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Summertime Smoothness / Review by HYL Sister: Zara

Singing Summertime Sadness aloud in the shower is not exactly appropriate at my local gym. But my scrubbing routine on the other hand is the same whether there, at home or travelling. Because, it is Summertime and the living is…smooth (or at least it should be!). To glow, often all you got to do is smile, but smooth soft skin doesn’t hurt either. As the body’s largest organ it too can use a little TLC – after all it protects you, regulates your temperature, eliminates toxins and of course helps get a good sweat on during a heated yoga class in Boston. There are so many options for loofahs, and being a Libra, I used to have about half a dozen at one time in the bathroom. Then the moment came when I found the answer to my skin’s craving for clean – all natural Sisal Body Glove by Bass.  It lathers, it exfoliates, it dries quickly and it even helps increase circulation to the skin thereby improving elasticity, tone and glow factor.

For years I used brushes too, but still found my skin clogged-up near the places where the Lulu Lemon yoga top had been a few hours pre-shower. An added bonus is the fact that any soap or shower gel lather into oblivion and so I use far less. I am a long time loyalist to two washes (remember that Libra thing): Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castile and Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn.   The combination of one of those washes with the Sisal Body Glove by Bass makes applying lotion or oil afterwards almost unnecessary; it almost feels as if my skin is so clear I can hear it breathe.  Give the glove a deep clean by an occasional soak in diluted white vinegar& water, rinse and always dry after use.

Before you bare all on the beach, apply St Tropez tanner, or don a Mint Julep colored bridesmaid dress, DO brush up with the Sisal Body Glove by Bass.

NB: obviously for the sensitive skin of the face this would be too intense, good go-tos are Dr Hauschka’s or Liz Earle’s muslin cloths.


Click Here for retailer; most natural food/beauty stores, Whole Foods Market or the like stock the products above.

Donation Yoga Class for Children’s Tumor Foundation

February is one of my favorite months, even though the snow still comes down and the cold seems to last and last.   In February, love is in the air with cupid floating around, and I especially look forward to February as it is my birthday month.   This year on my birthday, February 15th, over thirty cities are participating in the Cupid’s Undie Run.  The run is a mile run done in  your skivvies the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day.  It is a fun community ½ day event that includes a good party and a fun run to support Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF). A family that is very near and dear to us has a child who is affected by this disease.  In yoga we often hear the Gandhi quote, “Be the Change”, well helping a cause like this allows us to do just that BE THE CHANGE for all the children and families who deserve new hope!

So what are we asking you to do?  How can you help? In honor of the run, Health Yoga Life in Boston is holding a Yoga Fundraiser Class on February 9th from 12:30-2:00 for more info click here.   Everyone is welcome!  But don’t worry we aren’t doing yoga in our underwear!

All money raised will directly go to support CTF!  Nothing feels as good as giving.  After class we will head over to the Tip Tap Room in Beacon Hill, Cambridge Street.  They are also making a donation to the cause, and we can all celebrate our collective achievement.  Two local Boston businesses joining forces to help their community, now that’s good karma!

So come be part of it!  Come spread the love this February!  Learn more about and sign-up for the yoga donation class click here and if you just want to donate to the cause and help us reach our fundraising goal of $500 please visit HYL supports CTF.  Even if you just donate what you would spend on a large Starbucks Mocha Latte, you will have helped the cause!

CTF run

Buttermilk Wrinkles – by Zara Bielkus

Like a Gemini, songs often have two (or more) tones, meant to evoke more than a single emotion from listeners; unless of course it is Prince and the simple feeling tends to be ‘I want to dance!’ But take classics like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons: Spring’… though generally uplifting, sombre notes halfway through lead your mind to imagine a favorite tree that did not survive winter, but when the notes crescendo and the end – the song is teaming nothing but sounds of promise and hope. During this interval you can’t help but imagine a nest brimming with tender Robin chicks in that same old tree. For me, even from one day to the next the same song can sound different, I don’t think I ever heard ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ in the same way twice.

This is because we all have different lenses that we see through when looking at a situation, and different lenses from each other. Something that looks one way to you likely looks different to the other people caught up in the same experience with you.  This happened to me poignantly with my grandmother. At 98 she has more wrinkles than those ancient medicine men in old Western movies, but hers are soft and creamy – like buttermilk.

I take many actions to stay connected with with the ultimate Grande Dame of our family. After “officially” becoming an adult our relationship could no longer be sustained on biscuits or rides to school. So I phone her and speak as if we are college roommates (should I wear heels or flats with my LBD?) or send her an Amaryllis (and listen about the changes in height or bloom from week to week).

For me to get to her home includes long flights, time changes, a scenic drive and eating three square meals a day. It is a good effort when the majority of the time there needs to be spent at home, quietly finding things to do together. Watching movies in front of her massive flat screen is somewhat relaxing, but during screening, I need to Google all the questions she has about the actors, because she is now blind; therefore, the plot tends to go over both our heads.  When I look through my lens, I sometimes see that keeping up my relations puts pressure elsewhere like time away from my husband, experiencing travel in chaotic, peak seasons, distracts me from work, and increases my waistline. This is my lens and as you see, sometimes it is not exactly La Vie en Rose.

During my last visit, I decided to splurge on some pink champagne, her favourite, to remind her of her life as a younger woman and the bubbly moments she shared with others, who I thought she must miss more than anything.

She raised her flute toward me and said, “if you ever wonder if anyone is thinking about you, waiting for you, I am. I always wait for you…” And after a slight pause, she continued, “I wait for you…even… ‘on the other side'”. She naturally tilted her head as she smiled, but I saw a small tear had welled in her bottom eyelid.

With those words, and seeing thoughts mirrored off a tear, in that moment I saw through her lens.  I saw that actually our moments together could be something she misses most. I saw to age, one must be brave. Her lens, viewing my commitment to visit, showed only love, one she now made timeless. Her lens showed me that I sometimes under value the things that make me, me.

In the festive season that brings you together with people you don’t always visit, perhaps the best gift would be to see through their lens. What you see may surprise you and teach you things you don’t know about yourself. The people you feel the most different from may prove the most challenging, but could prove the most rewarding. At the extreme, you would be able to find love in hate.

“The greatest magnifying glasses in the world are a man’s own eyes when they look upon his own person.” – Alexander Pope

The Hands Have It / Review by HYL Sister: Zara

Eyes may be the gateway to the soul, but you can’t hide your hands and what they say about you; unless of course you are the Queen of England and everyone can only question if those gloves secretly hide hideous cuticles. Short intentionally trimmed nails? Someone who prefers to text than call. Glamour synthetic nails? Types on a keyboard too much to maintain the length they prefer.  Bitten to the quick nails? A pianist with stage fright.  And let’s not even start generalizations about shape and… size!

Admittedly, upon making a new acquaintance, I would much prefer to bow than shake hands (mostly because Cold& Flu season terrifies me).  But since cultural tradition dictates against this where I live, I have found people’s blank stare usually translates to ‘how rude!’ when their hand is already stretched out toward me – and I don’t meet it. Very awkward.

As you can imagine, gloves are a staple of my wardrobe. But now we find Holiday Party season on our heels, and frankly, unless the Audrey Hepburn look is in, the little black dress is not served by gloves.

The only solution is Badger Balm – For Hardworking Hands. The only thing to say, is already stated on the jar – This Stuff Works! Never have my nails felt this strong, or hands this prepared to face the Antibacterial Soap at most establishments, including hosts’ homes. The Badger people got it right as its neutral scent won’t leave you smelling of a Provençal meal, and its Mini-Mouse size means you can sneak it into any clutch, skinny jeans pocket, or even your husband’s waistcoat (shhh!). If you wash out the sturdy, metal container once its finished, you can use it to take vitamins on the go, or fill it with another lotion/potion for a plane journey. I may have a drawer full of hand cream but that little tub is always within easy reach.

The range of Badger products is extensive, and they will probably have a fix for your physical demands. The image of a little badger dozing under a full moon on their Sleep Balm is so heartwarming that that alone makes me buy it again and again; though falling asleep is not the problem for us, rather dozing past the snooze button is!

Now, time to – shake – rattle and rub on the Balm


Surviving Family Holidays – Yogi Style – by Aida Bielkus

“Niyamas” is a yogi code for living.  Here is the Cliff Notes version of three of these principles – Samtosha, Tapas and Saucha –  which can be used during the holidays to ease stress.   Samtosha is the ability to find satisfaction and happiness even in the difficulties of life.  In other words it is not about believing in an external peace but really feeling an internal true peace and not letting external struggles affect you.  Tapas means to burn up negativity and create energy.  The holidays are a great time to look at burning off old habits that are no longer serving you and start new ones that you are passionate for and help heal you and your family.  Saucha is maintaining cleanliness within the body, practicing good hygiene, and consuming balanced food that cleanse body, and purify both the body and mind.

Here are applications of these philosophical precepts during modern-day family holidays.

1. Release the desire for your family members to change or be anything different than they are.

Practice Samtosha which is roughly translated as ‘contentment’. Feel content and grateful with what is.  This does not mean that you do not care. However let go of thinking that you can change someone else – the only person that you can change on this planet is yourself.  By changing yourself then you change your world, not the other way around.  You can change the way you hold on to the need for control.  You can change the way you react to your environment. You can change your own inner dialogue.  You can care for yourself deeply and take full responsibility for your own healing.

Let’s take “Uncle Charlie” for example.  You have gotten into wars of words with him in the past leaving you angry and bitter.  Before coming to Thanksgiving, sit down with yourself and acknowledge all of the ways you wish “Uncle Charlie” was different. Recognize that he is who he is because of all of the things that he has experienced in his lifetime.  Let go of your desire for him to change.  Accept him for exactly who he is. At the Thanksgiving table when he says something offensive know that this is coming from his stuff, do not try to change him.  Respond with a neutral, ‘okay. I hear what you are saying’ mentality.  When you accept him, you will feel the change you are looking for from inside of yourself.

2. A Family that Moves Together Stays Connected.

Create some Tapas, build enthusiasm and joy for life by creating energy through moving.  Sitting around the table for too long can begin to make everyone feel tired and grumpy.  Begin by emailing everyone ahead of time to bring their sneakers.  You will get Nay Sayers! Ignore them and carry on.  Organize the “family walk” after dinner.  Look at it as staging a campaign and even if you get only one other person to walk with you, you have made a mark.  Come prepared with a suggestion of a local trail or destination walk to get everyone out of the house to get some fresh air.  Sure, maybe your Grandmother with stay home but try to rally as many walkers as possible.  A great time to walk is between dinner and dessert.  For those sports’ fans in the group make sure you have a way to put the big game on pause or record it.

If the weather is not cooperating suggest a short game that involves moving like Charades!  Another easy fun game that gets everyone standing is the “Hands in Knot” game… everyone stands up in a circle and puts their hands into the center and grabs two hands that are not their own, without letting go the circle has to untangle and open up into a circle.  This gets everyone working together, acting like kids again and laughing.

3.  Balance yourself by cleaning house (your body) before and after the holiday.

Shaucha means to live purely.  During a holiday that is not always so easy, however bring in cleansing practices to balance the mind, body and spirit.  Drink lemon water before, during and after the holidays to help flush the body of unusual foods/drinks you may be consuming. Sweating is the body’s natural way of letting go of toxins so sweat before and after the holidays in yoga, or any other form of exercise or even sitting in a sauna or warm bath. Great yoga poses to rinse out toxins are Supine Twists, Chair Twists, High Lunge Twist, or simple stand -stretch up- stretch back- into Mini back bend.  Inhalation and exhalation a great way to oxygenate the body, even some basic stomach crunches can achieve this if you do them for long enough. Think of ways to get breathing, sweating, even if that means vacuuming at a turbo speed before the holiday! Also think about tidying your space by donating unwanted items or finally ridding your hard drive of unnecessary files. Doing, and feeling better, does not have to be complicated even when getting a big Turkey, Tree or Candles through that front door may be!

Strike out Stress: Three Things I Got Watching Game Four of the World Series – by Vyda Bielkus

When we stress out in life nothing works.   And when nothing is working we stress out.  Call it a catch 22.  Last night watching the Red Sox fight to stay alive, we all saw the bearded men crumbling.  Stressing out.  Nothing good happening.  As the innings marched on, more stress, more mistakes.  Then the Constant, David Ortiz gets on base.  Gets home.  Run 1.  Effortless.  Shortly thereafter, we heard he gave a rallying cry in the dugout, “when you’re putting pressure on yourself and you’re trying to overdo things, it doesn’t always work.”[1].    And with that the entire game switched!   Red Sox win it.   Has this been Big Papi’s secret all along?  Stress-less!

Who knew watching the Red Sox in this crazy World Series would remind me of the ways in life which we can reduce our own stress.

1. See everything in the present.

If you hang on to the past, like old records playing on repeat in the mind, or worry with every spare moment about tomorrow, life becomes a stress-fest!  Watching the 4th game, everyone in Boston still had one foot back in game 3: How could they call obstruction? What? And eyeing the future: Oh no what if we go to Fenway down two games?  With Big Papi’s first run in the 5th inning, we finally got to Game 4.  The game the Sox were actually playing, and the one all of New England was finally watching.  We were as they say finally- in the game.   So in life when you are worried about something that happened in the past or fearing an uncertain future, get in the game you are playing now.  The one that needs your undivided attention.  It will all of a sudden get really fun because you realize this is the moment.  This one.   And if you are really keeping your eye on the ball, the one that is flying at you at 90 miles per hour, if you are truly present you just might hit that home run. (Eternally grateful, Gomes!)

2. Stop isolating.

Watching the game, I was trying to figure out what was different about our team, the Red Sox, besides the scraggly beards.  And when John Lackey came out of the bullpen I got it.  The Cardinals may have some amazing individuals (I won’t mention any names, huhum Carpenter, Beltran, Holliday) but we have an amazing team.  For a moment, I think the Sox forgot that.  Then pitcher after pitcher came out to do their part, and even Koji Uehara was not going to let us forget his importance to the team closing down the game with that throw to Napoli.  When we are stressed out and life isn’t working, often we feel totally alone, with thoughts like “No one could possibly know what I am going through” or “I’m all alone”  or “Everything is on my shoulders.”   When you feel yourself isolating, it is time to get out of your own head.  There are two sure fire ways to do this:  express what is on your mind to anyone willing to listen or go do something for someone else.  Both will relieve the pressure of isolation.

3. Affirm your reality.

When David Ortiz comes up to home plate he is going to connect to the ball.  Fact.  Does it always happen? Obviously, not, but more often than not…it does happen.  He wants a third ring. Fact.  Is it guaranteed?  Of course not, but is he imaging it on his finger?  Probably.  “Presence,’’ said Gomes. “Any time this guy steps in the box, there’s a presence.’’[2]  There is no question in Papi’s mind that the bat will hit the ball (at least that is what his presence confirms).   In life when we are faced with challenging circumstances, affirm the thoughts you want to make your reality.  Don’t affirm the demon thoughts that are just trying to take you out.   The one’s that pop up like fly balls, like “you suck” or “you’re not good enough” or  “who do you think you are”?  Instead, feed your strength not your weakness, believe that you can and you will.   So much of our time is spent stressing, trying to control life to be a certain way.   By seeing reality clearly you can approach each situation with presence and clarity knowing what simply needs to be done.  No stress about it.  Now the truth is we don’t know how this Series will end.  And what I bet is that Big Papi also knows, ring or no ring, life goes on.  The world still spins the next day.   So you might as well really enjoy the game.

I love Lucy / Review by HYL Sister: Aida

I was recently given a Lucy Activeware yoga outfit by my sister Siga, who got it as part of a goodie bag at an evening event. Specifically included were the Dashing Dots Space Dye Tight pants and the Dashing Dots tank top.

Besides my first impression, which was that this was a very generous goodie bag, I also have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and feel of the clothes.

The first time I put on the pants the first thing I felt was comfort and gentle support. They are made of a combination of nylon, polyester and Lycra and they have hit the fabric combination jackpot. I have now worn them once a week for a couple months. And they have performed great. They do whisk the sweat away until of course I am drenched through in a heated class, yet even then they do not feel sticky. I like that they are tight to the legs. This beats the old style pant that hangs with all kinds of extra fabric you don’t know what to do with. And I like that they made a little bit of a seem right at the ankle so that the pant leg does not creep all the way up around my calf.

The tank top is comfortable as well. The inner bra is adjustable! How many times have you put on a yoga top and not been able to breath? I let the inner bra detach from the inside on both sides and that gives me plenty of room to breathe. The tank has just enough fabric. It fits the body and flatters the body – well cut.

I have now worn the whole outfit once a week for the past couple of months and it has washed and dried easily. The materials reflect that they have been created with thoughtful technology. Having had this outfit I am ready to purchase another, as the costs are reasonable when compared with other retailers. Taking a look at their website I am impressed with the colors, prints and other styles. Besides yoga they also carry running and training styles. I look forward to padding my yoga wear wardrobe with some Lucy! Dashing Dot Pant and Tank

Proud Bostinno Nominee! – by Zara Bielkus

Health Yoga Life is happy when people choose healthy. Health is priceless wealth and with all the choices out there, no one should feel it is out of their reach. A BostInno writer did just that when they attended a heated yoga class in Boston, our Power’n’Flow, in place of a happy hour – read their impressions here. Through perhaps this and other unknown means, Health Yoga Life has been nominated by Bostinno as a #50onFire Sports & Fitness Nominee! We are THRILLED.

BostInno is the ‘next gen of Boston News’ and is an exciting provider of information to all us loyal Bostonians; it has the inside scoop on things to do, where to be and what is going on. Boston is a tight community, perhaps punching above its weight when compared to other cities in the States, and Health Yoga Life is happy to call it home. From having a love-hate relationship with the Green Line, to seeing BSO musicians playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ (‘cos its root, root, root for the Red Sox!), you know you love Boston when ____(fil in the blank)_____.  BostInno is a great place for us to see what we are all up to!

Thanks for the BostInno #50onFire nomination! Fingers crossed for a win; oh, okay and hopefully one for HYL too!

Monday Night Music / Review by HYL Sister: Zara

“Birthday Party” and “Monday Night” can feel almost contradictory to the body – I know because I’ve just been there, done that. With every movement I made to get festive my body made movements to just turn on the NFL and call it a day. This moment required a little external intervention: M&Ms? Green tea? Music! Whenever I need to move, whether it be on the treadmill or out the door, music is my go- to, to get going. The creation of a playlist is modern man’s god given right.  Fleetwood Mac? Whiz Khalifa? Robert Plant? Emmylou Harris? Jimmy Cliff? Dire straits? Your list I am sure is as varied as mine but something that belongs in everyone’s library: Martynas. Recently holding No.1 in UK classical charts the eclectic mix of music on his CD has something for even the most fickle listener. New artists seem to have a distinctive edge to their music where ambition and caution are threaded together through the cords. It ever so slightly reminds me of the young Rafa  with cords of his own in the 2004 Davis Cup, a look he no longer carries- and we miss. Amazon and Itunes would be your first port-of-call to get your hands on this young, passionate player’s album, at this point still an import to the US; be ahead of your friends with this playing at your next dinner party!

The music selection is particularly nice at the yoga studio because without many lyrics your mind can go where it wants, instead of being guided toward an expected emotion. Be evoked not led. Revel in the deliverance from your day  – whether it be through meditation, yoga, walking the dog or in my case, turning up that iPod.

This album, and a little help from my friends, that Monday I resolved to be and make a TFZ (Twerk-Free-Zone). Don’t mention, don’t see, and avoid at all cost anything related to that stupid word. That is the best move I made so far. After taking a chance on a week-night, I now know thanks to friends and music, come Monday, it’ll be allright.


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