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Om Yoga Blog
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3:56 pm

Stop and Smell the Roses






Yoga. The first time you heard the word you probably had visions of one of the following:

1) A swami master in loin cloths sitting in lotus pose and levitating above his mat
2) A long limbed super slender woman twisted into some impossible pretzel while smiling blissfully
3) A room full of people on mats breathing with eyes closed and chanting words you don't understand

Add the word POWER in front of yoga, and another vision comes to mind: A warm or hot room full of fit and toned sweating bodies moving quickly from one pose to another as a maniacal teacher paces the room calling out pose names in sanskrit faster than you can recite your ABC's in English.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. I have no problem at all with any of the above 4 visions. And while I doubt I'll levitate any time soon (and certainly not in a loin cloth) I have been known to attempt pretzel-ish poses, chant with my eyes closed, and sweat in a fast-moving class. There is a time and place for each of these versions of yoga; that's the beauty of the practice! It can be adapted to fit any particular individual, and even the same individual at different times. It's not every day I can do ninety million chaturanga pushups... some days I just need to sit and meditate.

I offer you a challenge here, especially those of you that like to practice version number 4 from the above scenarios; sweating profusely while moving quickly from one pose to the next. Yes, it's a great workout. Yes, you get your heart pumping. Yes, your muscles get warm and stretched. BUT... Sometimes we rush those flows, barely even taking the full inhale / exhale before transitioning to the next. Take for example Surya Namaskar A (sun salutation A). Typically this is cued as follows:

1) Inhale as arms rise
2) Exhale to fold
3) Inhale to halfway lift / lengthen
4) Exhale to fold
5) Inhale to rise again
6) Exhale hands to heart center

This little series only takes 3 full breaths. As you sit here reading this take note of your breath at its current rate and see how many seconds it takes to breath three times. Heck, maybe even set the stopwatch on your fancy smart phone and see for yourself. If you're like me, probably anywhere from 6 - 12 seconds, depending on how shallow you normally breathe and whether or not you started to breathe more deeply when I called your attention to your breath (ha - caught you!). Now reset the stopwatch and take those 3 full breaths reeeaaaaaallllllyyyyyy fully. Concentrate on pulling your breath all the way down into your diaphragm, below the belly button on the inhales. On the exhales let all of your air leave your body completely, pulling your belly in. For me, that took 37 seconds. Over 3 times the amount of time when I was just breathing "normally!"

No imagine that you bring this deeeeeeep breath into your practice while doing that Surya Namaskar A above. Take a full 30 - 40 seconds for each round. Take this a step further into your practice and think about your vinyasa flow. The steps are cued as follows (from a down dog):

1) Inhale into high plank
2) Exhale lower into chaturanga
3) Inhale into upward facing dog
4) Exhale into downward facing dog

None of these poses are actually held as poses - it's just one big transition. I call this the "touch and go" vinyasa. I had a friend years ago who flew small planes, and on one occasion I had the opportunity to fly with him. As we flew around central Ohio he radioed the local small airports and we did "touch and go's" where we came in for a landing, but then just taxied and took right off again. When you flow through your vinyasa are you just doing a touch and go, or are you actually "landing" the poses? To get your body used to slowing down, take a full round of breath in each pose like so:

1) Inhale into high plank, exhale as you hold, inhale once more
2) Exhale into chaturanga, inhale as you hold, exhale once more (imagine there is a bouquet of gorgeous roses underneath you at this point. You don't want to collapse and get poked by the thorns, so just hover and inhale deeply to smell them!)
3) Inhale into upward-facing dog, exhale as you hold, inhale once more
4) Exhale into downard-facing dog

Notice anything different? When we stop and smell the roses as we flow our practice brings new opportunities to the mat. We have a chance to feel each pose more fully we realize that the challenge in some poses, like chaturanga, is in the holding not just the executing of the transition to the pose. We more fully appreciate the muscles of the body holding and supporting us in the pose. We can more mindfully scan our body to ensure proper alignment for injury prevention. And most importantly we give our minds an opportunity to slow down as well. It's hard to let your thoughts wander too much when you're holding that chaturanga!

Give it a try the next time you're practicing alone, or even in class. Don't worry - most teachers won't care if you're moving slower than their cues. Take your time... stop and smell the roses!



Namaste, 

By Pam Juliano



I have been practicing yoga since 1999 when I was invited to a class at a local library. Initially trained in the Iyengar style I spent several years in Fort Lauderdale (FL) as a student at the Broward Institute of Yoga. Over the next 7 years I subbed classes and coordinated a children's yoga program while at the same time completing my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. In 2006 I relocated to Fort Mill where (after a short break from my practice to have another baby) I discovered Vinyasa style yoga and my practice began once again in earnest. I obtained my RYT-200 in Vinyasa Yoga and am excited to be a member of the Om Yoga team! I am mom to two wonderful daughters (aged 19 and 6) and step mom to another two kiddos (aged 13 and 11). I have a passion for healing through movement, meditation, energy, and holistic approaches including essential oils and herbs. On top of that I work part time as a bookkeeper and tax return preparer which keeps my nerdy side satisfied. I truly believe that my purpose in life is to enrich the lives of others through my service to them.



11:32 am

Prenatal Yoga Q&A with Kiesha Battles

prenatal yoga

What is Prenatal Yoga?

We provide a supportive environment for women to practice yoga postures and breathwork specifically designed to create space for the baby and to ease and manage discomforts associated with pregnancy. 

How can yoga benefit my pregnancy?
Prenatal yoga offers many benefits for expecting mothers and their new babies. Practicing yoga during pregnancy has been proven to help prepare the body for childbirth. There are also a number of emotional and spiritual benefits. Physically, prenatal yoga strengthens the muscles used in childbirth, enhances flexibility, increases circulation, reduces lower back discomfort and swelling around sensitive joints, alleviates nausea and other common pregnancy discomforts. Spiritually, the intentional breathing, meditation and inward reflection of yoga provides a deeper sense of awareness of oneself during pregnancy and can nourish the mind and soul. It also aids emotionally, while in preparing to welcome a new baby into the world. 

When can should I practice Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal classes are highly recomended for women in all stages of pregnancy. After birth, with your doctor's consent you should be ready to resume gentle yoga exercises to restore body tone, strength and flexibility. We recommend starting with our Yoga Basics and Slow Flow classes.

Can I still take a non-Prenatal Yoga classes?
Expecting mothers with a regular yoga practice prior to pregnancy can continue practicing. Inform the instructor that you are expecting and share any concerns/information you would like to share. The instructor can provide specific modifications as needed. 

When are classes held?
Prenatal Yoga - Saturdays at 11am-12pm. 

What should I bring to class?
Bring your yoga mat and water. Small blanket and/or pillow optional. We have blocks, straps at the studio and we also rent mats and sell water. 


Namaste, 


Om Yoga 


About the instructor:


Kiesha is a Yoga Alliance Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher. She has been teaching yoga in studios, gyms, spas, churches, classrooms, and more in the Charlotte and surrounding area since 2011. She completed her 200 hour training through Kristin Kaoverri's Subtle Yoga and Personal Transformation Program (2012). She also holds certifications in Kids yoga through the Grounded Kids Program (2013) and Prenatal yoga through Enlightened Yoga (2014). Kiesha has a background teaching Power, Vinyasa, Deep Stretch, Restorative, Prenatal, and Kids yoga. Her studio resume includes teaching at Gotta Yoga, Okra, Yes 2 Yoga, Mint Hill Yoga, KadiFit and her classes at the YMCAs are highly popular. She has created yoga programming for senior, kids summer camps, elementary and middle schools, and more. In addition to yoga, Kiesha formerly has over 15 years of corporate experience in business with an expertise in project management, IT audit, and training and development. Kiesha holds a Masters of Asian Studies focused on religion and philosophy. It was during her academic studies where she encountered Iyengar Yoga and has been practicing for over 10 years. Kiesha's style is traditional yet contemporary blending breath connection, alignment, hands-on assists and providing options for all levels. She's currently continuing her Hatha Yoga studies with Maya Breuer, Senior Kripalu teacher and Prenatal studies with Amani Murray, RPYT.

Kiesha Battles

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1:03 pm

Funky Yoga is not our style Y'all!



Greetings, 

Saucha is one of the five Niyamas, which are the observances or practices of self-training. Saucha is the practice of cleanliness and purification of body and mind. This is done through Asana (Yoga poses) and Meditation. Now let's talk about the cleanliness and purification of your yoga mat, yogitoes (towel), and your yoga clothes. Here are some ways to clean your yoga gear naturally, without chemicals!


Clean Your Yoga Mat:

In a glass spray bottle fill 3/4 water 1/4 distilled white vinegar, and 35 drops of your favorite antibacterial essential oil. We use tea tree, lemongrass or eucalyptus for a fresh and clean scent at the studio. Try to use a glass spray bottle, some essential oils can start to degrade plastic if left for too long. Spray your mat and let it sit for a few minutes in the sun. The sun is the most natural anti-microbial remedy there is. If it's a rainy day wipe your mat down with a clean wash cloth after you spray this special magic potion on it!


Defunk your sweaty Yoga Clothes and Yogitoes:

Your Yoga gear is Funky, trust me you do not want to be that person! You also don't want to buy new clothes just because your favorite yoga outfit stings the nostrils. First of all, make sure that you hang your sweaty clothes and yogitoe towels to dry before you place them in the dirty laundry basket. This will most likely prevent the build up of funky bacteria. Then every once in a while soak your clothes and yogitoes in a bucket, bathtub or sink with 4/5 water and 1/5 distilled white vinegar for an hour. Vinegar kills bacteria and neutralizes odor. After soaking your clothes you can wring out the excesses water and throw the clothes in the wash for your usual laundry cycle.

For more information about essential oils for cleaning, natural remedies and overall wellbeing contact our dear friend and yoga student Michele Aschenbrenner. She is a local Doterra consultant. Michele will also be at Om Yoga this Friday for our Meditation Workshop to share a few tips and some great information on how to use essential oils for yoga and meditation!

Namaste, 

Maria Lages

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11:10 am

Breaking down a Vinyasa

Breaking down a Vinyasa

Vinyasa means "breath-synchronized movement." Vinyasa yoga is a series of poses that create a flow and we practice inhaling, exhaling and moving smoothly from one pose into the next. When we flow through Chaturanga, Up Dog and back into a Downward Facing Dog, we often cue it as "Vinyasa". This is an integral part of most our yoga classes and it is used to warm up the body, to reset between sides or before beginning a new sequence. We made a video to give you a better understanding of safe form so that you can enjoy these transitions in your practice without causing any injuries. 

Click here to watch!


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11:09 am

A resolve to practice yoga

I just wanted to share my thoughts on how/why oftentimes we make New Year’s Resolutions and “fall off the wagon” not long after.
 
For me, it’s a simple case of subjective versus objective.  New Year’s Resolutions are objects; things we create that are by nature, inanimate.  So when someone says, “My New Year’s Resolution is (xyz),” they may or may not carry out that resolution.  If for example, I say, “My New Year’s Resolution is to practice yoga three times a week,” its something that I may or may not do.  I have to decide whether or not to do it.
 
On the other hand, if I say, “I resolve to practice yoga today… I resolve to practice yoga three times a week… I resolve to practice chataranga push-ups this morning before I go to work,” I have spoken an action.  “I resolve to” is an action phrase.  I resolved on New Year’s Day to practice yoga three times a week, with the week beginning last Monday.  That is EXACTLY why I peel my butt off the sheets on Tuesday and Thursday at 5am.  That is exactly why now I committed to getting into bed before midnight on Monday and Wednesday, so that I am not be too tired to go to Sunrise Yoga.  When people makes themselves the subject of an action versus turning an action into an object, they actually DO what it is that they resolved to do.
 
To me, subjective case will always hold more power than objective case, because subject applies to action and objects, well they're just objects.  
Matt Talford, Author and Om Yoga Student

 

 


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3:09 pm

Purna is Better Than Perfect

In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, the main character lives a life of adventure and fearlessness in his daydreams. How often do we do the very same thing, though maybe not on such an exaggerated scale? How often do we consider possibilities, but never act on them? How often do we really employ the Nike slogan, and JUST DO IT? More importantly — what’s holding us back?

 

Blame it on perfection. Many of us believe that we can, and should, work to achieve perfection. The right job, the right school, the right clothes, the right life. If our teeth aren’t perfect, we get braces. If our bodies aren’t perfect, we diet/workout/get lipo. If our relationships aren’t perfect, we embark on fixing them or looking for other ones. This underlying current of perfection often causes us to live based on what appears to be right — not necessarily what is right for us.

 

Yoga teaches us that true perfection is only found in being whole. “Purna” is a Sanskrit word meaning “complete” or “whole”, and it describes the state we strive for through our practice. For the character Walter Mitty, being “stuck” and  lacking the self-empowerment to truly live his life kept him locked in his daydreaming world. “Stuck” energy manifests in many different forms, from our patterns of thought to the way we forge ahead on the required quests for perfection — our kids’ achievements, our lawns, our abs, our cars, our hair, our careers.   Yoga teaches us that everything in this world arises from one single energy, or Shakti (meaning power or empowerment).  This energy is always full, complete, perfect, and joyful. Author Sally Kempton notes, “That one energy (shakti) is as much in the dirty dishes in your sink as in the notes of a Mozart violin concerto. When we are in touch with that energy, all dichotomies—light and dark, good and bad, male and female—are resolved, and all apparent imperfections are revealed as part of the whole.”

 

For this week’s class, I designed a practice meant to help create shakti. With shakti, we can become “unstuck”, we can live more fearlessly, and we can cultivate purna. Because when we’re whole — we’re perfect.

#####

Playlist:

Road – Nick Drake

Stay Alive – Jose Gonzalez

Replay – Zendaya

Jigsaw Falling Into Place – Radiohead

Dangerous – Big Data

Ways to Go – Grouplove

Far Away – Junip

Step Out – Jose Gonzalez

Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men

Sail Away – David Gray

Lake Michigan – Rogue Wave

Adore You – Miley Cyrus

Pink Moon – Nick Drake

This Years Love – David Gray

Waiting for my Real Life to Begin – Colin Hay

Quintessence – Theodore Shapiro

 

Author : Buffy Kelly
Buffy began studying yoga as a means of cultivating balance and ease in her life. She earned her 200-HR teaching certification in Tantra Yoga, studying under Hollace Stephenson and Johnna Smith. Today, yoga is an integral and deeply meaningful part of her and her family’s lives. Buffy loves sharing the power of yoga , and offers athletic, joyful practices geared toward developing happiness, fun, balance, and grace in stressful lives. Buffy is an award-winning Creative Director, Copywriter, and business owner. Her advertising agency, Tattoo Projects, was named Small Ad Agency of the Year byAdvertising Age Magazine, and #2 Fastest-Growing Privately-Held Company byCharlotte Business Journal. Her work has been recognized by Communications Arts, London's Contagious Magazine, Creativity, and Adweek, and has earned creative awards from international ONE Show, Philly Gold Awards, New England Hatch Awards, National ADDY Awards, New York Festivals, and many more. Buffy has been named one of the Top 25 Advertising Working Mothers in the Nation by Working Mother Magazine and Advertising Women of New York, and a 2011 Woman Extraordinaire by Business Leader. Buffy finds great joy in everything to do with her family, pets, and flower garden. She is a lacrosse mom, dance and gymnastics mom, and a daughter of the original McCoy clan, of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, from Pike County, Kentucky.


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