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Introducing Kundalini Yoga

Have you heard of Kundalini??

We’re excited to announce an Intro to Kundalini workshop, coming to Yoga Fever on Friday, November 2 from 7:00 – 8:10 p.m.

What is Kundalini Yoga?

“The primary objective of Kundalini is to awaken the full potential of human awareness in each individual; that is, recognize our awareness, refine that awareness, and expand that awareness to our unlimited Self. Clear any inner duality, create the power to deeply listen, cultivate inner stillness, and prosper and deliver excellence in all that we do.” – Kundalini Research Institute

Yoga itself has dozens of variations in philosophy and style. Some are structured as a physical workout while others put a strong emphasis on meditation. Kundalini is a little of both – an uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices that incorporates movement, dynamic breath, meditation, and chanting of mantras. Its aim is to awaken higher consciousness in its practitioner by activating energy centers throughout the body.

In Sanskrit, the word “Kundalini” means “coiled snake.” Early Eastern religions believed that everyone possesses a divine energy at the base of the spine. It’s something we’re born with, but we each must strive to uncoil it. Through Kundalini, we turn potential energy into kinetic energy, awakening our Higher Self.

3 Practical Reasons to Try Kundalini Yoga:

Often referred to as the “yoga of awareness,” Kundalini focuses on the expansion of your sensory awareness. It is one of the most powerful and complete yoga practices you’ll encounter, as it creates an aligned relationship between the body, mind, and soul.

Building Awareness Will Expand Your Life: Kundalini yoga is designed to strengthen your intuition and willpower. As you unravel the energy within you, you’ll gain awareness and an improved presence in the world, resulting in new opportunities and experiences.

Discover the Magic Outside of Your Comfort Zone: Kundalini combines so many elements, from stretching to breath work to sound meditations. The spontaneous nature of each class will keep you light on your feet and ready for anything.

Find Your Voice and Share with the World: Kundalini yoga helps us find our voice and discover the courage to use it kindly and effectively.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of, or practiced, this form of yoga before. As always, Kundalini asks that you honor yourself, move at your own pace, and listen to your body’s needs – asking for adjustments and modifications when necessary.

You don’t want to miss this exciting workshop! Join us on Friday, November 2 from 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. for our Intro to Kundalini class. You’ll engage in a short movement practice with various Kundalini exercises, finishing with a healing sound meditation to relieve stress and anxiety.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda: The Sister Science to Yoga

Ayurveda is India’s ancient system of health and healing. It differs from modern medicine in that every individual is considered unique – and there is no common diet or lifestyle routine that will work for everyone.

Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas: Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. Doshas are the energy patterns that make up each individual person. This science teaches that each individual contains specific mental and physical traits that compose our constitution.

Although we’re born with all three of the doshas, they form differently in each of us, creating a unique combination that makes us exactly who we are! Generally, one dosha tends to influence us most heavily.

Characteristics of Each Dosha

VataThis represents cold, dry, and light. It is the force that controls our movement, regulates our nervous system, and oversees the elimination of waste. People with strong vata dosha are creative, quick to learn and grasp knowledge. They are excitable but tend to tire easily.

However, when this energy is out of balance, they may experience fear, anxiety, and impulses. They generally have dry skin and hair.

Pitta- This represents hot, wet, and combustive. It is the force that controls our digestion and metabolism. People with a predominance of pitta tolerate most foods, but can’t handle missing a meal. They tend to have an average body build, are good speakers, organize well, and are ambitious.

If their pitta gets out of balance, they lean toward irritability, outbursts of anger, and perfectionism. Typical physical problems include rashes, heartburn, insomnia, or dry eyes.

Kapha- This represents cold, wet, and heavy. It is the protective force that governs stability, structure, and moisture in our mind and body. Kapha types are usually affectionate, loving, and nonjudgmental. They tend toward slow speech, which reflects their deliberate thought process. They are calm and strive to maintain harmony in their relationships.

A lack of balance can lead to feelings of envy, insecurity, and depression. Their physical problems can include colds, congestion, and respiratory problems.

What are the Benefits of Ayurveda?

For all doshas, asana practice complements the positive aspect of our dosha while teaching us what we need to do to bring it into balance. For example, daily routine connects Vata types to the earth, boosting strength and stability. For Kapha individuals, it brings light and warmth to increase your energy and reduce lethargy. For strong Pitta types, it offers breath awareness to bring peace to your mind.

Are you ready to learn more? Join us on Saturday, September 22 from 12:00-3:00 p.m. for a fun, life-affirming class on Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga. Together we’ll explore how Ayurveda helps us uncover self-care and nutritional practices that honor our uniqueness. You’ll discover ways to improve your sleep, digestion, weight regulation, and natural detoxification.

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.

 

7 Common Yoga Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Our goal is to guide you throughout your yoga journey, helping you grow in strength, flexibility and mindfulness while preventing you from facing injury or discouragement. In this week’s blog we offer tips to help you avoid seven common yoga mistakes. Are you ready to get the most out of your yoga practice?

Mistake #1: Comparing yourself to your neighbor

One of the most effective ways to get injured or discouraged is looking at your neighbor and trying to mirror their pose or stretch. All of us have different body types and skill sets. The person on the mat next to you might be a former ballerina or athlete; they might have years of yoga experience under their belts; or they might be naturally flexible. Yoga is a personal journey, so there’s no reason you should be comparing yourself to anyone else.

Pro-Tip: When you find yourself trying to bend into a pose that your neighbor can do, take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and center yourself again. Remember, yoga is not about measuring your level of performance. It is about harnessing the energy to tame the mind and shedding our negative behavior and patterns.

Mistake #2: Comparing your body to the way it was 20 years ago, 2 weeks ago, or even yesterday

Remember when you were eight years old? You could practically do a cartwheel and wheel pose in your sleep. Your body moved where you wanted it to without even thinking about it. But that was when you were younger – before you sat in a desk for hours straight, or had a child of your own, experienced an injury or had a life full of stress, bills and interpersonal relationships. We carry stress and trauma deep within the tissues of the body. Limiting our movement and our mind.

Pro-Tip: Take a moment before class to meditate on the phrase: “Here I am. This is where I’m at with my body and strength today.” Always try to meet yourself where you are at – in the now.

Mistake #3: Pushing your body to do too much

Yoga beginners often mistakenly think that it will be a piece of cake. Maybe they’ve been exercising or playing sports for years. Although certain yoga poses seem simple, it’s best to listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and ease into the practice without looking for an edge. Going slow and moving to the point of sensation as a newbie. It’s easy to fall prey to questions like “Why can’t I touch my toes yet?” or “Why is this not getting any easier?” The beauty of yoga is that it benefits you on many levels. Maybe you can’t touch your toes yet, but instead you’ve learned to modify to a better plank or breathe more effectively.

Pro-Tip: Take the most modified pose you can do correctly, in order to create strength and proper alignment rather than creating negative habits. Engage as many muscles by hugging the muscles to the bone throughout the entire practice. Instead of going deep, go strong.

Mistake #4: Practicing inconsistently

You know that feeling right after you finish a yoga class? You feel open, relaxed and focused – you can’t wait to come back for another one. But all of us lead busy lives and eventually our work, social life and family responsibilities begin to interfere. When you finally do return to class, you’ve lost what you thought you had gained. Don’t worry!! The mat is always there for you to build your strength and flexibility. The key is being ready. When you are ready to get consistent, your body will gradually open up, strengthen and move further into the poses. It just takes time and patience.

Pro-Tip: Commit to practicing yoga twice a week, even if that occasionally means rolling the mat out in your own basement and sitting in a seated position for meditation. Build a relationship with your mat. It can quickly become a good friend, guide and safe zone.

Mistake #5: Holding your breath

We often see students failing to let their breath lead them through the sequences or even holding it completely, especially during the more advanced poses. Forgetting to breathe consistently is a negative habit that causes anxiety and stress, exactly the opposite effect we seek in yoga.

Pro-Tip: Focus on your slow, deep inhales and exhales throughout the whole yoga class. (PS: read our recent blog post on how to breathe in yoga)

Mistake #6: Taking classes that are too advanced

If you’re a beginner to yoga, you really should look into trying a few slow or gentle flow classes first. These offer the opportunity to learn the poses, discover yogic breath and become comfortable within the practice. However, even the more advanced students would benefit from remembering the positive effects of slowing it down once in awhile.

Pro-Tip: Mix a few slow, gentle or restorative classes into your yoga routine. Check out our Restorative Workshop April 30, 2017 – Align & Relax – 90 minutes of restorative yoga for $20

Mistake #7: Failing to disclose medical/physical conditions

When you visit many of our classes at Yoga Fever, you’ll hear your teacher ask if there are any injuries or medical conditions he or she should be aware of. Students often feel embarrassed or too shy to speak up here. Your teachers want to know these issues so they can craft a restorative practice that won’t endanger your body.

Pro-Tip: Yoga is therapeutic. An experienced, intelligent teacher will help you overcome these injuries. Speak up!

What To Expect At Your First Yoga Class

Yoga for Beginners

So you’ve decided to start a new chapter and take your first yoga class. Good for you! We admire steps toward positive change. Jumping on the yoga train can be scary, we know it. We’ve all been there. Not only are you chartering new territory with your first yoga class but also jumping right into a heated class! Whoa, now that is a big deal.  There are several questions that you may be asking yourself regarding your first class. Let’s highlight a few Q & A’s, with some great tips to set your mind at ease.

Can I handle the heat?

We won’t lie, the heat will feel pretty intense your first time around. Be prepared to sweat! The atmosphere is controlled to be a toasty 99 degrees in our hot classes and 85 degrees in our warm classes. Know that you can step out of the room at any time if you feel it necessary. The heat helps heal and nourish the muscles, joints and the mind. It is there to help guide you into a smooth practice, not make you suffer. After class, you will notice a sense of peace, energy release and an overall sense of well being. We like to say that you can shed skin on your mat in a heated class…leaving behind the residue that doesn’t serve you.

Will I be awkward with everyone looking at me?

You may feel slightly awkward as you learn about creating new and creative ways to shape your body and your mind. This is totally normal. Go with the weirdness. No one is judging you. The goal in a yoga space is to check your ego at the door and go inward. You may have other fellow beginners looking around for guidance but nothing to take too seriously. As you progress and grow into other classes, no one is looking around to check you out. This is an internal practice and each experience is personal and unique.

What should I wear?

You don’t need to buy expensive clothing to hit your first warm or hot yoga class. There is no point in investing a lot of money on outfits for your first time in. We believe form-fitting clothing that will not interfere with the movement of the body is best. Keep running shorts and t-shirt for the gym or your morning run. Tight clothing that breathes will help you stay focused on the yoga practice and not your clothes riding up in all the wrong places.

Please check your shoes at the door. Yoga is best performed with bare feet as it will help you maintain grip. Some folks do like to try with their socks on. Do what feels best for you!

Am I flexible enough to do yoga?

Every hot yoga studio will tell you the phrase they hear most is ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga’. There is a common misconception attached to yoga due to images in society that you must have a ballerina type body that can twist into a pretzel or the splits on demand. Not true! Yoga is good for every “body”. We have all shapes, sizes, and age groups in our hot yoga classes.

Long story short… Yes, you are flexible enough to do yoga! In fact, no flexibility is required to take a yoga class. With time, patience, and consistent practice, you will become more flexible in your body and in your mind (which is the true goal of yoga anyway).

What should I bring with me?

Please bring a water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated. We also sell Essential H2O water with electrolytes to help replenish the body before, during and after your class. We may not always cue you to grab a drink, so listen to your body and sip your water anytime you need nourishment and hydration. We provide complimentary hand towels so you can wipe down during your class. If you have a yoga mat, bring it with you or rent one of our yoga mats or large mat towels for your first time. Our mats are specific to hot yoga so they will provide more grip and traction on your mat.

What should I do if I feel lost or overwhelmed?

We love this question! We guide you through a safe and soft practice your first time around and in every beginner class (Our Gentle Flow, Yin Yoga, or Slow Flow is a great place to start). Know that yoga is very visual as a beginner. Look around, see what everyone else is doing. Your teacher will also guide you through the demonstration. It’s always good to listen to your body if you need a break. Childs pose is what we call a ‘rest pose’. To come into this pose bring the knees down to the mat, bring the great toes together, slide the hips toward the heels and sink the torso in between the inner thighs. The forehead touches down and the arms can be stretched long in front of you or down by your sides. You will see many yogis at ALL levels taking this pose for a break for their body. We recommend using this pose frequently as a newbie to the practice. Here you can come back to your breath and surrender until you are ready to rejoin the class. At Yoga Fever, we meet you where you are at.

Let’s get started!