Sitting: The New Smoking

Did you know that the average American worker now spends more time sitting each day than they do standing?  The effects are evident. 2/3 of our population is overweight or obese, stress and preventable diseases are at an all-time high and for the first time in U.S. history, our children face the chance of being less healthy than their previous generation.

Sitting has been called by some the new “smoking” and here’s why:

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6 Easy-to-Do Meditations to Unwind After a Stressful Day

Photo credit: Dingzeyu Li

Stress is inevitable. As humans, we encounter different forms of stress on a daily basis, and how we choose to handle them can determine our long-term physical and emotional wellbeing.

Studies show that over 97 percent of employees across UK and Ireland report feeling stressed. Meditation has become increasingly popular in the modern world. This ancient wisdom technique that has been practiced by yogis and Buddhists for centuries has a profound effect on reducing stress throughout the body. Here are six easy-to-do meditation techniques, all of which can be done sitting or lying down. Try them out and see which one is right for you:

1. So Hum Meditation

So Hum Meditation

Photo credit: Aubin A Sadiki

When you inhale, silently chant So. When you exhale, silently chant Hum. The sound So means “I’m that” and the sound Hum means “That I’m.” When repeating these words, they can help us find calmness and focus.

2. Breath Meditation

Breath Meditation

Photo credit: Jared Rice

Keep your breath deep and relaxed. Notice the beginning, the end and the pauses between your inhales and exhales. Each pair of inhale and exhale is considered one round. Work your way up to ten rounds. If you’ve lost count, start again from the beginning.

3. Visualization

Visualization

Photo credit: Daiwei Lu

An easy meditation technique is to picture a peaceful being, image or setting in your mind. It can be your spiritual teacher, the Om symbol, a quiet place, a person you feel comfortable and at ease with. Focus on the picture and let yourself embellish it as much or as little as you need to.

4. Japa Om

Japa Om

Photo credit: Ben White

Japa means recitation. You can either verbally or mentally recite the Om mantra. You will be immersed in the spiritual vibration of this sound or mantra. The sound of Om is considered the highest mantra of all; it represents the sound of the divine.

5. Third Eye Meditation

Third Eye Meditation

Photo credit: Felipe Luiz

Sit comfortably and bring all of your attention to the space between the eyebrows. This area is known as the Third Eye or the Seat of the Mind. You may see brilliant lights, colors or mental images. Remain calm and unconcerned. Maintain a steady inner gaze fixed on the space between the eyebrows behind the forehead.

6. Compassionate Meditation

Photo credit: Natalia Figueredo

This is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation technique called Tonglen or Giving and Receiving. It helps us develop compassion and the ability to be present for our own suffering as well as others’. Bring to your mind someone with whom you feel a deep connection: a parent, child, pet, your dearest friend – someone who is suffering.

As you inhale, visualize the suffering of your beloved as dark, hot smoke and breathe it in through your whole body. As the breath touches your heart, the black smoke spontaneously vaporizes into your heart space and transforms into an outbreath of mercy and healing.

You can also apply this to your own life. Think of a time when you have been hurt, angry, depressed, frustrated or afraid. Remember the feeling as vividly as you can, breathe it in as heavy, black, polluted hot fumes and let it out as cool, light and spacious healing breath. This meditation helps us embrace the truth that others are suffering just as we are. With this understanding, we can cultivate more compassion for those around us.

Meditation, when done consistently, can yield tremendous health benefits. Even if it is only five minutes per day, after a while, you’ll feel much calmer and experience a heightened mental clarity.

Author’s bio:

Annie Au

Annie Au

Annie is an avid Yin Yoga and Dharma Yoga teacher. Throughout the year, Annie travels around the world leading workshops, classes, trainings and retreats. She has certified over 190 yoga teachers worldwide. Annie is also a contributor at BookMeditationRetreats.com.

Mindfulness for Beginners

Many people, new to mindfulness and meditation, think of it as a state of mind that is absolutely devoid of thoughts and emotions, or something that gives one psychic powers, and so on.

What to Expect

The truth is that mindfulness is simply a practical way to remain in the present without judging our thoughts or experiences. The best way to practice mindfulness for beginners is to start observing what is occurring, without judging it.

Mindfulness gives you a chance to look at your own mind and choosing what is really important, rather than getting swayed by one thing or the other. This gives you the power to stay more calm and flexible.

How to Begin

The simplest mindfulness meditation is a sitting or a walking meditation. You slowly become aware of the sensations in your body, the sounds and smells around you and your thoughts, without judging. Some people like to add chanting and visualization.

Here are some effective mindfulness meditation tips for beginners.

Find a quiet place in your home or a park where you can walk and won’t be disturbed. Relax. Sit or walk upright with open eyes.

Bring your focus on your breath. Feel the air when you inhale and exhale. Notice how your chest expands and contracts with each breath. The goal is to simply be aware of your breath. Acknowledge any thoughts that arise and return your focus to your breath.

Start with short sessions of 5 to 10 minutes a day. Once you are comfortable, gradually increase the duration. Morning is a good time to begin your practice.

To learn more about mindfulness and private yoga in San Francisco, The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at [email protected] or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose. You can choose from Nick’s one-on-one or on-site corporate classes to bring mindfulness and stress-relief.

8 Steps To Developing an Amazing Meditation Practice

Over the next paragraphs, this blog will teach you 8 foundational steps to creating a sustainable and effective mediation practice. I’m going to sort through a lot of fluff that is out there around meditation and demystify it at the same time.

Much of this is  a commentary on thoughts from Swami Rama‘s book “The Path of Fire and Light” which outlines how to develop a meditation practice with the following 8 distinct steps.

Swami Rama just brushes over these steps, so it seems more like he’s giving a general skeleton and its the practitioners job to go put it to the test and figure it out for themselves.

Luckily for you, I’ve distilled much of it down. But, remember, meditation is the practice of self study. There is no substitute for that.

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No More Food To-Go

I recently discovered a new phenomenon in San Francisco: a seatless Starbucks.

In between appointments, I sought out Starbucks for 15 minutes to recharge. But there was nowhere to sit.

This was not because a swarm of entrepreneurs, remote employees and students had turned every table into a cubicle or library for the day. It was because there was no furniture.

It was your average-sized Starbucks. There was definitely room for tables and chairs. Yet there was none. It was kind of like standing in a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant.

Determined to not take my coffee to-go, I discovered a 2-foot-wide stoop underneath a window and squeezed my 6-foot-7-inch frame into this tiny box just above the floor.

I enjoyed 15 minutes of awkwardness and a weird stare from a businessman. Then, I got the message from the failure of furniture: You are not welcome here. Get your coffee and get the hell out.

Apparently having overstayed my welcome, I finished my coffee and fled.

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My American Dream: A Full-Circle Story of Realizing Success Without Stress, Part II

The person who I am today is a sum of my successes and failures. The past 10 years of my career have catapulted me to success, have plunged me into failure, and have lifted me to success once again. This is Part II of my story of expanding my relationship with yoga to expand the American dream and to expand my life. Read Part I and Part III.


From Failure to Freedom

My second superpower is my intuition. I do not analyze before I act. I just get a feeling – and go for it.

Within six months to a year of taking my first yoga class, I knew that I wanted to be a yoga teacher.

My practice had evolved from excruciating to emancipating. I remember forming triangle pose one class and thinking: “Huh. This is no longer miserable.” I developed flexibility, strength and body awareness. As I witnessed how quickly and deeply yoga was transforming me, I wanted to share it with others.
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My American Dream: A Full-Circle Story of Realizing Success Without Stress, Part I

The person who I am today is a sum of my accomplishments and mistakes. The past 10 years of my career have catapulted me to success, have plunged me into failure, and have lifted me to success once again. This is the first post in a three-part series that shares my story of redefining my relationship to stress using yogic principles to redefine the American dream and to redefine my life. Read Part II and Part III.


From “Success” to Stress

In early 2006, I found myself working my way up the corporate ladder. The only things on my mind were money and status. I had graduated from a top business school and was primed to become rich and powerful. I was also well on my way to becoming an asshole.

I have always known that I was born to be a leader. By my early 20s, I also had the car, the beach apartment, the clothes and the attitude to prove it. I felt as if I were on the path to achieving everything I had ever wanted.

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Get Your Back in the Game

This year’s blogs highlight the interconnection of all aspects of wellness. The more tools we have, the better our chances of creating the results we desire. We have learned this month that we can energize ourselves and can enhance our moods through the energy gains and drains activity or through backbends. We can also do so through exercise.

One energy source we typically overlook when exercising is our back. The back holds some of the largest muscles (latissimus dorsi, trapezius and erector spinae) in the body, yet they are also some of the most underused thanks to America’s favorite sport: sitting. Americans now spend more time sitting than they do sleeping. This weakens our back muscles, which destroys our postures.
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Be Selfish To Become Selfless

Last month, we learned how to create solid foundations for ourselves in yoga, exercise and nutrition. From this steady base, we can advance this month to building our energy. When we pour energy into stable containers, we can concentrate and direct it to effect the changes we want to see in our lives.

Let’s start with yoga. The practice in the West, on the exterior, can appear to be selfish and even narcissistic. Because it is. We focus predominantly on the physical qualities of yoga because of our obsession with the physical body, our desire to preserve the ego and the salability of sex. This self-obsession is fine. We are looking for something to attach to, to fill us, and to answer questions about ourselves.

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Squats Are For Mondays

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the importance of focusing on the feet and legs in your yoga practice. This week, we’ll learn how to do weighted squats in order to build a strong foundation for your exercise regimen.

Many yoga teachers shun weight lifting, and many weight lifters scoff at the idea of incorporating yoga into their exercise routine. I say everybody needs to relax and consider how different modalities can be beneficial regardless of their origins. If your goal is to hold Warrior II longer, then incorporate the squat to build leg strength. If you want to perform a full squat, then incorporate Warrior II to increase groin flexibility.
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