7 Tips to Use Social Media Mindfully as a Yoga Teacher

In the yoga world & community today, it is almost impossible not to be on social media. Social media is useful to get in touch with like-minded people – teachers and students alike – and to share and learn about our yoga practice. It is, however, very possible to let them be time and energy consumers without realizing it. We do have a choice not to be on there to avoid distractions, the comparison trap, and criticism, but the optimist in me truly believes there is a way to use social media mindfully to reap only the benefits these platforms have to offer.

Here are a couple of guidelines I’ve collected, either as I’ve received them from others or thought myself they might be wise to follow:

Unfollow People who Don’t Inspire You

Sometimes it can be tempting to compare yourself to yoga teachers, especially as the industry is becoming increasingly crowded. But because you’re a yoga teacher doesn’t mean you need to be up to date with the latest drama around the biggest Instagram yoga celebrities, nor do you need to know how others, who you can’t really relate to, meditate or practice yoga.

Remember there are as many ways to practice and teach as there are yogis on this Earth. You don’t have to follow people who you can’t relate to, and it doesn’t all have to do with yoga either. Make sure your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter feeds are places that feel comfortable, where you look forward to discovering uplifting, thought-provoking and soothing content that will serve you.

Block People who Might be “Stealing” your Energy

This one sounded very harsh to me the first time a teacher recommended that I do. I shared with her that I didn’t feel comfortable posting some things on my pages (especially Instagram) because I knew old friends and acquaintances were watching. After all, it makes sense to be able to choose who can see what you post online the same way you’d chose to dedicate your time and energy to only certain people.

The same way it’s important to set healthy boundaries in real life, you have to set them online, too. As soon as you feel your integrity, authenticity and comfort are being compromised on social media, then you might want to investigate whether anyone watching doesn’t really belong in your conversations. It is your right to decide who takes what you give out – even if your profiles are public, not knowing who’s behind their screens makes a (surprisingly) real difference.

Use Social Media to Connect with Like-Minded Teachers

Just like you crave true and authentic connections in your life, and as you might feel unsatisfied with what social media have to offer, there are people like you who feel the same way. Think about it: social media are special and great because they allow people who care about the same things to connect even though miles might separate them. No vegetarians around you? You can be sure Pinterest has lots of recipes to spice up your kitchen aspirations. No one to practice kundalini with? YouTube will definitely help. The list is endless! A quick search will help you find the people who you truly want to share with and learn from.

Post what You Really Want to Share

I personally struggled with this one in the beginning, specifically when I started using Instagram to share my yoga journey and teachings. It might sound stupid, but I felt the pressure to post pictures of my asana practice when it wasn’t really what yoga truly meant for me.

Slowly, I allowed myself to share more of what I truly wanted to share, more of what mattered to me and slowly, I felt much more at ease with all social media platforms in general. I’ve also realized that the more I share what I truly believe in, the more people who I align with can find me. And that agrees with the idea in tip #3!

Schedule Your Time on Social Media

This one is very straight-forward but very hard to stick to. Ideally, you’ll have 2 or 3 time-frames (or maybe just one) during the day when you open social media apps. You can set a timer and once it rings up, your time is over. Say you like to use Facebook and Instagram, then maybe you’ll have 20 minutes at 1pm for Instagram, and 20 minutes at 6pm for Facebook. You can set it up as you like.

This might feel a bit rigid but it helps to establish the habit. If you’re used to scrolling mindlessly several times during the day, then this one might be a good first tip to implement. You’ll feel much more peaceful and focused!

Use Automation Tools for Posting

This one goes hand in hand with tip #5; when you limit your time on social media, you might feel like this time goes by very quickly if you have to post things on there, too. The trick is to use automation tools as much as possible to spend less time on there. You can work in a word document or in your notes app to write down content, then edit or create your pictures, and then upload everything at the same time. You should know that:

  • When you have a ‘business’ page on Facebook, you can decide to post ‘now’ or choose when your post will go live when creating it from the page itself;

Take Time to Read, Take in, Enjoy what You See

Since you use social media yourself, you know how long it takes to create a post. You know how much energy, time, dedication and often, personality is put into each post you create. Take time to truly take in what you see on your feed, to appreciate what comes up, and think about the people behind their screens who dedicated some time and thought to create each post. Make it an entire in and of itself!

Call yourself out when you’re scrolling mindlessly, and take time to sit with what your read, the colors in the images, the words in the quotes, the intentions and meanings conveyed in each post. This will drastically enhance your experience.

Remember its Name: Social Media

It’s supposed to serve the purpose of connecting people, making us more, well, social. There are many ways to use these platforms to feel more in touch with yourself and others, so make sure you leave space for trial and error as you find what works for you. Also remember you have a choice to spend as much or as little time on there as you want – when it comes to teaching and building a mindful business, you are the one to make the decisions. If you’ve chosen to be a yoga teacher, it’s because yoga has become a way of life, not just a mat practice. Make sure your aspirations and beliefs seep into your social media use!

Ocasio-Cortez takes time off for ‘self-help,’ laments loss of yoga sessions due to politics | Fox News

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t yet started her new job, but she’s already taking a break.

The Democratic Socialist said Monday that she’s taking time a week off for “self-care” after feeling burned out and lamented that her political activity changed her lifestyle.

“I am starting a week of self-care where I am taking the week off and taking care of me. I don’t know how to do that though, so I would appreciate any and all self-care tips,” she said in an Instagram video.

“For working people, immigrants, & the poor, self-care is political — not because we want it to be, but bc of the inevitable shaming of someone doing a face mask while financially stressed. So I’ve decided to take others along with me on IG as I learn what self-care even means and why it’s important,” she added on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated powerful New York Democrat Joe Crowley earlier this year during the primary election and easily cruised to victory in general election as she had no real opposition, went on to say that since her entry into politics and activism, she had to give up her more comfortable lifestyle.

“Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x/week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Instagram. “As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window. I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.”

“Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x/week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure. As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window. I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.”

“I keep things raw and honest on here since I believe public servants do a disservice to our communities by pretending to be perfect,” she added. “It makes things harder for others who aspire to run someday if they think they have to be superhuman before they even try.”

The New York Democrat revealed that she decided to spend “a few days in the middle of nowhere” in upstate New York.

Ocasio-Cortez, together with other newly-elected lawmakers, will start her term on Jan. 3.

How a Yoga Teacher is Saving First Responders Across America From Depression – With Downward Dog

Police officers and firefighters across America are coping with the stress of life on the front lines by slipping into a downward dog.

The nonprofit group Yoga For First Responders is teaching these emergency workers a better way to handle the demands of their hazardous jobs.

36-year-old instructor Olivia Kvitne Mead founded YFFR in 2013 after she was inspired by her work with military veterans. If the 5,000-year-old practice could help them with PTSD, then she was certain that first responders could avoid burnout and perform more efficiently at the scene of emergencies.

“There are lots of yoga programs for veterans but they are all focused on after their tours of duty,” said Mead. “That doesn’t happen for first responders. They are in their jobs for 30 years until they retire. They go to work and see trauma, death, destruction, loss and the worst part of humanity, then they have to go home and be a mother or a father, a husband or a wife.”

Mead, who is from Denver, Colorado, believed that yoga could help lower their rate of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and alcoholism. According to a study from the Ruderman Foundation, more first responders committed suicide in 2017 than those who were killed in the line of duty.

“There is a missing skill set in first responder training and that is what is leading to these high statistics of burnout, divorce, alcoholism and suicides,” said Mead. “They need to be taught the ability to handle stress and trauma and process it. Otherwise you are just going to get squished by all the trauma you witness.”

And it’s a good thing that she pursued the idea, because she turned out to be right.

She first contacted the Los Angeles Fire Department in 2013 and pitched her idea to teach yoga to firefighters. “The then-head psychologist of the department already practiced yoga and he knew the benefits – [but] his number one concern was: how are we going to get the alpha male population to do yoga which is marketed as a female, delicate exercise?

“I said that I already taught veterans and I thought I could speak to this group of people.”

She began to volunteer twice a week at the fire department, showing up every Tuesday and Thursday with yoga mats – and soon, the Los Angeles Police Department joined firefighters in becoming interested in her program, too.

“The behavioral science section of LAPD was hosting a wellness day for their high command staff,” said Mead. “The detectives were not clocking out, working 24/7 and dropping dead of heart attacks left, right and centre. It was almost an epidemic.”

Mead admitted that not all first responders have been eager to get on the yoga mat.

“I worked with one firefighter in Iowa. He was a bigger guy and he didn’t want anything to do with the yoga,” she recalled. “But I came back to the fire department to give weekly classes. When I explained to him that I was here to help him do his job and sleep well afterwards, he changed his mind about yoga. He came to every single class I did.

“I later learnt that he hadn’t been able to sleep a whole night for a year after being called out to a car accident. He told me one day: ‘After your yoga classes, I was able to sleep last night’.”

Today, Yoga For First Responders works with 35 police and fire departments across the United States, including in Denver; Wichita, Kansas; and Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The training is also now officially part of the Chicago Police Academy syllabus, meaning every new recruit takes yoga sessions before joining the force.

Mead insisted that yoga not only helps first responders to handle the stress of their job, it allows them to do their jobs more efficiently; especially because teaching deep, controlled breathing allows firefighters to require less oxygen when battling blazes.

“Breath work helps CO2 tolerance in the body,” said Mead. “It means that while a firefighter’s air bottle normally lasts 15 minutes in action, we can make it last longer.

“Yoga strengthens the body and makes it more mobile which is very important for first responders, as their body is their tool—but the true essence of yoga is neurological training.

“It trains the mind and the nervous system to withstand anything by teaching breathing techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy.”

The Henderson Fire Department in Kentucky now offers a YFFR class three times a week, and they are seeing “really great” attendance. Lieutenant Josh Dixon came to his first class last November and now practices yoga five times a week.

“We can’t control what goes on outside our body, especially in an emergency,” said the 41-year-old responder. “But you can control what goes on inside.”

(WATCH the video clip — Donate to the nonprofit, or find a location)

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Yoga for Seniors DVDs and Online Videos – Get Moving Again

Experience the benefits of gentle yoga for seniors with our beginner yoga videos and DVDs.

Yoga is not about twisting yourself into a pretzel. It’s about giving your body the attention and love it needs through breathing and gentle movements. It’s about being healthier and happier at any age.

Join yoga instructor Cat Kabira as she helps you to reconnect with your body every day. In 8 carefully designed yoga sessions, each focusing on a specific part of your body, Cat will help you to increase your flexibility, reduce stiffness, eliminate stress and find more energy.

Whether you are new to yoga, or want to restart your practice, this gentle yoga video series is for you!

Dear friend!

Margaret ManningMy name is Margaret Manning and I am the founder of Sixty and Me, a community of over 500,000 amazing women over 60. I want to take a few moments to tell you why I am so excited about this gentle yoga for seniors video series.

Every day, I talk to older men and women who want to get more from life. After decades of looking after other people, perhaps it’s no surprise that some of us feel a bit stiff and tired. Some of us are dealing with pain and almost everyone feels like they have too much stress in their lives.

Isn’t it time that we did something for ourselves? Isn’t it time that we reconnected with our bodies and gave them what they need to feel great again?

Yoga isn’t just for people in their teens and 20s who can twist themselves into a pretzel in their sleep. In fact, you could argue that it is our age group that needs yoga more than any other. That’s why I created this video series. I wanted to develop a series of videos that anyone can use, regardless of their weight, fitness level or confidence.

If you have been practicing yoga for years, then this video series might not be for you. But, if you want an easy to follow, slow-paced course that takes you through each part of your body, without pressure or expectation, this video series is for you!

I am so excited about this gentle yoga video course. Cat Kabira worked with 1000s of older men and women and she is an absolute gem. The videos were filmed in one of my favorite places in the world, beautiful Bali. And, they were designed specifically for you!

I hope that you enjoy these videos and they help you to get on a path to a healthier and happier life in your 50s, 60s and beyond!

Please Meet My Good Friend, Cat Kabira

When I decided to film these gentle yoga videos, I knew that I needed to find a special teacher. I wanted to find someone who really understood our needs. I wanted to find a person with the charisma and experience to keep us motivated… someone who lives and breathes yoga every day. And, I wanted to find a kind and genuine person who you would want to spend time with every day.

My team had to travel thousands of miles, to beautiful Bali, but, I eventually found someone that I could be proud to work with. Her name is Cat Kabira.

Cat is an amazing woman and a good friend. For decades, she has taught 1000s of older adults how to reconnect with their bodies, become more mindful and establish healthy lifestyle habits. Now, I want her to help you to live a healthier and happier life through the practice of gentle yoga.

Let Me Tell You a Bit More About the Yoga for Seniors Video Series

When I first started to do yoga again after several decades of inactivity, I had concerns. Was I too old for yoga to be effective? Would the extra pounds that I had picked up over the years prevent me from doing the moves properly? Was I too stiff to enjoy yoga? Would I be embarrassed to join a yoga class and be surrounded by younger people doing advanced moves? Now that I have been doing yoga for a few months, I have never felt better.

If you have any concerns about starting a gentle yoga program, I want you to know that I understand. That’s why I set out to create a video series designed just for us.

These videos are slow-paced yet effective. Cat doesn’t rush through the moves like so many “yoga for seniors” videos that I have seen. The poses that Cat demonstrates offer an easy way to get started with yoga and provide a foundation for more advanced classes that you may take in the future.

Best of all, you can participate from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even need fancy equipment. As you will see in the following introduction video, Cat is more than comfortable helping you to find items from around the house to make your yoga practice easy and fun.

I’ll explain exactly what is in each video in a second, but, first I want to give you a chance to watch Cat’s introduction video. In it she explains how the gentle yoga course is organized and what you can expect. It’s also a great chance to get a feeling for Cat’s personality (I promise that you will fall in love with her like I did!), so please enjoy!

Here’s a Quick Breakdown of the Videos

Before starting on the video series, I talked with 100s of people in our community about how their bodies felt. One thing that became clear was that we all feel the effects of getting older differently.

Some of us have stiff joints. Others have tightness in our neck and shoulders from decades sitting behind a desk. We have designed this gentle yoga video course to address most of the common challenges that we experience as we get a little older.

In the first 7 videos, Cat focuses on one specific body area at a time. Whether you have tightness in your lower back or want to bring flexibility back into your legs, these videos will help. Then, on the 8th day, Cat brings everything together into a full-body flow that you can use to reconnect with your whole body.

Here are the topics that she covers:

Introduction to Gentle Yoga for Seniors – Prepare your mind and body to get the most from the gentle yoga practice (27 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 1 – Focus on Joints (40 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 2 – Focus on Neck and Shoulders (46 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 3 – Focus on Lower Back (37 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 8 – Full-body Flow (29 minutes)

That’s over 5 hours of gentle yoga in an easy to follow format.

I have personally been working with these videos for several weeks and I have never felt better. I hope that you feel the same after giving them a try. As a bonus, I included three interviews with Cat that will inspire and motivate you on your journey.

I hope that these videos get you on the path to a happier and healthier life!

Read Genuine Reviews! What Women Like You Are Saying About these Videos…

Are You Ready to Give Your Body Attention and Love it Deserves?

100% Money Back Guarantee within 7 days of receiving your product. DVD customers must return the product to receive a refund excluding shipping and handling fees. Just contact us.

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Questions and Answers

Based on my experience with the other videos that we have released, I’m sure that you have questions. That’s totally ok! I want you to have all of the information to decide if this yoga video series is right for you.

Question: How do I get the videos?

Answer: Within about 5 minutes of purchasing the videos, you will receive an email that has your login details to our secure customer website. Once you login, you will have access to all of the videos. You can watch the online videos streaming on any device with a browser and Internet connection. If you choose the DVD option, you will receive your 2-DVD set within 5-15 working days of your purchase. Please note that online access is always included and DVDs are an optional add-on.

Question: What if I don’t like the videos? Do you have a guarantee?

Answer: Of course! With our yoga for seniors videos, I didn’t have a single person request a refund. But, if you really don’t like the videos, just send an email to info (at) sixtyandme.com within 7 days of purchase and I will give you a full refund. Yoga for seniors DVD customers must return the product to receive a refund excluding shipping and handling fees.

Question: Why are the videos so cheap? Are they still high quality?

Answer: Great question! I actually struggled with this quite a bit. On the one hand, I probably could charge quite a bit more for these videos, based on their high-quality level and the depth of the content. The truth is that we want as many people to benefit from them as possible. That’s why I’m keeping the price low. For the price of a book, you can have over 5 hours of gentle yoga for seniors videos.

Question: What happens if I can’t get access to the videos?

Answer: Don’t worry! We won’t leave you hanging. If you have any trouble accessing the videos, just send us an email at info (at) sixtyandme.com and we’ll help you out.

Question: How do I know that it’s safe to purchase these yoga for seniors videos online?

Answer: It’s certainly a fair question. There are plenty of horror stories out there and we certainly respect your desire to be careful. We use a secure payment system that is supported by Authorize.net and Infusionsoft.com. Sixty and Me LLC is a registered company, based in Switzerland and we value our reputation. You can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to make sure that you have a positive and safe experience when buying our videos from our website sixtyandme.com/gentleyoga.

Question: Will this yoga program help me treat my arthritis, osteoporosis, fused spine, etc…?

Answer: This yoga program is not intended to solve any specific medical condition. Everyone’s body is different, so, please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

British woman who fell off ship in Croatia credits singing and yoga for surviving 10-hour ordeal

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British woman who fell off ship credits yoga and singing for survival

A British woman who fell off a ship in Croatia credits singing and yoga for surviving the ordeal.

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British woman who fell off ship credits yoga and singing for survival

A British woman who fell off a ship in Croatia credits singing and yoga for surviving the ordeal.

A British woman who was rescued 10 hours after falling from a Norwegian Star cruise ship on Saturday credits singing and yoga for helping to survive the ordeal.

Kay Longstaff, 46, spent a night in the Adriatic Sea after she plunged from the ship’s deck 60 miles off the coast of Croatia. Officials on a Croatian rescue ship found the former Virgin Atlantic crewmember Sunday morning, swimming close to where she fell.

“I was in the water for 10 hours, so these wonderful guys rescued me,” Longstaff told Croatia news service HRT, according to Sky News. “I am very lucky to be alive. I was sitting at the back of the deck.”

The rescue ship’s captain, Lovro Oreskovic, also said the woman was “exhausted,” but rescuers were “extremely happy for saving a human life.”

British tourist Kay Longstaff was saved by rescuers with Croatia’s coast guard after falling off a cruise ship near the Croatian coast.  (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

An unidentified rescuer told The Sun that Longstaff credited her survival to yoga and singing.

“She said the fact that she practices yoga helped her as she was fit. And she said she was singing to not feel cold in the sea overnight,” the rescuer told the news site.

David Radas, a spokesman at Croatia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs, said surveillance video on the ship ultimately helped rescuers locate Longstaff.

It’s unclear what led to Longstaff going overboard. Several passengers told The Sun that Longstaff and her partner appeared to be fighting before the incident. Others said alcohol was involved.

Officials are investigating the incident.

This Mom Doing Yoga and Breastfeeding at the Same Time Brings a Whole New Meaning to the Term “Balance”

Meet Carlee Benear, the breastfeeding mom who can seemingly nurse her baby in just about any yoga pose. Benear’s Instagram feed features shots of the mama assuming a whole range of challenging contortions—and we’re not just impressed by her flexibility and strength, we’re also sort of mesmerized by the way she continues to breastfeed no matter how complicated her pose is.

The 29-year-old mother struggled with postpartum depression after she gave birth to her first child, and when she became pregnant for the second time, she knew she’d do everything in her power to avoid going through depression again. Benear turned to exercise…but quickly realized it would be tough to juggle her role as a mom with her new workout regimen. “As my second child grew older, it became more challenging for me to make it out of the house,” she says. “I enjoy being a home body. I still needed an activity to help me work off the frustrations that come along with parenting. So, I decided to try yoga…My journey with yoga caught fire, it is something that makes me happy. Its also something that my children enjoy.

Benear’s breastfeeding photos aren’t just impressive to look at, they also represent her incredible bond with her children. “It reminded me how much my kids loved me and how important I was to them,” she said of looking at the photos. “Finding that release helped me find confidence as a parent and in turn helped me build confidence in my children. For me it was yoga that sent us all on a journey of self-discovery. I think it’s exciting to explore my potential, to learn about my body and what my mind is capable of. When I go back and look at my photos, I see strength. I see the courage it takes me to be a good parent. I see the woman my children see. A parent who is actively trying to be better every single day. I want my children to look back on those photos and find the urge to always try.”

This Mom Breastfeeds While Doing a Yoga Handstand—and Her Photos Have Sparked Controversy Online

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: It is so important for moms to continue taking care of themselves even after they welcome their children. We absolutely love that this mom found a way to nurture herself emotional and physically while still doing what is best for her baby.

Benear is vocal about the importance of finding this balance. Yoga is her personal savior, but she knows that every mom will find comfort in something different. “It doesn’t have to be yoga, find what moves you inside and out,” she said. “Do more of what you love.”

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Kelly Ripa Shows Killer Yoga Moves During Rigorous Workout Session In Bahamas

Kelly Ripa is one fit lady and she proved why she looks the way she does in her latest Instagram post. The 47-year-old talk show host is currently in the Bahamas where Live! was filmed this week. Ripa is taking some down time, but is also fitting in a rigorous workout.

In the images seen below, Kelly is displaying some killer yoga moves with a group of her friends.

“Not since my honeymoon have I seen moves like these,” Kelly Ripa writes in part of the caption.

Kelly is the second one from the left. She’s flashing a big smile while having a fun but challenging yoga session with her pals. In her workout attire and donning aviator glasses, Ripa looks in her element as the turquoise water and blue skies complete the picture.

Kelly shared 10 images on Instagram of her workout on Saturday. Click through the images and see the killer yoga moves she does with handstands, downward dog, inversions, and other advanced poses. Kelly even has some of the other women posing on top of her. In one of the photos, Ripa is balancing on the legs of one of her friends and is in a flying position with another. It’s safe to say to the popular star is incredibly strong besides looking insanely fit. The ability to not only hold your own body up, but one or two others is a true testament to one’s level of fitness.

As The Inquisitr reported earlier this week, Kelly Ripa was taking in some sunshine on the beach after arriving in the Bahamas. She was seen in a tiny black bikini, which can be seen here.

Kelly’s her love affair with exercise started slowly. She began with walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes and gradually increasing the time. Eventually she started running and turned to more strenuous workouts that concentrate on various muscle groups. When it comes to eating, she admits to eating a pizza and fries once a week, but mainly sticks to an alkaline diet the rest of the time.

Kelly Ripa has also shared other photos from her working vacation in the Bahamas. She posted one image of her paddle boarding with Live! co-host, Ryan Seacrest and one of her with dad, Joe Ripa, on a boat.

The Yoga of Politics

As a general rule, I try not to bring politics into my teaching. It can be divisive and triggering for people – the opposite of what we are going for in yoga. However, the current election is so deeply enmeshed in the consciousness of our society that it has to be looked at one way or another. I choose to perceive it like I do all of life: through a yogic lens.

Historically, when a leader has arisen through narcissistic or oppressive behavior, he or she leaves an indelible mark. It is the mark of infamy, and it causes those in the aftermath of that leadership to be left with a heavy conscience. The textbook (or google) definition of a conscience is “an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” Our conscience is our voice that recognizes the inherent good in all beings. It’s the part of our spirit that can recognize the self in others. It’s the place we are speaking from when we say “Namaste.” When we acknowledge the intrinsic connection of all beings, we transcend differences in race, religion, gender, and politics. We realize that the person who is standing up there on the podium is actually a reflection, on some part, of our own self.

To me, this election is a reminder of the values we have mistakenly taken on as a culture, and the healing that needs to be done as a result. We actually have to look inward and ask ourselves: what is being brought to light in this dialogue? Where have I personally disempowered myself or other races? Where have I objectified other women, or allowed myself as a woman to be objectified? Where have I been mistrusting? When do I lie? When have I looked at money as a symbol or self-worth? All of these topics are being surfaced right now because they can no longer afford to be hidden. That is actually what the practice of yoga teaches us: how to bring the light of our awareness to the subject at hand. That subject might be a physical posture, a breath technique, a visualization, or it might be our finances, our relationships, or politics. They are all just experiences that arise and fall in our consciousness.

In fact, yoga teaches us that everything on this realm exists as consciousness. All of my thoughts, feelings, and limited beliefs are in some way being mirrored back to me at all times. Our political candidates are just reflections of what the majority of our country has seen value in. As one of my teachers likes to say: It’s not what’s coming at us, it’s what’s coming from us.

In my humble opinion, rather than analyze, fear and place blame in this election, we need to take responsibility for our own actions and create the change we wish to see in the world. Let’s perceive the rhetoric not as negative talk but as a catalyst for change. Through awareness comes transformation and ultimately, evolution. Evolution happens because one way of living is no longer sustainable, and the conscience of a people decides to take a new course. We can use this experience not to strengthen our political ties but to strengthen our connection to each other and grow as a whole.

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6 best yoga poses for back pain

A few years ago, I worked with a student whose back pain was so severe he couldn’t walk without slumping over. He was taking pain medication and self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. The agony was making him irritable, which was ruining his relationships. Then, there was the looming cost of back surgery, which threatened to leave him even worse off than before.

But after two months of working with me on yoga therapeutics, back alignment and breath, his pain cleared. He told me he felt like he was alive again.

If back pain is all too familiar to you, too, try these yoga poses — with guidance from an experienced teacher, if necessary — to help alleviate the pain and keep it at bay:

How to do it: Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Adjust your knees so they are under your hips and inner hips-width apart. Make sure the front of your ribs does not collapse toward the floor. Lengthen your spine first, then inhale while arching your back and looking forward. As you exhale, round your back and look toward your naval. Complete five to 10 cycles of cat and cow, or as many rounds as you need to clear your low-back pain. Move slowly, while deepening your breath. Make sure you only use the range of motion that feels good on your back. Finish with a neutral spine and pelvis, and hold that position for a breath before stopping your flow.

Why to do it: Table top — the neutral pose you started and ended in — allows your back to be in an anatomically aligned position. Flowing in cat cow allows more movement in the low and mid back, which is particularly helpful for people with back pain, since most of them tend to be stuck in a flat back position from sitting for hours daily. Start in this flow to re-establish malleability and the ability to both arch and dip your spine equally.

How to do it: Stand about one legs-length away from a wall. Lean forward and set your palms on the wall so that your back is parallel to the floor. Straighten your arms and lengthen your back. Bend your knees enough to tilt your pelvis up, creating a release in your low back. Make sure you do not over-arch your mid back. Hold this pose for five to 10 deep breaths.

Why to do it: This non-weight bearing variation of down dog affords you all the pose’s benefits without the difficulty of holding it on your mat. This option gives you the time to hold the pose long enough to find relief.

How to do it: Stand in low lunge with your right foot forward. Put your left hand on the floor as far to the left as it will go while keeping your hips square and your front knee pointing over your foot. Swing your right arm alongside your right ear and turn your chest upwards. Look under your top arm toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for several breaths and repeat on the second side.

Why to do it: This variation of lunge lengthens your torso and side ribs — a space crucial to create when you have back problems. That’s because it’s the precise area where people tend to shorten their posture and eventually hurt their backs.

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your ankles are underneath your feet and your feet point straight forward. Place a block at its most narrow setting between your upper inner thighs. Squeeze the block and encourage it to slide toward the floor. Only as much as you can keep the block between your thighs, root your feet down and lift your hips and low back up. Hold for five breaths and slowly lower your hips back to the floor.

Why to do it: Backbends are a great way to open and heal your back — if done correctly. However, if you misalign your backbend by allowing your feet, knees and thighs to turn out, the pose can be dangerous. Using a block keeps your inner thighs turned inward and helps protect your back.

How to do it: Start lying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet as wide as your mat. Let both knees drop to the right like windshield wipers and hook your right ankle across your left thigh. Extend your arms out to your sides, bend your elbows and turn your palms up. Look slightly left and keep both shoulders on the floor. Hold the pose for five breaths and repeat on the second side.

Why to do it: Twisting creates space through the sides of your body where you tend to slouch. This gentle twist provides stability so you can focus on your alignment and lengthening your back while you twist.

How to do it: While on your back, bend both knees in toward your chest and hold your shins just below your kneecaps. Widen your knees enough to cradle your torso. Flex your feet, press your shins up against your hands and move them away from your chest enough to feel a slight arch and release in your low back. Breathe fully and imagine your back swelling up like a parachute. Hold still or rock side to side — whichever feels good on your back.

Why to do it: Instead of pulling your knees toward your chest, like most yogis do in the happy baby pose, this pose moves your knees away from your body. This creates more of a natural curve in your low back. Hold this shape and breathe deeply to help clear pain.

 

Twisting creates space through the sides of your body where you tend to slouch. This gentle twist provides stability so you can focus on your alignment and lengthening your back while you twist. (Getty Images)

 

Yoga for a Flat Belly [VIDEO]

You don’t need to love to bust through this flow. Designed to flatten and tone your tummy, it will require strength, attention to breath and plenty of balance. Registered yoga instructor, Jean Sherfick, will lead you through this flow, beginning with a welcoming warm up and ending in a well deserved savasana. Ohm. Get to work!

Slide 1/12 – 1. Downward Dog | 3 Breaths
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From standing position, bend over, placing your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until both your hands and your feet are completely touching the mat. You should resemble a downward “v.” Take your legs out to shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers apart. (4) Press through your palms and keep your hips pushed back. Keep your neck relaxed and hold this position.

Slide 2/12 – 2. 3-Legged Dog Knee Twist | 3x Each Side

Get into your downward dog by first coming into your high plank. Push the hips back, pressing into your heels until you reach your downward dog. Lift one leg high. Look to your belly button. Pull the leg into the body by bending the knee and bracing the core. Do not let the leg touch the floor on the way to the outside elbow. You’ll have the same-side elbow and knee meet first. Keep your hips down and your shoulder blades nicely rounded for stabilization. Slightly rotate the hips as the knee crosses underneath the body and taps the other elbow. Really squeeze the obliques and find balance in the arms through the triceps. Extend the leg out and return it to the 3-legged downward dog position to begin a second rep.

Slide 3/12 – 3. Forearm Plank | :30 seconds
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Lie face down on floor resting on your forearms. Push up off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to heels. Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air.

Slide 4/12 – 4. Dolphin Press | 5x

Come into your downward dog, pressing the heels into the floor. Then walk yourself down to your elbows and claps the hands together. Make sure the head drops between the arms. It’s OK if the heels come off the floor since you’re lower. Stabilize through the shoulders as you lean the chest forward, allowing it to come between the elbows. Keep the hips slightly piked, the the arch of a dolphin’s back. As you come forward, you’ll test your balance and challenge the core. Shift back to your starting position to complete your first rep. 

Slide 5/12 – 5. Child’s Pose | 3 Breaths

Come to your hands and knees, spreading the knees a few inches apart. Drop your hips backward toward your heels; drop your head between your arms as your hands stay on the ground. Reach them out in front of you. Rest you forehead on the floor if you can and breathe, allowing yourself to melt into the pose more with each exhale.

Slide 6/12 – 6. Forearm Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts | 5x Each Side

Come into a low plank by setting your elbows under the shoulders and pressing your hands into the mat, straight out in front of you. Round the shoulder blades and engage your lats. Keep your feet together and squeeze the inner thighs up through the core. Make sure you’re in a nice straight line. Exhale and lift one foot from the floor, keeping it flexed. You want your hips to stay square to your mat, so try to isolate that movement from the rest of your body. Push back through that supporting leg’s heel. Lower the foot to the ground then repeat on the other side.

Slide 7/12 – 7. Gate Pose | 5x Each Side

This pose is excellent for a deep oblique and lat stretch as well as strengthener. Come to your knees and extend one leg out to the side, keeping your entire foot on the ground. Rest the same side arm on the extended leg, then lift the other arm up and over, stretching to to the opposite side. Look up toward your raised arm. Reverse the movement by dropping the raised arm to your side and lifting the other arm up and over your head as you gaze down. Keep the hips pushed forward so you don’t sink backward out of your posture.

Slide 8/12 – 8. Side Plank with Leg Lifts | 5x Each Side

Come into a side plank position with your wrist under your shoulder and your feet either stacked or staggered.  Make sure your hips are not rolling backward, forward or hinging. Push yourself up by squeezing your lower oblique. Rest the other hand on your hip. Flex the feet as you lift the top one as high as you can, aiming to get it to hip level. If this is too difficult, drop the bottom knee and tuck the leg straight behind you in a 90-degree bend. As you lift and lower, be aware of you lower hip position — don’t let it drop!

Slide 9/12 – 9. Boat Crunch | 5x

Sit down, bend your knees, then raise your legs until the knees are over the hips. Raise your upper body until you create a “V” from the chest to the thighs. Extend the arms forward for balance. Pull the belly button in so you are not arching your back. Try to get your calves parallel with the floor. Inhale and extend the legs out as you drop the upper body, opening the “V” to become almost parallel with the floor. Think about being long. Flex or point the feet. Watch to video to see the move performed.

Slide 10/12 – 10. Barbie Abs | 5x

Lie on your back with your arms at your side, palms down. Raise your legs over the hips and pointing the feet. Create the “Barbie foot” by flexing only the toes. Bring one leg about 12 inches closer to you and hold this position. Lower the legs, keeping them firmly locked in your starting position. You’re only changing the angle of your hips by opening it as you lower. Raise the legs up again and repeat a few more reps before switching legs.

Slide 11/12 – 11. Cobra Pose | 5x

Lie face down with your legs slightly wider apart than your hips. Place your palms on the mat under your chest, fingers pointing forward. Press your elbows in close to your ribcage and squeeze your shoulder blades towards one another. You should feel your chest start to open. Inhale and use your back muscles (not just your arms) to lift your head and chest off the floor. Come to the tops of your toes and take deep breaths. Keep your neck elongated and in line with your spine. To help, find a spot a few steps in front you to look at. Hold for 10 seconds. Exhale as you return to the starting position. Hold for one deep breath and then repeat. Do this as many times as you can for 60 seconds.