Author Archives: Jill

About Jill

Jill Lawson has been a fitness professional for 20 years, and has concentrated on yoga for more than 10 years. She has a bachelor's degree in exercise science, and a master's in physical education. This yogi lives in Southwest Colorado where she teaches yoga and Pilates.

3 Secrets to Mastering Balance Poses in Yoga

Most yogis I know have a love-hate relationship with balance poses. Some days balancing comes easy, but other days tree pose can feel like absolute torture. There is a reason for this, and it has little to do with your ability to actually balance.

Take a look at the following secrets that will help keep your tree from toppling over.

half moon pose

Get out of your head

If yesterday you rocked half moon pose but today fell right on your rear, try examining your current state of mind. Often times when life has us thinking, worrying, or fretting about everything, we won’t have any stability in our balance poses.

Fixing your gaze on a still point in the room is a great way to help your balance because it keeps your mind focused just long enough to complete your task. When your thoughts are scampering about your to-do list, balancing will seem nearly impossible. Instead, get your thoughts out of your head. They will be there when you get back to them, so don’t fret over letting them go during your yoga practice. (more…)

Beat the Heat with These Simple Yoga Techniques

In many parts of the country, temperatures are on the rise. While it’s typically a slow time of year for yoga studios, I can’t imagine hot yoga studios staying in business during high-degree weather. Even though yoga is enjoyed best in a warm environment, the heat of summer brings thoughts of cooling off rather than sweating it out.

If you struggle with making it to yoga because the heat of day has you wishing you could fit in your icebox, try heeding the following yoga advice. The practice doesn’t always have to heat your body. It is possible to cool down with the right yoga practice.

shitali pranayamaimage via

Cooling Breath

As called in Sanskrit, shitali pranayama has got to be the number one yogic activity you can do when you are in need of lowering your body temperature. While it may not cool you off like jumping into a frigid lake, it will help assist your body with some evaporative cooling. (more…)

Do Beer and Wine Belong at the Yoga Studio? The Pros and Cons of Post-Yoga Drinking

Blending yoga with activities such as Pilates or weightlifting seems to offer just enough variety for non-purist types who are comfortable with thinking outside the box. As the yoga industry stretches its limits in an effort to attract more participants, for some, certain yoga-hybrid classes are pushing the envelope just a little bit too far.

Succeeding the latest trend of combining yoga with wine tasting, some yoga studios have recently begun to regularly offer post-yoga beer or wine for those who’d like to enjoy a little happy hour after hitting the mat. While most people are thrilled with the idea, some yoga-purists are not so enthusiastic about it.

Take a look at the pros and cons about commercially introducing libations into the world of yoga and how it’s creating a buzz in the yoga community. (more…)

Yoga for the Relief of Minor Aches and Pains

It is easy to want to avoid doing any type of exercise if your body is aching and in pain, but sometimes a little bit of movement is just what you need to loosen up and get back on your feet.tadasana mountain pose

If you suffer from mild aches and pains due to overworked muscles, a long day of sitting the car, or a poor night’s sleep in an uncomfortable bed, the following yoga poses might give you a little bit of relief. Always be sure and check with your doctor if you are in chronic pain, as you may have a more serious condition that could require medical attention.

Knees to Chest

To smooth out a tight low back and give yourself a little TLC, lie on your back with both knees pulled into your chest. Begin to slowly rock side-to-side and allow for your low back to gently roll across the floor. This should feel as if you are getting a nice tension-relieving massage, and will iron out any knots or kinks you might have in your back. Stay in this pose as long as it takes to feel your muscles beginning to relax. (more…)

Keep Pain Out of Your Back While Keeping Weeds Out of Your Garden

Spending time in the garden is always a welcome activity, as the sunshine feels good and the fresh air brings hope for many enjoyable summer days to come. However, gardening can be exhausting, and if we are not careful, it might even be injurious.

The following are a few tips to keep your back in top shape as you spend long hours pulling weeds, hauling mulch, and performing other yard-centered activities.


Stand up often

Although it might seem like wasted time when you have a full day of yard work planned, standing up every five minutes will give your back a much needed break. When you spend too many hours slumped over your garden bed, it can be as bad for your spine as sitting slumped over in your recliner. So do yourself a favor and periodically stand up and stretch. (more…)

4 Minute Fitness with the Tabata Method

Would you believe it if someone told you that in just four minutes you would not only improve your fitness level, you would also burn more calories per minute than running ten miles an hour, plus increase your metabolism 30 minutes post workout? According to researcher Dr. Michele Olson, aka, the Exercise Doctor, it’s true! It’s been backed up by numerous research studies, and it’s called the Tabata Training Method.

“This particular style of interval training has profound effects even on short-term, post-exercise metabolism,” has explained Olson. “It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise, like a twenty-minute brisk walk, to shed the same number of calories that result from a four-minute Tabata.”


Tabata is an interval training workout designed to push you to your anaerobic threshold for 20 seconds, with a 10 second recovery break, for a total of four minutes. Designed by Izumi Tabata, a Japanese trainer of athletes, the Tabata method seems to be a major breakthrough in fitness training programs. However, it should be practiced with caution. (more…)

Bizarre Yoga Class Instructions That are Totally Normal

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you might have heard your instructor calling out some pretty unique cues. Phrases such as, “fan your collarbones” or “fluff up your kidneys” can be a little confusing if you don’t understand what they actually mean.

The following is a list of usual, yet unusual sounding yoga class cues and instructions used by many yoga teachers and helpful tips on how to interpret their meaning.

camel pose

Open your heart

Not knowing much about yoga, this cue might conjure up an image of someone on the operating table. While it has nothing to do with open-heart surgery, it has everything to do with having an openhearted approach to life.

Physically speaking, what this cue simply means is to improve your posture by rolling your shoulders back, lifting your sternum, and “opening” the front of your heart region. Psychologically, having an open heart in yoga allows you to be more receptive to the subtleties of your practice. (more…)

The Devil Wears Prana: E.W. Jackson Believes Yoga is Satanic

Republican party candidate E.W. Jackson is not only running for a position as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, he’s running his mouth as a highly conservative Christian who firmly believes yoga is a straight path to hell, not health.

Jackson is not afraid to tell the world what he thinks. As a Christian minister, Jackson wants to save our souls by warning the 15 million Americans who practice that “Doing yoga may leave unsuspecting people vulnerable to satanic possession.”

devil yoga

I don’t remember ever coming across any information while researching the benefits of yoga that along with better health, practitioners will start to grow horns and breathe hostility out into the world. In fact, last time I checked, those who practice yoga on a regular basis are happier, less anxious, and more willing to make a positive difference in their community.

Atlantic Wire’s Elspeth Reeve’s comment in response to Jackson’s assertions is the best one thus far. Reeve joked, “Behind the ice-cold eyes of Lululemon princesses burn the demonic flames of eternal hell.” Next time you are in your yoga class you better run and hide, because everyone knows the devil wears Prana. (more…)

Yoga Terminology Study Guide for Beginner Yogis

For some, joining a yoga class for the very first time takes a tremendous amount of courage. But if getting to class isn’t the hard part, not being able to understand the different terms and unique language of yoga can make anyone’s first experience not so text

The following is a study guide to help you recognize and understand common yoga terms frequently used by your yoga teacher.


A drishti is a gazing point, meant to serve as a means to help you focus all of your attention on your practice, versus letting your mind wander toward your grocery list. When your yoga teacher tells you to “Focus on your drishti,” or “Find a drishti,” they mean, pick a spot either on your body, such as your hand or foot, or some external gazing point, such as a spot on the wall in front of you, and stare at it. (more…)

Yoga Turns a Bad Mood in to a Good Day

Everyone experiences a bad mood every now and then. However mild or severe your gloomy attitude may be, the practice of yoga can lift your spirits so you can say goodbye to your bad mood for good.

The following are a few examples of how yoga can help turn your frown upside down.

yoga mom daughter

Elevated GABA levels

Researchers have found that practicing yoga can raise the brain’s level of gamma-amino-butyric acid, which is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. When GABA levels are low, we can experience anxiety, depression, and a decreased zest for life. When GABA levels are high, we feel elated, happy, and interested in living life to the fullest. (more…)