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2019 TOUR STOPS

These 2 Essential Breath Practices Will Help You Create Space Within to Access Intuition

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After all, you have to clean a glass before refilling it.

Santosh Maknikar, Salt Lake City-based yoga teacher, shared two essential pranayama practices—Kapalabhati and Kumbhaka—with the Live Be Yoga ambassadors

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. 

While Yoga for People and Santosh Yoga Institute founder Santosh Maknikar is not gracing the cover of magazines or racking up Instagram followers, he is in every sense a master teacher. Since he was a little boy in India, yoga has been ingrained in him; he was first introduced to the practice at the age of five.

For Santosh, yoga is a way of being. He shares his lifetime of wisdom with his local community by offering classes and teacher trainings in his home and hosting community events to offer yoga to those who may not otherwise have access to it.

In Salt Lake City, we had the opportunity to meet him in his basement studio, practice with his community, and share a homemade kitchari meal in his home. 

During our time together, Santosh led us through what he considers two of the most important breathing exercisesPracticed one after the other, they help practitioners create space within and access intuition.

We began focusing on exhalations, because we must start by clearing and cleansing the system. “Just like having glass of water, we first want to empty the glass and clean it before refilling,” said Santosh.

Kapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath)

“Kapalabhati breath is the most important pranayama practice we can do,” says Santosh. In Sanskrit, kapala translates to “forehead” and bhati means “light.” 

“In the old days you could tell how enlightened a person was by looking at how shiny their forehead was,” he joked. In fact, there’s some truth to that: In this specific kriya (cleansing technique), the blood flows to the brain and activates the frontal cortex to help cultivate clarity and connect to intuition.

Kapalabhati can be done anytime the belly is completely empty. Santosh recommends practicing for one minute every day, beginning with 50-100 exhales per round and slowly building a capacity to stay with it for longer periods of time. The key, however, is to meet yourself where you are, and start slowly at a pace and length of time that feels appropriate for you.

Practice Kapalabhati:

Step 1: Find a comfortable seated position on your mat or cushion on the floor, ideally with your knees touching the earth or a blanket beneath them. You can sit cross-legged in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) or on a block on the shins in Virasana (Hero Pose).

Step 2: Keep the chin parallel to the floor and your arms soft and natural, either cupping your knees with your hands or holding the belly. Close the eyes gently or keep a soft, natural gaze.

Step 3: Inhale fully and begin taking sharp, quick exhalations, pulling the belly in all the way in each time. You won’t intentionally inhale in between these sharp exhales; the air will naturally re-enter your lungs after each pump.

*Begin with 50 rounds, then build up to 100, 200 and so on.

Contraindications: Always start slowly and build your capacity to practice this breath over time. Kapalabhati is may cause anxiety or dizziness; if you experience this, slow down or pause. Avoid this breath if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, acid gastric issues, heart disease, or abdominal pain.

Kumbhaka Pranayama (Breath Retention)

Kumbhaka includes two types of practices, depending on whether you hold your breath at the top of the inhalation (antara) or at the bottom of the exhalation (bhaya). As you hold the breath at the top of the inhalation or at the bottom of the exhalation, Santosh says, you enter a deeper state of consciousness and may even increase lifespan. This breath practice offers benefits to the digestive, respiratory, and nervous systems.

Practice Antara Kumbhaka (Breath Retention on the Inhale):

Step 1: Set the timer for 30-60 seconds to begin.

Step 2: Sit tall, close the eyes softly, and keep the chin parallel to the ground.

Step 3: Inhale for as long as you can (start with 8-10 counts or the amount of time that feels comfortable for you), filling your lungs fully and pausing for 5-10 counts at the very top.

Step 4: When you feel you cannot hold any longer, gently and slowly exhale from your mouth.

Step 5: Repeat until the timer goes off.

Practice Bahya Kumbhaka (Breath Retention on the Exhale):

Step 1: Set the timer for 30-60 seconds to begin.

Step 2: Sit tall, close the eyes softly, and keep the chin parallel to the ground.

Step 3: Take a full inhale. Exhale completely (start with 8-10 counts or the amount of time that feels comfortable for you), and pause for 5-10 counts at the very bottom.

Step 4: When you feel you cannot hold any longer, gently and slowly inhale through your nose.

Step 5: Repeat until the timer goes off.

Follow the Live Be Yoga tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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2019 TOUR STOPS

Got Burnout? 3 Tips to Help You Bounce Back

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Jules Hunt, founder of Om & The City, shares simple ways to boost well-being after dealing with chronic stress.

The thing about the hustle is that it can lead to a grind. Earlier this year the World Health Organization officially recognized burnout as an occupational syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress and leading to energy depletion, increased detachment, and reduced productivity. While you can’t always control what happens at work, you can deploy a few principles to get your life force moving and feel present again. Here, the Live Be Yoga ambassadors sat down with Jules Hunt, founder of Om & The City and yoga and mindfulness teacher, for three simple tips to boost overall well-being. 

Watch also Why Your Spirituality Shouldn’t Define You

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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2019 TOUR STOPS

The Sandal That Makes You Feel Like You're Walking on a Yoga Mat

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The Live Be Yoga ambassadors celebrate Sanuk’s new launch at Wanderlust Hollywood.

At Wanderlust Hollywood in Los Angeles, Brandon and Lauren meet Sanuk ambassador Jaysea Devoe, hear her story, and join her class to celebrate the launch the new Yoga Sling 3. Sanuk is an unconventional footwear brand on a mission to outfit the journey to your happy place. Find your favorite style at sanuk.com.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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2019 TOUR STOPS

This Meditation Helps You Overcome an Overactive Mind

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Learn how to discern your thoughts through this mantra and mudra practice.

The Live Be Yoga ambassadors visited Priya Jain, founder of Seventh Chakra Yoga in Huntington Beach, California, who shared a mantra and mudra meditation practice to help discern your thoughts, so you can calm (and avoid fueling) an overactive mind.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. 

Ancient yogic texts said that we have one thousand thoughts for every blink of the eye. Many of these thoughts are unconscious, meaning we are completely unaware of them. However, many of the ideas that flicker through our minds certainly stick out and linger. Which ones will we attach to or identify with? Which ones serve our expansion and evolution? Which ones are self-sabotaging and distracting?

These are all questions that help us build awareness so we can make well-rounded decisions about what to pay attention to—decisions that can benefit our own lives as well as our collective humanity.

When we can make decisions from a place of empowerment, stability, authenticity, and compassion, we begin to do our part in co-creating a more harmonious world. It may sound too good to be true, but all necessary change starts with this simple process—evaluating the thoughts that come and go.

That’s what we learned while visiting Priya Jain, owner of Seventh Chakra Yoga, a studio in Huntington Beach, California. Jain, a Kundalini Yoga teacher and my mentor, said that when your mind can learn to discern the difference in thoughts, you can actually say “thank you, but no thank you.” Or you can welcome certain thoughts with more awareness and presence.

Watch also Why Your Spirituality Shouldn’t Define You

In order to cultivate this discernment, Jain shared with us a beginner’s meditation for yogis who are just learning how to be a witness to their own thoughts, rather than getting carried away by them. But truly, the following meditation is a wonderful check-in for practitioners of all levels. There is never a time when we should cease to contemplate the thoughts that come and go.

Though this meditation is simple, it has a powerful effect on the brain. Jain said that the mantra brings you into the present moment and influences you to sort out thoughts that are empowering versus ones that are distracting. In combination with the mudra, it allows the frontal lobe of the brain to begin to discern every single thought detected by the mind. It also allows you to sort out which thoughts are coming from your authentic identity and which thoughts are taking you away from your authentic self.

The mantra you’ll repeat is simple: “I am, all is.”

Read also So You Found Peace Through Yoga—Here’s Why the Practice Doesn’t Stop There

Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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