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Yoga Pants or Leggings

Your outfit has the potential to contribute extreme value to your yoga practice. Not only does it give you the confidence to sink deeper into poses or push yourself just little further, but it can also allow you to have significantly more movement. Modern-day yogis are often torn between whether they should opt for yoga pants or yoga leggings. In fact, many are even wondering what the difference is between these two items.

While some may use these two terms interchangeably, there is a difference between yoga pants and yoga leggings. Yoga pants are usually made with a jersey material to ensure a decent stretch. They are full-length pants with a wide, fold-over waistband. The most distinguishing feature found in yoga pants is the flared leg.

On the other hand, yoga leggings are typically made with spandex to allow a tighter fit. The waistbands do not usually fold over, and they do not have a flared leg. Instead, they tend to fit very snugly around the calves or ankles depending on the cut. Leggings are found in a wide array of styles ranging from high waist capris to ankle length leggings. 

Now that you know the difference, which one is preferable for your yoga practice?

Many yogis and yoginis prefer the more form-fitting yoga leggings available from popular manufacturers like 90 Degree by Reflex. They feel that the leggings allow them to focus more on the quality of their practice. Because leggings fit tighter than yoga pants, they have a greater awareness of the alignment of their joints and limbs as they transition through poses. While they may not have any significant athletic benefit, yoga leggings can still assist in creating a safer practice.

Yoga pants have more fabric and may stretch out over the course of intense or lengthy practice. By the time you reach your finishing pose, you may find excess fabric bunching in key locations such as around your knees. Similarly, it may also loosen around the waist. These may seem like minor issues, but they can cause serious irritation over time. Yogis find themselves focused on the uncomfortable folds of fabric in poses instead of on their alignment or sinking deeper into a pose.

Another key benefit to yoga leggings is the ability to layer them with other items for both cooler and warmer situations. If you know that your practice is rigorous, yoga leggings tend to have more breathability due to the material. It’s easier for sweat to dissipate in a spandex material than with the jersey found in yoga pants. You can also comfortably layer items with leggings if your studio or practice area tends toward chilly.

Both options are comfortable for wearing off the mat and around town due to their similarly stretchy nature. The fabric will give and take with your continued movement, but you will find that yoga pants still have the tendency to stretch out over the course of an afternoon. Overall, many yogis find yoga leggings to be superior to yoga pants both on and off the mat.

Sweaty Workouts

HIIT workouts are on the rise. Here is what caused their popularity:

For the combination of exercises that alternate between cardio moves and weightlifting, HIIT training is normally short in duration and can be easily squeezed into your lunch break. Research has even shown that with a 15-minute HIIT workout three times a week you can have bigger progress as compared to running alone three times a week for an hour.

Not only do you burn more calories during the workout itself, but the repair cycle will have you burning calories for up to 24 hours upon completing the workout. It stimulates the production of human growth hormone and moreover, slows down the aging process.

High intensity and endurance might not seem complimentary, but high intensity actually promotes endurance. It is a result of pushing your body to the anaerobic zone or the zone where your heart pumps your blood really hard, making you feel uncomfortable.

HIIT workouts are economically attainable as there is no equipment needed, the workout can be done pretty much anywhere, and there are plenty of good ones accessible online.

You don’t even have to compromise losing muscle, which can be a byproduct of some types of exercise and dieting. You’ll rather burn off the fats you have in store.

Exercises are usually simple to follow and as it is a circuit workout, you can repeat it as many or as little times as you wish. In that case, the whole workout can be adapted to the time you have at hand.

Here’s one of my favorite sequences that will have you work on your entire body.

Perform each exercise for half-a-minute.

  1. Warm up your body by running in place for half-a-minute. Then jump as you would jump over a rope. Circle your arms too. Then, make up a jumping sequence yourself for the last 30 seconds of the warm-up.
  2. Step into high plank and perform mountain climbers. Then, do high knees in place, Or you could alternatively run up and down the stairs. Repeat two times.
  3. Perform a wide-legged squat and on your way up, bring your arms to the side. Pair it with side lunge with an upright row. You could add a lighter set of weights for this one. Jump like a skater side to side. Repeat side lunges on the other side and skaters.
  4. Bring your body forward like you would in performing a deadlift and do butterfly wings with or without weights. Pair it with frog jumps
  5. Get into a chair pose and shuffle your feet side to side. Start from plank on your elbows (but press into the ground with your whole forearms). Alternate tapping the ground with your knees.
  6. Bring the weight behind your head and perform a triceps extension. For more core work balance on one leg for 15 seconds and on the other for the rest. Go into a high plank position and alternatively kick your legs back up in the air.
  7. Lay back on the ground. Bring your legs in the 45-degree angle, keep your feet on the ground, lift your shoulders off the ground and alternate tapping your hands to your heels. For your final move bicycle it out.

Great job!

Remember to stay hydrated. HIIT will keep burning calories and keep releasing toxins out of your body for long hours after you have completed it. Make sure you fuel your body right to achieve maximum results.

Living Under the Light of Compassion

Yama, the first step corresponding to the Eight Limbs of yoga, holds the affirmation of ahimsa or non-violence which is explained by Master Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois in his book Yoga Mala as “not causing injury to anyone including animals in any form, at any time or for any reason in word, thought or deed”. This step is followed by the affirmations of Satya or truthfulness, Asteya standing for not stealing or envying and a few others that indirectly or directly lead to the quality of compassion; one of the most important factors for leading a life of peace, purpose, joy and unity.

Compassion not only holds the concept of ahimsa or non-violence, but it takes it a step further. It is the ability of feeling someone else’s suffering under a deep state of love. Buddhism, which is historically one of the branches of yoga, places extreme importance on the concept of compassion and one of their main exercises for developing a sense of universal kindness and achieve spiritual transformation is to see all sentient beings under the real lens of equanimity or equality; interacting with all as if they were our own mother.

We all know how hard it is to keep our defensive and judgmental reactions out of the way during our everyday lives. Even if we get to feel peaceful and at ease when on the yoga mat, the moment we set a foot out on the streets or step on the car we quickly seem to forget about this graceful feeling. But there is a way of dealing with this mental conditioning of ours, by simply becoming aware of when these negative reactions arise and substitute the negative for positive by seeing other people or situations under the light of compassion.

In his Book of Transformation, the Dalai Lama includes the beautiful text of The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind, reading them every morning or every once in a while, can help us to remind ourselves about the value of this wonderful capacity that we have as human beings. These verses guide us through an alternative way of seeing what and who surrounds us, placing the heart right in the epicenter around which everyone and everything revolves.

The first verse talks about holding other beings as exceptionally dear to you, while recognizing the important role they play when it comes to attaining your spiritual realizations. With no other sentient beings around you, it would be impossible to develop great compassion.

The second verse mentions approaching others with genuine humility and an authentic courage of being of help. The third one affirms the importance of freeing ourselves from our negative impulses, emotions and thoughts; while the fourth verse moves us to give our hands to those beings who have been marginalized, abandoned or who are caught up in tremendous suffering. We must see these sentient beings as if we have been given a treasure.

The fifth and sixth verse encourages us to see people that are being or have been unkind to us from a lens of patience and tolerance; considering them as our cherished teachers. The seventh verse summarizes what has been pronounced in previous ones and the succeeding last verse moves us to be released from the eight mundane concerns and to remain unattached from as we practice compassion in the purest of its form.

Benefits of Doing Yoga Alone

 

It’s incredible how many people out there have been practicing yoga for years but have somehow never done yoga alone or at home. Yoga instructors are educated and are great to have around when learning new things, but there is something beautiful that happens when you take the time to practice yoga by yourself. There are many benefits to doing yoga at home that we’ll talk about today, but please keep in mind that this might not be safe if you are a beginner or if you are trying something new.

Increased Comfort Levels

One of the biggest benefits of doing yoga alone is an increased level of comfort. Whether you are at your house, at a park, by the beach, or tucked away in the corner at your gym; the benefits can be huge. Being able to call the shots and play around with different locations is empowering. It allows you to figure out where you feel the best and the most in tune with yourself. A lot of yoga studios are crowded and really aren’t suitable for everyone. Some students love to do yoga to relaxing music and some people prefer silence; classes don’t allow for a personalized experience.

 

Insecure Feelings

In a yoga class, it is very hard to not notice others around you. There are going to be people in your class who are more and less “advanced” than you are. You probably know that yoga is an inward journey but that doesn’t mean that comparisons, insecurities, and awkward feelings don’t come up. Aside from the yoga poses themselves, some people feel vulnerable wearing yoga attire without comparing their bodies to others. Doing yoga alone is great because it takes away that vulnerable feeling and lets you be comfortable in your own skin.

 

Focus

You will probably notice a change in your focus immediately when you start to practice yoga alone. If you are someone who usually places your mat at the back of the class or if you go to a very busy studio, this can make a huge difference. Aside from the feeling associated with insecurity, having other people’s arms and legs getting in your way while you practice is incredibly distracting. Taking your yoga sessions into your own environment takes away all the outside noise that might be getting in your way in a classroom.

In Tune with Your Body

The last benefit of doing yoga alone is probably the most important. Doing yoga alone gives you the opportunity to tune into your body in ways that you can’t inside a yoga class. It allows you to breathe, pause, and change poses whenever it feels right for you. You can also focus only on the poses that your body needs that day and not do the ones that you don’t think are beneficial or are uncomfortable to you.

Doing yoga alone allows yoga to be about you and your body; that is what yoga is all about. Take a step out of the classroom and spend even 15 minutes doing yoga alone. You can learn so much about yourself.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Extended Side Angle Pose

 

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I haven’t always liked Extended Side Angle Pose, also referred to by the Sanskrit shortened version Parsvakonasana. It use to seem incredibly difficult to hold, and the teacher always seemed to forget that we were holding the pose, she would keep us here for what felt like eternity.

However, when I started my Yoga studies I learned the purpose and beauty of this pose. This pose combines a lunge and a twist, which both strengthens and stretches your body. Have you ever wondered the secret to becoming super flexible and able to do pretzel like poses like lotus pose? Well, it starts with poses like Parsvakonasana. The idea is to warm up your hips in poses that build heat while slowly stretching this area, so when you get to the deep flexibility based poses you are ready!

Extended Sides Angle Pose is the perfect standing pose to add into the beginning of your practice with other standing poses like extended triangle pose and the warrior poses. You can follow this pose up with deeper hip opening poses like Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) and Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana).

To begin, bring your hands to your hips. Step your feet wide apart and rotate the right legs to the front of the room. Align your heels.

Bend your knee so it is directly over your front shin. Bend your right elbow and place it on top of your bent legs, thigh. Keep your palm up.

Extend your let arm overhead. Feel the line of energy from the left leg up your torso side and out of the extended arm overhead.

Look forward or up at your hands, breathing slowly and deeply though your nose. Allow your emotions to surface briefly as a tool of self-reflection. This pose relates especially to our sense of strength, groundedness, and unlimited capabilities.

Concentrate and feel your solar plexus chakra beaming radiantly and giving you endless strength. This is your third chakra, called the Manipura chakra in Sanskrit. Positive affirmations to say with this Chakra include:

  • I am powerful.
  • I can accomplish anything.
  • I am confident.

You can modify the pose by either resting your arm on the top of your knee, or balance on a block instead of the floor.

Only go as deep as you can balance effort with ease. Engage your legs and continue pressing them into and away from the floor.

Hold for: 30 seconds to a minute.

Benefits:

  • It opens the inner thighs
  • Stretches the entire side body, spine and hips
  • Relieves stiffness in the shoulders and back
  • Deepens stretch to the groins and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the legs, knee and ankle
  • Stretches and tones your abs
  • Improves your stamina
  • Opens chest, shoulders and lungs
  • Deepens your breath

Alleviates:

  • Constipation. Stimulates abdominal organs and relieves
  • Infertility
  • Backache
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sciatica
  • Menstrual issues

Now, I always make sure to include Parsvakonasana in my yoga routine, to soak up its innumerable mind, body and spirit benefits!