When we think of yoga we think of awkward poses and crazy flexibility. Many people forget – or just don’t know, that yoga is a full body workout just like Crossfit, Zumba, or spin class. Yoga originated in ancient India and its original purpose was to train the body and mind to become self aware through spiritual development practices. Since then it’s expanded into many different forms. Each form maintains the same goal of mind to body connection though it’s just achieved differently. Lately, spiritual yoga has been growing worldwide and many people are asking how yoga can meet their spiritual needs. Here we breakdown all you need to know if you’re looking to experience the eternal oneness of soul and spirit.
The Spiritual Side of Yoga
The spiritual side of yoga is the ability to get to the very core of who you really are and develop the intuitive wisdom needed to live a productive life. You are essentially taking the first steps on the path of furthering your spiritual journey. Spiritual yoga is really just a universal concept regardless of one’s faith. It’s not about the yoga terminology, the fancy yoga studios, or the complicated yoga poses. It simply answers the question: “Who am I?”
In ancient traditions of Asia, the lotus flower is often associated with purity, spiritual development, and creation. It symbolically represents a human being who is physically on the earth but their mind is dwelling in the Divine. When the lotus pose is perfected, you will no longer be attached to anything in the world. Lotus pose is considered to be the “classic” yoga pose. To achieve this pose, start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you. Bring your legs in towards your chest, one at a time. Place your ankles on top of the opposite hip and lower your knees to the ground. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing up to receive energy.
Many yogis believe that ignorance can cause harm to you and others around you. The warrior pose allows you to build up bravery, courage, and strength to face your own inner demons. Begin standing, then step your right foot forward about four feet. Bend your right knee into a lunge keeping your left leg straight behind you. Raise your arms straight above your head and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. Gaze up towards the sky and hold.
Child’s pose is one of the simpler poses. If you are tense or stressed out, this pose will greatly benefit you. It’s about creating a shell of quiet tranquility and removing external pressures. It’s important to focus on your breath when you’re in this pose. Your breath strengthens that mind to body connection and helps you really relax. In this pose, you kneel with your toes together and your knees hip-width distance apart. Lower your torso between your knees and extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down. With each exhale, sink your hips deeper towards to ground. Stay here for as long as needed.
The whole purpose of the tree pose is to achieve balance. Your foot will stay “rooted” on your mat while you have your hands at heart center or as your arms gently sway from side to side, much like a tree does in the wind. Your free leg should be bent and you should place your foot above or below the knee, but never on the knee. Keep the knee of that bent leg facing outward. This pose develops the spiritual acceptance of yourself in the world.
Most yoga classes end with Shavasana or “corpse pose.” It’s a relaxing pose where you are literally lying on your back with your eyes closed and your arms extended right by your side. Sounds amazing, right? This may sound easy but it is a challenging pose. You need to lay there completely still and focus on the present moment, forgetting the outside world. This is hard for a lot of people because they just can’t seem to control the thoughts racing through their mind. The spiritual aspect of this pose is that you are giving up what’s going on around you and finding peace in pure stillness.
Like Daddy Yankee and reggaeton, yoga and essential oils are a match made in heaven. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, you can benefit from adding some power-packed aromas to your practice. Before starting your practice, fill a spray bottle with your favorite scent and some water and spray it around the room or rub some oil on your wrists, fore head, or temples. If you really want to take it to the next level, get a diffuser. Lavender, eucalyptus, sandlewood, orange, and sage are a few popular oils that can transform your room into a serene yoga studio.
There are thousands of inspirational yogis on social media. Search #yoga on Instagram and your feed will be flooded with images of poses and tutorial videos from all over the world. Check out these accounts for some guidance and tips:
- Jessamyn Stanley is an Insta-yogi who is all about body positivity and leads yoga classes for all body types. She encourages people to ask the question “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look?” You can follow her on the ‘gram for yoga inspiration.
- Yoga Practice is another account that provides daily videos, tutorials, and inspiration. This account is great for beginners because they post quick seven minute yoga videos and step-by-step guides on how to stretch specific parts of your body.
- Spiritual Yoga gives you daily yoga tutorials which includes spirituality and Chakras. They also post photos of yogis doing poses in “reality” versus “Instagram” and that’s, like, totally relatable.
Spiritual Yoga Apps
If Instagram isn’t your thing, then download one of these apps and you’ll have your very own in-home studio in no time.
- Yoga For Beginners: This is one of the most highly rated yoga apps for beginners. All the classes are free and you can select a class that suits your purpose, from spiritual yoga to improving flexibility to toning your booty.
- Pocket Yoga: This is the next best thing to actually being in a yoga class. This app offers classes of all different levels and has a comprehensive pose dictionary that illustrates poses and proper alignment. This app is $3 to download.
- Bulldog Online: This app is yoga for non-yogis. It allows you to create your own 30-day work out plan based on your individual needs. You can choose from a soothing 10 minute meditation session to an hour long toning exercise class. Bulldog Online costs $12.99 per month, but first month is free.
- Calm: This app isn’t technically for yoga but it does include guided movements which is meant to help with improving sleep and decreasing anxiety. It’s $14.99 a month and they offer a 7-day trial.