health

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

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!

 

Transformation

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This idea of transformations has been on my mind over the last week. 

Each day we make changes and transformations both big and small. We learn, we grow, and we discover more about who we are. We are never still or stagnant. We are always moving, breathing and therefore changing. 

In the past year, my life has changed dramatically. Through it all, I have changed. I have transformed. Some of these changes I wanted for myself, but some changes were forced upon me and out of my control. Regardless of the whether the changes are in our control or out, we need to continue to move forward and learn from the experiences that change us.

Probably the biggest change I went through this past year was out of my control, losing my dad. Learning how to live without him was incredibly challenging, but over time, I have adapted to the change. I will always be his daughter, but now I am also a person who lost a parent. I had to learn how to deal with his death, and rather than feel despair, I needed to find hope and strength. 

Something that is in my control is that I have started to train for an Ironman which is both mentally and physically challenging. Through the training process I am stronger than before and in the best shape of my life. I have also had to learn how to balance running my yoga studio while being able to complete the high volume training. 

“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery- there are moments of mountaintops and moments of deep valleys of despair.”- Rick Warren

Even though change can be hard, we need to remember to take the good with the bad because sometimes while transformations aren't easy, once we complete them we come out stronger on the other side. So don’t be afraid or back down, move forward excited to see the person you are becoming. Open your arms to all that the universe has to offer and trust that's it’s got your back.

If you're ever unsure or start to second guess if you're on the right path, start to look for clues. The universe is always talking to you, but you have to be awake to listen and receive the messages it is sending.

I have been reminded of this over the last few days- there has been a black crow that keeps visiting the studio. I am convinced that it's my dad coming to deliver me a message, so I started to do a little research about what black crows represent and this is what I found...

Crows are messengers from beyond. They often come to reassure us that we are on the right path.  If you see a crow, it’s because it understands that you're going through a huge transformation and questions if you are stopping your personal abundance due to fear and anxiety. The crow has magic that can help aide you in your quest. The crows medicine is a reminder that you are on the verge of manifesting whatever it is you have been creating in your mind. Allow your positive thoughts to guide you.

Crows are tenacious and never give up, so transform and shift into your confident self.

Crows are a reminder that magic is all around us and maybe those who have passed are not too far.  

Tap into the magic of the crow today and get ready to transform and to awaken, discovering your most powerful self.  

Belize in Yourself

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One of my goals for my first year of opening Empower Yoga was to lead a Fitness Retreat. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than working out & traveling. My husband and I travel often and one of our favorite things to do is to explore different CrossFit boxes and yoga studios while we are away. As a result, we decided to plan a Fitness Retreat and invited some like minded and adventure seeking people along for the ride. We always wanted to go to San Pedro, Belize and we felt this would be a perfect spot to host our first retreat!!

We stayed at Sun Breezeright near the heart of the town. What a perfect spot. It was close to town and all of the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, once inside the walls of the hotel it was like a hidden oasis, it was very peaceful and quiet. It was  the perfect vibe for our trip. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you’re looking to visit San Pedro. We actually learned about this spot from our friend Tauni of Lean Power Yoga. She had visited Belize and was incredibly helpful with the planning and organizing of the trip since she knew about the country and all it’s hot spots!

Being home for almost a week now, I am still on a high. I am still processing the magic of those days and it’s been hard to put it into words. The trip really surpassed my expectations. It was an incredible week filled with lots of fitness, friendships, food and fun!!

The yoga was incredible. I got to teach in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the ocean. The ambiance was just perfect. It was so lovely and every class offered something different from the previous one giving the yoga aspect excitement and diversity.

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The CrossFit was a challenge. CrossFit Wolf hosted us for the week. It was an awesome facility with expert coaches and workouts that were lots of fun and pushed your limits!

The food was fresh and down-right tasty too. We didn't have a single bad meal- from salads to fish tacos to the tamali street food. Oh and the coffee… nothing better than early morning coffee talk before we started our day or our after workout iced coffee that was so delicious and refreshing!

The folks that joined were so perfect too. Everyone got along well and became fast friends by the time the week was over. The rich conversation, laughter and authenticity made being around each other refreshing and energizing. I’m so honored that my circle of friends grew from this.

Honestly, thinking back, I couldn’t think of a more perfect getaway. I feel so incredibly thankful for all the people who attended. I am confident our experience in Belize just would not have been the same without each of them! Traveling can be hard, but stepping outside your comfort zone and joining other folks you don’t know on an international adventure, even more so. However, this group jumped right in from the moment they arrived and held nothing back. Everyone worked hard, supported each other & challenged their limits. Looking back over the pictures and reliving these moments makes me smile and feel so happy. I cannot wait to do it again!

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Check out our itinerary from the trip:
Honestly, there was a great deal of fear involved with planning and hosting my first retreat, because the thought looming in the back of my mind was: What if no one signs up or what if they don't have a good time?

It's scary to put yourself out there, but believing in yourself or “Belizing in Yourself”( which was the theme of our trip) is important  we decided to go for it. The Universe definitely had my back because not only did people start signing up, they were a fun, easy going, and incredibly kind group of individuals. I knew that no matter what, we would have a good time, and we did!!

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Monday-
My husband, Dan and I flew down a day early to get our bearings and prepare for our guests. To get there we took three planes, I know it sounds like a lot but it really wasn't bad. We left from Newark, flew to Fort Lauderdale and then Belize City. From Belize City we opted to fly Mayan Air to San Pedro instead of the water taxi. Now, at first I was a little scared about being on the small plane where you actually had to crawl to your seat, but once we were in the air, I really loved it. The views were breathtaking. I was so happy I had the opportunity to see Belize form the air. Once we landed, we headed to the hotel to check-in.  After, we walked around searching for hot spots and sampling some local cuisine, we rented a golf cart so that could be our mode of transportation around the island for the week. We also visited crossfit and our yoga spot. We tried to make sure we were well prepared to show our guests around and answer any questions they had upon their arrival.

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Tuesday-
Our guests arrived that afternoon between 1:30-3:30pm. This gave them an opportunity to check-in, recieve their welcome bag, go to their room to unpack and lounge a little before yoga and our welcome dinner that evening. Yoga took place from 4:30-6:00pm , which included a nice 30 min. meditation and our Welcome Dinner was at 7:30pm at the Blue Water Grill!

That first night, we made it clear to everyone that it was their vacation. Yes, we had a schedule, but absolutely everything on that schedule was optional and they were free to do what they wanted.

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Wednesday-
We were a group of early risers. Each morning we met outside around 6-6:15am for coffee. We got to chat, see the sun rise, and look out on the beautiful ocean. Around 7am we left for Crossfit. After CrossFit we found a delicious coffee spot (which we visited each day following) called The Baker. It was the best iced coffee I have ever had. The ice cubes were even made of coffee which was an awesome touch. Afterward, we returned to the hotel for breakfast before spending the day relaxing by the pool and walking around the city. We ended the day with a yoga class and meditation before dinner at El Fogon.

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Thursday-
Thursday was similar to Wednesday, coffee at 6am, CrossFit at 7:30, coffee from The Baker, and breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon we visited Science and Soul WellnessCenter for SUP yoga. This was a beautiful facility with a beautiful beach. They just opened this past December and I am super excited forthem. It is worth checking out!! That night we ate at Romand’s restaurant, Pineapple on the Beach. It was delicious. A must try especially if you love pineapple as much as I do.

Friday-
Friday was a lot of fun. We started the day with yoga on the beach, to stretch out and warm-up before our Crossfit beach workout. It sure was sandy, but a lot of fun. Afterwards we went for coffee of course and had breakfast. If having breakfast in Belize, I highly recommend the fry jacks, they are incredibly tasty!! After breakfast we lounged before heading to the reef and shark alley to snorkel. For dinner that evening we went to Rain and watched the sunset. This by far had the best view and ambience.

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Saturday-
Coffee, yoga, and CrossFit to start this day before heading to Secret Beach for the afternoon. Secret Beach was on the other side of San Pedro, so it was a little bit of a hike to get to. The beach was beautiful but the scene was not really for us. There were lots of bars and loud music. We hung out for a little bit and had a taco snack but then left to head back to resort to lounge and relax before our farewell dinner at Blue Water Grill that evening.

Sunday-
On sunday, because everyone was leaving early, we didn’t work out. We gave people the opportunity to sleep in or pack before our coffee talk and breakfast. Then everyone departed. I am glad that everyone arrived back to the states safely and in high spirits, having loved the trip and talking about the next one.

Hosting this retreat was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel full, energized, rested and ready to plan the next one so I can connect with more individuals who are looking for adventure. Thinking about Mexico or Nicaragua for our next trip ;) Stay tuned!!

For more pics from our retreat, please visit Empower Yoga's FB page