Mindful Eating Workshop this Friday!

Join Nikki and Alisa at our Elmhurst studioAugust 17 6:30p – 8:30p , as they guide you through an evening of mindfulness. Learn the tools needed to help you cultivate a healthier relationship with food and your body. The first half of the workshop led by Nikki, Registered Dietitian, is designed to teach you the fundamentals of Mindful Eating, a non-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. The second half of the workshop will help you bring awareness and kindness to your body as Alisa guides you through an amazing “mindful” vinyasa flow practice. All levels welcome!

 

Sign up today in studio or by calling: Elmhurst 630.782.9642 // Downers Grove 630.969.0820

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 12.19.19 PM.jpg

August 2018 Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana

Our August 2018 pose of the month is Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon pose.

This is a beautiful balancing pose that taps into our lunar energies and recreates the sensation of the moon suspended lightly and spectacularly in the sky.

To Begin:

Start from standing at the top of your mat. Bring your right foot all the way back so you’re at a Low Lunge with your left leg, hands framing the left foot.

1. From here, engage your core, bring your right hand to your right hip and lift up your right foot and straighten your right leg out behind you, balancing on the left leg with your left hand on the floor. Gaze is at the left hand.

2. Make sure your left leg is strong by engaging your glutes and quads, lifting up at the kneecap, and anchoring the four corners of your left foot, rooting into the earth for support.

3. Now, rotate your right hip back, stacking it on top of your left hip. So instead of your hips being parallel to the earth, we want it to be parallel to the right side wall of the room.

4. Next, energetically extend your right hand towards the sky, palm facing the right side of the room. Lift the shoulders out of your ears by gluing your shoulders blades onto your back. Maybe imagine you’re holding onto a pencil in between your shoulder blades.

5. Stay with it for 5 slow, deep breaths.

6. Slowly come out of it the same way you came in. Repeat the steps for the other side.

For a variation, try to bring your bottom hand to your heart and float easily on your standing leg. You can also perform this a center against the wall to practice leaning back and opening your heart towards the sky.

Mindful Monday: Back to School – Another Lesson in Letting Go

Happy Monday, friends!

I’m incredulous that the 2018/2019 school year starts this Wednesday! I mean it’s not even the middle of August yet!

Such is the nature of life! In constant flux and movement. Which is why it’s so important to practice being present for each and every moment of life. The days can seem so long, but the years fly by on wings. I so clearly remember my son’s first day of pre-school. This week, he begins his senior year!

Change is inevitable. We can’t control it. We can’t fast forward or rewind. Our only sane, viable option is to embrace every single precious second as it unfolds, exactly as it is. As it is. Not how it should be. Or could be. But as it is.

Therein lies our greatest challenge and truest pathway to happiness.

To embrace life in all of its glory and misery, pleasure and pain, love and fear, belief and doubt, failure and success. All of it!

Sure, I could play the game of beating myself up for every mistake I made in raising my son. Or fast forward and suffer in anticipation of next year when he leaves for college. I’m really, really good at both!

But I see that these patterns of thinking create suffering for myself. And I remember that I really have no reason to suffer. And I definitely don’t enjoy it anymore.

And I remind myself that I’ve been in training for the past 17 years in the beautiful and brutal art of letting go. From the day he was born, I had to let go of having him all to myself within my body.

When I stopped breast feeding, I had to let go of being his main source of nourishment.

When I went back to work.

When he moved from his crib to his big boy toddler bed then later his loft/bunk bed.

Watching that tiny little boy walk into first grade all on his own, getting swallowed up into the crowd of much bigger kids.

His first sleepover at a friend’s house.

First time he closed off from me and didn’t need me to fix it.

Graduating from elementary school and starting middle school.

First day of high school.

First time he drove my car (I’m still traumatized by that one).

And now … senior year begins.

And I remind myself, this is all part of the training. And how it’s helped me so much in life.

It’s strengthened and conditioned me. Learning to release and let go of so many things. Learning to let go even when I’m not ready, because it’s time.

So I have one more year to train for the inevitable. And I remind myself that if I’ve done my job well as a parent, he will fly away with confidence and have all the tools he needs for success.

Sigh. Good luck to all of you parents out there! We got this!

Mindful Monday: Morning Mantra

Good morning, mindful ones!

Take a slow deep breath, and exhale completely. Do that two more times.

As you prepare for your day, remind yourself that you are the creator of your life today.

Acknowledge that many things will happen that are outside of your control. But it is always your choice how you react.

Everything that happens today is designed for your growth.

Commit to walk today’s path in gratitude and love.

You are here to learn and grow.

Be gentle and loving with yourself and all those you encounter today.

You are worthy of respect and kindness.

Show up for yourself today and honor the opportunity you have been given to be alive.

Choose to be happy today. No matter what happens, choose happiness today.

Find new things to appreciate in your life today.

Be a light of joy and love. Radiate peace and calmness.

Today will be an extraordinary day.

Mindful Monday: Smile, Breathe and Go Slowly

Happy Monday, mindful ones!

Smile.

Breathe.

Go slowly.

Probably the opposite of what you do on Monday mornings, right?

I distinctly remember jolting awake on Mondays near panic, grabbing my blackberry (old school, lol) and jumping out of bed. The race began.

That was my Monday morning routine for more than a decade. Smiling, breathing and going slowly … none of these things were on my endless to-do list.

It certainly was such a grind back then. And looking back, I see that so much of it was my own creation of stress and pressure on myself. Well hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

Through my yoga and meditation practices coupled with life experience, I have learned the magic formula of breathing and stillness.

We’re all just looking for a little more space. More room to breathe, more space within our tight joints and muscles.

To be fully alive and fully human, we need space to breathe and feel, and we need a strong, supple body to move. We all certainly know what it’s like to feel crowded, pressured, stressed. We’re familiar with encroaching deadlines and facing expectations.

There are all kinds of circumstances that create constriction. Some of them are internal: grief, or depression, or personal struggles. Some are external: emotionally and spiritually abusive workplaces, or family relationships, or systems of oppression. The challenge lies in carving out some space for yourself to simply smile, breathe and slow things down. Even for a few, quiet moments to breathe and just BE.

Do you know why?

Because you deserve to draw a full breath. You deserve to have room to breathe. You deserve to have the space to change and grow. You deserve to be honored, and valued, and treated like the precious soul that you are.

So add this to that endless to-do list as you rush around trying to take care of everyone else around you:

Smile.

Breathe.

Go slowly.

Mindful Monday: Patience

Greetings and blessings, Mindful ones.

In this golden age of Amazon Prime, overnight delivery, and open-24-hour drive throughs … Instant Gratification rules!

And our classic, good old-fashioned friend Patience gets a really bad rap. I mean, remember what it was like with the AOL dial ups back in the stone ages?

Enter our practice of yoga! This is where we transform the toe-tapping, teeth grinding, fist-clenching, caffeine-fueled adrenaline rushes into one, unremarkable, slow deep breath of awareness at a time.

As we work to reverse the tendency to push and do, we slowly learn to soften and BE. For me, yoga at times can be agitatingly slow and boring. It was a very long process for me to even stay for savasana. And it took many years before I would even consider taking a restorative class.

But there was definitely something that kept me coming back to my mat. It was the sense of total peace. The realization that underneath all of that thrilling and glamorous rushing around, there was a very unglamorous, plain and PATIENT space within.

I still work hard to cultivate this relationship. Patience is a great friend to have on my mat and off. On my mat, I learn to slow down and feel my body in each pose. To just wait with ease and grace. We have to slow down so much to allow the body to open and heal. And we learn to patiently accept our current limitations and barriers.

I searched for Patience’s hand at the Cubs game last week when I was trying to nimbly and quickly navigate the crowds to make it to the one place in the whole ball park that sells Rum Chata. I literally had to stop myself and slow myself down, and realize I was not in any hurry at all.

Throughout my regular, routine days, I find so many opportunities to connect with my dear friend. I may not always listen to her, but I know she’s always there for me.

Have a great week, my friends!

Mindful Monday: Balance

Good morning, friends! Happy Monday!

We work a lot on balance in our yoga practice. Balancing on one one leg, one arm, upside down. Even balancing on our heads and hands. And in acroyoga, we balance on other peoples’ bodies!

We learn that it takes focus and concentration to maintain balancing poses on our mats. And we see that these poses are dynamic, not static. Within the stillness of a pose, tiny shifts and adjustments are made to maintain balance. Sometimes we see visible shaking, other time it’s imperceptible to anyone else. The body makes corrections to help maintain itself.

And of course lessons that we learn on the mat are meant to be integrated into daily life.

There are so many things that can throw us off balance in life. Major life changes and transitions. Shocking news can literally knock you off of your feet. Even smaller, every day stuff. A major traffic jam can throw off your entire morning. One person on a team not managing their time effectively can throw an entire project out of whack. We’re constantly making these small adjustments as we seek stability.

And then there’s the challenge of balancing work, time with friends and family, and self-care. It’s so easy to fall out of balance in these areas. Overwhelmed with projects at work often leaves little time for rest. Or maybe every weekend is filled with social obligations with little free time to do what we want. When we burn it at both ends for too long, trying to please everyone and “do it all,” our bodies shut down with illness and we’re forced to rest and recover and do little else. Again the body is adjusting itself towards equilibrium.

Yoga has helped me immeasurably in learning the importance of working with mindfulness and awareness towards balance and stability. It constantly reminds me that it’s perfectly natural to fall sometimes! And the only option is to get back up and try again with as much grace and humor as I can muster.

Yoga demands discipline and satya, truthfulness with yourself. It clears the maya, illusions, and helps one to truly center. And it reminds us so much that it’s a daily practice.

And remember, dear ones, it’s yoga practice not yoga perfect!!!

Have an amazing week!

Pose of the Month: July 2018 Garudasana

Garudasana or Eagle pose. Headstand with eagle leg variation.

Our July 2018 pose of the month is Garudasana or Eagle pose. In observance of America’s birthday, it’s appropriate that we feature the pose honoring our national emblem, the bald eagle symbolizing long life, great strength and majestic looks.

Let’s begin in a wide Chair pose. Bring your feet hip width distance apart and bend your knees, pushing weight back into your heels while keeping spine straight.

Lift your right foot off the floor and cross your right thigh over your left thigh. Hug your thighs together. If possible, hook your right foot around your left calf to complete the leg bind. If that doesn’t work, it’s fine to leave your right foot unbound or even to lower your right big toe to the floor to act as a kickstand.

Tee out your arms and cross your right arm under your left at the elbow. Bend both elbows so that the forearms are perpendicular to the floor and bring your palms to touch as much as possible. You can also reach hands to opposite shoulders as an alternative to the bind.

Bring your gaze to a fixed point in front of you to help you maintain balance. Take several breaths in this upright position, wrapping your arms and legs together like vines.

Continue to try to stack shoulders over your hips, left elbow to shoulder height and draw fingers forward as shoulders reach back.

Repeat on the left side.

Mindful Monday

Happy Monday, friends!

Hope you had a lovely Fourth of July last week! It felt strange to have a holiday in the middle of the week, didn’t it? But it certainly made it interesting.

Pauses from our daily grind are such a great opportunity to step back and relax and just have some fun! And it also provides a great vantage point to simply slow down and touch base with what’s really going on.

We tend to go on autopilot as we move through our familiar, mundane daily grind tasks. It’s important to take a step back and make sure our thoughts and vibrations are in sync with our physical efforts.

As you begin this new week, take a few minutes for yourself to adjust your mindset and mentally prepare for your week ahead. Your thought vibrations will make all of your work run smoothly and efficiently with very little effort.

Have a great week, friends!

Mindful Monday: HB, America!

Happy Monday and hulllllooooooo July!!!

Boom! Just like that 2018 is half over!

This is a great touch point to pause and check in with yourself. Where are you in terms of New Year’s resolutions and goals? Yoga reminds us that it’s never too late to begin again!

This is also the time of year where we pause and celebrate the birth day of our beloved nation. We remember that, just like us, America has seen its shares of up-and-down’s. Times of prosperity and times of struggle. Times of war and strife and times of peace and harmony. Times of civil unrest and times, like the Fourth of July, that we put aside our ideological differences and stand together as one strong, proud America filled with love of country and national pride.

On a smaller scale, our lives are also filled with peaks and valleys. We get caught up in the day-to-day fluctuations that life throws at us. It’s so important to step back and check out the bigger picture to see how far we’ve come and how all that we have overcome has made us stronger, wiser and more compassionate.

For me, yoga is that opportunity for pausing and reflecting. It allows me to step away from the immediate demands and create enough space to take a higher level viewpoint. Things that may initially seem so urgent are proportioned. Situations are looked at from an entirely different perspective. And as I roll up my mat after practice, I tap back in with a fresh new start each and every time.

I hope that you enjoy your mid-week holiday, friends! All six of studios will be open with a limited morning schedule on Wednesday, July 4. So come in to detox before your big retox!