Tag Archives: Yoga

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!

Facebookredditpinterestmail

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.

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Fitness Retreat

As most of you already know, I am a fitness enthusiast.  I love to work hard, challenge myself and certainly step outside my comfort zone.  So as a yoga teacher/studio owner and a CrossFit coach, I decided to combine my two passions and take them to San Pedro, Belize for my first ever Fitness Retreat!!!

When I opened my studio in April, my goals for the year  were to build community and plan a retreat. So I did it and could not be more thrilled. I have always wanted to visit Belize and thought, well there is no time like the present. This trip is going to be epic and one you won’t want to miss.

Who’s ready for a little fun, fitness, and of course some R&R?!?!

Check out all the details below. You can also find this information on my studios website: http://empoweryoganj.com/retreatwithus/

YOGA & CROSSFIT RETREAT – BELIZE

MAY 15-20, 2018

beachfrontWe are excited to visit Belize in May 2018 for our 1st Yoga & CrossFit Retreat! You can expect this to be a very active retreat where you can get sweaty, leap out of your comfort zone, and still have time to relax! You will enjoy personalized yoga and CrossFit classes each day. Every detail will be considered so you can focus on your workouts, relaxation, and endless adventure opportunities.

This really is a trip you do not want to miss! Due to the customization of this retreat limited spaces are available for booking. Don’t wait to reserve your spot! There is no better time than now!

YOGA

unnamed-3Yoga will be offered to the entire group each day to allow for recovery from the day’s activity. Each yoga class will be customized for active recovery. Classes will be taught for all levels. Instructors will provide modifications for beginning yogis and also opportunities for advanced practitioners to grow their practice. Even if you have never practiced yoga, you will find these sessions energizing and empowering!

If you have a yoga mat, please bring it!!

CROSSFIT

unnamed-1Empower Yoga has partnered with CrossFit Wolf for daily CrossFit training, and beach workouts/WODs! During the classes, the coaches at CrossFit Wolf will be their to guide and support you, offering modifications as need to allow all levels to be successful. No CrossFit experience is required. Get ready to sweat and have fun!

ACCOMODATIONS

pool 3We are excited to offer 5 nights accommodations in the SunBreeze Hotel. The SunBreeze Hotel is situated in the laid back beach town of San Pedro, on the popular Ambergris Caye. Out the front door, the festive streets of town welcome you to join in the fun, and out our back door, you are just a few steps from the Caribbean Sea and the largest Barrier Reef in the Western Hemisphere. During your stay you will enjoy access to the beach, the use of the beautiful lounging pool, spacious sofa lounge, hammock gazebo, beach front dining, relaxing and rejuvenating spa, and free wifi in common areas.

Room accommodations are booked on a first come, first serve basis. The bedroom configurations include a premium room with a King bed, a premium room with a queen and double bed, standard room with two double beds, or a standard room with Queen bed.

*Please provide your preferred room type(s) at the time of booking, as well as preferred roommate if applicable.

ADVENTURE TOURS

In addition to daily yoga & CrossFit, we are excited to offer optional adventure tours each day. These adventures include but aren’t limited to kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, stand-up paddleboard, biking, and scuba diving.

TRAVEL

Once you have secured your spot at the retreat, we can help answer any questions you have regarding airfare.

Please note- guests should book flights to and from Belize City, Belize. Flights should arrive on May 15th before 4pm and depart on May 20th no earlier than 10:30am. Air transportation from Belize City to San Pedro will be included for all retreat guests. Upon arrival to Belize City guests will go through customs, claim baggage and proceed to connecting flights. Guests will then fly from Belize City to San Pedro. Upon arrival to San Pedro it is a very short, less than 5 min. walk to the Sunbreeze Hotel.

Price Includes:

Lodging, transportation from Belize City to San Pedro, daily yoga, daily CrossFit, welcome dinner, closing dinner, daily breakfast, daily maid service, transportation to and from CrossFit Wolf.

Price Does Not Include:

Airfare, alcoholic or specialty beverages, off site meals, additional activities/tours, and spa treatments.

Plan Ahead Pricing – October 13,  2017 – December 31, 2017

*Retreat rates are per person.

Standard Room Double- $2000/person

Standard Room Single- $2350/person

Premier Room Double- $2150/person

Premier Room Single- $2575/person

Have 3 people? Get a Premium Double room for $1900/person or a Standard Double room for $1800/person.

Standard Retreat Pricing – January 1, 2018

*Retreat rates are per person.

Standard Room Double- $2100/person

Standard Room Single- $2450/person

Premier Room Double- $2250/person

Premier Room Single- $2675/person

Have 3 people? Get a Premium Double room for $2000/person or a Standard Double room for $1900/person.

*Please provide your preferred bed type and roommate (if applicable) at the time of booking. Each room will be booked on a first come first serve basis.

Terms and Conditions:

To sign up for this retreat, a non-refundable and non-transferable US $500 deposit is required. Your deposit is applied toward your retreat rate. Full payment is due no later than March 1, 2018.

Plan Ahead Prices apply when your deposit is received between October 13, 2017 – December 31, 2017. Standard Retreat Prices apply when your deposit is received after January 1, 2018.

Should you need to cancel your reservation prior to March 1, 2018, you will receive a refund for payment made, minus the $500 deposit. Should you need to cancel after March 1, 2018, for whatever reason, we will not be able to provide you a refund or credit. Sign ups with full payment are welcome after March 1, 2018 as space allows.

You can purchase trip insurance for yourself through Allianz.

QUESTIONS?

Please contact Keri at the studio or email her at keri@empoweryoganj.com.

I hope you’ll join us!!

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Practicing Yoga

I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years. One thing I know for sure, it’s one of the most consistent and transformative things I’ve ever done. Over the last 10 years, yoga has been a constant presence in my life. I love yoga and continue to enjoy my practice and my ability to explore my body, mind, and soul. I believe that yoga is a gift for everyone to enjoy.

Through the years, I’ve learned that the physical health benefits of yoga are numerous, but yoga also has the ability to boost your emotional health as well. I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned from yoga in this week’s blog.

I hope this article inspires you to give yoga a try and if you already have, I am sure you may agree with the things I have listed below!

Here are some of the life lessons that yoga has taught me.

Follow your heart:

Once opened, the possibilities for love and joy are endless! Once in a job I hated and living life in a perpetual pattern of negative thought, I discovered yoga and it helped open my mind to endless possibilities. Yoga gave me the strength and wisdom to get rid of my doubts, fears and worries.  Instead, I am able to listen to my inner self and follow my heart. Without yoga I wouldn’t be where I am today- an entrepreneur, who opened her own yoga studio in an effort to give back to a community that gave her so much. I want to help others find their true path and empower them through their own yoga journey of healing and self discovery.

You are capable of more than you give yourself credit for:

I believe that whatever my goals are, I can accomplish them with determination, hard work, and persistence. For example, just a few years ago, I never thought I could do a handstand. But I can do them now (at least for few seconds lol) because I just kept practicing, gaining strength, and learning the technique little by little. Sometimes we put limits on ourselves, but we can do more than what we give ourselves credit for. I know things can seem scary sometimes, but it’s in those moments, we know that we are alive. Plus, once we’ve achieved our goals, we are rewarded with a feeling of self accomplishment and satisfaction.  

Live in the present:

This can still be a challenge for me, but I work hard at it each day. When we step back and take a moment to consider how much of our day we spend worrying about what is going to happen next, or what has happened, it can become very detrimental to your mental, emotional and physical health. When we constantly worry about things we can’t control or change, we begin to feel anxious, stressed and even depressed. To avoid this, take each day, hour and even minute at a time to experience the present moment fully and let go of any other stressers you do not need. Yoga is a great way to help get you there. In yoga, we observe our thoughts, get down past the surface of everything and go deep into our core of existence. Here is where we find the answers to what we need to let go of and start living.

Just breathe:

This may sound simple, but trust me, it’s one of the best lessons I’ve learned.  When faced with a difficult situation or when experiencing unsettling emotions, the first thing that comes to my mind is “just breathe”. Slowly, in through the nose and out through the nose (eyes open or closed), I just breathe. Sure enough, I feel calmer, stronger and more able to deal with whatever is going on around me and within me.

Don’t create unnecessary tension:

Sometimes in yoga when we get into a pose that challenges us, we clench our teeth and/or tense our shoulders or face. In those moments, it’s important to remember to relax and just breathe. Similarly in life, as things get hard, try not to overreact, panic, become defensive, or place blame, just relax and breathe. Unnecessary tension causes stress and stress is bad for our overall health.

Don’t take anything for granted:

Nothing in life is guaranteed. What is here today may be gone tomorrow, so appreciate and value what you have while you have it. You never know what may happen next. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. With yoga, and with life, the beauty of the practice is not about the “results,” but about the journey. Enjoy every moment and don’t take anything for granted.

It’s ok to fall:

You know that pose that looks and seems totally impossible? You’ll never gain the strength and flexibility you need to do it if you don’t try. Same applies in life; stop worrying about if you fall down and just give it a try and keep trying until one day it sticks!

Be patient:

You can’t force your body to open into a pose before it’s ready, otherwise you could get hurt.  To get into more challenging poses, you need to warm up and work up to them; some poses take a lifetime. Life is the same way, forcing things to happen when they aren’t ready, almost never gets us closer to our goals.

Alignment is key:

In yoga poses, it’s important to align your body properly to avoid risk of injuries. Same with life. If you do things that don’t align with your core values, you put yourself at risk and prevent yourself from achieving your goals.

Only you know your body:

In a yoga class, your teacher is there to guide you and offer suggestions. No matter how many teacher trainings they’ve completed, he/she doesn’t live in your body and he/she doesn’t feel what you feel. For this reason, you are the only one who can really make sound decisions for yourself. Trust your judgment, do what feels right, and you can never go wrong.

We never stop learning:

As soon as you think you’ve mastered a pose, making a slight adjustment can change everything. Every pose has multiple variations that can make it more supportive or challenging. This is the nature of yoga poses, and also the nature of life. There’s always another lesson to learn, new places to explore, and new challenges to meet.

Never give up:

Whether it’s mastering a new yoga pose or attaining your life’s goal or dreams, never give up. Yoga has helped teach me to find the resilience, courage and inner strength to believe in myself and to never give up. So for those of you currently facing challenging times and searching for strength, know that’s it’s already within you, all you need is the courage to pull it out; never give up.

Every time you get on your mat you bring with you different challenges; with different mental, physical and emotional challenges, the experience differs accordingly. Sometimes you feel physically strong, while other times your balance may be off and that’s ok.  Take a few moments to observe and accept what is going on and then learn from it. Enjoy the journey of life, continue to grow and challenge yourself, and never give up!

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Fall Equinox

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/

Namaste!

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Exploring Mantras

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.”

Ending the Day- “Less is more.”

MY FAVORITE: “It’s a great day to be alive.”

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Making Friends in Yoga

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.

 

Facebookredditpinterestmail

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!

Facebookredditpinterestmail

An Ayurvedic Approach to Inner Body Balance

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.

Pitta Dosha:

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.

Yoga:

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.

Breath:

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:

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.

Facebookredditpinterestmail

Summer Solstice 2017

What is the Summer Solstice?

Wednesday, June 21 2017 marks the longest day and the shortest night of the earth’s solar year, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice. During this time, we celebrate the completion of the cycle that began during the Winter Solstice. As we celebrate the longest day of the year, we also begin to prepare ourselves for the return of shorter and darker days.

Solstice literally means “standing of the sun” and we can connect to this great turning point in the earth’s yearly cycle by taking a moment to stop, find stillness, and reflect on our journey these last few months. From now until the Winter Solstice, what can we do to better nurture and develop ourselves? The Summer Solstice is a doorway into the second half of the year. Stand on the threshold and ask yourself what you wish to accomplish and achieve over the coming months.

The Summer Solstice is a perfect opportunity to bring these same principles to your yoga practice.  At Empower Yoga we will be holding a Summer Solstice celebration on Friday, June 23 starting at 5:30pm. We will begin our celebration with a series of 108 Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara), which is a “mandala” or circle of poses celebrating the sun.  Afterwards, we will have a potluck party. Join us, let’s celebrate the Sun and each other!

What does 108 mean?

The number 108 is a sacred number and has many interpretations:

  • 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation.
  • 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a Hindu god).
  • 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
  • 108 is the Chinese number representing man.
  • 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
  • 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan “mala” (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
  • 108 is twice the number 54, which is the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, one set of masculine (shiva) and one set of feminine (shakti).
  • 108 is the number of Sutras in the Yoga Sutras
  • 108 connects the sun, moon and earth as the average distance  of the sun and moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters
  • 108 forms of dance in the Indian traditions.

Why do we complete Sun Salutations?

When completing Sun Salutations, we begin to move into a state of meditation. As we move and breathe, we begin to create tapas or inner heat that cleanses the body. With this inner heat we create combined with our meditative state, we can begin to release toxins in our bodies or things that no longer serve us. As we let go of these stuck energies, we become less in our head and more in our heart. On each exhale, we let go and on each inhale we create opportunities for new beginning and ways to better love and nurture our bodies so we can continue to grow.

Join the fun!

I would like to invite you to join us on June 23rd. If you are unable to attend, perhaps find a place to hold your own celebration.  Come into your body, find your breath and move through your favorite variation of Sun Salutations. Take time for you, to honor your own experiences, and begin to reflect on ways to take care of yourself over the next several months.

After you finish your practice, draw your hands together in Anjali Mudra. Feel the inner glow of your own heart. Then radiate that warmth outward with gentle words and gestures of love. Let the solar energies of the summer solstice nourish and support you.

Namaste!

Want to learn Sun A? Visit Empower Yoga’s Instgram page to see the video! (IG- empoweryoganj)

 

Facebookredditpinterestmail