What was the last meal you ate? Was it healthy or not?
To me, when I think of mindful eating the big thing that sticks out is moderation and fueling your body. Really it is a whole lot more than that. It starts with your choice of food. Are you fueling your body with healthy choices or whatever you can grab at a drive-thru? We all know that kale chips are a better than potato chips, so be conscious of selecting the healthier options. The next time you are at a restaurant get a side order of steamed vegetables instead of French Fries.
Second, be present to what you are eating. What I mean by this is, don't eat on the couch straight out of the bag while binge watching an entire season of Orange Is The New Black. Chances are you'll finish that whole bag without even realizing it, right? Take a plate and serve yourself a well-balanced meal with correct portion sizes. It's important to sit down at the table, as opposed to standing up and eating so fast you can barely enjoy your food (which I'm guilty of.) And don't have any other distractions while eating, so no eating in front of the TV. This will help prevent over eating.
Third, be mindful of what you are eating before and after your yoga class. Stay away from heavy foods, such as pancakes, before heading out to your favorite class. Heavy foods will stick like peanut butter in your stomach and restrict you in poses making class uncomfortable. After class, be sure to hydrate by drinking a lot of liquid, or else you'll wake up in the middle of the night screaming from a charlie horse in the arch of your foot (learn from my mistake on this one.) On the same note, be sure to eat something within an hour after class ends to replenish your body.
Lastly, listen to your body. We all know what foods our bodies like and don't like, so stop feeding yourself the foods that your body is clearly telling you to avoid. For example, I can eat beans all day long and I love them. Now my husband on the other hand gets super bloated and uncomfortable when he eats beans, so he avoids them. What it all boils down to is slowing down and being mindful of what you are eating. I don't think anyone likes eating a day-old muffin from the office break room, but it's what you had for lunch today because you didn't have any other options when 2pm rolled around today and you were starving. Slow-down, have pre-packed snacks that you can easily grab in your car, purse or bag that are healthier and keep you full longer. Plan your snacks and meals ahead of else you will fail before even starting your day. This will keep you more alert, energetic and on task all day.
By Owner & Instructor Barbara King
Almond Butter Brownies (gluten free)
Chia Seed Pudding
Peanut Butter Energy Balls
We are a society that needs to 'see to believe.' I can tell you all day that white bread and sugar are huge causes of inflammation and chronic disease, but the people want proof! "How does the inflammation occur?" "And what even is inflammation in the first place?" Knowledge is power, and when we learn more about how precious our bodies truly are, the way we eat starts to change.
I went into Holistic Nutrition on a mission to learn what really fuels our bodies and minds, now what the food pyramid is telling us fuels them. I have learned so much on this journey, and I want to share it with you. I want to help you understand the true causes of disease, and teach you steps you can take every day to eliminate our chances of getting sick. I'm doing this for you. We ALL have the ability to live happy, healthy and active lives, but it all starts with what you chew.
by Instructor Julia Szilagyi
Seated forward fold is a great stretch for those tight hamstrings, but be careful to not push yourself too far in this pose. Start by sitting on a folded up blank and placing a strap around your feet, or for those who are really tight placing a rolled up blanket under the knees will give extra support. Never force yourself into a forward fold, at first it might appear as though you are sitting straight up.
This pose will help calm your mind, relieving stress and mild depression. It also helps improve digestion and stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus. Ladies, this pose is one that relieves menopause symptoms and menstrual cramps. Other benefits include reducing headaches, anxiety and fatigue.
If you think about it, our yoga mats suffer through a lot! We sweat on them, we stretch & stand on them, they go to the beach, they travel to and fro in the trunks of our cars, so it's common for them to break down after time from wear and tear. It is important to know when the right time is to practice "non-attachment" and invest in a new mat. Here are a few things to look for when you think it might be time to move on...
1. Your mat is slipping.
Notice in a down dog that you're slowly moving towards a plank? Or your warrior is turning into a side split after a few breaths? Your mat is losing traction! You need that traction to hold those challenging poses. If it's lost, so is part of your practice.
2. Your mat STINKS.
If you're not consistently cleaning your mat, chances are bacteria, dirt, and terrible odor are building up beneath the surface, and this isn't healthy for anyone! If it's already gotten to the point of noticeable smell, it's time for a trade-in.
3. Your mat is uneven.
Imagine Warrior III on a mat that can't keep itself balanced. If you notice your mat is uneven throughout and there are noticeable hand and feet prints from countless down dogs, it's time to find a mat that can hold its own, so you can hold yours!
Your mat is your friend, make sure it's up to par!
By Instructor Julia Szilagyi
Virabhadrasana III, or more commonly known as Warrior 3, has several physical and mental benefits. Physically, it strengthens the legs, ankles, shoulders, back and core. By toning the entire body it promotes better posture as well. Mentally, it increases circulation which improves memory and concentration and will leave you feeling energized. So instead of reaching for your morning coffee, try holding Warrior 3 on each leg for three to five breaths.
By Trisha Necessary, Instructor
The holidays are upon us and it's very easy to overlook your yoga practice with so many holiday parties, shopping and extra work to finish before vacations. I find that on my busiest days, even if I can't make a class at the studio, if I can carve out just 5-10 minutes for my yoga practice it leaves me feeling, rejuvenated, happy and grateful. Here are five of my favorite postures I practice when I'm in a crunch for time. I recommend holding each one for 5-10 breaths to help you slow down and find peace for a few moments in your busy day.
Uttanasana (Standing forward fold)
Wake up your hamstrings, lower back and sooth your mental body. With all the sitting we do every day, this is a must to add to your daily practice.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)
One of the most widely celebrated yoga poses, this pose is straight up rejuvenating and encompasses so much!
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
Trouble staying focused? On mental overload? Fold forward to help your distracted mind unwind. Lift your arms up and hinge from your hips as you fold forward to stretch your entire spine.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose)
Turn your holiday brain off and rejuvenate heavy, tired legs. This is a great counter posture to our forward bends.
Balasana (Child's pose)
Child's pose is an incredibly restful, simple pose to practice. When anxiety strikes this is an effective, mind-replenishing, asana. You can play around with different variations of wide knees (pictured) vs knees together or arms stretched out in front of you (pictured) or folded back towards your feet.
By Instructor Jason Ackerman
It has never ceased to amaze me over my many years how much we need to understand things before we try them. Even things like yoga, which by their very natures cannot be truly understood. The process of learning about yoga is only achieved through experience...and each individual's experience is supremely different. So I can explain as much as I want. I can give examples. I can use adjectives. I can do all kinds of verbal gymnastics to try and get you to a position of comfort with the idea.
But the bottom line is always the same: you are just going to have to try it.
So when I got the request to talk a little about Thai yoga, I was amused. I love Thai. Like, looooooove it. But it is, at its heart, indescribable. It is an experience of surrender and offering. It is a play of giving and receiving. It is a very active style of massage movement that is extremely passive.
Unlike 'traditional' massage, Thai is a gift of movement. Fully clothed, the receiver must lie back and surrender their body to the giver who then moves them through a series of stretches, rotations and postures. If you try and help, the gift is minimized. Not only because it actually makes it harder for the practitioner, but also because it prevents you from going as deep as you can. Thai asks you to explore how much you can relax, mostly because you must surrender control.
We think that as yogis we have master this problem. We think that when we step onto the mat, we are finding our relaxation. Please let me tell you, there is a whole other level yet to find. This happens in Thai simply because you do not put yourself into these postures. Somebody else does it for you. You do not have to find your edge and walk that line, doing battle with your mind the whole time. Somebody else assumes that responsibility. You must simply allow. And trust. And let yourself breathe and be moved. A good Thai practitioner will read your body like a familiar book and move you into the right places to release what needs to be released, and access what needs to be found. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. In all my years, I have never found another practice which fixes so very many things on so very many planes.
So I can say all that, and I know that I am right. I can give you this attempt to help you understand. But in the end, you will only know if you climb onto the Thai mat and try.
Go ahead. Just do it. Trust me.
"Why do you use a sheep skin?" "what is the purpose?" These are questions I commonly hear being asked as Kundalini Yoga has become more popular. And, whether to use a sheepskin or not has become quite the controversy these days, particularity, among the parties of vegetarians vs carnivores.
Let's start with why some instructors and students use a sheepskin, where did it all come from? Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West in 1968, recommended the use of sheepskin for meditation, as it creates an insulation between the yogi and the magnetic pull of the earth. Indeed, many feel they experience deeper state of connection to their self and the universe when they are using a sheepskin as compared to a sticky mat or cushion. This includes wrapping the head in white to contain the energy, enhancing one's state of meditation. Yogi Bhajan believed when one mediates on a sheepskin it helps to liberate the soul of the sheep as well. Mind you, he also stated, "you are free to use other things to meditate on" if you are uncomfortable with this method.
Now, most Kundalini yogis are usually lacto-vegetarian, so you wouldn't think they would be using an animal skin to sit on. Er-go controversy, to sheep or not to sheep. But this is not just a prop, as described previously. These sheepskins are treated more as a sacred space like an altar, rather than a rug. Those who have experienced this depth of meditation may understand this.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are the general framework for all yogic practice. Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas of the 8-limbed path. Ahimsa means non-harming of oneself or others. Sounds contradicting, right? However, it doesn't say anywhere in the Yoga Sutras not to eat meat or not to use a sheepskin. Yogi Bhajan recommended his students eat vegetarian, mainly for health reasons, being that plant life is lighter energetically and much easier to digest, making it ideal for those who meditate. But Ahimsa goes much further in terms than just animal rights. Everything you say, do, use and touch can have a level of harming effect. One who meditates is likely to be more aware and harm less.
"So, you do not eat meat but you still use a sheepskin?" This is the hard one for most people to understand, yes. I, myself being pescetarian if you care to label, can relate with the party who do not believe in killing animals carelessly or selfishly, and I do not in any way support factory farming. But I can feel the sacredness of this practice, so I personally use one.
My feelings are if you choose to use a sheepskin, be sure to give thanks often in prayer and hold the highest form of gratitude for the sacrifice of that life, and do your best to find your sheepskin from the best ethical source available.
Some alternatives to an actual sheepskin are sacredfeltcollection.com and kusha mats; hand-woven mats made of kusha grass.
By Pamela Raymond, Kundalini Instructor
Warrior 1 is a basic yoga pose included in almost all yoga classes, yet many of us are still doing it wrong. Here's a guide to not only help you do this pose properly but also protect you from injuries.
When incorporating this asana into your daily yoga sequence, you will start to notice more definition and strength in your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back. Your hips, chest and lung will feel more open. As well as, your balance, stability and focus with improve. Warrior 1 energizes your whole body increasing your circulation and respiration. So next time you start your home practice, be sure not to skip Warrior 1, in fact hold it a couple extra breaths. And don't forget to do both sides.
By Jordan Wiman 200RYT Instructor
Yoga with a twist.
This is a collection of thoughts, information, product reviews and humor from our expert yoga instructors.