Calming Postnatal Yoga Sequence for the ‘Fourth Trimester’

Calming Postnatal Yoga Sequence for the ‘Fourth Trimester’

This relaxing “fourth trimester" yoga sequence can help you reconnect with your body and calm your mind in those early months with a new baby.
Allie Geer

Allie Geer

I had my two babies in two different countries, Switzerland and the United States, respectively. People often ask me, “What was the biggest difference having your first baby while living abroad?" Although there were many differences, the quality of postpartum care remains the most significant. In Switzerland, a midwife came to see me at home five times, and the visits were all pre-arranged for me before I left the hospital. Everything changes when you’re a new mother, and the midwife supported me in ways I will never forget. She gave me confidence in my ability to take care of my infant. When I had my second baby in the States, what became very clear to me is that outside of family, there is not enough support for postpartum mamas, especially during the “fourth trimester."

See also Prenatal Yoga Practice to Relieve Pain, Enhance Mobility, and Restructure Fascia

The “fourth trimester" is a term used to refer to the first three months after giving birth. The nights are long and the days are just as exhausting. The world as you know it revolves around caring for a tiny human. Their needs are endless and we as mothers give all that we know to give, often putting ourselves and sometimes our most basic needs last (like when 2 p.m. rolls around and you ask yourself, “Did I even brush my teeth today?").

The following calming postnatal sequence is dedicated to the fourth trimester mama. I’m here for you, I believe in you, and I support you. One of the nice things about the early months of infancy is that babies this age (usually) love to sleep. This can be a great time to take a few moments to give back to your body and calm your mind. If your baby is struggling with naps or prefers to be held, I strongly encourage you to ask for help, whether it’s from your partner, family, friends, or a postpartum doula. Taking time for yourself is not only healthy for you, it also benefits everyone around you, including your beautiful baby.

Calming Postnatal Yoga Sequence for the ‘Fourth Trimester’

About Our Writer

Allie Geer began her practice of yoga in 2006, after she was involved in a traumatic car accident. She found that alternative medicine, yoga, and meditation helped her handle pain both physically and emotionally. In 2012, she completed a 200-hour intensive teacher training program at Samahita Retreat Center in Koh Samui, Thailand, with Stephen Thomas. Allie became pregnant in early 2013, at which point she began looking for complementary practices. She completed an 85-hour prenatal training with Sue Elkind. The journey through pregnancy and birth brought her the closest to her practice. Allie is currently enrolled in 1,000-hour advanced teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine. Allie specializes in one-on-one private therapeutic sessions, myofascial release, and prenatal/postnatal yoga. Allie currently teaches in Colorado. For more information you can visit her website:


Why You Should Consider Going Gluten-Free (and 3 Ways to Make It Easier & Delicious)

Why You Should Consider Going Gluten-Free (and 3 Ways to Make It Easier & Delicious)

Interested in trying a gluten-free diet, and seeing if it makes a difference in your well-being? Here are 3 ways to make the transition easier (and more delicious).

This article was written in paid partnership with Sundown Naturals.

Sure, you have a regular yoga practice, but a big part of a balanced yoga lifestyle is making mindful choices about everything you put in your body. Which is why so many yogis are choosing to go gluten-free.

Gluten-free diets are associated with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. But even those who don’t have Celiac can be sensitive to gluten; some experience a stuffed-up, foggy feeling, others suffer from ailments like chronic abdominal pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue, migraine attacks, and sinus infections, according to Karen Kelly’s 2009 Yoga Journal article. In fact, gluten sensitivity/intolerance is on the rise, and some simply feel that cutting gluten can make them feel better. Stephen Wangen, director of the IBS Treatment Center and the Center for Food Allergies in Seattle and the author of Healthier Without Wheat, estimates that 10 percent of the U.S. population (30 million people) are intolerant, and most don’t know it, Kelly reports.

3 Ways to Go Gluten-Free

Interested in trying a gluten-free diet, and seeing if it makes a difference in your well-being? Here are 3 ways to make the transition easier (and more delicious).


Yin Yoga 101: Does Alignment Matter in Yin Poses?

Yin Yoga 101: Does Alignment Matter in Yin Poses?

Every yogi in a Yin class looks different in the postures, so it’s a good question. Josh Summers explains the difference between aesthetic vs. functional alignment.
Yin Meditation with Josh Summers

Want to learn a style of yoga that’s focused on bringing balance—physically, energetically, and mentally? Join Josh Summers, founder of the Summers School of Yin Yoga, for our new online course Yin Yoga 101—a six-week journey through the foundations and principles of Yin Yoga, along with asana practice and meditation. Click here to sign up!

“In Yin Yoga, alignment doesn’t matter.” That’s one of the most common myths about Yin Yoga. It’s also easy to dispel. Often, people unfamiliar with the practice notice everyone in a Yin class doing the same pose with slightly different alignment and then conclude that anything goes. Or they take a Yin class and don’t hear the teacher give exact instructions on how to place the body and then conclude that the teacher doesn’t understand or care about alignment. Neither is true.

In Yin Yoga, as in all intelligent forms of physical yoga, alignment matters. But alignment in Yin Yoga has little to do with whether your foot is pointed in the “right” direction, or whether your knee is at a precise 90-degree angle. Focusing on how a pose looks is an approach referred to as aesthetic alignment. However, what is aesthetically pretty may not be functionally beneficial.

Yin Yoga instead looks for functional alignment. Thanks largely to Yin Yoga pioneer Paul Grilley, the practice recognizes that our anatomy varies, especially at the skeletal level. The angles and curves of your bones differ from those of the person on the mat next to you. So in a Yin class—and increasingly, in other styles of yoga, too—the same pose looks different on everyone. That means each person can align his or her body to serve the pose’s functional intention, which is the specific way the pose is meant to stress, stimulate, or stretch the body.

In Yin Yoga, the functional intention is the only reason to do the pose. It is tied to a pose’s target areas, the main areas of the body that the pose is intended to gently stress and the places you want to feel mild-to-moderate sensation. Sometimes you will stress all the target areas, sometimes a few, or sometimes just one.

Exploring Functional Alignment in Dragon Pose

If you pursue aesthetic alignment in Dragon, also known as Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)the intention is to align the body to “look” correct. Your front knee is directly ahead of its corresponding hip and directly over your front heel. Your front thigh is parallel to the long edges of the mat. Your hips are squared to the front of the mat. Your torso and arms stack over your hips.

Now, shifting to functional alignment, the intention is to align the body in a way that is functionally beneficial. Before you even get into the pose, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this pose?” Your alignment will be based on your intention, your target areas. Dragon has two target areas: the back leg’s hip flexors and the front leg’s outer hip, adductors, and inner hamstrings. Your alignment will also depend on the variation because Yin poses, such as Dragon, sometimes have many. Here, you’ll explore two different target areas. (Keep in mind that your alignment may not look like mine because our bodies have unique shapes.)


Target Area: Hip flexors of the back leg
I align my body in a way that increases hip extension of my back leg. To do that, I place one hand on my front thigh and the other hand on a block, raising my torso. That way both my hips and spine extend more, which will likely increase the tensional stress on my back leg’s hip flexors. Once in position, I try to relax my hips down to the floor, softening the hip flexors to bring a gentle Yin stress to the dense connective tissue in that area. This works for me. It may not work for you; it may generate excessive stress on your hip flexors. Instead, placing your hands on the floor may be a better way to successfully target your hip flexors. Another alternative is to rest both hands on the front knee or simply to cross your forearms on your forward thigh. Remember your intention, and adjust accordingly.


Target Area: Adductors and outer hip of the front leg
I align my body in a way that gently stresses the tissues of my front leg’s inner groin. To do that, I move my front foot farther out from my midline and lower my torso. Taking my front foot to the side increases the abduction of the front femur, and bringing my torso down increases the flexion of the front hip and spine; both actions tend to increase tensile stress on the adductors and possibly the hamstrings of the front leg. Once in position, I try to relax my front leg out to the side. Again, this works for me. It may not for you; it may create intense stress on your adductors. If that’s the case, bringing your forearms or your hands to blocks may create the mild-to-moderate sensation the pose intends to generate.

Target Area Takeaway
Yin Yoga is an ideal practice for focusing on functional alignment because you hold the poses for several minutes, giving you time to feel and observe the results of the alignment choices you make.

Want to learn more about the fundamentals of Yin Yoga with Josh? Click here to sign up for his six-week online course!


18 Reasons to Practice Self-Care

18 Reasons to Practice Self-Care

Asana, pranayama, and meditation are key tools for combatting everyday stressors. Learn how taking care of yourself can create a ripple effect of positivity in your mind and body.
rolling out yoga mat

As our lives become more hectic and frenetic—with jammed-full calendars and a seemingly constant stream of messages pinging our phones and computers—self-care practices become paramount. “When people can use simple tools to relax, they feel better about themselves and more in charge,” explains Martin Rossman, MD, a clinical faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, and author of The Worry Solution: Using Your Healing Mind to Turn Stress and Anxiety into Better Health and Happiness.

As Rossman and other experts will tell you: self-care practices can relieve mental stress, melt muscle tension, and help you feel confident that, yes, you can tackle your lengthy to-do list and handle whatever else may come.

The Self-Care Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is hands down one of the best self-care tools. Spending time on your mat can benefit your brain, heart, and bones, and even change the expression of your genes. Better yet, “yoga does all these things simultaneously,” says Timothy McCall, MD, co-author of Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, a medical textbook of yoga therapy. “It’s synergistic. The transformation helps with more than one symptom—lives can change—which is something we don’t see much in modern medicine.”

See also 3 Self-Care Tips to Steal from Esalen

Scientists continue to put research behind the long-touted health benefits of yoga in addition to constantly uncovering new ways this ancient practice creates healthier lives. “The amount of research is just taking off,” says McCall, adding that if you plotted out the research on yoga from 1950 to 2000, there would be a slight upward slope. The curve would escalate dramatically starting in 2000 and even more so after 2010.

To get the most out of yoga, McCall says it’s best to keep a daily practice, even on your busiest days. “Even 10 to 15 minutes a day is valuable in re-patterning dysfunction in your body. It’s about personal practice. That’s where transformation happens,” he says.

Whether you need some inspiration in order to commit to your yoga practice, or simply want to know where the current research stands, read on for 18 of the most groundbreaking recent discoveries on yoga’s healing powers.

See also Yoga Philosophy 101: How Yoga Philosophy Can Revolutionize Your Approach to Self-Care

See also 10 Yoga Poses and Self-Care Practices to Do Right After You Catch a Cold


What You Need to Know About Your IT Band

What You Need to Know About Your IT Band

The trendy go-to remedy for a tight IT band—foam rolling—can actually do more harm than good. Here’s why, plus the yoga poses that’ll help you keep your IT band healthy.

The iliotibial (IT) band may not be top of mind for most yogis. After all, the thick fascial tissue (similar to a tendon) isn’t typically aggravated by yoga alone. But if you love jump backs, or if you practice yoga to help balance a fitness regimen filled with high-impact or explosive activities (think running, hiking, dancing, or high-intensity interval training) you likely have an embodied sense of this fibrous structure, and you might say it feels “tight.” And you’re right: The tendinous fibers of the IT band have a firmness that serve as a natural protector of your outer thigh. Yet before you use yoga to help “stretch” or heal your IT band, it’s important to know the basics about how this tissue can become irritated and what to do to help it feel better.

If you feel pain on the outside of your knee, particularly when bending it, this may be a sign that you’re dealing with IT Band Syndrome. For example, pain may occur when you walk up or down stairs or move into yoga poses that require a deep bend in one knee, such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II). The source? IT band tension caused by imbalances in your tensor fasciae latae or gluteus maximus muscles—the two hip-based connection points for your IT band. When these muscles pull on your IT band, which connects into your knee’s joint capsule and the outside of your shin bone, it can lead to pain in your outer knee.

The good news? IT band issues are usually not very serious and respond well to strengthening and releasing tension in the muscles surrounding the tendon—especially your gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae, as well as the neighboring quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and hip rotators.

See also Explore Your Hamstrings: Yoga Poses for All Three Muscles

4 Common Causes of IT Band Syndrome

When any tendon is put under repeated stress from overworking or overstretching, little tears or traumas can occur, leading to injury and pain. When this happens in the IT band, it’s called IT Band Syndrome—and because tendinous tissue doesn’t get as much healing blood flow as a muscle, it can be harder to repair. What’s more, the IT band is packed with nerve endings, which is why foam rolling it can be very painful. Here, four common causes of IT Band Syndrome:

1. Excessive running, jumping, or cycling, particularly when knee and hip alignment is off. Keep in mind that any movement with poor alignment can lead to problems. That’s because part of the IT band’s purpose is to keep your knee optimally tracking as you move, so if your joints are consistently out of alignment (say, if your feet pronate when you walk or turn out when you ride your bike), it can irritate your IT band.

2. Overstretching or over-tensing your buttock muscles from exercise or poor habits (for example, sitting cross-legged or frequently wearing high heels).

3. Excessive sitting, which chronically shortens the tensor fasciae latae while overly lengthening the glutes, weakening your hips, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles and aggravating your IT band.

4. Leg length discrepancies, which can place excessive strain on one hip, leading to IT band issues on the longer leg.

See also Anatomy 101: Understanding Your Sacroiliac Joint

Also known as the iliotibial tract, the IT band is a multipurpose tendon that runs down the length of the outer thigh, from the top of the pelvis (ilium) to the shin bone (tibia). It connects the tensor fasciae latae muscle (a hip flexor) and gluteus maximus (the largest butt muscle, a hip extensor, and external rotator) to the outside of the tibia. The IT band is responsible for keeping your hips and knees stable, particularly during rapid, explosive moves like running and jumping. Think of the thick fascia of the IT band like a well-tensioned bridge that links the pelvis and knee. That fascia also envelops your quadriceps muscles and tapers into the knee joint capsule. When the two muscles that attach at the top section of the IT band—the tensor fasciae latae and gluteus maximus—contract, it adds tension to the IT band, which helps to stabilize your knee-to-hip relationship. But too much use (or underuse) from one of these muscles can overstress your IT band and tug on your outer knee, leading to pain.



This is the uppermost and largest part of the hip bone; it’s a wide, flat bone that provides many attachment points for muscles of the hip and trunk.

Tensor Fasciae Latae

This small muscle lies in front of the hip joint and is one of the connection points for the IT band.

Iliotibial Band

This thick, fascial tissue serves as the tendinous insertion for the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae. It is the outer border of the vastus lateralis (outer quadriceps) muscle and acts as a fascial envelope for the quadriceps group.


Also known as the shinbone, it is the larger and stronger of the two bones below the knee.

Gluteus Maximus

The largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles, this is the main extensor muscle of the hip and the other connection point for the IT band.

See also What You Need to Know About Fascia

Why Foam Rolling Isn’t a Cure

It seems logical that if you’re dealing with IT Band Syndrome, massaging the tendon with a foam roller might help. And while it will likely provide temporary relief afterward (there’s a good chance it’ll also hurt like heck while you’re rolling!), it’s my firm belief that arbitrary foam rolling of your IT band can do more harm than good. Here’s why:

For starters, excessive rolling can further irritate an aggravated IT band tendon, worsening existing micro-tears. Plus, some of the relief that comes after a foam-rolling session may be the result of stimulated stretch receptors in the vastus lateralis, the lateral quadriceps muscle that lies beneath your IT band. While this quad-tension relief can slightly relieve IT band pain, it doesn’t negate the potential additional damage caused by the foam roller. Finally, if you foam roll your IT band while ignoring the all-important gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae, you’re not addressing the underlying cause of pain.

Instead of foam rolling, try Ball Plow

First, use therapy balls on your gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae. Place the balls between your muscles and the floor, then ease the weight of your body onto the balls, taking deep breaths as the balls sink deep into your tissue. Stay here for 2 minutes per muscle group. As you lie on the balls, try tensing and releasing these muscles a few times to further relax the muscles and their connections to the IT band. Then, use therapy balls on the outside of your thigh, which will help to improve hip mechanics and ultimately restore proper IT band function—without risking additional damage.

It’s important to avoid trying to “roll out” or “loosen” your IT band, as it could worsen its condition. Instead, use the therapy balls to target the mobility of the muscles underneath the IT band: the quadriceps. In the following release exercise (“Ball Plow,” below), moving the therapy balls in super-slow motion helps to coax mobility into these deeper muscles. The balls will likely come in contact with your IT band at times, so limit your pressure at highly sensitive points. Attempt to apply pressure that helps to create a relaxation response in the deep thigh muscles below the IT band.

See also Releasing Tight Hips

The practice below will help you to home in on the right spots. If rolling feels painful, back off. This should feel like a tolerable stretch, leaving the area feeling warm and refreshed.

1. Rest on your side and place a pair of Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls (or other small, pliable balls) on the outside of your thigh, toward the junction between your quads and hamstrings, nestling the balls into a region that is directly below your IT band.

2. Let the balls sink in for 10 breaths. Imagine that they’re docking themselves between your quads and hamstrings.

3. Moving slowly, use the weight of your thigh to guide the balls forward (across the thigh, not lengthwise). You’ll use the deeply docked therapy balls to move your quads around your femur, mobilizing the lateral (outside) quad away from the hamstrings and creating a stretch between the bone and your quads. If done correctly, it will feel like a large hand is pivoting your thigh muscle around the bone.

4. Therapy balls will naturally roll (they are spheres, after all). Try to minimize rolling by using them to plow the entire section of muscle, which will cause your thigh to internally rotate.

5. Repeat for up to 10 minutes, moving slowly from the outside of your thigh toward the middle, then switch legs.

See also Why Inflexibility May Not Be What’s Stopping You From Doing That Pose

3 Poses for a Healthy IT Band

When it comes to your IT band, not all yoga poses are created equal. Some lengthen the IT band’s muscular attachments, and others will reinforce their strength and stability. The following poses will help you get to know your IT band—and help heal and prevent problems.

About Our Pros

Writer Jill Miller is the creator of Yoga Tune Up and The Roll Model Method, and author of The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and the International Association of Yoga Therapists Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research. Learn more at Model Kat Fowler, E-RYT 500, is a yoga and meditation teacher and a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider in New York City. Learn more at


Why Inflexibility May Not Be What’s Stopping You From Doing That Pose

Why Inflexibility May Not Be What’s Stopping You From Doing That Pose

When an asana is out of reach, yogis frequently blame their flexibility. But Bernie Clark explains that one pose simply doesn’t fit all. So he’s laid out a road map for getting to know your own unique anatomy and determining what actually is stopping you from doing a given pose.
king dancer yjlive

In the era of compulsive selfies, celebrating our individuality has entered an unnatural and distorted dimension. Technology constantly provides us with new widgets to cheat on our appearance and to hide our true self behind a filter of pixels. So when you throw yourself into the most sublime Dancer Pose and your toe doesn’t touch the crown of your head, reality hits you in the shape of your tissues and bones. Your body just can’t do this.

This doesn’t make you unfit or unyogic, it makes you human. It is the sobering reminder that we are all different. “You are unique, and that uniqueness is what makes the difference between what ‘everyone’ seems to be able to do and what you can do. There is no pose in yoga that everybody can do, and no one can do every pose,” explains Bernie Clark in Your Body, Your YogaWhen it comes to yoga practice, one pose simply doesn’t fit all.

See also “Why I Don’t ‘Stretch’ Anymore”

Your Anatomy Is Unique—Study It

Integrating difference and uniqueness, represents a complexity that not all societies are ready to accommodate. In a yoga class of five students, it is easy for the teacher to cater to everyone’s needs but that proves more challenging as the number increases. Thus the generalizations that leads them to make are potentially damaging if not taken with a pinch of salt. Insecurities can kick in in a yoga class, though. You may find yourself longing for a more compliant body and fearing that if you don’t perform the “real pose,” you will stand out and be deemed deficient.

“Differences aren’t deficits,” Clark writes quoting geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky encouraging us to embrace uniqueness and to be less harsh toward our quirks. “Why think that because someone else can’t do something, you will fail? There are things you can do right now, there are things that you will be able to do in time, and there things that you will never be able to do.”

If you are curious enough, you can gradually become the best equipped person to understand the unique mechanics of your body. Most teachers don’t actually know you, and they will never understand you as well as you will be able to.

The odd overzealous teacher may even make erroneous assumptions that can harm you. It is essential to take charge of your own practice both on your mat at home and in classes. This involves taking the time to investigate your strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and skills.

See also Not ALL Hips Need Opening: 3 Moves for Hip Stability

Bernie Clark tension and compression

What Stops You?

Clark suggests an efficient way of mapping your own physical limitations comes by systematically registering your sensations in various yoga poses. He leads this exploration with the interrogation: “What Stops You?’ In other words: what limits your mobility?

Two things can stop you, he explains. One is tension, which is resistance of the tissues to being stretched (muscles, ligaments, fascia), and the other is compression, which is created by contact: bone to bone (hard compression), flesh to flesh (soft compression), bone to flesh (medium compression).

So by paying heed to sensations of tension or compression in your yoga practice you can explore your body’s unique anatomy and limitations. That in turn enables you to work with your body, rather than against it in a given pose. To assist this process Clark searched the nooks and crannies of anatomy to observe where tension or compression surge and described the sensations that correspond to each type of resistance in his book. In this excerpt from Your Body, Your Yoga, Clark explores three poses yogis commonly get “stopped" in and why.

See also 8 Keys to Take Your Yoga Teaching Beyond Standardized Alignment Cues

Adapted from Your Body, Your Yoga by Bernie Clark. Published by Wild Strawberry Publications, April 2016.


《 Adam Hawley – Anytime At All (04:13) 》

《 Adam Hawley – Anytime At All (04:13) 》

Mantras 101: The Science Behind Finding Your Mantra and How to Practice It

Mantras 101: The Science Behind Finding Your Mantra and How to Practice It

Ever wonder what you’re chanting during yoga class that always seems to instill a profound sense of calm? Take a look at the neuroscience behind how mantras make potent additions to your yogic practices, and find one that works best for you.

Looking for a spiritually satisfying life after college, musician Tina Malia moved to Fairfax, California, an artsy city north of San Francisco, and began attending sacred music concerts. Something in the ritual and the chanting moved her to tears and kept her going back again and again. Eventually, she started experimenting with the music on her own. One day, friend and fellow musician Jai Uttal invited her to sing backup in his band, the Pagan Love Orchestra, which combined chanting mantra with rock, reggae, jazz, and African music. Malia jumped at the chance to play and sing these sacred sounds and words—believed by practitioners to change states of mind and elevate consciousness.

“I loved the syllables and the way they rolled in my mouth, but I didn’t yet know how much I would grow to need them,” says Malia. Even though she was gaining success as a musician and was surrounded by loving friends, Malia was silently sinking into depression—an ailment she had struggled with on and off since she was a teenager. As a twenty-something, feeling lost and lonely in the world again, she was ensnared by negative thoughts and even contemplated taking her own life. “It was like I was falling down this pit,” says Malia, now 40 years old. Nothing she grasped for to ease her pain—food, sex, movies, alcohol, even spiritual books—gave her anything more than a quick and fleeting fix.

Uttal, witnessing her struggle, offered her a tool that he thought would help her deal with depression—a practice called japa, in which a mantra is repeated, silently or out loud, as the practitioner moves a string of beads (or mala) through their fingers. The mantra Uttal suggested was Ram, which can be interpreted as “the inner fire that burns away impurities and bad karma.” At the time, Malia says, she did not fully understand the meaning of the mantra. She just wanted relief from her despair, and she was willing to try anything.

See also 13 Major Yoga Mantras to Memorize


Kristin Anderson

After nearly two weeks of silently reciting Ram for several minutes (and sometimes hours) each day, Malia started experiencing a shift in how she was feeling.

“What appeared like a small speck of light—a little spot of relief—grew and grew with every recitation of that mantra,” she says. As she began to detach her true, deeper self from her thoughts, she slowly stopped acting on negative ones. “All these feelings of being unworthy, lonely, and lacking a purpose on earth were just thoughts,” she says. “When I gave my mind something to focus on, something besides my thoughts, it gave me relief.” After six months of daily japa practice, Malia says she was able to access true joy deep inside her. “In short, mantra gave me the will to live again,” she says.

See also Lead With Your Heart: How to Practice Bhakti Yoga

The Neurological Effects of Mantra on Your Brain

Malia had tapped what yogis have known for several thousand years: mantra, whether chanted, whispered, or silently recited, is a powerful meditation and therapy tool. Western science is only now starting to catch up.

Neuroscientists, equipped with advanced brain-imaging tools, are beginning to quantify and confirm some of the health benefits of this ancient practice, such as its ability to help free your mind of background chatter and calm your nervous system. In one study recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, researchers from Linköping University, in Sweden, measured activity in a region of the brain called the default mode network—the area that’s active during self-reflection and mind wandering—to determine how practicing mantra meditation affects the brain. From a mental health perspective, an overactive default mode network can mean that the brain is distracted—not calmed or centered.

Researchers behind the Linköping University study asked a group of subjects to take part in a two-week Kundalini Yoga course that included six 90-minute sessions over the course of two weeks. Each session started with yoga exercises (asana and breathing) and finished with 11 minutes of mantra-based meditation. The subjects recited the Sat nam mantra (roughly translated as “true identity”) while placing their hands over their hearts.

The same group also performed a finger-tapping control condition—in which they were instructed to perform slow-paced button pressing on a four-button keypad.

See also The Beginner’s Guide to Common Yoga Chants

The subjects’ default mode networks were more suppressed during the mantra meditation than during the finger-tapping exercise—and suppression grew as mantra training increased. “The study suggests that mantra training can more effectively reduce [default mode network]–related distractions than something like tapping along to the beat,” says Rozalyn Simon, PhD, who authored the study.

Research findings such as these do not profess to prove that mantra is a life-saving technique. But as Malia knows well, when we are beholden to our discursive mind, we can easily be led down the path to negative headspace—further away from our true, relaxed nature. In fact, research suggests that it doesn’t matter whether you recite an ancient Sanskrit mantra such as Sat nam, or the Lord’s Prayer, or any sound, word, or phrase—as long as you repeat something with focused attention, you’ll get results.

Since the 1970s, Herbert Benson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been researching how meditation and prayer can alter mental and physical states. He’s been particularly interested in what brings on a meditative state, which he calls “the relaxation response.” Benson has experimented with subjects repeating Sanskrit mantras as well as nonreligious words, such as “one.” He’s found that regardless of what the practitioner repeats, the word or phrase has nearly the same effects: relaxation and the ability to better cope with life’s unexpected stressors.

More recently, scientists at several universities and institutes have applied modern brain-imaging tools to reach roughly the same conclusions as Benson. A 2015 study from researchers in Israel found that people who silently repeated the word echad(“one” in Hebrew) experienced a quieting of the mind, particularly a deactivation of the typically active default mode network in the brain. “When people said ‘one, one, one,’ everything that had been active during the resting state in the default mode network was shut down,” says Aviva Berkovich-Ohana, a neuroscientist in the Department of Education at the University of Haifa. “Subjects reported that it was relaxing and that they had fewer thoughts.”

See also Intro to Chanting, Mantra, and Japa

The Roots of Mantra: History and Meaning

In understanding how mantra works, it can be helpful to look at its translation. The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words—manas (mind) and tra (tool). Mantra literally means “a tool for the mind,” and was designed to help practitioners access a higher power and their true natures. “Mantra is a sound vibration through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intention,” says music artist Girish, author of Music and Mantras: The Yoga of Mindful Singing for Health, Happiness, Peace & Prosperity. Over time, that vibration sinks deeper and deeper into your consciousness, helping you to eventually feel its presence as shakti—a powerful, if subtle, force working inside each of us that carries us into deeper states of awareness, says Sally Kempton, a meditation teacher and author of Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience.

One of the most universally recited mantras is the sacred Hindu syllable Aum—considered to be the sound of the creation of the universe. Aum (usually spelled Om) is believed to contain every vibration that has ever existed—or will exist in the future. It is also the energetic root of other, longer mantras, including Om namah shivaya (“I bow to Shiva”—Shiva being the inner Self, or true reality), and Om mani padme hum (which essentially mean “jewel of the lotus,” and has been interpreted as, “By practicing a path that unites method and wisdom, you can transform into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha”).

These popular Hindu mantras are in Sanskrit, but mantra has deep roots in every major spiritual tradition and can be found in many languages, including Hindi, Hebrew, Latin, and English. For example, a popular mantra for Christians is simply the name Jesus, while Catholics commonly repeat the Hail Mary prayer or Ave Maria. Many Jews recite Barukh atah Adonai (“Blessed art thou, oh Lord”); while Muslims repeat the name Allah like a mantra.

See also 5 Self-Awakening and Empowering Mudras and Mantras

How to Start a Mantra Practice

So, how do you get started finding a mantra? In some practices, such as Transcendental Meditation, students hire and study with a trained mantra and meditation leader to learn and receive specific, personalized mantras. But there are plenty of ways to practice mantra independently and free of charge.

See also The Beginner’s Guide to Common Mantras

Consistency is key, says Kempton, regardless of your chosen mantra. “You enliven a mantra through regular practice over a period of time—months or even years.” she says. “It’s a bit like rubbing a flint against a stone to strike fire. The friction of the syllables inside your consciousness, the focus of bringing yourself back to the mantra again and again, and especially the attention you give to the felt sense of the mantra’s resonance inside your awareness will eventually open the energy in the mantra, and it will stop being just words and become a living energy that you’ll feel shifting your inner state.”

If you’re interested in incorporating mantra-based practices into your yoga and meditation routines, start by asking a teacher to suggest a mantra for you to try.

See also 13 Major Yoga Mantras to Memorize

Mantra and meditation teachers recommend to begin by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position and silently repeat the mantra, once on the inhalation, once on the exhalation. Don’t fixate on it (you’ll know if your brow starts furrowing). When thoughts or feelings enter your mind, try to simply notice them, and then return to silently reciting the mantra. See if you can set aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to practice. Several traditions suggest staying with one mantra for several months before switching to another, in order to deepen your practice and cultivate a sense of ease, presence, and peace.

“As a beginner or intermediate practitioner, it’s important not to assume that you have the power to enliven a mantra through a thought or awareness,” says Kempton. “You have to practice, often for quite a while, before a mantra really opens for you.”

Years into her spiritual chanting practice, Malia, who credits the Sanskrit mantra Ram with saving her life, has experienced deeper connection with the mantra. “It’s almost as if these mantras start to feel like your friends—even lovers,” she says. As she tours the globe performing in sacred-music and yoga festivals, she shares her love of mantra and its healing effects. “Sometimes I wish I could stand on the top of a building and shout it out to the world: Mantra is free! It has no side effects! It’s simple and so easy!”

See also Chanting 101: 6 Things To Know If You Don’t “Get” Kirtan


《 Adam Hawley – Love Song (03:54) 》

《 Adam Hawley – Love Song (03:54) 》



#電影 #影評 #縮小人生






曾經執導過《內布拉斯加》、《繼承人生》、《尋找新方向》,獲得兩次奧斯卡最佳改編劇本獎的導演Alexander Payne,再次發揮了他略帶黑色幽默的敍事風格,讓觀眾隨著電影男主角Paul ( Matt Damon飾)一起經歷一段「小小小人」的奇幻心靈之旅。


電影一開場,一位挪威的科學家在一場國際發表會上,大力宣揚這個世代普遍的「人口爆炸」焦慮,因為環境被過度開發導致的污染、資源短缺,故研發了一種可以將人體縮小至5吋 (12.7公分)來降低物質的需求量,繼而減少能源消耗,做到節能減碳救地球。表面上看來,這項全新的科技的確可以暫緩生態的消耗,此外,花費不多就能過幸福的縮小人生,也吸引一些有經濟壓力的族群加入已經開發一陣子的「小人國樂園」。顧名思義,這些微型社區有著上流社會所必備的標準配備:豪宅、泳池、及數不盡的購物商場,及可供休憩的球場和娛樂設施。

比起平凡壓抑、仰人鼻息的上班族生涯,Paul和妻子Audrey 也著實對這樣的華麗文宣產生了嚮往,可以用一小筆錢,便在迷你社區過上一輩子不愁吃穿的富足人生,還可以用「救地球」的名號來美化自身的動機,何樂不為?(事實上,身邊朋友一個個加入縮小手術的行列,而且看起來自此就吃香喝辣、無憂無慮??)









關鍵字: 影評電影日常生活


《 Adam Hawley – Cruisin’ (04:21) 》

《 Adam Hawley – Cruisin’ (04:21) 》

Why Sun Salutations Are So Much More Than Just a Warm-Up

Why Sun Salutations Are So Much More Than Just a Warm-Up

You deserve to reap the profound rewards of the humble (yet powerful) Namaskar.
Shiva Rea performs Jaya Mudra.

Yoga Journal’s new online Master Class program brings the wisdom of world-renowned teachers to your fingertips through a new online workshop and live webinar every six weeks. This month, Shiva Rea presents ancient and unique Sun and Moon Salutation variations. If you’re ready to get a deeper perspective on Namaskars and maybe even meet a lifelong yoga mentor, sign up now for YJ’s year-long membership.

When was the last time you savored Sun Salutations rather than performed them on autopilot? No shame, we get it: As one of the most common vinyasa sequences, it’s easy to take for granted their ability to open and prepare your body for deeper practice. But mentally detaching until later in your flow may mean you’re losing out on some major feel-good components.

The Deeper Meaning of Namaskar

In fact, it’s worth considering that the Sanskrit name Namaskar was slightly short-changed when it was translated to Salutation. The root of nama, meaning “to bow” and in some cases “not me,” tells a more meaningful story about the sequence’s original purpose. “Of course it is a beautiful greeting, but it was also meant to be a transformative experience to release the burden of our personal obsessions and just come back to essence,” says Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Vinyasa Yoga and Master Class teacher.

“I think the warm-up aspect of it is the part where we miss the deeper nutrition, and that’s why I try to engage more soulfulness and meditation in Namaskars from the very beginning. The power of a Namaskar is in its refined simplicity; the combination of movements creates a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual syncopation,” she adds.

The Power of the Sun Salutation

As physical exercise, Sun Salutation is a contained, all-in-one practice in itself. As you progress through its steady sequence of opposing actions—front-body offerings followed by the surrender of forward folds—a Namaskar integrates all the counter-asanas necessary to feel balanced in your body by the time you complete it, Rea says.

From there, it lives up to its original definition, paving a path to the receptive state of meditation. “One characteristic of our time is being ahead of the moment. A Namaskar is a pause, a return to center, a new relationship to breath that’s so extraordinary you can begin feeling a deeper rhythm taking you into this whole-body movement meditation,” says Rea. “Then it begins to stimulate our awakening and devotion. It’s not the outer shell of the movement, but the inner flow, particularly the movement meditation, that brings on the state of transformation. “

See also Shiva Rea’s Prostration Practice for Summer Solstice

Shifting into rasa, an embodied communication with that within and around us, isn’t as easy as speeding though a bunch of Sun Salutes. “We can’t just come into a state of compassion and peace if we were perhaps right before that in an administrative mode or you were just attending to the ten thousand things on your list," Rea says. But when you approach Namaskars with more attention and reverence, you can more easily experience the feeling state called bhava, which Rea calls “a chance to cultivate the soil from which movement meditation [and rasa] will grow.”

Simple yet deliberate actions can guide you into this profound state, even before you begin circling your arms overhead. Rea suggests simply turning your mat and body to face the sun or moon during practice can shift consciousness, as well as placing your hands at the heart and parting the knuckles slightly to create an inner altar.

Inspired to learn more?
Experience this transformative practice and integrate the inner and outer benefits of meditation into your Sun Salutations through Shiva Rea’s six-week Master ClassSign up now.


《 Adam Hawley – Detroit (04:48) 》

《 Adam Hawley – Detroit (04:48) 》

Two Angle House by Megowan Architectural is all about contrast and contemporary design

Two Angle House by Megowan Architectural is all about contrast and contemporary design

Architects: Megowan Architectural
Location: Mount ElizaVictoriaAustralia
Year: 2018
Photo courtesy: Tom Blachford

“The Two Angle house, located in the seaside town of Mount Eliza in Victoria, Australia, is about contrast. The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape.

The two angles within the layout of the design are immediately expressed upon entry into the house. A large concrete blade wall extends due west out to frame a double height view of the bay while the prevailing angle of the surrounding subdivision is expressed through a spotted gum timber lined ceiling which leads to the main living area of the house.

Joinery volumes, the direction of decking and soffits, the board forming in the concrete, custom elongated strip lighting and large cantilevered decks all extend westward reinforcing and framing the principal western view. In angling off the suburban grid, the house was able to stretch from east to west across the site allowing for optimal passive solar design to every habitable room.

The house presents to the street as a modest single family home in scale with many of the older post war homes which exist in the area. It is only upon entry that the true scale of the house is revealed.

The principle areas of the house are designed on the top (second) floor allowing the two clients to live predominantly on one level despite the hillside nature of the site. The master bedroom was oriented to the north and east to allow for the clients to wake up with the sun and take in spectacular views across the bay to the Melbourne CBD. The kitchen living and outdoor terrace was oriented to the west and north to maximize the views and dramatically frame sunsets.


Extensive concrete in floors and walls acts as thermal mass while in slab hydronic heating further helps regulate interior temperatures. Water tanks, solar panels and solar hot water (both domestic and for pool) are some of the many sustainable initiatives.”

Thank you for reading this article!


《 Adam Hawley – While You Were Dreaming(Just The Beginning) (05:06) 》

《 Adam Hawley – While You Were Dreaming(Just The Beginning) (05:06) 》


#看展新禮貌運動 #京都国際写真祭 #蜷川實花













小野規展覽會場中放置的告示,指出「攝影的照片若要上傳至SNS時,請務必寫上以下說明:『KYOTOGRAPHIE 2018 小野規展 “COASTAL MOTIFS" 』」(攝影:陳怡秀)






《 Adam Hawley – I Don’t Mind (04:17) 》

《 Adam Hawley – I Don’t Mind (04:17) 》

新一代設計展 新銳設計師對環境的主張與提案

新一代設計展 新銳設計師對環境的主張與提案

環境資訊中心記者 賴品瑀報導









台中科大「有種」團隊,展出杯麵、筆記本形式的可食用植物種植組合,要推廣食農教育。成員劉妤瑄解釋,以泡麵形式設計,是想諷刺現代人吃的速成食品,往往有許多其實並不知道是什麼的東西,他們的設計要提醒人們「I know what I eat.」,親手種植自己的食物不但吃得有機健康,也縮短食物里程。



台藝大更有多組創作,有志一同的探討了物種保護、塑膠垃圾等環境問題。萬向欣的「under 1.0」是根據IUCN分級,手繪了12張不同地區的野生動物,以視力檢查表的形式,無危等級畫的最大,接著按等級逐漸縮小,「越小越看不到了」,萬向欣以此提醒許多生物面臨滅絕。




「FOOT PRINT」團隊挑選了台灣最常進出口的13項貨物,翻模後寄往世界各地,利用以覆寫紙包裝這些模型,在運送中碰撞擠壓的痕跡,把「碳足跡」視覺化,展示光鮮亮麗的全球化貿易,其實隱藏了巨大的碳足跡危害。







《 Adam Hawley – Can You Feel It? (04:12) 》

《 Adam Hawley – Can You Feel It? (04:12) 》



環境資訊中心記者 賴品瑀報導








「褐色的土」現身再利用廠 相鄰養鴨場恐染戴奧辛










黃煥彰表示,此養鴨場的情境與他在2009年所檢舉的高雄縣大寮鄉新厝路養鴨場非常相似,也是爐渣鋪地,而那時環保署環檢所測得兩件鴨肉樣品戴奧辛含量分別為4.05及11.2皮克/克脂肪,超過當時《食品中戴奧辛處理規範》中規定標準(2 皮克/克脂肪)的2至5倍。






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