What's your super-power?

superpower.jpg

This month the studio focus has been on resilience and empowerment. Our goals were to help you feel more confident in your practice, to notice a greater sense of calm in your mind, and to know a few practical tools to work with whatever challenges your daily life brings. With that said, we wanted to ensure you have one more resource to be able to take what you practice on your mat into your life.  

To start off, lets clarify what we mean when we talk about resilience and empowerment...

Resilience is the ability to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

&

Empowerment can be seen as finding strength and confidence from within.

Recently, these have been hot topics in the mindfulness world, and rightfully so. Resilience and empowerment build upon one another to help us feel successful throughout the day. However, as catchy as they are, they are also very complex. In fact, there is so much we could talk about, it was hard to narrow down into one blog post. But, we're going to try. Part of the reason that these two topics have become so popular is because modern day life is filled with misfortune, change, and circumstances that erode our self confidence. Essentially, you could sum this all up into one word: stress. Life today is stressful! Thankfully there is good news...

Did you know we are designed to endure stress?
Yes, YOU... you are designed to withstand it!

If you find that hard to believe, just take a look at the human body. At the very core of your physique, you have built-in measures for adapting to your circumstances. Your bones are not solid or rigid but rather a matrix of somewhat elastic tissue. They possess the ability to transform; they grow and strengthen through resistance, and even depend on consistent pressure (aka stress) from gravity to maintain their durability. Furthermore, the shape of each of your bones indicates its particular function for handling stress.  Long bones, for instance, give leverage; while short bones help absorb shock, and flat bones offer protection. Your whole skeletal system, which provides your robust foundation and physical structure, is deliberately flexible. It has "built - in" resilience! 

superpower

This truth is echoed throughout the rest of your body as well. Your connective tissues rely on being regularly and appropriately challenged in order to adapt and become more robust. Each of your muscles depends on a certain level of stress to stay healthy!  And it doesn't stop there, your mind is even more astounding. The neural pathways of your brain get "re-wired" when you undergo shifts in life. Your mind quite literally changes and adapts. We could go on and on with cool fun facts that prove this point, but what we want you to pick up on is the fact that you were MADE this way. Basically, your whole body is an excellent example of resilience and empowerment in action, because its how you were designed.  You don't have to do anything special to create these traits - they are already within you!  It's like the color of your eyes, or the size of your feet.

It's just a natural part of who you are!

Because resilience and empowerment are not something to achieve, they are something we have to work acknowledge and accept. Perhaps you could think of them like your super-powers. When you befriend your super-power, you can use it to your advantage and for the greater good! We hope that as you do, you feel more confident and calm and trust your intuition with whatever challenges you find yourself up against.

Resilience & Empowerment = YOUR SUPER-POWER!

Clean Your House!

 
 

Cleaning your house in the springtime is a great way to remove dirt and clutter that can accumulate over time.  Its a chance to remove the unnecessary things and create space to invite all things new. Yet, if we don’t consciously choose what new things we put into our home, it will just fill up with all sorts of stuff that may not serve our best interests.  

Our Home is the place where we should feel most welcome, a place where we can rest. But, when our home accumulates things that do not serve us, we stumble on things, we lose things, we start to feel stuck, and we disconnect to avoid the mess.  If we continue on this path we lose the desire to be home at all. 

However, when we take the time to care for our house, to clean it, and intentionally bring in new things, we make our house our home. Then, it becomes the place where we belong and want to spend our time. It becomes the place that accepts us no matter how the day was; our safe haven.

Quite similar to our physical homes, our bodies serve as our house for our mind and spirit. Just like our physical home, we should make time for the skin we live in, to make it a place where we want to be. This spring, as you take time to clean house, take time to cleanse your body as well. 

Cleanse your body, mind, and spirit!

Cleansing your body, mind, and spirit can be as simple as breathing. Begin by using your breath, exhaling stagnant air and then inhaling fresh oxygen. Next, through your breath, exhale and release negative thoughts and inhale thinking of positive affirming words. Through this act of connecting your in-breath with positive thoughts, you will feel like you have created a beautiful new space, a new home. You will evoke emotions of love and self-acceptance to usher in a new moment, a new day, and new life.  

May your breath bring you a feel good place to live in today, Namaste…

Balance & Vision

 
 

At times, events in our life seem to overlap in ways that seem more than just happenstance. One day you might find yourself in a discussion about someone or something, only to have a few days go by before that someone or something is brought into your life in a different way. The irony of those situations always leaves us wondering, was our awareness of that person or thing what brought them into our lives, or was the reason we became aware of it in the first place an indication of what was to come...

This month, the focus at the studio has been on finding balance and creating vision. Although I hadn’t planned for it to be, and quite ironically, it has been a huge focus area for me as well. 

As I have been navigating the journey towards finding balance and vision, I have been reminded of all the different ways in which these two concepts weave in and out of both our practice on our mat, and in our daily life. So instead of offering a “lesson to be learned,” I would like to simply share a few different ways to look at balance and vision in the hopes that you too might find utility for them. 

BALANCE

At some point or another we have all been asked; how is your balance? On our mat we practice postures such as tree, dancer, and extended hand-to-foot pose, which offer excellent ways to develop and maintain “good balance”. In our lives, good balance is important for to being able to go, do, and explore, no matter our age. While straight forward and simple, making the effort to establish and maintain good balance can have a profound affect on our quality of life. 

We can also explore our physical balance in a little different way; how IN balance is your body? Perhaps you sit or stand all day, carry kids around on your hip, repeatedly swing a golf club, or move things only with your right arm. Repetitive movements can and will result in noticeable differences of our left/right or top/bottom in terms of muscular strength and flexibility. Take a quick look at your routines: What ways do you move about, and are your habits contributing to how well-balanced you feel? By simply bringing awareness to our habits, we can gain a good deal of insight as to why we feel the way we do. Which is one of the reasons why a yoga practice is so beneficial. Each time we come to our mat, we have the opportunity to explore our range of motion, and become aware of how “in-balance” we feel on a given day.

Finally, there is one more way that I would like to explore balance; are you balancing effort and ease? Whether we are practicing yoga, trying to eat a well-balanced diet, or creating a relationship with that special someone, when we force things they never work out well. On our mat, this shows up when we work to find our “edge” in a posture. The term “edge,” in yoga, means the sweet spot where there is a bit of discomfort because you are putting forth a decent amount of effort, but you can breathe freely and are able to sustain the posture for an extended period of time. I have found that more often than not we try and force ourselves into places we just aren’t able to go, both on and off the mat. If we forget to balance all of our striving to “go and do,” with the ease of simply being, there really is no “balance” whatsoever. However, there is no doubt that this can be one of the most elusive aspects of balance.

 

VISION

Lets begin exploring vision as one of our 5 senses. Having the ability to see is obviously important! During practice we use our vision to help us understand where we are supposed to move our bodies, and it also helps us see how we can or cannot move our bodies. Additionally, we can use it to help us find our balance. If you have the tendency to look around during practice, or if you are “looking for a place to look,” try finding one point to gaze at softy. This is the yogic practice of drishti, or focused gaze, and while it begins with finding a fixed place to look, it can bring layers upon layers of focus to a practice.  

Most of us have also explored vision as creating a visualization. We can imagine ourselves doing something and “going through the motions.” During a practice you can explore this several different ways. One example is to move into tree pose while lying on the ground to get a feel for the posture before you attempt it while standing on one leg. What ever way you bring about visualization, the most important piece to understand is that you are beginning to internalize it. You are taking it from the physical world and bringing it into the mental realm. Which is a really neat aspect of the mind-body connection. The more you practice visualizations the more effective they become, both for a yoga practice and in life. 

Lastly, let’s consider the idea of creating a vision! I actually prefer to think about a vision as a priority because more than anything, it need to be specific. When we have a precise enough vision, its like using a laser, instead of a flashlight, to cut through steel. We become so much more effective at what we are trying to achieve. In a yoga practice, our vision is most often talked about as our intention. It is the one thing above all else that is going to dictate our choices and movements throughout a practice. Where we visually look can help us balance on one foot, and likewise, our vision can help us stay in-balance throughout a practice and our daily endeavors. 

vision

SO, WHAT NEXT?

No matter how you look at it, maintaining your balance and creating a clear vision is a never ending process. Its certainly something that surfaces time and time again in my life, as I'm sure it does for you. So please know, if you ever have any questions or if you would like share your thoughts on balance or vision with us, we are available to chat, and welcome the discussion. The next time you are at the studio, catch on of us before or after class, or feel free to send us email anytime. 

          See you on your mat!

Moving from fear to love

 
 

When we come to our practice on our mat, we move through foundational postures that teach us to acknowledge our physical abilities/limitations on a given day. We become aware of our thoughts and emotions during postures and learn to accept a wide range of sensations. We ultimately get to know ourselves and we learn to trust ourselves. With consistency and time our practice will evolve, but it isn’t just about the physical postures we perform. By exploring and experiencing on our mats, we offer a safe place to “practice” what we would ideally like to develop in our daily lives. 

 Back bends such as wheel (pictured above) can be some of the more physically challenging and fear filled postures that we do on our mat. 

Back bends such as wheel (pictured above) can be some of the more physically challenging and fear filled postures that we do on our mat. 

In this way our postures serve not as ends in themselves, but as a means to explore ourselves in differing ways that will challenge our abilities, and perpetuate our growth. Along our journey we establish awareness and acceptance and ultimately move from experiencing fear to embodying love. Fear can be a pervasive force. It often surfaces as fear of the unknown, fear of hurting ourselves or others, fear of looking like a fool, or fear developed from a bad experience we had in the past. Fear can be paralyzing. In our practice it makes us hold our breath or avoid movements altogether. The good news, however, is that fear exists on the same continuum as love, and albeit easier said than done, all that is needed to move from fear to love is trust. 

Trust is developed through healthy vulnerability and healthy vulnerability stems from mindful awareness and a baseline sense of security/safety. On our mats, we practice developing trust in postures that provide the opportunity to explore the sensation of being vulnerable. Specifically, when we practice backbends (also known as heart openers), we physically induce the sensations of vulnerably. But we must approach back bends in a healthy way. As with any posture, we begin by becoming mindful of our current abilities. Back pain is one of the primary reasons for beginning a yoga practice, and unfortunately one of the most commonly experienced ailments in yoga. If we are not mindful of our limitations, the fear of hurting ourselves will become a very real concern. Our sense of security/safety stems from our time spent day after day in our foundational postures and by staying present with our breath. By dedicating time to move through intentional sequences we prepare our body and mind to have the best experience possible in a back bend, and minimize our susceptibility to injury. On days when we are physically able to practice a back bending posture we will find as we allow ourselves to become vulnerable is that we have also allowed ourselves to trust. Through trust, we have moved from fear to love. Over time, our ability to trust ourselves in our postures allows for the possibility for moving from fear to love in life. 

 "Wild Thing" is a posture that (when practiced safely) can help us face our fears and leaves us feeling a sense of freedom and confidence!

"Wild Thing" is a posture that (when practiced safely) can help us face our fears and leaves us feeling a sense of freedom and confidence!

Throughout this past month at the studio we explored the play of love & fear in different ways. There were a lot of back-bends! And, while they each provided a nice physical challenge (and hopefully resulted in stronger core muscles), one posture in particular stood out as a prime opportunity to experience the movement from fear to love; wild thing. Even for seasoned practitioners, the movement into wild thing (especially when taken all the way into wheel) can be downright scary. But if we can over come our fears, and find our wild thing, we will discover an incredible sense of freedom and confidence.

We hope you had a chance to come to class an practice with us, and this month we want to leave you with a few suggestions for exploring wild thing on your own. Whether in a class or in the comfort of your home, may it leave a lasting impression of love that will bring you back to your mat again and again. 

 


Wild Thing:

On a practical level, wild thing is a posture that should only be approached after several sun salutations, core strengthening exercises, and gentle backbends to help open the chest, shoulders, and hips. Foundational postures such as warrior 1, standing twists, and camel are all great options to “check-in” with our physical abilities, to build mindful awareness, and to assess if its the right day for the posture. 

 Three legged dog with lifted leg straight and hips stacked vertically.

Three legged dog with lifted leg straight and hips stacked vertically.

 Three legged dog with lifted leg bent behind to open the lifted hip.

Three legged dog with lifted leg bent behind to open the lifted hip.

When you are ready to explore wild thing, come into a downward facing dog posture with one leg lifted high. Spend time in this position; create movement, open your hips by stacking them vertically,  and see what it feels like to bend the lifted knee deeply so that the heel is reaching towards your backside. Breathe in this posture for a few moments before returning into downward facing dog and repeating the same position with the other leg lifted. 

Three legged dog can be used to develop trust of your physical abilities. in fact, it may be all you do in terms of working your way towards wild thing for quite some time. As you return to this posture day after day in your practice you will gradually become more comfortable with it until one day you feel ready to get wild and “flip your dog!”  

There are two options to get into a wild thing posture, the first being from down dog. “Flip your dog” means to make the transition into wild thing. When you are in three legged dog with your knee deeply bent, the heel behind you will continue reaching until it touches down on the ground and one arm lifts off. This movement can sometimes bring up more fear than wild thing itself, as it requires a bit of faith to land your foot behind you without mishap. If you find the fear of this movement overwhelming, there is another option for approaching wild thing. 

 Moving into wild thing from seated provides a more stable approach to the posture. 

Moving into wild thing from seated provides a more stable approach to the posture. 

 Hold or flow dynamically in and out of wild thing to create a connection with breath. 

Hold or flow dynamically in and out of wild thing to create a connection with breath. 

A modified (more stable/gentle) way to approach wild thing is to come into the posture from a seated position. To begin, take your right leg straight, and extend your right arm behind you with your palm down and fingers facing backwards. Bend your left knee and place your foot flat on the floor about a foot and a half away from your right leg. Push down through your left heel to lift off your hips and extend your left arm above your head. Breathe in the posture for a few moments, taking note of any adjustments to be made stability wise, and then gently return back to seated on the mat. You could dynamically flow in and out of this position a few times with your breath (inhaling to lift and exhaling to lower) to develop your strength and muscle memory. When you are ready to take on the posture from downward facing dog, have confidence that you know where your headed. 

 After wild thing, take a few breaths with your knees pulled into the chest to relax.

After wild thing, take a few breaths with your knees pulled into the chest to relax.

 To release your back muscles gently twist to each side and take deep inhales. 

To release your back muscles gently twist to each side and take deep inhales. 

After completing big backbends such as wheel its important to take a moment to rest, and let the back and the mind return to a neutral state before moving on. Following back bends with a gentle twisting posture can also help release tension and encourage deeper slower breaths. 

Finding a Foundation

Hey there, happy New Year!

Every year when January rolls around, goals and resolutions become the hot topic. When the month comes to a close, most of us have all but forgotten, or simply given up, on our best laid intentions. This year, let’s move away from those rigid terms and opt instead for creating a foundation for our entire year ahead! 

Creating a foundation for your year is a lot like creating a foundation for your practice. At the studio this past month, we intertwined the idea of foundation into our classes, but the real benefit of any class/practice comes when you take what you learn on the mat and find application for it in your life. Here a few ideas that showcase this concept:

First lets get on our mats and take a look at the yoga posture - Mountain Pose or Tadasana.

mountain pose

We begin creating this posture from the ground up. We quite literally establish our foundation beginning with our feet. What we are looking for is a firm yet flexible base. If you were to stand a 2 x 4 piece of wood on its end, though rigid, it lacks stability and therefore is easily tipped over. In much the same way, without establishing the foundation of mountain pose at our feet, we will miss out on a good deal of stability throughout our body. Establishing stability in mountain becomes the gateway for maintaining stability when we begin to explore other postures, like tree! 

In much the same way that our feet create the firm yet flexible foundation in mountain pose, mountain pose provides the firm yet flexible foundation for our entire practice. The next time you are on your mat, challenge yourself to find “mountain” in all sorts of different postures. From tree, to plank, to the warrior postures… the essence of mountain is always present. The magic lies in the flexibility of the foundation.

mountain pose as a foundation

A flexible foundation offers is a blueprint that internally becomes a memory. As we practice mountain pose over an over, day after day, our memory of the posture begins to develop a pattern, and eventually it becomes an automatic habit. Once we have our habit established, it takes so much less effort to maintain it! But our foundation is not where we will stay. Our foundation offers something we can use as a reference, to check in with, to make assessments and decisions based upon, and ultimately to create from. We wouldn’t want to stand on our mat in mountain pose for an hour and say our practice was complete. We want to use our foundation to explore and grow.

Now lets take this concept and bring it into our daily reality. Each January offers a clean slate to create something in our lives. Therefore, just as we need a foundation for our practice, what we need for the year ahead is a firm yet flexible foundation. Once established we can spend the year creating! Doesn't that sound like a more motivating way to look at the roll over of the calendar?

Go ahead, allow yourself to give up on your resolutions for the year! But don’t give up on your desires. Spend some time refining what you truly desire into something that can serve as the foundation for the entire year. Choose something that you are excited about establishing in your life, and be sure that it offers enough flexibility to allow you to grow and change! Lastly, don't forget to bring your foundation with you onto the mat to practice. 

      We’ll see you in class.. 

 
 

WHAT IS "RELAXATION FITNESS"

We are a new business! We want to share with you where we came from and what were all about! If you have a few moments, we'd love for you to read our story. For now, let's jump right into where we're headed, because Relaxation Fitness is not only the name of our company but a phrase that hits at the heart of our mission!

A Phrase:

Lets begin first with the word fitness. Most of us understand fitness on the surface – such as someone’s level of physical fitness, or cardiovascular fitness. When we dig a little deeper we discover that fitness is something vital to our survival. That sounds both fascinating and unsettling, but what it boils down to is biological. However, we aren’t talking about having babies, we are talking about being healthy enough to truly live! So, you might ask - what does this have to do with relaxation?

When thinking of the word relaxation, you might imagine the beach, a cold drink, a pleasant scene, or some other kind of luxurious activity. But resting isn’t a luxury! Rest is a key component for health, from the development of stronger muscles, to the resiliency of an immune system, to sustaining basic physiological functions. Therefore, when we create the phrase relaxation fitness we shift our perspective from thinking about rest as something to do when its convenient, to thinking about it as something that is a necessity... Because IT IS necessary!

A Practice:

Ironically however, what each of us actually needs to find relaxation is a question without a definitive answer. What we can define is a practice; a space where we, as unique individuals, can explore what does and does not work for us to find rest. In this way we can think of relaxation fitness as being similar to other fitness objectives. As such, our level of relaxation fitness becomes dependent on our commitment to practice resting regardless of our daily circumstances. Preserving the ability to routinely find rest means that we can’t wait until life is perfect to learn how to relax. In order to truly relax, we have to be willing to make rest an integrated part of our daily routine.

Our Business:

Relaxation Fitness is passionate about providing you the tools you need to make relaxing a sustainable reality day in and day out. We envision a new health priority, where rest and relaxation gets the attention it not only deserves, but demands. Our mission is to help individuals achieve lasting balance in body, mind & spirit through a routine practice that serves their highest potential.

If you are ready to make relaxation fitness your new health priority join the movement today and receive our free suggestions on how to relax right now, in as little as 5 minutes. Comment below and let us know what your favorite way to relax!