3 Mudras to Set Your Intention and Clarify Your Direction

Hasta Mudras are hand gestures or seals of energy that can help us to focus our attention and draw forth an inner attitude. According to Georg Feuerstein, the word Mudra comes from the root word Mud, meaning ‘Delight’.
 
Here are 3 mudras you can try, one after the other, as an everyday ritual that helps cement and clarify your direction and remind you of what really matters to you. Try it, and maybe a ripple of delight will even emerge.

1. Offering

Pushpaputa Mudra – A Handful of Flowers

Credit: Brooke Colman

Credit: Brooke Colman

How to do it:

  • Place your palms face up in front of your body, around navel height.
  • Bring the outer little finger edges to touch and allow the other fingers to softly curl.
  • Close your eyes and imagine some beautiful blooms resting in the Mudra.
  • Acknowledge that this intention is an offering.

You might also like to contemplate what you wish to offer your intention to. An example would be…’For the highest good of yourself, your community and your environment.’

2. Clarifying Your Intention

Abhaya Hridaya – Courageous Heart

Credit: Brooke Colner

Credit: Brooke Colman

How to do it:

  • With your hands in front of your body, start by crossing the wrists.
  • Once crossed, hook the little fingers together but miss the ring finger.
  • Then continue and hook the middle finger and lastly the the index finger.
  • Now lightly connect the tip of the ring finger and the thumb together.
  • Draw the Mudra close to the heart and wing the elbows outwards.

Close your eyes and dive your awareness into the centre of the heart. Ask your heart, “what deeply matters to me as a human?” Or, “what would I like to welcome right now?”

In yoga, the heart holds great importance and is often considered a source of wisdom and intuition.

3. Visualize

Padme Mudra – Lotus

Credit: Brooke Colman

Credit: Brooke Colman

How to do it:

  • Bring the palms flat together in front of your chest.
  • Then, keeping the wrists close and the thumbs and little fingers connected, splay the other finger tips out and away from each other.
  • Close your eyes and visualize what your intention looks like in its full expression.

See yourself or your friend in this perfect state of full radiant health or peace. Are there colours, textures or scents you can add to make this more vivid? Just like the lotus flower, let your intention unfold and blossom.

These are my recommended mudras to set your intention and help get clarity on your life purpose and the direction you’re taking in the path you’ve chosen. How do you set your intention as you start your day and/or your yoga practice? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Image credit: Brooke Colman

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The Curvy Yogi’s Guide to Using Yoga Props

The formal definition of the word prop, when used as a noun is: “A person or thing that is a major source of support or assistance.” When used as a verb, to prop is defined as: “Positioning something underneath (someone or something) for support.”
 
Me? I like to define props as: “tools for accessibility and inclusion.”
 
When used in the context of everyday life, the word ‘prop’ has a positive or neutral definition. But in the context of a yoga class, the word prop is often used to denounce or criticize. Oftentimes, reaching for a block in a public yoga class is viewed as an admission of being “lesser than.”
 
If you’re using a prop, it’s assumed that you’re not a good enough yoga practitioner on your own, or that your asana isn’t advanced enough to keep up with the rest of the students.

The Attitude Towards Props in the Yoga World

In my 20+ years of teaching yoga, and over 40 years of practising myself, I’ve watched numerous teachers and students avoid using props because they feel that they’re somehow less of a practitioner for requiring support, resistance or assistance in their asana practice. I’ve even had famous yoga teachers try to remove a prop from my practice, insinuating that I was better off without the tool.

It’s ironic to think that props have adopted such a negative connotation in public yoga classes, when one of the main aims of practicing yoga is to develop the ability to compassionately and skillfully listen to one’s own body.

Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar was the first yoga teacher to introduce props to our modern day practice. Iyengar understood the importance of adapting the yoga practice to different body proportions, and therefore, he integrated the use of props as a source of support, stability, and resistance.

How Yoga Props Can Help Your Practice

Props, or yoga tools, can be a great equaliser for differing body proportions, sizes and abilities within our public yoga classes. As a yogini in an abundant body, props allow me to access poses that smaller bodies can sometimes do with ease. The size of my belly, butt, and breasts – or the three B’s as I like to affectionately call them – often add additional challenges to my asana practice that make certain poses more difficult to experience.

Introducing props allows me to find space and freedom in my movements on my mat. I use props to support my weight in more challenging strengthening postures, as well as to explore greater depth by expanding my range of motion in long held stretches.

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For example, I love to use a prop in my supported version of ‘One-Legged Sage pose’ or Eka Pada Koundinyāsana II. Using a block and the wall allows me to experience this pose from a place of success, rather than succumbing to the frustration that I may not be strong enough to do it on my own.

The Curvy Yogi’s Guide to Using Yoga Props

As an abundant bodied yoga student and as a Yoga For All teacher, I’ve adopted many unique ways of integrating props in my practice. To experience greater freedom and ease within your own practice, try incorporating some of the suggestions below.

1. Invest in Your Own Set of Yoga Tools

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Start with two blocks, a strap, a towel and a meditation cushion. These four yoga tools are highly versatile, which makes them the ideal starting pieces for any yoga toolkit. Not all public yoga class will offer props or tools, so it’s good to have your own set ready and accessible at any time.

2. Set Up Your Tools at the Top of Your Mat Before the Class Begins

This ensures that your tools are easily accessible and within reach at all times. By the time you need a yoga prop, it’s often too late to walk to the back of the class to grab one. Having your props nearby also eliminates the need to ask for one in the middle of class, which can be an intimidating experience for most people.

Keeping your props close is an empowering way to reach for that extra support, without any distractions.

3. Set Your Ego Aside and Just Go For It

Reframe your thoughts on props, and start to see them as tools that enhance your practice, rather than detriments to your success. Often times, being the first person to reach for a prop encourages other students in the room to use props as well. Normalizing the use of props creates a sense of community and removes the unnecessary stigma of ‘not enoughness’.

4. Experiment With Different Sizes, Shapes and Styles

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Yoga blocks or bricks come in many different sizes, shapes and styles. I suggest playing around with different sizes to see what fits best for your body. Blocks also come in different textures and materials. As a bigger person, I prefer working with thicker, denser blocks, as opposed to the softer and more malleable blocks.

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Blocks made out of cork or wood support my weight without collapsing, buckling or getting soft and squishy. That being said, soft foam blocks are great for restorative poses like Butterfly or under the knees in Savasana.

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Blocks are not only great for support, but are also helpful in lengthening your limbs by bringing the floor closer to you. Try using blocks to find more depth and resistance in poses like Forward Fold.

5. Use Straps to Lengthen Your Reach and Increase Your Range of Motion

Pose with a prop

I find straps particularly helpful in poses like Threading the Needle or when binding the arms behind your back in a Forward Fold or in Extended Side Angle pose. Straps are especially helpful when trying to create a bind with thicker limbs.

6. Use the Wall for Resistance, Stability and a Sense of Playfulness

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As an abundant bodied practitioner, I seek out the corner in a yoga class so that I have two walls for balance and support. Because the wall provides a sense of safety and stability, practicing closer to a wall is also great tip for beginners.

Incorporating the wall into your practice helps to minimize the weight and effort required in getting into a pose, as well as increasing comfort when holding poses for an extended period of time. Try using the wall to maintain proper alignment with greater ease. Like Patanjali says: sthira sukham asanam; the pose is steady and easeful.

7. Seek Out Teachers That are Dedicated to Accessible, Inclusive Yoga Classes

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These teachers can educate you on props and how to move more freely in your yoga practice. Accessible yoga teachers aim to help you enjoy yoga in your own body, without judgement or shame.

All bodies are good bodies, and all bodies deserve respect and equal access to yoga. Like snowflakes, our bodies are unique and different. Our bodies are a beautiful manifestation of the divine spirit of life, and sometimes they come with challenges that need a little extra support.

Our asana practice is unique to us, and it is important to celebrate that uniqueness in the spirit of unity.

Yoga tools help us to explore the universality of the yoga practice by reminding us that we are all welcome on the mat. So, try using tools to explore success, steadiness, and ease in your own unique yoga practice.

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15-Minute Intermediate Vinyasa Warrior Flow (VIDEO)

If you love Vinyasa Flow and the Warrior poses, you’ve come to the right place. Join DOYOUYOGA Allstar Liz Huntly in this 15-minute class where she’ll teach you a Vinyasa Warrior flow in that familiar style you love, but with an added challenge to suit your intermediate-level practice.
 
Hit play and practice with Liz as she teaches you how to move with your breath, and walks you through proper alignment in Warrior poses so you can stay safe and injury-free while enjoying the classic Vinyasa experience. Feel like you can go further? Kick things up a notch and check out Liz’s Advanced Vinyasa Workshop right here on DOYOUYOGA!

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11 Things Yogis Do That Nobody Talks About

Historically, yogis were mythical beings that had the power to transcend the physical world. These mythical beings of love and light meditated in the Himalayas for hundreds of years to truly know and live yoga. However, it’s important to note that yoga is change and it comes as no surprise that the contemporary yogi is not sitting in a mountain secluded from the world but rather actively engaging in the present moment.
 
Curating from our roots, yogis can maintain a semblance of mystery and sometimes we forget to talk about the quirky, weird, and “not-so-yogic” things we do. Today, we tackle those things yogis do that nobody talks about to help our yoga community unite and realize that yogis don’t radiate love, peace, and positivity 24/7—we have our not-so-great and completely human moments too.

1. Yogis take a lot of photos before capturing the “perfect shot.”

Our camera roll is about 99% yoga photos and videos. Anytime we visit a beach, park, or climb a mountain we instantly think about what yoga move would fit the scenery. That stunning handstand photo you saw on Instagram? Yeah, that took about five takes.

2. Yogis also struggle to practice non-attachment and non-judgment.

Despite our best efforts, it is hard not to collect material goods and not judge ourselves and others. We are taking it one day at a time and it gets easier to resist that 50% off sale on yoga gear and cute home stuff.

3. Yogis have an addiction to learning and it manifests in stacks of yoga books.

It seems like almost out of nowhere, the pile of books grew from one to a hundred and eight. As a busy yogi, it can be hard to keep up with all the books you want to read. Yogi Tip: creating a book club is a great way to build community and gather a deeper understanding of the reading material.

4. Yogis feel guilty for skipping asana practice yet not so bad for missing pranayama play.

While yes, the asanas are only one limb on the yoga path, it is often the physical practice that got many of us hooked on yoga. A day without asana practice can make us feel guilty even if we’re in bed with a fever. (I mean…our body is already warmed up, so a few headstands won’t hurt, right??) Nah, stay in bed and use time off to realize it’s a journey.

5. Yogis sometimes don’t like to go to class.

Sometimes we would rather sit on the couch and eat fries rather than attend a hot flow class after work, but we (often) go anyways because we know we’ll feel heavenly after class.

6. Yogis get super excited when they realize their favorite celebs practice yoga and have Instagram yogis they follow faithfully.

Emma Watson, Adam Levine, and Shakira are all yogis. Emma Watson is even a certified yoga teacher!! Plus, Laura Sykora Kasperzak is #momgoals.

7. Yogis also have trouble meditating and not being productive 24/7.

While asana and pranayama practices can make us sweat and physically exhausted, meditation is still the hardest practice to maintain. As yogis, we try to relax in a comfortable seated position, and while it may look easy, it can be a struggle to carve out time to meditate. We still do it because we know it is good for us, but it is a constant challenge.

8. Yogis follow unwritten and unspoken rules in yoga class.

It’s not written down in stone, but we all know not to walk over other people’s mats and that it is important to stay for Savasana or let your teacher know in advance that you need to leave class early. And as a teacher, you know not to consciously copy exactly how other instructors teach (e.g. exact same sequences, cues, music, etc.) and claim it as your own style.

9. Yogis sometimes goof up English translations for names and sometimes we create new poses in the process.

Wait was that Wild Thing, Flipping the Dog, Shooting Star, or Starfish…? Hmm…maybe if I cue hand on the chest it can be called Devotion Pose?

10. Yogis wear their favorite yoga clothes multiple days in a row without washing.

Especially after splurging on a stunning pair of leggings, it is hard to take them off (b-but…it’s so comfyyy) and the world needs to see how cute the cutouts are!

Realizing that everyone struggles to drink that wheat grass shot and really prefers eating ice cream while watching Netflix, well that’s all part of the journey. Comment below on things you do that no one talks about, you might be surprised to realize you are not alone.

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11 Yoga Poses Every Lazy Yogi Will Love

We all have those days where we wake up unable to fathom how we’re going to move through the day smoothly…let alone practice yoga. Starting the day feeling like a sack of potatoes can be challenging, but it happens to the best of us.
 
Luckily we have Lazy-Day-Yoga! You can do it as you make your way through the day by simply turning your everyday tasks into yoga moves! Here are some examples of how you can do this.

Postures From Bed

Yogi in Savasana

Credit: Christie Pitko

1. Savasana

If you’re having a day where it is hard committing to your practice, start in Savasana. Think of it like you’re just taking another 5-minute snooze. You can even do this from bed before you get up in the morning!

2. Bananaasana

Credit: Julianne

Credit: Julianne

This Yin Yoga pose is made for yogis who feel lazy but want a good stretch. All you have to do is reach your arms up and over your head from Savasana, then pull your left wrist over to the right, crossing your left ankle over the right. You can do this one in bed too and it feels delicious!

3. Reclined Twist

supine twist

From bed, curl your legs onto one side, let your arms dangle to the other side allowing the weight of your shoulder to twist you open. Super scrummy and barely any energy involved!

4. Legs Up The Wall

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Still on your back, throw your legs up the nearest wall and feel the relief sweep through your body. No need to move…unless you’d like a little extra cushion under your tush.

Postures On The Move

Day-16---Happy-Yoga-Lunges

5. Warrior 1/ High Lunge

While walking simply start to take longer strides then usual. As you stride around the house pause with your front knee bent, if the feeling rises you could even lift your arms up and over your head. Take your time, it’s not a race. Move with your breath. One foot in front of the other.

6. Humble Warrior

Credit: Well Beyond Mars on Tumblr

Credit: Well Beyond Mars on Tumblr

When it’s time to tie your shoe laces, take a long stride and bend the front knee deeply. As you bend forward to tie your shoe lace on the front foot, just hang out there in Humble Warrior with your shoulders inside your front knee.

7. Lizard Pose

How to Do Lizard Pose

Take the last shape one step further when you finish tying those shoes, by placing both hands on the floor under your shoulders and pause in Lizard until you are ready to tie the other shoe!

8. Rag Doll

forward fold

Got to pick something up from the floor? Great hang out there for a good long time in Rag Doll, dangling lazily from your hips and rocking side to side on bent knees.

Postures For Sitting Still

How To Free Your Awareness In Meditation

9. Breathe

When you’re feeling lazy and can’t seem to budge, simply embrace that moment and sit breathing for a good 10 minutes. Bonus points if you listen to your breath and try to smooth it out.

10. Seated Dandasana

Kristin - Staff Pose

Sit up super tall let your arms come to your side. Ta-da. That’s it, you’re doing yoga!

11. Seated Fish Pose

Credit: Mabconsultants

Credit: Mabconsultants

When you have been sitting in the car or at your desk for quite some time and you need to yawn, or feel the urge to stretch, squeeze your shoulder blades behind you and puff out your chest for a seated version of Fish Pose.

There you have it folks! So see—even the laziest, don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed days can be yoga days. Try them out and let me know how it goes!

Image credit: Kate Swarm

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7 Popular Yoga Wear Brands That Teachers Love

What should you wear when you practice yoga? The simple answer is, anything that’s comfortable! But not all yoga wear is truly created equal. You want something that’s breathable enough to keep you dry, but durable enough to prevent holes from appearing in awkward places—not to mention cute enough to make you feel extra confident on the mat!
 
Teachers whose high-intensity classes run one after the other have particular needs when it comes to yoga clothes, which naturally makes them picky about their preferred brands. If you’re on the lookout for the very best yoga wear on the market, check out these companies that some of the biggest names in yoga love.

1. Adidas Warp Knit Line

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When you think “workout clothes,” Adidas is probably one of the first brands that comes to mind. While they’ve long been known for their shoes and track suits—especially for men—Adidas also has a huge selection of yoga clothes and accessories. Their warp knit tights are a big hit with yoga teachers right now, including Adriene Misher from Yoga with Adriene. Not only are they super moisture-wicking and seamless to prevent chafing, they’re also built to last—even with the most strenuous practices.

Teachers Who Love It: Adriene Mishler @adrienelouise; Rachel Demita @rademita; Chelsey Korus @chelseykorus; and Meagan Kong @meagankong

2. ALO Yoga

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The yogis of Instagram adore Alo Yoga—and for good reason. Alo Yoga specializes in studio-to-street styles that are comfortable and functional, yet fashionable enough to wear just about anywhere. Don’t be fooled by how cute these clothes are. Their yoga wear truly is high performance, compressing and shaping the body to help you take your practice just a little bit further. If you want to dress like the pros, Alo Yoga is your go-to.

Teachers Who Love It: Briohny Smyth @yogawithbriohny; Mackenzie Miller @mackenzieyoga; Caitlin Turner @gypsetgoddess; Dylan Werner @dylanwerneryoga; Adell Bridges @adellbridgesyoga; Jessica Olie @Jessicaolie

3. Manduka

A post shared by Abbey Bates (@abbey.yoga) on

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Manduka got its start twenty years ago, when architect Peter Sterios developed a line of yoga gear named to honor his mentor, Shando Ramete. Ramete’s favorite pose was Mandukasana, or frog pose, which is why you’ll find a red frog logo on their gear. Manduka’s mats, accessories, and clothing are designed to last as long as possible to reduce environmental waste. They also use recycled polyester, plant based materials, and organic cotton to ensure that their yoga wear is always sustainable.

Teachers Who Love It: Abbey Bates @abbey.yoga; Mary Beth LaRue @marybethlarue; Keith Mitchell @keithmitchell59; Jaysea DeVoe @seavibesyoga; Jana Roemer @jana_roemer

4. Body Angel Activewear

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Body Angel Activewear takes its inspiration from fashion all over the world. With prints inspired by Colombia’s Carnival celebrations, Indonesian Batik prints, and hippy tye-dye, Body Angel Activewear offers some of the most eye-catching yoga clothes around. Lots of well-known yoga teachers rock this brand, but none wear it better than Laura Kazperzak and her daughter, who even have their own line of matching mommy-daughter yoga outfits!

Teachers Who Love It: Laura Kasperzak @LauraSykora (and her daughter Mini Kasperzak @minilaurasykora); Gabriella Dondero @Gabriella.dondero; Rachel Mulvaney @theyoganinja; Robin Martin @robinmartinyoga

5. prAna

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PrAna is one of the most eco-friendly activewear brands around. All of their clothes are made from recycled polyester, recycled wool, or organic cotton. Even the materials the customers don’t see are sustainable. From their packing material to the printer paper in their offices, prAna is dedicated to using responsible forest materials in every aspect of their business. If you’re looking for yoga wear that protects the environment and promotes fair labor practices, prAna is for you.

Teachers Who Love It:  Amy Ippoliti @amyippoliti; Steve Krojo @krojo23

6. Onzie

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Onzie’s relaxed-fit clothes look absolutely luxurious. Just check out their selection of gypsy pants and flowy, high-slit Pura Vida line. Of course, you’ll find plenty of cute and comfy form-fitting options at Onzie as well. Whichever style you opt for, Onzie’s yoga wear is guaranteed to keep you cool and dry with their Free-Flow Fabric technology that’s extra quick-drying.  From start to finish, Onzie’s products are also made 100% in the United States using American sourced materials.

Teachers Who Love It: Odette Hughes @odettehughesyoga; Debbie Siegel @debby_yogogirls; Verna @awesomebodyrevolution; Georgina Berbari @thelittleflowerpetal;

7. Athleta

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Athleta is another yoga wear brand that emphasizes sustainability and eco-friendliness. They take a unique approach to going green. In addition to using recycled and organic fabrics, they’ve also pioneered a DryDye technology that saves an average of 4.5 gallons of water for every garment they make. Their Recycled Featherweight Stretch Fabrics are also so quick-dry that you won’t even need to put them in the dryer, cutting down on energy use.

Teachers Who Love It:  Heidi Kristoffer @heidikristoffer; Lacey Shelton @laceycalvertshelton; Alexandra Carson @alexandra_carson

Don’t see your favorite on this list? Leave us a comment to tell us which yoga wear brands you love!

Image credit: Andrea Taylor

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