Tag Archives: Yoga

Belize in Yourself!

One of my goals for my first year of opening Empower Yoga was to lead a Fitness Retreat. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than working out & traveling. My husband and I travel often and one of our favorite things to do is to explore different CrossFit boxes and yoga studios while we are away. As a result, we decided to plan a Fitness Retreat and invited some like minded and adventure seeking people along for the ride. We always wanted to go to San Pedro, Belize and we felt this would be a perfect spot to host our first retreat!!

We stayed at Sun Breeze right near the heart of the town. What a perfect spot. It was close to town and all of the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, once inside the walls of the hotel it was like a hidden oasis, it was very peaceful and quiet. It was  the perfect vibe for our trip. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you’re looking to visit San Pedro. We actually learned about this spot from our friend Tauni of Lean Power Yoga. She had visited Belize and was incredibly helpful with the planning and organizing of the trip since she knew about the country and all it’s hot spots!

Being home for almost a week now, I am still on a high. I am still processing the magic of those days and it’s been hard to put it into words. The trip really surpassed my expectations. It was an incredible week filled with lots of fitness, friendships, food and fun!!

The yoga was incredible. I got to teach in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the ocean. The ambiance was just perfect. It was so lovely and every class offered something different from the previous one giving the yoga aspect excitement and diversity.

The CrossFit was a challenge. CrossFit Wolf hosted us for the week. It was an awesome facility with expert coaches and workouts that were lots of fun and pushed your limits!

The food was fresh and down-right tasty too. We didn’t have a single bad meal- from salads to fish tacos to the tamali street food. Oh and the coffee… nothing better than early morning coffee talk before we started our day or our after workout iced coffee that was so delicious and refreshing!

The folks that joined were so perfect too. Everyone got along well and became fast friends by the time the week was over. The rich conversation, laughter and authenticity made being around each other refreshing and energizing. I’m so honored that my circle of friends grew from this.

Honestly, thinking back, I couldn’t think of a more perfect getaway. I feel so incredibly thankful for all the people who attended. I am confident our experience in Belize just would not have been the same without each of them! Traveling can be hard, but stepping outside your comfort zone and joining other folks you don’t know on an international adventure, even more so. However, this group jumped right in from the moment they arrived and held nothing back. Everyone worked hard, supported each other & challenged their limits. Looking back over the pictures and reliving these moments makes me smile and feel so happy. I cannot wait to do it again!

Check out our itinerary from the trip:
Honestly, there was a great deal of fear involved with planning and hosting my first retreat, because the thought looming in the back of my mind was: What if no one signs up or what if they don’t have a good time?

It’s scary to put yourself out there, but believing in yourself or “Belizing in Yourself”( which was the theme of our trip) is important  we decided to go for it. The Universe definitely had my back because not only did people start signing up, they were a fun, easy going, and incredibly kind group of individuals. I knew that no matter what, we would have a good time, and we did!!

Monday-
My husband, Dan and I flew down a day early to get our bearings and prepare for our guests. To get there we took three planes, I know it sounds like a lot but it really wasn’t bad. We left from Newark, flew to Fort Lauderdale and then Belize City. From Belize City we opted to fly Mayan Air to San Pedro instead of the water taxi. Now, at first I was a little scared about being on the small plane where you actually had to crawl to your seat, but once we were in the air, I really loved it. The views were breathtaking. I was so happy I had the opportunity to see Belize form the air. Once we landed, we headed to the hotel to check-in.  After, we walked around searching for hot spots and sampling some local cuisine, we rented a golf cart so that could be our mode of transportation around the island for the week. We also visited crossfit and our yoga spot. We tried to make sure we were well prepared to show our guests around and answer any questions they had upon their arrival.

Tuesday-
Our guests arrived that afternoon between 1:30-3:30pm. This gave them an opportunity to check-in, recieve their welcome bag, go to their room to unpack and lounge a little before yoga and our welcome dinner that evening. Yoga took place from 4:30-6:00pm , which included a nice 30 min. meditation and our Welcome Dinner was at 7:30pm at the Blue Water Grill!

That first night, we made it clear to everyone that it was their vacation. Yes, we had a schedule, but absolutely everything on that schedule was optional and they were free to do what they wanted.

Wednesday-
We were a group of early risers. Each morning we met outside around 6-6:15am for coffee. We got to chat, see the sun rise, and look out on the beautiful ocean. Around 7am we left for Crossfit. After CrossFit we found a delicious coffee spot (which we visited each day following) called The Baker. It was the best iced coffee I have ever had. The ice cubes were even made of coffee which was an awesome touch. Afterward, we returned to the hotel for breakfast before spending the day relaxing by the pool and walking around the city. We ended the day with a yoga class and meditation before dinner at El Fogon.

Thursday-
Thursday was similar to Wednesday, coffee at 6am, CrossFit at 7:30, coffee from The Baker, and breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon we visited Science and Soul Wellness Center for SUP yoga. This was a beautiful facility with a beautiful beach. They just opened this past December and I am super excited for them. It is worth checking out!! That night we ate at Romand’s restaurant, Pineapple on the Beach. It was delicious. A must try especially if you love pineapple as much as I do.

Friday-
Friday was a lot of fun. We started the day with yoga on the beach, to stretch out and warm-up before our Crossfit beach workout. It sure was sandy, but a lot of fun. Afterwards we went for coffee of course and had breakfast. If having breakfast in Belize, I highly recommend the fry jacks, they are incredibly tasty!! After breakfast we lounged before heading to the reef and shark alley to snorkel. For dinner that evening we went to Rain and watched the sunset. This by far had the best view and ambience.

Saturday-
Coffee, yoga, and CrossFit to start this day before heading to Secret Beach for the afternoon. Secret Beach was on the other side of San Pedro, so it was a little bit of a hike to get to. The beach was beautiful but the scene was not really for us. There were lots of bars and loud music. We hung out for a little bit and had a taco snack but then left to head back to resort to lounge and relax before our farewell dinner at Blue Water Grill that evening.

Sunday-
On sunday, because everyone was leaving early, we didn’t work out. We gave people the opportunity to sleep in or pack before our coffee talk and breakfast. Then everyone departed. I am glad that everyone arrived back to the states safely and in high spirits, having loved the trip and talking about the next one.

Hosting this retreat was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel full, energized, rested and ready to plan the next one so I can connect with more individuals who are looking for adventure. Thinking about Mexico or Nicaragua for our next trip 😉 Stay tuned!!

For more pics from our retreat, please visit Empower Yoga’s FB page

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Change is in the Air

Have you noticed that constant change is the one sure thing in life? Yet, so many of us fear and resist change. Have you ever wondered why we are so afraid of change? What can we do to embrace it?

Just as the seasons change and the leaves change color, every cell in our bodies change.  We grow up, grow old, grow apart… Change is all around us. So why haven’t we gotten used to it by now.

Spring is a reminder of change- it’s about rebirth, renewal, and regrowth. Since change is inevitable, why not take the opportunity to embrace it.  Maybe if we can better understand that, than we can accept changes more easily as they take place.

I’ll be the first to admit that change is hard for me. I am very type A. I like plans, routines, consistency… so when changes occur, they throw me off and I have difficulty managing.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time trying to get better at embracing changes; not dwelling or hanging on, but letting go.  This idea continues to show up on my mat and in my teaching recently, as I have gone through some pretty major changes.

For me, yoga has been a tremendous gift.  Practicing for over a decade has helped me to continue to cope with some major changes and hardships in my life. Yoga has taught me some valuable lessons of embracing change. Every time I get on my mat, something new arrives- I observe it, accept it and work with it. It may be a physical discomfort from holding a challenging pose, or maybe it’s finally mastering a pose I’ve been working on. Whatever it is, I remember to breathe and embraces the feelings and sensations that come along with the changes I am noticing.

Through my yoga practice, I’ve noticed that the more I try to resist change, the more it persists. This happens because we’re putting too much emphasis and energy on the things we should be getting rid of; instead of the things that are trying to manifest in our lives. When we dwell, the thing we need the least stays around longer and takes up a more substantial part of our life, until we allow ourselves to let whatever it is go and move on.

When we embrace change, whether in our body, life, work or relationships, we allow the energy to flow on its own accord. Even if it creates some discomfort in our lives for the time being, the sooner we accept it, the sooner it shall pass.  When we get rid of things that are weighing us down, when we release negative energy and toxins in our lives that hold us back, we can start to open ourselves up for all that the universe has to offer us and better embrace the path we are on. We don’t’ always see what is ahead of us because we are being blocked, but when we let go amazing things can happen and new doors will begin to open.

No one ever said life was easy and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Well, let’s not dwell in the bad. Let’s keep moving forward. When looking in the rearview mirror of life, watch the past drift away and move forward with open eyes and an open heart to all that the future holds.  

If you have a regular yoga practice, or even if you just started, you too can enjoy enjoy some of the valuable lessons that yoga has to offer.

Hope to see you on your mat soon!

Namaste.

 

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Renew Your Practice

Spring brings a heightened awareness of new life. Flowers begin to bloom and trees begin to grow. It’s the perfect time for renewal and new beginnings. It could mean taking a new direction or following a new path in life, so let your creative juices flow!

With spring comes a time of fresh starts and it’s not just about spring cleaning your home. It’s also internal cleaning. It’s time to get rid of stuck energy, release anything that isn’t serving you anymore and get ready to embrace what is to come.  Spring is the season of beginnings so it’s a perfect time to try something new or revitalizing something you’ve done a lot. Maybe you’ve fallen into a habit and routine and are looking to make a change. Perhaps it’s time to spice things up.

If you’ve been interested in taking a yoga class or are looking for ways to renew your practice, we can help.

Here are some ways to break old habits, get a fresh start, and a new perspective.  Let us help you find your most powerful self.

Try a new type of yoga class.

If you’ve never taken a yoga class or have only ever practiced flow yoga, then you’re probably pretty comfortable in down dog. But when was the last time you stayed in pigeon for more than five breaths? Alternatively, if you always attend the yin and restorative yoga classes, why not challenge yourself to try out a flow class?

Trying a different style can be as challenging as going to yoga for the first time. You will move your body in new ways and explore yoga from a different angle. At Empower Yoga we have a variety of styles to choose from. Whether it is Slow Flow, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Sculpt, Hip Hop Yoga or somethings else, a new style can truly renew your yoga practice.

Try a class with a new teachers.

No two Power Hour or Power Flow classes at the studio are the same. While we follow a similar sequence, each teacher brings their own unique personality, training, and experience into the class.  The more teachers you learn from, the more variety you are going to get. This can help you discover new poses, challenges, and ways of moving.

Schedule a private session.

One way to renew your yoga practice is to schedule a one-on-one session. Private classes obviously cost more money than a group class, but they are worth every penny. You get to work with a skilled yoga teacher who can help you explore and deepen your yoga practice and test your limits. Private classes are also a great way to learn how to go deeper into poses or learn modifications to poses. Modifications, can be critical to know, expecialyl if you have an injury or health impairment.  

Sign up for a Retreat.

One of the best ways to get a fresh start is to get away from it all entirely. When you leave your routine you’re forced to break habits. You begin to look at and do things differently. A yoga retreat can be the perfect way to do this. This May Empower Yoga is heading to Belize for our first ever retreat. Stay tuned for future retreat opportunities.

New practice, new attitude.

Having a fresh start is about more than doing something differently. It’s also about the attitude you do it with. Spring is the perfect opportunity to embrace change, so keep an open mind and an adventurer’s spirit. Awaken your mind to all the opportunities available to you and trust what the universe has in store.  You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised as to what new beginnings can do 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful Spring.  We look forward to helping you grow your yoga practice this season!

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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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Nurture Yourself

Are you feeling a little tired and rundown? Then it is time to take a day out of your busy schedule to nurture yourself and show yourself a little self love. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.  So turn off your cell phone, cancel your plans, and make some time for the most important person in your world – YOU.

A day for YOU:

Steps to having a great day!

  1. When you get up, start your day with a big smile and thank the Universe for the gift of another day, another chance and new opportunities. Then start your day with a little mediation or mindful breathing- slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.  Imagine your breath nourishing and renewing your body. Let go of stuck energy and anything that isn’t serving you and then imagine all the toxins leaving your body.
  2. Opt away from coffee and instead squeeze some lemon in a mug of hot water.  This further helps you to eliminate toxins in your body and gives your skin a healthy glow.
  3. Now either roll out your yoga mat (visit Empower Yoga), go for a run (or walk) outdoors, or go for a swim. This is your moment to connect with your breath and your mind. Exercise is a great way to clear the mind and gives you energy.
  4. After your morning exercise enjoy a delicious smoothie. I love going to my favorite juice place (Tico’s Juice Bar) for one or I’ll make one at home. I like to add greens (kale or spinach), banana, pb, chia seeds, hemp seed, and coconut water to my smoothies and then blend it all up!! Yum!
  5. Take a bath, maybe add some bubbles, light some candles, and/or relax with a good book. Enjoy the simple pleasure of just being in the moment.
  6. Dress in comfy clothes and plan a leisurely walk in the park. When there, maybe stop to journal on a bench (start a new gratitude journal)  or just stop to look around and appreciate all the beauty that surrounds you.  
  7. Lunchtime make yourself a nourishing salad that will feed your mind, body and soul. My personal favorite is spinach or baby kale; avocado, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and some grilled chicken with a little oil and balsamic vinegar.
  8. Spend the afternoon in self love. Burn your favorite essential oils, play some of your favorite tunes, and set your creative inspiration free. Maybe create a vision board, setting some goals for yourself, create a bucket list, or just start to declutter an area of your home you’ve been putting off. Get rid of what you don’t need and make room for good things to come.
  9. In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal- maybe some hearty soup. After, unwind with a cup tea (my favorite is raspberry) and climb into bed.
  10. Before you fall asleep, revisit your new gratitude journal and write down three things that you are grateful for. Close your eyes, take a mindful breath, and get lost in your dreams.
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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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Good Deeds in December

Make a list, check it twice—there’s still time to be nice!

From an early age, I learned about the importance of helping others. My parents led by example and taught me how to appreciate, to share, and to love.  They have instilled in me the need and desire to help others, to give back, and to support those who are less fortunate than me. As a result, I am always looking for ways to help make this world a better place.

One thing I love about owning Empower Yoga is being able to have a platform for helping make a change in the world and reach people on a larger scale. I think giving back is incredibly important. Volunteering in all shapes and forms strengthens our communities, brings people together and provides us with valuable experience and insight.

While we should always help and support those in need all the time, the holidays are a nice reminder to stop, be present, appreciate what we have and also look for ways to help others.

Sometimes, the best gifts that you can give are free. Making a difference, feels good and it fuels us here at Empower Yoga!

With December 25 quickly upon us, consider these 10 good deeds to support those who need it most!

  1. Take a yoga class! Our studio and many other studios offer weekly donation based classes. Help support a great cause and also de-stress from the holidays. Interested visiting the studio? Each month we offer donation based classes! To learn more, visit our website!
  2. Shop at a locally owned businesses! Online retailers and big box stores get a lot of love over the holidays. This year, give back to your community by keeping your dollars local. Want to give the gift of health and wellness to that special person in your life? Consider purchasing a gift card to our studio.
  3. Donate Shoes for Soles 4 Souls. Cleaning out your closet? Consider donating a pair or two gently used shoes. Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Empower Yoga is hosting a shoe drive this January! Pledge to go barefoot and help those in need during the new year!!
  4. Create holiday cards for nursing home residents. The holidays can be a depressing time of year for nursing home residents. Consider making some homemade holiday cards and distributing them in person at a senior living center in your community.
  5. Write letters of gratitude to our military! Show your appreciation to our troops, first responders, and veterans. Organizations such as Operation Gratitude & Adopt a US Soldier offer a channel by which to communicate encouragement and express gratitude to those brave men and women serving or who have served in our armed forces.
  6. Make a donation to the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army accepts clothing, furniture, appliances, and electronics all that will go to help a family in need.
  7. Donate to Toys for Tots. The objectives of Toys for Tots is to help less fortunate children throughout the US experience the joy of Christmas. Toys for Tots unites all members of local communities in a common cause during their annual toy collection and distribution campaign.
  8. Donate Food to your local food pantry. Hunger can affect people from all walks of life. Many Americans are one job loss or medical crisis away from food insecurity, but some people, including children and seniors, may be at greater risk of hunger than others. Help feed those in need this holiday. Isn’t everyone entitled to a nice warm meal?
  9. Volunteer at or donate items to your local animal shelter. There are so many animals being cared for in shelters and foster homes after they were neglected, abused, forfeited, or lost.  Whether it’s with some love or attention, to food and toys, there are tons of ways to help!
  10. Donate items or volunteer at a local homeless shelter.  In Central NJ, HomeFront is always looking for household goods, food, and clothing.

Wishing everyone a happy & healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

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Yoga Poses to Reduce Stress

Holidays got you stressed?

Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season. Stress creeps up while planning, preparing, and cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house, setting up for the holiday party, sitting in traffic, shopping, looking for a parking space, etc. Stress dampens your mood, makes us irritable, and can even cause physical pain. All of which will hinder our spirits and take away from the joy of the holidays.  

There are ways to help these feelings of stress. In fact, yoga is a great tool to help stretch the body and calm the mind.  Enjoying a yoga class can help you relax, recharge, and restore your mind and body through the entire holiday season.

If you can’t get to a class, that’s ok. Check out some of the poses below. These postures will help you get back on track, feeling calmer and restored.  

These poses should take no longer than 10 minutes and should be done in a quiet space. Hold each pose for at least 5-8 deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and give your mind some much needed rest.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

The foundation of all standing poses, Mountain Pose is a great resting pose. Stand with your feet parallel to one another, about hip-distance apart. Distribute your weight evenly on your feet. Keep a very small bend in the knees, engage your thighs to avoid locking your knees. Place your hands together at your heart center or by your side. Close your eyes and breathe. Allow this pose to help induce a meditative state- find some balance and calm your mind. Set an intention or take a moment of gratitude for yourself.

Uttanasana (Forward Fold)

Uttanasana will help awaken your hamstrings, calm your mind, andrelieve stress & anxiety. Stand in Tadasana with your hands on your hips. Begin to bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend, lengthen your torso, fold over your legs, and release the crown of the head towards the floor. Hands can stay on the floor, interlaced behind your back, or grab for opposite elbows. We often carry stress and tension in our neck and shoulder area; so allow your entire upper body to release and relax. Focus on letting go all of the tension in head and your neck. Perhaps gently shake your head “yes” and “no” to ensure that your neck is completely relaxed. Imagine all of your worries and stress rolling off of your back. Close your eyes and breathe!

Adho Mukha Svanasana  (Downward Facing Dog)

Down dog is one of yoga’s most widely recognized poses and offers the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch. Down Dog encourages fresh blood to flow through your body, allowing you to feel energized and rejuvenated. This pose is considered a mild inversion because your heart is higher than your head; this encourages blood to flow to your brain which helps calm the nervous system.

To get into the pose come onto all fours; plant your hands down towards the front of your mat and walk your feet towards the back of the mat, to resemble an upside-down V shape.  Spread your fingers wide and press down with all four corners of your hands. Draw the sit bones up and back and release your heels to the mat. Close your eyes and breathe!

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Balasana is considered one of the most restorative postures in yoga. This gentle resting pose stretches the entire backside of the body. To begin, kneel on the floor and bring your big toes to touch. Sit on your heels, then separate your knees about hips width distance apart. Lower your torso to the floor between your thighs. Allow your hips to draw back towards your heels and extend your arms out in front of you. Place your forehead on the mat or a pillow. With each breath, try to melt deeper into this pose and encourage your body to completely relax. Quiet the mind and allow your body to ground down, completely relax and release tension. Close your eyes and breathe.

Supta Baddha Konasana  (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana is a classic restorative posture and one of my favorites. This pose opens the hips & groin as well as stimulates the heart, improves circulation, and allows the body to move stagnant energy. It also encourages relaxation of the abdominal muscles and soothes digestion. Find this pose by coming to lie on your back. Next, bring the soles of your feet together. Gently allow your hips to open. Rest your hands on the ground on either side of you or place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Release any tension or tightness in your body and allow yourself to relax into the pose. Close your eyes and breathe!

Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall)

This pose is said to have the cure to whatever ails you. Legs up the wall is a restorative inversion and a great pose to help relax and explore your breath. By placing your legs up the wall, you’re allowing stagnate fluids to release, and fresh blood to flow through your body. This circulation boost allows your body to restore itself and find balance.

To start, bring yourself to sit sideways by a wall. Slowly roll onto your back and let your legs rotate up and against the wall. You may need to scoot your body closer or further away from the wall in order to find a comfortable position. Rest your arms by your side or place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and breathe.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Savasana is a pose of total relaxation and often will come at the end of a flow practice.  After flowing, Savasana is a great way to allow your body to relax and feel the effects of your practice.

Find savasana by gently lieing all the way onto the floor and allowing yourself to completely surrender. Allow your legs to extend down on the mat and your feet to relax, opening towards the corners of your mat. Arms come to your side and palms face up. Release every muscle in your arms, legs, torso, and face. Close your eyes and allow your body and mind to be completely still.

 

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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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Why Hot Yoga is Great for Athletes…

Athletes play hard– running, climbing, jumping, biking, lifting, golfing, etc. When muscles work hard and become more fibrous and strong, they also become very tight. Tight muscle can lead to the loss of mobility, making it difficult to move around.  For example, if you’re a runner like me, we have strong quadriceps but our hamstrings shorten, making it difficult for us to bend over and touch our toes. Another example, weightlifters will get super toned in the shoulders and arms, but they often have difficulty raising their arms high overhead. As an athlete’s range of motion decreases, the ability to stay on top of his or her game becomes harder. This is preventable! Hot yoga loosens the muscles naturally and safely, allowing all athletes to find more freedom, flexibility and ease in tight areas.

Practicing yoga a few times a week, helps the tight muscles stay strong, but also become more pliable and flexible. The benefit- lengthen and strengthen the body so you have the ability to move safely for the rest of your life.

At our power yoga studio, we strive to provide a well-rounded workout (cardio, weight bearing, stretching and more) that makes you feel good from head to toe. If you can commit and incorporate yoga regularly (2 to 3 times a week), you’ll see results within a month.

Here are just some of the benefits of hot yoga for athletes:

Full range of motion
More flexibility
Improved balance
Focus
Mind Control
Breathwork
Increased core strength
Injury prevention

Why does the heat work so well?

The heat makes your muscles more elastic and pliable allowing for deeper and safer stretching. The heat also allows blood and oxygen to be delivered to the muscles helping them to build, lengthen and repair more easily. This increased blood and oxygen also speeds up the body’s ability to breakdown glucose and fatty acids that help shed fat tissue and weight. In addition, hot yoga gives the body the rest it needs from repetitive motions of one sport while still offering a solid workout. Another great benefit is the breath control you learn in yoga will help keep your mind and body calm in stressful conditions on and off your mat.

Top professional and recreational athletes are big on yoga! Famous football and baseball teams embrace yoga. So do ice skaters, swimmers, golfers, triathletes, gymnasts, dancers and many more.
Are you ready to start adding yoga into your weekly fitness regimen? I hope so!

Our classes at Empower Yoga include:
  • HOT or Warm Power Flow/Vinyasa classes
  • Power Plus
  • Yin Yoga
  • Restorative Yoga

Get started today! Join us at Empower Yoga!!  Get strong and bendy for lifelong athletic health.

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