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.

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.                (

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.

Eye spy…something that I like! / Review by HYL Sister: Siga

SULTRY, smoky, urban-raccoon eye make-up can be sexy on a girls’ night out, but… rather nightmarish after a hot yoga class! I often see students leaving a sweaty yoga class realizing that their eye make-up has run down their cheeks and they fiercely wipe it away with their prune-y fingertips.  If you don’t remove your eye make-up before class it’s guaranteed to drip and melt if it’s not waterproof. Waterproof mascara and liners work great but you’ll still have the residue of your powered eye shadow glittered on your face like a Madonna video.

OUR bodies sweat a lot in a heated Vinyasa class and our faces revolve and rotate in as many angles as our neck allows. My biggest pet peeve:  feeling the sweat trickle down my hairline at the crown of my head, down my forehead and straight over my eyelash in Down-Dog.  One natural trick to keep that from happening is a headband! PRANA headbands have been part of my uniform for over ten years. There. That is one problem solved, now onto the next… if you wear make-up on a regular basis here is a must try to avoid raccoon eye in class!

IN my typical 15 hour day I’m managing Health Yoga Life, teaching yoga, taking yoga class and enjoying dinner out with my fiancée;  I allocate about 10 minutes for my face make-up needs in the morning and have it down to a science using eye shadow from MAKE UP FOR EVER.  In my daily eye make-up application I use MAKE UP FOR EVER – Pearly Waterproof Eye Shadow Pencil. This water-resistant (i.e. sweat-resistant) is super long lasting and leaves a flawless finish in a soft luminous texture. Best part – it NEVER creases on your lid and stays put! There are a ton of different colors  purchasable at SEPHORA. Then after class, presto! Sweep up your hair into a ponytail and your off for your girls’ night out!

PS Just be sure to clean off all make-up before hitting the pillow! The rule in our house was: if you are not old enough to remove it then you are not old enough to wear it! Haha.

Make Up Forever