the new slew of gizmos, gadgets, smart phones, watches, glasses and TVs that all promise to know what we really need in terms of communication, entertainment, relaxation- you name it and there is an app for that. Hence, there is no wonder that it is often challenging to let go in this modern age and invest in listening to our inner selves, trusting our intuitive truth and unplugging from the tech age by plugging into our soul’s desires and meditating.

Need a little boost to help you slow down, focus on your breath and surrender into a meditative state? Rest assured- there’s an asana for that! Vajrasana or diamond pose is an ideal yoga therapy asana for pranayama and concentration as it helps in stabilizing the mind and body. Vajrasana also serves as a wonderful alternative to sukasana as a meditative pose for those suffering for sciatica and severe lower back problems. While most asanas are recommended to practice on an empty stomach, diamond pose is an exception as it is aids in proper digestion, making it most effective after a meal. Thus, preventing acidity and ulcers. The benefits of this calming pose are limitless; vajrasana modifies the blood flow in the lower pelvic region: the blood flow to the legs is reduced and the blood flow to the digestive organs is then increased.

To practice vajrasana, begin by standing on your knees, as always in viniyoga, the flow of the breath is the primary focus. Therefore, we do not want to sacrifice pranayama to achieve a physical stance nor should one endure pain and discomfort while trying to breath into the releasing qualities of an asana. If standing on your knees is in any way uncomfortable and distracting, please place a blanket or two underneath your knees to ensure comfort and ease. Standing on your knees, on an inhale raise your arms up over your head and as you exhale, starting with a count of 4, use the entirety of the breath to bend forward bringing your belly to the thighs, your forehead to the mat and your arms behind you while your buttocks gentle rests upon your heels in child’s pose. As you inhale, again to a potential count of 4, lift your arms up over your head as you come back to stand on your knees. Continuing within the breath-centric rhythm of this asana flow, exhale the breath for the same duration as you bend forward, releasing your arms behind you, buttocks to heels, belly to thighs and forehead to the mat. Allow the breath to guide you through this subtle yet powerful movement. Upon the fourth cycle of repetition, to really surrender into the asana and open yourself up to the relief from anxiety,  as you exhale, bring your arms out infront of you, palms facing down and forehad to the floor as the belly once again comes to gently rest and let go on the upper thighs as the buttocks come to rest on the heels and remain in this restoring child’s pose for as long as you need.

Master teacher Gary Kraftsow diligently transitions you into this restoring as well as releasing dynamic modification of vajrasana in Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 18th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Urdva Prasarita

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana: Upward Stretched Legs

Despite our best intentions, we often need an extra nudge of willpower to help us carry through our daily mission statements and to-do lists. Well the good news is that support is just a few cycles of breath away- yoga therapy to the rescue!

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana or upward stretched legs pose strengthens willpower by activating the uddiyana bandha. A bandha is an energy lock or seal in the body and the uddiyana bhanda represents an abdominal retraction lock. When activated, the abdominal muscles pull up and in creating a natural upward flow of energy from the naval center. Thus, upward stretched legs pose simultaneously builds the strength of the core muscles of the body while improving posture. Urdhva Prasarita Padasna promotes muscular harmony between the lumbar spine and the hip flexors. If you suffer from lower back injuries and or sciatic pain, keep your knees bent and be mindful when coming into the pose by listening to your body to take note if any acute pain arises as a sign of backing off.

As core strength directly relates to strong back muscles, Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga Therapy: Complete Back Care helps to undo the damage of tight muscles to reignite energy in the body while promoting strength and stability throughout the back.

To perform urdhva prasarita padasana begin by lying supine on the floor with the arms relaxed alongside the body. Bend both knees as you bring them into your chest and on your next inhalation, simultaneously keep the left leg bent towards your chest as you raise the right leg upwards, flexing the foot, and pressing the lower back firmly onto the ground while also raising your left arm over head, palm facing the sky. On your exhalation, bend the right leg to meet your left leg bending in at the chest, relaxing the feet and lowering your arm right. On your next exhalation, repeat the same movement on the opposite side of the body. Thus, extending the left leg through the heel towards the sky while the right knee remains bent the and right arm extends overhead. Using the entire exhalation breath, bend and return the left leg to meet the right, relax the feet and lower the right arm alongside your torso.

For a symmetrical variation of the pose, bend both knees into your chest with your arms, palms facing down, resting alongside the body. On your next inhalation, raise your legs upwards, flexing the feet, and pressing the lower back firmly onto the ground. Reach over head with your arms and try to straighten the knees completely stacking the joints one on top of another: heels reaching upwards, thighs directly over the hips. As you exhale bend both knees into your chest, relaxing the feet and lowering the arms down by your side.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 9th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.



Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Virabadrasana I: Warrior 1 Pose

Somedays we need to repeat our daily affirmations and morning mantras more than usual. Constantly reminding ourselves that we are enough, we are strong, we are compassionate souls deserving of wholesome love and undeniable respect. Whether it is one of “those days” or even a triumphant day where your to-do list didn’t stand a chance: every task was crossed off the list with a grin and confidence, practicing, embodying and surrendering into virabadrasana I or warrior one pose is ideal to accentuate a balanced sense of grace and strength. When practicing virabadrasana I, you are a warrior against your own doubts and fears, rising above your self-set limitations. You are fighting the good fight: confronting your own bodily, emotional and/or mental frustrations with ease and concentration on the breath. The breath is the forefront and main focus of any asana sequence in Viniyoga and as such, be mindful to not compromise the natural and soothing rhythm of the breath to hold the pose or go deeper into a pose that your body is simply not ready for or not accepting.

Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, considers Warrior 1 a go-to and all purpose asana, being one of the core poses for all human beings. Benefits of Warrior 1 include strengthening the legs and back, realigning the spine, stretching the psoas, opening the hips which is vital in cleansing and releasing emotional turmoil, achieving stability in the hip joints and deepening respiration. Emotionally, when practicing virabadrasana 1, you are reinforcing, if not increasing, self-confidence and courage.

Moving Into Virabadrasana 1

As seen in Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga Therapy Complete Wellness Series, one can go into virabadrasana I by starting in tadasana or mountain pose. Afterwards, on an exhalation, step the right foot forward to create a long-enough stance between your feet, but be sure you can easily shift your weight back and forth. Feet are to be hip-width apart. On your proceeding inhalation breath, simultaneously bend the right knee as you draw the shoulders up, back and down your spine while lifting the arms forward and overhead. If it is comfortable for you, interlace the fingers with the palms facing upward. The uppers arms are in line with your ears, but if that causes you to hunch your shoulders up towards your ears, consider releasing your interlaced fingers, increasing the distance between your arms and slightly bending the elbows. In order to bring a gentle arch into the upper back, if appropriate for your body, move the chest slightly forward, displacing it in front of the hips. As your chest moves forward, lift the sternum farther away from the navel while maintaining an even stance on both feet; thus your body weight is evenly distributed. Maintain a soft drishti and keep your chin parallel to the mat.  On your next exhalation, lower the arms, straighten the right leg, and return to the starting point. On the next inhalation, bend the leg and reenter the pose.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 2nd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

Too many lunch breaks compromised for dates with your keyboard? Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders which is physically causing them to ache and sag? Feeling like you could use a little more self-love in your life? There is always a wonderful reason to introduce, integrate and invite heart-opening asanas into your practice on a regular basis with poses such as bhujangasana or cobra pose. Yes you are physically curling your chest opening, but more so you are activating the prana vayus.

The prana vayus indicates forward moving air; therefore, directing the vital life force energy into the body. Governing the intake of vibrations, frequencies and external energies, the prana vayus directs the reception of all types from the consumption of food, drinking of water, inhalation of air to the reception of sensory impressions and mental experiences.
Practiced on its own or as an integral part of sun salutations, cobra pose is known to strengthen the spine, stretch the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen while also soothing sciatica. As bhujangasana reintroduces a gentle pep in your step by relieving stress and anxiety, traditional texts also indicate that cobra pose increases tapas: the body’s natural heat, destroys disease and awakens kundalini.

Renowned teacher Gary Kraftsow does a wonderful job not only sequencing asanas to lift your mood, but he also invites a safe and energetic environment for self-exploration in Viniyoga for Depression.

Bhujangasana in Action

To go into bhujangasana, begin by lying prone on the floor, stretching the legs long towards the back of the mat keeping the ankles close with your toes, thighs, and pubis pressing firmly into the mat. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrist as your hands are close to your torso and evenly spread out on the mat and your elbows are snuggled back into your body. Using the strength of your back, on an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest away from the ground, keeping the chest expansive and shoulders relaxed down the back.  Remain in cobra for a few rounds of mindful breathing as you open your heart thought this gentle backbend. As gratifying as this pose is, please proceed with caution if you are pregnant or are dealing with back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and/or headaches.


The 3rd Dimension: The Mind

Posted on January 28th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The Third Dimension: The Intellectual Mind


By Gary Kraftsow

The ancients recognized the inherent power of the mind and the tremendous influence that it has over the entire human system. They knew that it is through the mind that we are able to perceive, understand, and choose. They also knew that part of our problem in life is the fact that we do not perceive, understand, or choose correctly and that part of this is due to the nature of the mind itself. Thus they stressed the importance of educating and developing the mind in terms of its full capacity to learn, acquire knowledge, remember, and imagine.

As the basis for this education and development, the ancients identified the four great Vedic scriptures and the oral instruction of the teachers as the primary source and the teacher-student relationship as the primary mode. And, as pointed out above, both the texts of the scriptures and the commentaries of the teachers were traditionally transmitted through chanting. In other words, the method was to learn “by heart,” that is, to memorize the texts and to be able to repeat them exactly.

In our modern secular world, certain subjects are a required part of all elementary and secondary education, and beyond that, education proceeds by choice and in accordance with our individual interests. In ancient times , while some Vedic teachings were given to all students, others were given according to family tradition, so that even the traditional models lack uniformity. Yet two things remained constant: in order to preserve these sacred texts without corruption through time , precise and detailed rules for chanting were always followed; and chanting itself was used as the primary tool for training and developing the mind. For example, the exacting process of repeating the chants without mistakes developed the students’ ability to listen. Listening required and developed their ability to direct and maintain attention. And it also required the mind to remain open to receive instruction.

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.


KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

Use the PROMO SACREDCOW for 10% off at checkout at


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on January 26th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Vimanasana: Chariot or Airplane Pose

The fact is that we are all human and we all get moody at times. Dependent perhaps on the weather, the circumstances throughout our day or weeks even, the score of a game, the outcome of a movie, the unfulfilled ending to a novel, the results of any experience we attribute value to can and does occasionally get the best of it. Once we identify the swing in our persona, we oftentimes try to get back on track through reflection, positive actions, affirmations, reminders of all we have to be grateful for, mediation and our yoga practice. Akin to our emotional well being, our physical well being is also recognized for undergoing turbulence and feeling disconnected to its natural tendency. In particular, our sacrum becomes quite moody as well. Especially in our asana practices, many asymmetrical asanas akin to virabhadrasana II, utthita parsvakonasana and/or trikonasana when not balanced with neutral poses such as virabhadrasana I, crescent pose and paschimottanasana can start to bothers our sacrum and generate a sense of discomfort. Practicing a symmetrical backward bend like vimanasana: chariot or airplane pose, is ideal to neutralize the hip joints: therefore, offsetting and reducing if not relieving any built up discomfort in our lower spinal vertebrate column.

To Get Into Vimanasana

To physically achieve vimanasana, begin by lying supine on the stomach with the legs together or slightly apart. To better understand which leg positioning is best and appropriate for your body consider in the direction of the legs in relation to pelvis when eventually lifted. The outward movement of the legs encourages the sit bones to move outwards as well and the pelvic rims ultimately move toward each other. By moving the legs closer towards each other so that the toes touch when lifted, the sit bones also move inwards and the pelvic rims move outwards. When ultimately lifting the upper body, with legs lifted together or farther apart continues to support a grounded sensation throughout the pelvis.

While laying on your stomach, the legs engaged and reaching long behind you, the arms are either down the sides of your torso, palms reaching up or if it is causing too much strain on the lower thoracic region and upper lumbar region of the spine to have your arms lifted at chest height, feel free to lower the forearms onto the mat. The elbows are bent directly underneath the shoulders and the forearms shoulder-distance apart.

To reiterate, vimanasana begins while laying on your stomach, the forehead rest gently on the mat or it if is more comfortable for your neck, turn your head to one side and place the cheek on the mat, your arms are down by your sides or elbows bent underneath your shoulder. Exhale completely and on your next inhalation, tighten the abdominal muscles while rolling shoulders back and down the spine and leading with the breath, pull the chest forward and up, the legs lift (feet together or legs wider a part) and if the arms are by your side they lift up and can spread out line airplane wings. While continuing to inhale, the head extends away from the shoulders and chin gently lifts up while still parallel to the floor beneath you. On a cleansing exhalation, lower the chest, legs and arms (if lifted rather than bent) beside your torso while relaxing the abdomen muscles and lowering the forehead or cheek (now in the opposite direction) onto the mat.

When inhaling to repeat vimanasana, keep in mind that the legs should not be lifting higher than the height of your chest to reduce any chance of strain on the lower back. Ease into and out of the pose, allowing the breath to guide your rather the physicality of the asana. Master Teacher, Gary Kraftsow guides you through this grounding, relieving, yet spine-strengthening pose in his Low Back, Hips and Sacrum Viniyoga Therapy practice.


The Second Dimension: The Vital Body and Pranamaya

Posted on January 20th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Beautiful sporty fit yogini woman practices pranayama breath control exercise in yoga asana Padmasana - lotus pose with Vishnu mudra in studio

By Gary Kraftsow

According to the ancients, the vital body consists of five identifiable aspects: prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, ākāśa, and pṛthivī. 1 All five of these aspects represent some manifestation of energy, and, although not equivalent, all may be understood in relation to the vital metabolic functions of the physical body.

Today we tend to think of health and vitality in terms of standards of measurement— the ratio of LDL to HDL in our blood serum cholesterol , the level of our PSA, the strength of our bones, for example. These measurements require professional medical tests. At best, most of us have a physical once a year, and many of us avoid doctors altogether.

According to the ancients, however, from the moment of our birth it is prāṇa that organizes, activates, and animates our physical bodies. By paying close attention to certain characteristics that reflect the balanced flow of prāṇa through our physical bodies, we can have a relatively accurate picture of our own health and vitality on a daily basis. These characteristics include how we fall asleep; the quality of our sleep, dreams, and morning energy; the nature of our digestion and bowel movements; and the regularity of our menstrual cycles, to name only a few examples. We can gain an even deeper understanding based on the quality of our respiratory rhythms, once we understand and can apply the science of the breath, called prāṇāyāma.

As with āsana practice, the ancients also suggested that the purpose and methods of prāṇāyāma practice should complement each other and that they should change as we grow. By becoming familiar with our threshold capacity for inhale and exhale, we can better assess our own physiological and emotional stress levels as a basis for improving the general quality of our lives.

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.



Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

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