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vinyasa flow pic

I am asked often what is yoga and what do you do in class. I also hear lots of comments about why folks do not do yoga. Everything from “I am not flexible at all” to “I cannot sit still that long” and my very favorite “I tried it once and I just didn’t like it”. I have lots of answers to those excuses, such as the reason you aren’t flexible is because you are not doing yoga. Also, if you can’t sit still maybe you should practice. And, finally, if you only tried it once how do you know you don’t like it…maybe try a new teacher or different style or better yet, just try it again with an open mind. But, all those responses would be somewhat sarcastic and definitely put someone on the defensive. So, I instead try to smile, nod in understanding, and offer an idea of what I love about yoga.

Today I want to speak a little to vinyasa flow yoga. As most of you know, there are so many types of yoga, and I enjoy just about any type. But, at the heart of my practice and the essence of me as a teacher is always vinyasa. Vinyasa means flow or moving from posture to posture linking the breath to movement in a harmony that quiets the mind, relaxes the body, and heals the soul. To me vinyasa is like a moving meditation that gets me out of the thoughts and chatter of my mind and into the moment so that I can experience each pose and each sensation in my body in a very focused and aware way.

Now, it isn’t like this every class and it most certainly didn’t start out this way. It took time for me to become comfortable with the postures and the names of the postures. It took time and a level of trusting my teachers to attempt new and challenging asana. It took time for me to accept myself and my practice as it is with no self-doubt and criticism – and those things still pop up from time to time. But, the overall lesson for me time and time again to find my flow, let go of the struggle, and move into stillness. This is hard and it takes practice, but the end result is so worth it.

So whether you are looking to find a little flexibility or trying to de-stress and be still or maybe you are just looking for something different – Try a vinyasa class – and try it more than once. It may be just the class that propels you to new ways of thinking about your health, fitness and life.

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So I am teaching a lot of yoga for athletes these days. I think there are two common misconceptions.Athletic-Recovery-Yoga-Benefits_png

1. You are not an athlete. Folks seem to think that if they are not training for an Ironman or they are not in the race for the Olympics that they are not classified as an athlete. The American English Dictionary definition of athlete is “a person who is proficient in sports and/or other forms of physical exercise”. So, by definition you are an athlete if you engage in physical exercise on a regular basis. Everyone who is active and exercises needs yoga for athletes to stretch over used muscles and strengthen weak areas.

2. Yoga for Athletes is athletic yoga. Some folks tell me they haven’t tried my yoga for athletes class because they thought it would be too advanced or too intense for them. This is the opposite of my yoga for athletes class. Now if you try out my vinyasa class you may or may not be right, but yoga for athletes is totally different. It is intended, and I repeat, to stretch over used, tight muscles and strengthen weak and injury-vulnerable areas. The class many times a little flow or movement to heat the body. We work standing postures and core work to strengthen. Finally, we spend a great deal of time on deep stretch, meditation and relaxation. Just the compliment to an exercise heavy or training heavy lifestyle.

So, yoga, do it! Even if you are an athlete. Even if you are not flexible – especially if you are not flexible! Here is a link to great article detailing why yoga was so great for this athletes life. I will follow up with more info on yoga for athletes.

Namaste’ and happy exercising!!

So, like most people this time of year, my family is feeling under the weather.  One week the oldest has a headache, then the youngest has a runny nose, and before you know it my husband and I are coughing, achy and fatigued.  I guess it is the curse of having little ones running around your house.  The blessings of children more than make up for the aches and pains though!

So, while it is perfectly okay and sometimes completely necessary to run to the doctor for an antibiotic or to grab a dose of NyQuil to catch some sleep, here are some tips and “yoga tricks” to try this season if you are feeling not so great.

Headache and sinus congestion

Take an ace bandage and wrap it tightly around your forehead.  You can even wrap it so it covers your eyes if you have a really severe headache.  Then lie down with a few pillows or a bolster supporting your body at an angle.  Place the bottoms of your feet together for Supta Baddha Konasana.  Have a rest for 5 min – 15 minutes.

Nasal Congestion

Try alternate nostril breathing or  Anuloma Viloma.  This breath will not only help to clear the nasal passages, it will restore balance to the flow of prana or life energy in the body.

Fatigue from Illness

When all is said and done, you have kicked the bug that was weighing you down, but you still feel fatigued??  Try one of two things.

1.  Get a few minutes of complete, deliberate rest during the middle of your day.  Sit for meditation, do a few restorative yoga poses, or focus on your yogic breath for 5-10 min.  The meditation can be as simple as watching your thoughts and practicing letting go of each thought that enters your mind for a few minutes, and restorative yoga poses done for 3 -5 minutes can calm and heal.  A few moments of deliberate rest throughout your day will recharge your system.

2.  Do a few rounds of Sun Salutations to get you going.  This sequence of poses will invigorate your body and wake up that groggy mind.

Listen to your body and whatever technique best suits your recovery try it a few times until you feel better.

Here’s to health and happiness through the rest of the year!

Namaste’ Ya’ll!

Many people may think that since we yoga teachers sit in the front of the room spouting phrases like, “be present”, “listen to your body”, and “know your limits and go there”, that we must have the most healthy mind – body connection known to man.  The TRUTH is that we are living the same practice we are encouraging you to live.  So while it is easy for me to repeat these phrases and write about yogic philosophy, the everyday application is just as hard for me.

The past few weeks I have struggled with a pain in my lower leg.  I secretly kept worrying about the fact that it could possibly could be a stress fracture, which would completely ruin my plans of a half marathon in December.  And, even though I secretly suspected a possibility of this injury, I still continued to run.  I knew that if I did have a stress fracture that continuing to train was the worst thing for my body. I knew that should slow down, but I didn’t.  I continued to run and took solace in the fact that I was also doing other recovery methods, such as ice baths, yoga, and manual therapy on the pain site. 

But, it continued to nag me, and I knew I should take a break.  Finally, I gave in and postponed off longer runs during the week.  I took a really honest look at my body and what it was feeling like.  I realized that I was over-pronating my ankles which I knew could lead to some stretching of the inner tissue of my lower leg.  I also took inventory of when and how much it hurt at different times.  With this new self-awareness, I set out on a long run on Sunday.  I was continuously present in my running; noticing how my stride felt, where my foot falls landed, and even how my breathing related to my posture and stride.  The run turned out to be fantastic, and I am happy to say that I am pretty sure I do NOT have a stress fracture.  YAY!

What I do have is a body that needs a little rest and recovery.  I have a body that needs a strength building week.  I had been so linearly minded in my goal for December, I had ignored all the things I knew about how a strong and recovered body makes a better runner.  I have decided to take this week off from running and dig deep into some strengthening practices of yoga that will not only stabilize my legs and hips, but also aid in flexibility for what I hope will be stronger body by the weekend.

This is how is my yoga and running and really life in general collide all the time.  If I take the time to get honest with myself (sayta) and evaluate what is going in my body and life (svadyaya), I can usually find the middle ground (brahmacharya) that brings balance and contentment (santosa) to my body and mind.

This week try to see if you can’t pick something in your life that seems slightly off-balance.  Maybe it is a physical pain in the body or maybe it is imbalance in a relationship or emotion.  Apply the principles of yoga to it.  Stay present.  Ask yourself what is out of balance.  Be truthful.  Find contentment with what is real.  See if some of these things do not help you to find the balance to heal.  Then let us know how it helped you!! 

Namaste’

Fall is most definitely here now!  I love the mild temperatures, the crisp, fresh air, and the changing colors of leaves.  It just feels like a fresh, new beginning.  Sometimes beginnings are exciting.  The ability to try new things, start a new project, and venture into new territory.  But, beginnings can be scary.  They represent change and means letting go of some things that may have ordinarily made a person feel safe and secure.

I was reminded of this dynamic this weekend.  I was an attendant in a beautiful wedding ceremony of a dear friend.  Weddings are all about new beginnings.  Beautiful young bride marrying a handsome young man with fresh dreams of a life together, a family and many happy memories.  It also it the closing though of a chapter.  A father lets go of his little girl.  A mother sheds a tear for the years spent in worry and in caring.  A sister or brother remembers that special bond that will always be there but will forever be changed by that one moment.  It can all be hard and overwhelming.  The beauty in the union is that by the letting go of old ways and connections, new connections and an intercate web of friendships, love, and acceptance for a new life is born. 

Resistance to change is normal.  The beautiful connection that awaits you may not be as visible as the example of newlyweds.  Many times in life we resist change when due to fears.  Maybe we are scared of disappointment so we don’t ask for that job promotion.  Maybe fears of rejection so don’t allow us to ask the new person in the office out on Friday night.  Maybe you worry about stability so much you shrink back from opportunities to explore the world or go on trips because you feel you must always save your money just in case the bottom were to fall out.  And, maybe you simply are afraid of not being accepted by everyone out in this highly critical world  so you shrink from being exactly who you were intended to be.  All of these are real fears that everyone has all the time.  Many times it is these instincts that keep us from being impulsive and acting in irrational manners and making mistakes.  I think it is important to evaluate where we are in this spectrum all the time.  I think it is important to evaluate whether we are shrinking away from adventure or being scared to step out of the box.  Like everything in our lives, we must find the balance. 

Fall is the perfect time to find this balance.  This is a season that will be more structured and regimented – school is back in session, vacations are over so workloads increase, and holidays quickly approach making your time management skills imperative.  In order to shake off some old habits that aren’t serving you and accept some new habits that will bring positive change, here are a few great “spring-cleaning” ideas for fall:

1.  Ask yourself what do you have too much of in your life?  Too much work, too much food, too much drama, too much judgment, too much fear???

2.  Ask yourself, what do you have too little of in your life?  Not enough acceptance, not enough patience, not enough money, not enough free time???

3.  Plot out a clear plan to draw balance between the first two questions.  Ex) Bring lunch to work so you can leave 1 hour early to get home in time to make it to yoga and fix dinner for yourself/family.  OR Plan on thinking 1 kind thought about each person you come in contact with each day.

4.  Eat whole foods and think about where they come from.  Make a point to draw in more nutritious, whole foods where you can actually think about the source of who grew, tended, and harvested those foods to nourish your body.  By bringing gratitude to more meals each day, you will find you are more intentional and deliberate with your choices.  A balanced body and mind starts with nutrition!

5.  Spend 10 min a day in meditation.  Taking 10 minutes to reset/recharge your day, will make you a more productive and clear thinking individual.

6.  Spend 30 min, 1 hour, 90 min…whatever you can build into your day, doing a healthful practice for you body to wear away at the gunk that is weighing you down and preventing change and positive growth in your life.  Do yoga, run, cycle.  Whatever action feels most authentic to you and you can feel the body letting go of fears, resentments, and obstacles.

Making a few intentional decisions each day will begin to clean away the clutter of your life and welcome the new beginnings that the fall season brings.  There is only one thing that is constant in this world – CHANGE.  Learning to embrace it and move with the seasons of life make this crazy train we are riding on seem more enjoyable and meaningful.

I will continue to write about my own fall “spring cleaning” and what this season of change brings for me.  Stay tuned 🙂

“Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change.”
-Edwin Way Teale  

On Day 2 of my detox, I woke a little sluggish.  I believe detoxification actually started happening at this point.  I also took 2 Triphala pills the night before, instead of the 1 I took the first night of the cleanse.  This herb is a natural detoxifier that has probably led to a little of the fatigue this morning.  Throughout the day I had kitchari with coriander chutney (spices up the kitchari for a different taste).  I did supplement with a couple organic apples.  I had running and yoga class on night 2 of the detox.  I was feeling great, but could feel my body was a little depleted, so I did have some steamed vegetables and had a couple of whole grain crackers.  And oh how grateful I was for those veggies!!  It is amazing how much we take for granted the freshness and comfort of vegetables and fruits until we don’t have them.

On day 3 I could really feel the detox!!  My mind was fuzzy and was feeling almost flu-like.  I was able to make it through the rest of the day, but this was the end of my detox.  While I know sticking with it may have really helped me flush out all the toxins and waste and would have made me feel amazing in the end, I did not have the time to slow down and rest enough.  I would like to try this in a couple of years when my children are both in school all day.  The cleanse is definitely intended for someone who can take naps and/or rests during the day…at least in my opinion for my body.  So, I had to stop short so that I could fuel my body for the busy life of a family with 2 kids, 1 husband, 2 dogs, and 3 fish, while including running and yoga!

With that said, I highly recommend this type of detox.  I have done many different ones with different theories behind them.  I felt the affects the most out of this one.  Plus, I mostly felt full and satisfied most of the time.  I also like that it incorporates meditation, yoga and other practices.  This helped me connect that my diet affects my life and my life effects my diet.  The meditation and yoga practice that Yoga Journal offered suggested mindfulness, slowing down, stopping the automatic reaction and just listening to your breath, and noticing how your body feels.  It is nice to allow myself the time to slow down and notice.  Presence in my everyday choices is one thing I will definitely take away from the detox.  Not automatically reaching for a nibble of my kids crackers because I haven’t had time to fix myself lunch, and not munching on snacks in front of the TV – more intentional eating choices.  Not reacting to the busy schedule of our family by picking up fast food or throwing a pizza in the oven.  I will not sacrifice my children’s nutritional needs to get them to soccer or school on time.  I will make time to appreciate and have gratitude for food and how it nourishes us.

I guess what I am getting at is more presence.  MORE PRESENCE, MORE PRESENCE, MORE PRESENCE!  My yoga mantra everyday.  As lululemon says in their manifesto…”BREATHE DEEPLY & APPRECIATE THE MOMENT.  Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.”

I was struggling today with what to write about and then I thought of my running and yoga group last night, and I thought I about committment and  then I thought, “That’s it!  That’s what is screaming at me this week!!”.

Use this restorative pose to relieve aching legs and calm the mind

My running and yoga group exemplified committment last night in practice.  They meet at 7:45 and last night we did Running from the Core.  So, not only did they rock out a hill run in the heat, but then their yoga practice consisted of warming core work and twists in a yoga room that seemed to be heated a little more than usual last night.  Everyone was “wrung out” to say the least.  But, everyone stuck it out.  They stayed present and moved through the postures until the yummy end of legs up the wall.  In one word, they committed.

So, whether it is exercise or diets or just writing this blog 5 times a week (my new commitment to you and to myself), you just have to do it.  I guess it was back int he early 90s that Nike said “Just Do It”.  That slogan may be old, its words hold true.  Life isn’t going to slow down for us to try new things or start back to routines.  Life doesn’t stop so that we have time to get healthier.  And, life certainly isn’t going to hold our hand and motivate us through the world.  It is our decisions, actions, and commitment that help us navigate to success.

So, while I am still not starting the detox tonight, I did get this blog written.  Check.  I did practice yoga today for a full hour.  Check.  Maybe I can whip up the kitchari tonight be before bed and you guys can hear how it tastes in the morning 🙂

What are some of the things you have committed to and stuck with this year?  Are there things you have been putting off?  Let us hear about them!  Sometimes putting it out in the universe helps to get things started!

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Upcoming Events

Current Class Schedule
Wilmington, NC

Tuesday
10:30 AM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Porter's Neck

Wednesday
8:15 AM Run to Yoga at Wilmington Athletic Club

6 PM Yoga for Athletes at Wilmington Performance Lab

Thursday
6:45 PM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Racine

Get details under Workshop and Class Descriptions

WEEKEND WORKSHOP -
INVERSIONS: TURN YOUR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN
MARCH 9TH
WILMINGTON PERFORMANCE LAB

MARCH 16TH - MINT HILL YOGA
VINYASA FLOW 9 AM - 11 AM
YOGA FOR ATHLETES 1 PM - 3 PM

MARCH 17TH - MINT HILL YOGA
THE ART OF ASSISTS AND ADJUSTMENTS
A TEACHER TRAINING
9 AM - 3 PM

APRIL 7TH - MAY 12TH
A 5K THE OM WAY:
YOGA AND RUNNING WORKSHOPS
SUNDAYS FROM 3:45 - 5 PM
GOLD'S GYM RACINE
WILMINGTON, NC

Jessica Hagler King

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." -- Nikos Kazantzakis
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt