Kick Off the Holidays with MSY!

There’s no denying the holidays are upon us. Whether that fills you with joy or causes you stress, Main Street Yoga has you covered.

To kick things off, join us at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning for a Grateful Thanksgiving Yoga Flow. Samantha Mason will lead us through a slow flow focusing on gratitude (and digestion) to carry you into the rest of your day with a grateful heart, a calm mind, and a body ready to rest and digest.

On Black Friday, let Angela, Paula, Liz and David melt away your physical and mental tension with Pure Bliss Restorative Yoga. This special two-hour restorative yoga class features crystal singing bowls, reiki, massage, and aromatherapy. Space is limited to 12 students, so register early by using the "Tickets" link in the Facebook event or by clicking here.

Join Sheray for flow, yin, and meditation at 9:30 am on Saturday the 24th, then come back at noon for our Small Business Saturday Open House. Angela, Sheray, Jen, Paula, and Kindred Vibes have planned an afternoon of informative talks, reiki and AromaTouch demos, and of course, shopping! All MSY store items will be 20% off. Gift certificates will be available at 2017 rates! Kindred Vibes will have their gorgeous jewelry and assortment of crystals. Paula will have essential oil rollerballs and other DoTerra products. Sheray will have her WV Yoga Girl tank tops and tote bags, and Jen will offer donation-based Reiki sessions!  

If you’d like to approach the holidays more mindfully this year, request my Holiday Intentions workbook. I've created an exercise to help you reflect and get clear about what you'd like to experience this holiday season. Click here to request worksheet and a set of beautiful intention cards you can use to remind yourself of your holiday intentions. 

Perhaps a little more self care is at the top of your wish list this season. If so, you’ll love my holiday self care tip sheet. It’s designed to help you have a happier, healthier holiday season. Click here if you want to prioritize self care this holiday season!

And if you’re interested in practicing better self care in 2019, now is the perfect time to talk to me about Body Wisdom. The next round starts in January; discounts are available if you pay in full before we start, and you can use Main Street Yoga gift certificates toward your tuition! Tell your friends and family that gift certificates can be purchased online through SquareUp or by emailing me at mainstreetyogafmt@gmail.com.

I hope MSY can help you have a wonderful start to your holiday season. See you at the studio!

Angela

Fall Back . . . Into Better Habits

Many of us dread the end of daylight savings time. On one hand, it’s totally understandable. All summer long, we reveled in warm evenings that lingered until 9pm. Now we’re faced with cold, dark winter nights that begin at 5pm. BUT . . . what if we could use the end of daylight savings time to instill better habits?

Often with the switch to daylight savings time and back again, we struggle to reset our body clocks to match the clocks on our walls, desks, and wrists. But the end of daylight savings time provides us with an opportunity to align with nature and instill healthier habits: an earlier bedtime and waking up earlier.

On Sunday, November 4th, chances are you will wake about an hour earlier than usual. And on Sunday evening, you’ll most likely want to go to bed earlier. Don’t fight it! Go to bed earlier. Wake up earlier. Your body will thank you.

Most of us go to bed too late; we should be asleep by 10 pm in order to get the best rest and allow our bodies to do the internal cleaning they need to do while we sleep. We also wake too late. Then we rush around in the morning trying to get ourselves, our kids, and our spouses out the door in time, and we wonder why we’re stressed out before we even get to work.

Here are some other really good reasons to wake up early:

1.     Quiet time to yourself. Many people tell me they use the time after the kids/spouse/etc. have gone to bed as their quiet time alone. But by doing that, they’re depriving their bodies of deep rest and rejuvenation that only happens between the hours of 10pm and 2 am. Shifting that time to the early morning not only provides an opportunity for deep rest, but provides that much-needed quiet time during a time of day when it can do the most good.

2.     A positive start to your day. Waking early provides you with an opportunity to start your day in a way that centers you, grounds you, focuses your mind, and wards off stress. Our minds are most expansive in the early morning hours. If you start your day with prayer, meditation, connecting with nature, or any mindfulness practice, you set yourself up for an easeful, productive day.

3.     Time for exercise. A little extra time in the morning is the perfect opportunity to take a walk, do a little yoga, or indulge in a full-blown workout. You’ll shake off the dull energy of sleep, reduce stiffness or soreness in the body, rev up your metabolism, and set your energy level for the day.

4.     Jump start your productivity. Sometimes all we need to do to dive into productivity mode is to accomplish one small task. Something as simple as making your bed can catapult us into a day checking things off our to-do lists. If you don’t have a to-do list, make that your jump-start task. Other things we can do: meal plan or meal prep for lunch or supper; respond to an email you’ve been putting off; put away dishes from the night before.

So . . . if you struggle to wake up early, if you’re a night owl who longs to be an early bird, embrace the end of daylight savings time! Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. And you might just end up a more productive, less stressed, healthier version of you.

And if you need more help than this blog post can offer, contact me or schedule a free health strategy session.

See you at the studio!

The Truth About Pumpkin Spice

In West Virginia, we get to experience the glory of all four seasons. Even if we favor one and complain about another, we have to admit that each is beautiful in its own way. Yet the transitions from one to another can sometimes wreak havoc on our bodies, especially if we’re not armed with the knowledge and the tools to make those transitions smoother.

Each season has its own qualities. Summer, which will be over in a matter of days, is hot, sharp, bright, oily, and humid. Fall is cool, light, dry, rough, windy, and clear. Winter is cool, very dry, light, rough, hard, clear and mobile. Spring is heavy, oily, damp, slow, cloudy and stable. If we want to create balance in the body and mind, we can do so by eating and engaging in activities that bring balance to the dominant qualities of each season.

But first, it’s important to take time to release the qualities of the previous season that have accumulated in our bodies. Because of the sharp contrasts between summer and fall and between winter and spring, these two times of year are the most important times to consider a cleanse.

Some people cower at the word “cleanse,” and with good reason. All too often, that word is associated with very aggressive or restrictive programs that deplete the body. By contrast, a simple ayurvedic cleanse is all about nourishing the body and the mind. An ayurvedic cleanse can be anything from a one-day digestive reset to a 21-day mind/body retreat.

This fall, I’ve decided to lead, for the first time ever, a simple 7-day ayurvedic cleanse designed to help us release the heat and humidity of summer so that we can approach the cool, dry conditions of fall free from congestion, with a bolstered immune system and improved digestion.

So what does this cleanse entail? Two to three days of “easing in:” eliminating foods and beverages that commonly cause an exacerbation of digestive and immune issues. Two to three days of a “mono-diet” consisting mostly of an easy-to-digest, traditional ayurvedic dish known as “kichari,” a blend of rice, beans, and spices that bring balance to the body and mind. Then two days of “easing out,” gradually returning to a normal, but hopefully healthier, diet.

During this time, we’ll be taking plenty of time for rest and relaxation, which allow your body’s energy to feed the deep tissue layers and nervous system. We’ll also learn practices like self-massage, which helps loosen impurities and stimulate your lymphatic system (your main line for detox).  

How do you know if you should cleanse? Well, we can all use it now at the change of seasons, but if you’re experiencing any of the following, you should seriously consider joining us: sinus congestion, acid indigestion, puffiness/water retention, red skin inflammation, irritability, gas or bloating, diarrhea, constipation, dry skin, anxiety, achiness, lethargy, brain fog.

Autumn Reset” starts on September 30th. It’s open to everyone and free to Body Wisdom members. Because I’ll be providing you with supplies like kichari ingredients and oils for self-massage, registration for Autumn Reset will end on September 24th so that I have time to order and receive your supplies. The best part about this cleanse is that you won’t be doing it alone. You’ll have the support and guidance of the other members of the group to lean into if you need it.

So what about “pumpkin spice?” Where does it fit in to this discussion?

According to Ayurveda, the holistic wellness system known as yoga’s “sister science,” one of the easiest ways we can bring balance to the body and mind is by eating foods that are in season and cooking with herbs and spices that have qualities that are opposite to the season. Pumpkin spice fulfills both those recommendations. Pumpkins are in season in the fall, and the spices (specifically cinnamon, ginger, and cloves) are warming spices that complement the coolness of the season.  

The problem with the ubiquitousness of pumpkin spice is that it’s almost always full of artificial flavors and refined sugar. So if you’re a fan of pumpkin spice, stick to the real stuff and sweeten with raw honey or pure maple syrup!

If you’d like to learn more ways to support your body and mind this season, register for “Seasonal Thrive!” I’m teaming up with Stacey Fox and Paula Hatten to teach you how to use Ayurveda, yoga, and essential oils to thrive through autumn. Stacey and Paula have both emerged as mentors in the Body Wisdom group. We refer to Stacey as “Siri” because of her encyclopedic knowledge and spot-on advice. Paula is a board certified counselor and our resident DoTerra guru.

If you register for Seasonal Thrive!, you’ll receive $6 off Autumn Reset. (Just email me at mainstreetyogafmt@gmail.com for an invoice.)

I truly hope you’ll consider joining us for both. My goal in everything I do, whether it’s teaching a drop-in yoga class or working with my long-term Body Wisdom members, is to help you learn more about yourself so that you can feel your best year-round.

See you at the studio!

Reiki FAQs: What, When, Where, Why, and How

If you follow MSY or attend classes at the studio, you’ve probably seen or heard the “reiki” quite a bit. Perhaps you’ve been curious about it but are hesitant to try it. Or maybe you’ve even experienced it and are still curious! You might even wonder whether you can learn how to use reiki. So I’ve asked our resident reiki master (and my personal reiki practitioner), Jen Sunderlin, to shed a little more light on reiki: what it is, how it works, and why we need it – now more than ever.

Gracious as always, Jen agreed. And here is her response . . .

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a holistic healing practice that works on every layer of your body and aids the powerful healing ability we all possess by helping us align with healing energy. In Japanese, Rei means “universal” and ki means “life energy.” Reiki connects us with the universal life energy that is found in all living things!  The Usui System of Reiki healing applies this energy through light touch, moving it to assist in correcting any imbalances.

How Does It Work?

Quantum physics shows all matter has a vibration and our intentions can affect this field of vibration. If energy is not flowing smoothly in the body it can create blockage or stagnation in certain areas. This blockage can create a physical response in the body that translates as pain or ailment. It can also show up mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

A Reiki practitioner uses intention and hand positions to channel energy that shifts vibrations in the body in order to bring balance and harmony to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being!

Why Do We Need It?

Life is moving so fast most days! That makes it easy to overlook or ignore pain, inflammation, soreness or other messages your body might be trying to send you. In addition to physical symptoms, these messages could also come in the form of anxiety, depression, anger, a frantic feeling or just a general disconnect you might feel in your everyday life. Ignored or unnoticed for too long, your body’s warning signs can manifest into bigger problems, including autoimmune and other chronic disease.

What Happens In a Reiki Session?

When you arrive for a reiki session, you will lie down, fully clothed, on a massage table. The practitioner will guide you into relaxation and then begin to move quietly around you, directing reiki energy to balance the chakras (your main energy hubs) and cleanse your aura. She might lightly place her hands your head, joints, and feet, depending on where she is intuitively guided. Whatever else happens is up to the universal reiki energy!

What Will I Feel During a Reiki Session?

Other than the placement of the practioner’s hands, you might not feel anything. If you are sufficiently relaxed, your breathing might slow and deepen, your blood pressure might lower, and emotional calming or releasing might occur. You might fall asleep! Many people report seeing light or colors. Some feel heat or cold from the practitioner’s hands. Some experience a relief from pain. Everyone’s experience is different, and you might experience different sensations with different practitioners. Sometimes the effects are cumulative as well, so that each time you receive reiki, the benefits and sensations increase as your body becomes more accepting of and attuned to reiki energy.  

When Can I Try It?

Main Street Yoga offers a donation-based “Rest & Recharge Open House” on the first Friday of every month from 5pm til 7pm. Just walk in during those times to experience a reiki session! This is a great introduction to receiving reiki with each session lasting approximately 20 minutes. We also offer Tarot readings and the AromaTouch hand technique (an aromatherapy hand massage).

What If I Want a Private Session?

I offer private reiki sessions at Main Street Yoga ranging from 30 – 90 minutes.  Visit https://squareup.com/store/illumination-healing-llc to see my full range of offerings. You can email me at illuminationhealing8@gmail.com with questions or to schedule.

Can I Learn How to Do It?

Yes! If you find you love Reiki and would like to learn more about this energy healing, I’m teaching Illuminated Reiki Level 1 on Saturday, September 22nd! In this training you’ll learn the history of reiki, about the chakras, types of meditations to enhance your intuition, hand positions used during a session. You’ll be attuned to the reiki energy, enabling you to practice on yourself, your pets, your family and friends. You’ll receive a guide to take home, and more! Joining together with a group of others to learn this healing art is a healing experience in itself!

I hope you’ll join me for one or all of these opportunities to experience the gentle, universal reiki energy! If you have any questions, please email me at illuminationhealing8@gmail.com. I’d love to assist in bringing you harmony and illumination of your entire being!

Much Love,

Jen

Extreme Self Care

Mondays are self care days for me. That’s a non-negotiable. That’s not to say Mondays are a “day off” for me. Every small business owner knows that days off don’t really exist. There’s always something to be done. But every Monday, before I dive into bookkeeping, blog posting, updating the website, or mopping the floor at the studio, I make sure I do something for me.

Sometimes, that’s just staying home in my little bubble recharging with some time alone. Once a month, it’s trip to see my favorite chiropractor, Dr. Leonette at Enliven Wellness. Also once a month, it’s a massage with my favorite massage therapist, Courtney Dicken at 39 North. Sometimes it’s reiki with Jen Sunderlin. Sometimes it’s AromaTouch with Paula Hatten. Sometimes it’s taking a yoga class with Stacey Fox. Sometimes it’s a sound bath with Kindred Vibes (although that’s usually a Friday thing). Every once in a while, it’s a float in one of the pods at Spa Oasis. But today it was something completely different.

Today it was cryotherapy.

I’m always drawn to natural, holistic wellness treatments. But I never thought of cryotherapy as that. I thought it was just to help professional athletes recover quickly from hard workouts.

“Cryo” came into my awareness a couple of years ago when my brother-in-law, who lives near Dallas, Texas, told my husband he had started getting cryo treatments on a regular basis. My husband, a runner and coach, became obsessed. When I was looking for a space for my yoga studio, he insisted he was going to buy a cryo unit and put it in the studio. I thought that sounded crazy, especially because my husband had never had a cryotherapy treatment.

That changed in February. He went to visit his brother and made sure he visited the cryotherapy center while he was there. That served to stoke the flames of his obsession with cryo. I listened to him go on and on about it, but I still wasn’t convinced.

Coincidentally, in March, I went to Mexico for a working retreat with Cate Stillman for yoga health coaches. One of my fellow coaches just happened to be married to one of the two main distributors of cryotherapy units in the United States. She educated me about the difference between the full-body electric units her husband distributes and the liquid nitrogen units that my husband was familiar with. My interest was piqued a little more after talking to Megan, but as someone who abhors the cold, I still wasn’t convinced my husband needed daily access to one.

So what changed my mind? A podcast.

Recently, Cate Stillman interviewed Megan’s husband, Kevin, about cryotherapy. Cate, who has Reynaud’s and is obsessed with biohacking, has been experimenting with cold showers and cold plunges since I started her course over a year ago, so she was pretty stoked to talk to Kevin. Kevin went into ALL of the benefits of cryotherapy, which do include quick recovery for athletes, but also things like:

·       quicker healing post-surgery or injury

·       increased blood circulation

·       boosted energy and immune system

·       reduction in pain & inflammation

·       treatment of autoimmune conditions

·       relief from nerve pain

·       releases endorphins

·       decreased fatigue, anxiety, and depression

·       tighter, healthier skin

·       improved sleep

·       boosted metabolism

So I got really excited! I went to my husband and said, “We have to get a cryotherapy unit!” He looked at me and said, “No kidding.” Then I went to see my aforementioned favorite chiropractor and after he gave me monthly tune-up, I asked him what he thought about cryotherapy (alternative therapies are kind of his thing), and he said, “I’m so glad you asked!” Turns out he loves it too.

So I had to try it.

And I did.

I found the closest cryo to Fairmont, which, by the way, is in McMurray, PA, and I emailed. The super helpful woman who responded told me they currently had a Groupon offer, so I got my first session really cheap and I headed up there this morning.

As I waited in the waiting room, my excitement turned to nervousness. I REALLY hate the cold. So when the lovely woman came to take me back to the cryo room, and she told me that the maximum amount of time in the unit, which produces temperatures below -200 degrees, was 3 minutes but that some people prefer to start at 2 minutes, I said, “Yes, that’s me. Two minutes, please.”

So I stripped down to my underwear, put on some socks and booties to protect my feet and toes and a pair of gloves to protect my hands and fingers, and I stepped into the unit with my head sticking out the top. The fog from the liquid nitrogen began to fill the chamber, and yes, it was cold, but not nearly as cold as thought it would feel. The woman who was there with me explained that that was because the cold was very dry (sort of like the difference between 100 degrees in the desert and 100 degrees in the Everglades). She continued talking to me throughout the experience and before I knew it, the two minutes was up.

And I was disappointed.

I totally could have handled 3 minutes! I can’t wait to do it again! Afterwards, I felt exhilarated. And I can’t wait to see how I sleep tonight.

So now that my husband and I have both experienced liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, our next move is to try the electric units, which truly is full body cryotherapy (head and all). The closest one I found is in Columbus, OH. A quick Facebook message to Megan confirmed that, so now I have to convince my husband to leave town for a day (not an easy thing to do – he’s a small business owner too).

What does all this have to do with yoga? Well, I believe the more tools we have in our wellness toolbox, the better off we’ll be in the long run. Yoga is one of those tools, but there are others, and I intend to make use of as many of them as I can. I hope you will too. At Main Street Yoga, we currently offer health coaching, reiki, AromaTouch, and sound baths as well as yoga and meditation. And my hope is that we’ll be able to offer more in the future.

So my question to you is: Would you try cryotherapy? And if my husband brings a unit to Fairmont, would you use it? I know Dr. Leonette would.

See you at the studio!

Angela

August at MSY!

If you’re wondering where July went, you’re not alone. It flew by! But summer isn’t over yet, and MSY has full slate of special events to help you make the most of these longer days while they last.

We’re kicking off the month as usual, with our Relax and Recharge Open House. Take some well-deserved time for yourself! Bring a friend who would love to relax with you. This event is donation based. Come in anytime between 5:00pm - 7:00pm. Recharge during a Reiki session; relax while enjoying the DoTerra AromaTouch hand technique, or gain insight with a Tarot card reading!

On Sunday, August 5th, we’re going Back to Basics! Whether you're brand new to yoga or a seasoned yogi, this workshop will help you find your way into or fine tune the most common yoga poses, offering adjustments and assists. At the end of class, I’ll take requests for poses we haven't yet covered. This is your chance to ask, “What’s up with this pose?” Nothing is off limits!

After rave reviews from her last I Am Fabulous! class, Board Certified Counselor and DoTerra guru, Paula Hatten, is bringing the class back for those of us who missed out. On August 11th at 2pm, learn to use essential oils to release blocked emotions and start living your best life. Paula will guide you through a series of essential oil applications to help you release emotions. Then choose two rollerballs to go home with to continue your emotional journey. We know you’re fabulous, and after this class, you will too.

Whether you’re brand new to inversions or already incorporate them into your practice, you won’t want to miss our Intro to Inversions workshop on August 18th at 2pm. Stacey Fox will teach you the tips and tools to practice inversions safely and effectively. We'll warm up with a short flow intended to get your body ready to get upside-down. Afterward, we'll talk about alignment and practice getting into headstand, forearm stand, and handstand. Plenty of assistance and modification is available for each pose, including our FeetUp trainer that allows you to experience the benefits of headstand with zero pressure on the head and neck.

August 18th is a double header! At 6pm, Jen Sunderlin and Paula Hatten will present a Chakra Workshop. They’ll walk us through an in-depth look at each chakra and discuss how to identify imbalances, how they manifest as physical symptoms, and what to do about it! We’ll learn how to balance the chakras using essential oils, yoga asana, mantras, crystals, music and more! After our discussion, we will relax into a chakra meditation, then you can make an essential oil blend rollerball to help the chakra that is speaking to you most! Additional chakra rollerballs will be available for a special price of $8.00 at this workshop only.

If you’re troubled by low back pain, as many of us are (myself included), you won’t want to miss my Yoga for Low Back Pain workshop on Sunday, August 19th at 5pm. In this workshop, we'll address the causes of low back pain and explore strengthening poses to prevent it as well as stretches to relieve it.

Kindred Vibes will continue to offer Crystal Reiki Sound Baths on Fridays at 6:30 pm. Check our Facebook and website events for specific information.

We also have a few changes to the schedule this month. “Lengthen & Strengthen,” formerly on Thursdays at 7pm, have been discontinued for the time being. A second “Morning Flow” class has been added on Tuesday mornings at 9am. Bookmark our calendar to stay up to date.

See you at the studio!

 

Angela

July at MSY!

We may be in the middle of a heat wave, but the studio is nice and cool and there are plenty of ways to chill out at MSY in July. If you need more suggestions on how to keep cool, check out my last blog post, “How to Thrive in Summer with Ayurveda.”

Before I start gushing about all of our special events this month, I’d like to point your attention to a new class. In mid-June, we added a Morning Flow class on Wednesdays at 9 am. The response has been great! Start the day with some mind/body integration. We start slowly with a few yin poses and a gentle warm-up, then work our way into an all-levels flow that will leave you feeling aligned and energized. Check it out on July 4th. That will be our only class on Independence Day.

Now on to our special events!

We kick off July on First Friday with our Relax & Recharge Open House. Take some well-deserved time for yourself! Bring a friend who would love to relax with you! Come in anytime between 5pm - 7pm. Recharge during a Reiki session; relax while enjoying the DoTerra Aromatouch hand technique, or gain insight with a Tarot card reading! This Open House is donation based. We look forward to seeing you there!

On Saturday, July 7th, Sheray will offer “Exploring Kundalini” at 8am. Kundalini yoga is known as the yoga of awareness. It’s a dynamic, challenging, and powerful tool that is designed to help you make the changes necessary in your life to reach true inner peace. Kundalini yoga uplifts the spirit, calms the mind, and brings balance to the entire body.

On Sunday, July 8th at 6pm, I’m teaming up with Kindred Vibes and Paula Hatten for another two-hour Pure Bliss Restorative Yoga This is a full sensory immersion experience that includes crystal singing bowls, reiki, massage, and aromatherapy. End your weekend in a state of pure bliss! Space is limited. We have 4 spots left. Register today!

Paula Hatten is taking over MSY on Wednesday, July 11th at 7pm for a special “I Am Fabulous” class. Come learn how to use essential oils to release blocked emotions and start living your best life. Paula will guide you through a series of essential oil applications to help you release emotions. Then choose one of two rollerballs to go home with to continue your emotional journey. Register on Paula’s SquareUp page.

Bring the kids to MSY on Saturday, July 14th for Superhero Yoga and Rollerball! Jen Sunderlin and Paula Hatten are planning a fun kids Superhero yoga and essential oil rollerball event! The kids will have a blast exploring their superpowers in superhero yoga, then they’ll learn how to enhance their superpowers using a custom essential oil rollerball that they create at the end of class! Purchasing a ticket is valid for one child and one rollerball, additional rollerballs will be available for sale during the event. Pre-register online.

It is with great excitement that I announce that MSY yoga teacher, Jen Sunderlin, will begin offering Reiki training on July 28th at the studio! Reiki is a safe and effective energy modality that is beneficial to everyone. Reiki re-balances the energy field that exists in and around our bodies. A balanced energy field assists in healing on many levels. Learn the healing practice of Reiki in this Illuminated Reiki Level 1 training. Open your energy channels allowing universal energy to flow more deeply and freely through you. You will learn self-Reiki, hand placements, about the chakras, meditations, and receive the Reiki level 1 attunement and certification. Pre-registration is required. If you have questions about this training email Jen at illuminationhealing8@gmail.com.

Kindred Vibes will be in the studio for Crystal Reiki Sound Healing on July 13th, 20th, and 27th! Keep an eye on our calendar and Facebook pages for more info.

Finally, my next round of Body Wisdom starts on July 10th. I buckled down in June and got myself fully certified as a yoga health coach! Yoga health coaching combines the ancient wisdom of yoga and Ayurveda with modern behavioral science, group support, and good old fashioned common sense. If you’re ready to uplevel your physical and mental wellbeing, if you’re ready to commit to better self care, schedule a health strategy session with me this week. If you’ve already had a strategy session and you want to talk about enrollment, schedule a 20 minute conversation with me this week.

See you in the studio!

How to Thrive in Summer with Ayurveda

This is my 49th summer. I graduated high school 31 years ago. Nevertheless, when school lets out for the summer, I still get that ahhhhhh feeling of relief. It’s summer! Time to chill out, slow down, and relax.

No matter our age, we feel it. Our bodies know it. Our minds know it. And yet, as adults, we so seldom do it. We tell ourselves, “there are things to be done!” And we try to squeeze the most out of every day, which, with about 15 hours of daylight, is a lot. So we end up stressed out, angry, emotional. Our digestive systems get out of whack, and we can’t seem to understand why.

According to Ayurveda, the answer is pitta. Ayurveda identifies 3 biological energies called doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata is ruled by the elements of air and either. Pitta is ruled by fire and water. And kapha is ruled by earth and water. Each season of the year is ruled by a dosha, and summer’s dosha is . . . you guessed it . . . pitta.  Particularly the fire of pitta. When we add to the heat of pitta by increasing our physical and mental stress, summer can go from ahhhhhhh to ughhhhhh pretty quickly.

So what should we do to balance out the fire of pitta? Here are a few simple suggestions.

1.     Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Avoid or reduce foods and beverages that increase heat in the body: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fried foods, acidic foods, meats, grains, nuts, beans. You’ll know if you’ve had too much: your skin will get oily; your body odor will change; you’ll feel heavier; you may develop canker sores, bladder infections, yeast infections, and skin eruptions such as acne.

2.     Dowse the flames.

Increase cooling foods: leafy greens (including the ones growing in your yard like dandelion and plantain), melons, cucumber, summer squashes, coconut, mint, cilantro, fennel, and aloe vera. Visit the farmers market and eat what’s in season.

3.     Increase kapha dosha.

Get thee to a body of water! I’m not talking about baking in the sun on the concrete beside a pool. I’m talking a river, a creek, a pond, a mountain lake: somewhere where earth meets and mingles with water, somewhere where the breeze is blowing in the nearby trees, somewhere that invites you to put down your phone and forget your to-do list. If that’s not possible, walk barefoot in the grass in the evening, then treat yourself to a cool footbath on the back porch. Throw in herbs, rose petals, or your favorite essential oil.

4.     Take a siesta.

There’s a reason why siestas are taken in places with a hot climate. Chill out in the shade when the sun is highest and hottest. If you can do that in a hammock, all the better. Enjoy the sun in morning and in the evening. Exercise or do outdoor chores in the a.m. Connect with family and friends, play or enjoy light activity in the p.m.

5.     Underschedule yourself.

Summer is the perfect time to say no. Practice saying it to yourself. Do I want to sign the kids up for back-to-back camps all summer long? No. Do I want to go shopping as a form of entertainment? No. Do I want to go to this event simply out of FOMO (fear of missing out)? No. Practicing on yourself will make it much easier to say no when family and friends ask you to do things you really don’t want to do. Use your time to do things you WANT to do simply because you enjoy them. Bonus points if you use your time to do nothing. (OH! That should be its own number.)

6.     Do nothing.

Yep, that’s right. Do nothing. If you know this is something you would really, really struggle with, start by doing nothing for a minute. Each day, increase your “nothing” time by another minute. Taking a little time out of each day to do nothing is one of the best somethings you can do for your body and mind. If you need practice, come to a restorative yoga class where you can do nothing for an hour with other people doing nothing for an hour. Which leads me to . . .

7.     Change up your exercise routine.

If your go-to mode of exercise is go hard or go home, you can balance pitta dosha by going easy and going home. Trade power walks for slow or moderately paced walks; trade running for swimming; trade power vinyasa for a gentle class, yin, or restorative. You can still get a hard workout in once or twice a week, but use the rest of the week for easy and moderate exercise of the body and the mind.

As individuals with our own inherent biological energies living in area that experiences a full range of seasons from hot, humid summers to cold, snowy winters, it’s important to recognize that we can support our bodies and our minds with a few simple seasonal changes. If you’d like to learn more about living seasonally, balancing the doshas, or the yoga lifestyle (aka Ayurveda), email me at mainstreetyogafmt@gmail.com. You can also meet me on the mat every Sunday evening at 6:00 for a pitta-balancing yin yoga or restorative yoga practice.

See you at the studio.

Meet the Newest Addition to MSY!

My name is Samantha Mason and I’m super excited to be joining the Main Street Yoga team!  Let me tell you a little about myself.  I’m a Marion county native and a registered nurse working at Ruby Memorial in the neonatal intensive care unit.  I have a husband and an ornery dog named Captain.  When I’m not working, I enjoy being outside, walking my dog, hanging out with my husband, running, traveling, and most recently, gardening. 

I got into yoga as a means to aid in my running.  I had dabbled here and there before, but it never really stuck. I don’t know why.  However, a little over two years ago, I found someone on Instagram who connected running and yoga, and to her the two were like peanut butter and jelly: better together.  So I thought to myself, this may help me get stronger, have less stiffness after runs, and decrease injuries. I bought some of her streamable classes online and gave it a go, and boy oh boy was I pleased with how I felt!  I kept telling myself that it was all of the physical benefits I was reaping that kept me coming back for more, but it was totally a shift in how I felt mentally as well. 

Luckily, shortly after that, Main Street Yoga opened up, and I had a studio to go to! (Well, once I got over feeling self-conscious and nervous and all of that nonsense.)  Once I started going to classes regularly, I began to feel like a new person both physically and mentally. It was also a nice way to meet new, like-minded folks.  The longer I kept going, the more I knew that this was something I was so passionate about that I wanted to learn more and share it with whoever was willing and able!  So I signed up for yoga teacher training last year and began in October of 2017.  

I completed my 200 hour training at Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, NC this past April.  Throughout my training, I got a bit of exposure to many different styles of yoga, meditation, and pranayama, and I feel so lucky that I get to share my love of yoga and newfound knowledge with all of you. 

I’ll be teaching a class that I call “Lengthen and Strengthen” on Thursday evenings from 7-8 pm.  The beginning of class will most likely still have some residual heat left from the 5:30 warm yoga class, which will be perfect for focusing on static postures and holding positions to really stretch the muscle bellies. Think of it as yin yoga without all the props and with shorter holds. We will then begin dynamic movement and go through some sun salutations and flow our way through different asanas (poses) while really focusing on linking the breath and movement to create a strong bond between our mind and body while building muscle strength at the same time. 

I’m a fan of breath work (pranayama), meditation, and laughter, so I may pop in one or more of those elements here and there throughout the class.  I have yet to be drawn to one particular style of yoga and I think my classes are just a collection of bits that have resonated with me from all of the various styles and teachers that I have been exposed to.

My hopes are for you to leave feeling happy, of course, and also light yet strong in both body and mind and feeling accomplished in your own personal goals and desires.      

See you at the studio!

Investing in Yourself

I’m at a bit of a crossroad. I am almost finished with my Yoga Health Coaching training, and I should be fully certified in June. And rather than looking forward to relaxing a bit, satisfied with this accomplishment, I’m excitedly asking myself, “What’s next?”

Since enrolling in 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2015, I’ve been on this path of investing in knowledge, investing in education that will benefit the people in my community. The by-product of that, of course, is that it has benefitted me – my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. So in a way, I’m using my personal evolution path to inform the next stages of my professional development. What works for me will work for others too.

It hasn’t always been this way for me. Years ago, I had a sense that at some point I would want to teach yoga, but at that time, I was still stuck in the patterns that many of us find ourselves in. We want to look better, feel better, be better. And we want to get there in the fastest way possible. So in typical American style, we buy things. We consume. Whether it’s the coolest new beauty or fitness gadget on the infomercial we got sucked into watching or a new supplement that will help us lose weight without dieting or exercise, we spend money on things rather than investing in knowledge and support.

When I think of all the gadgets and supplements I’ve bought over the last 20 years, not to mention make up, hair color, tanning, manicures and pedicures, I realize that had I saved that money, I could have taken a month off of work and paid for yoga teacher training in a gorgeous, exotic location, started this journey a little sooner, and been much better off, perhaps even avoiding the adrenal fatigue that set off my autoimmune disease. On an even smaller scale, had I skipped the hair color and pedicures, I could have afforded quite a lot of yoga classes.

Oh, well. Not much I can do about that now. The point is that I’ve seen the light. Spending doesn’t work for me anymore. Investing has replaced spending.

But money isn’t the only thing we have to invest. With any endeavor of personal or professional growth, there is an investment of time, and usually that is the more difficult investment to make. People often tell me, “I just can’t seem to find the time to come do yoga.” And my response is always, “It is difficult to find the time. It’s not as difficult to make the time. Carve it out. Make whatever arrangements you need to make. Put it on your schedule and make it non-negotiable.”

The same is true for investing time in personal or professional development. There’s never a “perfect” time where the stars align, time and space open up, and you have all the time in the world to do the things you want and need to do. It just doesn’t happen. Take it from me. I had this idea that once my kids were grown and out of the house that all of that would happen. But guess what. Other things fall into those spaces of time and we can end up feeling even busier than we were when “Mom’s Taxi” was in service.

There’s another time scenario more akin to “spending” money. In the unusual circumstance where you do happen to have the time to pursue personal development, we sometimes find ourselves “wasting” time doing things that don’t benefit us. Exhausted from work, we come home, eat too much of the wrong stuff, collapse on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. We wake up tired, grumpy, achy, and maybe a little angry that we did this to ourselves. All of that carries over into our day, perhaps affecting the people we live and work with, which makes us feel even worse.

If any of this sounds familiar, if you’re thinking it might be time to start investing instead of spending or wasting, if you’re ready to make some changes in your lifestyle that benefit your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness, talk to me. I’d love to help. Book a free strategy session with me and we’ll figure out what your next steps should be.

See you soon!

Spring Cleaning

It might be snowing outside right now, but for the past two weeks, I’ve been in spring cleaning mode. I’ve donated NINE tall kitchen garbage bags full of clothes. (I know that sounds ridiculous, but apparently I’ve been reluctant to part with any of my clothes for the past 10 years and my husband still had some clothes from the 90s.) I’ve also been clearing out everything from chemical-laden cosmetics to empty boxes that I’d saved for some potential purpose that never presented itself.

I’m on a roll, and I can’t tell you how liberating it is get rid of things I no longer need and simply open up space for the sake of opening up space as opposed to opening up space to make room for something else. Space is addictive – the more you have, the more you want. And at the same time, it frees your mind. That’s one of the things I love about the studio. I’d love to go with a full-on KonMari tidying marathon, but my schedule (probably like yours) doesn’t really allow for that. So I have to do what I can when I can.

My spring cleaning doesn’t just apply to my home. I’m also smack in the middle of a 21-day digestive cleanse. Last week, I eliminated meat and dairy from my diet. (For what it’s worth, no one was more surprised than me that I’ve been able to go 9 days without cheese.) This week, I’m adding more alkalizing dark leafy greens, sprouts, and microgreens. I had an amazing massage with reflexology with Courtney at 39 North to move some lymph and support my liver and kidneys. Next week, I’ll add more fermented foods for a natural boost of probiotics. It’s a gentle cleanse because, once again, my schedule doesn’t exactly permit me to shut down for a few days.

Why a digestive cleanse? Think of it like switching out your winter wardrobe for your summer wardrobe. What we eat during winter should look a lot different than what we eat during summer. The fact that we can obtain just about any food we want at any time of year doesn’t mean we should be eating strawberries in November or an abundance of root vegetables in July. We should eat seasonally, like our ancestors did. And in between seasons, sometimes we need to open up some space and get rid of things we no longer need.

Our inner space isn’t limited to the physical body either. With a change in seasons comes a change in mindset, and it’s a great idea to slow down enough to recognize and acknowledge that shift. It’s a shift in mindset as well as in energy. Winter is dark, cold and introspective. Summer is bright, warm, and gregarious. If we don’t pause to honor that shift in energy, we risk ending up edgy, spacey, anxious, or restless.

So during this change in seasons, which in West Virginia waivers between capricious and volatile, take some time to work on your energy body. Get rid of what you no longer need and open up some space in your energy channels. Yoga is always a great way to do that, and this week, we have two special events geared specifically to that goal.

At 7 pm on Thursday, Sheray will introduce MSY to Kundalini yoga. Kundalini is the energy that coils at the base of the spine. It’s creative, spiritual energy the generally remains untapped. Kundalini yoga is practiced with the intent of tapping into that potential energy and moving it through the central energy channel (the spine) up and into the brain. The Kundalini practice includes meditation, mantra, and breath work, as well as a physical practice to leave your entire body buzzing with awareness.

On Friday at 5:45, Kindred Vibes is hosting a Crystal Reiki Soundbath Meditation, which is every bit as amazing as it sounds. The best part is, all you have to do is lay on the floor and immerse your senses with essential oils, energy work, and the beautiful sounds of crystal singing bowls, chimes, drums, and toning. Soundbaths are deeply relaxing experience that puts you into meditative state perfect for healing journeys. The vibrations of the crystal singing bowls affect the body at a cellular level to reduce stress, reconnect the body, mind, and spirit, as well as restore, balance, and align the chakras.

So this week, take some time to open up some space and recognize and acknowledge the change in seasons and how it affects you. And if you need a little guidance, you know where to find us.

See you at the studio!

Deep Listening

On Saturday morning, I received the following Facebook message:

Good morning, Angela. I owe you an apology. I was pretty wound up when I arrived at your studio and I went on and on and on and on . . . you never got a word in edgewise. I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it this morning and wanted to say “I’m sorry.” Sometimes I just need to remember to reel myself in! lol (and then other times – remind myself to open up! lol) . . . . thank you for your patience with me and just being your wonderful “you.”

My response was simply this:

“No worries at all. You provided me with an opportunity to practice my deep listening skills.”

She thought that was funny, but I wasn’t being facetious. I was totally sincere. It’s a skill I’m working on, a “growing edge.” I was introduced to it in my health coach training, and it’s changing the way I show up in the world.

This was one of three opportunities I had to practice this skill this past weekend. The second occurred that same night when I was able to sit with someone I talk to daily, usually in a rushed, hurried, distracted way. But Friday, she came into the studio and we sat face to face on the floor with no cell phones or other distractions and she looked me in the eye and told me what was going on in her life. It was such a different experience for us, that I was the one who felt compelled to send a message about it later to tell her how much I enjoyed it.

The third opportunity was quite deliberate. In my coaching group, we practiced something called “circling.” In circling, each person has an opportunity to speak for a set amount of time (we chose 10 minutes, which is rather on the short end for this type of exercise, although when you’re speaking, it seems like a very long time). While the speaker is speaking, the other members of the circle maintain open body language and focused attention on what they are hearing. Listeners pay full attention to the sound of the words and the body language the speaker exhibits while abandoning habits such as planning their next statement or interrupting the speaker. It is active rather than reactive listening.

Circling encourages insight for everyone involved, and it’s a powerful experience for several reasons. First and foremost, we’re not used to being heard. Quite often, a speaker will start to cry before she utters a single word. The tears are as much a response of gratitude for the opportunity to be truly heard, and fully supported by the group, as they are a response to the subject matter.

Deep Listening is a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it. We let go of our inner clamoring and our usual assumptions and listen with respect for precisely what is being said, and what is not being said. Effective listening requires a contemplative mind: open, fresh, alert, attentive, calm, and receptive. And it can be cultivated through instruction and practice.

The beautiful thing about deep listening is that we don’t have to be listening to another person in order to practice it. We can practice it with ourselves, and yoga provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. Each time we step onto the mat, we have an opportunity to listen deeply. As we move through a yoga practice, each pose is an invitation to be fully present with what is happening, to be in the moment. Vinyasa teaches us to be open, fresh and alert. Slower practices, like yin and restorative, require more attention, calmness, and receptivity. Yoga is indeed an exercise in active listening.

Practiced enough, we naturally take this ability that we’ve cultivated on the mat out into the world with us. Deep listening becomes our “off the mat” yoga. And other people notice. It feels different to talk to someone who is fully present, someone who isn’t formulating a response or just waiting for his or her turn to speak.

Margaret J. Wheatley says, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

This week, I invite you to take some time on your mat to sit and listen. The teachers at MSY are here to help you. You know where to find us.

April Showers Us With Opportunity

Spring is in the air and teachers at MSY are ready to bust you out of the winter doldrums!

We’re starting April off with two new class series. On Monday, April 2nd, Stacey Fox introduces us to a “Fresh Perspective.” Every Monday in April, Stacey will encourage us to have some fun while building strength. This all levels series focuses on inversions, which, in more ways than one, offer us a fresh perspective!

Our next series starts the very next day! On Tuesday, April 3rd, Sheray begins her “Happy, Healthy Spine” series. Each Tuesday in April, we’ll work on backbends, heart openers, and twists. This class is an all levels vinyasa flow. We'll work together to create support in the spine using core work, backbends, and heart openers. Twists will also be a component of this series to create space within the vertebrae.

With both these series, you’ll gain the most benefit from attending every week, but you are welcome to just drop in whenever you are able.

Friday, April 6th is our monthly reiki clinic. Judy is back from cross-country tour and anxious to get back to doing what she loves: giving reiki and reading tarot. Suzie and Jen will also be on hand for reiki, and Paula will be offering AromaTouch and iTOVi scans. Paula will also be offering a workshop or two this month, so follow her Facebook page and watch for events.

On Friday the 13th, Jen Sunderlin will offer a timely Mantra & Mudra workshop. A mantra is a word, phrase or sound that is repeated in order to increase mindfulness in meditation. Mudras are hand positions that also increase mindfulness during meditation and can affect the flow of energy in the body. In this workshop, Jen will teach you how to use mantras and mudras in order to derive inspiration, creativity, healing and wellness within your mind and body.

We get a double dose of Jen this weekend, as she is back on Saturday the 14th for another Date Night Yoga & Massage workshop. This couples’ class has been getting rave reviews, so if it’s been on your wish list, register today. This light-hearted partner class is appropriate for all levels and for all types of couples, so if your love isn’t up for it, grab your BFF, your daughter, your mom, or anyone you’d like to have a little fun with. Jen will lead the yoga practice while Paula leads us in a relaxing hand massage. Each couple receives a doTERRA massage oil blend to take home, and afterwards we’ll head down to Joe N Throw for a complimentary beverage of your choice.

If self care is high on your list of priorities, don’t miss Angela’s Body Wisdom free talk on Sunday, April 15th. This class introduces you to the REAL yoga lifestyle: aligning your daily habits with the rhythms of nature. Whether you want to lose weight, eat better, sleep better, function better on a daily basis, reduce common aches and pains, or simply dive deeper into your already healthy lifestyle, you’ll walk away with two habits you can start using right away to begin your shift into feeling better in your body. 

Last month, Sheray traveled to Asheville, North Carolina to submerse herself in Kundalini yoga. This month, she’s bringing Kundalini to us! Kundalini is a dynamic, challenging, and powerful practice designed to uplift the spirit, calm the mind, and bring balance to the entire body. Utilizing “kriyas” (a series of postures, breath, and sound that work toward a specific outcome), Kundalini combines breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra, body locks, and postures. In this workshop, Sheray will discuss the history and technologies of Kundalini yoga and guide us through a beginner’s kriya.

Sheray has another treat planned for us as well! Meditate & Paint is back on Saturday, April 21st. This workshop is simply about exploring your own creative energy. You'll be creating your own masterpiece inspired by yoga and meditation. Dress comfortably - no new clothes. Sheray will provide everything that we need for the event. 

Finally, Kindred Vibes will hold sound healing meditations on April 7th, 20th, and 27th. If you haven’t experienced this yet, set an intention to make it to one or more of these this month.

Bookmark Main Street Yoga and follow us on Facebook for the most up to date information on what’s happening. If you’d like to get these blog posts sent directly to your email, fill out the “subscribe” form at the bottom of this page.

See you at the studio!

The Comprehensive Plan

Last week’s blog, “Human Connection and Health Evolution,” included this sentence: “. . . if you’re looking for deep, integrative, lifelong health evolution, you need two things: a comprehensive plan and a group of supportive people headed in the same direction you want to go.” As the title suggests, I chose to focus on the latter last week. This week, I’d like to talk about the plan.

I call my plan “Body Wisdom,” but to be perfectly honest, nothing about the plan is mine. I didn’t come up with it on my own. I’m learning the system from someone much further along the path than me. Body Wisdom is a group coaching and support program based on the ancient practices of Ayurveda, the strategies of modern behavioral science, and the power of group support and accountability.

So let’s start with Ayurveda. Ayurveda means, quite literally, the science of life (ayur = life; veda = science or knowledge). Despite the fact that it is thousands of years old, ayurveda continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. Much more than a system for treating illness, ayurveda offers a body of wisdom designed to help humans stay vibrant and healthy while aging and realizing their full potential.

While the ayurvedic system is quite complex, its approach is simple: align with the rhythms of nature rather than struggling against them; cooperate with your body’s constitution rather than trying to force your will upon it. In Body Wisdom, we learn simple 10 habits that help us do just that. The result is better digestion, improved metabolism, better sleep, more consistent energy, fewer aches and pains, and a robust immune system.

Now we all know that change isn’t easy. When we try to uplevel our habits, we frequently get sucked back into old patterns for a variety of reasons. For that reason, Body Wisdom is also a crash course in habit evolution. Using proven techniques from modern behavioral science, particularly the work of BJ Fogg, James Clear, and Charles Duhigg, we take small steps toward big change. We start to notice our habit triggers, and we learn to rewire our brains so that we can replace bad habits with good habits that support our health and wellbeing.

The third component of the program brings us back to what I’ve been going on and on about in my last two blogs: group support and accountability. In addition to the amazing group of women who are now supporting each other in experiencing the benefits of the program, Body Wisdom includes accountability worksheets and charts to help keep us on track daily, weekly, and monthly. Something magic happens when we put pen to paper and map out our intentions. As one of our group members recently told me, “If this course has taught me one big thing, it’s the power of a to-do list.” Ironically, that’s not one of the habits we learn, but the course is so comprehensive, that we end up reaping benefits we never expected.

So how does all of this fit together? Each week, course members receive an assignment that includes videos to watch, information to read, and worksheets to complete. We complete these on our own, then we meet up in person for some group discussion and coaching that sometimes involves fun ways to try new habits. We learn 10 habits in 10 weeks, but every member has an annual pass that allows them to take the course up to 4 times within a year.

If this sounds like plan you can get behind, fill out a form on my health coaching page, or contact me at mainstreetyogafmt@gmail.com I’ll schedule a one on one session with you to see if your goals align with ours. If you’re a good fit, I’ll offer you a spot in our next round, which starts April 22nd. You can also plan to attend my next free talk on April 15th at 4pm.

And if you’re tired of reading about Body Wisdom, no worries. Next week I’ll be talking about all the wonderful things the Main Street Yoga teachers are planning for April!

Human Connection and Health Evolution

Last week, I wrote about connection. This week, I’m continuing with that theme, but I have two questions for you first:

1.     What do you desire most in terms of your health?

2.     What is keeping you from having that desire?

Last fall, I posted a survey on Facebook and found that the two most popular answers to the first question were losing weight and eating a healthier diet. Other answers, in order of popularity, were aging well, sleeping well, and reducing or eliminating specific issues or symptoms. I would imagine, had I listed it as an option, some of you would have also answered building a healthier immune system.

Along with those physical issues are usually some mental and emotional issues: you want to experience less stress and overwhelm and you want to feel better about yourself. Maybe it’s even deeper than that. I’ve been taught that you need burrow down about five layers to discover the why behind the why behind the why behind the why . . . but more about that some other time. Right now, I’m interested in this question:

If, six months ago, you would have answered my survey with any of the above answers and if now, six months later, you have not made any progress towards those goals, what is keeping you from them? Sure, we all have excuses. “I’m too busy working/taking care of kids/taking care of parents/taking care of everyone except myself.” But what is the REAL reason, and what would it take to get you to commit 100% to your personal health evolution?

My guess is it’s not a lack of information. We all know what we SHOULD be doing. In fact, there are a ton of diets and programs out there that will get you where you want to go, at least in the short term (i.e. not all programs are sustainable). Most of them will scratch the surface of your needs: you might lose 10 pounds; you might start exercising more. But if you’re looking for deep, integrative, lifelong health evolution, you need two things: a comprehensive plan and group of supportive people headed in the same direction you want to go. Of the two, the second will make the biggest difference.

In the past, I tried going it alone. And at times, when I was really motivated, I made some progress. But motivation waxes and wanes. As humans, we’re not wired for constant motivation. What we are wired for is connection, deep connection with other humans. We want to be a part of something. We want to feel like we belong. We NEED to feel supported.

So often, when I meet with people one on one about their health goals, I hear, “I need someone to hold me accountable.” These individuals understand that peer support is crucial to hitting their goals. They know that groups evolve faster than individuals. They also know that you can’t just throw a random group of people together and expect to evolve. The people in the group have to have the same level of desire to go where you want to go, and someone in the group needs to be a few steps further along the path than the others.

There’s a theory floating around out there that you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with. Take a moment and think about who that is for you. Are those five people influencing you in a good way? Are they on the path you want to be on? Or do you need to meet new people and cultivate new relationships?

If the latter is true, contact me! My Body Wisdom health coaching group is full of women who are on a growth path, who are committed to becoming better versions of themselves, and who support each other 110% every day. If that sounds like where you want to be, I’ll sit down with you one on one to see if you’re a good fit for our group. If you are, I promise, six months from now, you will be further along the path.

I hope to hear from you.

Angela

A Different Kind of Vacay

I’m sitting on a plane right now. I spent the last week in a little town in Mexico called Punta de Mita. And though many parts of my trip felt like a vacation, I was in fact there for Yoga Health Coach training. The experience could not have been more different than my last trip to Mexico.

The last time I went to Mexico, my husband and I spent a week at an all-inclusive resort. There was a lot of down time, a lot of food, and a lot of margaritas. This time, I stayed in condo. I shopped at the local markets; the breakfast and lunch that was provided to me and the other women at the training consisted of green juice, fruit, salads, and fresh shrimp and fish. I had a grand total of three margaritas over the course of the week: one on the day I arrived, and two after we completed the training.

The food and drink weren’t the only things that were different about this trip. I spent most of my time with 34 other women, many of them yoga teachers, most of them yoga health coaches or yoga health coaches in training. All of us were what our trainer, Cate Stillman, calls “wellness pros.” This week, for me and many others, was very much about stepping into and owning that title.

The theme for our training was leadership. Leadership is a concept that wellness pros tend to shy away from. We’re a touchy-feely sort of bunch for the most part. Our goal isn’t to lead; our goal is help people live healthier, happier lives. Nonetheless, with Cate at the helm, you have no choice but to accept the fact that you are indeed a leader.

Despite the fact that we were each encouraged to own the role of leader, the amount of support and connection between and among the women there was something that is so very rare in our society today. There was no sense of competition, even between women who live in the same city and are teaching the same basic program, a program based on Cate’s book Body Thrive. That support and connection enabled everyone present to experience breakthroughs of one kind or another, myself included.

My version of Cate’s program is called “Body Wisdom,” and I’m so proud to say that the level of support and connection I felt with my fellow yoga health coaches exists in abundance in my current coaching group. I’m leading a group of 14 incredible women into healthier habits that will enable them to thrive more and more as they learn and automate the habits of yoga and Ayurveda. Many of the women at the training this week who are leading similar groups were lamenting the lack of interaction and connection between their members. I was so proud to report that my members are blowing up our Facebook forum with everything from tips and recipes to pats on the backs. They share their small wins as well as their struggles and support each other 110% at all times. They are truly amazing!

My experience in Punta de Mita was life changing. I made new friends through deep listening and true connection. I’m seeing that same deep listening and true connection between and among my course members. (Perhaps a few of them will comment here about that experience . . . hint, hint.) We’re currently in Week 8 of the 10 week program, but our journey won’t end there. They are all enrolled for a year. If you’re interested in learning more about the program and joining us for our next 10 week round, fill out the form below or email or message me. I’d love to set up a one-on-one strategy session with you to see if you’re a good fit for our group.

See you at the studio.

Angela

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For my mother . . .

I've been absent from blogging lately. One reason for that is my mother's health had taken a sharp downturn. Sixteen days ago, my mother's spirit left a body that had been ravaged by MS, osteoporosis, and scoliosis. Yesterday, at her memorial service, I delivered this message, and since it relates to yoga, I decided to share it with you.

Growing up, I was a very lucky child. Not only were all of my basic needs provided for . . . food, shelter, clothing . . . but I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was loved. I don’t know that I knew I was lucky, but I know that I never worried about any of those things; I never questioned whether I was loved and I remember being happy most of the time. The love and security I felt as child, I owe to both my parents, but because it was the 70s, and because my dad, who was a coal miner, worked long hours and worked shift work, most of the day-to-day, hour-to-hour love and support came from my mother. And she was great at it.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom when I was a kid. The house was always clean. The laundry was always done. She made clothes for me and my sister (embarrassing matching outfits) She did macramé and ceramics with my Nonna. She was my Brownie and Girl Scout Troupe leader. In the summer, she took me and my sister swimming every day. And she took me and friends roller skating and ice skating almost every weekend. We went to mass every Sunday. I always got what I wanted for Christmas, and even though my birthday was on Christmas Eve, she always made sure that it was celebrated separately. When I was a cheerleader and a majorette, my mom was at every game. And she saw every play I was in in high school and college. She was my biggest fan.

When I became a mom myself, it was my mom who took me to the hospital at 9pm and stayed with me there all night until my son was born the next morning. And it was my mom who took us home from the hospital two days later. She fell head over heels for my son, and I was able to see her capacity for love expand even more.

But my mom wasn’t perfect.  I didn’t approve of some of the choices she made, and that complicated our relationship. She could be selfish and stubborn, and I could be a bit self righteous. When it came to her MS, I was disappointed that she didn’t fight it harder. I expected more from the spirited, fun-loving woman who raised me, and that disappointment sometimes manifested as resentment. I wasn’t perfect either.

But it is our imperfections that make us who we are. Because at the core of everything, we are all the same. We all want to love and to be loved. As my mom’s disease progressed, I was reminded more and more of the love and care she gave me when I was child. The worse things got for her, the more I knew that it was my privilege to be able to offer her some amount of comfort and support. When I tied her shoes, I remembered her teaching me to tie my shoes. When I brushed her teeth, I remembered that she taught me how to brush mine. And when I brushed her hair, I remembered her brushing my hair and putting it in pigtails . . . well, that is until she gave my sister and me those awful shag haircuts in 1976.

Today, we are all gathered here to remember that we loved and were loved by my mother. I end my yoga classes with the word “Namaste.” It is a one-word acknowledgement that despite any perceived differences, any imperfections, at the core of everything, we are the same. And in closing today, I offer my mother the full sentiment behind the word “Namaste:”

My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united. We are the same. We are one.

 See you at the studio.

New Classes in February!

Hi, everyone! This is Jen Sunderlin. February is here with the addition of two new classes: Family Yoga and Evening Yoga.

Yoga has changed my life, and I want to share my passion for yoga with my family and yours! Join my boys and I for Family Yoga on Monday afternoons at 4:00. Often, parents are driving from activity to activity and then waiting for the kids. Family Yoga class will bring everyone together in a healthy practice where all ages and all levels are welcome! It will be a fun filled class for you and the kids to do together! Family Yoga will incorporate breathing, poses, yoga stories, and games! Bring the family together to bond in a noncompetitive environment.

Sometimes, after a fun filled day with the boys, I struggle to drop into a calming evening routine. If this sounds familiar, try my Evening Yoga class on Tuesdays at 7:00. Evening Yoga will be a practice designed to gently burn off nervous energy, then slowly wind down and relax. You’ll leave feeling calm, peaceful, and ready for a good night’s sleep. This class is appropriate for everyone at every level, including prenatal students.

If you need time to bond with partner (or best friend, sister, etc.), I’ve also got your Valentine’s Day date night covered! Join me and Kindred Vibes on Saturday, February 17th at 6:30 for yoga, crystal singing bowls, and scalp massages followed by a complimentary drink at Joe N Throw.

Whatever your needs are, check the MSY Calendar to find a class that’s right for you! Show yourself a little yoga love this February by taking some time to center yourself and nourish your soul.

See you at the studio!

The Formula for Illness

Sometimes I struggle with what to blog about, and other times it’s blatantly obvious what I should blog about. I’ve written a lot in the past few months about the importance of self care. I’m pretty lucky in that I rarely get sick. I try to compound that luck by eating well and getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night. But none of us have perfect immunity, and sometimes even the best of us succumb to a virus or bacteria. Such was the case for me last week.

As I was thinking about how and what to write about this experience, I started backtracking through my week and kept finding more and more clues as to what threw me off and where I could have perhaps evaded the unpleasant outcome: sinus inflammation and a sore throat. So for the sake of clarity, I’ll start at the beginning.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning: I didn’t sleep well. While I have no trouble falling asleep early, staying asleep is often a struggle. I fell asleep before 10 on Wednesday night but woke around 3:30 Thursday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 am, I got out of bed and started my day with the intention of taking a nap in the afternoon to make up for the few hours of sleep I had lost.

Thursday afternoon: I taught my lunchtime yoga class, came home, ate my main meal of the day, did some online coursework for my yoga health coach training, and instead of taking a nap, as I had promised myself I would do, I “powered through” and got some more work done. I was on a roll. Why stop? Not so coincidentally, as the day went on, I noticed my low back and my neck tightening up, so much so that I called my chiropractor’s office to schedule an appointment for the next morning.

Thursday evening: I normally have Thursday evenings free, so this would have been the perfect time for me to slow down, spend the evening resting, and maybe go to bed even earlier than usual. However, I had committed to helping out at a doTERRA make-n-take at Watson Elementary. (I pride myself on being the type of person who does what she says she is going to do. I rarely back out of commitments, and if I do, I can assure you, it is unavoidable. But we all know that pride can lead to some unpleasant consequences.) So I spent a couple of hours at the school; I was home by 8:30 and in bed at my usual hour.

Friday: I woke up with some sinus congestion. My chiropractor’s office called me to reschedule my appointment because the doc was out, so I went about my day feeling okay but not great. Fridays are busy for me, so there was no time to slow down until I got to the studio a little after 4 pm, which was when I realized that the sinus congestion was blossoming into something else. Luckily, it was reiki night at the studio, so I received some reiki, which I think accelerated the healing process. By the time I left the studio, my voice was hoarse, which for me is a sure sign that sinus congestion is breaking up. I went home and oiled up with a blend of essential oils that included oregano and frankincense – I was determined to eradicate my bio invaders.

Saturday: Ugh! I woke up with my throat on fire and almost no voice left. Determined to burn out the virus, I spent some time in the sauna with essential oils. Saturdays are normally my free days, so this would have been the perfect opportunity to rest and nurse myself back to health. But not this Saturday. This Saturday I had committed to a two-hour shift at the Main Street Fairmont booth at the Feast of the Seven Fishes. (And we’ve already discussed my sometimes irrational aversion to backing out of commitments.) For those of you who don’t know, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is an outdoor festival in Fairmont usually held on the second Saturday in December. That’s right: an outdoor festival in December in Fairmont, West Virginia. So basically I had committed to standing out in the cold for two hours, and despite my best efforts at dressing for warmth (layers, quilted coat, warm boots, hat and mittens), I was a human popsicle by the end of my shift. An ill human popsicle. The only good news was that I only had one more thing to check off my to-do list before heading home for the evening. I got that done quickly and was home eating miso soup by 4:30.

Saturday evening involved full illness protocol. Now, two years ago, that would have meant a trip to Med Express where I would have been given antibiotics, a decongestant, and possibly Prednisone. These days, illness protocol looks like this: a hot bath in Epsom salts, diffusing essential oils (in this case ginger, oregano, frankincense and OnGuard), and plenty of warm liquids to drink (this time it was ginger and turmeric tea). I spent the evening on the sofa under a blanket, went to bed shortly after 9 pm and woke Sunday morning with a much less sore throat and clearer sinuses.

So here I sit on Sunday morning, under a blanket, post sauna and shower, with a diffuser diffusing, feeling better physically but kicking myself for not doing what I knew I should have done on Thursday. If I had taken the nap I had promised myself on Thursday afternoon, could this whole scenario have been avoided? Quite possibly. At the very least, not taking the nap probably made me more susceptible to the germs floating around in that elementary school Thursday evening.

So what’s the moral of the story here and what the heck does it have to do with yoga? Well, if yoga is about anything, it’s about listening to your body. When we practice regularly, that listening starts to happen off the mat as well as on the mat. When we listen regularly, we develop an intuition about what our body needs and wants. When we develop and work with that intuition, we make healthier lifestyle choices that support our wellbeing. And when we choose to go against that intuition, we can observe and learn from the consequences.  This is my observing and learning.

For the sake of clarity, this is the formula for illness:

Stress (physical, mental, emotional, or some combination of those) + not enough rest + exposure to viruses and/or bacteria (in this case, an elementary school) = illness

And to those of you who work in the public school system and aren’t constantly ill, you have my deepest respect. 

See you at the studio!

The Yogi Approach to Thriving Through the Holidays

“The Holiday Season” is officially upon us. Thanksgiving is in the rearview and Black Friday has bled over into Cyber Monday. If you’re anything like most people I know, December’s calendar is probably full of events and visits, concerts and recitals, and, of course, shopping. Self care gets put on the backburner. We rationalize that if we can just get through the next few weeks, then things will settle down and we’ll have more time to rest. We allow ourselves to eat and drink things we might not normally consume, and we probably eat and drink them later than we would otherwise. We force ourselves to run around more and stay up later in the interest of getting things done.

With all this extra activity and little time to rest, is it any wonder that flu season peaks between December and February? We’re exhausted, we’re not eating well, and our immune systems take a hit.

The ancient yogis understood that less really is more. And sure, you can argue that they had much less to do and to worry about, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them and tweak our habits to better support our bodies and minds. For the ancient yogis, the prescription for thrive came down to two things: decreasing ama and increasing ojas.

Say what?

Okay, a few definitions are probably in order here.

Ama is a Sanskrit word that literally means “undigested” or “uncooked.” It usually refers to a gunky residue left over from poorly digested food. Ideally, everything we eat is either absorbed into our bodies or expelled as waste. But sometimes, when we’re not taking good care of ourselves, or when we are affected by stress, strain, or adverse weather, our digestion is compromised and some of this gunky residue remains in our bodies. Left unchecked, the accumulation of ama can be extremely detrimental to our health and wellbeing. At best, ama leads to energy inefficiency. At worst, it leads to disease.

How do you know if you have ama? Some common signs and symptoms are:

·         a sense of heaviness

·         a lack of energy

·         body aches and/or joint pain

·         dull skin and/or blemishes or acne

·         bloated belly/gas/constipation

·         white coating on the tongue

·         lack of mental clarity

·         apathy (that “blah” feeling)

Ojas is the opposite of ama. It means “that which invigorates.” Ojas is our energy reserve. It supports our immune system and psycho-emotional resiliency. It keeps us youthful, vibrant, and radiant. It gives us an overall sense of satifsfaction with life. Ojas is the result of healthy digestion and a lifestyle that reduces and reverses the depleting effects of stress. So as you might suspect, our busy Western society is running chronically low on ojas.

So how can we start restoring ojas? One of the easiest ways to build ojas is get enough quality rest (7 to 8 hours a night). Other ways include:

·         yoga and meditation

·         spending time in nature

·         spending quality time with friends and family

·         living boldly and doing what is meaningful to you

·         maintaining a sense of humor and perspective

·         maintaining healthy eating, sleeping and self care habits

During the holidays, when our schedules go awry and are working against us, these ojas-building practices are even more important. The December schedule at MSY will be packed with opportunities for you to slow down and tune in. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to reduce ama and increase ojas, join me for my free Body Wisdom talk on Sunday, December 3rd and/or fill out the form below.

See you at the studio

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