YuMee Chung: You may have heard that yoga is a fabulous way to lengthen and strengthen muscles, tone the body and address common ailments like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, but did you know yoga is also an effective mood-enhancer? That's right! A quick and easy yoga routine can reduce stress, improve sleep, restore calm and enhance feelings of well-being.
Yoga's deep breathing techniques bring balance to the nervous system while the poses themselves work to reduce stress hormones (like cortisol) and trigger the release of your body's natural feel-good chemicals (serotonin and endorphins). Practicing with a mindful and meditative attitude is also immensely grounding and it goes a long way toward reminding us of the inherent beauty of each moment, even during the darkest days of winter.
YuMee Chung: Sun salutations are one of my favorite ways to dissipate the winter blues. They warm the body from the inside out, get the heart pumping and systematically stretch the muscles in a safe way. Sun salutations are literally designed to make you feel sunnier! You should know there are as many different sun salutations as there are styles of yoga -- ranging from gentle to vigorous -- so take time to explore and find the sun salutation that works best for you.
YuMee Chung: Winter is a great time to check out your local hot yoga studios. Practicing in a heated room is very detoxifying and makes the skin look great. Another fun thing to do is check out your local yoga studios' winter retreats. There's nothing like yoga in paradise to lift the mood!
SheKnows.com: What are some of the ways people can get involved with yoga in their city?
YuMee Chung: If you live in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Portland or San Francisco, you can pick up a Passport to Prana for $30. The Passport to Prana is a unique multi-studio yoga passport that entitles you to one free yoga class at each of the participating yoga studios in your city. Think of it as a yoga crawl that allows you to explore the world of yoga for a fraction of the price of doing regular drop-in classes. Passports can be purchased online and at select participating studios. See the website for the start and stop dates in your city and a complete list of participating studios in your area.
Another way to get involved with yoga in your city is to sign up for community yogathons organized as charitable fundraisers. This is a great way to meet prominent yoga teachers while supporting a good cause. Google the name of your city and "yogathon" or "fundraiser" to see what's coming up.
The Jivamukti Yoga method is a style of yoga created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984. It is a vigorously physical and intellectually stimulating practice leading to spiritual awareness.
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