• What is Yoga?

    Do you feel like you’re constantly under pressure? Are you struggling to find a way to relax and de-stress? If so, yoga may be the perfect solution for you! Yoga is a practice that has been around for centuries, and it offers a wide range of benefits for both the body and mind.

    One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is that it’s simply a form of exercise. While it’s true that yoga does involve physical movement, there’s much more to it than that. Yoga is actually a holistic practice that can help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

    What is the true origin of yoga?

    There is no one answer to this question, as yoga has been around for centuries and has been practiced in many different ways. However, the most common belief is that it originated in India over 5000 years ago. The word “yoga” itself comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, which means to unite or connect. Yoga is believed to be a way to connect the body, mind, and spirit.

    When you practice yoga, you are working to unite all aspects of yourself. You are using your body to move and stretch, your mind to focus and concentrate, and your spirit to connect with something larger than yourself. Yoga is a way to harmonize all aspects of yourself, and when you achieve this balance, it can lead to greater peace and happiness.

    What are the benefits of yoga?

    There are many benefits to be gained from a regular practice, including:

    – improved flexibility

    – increased strength and muscle tone

    – better circulation

    – reduced stress and anxiety

    – improved breathing capacity

    – enhanced focus and concentration

    – greater peace and calmness

    These are just a few of the many health benefits of yoga that scientists and individual practitioners have discovered.

    What are the different types of yoga?

    There are many different types, but here’s a list of some of the most common ones.

    Hatha

    Hatha yoga is a physical form of yoga that focuses on postures or “asanas”. The purpose of these postures is to align the body and mind and to promote relaxation.

    Vinyasa

    Vinyasa is a flowing form of yoga that links breath with movement. This type of yoga is often referred to as “flow” yoga, because of the continuous flow from one pose to the next. Vinyasa yoga is a great workout, and it can also be very relaxing.

    Ashtanga

    Ashtanga is a rigorous form of yoga that involves doing a set sequence of poses. It emphasizes the idea of using yoga as a form of moving meditation and the idea of using yoga as a guide to your entire life, not just an exercise program. It may seem difficult at first, but there are modifications for all of the poses in Ashtanga to make the practice accessible to everyone who wants to practice.

    Bikram

    Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga that is practiced in a room that is heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram yoga classes follow a set sequence of strenuous poses. The temperature in the room makes you sweat to detoxify the body and make your muscles looser and easier to stretch.

    Iyengar

    Iyengar yoga is a type of Hatha yoga that emphasizes precision and alignment in the poses. Props like blocks, bolsters, and straps are often used in Iyengar classes to assist students with finding the proper alignment in poses. Iyengar yoga is a great choice for beginners, as the poses are generally simpler than in other forms of yoga.

    Kundalini

    Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening the Kundalini energy that is said to be sleeping at the base of the spine. This is done through a series of repetitive movements and breathing exercises. Kundalini yoga is a great choice for beginners, as the poses are generally simpler than in other forms of yoga.

    Restorative

    Restorative yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on relaxation and stress relief. Poses are generally gentle and supported by props like blankets and bolsters. This type of yoga is a great choice for people who just want to calm their nerves and chill out.

    Yin yoga

    Yin yoga focuses on stretching the connective tissues around the joints. Poses are held for anywhere from one to five minutes. Bolsters, blocks, and blankets are used to help you relax into the poses and make them more comfortable.

    Power yoga

    Power yoga emphasizes strength and stamina. Poses are often more physically demanding than in other forms of yoga, and the classes are usually faster-paced. Power yoga is a great workout if you want to focus on speeding up your heart rate and getting a good sweat during your practice.

    AcroYoga

    AcroYoga is a type of yoga that incorporates partner work and acrobatic elements. Poses are often done with the help of a partner, and they can be both physically and mentally challenging. AcroYoga is a great choice for people who want to add an element of fun and playfulness to their yoga practice.

    No matter what type of yoga you choose, you are sure to benefit from the practice. Yoga can help to improve your flexibility, strength, stamina, and mental well-being.

    Yoga is a practice that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re looking to improve your physical health, mental wellbeing, or simply want to find a way to relax, yoga can help.

    So what are you waiting for? Start your yoga practice today. You can sign up for Omstars to get the expert guidance of some of the best yoga instructors teaching online today and start practicing at home.

    Join Omstars today and start your at-home yoga practice!

  • Finding a Yoga Home

    I was thirty-one when I plucked up the courage to walk into a yoga class studio to take a class. Because I was nervous I went early. As soon as I walked into the room I regretted that decision.

    My grandmother threw open the curtains, letting the morning light flood into the room. “Good morning world,” she’d call, her voice a singsong. This is how every morning would start when we spent the night at my grandmother’s house. My sister and I, still in our pajamas, would sit on the baby blue carpet eager to follow her instructions.

    I did my first downward dog poses on that blue carpet. We giggled our way through sun salutations. At the time, yoga was that funny exercise my grandmother did and that we did too when we spent nights at her house during summer vacation. When I became a teenager morning yoga with my grandmother stopped. She couldn’t wake me up in the morning anymore when I went to see her in the summer. I’d slink from beneath the sheets in the late early afternoon hours and run off to the beach with my cousins.

    The practice didn’t call to me again until I was in my early twenties and happened upon a woman teaching yoga on television. The first time I saw her I sat on the sofa and watched the class. The rail-thin woman with long blonde hair moved fluidly through a sequence of poses. There was something fascinating about her movements. I remembered those mornings with my grandmother and decided it was time to try practicing yoga again.

    In those days the instruction I received for my practice was limited to books and DVDs from the library and any programs I might be able to catch on the exercise station on TV.

    I was thirty-one when I plucked up the courage to walk into a yoga class studio to take a class. Because I was nervous I went early. As soon as I walked into the room I regretted that decision. Everyone else had shown up early, and I was the only brown face among them.

    I found a place for my mat and anxiously waited for the class to start. As I did I watched the people around me. Immediately one thing became very apparent to me that I didn’t have the right clothes or the right body to do yoga in a yoga studio. I felt drab in my faded leggings and tank top. I wasn’t fancy enough or thin enough.

    I enjoyed doing the yoga class itself, but I didn’t enjoy it any more than I did at home. So, I decided that live-in-person yoga classes weren’t for me.

    Since then I’ve been to in-person yoga classes maybe three times. Each time I’ve felt equally uncomfortable. Honestly, I don’t know when or if I will ever go to an in-person yoga class again. Frankly, at this point in my life, I don’t much feel like I need to. I found my yoga home online.

    The Benefits of Online Yoga Classes

    Practicing yoga online gives me access to a more diverse group of yoga teachers that I would have never even heard of if it weren’t for the internet.

    There are many different types of yoga and sometimes it’s hard to find a class that fits your needs, especially if you’re a yoga beginner. Online classes offer a variety of teachers and styles so you can find the perfect one for you. They’re an excellent solution for people who live in rural areas or who don’t have time to go to a studio.

    Practicing yoga online allows you to go at your own pace. If you’re not comfortable doing a headstand in class, you don’t have to feel pressure to do one. You can take your time and work up to the more challenging poses. Yoga is all about self-acceptance and there’s no need to feel embarrassed if you can’t do a pose yet.

    Online yoga classes are affordable. Plus, you get unlimited access to all the classes so you can switch things up if you get bored.

    I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time now. The diversity of teachers and styles keeps things interesting, and the affordability is great. If you’re looking for a way to start your yoga journey, or if you just can’t find the right class for you, I recommend giving online yoga a try. You won’t be disappointed!

    By Lovelyn Bettison

    Lovelyn Bettison has been everything from a massage therapist to a life coach, but her life didn’t start falling into place until she decided to put all other pursuits aside and follow her childhood dream of being a writer. When she’s not doing copywriting for companies like Omstars, she writes scary stories about things that go bump in the dark. She also runs a pretty popular newsletter about all things spooky and supernatural. If you like that sort of thing, go to her website to download a free copy of her novella “A Haunting at Cabin Lake.

    Photo by Valentina Sotnikova on Unsplash

  • Five Tips to Turn Any Room into Your Personal Yoga Sanctuary

    Walking in through the doors of a dedicated yoga center transports your mind and body directly into that familiar yoga zone. The atmosphere palpably impacts your sense. The dim lighting calms the nervous system and provides an antidote to the perpetual blue glow of phones and mobile devices. Sanskrit chanting acts as a portal to a timeless past rooted in India’s rich history.

    Incense wafts through the air and the smell ignites something within your subconscious. Each step into the yoga center seems to mirror the inner journey until you’re standing on your yoga mat, in the yoga room. And then, you’re ready to practice. You’re in the mood for yoga. That’s all well and good if you have the luxury of going to a yoga center for practice. But what about if you’re traveling and on a busy work schedule and all you have is your hotel room? Or, what if you need to practice yoga at home? It is possible to transform any room into your personal yoga sanctuary. There are some DIY methods to recreate the feeling of sacred space wherever you are. As a home yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher who travels and teachers, I practice at home and in hotel rooms almost all the time. It is a rare and happy occurrence when I find myself practicing yoga as a student in a dedicated class. I cherish those classes because they will me up! But, I’ve learned how to make any room into a space for spiritual practice. I’m sharing a few of my tips below. Feel welcome to adjust as needed and add your own tips in the comments below.

    1. De-clutter

    Ok this sounds basic, but it really makes a difference. If you’re unrolling your yoga mat in a small hotel room the first and perhaps most important thing you can do is to clean up a little. The same goes for shared spaces at home. If you’re thinking of making your living into a mixed-use yoga space, decluttering is crucial to give you peace of mind while practicing. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world and it will be exceedingly hard to relax and turn your mind inward when you’re surrounded by a mess. For a mixed-use shared home yoga room, try finding some furniture that doubles as storage. When you’re not using non-yoga items like toys, magazine, hats, or shoes, store them neatly away.

    2. A Nice Shawl

    This may be entirely personal, but I travel with a large shawl that I wrap myself in for meditation and lie under for final relaxation (called Savasana in many styles of yoga). This blue woven shawl comes from India and having this item with me brings a feeling of coziness and safety to wherever I am in the world. Yes, I realize I’m basically saying I carry the adult’s version of a blanket around the world in my suitcase. But it really helps create that feeling of sacredness for me.When I unpack in a new hotel room I take out my shawl and fold it up near the spot where I will practice and mediate. When you walk into any room at my home you’ll see blankets and shawls folded up and neatly kept over sofas, and most importantly, stacked in my home yoga room. If your yoga room is also doubling as your living room, try keeping a neatly shawls close by the area where you’re going to practice.

    3. Mood Lighting

    Changing the intensity of the light makes a big change in the feeling of a room. If you crack up harsh fluorescent lights it can feel jarring for the nervous system. Try installing dimmers in your home, or, even better, smart lights that can change both color and intensity. If your yoga room is also your home office, you might find that you like a pure white light during work hours, but prefer a soft white or even amber toned light for yoga and meditation. When I’m traveling there are not often dimmers available, let alone app-controlled smart light bulbs, so my next best solution is indirect lighting. If I’m going to unroll my yoga mat for practice and meditation near the bed, I’ll turn on a light in a different part of the room, preferably one with a lampshade. Or, sometimes I’ll leave the light in the bathroom on and partially close the door. It really depends on the hotel and the lighting. They key with lighting is to find the perfect balance between so dim so you feel sleepy and so bright so your nervous system is not able to calm down.

    4. Smells

    I love scented everything. Whether essential oils, scented candles, incense or good quality perfume. But that also means I’m really sensitive to smells. There is one scent that I’m very picky about when I’m about to practice yoga or sit for meditation—food. I’m sure you can imagine why. The last thing you want to be while practicing yoga or aiming for a deep meditation is to be hungry. Sometimes smelling food starts an automatic hungry reflex. Whether I’m at home or in a hotel room I clear out the surrounding scent with fresh air, either by opening the windows or turning on a fan. I make sure that all food items are stored properly and all dirty dishes are placed in the dishwasher or cleaned. Then, I’ll either light a scented candle, burn some incense or diffuse some essential oil. If I’m traveling and I don’t have an oil diffuser what can also work is to place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball near the fan or AC vent.

    5. Mat, Props and Cushions

    While I travel with a shawl stuffed into my suitcase, I do not often travel with a full set of yoga accessories. If I’m traveling and teaching I often borrow a yoga mat. Some hotels have yoga mats in the gyms. But there is a really great trick for yoga in hotel rooms—use a big bath towel right on the carpeted floor. Don’t let not having a mat stop you from practicing while traveling. Using a big bath towel is about as big as a yoga mat and will give you good traction and cushioning. For a cushion, grab a pillow off the sofa, chair or bed. For props, be creative—instead of a block, use a book or a bottle. Instead of a bolster, use a pillow. For your home yoga room, there is no need to go out and purchase the full set of yoga accessories. Instead, think consciously about what tools you actually use in your practice. Then choose the ones that will truly assist your practice and keep them neatly stored in a designated area along with your yoga mat.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Omstars Yoga Challenges of 2019

    When you practice yoga, you can literally help change the world. Part of being a yogi means giving back to the community, and here at Omstars, our favorite way to give back is through hosting challenges that allow us to collect and donate money to carefully selected causes that we believe are helping to make the world a better place.

    The 30-Day Yoga Journey with Kino MacGregor

    “Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention.”  –Kino MacGregor

    The path to yoga begins one day, one pose, and one breath at a time. The beginning of 2019 brought yogis all over the world together to experience different styles of yoga such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin, and more. Omstars and Liforme donated $1 to Yoga Gives Back for every person who joined the challenge in the New Year. This important charity is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to help impoverished children and mothers in India–the birthplace of yoga.

    Ashtanga Basics Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Experiences in yoga can change your life. In March of 2019, Omstars members joined Kino MacGregor for a 10-day yoga challenge. This 22-Class, Ashtanga adventure included live practices and on-demand classes that focused on foundational postures and movements found in the Ashtanga Primary Series. A few lucky winners of the challenge were treated to prizes such as an Ashtanga Yoga Card deck by Kino MacGregor and Shambhala Productions or a delicious tea set from Fifth Limb Wellness.

    Everyday Joy of Yoga Challenge with Kaitlyn Kreitzman

    May of 2019 gave Omstars members The Everyday Joy of Yoga Challenge. Challenge host, Kaitlyn Kreiztman, included invigorating flows and restorative yoga into this 9-day yoga journey. To kick off this challenge, Kaitlyn provided a gentle yoga blog sequence to supplement this course.  This challenge supported the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a foundation that supports families and individuals affected by mental health trauma. Omstars donated $1 for every signup to AFSP. A few prize winners were treated to subscriptions to In The Moment Magazine. The Omstars community came together to raise awareness for this outstanding foundation through the healing practice of yoga. Kaitlyn led members through a variety of yoga methods that focused on alignment, breath work, meditation, and yoga philosophy.

    Practice of Peace Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    “This challenge will guide you through contemplative and movement practices to calm the mind, open the heart and begin your journey into the inner world.” – Kino MacGregor

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor, brought the Practice of Peace to everyone in this 20-day yoga challenge. Featuring one yoga practice and one meditation each day, challenge participants were given the tools to cultivate a peaceful mentality in June of 2019. This challenge supported Yoga Gives Back. For every participant, Omstars and Liforme donated $1 to this charity which helps give young women and children in India the power to build sustainable livelihoods. Together the community helped to share peace throughout the globe.

    Ashtanga Home Practice Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor reinspired the home practice with the Ashtanga Home Practice Challenge in September of 2019. For 16 days, challenge participants were guided through courses that help develop and structure a safe home practice in the Ashtanga Yoga method. Challenge participants learned to honor their personal limitations by exploring physical, mental, and emotional capacities. As an insightful bonus, Shanna Small joined the challenge to teach five live classes that examined a variety of poses and movements, sharing variations to suit all shapes and sizes. Challenge prize winners were treated to prizes such as titles from Kino MacGregor’s book and DVD collection, Omstars by Liquido clothing, and vegan, hand-crafted soaps by Smithmade Essentials. Yogis all over the world shared the inspiration to keep coming back to the mat, everyday.

    Be Strong Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    “Learning how to be happy with failure is one of the lessons of strength.” –Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor gave participants the tools to safely progress in developing strength. Sharing personal experience from years of practice and exploration, Kino designed this 13-Day challenge in November of 2019 to integrate the mind, body, and soul. These 13 classes build you up from the basics and take you all the way to the peaks of the strength. Yogis all over the world were guided through strength-building drills that develop foundational strength while reinforcing the connection to one’s inner being.

    Yoga IS Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Start the new year with a journey into the heart of yoga. Every day for 30 days, receive a new accessible practice designed to guide you on a process of inner awakening. Each class will be centered around a pose with modifications to make it truly accessible and offer key lessons about the meaning yoga can have in your life. This challenge is appropriate for all levels from beginner to the most advanced. Commit to the Yoga Is Challenge to experience more peace, happiness, and love in your life.

    Sign Up Today!