Many people will be hitting the ski slopes over President’s Day weekend, and lift lines will continue to grow through spring break and beyond. The air may be thin at the top of the lift but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to breathe. In fact, Anne Anderson, a certified ski instructor from Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut, takes advantage of the fresh mountain air by teaching her skiers breathing and meditation practices as part of her lesson plan.
Snowga, a combination of the two words ‘snow’ and ‘yoga’ is the latest hybrid yoga class to hit the slopes. A blend of yoga and skiing, Snowga helps to improve your downhill skiing skills by incorporating yoga poses, breath work, and meditation. Created by Anderson, Snowga also helps skiers face their fears of the mountain and stay calm and relaxed on difficult terrain. “Yoga has a natural benefit of healing. It calms the mind and body and is a true compliment to snow sports education,” Anderson told Fox News in a recent interview.
Anderson is not the only skier who practices yoga on and off the slopes. U.S. Ski Team freestyle mogul skier Heather McPhie adds a little yoga to the days she skis. “It is so helpful in keeping my body more physically prepared and is a wonderful pause in my day where I get away from everything else and just center,” McPhie also explained in her interview with Fox News.
A study conducted by two Harvard University researchers suggests that people’s wandering minds are to blame for their unhappiness. In addition, they found that happiness was not necessarily a consequence of what someone was doing, but how focused they were while doing it.
Using an Internet-based cell phone application to gather feedback, the researchers asked their subjects if they were focused while engaged in certain activities, or if their minds were drifting towards something totally different. The subjects were then asked to describe their level of contentment during each activity.
The results concluded that people’s minds wander at least 50% of the time and while the mind is wandering, most people feel unhappy. It is worth noting that in this experiment minds wandered less during sex, exercise or while engaged in conversation and more in those who were working, using a home computer or resting. However you want to interpret this, the important message is that we only spend half of our waking hours focused and experiencing happiness.
Do you want to be happy more than 50% of the time, whether you are working, exercising or spending time with others? The following tips will help you focus, and “be here now” as esteemed spiritual leader Ram Dass famously states.
During this hectic time of year your yoga practice is especially helpful in reducing anxiety, but if you cannot fit in a full yoga class, practicing on your own is second best. Restorative poses like forward bends top the list to release stress and refresh the mind and body, but it is important that they are done correctly.
The following principles are categorized by body part and action to help you practice safe and effective restorative forward bending yoga poses.
Imagine your pelvis as a bowl of water and your spine as the stream of water that spills from the bowl. By placing both hands on your hips and tipping your hips forward first as if to pour the water onto your feet, you set the forward bend up from your hips rather than from your lower back. This prevents the action of lumbar lordosis (rounding out) from your lumbar spine, which can stress the discs of the lower back.
If your hamstrings are tight, simply bend your knees. This will allow your pelvis to tip forward with ease without rounding your lower back. Also, you can bend your knees if you feel tension behind them and if you feel a tugging sensation on your sitting bones. It is best to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle, rather than at the attachment points (sit bones and backs of knees). This helps to protect your tendons and ligaments from excess strain.
With holiday parties scheduled nearly every weekend and the New Year right around the corner, many of us enjoy the occasional cocktail, or ten. If you are suffering from a hangover, keep reading. Even though there is no known cure that will positively eliminate or prevent the painful effects of a hard night of drinking, the following yoga inspired tips and poses can help relieve your suffering so you can get on with your day in a productive manner.
Take Five Deep Breaths, preferably outside
Your pounding head in the morning is often caused by a lack of oxygen to your brain because drinking alcohol slows down your respiratory rate. To get the oxygen flowing again, practice some yogic breathing.
Take a deep breath in and at the very top of your inhale, take in just a little bit more breath. Hold your breath for two to three seconds and exhale slowly. Repeat up to five times. This will help flood your brain with the oxygen you may be lacking and give your whole body a blast of fresh air, especially if you can practice this yogic breath in the great outdoors.
Do you loathe mornings? Are you slow to wake up? Does it take you until the afternoon to finally feel chipper? Well, if you are not a morning person yet you have to get up early because of work, kids or some other call to duty, try the following brief, simple and effective yoga routine. Even if you don’t do yoga, or have yet to try it, you will find this easy sequence helpful in making you feel sprightly at sunrise.
Morning Breath (It’s not what you think!)
Upon awakening, before you get out of bed or even move a muscle, take ten full deep breaths through your nose. At the height of your inhale, take in just a little bit more breath and hold it for a second before you exhale. Notice the awakening sensation of fresh oxygen flooding your brain and feel a revitalizing boost before your breakfast. (more…)