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Tag Archives: self-care

Episode 44: Tiffany Cruikshank — Self Care Ideas for Spring’s Transition

Although most of us welcome the transition from winter to spring with open arms, it can actually be taxing on the body. This week Tiffany Cruikshank comes on to talk about ideas for making the transition a smooth one. Tiffany is a renowned yoga teacher and the founder of Yoga Medicine. She’s also a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and ran an acupuncture clinic at Nike headquarters for years. Tiffany offers her unique perspective on how to modify our diet, asana, breathwork, and meditation for spring. She also (very patiently) answers my questions about the ways that Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine overlap.

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Tiffany’s web site, Yoga Medicine, has a schedule of many different ways to study with her. (And registration is now open for this upcoming Shoulder: Anatomy, Dysfunction, and Treatment module!
Tiffany’s book: Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life

Ryan Cullinane — Smooth Space with Drums
Breakmaster Cylinder — Key Cards
Ryan Cullinane — Beach Vibes with Drums

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! I’m learning that it really does help others find it and it helps me to know which episodes resonate with you! You can also follow me on Twitter @yogalandpodcast.

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Pranayama Ninja

viloma pranayama breathing | How to Practice Pranayama | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

Hey everyone!

I have been so busy working on the Yogaland Podcast in the past year that I haven’t had much time to blog. I miss it and I miss you! I have grand plans to get back to it and to create more content this year that will serve you.

For today, I’m going to share something straight-up and simple that’s transpiring for me lately. Here goes: As the working mom of a preschooler with a husband who travels constantly, I can say that unequivocally, it’s my practice that keeps me sane and balanced. (Can I get an “Amen!”)

And so. I am making this commitment to myself and to ALL OF YOU(!) that this year I am NOT completely tossing my practice aside during those times when my schedule becomes excessively wacko or “I don’t have enough time.” I’m gonna try to be a self-care ninja and craftily fit it in where I can.

Lately, I have been surviving on pranayama. When things are going well in my life, a standalone breathing practice is the first thing I toss out the window. It’s not conscious — it’s simply that I’m breathing mindfully during asana and calming my mind during my meditations. So, it seems like it’s all covered.

But when things get exceptionally busy (and I won’t bore you with the details but I’ll just say that a kitchen leak has kept us out of our house for SEVEN WEEKS), pranayama breathing is a godsend. It feels like the perfect bridge between asana and meditation. It channels the prana through my body (like asana) and it settles my energy and thoughts (like meditation). It feels so familiar — because after all, we breathe all day long! But it also feels so special to just take a few minutes to witness this simple act that keeps us alive and ticking.

Here’s the other thing: It’s so portable. I have done pranayama practice during long meetings! Alone in my cubicle! During tense dinners with family! On boring dates! But, admittedly, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to set aside 5 minutes of ideally quiet, alone time to practice.

Lately, pranayama breathing has given me an energy buzz when I need it, a sense of warmth in my heart when I feel cold and paralyzed, or space between thoughts when I’m anxious. There are SO MANY pranayama breathing practices – some are more energizing (like kapalabhati) and others more soothing (nadi shodana). For me Viloma, aka Stop-Action Breath is my go-to to cultivate evenness and balance.

See also 5 Ways to (Re)Inspire Your Yoga Practice

When you do Viloma, you either inhale in three parts and exhale completely. Or do the opposite: You inhale completely and exhale in three parts. (You can also inhale and exhale in three parts.) It might sound confusing, but in practice it’s incredibly simple and soothing. I prefer to start with the latter approach because it’s easier to access and it tends to be more grounding. Here’s how:


1. Set a timer (that’s not too loud) for 5-6 minutes.

2. Find a comfortable seat – either cross-legged on the floor or on a chair with both feet touching the ground. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart.

3. Take a minute to deepen your inhalations and exhalations and to just “warm up” your breath.

4. Then inhale completely, feeling your belly, diaphragm, and ribs expand.

5. Now exhale one third of your breath. Pause. Exhale two-thirds. Pause. Exhale completely.

6. Repeat this cycle until your timer rings.

As you inhale, try not to force the breath. Make each part of the exercise light and easy. Feel the beauty and simplicity of the life force in your body. As you exhale, imagine a sense of grounding and rooting through your tailbone into the earth. If you feel strain at any point, return to simply watching your breath.

For some people, it helps to retain the breath for just a few seconds before the exhalation. I tend to do this in the last few minutes, when I’ve warmed up a bit. It’s definitely not something to force. Ideally, when your alarm sounds at five minutes you’re breathing a little more deeply and feeling more clear, grounded, and energized.

Hope this makes your day a little better. And I’d love to hear what your go-to pranayama breathing practice is in the comments below!

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Episode 17: Niika Quistgard – Self Care Time! Ayurvedic Ideas for Staying Calm & Grounded

This week my guest is Ayurvedic practitioner Niika Quistgard. Niika (@AyurMama) is an internationally-recognized consultant, trainer and practitioner in Ayurveda and is the founder of AyurMama.com.

Niika was the founder and director of Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women in Kerala, India — a full-service Ayurvedic residential hospital — where women came from more than 50 countries for treatment and educational immersion at the source of Ayurveda.

When I first learned the basics of Ayurveda years ago, I found it phenomenally helpful. I’d been living my life oblivious to how the environment around me affected my sensitive constitution, which made me alternately anxious or grouchy or ungrounded more often than was necessary. When I say the “environment around me,” I’m referring to everything from the weather, to the company of the people, to the room I work in all day long.

After years of practice, the principles that I’ve integrated into my life are second-nature. And they guide the way I eat, the way I practice, and the simple rituals I do if I need some grounding.

For this episode, Niika offered specific self-care ideas for calming the vata dosha when it goes out of balance. Whether you’ve never heard the words vata dosha uttered or you already know your prakruti, this episode offers enough background about Ayurveda paired with creative self care ideas and reminders that it will be helpful to everyone. Here are some more details about our conversation:

* We start with the basics — What is Ayurveda?
* How the three dosas form the unique blueprint of your constitution
* The qualities of the vata dosha
* What are the common things we do that cause vata imbalance?
* Why is vata imbalance so common?
* A morning routine to stay grounded
* Food choices for high vata times
* How can you practice or teach yoga during times when vata is running high?
* A simple way to take the calm state of Savasana with you after practice

“We used to laugh about the magazine article checklists of all the things you need to do to be more beautiful. We don’t need the checklist. We need the motherly attitude of, ‘What’s going make the difference for you today to be your best self?'” — Niika Quistgard

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Everyone’s Different: What is your unique nature?
Dosha-Spotting at the Train Station
Nervous or Nourished? Moving Away From a Wired and Tired Existence
Niika’s new free online mini-course that includes the basics of Ayurveda and how this ancient science works with your mind and senses: Know Ayurveda
Niika’s second course, Know Your Nature, which dives deeper into finding your unique doshic blueprint.

Jahzzar — Flutter
ABSRDST — Chakra Reset Button
The Polish Ambassador — Chill or Be Chilled

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! I’m learning that it really does help others find it and it helps me to know which episodes resonate with you! You can also follow me on Twitter @yogalandpodcast.

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