Your breath is one of your most powerful healing resources.

yoga rebel inner peace

Yoga Journal
@Yoga_Journal

Read more about “breathsensing,” a meditation technique that teaches you to observe, experience, and regulate your breathing patterns, offers a way to access the benefits of deep, rhythmic breathing any time you’d like. yogajournal.com/meditation/tun

Try an affirmation practice to create a more satisfying sex and spiritual life.

yoga journal affirmation practice

 

8 Poses to Feel Empowered and Sexy

https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/yoga-for-better-sex-life

“I’ve learned that having sex and feeling sexy can and should come from the purest space.” — Rina Jakubowicz

Nir Livni

Feel like you’ve lost your sense of Self in the noise of social media or societal expectations? It’s time to get on the mat and reclaim who you are. Join author and yoga teacher Rina Jakubowicz for Empowered Vinyasa: Journey to Your Highest Self, a series of 10 yoga classes and companion dharma talks that zero in on principles of yoga philosophy—from The Bhagavad Gita and the Hindu spiritual tradition Vedanta—that are essential to self-exploration. Sign up today!

When I was going through a divorce 10 years ago, I used affirmation practices to try to shift my mindset during the healing process. One phrase I repeated often was “I am beautiful.” 

As silly and simple as this may sound, it really helped me. Failing at a marriage is very painful and I carried a lot of judgments about myself, especially since I had been the first in the family to get a divorce. Walking around each day with this affirming thought, even if I didn’t believe it in the beginning, was life-changing. It helped me realize that my words and thoughts are powerful and that I’m in control of how I feel about myself. I began walking with confidence and maintaining a sense of calm in my communication and interactions. In addition to the affirmation practices, I started studying in the Bhagavad Gita and began to apply some of the teachings to my relationships, including in the bedroom. It took several years, but I began to develop a healthier relationship with myself and my sexuality. I learned how to break down my sexual walls and release judgment and fear to become my gorgeous, badass self from within.

I’ve learned that having sex and feeling sexy can and should come from the purest space. That will create the most euphoric and pleasurable experience for both you and your partner. I now teach “Sattvic and Sexy” workshops and courses because I want to help more women tap into this empowering space where they can stop harshly judging themselves or suppressing their sexuality. 

See also “Three Things Divorce Taught Me About Love”

Sattva is the highest of the three gunas (mental qualities) in Ayurveda. It means pure, poised, or objective. The lower two gunas are tamas and rajas. Tamas is a mental state of inertia, dullness, or laziness. Rajas is associated with mental agitation and hectic activity. We need rajas to move us away from tamas, but our ultimate goal is to move into sattva. If you’re passionate about something or someone but you’re overthinking, emotional, or getting caught in your head, then there’s an attachment and you’re in rajas. If you have passion from a pure place and it doesn’t control you, then you’re sattvic. 

See also How a Sattvic (Pure) Diet Brings You Into Balance + 2 Ayurvedic Recipes

To start feeling more empowered, sexy, and content in your life and relationships, try this 8-pose sequence. Each posture is paired with an affirmation to inspire you to become the best version of yourself, both as a lady and a lover, so you can create the sex life and the spiritual life you deserve.

Then, join me for a free “Sattvic and Sexy” webinar on April 10 at 2:30 EST. I’ll share more tips for developing a healthier relationship with yourself, your sexuality, and your partner. Register today!

https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/yoga-for-better-sex-life

Stretching hip flexors can relieve the tension built up from too much sitting.

yoga journal hip flexors

Yoga Journal
@Yoga_Journal

Stretching hip flexors can relieve the tension built up from too much sitting. Learn how to stretch your hip flexors with these daily poses.
Hip Flexor Anatomy 101: Counterposes for Sit-Asana
Stretching hip flexors can relieve the tension built up from too much sitting.

Red Bean and Coconut Rice.@Yoga_Journal

red bean & cocnut rice

Red Bean and Coconut Rice

This colorful rice plate is a great stand-alone dish or the perfect base layer for another protein.

The sweetness of the onion and the coconut milk complements the saltiness of the rice, so ensure you season this dish well. You can use red onion if you want a sweeter flavor and add a couple of finely diced fresh green chilies along with the onion, if you’d like more heat. The rice gets a beautiful pink color from the red kidney beans that looks pretty served with a mixed green salad, such as lettuce and sliced avocado.

See also Tias and Surya Little’s Elemental Bowl Has Everything You Need for Optimal Vitality

  • Duration
  • 4Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 1/2 x 14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • a big handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (stems and all)
  • scant 1 cup coconut milk mixed with the same amount of cold water

Preparation

Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the onion and garlic on high heat for 3–4 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and fry for a further 2 minutes, or until soft.

Add the rice and fry for 30 seconds, without stirring too much, then add the kidney beans, cilantro, and some salt and black pepper to taste.

Pour in the coconut milk and water mixture. Bring to a boil, then stir the rice once and cover. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 12 minutes without lifting the lid.

Remove from the heat and leave the pan, covered, for a further 5 minutes to allow the rice to finish cooking in the steam.

Remove the lid, fluff up the rice with a fork, and serve hot.

Cover-India7

Excerpted from Indian in 7: Delicious Indian Recipes in 7 Ingredients or Fewer by Monisha Bharadwaj, Kyle Books 2019. Reprinted with permission.

The small muscles of your inner thighs are often overlooked in yoga.

The small muscles of your inner thighs are often overlooked in yoga—until NOW.

Here’s a little anatomy quiz for you. The hip adductors are responsible for which of the following common yoga issues: (1) You have difficulty holding your legs together in inversions; (2) Your knees pop up in sitting poses like Baddha Konasana(Bound Angle Pose); (3) Your legs slip down your arms in arm balances like Bakasana (Crane Pose); (4) Your legs won’t separate very far in Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend).

Answer: All of the above. The hip adductors are a group of five muscles that occupy your inner thighs between the quadriceps on the front of the leg and the hamstrings on the back. When these muscles contract, they help draw your thighs together in poses like inversions and arm balances; when they stretch, they open up poses like Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana. Whether stretching or contracting, they’re crucial in a wide variety of poses. Strengthening and stretching the inner-leg muscles will improve the aforementioned poses, and you’ll be able to sit on the floor with greater ease—to play with children or pets, perhaps—and have both greater stability and an increased sense of freedom in your walking gait.

fSee alsoBasic Anatomy: Understanding Sideways Movement

Party of Five

Taken together, the hip adductors are about the same size as the four quads or the three hams. All five originate (attach) on your ischial tuberosity (sitting bone) or pubic bone. Two shorter adductors, the pectineus and the adductor brevis, insert on the upper posterior femur (thigh bone). Two longer ones, the adductor longus and adductor magnus, insert on the middle and lower posterior femur. The fifth member of the group, gracilis, is a long straplike muscle that extends from the pubic bone to the tibia, just below the knee.

The adductors play a role in many types of movements. When they contract, the adductors squeeze your thighs together, an action that’s known as hip adduction. Depending on your leg position, one adductor muscle or another might help to flex, extend, or rotate your hip. The gracilis also assists the hamstrings in knee flexion, or bending. And all of the adductors play an important but unheralded role in helping to stabilize the pelvis when you stand on one leg. Whenever you walk or practice a standing balancing pose like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), the adductors are working with the hip abductors—the muscles that perform the opposite action—to help prevent you from wobbling.

To feel the adductors contract, put your fingers on their common tendon just below and slightly to the side of the pubic bone. Even a moderate squeeze of the thighs toward each other elicits a big response from the muscles, and the tendon will stand out against your fingers.

In yoga poses with extended hips—such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) or Tadasana (Mountain Pose), in which the thigh is in line with or behind the torso—the adductors contract to hold your legs together. This action is especially noticeable in inversions, when gravity pulls the legs apart and down. If the adductors are weak or lack isometric endurance (the ability to hold a position for an extended length of time), it can be very difficult to hold your legs together in poses such as Sirsasana (Headstand), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand).

Squeezes for Strength

Fortunately, there a few simple exercises you can do to help strengthen your adductors. First, find a firm inflated ball about six inches in diameter or a towel or pillow rolled to that dimension. If you struggle to bring your thighs together in inversions, start by lying on your back with the inner edges of your feet together and your soles against the wall. Or stand in Tadasana, with your feet together or nearly so. From either position, place the ball between your thighs, press in against it, and hold for 10 or 15 seconds. Do this a few times during each practice, and over the next several weeks, gradually increase the holding times. If you can squeeze and hold the ball for one minute, you should be able to hold your legs together in Sirsasana for a minimum of that amount of time.

When you’re ready to make the ball squeezing more challenging, lie on your back with your legs on the floor—but this time, don’t put your feet against the wall. In this position the adductors will have to work harder to hold the legs together as well as to compress the ball. For the greatest challenge, however, have someone place the ball between your thighs while you’re in an inversion. Exert a steady, moderate pressure to build strength and endurance in these muscles.

Strengthening the adductors with your hips extended can help your inversions and your backbends. Try squeezing a block between your thighs in Bridge Pose. Eventually, this can help correct the unwanted tendency of the feet to turn out and knees to splay. See that your feet are parallel when you place the block between your knees (the long side between the knees if you have wide hips). As the adductors work to squeeze the block, the knees stay in place. As an added bonus, this technique may help to resolve any knee pain you might have experienced in Bridge Pose.

You also need adductor strength in poses that flex the hips, like Bakasana and Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose). This time, place your ball or even a block between your thighs while sitting in a chair, feet flat on the floor, and work on squeezing it to build endurance. You can train the adductors with the abdominals—a useful combination for arm balances—by practicing Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) with a block between the thighs. If Paripurna Navasana on its own is challenging for you, start by keeping the block in place but doing the pose with bent knees.

Here are a few final tips for strengthening your adductors. Using a block can give you valuable feedback about whether you’re pressing evenly with left and right adductors; you want to develop balanced strength. You can elicit a strong adductor contraction when your feet are off the ground (in inversions and arm balances) or when you’re lying on your back, by pressing evenly through the base of your big toes and your inner heels simultaneously. This action can really help you “get a grip” in Bakasana and other arm balances in which your legs grip your arms. Remember, as you build isometric strength by increasing the time you hold the contraction, don’t hold your breath.

Final Stretch

Now, about stretching those adductors, particularly the short and medium-length ones, which include all but the gracilis. Shortness in these muscles limits your horizontal abduction, or your ability to spread your thighs apart when your hips are flexed in poses like Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose),Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II), and even Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose). You can get a feel for horizontal abduction by sitting on an armless chair with your thighs spread as far apart as possible. Your adductors contract to pull your thighs back along a horizontal line (the chair seat).

Here’s a stretch sequence you can do that will improve adductor flexibility in horizontal abduction. The first position is a variation of Baddha Konasana. Lie on your side with your feet close to a wall and your torso perpendicular to it. Bend your knees and slide toward the wall until your sitting bones touch it, and then roll onto your back, straightening your legs and bringing them up the wall. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet together, and slide your feet down the wall as close to your pubic bones as possible. Put your hands on your inner knees, and push them gently toward the wall (while simultaneously lengthening the femurs out of the hip sockets) to stretch the adductors. Breathe and relax for a minute or two.

Bring your legs back together, place the soles of your feet on the wall, and slide your body away from the wall so your hips are about 18 inches from it. Your knees should be bent over your hips. With your feet on the wall, you’ll look as though you’re sitting on a chair that’s been tipped over backward. Keeping your shins perpendicular to the wall, move your feet and thighs as far apart as possible. Imagine that your thighs are heavy and your adductors are surrendering their weight to the pull of gravity. You should feel a satisfying stretch in your inner thighs.

If you’ve tried a few of these stretching and strengthening ideas, you should have a pretty good idea of where your adductors are and what they do. And even though we spend a lot of time stretching our legs and hips—including the adductors—in yoga, it’s equally important to keep them strong. Balanced strength and flexibility: a worthy goal for your adductors as well as for your body, mind, and spirit.

See also5 Strength-Building Yoga Poses for Beginners

Teachers, explore the newly improved TeachersPlus. Protect yourself with liability insurance and build your business with a dozen valuable benefits, including a free teacher profile on our national directory. Plus, find answers to all your questions about teaching.

ABOUT OUR EXPERT

Julie Gudmestad is a physical therapist and Iyengar Yoga teacher in Portland, Oregon. She regrets that she cannot respond to requests for health advice.

The small muscles of your inner thighs are often overlooked in yoga.

The small muscles of your inner thighs are often overlooked in yoga—until NOW.

Here’s a little anatomy quiz for you. The hip adductors are responsible for which of the following common yoga issues: (1) You have difficulty holding your legs together in inversions; (2) Your knees pop up in sitting poses like Baddha Konasana(Bound Angle Pose); (3) Your legs slip down your arms in arm balances like Bakasana (Crane Pose); (4) Your legs won’t separate very far in Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend).

Answer: All of the above. The hip adductors are a group of five muscles that occupy your inner thighs between the quadriceps on the front of the leg and the hamstrings on the back. When these muscles contract, they help draw your thighs together in poses like inversions and arm balances; when they stretch, they open up poses like Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana. Whether stretching or contracting, they’re crucial in a wide variety of poses. Strengthening and stretching the inner-leg muscles will improve the aforementioned poses, and you’ll be able to sit on the floor with greater ease—to play with children or pets, perhaps—and have both greater stability and an increased sense of freedom in your walking gait.

fSee alsoBasic Anatomy: Understanding Sideways Movement

Party of Five

Taken together, the hip adductors are about the same size as the four quads or the three hams. All five originate (attach) on your ischial tuberosity (sitting bone) or pubic bone. Two shorter adductors, the pectineus and the adductor brevis, insert on the upper posterior femur (thigh bone). Two longer ones, the adductor longus and adductor magnus, insert on the middle and lower posterior femur. The fifth member of the group, gracilis, is a long straplike muscle that extends from the pubic bone to the tibia, just below the knee.

The adductors play a role in many types of movements. When they contract, the adductors squeeze your thighs together, an action that’s known as hip adduction. Depending on your leg position, one adductor muscle or another might help to flex, extend, or rotate your hip. The gracilis also assists the hamstrings in knee flexion, or bending. And all of the adductors play an important but unheralded role in helping to stabilize the pelvis when you stand on one leg. Whenever you walk or practice a standing balancing pose like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), the adductors are working with the hip abductors—the muscles that perform the opposite action—to help prevent you from wobbling.

To feel the adductors contract, put your fingers on their common tendon just below and slightly to the side of the pubic bone. Even a moderate squeeze of the thighs toward each other elicits a big response from the muscles, and the tendon will stand out against your fingers.

In yoga poses with extended hips—such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) or Tadasana (Mountain Pose), in which the thigh is in line with or behind the torso—the adductors contract to hold your legs together. This action is especially noticeable in inversions, when gravity pulls the legs apart and down. If the adductors are weak or lack isometric endurance (the ability to hold a position for an extended length of time), it can be very difficult to hold your legs together in poses such as Sirsasana (Headstand), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand).

Squeezes for Strength

Fortunately, there a few simple exercises you can do to help strengthen your adductors. First, find a firm inflated ball about six inches in diameter or a towel or pillow rolled to that dimension. If you struggle to bring your thighs together in inversions, start by lying on your back with the inner edges of your feet together and your soles against the wall. Or stand in Tadasana, with your feet together or nearly so. From either position, place the ball between your thighs, press in against it, and hold for 10 or 15 seconds. Do this a few times during each practice, and over the next several weeks, gradually increase the holding times. If you can squeeze and hold the ball for one minute, you should be able to hold your legs together in Sirsasana for a minimum of that amount of time.

When you’re ready to make the ball squeezing more challenging, lie on your back with your legs on the floor—but this time, don’t put your feet against the wall. In this position the adductors will have to work harder to hold the legs together as well as to compress the ball. For the greatest challenge, however, have someone place the ball between your thighs while you’re in an inversion. Exert a steady, moderate pressure to build strength and endurance in these muscles.

Strengthening the adductors with your hips extended can help your inversions and your backbends. Try squeezing a block between your thighs in Bridge Pose. Eventually, this can help correct the unwanted tendency of the feet to turn out and knees to splay. See that your feet are parallel when you place the block between your knees (the long side between the knees if you have wide hips). As the adductors work to squeeze the block, the knees stay in place. As an added bonus, this technique may help to resolve any knee pain you might have experienced in Bridge Pose.

You also need adductor strength in poses that flex the hips, like Bakasana and Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose). This time, place your ball or even a block between your thighs while sitting in a chair, feet flat on the floor, and work on squeezing it to build endurance. You can train the adductors with the abdominals—a useful combination for arm balances—by practicing Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) with a block between the thighs. If Paripurna Navasana on its own is challenging for you, start by keeping the block in place but doing the pose with bent knees.

Here are a few final tips for strengthening your adductors. Using a block can give you valuable feedback about whether you’re pressing evenly with left and right adductors; you want to develop balanced strength. You can elicit a strong adductor contraction when your feet are off the ground (in inversions and arm balances) or when you’re lying on your back, by pressing evenly through the base of your big toes and your inner heels simultaneously. This action can really help you “get a grip” in Bakasana and other arm balances in which your legs grip your arms. Remember, as you build isometric strength by increasing the time you hold the contraction, don’t hold your breath.

Final Stretch

Now, about stretching those adductors, particularly the short and medium-length ones, which include all but the gracilis. Shortness in these muscles limits your horizontal abduction, or your ability to spread your thighs apart when your hips are flexed in poses like Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose),Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II), and even Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose). You can get a feel for horizontal abduction by sitting on an armless chair with your thighs spread as far apart as possible. Your adductors contract to pull your thighs back along a horizontal line (the chair seat).

Here’s a stretch sequence you can do that will improve adductor flexibility in horizontal abduction. The first position is a variation of Baddha Konasana. Lie on your side with your feet close to a wall and your torso perpendicular to it. Bend your knees and slide toward the wall until your sitting bones touch it, and then roll onto your back, straightening your legs and bringing them up the wall. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet together, and slide your feet down the wall as close to your pubic bones as possible. Put your hands on your inner knees, and push them gently toward the wall (while simultaneously lengthening the femurs out of the hip sockets) to stretch the adductors. Breathe and relax for a minute or two.

Bring your legs back together, place the soles of your feet on the wall, and slide your body away from the wall so your hips are about 18 inches from it. Your knees should be bent over your hips. With your feet on the wall, you’ll look as though you’re sitting on a chair that’s been tipped over backward. Keeping your shins perpendicular to the wall, move your feet and thighs as far apart as possible. Imagine that your thighs are heavy and your adductors are surrendering their weight to the pull of gravity. You should feel a satisfying stretch in your inner thighs.

If you’ve tried a few of these stretching and strengthening ideas, you should have a pretty good idea of where your adductors are and what they do. And even though we spend a lot of time stretching our legs and hips—including the adductors—in yoga, it’s equally important to keep them strong. Balanced strength and flexibility: a worthy goal for your adductors as well as for your body, mind, and spirit.

See also5 Strength-Building Yoga Poses for Beginners

Teachers, explore the newly improved TeachersPlus. Protect yourself with liability insurance and build your business with a dozen valuable benefits, including a free teacher profile on our national directory. Plus, find answers to all your questions about teaching.

ABOUT OUR EXPERT

Julie Gudmestad is a physical therapist and Iyengar Yoga teacher in Portland, Oregon. She regrets that she cannot respond to requests for health advice.

Drishti is a gazing technique that develops concentration.

yoga journal drishti

Yoga Journal
@Yoga_Journal

Drishti is a gazing technique that develops concentration—and teaches you to see the world as it really is

See More Clearly By Practicing Drishti
Drishti is a gazing technique that develops concentration—and teaches you to see the world as it really is.
yogajournal.com