Yoga for Athletes : From the Mat to the Court

Yoga for Athletes

Taking Your Practice from the Mat to the Court


 

Last Thursday I was gifted the opportunity to meet with about 50 high school basketball players through West Coast Elite San Diego . WCE is directed by one of the top basketball coaches in the country, Sterling Jones. Sterling trained my son Tommy from the time he was in middle school, and continues to work with him when he is home on break from Harvard. 

Tommy McCarthy of Harvard VS. University of Kansas

I’ve seen through my children, as well as through my own experience, the kind of camaraderie that forms through the challenges of training. Trust and intimacy evolve naturally as teammates (and coaches) witness one another breaking through mental and physical barriers. You gain a deep respect, and often adoration, for those you see grow, and for those who see you grow through the process.

 

Paired with camaraderie, however, is often a big dose of competition, extreme rigor and pressure to excel, leaving many athletes overly sore, burnt out, or full of anxiety (which all translate into an impaired game). This is why I’ve found it so important for athletes to supplement their intense training with practices that offer balance, and an opportunity to work – alone or as a team – in a less goal oriented, high pressure way.

Yoga, I’ve found, is the perfect supplement.

So, let’s go back to Thursday when I met with dozens of young, high energy, tight, sore, and rigorous athletes… I came out to help these boys develop greater muscular balance in the body and learn how to discipline their mind through focus and concentration. 

They were all attentive, respectful, and along for the ride. There was also an element of hilarity as they were moaning and groaning with every stretch… But, this just confirmed it even more! Athletes, who are so used to go-go-going strong all the time, need the practice of slowing down and listening.

The result of a balanced approach to training is agility, calmness during stressful situations, ability to move and react quickly, intuitive efficiency, and stronger teamwork!

 

The boys were extremely receptive to the lessons, and I can’t wait to see how they apply what they learned in their game.

 

If you are a yoga teacher working with athletes, or an athlete doing your own practice, take these thoughts into consideration:

1. Use Your Breath First : Athletes are often used to moving from their “outer” body first, without much consideration for the feeling or deep rooted cause of the action. In yoga, the movement comes as a result of the breath, so each posture is formed from the inside-out. With long, deep, full breaths you can move deeper into a stretch in a safe way. In most sports the breath speeds up, but in yoga the breath stays slow, even and rhythmic.

2. Find Your Edge : In yoga, “the edge” is the place where you’re working at the top of your body’s ability on any given day. If you worked any less, you’d be slacking off; any more, and you’d be risking injury. Only you know where your edge is, so take the time to listen carefully to what your body is saying from pose to pose. Practicing “the edge” helps athletes struggling to balance ambition in their lives, and can be a potent remedy to the perfectionist mentality.

3. Change The Mental State : Many athletes deal with judgment, competitiveness and criticism on a regular basis. This can facilitate and contribute to stress. The yoga practice helps to counter this type of training, as it is deeply personal and should be self enhancing. Yoga is a time to let go of being a goal-oriented competitor and just be present in the process of where you are today.

4. Use Everything, Overuse Nothing : Yoga teaches a balance between Strength and Surrender- both mentally and physically. In the body, for example, notice how you can contract an opposing muscle from the one being stretched, by pulling it closer to the bone. i.e.: contract and lift the kneecap and quadriceps toward the top of the thigh and inward toward the femur to open the hamstrings.

5. Don’t Envy Flexibility / Show Compassion : Flexibility comes to people in varying rates. Some athletes experience a steep learning curve in increasing flexibility. A focused practice of utilizing the breath while stretching muscles may be brand new. These athletes need to be reassured that it takes time and consistent effort to get results. Be careful not to compare flexibility. For many it takes years to achieve a supple, flexible body. It is not easy to be flexible if you train. Training makes you tight! You have to work hard to get tight, so don’t be embarrassed by it.

 

Whatever you play and however you train, I hope you are able to apply these yogic lessons to your practice. There is value in intense training, and value in slowing down. Ultimately, work for balance in your life so that you can play at your highest potential.

 

Happy practicing!

Stacy

 

Do The Twist – Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex

Do The Twist!

Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex


 

Just as important as backbending and forward folding, twisting is an integral part of a balanced yoga practice. A well balanced practice will take the body in all directions available, so that you end feeling balanced and whole.

For some, however, twisting brings up many concerns. If shoulders, low back, or hips are tight, it’s likely a challenge to twist in a way that feels good. And if you’ve ever had a neck or back injury, twisting may down right scare you…

But! The good news is this: Twisting is accessible for almost everyone! 

You don’t need to go into the deepest expression of a pose to reap the rewards. With the use of simple modifications, props and good instruction, you’ll be doing the twist in no time.

Before we jump into posturing, let’s review some of the benefits and fundamentals of twisting:

Twisting the body is a little like ringing out a wet towel- the process of rotation helps to squeeze out toxic fluids and make space for new, fresh fluids to take their place. In this way, twists detoxify the body. Incorporating twists into your daily practice will increase your spinal flexibility and strength, give more dynamic strength to your core muscles, create more space for breath, and will actually help to “ring out” your internal organs (aka: healthier digestion, more regular bowel movements, and easier processing of nutrients).

Twisting postures range from simple to complex. Keep in mind that twisting is all about elongating (2/3 Lengthening, 1/3 Twisting)! As you twist, lengthen gently with your inhales, and then rotate gently with your exhales. Remember that you can’t move into a twist if there is “no room”.

*Please Also Note: Contraindications to twists include bulging or herniated disks, sciatica, severe scoliosis, any back or neck injury that is upset by twisting movements, pregnancy, menstruation. Always listen to your body. If there is any glimpse of pain in a posture, do not practice it in that moment. Consult an experienced yoga teacher, physical therapist or physician should you need further guidance.

One of my favorite twisting postures is Bharavadjasana. This seated twisting pose opens up the low back, hips and shoulders all in one, and acts as a great example of how to modify any twisting pose to suit your ability.

 

 Bharavadjasana, Simple to Complex:

 

 

 

Variation A: Seated on a Block / Front leg in Sukhasana variation / No bind of arms

When you need to focus on gently opening up the back and hips, and elongating the spine, this is the variation for you. Sitting on the block will give space to those with less range in their hips, and will help keep the pelvis in proper alignment. As you twist, take the opposing hand to the thigh of the front leg. The back hand will act as a reminder to lift (hint: do NOT dump your weight onto this hand- this will throw off the alignment of your shoulders and bring unwanted lateral flexion to the spine).

 

 

 

 

Variation B: Seated on Mat / Front leg in Sukhasana / Bind of back arm to front arm

This variation is for those whose hips and low back feel comfortable seated directly on the mat. (hint: both sit-bones will be evenly weighted, and the pelvis in proper alignment). As you twist, the opposing hand will meet the front thigh, while the back arm will gently internally rotate from the shoulder in order to wrap around the mid-back. The back hand will meet the front arm, just above the elbow crease. (hint: keep your shoulders opening gently away from the heart center, and breathe as evenly as possible into both sides of the lungs).

 

 

 

 

Variation C: Seated on Mat / Front leg in ArdhaPadmasana / Full bind of arms

The final variation of Bharavadjasana is for those with open hips and shoulders; whom need a little more intensity from their seated twist. The front leg is bound in ArdhaPadmasana, offering greater opening to the front hip (hint: as in the previous variation, make sure both sit-bones have even placement on your mat). As you twist, the opposing hand will reach to the front knee, while the back hand will reach for the bound foot. Some find this connection at the big toe, and others can reach around the full foot. (hint: use your inhalations to consciously lengthen, while keeping the pelvis weighted, and the exhalations to gently deepen the twist).

 

 


There you have it, yogis.

Get on your mat + Happy Twisting!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy McCarthy

 

 

 

How Fast Are You Aging?

Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?

Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.

As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.

The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.

When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.

That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.

We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.

In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.

This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness. 

I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing. 

Namaste~

Balancing the Chakras : A Simple Guide

Meditations, Mantras and Movement to Keep Your Chakras In Balance

What sets Yoga apart from other calisthenic routines?

The ancient yogis knew of something beyond the outer shell of movement- something deeper than muscles and bones- yet something just as important to shaping our physical health.

What they looked at and sought to keep healthy through their physical routine was the Chakra System.

So, what’s a… Chakra??

A Chakra (literally Wheel in Sanskrit) is an energy center or wheel of energetic movement in the body. It is part of the body’s subtle anatomy; and though subtle, has major effects on the gross, physical body and mind.

There are 7 major Chakras, which run along and align the spinal column, ranging from the base of the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.

Each of these 7 Chakras has a specific energetic and emotional quality, associated color, sound, and deeper meaning.

Often when we feel out of balance- angry, saddened, over-whelmed, exhausted- it is a sign that our deeper, more subtle self is in need of some serious restoration. Therefore, a great way to target the root of our imbalances is to look at the Chakras, and bring them back into balance first.

Below, you’ll find a simple guide to the Chakras, and how to bring them back into balance:

MULADHARA (ROOT CHAKRA):

Location: At the base of the spinal column, centered in the Pelvic Floor / Energetic Qualities: Stability, Security, Safety, Fear & Fearlessness / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unsafe and fear-laden

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Lying on your back, with your hands on your low belly, imagine red light charging through your spine down to the base, igniting new life and energy with each breath.

Mantra: “I fearlessly take on the challenges of life. Trusting my inner-guide, I face the unknown with love.”

Movement: Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture requires strength, poise, and confidence. Open your heart wide and feel the power of your lower body. Breathe deeply all the way into the Pelvic Floor.

 

SVADISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA):

Location: Just above the pubic bone, below the naval / Energetic Qualities: Creativity, Sexual Energy, Personal Expression / When you’re out of balance: You may feel “stuck” or uninspired

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice simple seated meditation, follow your breath and soothe your mind into stillness. Creativity is the product of a clear mind. Sometimes just finding some peace and quiet is all you need.

Mantra: “I am available for creativity to flow through me with abundance and ease. I reflect the creation of all life, and recognize the gift of creation within me.”

Movement: Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). This posture requires strength and ease, and challenges the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen to maintain a long, supple spine. It sparks awareness and stillness. Root firmly, and maintain a soft gaze.

 

MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA):

Location: At the Solar Plexus, between the naval and the breast bone / Energetic Qualities: Personal Power, Will, Decision Making / When you’re out of balance: You may feel uncertain, weary, uneasy about a decision

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice Kapalabhati Breath (Skull Shining Breath). Breathe in deeply through the nose into the belly, let out quick exhalations through the nose, as the navel “snaps” back toward the spine. Before trying this on your own, ask a teacher for proper instruction and safety guides!

Mantra: Simply state, “I am” with each inhalation. With each exhalation, bring your awareness to your physical presence, stating “here”.

Movement: Plank Pose. Yes, a simple posture to refine your core muscles and define the strength of your abdomen. Gently draw your navel toward the spine, reaching through your crown, broadening across your chest, and pressing out through your heels.

 

ANAHATA (HEART CHAKRA):

Location: At the heart center / Energetic Qualities: Loving-Kindess, Acceptance of Self and Others, Compassion / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unloved or unloving, disconnected, impatient

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Simple sitting, with hands on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, filling it up with air and letting it flow out. Practice until you feel your chest and shoulders softened and available to move freely.

Mantra: Loving-Kindness “May my heart be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”

Movement: Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This backbend opens the heart, strengthens the back muscles and invites you to breathe into the chest and ribs. Keep the neck and throat soft, and use the stability and strength of your legs to ground.

 

VISHUDDHA (THROAT CHAKRA):

Location: In the throat / Energetic Qualities: Verbal Expression, Speaking our Highest Truth, Communication / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unable to say what you need to, afraid to share your truth

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Recite “AUM” with clarity, taking equal time to pronounce each sound “A-U-M”. Don’t be afraid to make noise! The point is to hear yourself, and to get past the discomfort of opening up.

Mantra: “I speak my truth with confidence and clarity. I listen deeply to myself and to others, and communicate with ease.”

Movement: Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Try this assisted with two blocks, one underneath the scapula, and one supporting the head. Lengthen through your toes, and allow your throat space to open as you relax the face and breathe.

 

AJNA (THIRD EYE CHAKRA): 

Location: Just at the Pineal Gland (Third Eye), set between the brow bones / Energetic Qualities: Insight and Intuition / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lost or untrusting of yourself

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: With eyes closed, bring your inner awareness to the place between your brow. Keep your inner gaze alive and bright, as practice maintaining focus on this area.

Mantra: “I am connected, at peace, and present.”

Movement: Balasana (Child’s Pose). Allow your head to rest fully, either on the floor, or on a bolster or block. Soften the muscles of the face, and allow the gently pressure of the position bring your awareness to your third eye.

 

SAHASWARA (CROWN CHAKRA):

Location: At the crown of the head, rising up like a “Thousand Petal Lotus Flower” / Energetic Qualities: Trust in your Highest Self, Connection to Self, to all things, and ultimately to the Essence of your True Nature / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lonely, unsupported or irrelevant

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice inhaling and exhaling bright white light in through your crown. Inhale, white light filters in the body all the way down the spine. Exhale, white light leaves through the crown, shooting back out and creating a field around you.

Mantra: “AUM. I am one with all that is.”

Movement: Sirsasana (Headstand). Please consult a yoga instructor before attempting this posture. Grow through the spine, reach the tail and the toes upward. Use your foundation wisely, planting the forearms/hands firmly into the earth. Breathe deeply into the body, and keep a soft gaze.

 

 

Happy Balancing, Yogis!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

 

 

Yoga Progressions & Regressions

Yoga Is For Every Body

How to create All-Levels Yoga Classes that offer an inclusive practice environment, so that the beginner feels safe and the advanced student feels challenged… the secret is mastering Yoga Progressions & Regressions.

In my time as a yoga practitioner and teacher, one thing I’ve noticed is this… that no yoga class is attended by an exclusive type of “Yogi”. There is no such thing as One Practice Fits All, or one body type that comes to practice. Physical ability, knowledge of the practice, and style of training differ person to person– and it’s likely that if you’re teaching today, you’re getting students of all different levels attending your classes.

So, as yoga teachers, how can we make ourselves available to each student that joins us?

In my experience, it’s been learning how to master the progressions and regressions of each pose. In doing so, I’ve been able to meet the needs of “all-level” Vinyasa classes, while maintaining the pace and rhythm of the class-flow.

Everyone gets what they need, and the room becomes an inclusive place for practice.

Seems easy enough… but how do we teach progressions and regressions throughout class, without “disrupting the flow” of practice?

Here are a few key notes that have helped me to do just this:

  • In class, I always demonstrate two to three variations of a posture. It is an effective way to meet the needs of all levels in attendance- beginning students will usually stick with the more simple variation, while advanced students will be instructed to enter more complex poses safely, from the foundation.
  • During pre-class announcements, communicate that because there are various levels in the class, each student should be mindful of one’s own body and to choose a level that fits one’s current physical ability. There is no “right” or “wrong” expression of the pose- only “safe” or “unsafe” for each body. Encourage students to make use of props to support their practice (blocks to provide greater stability in balance poses, straps to extend the reach of arms in forward folds, etc.).
  • Encourage students to find & apply for themselves Sthira Sukham Asanam (Sutra 2:46), or a balance steadiness and comfort in each pose. Pushing past edges is imperative to growth, but we don’t want to do so in a way that damages the body or mind. Move in a way that promotes staying clear, conscious and compassionate about what is happening physically- and on every level of your being.

The following is an example of a safe and effective way to teach the progression of a posture:

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Notice that the posture moves from its most simple variation, to most complex. Even if the student chooses to take the most complex variation, have them move progressively through the steps, so that they better understand the basic mechanics and foundation of the pose.

Step One: Stand with feet crossed, side by side. The opposite arm of the “top leg” will cross underneath. If students have tight shoulders, and the forearm bind is not accessible, have them hold around the outer shoulders and draw the elbows away from the heart.

Step Two: Press into the feet firmly so the legs feel a gentle “squeezing” action, lift from the pelvic floor and lengthen the spine. Focus the Gaze toward the thumbs, as you spread across the collar bones and hug in the frontal rib cage.

Step Three: Should you choose to balance on one leg, come to a cross legged “sitting” position. First the foot can act as a kickstand on the opposite side. Perhaps the outer foot can make contact with the base leg’s outer calf. Be mindful of the base knee- it shouldn’t wobble to either side.

Step Four: If you’re able to balance here with ease, and your mobility allows, try the full bind of the foot behind the calf of the base leg. The same actions as in Step Two should still apply!

If anywhere along the line of progression you feel any pain, severe discomfort in body, challenge maintaining breath or balance, simply regress back to a more foundational variation of the pose… and as always, remember to breathe. 

And Remember! Progressions in practice don’t necessarily have to do with how deep you can get into a posture, or whether or not you can stick a handstand, or sit in padmasana (lotus pose). The physical practice of yoga is about challenging our minds and thoughts, so that we may better understand what is going on mentally and spiritually. The body is doorway to our deeper selves, and when we learn to listen to the body, we will make progress naturally. 

With Love,

Stacy McCarthy

@YogaNamaStacy

 

What value do you place on your health?

 

Is it quantifiable on a time table or by a number with a money sign- or is it a feeling inside and the quality of life you receive in exchange for your efforts in keeping up with it?
vjasana-juice
This value can be many things for different people- but chances likely are that you see your health as invaluable.
We often don’t realize how much we do value our health until it’s gone- until we’re too injured to go to class, too si
ck to think clearly, or too frail to take that trip you’ve always dreamed of. But, why wait to begin appreciating, and even increasing, your health and vitality until its too late?
Here are some ways to honor and increase the value of your health NOW:
1. Commit to taking excellent care of your mind and body
   You wouldn’t expect your car to remain spotless on a road trip- nor should you expect your body and mind to never be touched by the challenges of life’s journey. Committing to taking care of yourself means you are committed to the required maintenance regimen it takes to keep your engine running smoothly over bumpy roads. Seasonal tune-ups are a great way to ensure you are continually taking care of yourself and maintaining the value of your health.
2. Think Preventative > Reactionary
    Again- don’t wait until its too late. When assessing your value, look at your current state with honesty, and then come up with a plan that will continually combat your “problem areas”. The more preventative your health routine, the more value saved in the long run.
3. Learn to adapt
    One thing in life is certain- your body, your mind, your health, will all change. You won’t always be able to prepare for the changes, but you can prepare for the process of change. A changing body with different abilities doesn‘t mean you have less or more value- but it does mean you’ll have to adapt. Stay present to the changes, and learn to go with the flow.
4. Honor your rituals
    Going to the gym isn’t just another chore- it’s an opportunity to practice self love and to honor your self worth. Every part of your day can be made into a ritual of this kind, and can add dramatically to the value of your overall wellbeing. When brushing your teeth stops being a bother and begins to be an honor, you are more likely do it with integrity and quality- and in so, you are increasing the value of your efforts and of your health.
5. Practice Gratitude
    Sometimes noticing how valuable your body and mind already are just takes a moment of stepping back and looking… Take a moment each day to reflect upon the gifts you’ve been given- look at how much your body does for you each day, at how blessed you are to be able to choose your thoughts, and at the marvel of how your body and mind work so seamlessly together. Like a rusty silver chain, sometimes the value of your health is hidden until you give it a little shine.
Namaste~
Stacy

The Antidote For Aging

A common saying in yoga is, you’re as young as your spine. It’s not the number of years that determines your age, but the flexibility, strength and mobility of your spine that determines a person’s age. Yoga lets you trade in characteristics of old age for characteristics of youth. Physically, a regular practice slows down the aging process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the core, improving the tone of flabby arm LLU3I1F1952-2muscles, correcting poor posture, and preventing dowager’s hump.

 

The mental benefits of a yoga lifestyle are even more profound. Through a disciplined practice there is a heightened mental prowess and an increase in focus and concentration.

In his book, Reversing Aging, Dr. Paul Galbraith wrote about the power of yoga and it’s many benefits of living with greater vitality and joy. The following are a few of the anti-aging benefits of a consistent yoga practice.

Live longer. Yoga affects all the important determinants of a long life: the brain, glands, spine and internal organs.

Increased resistance to disease. Yoga produces a healthy strong body with increased immunity against disease. This increased resistance extends from the common cold to serious diseases like cancer.

Increased vitality due to yoga’s effect on the brain and glands.

Rejuvenation of the glands. Yoga has a marked effect on the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and sex glands. This produces a feeling of well-being, prevents premature aging and extends sexual virility well into old age.

Look and feel younger. Yoga reduces facial wrinkles and produces a natural ‘face-lift’. This is mainly due to the inverted postures. By doing the inverted postures for a few minutes each day, we reverse the effect of gravity and use it to our advantage. The result is firmer facial muscles, which cause a reduction in wrinkles, and a natural face-lift.

Vision and hearing improve. Normal vision and hearing depend to a large extent on the eyes and ears receiving a good nerve and blood supply. The nerves and blood vessels which supply the eyes and ears have to pass through the neck. As we get older, the neck becomes less flexible, like the rest of the spine, and there is a tendency for nerves and blood vessels to be encroached upon as they travel through the neck. This impairs the nerve and blood supply to the eyes and ears, affecting their function. Yoga postures and yoga neck exercises improve the condition of the neck, resulting in better eyesight and improved hearing.
Because of yoga’s rejuvenation effects on the glands and nervous system, including the brain, yoga results in a positive mental/emotional state. It will help you to feel more confident, enthusiastic and generally optimistic. You will also become more creative in your everyday life. As you start to feel and look better and unfold more of your full potential, these positive mental and emotional states occur as a consequence. Within a few weeks you will feel calmer and have better concentration. Within a few months, rejuvenation of the organs will start to occur.

 

All these benefits won’t happen overnight, but as you continue to practice, you will build a strong foundation to age with greater health, joy and vitality.

 

A Yogi’s Creed for Living a Beaming Life

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines health as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain”. How progressive this statement seems in a quick-fix physical world of flash diets and high intensity workout programs. This description truly captures the essence of health- soundness in mind, body and spirit.

This way of thinking of health, while radical and progressive compared to the mainstream approach, is actually rooted in ancient traditions. The sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda have sought to bring balance to mind, body and spirit since their inception into the human experience. The practice was built to inspire and restore the practitioner into healthful balance, by offering deep insight into imbalances through earnest deep-looking, dedicated physical routine and sincere effort to move past Self.

Though this method of gaining and keeping good health is ancient, it is invariably relevant to our lives today. We are busy as ever, high on stress and buried by duties, making it so easy to fall into imbalance. The practice of Yoga offers us the tools for us to use to feel good- for immediate and lasting health. As the great Yogi B.K.S. Iyengar so eloquently said, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”

Whether you consider yourself a Yogi or not, a regular yoga practice can teach us all a thing or two about living a healthy lifestyle. From the food we eat, to our work schedules, to how we handle our relationships and even to the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, Yoga promotes health and balance in all areas of our lives.

Inspired by the ancient practice and shaped for the present, this is my creed to living a healthy, thriving and Beaming life:

Take excellent care of your body.

It is the only place you have to live! Your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and spirit. If you take excellent care of it, your body will take you wherever you want to go, with the power, strength, energy and vitality you will need to get there. Make your movement mindful and meaningful so you get the most from it. Buy the best quality food possible that includes organic, superfoods that will keep your engine running smooth. Give yourself time to rest.

Create healthy rituals.

A daily Yoga Asana practice is a great way to keep your body and mind in balance and available for use when you really need it. Not only does this practice create a strong and lean body, but it conditions our breathing to take in more oxygen, which we need for all vital functions. A great morning ritual is to break your overnight fast, with a low glycemic, high protein drink. I love combining Beaming’s Pure Green Juice with fresh almond milk which makes it both cleansing and protein rich.  If you find you easily fall off track from a daily practice, try inviting a seasonal ritual into your schedule to help you reset. Whether it’s practicing 108 Sun Salutations at the change of the seasons or participating in a Seasonal Cleanse, sometimes all you need is a reminder to get back on track.

Research and Study YOU.                                              

Studying ancient traditions and methods of introspection (Yoga, Astrology, Ayurveda) or more modern Personal Development methods can help the mind to cultivate and maintain deep awareness. The greater your personal awareness grows, the more likely you are to do things that are of benefit to yourself.

Contribute.

You have to have a life that has more meaning than just making money or running your business. Giving back, paying it forward, and contributing beyond yourself reminds you of what life is truly about- building others up and growing healthful communities. The act of giving transforms your self identity into one of compassion, love and gratitude. The latest research from the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine shows that people who give more are actually happier.

Let your light shine.           

We all have a responsibility in life to be something more than ourselves, to achieve a higher purpose. Never stop trying to make yourself the BEST version of you. You deserve to be great- let it empower you to grow your light and shine! Share it with the world.

Find your tribe.

You become like those whom you surround yourself with, so choose the company you keep wisely. The people around you should offer support and encouragement, and delight in everything about you.

Magnify your meditation.

If sitting still is challenging, choose to focus on powerful thoughts and emotions as your meditation. Some of my favorites are, “My body is perfect, whole and healed”, “All I need is within me now”, and “I love my life. I am so blessed”.

What I Believe and Why

Horse on beach YNSI discovered my love of movement and healthy living at a young age. Fortunately, when I was growing up, there wasn’t a label placed on kids with high energy. Parents and teachers would just tell me I had “ants in my pants” because I couldn’t sit still. Movement became my refuge. It was a revelation to me, that what we do with our bodies has a profound healing effect on our minds and our hearts. So I made it my mission to share this sense of joy and hope with others.

After more than 30 years in this business, my passion for health living- and my commitment to helping each of you on your own journey – is stronger than ever.

 

  • I promise to empower you by creating products and services that are effective, affordable, practical and fun.
  • I promise to be there for you with a smiling face, especially on those days when you need an extra boost of motivation or stress reduction.
  • I promise to provide an inspiring community of like-minded friends who share your goals, your challenges, and celebrate your victories.

I’m grateful to share this experience with you, and look forward to helping you every step of the way. Now, take a deep breath and let’s make 2016 the best year yet!

By the way, if you would like to read more about what I believe and why, click here.

Sprouted Almond Milk

images-1Sprouted Almond Milk
If you’ve never tried nut milk, you’re in for a treat! It tastes so much better than cow’s milk and is easy to make. The following are 5 easy steps to making the most nutritious and delicious almond milk.
1) Soak 1 cup of raw organic almonds in 2 cups of filtered water with a few spritzes of food-grade 3% H2O2 to kill off any bacteria. Soak for 2 days, changing the water twice per day – once in the morning and once in the evening. (Double the quantity if you want to make a larger batch.)

2) Soak for approximately 48 hours because it allows the almonds to begin sprouting which changes the nutritional composition and maximizes nourishment.
Have you ever eaten shelled sunflower seeds? Then you know that they are slightly oily and contain fat. How about that same sunflower seed 10 days later after it’s sprouted into a sunflower green? Now it’s green crunchy, fresh and plump with water. Where did the fat go? The process of sprouting changed the nutritional composition of the seed.
When you sprout almonds, you will see a tiny bud starting to form at the tip of the almond and a crack down the center where the almond is about to split so the sprout can emerge. This will only happen if the almonds are truly raw, fresh and viable.

3) Place the cup of almonds in a high-speed blender or Vitamix with two cups of water, a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt and an optional sweetener like vanilla bean seeds, or yacon syrup. I prefer just a little yacon syrup since it is sweet,and has an extremely low glycemic index. If you are making a flavored milk like chocolate milk or chai, now is a good time to add the raw cacao or spices. Blend at high speed. Taste test your milk and adjust to desired flavor.

4) Pour the almond milk through a nut milk bag and squeeze to separate the almond pulp from the milk. The almond pulp can be used to make other treats like raw almond cookies, but the pulp will only keep fresh for 1-2 days refrigerated unless you dehydrate it into almond flour.

5) Viola! You’re done and now you can enjoy your almond milk straight or use it to make a creamy smoothie, add to recipes, breakfast cereal,and so much more.
Watch this 3 minute video and view the steps in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9UirLp5vtw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUDBizofTVWVUib_JsxwxBWg