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Why You Need Yin Yoga in Your Life

I am so excited to introduce a new style of yoga to our Yoga Fever schedule: Yin Yoga! Coming to you on Sunday nights, starting March 25, this new class will break down everything you know about yoga – and you’re going to seriously love it!

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang: the opposite and complementary principles in nature. While most of our yoga classes focus on yang – the changing and moving aspect – yin focuses on the stable, unmoving aspect. In a yin class, you’ll experience passive floor poses that mainly work the lower portion of your body, including hips, pelvis, inner thighs, and lower spine.

Who is Yin Yoga Designed For?

This practice is well-suited for anyone who has an active lifestyle and is looking to add more calmness and quiet to their lives. It’s also great for anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression and is seeking recovery or healing.

Friends with hip or knee replacements: our restorative, gentle yoga classes may be better suited for you.

Why Practice Yin Yoga?

1. Increased Flexibility and Strength – You will actively stretch your body’s connective tissue, simultaneously striving to quiet your mind and settle into the pose. Yin yoga is where poses are held from 30 seconds up to five minutes, allowing time, breath, and gravity relax your body and deepen the pose. When you gently stretch connective tissue by holding it this long, your body will respond by making it a little longer and a little stronger, which is exactly the goal of exercise.

2. Increased Awareness and Self-Intimacy – We live in a world where we are overstimulated with technology, social activities, and other responsibilities, that we often end up never switching off at all. Any kind of dynamic yoga caters to this aspect of keeping ourselves busy. That’s why it’s a good idea to balance your vinyasa yoga with a vastly different form like yin.

Finding stillness for several minutes in a pose creates gaps where the mind is free to wander. Many of us try to stay far away from meditative gaps like this because they often bring up anxiety, boredom, or anything else we suppress during the busyness of life. As with any good form of meditation, yin yoga provides the space needed to address those emotions head on.

3. A Portable Practice – You can practice yin yoga almost anywhere! You don’t always need a mat. In fact, most poses can be held while sitting at your desk, watching TV, reading, or lying in bed.

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I strongly encourage each of you to attend one of our new, regularly-scheduled yin yoga classes led by new instructor, Gretchen. Join us on Sunday nights from 7:30pm to 8:30pm to learn how to relinquish control and become more comfortable with both your body and mind.

“I frequently hear my students say when leaving class that it feels like they just experienced a full body massage.”

“Many students tell me they leave class without the stress they were carrying when they came in.” 

“One of my students told me he got his personal best running time after he started practicing yin!” – Gretchen

The Story Behind Yoga Fever

The Love Story Behind Our Studio

For some, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spend quality time with their significant other. For others, it’s a reminder to demonstrate love and vulnerability toward friends and family members. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to share my honest, vulnerable story behind the creation of Yoga Fever – and the tremendous community we’re building together.

The Story of Yoga Fever (the abbreviated version)

This story starts in 2014 when my sister passed away unexpectedly. It was definitely the toughest time of my life. It took a lot of soul searching, contemplation, forgiveness, and letting go to move out of that state of constant grief. About a year later, when I was beginning to recover and rebuild, I knew I had to do something meaningful with my life. No longer could I coast along doing things I didn’t love; I felt inspired – and almost obligated – to do more, to make my sister proud and to make a real difference. Life is too damn short to not be happy. I was on a quest to find internal bliss by creating a life of purpose.

One afternoon, I happened to drive by a commercial space available for rent. I immediately was struck by the thought: “What if?! Could I possibly open a studio?” Of course, I pulled over and the light bulb continued to get brighter as I planned my perfect studio in my head (in under 5 minutes. Ha!). Every open commercial space caught my eye and got me thinking. Even at the very beginning, I knew I had to create a studio that captured the philosophies and traditions of yoga, paired with the modern hot yoga style. I hadn’t really experienced a studio that did both in the midwest, but I assumed there had to be other like-minded individuals like me who wanted to mix classical yoga with modern hot vinyasa.

While these thoughts were beginning to permeate my mind, I was busy teaching corporate yoga at Steelcase, teaching at local studios, and working my day job doing marketing. I come from a long line of persistent entrepreneurs – but I certainly wasn’t wealthy. I had a small savings account and a big dream; great role models and my angel beside me.

So, I spent weeks drafting a business plan. Looking back, this was an incredibly tough time for me. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or do anything besides work on this plan. Finally, with the help and advice of my family members, I pitched my plan to local banks – all of whom turned me down. Losing steam and about to give up, I ended up at a non-profit in Grand Rapids that helps women and minorities in business. This incredible organization believed in me when no one else did. I was able to sign a lease on my ideal studio space and officially launch into this journey. I opened Yoga Fever on January 18, 2016, and we still have students with us who came to our very first night. To say that is an amazing feeling is an understatement. Every time I feel the weight of business owner on my shoulders I remind myself of my purpose, my reasons why I signed up for this and feel grateful that I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity.

Yoga Fever has surpassed all of my expectations and grown into such a beautiful community. But I couldn’t do any of this without the help and support of Team Fever. I try to remain humble, as I rely on several family members, mentors and colleagues to guide me in my decisions for the studio.

We just celebrated our third birthday, and the outpouring of love and support for Yoga Fever was simply overwhelming. Every single class was sold out. And our horizon is still incredibly bright! In this past year, we’ve introduced Yin Yoga and added Buti Yoga to our full-time schedule. We have seen three brilliant classes of yoga teacher training graduates, some of whom now teach in the studio! Inspiring guest teachers have taught prenatal yoga, The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Live Music with Girish, and Ayurveda workshops. We have donated several proceeds to organizations such as Toys for Tots, West Michigan Humane Society, and more. My goal is to continue working together to create new workshops and events that allow us to practice in innovative ways.

To all of you who make the choice to practice with us, to learn about yoga, and to heal your body and mind, thank you and a HUMONGOUS NAMASTE.

Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake up for work in the morning simply exhausted from tossing and turning? You’re not alone – and it could be costing you more than you think. Research shows that consistent lack of sleep can lead to associated health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and diabetes.

But a good night’s sleep is within your reach thanks to, you guessed it, yoga!

Yoga practice doesn’t always have to be an intense, blood-pumping, sweaty workout. Some of the most amazing aspects of yoga are the subtle changes you experience through focused breathing and bodily awareness. I’ve found that taking a few minutes at the end of my day for yoga and meditation are essential to unwinding and relaxing before bedtime.

So, how exactly does yoga help us sleep better?

Yoga helps us get in touch with our breath. When you slow down and hold a pose, you’ll identify different areas of your body that are tense – think: shoulders, hips, back. The longer you sit and breathe through the pose, the better your chances of releasing that tension and gradually letting go. Plus, stretching in general has a wonderful calming effect.

Yoga reduces stress. Difficult and exciting events both bring stress into our lives. Whether you’re in the middle of a demanding season at work or preparing to marry the love of your life, you’ll likely experience stress. Practicing yoga mindfulness before bed will help reduce levels of cortisol (ie: the stress hormone), reducing the amount of time you spend tossing and turning.
Yoga helps us create a routine. If you’ve ever struggled with sleeping, you’ve probably heard advice like “go to bed and wake up at the same time each day” or “don’t look at your phone before bed.” While these practices may work for some, I’ve found that yoga has the most significant impact in creating a routine that works for me. Ten minutes of gentle yoga before bed can do wonders in setting you on the right path.

Yoga helps us handle uncertainty. One of the biggest culprits of insomnia is a restless mind. Often, my body is physically exhausted, but my mind won’t zip it! I’ll stress about additions to my planner, adding activities in tight spaces, upcoming events. Adapting to a yoga-before-bed practice helps me accept where I am in each moment. And, sometimes, where I am is…awake. This acceptance that I can’t sleep actually helps me be able to relax more. It’s weird, but it really does help eliminate the anger and frustration.

Looking for a few poses to aid sleep? Here’s a sample routine:

  • Hero’s pose | Virasana – take this opportunity to lengthen your spine and open your chest. Settle into your calming breath pattern and clear your mind.
  • Cat and cow– Roll forward onto your hands and knees, flowing between these two poses for as long as you like.
  • Child’s pose | Balasana – Sink your hips back and settle your chest onto the floor. Breathe deeply through your belly and lower back.
  • Legs up the wall | Viparita karani – This helps drain acid from your legs, decreasing symptoms of fatigue and soreness. Stay here as long as you like.
  • Supine twist– This is a great back stretch, helping you relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Happy baby | Ananda balasana – Gently rock back and forth on your back to massage your spine.
  • Butterfly pose | Suptabaddhakonasana – a supported butterfly can help you relax deeply while focusing on the breath.
  • Savasana- It’s called corpse pose for a reason! Use this as the final pose before crawling into bed, closing your eyes and freeing your mind from thoughts.

Looking to put this into practice? In addition to your personal practice before bed, join us on Sunday, February 25 from 12:30-2:30pm for a special workshop on deep relaxation and mindfulness. Join Brie to learn about meditation clarification and practice, restorative yoga poses, guided yoga nidra (“yogic sleep”), and tips for staying mindful in the busyness of everyday life.

STILLNESS

Interestingly enough, one of the reasons we practice poses, or ‘asanas,’ in yoga is to help our bodies become supple enough to do the opposite: to sit in stillness and meditation. 

Take a minute to think about the last time you sat in complete stillness, without wondering what you were going to cook for dinner or how you were going to accomplish all your weekend activities. We’ve talked before on the blog about busyness and the way yoga can decrease stress, depression, and anxiety, but today I want to focus on one of the hardest components of yoga: stillness. 

Stillness is a skill. And like any skill, it takes practice. 

WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO BE STILL?

Often, we’re instructed to “relax” and sink into a resting pose. As many of us can attest, “just relaxing” is a complex request. When we stop thinking about our breath, legs, core, and post-yoga plans, all kinds of scary thoughts can creep up to the surface. Mindful stillness is so challenging, you guys – even for the most experienced yogis.  

Over time, our busy lives leave us feeling exhausted, frustrated, and out of control. Yet, being alone with our deeper thoughts can be painful – so we tend to do whatever necessary to avoid moments of stillness. We add in activities and accept additional projects at work; we watch tv or turn on music when we’re home alone. While none of these activities are wrong in themselves, refusing to grant ourselves moments of genuine rest reduces our coping skills, sense of self, and even our relationships. 

HOW CAN WE PRACTICE STILLNESS?

This is why we infuse our yoga practice with moments of rest. We use child’s pose, sukhasana (an easy seat), mountain pose, and, of course, savasana to coax our bodies into stillness. Yes, it’s great to get active, to warm up the body, and to get nice and sweaty, but it’s equally important to do the opposite: create quiet and peace within the body.

The pause we take during these poses is not about falling asleep, hanging out, or waiting for the next movement. The pause is designed to foster a full awareness of our body and the way things are right now. We witness our breath flowing through our limbs, the way our heart beats, and the changes and evolutions that our bodies and minds go through.

When we do this, we experience an emotional release – from the day, from our stress or anxieties, from difficult relationships, and any multitude of other daily circumstances.

CREATING STILLNESS OFF THE MAT

Though we often are forced into moments of stillness when we step onto our mat, we don’t always allow our bodies and minds to totally obey, still retracting to those pesky thoughts and concerns. Not only do we each have room to improve on the mat, but we also need to put this into practice in our daily lives.

I know, adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting if not downright impossible. Start small, with only five minutes of focused inactivity. Maybe you set your alarm for five minutes earlier each morning and spend some time in meditation or prayer. Or block out a five minute break at work and find an empty room with no distractions. Or commit to staying off your phone in the half hour leading up to bedtime to make stillness at night easier. 

Whatever you attempt, remember that your mind will continually try to rebel – but with practice you can help quiet it. 

 

Find time for rest. You totally deserve it.