“The One that You will Do” is the best and most important answer to the question asked by so many of my Yoga students. The question is: “What is the best Yoga practice I can do for myself?”.

Within Yoga and Meditation there are so many practices, styles and disciplines available to help us meet our goals and support our evolution. No matter what we have in our self care and growth regimen, nothing positive happens without our active participation through some sort of consistent efforts via our personal practice.

The larger commitments in our lives such as our relationships, work and parenting come with claims on our time and resources that can seem to overwhelm. Most of these obligations are, or at least appear to be inevitable and non-negotiable. When we are feeling well and at ease it is these very aspects that can provide us with the joy and fulfillment we seek from these facets of life. However, when we are depleted in energy, feeling stressed and overwhelmed these aspects of our lives can generate resentment, frustration and other consequences that can create ripples of negativity throughout our lives.

At the crux of Yoga practice and philosophy is the realization that the events of our lives are not the final determining factor in determining our experience of happiness and peace of mind. Some Yogis have even defined stress as our resistance to what is at any moment. Unhelpful habits and addictive behaviors or other unskillful strategies of “coping” at times further resistance and color our experience in ways that take us away from the moment.  Our Yoga practice can be the vehicle by which we may  restore the sense of physical health and balance, mental ease and wellness that again allows a sense of fulfillment to overcome those negative feelings stress and dis-ease bring. Giving regular and proper attention to our bodies and minds to support our growth can go a long way toward recovering and expanding upon our deeper sense of wellbeing.

Yogis realized long ago that Yoga practice requires discipline and commitment to allow the aspirant to overcome the obstacles and pitfalls inherent in any endeavor that asks for positive change. Still, they also realized the lives of the householder, us folks who live in the community and are busy with the business of family and community life, will have a different intention and opportunity to practice than those who do not. So although it is important to get started and keep going to achieve the benefits we seek, it is just as important not to overpromise oneself to extraordinary and time consuming Yoga and meditation  practices. For those struggling with the dilemma of adding self-care practices to help survive overwhelm and stressful lives, creating even the most basic and consistent Yoga practice can meet your initial needs and goals without adding to the sense of overwhelm. As the positive habits build many are surprised and delighted as this simple time spent with ourselves opens windows into even greater joy and wellbeing than we could have imagined.  A mindful, balanced and responsible approach to our own self-care, therefore, is not selfish or indulgent as we sometimes may feel, but instead the means by which we serve the self that serves. A little time to return to balance and health can go a long way, allowing us to return to life invigorated and able to expand upon our contributions to family, work and community with greater joy and enthusiasm.

So for those who have trouble beginning a Yoga and Meditation practice, it helps to bring an attitude of  trust in the tried and true practices and in oneself that there is benefit for you in just beginning.  And the best practice for you is the one that will help you start. Whether it is that one Yoga  class you can get to during your busy week, a simple morning or evening sitting meditation,  or a gentle stretching session at home a few days a week the practice that you can do is the one that can open that window.

Sitali Pranayama: A Summertime Breath for A Cool Sip of Fresh Air and more

A very important, simple and enjoyable Yogic breath technique is Sitali Pranayama,

Sitali breath is a powerful cooling and cleansing breath with benefits from the mundane to the “miraculous”. Yogis believe it can be used as a very simple breathing practice to cool off in the summertime heat, to cleanse and cool heated emotions such as anger. In addition Yogis believe it can support cooling of  inflammation and help detox the body.

*As always ,when practicing any Yoga or meditation techniques you accept responsibility for all you do and work in accordance with your medical needs and limitations. Read the website disclaimer  for more information. I encourage you to seek out instruction and guidance from a teacher as you need answer any questions and to ensure the most positive outcome of this and any practice.

***To begin sit in a cross legged position if possible, spine straight. Your hands can be open with palms face  up or in jnana mudra with index finger touching the tip of the thumb as pictured to the right***

***Begin by**curling your tongue and extend it out the mouth. For beginners the tnhale through the  curled tongue is to a count of 4, the exhale through the nose is to a count of 4. If you can’t actually curl your tongue(this is a genetic trait), you can extend the flat tongue and breath over it.

***Breathe consciously and feel the cool breath flow in on the soft tissue of the tongue, feel the warm moist air flow out of the nostrils on the exhale.

***To end, inhale and hold the breath briefly, then release.

***As you begin you can do this for 3-5 minutes per sitting or 26 breaths in theAM and 26 breaths in the PM to gain benefit.

Enjoy the benefits of Sitali breathing!

Alan