Make it your goal to meditate every day in 2015, whether it's out among a beautiful vista or at home in your pajamas.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Health and Happiness

With 2015 upon us, now is the time to start acting on our New Year's resolutions. Use this opportunity to make clear and decisive plans to improve your life. Many people vow to spend more time with their families, start new careers or return to school, and these are all noble and respectable means for improving the quality of your life. But be sure to include your health in that list of resolutions. Consider these ways in which you can reach greater wellness in 2015:

Inspire Someone to Learn Yoga
As someone who has learned yoga poses, you know how they can benefit not just the body but also the mind, emotions and spirit. The practice can enhance a sense of tranquility, thereby reducing stress, promoting peace and even helping to reduce blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications. But, especially in winter, people may fall into a rut of stagnancy and laziness. Make it your resolution to inspire friends – or even just one person – to join a studio and embrace an active, healthy lifestyle. Not only will you benefit from the satisfaction of knowing you've contributed to the betterment of another person's wellness, but this may lead to a deeper, lasting relationship with your friend.

Eat Mindfully
Much like mindful meditation techniques, mindful eating involves a heightened sense of awareness. This approach to diet requires you to bring your full attention to the process of eating, including the smells, tastes and feelings that you experience. That means turning off the television and truly embracing the gift of food for what it is: a source of energy and life. You'll find yourself feeling more satisfied with each meal and less dependent on food for emotional support. Eventually, you may reap the benefits of enhanced energy and a healthier body weight. With patience and dedication to mindful eating, you might even learn to recognize what your body is actually hungry for, whether that's protein, fats or a specific vitamin.

Meditate Regularly
Meditation techniques are generally not on the top list of common resolutions, but they should be – individuals have a tendency to focus entirely on physical well-being and often neglect mental health. Meditation can help people find relief from stress and tension in a world that is so focused on fast pace and multitasking, and it can even help reduce physical pain, strengthen the immune system and improve mood by boosting serotonin. It also teaches self-discipline, which can transfer to other parts of your life and even other new Year's resolutions, such as quitting smoking and cutting out junk food.

Do you have any other suggestion for improving health throughout the year? What are your New Year's resolutions for 2015?

Mindful meditation techniques can help alleviate stress during the holidays.

3 Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness into the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of great joy when you make memorable moments with friends and family. However, it's also one of the most stressful parts of the year, and anxiety can ruin the occasion if you don't handle it properly. Fortunately, mindfulness can help you make the most of the festive season by helping you to accept and move past your emotions and embrace the present moment. Consider these suggestions for infusing mindfulness into your holidays:

Stick to Your Meditation Regimen
Things can become hectic during the holiday season – you may be overwhelmed with a multitude of dinner parties and other gatherings, gift shopping and other activities. But it's important to maintain your mental, physical and emotional health during this time of year. That means not skimping on your workout routine, keeping your doctors' appointments and keeping up with your daily meditation techniques.

Mindful meditation is an effective tool for reducing stress, utilizing deep breathing exercises and focused attention – as you concentrate on your current emotions, thoughts and feeling without judging them, you can accept and expel negativity while embracing the  moment for the remarkable gift that it is.

Be Mindful of What You Eat
The foods you eat have a great effect on your emotions and how you handle stress. Unfortunately, the holidays are generally associated with overeating, which can lead to shame and guilt in addition to mood issues. Mindful eating is essential for keeping your health on track during this time of year. It involves eating with attention – take notice of and enjoy the foods you consume in regards to the nutritional benefits they have on your body. After all, eating should be about caring for your body and providing it with fuel. A big part of this is eating slowly and without distraction (for example, don't have dinner in front of the television), but it also requires you to be aware of the non-hunger triggers that cause you to turn to food, such as stress or sadness.

Cherish the Moment
A seemingly simple way to incorporate mindfulness into your every day during this season is to embrace every moment. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or dissatisfied, take a deep breath and remember that each moment is a gift. Shake off your expectations, accept your feelings for what they are, and remember that you have endless opportunities in front of you. A few moments of mindful meditation techniques at times of tension can help you gain control of your emotions and find steady ground. You can also put a positive spin on each day by taking five minutes in the mornings to recount the things that you're grateful for: family, friends, health and so on.

Dahn Yoga intestinal exercises involve a pushing and pulling motion in the abdomen.

Yoga Poses for Improved Gut Health

The holidays are a time for giving, receiving and showing your affections for the ones you love, but it's also a time when people tend to eat more and sway toward high-carb, high-fat foods. As people take their seats at the dinner table, they may not be thinking about their intestinal health, but working now to keep your digestive organs at optimal function can mean not only greater wellness in the long-term but also a more enjoyable holiday season. Read on to learn how yoga poses can promote gut health, and try Dahn Yoga's intestinal exercises.

How Does Yoga Aid Digestion?
Like the muscles in your back, legs and other bodily surfaces, the internal organs can benefit greatly from massage. Fortunately, yoga poses have the capacity to massage, stretch and tone the small intestine – the focal point of the digestive system. Ideally, the small intestine works with the liver, salivary glands, tongue, teeth and other parts to help you ingest food continuously throughout the day, absorb the essential nutrients and expel waste. However, sometimes the system becomes blocked, causing common yet chronic digestive complaints.

The twisting, bending and stretching motions of yoga poses help to loosen matter blocking or stuck in the small intestine. It can also help firm and enhance flexibility in this internal organ, thereby strengthening it and its ability to aid in the digestive process. Additionally, yoga poses improve blood and energy flow through the organs, which further enhance digestion.

Dahn Yoga Intestinal Exercises
One of the important components of Dahn Yoga classes is the practice of intestinal exercises. These techniques essentially strengthen the core – the abdominal and back muscles as well as those around the pelvis. But it also enhances another aspect of the core that many people tend to neglect: the internal organs of the lower abdomen. As experienced yogi Chungsuk Lee explained to Dahn Yoga in a May 2014 interview, it's not possible to exercise the organs directly, but these intestinal exercises provide an indirect solution.

"We do something different," Lee explained. "Instead of trying to move the intestines directly, you move your abdominal muscles. When the abdominal muscles move, the intestines follow. That is why we call it 'Intestine Exercises.'"

To conduct Dahn Yoga exercises for the intestines, follow these steps:

  1. In a standing position, place your hands on your lower abdomen.
  2. Push your abdomen outward, taking notice of the light pressure.
  3. Pull the abdomen back inward toward your spine.
  4. Repeat this pushing and pulling motion at least 100 times.
  5. Afterward, rub your hands clockwise on your abdomen.

Keep in mind that it's important to practice these exercises at a speed and intensity that's comfortable for you. Don't try to accelerate the speed of the motions to get done more quickly, and stop if you feel cramping or pain.

Have you ever tried Dahn Yoga's intestinal exercises? Do you think your family members may benefit from these techniques during the holidays?

Jerry Seinfeld said that meditation techniques have helped him maintain his high levels of energy.

Jerry Seinfeld Thanks Meditation for High Energy Levels

It's a well-known fact that meditation techniques provide the mind, body and spirit with a plethora of benefits. As the Mayo Clinic points out, it can ease anxiety, promote emotional well-being, and help manage a range of condition from depression to heart disease. Another perk that many may not be familiar with is that meditation can enhance one's energy levels. But comedian Jerry Seinfeld is no stranger to this fact, and he has recently been cited as crediting his abundant stamina and vitality to the ancient practice.

A Lifelong Practice
The comedian has been a vocal advocate for meditation for many years. He has been practicing for about four decades, according to an interview held by GQ magazine in September 2013. A few months later at the David Lynch Foundation Gala, the 60-year-old actor gave a speech to the audience discussing his experience with meditation techniques. He discussed how when he was 18, he first undertook the practice and has done it regularly since 1972. 

Seinfeld claims that it helped him maintain energy levels during his many years starring, producing, writing, casting and editing his hit television show for nine years. As he explained to the source, he would engage in meditation while everyone else was away at lunch. 

"I would eat while I was working because I had missed lunch but that is how I survived the 9 years, it was that 20 minutes in the middle of the day would save me," Seinfeld said. 

Continuing His Journey
Now that Seinfeld is no longer under the constant pressures of producing a network television show, he partakes in his meditation techniques in the mornings before his children are awake. In June 2014, he met up with the executive producer of the David Lynch Foundation for a follow-up interview to discuss the role that meditation has played in his successes, both personal and professional. The comedian revealed that, though he doesn't understand precisely how it works, he benefits greatly from the practice.

"[H]ow does it feel? It doesn't feel like anything. I don't understand it," Seinfeld explained. "But here's the difference. At 1 p.m. that day, my head does not hit the decks like it used to. That's the difference. If I didn't do [meditation] that morning and I'm working, then by 1 p.m. I'm shot, and I think most people are. And now, at 1 o'clock, I'm feeling good. I just sail through the day, and then I have my second [meditation] at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m."

The comedian went on to say that the practice gave him a confidence and vibrancy that helped him succeed in the industry – that people want to see someone on stage who is bold, upbeat and self-assured, and meditation techniques allowed him to be just that.

A tip for yoga for beginners students: Don't forget to spend time practicing your meditation.

3 Tips for Yoga for Beginners Classes

If you're considering embarking on a journey toward wellness, yoga poses can be a useful tool in improving your mental, emotional and physical health. The deep breathing exercises coupled with mindful meditation techniques and gentle postures have a plethora of benefits. Those who engage in the ancient practice often experience increased flexibility, enhanced vitality and even a greater capacity to control their emotions. But it can be difficult for beginners to get motivated to join a studio, and once they do they may be intimidated by those around them who learn and develop at different speeds. If you are joining or have just become part of a yoga for beginners class, consider these helpful tips for finding success:

Create a Practice Space at Home
Going to the studio is an important aspect of being part of a yoga community. Doing so allows you to bond with others on a similar path and lean on people for support during your journey to wellness. However, there are benefits to having a studio in your own home. Sometimes, there simply isn't time in the day to go to the studio, and an at-home gym allows you to stick to your yoga routine in cases such as this. Creating a comfortable space to engage in yoga poses is not a difficult or expensive task. A yoga mat laid out in a spot large enough to move about freely is all you need, but you can enhance your at-home space with meditation music, soothing candles and other elements to relax the senses.

Keep a Practice Journal
When you first start taking yoga for beginners classes, you will be exposed to a plethora of unfamiliar concepts and new information. It can be difficult to absorb all of this data at once, but a practice journal can help you keep track of and make sense of this information. Take notes during class when you're not preoccupied in your exercises, and use the journal to keep track of your own insights as well.

Don't Neglect Meditation
Many people focus entirely on the physical aspects of yoga poses – the gentle movements, soft stretching and soothing postures. However, mindful meditation is an important aspect of the practice. Working the body alone is not enough to build real inner strength and enhance the mind-body connection. Think of meditation as a complement to your poses rather than a separate part. As you become more proficient in clearing your mind of negative thoughts and reaching new levels of relaxation, you may find that your body and mind are more at ease, pliable and prepared for the exercises of the day. You can even practice your meditation and breathing exercises at home, work or other places to incorporate the calming technique into your everyday routine.

Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies are embracing meditation techniques in a big way.

Mindful meditation becoming prominent in Silicon Valley

Mindful meditation techniques have been used for centuries as a means of reducing tension, alleviating anxiety and helping the practitioner find new levels of peace, tranquility and self-understanding. In the modern world, this becomes increasingly important as people are growing more and more invested in technology and disconnected with each other and themselves. That may be the reason why meditation has become so popular in Silicon Valley as of late.

What is Mindful Meditation?
Mindful meditation is an effective tool in finding relief from suffering and pain that works by allowing one to recognize their own inner wisdom. It requires you to accept the here and now – live in the moment and accept the thoughts and emotions that you experience, not judging them as good or bad, and them simply letting go of them. This act of letting go allows you to uncover thoughts and feelings that you may have been previously unaware, letting you to go deeper into the present moment and dig down to find the roots of your inner self.

Silicon Valley Meets Mindful Meditation
As the technology world becomes more aware of meditation benefits – largely through exposure to the practice while creating smartphone apps and other programs for practitioners – they have started to embrace the exercise in tranquility. According to San Jose Mercury News, some of the world's biggest technology companies, which are largely located in California's San Francisco Bay Area known as Silicon Valley, have been offering tech workers meditation opportunities, and it's making the region one of the most renowned for the practice.

"There are more teachers of this in the San Francisco Bay Area than any other place in the world except Toronto, I'm told," Renee Burgard, a Los Altos mindfulness-based psychotherapist and educator, told the source.

Google has taken the lead in incorporating meditation techniques into the daily lives of its employees. As Wired magazine reported, the search engine giant offers the Search Inside Yourself training program (which is also open to non-employees) as well as classes in energy management and special mealtime gatherings called "mindful lunches." The tech behemoth even installed a labyrinth for walking meditation. Other bigwigs embracing meditation techniques include Twitter and Facebook, which hold in-office meditation sessions. The aim of these initiatives is to train the brain, get the synapses working and stimulate creative thinking.

The R.I.S.E. program exposes students to the benefits of yoga poses.

Yoga for Schools Program Raises $31,000

Yoga poses can benefit children in a number of ways, from boosting energy to enhancing concentration in the classroom. While some people are wary of integrating this ancient practice into the classroom, many are embracing the plethora of ways it can improve physical, mental and emotional wellness. One such person is San Francisco Bay Area resident and yoga practitioner Erin Lila Wilson.

As an instructor for nearly a decade, Wilson has taught a variety of people, from the elderly to cancer patients. But according to GOOD magazine, she was reluctant about teaching children, as she believed they wouldn't be able to appreciate the practice. However, she was proven wrong after reluctantly agreeing to teach yoga to at-risk students.

"I was pretty intimidated going in initially," Wilson said. "But once I started actually teaching the teens, I was just blown away at how transformative the practice is in their lives."

Since then, Wilson founded the organization R.I.S.E., which aims to introduce yoga poses and wellness programs into the school setting. It serves students at a dozen schools on the West Coast and she hopes to keep expanding with the help of a recent Indiegogo campaign that proved to be immensely successful – it raised more than $31,000 in about a month. With these funds and Wilson's commitment to yoga and children, more students can strive for greater health and academic achievement.

A study suggested that people who practice meditation techniques and yoga on a long-term basis may have greater brain power.

Study: Yoga and Meditation Boost Brain Power

It’s no secret that meditation and yoga benefits are plentiful and far-reaching. Yoga postures can enhance flexibility, improve balance and posture, increase muscle tone and raise one’s energy levels. Meditation is widely known for soothing the nerves, improving concentration and lowering blood pressure. As a new study suggested, these ancient techniques may also help train the brain.

About the Study
The study, published in the online journal TECHNOLOGY, was conducted by biomedical engineers at the University of Minnesota who sought out to test the effects of yoga poses and meditation on brain-controlled computer usage. For the experiment, 36 participants were divided into two groups: one with 12 people who had at least a year of experience in meditation or yoga and a second group with 24 people who had no experience in these practices. Both groups of were unfamiliar with the technology that the study utilized – computers that could be controlled by the brain.

Each group were subjected to three 2-hour experiments once per month for 30 months. They wore high-tech caps over their heads that detected brain activity and sent these signals to the computer. They were asked to imagine left or right hand movements, which would move a cursor across the computer screen.

The Findings
The results of the study showed that those who engaged in yoga or meditation techniques on a long-term basis were twice as likely to successfully complete the brain-computer interface exercises as those who did not practice. Additionally, the yoga and meditation group learned to utilize the technology three times faster than the second group.

In a statement published by the University of Minnesota, the researchers discussed how this study has revealed important information about the brain and the advanced technology.

“In recent years, there has been a lot of attention on improving the computer side of the brain-computer interface but very little attention to the brain side,” said lead researcher Bin He, who serves as biomedical engineering professor and director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine at the university. “This comprehensive study shows for the first time that looking closer at the brain side may provide a valuable tool for reducing obstacles for brain-computer interface success in early stages.”

Future Implications for Human Health
This study proves the brain-boosting powers of yoga poses and meditation that scientists and doctors have long suspected. Bin He and his team of researchers are planning on studying a group of participants with no experience in yoga and meditation and then test how their brain functions with the computer as they learn the practices.

The technology at the center of these experiments will someday be used to help people with life-impeding conditions and injuries.

“Our ultimate goal is to help people who are paralyzed or have brain diseases regain mobility and independence,” Bin He said. “We need to look at all possibilities to improve the number of people who could benefit from our research.”

Yoga poses can improve flexibility, breathing and muscle tone.

Yoga Benefits for High-Endurance Athletes

People from all different corners of the sports world utilize yoga poses for their plethora of benefits. From relieving tension to enhancing flexibility, the ancient practice can help athletes improve performance on the field, in the pool, on the track or wherever they get active. It can be especially beneficial to high-endurance athletes in these ways:

Tones Muscles
Though a gentle practice, yoga has the capacity to help you boost muscle tone. It works every part of the body, and after a few sessions of yoga poses you may find that your hamstrings, quadriceps, biceps and other muscles are firmer and more pliable. Additionally, nearly all of the postures work to strengthen the core, not just by working the abdominal muscles but also massaging the intestines.

Increases Flexibility
Flexibility is important for any sport, in terms of both performance and reducing risk of injury. The postures gently stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons and loosen the joints for heightened form and balance, which in turn lead to greater flexibility. These stretches also serve to improve your posture by exposing your body to a variety of motions – many athletes experience soreness and stiffness from conducting the same motions repetitively.

Improves Breathing
High-endurance sports, such as swimming and running, require you to maintain steady breathing throughout long periods of activity. Yoga poses can help you achieve this by teaching your body to inhale and exhale naturally and comfortably while deepening and lengthening the breaths. This can both increase stamina and steady the heart rate.

"The ABCs of Yoga for Kids: A Book for Coloring" teaches children the alphabet and yoga poses at the same time.

Author Helps Children Learn their ABCs with Yoga Poses

Yoga benefits people of all ages, from tiny tots to the elderly. The mindful meditation, soothing postures and deep breathing promote not only physical health but also mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. But author Teresa Anne Power has come up with a unique new way to use the ancient practice to help the youth – she has written a book that helps teach children the letters of the alphabet while introducing them to yoga.

Power, who resides in Los Angeles, has been practicing yoga for about 25 years and has spent nearly a decade teaching it to kids in local organizations and schools. She created "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids: A Book for Coloring," combining her passion for yoga and her interest in teaching children. It takes the form of a coloring book, and it uses each letter of the alphabet to introduce a yoga pose that starts with the same letter. Children can not only exercise their artistic abilities by coloring in the pictures of kids doing these yoga poses, but they can also practice their alphabet and learn how to conduct these postures.

But The ABCs of Yoga for Kids is more than just a book, it's actually based on an organization by the same name that promotes yoga and healthy living in general among youngsters. Power even travels the country to help spread word of the initiative, and in summer 2014 she took to Newark, New Jersey, to visit the Montessori Community School. The author led a group of young children in a fun session of yoga poses, according to the Newark Advocate. The room was filled with the sounds of cows mooing, frogs croaking and playful singing and laughter. While the kids were busy having fun, Power knew that there were really practicing their alphabet as they engaged in physical activity and received the many benefits of yoga.

"A lot of people don't realize kids are getting the same benefits from yoga as adults," Power told the source. "And there's something about it that's just fun. They don't even know the benefits they are getting. It helps everybody. They don't need to have any special athletic abilities."

Where Dahn Yoga practitioners share their experiences