OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine is one of the world's leading yoga magazines. It is published monthly and is available on news stands and via the app store. It is packed full of tips and advice, yoga sequences, recipes, ideas, and much more.
David Kam guides us through Crescent Lunge, a dynamic standing pose that stretches and strengthens the lower and upper body.
Benefits of Crescent Lunge
The kinder sibling of Warrior 1 and a common connector between postures, Crescent Lunge can be very adaptable towards addressing different focuses to serve the changing needs of our practice. This ranges from heart opening, strengthening the quads and glutes, stretching the hip flexors, hamstrings and groin, to developing lower spine stability, improving balance and inner focus.
We tend to be preoccupied with only what is in front of us. This usually manifests in our subconscious habit to lean forwards in this posture, displacing the head and tailbone off our natural plumb line. For the same reason, the back foot can also be overlooked where the pinky toe is lifted, causing the big toe to bear additional stress.
Be mindful of keeping the front big toe in view from inside the front knee at all times and always return to your breath whilst in Alanasana. Ground the feet through your inhale and sigh yourselves into a deeper stretch.
To create a generous spinal extension, allow the reach of your arms to begin from the waistline towards the most gradual curvature across the body. In short, iron out the muffin tops or love handles, particularly in the lower back and the neck!
To minimise the occasional wobbles, draw your belly into the spine as you direct both the front knee and the back heel away from each other. Magnetise your inner thighs together as they are internally rotated and encourage particularly the front big toe to ground.
David Kam is an international movement artist and yoga teacher who guides people towards rediscovering their inner athletic artists through joy in movement (davidkamkiawei.com)
Adam Whiting takes us through Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III), a balancing pose that is often built to in a sequence.
Benefits of Warrior III
Warrior III, and other poses that strengthen the posterior chain (muscles running along the back of the body) are endlessly important in the practice of asana. In an age where we have the tendency to be over concerned with extreme ranges of flexibility and more flashy postures, we must include poses like Warrior 3 that focuses on strength and stability. When done correctly, this intense balancing posture will wake up the erectors and paraspinal muscles running parallel with the spine, which will protect the vertebra and intervertebral discs. In addition to this, the lifted leg will ignite the fibres of the lower glute max and hamstrings which will wake up the muscles around the sacroiliac joint, an area that is a common trouble spot for so many yogis.
The most common misalignment in Warrior III is to open the hips, elevating the lifted leg side of the pelvis higher than the standing leg side. While in the posture, briefly place your hands on your hips with your index and middle fingers touching your frontal hip points. This will give you the proprioception point to ensure that both frontal hip points are at an equal elevation. In addition to this, remember to continue to broaden through your collar bones, thinking cobra or locust in the upper body bringing the spine into slight extension.
Full Warrior 3 with your hands above your head is an extremely challenging variation. As with all poses, there are several modifications that you can take to experience all of the benefits while minimising the suffering. Start with your hands on two blocks, placed under your shoulders at their highest level. This will allow you to focus on finding the alignment in the back body without experiencing the load of the unsupported pose.
The next step is to slightly bend your standing leg and place your interlaced hands just above the knee. This will lift you a little higher and necessitate more strength and balance to hold the pose.
From there, you are ready to fly, letting the arms fly behind you, interlaced behind your back, or into the full warrior 3 variation with the hands extended over your head.
When it comes down to it, this is a balancing posture. On top of all of the strengthening aspects of the pose, your awareness also has to be fully involved with keeping yourself standing steady on one leg. Set your drishti on the floor in front of your mat to keep your head gently lifted, your spine in extension and your balance locked in.
What does the term ‘yoga community’ mean to you? By Paula Hines
Community suggests inclusion. Community is important – however self-sufficient one might be, none of us really make it through this life alone – yet, authentic community is not necessarily easy to find.
One person’s idea of community may be another’s idea of an exclusionary club. Not long ago, I met with a fellow teacher who was waxing lyrical about how they felt a great sense of community at a particular studio, which struck me because my experience of the very same place could not have been more different. Our conversation got me thinking about whether there really is such a thing as ‘the yoga community’, or if it actually comes down to individuals seeking out and sticking with people who are most like them? The latter can look like an exclusionary club to those who are not part of it.
We can exclude people without meaning to.
I remember taking a yoga friend along to a place I loved, where I felt incredibly at home, thinking they would love it too. Instead, I learned that they’d felt unwelcome, intimidated and completely separate.
Our conversation got me thinking about whether there really is such a thing as ‘the yoga community’, or if it actually comes down to individuals seeking out and sticking with people who are most like them?
If you are attending classes, who is teaching? Who is on the mat next to you? And maybe more notably, who is not there?
I ask myself these questions. As a teacher and student, I recognise that I am in a minority being black and fat. I also recognise that though most of the public classes I teach consist of a wide age range and I offer as many options as possible during classes, they are still quite ‘ableist’.
I enjoy using props whenever possible. Props can facilitate a different experience of a familiar pose plus, as a teacher, props allow me to be creative in making more poses accessible to more people. Alas, many places don’t have ample props such as chairs, bolsters or adequate wall space available, particularly if it is a large class. Some places have no props at all. In this situation, I admit I do struggle to make a class more inclusive; therefore, excluding people with limited mobility by default. I interrogate myself as I assess how I can do better: what and how I want to teach, and why? For me, this connects to the idea of authentic community.
Do you believe that everyone is welcome at the yoga classes you teach? If so, is this really true?
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk).
How attached are you to social media? If you have experienced the fear of missing out, perhaps it’s time to give your hashtags the big heave-ho. By Paula Hines
Do you take it or leave it? Or are you, like me, someone who could happily be on social media every day?
Social media can be lots of fun to participate in: a great way to connect with others, to stay in touch with family and your friendship circle both near and far… but it can become addictive. What does any of this have to do with yoga? It’s all about attachment.
Aparigraha – non-grasping or non-attachment – is the fifth of the five yamas (self-restraints), the moral disciplines described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Last summer I realised I’d become very attached to social media. I was losing too much of my time to it. I felt an obligation to post new ‘content’ every day (a lie I had told myself) and what had once been enjoyable became a chore at best and stressful at worst. I also observed that I had been doing a lot of mindless scrolling and coming away feeling miserable afterwards (studies have shown social media use can have a detrimental effect on mental health). I
decided to take a week-long social media holiday. I did not know at the time how profound my social media break would be.
Nothing bad will happen if you don’t post on social media today. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – is an illusion.
One year on, my social media use is still much reduced. I closed one account down and deleted another app from my phone. I’ve written letters to far away friends instead of long emails or texts. Straight after my social media holiday, I instigated Switch Off Sundays – one day a week off all social media, as well as taking two more week-long social holidays.
Nothing bad will happen if you don’t post on social media today. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – is an illusion. And if you’re using social media for your business, guess what? Your business will not collapse if you go one day without posting. There are people doing good work and thriving without a strong social media presence.
So, I ask again, how attached are you to social media? Or to frame it a different way, what feelings arise at the thought of not being able to use social media for a day? How would it feel if you left your phone at home, or the internet was out of your grasp? Without any judgement, simply observe what comes up for you. What does this teach you about yourself? Are you more attached than you thought?
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)
Benjamin Sears guides us through a variation on Cow Face (Gomukasana), adding in a side bend.
Benefits of Cow Face
Cow Face with Side Bend decompresses the lower back, stretches the side of the body and kidneys. Mitigates adrenal fatigue. Develops awareness of pelvic positioning and improves posture for seated meditation.
Knees not together, hips off-centre and toppling to one side instead of both hips down, no internal rotation in top arm shoulder, sinking into bottom arm shoulder.
Bring your right leg over your left until you feel a good fit between the front of your left knee and the back of your right knee. The bolt of your knees together facilitates a good fold at the hips.
It’s important that your knees are together and that your hips remain square.
Most people need to elevate their hips on a couple of blankets to make this possible. Lift your butt and stick it out. Protract and elevate the shoulder of the arm that’s in the air, which means roll your triceps towards your face and reach from your low back through fingers. This action might make your chest collapse towards the floor. Instead, inhale, lengthen your belly and telescope your ribs.
Meditate alternately on the following front and back pelvic triangles.
Back triangle: Sitting bones and coccyx move forwards
Front triangle: Hip bones and public bone move backwards.
In the centre between the two is your perineum, your third foot, the foot of meditation.
The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship in our lives. Self-love is the practice of showing up for ourselves daily, celebrating ourselves daily, and understanding that whatever we feel we need from others, we have the power to give to ourselves.
This month, we’re delving into the depths of self-care through physical wellbeing as a self-love practice, and how looking after your body can be one of the most obvious ways to show up for
yourself every single day.
Because if you’re not feeling good in your physical body, how can you truly be showing yourself that you are your number one priority?
Our bodies are the containers through which everything else happens. The breath, the thoughts, the soul, the movements we make; they all start inside our bodies. So the better we treat our
bodies, the better we feel in general.
When we treat our bodies poorly, we feel tired and weak, with not enough energy to pour love into ourselves.
Self-love and nourishment go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. Nourishing your body through regular exercise, good food and enough sleep are daily acts of self-love. As we fill
ourselves up with physical nourishment, we are announcing to ourselves and the world around us that we are important and we are worthy of being properly cared for.
How we treat ourselves is how we teach others to treat us. So if we’re not treating our bodies with care, what messages are we giving out?
The main thing we need to remember when looking after our bodies is to have the right intention.
If we see our physical wellbeing as a self-love practice, then exercising and eating well are done lovingly, not as a punishment so we can look a certain way.
Exercise with the intention of feeling good. Allow it to be a way to help you feel your best, to feel stronger, with more energy, rather than focussing on punishing your body for what you’ve eaten.
Find a movement practice you enjoy – there is no right or wrong – but doing something you hate just for aesthetic reasons isn’t very loving at all.
Fuelling our bodies with healthy foods that are fresh, whole and nourishing makes us feel better both physically and mentally.
But just like exercise, punishing yourself with a strict diet just to look a certain way isn’t very loving either.
Take the focus away from what you look like, and nourish your body instead as a celebration of all it does for you. As a celebration of how it keeps going tirelessly to support you in every aspect of your life.
Making exercise and nourishing food a priority isn’t about wanting to change our bodies. It’s about appreciating the bodies we live in right now, and acknowledging that they deserve as much love
And as we pour love into our bodies, that love spills out into the rest of our being.
Sabi Kerr is a yoga teacher and life coach. It’s her passion to support people in developing deep levels of self-love, so that they can move forwards and create their fullest lives (sabikerr.com)
A little yoga knowledge can be dangerous. By Victoria Jackson.
People sometimes ask my husband what it’s like being married to a yoga teacher. Honestly I had no idea this was an interesting question, but I guess people like to make stories in their heads about the yoga lifestyle and the level of dedication it might entail and the impact on one’s nearest and dearest. “Does she make you do yoga?” is often the follow-up question, proving that they’ve not met my hubby before: just try making him do anything he doesn’t want to do! But in case you’re still wondering… yes, he does do yoga! He doesn’t go to classes but he has a very lovely home practice – from what I’ve seen when I’m allowed to peek at him in full flow!
Although our practices are quite different, of course my yoga habits do rub off a bit and, just as my husband brings his work home in various ways, I also can’t help talk shop sometimes. Now I’m starting to realise that he has acquired some rather esoteric knowledge from me. His own practice is staunchly physical and he avoids what he calls all the philosophy and spiritual mumbo-jumbo. And yet he has a pretty good understanding of yoga history and the major lineages and he has even picked up some Sanskrit terms, albeit in a slightly confused way.
Sometimes he makes blunders that really amuse me. The funniest (bear with me, my yoga humour is an acquired taste) was when he mistook Utkatasana for Utkranti. He was muddling up the posture known in English as Awkward Pose or Chair Pose with the notion of ‘yogic suicide’ found in the traditional texts, where one can, it is said, migrate the soul into another’s body, effectively killing one’s physical self. While it’s not uncommon in a yoga class for there to be some confusion between Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), I’m grateful most students don’t know the word Utkranti – otherwise the consequences of misunderstanding would be much more interesting! Could this be the plot line for some yoga-zombie crossover film, I wonder?
I also find it hilarious that my husband can muddle up the perfectly standard pose Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the more esoteric Vajroli Mudra, whereby a man sucks semen or other fluids up through the urethra. While this is well-known detail in the Sanskrit yoga texts, as far as I know it’s not part of my husband’s regular practice! Nor is it something I teach, I should add. Though I’m still disconcerted to realise it must have featured in our dinner-time conversation at least once.
All in all I think it’s just as well my husband doesn’t attend public classes very often. A little knowledge is dangerous and who knows what chaos could ensue if he misunderstood an instruction from the teacher…!
Connect to your heart if you want to experience true love – and meditation is the best way to do just that, says Susie Pearl.
Around this time of year, we’re getting bombarded with messages from all directions to think about love and encouraged to buy gifts and cards for those we love on Valentine’s Day in every shop we go into in the high street.
A lot of people feel pressure to show their love to a partner or to be in love with someone. It can feel quite lonely if you don’t have a partner or a loved one, or maybe you are not getting on so well
with your partner.
Many people are searching for a soul mate, yet living so fast, without enough spare time or energy to devote to connecting with others, so feel they are missing out on true love.
We are all inevitably spending too much time on screens and technology. This usually means that we miss out on developing a heart connection – connecting with other humans at the heart
level in the way that we are designed to do to feel good.
Love is a fundamental emotion for all humans. The more we love, the more successful and healthy we become. The frequency of love has been measured at 528 Hz frequency. Dr Leonard Horowitz was the first to introduce the concept of 528 Hz as the healing frequency. This is the only frequency that can be felt in the organ of the heart. When we feel love, we are actually helping the body to heal.
When we connect the mind and the heart, we begin to connect the energy fields of the body as one, which leads to a feeling of more completeness and an increased sense of wellbeing and wholeness.
Meditation is a great way to connect into the heart. The more we move away from the logical, analytical mind, and move into more heart-centeredness, the more we can train ourselves to get into higher frequencies, which will help in all aspects of living.
That feeling of being in love is one that we spend most of our life chasing from a young age. Research shows we are happiest when we are giving to others, sharing, helping and providing real
connection and love to others. Giving someone our undivided attention and showing up in that moment is the greatest gift we can give to another human being.
When someone asks me, ‘What is love?’ I reply that it’s actually a feeling and a frequency.
When you meditate, you go inside quietly and ask your higher self to connect with your heart and bring you into a quiet space of loving acceptance. This is a place where there is no judgement and
the monkey mind can be dropped for a while; here, you can enjoy that pure sense of being in the flow with love. Feel where your heart is and allow your attention to go there. The more we focus into our heart space, the more this area will open and allow the energy of love to live in our bodies on a daily basis. Feel more, think less
Susie Pearl is a mentor, author and conscious living coach.
This warming and hearty soupis jam-packed with nutrients. Whip up a batch at the start of the week to have on hand whenever you need a speedy meal.
• 1 large red pepper
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 onions, peeled and chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 1 large sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
• 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
• 200g (1 cup) dried red lentils
• 400g tin chopped tomatoes
• 920ml (4 cups) water
• 1 vegetable stock cube
• 1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
• 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp sugar
• (3 cups) kale, trimmed
• Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat grill to medium. Halve the red pepper and remove the seeds. Place under the grill, skin side up and cook until the flesh is soft and the skin blistered and blackened. Remove from the grill and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until beginning to soften before adding the garlic, sweet potato and carrots. Continue to cook, stirring, for a few more minutes.
Peel the blackened skin from the pepper, and roughly chop the flesh before adding it to the pan. Add the remaining ingredients, except the kale, to the pan and mix to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender.
Add the kale to the pan and add a little extra water if a thinner soup is preferred. Cook for
Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve hot, with crusty bread for dipping.