Santosha – Contentment – Day 1 – August 2021 Yoga Challenge Day 7

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white mountain wildflowers in grassy green field in front of gray lichen covered boulder - santosha contentment happiness satisfaction Quote: Happiness is a state of mind. It's just according to the way you look at things. - Walt Disney
Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things. – Walt Disney

Good Morning Yogis! Our challengers are learning to remember to incorporate Santosha / contentment with Asana practice. We have discussed that Yoga is a practice, and I find nearly all of the limbs to be challenging. I personally have a hard time with Santosha, finding it especially difficult to “turn off” to just relax and enjoy where I am. So, today you have the choice between Santosha in the present moment, or Santosha with your Asana practice today.

PS Today is also the Lion’s Gate peak – perhaps practice some Lion’s Breath Pranayama!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice for Santosha Day is either bringing Santosha into our Asana practice, or focusing on the present moment, ideally in nature.

Yogis practicing Santosha with their Asana practice – perhaps try a challenging balance pose! Here is a list of balance-focused Asanas and instructions from Yoga Journal.

For those Yogis practicing the finding the happiness in the “now” – here are some of our best tips!

  • Go on a walk, and perhaps literally stop and smell the roses.
  • Take a run and feel the wind on your face.
  • Being around water is especially calming, maybe head out for a walk down the beach, around a lake, or by a river.
  • Go for a hike and appreciate the beauty around you rather than focusing on finding a perfect selfie spot.
  • Since we are still in the days of social distancing, maybe pack a picnic and head to the back yard or a nearby park.
  • Read a book on your deck or by the window.
  • Sit quietly, and go through all of your senses one by one to appreciate your surroundings.
  • Any way that feels right for you to get out of your head, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you.

PS calmly notice when your thoughts drift back to the past or forward to the future. Try to bring yourself back to the present moment by focusing on the sight, sounds, smells, taste, or feel of your surroundings.

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Do not push yourself to pain on your Yoga Journey! Many Yogis of all levels embrace all kinds of blocks and props. Do not hesitate to grab a couch pillow for extra support, a block for extra support or when you cannot reach the floor, or a strap for extra arm-reach and leverage.

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Please comment and share how your Santosha Day went focusing on living in the now. Please share any favorite practices or tricks! Always remember, be kind!

Pranayama – Breathing – Day 2 – Simhasana Pranayama – Lion’s Breath

Good morning Yogis! It is Pranayama Day today, the Fourth Limb of Yoga. The last few Pranayama techniques we have discussed were cooling breaths, and today we will focus on a warming breath technique.

We are going to talk about Simhasana Pranayama (sim-HA-sa-na PRA-na-YA-ma) Lion’s Breath today.. fitting for Leo Season.. Happy Birthday Leo Yogis! This is a technique frequently used by my favorite Yoga Instructor in Atlanta (I miss you Olivia! You rock!). She would usually end her classes with this, and the entire room would erupt in laughter. This is a great Pranayama to try first thing in the morning, with children, or whenever you need a little stress relief.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is trying Simhasana Pranayama or Lion Pose Breath. This is a Pranayama that should be performed in a particular Asana pose, not just a normal seated position.

Start in a kneeling position (Virasana – Hero’s pose), or in a seated position with legs crossed if more comfortable. Press your palms into your knees, and straighten your arms to open your chest. This is Simhasana, or Lion’s Pose.

Virasana – Hero’s Pose
Straighten arms to Simhasana – Lion’s Pose

Start with Diaphragmatic Breathing for 3 full inhales and exhales to get your deep breathing going. Keep your eyes closed during this time.

Now we’ll start our Lion’s Breath! Make sure your eyes are closed, and do another full inhale through your nose.

On your exhale, open your eyes and mouth, and stick your tongue out as far as possible as you contract your throat to slightly say “HA” on the exhale. I always feel like I am channeling a Chinese Guardian Lion Statue!

After exhaling completely with your lion face, close your eyes and mouth for another calm inhale. Repeat this exhale for 3-10 eyes open, tongue out Lion’s Breaths.

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Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Simhasana Pranayama exercise! Have you ever tried this technique as a standalone or during your Asana practice? Always remember, be kind!