Ashtanga Yoga Poses – What’s the Point, Really?

“Ashtanga yoga poses” is a frequently searched phrase on Google. There are two very different ideas about that term ashtanga yoga today though, so the website you land on might not be quite what you’re looking for. The Sanskrit word Ashtanga means “eight limbs” (ashta means eight, and anga means limb), referring to the traditional system of yoga comprised of 8 essential, interconnected parts. But the term ashtanga yoga has also gotten attached to a modern exercise system that focuses heavily on part, the yoga pose. Yoga poses, though, are only the tip of the iceberg in yoga. If you don’t go very far beyond them, you simply AREN’T DOING YOGA.

How Many Limbs Do You Have?

The first step in ashtanga yoga are the yamas and niyamas, If you’ve read anything about yoga, I’m sure you’ve head about these morals and ethics. Yogis seemed so obsessed with them… Come on though, who doesn’t know that we should be good people? Step three though… now we’re getting into the good stuff… those yoga poses! If Jennifer Aniston keeps looking younger everyday with them, then I definitely want to do yoga, too! Yeah, we’ve all heard about step four… the BORING yoga breathing… Okay, five minutes of that is enough. I know how to breathe…

But What Really Comes Next?

After these first four steps, yoga gets very hazy for most people. Even most yoga teachers get pretty flakey when they start to talk about the higher levels of yoga. It seems that the lack of student interest in the higher stages of yoga is rivaled only by the lack of enthusiasm by teachers to educate about them. But guess what? It’s in the higher four stages where yoga actually begins!

What’s the Point of The First Four Limbs Then?

We all know the saying, “you need to crawl before you can walk.” The first four limbs are “yoga crawling” so to speak – preparation for the higher stages. But one of the biggest yoga delusions people have is thinking that because they can contort their body into all sorts of extreme positions, that are “advanced” in yoga.

The ashtanga yoga poses are indeed great tools for improving and maintaining our physical health. They even help ground us a lot on mental and emotional levels, too. But transforming from someone who is deeply attached to their possessions, emotional dramas and relationships in this world, into someone who is about to detach from all these things and experience the real joy of being part of this miracle of life, requires a journey to the higher yoga mountain peak.

If we don’t want to go there, then perhaps our yoga teachers haven’t done a good enough job to inspire us – to let us know what we’re missing, and why we need to set our sights a little higher. If we don’t outgrow our attachment to the Ashtanga yoga poses, then we’ll be stuck in that land of preparation forever. The question is, what exactly are we preparing for?

Learn to Fly with Aerial Yoga

You won’t really be able to fly during this class, but it may be the closest you will get outside of a plane. Aerial yoga is a trend that is sweeping across the world, with studios popping up all over the place and lots of boasting about the benefits of this yoga. If you want to try this new and interesting form of yoga, here is all the information you need to know beforehand.

How Does It Work?

Aerial yoga mixes yoga poses, dance, and Pilates with the use of a soft fabric hammock or sling that is suspended from the roof. The hammock is supported by a system of cables and chains and can be adjusted according to height or comfort.

With the help and support of this hammock you will do traditional yoga poses on the ground, poses using the hammock for support, or adapted poses within the sling. Where and how you do these poses will depend on your instructor, your comfort with the system, and your own abilities.

Why Does It Work?

Aerial yoga has all the benefits of normal yoga, as well as some additional advantages.

Without the need to balance or position limbs in a certain way to support your weight, aerial yoga allows for greater freedom of movement. This allows you to assume new poses and results in a deeper stretch.

The pull of gravity on your body during Aerial yoga will force your muscles to work harder to move into poses, causing greater toning effects. Aerial yoga is a new and exciting change to your routine. With the right attitude, it can add a level of enjoyment and fun that’s great for stress relief and has multiple beneficial effects on your body.

What Are the Risks?

Any type of exercise has risks, and if you have not exercised in a long time, or if you have a medical condition which affects your ability to exercise, you should talk to your doctor before starting any new routine. Conditions such as pregnancy, cardiovascular problems, eye disorders, bone disorders, vertigo, or colds and flu can affect all types of yoga practice. If you suffer from any of these, consult your doctor before trying Aerial yoga.

If you are otherwise healthy, Aerial yoga is a safe activity. The hammock itself is made of a material that is super thick and super flexible at the same time. It can support over 2000 pounds, so there is little to no danger that the material will break. If something happens and you do fall, the hammocks are at most three feet from the floor, so injuries will most likely be minimal. Ensure that you do not remain upside down for extended periods and that your instructor is well trained in this form of exercise and you should be safe and enjoy your sessions.

To avoid any further problems, make sure that you wear loose, comfortable clothes, like these,  and no shoes. Do not eat right before the session but remain hydrated with sips of water. Finally, remove all jewelry and don’t use hand lotion to lessen the chance of slipping.

If you follow all these tips and exercise a little caution, Aerial yoga could be a fun, exciting, and beneficial addition to your exercise schedule.

Avocado Toast Gets a Delicious Makeover

If you are on the avocado toast band wagon and love it as much as we do, welcome to the club. This practically overnight food sensation has taken over the health and fitness world and looks like it’s here to stay. There’s something about the combination of crispy bread and smooth avocado that clearly is a match made in foodie heaven. We rounded up 8 tasty ideas that will blow your mind. If you’re getting a bit bored with your avocado toast, try one of these easy recipes. Who would have thought something so simple could be so life-changing?

Add a little heat – if you love a little spicy touch to your food, adding red pepper flakes to your toast is a good place to start. If you want to up the ante, try using some hot sauce or sliced jalapeno peppers.

Throw on extra micronutrients – We all could use some more vegetables in our life and what better place to start? Add sliced tomatoes on top for an unexpected twist.

Add some protein – From a nutrition standpoint, avocado toast is mostly comprised of fat and carbohydrate, and some protein. Similar to bagels with smoked salmon, you can also try the same tasty topping for your avocado toast for additional protein. Now that’s what we call a complete meal.

Bacon, need we say more? – If you’re not a vegetarian, the odds are you can’t resist the smell or taste of bacon. Crisp up a slice or two of regular or turkey bacon, or you can even use pre-cooked bacon bits to garnish.

Try something unexpected – Who would ever think hummus would complement a dish where avocado was the star of the show? Prepare to be amazed. The creaminess of the hummus pairs perfectly with fresh avocado slices.

An inexpensive addition that you most likely have in your refrigerator already – Another way to make this a higher protein breakfast is to put an egg on top. Try a fried or hardboiled egg, whichever you prefer. Either one is a yummy choice.

A sweet and savory match made in heaven – Not sure if you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory? Adding fresh sliced mango to your avocado toast is an irresistible combination that will satisfy your cravings.

A southwest flair – The more toppings the merrier! Upgrade this favorite and embrace a southwest vibe by topping with corn and feta. This is basically a really delicious salad, sans lettuce.