Auto Added by WPeMatico

Baron Baptiste’s Yoga Sequence for Self-Expression

Try this chest- and heart-opening flow to connect to your authentic Self.

Life is riddled with social rules. Take this biggie, for example: “Don’t talk politics, religion, or money in polite company.” You can always break the rule, but know that if you go there, it may turn confrontational and possibly damage your relationships. Of course, social rules have their place and importance, but living entirely within their limits can restrict the outward expression of your individuality. Worse, they can chip away at the time and energy you spend looking inward, which can cause a serious disconnect from your authentic Self. Eventually that can start to erode your sense of self-worth and the self-confidence it takes to pursue what you believe to be important and right.

The practice offered here was designed by Baron Baptiste to help you counter this common disconnection and feel empowered by what he calls boundless self-expression: “Having the freedom to authentically be and act outside the confines of doing things ‘the right way,’ without feeling limited and bound up by expectations imposed on us by others,” Baptiste explains. “In this free space to express, we enter a realm of self-discovery and new possibility that can alter our lives in very real and tangible ways, both on and off the mat.”

This sequence will engage you in an expanding flow of chest- and heart openers to create space for using principles of “true north alignment.” “On both physical and energetic levels, we are literally opening and releasing the muscles of the chest, which can result in a paradigm shift in how we see life and ourselves,” Baptiste explains. “We can begin to trust ourselves in new ways and make choices that more fully honor ourselves in any situation.” 

See also Get Ready for Liftoff with Baron Baptiste

Learn More
Yoga Journal’s online Master Class program brings the wisdom of world-renowned teachers to your fingertips, offering access to exclusive workshops with a different master teacher every six weeks. In March, Baron Baptiste presents a practice designed to enliven and empower your practice. If you’re ready to get a fresh perspective and maybe even meet a lifelong yoga mentor, sign up for YJ’s year-long membership.

Powered by WPeMatico

Yoga Journal’s 10 Most Practiced Sequences of 2017

This collection speaks for itself: our 10 most popular practices of the year all in one place.

We thought we needed yoga before, but this year made it nonnegotiable. Your clicks tell us you feel the same. They also say that along with the all of the hip-opening, sweat-stoking, detoxifying release, you want a practice that better equips you to take on everything the real world throws your way—ever faster and more furiously. The following collection speaks for itself: our 10 most popular practices of the year all in one place. 

Powered by WPeMatico

16 Yoga Poses to Keep You Grounded & Present

This strong, balanced sequence is designed to ground you even as life’s craziness swirls around you.

Whether it’s a big deadline at work, relationship issues, holiday season busyness, or some other stressor, life can certainly present challenges that turn on our fight-or-flight response. This instinctual physiological stress response can serve us well in life-threatening situations. (To wit: the oft-cited running-from-a-tiger scenario.) Yet these days, even stressors that aren’t life-threatening can switch on our fight-or-flight mode—and we stay in this heightened stress state because we can’t physically run away from things like deadlines or soaring daycare costs. The result? We become reactive rather than responsive, and our overall mental and physical health takes a hit. Enter this strong, balanced sequence, designed to ground you even as life’s craziness swirls around you.

Powered by WPeMatico

12 Yoga Poses to Boost Breast Health

Breasts are intimately connected to a woman’s overall well-being and heart, yet proactive tips for keeping breast tissue healthy are scarce. Fortunately, your yoga practice can help.

Menses, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause are some of the shape shifts women face in a single lifetime. And the breasts, intimately connected to a woman’s health, relate to these physical passages in profound ways. One in eight American women will receive a Breast Cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. Cysts, myofascial issues, heart disease, and hypertension, which can result in cardiac arrest and open-heart surgery, are also common. Yet, aside the recommendation of a monthly self-exam American women, don’t get much in the way of tips for maintaining breast health. The good news is yoga practice can be a powerful tool for healthier breasts.

What Yoga Can Teach American Women About Their Breasts

American cultural attitudes about breasts careen wildly from festishization to repression: while we are accustomed to seeing women’s breasts objectified on the covers of magazines and advertising, breastfeeding women often need a place to retreat and hide just to nourish their babies. But around the world, Goddess images attest to a more reverent and profound connection to this important area of the body. In Tantric art and Hindu iconography, bare-breasted goddesses such as compassionate Tara and Ferocious Protector Kali embody a more sacred view of the breasts. These deities are open-hearted, brave, and courageous, as their physical language shows in paintings, sculptures, and modern-day posters and advertisements. The chest has long been associated with love, courage, and confidence in many cultures. In Ayurvedic medicine, the 5,000-year-old wisdom and healing tradition of India, the heart and chest are viewed as intelligence centers, “The heart is the seat or root of the brain,” as Dr. Sheila Patel, medical director of the Chopra Institute explains. So how can you better nurture these important parts of the body?

How Yoga Practice Can Boost Breast Health

“A well-rounded yoga practice will benefit the breasts,” notes Bobby Clennell, Iyengar Yoga teacher and author of Yoga For Breast Care: What Every Woman Needs to Know. Expanding the heart center in backbends and twists suffuses the chest and lymphatic system with circulation, facilitating optimal immune function. Although inconclusive, research from several studies suggests that tight or ill-fitting bras may contribute to breast cancer risk by limiting circulation and blocking the flow of lymph. Asana can also counter the postural issues—hunching, tightening and closing off of the chest—modern devices pose. The deep breathing (like Sama Vritti and Kapalabhati) and retention (Kumbhaka) yogis practice in pranayama enable oxygen to reach the upper lobes of the lungs, facilitating the release of more oxygen to the upper chest and lymphatic areas, boosting immune function.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Yoga, yoga poses and practices reduce stress and boost immunity. Some research studies show a positive correlation between the stress response and breast cancer, particularly in resurgence or relapse and the relaxation response and survival ratesForward folds and resting poses, especially, soothe the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the fight-or-flight stress response, and switch on the the parasympathetic system, which enables optimal immune function. 

Additionally, Yoga Journal’s 2016 Yoga in America study found people who practice yoga are more inclined to engage in cardiovascular exercise, which is known to reduce heart disease and cancer risk. Yoga’s mindfulness component also fosters an intimate connection with the body, which can heighten one’s awareness of changes and aid in early detection of disease. 

See also How to Use the Body Affect the Mind

The Anatomy of the Breasts

To understand how yoga practice can impact this important area of the body better, let’s briefly look at its anatomy. Mammary glands, or breasts, are made up of lobules, glandular structures that produce milk in women. The lobules drain into ducts, connecting to channels that transport milk to the nipple. Between glandular tissue and ducts lie fat cells and tissue. (Male breast anatomy is nearly identical to females’, except for the milk lobules.) Breasts do not contain muscle, but are adjacent to the pectoralis muscles of the upper chest. Blood vessels and lymph gland and lymph node networks for draining and detoxifying impurities run through the breasts, the surrounding armpit, upper chest, and groin areas.

The Energy of the Heart Center

Energetically, the Anahata Chakra, or heart center, the seat of wisdom in Ayurvedic medicine, lies at the sternum, between the breasts. Opening this energetic and physical area results in feelings of expansion, vulnerability, joy, and sometimes pain, as grief resides here, too. It seems appropriate then that the breasts and heart are so intimately connected. The classic bare-breasted icon of Green Tara, goddess of Compassion, typifies this view of sacred feminine power. And open-hearted, bare-breasted Kali, the ferocious but compassionate manifestation of the feminine divine, reminds us it takes courage to live from the center of one’s heart.

Use the following practice to boost circulation, lymph flow, and energy through your heart and chest for healthier breasts.

See also 23 Jams to Ignite Your Inner Warrior for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A Yoga Sequence for Chest & Breast Health

See also Massage for Healthy Breasts

Powered by WPeMatico

6 Poses to Open Your Energy Channels & Boost Prana Flow

When it feels like life is spinning out of control, YJ Influencer Sara Clark recommends opening your energy channels to raise your vibration and increase your stress resilience.

During a time of opposition, when there seems to be one tragedy after the next, it’s easy to feel like life is spinning out of control. When we feel powerless it can keep us in a perpetual state of fight or flight which in turn can cause dis-ease in the body. As we are met with great challenges, it is vital to keep our nervous system running as efficiently as possible. The goal in times of challenge is to raise our vibration, so our bodies and minds can rest and digest all that is happening around us. One of the best ways to do this is to circulate more energy or prana throughout the body. When prana flows efficiently, both our voluntary and involuntary functions work at optimal levels from deeper connections with community to healthier digestion to more restful sleep to increased stress resilience! That’s right, allowing more energy to flow through your body can increase your ability to skillfully deal with stress, increasing your overall well-being. Try this sequence designed to first ground and calm the mind before mindfully moving through invigorating poses that focus on connecting breath with movement. Seal the practice by setting an intention to support your day. Breathe deeply and get ready to let your energy flow!

See also Positively Prana: Yoga Your Way to a Happier Mood

6 Poses to Boost Energy Flow

About Our Expert
YJ Influencer Sara Clark is known for her compassionate teaching style and calming presence and has been practicing yoga for over 14 years. Her unique blend of power and intention allows students to safely explore their highest potential both on and off the mat. With a B.A. in Journalism, Clark worked in television post-production for HBO & TruTV prior to teaching yoga. Certified as an Ayurvedic Nutritionist and an ERYT 500-hour yoga teacher, Clark teaches throughout Manhattan and frequents Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health both as a student and faculty. She teaches retreats and events around the world, including thousands in New York City’s Bryant Park for Yoga Journal. Her empowering vinyasa sequencing and mindfulness techniques nourish the soul, inspire you to deepen your practice, and leave you wanting more.

Powered by WPeMatico

A Home Practice to Cultivate Contentment

A sequence to help you ride the wave of life, knowing that you have everything you need within you to move through changes and challenges with grace.

When life ebbs and flows, it can be challenging to stay connected to ourselves—particularly if we’re tempted to ignore or escape the negative feelings that can come with change and upheaval. Yet staying with all of our musings and physical sensations during times of change—welcome or not—enables us to move with more equanimity through ups and downs.

When we accept that we can’t always control external situations, it can be empowering and help us focus on what we can control: what goes on within us. Whatever you’re going through, I hope this sequence will help you trust that you can ride the waves of life with a feeling of contentment, knowing that you have everything you need within you to move through changes and challenges with grace.

Practice Tips

1. Before you begin, find a quiet space and connect with your breath.

2. Set an intention for this practice: state it clearly and in the present tense.

3. Do 3 to 5 rounds of Sun or Moon Salutations led by the breath. Then, come to Balasana (Child’s Pose) and move through the following sequence. 

See also 5 Happiness-Boosting Poses

Powered by WPeMatico