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Tips to Help You Stay Healthy this Fall

After some truly bizarre late-October weather, I think it’s safe to say fall is finally here and shoot, winter is seriously sneaking up on us! It’s time to break out the cozy sweaters, go apple picking, and watch some football. However, this time of year can be tough on our health habits. It often becomes harder to stay active and eat healthy, not to mention the looming threats of flu season and holiday overload.

So, how can you maintain your steady exercise, eating, and other health habits during this new season? I have a couple ideas I’ll share that work well for me. What others would you add?

Get Outside– I actually find it easier to exercise in the fall; the cooler weather means less risk of dehydration and sweating profusely. Take advantage of exercising outside before winter arrives! It can be as simple as a bike ride around town or a pick-up game of football. You could also set a step goal, then encourage yourself to hit it. Try taking a walk after dinner or doing laps around the office periodically. 

Be a Smart Sports Fan– For those of you who enjoy watching sports, fall means that on any given day you can pick between football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. Even those who have limited knowledge of the rules still generally get excited for tailgates and Saturday afternoons with friends and some great appetizers. The problem comes when we overindulge in beer, chicken wings, and chili queso. Don’t let the fall sports season ruin your nutritional plans. Opt for making a veggie platter or ground turkey burgers instead of the fattier options. Your friends will be thankful for a healthier alternative too!

Take it Easy on the Pumpkin Spice Latte– Starbucks, and other brands, have been advertising this sweet fall drink for weeks now – did anyone watch that hilarious Facebook Live? In recent years, pumpkin spice has been all the rave and for good reason. What more can you ask of a warm, cozy, sweet, and nostalgic autumn beverage? However, they’re sky-high in fat and sugar, which adds up to hundreds of calories. If you just can’t say no to the occasional PSL, make your drink slightly healthier by selecting low- or non-fat milk, say no to the whipped cream, and ask for less flavor syrup. Otherwise, cinnamon is a great fall spice with its own health benefits that you could use instead of the sweetener.

Embrace Seasonal Superfoods– Just because the summer mecca of fruits and veggies is over, doesn’t mean you have to start eating poorly. Fall is actually a great time to load up on local superfoods. Consider taking a walk (or drive) to the Fulton Street Farmers Market to stock up on fresh produce. Apples are the easiest grab-and-go snack in the world. And pumpkins are good for more than just carving. They’re jam-packed with immune-boosting vitamin A and can be mashed, roasted, turned into soup, or used in baking. Sweet potatoes are chock-full of disease-preventing, cancer-fighting, and immune-boosting benefits. But put down the marshmallows when making them. Instead, bake them for 45 minutes and pile high with turkey and black bean chili, or loaded with kale and white beans! 

Live Aligned with the Season– Give yourself permission to alter your lifestyle. Whereas summer means never-ending activity, these shorter days and longer nights are a great excuse to work on your self-care. Make time to relax at home, under your favorite blanket. Maybe you start writing the book you always wanted to start, or enjoy extra time reading with your kids. Perhaps you decide to complete a home-improvement project, or just watch a good TV show! Allow autumn to be a chance to nurture yourself – seriously!

Commit to Your Yoga Practice– Whew! No more days of leaving the hot yoga room to an equally hot temperature outside. Honestly, hot yoga can be even more enjoyable when you know you have a warm place to look forward to on these chillier days. This fall, I’m committed to setting (and following) various health goals, such as the ones above. My last challenge to you, dear reader, is to set a goal for your yoga practice. Maybe you want to increase your visits to Yoga Fever: commit to attending 20 times in the next month. Maybe you’re feeling brave and want to experiment with inversions: suggest this goal to your instructor before class or ask for some pointers afterward. Or maybe you want to improve your mind-body relationship: think carefully of one intention that you can meditate on for the month.

Here’s to a happy and healthy season!
 

Simplify Your Sleeping Pigeon

Pigeon pose was actually designed to be a back bend with a ton of variations to chose from. The west decided to add the sleeping variation which can be a bit of a love/hate relationship. It’s amazing for runners, cyclists, or anyone with tight hips. But the problem is that many of us don’t understand the proper alignment of the pose, which can really compromise the safety of our knees and SI joint. 

We’ll walk you through a few ways to modify this pose to make it the restorative wonder it’s meant to be – rather than the pose you endure with clenched teeth toward the end of your practice.

First, what is Sleeping Pigeon pose and why is it so beneficial?

Yoga treats stiff hips in many ways, but the most common is through a collection of poses known as hip openers. Sleeping Pigeon pose is an extremely effective hip opener that works your front leg into an external rotation, while stretching your psoas muscle (it connects your groin to your lumbar spine) in your back leg. 

English please? It’s really, really, good for those of us who sit at a desk all day. And when you practice it consistently, you’ll notice significantly more ease in your lower body as you sit, walk, run and stand.

The problem is that many of us tend to thoughtlessly fold into Sleeping Pigeon, which dumps tons of stress onto our knees and sacrum. If you’re eager to improve upon this pose, read on yogis.

4 Tips for a More Pleasant Pigeon

Ease into the pose- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Extend your right leg behind you, then bring the knee up to replace the right hand. You want a 45 degree angle from right hip to knee. More than likely, your shin is not parallel to the front of the mat (yet). With time and patience, you may get there. The heel will be close to the body and that’s A-OK. The top of your left foot is resting on the earth behind you with the toes reaching straight back to avoid sickling of the ankle. Gently melt your hips down to the ground. You want to avoid dumping all of your weight into the right side of the body. 

You can choose to stay here or, for a more intense stretch, extend your arms and chest to the ground in front of you. To fully experience the pose, keep the spine long versus rounding.

Use core muscles to square your torso- Once you’re in the pose, be sure to keep your hips squared to the front of your mat. This isn’t a twisty pose, so do your best to keep both hips facing the front. How do you do this? Engage and activate your core muscle to shift your front hip back toward your extended leg.

Take up space- At this point, you may be able to descend a little deeper into the pose. With your hands planted firmly in front of you, try scooching your back leg further toward the back of your mat. With every inhale, back out of the fold a bit, seeing if you can gather just a smidge more length through your spine. Then you can take up even more space as you fold forward on your exhale.

Modify when needed- It’s always okay to utilize the props found in the studio! Slide a yoga block or rolled up towel under your hip (the bent one) for extra support. There’s nothing to be ashamed about – even the most flexible yogis have days where they need some added cushion to protect their bodies. 

Finally, keep in mind that Sleeping Pigeon may not be your thing. No matter how many alignment refinements you make, this just may not be the pose for you. That’s totally fine, you guys. Ask your Yoga Fever yoga instructor for some alternatives, such as sucirandhasana (thread the needle) or lying pigeon (where you’re on your back and pull your thigh toward you). It’s always okay to skip or modify a pose.

Now let’s do this.
 

5 Tips for Teaching Yoga to Your Kids

Today we’re thinking about all our parents, educators and anyone who works with children. Have your kids ever tried to climb on your mat with you, or watched with eager eyes as you practice yoga? If you’re a teacher, do you ever find yourself in need of a way to help your little ones release some stress in a controlled fashion? If you’ve never tried teaching your kids a yoga pose, now’s the time!

Children live in the fast-paced world of busy parents, school pressures, after-school hobbies, competitive sports and more. Encouraging them to develop a yoga practice can help counter these stressors. Starting yoga early is a wonderful habit for children. Yoga encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a non-competitive physical activity. It helps them feel more focused, calm and confident. From antsy five-year-olds to exhausted fourteen-year-olds, yoga offers a handful of benefits that help kids re-energize, release stress and increase their self-awareness.

5 tips for teaching your children yoga:

  • Focus on the basics– Start with simple poses, such as Downward Dog, Tree Pose or Warrior II. Show them the proper form, but expect quite a bit of wiggling and mistakes as they learn. If you have a group of children you’re teaching, try a form of duck-duck-goose to quiz them on the names of a few poses.
  • Get them their own yoga gear – Let them pick out a fun pair of leggings or a yoga mat. This way, they can begin making their practice their own – they’ll be excited to roll out their own mat and get jiggy with their down dog.
  • Play with animal poses– At young ages, children are naturally quite flexible. Ask them to go further in their poses (when they’re ready). To get started try Butterfly, Cobra, Happy Baby and Tree as these will likely resonate with children. They have the chance to be more playful and silly as they try to maintain balance, roll around, giggle, and try again.
  • Share mindfulness techniques– Allow them to find the present moment and engage with the surroundings around them with their eyes closed. Notice sounds, scents, tastes, energy points etc. they see if they can find deeper breathing without straining or trying to hard.
  • Keep it lighthearted– For young children, you can’t expect their attention spans to last as long as yours. (We’re sure you already know this) Aim for five-ten minute intervals, mixed in with some fun breathing and mindfulness training.

Once you teach your children the basics of yoga and mindfulness, they can begin to incorporate the beloved practice into their own daily lives. Help your little ones realize that movement and mindfulness is a great release from frustrations at school or in their relationships. Show your older children the value of yoga as a stress reliever from the competitive nature of school, sports and clubs.

If you have additional questions about how to best teach your children about yoga, stick around after class and ask our amazing teachers – or send us an email (info@www.yogafevergr.com) or Facebook message!