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The Benefits of Vinyasa Flow and Sun Salutation

 

 

 

 

The practice of yoga has a number of important benefits, from increased fitness and weight loss to an increase in stamina and improvements in balance. Many long-term practitioners of yoga find that they have lost fat while gaining muscle - a key goal of any exercise plan. Yoga enthusiasts also point to improvements in their moods and their outlook on life, as well as greater mind and body control.
 
The practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga can be particularly good for teaching mind and body control. Whether you are new to yoga or just looking for a new and exciting challenge, signing up for Vinyasa Flow yoga can be a smart move.
 
What is Vinyasa Flow Yoga?
Breathing is at the heart of any yoga practice, but it plays an even more important role in Vinyasa Flow yoga. In Vinyasa Flow yoga, men and women learn to synchronize their exercise movements with their breathing. This focus on breathing helps develop superior body control while fostering a better connection between mind and body.
 
In traditional yoga, each pose is a separate entity, but Vinyasa Flow yoga is a completely different animal. In Vinyasa yoga, the various poses flow together, moving seamlessly from one to the other. In the end, the practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga becomes a sort of dance. Practitioners move easily from one pose to the next, creating a seamless look for bystanders and a great workout for practitioners.
 
Breathing is an integral part of Vinyasa Flow yoga. The breathing exercises make it easier to transition from one pose to the next while fostering a deep connection between mind and body. Long-time practitioners of Vinyasa Flow yoga find that they can control their breathing, relax their bodies and enjoy many other health benefits.
 
What is the Sun Salutation?
The sun salutation is an integral part of any yoga practice, but it is even more critical to the practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga. If you watch a Vinyasa Flow yoga class in session, you will certainly see the sun salutation as part of the overall dance. If you embark on a Vinyasa Flow yoga journey, you will learn to do the sun salutation while controlling your breathing and getting in touch with your body, mind and spirit.
 
The sun salutation is not a single pose. Rather it is a series of interconnected poses designed to be performed in a continuous sequence in which one pose flows seamlessly into the next. Given the nature of the sun salutation, it is easy to see why it plays such an integral role in the practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga.
 
What Benefits Are Derived from the Practice?
The practice of Vinyasa Flow yoga in general and the sun salutation in particular carry a number of important benefits. Long-time practitioners of Vinyasa Flow yoga can learn to control their breathing, relax their minds and enhance their spirits. New yoga enthusiasts often express a decline in stress and an increase in muscle tone.
 
The benefits of the sun salutation can be just as long-lasting and just as profound. The sun salutation sequence of poses is a great way to start the day, and many yoga enthusiasts do just that. The sun salutation sequence relaxes the muscles while focusing the mind, making it the perfect way to start the workday. The breathing control that is part of Vinyasa yoga just enhances the benefits.
 
The sun salutation exercise is also a great way to gauge your progress. The first time you perform the sequence, you may find it difficult to get through. As your body gets stronger and your mind becomes more focused, the sun salutation sequence should get easier and easier. The sun sequence is one of the best ways to see how you are progressing with your new exercise and fitness regimen.
 
Vinyasa Flow yoga is one of the most effective forms of exercise and body control, and the sun salutation sequence is one of the best exercises to start with. This unique form of yoga provides a host of great benefits for its practitioners, so why not get started today?

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What is Kundalini Yoga? with Green Apple Advocate Kia Miller

Kundalini is a type of yoga that uses the combination of deep breaths with certain postures, or asanas, to stimulate your physical and mental awareness and bring your consciousness to new heights. Kundalini practice uses various asanas to awaken the body’s life force and bring this vital energy through each of the body’s seven chakras, activating each one. Ultimately the Kundalini practitioner develops the ability to activate all seven chakras, enabling them to open the sixth chakra, or the Third Eye Chakra. In Kundalini yoga, the life force is depicted as two sleeping snakes coiled around the base of the spine. When the life force is activated, the snakes circle up the spine toward the Third Eye. Intriguingly, this imagery is shared with the Western symbol of two snakes circling up a pole, commonly used on ambulances to represent medicine and health.

The true practice of Kundalini yoga can be surprisingly difficult for practitioners. It is a mystical journey that can only be achieved with great mental clarity. The final achievement of the opening of the third eye is commonly described as a spiritual awakening or enlightenment. It is the merging of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. The path toward attaining this state of opened consciousness can be a winding one. Each chakra deals with a unique aspect of the psyche, like confidence, sexuality, expression, and spirituality. In the practice of Kundalini, the practitioner is confronted with their own mental walls and insecurities as they work their way through the chakras. To finally attain the goal of opening the Third Eye Chakra, they must overcome any barriers or blocks they have in their mind, opening their mind, body, and spirit to the universe completely.

How to Open the 7 Chakras

Muladhara, or Root Chakra 

Located at: Base of spine, tailbone
Deals with: Foundation, feeling grounded, survival issues, including money and food

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Bridge Pose – Lay flat on your back with arms at your sides. Bend knees and press your feet into the earth, lifting      hips toward the sky. Bring your hands beneath you and link fingers together, rolling your shoulders underneath. Lift chest toward your chin, creating a slight backbend with your spine. Breathe and relax into the position, feeling your spine lifting upward. When coming down, first release your hands then slowly lower your hips to the ground, keeping knees bent. Finally unbend your knees and relax, flat on your back.

 

Svadisthana, or Sacral Chakra
Located at: Inside the lower abdomen, just below navel
Deals with: Connections with others, new experiences, pleasure, sexuality, feelings of well-being, inner child

Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose – Lay flat on your stomach. Hands should be pressed onto the ground to either side of your shoulders. Press down with your hands into the ground, lifting your head and upper torso, keeping elbows pressed against your sides. Arch your spine backward, tilting your head back gently. The tailbone, pelvis, and legs should be pressed firmly against the ground. Stay and breathe, feeling your chest open and spine and stomach stretch. Finally lower yourself back down slowly onto your stomach.

Manipura, or Solar Plexus Chakra
Located at: The solar plexus – above the navel, right below the ribs
Deals with: Confidence, self-control, self-esteem, willpower

Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose – Lay flat on your stomach, arms by your sides. Lift your feet upward behind you, bringing them down to your buttocks. Grab hold of your ankles with your hands. Press your legs upward while holding onto your ankles, bringing your shoulders and upper torso off the ground. Arch your spine into the stretch, pulling back with your feet and tilting your head gently upward. Breathe deeply and find your balance, pulling back with your feet and up with spine. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed. Finally, lower your feet slowly back toward your buttocks, lowering your torso to the ground. Release your feet, letting your legs rest flat, and rest and breathe.

Anahata, or Heart Chakra
Located at: The center of the breastbone, just above your heart
Deals with: Love, joy, healing, inner peace, link between the body and the spirit

Ustrasana, or Camel Pose – Kneel on the ground with legs spread shoulder-width apart. Gently reach backward with your hands and rest hands on the heels of your feet. Keep your legs and pelvis pressed forward while bending your spine back, tilting your head backward. Raise your chest to the sun. Relax in this position, breathing deeply. Finally, let go of your heels and pull your torso forward to the original kneeling position.

Visuddha, or Throat Chakra
Located at: The throat
Deals with: Communication, self-expression, truth

Matsyasana, or Fish Pose – Lie flat on your back with arms at your sides. Slowly rise onto your elbows, keeping them tucked in closely to the body and letting your upper torso relax backward into a bend. Let your head fall backward, with your neck continuing the backward arch of your spine. Press shoulders outward – don’t let them hunch inward. Your pelvis and buttocks should remain firmly pressed against the ground. Relax backward and breathe. Finally, lower yourself back to the ground.

Ajna, or Brow Chakra, or Third Eye Chakra
Located at: Between the eyes
Deals with: Intuition, wisdom, imagination, decision-making, learning, perspective

Seated Yoga Mudra – Sit on your heels, back straight. Join your fingers together behind you and pull down, rolling your shoulders back, bringing your shoulder blades together, and opening your chest. Keeping your spine straight, bend forward, until you can press your forehead to the ground. Lift your arms behind you to the sky, keeping shoulders, back, and arms straight. Breathe. Finally, slowly lower arms and come back up to sitting on your heels.

Sahasrara, or Crown Chakra
Located at: The top of the head
Deals with: Connection to spirituality, bliss, the universe, inner and outer beauty

Return to Seated Yoga Mudra. Next, lift your buttocks, coming onto your knees, and rolling your head forward so the top of your head is pressed to the ground instead of your forehead. Keep stretching your hands backward overhead. Breathe and hold this pose, then slowly release.

 

One of our very own Green Apple Advocates is a professional teacher for Kundalini yoga. While it wasn’t her first form of yoga, Kia Miller fell in love with Kundalini yoga and has been practicing it for years now. She’s graciously agreed to tell us about it, so we can hear straight from an experienced practitioner!

Sound interesting? Check out the video here and let us know if any of you are thinking of trying Kundalini yoga in the comments!

 


 

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"Tapas Vinyasa" with Green Apple Active Advocate Joan Hyman

What is Vinyasa Yoga?


Many long-time yoga practitioners are discovering the power of Vinyasa yoga, but others have known about its benefits for many years. Like traditional yoga, Vinyasa yoga uses a variety of postures and breathing exercises to clear the mind, tone the body and lift the spirit. But the health benefits of Vinyasa yoga go far beyond the traditional.

Vinyasa yoga differs from other forms of yoga in a number of important ways, starting with its origins. Originally derived from bahta yoga, Vinyasa yoga tends to be done at a faster pace. That makes Vinyasa yoga a superior exercise in many ways, burning more calories than other forms of yoga and doing a better job of toning the body and building the muscles.

In Vinyasa yoga, the postures are linked together into a series of movements. Those movements are synchronized with the breathing to create a comprehensive workout for mind, body and spirit. In fact, Vinyasa yoga places a greater emphasis on breathing and the transition in and out of the various postures. Specifically, the upward movements of Vinyasa yoga are correlated with the inhalation of breath, while the downward movements are associated with exhalation.

The almost continual movement involved in Vinyasa yoga make it an excellent cardiovascular workout for both men and women. In fact, the cardiovascular benefits of Vinyasa have won over many people who never thought they would enjoy yoga.

Other benefits of Vinyasa yoga include an increase in muscle strength, greater endurance and better flexibility. Like other forms of yoga, Vinyasa is also an excellent stress reliever. Practitioners learn to control their breathing and get in tune with their bodies, and that helps them spot the early warning signs of anxiety and deal with them at the source.

While it may sound like the practice of Vinyasa yoga is rigid and unchanging, the opposite is actually true. One of the great benefits of Vinyasa yoga is its diversity, and practitioners can use a variety of sequences to achieve the desired results. The very word Vinyasa is derived from a Sanskrit term meaning "variations within parameters", and that is an apt description for this fast-growing exercise.

Tapas Vinyasa
While all forms of Vinyasa yoga have been growing in popularity, Tapas Vinyasa is a particularly attractive choice for people who want to get fit, improve their cardiovascular endurance and build their muscles while still enjoying the traditional benefits of yoga - things like stress relief, a better mind-body connection and better relaxation.

The word tapas has a number of meanings, but it typically translates to "heat" or "fire". When used to describe this unique form of Vinyasa yoga, the word tapas is used to refer to the building of heat through breathing exercises and powerful posture sequences.

Tapas Vinyasa yoga is an intense workout, and it is not typically suitable for the beginner. Men and women who have never done yoga before are generally urged to start with the traditional practice, or with the regular form of Vinyasa yoga. As their fitness level increases and the sessions become easier, it is time to work up to the Tapas variety of this powerful exercise regimen.

 

Check out the video here with Green Apple Advocate as Joan talks more about Vinyasa yoga. Tell us if you’re a newbie at Vinyasa, interested, or a long-time practitioner! We’d love to hear your stories.

 

 

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Working Out With Your Pet

 

 Raise your hand if you’re sharing a life with a furry friend – or two, or three! Over here at Green Apple, our pets are family. One of the most important things we’ve learned from them is that it’s definitely not a one way relationship. Our pets push us, pull us, and snuggle us into better human beings! 


One major point? Exercising! On days when you’d rather stay in, an excited puppy tugging on a leash can make all the difference. If your pet would rather laze around than go jogging (like mine!), seeing him get a tad pudgy is more than enough incentive to haul both of you off the couch and out for a little bit of active fun. Read on for some win-win ideas on exercising with your pet!

  • The old standby: hitting the park. Take the pup out to make some new friends at the dog run, play some fetch and maybe do a light jog back home. All in a day’s work! 
  • Interval walk: make walking a little more interesting by mixing it up. Sprints, walks, and even drills like shuffling sideways and running backwards don’t just benefit you, they help keep your dog engaged and both your heart rates up. Keep going for 15 to 20 minutes for maximum benefit. 
  • Build a dogstacle course! This doesn’t have to be labor-intensive to be fun – use hula hoops, jumping ropes, chairs, fitness steps, and more. Do a set exercise in each station as you make your way through the circuit – extra points if your dog gets involved! Run with him to each station or get your play on for a little bit as a reward after every drill. 


Want some more ideas? Check out this video of our Green Apple Advocate, Jill Brown, showing off some exercise moves with Toefu the pug!!! Isn’t he cute? Let us know what you think, or how YOU exercise with your pet, in the comments. Bonus points if you send us a photo of you and your friend!

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Push-Up Workout with Green Apple Core Jill Brown

Push-ups, also known as press-ups, are well known as a simple but challenging exercise for those with already developed muscles. However, they are also ideal for beginners who want some muscle definition in their arms or an improvement in core strength. They are perfect for busy people with hardly any time to devote to fitness. There are many benefits of doing push-ups, and several variations that you can easily try at home.

 

Push-ups are a convenient and universal exercise, using the weight of your own body to strengthen and tone a variety of muscles, especially the core muscles involved in the balance and support of the rest of the body. Push-ups also help to improve your cardio fitness and burn fat. As with all exercises, it is important to be cautious and not do too many at first, but push-ups are ideal for learning because you can do as few or as many as you are comfortable with.

 

Some of the numerous benefits of push-ups are:

  • No equipment or expensive gym memberships are required.
  • They can be done anywhere, anytime.The heart rate is increased, burning calories.
  • Muscles are strengthened and toned.
  • You can easily feel the muscles working, and notice improvement by the continually increasing number of push-ups you are able to do over time.
  • Bone density can be improved because push-ups are a resistance exercise.
  • It will only take a few minutes each day

 

The amount and type of push-ups are up to you, according to your fitness level and goals.A wide group of muscles is targeted in the following areas: fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, chest, abdominals, upper and lower back, glutes, upper and lower legs, ankles and feet.Beginners often choose to hold their weight on their knees as well as their hands, whereas more experienced people can balance on their feet with their legs straight and push more weight. Besides the regular push-ups with the wrists directly under the shoulders, there are many variations that you can try as your ability and confidence develop. They can be useful if you want to target a slightly different assortment of muscles or experience a new and interesting challenge if the original type gets boring.

  • Wide arm push-ups are where you move your hands outwards into a wider position. You will feel the difference even with this small change.
  • The diamond version requires your hands to be touching each other, with thumbs and forefingers stretched in mirror image to make a diamond shape between them. This is used to work on the triceps. 
  • For the front clap push-up you push yourself up, take your hands off the ground and clap before quickly resuming the original position and letting your body down. This is quite a challenge to keep up.
  • The elevated push-up is where your feet are up on a low bench, exercise ball or chair, and your weight is tipped forward. Alternatively you could keep your feet on the ground and raise your hands on a step or bench, and really give those muscles a shock.

 Experts sometimes do the difficult and showy one arm variation where one arm is held behind the back and the push-up is done with one hand on the ground only.The best thing about push-ups is that while they are singularly effective, they are easy and can be learned and used well with regular practice in only a few minutes a day. You can control your own pace and choose where and when to slip a few push-ups into your day. The sense of accomplishment and pride in being able to do them is beneficial too, because feeling good about yourself is most important of all.

Check out this short video here with Green Apple Active Advocate Jill Brown shows you a quick push-up workout you can do at home.

 

 


 

 

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