Yogic Breath Work + Pranayama

May 24th, 2011

We are breathing nearly every second of our lives—in, out, in out—not paying much attention to the act of it.  But, when we breathe on autopilot, we are not getting as much oxygen flow to our bloodstream and tissues as we could if we were breathing mindfully.  Physically, proper breathing improves heart, lung, and brain function while increasing cell production.  Emotionally, it helps relax anxiety and calm depression.

So, pulling a page from the school of yogic and meditative breathing techniques, we explore how to control our breath, not only during our physical pursuits, but in our daily life as well.


You will hear this phrase often in a yoga class: “take a deep, cleansing breathe.”  What they are speaking of is the enhanced intake of breath that then circulates the path of our internal body, coming in the mouth, falling to the abdomen and returning through our cells.  It is also called Pranayama — pran translating as “life force,” yama meaning “control.”  In short, when you extend and restrain your breath, you are ultimately in complete control of every physical and emotional aspect of your body.  Breath control is the very pinnacle of Hindu yoga teachings.  And if you have ever pushed through a grueling yoga class, you know that reaching certain postures occurs only when you are really breathing. When instructors say, “bring in your Pranayama breath,” it is a call to create a whisper, coming from the depth of your throat.  It sounds like someone taking a deep sigh of annoyance. Contrarily, it is a meditative, rhythmic breath that helps you measure the equality and expansion of breath in the body.

To produce a deep cleansing breath

First, control the flow of oxygen to your body (this is mindful breathing.)  Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose, letting the length of your exhale match the length of your inhale.  Extend each breath, exhaling every last bit of air from your abdomen, until you are taking long deep breaths in and out.  Your diaphragm should noticeably expand and retract.  This action brings oxygen to your solar plexus (the yellow chakra.)   In yoga, the solar plexus chakra sits at the center of your core,  governing emotional health.


- Stefanie Payne

Yoga in Bali : A Luxury Tour for Body and Mind

May 17th, 2011

Yoga World Tours operates out of Europe, Asia and the US but consider themselves a close-knit “yoga family” and they want you to become a part of it. The meaning of yoga is to “Unite” and this tour company does just that, by customizing 11 to 22 day yoga, pilates and tai chi tours for small groups. With tour destinations to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Morocco, Japan, Indonesia (Bali), Thailand, New Zealand and Europe, YWT provides all-inclusive accommodations, including transportation, guided excursions, workshops and meals. Their network of yoga instructors offer innovative teaching and healing techniques designed to inspire the beginner or deepen the practice of a more seasoned yogi. Along with the instructors, two tour leaders are assigned to each group. Tour leaders speak the language of the chosen destination and have knowledge of the most unique settings for each practice that only locals would have insight to. Planning your next vacation with Yoga World Tours will provide culture and luxury for your mind, body and spirit.

Let’s go to Bali!

Day 1- Depart the US

Arrive in Bali late afternoon/early evening. A 20- minute drive from the airport willbring you to the hillsides called Bukit, where dinner and a massage await you. Known for views of the Indian Ocean and captivating sunsets, Bukit is the starting point of your yogic journey.

Day 2- First full day in Bali, Island of the Gods begins with a restorative yoga session followed by swimming and a guided walk through the island’s reef pools then dinner along the Jimbaran Bay.

Day 3- Final day in Bukit begins with 7:30 am yoga followed by a beach breakfast and then it’s on to the Jengala Ceramic Gallery for a ceramic painting workshop. The day ends with dinner and a performance of a traditional Kecak Dance.

Day 4- Early morning yoga is followed by a departure from Bukit to Ubud. After lunch and a massage, tour leaders will take you through this arts and crafts village for shopping. The evening will end with a Jegog performance.

Day 5- Spa treatments will be offered after morning yoga. A day of silver making workshops and exploration of the town will end with jazz entertainment at a local nightspot.

Day 6- Yoga will lead into an exhilarating rafting trip down the Ayung River. Your afternoon will be free for exploring Ubud or relaxing by the pool.

Day 7- Last day in Ubud will be a full one. After yoga and check out a bus will take you to the active Kintamani volcano where you will enjoy lunch and an exotic fruit tasting overlooking Mount Batur.

Day 8- Yoga will be held at a water palace today. A hike through the rice fields of Tirta Ganga will be followed by a late lunch in a Japanese garden.

Day 9- Today’s yoga session will focus on opening the chest as the rest of the day will be spent scuba diving in Indonesia’s world famous coral reef. Fresh fish will be served with the sunset.

Day 10- After yoga in a botanical garden you will depart to Bedugal, a mountainous region where you will stay in villas along Lake Buyan.

Day 11- Today you will visit a floating temple and enjoy lake exploration through a boat or kayak. Afternoon will be spent strawberry picking and relaxing before traveling to the final destination, Canggu.

Day 12- Yoga on the beach will start your day of pampering! Shopping and walking through Canggu will be rewarded with a foot massage and sunset cocktails along the shores of the beach at Ku De Ta.

Day 13- More pampering-after all this is a luxury vacation! Yoga, a body scrub, massage and manicure/pedicure. Your last night will be spent by enjoying live music and a bbq on Echo Beach.

Day 14- Depart Bali, Canggu Airport


- Mary Allen | Owner, Yoga Life
JustLuxe Contributor


Strala Yoga

May 2nd, 2011

"Slim, Calm, Sexy" by Tara Stiles

She has been called by the New York Times, a “rebel” yogi, she is the personal instructor of Deepak Chopra… Tara Stiles, owner of and instructor at Strala Yoga in New York City, has applied a slightly different approach to yoga, focusing on the physical benefits above the spiritual aspect of this ancient bodywork.  Her classes are aimed at preventative care, cross-training for athletes, an improved physique and better overall health.

But her controversial style has earned her negative press by a slough of yoga bloggers, some calling her a “sellout,” citing that her mission to “bring yoga to the masses” is merely a marketing ploy, and diverts too greatly from what yoga is meant to be: a lifestyle.  The controversy is quite simple, yoga purists find her methods disrespectful to the practice, while newbies to yoga sing her praises for opening the door to a yoga studio without requiring that you make it a life’s work.  Her book, “Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga” was written for 21st century yogis (or non-yogis, rather,) who perhaps don’t have the time or desire to become devout practitioners, but want to reap the rewards of this amazing body practice.

Read an overview of Strala and decide for yourself…

“Reinvent your body with Yoga from Tara Stiles. With her help I have done precisely that.” – Deepak Chopra, MD, author of Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul.

Yoga at Strala is designed to clear the body and mind, and connect people with the intuition to find their own best health and spirituality. Strala challenges beginners and seasoned practitioners alike to move slowly with their breath, building both attention and strength while letting go of obstacles.

Practicing yoga authentically carves out a healthy, fit body and mind, removing psychological and physical blocks that hold you back. It also puts you in direct contact with your intuition, individuality, creativity, and highest potential. Everything is there for you, it’s up to you to practice.

Strala has been profiled in the New York Times, Times of India, Times of London, and featured in publications including Elle, Lucky, Women’s Health, and Vanity Fair and many others.


Introduction by Stefanie Payne


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