Happy Planksgiving!

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For the month of November, Empower Yoga students and friends have been participating in a Planksgiving Challenge. It is 30 days of giving thanks and planks.  No prizes are awarded, it's more about having fun, creating community, challenging ourselves and of course giving thanks! Each day our plank holds get a little bit longer. We started with a 20 second plank and are working our way to a 3 minute hold on November 30th.

Planksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Planking is not only a really great way to activate and strengthen your core, but a great way to work your whole body!

Are you ready to jump into our #Planksgiving Challenge? Don't worry if you find it too difficult to hold, you can plank as long as you can and break it up into smaller parts. Try to hold a few more seconds each day! Remember to stay aware of your form- it’s quality, not quantity that counts. Challenge yourself, but not to the point of injury.

Why you should be thankful for the plank:

  • No equipment needed

  • Improves your posture

  • Promotes a flat belly

  • Works more than just your core

  • Reduces back pain

  • Burns calories

  • Builds strength

  • You can do them anywhere

How to safely do a plank:

  • Start out lying on your stomach with your hands flat on the floor, directly below your shoulders

  • Have your legs out straight and toes curled under

  • Press your hands into the floor, squeeze your core, and come up into a straight arm plank position

  • Don’t allow your hips to sag or your butt to come up

  • Think about squeezing your core and drawing your belly button in towards your spine, and pressing your hands into the floor the entire time

  • Try to keep your head and neck in line with the rest of your spine

  • You can do most of these on your forearms, too, just place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders!

Click for 35 fun plank variations!

Happy Planking ;)



5 REASONS TO GO ON A YOGA RETREAT!

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Ever wondered whether a yoga retreat is for you? Often thought about it, but never found the time/money?

Here are 5 reasons I think you should make sure that this year is finally the year you go on that long dreamed about retreat.

1. TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF:

There is a huge difference between going on a vacation and going on retreat.

Going on a retreat allows you to take a step back, focus inward, and give yourself a time out so you can rest and rejuvenate.

Vacations are often centered around families and can be busy, with little time to relax and rejuvenate. Often times vacations aren’t centered around what YOU may want to because you have to make compromises to ensure everyone is happy.

Retreats can help encourage you to leave the outside world behind, step away from all the stressors in your life and leave behind drains on your time and energy, so you can focus on yourself and what you need. The nice thing is that on a retreat, you can always participate in as much or as little as you want. You make the rules.
At the very least, a retreat will give you a break from your day-to-day life and will hopefully leave you refreshed, renewed, empowered, and inspired.

2. DEEPEN YOUR PRACTICE:

A retreat can help take your yoga practice to the next level. Maybe you've been practicing yoga for a while now, experienced its amazing benefits first hand, and are looking for more. Or maybe you’re new and wanted to better understand what it's all about and experience its positive effect on your mind and body first hand.

Whatever the reasons, retreats can help you to further increase your strength, flexibility, and your awareness of your own practice.

The main gift a retreat gives is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. Most of us are creatures of habit.  We like routine. We like our regular teachers, we like to practice with certain friends, and we have our certain spots. Well on a retreat, it’s completely new.  You get to meet new people, maybe try a new teacher or type of yoga, and get to explore and appreciate new surroundings. It’s the perfect time to explore your boundaries, change things up, and step outside your comfort zone.

3. MEET LIKE MINDED PEOPLE:

You get to hang out with like minded people who enjoy the same things as you.  Most people are often nervous to travel alone or even with people they don’t know, but on a retreat you don’t have to be.  The nice thing is, is that you already share a common interest. You spend time together, bond over the yoga, other activities, & shared meals, and by the end of the week, inhibitions fall away and strangers become lifelong friends.  

4. LEARN SOMETHING NEW:

Take your yoga off the mat and into the world.  Try new things (activities or food), learn a new skill.  Learn how to swim, surf, dive, paddle, whatever it may be…  Expand your mind. Step outside your comfort zone and begin to discover how strong you truly are and what you are capable of. Take your new interests and carry them back home with you.

5. DETOX YOUR LIFE:

Looking to cleanse your mind, body and soul? Retreats are designed to help you feel good.

MIND:

Clear your mind- turn off your electronics and unplug.

Take in the beautiful scenery and be present.

Practice yoga

Meditate

BODY:

Workout and sweat. Get rid of all the toxins.

Enjoy the delicious food- fuel your body with foods that will help nourish and cleanse you from the inside out.

Get a massage and pamper yourself.  

SOUL:

Meditate

Practice yoga.

Sit in silence.

Reconnect with your inner self. Speak to your soul and allow it to help find the answer you seek.

READY TO SIGN UP?

Rather than make excuses as to why you shouldn’t go, spend the money, take time off, etc…. Decide that you are worth it. YOU, more than anyone else deserves to be taken care of. Remember that we need to continue to fill our own cups.  If you aren't happy, healthy, and inspired, you can't help others, because you can't fill from an empty cup. By doing this for yourself, you actually get to give back to all those around you too.

YOU deserve to invest in yourself.

BONUS:

My Mexico Retreat is coming up this June!!

That’s right. I’d love for you to join me for my 5 night Yoga & Fitness Retreat in Tulum, Mexico.

This retreat is all about moving and manifesting. With daily workouts & yoga for all levels, sound meditation, clay ceremony, goal-setting, cultural excursions, delicious meals and plenty of time to relax, this retreat will be a dream come true.

To learn more and to apply, visit our website. We’d love to have you!

Get On Your Mat This Fall!

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Fall is officially upon us. The trees are starting to change colors, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is cooler. Bring on the sweaters, boots, and hot soups.

Often the body takes a minute to catch up with what our environment has to offer us. A balanced yoga practice can help our bodies transition from one season to the next with ease. Incorporating yoga into your day and week can help keep you heated, energized, detoxified, and restored.

HEAT:  As our climate cools off, our joints often stiffen due to lack of circulation to the extremities. So getting on your mat and practicing is a great way to keep the body warm and circulation flowing from the inside out. 

ENERGIZE. Our natural inclination as we transition into darker days is to hibernate and to stay indoors. And while that is ok sometimes, we still need to find balance. Yoga is a great way for you to stay uplifted and energized so you combat fatigue and sluggishness.

DETOX: Throughout our heated flow, you will be sure to detox and flush out all of the toxins and stuck energy you may have been holding onto.  A steady practice with twists and inversions is a great way to help you boost your immune system and provide your organs with fresh, oxygenated blood.

RESTORE: The Yin portion of a yoga class is a great way to help your body recharge.  Restorative poses that are held a little longer (i.e.Supta Baddakonasana, Legs up the Wall, & Savasana) allow the body to clear out and for the nervous system to completely relax, making room for all that the new season has to bring.

As we balance out our bodies, we balance out our minds. Embrace this transition & join us on the mat!

Namaste!

 

Yoga Heals

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In my opinion, every person has the ability to enhance their lives by adopting a consistent yoga practice, especially people who have suffered a trauma. While the road to recovery for sexual abuse survivors is long and difficult, and there's by no means a cure-all to such trauma, many survivors of sexual abuse have turned to yoga to help.

Being a sexual abuse survivor myself, I have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. For me, movement is extremely important. After going through a body trauma, like rape, it was difficult for me to be inside my body because I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.  After a couple of months of practicing, I noticed several changes: my mind was clearer, my body wasn’t as rigid and I felt stronger. I felt like I could finally breathe again.

Yoga has helped allow me to find stillness in a world consumed with chaos. I love the feeling and effects of yoga. When stepping onto my mat I begin to feel immediate changes to not only my physical body but also my mental capacity. These changes have helped me to long term health and transformation.

Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can be beneficial and healing for survivors. Here are some reasons why:

  • Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind. It helps slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress.

  • Yoga and meditation build awareness.

  • Yoga combines the elements of breathing, poses, and mindfulness in a gentle way allowing survivors to reconnect with their bodies and emotions.

  • It teaches us to foster self love and compassion.

  • Yoga gives us strength and helps show us how strong we really are.

  • Yoga helps us regain control over our bodies. It can empower you to take your life back.

Yoga provides tools to help you grow and you might even start to feel better the first time you try practicing. Then, the more you commit to your practice, the more you benefit. Yoga can help give you power to effect change and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. Hope itself can be healing.



Written by: Keri Mandell

What to expect from your first hot yoga class...

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NEW TO HOT YOGA?

Hot yoga can be incredibly beneficial, whether you’re looking to improve your strength and flexibility or an opportunity to quiet your mind.

To some, hot yoga can be intimidating. The following points will help clarify some of your questions and help you work up the confidence you need to give it a shot.

YOUR BODY WILL ADJUST

The heat of the studio might feel intense at first, but I promise, your body will adjust to it. Know that it can take up to 3 classes for your body to become acclimated. Especially for the first few classes, be sure to be hydrated, breathe, and take breaks as needed. Do your best to stay in the room and allow your body to acclimate to the space appropriately. Though it might be tempting to run out of the heated room, don’t! The sudden change in temperature might be too much. Just know that soon your mind will be so engaged with what’s going on with your body—balance, placement, alignment, etc… that it will forget about the heat.

STAY HYDRATED

Be sure to drink plenty of water prior to class and take water with you into class. Also,  avoid eating an hour before class starts. If you’re hungry ahead of time, have a light snack, like fruit or nuts. You’ll regret indulging in sweets or rich foods prior to class.

DON’T LET SWEAT BRING YOU DOWN

Embrace the sweat and expect a lot of it. Sweat is very cleansing and detoxifying so enjoy it. To help with the sweat, you may want to bring a towel or two with you to class-  one small hand towel to wipe off sweat and a larger towel to lay over your mat. Otherwise, you may find yourself slipping and sliding between poses. Certain mats, such as the lululemon 5mm reversible are great for hot yoga. They are slip resistant and also have an antimicrobial additive that helps prevent mold and mildew from growing.

BREATHE

If you’ve taken yoga before, you know that your breath should guide your practice. This is especially true for hot yoga. Let your body take the deep inhales and exhales that it needs, especially during the more challenging poses, this will help cool you down and keep you calm and relaxed.  Avoid holding your breath or taking short, shallow breaths which will escalate your heart rate or make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

STAY INWARD

Hot yoga is incredible. Go in with an open mind and get ready to have fun. Know that as in all yoga classes, everyone is at a different level so don’t compare yourself to the person next to you. Check your ego at the door and don’t become discouraged if you can’t take the same variation of a pose as your neighbor, find what feels right for you. Your first few hot yoga classes are about getting used to the temperature, the poses, and the environment. If things become too intense it’s ok to take a child’s pose. Listen to your body.

DON’T OVERTHINK, JUST DO

Things may feel hard, challenging, or just downright impossible, but know that you are capable of more than you think. Attempting challenging poses can be fun and with time, patience, and practice can be very attainable.  Change the script in your mind from one of “I can’t” to “I can”. Just allow the teacher to guide you and move through each pose with confidence and strength!

KEEP PRACTICING

You did it! You might feel a little shaky after your first class, but you’ll also feel cleansed, empowered, and strong. It’s a feeling like no other. After class, remember that hydration is essential, to replace the fluids you lost through sweating in class. Get ready for your next class- sign up online and perhaps even consider trying another instructor. Practicing yoga 2-3 times week can be essential in helping your overall physical and mental health.  The more frequently you practice the sooner you’ll see results-  such as better range of motion and flexibility, strength, reduction in stress, and better posture to name a few.

 

NAMASTE!

 

10 Things to Consider When Joining a Yoga Studio

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If you’re looking to increase your physical fitness and overall health, then yoga is right for you. Yoga is a great way to help with stress relief, increases flexibility, balance, and build both physical and mental strength.

In a culture where we rush from one day to the next, constantly trying to change our health, our body, or our emotions, or to plan our future, yoga opens up the possibility of connecting to what we already have and to who we already are. So why not give it a try?

No time like the present to add yoga into your workout regimen.

When choosing a yoga studio that is right for you, here are some things that you should consider.

  1. Where is the studio located?  Choose a studio that is convenient to where you live. If it’s too far, the likelihood of you committing to a regular practice is decreased.

  2. What type of yoga is it? There are many different types of yoga, so you may have to try a few types before deciding what feels right to you.  If you are looking for a more athletic based practice, going to a studio that offers power or vinyasa flow classes is great. Looking for something more restorative, consider a yin class.

  3. What are the class offerings & times? Does the studio offer a variety of classes to try- i.e. Power, Restorative, Heated. What are the lengths of the classes? 60 min., 75 min., or 90 min.? Are the classes held at times that can accommodate your needs? Are there early am classes? Mid day? Night classes? Do they offer classes for beginners?

  4. Do you have to sign up for classes in advance? Each studio can only accommodate a certain number of students. Classes held at prime times  (I.e. evenings and weekend mornings) can become crowded and even sell out, so knowing in advance in important so you can sign up and reserve your spot.

  5. What is the studio's core values? Are the core values listed and followed? Do you have similar values? You want to find an environment that is authentic and truly believes in and lives by their mission and values. Find a place whose values resonates with your own.

  6. Are the teachers Yoga Alliance certified? Yoga Alliance provides the minimum standard for which a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher training must meet. The Yoga Alliance outlines a minimum number of hours to be spent on each topic: philosophy, anatomy, practicum, methodology, etc. You want an instructor who is Yoga Alliance certified and is well trained and versed in what they are teaching.

  7. Where is the teacher in the room? When taking a class, is the teacher in the front doing the class with you or walking around ensuring that everyone is safe and using proper form and alignment?  Remember, the yoga class is about YOU, your experience and your safety. The teacher should be monitoring the class and not teaching from his/her mat.

  8. Do the teachers offer variations? You need someone who is going to help you modify a pose (especially if you’re newer or injured) as well as help you enhance a pose (if you are  more of an advanced practitioners or looking to advance your practice). Either way, having options is always a good thing. Everyday is different. How a pose feels may be different so listen to your body and take what you need.

  9. Is the studio clean? If they don’t properly care for the facility or aren’t mindfult to what has to be done, than how will they properly care for you?

  10. Is the studio fun? Most importantly, if you aren't enjoying yourself or having fun, why bother. Find a place that you can connect with. People who you enjoy being around and a community that will support you and your practice.

Namaste!