Tag Archives: Breathe

OPEN YOUR HEART- Heart Chakra Meditation

The Heart Chakra is the 4th Chakra, located at the center of the seven and associated with the color green. The Heart Chakra (or Anahata in Sanskrit) is our energy point for love and compassion, it is where the physical and spiritual come together. It is our link to love and our Higher Self.

By meditating on the Heart Chakra, we are bringing our awareness to not only personal and physical forms of love, but Universal love and the acceptance of the true self. The Heart Chakra embraces all facets of love, and anyone can benefit from exploring this energy center. Opening and balancing your heart chakra allows past grievances to be released and allows you to open yourself up to love, forgiveness, kindness and compassion.

When the Heart Chakra is out of balance, or closed, people tend to feel anger, grief, or hatred. Learning how to open the Heart Chakra can be a beautiful experience and a great way to start on the path to healing and self love.

Being in the month of love, what better way to show yourself some self love than to simply medite to your Heart Chakra.  

Here is a little way to nurture more self-acceptance, love, kindness, and compassion into your everyday life.

Connect to your heart’s energy:

  1. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. Sit up tall with the spine straight, the shoulders relaxed and the chest open. Inhale the palms together and lightly press the knuckles of the thumbs into the sternum at heart level.
  2. Soften your gaze or lightly close the eyes.
  3. For just this moment, let go of your thoughts and the outside world. Let go of any distractions and let the mind focus on feeling the breath move in and out of your body.  
  4. Now rub your palms together, making them warm and energized. Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly.  Close your eyes and feel the center of your chest- warm and radiant, full of energy. Notice how comforting that feels.  
  5. Draw your attention to your spiritual heart center in the middle of your chest. Notice a green light begin to appear. Allow this light to grow brighter with each breath you take.
  6. Resting your attention onto the light, continue to breathe and sense your breath flowing into your heart. Visualize the hearts energy and light you see permeating through the chest. See this energy as it radiates out from the center of your heart into the rest of your body. Feel this energy flowing out into the arms and hands, and flowing back into the heart. Know that you are safe and you are okay.
  7. As you breathe, use the mantra – “I love myself and I forgive myself, I am as I am meant to be.”
  8. Allow your heart to continue to open and radiate love and positive energy. Allow all the Universe has to offer to come in so you can feel all the love that surrounds you.
  9. After you feel completely soaked with heart chakra energy, gently release the palms by your side.
  10. On your next inhale, bring the arms up towards the sky, connecting with the heavens, then exhale and lower the palms lightly to the floor, connecting with the earth. Take a moment or two before opening your eyes & moving on with the rest of your day.

 

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10 Tips For Anyone New To Yoga!

The best advice I could give anyone new to yoga is to just show up. Don’t overthink it, just do it. Check your ego at the door and get ready to have fun. Allow your mind and body to be open to new experiences both physically and mentally. Yoga studios are not spaces for competition; they’re a starting point for an inward journey. So get ready to start yours!!

Your first few classes might be a little confusing until you become familiar with the poses and breath. Know that it’s ok, we all have to start somewhere. Do the best you can to follow along and remember to avoid placing any type of judgement on yourself.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind for your next yoga class:

Arrive early to your first class.

That way you can register, get set up, acclimate to the space, and introduce yourself to the teacher.

Don’t eat right before class and remember to drink plenty of water.

Refrain from eating at least two hours prior your practice. Eating before can cause you to become nauseous during your practice and cause painful digestive problems.  Also, drink plenty of water before, during, and after class (especially after a hot yoga class). Replenishing after class is important to help avoid soreness, cramping and dehydration.

Bring a friend or family member along with you.

Spread the joy and love of yoga… it might even help ease your nerves the first time around.

Wear comfortable clothes.

Try to avoid clothing that is too baggy or loose fitting. It’s best to wear clothing that is fitted, moisture wicking, and breathable. And remember to take off your socks!

Put your mat in the back of the room.

When I was new to yoga, I liked having a view of all the other yogis in the room. That way, if I needed a little guidance during a pose, or wanted someone to model the pose for me, I could look around at what my neighbors were doing.

Bring a towel.

Bring either a small hand towel with you or a larger towel to place over your mat, especially during a hot class. This will help you from slipping and sliding during class and allow you to wipe the sweat from your eyes.

Invest in a good yoga mat:

Many studios allow you to rent or borrow public mats. However, it’s nicer, cleaner, and more sanitary to have your own. A good yoga mat is essential to helping with your grip and can provide a little extra cushion for your hips and knees during floor poses. My favorite mat is the 5mm Reversible Mat from lululemon.

Accept your feelings.

If you become emotional during or after a yoga session, it’s normal. Sometimes releasing tension in the body (especially in the hips) or when opening our heart (during backbends) you begin to release a ton of emotions too. It’s important to remember that anytime you work with the body, you are also working with the mind and the energy system, which is the bridge between body and mind. Therefore, emotional breakthroughs can be seen as markers of progress on the road to personal and spiritual growth.

Remember, it’s your practice!

As you move, breathe and flow, remember to listen to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it, if you need a break, take a child’s pose. Remember, don’t take yourself so seriously, be sure to smile and have fun!

Try several teachers and classes.

Don’t be afraid to test out a variety of different teachers and classes until you find what’s right for you! You will figure out exactly where you need to be and what works for you!

NAMASTE!
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Keep the Past in the Past!

It’s time to let go of your past.  

I’ve had many sleepless nights. Nights when I was so worried about something that had happened and that I let it dictate my future. We’ve all been there at some point. You’re not alone.

Whether it’s something small (i.e saying something you wish you hadn’t) or something big (i.e a divorce, death, job loss), harping on negative experiences is painful and can cause so much unneeded stress and anxiety.   

We need to not dwell on the past and think about something more positive.  Here are some ways to help:

1. Learn from the past and move on.

Not all experiences we have will be good. However there is something to be learned from them all.  Take time to reflect on your experiences and use them as a tool for self reflection so that you can learn and grow but don’t dwell on them.  dwelling to much on things keeps the negativity around.  

2. Express yourself.

It’s good to talk about your feelings. Don’t keep them bottled up inside.  Whether it’s talking to the individual who has harmed you (or who you harmed), venting to a friend or writing it down, expressing your feelings can assist you in sorting out what, if anything, needs to be done to move on.

3. Accept Responsibility for your actions.

Sometimes when things happen, we don’t always accept responsibility for our actions. We get defensive, and we want to play the victim.  The problem is, blaming others harbors anger and prevents you from moving forward. Accept responsibility for what happened and move on.

4. Focus on the present.

One of the best ways to let go of your past is to embrace the present. Instead of reliving the past, keep yourself active and enjoy the current moment.

Be mindful- enjoy time with people you love and doing the things you love (i.e. going to dinner, running, taking a yoga class, having coffee with friends, etc.).  Accept that negative feelings are a part of life, but you can choose to look at the positive and make your own happiness.

5. Disconnect for a while.

Allow yourself to take some time away so that you can clear your head. Maybe meditate, find a quiet spot to read, head to the beach (my favorite place to disconnect). When you return, you’ll have a better perspective on the past and look more positive towards the future..

6. Let go of negative people in your life.

Are there people in your life who are bringing you down? Are they preventing you from moving forward?  Move away from these people to find more positive people who will empower you. Meet people at your gym, yoga studio, running group, etc.

7. Practice forgiveness of both yourself and others.

We’re all human and we make mistakes. Forgiveness is essential to spiritual growth.  If you’ve been hurt by someone, harboring feelings of anger or animosity just perpetuates the problem and continues to make you angry, forgive and move on.  While you’re at it, forgive yourself too.  Its ok to make mistakes, as long as you’re learning from them, cut yourself some slack.

8. Make new memories.

Start making new, positive memories to replace those negative memories from your past. Spend your time with the people you love, and doing the things that bring you happiness and peace.  

Here’s to living in the NOW!!

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Beat Holiday Stress

Holidays are fun, but they can also be stressful. You may be dealing with visiting relatives, end-of-year work deadlines, meal planning, shopping, crowded malls, endless cleaning, needy family members, awful traffic, etc.

The good news is that some stress is good for you, because it gives you purpose, challenge, and a sense of achievement. For example, while it’s stressful to host a meal for your family, it’s nice to do something for the people you love and share a delicious meal you prepared on your own and made with love.

On the other hand, lots of stress is not so great for us. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels increase. A sudden increase in cortisol levels causes a long list of problems. For example, you are at a greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke, as well as elevated blood sugar, increased belly fat, and memory loss.

So if you know the holidays really stress you out, your goal is to find things that will help balance you and help you feel good.  

Here are some stress reducing activities to help you get through the holidays:

Exercise:

The first step towards managing your stress is to get a decent workout in every day. A good workout rejuvenates you and helps to produce endorphins, which make you calm.

For example:

  • Take a hot yoga class- get out of your head and into your body. Visit Empower Yoga!
  • Go for a run

Get a good night’s sleep:

People need a fresh start each day, but for many, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by.

  • Stick to your schedule and try not to deviates by no more than 1 hour daily (2 hours max), even over the holidays.
  • Use your bed for sleep and not work, tv, ipads, cell phones, etc.
  • When you turn out the lights to sleep, be sure to keep the bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Avoid bringing pets or children into your bed at night as they will wake you up.

Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake:

If you have trouble sleeping, don’t consume more than 2 servings of caffeine during the day, and not more than 2 servings of alcohol in the evening. Extra caffeine and alcohol disrupts a good night’s sleep.

Get off your feet:

If you’ve been on your feet all day working, shopping, or socializing, quickly relieve stress by giving your feet a break. Simply elevating or lifting your feet above your heart, can help you relax and recenter.

Breathe:

If traffic is backed up, or your in laws are testing your patience, go ahead and sigh. Take a minute to breathe. This is the body’s natural response to stress.

Relax your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Then, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, letting go of any stress and/or tension you may be feeling.

Schedule some peace and calm every day:

Many people eat well and exercise, yet they don’t schedule any time in their day for peace and calm. If you don’t have a daily relaxation routine, 10 to 20 minutes of soul calming activity, in place to manage the stress in your life, it probably won’t happen on its own.

  • Make an appointment for a massage.
  • Sign up for a yoga class. If hot or athletic yoga classes are too strenuous for you, opt for a relaxation yoga class- Empower Yoga offers a Yin Yoga class as well as a Recharge class.
  • Meditate- give yourself 10 minutes to tune in and transform your negative thoughts.

Get outside and have fun!! Do something you love and enjoy a few times each week for your own health and sanity. Plan some activities that are fun for you, your family, and your close friends. When you are stressed, it’s nice to spend time with people who make you happy and who bring cheer.

As you reduce your stress, you’ll sleep better, eat more wisely, work out more, and feel better all around.

Happy Holidays!

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Meditation

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:

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.

Namaste!

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Benefits of Hot Yoga in the Summertime!

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.

Get to a hot class, what are you waiting for?  

Join Empower Yoga this summer this summer & get your sweat on!

 

 

 

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Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.

openMy yoga journey started about 10 years ago. I have to admit, I was kind of in a dark place at the time and a friend of mine dragged me to my first class. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if it would even help me feel better.  While I liked the class, I was still a little skeptical about yoga, but I decided to give it another try.  After a handful of  times, I started to see and feel the benefits of yoga. I began to recognize ways that yoga was beginning to change my life. It helped me feel better in my body, feel better about myself, be in the moment more, see the world in a brighter light, and appreciate the people and things around me more. Yoga has opened my eyes to so much and ever since then, yoga has been a huge part of my life and a huge part of my daily routine. I am not sure where I would be without it.

I knew I always wanted to teach. I always played school when I was a kid, which eventually led me to going to college and grad school for education. I received my degree in Elementary and Special Education, a masters in Special Education, and a CAGS in Administration.  Becoming a yoga teacher seemed like a natural progression. First, I started to incorporate it into my classroom and was amazed by the results.  I saw first hand the benefits it not only had on me, but on my students as well. I knew yoga was pretty special.  So when I moved to NJ with my husband almost 5 years ago, I finally decided to get my yoga certification so I could share the joys of yoga with others. I wanted to give back to a community that had given me so much. I fell in love with teaching yoga and decided that I’d one day have a studio of my own.

While most people talk about their dreams, I try to go out and grab mine. I have always been a goal setter and a slight over achiever.  I sometimes don’t know when to stop. Once I achieve a goal, I quickly move on to the next one. I try to enjoy every second of this amazing life and never want to miss an opportunity to truly live. I am always trying to push the boundaries and see what I am truly capable of.  I’m not afraid of a little hard work and when people tell me I can’t do something, I will work even harder to prove them wrong.  Now I know that there are cards stacked against me in regards to opening my own business, but I firmly believe that I can and will be successful.  At the end of the day, if I can help people and help better their lives in even the smallest of ways, than I have already succeeded. I look to the future filled with excitement and optimisms for being able to help people and allow them to learn and grow so they too can be and do their best.  I can’t wait for the studio to open come January!

I coming-soonchose the name emPOWER Yoga because I  want people to leave the studio feeling empowered and strong, ready to take on the day with enthusiasm and strength, knowing that they can tackle any obstacle that may get in their way.  We are capable of so much more than what we give ourselves credit for. I hope that when my students step on their mat, they begin to see and understand that. I hope they can cultivate strength and awareness on their mat’s that will transcend off their mats and into their daily lives.   

The studio will offer a variety of vinyasa based classes that are appropriate for all levels.  I am dedicated to spreading the love of yoga to all in a safe, fun, and encouraging way. I will work hard to help my students learn and grow so they can be and do their best.  I hope to get them ready for new experiences that will help them push past their boundaries and open them up to new ideas and challenges, both physically and spiritually. I hope to inspire people to be the best version of themselves and live their best life.

epy-campus-towmTo learn more about the studio and classes, follow us on FB or IG @empoweryoganj or visit our website: empoweryoganj.com.  Stayed tuned for studio updates and special promotions.

Namaste

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Setting The Foundation

sunriseLife is full of new beginnings. Every day, when the sun rises, we have a new chance, a new opportunity to start over and set our foundation for the day, week, year. When we get up we should ask ourselves: “what is it that we want to do or accomplish?” and then get started on doing it.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, earth shattering, or profound, but it should be something that we can do to better ourselves and help us to be the best that we can be.  What we do and think each morning will set a foundation for our mood and behaviors throughout the day. Continue reading Setting The Foundation

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The Importance of Breath

This week I took a yoga class with my good friend  Ayami. In class she talked about the importance of breath and becoming more aware of our inhales. We spent our practice conscious of our breathing; maintaining slow, long, consistent, and smooth inhales and exhales as we transitioned through the poses and postures.  

Afterwards, I began thinking more about the importance of breath and Ujjayi breathing. So this week’s blog is dedicated to Ayami.  Thank you for the inspiration. Continue reading The Importance of Breath

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