Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Barre Language made simple

You don't need to be an expert on terminology prior to stepping into your first barre class. This style of exercise may be modeled after ballet, but it is, after all, a workout. The movements are thoroughly instructed, so the only thing that may throw you off are the words themselves. Here is a guide to the most widely used barre terms that you'll hear in class.

  • First position: This is part of the setup for many barre exercises. In first position, you are standing on the floor with your heels touching and your toes apart. When you gaze down, your feet should look like a small "v" shape.
  • Plié: This is a pretty French term that means to bend, or fold. It is only used when referencing a bend in your knees, which you do often in barre. You can take a plié in almost any standing position. Your instructor might alternate the words bend and plié intermittently.
  • Relevé: The actual meaning of this French term is lifted, or raised. The word is used when instructed to lift your heels off of the ground. This is usually only instructed when your heels are together, either side by side or in front of one another, so that you have plenty of ankle support.
  • Second position: Stand with your legs separated from each other, with your feet about two feet apart, and your toes pointing outward on a diagonal. From here you will most likely be instructed to take a bend in your knees. Once you plié, make sure your heels are under your knees and your shins are parallel to prevent injury. Every barre goer loves to hear the term second position because it is often used for a series of thigh exercises. The position might feel like a break at first, but you'll begin to feel the burn. 
  • Tuck: A key concept in barre, (however I like to say drawl your tailbone down) the tuck is part of the secret to sculpted thighs and seat. You may even hear this instruction during your ab exercises. It simply means to pull your hips forward while drawing your abs back. If you look at yourself in a mirror, you can see the tuck happening from a side view. When you tuck, the arch in your lower back will disappear, elongating your tailbone. This can make any exercise feel harder and therefore show more results, so embrace the tuck.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Sometimes, it’s difficult to see your place in the world. Western society teaches us that we are individuals are who separate from others, the environment, and the cosmos. Greater emphasis is placed on uniqueness. This isn’t bad. However, there is a balance between being an individual and acknowledging that you’re part of a whole.
To find that balance, you must get in tune with who you are as a social being.
Human beings thrive biologically, psychologically, and spiritually on human interaction. While you may sometimes fantasize about living the life of a hermit, your highest self seeks to expand and experience inwardly and outwardly.
Life is ultimately an experience of self, according to ancient wisdom traditions. This self resides in everything—and is everything. This ever-present self is so obvious, that it’s actually well concealed. Through self-exploration and mindfulness, it is possible to see yourself in others. Once you’ve become more self aware, you can become a more caring, compassionate person, and a loving influence to all.
Remember that dealing with others is part of self-discovery and experience. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to let go of ego-based insecurities and your interaction with the other person will be enhanced. Follow these five tips to build an awareness of self that encourages compassion, generosity, and love towards others.

Check Your Prejudices and Pre-Judgments

Perception is everything in life. On the path of enlightenment, emphasis is placed on fine tuning how we process the world in order to find our higher nature. When it comes to people, learning to interact with self-awareness is key. Think about how many times you may have pre-judged a person only to be surprised by something the person does, says, or brings to a situation. Have you ever looked at someone’s appearance and allowed that impression to affect how you dealt with him or her? Even as you evolve, it may be difficult to completely stop this human tendency of prejudice. Instead of fighting it, witness it. Remember that your perception has a heavy influence on your thoughts, actions, interpretations, and interaction with the other person. If you go into a conversation or social contact knowing this, you can better tune yourself to a frequency of love and kindness. Even during negative interactions, it’s good to look within and find the personal source or contribution to any negativity. The more pleasant you are within, the more amiable everyone else will be. Try to look upon the world with love and compassion as often as possible.

Look at Yourself Through Their Eyes

This should not be confused with normal self-consciousness. Some of us struggle with being too concerned about what others think about us. This can cause anxiety and stress on your being. Instead, try to be mindful of yourself in a positive way. By being honest and genuinely your best self to others, you’re bound to receive the best from others. This doesn’t mean you’ll never have conflict with others. But when conflict occurs, it will be met with awareness. Consider the viewpoints of others to help you see yourself—beyond your ego. When this is done properly, you’ll experience greater levels of understanding, humanity, and the ability to not take yourself so seriously. If you say or do something awkward, laugh at yourself. In doing so, you allow others to feel more comfortable in your presence. This comfort is reflected and shared, creating a pleasant and congenial interaction, even in temporary casual encounters.

Practice Non-Judgement

Non-judgement is essential to all spiritual development. The beauty of practicing non-judgement is that it’s a double-sided blessing. By being more accepting of others, you’re showing kindness to yourself.
As you cultivate the ability to see your self in others, keep in mind that you’re expanding your concept of self. The reflection you’re learning to see is not your current view of yourself. This is an important point. Acceptance of the differences in others opens you up to explore your own consciousness without limiting constrictions.

Pay Attention

You may have heard the phrase “Where attention goes, the energy flows.” There’s evidence of this in every aspect of our lives. If your goal is self-exploration and expansion, be aware that you will spend an increasing amount of time witnessing. Your inner awareness is integral to your growth. When dealing with others, practice tuning into your inner world. Notice any fluctuations in mood, emotions, or thoughts that may come along with your various interactions. This practice is important because it helps you understand the relationship between your inner life and your outer world. There is a subtle relationship at play at all times between your inner self and others.  You cannot come to an understanding of this interplay without witnessing it.
Pay more attention to others as well, especially when speaking with a person or group of people. This is not only kind to the other person; it also makes you more present. It takes a lot of attention to see the unity between yourself and others. So be as present as possible. You may be surprised at the commonality and reflections of yourself that you see.

Get Outside of Your Head

You may experience an unexpected, paradoxical reaction as you progress in your self-exploration. As odd as it may seem, there comes a point where knowing your self means forgetting the self you know—or selflessness.Self-evolution is enhanced by your ability to step into the unknown. Certain aspects of your being cannot be expressed when you’re focused only on yourself. This is why it’s good for your well-being to allow yourselves to experience new things and people. Your consciousness is always seeking to expand; the more you let it flow, the better. Other people can play a major role in this expansion. Meet new people, open yourself to different opinions, and enjoy the diversity of humanity.
We are unique pieces of the same underlying consciousness, according to Vedic wisdom. Open yourself to the unknown sides of your true self. Strive to no longer limit yourself to what you already know—and are.

What are Chakras?

The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to wheel or disk. In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.

The Importance of the Main Chakras in the Body

These swirling wheels of energy correspond to massive nerve centers in the body. Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy cannot flow. Think of something as simple as your bathtub drain. If you allow too much hair to go into the drain, the bathtub will back up with water, stagnate and eventually bacteria and mold will grow. So is too with our bodies and the chakras. A bathtub is simple; it’s physical so the fix is easy.
Keeping a chakra open is a bit more of a challenge, but not so difficult when you have awareness. Since mind, body, soul, and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area will help bring the others back into balance. Take for example, a wife, who has recently lost her husband. She develops acute bronchitis, which remains in the chest, and then gets chest pains each time she coughs. The whole heart chakra is affected in this case. If she realizes the connection between the loss and the bronchitis, healing will occur much faster if she honors the grieving process and treats that as well as the physical ailment.

The Chakras of Matter

The first three chakras, starting at the base of the spine are chakras of matter. They are more physical in nature.
First Chakra: The Muladhara is the chakra of stability, security, and our basic needs. It encompasses the first three vertebrae, the bladder, and the colon. When this chakra is open, we feel safe and fearless.
Second Chakra: The Svadhisthana chakra is our creativity and sexual center. It is located above the pubic bone, below the navel, and is responsible for our creative expression.
Third Chakra: The Manipura chakra means lustrous gem and it’s the area from the navel to the breastbone. The third chakra is our source of personal power.

The Fourth Chakra: The Connection Between Matter and Spirit

Located at the heart center, the fourth chakra, anahata is at the middle of the seven and unites the lower chakras of matter and the upper chakras of spirit. The fourth is also spiritual but serves as a bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The heart chakra is our source of love and connection.
When we work through our physical chakras, or the first three, we can open the spiritual chakras more fully.

The Chakras of Spirit

Fifth Chakra: The Vishuddha chakra is the fifth chakra, located in the area of the throat. This is our source of verbal expression and the ability to speak our highest truth. The fifth chakra includes the neck, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, jaw, mouth, and tongue.
Sixth Chakra: The Ajna chakra is located in between the eyebrows. It is also referred to as the “third eye” chakra. Ajna is our center of intuition. We all have a sense of intuition but we may not listen to it or heed its warnings. Focus on opening the sixth chakra will help you hone this ability.
Seventh Chakra: The Sahaswara chakra or the “thousand petal lotus” chakra is located at the crown of the head. This is the chakra of enlightenment and spiritual connection to our higher selves, others, and ultimately, to the divine. It is located at the crown of the head.

Clue to Aligning the Chakras

Awareness to which of your chakras are out of balance is key to aligning them. Our bodies are in constant flux between balance and imbalance. Unless you have an apparent problem in one area of the body, imbalances can be difficult to detect. That being said, it’s good to bring awareness to your body/mind and start to learn its signals and clues.
For example, frequent constipation can indicate a blockage in the first chakra. A recurring sore throat leaves clues to a blocked fifth chakra. Frequent headaches around the area of the forehead may mean your sixth chakra is blocked.
In the following articles on the chakras, we will explore each of the seven main chakras in depth as well as tips on how to align them.

The ABCs of Meditation

Whether you are starting a new meditation practice or want to deepen an existing practice, getting back to the basics and putting attention to your intention is a wonderful way to remind yourself of why you meditate. The alphabet is where many of us begin our journey as students on this planet, so here’s a little alphabetical reminder of the benefits of meditation.

A is for Awaken

Meditation is a way to awaken purpose, awaken health, awaken abundance, awaken connection, and awaken creativity. You can allow your true self to reveal and awaken your pure potential through meditation, including guided meditation or silent or mantra meditation.

B is for Being

To sit and be—without thinking, without effort, without judgment—is the gift of meditation. We are not our past, nor are we our future. Be present.

C is for Connection 

Connection is twofold: connection to self and connection to those around us. At first these might seem separate but as you connect to your source through meditation, the recognition that we are all waves of the same ocean deepens.

D is for Detachment

Detachment reveals the great paradox of life: In order to acquire something, you have to relinquish your attachment to having it. When you recognize the only genuine source of security is living as your true self, then you can more easily detach. Meditation helps you to get present and detach.

E is for Ego

According to Eckhart Tolle, author of books on ego like A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity. Ego likes to separate us from others rather than encourage oneness and connection. Meditation acts as a tool to silence the ego and allow the true connected self to be seen.

F is for Flexibility

People with flexible minds are adaptable, open, and resilient. Like bamboo in the wind, they are strong but pliable. Being flexible allows you to embrace your day rather than bracing for it. Meditation cultivates a flexible mind.

G is for Gratitude

Meditation reminds us how everything fits into a greater plan. It connects us with spirit, God, or the universe, and with this connection comes gratitude—gratitude for who we are and what we have. Gratitude has been proven to benefit our physical, physiological, and mental health.

H is for Happiness

Happiness increases when you meditate. Studies have shown that the centers for emotional processing are just one of the areas that change significantly with a meditation practice. People who meditate regularly report higher levels of well-being and are less bothered by aches and pains. This all translates to increased joy.

I is for Immunity

The immune system is highly influenced by your mind. Meditators get benefits to their immune system’s function, including increased antibodies and decreased inflammation.

J is for Joy

Meditation leads to joy. Once you believe that the universe is working for you and that everything is happening for your good, meditation can help by turning up your awareness and allowing you to witness the joy in every situation. You will begin to notice if and when you are struggling or resisting the natural flow.

K is for Karma

In its simplest form, karma might be described as an energetic loop where every action generates an equal force of energy that returns to us—what we sow is what we reap. In meditation, you tap into your ability to make spontaneously correct choices for yourself and for all those around you.

L is for Letting Go

Want to let go of a habit that doesn’t serve you? Meditation is a tool to allow you to step outside your pattern and change it. Meditation also helps you to let go of the past and forgive by training your mind to stay present.

M is for Manifest

Manifest can mean to reveal presence or make an appearance. When you meditate, you are more clearly able to manifest goals that align with your highest self.

N is for Namasté

This popular word, which you might have heard at the end of a yoga class, is both a spoken Indian expression and a symbolic gesture that means “the God within me greets the God within you.” Namasté is the recognition that we are all equal and share a common divinity.

O is for Om

The primordial vibration Om (or “aum”) is sometimes chanted at the end of meditation or as part of a longer mantra used throughout meditation. It is considered the most sacred sound in Hinduism and Buddhism.

P is for Peace

In the words of the Dalai Lama, “If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

Q is for Quiet

Meditation is practiced quietly in order to quiet the mind. Note that quiet and silence are not the same thing in this case. When the world around you is loud, busy, or filled with distractions, the quiet that meditation provides doesn’t occur by turning off these stimuli but by focusing elsewhere, which gives you the perception of quiet.

R is for Raja or Royal Path

Raja yoga is frequently referred to as the “royal path to yoga” because it focuses on practices that take your awareness inward and promotes the integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Meditation is one of these practices.

S is for Subtle Body

This is where the magic happens—outside any physical construct and in a non-local place. Your mind, your ego, and your intellect all work together to form the subtle body.

T is for Transformation

Through meditation the mind and the body are transformed right down to a cellular level. Telomerase is another “T” word. It controls the age function of cells and recent studies have shown that meditation can positively impact the aging of cells by lengthening the telomerase.

U is for Unique

Your meditation is unique to you; there is no correct way to meditate. Whether it be mantra or silent, with music or without, in a group or on your own, whatever style of meditation works to keep you showing up for your meditation practice is the perfect style for you.

V is for Vitality

Meditation leads to vitality—the ability to flourish with a balanced physical, mental, and spiritual body. When your mind is at peace and you have left behind the patterns of stress and anxiety that are so common in today’s society, vitality comes more easily.

W is for Wholeness

Wholeness is also known as unity consciousness or the state of enlightenment, in which there is complete freedom from all conditioning, including habit, past experience, and karma.

X is for Ex- …

Meditation is helpful in kicking unhealthy habits to the curb. If you want to be an ex-smoker, an ex-drinker, or an ex-anorexia sufferer, meditation can help. Check out the Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center for more information on how to release unhealthy habits and get on the path to wellness.

Y is for Yoga

Yoga, the way many people think of it, is the asanas or physical postures; however, yoga actually has four limbs: karmarajagyan, and bhakti.

Z is for Zen

"Zen" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character "chan," which in turn is the Chinese translation from the Indian Sanskrit term dhyana, which means “the development of witnessing awareness.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

5 Ways To Stay Grounded During the Holiday

Ah, December: you whirlwind of a month. Breezing in right after Thanksgiving and, in the blink of an eye, it’s New Years. Before you know it, whole weeks of your life have flown by—or at least it feels that way. During arguably the most chaotic time of the year, it’s easy to get lost in the holi-daze. Here are some tips to keep you grounded and centered during the yuletide months, so that you can show up for yourself and, at the same time, be fully present for everyone else in your life.

1. Value your time.

Be aware of your commitments, and ground yourself by investing your time wisely. When you feel rushed or chaotic, a molehill of a problem can easily feel like a mountain. Know your personal bandwidth, and choose your commitments based on that. When you overcommit, it causes stress both for you and the people you’re with. Make decisions on how you are spending your time this holiday, and stick to them.

2. Breathe.

Just finding time to pay attention to your inhale and your exhale can do wonders. Sneak in a minute to sit quietly with your breath. If you have the time to do a five-minute meditation, that’s even better. When you start to tune into your body and your internal cues, you can navigate the world at your speed and not get tripped up by everything going on around you.

3. Connect with others.

Sometimes during the holidays, you may just want to hole yourself up away from all of the hoopla, but connection is actually one of the best ways to get back on your feet. Find the connection that speaks to you—it may be taking a group yoga class or getting together with good friends—and allow yourself to be present in that moment without your phone or distractions. Soak up the energy, and create an internal good vibes vault that you can pull from over the holidays.

4. Spend time in nature. No Excuses! Our December is looking like our September

Take some time outside. Being in nature reminds us we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, and that can have a very grounding effect. Take a barefoot walk with family on the beach, go on a long hike, or simply find a moment to meditate outdoors—it’s as easy as sitting in your backyard. Our bodies recharge and reset when we are present in nature, and this can be a very healing experience.

5. Find gratitude.

One of the easiest (and quickest) ways to ground yourself during the holidays is to find gratitude. Start by closing your eyes and finding gratitude simply for this moment. Then move outward, and find gratitude for your friends and family. Keep expanding the circle, and find gratitude for neighbors and acquaintances. Moving outward, find gratitude for nature, for breathing—for all things. Tap into that practice whenever you feel overwhelmed, and things will start to move into a much clearer perspective, making life feel much more grounded and manageable.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It All Starts With Gratitude

This time of the year, it’s natural to take a moment out of our busy lives and reflect on the many things that we’re thankful for.

This time of the year, it’s natural to take a moment out of our busy lives and reflect on the many things that we’re thankful for. One of my favorite things to do in a yoga class is to set an intention to express gratitude for something that I’m thankful for.
It occurred to me as I was preparing to write this blog post that, while I regularly express gratitude for things outside of the yoga studio, I’ve never taken the time to express gratitude for the things that my own yoga practice and studio has added to my life. I set my timer for five minutes and begin to write. Here is what I came up with
  1. To learn from students
  2. To empower people
  3. To share stories with
  4. Laughter
  5. Connection
  6. Teachers who turn the fans on at just the right time
  7. Cool towel at the end of class (enough said)
  8. Learning to be silent for sixty minutes
  9. Developing greater flexibility - in my muscles and in life
  10. The willingness to be open and Vulnerable
  11. Laughing 
  12. Mentors who have challenged me to be just ME
And the biggest one for me was our community! Without the support from all of our students, the willingness to trust our teachers and go with us even when we are not really sure where that road will take us, laugh and to be vulnerable.  I wouldn't be able to do what I love every single day, I am so thankful for all of you... 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Essential Oils for Ear Infections/ Earaches

How great that we can treat ear infections without going to the doctor! I have heard several amazing stories of how essential oils have soothed and healed ear aches and infections. We haven't needed this protocol so far, but I am thankful to have it on hand. Did you know that 2 drops of Lavender and 2 drops of Melaleuca cost only $0.64! Compare that to the car gas, your time, co-pay, and the cost of antibiotics! And guess what, this is natural with no side effects and works so much faster!

Essential Oils for Ear Infections and Earaches:

  • 2 drops of Lavender
  • 2 drops of Melaleuca
  • 2 drops of Basil
Ear Infection: Apply a drop each of Lavender and Melaleuca and at any (or all) of the three points in the picture (behind, on, and/or in front of ear). Rub in and your done. This takes one treatment, unless it is a monster ear infection (like an antibiotic resistant one). If it's a serious infection, apply every 3-4 hours for a day and that should clear it up.

Click here to purchase oils

DISCLAIMER: This information provides benefits and uses of essential oils based on personal experiences and/or information detailed in medical/academic journals or other publications.  This information is not to be interpreted as medical advice meant for diagnosing illness or injured condition of the body or for prescriptive purposes and is in no way intended as a substitute for personal judgment or medical counseling.  Statements and ideas contained herein have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Anyone with a disease, illness, injury or medical condition should consult a qualified health care professional.  Readers are encouraged to consult their health care provider prior to beginning any cleanse, diet, detoxification program, or any supplement regiment.