Even though we know the seasons change, autumn still has a way of surprising us. It seems like one day it’s hot and humid, summers in full swing, and the next there’s a shift- the airs cooler and it feels crisp.
Then before you know it, it’s pumpkin-spice-everything, everywhere and we are wearing boots, long sleeves and sweaters.
The fall equinox is what is responsible for this shift and the seasons changing from summer to fall.
This year, the fall equinox arrives on Friday, September 22. The fall equinox happens the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator, which is an imaginary line in the sky that corresponds to Earth’s equator. Every year this occurs on September 22, 23, or 24 in the northern hemisphere.
From here, the days start to get shorter until the winter solstice in December, then they’ll begin their slow climb back to the long summer days.
The word “Equinox” comes from the Latin words “equi” meaning “equal” and “nox” meaning “night.” So during the fall equinox, there are equal amounts of daylight and darkness. The equinox is a point of union and balance between the light and the dark, between fire and water, & between the yin & yang.
This time is a great reminder for us to turn inward and check in with ourselves, slow down, and become more grounded.
Often as the end of the year approaches, we want to work harder to get things done. Instead, take the opportunity to reduce your work and only complete what’s necessary. As you check in with yourself, ask yourself: what do I need/want? Get more rest, eat earlier, develop a fall routine, get into a rhythm and stick with it. To feel more grounded, listen to slow rhythmic music with heavy drum beats and deep melodic chanting, these vibrations will resonate in the lower chakras, drawing energy closer to the earth. To also honor yourself during this time, meditate, take a yoga class, stay warm, and love and honor yourself and your body.
In honor of the fall equinox we will be holding a special grounding yoga class with Sam Benson on Saturday, 9/23 from 9:00-10:15am. To register, please visit: http://empoweryoganj.com/schedule/
In this week’s blog, I’ll be exploring mantras and the benefit of mantras both on and off the mat.
With spiritual practices like yoga and meditation becoming more popular, it seems like everyone is talking about mantras. But what’s a mantra??
WHAT ARE MANTRAS?
A mantra is a word, sound, or phrase repeated to aid in your concentration. They are a living force that are believed to have high spiritual and creative power.
Mantras can also be used as an affirmation and to help keep you connected to a particular state of mind. When using a mantra, it’s believed that only the positive intentions and actions will fill your mind and negativity will be eliminated.
WHY ARE MANTRAS IMPORTANT?
Mantras can be a great way to help keep you focused and connected to a particular state of mind. You can choose a mantra based on how you’re feeling or what you are needing in life. Whether you’re looking for positivity, health, happiness, self love, or if you simply want to find balance, finding a mantra and sticking with it can help you cultivate that in your life.
HOW DO THEY HELP?
In a vinyasa flow yoga class, mantras can be used as a silent repetition to help keep the mind focused and present.
Off the mat, when you have difficulty focusing, your mind keeps wandering, or you’re in a stressful or uncomfortable position, a mantra can help you feel grounded and at ease.
Studies have shown that mantras can reduce stress levels and change your brain’s chemistry. They interrupt your negative thoughts and experiences and give you something more positive to focus on instead.
Mantras help you maintain a connection to the state you wish to cultivate. Choosing a mantra in the morning can help set the tone for the rest of your day.
At the beginning of most yoga classes, the teacher will share a theme or invite you to create an intention or pick a mantra to use and help support you throughout your practice.
SOME POPULAR MANTRAS:
Endurance/Strength- “This too shall pass.”
Love- “I am love.”
Manifesting Love- “I am attracting all the love I dream and desire.”
Calmer mind- “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
Being present- “Be here, now.”
Allowing the universe to guide you- “I am open to receiving universal gifts.”
Creating happiness- “Today I choose joy.”
Release- “Close your eyes, clear your heart, let it go.”
Empowerment- “I am capable of wonderful things.”
Building Self-Confidence- “Today you are perfect.”
Strength and Willpower- “Forward progress, just keep moving.”
Enduring Tough Times- “you are the sky, everything else is the weather.”
Neutralizing Body Image- “I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough.”
Radiating Gratitude- “I am grateful for all the things unfolding in my life & all that is yet to come.”
Starting the Day- “I am fullfilled, I am fearless.”
At the moment, my life feels turned upside down. A few stressors have been my dad’s death and getting sick. Not only am I suffering from TMJ, but I also have polyps on my vocal cords and am having difficulty speaking.
I miss my dad tremendously and when I want to talk or cry, I can’t because it hurts my throat. Now not talking wouldn’t be so bad if my whole life- my job and identify- didn’t revolve around being able to speak. I can’t coach or teach, and I’m scared to do permanent damage and not get my voice back. So I’ve been feeling a huge range of emotions, from sadness and depression to anger and rage to despondency and helplessness. On top of my personal challenges, I don’t dare turn on on the TV because the chaos, greed, death, and destruction on the news makes me feel worse and more hopeless.
However, I believe (or at least am trying to) that we can transform our challenging situations into one of inner and outer peace. Everyday we wake up, we have a choice. A choice to feel hope, peace, happiness, and look for the good in the world, rather than choosing to feel sad, depressed, etc…
When things happen and issues or challenges become revealed, we have an opportunity to face them and then to choose another path. No more gloom and doom. This could be the sign we’ve been waiting for to make changes in our life for the better. Or in my case maybe a reminder to slow down and allow myself to take a break for a while rather than always going and pushing myself. We need to begin to understand that the outer chaos we experience merely represents our mental state. So if we can calm & quiet what’s happening inside, then what’s happening outside will quiet too and hopefully we can find some peace.
Being able to keep the peace can be hard. I have a very hard time when things don’t go according to my plan. If you’re like me, when situations arise, I want to “fix” it immediately. I’ll spend sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. Now certain things, like my dad dieing is unfixable and will take time for me to heal emotionally. Not being able to speak can’t just be fixed right away either, and will take time to physically heal. These unpredictable circumstances happen on the regular and are beyond our control; so we need to come up with ways to help ourselves when we feel off balance or out of control.
So how can we do this? These ideas may help:
Thoughts have power:
Begin to visualize good things. When you’re feeling chaotic, try to calm the mind, think good thoughts, and envision the outcome you’d like to see. Start imagining yourself happy, healthy, safe, and loved. Hold onto those good vibes.
Words have power:
Train your subconscious brain to have a different belief system. Wishful thinking doesn’t help, but repeated helpful affirmations or mantras do. Mantras when repeated many times throughout the day start to become your inner truth and will help change your subconscious mind.
Some examples of my favorite mantras include: I am enough, It’s a great day to be alive, & you are the sky, everything else is the weather. Always remember, words have power.
Feelings have power:
In order for us to transcend our situation and create more peace in our lives, we have got to feel it and the best way to do that is have faith. Having faith means that everything will be ok.
To have faith, we must believe with conviction that everything will be okay, even if we can’t currently see exactly how.
Action is power:
Keep your eyes and heart focused on how you can add value to the world each day.
Think about your life’s purpose, why are you here? Think about the gift you have to offer the world. In moments of chaos, remember your purpose and stick with it. What you do is part of you, so trust it, it’s who and what you are. When I know I have helped someone for the better and contributed value to the world each day, I feel centered, grounded, and at ease. Action is power.
Meditate for 10 to 20 Minutes per day:
Meditating can be done is so many ways. I highly recommend guided meditations to start. But even sitting in nature or focusing on peace or doing deep breathing helps ground you tremendously so that you feel calmer and less stressed, which in turn has a positive effect on those around you. Meditation can be powerful. Checkout a previous blog of mine to learn more: http://yogaswole.com/meditation/
Over the years, I have discovered that yogis make some of the best friends. From my studio in Boston, to my own studio now, and the ones I’ve worked in and visited along the way; I have met so many incredible people & have built many lasting friendships. Yoga is a truly great place to meet and connect with people.
Yogis of all ages and backgrounds are often united in their love of yoga and a common desire to be friendly both on and off the mat. I’ve been able to deepen friendships through the transformative experience that was my teacher training, numerous classes I’ve taught and attended, workshops, as well as community gatherings and potlucks.
With yoga as the glue, I have found that that the things we have in common are far greater than those things that set us apart. So yoga studios are a great place for meeting people and building friendships.
Yoga for the individual:
Yoga is about self discovery. It’s a wonderful way to become more in tune with your mind and body so you can find your true self. Yoga helps eliminate suffering, stress, and negativity in our lives. During a yoga class, you’re challenged to bring your attention inward and connect with yourself on a deeper level.
With an open mind and willingness that’s cultivated in class, we can work on ourselves and begin to strip away the negativity. When we let our guard down like this, we not only begin to explore a deeper connection to ourselves, but also a deeper connection to others.
Yoga for the group:
While yoga is very individual, it is also very collaborative. Yoga helps create union with one another and a sense of togetherness. Through collective breath and movement in class, yoga helps create bonds with the people around you like none other.
Once class is over, there’s this overall feeling of oneness, connection, and collaborative energy. There’s this beautiful window of opportunity to make introductions, mingle, and foster a deeper connection and potential friendships to those around you.
Next time you’re in class:
Spark up a conversation with your yogi neighbors in class, introduce yourself to the teacher, talk to people after class, whatever it may be, break out of your shell, be brave, allow yourself to be vulnerable and open. We are all connected and if nothing else, one thing we know we have in common, is our love for yoga and our dedication to our practice. There is always space in our lives for new positive people. Take a chance, say hi.
Do you find it hard to workout when you travel? If you’re like me, you don’t do well with changes to your routine or schedule and when you don’t have the equipment you normally use to workout with.
So when I go away, I first try to be very proactive and planful, thinking about what my routine will look like while I am gone. I first try to figure out what I can bring with me and also what facilities will be available- i.e is there a gym where I’ll be staying, can I safely run outside, is there a Crossfit nearby that I can drop into, can I take a yoga class, etc…
If I think some of these aren’t available, fitting in my normal workouts may be a challenge, so I do my best to go into the trip with an open mind. I’ll do what I can & I try to look at it as a way to breathe some new life into my routine and do something different. Sometimes, being limited in the time you have and the equipment available can be a good thing because it forces you to be more creative with your workouts or spend more time on some much needed rest and relaxation.
GETTING READY TO GO:
THINK: What can I take with me?
Packing your dumbbells obviously isn’t the best idea, but if you don’t have a clue whether your hotel has a decent exercise room, there are some alternatives:
Resistance bands can be a great traveling companion. You can use bands to target every muscle in the body and since you have tension throughout the entire movement, you’ll really feel the burn. They are also easy to stuff into your suitcase without taking up much space. Great for when you’re at home, at work, or away in your hotel room. You can find them a variety of bands and tubes on Amazon, other retailers, and even local sporting goods store. Most bands come with a list of exercises you can do with them.
Jumping rope is a great exercise for your heart and body, and will really help you burn calories. Take the opportunity to practice your jump roping skills and maybe even double unders!
A yoga mat:
I have found some interesting and often beautiful spaces to practice in while on vacation. I have unrolled my mat at the airport and found a comfortable seat or lying position and meditated, or some light stretches in between flights to help with stiffness and circulation. If you’re in a hotel, can you rearrange the furniture to create a little yoga nook? You can download music to your phone to help create the right ambiance for you. Find yourself in tight quarters? Take your mat outside onto the porch, grass or the beach. Complete some sun salutations, warrior I & II sequences, allowing your body to move, flow, and stretch.
What can you do without equipment?
Swimming is a great cardio exercise and it targets every muscle of your body. If you’re at a hotel with a pool, swim laps or try pool running.
If you’re at the beach, the ocean offers even more opportunities for exercising while having fun – surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, riding the waves- all are great for burning calories and staying active.
Walking and/or Running:
Walking and running are great ways to explore a new location. You don’t need much more than a good pair of shoes to get a great cardio workout in for the day. Plus, if you’re at the beach, you’ll get even more out of your walks/runs by using the sand to your advantage. Walking or running in soft sand is much harder than walking on pavement. Note- if you’re going for a longer duration run/walk, wear shoes rather than being barefoot because it could cause shin or calf pain. Get up early and watch the sunrise over the horizon. I can’t think of a better way to start my day!
Want to run on pavement but aren’t comfortable in a new location? Try finding a few local running clubs you can link up with to run or who can suggest safe routes for you. I have found some local groups on FB and messaged them prior to traveling.
Ways to workout out as your travel:
Getting stuck in an airport with long layovers or plane delays is no fun, but you can take advantage by getting in a little exercise.
Your best bet is to walk the airport, avoid the escalators & take the stairs, and keep your arms going and your posture straight. If you have a ton of carry-on luggage, find a locker and stash it there or take it with you to add some weight to your walk. Or as I said before, unroll your yoga mat. Some airports even have quiet meditations rooms you can practice in or gyms you can take advantage of. Most charge anywhere from $10 to $20 for the day.
On the Plane:
Is there anything more uncomfortable than the seats on an airplane? You can combat a stiff neck and back by getting up every 30-60 minutes or so and walking the length of the plane. While you’re up, get the kinks out by lacing your fingers together and stretching from side to side or stretching them up over head (micro backbend) and then in front of you while gently rounding your spine (like a standing cat/cow pose). While seated, stretch your neck, arms and legs too. Anything you can do to keep the circulation going will help reduce some of the aches, pains, and bloating.
Many hotels have exercise rooms but, if they don’t, they might have an affiliation with a local gym for a small fee. Ask the hotel manager about local health clubs and about any parks or trails close by.
I like to google and find local gyms before I go. I’ll reach out about a drop in classes or ask about special rates, especially if I’ll be going for or a week. My favorite thing to do when I travel is find a cool new Crossfit affiliate or “Box” to go to!
Don’t want to go or pay for a gym? Google travel WOD (Workout Of the Day). You will find several full body, no equipment needed workouts you can do anywhere, any time.
For me to be most successful and able to workout when I travel, I think it helps to do a little research before you go, so you’re prepared when you get there.
Other ways to stay healthy:
Traveling can throw a wrench into your healthy eating. From the questionable airplane food to the quick food at the airport (pizza, burgers, fries, ice cream etc.) it’s easy to get off course. Then you have the temptation of new and exciting restaurants to try while you’re at your destination. Try to bring easy, packable snacks for the plane (fruit, granola bars, trail mix, etc.) and, when eating out, try to make at least one healthy choice each day.
Whatever your destination, a little advance planning can ensure that you stay on track with your exercise program. Be active, get out and explore, eat healthy, and most importantly have fun.
I have been in Hawaii with my family over the last two weeks and took the opportunity to relax, unwind, and unplug. Sorry that I haven’t written in a while, but I’m back and am looking forward to sharing my travels with you!
What a fabulous 12 days we had exploring and cruising Hawaii. Over the course of my trip, I got to visit and explore Honolulu, Maui, The Big Island (Hilo & Kona), and Kauai. With 10 of us traveling, cruising was definitely an easy and convenient way to explore all that the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. Our trip was certainly filled with lots of fun, adventure, and family bonding. For this week’s blog, I thought I’d recap my trip and highlight some of the fun things I did while away. I would also like to take this opportunity to give a special shoutout to my mom, Judy. Without her, this trip would not be possible. I have the best mom!!
Planning a trip to Hawaii? Here are some things you may want to know before you go!
MY FAMILY VACATION:
We visited the Hawaiian Islands via cruise ship. We cruised on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s- Pride of America. It was an older vessel, but was recently updated and seemed to be well maintained! The ship had lots of amenities and accommodating staff that were happy to help provide you with anything you needed to make your trip the best it could be.
I booked this trip from a great friend and former colleague of mine, Heather Hamed. Heather and her husband own American Discount Cruise and Travel. I highly recommend this company to help with your next vacation and am not just saying that because she’s a close friend. We have booked several trips through them and I have not been disappointed. The staff at ADCT is highly knowledgeable and can help find you the best trip to meet your needs and budget. They do it all; from helping to not only book the cruise, but they can support you with air travel, transfers, sightseeing recommendations, travel tips, and much more! Be sure to check them out at: www.americandiscountcruises.com/index.html
There was lots to do or not do. You could relax and lay by the pool, sunbathe, sit in the ship’s library, relax in the observatory, play video games, see shows, participate in daily games and activities (i.e. wine tasting, beer tastings, hula dancing, lei making class, dance parties, pool volleyball, magic shows, etc…), get a massage, visit the salon (i.e. hair, nails etc…), or go to the gym. I certainly had a lot of fun laying on the deck or in the gym!!
Prior to setting sale, we spent 3 nights at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort in Oahu. This hotel was only steps from the famous Waikiki Beach and very close to Diamond Head Crater.
Oahu is often referred to as “The Gathering Place”, Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island and home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population- a fusion of east and west cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. Oahu is a fun place to visit and explore.
Honolulu has a lot to offer and a ton of places to visit. Having been to Hawaii before I opted out of some of the more traditional/popular excursions that my family did- i.e. Visiting Pearl Harbor & the USS Arizona Memorial, Dole Plantation, and Jurassic Valley at Kualoa.
After 3 days in Oahu, we boarded the Pride of America and traveled to Maui.
Maui is known as the “Valley Isle,” and is dotted with quaint towns and artist communities. Maui offers shimmering beaches, tons of waterfalls and hiking trails, and incredible sunrises from the top of Haleakala.
Maui beaches: Maui has more than 80 incredible beaches with a combined shoreline that spans 120 miles.
Road to Hana: With 600 curves and 54 bridges, this is one of the world’s most scenic drives.
My favorite part was swimming in the waterfalls near Haiku and watching the sunrise from the top of the world before biking 26 miles down Haleakala.
THE “BIG ISLAND”:
After two days in Maui we headed to the “Big Island”- spent 1 day in Hilo and 1 day in Kona.
To avoid confusion with the name of the entire state, the Island of Hawaii is often called the “Big Island,” because it is nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. The Big Island is not only the largest, but also the the youngest in Hawaii’s chain of islands. Whether you’re visiting Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world (you can actually see it flowing into the ocean- we watched it from the cruise ship!!), visiting local shops, or walking on a black sand beach, snorkeling, or sailing along the Kona Coast; The Big Island, is filled with lots of adventures.
While there, my husband and I decided to walk around and explore what Hilo had to offer. We visited:
Hilo Farmers Market:The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.
Downtown Hilo, Hawaii Island: Downtown Hilo is Hawaii Island’s biggest small town featuring century old wooden storefronts, galleries, shops, and restaurants. The local juice and coffee shops are something you don’t want to miss!
While visiting Kona we decided to take a much needed beach day. Once we docked, we took a tender to Kailua Kona beach. The weather was dry and sunny and the white sand beaches were perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, going on an outrigger, and swimming. Visit Kona Boys for all of your beach day needs!!
We spent the last two days of our cruising adventure in Kauai. I truly believe we saved the best for last. If it were up to me, I would have spent an entire week here.
Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the “Garden Isle,” which is an entirely accurate description. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys and jagged cliffs. Tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls have developed over the last hundreds of years. Kauai only has one road that is 18 miles long, so the majority of the island is preserved land and is only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination. We had the opportunity to take in some of the sights along the Napali Coast as we traveled around the island on the ship. It was incredible.
Between the wonderful landscape of the islands, fun activities for the whole family, and welcoming attitude of the Hawaiian people; Hawaii is a wonderful place to visit. My trip to Hawaii was certainly filled with lots of fun and adventure. Together my family and I created memories that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go back. Hawaii is a beautiful, magical place and worth a visit!!
With the hectic pace and demands of life, many people feel stressed out and over-worked. We often feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that we need to. Our stress and tiredness not only make us unhappy and frustrated, but also can begin to affect our health. Meditating is a great way to help make you feel calmer, more focused, and more at peace. In our busy day, we may feel like there is no time to stop and meditate, but a simple 10-15 min. is all you need to help calm your mind and body and allow yourself to feel less stressed.
My dad passed away on July 3rd. During the last few weeks, I’ve felt sad, depressed, and overwhelmed, so I decided to start meditating. Previously, I considered my yoga practice to be a moving meditation, but since I am always moving, I decided to try to sit in stillness for a while and see how sitting and focusing on my breath could help to calm my body and mind.
In only 10 minutes a day, I was able to help transform my mind from negative to positive, from anxious to calm, and from unhappy to happy. Learning to sit with myself and love myself, helped me to find the inner harmony I was lacking.
Overcoming negative minds and creating constructive thoughts is one of the purposes of meditating. There are many different meditations techniques (i.e. walking, concentration, mindfulness, transcendental) you can choose from. Meditating doesn’t have to feel hard or cumbersome, so no matter what you choose or how you choose to meditate, it’s up to you. The most important thing you can do is focus on the present, try to clear your mind, and breathe.
Here is a simple meditation exercise to try:
Sit or lie comfortably.
Close your eyes.
Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.
I started with some simple meditations on my own, but then began to explore some guided meditations. Here are a few things I found and enjoyed:
Meditation Studio– I enjoy this when I don’t have much time and am looking for a shorter guided meditation. They offer meditations for stress, relaxation, and sleep, just to name a few.
For longer meditations, I enjoy listening to Deepak Chopra’s Healing Meditation on youtube. He has quite a number of them and I really haven’t found one I havent liked.
Next time you are having a hard time or are feeling stressed, find a comfortable seat or lying position and begin to meditate. This may not make the negative experience go away, but it can help you tolerate it with kindness and patience.
Looking for a new running shoe? I may have just the one for you!
Have you worn a pair of Brooks shoes yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Brooks has high quality products and as a company truly stands behind everything they make (from shoes to apparel). Brooks wants to make sure that everyone has what they need to Run Happy! Every design and engineering choice is specifically designed to incorporate runners’ needs and the running experiences they crave. For whatever reason, if you don’t like your shoes or other items, you can return them, no problem. What could be better than that?
Brooks recently launched the Brooks Glycerin 15, which is an update to an already great shoe model. If you aren’t familiar with the Glycerin line, it is Brooks’ most cushioned shoe and it’s built to withstand high milage while providing a comfortable and soft ride. Glycerin offers a few new updates while maintaining the soft, plush ride users have come to love.
Here is some info. about the new design.
Runner Type: Neutral
Midsole: Super DNA and full-length cushioning with Omega Flex Grooves
Outsole: IDEAL Pressure Zones and blown rubber forefoots.
Upper: 3D Stretch print, air mesh with 4-way stretch
Heel: Comfort collar
Colors: Five new colors for both men and women
Weight: Men’s Brooks Glycerin is 10.6 ounces
Weight: Women’s Brooks Glycerin is 9.2 ounces
Drop: Men’s and Women’s: 10mm
Lots of cushioning but still pretty light weight
Breathable/ great ventilation
Super DNA midsole & 3D technology
Offers good support for medium to high arches
Ok on some light trails, but they do not recommend taking them on technical and rough terrain.
Narrow in midfoot- some people may want to consider going up a ½ size.
In all, if you get a chance to try on these shoes, you may be hooked and find that the investment is worth it.
As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons, i.e. hours of daylight, foods that are plentiful that time of the year, weather, and seasonal activities. Although our bodies adjust to these changes naturally, it doesn’t hurt to adjust our routine to help aid in the transition and find better balance in our bodies.
During this week’s blog, we’ll look at an Ayurvedic approach to inner body balance.
What is Ayurveda?
According to the science of Ayurveda, our universe, which includes our bodies and our thoughts, is composed of the 5 elements: water, fire, earth, air, and space. The 5 elements blend in specific ways to create the 3 doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Each of us has a dominant dosha that manifests in both our physical appearance and mental character.
According to Ayurveda, summer inspires the pitta dosha (which is a combination of fire and water). Pitta is driven by the solar force, so when the natural cycle of the seasons brings us to the sunny summer months, and the sun is closer to the Earth, we need to balance the hot, fiery external climate with our internal energy. Too much of one energetic force can flood our bodies. When we don’t balance pitta energy, we may begin to feel changes physically and mentally. Physically, we may experience an increase in body temperature, changes in skin, and digestive issues (i.e heartburn and indigestion). Mentally, we may feel more agitated, demanding, or lose our temper more easily. However, when pitta is in balance physically and mentally we are strong, sharp, and focused.
How do we balance that pitta energy?
During this time of year, a good counter for the sunny weather is focusing on activities and foods that are cooling. This approach will nourish your system and help increase your energy levels.
One of the best ways to encourage equilibrium in your body is through your yoga practice. Here are some yoga poses you can include in your daily routine that will help balance and regulate your body during the summer months:
Supported Bridge- place a yoga block beneath the low back.
Legs Up the Wall- Keep your tailbone flush against the wall and your legs straight up.
Forward Folds- complete these seated or standing.
Twists: seated or lying on your back.
After you complete your asanas (yoga poses), weave in one or both of the following cooling pranayama (breath work):
Shitali Pranayama: This technique is done by curling the sides of your tongue towards one another and sticking your tongue out through your lips. Inhale through your rolled tongue and exhale out through the nose. Repeat 5-20 times.
Single-Nostril Breathing: This technique isolates one nostril at a time. Plug your right nostril and breathe in and out through the left nostril for 5-20 breaths, then switch sides.
Food is a great way to help balance the body. Here’s what you can do to align your eating with the summer season:
Eat vegetables and fruits that have a high water content: melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens.
Keep things light and cool. Enjoy foods that aren’t dense and heavy.
Stay hydrated! Drink lots or water or even try drinking electrolyte-enhanced or coconut water.
Incorporate herbs and spices into your cooking that reduce the pitta dosha (i.e. mint, fennel, cilantro, cumin, and coriander).
Although your body will instinctively crave balance as the seasons shift, it’s also beneficial to help aide your body throughout the seasonal shift.
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, join Sam from Empower Yoga on Saturday, July 29th from 1:00-2:30pm. Sam will guide you through a pitta reducing asana practice followed by a discussion on how yoga, diet, and self-care can help to balance the pitta dosha. You will learn other yoga poses, foods and spices, and self-care rituals to add to your daily routine to help balance the fire in you this summer.
The hottest months of the year are quickly upon us. As a result, most of us want to sit inside with the A/C on while having a cold drink. When we think of summertime activities, we don’t always think about going to a heated yoga studio to practice. However, doing hot yoga in the summer does have many benefits and can actually help you survive the dog days of summer!
Here’s a few reasons how hot yoga helps:
You can easily acclimate to the summer’s heat!
Practicing in a heated studio allows your body to become more adapted to sweating and hot temperatures. Studies have shown that hot yoga practitioners are less sensitive to sweltering temps, often aren’t bothered by temperature changes, and don’t need to blast the A/C as high as others do.
It detoxifies your body through sweat.
If you’ve practiced hot yoga then you’ve probably left the class dripping in sweat. The sweat is incredibly cleansing and detoxifying. Sweat is a great way to cleanse your organs, muscles, and glands. Many people feel lethargic during the summer, but those who practice hot yoga feel more energized and refreshed because they sweat out bad toxins.
It helps you stay hydrated.
Proper hydration is essential when it’s hot out. Hot yogis know that drinking fluids is essential both on and off the mat. Whether you’re losing a lot of water from a sweaty class or from simply being outside in the heat, it’s important to stay hydrated. Hot yoga students are often already careful about staying hydrated from their hot yoga practice,so they are able to maintain that habit throughout their daily life.
It gives you stronger coping capabilities.
A hot yoga class is a great way to learn how to cope with excessive heat. When your practice gets a little too hot for you, you learn how to listen to your body and adjust to the environment; i.e. slowing down your breathing, taking a child’s pose, or grabbing a drink of water. Hot yoga helps you become more in tune with your bodies needs, particularly in the heat.
It helps you maintain your practice all year.
I think one of my favorite things about hot yoga is walking into a heated class after a chilly winter day. But after months of taking classes during the colder months, it’s almost impossible to take three months off. When you practice regularly, yoga becomes such a critical part of your life and daily routine that when you don’t do it, you feel different, not as open or energized. So don’t let summer put a damper on all the hard work you’ve accomplished throughout the year. Get to class!
Nothing like the feeling you get after a great class.
After a long day at work, your first down dog can feel stiff and when you try to move, you experience a few creaky joints. Hot summer temps and high humidity can actually help loosen up muscles and joints before you hit the mat, and make warming up at the beginning of class that much easier. A heated class definitely gives your muscles a good stretch and prepares your body for other activities throughout your day. My runner friends even say that they experience the same endorphin rush they get from running during a hot yoga class. They feel on top of the world!
Helps you be more active in the summer.
There is no better time than summer to enjoy a run outside, long bike ride or a hike in the woods, even in the heat. If you’re someone who has difficulty training or completing physical activities in the heat, (Ii.e. try training for a fall marathon in August lol) a hot sweaty yoga session will lessen the shock of being active during the summer months and prepare your body to handle activities in the heat.