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Support Boston Small Businesses-Play #BosBINGO at Health Yoga Life

Boston, as we all know, has had a rough winter. Shoulders are tight from shoveling and moods are sour because of traffic. Thanks to Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston is about to have some fun! The Mayor’s office just announced #BosBINGO a way for all of us to support local businesses who suffered due to the inclement weather this year. And the best part is you can win some great prizes too!

Health Yoga Life is excited to support the initiative. We believe supporting our local community ensures a thriving community! So come fill out your #BosBINGO card at our Boston yoga studio.

“You can purchase something small” how about a new reusable water bottle? Or new yoga mat? Or even try a yoga class out!

We also qualify for “Let’s hit the gym!” Our yoga classes at Health Yoga Life are athletic, mindful and will stretch you out body and soul.

Why not “Pick up a gift for someone else” did you know Health Yoga Life offers gift certificates that can be used on yoga classes, workshops, and yoga clothes, mats, and jewelry at our Boston yoga studio.

Ready to learn more about yoga practice? Want to join a growing industry how about “Purchase something large” and sign up for our Boston Yoga Teacher Training!

BostonBingo

You can pick up your #BosBingo card at Health Yoga Life or print yours out CLICK HERE. To learn more about this awesome initiative CLICK HERE

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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

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!

First Yoga Class – by Zara Bielkus

Trying something for the first time can feel daunting. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how the experience will feel, and sometimes you just plain and simple feel apprehensive. This is natural, it is instinctual; after all, cautiousness helped humans survive the early evolutionary years.  Adrenaline pointed us toward and away from danger depending on desired outcome. And I rather speculate that Anchiornis,[i] too felt a small “rush” when it was the first of its kind to jump out of the branches and use its feathers as a safety net to glide to the ground below. Without risk takers, our maps would never have become globes. In our own lives we often have to make some decisions based only on partial information.

A first yoga class is often like that too, where we have heard it is good for us, we have heard it makes us feel great, but still we have no idea how we will achieve that in our first yoga class. This was very much my experience before my first class.  I had read all the FAQs for new students, I had all the props, but I still had no idea what I would be doing …or how! But at some point the preparation must give way to action, and I had to take a chance and go. No amount of Cliff Notes from my sister was going to help because within the first 10 minutes of my first class I realized only me, myself and I was having that new experience. The need to concentrate on what I was doing surpassed the feelings of uncertainty that I felt before coming.  And as a yoga novice a lot of concentration is required, but as you attend more classes the concentration needed decreases and movements become more natural, fluid, and desired.

Observing your mind during this new process is especially fun, as often your mental reaction resides with the status of your inner equilibrium. New to yoga I would arrive with something that I would ‘want’ from the class, like to relax, or to stretch my hamstrings. But after more and more classes, I realized I was there because in other aspects of my life I didn’t know what I wanted.  But the commitment to the yoga practice acted as an anchor to my thoughts so I could pause to contemplate, and then sail freely on.

So if you have heard the health benefits of yoga, and you have thought a yoga class is something that might be good for you, that is exactly the time to leave the shelter of the trees – evolve your self. There is no stipulation about how you have to ‘arrive’ to your first class: uncertain, excited, self-conscious, prepared…whatever. The only part you are responsible is taking thought to action.

Ready for Footsy? Review by HYL Sister: Zara

One of the most fun things about practising yoga is you can walk around barefoot all year round! It is easy to do in a hot yoga studio, where the hot floor heats your feet. But at home during the fall and winter the floor can be an uninviting place, like interstellar space, cold and filled with dust (bunnies). The only solution for keeping your tootsy ready for footsy are LL Beans slippers. Their original moccasin is owned by every member of our family; like Macouns, Chronicle and Nor’Easters these slippers are another iconic staple of a New England lifestyle. Somehow slipping into these beauties takes the bite out of the bitter part of winter, so comfortable in fact you almost want a bad snowstorm so you could justify not leaving the house, or the slippers, for the day.

At first glance, ‘sheepskin’ may seem un-yogic, but until the entire world is vegetarian, companies that find ways to utilise otherwise wasted by-products are okay in my book. If you feel differently, maybe check out their other styles made of wool or fleece.

My favourite way to unwind after a long week is to have a pamper-me-party.  I return all RSVPs with regrets, stay in and turn off any device that might interrupt my rest. Then to create a mini-retreat I’ll make a pot of fragrant tea, play relaxing music, and take a bath or do an at-home facial, all by candlelight. Then to ground the energy in my first chakra, I finish with massaging into my feet Dr Hauschka’s Rosemary Foot Balm, or Weleda’s Foot Balm, pull on some thin, cotton socks, and get them into those slippers! Your feet will be skipping with joy. By taking this time to go inward I feel more like myself when I go out by strengthening my foundation.

Bob Marley got it right when he sang ‘my feet is my only carriage…’. Caring for our carriage seems what can make or break a day – and it all starts with the soles. Some days my soles are rubber, some days my soles are au naturel, and of course on special days my soles are red. But a great way to winterise the soles of that carriage is the addition of these LL Beans Wicked Good© slipp-ahhhhs.

www.llbean.com
www.llbean.com

Adjusting to Heated Yoga. Guest post by HYL Teacher Karen Fabian

I’ve been practicing heated yoga for 13 years. I’ve mixed in other styles as well, including those that don’t involve heat and I can say I enjoy both and find both effective. However, I will admit that once it starts to get hot outside, I need to make adjustments in my practice so I can practice comfortably in a heated class.

In the past few weeks, the weather here in Boston has started to shift to warmer temperatures. With that, as expected, I’ve had an increase in questions from students about how to practice safely in a heated studio and they’ve had some questions about experiences in their body that they don’t normally feel when it’s cold out.

If you’re practicing heated yoga in the warmer summer months, here are ten tips to help you adjust safely:

The water you drink before class is just as important as drinking water after class. Many of us don’t think about additional hydration in the summer months and keep our same routine of liquid intake and then hop into the hot studio. In the warmer months, with increased sweating even before you arrive, you need to replace that hydration before you start class.

Replace your water with fluids that have electrolytes. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, like sodium and potassium. These need to be replaced so you’re not dehydrated and to keep your overall systems in balance. I like coconut water but there are many other supplemented waters out there you can try. Be aware if drinking sports drinks of the added sugar content. Coconut water is great because there is no added sugar.

Check your diet. As it gets warmer out, we need to adjust our intake so we aren’t overeating or ingesting heavy foods, especially if we plan on taking a heated class within a few hours of eating. When you eat, the blood goes to your digestive organs and away from the muscles, so overeating will work against you in class. However, we also need to make reasonable food choices before yoga. If you head to class before the lunch or dinner hour, make sure you select foods that are easy and quick to digest (and watch portion sizes). A banana, other fruit, nut bar or Greek yogurt are good choices.

Rest more. Some students never rest until the very end of class when the teacher calls for everyone to rest in shavasana. During the summer months, you may find yourself feeling drained before you even step in the door, due to the increased heat and humidity outside. As you’re practicing, take time to stop in Child’s Pose and take a few breaths before joining back into the flow. The investment in rest will allow you to feel more balanced when you leave. The key is to listen to your body and less to those thoughts that tell you that resting is a waste of time.

Modify the practice. As with resting more, you may find the urge to change the poses so that you feel more steady and grounded. This can be done in a number of poses by dropping a knee in a lunge, for instance, or using blocks on the inside of a leg instead of the outside. Resting and modifying in class is a sign of a mature student; one who listens to their inner voice.

Wear the right stuff. I’m not suggesting a particular brand here. I’m talking more about what you wear. You may find that cropped leggings are more comfortable than longer flared pants or lighter colors or better than black. You may also want to leave the loose fitting cotton for unheated classes and stick with tops with wicking material.

Leaving is not cheating. If you find you’re close to over-heating, step out of class for a few minutes and splash your face with cool water. Return to class, rest in Child’s Pose and look for the next logical point to jump into the flow again. This is not cheating. The trick is to have the movement in and out of class done mindfully so you can stay in the flow even as you step out and back in. This also minimizes distraction to the other students. Do let the teacher know if you do not plan on returning to class, or if you feel unwell.

Invest in good equipment. Just as what you wear can add to your enjoyment of class, because you’re not playing with the straps of your top or tripping over your pant legs, a good mat for a heated class and a thirsty towel will ensure your comfort as well. Take the time to buy your own. Studio rentals are great in a pinch but a slip free mat is worth it.

Make sure your post-yoga intake fuels your body. With proper hydration before class and during, the nutrition you take in after class will be a welcome event versus a ravenous attack on food and drink. Stay away from alcohol and stick with a good mixture of protein, carbohydrates and foods that are easy to digest. Ideas like brown rice and vegetables or chicken, sushi with rice or grilled fish with vegetables are some great options.

Remember, heated yoga is not something to be endured but something to be enjoyed.  Don’t be afraid to modify your practice schedule, mix in other styles of yoga, rest when you need to and be truthful about what would best serve you on the mat during the warmer months. You should never feel like you have to suffer through class to get the benefits of the practice.

In the summer months, with increased humidity and warmth, you may find your practice actually expands into new areas. You may go deeper into poses, may enjoy practicing outside in the sun, may find the freedom of hopping into the studio and then out in flip-flops to be incredibly liberating. However you fit in your practice this summer, make the time it. It will reward you in ways you never even imagined.

Yoga in the Summer: Hot or Not? Guest post by HYL Teacher Allison Jones

Yoga in the Summer: Hot or Not?

No one can deny the comfort of walking into a hot yoga room during the dark frigidity of winter. The heated practice not only warms the body but it helps keep one’s inner flame burning brightly. Heated yoga keeps the body supple and fluid during the cold months and helps to counteract mild depression and has loads of other health benefits. Basically, it’s always 90° and sunny inside HYL’s yoga studio.

After those seemingly endless months of wicked early sunsets, wild East Coast winds and Nor’easters, comes the first warm day of the year. Those days start to appear in succession and then all of a sudden it’s 90 degrees in Boston! It might seem like the logical time to abandon your heated yoga practice. Below are several reasons that will make you think twice.

Note: Health Yoga Life’s instructors carefully monitor the heat inside and outside the class room.  Adjustments to the heat are made for every individual class and some of our classes are not heated at all!

1.  Practising yoga in a heated room can help you acclimate to the summer weather. The body becomes better at cooling itself. The dog days of summer will be easier to bear since you are used to heat and humidity. When others are complaining of the swelter, you’ll be more comfortable and likely breaking more of a sweat. The fitter you are, the faster you sweat as your body develops more sweat glands. Who knew that sweating constituted bragging rights?! You will also secrete fewer electrolytes in your sweat, as more of it is absorbed by the body. To maintain electrolyte balance, be sure to drink an electrolyte-enhanced beverage before and after class. To replenish electrolytes try Ultima powder or Nuun tablets. We sell them at Health Yoga Life! Just put them in water and you are good to go.

2. Sometimes the extreme weather of summer is matched by extreme activity. You might find yourself eating or drinking a little too much at that barbecue, wedding or pool party. Balance yourself out by detoxing in a hot yoga class. By sweating, you flush out the toxins, keeping your internal organs functioning well and helping your skin retain a healthy glow. You may also partake in extreme sports during the summertime, making you more susceptible to injury. Keeping up your heated yoga practice will allow your muscles to stretch deeply. And let’s face it – who really stretches properly before and after going for a jog?  Yoga will help you maintain flexibility, strength and mobility, enhancing your performance during other physical activity. Half-marathon? Go get ‘em tiger – but book-end it with a date on your yoga mat.

3. Have you ever had one of those summers that just flew by? All of a sudden it’s September and you have that bitter-sweet feeling? Keeping up your hot yoga practice will help you to slow down and stay present. Training yourself to breathe deeply will have a balancing and calming effect on your nervous system. We are bombarded by a constant stream of stimuli in our modern lives with our smart phones, Facebook, email, twitter and Skype pulling us off center. Every moment of our day can be spent “multi-tasking” or in others words – thinking and doing multiple things at once, sacrificing present moment awareness.  It is detrimental to the body and mind to stay constantly in a hyper-alert state. Yoga helps to kick start the relaxation response. By truly calming down from the inside out we find an improvement in overall health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

         A new study from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body  Medicine at               Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) finds that elicitation of the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer — produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.                (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130501193204.htm)

Confirmation from science is validating but can’t hold a candle to the way you feel after emerging from savasana. Experience the benefits for yourself and make this your best summer yet. Join us for yoga class at Health Yoga Life!

So, the moral of the story is even though your friends might think you’re crazy, keep yoga on your schedule for the summer! See you on your mat.

The Hoboroll by GobiGear / Review by HYL Sister: Siga

Like recycling aluminum, paper and plastic, some things are best kept apart. Sweaty yoga clothes and the rest of the material universe form one of these conflicting relationships, which makes toting your yoga gear such a challenge when a wet clump of yoga apparel, and bliss, is what you’re left with after an hour and a half of heated, Vinyasa practice.

Conceived as a lightweight nylon backpack, the Hoboroll by GobiGear contains five tubular pockets and drawstrings at either end. You can stuff it with shoes, water bottles, sweat-engorged clothing, dry clothing, towels and, say, an Organic Food Bar, all of varying sizes, shapes, and levels of hygiene, then draw the ends tight to compress the roll. Made of mixed recycled and new materials, it’s a simple, comfortable way to pack a range of items for either a long trek or a quick dash to the yoga studio. The shape echoing that of a yoga mat makes for an easy fit in cubbies (bonus).

The Hoboroll is also a huge time saver! You can always spot a yogi running to class with a yoga mat slung behind their backs and toting a bag heavy of essentials. Yoga students rarely come to class early and rather slip into class right on time. Having the essentials compartmentalized is a useful way to find what you need when you need it. Ever find yourself in the dilemma at the start of class of either tossing all your apparel, towel and props out onto the studio floor, or rummaging through your dark bag looking, but mostly feeling, for that favorite headband?  You almost feel like a squirrel, searching for a treasure that is actually buried 8inches the other way. Well, no more! The Hoboroll makes for an easy transition from transportation to your mat.

The Hoboroll wins points for elegance, hygiene, time efficiency and sustainability!

Hoboroll

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Hoboroll for free from Gobi Gear as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations,  in consideration for review publication.