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#MondayMantra -Yoga Off The Mat

Yoga is synonymous with flexibility. But yoga isn’t just about flexibility of the body. Yoga is about flexibility of the body and the mind. And we need both to live life energetically, with ease and vitality!

People with flexible minds are resilient and adaptable. They bounce back more easily from hardship and, more often than not, perceive challenges as opportunities.

Like flexibility in the body, a flexible mind is an attitude that can be cultivated with practice. The physical practice of yoga allows us to practice adaptability and increases our metal flexibility.

As you flow through postures, notice your thoughts – How do they change from one breath to the next? What are you saying to yourself? How do you react when you fall out of posture? Where are you able to change ingrained patterns of thinking? Seeing how you can adapt to evolving situations on your mat with positivity and resilience, and let go pre-set responses that no longer serve you, allows you to be more adaptable and resilient off your mat!

DON’T MISS OUT!

 Saturday, 5/28, 1:30-3:00 p.m., Stretch for the Jimmy Fund Charity Class to Support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Join HYL instructor Courtney Mussina for a gently-heated Power Vinyasa class to support 2016 Pan-Mass Challenge rider (and yogi), Jessica Lack, and Dana-Farber. $20 Registration. SIGN UP HERE!

 Memorial Day, Monday, 5/30. HYL will have a REGULAR Class Schedule! (6:30 a.m. Groove ‘n Flow, 12:30 p.m. Power ‘n Flow, 4:00 p.m. Power ‘n Flow, 5:45 p.m. Power ‘n Flow, and 7:30 p.m. Groove ‘n Flow).

 Tuesday, 5/31, 7:00 p.m. @ The Tip Tap Room! Join us to celebrate the end of the 30 Day Yoga Challenge! Appetizers will be provided. Winner’s Raffle at 7:30 p.m. Raffle winners will be announced!

Love our studio?! Vote for HYL for Best Yoga Studio on the 2016 Boston A-ListVOTE HERE! Share your vote on social media with the #bostonsbestyoga & be entered to win a $25-$50 HYL Gift Certificate!

Questions about our upcoming events?! Contact us at info@healthyogalife.com or 857.350.4124.

Namaste!

Health Yoga Life

#WellthyWednesday: 5 Fab Ways to Use Cacao

It’s HYL #WellthyWednesday!

During our last Yoga retreat in Mexico we could not resist bringing home some of the elixir of the Gods, the Mayan ceremonial drink, cacao powder. This exotic super-food is actually available everywhere now, the trip just reminded us of some its great uses. It is an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and mineral rich.  The words cacao and cocoa are used interchangeably. You may be more familiar with cocoa. The word “cocoa” is simply the English word for “cacao”.

The cacao referred to here has been roasted and ground to a fine powder.

5 Fab ways to use Cacao!

  • Drink it. Put about a table spoon in the bottom of a mug and add a little hot water at a time. It forms a paste, slowly add more water to fill a mug. Because it is a fine powder adding to much water too quickly leaves powder floating.
  • Smoothie it. Put some in your favorite morning smoothies with fruit and yogurt.
  • Snack it. Mix it up with some peanut butter and a touch of honey. It makes a delicious spread on top of sliced apples or crackers.
  • Mask it. Make a homemade face mask with cacao powder, olive oil, and brown sugar. Apply a light layer to your face and meditate for 20 minutes. Rinse clean.
  • Spice it. Add it to a hot sauce, bean chili, or any great Mexican dish you may be making. It brings out an amazing depth of flavor.

Tips for buying cacao powder

  1. Look for certified fair trade & certified organic.
  2. Make sure it is unsweetened.
  3. Most of the cacao you buy will be roasted. If you buy raw it is cold pressed and there is no consensus as to what constitutes raw. The raw is less palatable and you have to make sure the company is reputable and removing harmful bacteria in raw processing. The raw however may have more health benefits than roasted, the jury is still out on that one.

*For more #HYLMMM tips like this sign up for our on-line Mind, Mood &  and Muscle™plan.  Includes 12 months of healthy eating and motivational coaching tips, yoga classes and meditations sent directly to your inbox!  Available HERE

HYL Sister Review:  Ironing it out! No Binding for Belly Here!

As a woman who is primarily vegetarian (I eat fish occasionally), I suffer from low iron in my blood.  Having low iron levels is literally a real drag. You feel sluggish, tired, and lack energy for normal activities. It can make exercising feel much harder, cause brittle nails and pale skin.  Low levels can also cause hair loss. The list of symptoms for iron deficiency is long and unpleasant. Causes of iron deficiency are varied, including but not limited to menstruation, diet, genetics, pregnancy.

At yearly check-ups, my doctor would tell me to take iron supplements to help increase my iron levels.  Every pill I popped I stopped taking.  Why?  Because iron can bind you belly and constipate you.   There is nothing worse.  I used to think the only choice was either a sluggish body or a sluggish belly.  Then I found  MegaFoods Blood Builder, and my iron levels increased with no digestions changes.  I have been taking it once a day in the morning after breakfast for years now.   My iron levels are normal.  My energy levels are normal.  It is the only iron supplement I have ever been able to tolerate.  It even includes some vitamin c which aides iron absorption.

blood_builder_stahlbush_60

Megafood makes it supplements form whole foods fruit and vegetable sources.   With Megafoods headquarters right over the border in New Hampshire, we Boston based yoga sisters love spreading the word about this New England company.  We trust their products so much we have recently added them to our boutique at the Health Yoga Life studio in Beacon Hill.

The Perfect Yoga Retreat is Waiting for You-by Vyda Bielkus

Health Yoga Life and Life Source Retreats

As a business owner in the yoga and wellness arena, I practice what I teach.  Through meditation, yoga and Health Yoga Life coaching I find a quicker connection to self, can eradicate limiting beliefs and move forward with choice and action confidently. And still we live in world (perhaps cosmically and consciously designed) to take us far from center almost on a daily basis.  Recently, I was given the gift from a dear friend to attend a retreat.  As I am usually the one leading the retreats these days, I must confess, the first day or so I was continuously nagged by a feeling that I needed to do something. Whether that was to check-in with my sisters about our yoga studio back home in Boston or teach a yoga class to my peers at the program, my mind was like a ping pong ball, back and forth back and forth “what can I do now to distract myself from being present”.  As I observed this in my mind and body, I noticed a rushing feeling of thoughts and sensation.  It was a slow-leak of my own energy, and it was time I stopped the drain.

Retreats are a wonderful opportunity to slow down and see what is really going on behind the scenes of our own life; what gives us energy what takes it away. If we never pause we simply do not have the time to be with ourselves long enough to know what makes our hearts come alive or what hinders or grows our light.  Retreats like our “Ultimate Liberation: Free the Mind, Empower the Body, Awaken the Soul” retreat in Tulum allow for self-exploration at the deepest level.  As the resort is right on the beach the ocean waves provide the melody for the week.  The water moves in the water moves out. The breath moves in the breath moves out. The perfect reminder that there is an easeful flow to life and if we feel like we are constantly swimming upstream it’s a calling to change direction.

As my time went on at the retreat, I paid full attention to what I needed to do that week to receive the most from my experience.  As my life outside the retreat is spent surrounded by people and in constant communication with others, I knew I desperately needed alone time.  So I gave myself permission that week to be with me and created lots of moments of being quiet with myself. Through this, pain and grief that I was carrying that was blocking my freedom of being was released and healed.

I didn’t think I needed a retreat when my friend gave me this gift.  Of course I was excited to spend a week in a beautiful place, but I didn’t have any intentions for the week.  However, as retreats will do, this time away gave me so much more than I ever expected to receive.  I am refreshed, more present, and have more energy for the things that are important to me.   Join us this winter Jan 21-Feb 5 and be transformed by the journey! Learn More Click Here

Happy Anniversary Health Yoga Life! Thank YOU!

Today Health Yoga Life celebrates our 3rd year anniversary! Come to class today and after enjoy a cupcake and some apple cider. Watch our community video and read below about why we opened HYL. Read to the end to learn about an awesome anniversary contest happening this week at the studio!

What led us to open up Health Yoga Life our Yoga Studio in Boston 3 years ago today? We saw a sign! A sign from above – well… more like in a window! At least that is what we  always tell our yoga students, in explaining how we four sisters came to open our yoga and coaching business, Health Yoga Life in Boston.

In 2011 the economy was stagnant, and all of us faced some career transition. That’s when Vyda saw a small for lease sign in a second story window in Beacon Hill. Details of the space seemed doable for a yoga studio, so it brought us to the moment of choice: continue to pound the pavement or take a leap and go into business together. Examining our priorities, we knew that if we wanted to lead happy, healthy, and balanced lives we would have to own our own business. More traditional career paths, although may afford other benefits, often strip you of the chance to prioritize health over profit. Being in business for ourselves affords big freedoms, most significantly giving us control over our time. We work a lot to make our business a success, but even so we all feel that we have significant work-life balance, which has made living our dream a daily reality. Health Yoga Life opened its doors on 11.11.11 and we are proud to be rolling into our 4th year. It was a lucky sign!

Thank you to our students, staff, volunteers and teachers! You are Health Yoga Life!! Join us for yoga this week and everyone who comes to class this week is entered to win a $111 credit toward classes at our Boston yoga studio!

How to Make These 5 Fear Inducing Yoga Poses a Little Less Scary This Halloween!-by Vyda Bielkus

Halloween can be a fright but yoga should never be! It is true that sometimes you haven’t fully developed the strength or flexibility to move to a more advanced variation of a pose. However, sometimes it is just your ego that is holding you back. Your ego screams at you from within “Don’t try that pose! You’ll never be able to do that. You might fall.” So let’s tackle the ego first. To grow in yoga you must be willing to fall out of poses. In fact to grow in any area of your life you will most likely have to stumble along the way. I have found that the amount of stumbling and fumbling almost always directly correlates with the reward; meaning the more times you fall the higher you rise. In a pose, right at the edge of going too far and falling out of the pose is exactly where you will keep growing and transforming the body and mind. So give up the ego and give yourself permission to fall. And if you do fall out, smile. It will ease the bruise to the ego.

Now let’s tackle some poses that you might find a little scary at first but with a few simple tips you just might be able to master!

Crow Pose
The easiest way to learn to take crow or to help yourself out in crow is to put a block under your feet. By lifting the feet off the earth you can begin to play with lifting one shin then the other onto the upper arms. With crow it can be feel scary to be lifted off the earth, but the block underneath your feet acts like a security blanket. You’ll be flying in no time.

Crow with Block Health Yoga Life

Jumping Through
In a vinyasa or flowing style yoga class there is a fun transition of jumping your legs through your arms to come to seated or to transition to your back. If the thought of being able to pike your legs through your arms sounds intimidating and challenging, it is time to face the fear. Grab two blocks. Put one hand under each hand in downward dog, engage the core and jump and shoot your legs through your arms. FUN! If you’ve been sweating and the mat is a little slipperier all the better; your legs will slide right through like a Slip ‘n’ Slide.

Jump Through 1 Health Yoga Life

Jump Through 2 Health Yoga Life

Jump Through 3 Health Yoga Life

Full Back-Bend/Wheel and Dropping Back to Wheel
If you have graduated from your bridge pose and would like to try a full back-bend but somehow your mind still has you pinned to the mat. Here is an easy way to lift off the earth. Bring two blocks to a wall or a stack of sturdy books. Now set your hands fingertips forward away from the wall on the block and push. By having the blocks at the wall you can really push with power. The resistance of the blocks pushing back into your hands will help pop you up.

Prep for Back Bend Push Up Health Yoga Life

Prep for Push Up Back Bend 2 Health Yoga Life
If you already take full back bend/wheel then your next stage is learning to drop back. WHAT? Through mid-air? Yes dropping back from standing. This requires practice and awareness, and definitely pushing past the fear barrier in the mind. To start working on moving past the fear and conditioning the body, set yourself up against the wall facing away from the wall, but not too far away from the wall. Bring your hands to the wall and walk your hands up and down the wall to mimic dropping back and coming back to standing. Practicing at the wall this way will teach you about the leg and core strength and coordination you need to be able to drop back for wheel pose.

Prep for Drop Back Health Yoga Life

Prep for Drop Back 2 Health Yoga Life

Tripod Headstand 
Going upside down onto the top of the head can induce panic and anxiety, mostly because it is just something we don’t have a need to do in everyday life. But finding a headstand inversion is very calming, core strengthening and reduces stress and even stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands.
If you find it challenging to take regular headstand take the fright out by trying a modified tripod headstand. From wide-legged forward fold widen your feet away from each other, keep the finger tips and toe tips in the same direction and slide the hands backs, bring the crown of the head to the ground so that the head and hands make an equilateral triangle(even space between all three sides). Then start to walk your feet in and your knees up onto the upper arms. This will start to familiarize your body with bringing you weight onto your head. But because you also have your hands on the ground, your upper body is bearing some of the pressure and weight. As you feel ready you can draw your legs toward the ceiling by engaging your core body.

Tripod 2 Health Yoga Life

Tripod 3 Health Yoga Life

Side Crow Extended Legs Variation
Just thinking of coming into Side Crow Variation can make your heart beat faster and the sweat droplets start dropping from your skin. Take a breath and follow these easy steps to try this pose the next time you want to try and fly! Come into a revolved crescent lunge pose. Grab two blocks under your hands and bend the arms to create shelves with your upper arms. Engage the core and gently start to rock your body weight onto your upper arms. Try it and in trying you just might lose the very thing that had you avoid it in the first place, the fear!

Prep For Side Crow Variation Health Yoga Life 1

Side Crow Variation Prep 2 health Yoga Life

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Of course if all else falls in yoga remember to just Bee!

Siga Bee Health Yoga Life 2

Happy Halloween!

Model: Siga Bielkus

One Year Plan – By Liz Swenton

Yoga is a part of my weekly routine because of its ability to help me through life’s stressors and challenges. In exactly a year, I will be celebrating one of the biggest and happiest days of my life – my wedding! While exciting and joyful, I am aware that some moments this next year will be stressful, chaotic and overwhelming.

imagesI recently created a “One Year Plan” which includes personal goals to help me look and feel my best on the big day. Number one on the list is to continue with my weekly yoga practices and not letting anything get in the way.

Here are three benefits of a yoga routine to help prep brides for their big day:

  • Breath – Vendors (florists, DJs, hair/makeup), cake tastings, spreadsheets…Having a perfect wedding requires a lot of planning and can often cause you to feel overwhelmed. By taking three deep lions breaths, you will suddenly feel at ease and back in the zone.
  • Reduce Toxins – A heated, sweaty yoga class helps release toxins from the body (think champagne toasts at the engagement party and bridal shower) leaving your skin glowing and beautiful.
  • Toned – It’s no secret that yoga has the ability to give you a strong core, toned arms and an overall leaner look.

Some brides-to-be may strive to lose ten pounds by their big day. My “One Year Plan” is to rather gain all of the benefits yoga can offer so I can look my absolute best in my wedding dress – both mentally and physically.

As the Health Yoga Life sisters approach their three year anniversary, I would like to thank you all for your support to date and I look forward to practicing with you leading up to my wedding!

Y.O.G.A. – by Liz Swenton

As we wind down Stress Awareness Month, I took the opportunity today to step away from my computer during lunch and reflect. I reflected on my practice during the month of April, what yoga truly means to me and why I can’t imagine my life without it. Then I jotted down my own personal acronym for the word Y.O.G.A.

Youthfulness There’s something extra-special about the hour or hour and a half of “playtime” on the mat that is just so appealing to me. Where else in life do you have the opportunity to balance on your head, fall down and laugh about it? And better yet, nobody in the class even noticed!  Yoga is like recess for adults.

Opportunities – At Health Yoga Life, there are so many wonderful teachers, which means many opportunities to learn different techniques from seasoned practitioners. After being a HYL student for nearly two years now, I’m happy to say that I’ve developed a practice that works best for me. It’s a hybrid of power poses, active breath and meditation which I’ve learned from the best.

Gratitude – Starting or ending the day on my yoga mat is a blessing. Just knowing that I have the physical and mental strength to arrive is a blessing in itself. You’ll often hear instructors say, “arriving is the hardest part” and I’m a firm believer in that. Whether you hit snooze a few times and struggle to get to the 6:30 a.m. class or rush out of work to make it to the 5:45 p.m., be grateful that you are present.

Awareness – One of my favorite parts of practice is that it has taught me to be more aware of my physical and emotional being. If I have a stomach ache, breathe into it. If my head hurts, breathe into it. Twice a day, I find myself doing a full body scan, similar to Savasana, at my desk. This allows me to check in, release any unnecessary stress and recharge for the remainder of the day.

If you’re reading this and have been a HYL student for quite some time now, what does Y.O.G.A. stand for to you?

If you’re newer to the practice, I encourage you to check out many of the amazing classes and workshops that HYL has to offer and come up with your own acronym for Y.O.G.A.

*Photo credit – HYL’s recent teacher trainees in Downward Dog

Yoga Connects You to the Perfection You Seek – by Vyda Bielkus

Many of us know someone who struggles or struggled with body image issues.  From February 23 to March 1, Health Yoga Life will be honoring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, because we believe that those who struggle should not struggle alone.

“I Had No Idea,” is the 2014 theme selected by The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). This theme was selected so that we could all bring more awareness to the symptoms, struggles  and signs of eating disorders.  As yoga studio owners and Health Yoga Life Coaches, my sisters and I see and know intimately individuals who have greatly benefited through self-care techniques like yoga and coaching to begin to change their relationship to their bodies.   In today’s world of Kim Kardashian being called fat while being pregnant, it’s no wonder women and men of all ages are afflicted by eating disorders and body image issues.

You can’t open a magazine or watch TV or walk down the street without “perfection” (as decided by someone else and photo-shopped by yet another) being projected as a uniform norm.   It’s like we are stuffing down any interest in individuality, true beauty, and the light that makes us each shine.  Eating disorders and body image issues are complex.   From criticizing our thighs to starving ourselves to death, each of us finds ourselves on a different spot on the very wide spectrum of self-love and self-worth.

A master yogi, BKS Iyengar said “It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”  The self-care practice of yoga can help us to heal and begin to understand what being a spark of the divine truly means.  Through observation of our thoughts we begin to understand that we are more than our thoughts, that we are more than the records that play in our minds of what others define us to be or what our inner critic shouts.  What yoga, meditation and coaching can help us see is that the perfection will never be found outside ourselves and can only be found within ourselves.

Let your mat be the judgment-free zone each of us so desperately needs!  By practicing yoga and connecting your body and your breath, you can delve deep into the exploration of the divine and begin to honor and respect that.  This will then translate to the actions and choices you make off your mat to do the same.