Five Pillars Yoga

Our Top Yoga Articles of All Time

Fun & easy reads to inspire your yoga practice

In light of the New Year, we’ve been in a state of reflection. We are thrilled to take-in all that we have accomplished together as a community. And we are also directing our gaze forward with exciting new intentions.

On the editorial side of things, we’ve published well over 200 articles for your yoga education and enjoyment!!

Here are our top ten articles:

*scroll to the bottom to see our most-viewed article… 

Yoga 101: Setting an Intention

At the beginning of yoga class, our teachers might invite you to set an intention, which you can carry through your practice and then off the mat into the rest of your day. If you’re new to this idea, it can seem weird and/or forced. Plus, it’s sometimes hard to think of an intention on the spot! Besides all that, you might wonder, what’s the point?

Setting an intention is not required at all to have a lovely and beneficial yoga experience. Stick with the body, stick with the breath and you’re already winning. If you want to go a little deeper, setting an intention is something that can help invite a different focus into your practice.

And as you get more familiar with setting an intention, it can become a special way you think of someone you love, send energy to someone in need, or simply honor your own efforts to build strength, develop compassion, take time for yourself and so-on.

Read More to discover some wonderful, simple and widespread ideas for intentions… perfect for yoga class and also for the New Year!

Therapeutic Essentials: Dynamic Stretching 

I recently came across a New York Times article titled Stretching: The Truth, revealing new findings on the effectiveness of stretching on boosting athletic performance. More specifically, which kinds of stretching actually can boost athletic performance. Studies revealed that static stretching, the type we’ve all been doing since middle school gym class, didn’t actually help athletes’ performances, nor did it increase the health of their muscles and joints. In many cases it actually had detrimental effects on their sporting performance.

What does this have to do with Yoga Therapeutics?

Well, our Therapeutics classes integrate many different healing modalities – Yin and Restorative yoga, strengthening and core work, breath work, guided meditation, Ayurveda, and, Self Awakening Yoga Movement Inquiries… some of which I’ll fondly refer to as “rolling around on the ground.”

When I came across the article I was struck by the images… there were a few that looked remarkably similar to some of the Self Awakening Yoga Movement Inquiries. Like this “Scorpion” and “Straight Leg March” examples below. The images drew me in, and the article itself reinforced the significant value of these movement inquiries.

Read More…

A Yoga Sequence For Bone Health

You have probably heard about the connection between weight-bearing exercises and improved bone density. But did you know that yoga postures can improve your bone health?

A compelling study on yoga and bone mineral density came out back in late 2015 after a decade of research, revealing new findings that support recommending yoga as a therapy for people experiencing bone loss. More specifically, the researchers recruited 741 volunteer participants and had them practice a specific 12 minute yoga routine each morning. The average age of participants was 68 and 83% were diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia. 227 people (202 women, 25 men) completed the ten-year study.

Studies revealed that bone density of the spine and femur improved in the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients, during a period of people’s lives when gaining bone density is rare and many lose bone density. The lead researcher, Dr. Loren M. Fishman of Columbia University, was also interested in the safety of yoga postures for people who have suffered from bone loss. There were no reported fractures or serious injuries of any kind throughout the study. Dr. Fishman concluded that yoga appears to be safe for people with osteoporosis and osteopenia.

What does this have to do with you?

Read More…

People also love this article: Your Bones on Yoga

Yoga 101: Humble Warrior

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”

Saint Augustine

One of the fascinating parts of yoga asana is the hidden meaning that lies beneath the form. Unpacking each pose or posture can deepen awareness of the subtle effects of the practice. Whether we are opening our hearts or folding forward, each posture contains a symbolic meaning that is supported by the physical form.

Humble warrior is a posture where the yogi bows forward in a Warrior I stance with their hands clasped behind their back. Bowing forward, tucking and rounding the torso, the yogi allows their hands to move toward the floor in front of their head staying mindful to release the shoulders away from the ears.

If you have ever attempted the posture, you already know that Humble Warrior requires an incredible amount of strength and balance alongside an element of surrender.

Read More…

People loved this article too… Yoga 101: The Other Warriors 

Yoga 101: Breaking Down the Bandhas

Much like the chakras, the bandhas are an esoteric, unseeable internal-energy system. This makes them pretty hard to describe, let alone use, but chances are you’ve wondered about them if they’re not already part of your yoga tool kit.

Let’s break them down.

Bandha means lock or bond in Sansksrit. There are three bandha spots in the body that correspond to three chakras, or energy centers. From the ground up they are:

1st chakra: Mula Bhanda (Root Lock)

3rd chakra: Uddiyana Bhanda (Navel Lock)

5th chakra: Jalandara Bhanda (Chin Lock)

When a bandha is engaged it stops the flow of energy, in the form of breath, to that part of the body; when a bandha is released it floods that area with extra energy.

Read More to discover why you should use them and how they will transform your yoga practice…

Breathwork Basics: Kapalabhati + Breath of Fire

Kapalabhati and Breath of Fire are two similar and dynamic pranayamas that significantly increase the amount of oxygen in the blood and the brain. Stimulating and detoxifying, they can clear the head and sinuses and fire up the belly — perfect for alleviating springtime allergies and general sluggishness.

Here’s what you need to know about both:

Breath is rapid, rhythmic and continuous.

Inhales and exhales are through the nose.

Read More to discover how to practice these detoxifying pranayamas perfect for the cold winter months.

Yoga 101: Intro to the Chakras 

Begin your day with a simple chakra meditation to alleviate stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem and boost your overall health. Although it takes less than five minutes, this meditation goes deep, re-balancing your body, energy, emotions, intellect, and spirit.

So what is a chakra anyhow?

Chakras are “wheels” or “disks” of energy concentrated in different locations throughout the body. There are seven main chakras that coincide with major organs and nerve centers located along the spine. Alongside a strong connection to the physical and energetic bodies, the chakras have psychological and spiritual significance. Each chakra is associated with a color, a location in the physical body and a deeper meaning.

Read More…

Daily Inspiration: 50 Ways to Take A Break

As we race from one responsibility to another, day in, day out, sometimes we forget to just… pause.

And if we do have time to pause, we often don’t know what to do with it!

We love this poster created by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit

Playful, sweet and actually helpful, this poster will give you all the inspiration you need to relax and make the most of a sweet moment in-between.

So, go ahead… Take a pause… It feels good, we promise.

Read More…

The Art of Letting Go: Savasana

As a newbie to yoga, I did not understand why we would just lie on our backs at the end of yoga. I was all about the movement and the workout! In stillness, my mind would wander into the past and the future. I admit, I often used savasana to plan the rest of my day.

Looking back, I can see I held the belief that relaxation was the equivalent of laziness.

Students have shared that it’s very difficult for them to quiet the mind… that they are already thinking about the To Do list waiting for them on the other side of the studio door. Others have shared they feel they aren’t “allowed” to just relax. Even for just a precious few minutes.

As B.K.S. Iyengar has said, “It’s much harder to keep the mind still than the body. Therefore, this apparently easy posture is one of the most difficult to master.”

If you are having trouble letting go in savasana, the first thing you can try, is stop trying. You can just let it be whatever it is. You can also focus your mind on a body scan or listen to all the sounds in the room, just outside the door and farther away.

Read More…

3 Essential Oils to Beat Summer Heat

*This is our article that is most frequently viewed… bookmark it for the summer months!

As the days heat up, there are some among us who are so eager for air conditioning they’ll duck into a random store or see a movie they don’t even care about, just to cool down. I happen to love the summer heat — give me a skimpy sundress and a balmy (read: sweaty!) rooftop party or long day by the pool in the blazing sun, and I’m in heaven! That said, there are a few essential oils I keep in my purse in case I need to freshen up after a yoga class (en route to said rooftop party).

Essential oils are the pure essence of a particular plant, extracted via distillation, and typically “taken” by deeply inhaling them through the nose, or placing a few drops on particular points on the body. Depending on the plant, they are good for everything from aiding in digestion to soothing a bee sting. Some oils have especially-powerful cooling effects. As in, literally bringing one’s temperature down. So, for the dog days of summer, these three essential oils are my top summer must-haves… pardon the pun.

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