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Nashville, TN
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True to the name 'Shivam' - consciousness, mindfulness, - we strive to make our items by re-using our existing resources, and natural, organic materials.

Our yoga mat bags are handmade using upcycled, vintage fabrics, while the aromatherapy eye pillows are filled with the healing goodness of organic lavender buds and organic flax seeds. 

We hope to extend and share the journey of these goods as they make their way around the world. From our house to yours.

Namaste.

Blog

Welcome to my blog at Shivam Creations.

Shivam means mindfulness in Sanskrit; this space is about trying to lead a mindful life and the elements that go with it: yoga, healthy living, nature, and the creative forces within each of us.

Filtering by Tag: yoga

Celebrate Yoga With This 10-Minute Essential Home Practice

Shivangi Parikh

As the world observes International Yoga day today, it is worthwhile to remember that Yoga is not just a commodity for consumption but something more significant - it is a means for self exploration, discovery and eventually, mastery over ones thoughts and actions. Yoga is so much more than just fancy poses. And this day serves as the perfect reminder for us to re-commit toward living a healthier, happier and more wholesome life.

So how does one do yoga? I am always asked this question in various forms: beginners ask because they do not know where to begin, and experienced practitioners ask because they feel they have to set aside an hour to 'properly' practice, which may or may not happen, and it results in them falling out of routine. I say that from experience myself! The answer is something you've probably heard many times- Consistency is key. Just setting aside a few minutes couple of times a week is a good start. You can always build up depending on your time and energy limits for that day.

To get you started, my good friend, and revered yoga teacher Arundhati Baitmangalkar from Aham Yoga has outlined a simple yet super effective 10-minute home yoga sequence just for you! To keep it easy-peesy, she has omitted a lot of jargon and has detailed photos for each step :)

You can just do a couple of Sun Salutations (pose 1) to begin with, and gradually add the other poses one at a time. Remember: Do it slowly with awareness and deep breaths.

Here is Arundhati:

1.   SUN SALUTATIONS/ CLASSICAL SURYA NAMASKAR: This is the most ancient form of Vinyasa. It is a combination of several poses in a pre-set order that will make you strong, flexible and will you energized and refreshed! We recommend anywhere from 3 to 8 rounds daily.


2.   VIRABHADRASANA 2/WARRIOR 2: Such a strong yet gentle hip opening pose. When done right, it releases the lower back, builds endurance and encourages circulation. If you sit or stand for extended periods of time, this is a great pose to do. Hold for 45 seconds to a minute on each side and slowly build up.

Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II

3.   TRIKONASANA/TRIANGLE:  This will give you a full body stretch. Be mindful that arms and legs need to be straight. Touching the floor with your hand is not important. Use a block under your palm to help you, if you cannot keep the leg straight.

Trikonasana/Triangle

4.   ANJANEYASANA/LOW LUNGE POSE: If you sit at a desk all day, this pose is a must. Initially the stretch will be strong on the front of the thigh but as you start to practice regularly and breathe into it, the muscle will start to release and will get stronger, and help the knee and hip get more stable.

Low Lunge pose

5.   PRASARITA PADDOTTANASANA/WIDE LEG STANDING FORWARD FOLD: This is one of my personal favorites. On the left is the preparatory stage and the right is the complete pose. Make sure to master stage 1 before going deeper into stage 2. This pose not only stretches the legs and releases the lower back but also works as a semi inversion.


6.   ADHOMUKHA SWANASANA/DOWNWARD FACING DOG POSE: This pose is famous for the right reasons. Its elongates the spine, stretches out the muscles at the back of the entire body. Allows the heart to rest and works as an inversion in itself. Great pose to recover from fatigue and restlessness.


7.   URDHVA MUKHA SWANASANA/UPWARD FACING DOG: By bring the chest forward, keeping it lifted and open. Our lungs get a nice opening facilitating better breath and circulation. Enhances mood and helps to keep you alert and awake. Also builds arm strength.


8.   BADDHAKONASANA/BOUND ANGLE POSE: would call this the ultimate pose for the hips. It is so simple, that it is often underrated. No matter what you do, make sure you spend at least a couple of minutes in this pose daily. If your knees are super high, sit on a couple of folded blankets to relieve the strain in your groins.


9.   SETU BANDHASANA: BRIDGE POSE: This pose works on opening the chest and shoulders and helps to strengthen the legs and back muscles. Again it’s a pose that is often overlooked but packs a punch. Make sure your knees are not wider than your shoulders in this pose.


10.   SUPTA PADANGUSHTASANA/SUPINE HAND TO BIG TOE POSE: If you need to do one pose in the morning, I would do this one. Part one, works the hamstring and stretches it out. Keeping the lower back at ease and maintaining the knee joint. Part two, builds hip stability and keeps the hips strong and sturdy protecting the lower back all through.


BONUS POSE!

ONLY if you feel comfortable and would like to try to incorporate an inversion in your practice, do try the Shoulderstand Pose. if this seems too much to attempt then build up to it with the Bridge Pose mentioned above.

SARVANGASANA/SHOULDERSTAND: While we refer to the mother of all poses here. Any inversion during your day will be great. Inversions will keep the brain well fed with blood and oxygen giving energy, calm and clarity. These are meant to be learnt under the guidance of a skilled teacher.

So there you have it. A simple yet powerful set of yoga poses to build your home yoga practice. Remember to get your alignment right in all the poses, stay connected with the breath and hold the poses for as long as you comfortably can and then with time you will build the duration of poses. Give these a try and let us know how you did.

--- Arundhati Baitmangalkar

A big thanks to Arundhati who has outlined a lovely and may I add, not-so-scary sequence, for all of us! You can also check out more videos on Aham Yoga YouTube channel. There are detailed explanations and practice sequences.

Here is to celebrate a happy and healthy lifestyle!

Namaste, Shiv :)

 

Shivangi Parikh

Why getting a good yoga mat is so important

Shivangi Parikh

Having practiced yoga for the past decade, I have gone through my share of yoga mats. Your yoga mat is like your partner, and is the starting point for developing a good practice. You are going to 'trust' your mat to support you in your pose and help you ground yourself: one of the biggest reasons why many go to yoga in the first place. Clearly, it is essential that you do your research before buying one. Thankfully, there are so many choices available today that are eco-and-budget friendly, and I thought I would list out the ones that are my personal favorites, as well as those that my teachers and students prefer. 

But first here are the main factors to look for when buying a yoga mat:

  • Material from which it is made: You want to look for non-toxic substances such as natural rubber, jute, or burlap. PER Eco Safe and Oeko-Tex-certified mats are good. AVOID mats with Phthalates, Latex and Silicone.
  • Grip/Sticky factor in the mat, depending on the kind of yoga you practice: You want the mat to 'grip' you and vice-versa especially in poses like Downward Dog and Plank. I have injured my elbow joints because of slippery mats that led me to put more pressure on the hands. Those who do hot yoga will definitely want a mat with high sticky levels or use a special gripping towel on top of the mat.
  • Cost: It is important to note that expensive doesn't necessarily equate to quality. You want something that will last you a long time. There is no point in spending a lot of money on eco-mats if you are going to throw them away every 6-12 months. if you are a newbie, buy something in the $20-$30 range to get you started. There are plenty of good options (see my choices below). You can even rent mats from the studio where you will practice, that way you get to try your options for a low cost of $1 to $2. Once you are a regular, you can upgrade if you want to.

My recommendations on yoga mats. I am listing it by the style and level of yoga because I believe that every style and stage has its own requisites. Please bear in mind that this is just my personal observation and opinion.

For the Beginner:

When I started doing yoga, I went to the local sporting goods store and picked up a $20 Gaiam Sticky Mat. It's a regular size mat (68"x24"), and mine even has beautiful artwork. I continue to use this mat till today! Some users have complained about a strong smell because of the PVC material used, but the smell goes away in a few days. I would probably not buy a PVC based mat today because of it's not as eco-friendly, but back then there were not too many eco-mats available; Plus I wasn't sure how long I would last with yoga! Buying an eco-mat just to throw away this one doesnt make sense now because then I will add to the waste. 

Since then, Gaiam has added a lot more reasonably priced eco-mats that are worth a look. For the price point they offer, I recommend their mats for the beginner who need not invest a fortune in a mat right away. (FYI, I have tried their other mats and have not been too happy about it. I found this one, which is 3 mm thin and supposed to be sticky, and this Premium 5 mm mat, which cushions the knees a lot more but is quite slippery, despite regular use, and in non-heated classes. So I keep going back to the first one.)

Other good mats for Beginners and Regular Vinyasa Practice:

Jade Harmony Mat ($75). I have seen many teachers and practitioners use this mat. Its one of the 'greener' mats, made with non-toxic materials and natural rubber. I believe it works well even in heated classes.

Aurore Eco-friendly Mats are also very popular with yoga practitioners. Again, I have not used it personally, but know friends who have, and they loved it. Apparently, it's quite popular with the yoga community because of its durable, non-toxic materials, and great price ($35 and up)

For the Intermediate Yoga Practitioner:

42-67488703

Once I started going to class on a regular basis, and after many years of using my Gaiam, I made the switch to the Manduka Pro. This mat is a favorite, and for good reason. It is sturdy, durable and slip-resistant, giving you full support even in hot, sweaty classes! Also, the material is Oeko-Tex certified, making it an eco-friendly choice. Yes, it is a bit pricey at $108, but if you end up using it for 3-5 years, it is completely worth it. I have used mine in hot yoga and regular yoga classes and it works fine. I just find it heavier to lug around, but that is why I use my burlap yoga mat bag that you see here ;)

Also, the Manduka ProLite is a good alternative and has many of the same features as the Pro. The mat is also much lighter at 4 lbs, compared to the Pro's 7 lbs. 

Lululemon's The Mat is also a good option for hot and sweaty yoga sessions because it is slip-resistant. I have never used it, but know students who have been pleased with it. Again, its on the pricier side at $68, but the durability factor cannot be beat.

For more types of mats, such as burlap, and travel mats, I recommend these links:

Yoga Journal's List of Top Yoga Mats 2014

A Yoga Teacher/Blogger's Picks for Top Eco-friendly Mats

Hope this helps with your search of the perfect partner mat. Remember to buy a mat that suits your needs as opposed to what is popular in the market. It has to be mat that grips you and lets you move on it without fear. 

Have you used any mats that you love and are not mentioned here? Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know. I can include it in my next round :)

Happy Yoga :)

xoxo, Shivangi

 

Shivangi Parikh

Yoga and the Brain...try this morning routine

Shivangi Parikh

Over the past 2 days, I noticed that one of my pins about yoga has been repinned a lot of times, in fact, it might just be the most pinned item in all of my boards. What surprised me was the topic that people chose ...'Yoga Boosts Brain Function'.

So it's not about 'how to lose weight with yoga', or '108 sun salutations to detox your body', or one of those weight-loss through yoga articles. People were actually interested in how yoga helps the brain, something that pleased me a lot. I have always said that many people come to yoga for toning and strengthening their body initially, but if you really stick it out, you will also notice the shift in your mental and emotional well-being. And I am glad the social media world is trying to focus on that aspect too, instead of just posting crazy handstands and headstand pictures.

One of the biggest ways yoga benefits the brain is by creating awareness and mindfulness. We become so in tune with our physical body that the mind can clearly decipher which choices are good for us, and what should be avoided. Not stuffing junk in our physical and mental processes leaves more room for the brain to grow healthy neurons, sharpen our senses, and strengthen our focus.  {More Info: Yoga Boosts Brain Function...This is the pin that started it all!}

Meditation is also one of the boosters of brain function, and emerging scientific experiments and studies are giving the nod to this age-old practice, which I personally feel is far more difficult than doing a physically-challening asana practice! {More info: Yoga Journal's 'Your Brain and Meditation' }

So start your morning with this simple routine outlined below, which will put your brain in 'alert mode' right away. I know that I am going to try and do this at least 3 times a week :)

 

 

Shivangi Parikh

Open your heart with Ustrasana

Shivangi Parikh

During the winter months its very natural to feel slow, sluggish, and sometimes moody and borderline depressed. The season has a tendency to bring people down, which is why its always important to incorporate a heart-opening pose in your yoga practice. even if you dont do a full hour of practice, just opening your chest and shoulders with a single pose can work wonders to lift your spirits. 

One of the best chest openers is Ustrasana, or Camel Pose. It lifts your heart towards the sky, and also allows for a back bend to strengthen your core. The only thing with this pose is that people tend to over extend themselves in an effort to drop back as low as possible. That is not the important part - lifting your heart toward the sky is - and it doesnt matter how far you can drop. With time and practice, that day will also come.

Below is a good demo on Yoga Journal

Hope you can do this at least once or twice a week especially during the cold season.

Here's to lifting your heart, and spirits :)

 

 

Shivangi Parikh