Author: Ariel Lim

Mindful Yoga: Why Yoga and Mindfulness go Together

A relatively new form of yoga has been slowly emerging called yoga mindfulness or mindful yoga. This unique combination has a powerful effect on the practitioner, providing a path to self-discovery and healing. But what is it about yoga and mindfulness that makes them such a perfect match?

In this article we will delve into the world of mindfulness yoga, exploring the amazing benefits that this type of yoga can offer.

An overview of Mindfulness and Yoga

The practise of mindfulness and yoga have been merged together to create a powerful and holistic approach to self-discovery and healing. Mindful yoga applies traditional Buddhist mindfulness teachings to the physical practice of yoga, creating a unique and powerful combination.

Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more present and aware in our lives. We can learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way, gaining a greater understanding of ourselves.

Mindfulness Explained

Mindfulness is the quality of being present and aware in the moment. It is about living in the here and now, and being fully engaged with whatever we are doing. When we are mindful, we are not lost in our thoughts or caught up in our emotions. We are present with ourselves and the world around us. This has been slowly integrated by athletes, celebrities, and even the business world as a way to increase productivity and focus.

Some of the benefits it comes with are reducing stress, improving sleep and concentration, and managing anxiety and depression. Its ability to do this is by creating space between our thoughts and emotions, so we can observe them without judgement. This allows us to see things as they really are, rather than how we think they should be.

Yoga Explained

For thousands of years, yoga has been used as a tool for self-transformation. It is an ancient system of physical and mental practices that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj, which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is about union: the union of body and mind, the union of mind and spirit.

Yoga is much more than just a physical exercise; it is a holistic system that includes breath work, meditation, and mindfulness. The goal of yoga is to create harmony in all aspects of our lives. When we practise yoga, we learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way.

The secret of yoga is that it is not about what we do, but how we do it. It is the quality of our attention and awareness that is important, not the quantity of physical activity. This is why yoga is such a perfect match for mindfulness.

The Benefits of Mindful Yoga

Mindful yoga comes with a wide variety of benefits, both physical and mental. In our fast-paced, modern lives, our minds are constantly racing, jumping from one thought to the next. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindful yoga provides a way to slow down and focus on the present.

Here are 4 proven benefits of mindfulness yoga:

1. A Deep Sense of Awareness

One of the main goals of mindfulness is to achieve a deep sense of awareness. This means being present at the moment and observing our thoughts and emotions without judgement. Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more aware of our bodies and minds and gain a greater understanding of ourselves.

This type of constant self-awareness can be beneficial in many ways. It can help us to identify negative thought patterns and behaviours, so we can start to change them. It can also help us to become more aware of our physical bodies and the way we move through life. This awareness can lead to improved posture, alignment, and movement.

2. Improved Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for good health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles often prevent us from getting the rest we need. Mindfulness can help to improve our sleep quality by teaching us how to relax and let go of the racing thoughts that keep us awake at night.

Yoga is also a great way to wind down before bed. The slow, gentle movements can help to release tension from the body and prepare us for a good night’s sleep. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that mindfulness yoga improved sleep quality in participants with chronic insomnia. After eight weeks of practising mindful yoga, participants reported less difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as less fatigue during the day.

3. Decreased Stress Levels

In our fast-paced, modern lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take a step back and relax. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness yoga can help to reduce stress levels by teaching us how to focus on the present moment and let go of our worries.

It does this by increasing our levels of the stress-busting hormone, cortisol. Yoga can also help to improve our breathing and increase our overall sense of wellbeing. This helps us manage stress in a more efficient way and prevents us from getting overwhelmed.

4. Improved Concentration and Focus

In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to focus on the things that are important to us. Mindfulness yoga can help to improve our concentration and focus by teaching us how to quieten the chatter of our minds and focus on the present moment.

The regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to improve our ability to focus and pay attention. This allows us to be more productive in our work and relationships, and enjoy the things we do more fully. Yoga is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. The physical postures and breathing exercises help to calm the mind and body, allowing us to focus on the present moment.

How to Perform Mindful Yoga?

Now that we know the benefits of mindfulness yoga, let’s take a look at how to do it.

The key to mindfulness yoga is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements. As you move through each posture, pay attention to the sensations in your body and the way your breath feels. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your attention back to your breath.

When you first start practising mindfulness yoga, it may be helpful to practice with a friend or teacher who can guide you through the process. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practice on your own at home.

You can start by sitting in a quiet place and focusing on your breath. Remember to stay aware and bring your attention back to your breath whenever your mind starts to wander.

Once you feel comfortable with this, you can start practising mindfulness yoga in different positions such as standing, lying down or walking. Experiment and find the position that works best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness yoga is an excellent way to improve our mental and physical well-being. By focusing on our breath and being aware of our body and movements, we can reduce stress levels, improve our sleep quality and concentration, and increase our overall sense of wellbeing.

If you’re new to mindfulness yoga, remember to start slowly and practice with a friend or teacher if possible. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practise on your own at home. Experiment with different positions and find the ones that work best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements. 

I found this article by yoga journal on mindfulness yoga to be very insightful, feel free to give it a read!

Namaste!

Yoga for Weight Loss: Change Your Life With Yoga

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years for a variety of reasons, one of which is weight loss. While there are many different types of yoga, all forms share the same basic principles: breath control, postures, and meditation. Yoga when used for weight loss can have a profound effect on your mind and body, helping you to achieve sustainable balance and healthy weight loss.

What is Yoga and What Are Its Benefits for Weight Loss

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that combines physical postures, breath control, and meditation. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, which means to join or unite. Yoga is a holistic practice that can improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health.

There are many different types of yoga, but all forms share the same basic principles.

Yoga is a great way to lose weight because it combines physical activity with breath control and meditation. Yoga helps you to focus on your breath and connect with your body, which can help you to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.

Yoga is not just about losing weight though; it’s also about improving your overall health and well-being. Some of the benefits of yoga for weight loss include:

  • Improved brain health
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improved moods

How Does Yoga Help With Weight Loss?

Yoga is an excellent way to lose weight. The stretches and poses help to increase strength and flexibility, while the breath control helps to burn calories and reduce stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and promotes a positive body image.

When you practice yoga regularly, you will begin to see results not only in your weight but in all areas of your life. You will have more energy, be less stressed, and feel happier and healthier overall. Yoga is a great way to change your life for the better, and it can help you achieve sustainable balance and healthy weight loss. Lets dive deeper into how yoga can help you lose weight.

Yoga Helps Manage Stress

Yoga does more than just strengthen your muscles, when holding a pose for a long time, it forces you to connect with how your body feels and releases endorphins, which are hormones that block pain signals from the brain. Research has shown that yoga can help to manage stress and anxiety.

With yoga, the main cornerstones are breathwork and mindfulness. This means that instead of thinking about the million things on your to-do list, you are focusing on the present moment and your breath. This can help to clear your mind and reduce stress.

In turn, when you’re less stressed, your body is better able to manage its hormones, which can lead to weight loss.

Yoga Helps Build Muscle

When most people think of weight loss, they focus on cardio exercises like running or biking. While these activities are great for burning calories, they don’t do much to build muscle. Yoga, on the other hand, can help you to both lose fat and build muscle.

Most yoga poses require you to use your own bodyweight to achieve the desired result. This means that you are constantly working against gravity and building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.

In addition, many yoga poses also require deep abdominal engagement, which can help to tone your stomach muscles and give you a firm tummy. This allows you to not only lose weight but also achieve a more toned physique.

Yoga Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

One of the best things about yoga is that it can help you to develop healthy eating habits. When you’re practising yoga, you are often encouraged to eat mindfully and healthily. Yoga teaches you how to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry instead of eating out of boredom or stress.

Many people find that they don’t need as much food once they start practising yoga regularly. This is because yoga helps to reduce stress and promotes a positive body image. You will feel better in your own skin and be less likely to turn to unhealthy foods for comfort.

In addition, many types of yoga involve cleansing the body and detoxifying the system. This can help to jumpstart your weight loss journey and promote healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

The Best Yoga Poses For Weight Loss

Yoga poses can do wonders when helping you to lose weight. Here are some of the best yoga poses for weight loss:

Virabhadrasana – Warrior Pose: 

This pose is excellent for building strength and stamina. It also helps to improve balance and coordination.


Bakasana – Crow Pose:

This pose is perfect for toning the arms, shoulders, and core.


Navasana- Boat Pose:

This pose strengthens the core, legs and back.


Utkatasana – Chair Pose:

This pose is a great way to strengthen the thighs and buttocks. It also helps to improve balance and stability.


Setu Bandha Sarvangasana- Bridge Pose:

This pose stretches the entire back body, including the spine, hamstrings, and calves. It is excellent for improving flexibility.

When doing these poses, its always important to consult with a professional yoga instructor as they can help to ensure that you are doing each pose correctly and safely.

Yoga Tips for Beginners

If you are new to yoga, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start slowly and don’t push yourself too hard. Yoga is all about taking things at your own pace.
  • Practice regularly – aim for at least once per week.
  • Be patient – weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. With time and practice, you will start to see results.
  • Find an instructor that you like and feel comfortable with.

Here at Yogalumino, we’re passionate about helping you achieve your weight loss goals.

We offer a variety of yoga classes that are designed to help you lose weight, get toned, and improve your overall health. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a class. Or join my heated class at Hot Yo Studio. We can’t wait to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier life!

Yoga for lower back pain

Yoga for Lower Back Pain: Fix Your Back Pain With Yoga!

Having lower back pain is one of the most common complaints I hear from a lot of my students. Thank goodness for these basic yoga movements/poses, you can relieve lower back pain by relaxing tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles. Just a few minutes of yoga practice every day will help you become more aware of your body and this can help you discover where you’re tense and where you’re out of balance. Harvard health made an exceptional article talking about the safest way to do yoga for your back pain. Having this knowledge, you can then re-establish balance and alignment in your life.

Related: Yoga for Beginners: 5 Basic Poses to Help You Get Started

What causes lower back pain?

Understanding what’s causing your back pain is vital so you can manage it and avoid it from recurring, and in some circumstances, seeing a doctor or physical therapist is the best way to do so. However, in many cases, moderate stretches and simple strengthening yoga poses can assist with releasing tension and provide comfort to your lower back.

 While there are many causes of low back pain, a weak core and bad posture from sitting all day (which shortens the hip muscles and pulls on the lower back) are two of the most frequent. The more you sit, the less you utilize your stabilizing muscles, the weaker they get and the more difficult it is for them to do their job when you need them, resulting in pulled, strained, or sprained muscles.

Picking up something heavy or carrying your child can all create lower back pain if your muscles are weak.

Is It Okay to Do Yoga With Lower Back Pain?

If you have a history of lower back injuries, disc issues, or pain that is long-lasting, it’s advisable to seek medical advice from your doctor or physical therapist prior to starting your yoga practice.

However, if your lower back pain is more of a general ache or soreness, try these yoga poses to alleviate any discomfort or stiffness. Always remember to take your time getting into each posture, and if anything hurts, stop! Adapt your practice to how your body is feeling at any given time, and be patient with yourself to avoid aggravating your back pain. When practised mindfully and with intention, yoga can help alleviate lower back pain.

Here are the 6 basic poses that can help you ease lower back pain.

Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Standing Forward Fold

Standing forward fold helps to lengthen the spine and release tension in the back.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Fold forward at your hips, keeping your back straight as you bring your chest toward your thighs. Place your hands on the floor (or a block if you can’t reach), bringing them shoulder-width apart. Press into your feet and lengthen your spine as you fold forward. Keep your knees soft to allow your hips to release. Hold for five breaths.

Happy Baby Pose

The Happy baby pose brings relief by opening up the lower back.

To get into the happy baby pose, lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Grab the outside of each foot with your hands (or a strap if you can’t reach). Gently pull your feet toward your armpits as you open your knees wider than hip distance apart. Press your lower back to the floor and hold for five breaths.

Supine Twist

The supine twist helps to release tension in the lower back by twisting the spine.

Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand on your left knee and pull it across your body toward the right as you look over your left shoulder. Use your left hand to support your head. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.

Cat-Cow Movement

The cat-cow movement is a gentle way to release the lower back.

Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. As you inhale, arch your spine and look up toward the ceiling (cow pose). As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling and tuck your chin to your chest

Plank

Planks are a great way to strengthen the muscles in your core, which can help support your lower back.

Start in a push-up position with your shoulders over your wrists and feet hip-width apart. Tuck your toes under and press into your palms to straighten your arms. Ground down through all four corners of both feet and engage your abdominals by drawing them toward your spine.

Crescent Lunge

Crescent lunge helps to stretch the muscles in the lower back.

Start in a low lunge position with your right foot forward and left knee on the floor. Place your hands on your hips and press into your feet to straighten both legs. Draw your tailbone down toward the floor and lift your chest up and open. Hold for five breaths before switching sides.

Final Thoughts

The six yoga poses mentioned in the article can help alleviate lower back pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles in the area. The poses are gentle and can be adapted to your own level of ability, making them a great option for those with back pain. Practising these poses regularly may help to reduce inflammation and discomfort in the lower back.

These are just some of the yoga poses that can help alleviate lower back pain. Remember to listen to your body and stop if anything hurts. With time and practice, you will be able to ease any discomfort you may be feeling. Namaste!

Yoga for Beginners

Yoga for Beginners: 5 Basic Poses to Help You Get Started

Are you new to yoga? I know that yoga for beginners can be intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. It’s easy to be concerned about not being flexible enough, not being in good enough shape, or even not knowing what to wear. The truth is, yoga is made for everyone, and there are plenty of beginner-friendly yoga poses that can help you ease into a practice.

The importance of yoga cannot be overstated. When practiced regularly, yoga can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance. It can also help lower stress levels and improve overall mood. And that’s just to name a few benefits! If you’re looking for a way to improve your overall health and wellbeing, yoga is a great place to start.

These sequences of yoga poses for beginners are designed to help you build strength and confidence in your practice. Start with these basic yoga poses, and be sure to listen to your body as you move through each position. Don’t push yourself too hard, and stop if you feel any pain.

Remember, when it comes to yoga for beginners, it is supposed to be a practice of self-care and mindfulness, not a competition. So take it at your own pace, and enjoy the journey!

Yoga For Beginners: The Top 5 Poses

Mountain Pose:

Mountain Pose is a basic yoga pose that helps you to find grounding and stability. It is often used as a starting point in many yoga sequences.

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  2. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, raise your hands overhead.
  3. Interlace your fingers, and press your palms up towards the sky. Gaze upwards towards your hands.
  4. Hold this pose for a few breaths before lowering back down to the mountain pose.
Mountain Pose

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is a classic yoga pose that can help to stretch and strengthen the entire body. Giving you an all-over sense of wellbeing, Downward Dog is a perfect pose to use as a break from standing poses or inversions.

  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists aligned directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
  2. As you inhale, lift your knees away from the ground and press back into a downward facing dog.
  3. Place you feet hip-width distance apart, and your heels energetically pressing down towards the ground. Keep your arms straight as you press back into the position.
  4. Hold for a few breaths before coming back to start on all fours.
Downward Dog Yoga Pose

Warrior 1

Warrior I is a standing yoga pose that helps to improve balance and stability. It is also a great way to stretch the front of the body, including the chest, shoulders, and abdomen.

  1. Begin in mountain pose with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  2. As you inhale, step your left foot back about four feet, keeping your leg straight.
  3. As you exhale, turn your left foot out so that it is perpendicular to your right foot and sink into a low lunge position.
  4. Make sure that your right knee is stacked directly above your right ankle and press down into both feet to stabilize yourself.
  5. Bring your arms up overhead, keeping them parallel to each other as you gaze up.
Warrior 1 Yoga Pose

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a restorative yoga pose that helps to stretch the muscles of the back, hips, and thighs. It is also a great way to relieve stress and tension from the body.

  1. Begin by sitting on your heels with your knees pressed together. As you exhale, slowly lean forward, folding your upper body over your legs.
  2. Stretch your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the ground.
  3. Breathe deeply and hold for several minutes before coming back up to a seated position.

Cat Cow Pose

The Cat-Cow Pose is a gentle, flowing yoga pose that helps to stretch the muscles of the back and neck. It is also a great way to warm up the body before beginning a more strenuous yoga practice.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists aligned directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
  2. As you inhale, arch your back and gaze up towards the sky. This is the cow portion of the pose.
  3. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your chin towards your chest. This is the cat portion of the pose.
  4. Alternate between these two positions for several breaths, moving with each inhale and exhale.

So here you go! Here are the five yoga for beginners postures to help you get started. The yoga poses listed above can help to improve flexibility, strength, and balance. They can also help to relieve stress and tension in the body. Yoga is a great way to start your day or to relax after a long day.

Yoga poses can be done by people of all ages and levels of fitness. If you are new to yoga, it is recommended that you start with basic poses and work your way up to more advanced poses.  If you have any health concerns, please consult your doctor before starting a yoga practice.

At YogaLumino, we provide yoga classes for people of all ages and levels of fitness. We also offer online and in-person  private yoga sessions for those who want a more personalized practice. Or, come join our group classes at Damai Studio & Cafe. Feel free to reach out to us if you are looking to join our yoga classes. We would be happy to help you get started on your yoga journey!

Namaste!

Meditation for beginners

What is the one thing someone new to meditation should know when starting out?

What is the one thing someone new to meditation should know when starting out? 

That it’s not an easy practice! And I still struggle with it sometimes. 

Have you noticed every time you sit and close your eyes for meditation, your nose starts to itch, you feel the need to go to the toilet, or maybe you get this sudden urge to clean your entire living room? Anything but be still and quiet? 

You want to meditate; you know it’s good for you, but it’s just not happening. You start to doubt yourself and the practice, and eventually give up trying? If that’s you, know that you are not alone. In meditation we are training the muscle of our mind to be still and quiet. Be patient with yourself. 

Here are some common complaints/comments I hear from people when starting out. I want to help by offering you some tips on how to start. 

I am too busy; time is of the essence. 

In a world of constant doing, meditation can seem like a waste of time, so why should we sit and do nothing? The truth is, the busier we are, the more we need the practice of meditation to balance our lives. As you might already know, meditation helps reduce anxiety, gain more clarity in challenging situations, help us manage stress and pain, we feel more grounded and calmer, we perform better at work and live a more conscious life, to name the least. If all you have is 5 minutes a day, then give yourself the permission to being still and present for those 5 minutes. 

I have tight hips and my knee hurts when I sit on the ground. 

Being on the floor in a crossed legged position is just one of the many ways to sit in meditation. You can very well sit on a chair or lean your back against a wall! The idea is to find a comfortable position whatever that looks like for you. A position where you are able to remain relaxed and alert at the same time. Yoga blocks, cushions, bolsters are excellent props to use to help support your body feel more comfortable. 

Every time I try to meditate, I end up falling asleep.

If you are tired, then rest. My preferred time for meditation is first thing in the morning when I’m most well rested. If there is a yoga or meditation community you can go to, I would suggest participating in a guided meditation with a teacher. It’s not quite the same if we simply put on a You Tube guided meditation video and doing it all by ourselves at home. You can certainly do that once you get the hang of it. But first, go and experience the energy and power in collective group meditation. 

I can’t sit still for long, I feel restless. 

If you feel restless when it comes to sitting still, try first to release some of the energy by going for a walk, run, dance etc. In my experience, it is a lot easier to be still once we have released some of the excess energy from our bodies. If you have a yoga asana practice, try incorporating meditation at the end of your practice. 

Lastly, be gentle with yourself, have compassion for your body, befriend your thoughts instead of judging them, welcome all sensations, welcome all external sounds and sounds from within. Notice and witness all that you see and feel behind closed eyes and let all that you experience be part of your practice. 

Sweet Mango Smoothie

Sweet Mango Smoothie Recipe

Mango shmango now’s the season! Living in the tropics can be so much fun because of the wide variety of tropical fruits you can easily get, and then turning the fruit into a yummy in your tummy smoothie!

This smoothie recipe will fill your belly and it has all the essential power ingredients you need to kick start your day well.

It’s super simple and easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 small ripe mango (I use fresh mangoes but you can also use frozen ones)

1 frozen sliced banana

1 ½ cup non-diary milk (almond and cashew milk are my top two favorites) 

3 tbsp granola of your choice (I use salted gula Melaka granola from Amazin’ Graze)

1 tsp flax seeds

½ tsp hemp seeds

½ tsp maca powder

*optional 1 pitted medjool date

Place every ingredient into a power blender and blend for 30 seconds. Serve and enjoy!

Note:

Flax seeds, hemp seeds and maca powder are three power ingredients that I use to give an extra boost in almost all of my smoothies. Each are packed with nutrients and has its own set of health benefits. Flax seeds are rich in fiber and it helps regulate my bowel movement. Hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, as a vegetarian I find this to be very beneficial. And lastly I use maca root powder for vitamin C and iron.

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