What Is Pratyahara?

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of the eight limbs of yoga, and one that is often overlooked. It is a handy tool that allows you to practice mind withdrawal, which, in turn, pulls you away from external distractions and allows you to focus on your inner thoughts. In Sanskrit, it means “withdrawal of the senses,” and it helps create a bridge between the first four limbs with the last three limbs, that of concentration, meditation, and the ultimate goal of Samadhi, the pinnacle state of balance and being at one. 

Why Is It The Fifth Limb?

The eight limbs of yoga are as follows: 

  1. Yama–your moral compass to the world
  2. Niyama: your attitude towards yourself and how you treat yourself
  3. Asana: yoga poses
  4. Pranayama: breathing technique
  5. Pratyahara: keeping the senses within
  6. Dharana: concentration
  7. Dhyana: meditation
  8. Samadhi: enlightenment 

The three limbs that of Yama, Niyama, and Pranayama allow for the mind to be purified before you turn the mind inwards. Accomplishing the practice of the fifth limb can take years to develop as much of the yoga journey. When we learn to accomplish how to turn our sense inward, we develop peace that can then lead us down the rest of the eight limbs into concentration and meditation. 

When To Practice?

The fourth limb that of Pranayama or yoga breathing is a good time to practice the technique of Pratyahara. During the practice of yoga breathing, we are to focus our attention on the breath and inward. We can also practice keeping the senses within the initial stages of what is called Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep). In Yoga Nidra, the practitioner withdraws all senses, except that of hearing where the yogi listens to the guided meditation. 

Other Ways To Practice

Anything that you find distracting, in an unhealthy way, from unhealthy food, relationships, or habits, can all be avoided and are things from which we should distance ourselves. Healthy cleanses and focusing on foods that are good for us – not surrounding ourselves with toxic and negative people, and breaking unhealthy habits that distract us from propelling ourselves to greater things are all useful ways to turn our attention inward and avoid bad distractions. 

Listen To Your Body

When you are performing an asana, it is easy to focus so hard on getting the pose right that we forget to focus on how the pose makes us feel inside. The next time you find yourself just “going through the motion” of your practice, take the time to slow down and really be present on the mat. Observe how each pose makes you feel inward, and don’t worry about how each one looks. 

Moving through the eight limbs is a long process. Each one is connected to the others and is placed in such an order to help us better reach the final destination of the eightfold path. By learning how to practice Pratyahara, you will create the ability to draw yourself inward and become aware of your surroundings without being ruled by them.

Does Clothing Matter While Working Out?

Pretty often, we see athletes like Raphael Nadal, Kobe Bryant, or Michael Phelps on some TV commercials or shows wearing some fancy clothes with elegant names. 

Then we see them during their workouts wearing something similar. As a matter of fact, almost every time we see them, they are mentioning the clothes that they are wearing. They say that it helps them during their workouts. So, are they lying, or is there something to it?

Well, this article will clear it all! 

What Does Clothing Have To Do With Working Out?

Truth be told, not much at all. All of those athletes who are representing certain brands and pieces of equipment once started with nothing. 

If you want to be good at your sport, whatever it may be, all that you need is motivation and necessary equipment for that specific sport. What I mean by “necessary equipment” are sneakers, shirts, or shorts, stuff like that. You don’t need anything special in order to play basketball. You can do it with what you’ve got. However, this doesn’t mean that clothing isn’t important at all. Nope!

There is equipment, accessories, pieces of clothing, whatever you’d like to call them, that can actually boost your performance. They might not boost it to the next level, but you would feel a slight difference while you are working out. That difference might be all that it takes for you to get stronger, faster, whatever. 

So, What Are Those Pieces Of Clothing?

Well, you shouldn’t trust everyone! They are trying to sell their product, that’s understandable. However, most of the products today are based on lies, so you must be careful while buying. For example, pieces of clothing, like yoga pants or yoga leggings, are absolutely efficient. They can benefit its users so much. Something that they offer includes the following:

  • Faster recovery time
  • More sustained power
  • Comfort
  • Prevent injuries
  • Help your muscles breathe 

All of the above is pretty important in the world of sports. Well, more pieces of clothing can help you with this. Keep in mind that yoga pants aren’t solely meant for yoga. You can use them for other activities as well, and they come for both men and women. There is a variety of yoga pants to choose from. So, smart pieces of clothing (yoga pants were just examples) can have an impact on your abilities and performance. They may provide the ladder to the next level, but it is still you who must climb it. 

Remember, skill comes before equipment. So train your best, work smart, and if you can afford it, purchase some of the equipment as help. If you don’t want it, it’s fine; you can go without it, but help will always be there for you. 

The Final Verdict

So, to finally answer the question at once – no, clothing doesn’t matter to that extent if you are doing sports, but it can be helpful if you want better results a little bit faster. I hope this helps!

Tips And Tricks For Staying Hydrated During And After Yoga Session

Water is essential to the body and helps the body to function well daily. You should, therefore, drink approximately 64 ounces of water daily to keep your body adequately hydrated. Without any doubt, if you are doing rigorous exercises such as yoga, you may need more. You can lose 3 to 5 pounds of water weight in a typical yoga class due to all the stretching that happens in yoga. 

Starting your yoga session well-hydrated is the best method to keep your legs rotating in the course of a humid spin class. Make sure you throwback 16 ounces of water in 30 minutes of starting your yoga practice. 

Here are a few tips and tricks you need to remember if you want to achieve proper hydration during your yoga session:

1. Start Your Yoga Section In A Well-Hydrated Condition

Two hours before the beginning of the yoga class is the best time to start hydrating well. Try as much as possible to drink about 20 ounces of fluids within two hours before the commencement of the class. Try to hydrate appropriately before going to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning; if your yoga class is scheduled for early morning. 

Drinking a lot of water in the time leading to a yoga class is quite imperative even though you don’t have to overdo it, but never think that you can drink some glasses just 10 minutes before the beginning of the class. The fact is that you must be adequately hydrated prior to the start of your yoga practice. Always keep in mind that drinking water instantaneously before carrying out physical activity does not always help the body to stay hydrated. However, you can stay hydrated when you drink water some hours before you start your yoga class.

2. Drink Small Quantity Of Fluid For The Duration Of The Yoga Session

Taking water break in the course of a yoga class is perfectly alright. As a matter of fact, you will be reminded to do so by nearly all the instructors even before the beginning of the class. Try to drink 3 to 8 oz of liquid every 15 minutes all through the yoga class.




3. Add An Electrolyte Blend To Your Drink

You should think about including an electrolyte mix to your drink if you have experienced a horrible muscle cramp during a yoga class that forced you to come out of a posture early. It is a fairly common occurrence generally caused by loss of electrolytes from sweating. 

4. Keep Re-Hydrating after the Yoga Session 

You should continue to re-hydrate even after your yoga session because you are going to be thirsty at the end of the class. Be attentive to your body and drink some water after class to replace the fluids that you lost through sweating.

You will not have the opportunity of drinking water if you concentrate fully on your yoga techniques. That is why you must make sure you are hydrated at the end of the class to refill the water you lost. Generally, you need about 64 ounces of water each day, but this may increase if you take part in activities such as yoga. Consequently, begin to drink water at the end of yoga in order to hydrate yourself.

What To Eat Before Yoga

Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly acceptable to eat before heading to yoga. In fact, it’s preferable to have something in your stomach to keep your energy levels high and support muscle growth. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a growling stomach midway through your asanas, and your body will start tapping into other reserves for strength, mainly existing muscle. The key is to know what to eat. 

Certain foods will help you perform better than others, and it’s usually best to have a larger meal three hours before class, or a snack one hour before. It all depends on your schedule and how much food you need to keep you going. Here are some snacks that are great for any time of day and won’t weigh you down:


  • Banana

Bananas have long been praised for their rich stores of potassium and magnesium, which can help prevent muscle cramping during your workout. They also contain more sugar than most fruits, but this slow-moving sugar coupled with electrolytes will keep you perky throughout your class instead of putting you through the usual sugar crash that energy drink and bars do. In addition, the antioxidants that are particularly plentiful in overripe bananas fight free radicals, which are by-products of oxygen metabolization and appear in higher numbers during and after exercise. Even though our bodies naturally create free radicals, they have the potential to damage and mutate cells. 


  • Avocado

Avocados are super beneficial. Not only do they taste amazing (guacamole, anyone?), they are full of nutrients like Vitamin K, C, B, and E as well as folate, which encourages cell and tissue growth. They also contain even more potassium than bananas, which as you will remember are known for their abundance of this mineral. They also help you feel full for longer, reducing hunger distractions during class. 


  • Almonds

As mentioned earlier, free radicals are the by-product of oxygen metabolization, which happens at an increased rate during exercise. It is also known as oxidative stress, which increases the signs of aging and can lead to cancer by damaging molecules in the cells. Almonds are high in antioxidants, the free radical fighters. They also provide the same fullness feeling as avocados. 


  • Smoothies

Popular as a pre-workout meal, smoothies are easy to digest, easy to bring on the go, and can be packed with powerful nutrients depending on the ingredients used. For the best possible smoothie, make your own and stick to 4 main ingredient categories; 

  1. 1 green 
  2. 1 carbohydrate
  3. 1 fat
  4. 1-2 cups of liquid 

An example would be kale (green), any fruit (carbohydrate), chia seeds (fat), and almond milk (liquid). 

  • Greek Yogurt

Protein and calcium are essential for building muscles, cartilage, and bone. Greek yogurt is a great source of both. You can eat it either before or after a workout; if you eat it after, the protein can help regenerate muscle tissue, which is how you build new muscle. Greek yogurt also contains probiotics, which keep your gut healthy and have been shown to reduce bloating and intestinal discomfort. 

Understanding BackBends

Backbends are heart opening postures known to be some of the most rewarding asanas in yoga. They open our whole body while boosting our happiness at the same time. In addition to expanding the capacity of the lungs, they increase our energy and flexibility. Be sure to practice them in lightweight workout clothes which allow you to move freely.

We spend a lot of time crouching over computers or using our cell phones, and spine elongation is something we could all benefit from. Backbends are often not practiced correctly, and this is why many are avoiding them since they feel discomfort. It is imperative therefore to have an understanding of their correct practice.

The first thing to bear in mind is that our spine should not be compressed, but elongated at all times. Focusing on extending through our legs will naturally lengthen our spine as well. The major part of our backbends should be the upper part of our back or the thoracic spine. You can achieve this by pushing your chest forwards and upwards.

Enter the posture on the inhale, when your ribs spread, allowing the vertebrae to move away from each other. It will naturally push you deeper in the posture. Along with your back, also focus on the opening of your hip flexors which you can do by including some hip opening postures in your practice as well. Good hip opening postures would be the Lotus pose, Pigeon pose, and lunges. You should also aim to open your shoulders which will make entering to the backbends much easier. Reverse prayer position and Dolphin pose are both great shoulder opening solutions.

Your gluteus muscles should be relaxed as much as possible. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be activated at all, just that you should divide the activation in the surrounding muscles, such as the hamstrings, as well. The lower back is directly affected by the feet alignment. Feet should be directed directly in front of you, like in Tadasana posture.

We shouldn’t be only relying on flexibility but also the strength in our back. That is why you should focus on some back strengthening exercises before attempting the poses that require deep flexibility. Having a robust developed back will minimize the chance of injury in backbends. Bow or camel pose is a great posture for back strength. Focus more on holding the asanas for some time than on going to the most in-depth version of the pose.

A muscle you should learn more about is Pectoralis Minor. It is a small muscle which plays a significant role in backbends. It is located in front of the chest, connecting your shoulders to your ribs. When flexible, it can help you to pull your shoulders back in backbends and to sit straight without rounding your back. This muscle can be stretched with more chest opening exercises and postures which twist the upper body.

Start with smaller backbends such as Bridge or Cobra pose and leave the more advanced postures like full Wheel for when you really feel strong and flexible enough. The safest option would be to consult a teacher or other professional when attempting to do new and challenging backbends. 

How to Properly Do the Half Moon Yoga Pose & Its Benefits

The Half Moon pose is a great asana that has a meaningful symbol behind its concept: the moon. It will channel your body’s lunar energy. First of all, you should always practice this pose on an empty stomach. So, do it first thing in the morning. The entire pose should not last more than 30 seconds. Here are its main steps and benefits.

How to Do the Half Moon Pose 

Start the pose from a standing position at one edge of the yoga mat. Bring the right foot back as you would do in a Low Lunge pose. Your other leg must remain grounded with the entire sole pressing into the mat. From here, you must activate your core area while you place your right hand near your right hip and extend your right foot backwards.Your gaze should be facing your left hand. Engage all your muscles, especially the quads and glutes. Anchor your left foot’s four corners, pressing it into the mat for a better support. Rotate your lower torso until your right hip is stacked on top of the left hip. In other words, both hips should remain parallel to your room’s side wall instead of the ground. 

Extend your right hand up, reaching with your fingers towards the ceiling while your other hand remains near the floor with the fingers pressing on the mat. The palm of the top extended hand should face your room’s right side. Create more space between your shoulders and ears by opening your chest and pushing the shoulders backwards. Try to imagine that you are holding a slim pencil or a stick in between the shoulder blades. Maintain the Half Moon pose for about five deep and slow breaths. You can release this asana the same way you start it. Also, you must repeat it for your other side as well for this pose to work. After gaining a little more experience with this pose, you will achieve a higher leg lift. This is due to your body’s increased flexibility. Also, yoga eventually opens your hips so that you will be able to spread your legs more. 

Benefits of the Half Moon Pose 

The Half Moon pose will strengthen your entire body especially the core area, ankles, glutes, legs, and spine. Also, it stretches your back and shoulders, which in turn relieves tension and muscle tightness. As an inversion yoga pose, it also relieves anxiety, stress, and depression. This asana provides a lot of therapeutic benefits. Some say it helps with menstrual pain, indigestion, constipation, and gastritis. So, make sure you include it in your daily or regular yoga routine.

Drawing to a Close 

If it is performed regularly, the Half Moon pose will help you perceive the world in a more positive way. It is a great pose for balance and flexibility. Although it is a great asana, there are some precautions you must be aware of. For example, if you suffer from neck problems you should avoid doing this pose. Get an approval from your doctor, and then seek help of an experienced yogi. 

Beating Menstrual Symptoms with Yoga

Menstrual symptoms vary greatly among women. Some find their symptoms to be barely an annoyance, and others find that menstruation leads to days of debilitating pain. Cramps, bloating, and moodiness are the most common symptoms reported by women, and yoga can help all relieve all of these unpleasant menstrual indications.

How Yoga Can Help

Moving is one of the best ways to relieve the issues associated with that time of the month. It helps get the blood moving, distracts you from the uncomfortable state, and releases endorphins. During your period, exercising is going to be hard to convince yourself to do, even if you know it will help. Yoga, being restorative, is much easier to find the motivation to accomplish.

The gentle stretching involved in many restorative yoga poses is going to relieve a lot of cramping and stiffness associated with menstruation. The areas that are most affected are your lower back, upper thighs, and abdominals. Those core muscles are all used significantly in yoga, providing targeted comfort for you.

In addition, yoga poses can be used to help relieve bloating and other tummy troubles regularly reported during your period. Bending, folding, and twists all help move things down your digestive tract. When your belly is working better, you will find that your general mood will improve with it.

Yoga Poses that can Help

A restorative Child’s pose is going to be one pose that you will go to regularly.

  • Place a pillow or two under your midsection, then lean forward into a Child’s pose.
  • The support from the pillows really let you settle into the stretch, and it takes very little energy to sustain the pose.

This makes it relaxing and soothing for both back pain and hip tightness.

Backbends are another type of great yoga poses to relieve menstrual pain and discomfort. Depending on your yoga skill level and your current comfort level, you are going to want to choose poses that fit you. A full backbend may not be something you want to do when suffering from cramps. Start with a gentle Bridge pose, and then work your way to more deep stretches if you feel like it. The important thing to remember is that you are seeking the relieve, not trying to set records.

Forward folds are also going to give your back and core relieve. Downward Dog helps stretch out the back of your legs and is also recommended. A gentle twist pose is great for stretching your core and dealing with digestive trouble. Find poses that suit how you feel, there are lots of them out there.

Yoga can provide a feeling of comfort and serenity that menstrual symptoms may try to take away. Finding some relieve in stretching and moving can help you feel better. You also release natural painkillers, called endorphins when you exercise, and those will improve your mood and relieve pain. There is a number of different poses that can provide benefits to you, so try out a few poses, and see what feels good to you.

Savasana to Tighten Your Core

 

It seems like every yogi has cute capri leggings, a tight stomach, and a super strong core. Their stomachs are different than just your typical six-pack in the sense that there isn’t nearly as much “bulk” to their strength. Their stomachs are lean, bendy and yet somehow they’re very stable. You might think that it comes from doing incredible handstands and backbends but one of the best exercises for your core can be done in savasana. If you want to know how to use savasana to tighten your core keep reading below!

 

What is Savasana?

Before we go any further, Savasana is actually a resting pose that is performed at the end of each yoga class. Savasana means “corpse pose” in Sanskrit and that is exactly what it is. You are laying on your back with your arms and legs straight down and relaxed; palms are facing up. As much as this is obviously not a core exercise in it’s raw form there is one way that you can sneak a simple little movement into it that can give you the stomach that you’ve been looking for.

 

Your Transverse Abdomen

When you hear abdomen what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably the muscles that run along your stomach area stack on top of on another that makes up a six-pack. You aren’t wrong but there are also other parts to your abdominals. There is actually a paper-thin layer of muscle that wraps all the way around your core and is responsible to holding everything tight and together. It is not bulky in any way and it does not require crunches to strengthen. This muscle is called your transverse abdomen.

This is the part of your core that you can strengthen in savasana.

 

Let’s Get Started

Start in savasana. I explained this in the second paragraph but this is essentially just lying on your back with your arms and legs resting down on the floor. From this position you are just going to practice pulling your belly button down towards your spine. Make sure you are not sucking in and sticking your chest out as you do this. This pulling of your belly button should not cause any tension in your chest of anywhere else in your body.

Once you have your belly button pulled towards your spine hold there for 3 breaths and then release. If this is comfortable for you, you may wish to hold it longer. Continue this sort of contraction and release cycle for at least 5-10 times. The key here is to engage this muscle, not to strain it too much. Once you learn how to engage this muscle you can even do this while sitting on the couch, waiting in line, or sitting at work.

 

 

The entire point of savasana is to rest so make sure that you do allow yourself some time to do just that; rest. This little exercise should only be done for the first little part of your savasana before you do relax and cool down from your yoga session.

Common Misconceptions About Yoga Practice

Common Misconceptions About Yoga Practice

Even though yoga and mat classes are pretty popular and widespread these days, you might still hear dubious claims about them. To redefine these, below are 5 truths about yoga practice.

1. You don’t need an athletic background to do yoga.

Keep in mind that athletic nerds crave to show off their latest accomplishments. In yoga, you’ll NEVER be asked to go into a pose that you don’t feel comfortable in, rather you’ll be asked to monitor your resistance. No one will ask you to be super flexible, and no one will look down on you for not being a circus acrobat. Make sure that you choose the right class based on your capabilities. Even child’s pose is yoga.

2. You don’t need a studio to practice yoga.

Yoga can be practiced basically anywhere. For most asanas, or yoga poses, you’ll need a flat surface and a bit of space. Make sure to follow directions of how to get in the poses and always know an out for the pose sequence. Good advice for beginners is to follow a trustworthy instructor. Once you get the hang of it, you can be your own master. Remember that yoga is all about breathing, and moving in sync with your breath is key.

3. You don’t need to follow any yogi diets.

You could be vegetarian, vegan or a full on meat-eater to practice yoga. As the practice of yoga is all-inclusive (all-accepting, tolerating…) you should be, too.

4. You don’t need to have a specific outfit.

Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. Also check out the latest trends and get inspired by new designs in the store.

5. You can practice any or no religion in order to practice yoga.

So, make sure to read and believe trustworthy articles. Yoga is a practice that can be done pretty much anywhere, regardless of how flexible, zen, stylish or spiritual you are. Try it even when you’re not having it with the world. I know a session of yoga makes me happier.

Apply yoga to your everyday routines. It can be used as a meditative tool and you get the same mental health benefits. Use your inhale to create space in your body and exhale to sink deeper into the stretch. I promise you’ll be one happy baby after giving it a try.