Get on your bikes and RIDE

You’ve heard the news: starting in January 2020, Yoga Fever will be offering THREE studios complete with hot yoga, barre, yoga (not heated), High-Intensity Interval Training, Sculpt, Meditation, and indoor cycling.

I’m BEYOND stoked to integrate each of these courses under one roof, offering the variety you need to train and strengthen your mind, body, and SOUL.

What is indoor cycling?

Indoor cycling is a form of exercise using a stationary bike that focuses on endurance, strength, interval training, and recovery.

Known as an exhilarating, dynamic, and challenging form of exercise, cycling is also quite accommodating for those with joint issues, making it a cardio workout with less pressure on your knees and feet.

Additionally, it works all the major muscle groups, including your core, upper body, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and lower legs.

What are the benefits of cycling?

Cycling is a tremendous way to burn calories; on average, students burn 400 – 800 calories per class. It also boosts heart health and lung capacity. However, I recommend attending 3-6 classes per week to gain the full benefits available to you.

Perhaps the greatest benefit, like most group classes, is the great sense of community.

What will Yoga Fever’s cycling classes look like?

There are 2 different types of indoor cycle rides. We will be combining these two styles to make it a one of a kind experience.

The first ride is a BEATS/RHYTHM Ride— picture it, the lights are off, the only light you see is the kick-ass orange and yellow LED’S simulating a disco up above you, in front of you and behind you. The music is bumpin’ but only so loud as you prefer as you will be wearing off the charts, DROP SOUND (glow in the dark) headphones to control your perfect experience and volume. Your instructor is lifted up on a platform at the front of the room motivating you to be your BEST AUTHENTIC SELF on and off the bike. It’s here that you start to break an intense sweat. Your body is pedaling to every beat in the instructor’s playlist and you are OFFICIALLY ONE with the experience.

YEAH. Let’s do THAT.

The second ride is a METRIC RIDE – This is where you challenge yourself along with your fellow riders to climb intense hills, hit high speeds, and track your RPM, heart rate, calories scorchin’ and MORE. Lights off, music UP and the race begins. This is where the sweat starts to bead on your chest, your upper lip and even the back of your neck. You’re in it to win it and you can’t be stopped. Ahead of you is a huge TV screen with your name on it, tracking your every pedal, every heartbeat, every movement. It’s here you go beyond your limits to beat Susie Q and Joe Blow on the bikes next to you and have a healthy competition between friends and community members. The instructor is getting louder as you are peaking to the finish, encouraging you to take it ALL THE WAY. And low and behold, you DO.

YEAH. Let’s do THAT.

So how do we combine these two AMAZING STYLES OF INDOOR CYCLING?? You’ll have to join us on the bikes early 2020 to find out.

Oh and PS: No experience is necessary for these 45-minute classes, but all students should bring a pair of INDOOR tennis shoes or clip-in shoes specific to cycling. We totally want you there on time as we need to get you familiar with adjusting the bike, your headphones, and your space. So we apologize but no late entry on this one.

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WHO’S IN?? LET’S RIDE GR.

Should I Practice Yoga in the Morning or Evening?

Should you practice yoga in the morning or evening? Great question!

As usual, the answer is more complex than you’d think and really comes down to your personal preference. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, it is recommended you wake up in between 4 and 6AM when the world is still asleep, and practice meditation and asana. From a modern world perspective, it’s recommended that you practice yoga either first thing in the morning or in the early evening.

However, many factors are involved in each of our decisions on when to practice. Your work schedule, habits, belief system, and familial responsibilities may make the decision for you.

For example, if your morning involves getting rambunctious kids dressed, fed, and on the bus, a morning practice may be unrealistic. The same is true if you’re committed to evening functions throughout the week.

Your personal constitution may also factor into the decision. Some people are raring to move at 6 AM, while others won’t even speak until they’ve had a few cups of coffee. And even if you do have a quiet morning, it may not be the right time for you if you have seasoned habits you practice in the hour before heading to work. Or if you find yourself yawning by 8 PM, you might want to try practicing earlier in the day.

Read on to explore the many benefits to both morning and evening yoga practice.

Benefits of morning yoga practice

Morning yoga practice helps you clear your mind and set an intention for your day.

Energizing poses, like backbends and sun salutations, wake up your tight body and work out the kinks after a night’s rest.

The morning is usually the coolest part of the day.

Twists and arm balances are easier to perform when you’re not competing with digestion from various meals during the day.

Practicing yoga in the morning avoids any last-minute conflicts that may derail your intentions to step on your mat.

Benefits of evening yoga practice

Evening yoga practice, on the other hand, can prepare your mind and body for sleep.

Incorporate twists and forward folds to help you wind down from a busy day.

Most people have more free time in the evening, helping you feel less rushed in your practice.

Practicing in the evening soothes tension, aches, and pains, providing a deeper, more replenishing sleep.

It can also help you break bad habits like snacking or binge-watching TV.

As you can see, there are benefits to either practice time. If you’re not quite sure what’s best for you, experiment.

Diligently try one full week of early morning practices – either at home or with us at the studio for added accountability. Then spend a second week practicing in the evening, exploring what benefits and challenges you find in each style.

After you find the right fit, stick to a similar time whenever possible to maintain that lovely sense of grounding. Try incorporating daily rituals – like meditation, chanting Om, or doing Sun Salutations – to establish further consistency.

Ultimately, take ownership of your yoga practice and design it so it best suits your body and mind!

Why do some people sweat a lot and others are just glowing?

Have you ever thought to yourself mid-class: “Nobody could possibly sweat more than me right now”? Or, on the flip side, have you ever left your hot yoga class without a drop on your body wondering why everyone else is so much sweatier? We’ve ALL been there.

Everyone’s body works differently, so you’re not wrong if you fall in either camp – or somewhere in between.

Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling down, so never be embarrassed by the state of your shirt after an intense yoga class. And, just because you’re sweating buckets doesn’t mean you’ve worked harder than your classmates.

Each one of us has between 2-4 million sweat glands on our bodies. Women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s bodies generally are more active.

Other contributing factors include:

  • The number of sweat glands you have
  • How hot the temperature is
  • How intensely you’re exercising
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Bodyweight
  • Amount of water consumed
  • Level of anxiety at the moment

While it might seem kind of backwards, the fact that you sweat a lot during a workout actually signals that you’re in good shape! Physically fit people start sweating at lower temperatures, which allows them to perform longer since their body isn’t overheating.

How to stay safe in a hot yoga studio

Whether your body marinates in sweat or simply glistens gently, there are a handful of tactics you can employ to keep yourself safe in our hot yoga studio.

Drink cold water every 15 minutes or so to keep your core temperature out of the danger zone.

Consume an electrolyte-spiked sports drink after class to replenish the sodium and potassium you’re sweating out.

If you feel dizzy, nauseated, or develop a headache, either rest in child’s pose or leave the studio to get some cool air.

To cool down quickly after practice, avoid taking a frigid shower or splashing icy water on your face. The chilly temperature will constrict your blood vessels, causing hot blood to rush to your core. Rather, take a cool shower and stand in front of a fan to evaporate lingering sweat.

When you should talk to your doctor

If you’re truly sweating uncontrollably, you may want to ask your doctor about a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis, a condition where your sweating exceeds the amount your body needs to cool off, affects approximately 2-3% of Americans and should be treated by your doctor.

On the other hand, if you can’t sweat, you may want to look into anhidrosis (or hypohidrosis). While not sweating might seem like a blessing to some of us, this condition puts people at higher risk of heatstroke and they must be wary of exercising in high temperatures.

Remember, everyone perspires in their own way, so never be ashamed of your sweat stains. Just grab a towel before class and get to work on your mat!

5 Signs Your Body and Mind Want You to Practice Yoga

Do you suffer from a tight, rigid body? Do you ever feel like you’ve been breathing shallowly all day? Can you not recall the last time you truly relaxed on a regular, routine day?

If any of these sound familiar, your body and mind are trying to tell you to step onto your yoga mat.

And if the excuse at the tip of your tongue is that you’re too busy, that’s exactly why you should make time for yoga. The practice of yoga connects you to your innermost self – a sacred space where you’re able to move trapped emotions out of your body.

Here are five not-so-silent signs you should get back in the studio.

1. Your body feels extraordinarily tight and rigid.

A tight, inflexible body often comes from sitting too much. If your days are filled with long commutes or motionless hours at a desk, you’ll benefit greatly from the dynamic movements and hip openers found in a yoga class. Check out these tips on how to incorporate yoga into your desk job.

2. You often find that your breathing is short and rapid.

Short breaths are a sign that you may be stressed. The world doesn’t often prepare us with the tools we need to stay centered in stressful situations. If you feel like you’ve been breathing shallowly and unconsciously all day, yoga’s breathing techniques – like Ujjayi – can help. They take us out of our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and move us into our parasympathetic response, which looks a lot more like rest and digest.

3. You feel mentally unbalanced or suffer from a mental illness.

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression – whether in the short-term or a long-term condition – yoga can be your best friend. By lowering cortisol levels and releasing the tension, yoga calms the mind’s chatter and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. Read more about how yogic breath eases symptoms of anxiety.

4. You’re not sleeping well.

For those who suffer from insomnia or who simply struggle with a lack of sleep once in a while, yoga provides a better sleep quality for practitioners. Psychology Today demonstrates the truthfulness in this using a study conducted by Harvard Medical School. And here are a couple of poses I recommend weaving into your home practice to help you sleep better.

5. You can’t remember the last time you relaxed on a regular, routine day.

I’m not talking about taking a vacation or going to the spa. When was the last time you made room for relaxing self-care in your regular routine? If this is the case for you, your body and mind are likely begging you to step on the mat, so you can learn to relax your body and clear your chaotic mind.

Whether you’re a regular member or have never stepped onto a yoga mat, chances are your body and mind are not-so-subtly telling you it’s time to practice. Trust me, you’ll see the benefits.

Yoga Nidra: A Powerful Meditation Technique

Yoga Nidra, commonly known as yogic sleep, is an immensely powerful meditation technique that is easy to develop and maintain.

While you rest comfortably in savasana, your instructor will vocally and systematically guide you through the practice. You’ll start at one end of your body and work all the way to the other. Yoga Nidra instructors speak rhythmically: “Right big toe, right little toe, top of the foot, the heel of the foot, calf muscle…”

By bringing your attention repeatedly to these sensations in your body, you become habituated and can even forget the sensation altogether. This forgetting of the space around you lets you draw your attention inward.

Benefits

Anyone can do Yoga Nidra: While not everyone can participate in intense vinyasa flows, everyone – from children to seniors – can practice Yoga Nidra. All you need to do is lie down on the floor, though it can be done seated if necessary.

You cannot incorrectly practice Yoga Nidra: All you have to do is follow the voice – whether instructor or recording – as it guides you. You’ll experience something new each time, which is great! And falling asleep is even okay, as you’ll still receive the benefits from your unconscious mind.

It’s a simple way to reduce stress: As you can imagine, feeling well-rested is life-changing, but Yoga Nidra also improves symptoms of anxiety and depression for many practitioners.

Yoga Nidra is easy to incorporate into your life: Since it’s always guided, you will experience less frustration compared to trying to clear your mind all on your own. Also, this practice can be as short as five minutes or as long as an hour.

It helps you learn about yourself more intimately: Yoga Nidra offers a space to explore whatever you need and come face-to-face with long-held emotions.

Structure

Start by setting an intention for your practice – whether your goal is to relax and rest or to dig into a particular emotion or sensation.

As you wait for your instructor to begin leading you, take a few moments to scan your body. Move your awareness from top to bottom, preparing for the guided meditation to follow.

Throughout the practice, be aware of your breath. Simply observe the natural flow of oxygen and the rise and fall of your abdomen. Notice the flowing energy that your breath stimulates throughout your body.

Welcome your feelings and thoughts without trying to change any sensations or emotions that are present. As you sense each one, try to welcome its opposite within your body. For example, if you feel worried, call up feelings of serenity. Experience sensations of joy or bliss that spread throughout your body.

As you transition back into your waking life, pause to take a moment of reflection and gratitude for the time you’ve taken to benefit yourself.

Join us on Thursday, August 15 from 8:45-9:30 p.m. for a Yoga Nidra offering! This class is designed to increase your self-confidence and help you overcome any negative blocks in the mind that prevent you from feeling positive and self-assured in your worth, talent, and abilities.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is a traditional series of postures performed in the same order every time. It’s incredibly structured and, after just one class, you’ll know exactly what to expect. The predictability allows some studios to offer classes where students move through the Ashtanga series without guidance.

The majority of poses you work through in a traditional Vinyasa class are the same ones you’ll find in an Ashtanga class. However, in Vinyasa our teachers have the creative liberty to build unique sequences each time. They can vary their sequences to match the class composition and desire for that day. As students move through a Vinyasa class, they warm up, often work toward a peak pose, then slow down with stretching and an opportunity to recover.

Ashtanga Asana Series

There are five Ashtanga asana series, and students must master each pose of the first series before moving onto the second.

The first one—the Primary Series—begins with ten sun salutations, moves into a series of standing poses, and finishes with a set of inversions and seated poses.

The Intermediate Series focuses on backbend asanas designed to encourage and maintain the suppleness of the spine by focusing on your nervous system.

Finally, there are four Advanced Series that are only reached once a yogi has mastered the primary and intermediate sequences. There are 35 difficult asanas to learn, practice and master with Vinyasa in between, and it can only be mastered completely with the assistance of an experienced teacher.

Benefits of Ashtanga

Ashtanga brings all the benefits of Vinyasa yoga practice, including strength, flexibility, stress management, and inner peace. In traditional practice, Ashtangis are expected to practice about six days per week.

Your entire body will work hard in this practice. Yet, it’s completely open to beginners and there’s no need to research or memorize the sequence ahead of time. Ashtanga instructors guide practitioners through each and every pose, with the eventual goal being that you can move through at their own pace.

It involves syncing your breath with a progressive series of postures, resulting in improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.

As with Vinyasa styles, the essence of yoga is that through the practice of postures, breathing, and focal points, you can gain a direct experience of your inner self. While it might sound boring to perform the same postures over and over again in Ashtanga yoga, this repetition is what helps you tap into your inner being.

It brings me great joy to draw upon the incredible talent of our instructors to bring varying styles of yoga to our community. Join Elaina on August 4 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. for a short-form version of Ashtanga’s Primary Series and a portion of the Finishing Series.

Space is limited, so sign up today!

Photo: Mere Koert

Stilling the body and mind through restorative yoga

Sitting in complete stillness and silence can be one of the hardest things to do. It might sound strange, but it’s actually much easier to run a couple of miles than it is to sit still for minutes at a time – without twitching, readjusting, or letting your mind run rampant.

But that’s exactly what restorative yoga asks of us. You learn to sit with that mental discomfort and find a way to face and move through it.

Restorative yoga is a therapeutic style of yoga that promotes healing of the body and deep relaxation through supportive poses. It uses gravity, combined with a wide array of props (including blankets, straps, pillows, and blocks), to naturally open the body. The more your body is supported in restorative yoga, the deeper the relaxation you’ll experience. And there is little to no movement or effort, allowing your mind to be silent.

Restorative yoga engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes your body and offers a variety of benefits including:

  • Improved digestion
  • Reduction of muscle tension
  • Increased mindfulness
  • Less chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • And an amazing night’s sleep!

Think this sounds easy? Maybe a little bit like adult nap time?

While you won’t drip with sweat or have to combat your racing heart rate, restorative yoga is not as simple as it sounds. The challenge here is that most of us are very uncomfortable confronting our minds in this way for fear of the emotions and worries that might emerge. That’s why we fill our days with work, school, parenting, tv, and exercise. Anything to keep us busy enough to avoid the vulnerability of sitting with our own thoughts.

That’s why I’m thrilled to bring a candlelight restorative workshop to Yoga Fever on July 21. Registration is extremely limited (free for unlimited members or $25 for all others), so don’t delay in signing up! From 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Gretchen will guide you through a small handful of poses, such as light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle backbends. And you’ll be asked to hold these poses for long periods of time.

Isn’t it about time that you gave yourself a chance to truly center your breath and body? I’d love to have you join us!

Meditation: the art of focusing your mind

We spend almost every day in the fast lane of life, facing enormous challenges like juggling finances, family, career, and relationships all at once. Ever feel like you’re running on empty?

Keeping up with such a hectic pace produces high anxiety and stress, which causes us to become disconnected, mechanical, and sometimes numb. We end up living in our heads when we were created to live from our hearts.

One solution to this is to develop or strengthen a regular yoga practice. But today, we’re diving into yoga’s sister: meditation.

Meditation is often referred to as the art of doing nothing. While it certainly is an art—in the sense that you must practice it just like you do your physical asanas—there’s a lot more going on in your body and mind than what this catchy phrase suggests.

I prefer: the art of focusing your mind. And it does take work to quiet your busy mind. But the more you practice and the more you’re able to quiet your thoughts, the more you will experience a sense of true presence – creating the mind-body connection yoga is known for.

Meditation offers a wide range of amazing benefits, including:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Enhanced self-awareness
  • Lengthened attention span
  • Reduced age-related memory loss
  • Improved sleep

There are two major styles of meditation:

  1. Focused-attention meditation: concentrates attention on a single object, thought, breathing pattern, or mantra.
  2. Open-monitoring meditation: encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, including thoughts, feelings, or impulses you might normally suppress.

The following 7 meditation styles all fall within one of these two groupings.

Transcendental: In transcendental meditation, you remain seated with your eyes closed and breathe slowly while repeating a mantra (a word or phrase) with the goal of rising above your state of being. If you choose to try this meditation style, practice twice a day for 20 minutes each session. This allows time to settle inward to a profound state of relaxation and rest.

Breath awareness: Have you ever found yourself in your driveway with no recollection of your drive home? Breath awareness meditation ensures that this does not happen while you’re practicing. The goal is to keep your mind fully focused on the present. It builds patience for your everyday life. For example, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a traffic jam, a skilled practitioner will simply note the delay without judgment.

Zazen sit: Similar to breath awareness meditation, the zazen sit style focuses on sitting in concentration while counting each breath. When zazen is deeply integrated, you should not feel that each part of your body is separate from the others—you should feel a sense of wholeness.

Walking meditation: This style will improve your cardiovascular health, boost your energy, stabilize your mood, and help you embrace the present. Begin by walking at a normal pace, tuning into your natural breath and noticing what it’s like. Then, refine your breath so it’s nasally and free of irregularities. Coordinate your breath so that you’re inhaling for four steps, then exhaling for another four. These should be short puffs of air. Continue for five minutes, then walk and breathe normally for three before repeating.

Guided meditation: For this meditation form, you don’t need any prior experience or knowledge; you’re simply required to listen to an instructor (a real person or via headphones). The goal is to form mental pictures based on situations and experiences you find relaxing. Use as many senses as possible—smell, sound, and texture—to evoke calmness.

Devotional or mantra chant: In this meditation style, you’ll chant a mantra (a sound like “om”) to keep your mind busy while you focus on breathing. This is a powerful and effective method because of the vibratory effects of the sounds that stimulate your body.

Yoga nidra: Also known as progressive relaxation or body scan meditation, the goal is to move through your body noticing areas of tension—then releasing that tension. You’ll start at one end of your body (usually your feet) and work all the way to the other end. You might envision a wave drifting slowly over your body. Because this meditation style slowly and steadily relaxes your body, many people use this to help them fall asleep.

As you can see, there are many different styles of meditation to choose from. I encourage you to give a few of these a try, while keeping a journal or log on your reflections about each type. You can truly practice meditation anywhere – from a quiet corner of your home to a crowded grocery store! So what’s stopping you?

photo courtesy of Shannon Austin

Is Yoga Simply Stretching?

What usually comes with this myth is the implied notion that “that really can’t be much of a workout…” or “why would I pay money to do what I can do on the floor of my living room?” I get it. It can be hard to understand the difference between yoga and the stretching you do before practice or after a run.

Because, often, when you think about stretching, that’s exactly what you think of: hanging over your legs after a bike ride or touching your toes while watching TV. The truth is, there’s a whole lot more that goes into yoga than just lengthening your muscles. Yoga truly is an active process. It helps you practice mindfulness, live in the present, and increase your self-confidence—among many other benefits!

But for those of you asked to defend yoga to uninformed outsiders, it can be tricky to nail down the differences between yoga and stretching.

So, here are a few key differences between stretching and yoga:

  • Stretching is solely focused on flexibility. Yoga is a complete body, soul, and mind practice.
  • Stretching usually feels like something to rush through before getting to the next activity. Yoga brings relief, connection, and a sense of peace
  • Stretching simply lets you feel productive. Congrats, you checked that box. Yoga allows you to feel connected—to your mind, to life, and to others.
  • Stretching lets you stop before you become uncomfortable. Yoga asks that you stick with the uncomfortable sensations, pushing deeper and creating growth.

That being said, there certainly is a stretching component to yoga. The difference is that, while stretching certain muscles, you simultaneously engage others to maintain joint stability.

I’d also love to share a few tips to increase your stretching experience:

Pay close attention to what your body needs, not what you want. Rather than thinking “I need to touch my toes NOW,” explore what it feels like to ease slowly into different postures.

  • Keep small bends in your knees to avoid hyperextension.
  • Focus on your breathing to help you move deeper into your muscles.

But don’t just take my word for it. Come try out a class or two and start to see the benefits yoga offers beyond “just stretching.”

photo courtesy of Shannon Austin

Is Yoga a Religion?

Walk into any gym today, and many schools, and you’ll see yoga classes on the schedule. There’s no doubt that yoga has become mainstream over the past decade.

For many people, yoga is purely physical exercise, focused on mastering breath and alignment. But because of yoga’s ancient history of deep meditative, spiritual, and mystical roots, it’s often misidentified as a form of religion. Parents and individuals of many different faith backgrounds wonder how yoga can sit alongside their belief system.

The difficulty with this debate is that yoga is such a broad term and that there are so many different types of yoga classes.

But, regardless, the truth is yoga does not follow one religion. That’s because it does not require ideology, belief systems, or compliance.

That being said, yoga absolutely does have a spiritual component.

Becoming spiritual simply means working toward becoming oneself. Just like a tadpole turns into a frog or a chrysalis into a butterfly, we are broken humans’ work toward becoming whole. Yoga is the science of the Self. Through techniques such as meditation, asanas, breathwork, and focused awareness, yoga helps us understand our inner world.

While there are components of Buddhism and Hinduism that worked into yoga practices, practicing yoga does not make you a Hindu or Buddhist. It’s simply a doorway to a more meaningful life – whatever that means to you. Yoga offers perspective and insight into who you are and how you are seen in this world. It naturally gravitates toward a healthier lifestyle as you lean toward wellness in a variety of ways.

Yoga truly is about creating harmony between your body, mind, and soul. While mantras and chants are sometimes used to awaken the dormant potential of consciousness that resides within you, these practices are not required to benefit from yoga.

As I’ve said a million times, when you walk into our studio you are welcome to take what serves you and alter as needed to make the practice yours.

By all means, do it your way. Find a style of yoga that suits you. Identify yoga instructors that teach in a way you enjoy. And remember: yoga is about inner exploration – not outer worship.

photo courtesy of Shannon Austin

Is Yoga just for Chics?

Ummm NO.

One of the most prevalent yoga myths is that yoga is only for women. This is honestly one of the craziest myths – especially considering that ancient yoga was a male-dominated practice. It was created for 14-year-old boys people!! Women were not even able to practice it. Now that being said, the West has changed yoga in a plethora of ways; some may say it better, some may say it has lost its way.

I digress…

Why do men believe this idea that yoga is just for women? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with mainstream media highlighting women in fancy yoga poses. I see why men have the idea it must be for skinny young chics but come on, we know what you see in social media is not reality.

A few other reasons they may have not boarded the yoga train: yoga isn’t a good enough workout for men; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible beforehand, and men’s bodies aren’t naturally built for these poses.

Let me make this very clear: yoga offers a tremendous array of benefits for everyone. That certainly includes our dudes.

Unfortunately, this myth leads to a disappointing statistic: of the 20 million Americans who practice yoga, less than 18% of them are men. At Yoga Fever, we have plenty of men who show up on their mats day after day. But if you’ve never given it a try, I urge you to read on to discover the many benefits of overcoming this myth. Then, pop in to try your first yoga class!

3 Great Reasons to Give Yoga a Try

Yoga extends your muscles’ range of motion: Men typically target a select group of muscles at the gym, including hamstrings, glutes, abs, and shoulders. However, these muscles can only be trained so far. And, when exercised too heavily, they can become injured. However, yoga uses your natural body weight and resistance to build lean muscle mass, which improves blood flow and helps your muscles recover faster. I highly recommend complementing your gym exercises with a regular yoga practice.

Yoga provides a full spectrum of health: Unlike most male fitness regimes, yoga views health as more than visible muscle strength. And that’s because yoga strengthens more than just the physical body. It also teaches you to calm your mind and open your heart, leading to pain-free movement, increased flexibility, and decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and rage.

Yoga melts away your damaging competitive spirit: While this is certainly common in women too, men are often especially haunted by an intense spirit of competition. Yoga teaches you to keep your eyes – and focus – on your own mat. All that is asked of you is that you show up willing to respect the needs of your body, knowing that your worth has nothing to do with the person next to you.

Tips for Men Starting Yoga

Don’t force the movement: Many men have a gift of strength, but a tendency to work their body too hard, ignoring pain and discomfort. When you step on your mat, I encourage you to identify the difference between sensation and pain, learning when to modify to protect your body.

Focus on what’s working: You may not feel comfortable in certain poses, but powerful and masterful in others. Know that yoga is a practice where you have permission to take what you need. There will be no drill Sargent barking orders or requiring you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

Set aside your competitive spirit: As I mentioned before, know that you might not be the best yogi in the room. It’s time to get accustomed to that. The only thing you should be worried about is improving your own practice. And, sometimes, you may have to take a step backward before making progress.

Dump your belief that you must already be flexible: Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

Yoga truly is a strong, energetic, and challenging workout. But too many men never make it past that first-class or even show up at all. You may enter your first class as a skeptic, but I promise if you give it a few tries you’ll leave a sweaty convert! Oh, and one more tip—— yoga will improve your golf game by a mile. Now……who’s with me?

photo courtesy of wandering soul collective

Am I too old to start a yoga practice?

When we picture yoga, we often make the mistake of calling to mind images of the thin, flexible, young women plastered on magazine covers and social media feeds. This leads many people to believe the myth that you must be young to practice yoga; that yoga is somehow for some people but not for others.

This is a misleading representation of the true image and intent of yoga. Yoga is for all. In fact, the word yoga literally means ‘union.’

The truth is: yoga is a very accessible practice that nearly anyone – at any age or condition- can practice. It’s a matter of taking what you need, finding the right class and instructor fit, and using your props liberally.

Take the risk and step out of your comfort zone, knowing that this is not a competitive space. It’s okay to move at your own pace.

Because, how could anyone be too old or too young to better their life? Common benefits of yoga, and those that may be especially appealing to older yogis, include:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved circulation
  • Better detoxification of lymph fluid & waste
  • Increased joint lubrication
  • Better balance
  • Increased concentration
  • Greater flexibility
  • More sound sleep

So, for those of you who consider your age a barrier to trying yoga, it’s time to change your mind!

3 reasons to give yoga a try, despite your age

Yoga includes much more than physical movement: Yoga is about making a connection between your breath and the way your body works. It encourages playfulness. It builds community and connection to an ancient lineage, and so much more!

You can modify your practice: You can easily vary your style of practice to adapt for conditions in your body – including practicing with a chair or other form of support. You might also become more interested in the meditation and breathing practices of yoga. Find a teacher with an inviting language, rather than a competitive one.

It might make you feel younger: The benefits of a regular yoga practice strengthen not only the body but also the mind. Yoga can help you recover from injury and boost balance so you avoid falling. But it also helps you learn to breathe through stress, leading to less wear and tear on your body and mind.

Yoga can truly be a fountain of youth. As you become more connected to life, you’ll realize youthfulness has more to do with the spirit than the body. Though your practice may appear slower to others’ eyes, you’ll experience plenty of change inside. You’ll become more tolerant, mentally-flexible, focused, and respectful of your body.

Some of the greatest lessons learned through yoga are to listen to your body, progress at your own pace, and let go of judgment and criticism.

I’ll end with this: you are only as old as your thoughts.

*Any physical elements of yoga depend on your physical status. If you’re recovering from an injury or suffer from any specific conditions, you’ll want to first check in with your doctor for approval and possibly schedule a one on one private yoga session versus a group class.

Do I have to be flexible to practice yoga?

This week, I’m starting a series on common yoga myths. Ask any yoga teacher, and they’ll easily share a handful of questions or excuses they often hear as to why new students think yoga isn’t right for them.

Perhaps the most common one is the belief that you have to be flexible before ever setting foot on a yoga mat.

And I really can’t blame you for thinking this! Take a look at any Instagram account or magazine cover and you’ll see yogis bent into ridiculously perfect poses.

Enough.

Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

But it’s called practice for a reason. You have to start somewhere!

I simply ask that you give it a try, commit to a regular practice (2-3 times per week to start), and stay patient. Also, take the following pieces of advice to heart.

Tips for building flexibility through yoga

Befriend your props: Props – including straps, blocks, and blankets – are not just for beginners. Smart yogis use them on any given day for a number of reasons. One is to bring the ground closer to you to release strain on your hamstrings. A second is they allow you to rest in restorative poses to tone down the intensity of certain shapes. Make it a habit to grab props before each and every class.

Develop a stretching routine: Everyone has certain body parts that are far tighter than others. Maybe it’s your hamstrings, hips, shoulders, or neck. To avoid common yoga injuries as you build flexibility and strength, identify which body parts are your weaknesses. Then target those daily with a small handful of stretches. Learn to identify the difference between sensation and pain.

Breathe through your muscles: Even and sustained breathing brings oxygen into your muscles. I’ve found that many new yogis notice the loud, even breaths of their neighbors throughout class and wonder “Do I have to do this too?” Yes, absolutely! A strong breath practice not only keeps you energized throughout class but also sends oxygen into the places you need it most.

Feel the heat: While you can certainly practice yoga anywhere, the reason we crank the heat in our studio is that it loosens your muscles, making it easier to build flexibility without causing injury. This means two things. One, don’t push too far in a heated space, as your muscles might be deceiving you. Two, accept the fact that you won’t feel quite as flexible in a colder space as you do in our studio.

Very few yoga students walk into their first class wildly flexible. But that’s okay because flexibility isn’t the main goal of yoga anyway. Yoga helps you practice mindfulness, live in the present, and increase your self-confidence.

Flexibility is certainly a perk of steady yoga practice, but it shouldn’t be a fear that keeps you away from ever stepping onto your mat.

10 Reasons Why we Step on our Yoga Mats

If you’re new to yoga or have never practiced before, you may be wondering: why the heck do people submit themselves to this crazy yoga practice? And if you’re a seasoned yogi, it’s always worth reminding yourself exactly why you step onto your mat each day.

Most people start practicing yoga hoping to gain a combination of flexibility, strength, and stress relief. But most yogis experience a change of heart regarding why they do yoga – most often pointing to self-compassion, spirituality, and community as the lasting benefits.

Let’s look at 10 different reasons why people do yoga, starting with the physical and moving into the deeper reasons.

1. Yoga provides better flexibility and mobility. Over time, even the stiffest muscles can stretch and lengthen. But one of yoga’s biggest strengths as an exercise form is the functional flexibility it offers to make it easier to complete everyday movements – such as kneeling, bending, or reaching.

2. It builds full-body strength. Yoga is a full-body workout. In any given class, you’ll touch on just about every muscle group in your body with both long, static holds, and fluid, dynamic movement. By supporting your own body weight and intentionally pulling each muscle up and in, you’re building functional strength right where you need it.

3. Yoga relieves stress. Yoga balances your body, mind, and nervous system, helping you relieve tension, ease your frantic mind, and steady your breath. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you into mindful awareness of the way you react to difficult situations, preparing you to respond more positively in the face of future stress. Read more about relieving anxiety through the power of the breath here: The Power of Yogic Breath to Relieve Anxiety

4. It detoxifies your body. Twisting poses and backward bends help give your body’s natural rhythms a boost. When you move in these poses, you squeeze your organs, pumping fresh blood throughout your body and removing waste from your cells.

5. Yoga reminds you to breathe. In class, you’re continually reminded to inhale deeply and exhale slowly, allowing you to notice when your breath is suffering – whether from physical exertion or emotional toil. I can’t tell you how many times this practice has helped me cool down off my mat – either by offering physical relief or preventing me from saying or doing something I would regret.

6. It helps increase concentration. I believe most of us today have concentration troubles, resulting from this digital age and the many tasks constantly tugging us in different directions. Yoga teaches you to continually observe your body, breath, and emotions. It focuses your mind on one pose at a time – often for much longer than you’d prefer! Over time, this practice can increase your ability to focus off the mat – boosting creativity and energy.

7. Yoga increases self confidence. Beginners and experts alike struggle, sweat, and fall over quite often in yoga class. But, guess what? No one is here to judge you on your performance. So, learn to laugh at yourself and keep showing up on your mat. Because, dedication to your practice will bring improvement – even if it’s not in the way you expected.

8. It helps you live in the present. If you spend much of your days planning, worrying, or regretting your actions, yoga can help you unplug and focus on what’s going on in your body and mind in this moment. Give it a try if for no other reason than setting technology aside for 75 minutes. Through breathwork and experience, you’ll learn to live in the present off your mat too.

9. It encourages playfulness. How often as adults do we get to practice new things, like balancing on our head or flipping upside down? Yoga brings you back to that child-like mind, where you explored and approached new situations with curiosity and playfulness, rather than anger and ego.

10. Finally, yoga builds community and connection to an ancient lineage. When you practice yoga, you become part of a four thousand year old tradition. You’ll discover a multitude of tools for enriching your lives – from meditation to health tips, and much more. Yoga can provide an amazing opportunity to discover new friendships, teachers, and communities. I can tell you that I’m continually inspired by the teachers and students who walk through these doors.

The truth is that yoga is not about simply changing your brain or your body. It transcends those goals and helps you connect to what you already have – and who you already are.

So, why do you practice yoga? I’d love to hear some of the reasons you step onto your mat each day!

Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Last week we covered seven basic, overarching ways to avoid yoga-related injuries. Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the most common body parts that yogis injure – and learn practical ways to protect yourself.

Hamstrings: One of the most common body parts that can get injured due to yoga is your hamstrings. Forcing your legs straight into any pose – whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down – can damage your hamstring muscles. This kind of injury often builds up gradually, turning into hamstring tendonitis.

How to avoid hamstring injuries: Avoid forcing your legs into any stretches and you’ll find these injuries quite easy to avoid. If hamstrings are not your most flexible body part, apply added focus on contracting the front of your body (quads and lower abs) when you fold forward to let your hamstrings feel safe letting go. Don’t use your hands to pull your body deeper into forward folds. Those of you with a lot of mobility in your hamstrings need to be cautious and focus on engaging your outer hips, as it’s possible for you to overstretch and cause injury.

Shoulders: Yoga can cause shoulder injuries as a result of improper overuse. Poses like plank, chaturanga, cobra pose, and upward facing are common culprits. I’ve also seen shoulder injuries arise due to students not listening to their bodies’ signs of fatigue. Don’t push through chaturanga when your body is screaming for a modification or a rest.

How to avoid shoulder injuries: Avoid putting heavy weight on the joint by keeping the shoulders locked into the back on the poses listed above. Be sure to hug the elbows into the side body as you lower down through chaturanga and drop your knees down if this is hard to accomplish. Nail the elbows grazing into the ribs as you lower first – then try to lower down in one line with knees lifted. In your updog and cobra poses be sure to expand into the collar bones and externally rotate the shoulders and pull them down into the back pockets.

Wrists: Much like elbow injuries, wrist pain is a result of repetitive stress. This small joint is often already aggravated by too much computer usage. Those of you with weaker upper arms and forearms are at a higher risk because you won’t be able to press your palm firmly enough into your mat to relieve the weight placed on your wrist.

How to avoid wrist injuries: Supplement your yoga practice with some basic arm exercises designed to tone and strengthen. Use dumbbells or resistance bands when you visit the gym. The stronger your arms are, the less pressure you’ll place on your wrists. Alternatively, I recommend placing your knees on the ground to modify poses, like chaturanga, while you build wrist strength.

Lower back: Among the most frequent yoga injuries, lower back pain is often caused by rounding your spine in forward folds or downward dog. Rounding and overstretching is a recipe for injury and irritation, as it causes your spine to flex the opposite way it is supposed to.

How to avoid lower back injuries: Don’t shy away from bending your knees in forward folds; this allows your back to decompress and relax. Engage your lower belly in most poses – especially chair – as core strength contributes to a strong, healthy back. Keep a small bend in your knees throughout practice and remember to tuck your pelvis under your spine.

Knees: Knee injuries are often related to a lack of flexibility, especially in poses that target your tight hips. Other times, they’re the result of your knees falling out of alignment in poses like Warrior or triangle pose.

How to avoid knee injuries: When bending your knee in a pose like Warrior 2, always check that it is tracking over your middle toe. You never want it to cave inward because it adds unnecessary strain. When your knee is straight, avoid locking your knee joint. Additionally, avoid spending long periods of time in deep hip openers until you build flexibility there.

Neck: Any time you apply pressure to your neck – such as during a headstand – you’re compressing your neck. This can lead to pain in your cervical vertebrae. Your neck is one of the scariest places to harm since it takes so long to heal properly.

How to avoid neck injuries: Never put pressure on your head in any kind of inversion – including when you prepare for full wheel. Don’t force yourself into poses that the rest of your body (shoulders, wrists, abs) isn’t prepared to support you in.

Given all the proven benefits of yoga, but also the many potential risks, what should you yogis do? My biggest advice to avoiding yoga injuries is a combination of gradually easing into each practice, noting when your body feels pain over sensation, and mixing yoga with other exercise forms to strengthen weak areas.

At Yoga Fever, it’s our mission to teach an anatomically-sound yoga practice that keeps your bodies safe and strong! If you ever start noticing pain or discomfort, let your yoga instructor know so we can help adjust you or modify your pose.

7 Tips for Avoiding Common Yoga Injuries

Many yogis love the practice because it reduces the tightness in their necks, loosens their lower backs, and releases tension in their hips. But, like any kind of sport or activity, injuries can – and do – happen in yoga.

Some injuries occur due to overuse and inaccurate alignment on repeat. Others come about from thinking you’re more flexible than you really are. And sometimes, they’re a complete slip, accident, or fluke.

Thankfully, I have seven pieces of advice to help you avoid common yoga injuries. Because the most important thing to Yoga Fever instructors is keeping you safe and your body healthy.

1. Know the difference between sensation and pain

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: leave your ego at the door. Do NOT compare your flexibility, your strength, or your body in general to that of your neighbor. Everyone’s body is different, which means that the “perfect pose” may not be possible for you – right now, or ever. That’s okay. We’re here to guide you toward your best possible expression. But if anything ever starts feeling uncomfortable, please listen to your body and back off.

2. Get the green light from your doc if you have any pre-existing injuries

If you’re new to yoga and have any pre-existing injuries, please talk to your doctor or physical therapist for guidance first. While we instructors are trained in anatomy and are skilled in helping students avoid new injuries, we don’t know what aches and pains you might be dealing with already. Discuss which postures or movements might be risky based on your current or ongoing limitations.

3. Chat with your instructor before or after class

That being said, we also want to hear from you – about existing injuries or any new pains you’re noticing. When we know what’s going on with your body, we can help cue modifications to help you avoid doing more injury to yourself. While we try our best to move around the studio and help students right during class, we can’t always make it to everyone. We warmly welcome you to chat with us before or after class, so we can help you protect your body.

4. Gently stretch tight areas

Stretching and other dynamic movements should always be done mindfully and gently. Take your time loosening tight areas – especially during the beginning of class or when you’re practicing outside of our heated studio. It’s natural to feel some resistance, but you should be able to tell the difference between that and pain. Overstretching will only ever set you back by worsening existing injuries or leading to muscle tears.

5. Regular strength training

If you know you’re weaker in certain parts of your body – say, glutes or hamstrings – try to build strength there gradually. This helps you reduce putting too much pressure on other body parts as they try to compensate. Focus on regular cardiovascular or resistance-training exercises several times per week to build up the strength you need to stay safe in the yoga studio.

6. Use props for support

You know those blocks and straps at the back of our yoga studio? Yes, we really do want you to grab one of each for every class. Blocks can easily bring your mat closer to you if you don’t reach the floor in a certain bend or twist. They relieve pressure on your precious hamstrings. A rolled-up blanket or towel placed under your knee or hip is another great way to protect vulnerable parts of your body. Props are not something to be ashamed of. In fact, some of the strongest yogis are those who rely on their props to support them when they need it.

7. Consider trying various styles of yoga

Beyond the physical injuries, you might immediately think of, certain vigorous styles are not meant for beginners. Ease your way into the yoga practice by attending some of our gentle yoga, warm (not as hot) classes or even our yin yoga classes, which move at a slower pace. Learn the foundations of yoga from our experienced teachers, and read up on how to prepare your body for the Power Vinyasa Classes. Choose the appropriate class for your skill level and work your way up.

Next week, we’ll dive deeper into some of the most common yoga injuries, teaching you practical ways to avoid falling victim to them yourself.

In the meantime, I hope you take these tips to heart. It’s easy to forget that the ancient practice is about so much more than contorting your body into unique, impressive physical shapes. But at the end of the day, no one wants to lose out on days or weeks of yoga practice because they’re nursing an injury that could have been avoidable.

Building Your Springtime Routine through Yoga, Nutrition, and Sleeping Patterns

Last week we dove into the basic principles of an Ayurvedic approach to spring. We talked about how the kapha dosha is aggravated by qualities that are heavy, cold, or moist, so we encouraged you to begin inviting in lightness, warmth and dryness through the food, activities, and self-care rituals you choose to engage in.

We determined that the best prescription is to develop a rhythm. In this season, you’re looking to identify a set of routines that help you gradually lighten your body, mind, and emotions.

Today, I dive into what your yoga practice, eating habits, and sleeping patterns might look like when following an Ayurvedic approach to spring.

Your Yoga Practice

Your practice this time of year should be stimulating and invigorating. I’ve seen our Yoga Fever instructors begin to ramp up their classes, filling them with high-energy, powerful flows.

However, I highly recommend an inclusion of both yin and yang classes this time of year. Cultivating both strength and flexibility will bring balance to the kapha dosha. Move rapidly through your sequences this time of year, but linger in the moments between. Use those opportunities to slow down and move mindfully.

When practicing at home, try some of these poses:

Sun Salutations- These sequences pump prana – or breath – through your body, filling you with oxygen. Move rapidly through these sequences, linking breath to movement, to relieve stagnation in your body and mind.

Backbends- Any heart opening asana will energize your body. Bridge pose, wheel, and wild thing all expand your chest, relieving any congestion in your respiratory system.

Dynamic forward folds- Whether seated or standing, forward folds tone your kidneys and bladder, regulating your body’s water content and emotions.

Twists- Wringing your body out through a variety of twists – like triangle pose – really detoxifies your organs and strengthens your metabolic fire. Talk about a thorough spring cleaning!

Nutritional Advice

In the winter months, we naturally gravitate toward sweet, sour, or salty foods to counteract the dry qualities of these bitterly cold months. Now that the temperatures are rising, eat lighter foods, focusing on pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.

Make sure that lunch is your biggest meal of the day, so you’re not forcing your body to digest a large meal during the times of the day when your kapha dosha is sluggish. Also, aim to eat at regular intervals during the day, at least 3-4 hours between meals.

Best foods to eat this season:

Saute leafy greens – kale, collards, dandelion, spinach, or mustard greens – with ghee to cleanse your body and counterbalance congestion.

Opt for less sweet fruits, like cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, or granny smith apples.

Choose seeds instead of nuts.

Barley, quinoa, and millet should be your staple grains.

Kick up your seasoning game with spices like turmeric, ginger, cayenne, mustard, and black pepper.

Adjusting Your Sleeping Patterns

Before the sun reaches its ultimate summer equinox point, take advantage of the darkness and fight the urge to stay up late. You’ll have plenty of time to milk those hours come June.

To keep your kapha dosha in balance, go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and rise before the sun. Have you ever noticed that it’s actually easier to wake up at 5:30 a.m. than 6:30 a.m.? Providing you went to bed early!

When you do wake up, use those hours before the rest of the world wakes to get outside for a brisk walk or incorporate a vigorous yoga practice. We’d love to see you at our 6:00 a.m. hot yoga classes!

An Ayurvedic Approach to Spring

The rain is pouring down, washing away the remnants of this winter’s snow piles as I write this. Do I dare believe spring is near?!

The spring season is traditionally a time of renewal. We throw open our windows, deep clean the messes that piled up over the long winter and prepare for cleansing and new growth.

While nature blossoms beautifully in the springtime, humans often experience a much less graceful transition this time of year. We often find ourselves feeling sluggish – like a reluctant, cranky bear coming out of hibernation.

To enjoy a healthy, active spring, you need a basic understanding of Ayurveda – yoga’s sister science – especially of the kapha dosha and how to bring it into balance.

Kapha Dosha

Of the three doshas, it’s kapha that brings light, warmth, and an increased energy. When it’s in balance, you’ll feel strong, composed, and stable – with strong muscles, lubricated joints, and an affectionate, loving personality.

The spring season is sweet and gentle, one that encourages us to slow down. The softness you might notice is an attribute of the water element, while the slowness is an attribute of the earth element. When these elements combine – as they’re doing each day outside this time of year – they encourage growth and new life. Buds begin to form on the trees and flowers pop out of the soft ground. Yet, when there’s too much water and earth combining, we get thick, overwhelming mud instead.

So, too, is the case for us humans. When our kapha dosha is out of balance, we figuratively get stuck in the mud. You may notice a tendency toward lethargy. Or you might gain weight, experience excess phlegm in your lungs or sinuses, and feel a heaviness in your limbs.

The kapha dosha is aggravated by qualities that are heavy, cold, or moist, so I encourage you to invite in lightness, warmess, and dryness through the food, activities, and self-care rituals you choose to engage in.

Common signs of kapha imbalance:

  • Dullness and lethargy in the mind
  • Excess congestion
  • Oily skin
  • Swelling
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Attachment issues

It’s incredibly important to intentionally balance your kapha dosha in the springtime, because it accumulates during the winter’s cold and wet atmosphere. As each of us hibernates during the winter, we develop a winter coat of insulation that must be shed to decrease our vulnerability to allergies or head colds.

So, what’s your basic prescription for spring? Develop a rhythm or routine that helps you gradually lighten your body, mind, and emotions.

Stay tuned next time as we dive deeper into the yoga poses, nutritional habits, and sleeping patterns best suited for balancing your kapha dosha this spring.

Monthly Feature Yoga Pose: Wild Thing

This month, we’re featuring Camatkarasana. You’ve probably heard of this little beauty by one of its nicknames: Wild Thing, Flipping Your Dog, or Flipped Dog. I’ll refer to this yoga pose as Wild Thing for the sake of consistency throughout this post.

Wild Thing is one of those yoga poses where you get to have a little fun, crack a smile, and truly feel the strength and power of your body, while simultaneously adding an element of dance into your practice. While it’s an intermediate-to-advanced pose, it’s one that most of you will be able to work into with practice.

The Process

Make sure to warm up your chest, shoulders, upper back and spine before attempting Wild Thing. Play around in table pose, doing several rounds of Cat and Cow. I also recommend several Sun Salutations to help warm up your body.

Once you have some heat in your hips and shoulders, take the plunge and flip away!

Option 1:

Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Lift your right leg high into the air, before opening your hips – reaching your knee high to the sky while trying to touch your butt with your heel.

From here, simply open your hip farther and farther until you’re able to drop your right foot to the ground. Your chest should shine open toward the sky as you lift your right arm up, reaching your fingers toward the top of your mat. Hold for several breaths before returning to Downward-Facing Dog.

Option 2:

Begin in Plank position. Rotate into Side Plank, with your left hand on the ground and your right foot stacked upon the left.

Slowly bend your right leg, setting it on the ground behind you with your legs hip-width apart. Reach your right arm overhead, again stretching your fingers toward the top of your mat.

From here, lift your pelvis and chest upward, letting your head and neck relax. Hold for several rounds of breath before exiting into Downward-Facing Dog.

Requirements

Wild Thing requires you to focus on establishing stability in your shoulder girdle. You must hug the muscular energy of your bottom hip and spine inward, while radiating energy out through your chest and raised arm.

Cautions

If you have ever experienced shoulder injuries, you may want to avoid this pose. Other injuries to watch out for are a hurt rotator cuff or carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s completely acceptable to skip this pose, as it’s always offered as an optional extension from Downward Dog or Side Plank. It’s more important to honor and respect your body’s limitations. While some poses, like Wild Thing, are fun for certain yogis, you need to respect your past injuries and do what’s right for you.

Modifications

As this is an optional pose in yoga practices, there aren’t any true modifications. If it doesn’t feel right for your body, skip it and hang out where you’re at. However, if you’ve simply never tried it, flag your instructor over for guidance while you experiment!

Variations

If you have a rigorous back-bending practice, it’s possible to transition from Wild Thing all the way to a Full Wheel. To do this variation, you’ll need to reach your upper arm all the way to the floor, with your fingers pointed toward your feet. If you can do this, lift the hand that was already on the ground and flip it, too, so your fingers point toward your feet. Once both hands are properly aligned on the ground, you’re there!

If you have healthy shoulders and a strong, supple spine, I challenge each of you to bravely Flip Your Dog this month. When you hear your instructor call the cue, bravely take the plunge, radiating your heart to the sky and soaking in the goodness of your body’s power!

Monthly Feature Pose: Trikonasana | Triangle

This month, we’re featuring Trikonasana – or Triangle pose. Trikonasana, like most yoga poses, combines a variety of elements into one, lovely back and core strengthener. Because it’s a fairly gentle twist, it maintains back flexibility and works your full spine. The twisting motion also works as a massage to your internal organs, helping them rid toxins from your body.

It also brings connection with the lower half of your body. Though you stand on your legs every day, it’s easy to neglect their power and grace. Incorporating Trikonasana into your yoga practice will build strength and steadiness into your legs and feet.

Because Trikonasana pulls your body in every direction, it cultivates balance and evenness in your body. It magnificently expands and creates space in your torso, arms, and legs.

Trust me: before you know it, you’ll come to crave this pose, falling into it in any and all yoga practices!

Benefits of Trikonasana

It opens just about everything – hips, groins, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, and spine – making it an integral part to any yoga flow.

It stimulates abdominals in a friendlier way than many core exercises.

It improves alignment and stability, as you gradually are able to open your body into the full extension.

It stretches and strengthens your thighs, knees, and ankles.

It relieves backaches!

The Process

A steady triangle begins with a comfortable stride. Starting from warrior 2, turn your front toes so they face the top of your mat.

Bring your arms to a T position and extend strongly through all 10 fingertips. They should feel like they’re growing stronger and more vibrant with each breath.

Next, pop your back hip toward the back of your mat, then inhale deeply as you reach forward with your front hand. Make sure to keep your legs and hips steady as you reach!

Exhale as you slowly fold at your hip crease, stretching your front hand to your shin or a block. Be careful to avoid dumping all of your weight into this hand. Your abs and legs should be able to support you entirely.

Finally, lift your back arm to the sky, directly above your other shoulder. Your body should feel as if it could fit in the narrow space between two panes of glass, which means you’re going to need to rotate your upper shoulder and heart to the sky. Take a full round of breath here, enjoying the expansion throughout your chest, lungs, and heart.

Cautions

A couple things to watch out for when practicing trikonasana. If you have low blood pressure, take your time coming out of this pose. If you have high blood pressure, gaze downward, resting your top hand on your hip. Got a neck problem? It’s totally okay to keep your gaze forward, rather than twisting up toward the ceiling.

Modifications

Sometimes, a pose just isn’t your jam. If your body still needs time to get comfortable with trikonasana, use a block (on any height) to support your lower hand. This actually removes pressure from your front leg, hips, and shoulders. Wave us over if you’ve never felt confident in this pose; we’d love to help you!

Variations

If you’re looking to take this pose even further, try extending your top arm over your ear, in line with your side body and pointing toward the front of your mat. Lift your bottom arm up to meet it, as if you were holding a large beach ball. This is one of the best ways to check that you’re truly using your leg and ab muscles, rather than relying on your lower arm to support you.

Consider this complex and challenging pose an ongoing experiment. Explore different strides, play around with the rotation in your pelvis, and let your breath guide you into the pose. Always maintain a sense of playfulness and curiosity!

How to Avoid Dehydration During Hot Yoga

“Make sure you drink lots of water.” I’m sure most of you have heard this at Yoga Fever as you’re rolling up your mat and packing to leave class. In fact, you hear this tip frequently, whether you’re training for a race, practicing yoga in heated rooms, or simply maintaining a healthy life.

The statement itself sounds simple enough, but I often notice dehydrated students in our hot yoga classes. Recognizing this problem up a list of other questions: What is the best way to hydrate? How do you know if you’ve had enough water? What are the key signs to look out for to avoid dehydration?

Tiredness, dizziness, cramped muscles, or no sweat – even in our incredibly hot room – are a few symptoms of dehydration. For yoga newbies, it’s totally acceptable to require a few classes for your body to acclimate to the heat, but continued struggle can be a sign of not enough water.

We’ve talked before about the best tips and tricks to nourish your body before a hot yoga class, but I want to focus on the critical importance of hydration.

Prepping for Your Hot Yoga Class

Enter the hot yoga studio already properly hydrated. It’s simply too hard to do it once you’re already in the room, as it takes your body about 45 minutes to process water. Hydration before yoga is essential to avoiding stiffness and cramping. Ideally, the bottle you bring will simply be for refreshment.

Then, make absolutely sure that you hydrate after class. I know many of you lead busy lives and are running off to the next thing after class, but don’t ditch that water bottle! Nutritionists recommend drinking at least 20 ounces of water after class to replace the fluids you burned off during class.

Sneaky Tips to Getting the Right Hydration for Hot Yoga

When practicing hot yoga, you simply cannot hydrate properly with water alone; you need the right balance of water and electrolytes. However, I advise against the many sports drinks out there, as they often have too much sodium and sugar. Coconut water, though, cannot be beat! With five key electrolytes, along with vitamins and potassium, it’s an ideal alternative. In fact, coconut water is so similar to blood plasma that it can be used as intravenous fluid in emergency transfusions – crazy, right?

Eat your water. The right foods can help you stay hydrated. Fruits and vegetables – especially lettuce, broccoli, grapefruit, cucumber, and watermelon – will increase your metabolism.

Spike your drink. Sometimes water needs a little boost of flavor. If you’re growing tired of your water intake, enhance your water with a kick of flavor – whether it’s a natural remedy like cucumbers, oranges, or lemons or a flavored powder.

I want to challenge each of you to embark on your own personal hydration challenge. Sip on water all day, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Fill your reusable bottle as soon as you finish it. Slowly drink a bottle of water over the course of the hour leading up to yoga class. And drink another in the 30 minutes after class. Stock up on produce high in water volume. Give it a week and see how your yoga practice is transformed!

4 Tips for an Easier Holiday Season

Oh, the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year! That, somehow, also becomes a time of stress and chaos for most of us. What should be a relaxing time with family often becomes a mess of getting everything done, trying to eat right once in a while, and making sure everyone is enjoying themselves – yourself included. Fewer hours of daylight, unpredictable weather, poor travel experiences, and social events filled with insane amounts of food and drinks can leave us feeling way off balance.

However, this is an excellent time to slow down and put into practice the lessons you’ve learned through yoga this year. If this seems impossible, check out our four tips for surviving (and thriving!) the holiday season and beyond.

4 Tips for an Easier Holiday Season

Set an intention to care for yourself. For many people, “the most wonderful time of the year” becomes “the most stressful time of the year.” Our regularly busy lives become aggravated due to additional expectations like hosting parties, baking cookies, and shopping for gifts. Just as we set intentions before yoga practice, I suggest you set an intention for self-care and self-love this holiday season. An intention is not just a thought – it’s a powerful commitment that begins the process of change. The commitment may be small – like five minutes each day of deep breathing – or it may be something longer like a daily yoga class. Whatever you choose, keep it doable.

Notice – and let go of – your expectations. We all fill our minds with expectations about how our lives should operate. For example, some of us strongly appreciate order and punctuality. Obstacles like traffic jams and long lines at the grocery store drive us crazy. Life – especially around the holidays – simply does not go according to schedule. At any moment, a canceled flight, out-of-stock gift, or any number of things can ruin our expectations. Part of overcoming stress around the holidays is simply learning to accept what comes before us. Yoga does a great deal of teaching along these lines. Each time you step on your mat, you challenge yourself to accept where your body and mind are that day and give yourself what you need – whether that’s a challenge or restoration.

Take a purposeful pause to focus on breathing. When we feel threatened or overwhelmed, our nervous system dumps stress hormones into our bloodstream. One of the quickest ways to diffuse this stress is through intentional breathing. While this certainly won’t feel easy at first, as you slow down your exhalations, you’ll begin to relax and recalibrate your body. I suggest taking a purposeful pause occasionally throughout your day. It’s important to let this come naturally so that taking a break is not yet one more thing on your hamster wheel of tasks and commitments. Perhaps it’s a few extra minutes of deep breathing in the shower or a deep breath before you walk in your house. The important point is to create small spaces in your day where you can hit the reset button.

Practice gratitude. While it may seem difficult to feel grateful in the midst of stress, it is possible. Consider starting a gratitude journal, where you write down small things that bring you joy each day. Maybe you notice the sunshine peeking out just once during a stretch of gray, Michigan days – or maybe you notice that for one small moment you’ve stopped obsessing over your overly long to-do list. What seems like a silly exercise can do wonders in helping you recognize the beauty around you.

Most importantly, practice compassion and kindness with yourself this season. Don’t push yourself too hard. Spend some quiet time alone when you need to unwind – and make time for friends when you’re feeling social. Reflect on the good things and let go of the rest. Realize that everyone is really doing the best they can. Make time to breathe. And visit us at the studio whenever you need an escape!

We do have some limited hours near the holidays, so please check out our online schedule before showing up for your favorite yoga classes!

The Power of Yogic Breath to Reduce Anxiety

Think back to the first time you stepped into a hot yoga studio. Likely, there were a lot of new experiences and sensations, but perhaps what you noticed the most was the military-like regimented breathing style of your neighbors. You probably heard loud, even breaths throughout the practice and your teacher likely aligned each movement with an inhale or an exhale.

And, maybe, you wondered “Do I have to do this too?” “Is it truly important that I listen to my teacher?” “I’m sure I can practice just as well if I breathe normally.”

If this was you, you’re certainly not alone!

But, yes, it is absolutely crucial that you practice a strong yogic breath throughout your practice. Not only does it help cool your body throughout a heated class, but it also instills a valuable habit that you can rely upon both on and off your mat.

In fact, many studies now confirm what we yoga practitioners have always found: regardless of the type of stress we’re dealing with, yoga is a powerful tool to calm our nervous systems and relieve anxiety. And the most basic component of yoga – breath control – can be practiced anywhere, by anyone.

The quickest way to a panic attack is taking short, sharp, shallow breaths with no focus on your exhale. Our breath is the gateway to our practice and the factor that most powerfully shapes our experiences – on or off the mat. It is intimately connected to our nervous system, so rapid breaths can increase our symptoms of anxiety. However, yoga increases our awareness of the need to slow and deepen our breathing.

Here are four simple ways in which you can ease your anxiety and enhance your mood by managing your breath.

1. Take inventory of how you feel. We often begin with this concept in yoga class. Teachers will ask students to rest either on their backs, seated, or in child’s pose as they take note of how their bodies, minds, and emotions feel that day. However, you can check in with yourself this way anywhere and anytime. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Inhale deep into your belly for five seconds before exhaling slowly for another five. Gradually increase the count to seven or even ten, taking special note of how feel afterward.

2. Practice sun salutations. Whether you prefer seated or standing, practice a few mini sun salutations. While you’re resting between rounds, be sure to soften your shoulders down your back and slow your breathing down. In these active poses, it’s easy to lose track of our breath – but quite simple to regain when you focus on calming and restoring it.

3. Rest in legs up the wall pose. When your anxiety manifests itself as jitters or restlessness, try taking legs up the wall pose. Since it can be done anywhere, it can be especially helpful after long stints of sitting at a desk or traveling.

4. Be mindful of what you consume. Too much caffeine, sugar, screen time, loud music, or work can contribute to an extra-anxious mind. The concept of self-care is real and valid. It’s not simply a luxury; it’s essential. Incorporate calm activities and healthy habits into your life, like a relaxing bath, a silent meditation, an outdoor walk, and a nutritious diet.

Tips for Creating Your Ideal Meditation Space

Interestingly, one of the main reasons we practice an active form of yoga is to help our bodies become capable of doing the opposite: sitting in stillness and meditation. This time of year, as we enter the busyness of holidays, parties, shopping, and cooking, I always find myself craving a quiet and meditative outlet.

As a small business owner, I know as well as anyone the challenges of finding a time and space to rest. To breathe, to think, to relax, and to unwind. I know that adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting, if not downright impossible.

Yet, spending time in stillness each day provides the opportunity to pay attention to our own, individual experience. This, in turn, lets us bring intentional awareness into our daily activities. Think of your formal meditation sessions, whether in studio or at home, as the training that allow us to be more present in our own lives.

So, today I want to share some of my tips for creating a meditation space that you can call home in both the good days and the bad ones, whether you’re seeking joyful meditation or a place of solace.

Find a place that feels secure.

What I’ve found absolutely critical to successful meditation is finding a place where you feel secure enough to open your mind to this practice. Whether that’s a designated room in your house, the floor of your bathroom, a corner with a folding screen, or your yoga studio, find a place that feels sacred to you.

Add beauty into your space.

Meditation at its core is about removing the barriers and obstacles that keep our minds in a state of frenzy. So, I highly recommend that you keep your area simple and uncluttered, like our peaceful and clean space at Yoga Fever. Choose a few items that bring peace and serenity. Some great options include: a pillow, statue, artwork, mat, throw rug, curtains, or natural light.

Create a lovely aroma.

Incense, essential oils, or candles not only help you stay focused but also provide beautiful and soothing energy. In the studio, we often will waft an essential oil throughout the room during savasana. Additionally, candles offer the extra perk of providing a meditative flicker of the flame. Try our Wednesday night candlelit yoga class if you don’t yet understand the beauty and peace of this particular idea!

Soothe your soul with music.

While this piece isn’t necessary, and won’t fit everyone’s preference, I love playing soothing music during my time of meditation. Really, any style of music that brings you tranquility and peace will do. Alternatively, you could consider adding a small fountain if you’re practicing at home.

If you think about it, the spaces in our homes are often classified by the activities that we do in each of them. We have spaces for eating, cooking, sleeping, and playing. Some of us have other areas for entertaining, exercising, reading, or painting. But sometimes it’s important to have spaces in our homes that we create simply to be in them.

Perhaps we can think of our meditation space, whether in studio or at home, as simply our being room. It’s a safe, sacred retreat on bad days and a place to center ourselves each morning. I challenge you to identify some space, anywhere, that you can dedicate to meditation. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll want to return.

Building Heat in the Body with the Practice of Yoga

When we’re cold, our circulation decreases, which leads to constriction in the muscles and joints. Though I know how tempting it can be to avoid the snowy roads and stay snuggled up on your cozy couch, winter weather is actually one of the best times to keep up a consistent yoga practice. Through our practice, we develop an internal heat to keep us warm, happy, and healthy.

I suggest focusing on four specific practices this season: develop strong, consistent breath; work those abs until they burn; consume Ayurveda-friendly warm, seasonal foods and get yourself to the nearest hot yoga room.

Strong Breath

Kapalabhati is a cleansing breath technique in which you start in a comfortable seated position with a tall spine. Draw in a long inhale, then exhale forcefully from your lower belly. Continue pushing breath outward in this way without inhaling – the inhale happens naturally, I promise!

Focus on exhaling over and over again, starting with a steady pace before moving faster. After about 20 repetitions, exhale all your air out and draw in another deep breath. Slowly sigh it out. You can repeat this breathing style twice more, allowing for that important rested breath between rounds.

This breathing style removes carbon dioxide from your lungs and brings energy into your body.

Core Strength

Heat is created from your body’s furnace, located in the belly center. In yoga, we call this area the Manipura chakra, which is connected to the element of fire. Any work done in your core area will provide warmth. In the winter, we like to spend time prepping the body before diving into the more difficult core exercises.

We may start with abdominal exercises that keep the spine fully supported by the floor. We’ll move into a couple rounds of Locust pose, while focusing on a very regulated breath. You’ll often find yourself in navasana (boat pose) later in class. Seated forward folds are sometimes used in the cooling portion of class, as we focus on contracting the belly on each exhale.

Nutritional Support

The sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, states that “like attracts like.” This means that the kapha and vata doshas tend to become aggravated during our dark, cold Michigan winters. The climate is simply too similar to their natural qualities. If you’re finding yourself experiencing many colds, poor circulation, joint pains, or negative emotions, try some of these tips.

Definitely eat plenty of soups, stews, cooked vegetables, and grains. Avoid cold salads and sandwiches.

Start your day with a hearty, warm breakfast to feed your digestive fire. Oatmeal is a great option.

Season your foods with warming spices, such as cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and nutmeg.

Drink warm teas, hot water with lemon, or dry red wine to encourage circulation and stimulate digestion.

If you naturally tend to eat warmer, heartier foods in the winter – like soup, stir fry, casserole, quiches, pasta – you’re on the right track! While our bodies are designed to eat more in the winter, it’s still important to select your food carefully.

The cold, dry, and dark winter months can certainly tempt us away from our practice – and excercise in general. If we fall victim to that temptation, though, we’ll experience a number of negative consequences. I challenge you this winter to use your yoga practice as a means of caring for your entire being. Challenge yourself to practice a certain amount of days each week. For at least 60 minutes, you’ll be incredibly warm and fiery!

If you would like to learn more about building heat in the body using the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, please visit Laura Burkett at Real Food Wellness.

Hot Yoga Studio

The hot yoga studio creates a sauna like atmosphere that will naturally detoxify the body while warming the external sheath, bones, muscles, ligaments and joints. Hot yoga raises your heart rate and core temperature, which dilates blood vessels and increases circulation in your muscles—a total win when muscles are stiffer in the cold weather months. Essentially, hot yoga helps build the heat from the core to the periphery and the periphery back to the core.

If you’re interested in learning more about our hot yoga studio, please call(616) 805-3603 and speak to Brittany Sanagustin or anyone on the Yoga Fever staff. We can help guide you into a safe, cozy practice designed to keep you warm all year long!

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.

Yoga Teaches Positive Coping Mechanisms for Managing Stress

Teenagers are barraged with many powerful life stressors, including grades and the pursuit of a college education, puberty, family issues, relationships, lack of sleep, jobs, and extra-curricular activities. It’s no surprise that the American Psychological Association (APA) named teens one of the most stressed-out age groups in the United States.

When we experience a perceived threat – whether physical or emotional – our bodies activate a “fight or flight” response. Historically, this response was triggered only occasionally in response to deadly dangers. However, these days certain chronic situations expose our bodies to extended periods of stress.

For teenagers, this stress is coming at a critical developmental stage – right when their life habits are forming. And they often don’t have the tools or experience to manage it yet.

When a person experiences chronic stress, their body attempts to build coping mechanisms. The problem is that these can be either positive and healthy coping mechanisms or negative and maladaptive coping mechanisms – such as drugs, depression, and even suicide.

What are Coping Mechanisms?

Coping mechanisms are the strategies we use in the midst of stress or trauma to help manage difficult emotions.

Healthy coping mechanisms include:

Support- seek the steadiness of a community, rather than self-isolating and internalizing your feelings

Relaxation- practice meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing techniques

Physical Activity- on the other hand, exercise serves as a natural and healthy form of stress release

Healthy Eating- for more, read our Ayurveda blog or our Nourishing Your Body blog

Negative coping mechanisms include:

Consuming too much alcohol

Smoking

Sleeping all day

Eating unhealthily

Isolation

How Does Yoga Help Us Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms?

Luckily, yoga and meditation are among the many resources that can help both teens and adults develop healthier responses to stress.

Mindfulness techniques give students the capacity to cope with stress, providing a sense of self-empowerment and helping them overcome obstacles that previously would have seemed impossible.

Yoga practice helps redirect attention, improve concentration, and increase self-control.

It reinforces teenagers’ need for independence by teaching them that feeling better is within their control.

Additional Study Results

The results of a long-term study from the University of Cincinnati showed that a regular yoga practice helps people develop long-term resilience to stress. It analyzed 125 at-risk youth over a 10-year period and discovered that the students who participated in weekly, mindful yoga programs developed significantly stronger coping skills.

A study conducted by California State University concluded that participating in yoga classes for two hours each week helped students improve their self-esteem, classroom behavior, and physical health.

An article in Forbes Magazine revealed that yoga increases student retention rates in schools by teaching healthy coping mechanisms against stress.

Many schools and community organizations have begun to implement yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculums over the past few years. As these continue to grow, they will empower both youth and young adults to identify healthier coping mechanisms as a response to their stress. When they encounter painful emotions or trauma, they’ll have an enhanced ability to regulate their reactions.

I highly recommend that those of you who are parents to teenagers consider enrolling them in a monthly yoga membership if they’re interested. We also offer weekly, candlelit community classes for only $5, which are a great place to start learning the yoga poses and vocabulary, as well as start building a safe, welcoming support system.

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.

Cooling Yoga Poses for Your Summer Practice

Somehow we’re already in the middle of summer – can you believe that?! While it’s wonderful to be able to spend time at the beach, swimming in the pool, or taking long bike rides, there are times where it feels too hot for words, for life, for ANYTHING. Don’t let the heat slow you down too much. Let us show you a few techniques Ayurveda style to stay cool to beat the heat without losing your glow.

The heat of summer matters in our yoga sphere, as it tends to accelerate and heat our minds and bodies. This doesn’t mean that we should stop our regular yoga practice. In fact, our studio room is cooler than it is outside!!

According to Ayurveda, which is the traditional Hindu system of medicine based on the idea of balance in bodily systems, summer inspires the pitta dosha. The doshas are the bodily humors that create our unique, individual constitution. Fiery pitta energy dominates our environment in the summer (and some regularly all year long), which means we should be especially mindful of balancing this energy with our own cooling energy. The way we eat, the way we feel, and the way we maintain the layers of our being all can change according to seasonality.

Choose Yoga Poses that Release Heat

Try to incorporate the following categories of poses into your summer yoga practice.
Spinal twists: Twisting poses release excess pitta from your mid-abdomen.  Try seated spinal twist.
Gentle backbends: While some backbends build heat, gentle ones apply slight pressure to release tension from your mid-abdomen. Try baby cobra or cat-cow.
Forward folds: These physically cool the body and calm the mind and are essential to counteracting the heating qualities of more intense backbends. Try uttanasana or child’s pose.

Try a Gentler Approach

Certain yoga poses can help release pitta heat, but you don’t need to give up your favorite poses in order to stay balanced.

Keep these three pointers in mind as you practice the rest of this summer:

  1. Pace yourself during practice. Perform the more strenuous poses, such as sun salutations, more slowly and take longer breaths per pose.
  2. Focus on long, cooling breaths, rather than the intensity of your poses. Try for long exhalations, including the occasional open-mouthed lion’s breath to refresh your body.
  3. End on a slow note. Even if you practice more actively at the beginning of your session, be sure to end with a period of slow, cooling poses before finishing in savasana.

Don’t Forget the Cooling Foods

Ayurveda also focuses on balancing your food diet with the changing seasons, which means cooling off during the summer heat.

Always trust your body’s instincts, but I’d recommend focusing on these tips:
Eat vegetables and fruits with a high water content, such as melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens.
Avoid dehydration by drinking electrolyte-enhanced water or coconut water.
Certain herbs – mint, cilantro, cumin, and coriander – can actually reduce the pitta dosha.

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda or maybe what your constitution is (we all have one!!)? We will be offering a workshop in October and it is also incorporated into our teacher training program which starts in September. Contact the studio for more info or apply for teacher training (early bird pricing ends July 31) here: APPLY NOW

All About Blocks

Let’s celebrate summer with a block party! No, not the kind with hot dogs and all your neighbors. I’m talking about yoga blocks – those funky little props that are so essential to our yoga practice.

I’ve noticed a lot of new yogis tend to shy away from using blocks, thinking the props will quickly betray them as a beginner, incapable of mastering all of the poses. They feel the whole point of yoga is to become flexible enough to do every pose without using a prop.

Don’t be ashamed if you’ve ever thought this yourself! The truth is, blocks are critical to everyone’s yoga practice, whether brand new or a yoga master. The trick is to let go of your ego-based “How does this make me look?” approach and shift toward the “How does this make my body feel?” mentality.

Why Use Yoga Blocks?

A yoga block is a brick-shaped item made of either cork, wood, or foam. You can achieve three different heights (4, 6, and 9 inches) depending on the way you flip your brick. Blocks (and other yoga props) help you enter postures safely with proper alignment, ensuring you are not only safe but also experience the benefits of the pose – even if your hamstrings are tight.

If you’re new to yoga, they help you train your body to bend, twist, and stretch. If you’re experiencing an injury, they help you modify your practice so you can continue to recover. And even if you’re perfectly healthy and have been practicing for years, there are days your body just needs a little help – and that’s okay!

1. They Bring the Ground to You– Try using blocks under your hands in forward folds to release the strain on your hamstrings as you stretch toward the ground. We’ll often encourage them in the trickier folds, like half moon and standing splits. But, if you’re a beginner, don’t be afraid to grab two to use during standing forward fold too.

2. They Build Strength– Stretching isn’t the only benefit of blocks! They can be used for strength-building exercises just as well. In the studio, we often ask students to put a block between their legs during ab exercises or wheel pose. It introduces an additional element of resistance, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your efforts.

3. They Allow You to Rest in Restorative Poses– Finally, blocks can be used to tone down the intensity of yoga poses. They support you so that you can still experience the positive effects without exerting as much effort. I love using a block for a restorative bridge pose at the beginning or end of class.

Time for a Block Party!
I honestly believe the beauty of yoga is its acceptance of students of all levels of experience, flexibility, and strength. Using blocks and other props is not something to shy away from, and I truly hope you’ll all continue to embrace their ability to help you modify, strengthen, or rest – depending on your need each time you step on your mat!

If you’re ready to learn even more about these yoga essentials, join us for our Summer Block Party! On Sunday, July 29th from 9:30-11:00am, Dean will teach an all-levels workshop exploring unique and creative ways to utilize blocks in a variety of poses. He’ll then lead us in a jam-packed vinyasa putting our props to the test. Sign up today!