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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.

Mama-Ste! The 3 Most Important Things My Mother Taught Me – by Vyda Bielkus

Mama-ste! The 3 most important things my mother taught me.

I have a great relationship with my mother; in fact all of my 3 sisters do too.  We jokingly call her the ‘Guru-Ma’ – the all-knowing wise woman.  Looking back at our lives together, I have come to realize the number of important life lessons she has taught me are countless.  But as we approach Mother’s Day, I wanted to share what I feel are some of the most important.  So many mothers (moms to be, new moms, and even moms of 30+ years) struggle with putting other’s needs ahead of their own, and feelings of guilt, that I believe what I learned from my mom can be an inspiration to all. Take good care of yourself.

1. Take good care of yourself.

Many moms who come to my studio tell me they find it really challenging to make time for yoga class when they have kids… and then when they do come, they feel bad that they are going to class instead of being with them.   Taking care of yourself is one of the biggest gifts you can give your kids. Yes taking care of YOURSELF!  When my sisters and I were still very little (all under ten) our house was full of crazy!  There were four of us girls (one who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2). My mom had just started a business of her own which literally had an office in our basement- and our dad was no Mr. Mom.  With all that swirled around her, I remember on Saturday mornings my mom would head out.  She wouldn’t wash the dishes from breakfast, she didn’t really care if we were dressed or not, she just would kiss us good bye and take off, leaving us with our dad.  One of us would always be crying at her feet as she would be heading out the door, but out the door she went.  As soon as the door closed behind her, my sisters and I had a ball!  We’d run around the house, play pretend, get outside in the mud and just had fun, not thinking about her at all.  When our mom came back she was always glowing and more relaxed.  As the pattern continued, we made the connection that “exercise at Dunphey’s” made our mom happy, which in turn made our entire household happy!    She continued to role model taking care of oneself for us.  She learned Transcendental  Meditation (TM)  and it became a household rule that when mom meditated we’d be quiet.  Even our friends, and yes at times that meant eight kids in the house, each of us with a friend, knew “TM time” meant quiet time.  We learned to respect her needs.  Although we might not have been able to put it into words back then, we understood that when mom took care of herself she was more present when she was with us.  She wasn’t as distracted or stressed.

2. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

Help is always available.  Moms don’t suffer from having to juggle a lot (that is the fun of life), moms suffer because they believe they need to do it alone.  After our parents’ divorce, my mom, probably out of sheer need was able to ask for help.  She enlisted her sister, our uncles, our grandparents and nannies to help her raise us.   When she would go off to work and leave us with Buba(grandma) and Bocius(grandpa) we didn’t feel less loved; in fact it made us feel more loved.  We always knew as kids someone was watching out for us and had our back.  We also got to learn so much from the richness of our relationship with our extended family.   But there were countless other ways my mom taught me that asking for help is the only way to have your needs met.   When two of us were in really big transitions, she dreamed of sending us to a private girls’ school.  She knew she wanted this for us.  The school would not only support our growth, but also help her raise us because of its structure.  In many ways getting us into the school was as much of a good thing for us as it was for her (a busy single working mom).   The school is one of the most exclusive, private schools in the country, and there was no way she could afford to send us.  Instead of seeing this as a block, she asked for helped.  As our luck would have it, the school granted us scholarships.  I loved my school!  It was some of the most amazing years of my childhood.  From watching my mom ask for help, I got it: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.   Sometimes we don’t ask for help because we perceive it as not available.  Start looking around for help and you will see it everywhere.

3. The Power of Sorry.

There were the moms that made it to every sports game and then… there was my mom.  I think she made it to one of my games and maybe a few of my sisters’.   There were the moms who picked up their kids right on time every time and then… there was my mom.  Lots of times my mom was late, but one of the bests was when she was a whole two hours late, and to top it, she was at the wrong school! The thing about it is that my mom would always and still says sorry.  She was genuinely sorry if our feelings were hurt, she was genuinely sorry if she misunderstood or was given conflicting information, but the secret is she didn’t feel guilty.   The truth is, in life, you will sometimes have to be in two places at once, or a work meeting will take priority, or you will make a mistake.  Be sorry not guilty.  I still observe this amazing gift my mom has to say sorry to just level the playing to field.  To make whoever she is “disagreeing” with feel and understand that the relationship matters more than whether one person is right or wrong.   And FYI, for all you mom’s out there who feel guilty when you miss a child’s “important” game, recital, or school, function,  I used to think my mom was way cool, that she couldn’t come to my games because she was working!

Dr. Bronner’s Classic Soaps / Review by HYL Sister: Zara

Lemon Water. Coffee. Facebook. Porridge. Strawberries. Sun. Avocado. Good Morning America. Kashi. Eggs. A supine twist. Tea. Rain. The Today Show. Marmalade.  We all have our morning favorites, the small rituals that make our routine a moment of solace before the day barrels on taking us for the ride of our lives. And then there is the obligation (before facing anyone who can’t see you in your robe): a shower.  Somehow it marks the end of the me morning and begins the we day. The same way that there are countless choices of cereals, there are also countless choices of body wash, soap and suds. Maybe to make it easy on those of us who are not morning people, the choices are much the same… grapefruit this, raspberries fields that… I for one have never enjoyed smelling of a larder, but I can understand the need for variety in life.  In general most of us know what we don’t want, and for bathing that includes things like parabens, sulfates, and other yuckies that not only dry our skin but also damage the ecosystem. Many brand-named body soaps and washes contains lots of these and other yuckies. The solution? Switch to Dr Bronner’s!

This all natural, castile soap is seriously the only bottle you need in the shower/bath, so you can finally get rid of that cluttered shower caddy full of hotel miniatures. It suds, it lathers, it cleanses, it softens skin, it rinses clean.  Incredibly concentrated you only need a few drops on a loofah before meringues of foam burst up and aromatherapy diffuses through the steam. An active yogi I sometimes must bathe more than once per day,  which is annoying  for someone who (much like grizzly bears) detests getting water in her ears; but this beautiful bottle makes it a little less dreadful because it makes my skin feel so good. Being the largest organ, we must learn to care for the skin as one entity, and keeping it smiling will improve our overall wellbeing.  I even use it as shampoo, but my hair is pretty resilient so I can’t say what it would feel like on colored/permed or treated tresses.

I even use the Baby Mild (scent-free) for hand washing my delicates; so far no damage to silk stockings but DO test patch to determine if it is suitable for your clothes, and because of its lathering power do not use it in a washing machine!  The company makes many specified products, including Sal Sud, a cleaning solution, and balms, hand soaps, conditioners,  shaving gels etc. In all honesty, I find the one, original bottle can do all the work that any soap, shampoo, or shave foam does, but try out their other ranges if you like targeted lotions and potions.

Just like all the big-brand names, it has scents for any mood: Rose, Lavender, Baby-Mild, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Almond, Orange, Peppermint, Green Tea, and yes even Citrus! For the past ten years my go-to has been Tea Tree – I am pattern person – but upon trying Green Tea, bold but tender, for the first time I could be tempted to alternate.  Pouring a bit into a half filled bath, with a soft face cloth, is a quick way to clean up before dinner after a hot-yoga class.  All the writing on the bottle makes for good bath time reading, and you won’t have to worry about newspaper ink staining your fingertips!

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Classic Soaps

Dr Bronners

Gone CocoNUTZ! / Review by HYL Sister: Zara

Not many drinks move me into action to writing. There are lots of things I could do rather than sit and write, like looking at bouquets for my sister’s upcoming wedding, or hanging my yoga clothes to look like the spectrum. But then there is Raw Coconut Water by Harmless Harvest… and all the other drinks that I now simply call “everything else’.  Per usual, one of my sisters led me to the path of least resistance with this drink; a bit like the time when we were six and I had the choice of letting her cut my  hair – or – letting her friend do it, who happened to be younger than she was.

“So which one do you want?” she asked, when we were standing in front of an endless wall of health drinks by the check-out at Whole Foods.

“Ah…I…um,” I looked over at her catatonically; a Libra, the choices simply stunned me.

“Have you had this? You haven’t? You must!” her voice elevated so much that my hair brushed passed my ear, “my treat!” Two bottles of Harmless Harvest’s Raw Coconut Water landed in her trolley.

Before I knew it Just one Look by the Trollies went on loop in my head – but this was not just one look, but one taste! There really should be a warning label on drinks this tasty; fortunately the only side effect would be continuous trips to the market to buy it. Coconut Water can be used as an alternative to saline to treat dehydration, but you don’t have to be sick to enjoy it. Replacing electrolytes and hydrating it is a natural pairing for a hot yoga class. This brand has never been heated, qualifying for part of a Raw Diet.  The taste is totally different than any other Coconut Water on the shelves. Perhaps a bit of a splurge against other drinks of its class, but if you need a pick me up to remind you that life is full of fresh and fabulous things to experience, then definitely go for it! Plus, against other real term costs, like a Coca-Cola at the movies, or the co-pay at the doctor’s because of a GI problem caused by the “sodas” in life, it is a bargain.  This drink has got me searching out more Raw Food diet options, because many are next to zero on the glycemic index.  I only wonder when I take my husband for his first Raw meal at SAF, will he feel the same crazed sensation I have for Raw Coconut Water for the restaurant’s “Linguini Funghi ” (dehydrated Zucchini strands with pickled mushrooms)? Hmm. Perhaps I will take a sister so the path of least resistance is also
clear to him!

REACH FOR a Harmless Harvest!