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Here’s my latest from our National Yoga Month Q&A: Two Quick Ways to Relieve Neck & Shoulder Tension. (Watch the vid here: https://www.facebook.com/SaraDiVelloOM)

1: Release the Upper Back with Eagle Arms
Bring the arms in front of you at a 90-degree angle, elbows at shoulder-height. If this is enough of a stretch for the shoulders/upper back, stay here. If you need more of a stretch, drop the left elbow below the right and twine the forearms, pressing the back of the palms together. The key to releasing the upper back muscles is to keep the elbows lifted–equal height to the shoulders–and the shoulders as relaxed and low as possible. Take five to ten deep breaths and switch sides.

2: Release Tight Neck Muscles with a Gentle Stretch
Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder and hold for 5-10 deep breaths. You can then gently turn the gaze toward the floor and hold there for 5-10 breaths. Don’t forget to do the other side too!

Bonus: Schedule “Breathing Breaks” throughout the day! Set your phone or calendar to remind you several times through the day to take cleansing and calming breaths!

 

Friends, grab your camera, bathing suit, camera and even a yoga mat. I am SO excited to announce I’ll be teaching yoga as part of a private tour through beautiful BALI Oct. 3-10.

Join us as we breathe fresh island air, take in lush landscapes, explore rice fields, bike through back roads of charming villages, eat nourishing, healthy meals, partake in an ancient meditation ceremony, hike up Mt. Batur (pictured below), take a Balinese cooking class…and of course optional daily yoga with me :)

The amazing Jess K. at My Adventure Travel put together a holistic tour to make sure you leave the island refreshed and inspired. I can’t wait and I hope you’ll join us.

Did I mention it’s really affordable?

Learn more here.

Need more inspiration??

Read all about my single-girl search for the ever-elusive trifecta of perfection: the tall, dark, and handsome, single straight guy who also does yoga! LOLs welcome :)

 

If you’ve been shoveling snow lately (thanks, #Blizzardof2015!), here are the five most important post-shoveling stretches to minimize an aching back and sore muscles later.

1. Release your upper back: Eagle Arms.

Bring the arms in front of you at a 90-degree angle, elbows at shoulder-height. If this is enough of a stretch for the shoulders/upper back, stay here. If you need more of s stretch, drop the left elbow below the right and twine the forearms, pressing the back of the palms together. The key to releasing the upper back muscles is to keep the elbows lifted–equal height to the shoulders–and the shoulders as relaxed and low as possible. Take ten deep breaths and switch sides.













2. Stretch your lower back: Modified Half Moon Pose.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your right hand on your right hip. Lift the left arm up and then to the right. Take ten deep breaths here, using your breath to expand the left ribs, deepening the stretch. Switch sides.
















3. Release your psoas: Crescent Lunge.
The psoas is the largest hip flexor muscle. It runs up the front of the hip, cuts through the abdominal cavity and attaches to the lower lumbar spine. Stretching the psoas not only gives you a hip flexor stretch, it can also release lower back tightness. Stand in a lunge position, with your right foot forward and the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone forward to intensify. Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
















4. Stretch your arms: Forward Bend with Arm Twist. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward to a comfortable level, lifting your arms up behind you.  Rotate the thumbs in (toward the center line) and then out to stretch your biceps.








5. Release your chest muscles: Doorway Pose.
As you head in from all your hard work, stand in the doorway and put your right arm out at a ninety-degree angle. Press your palm, forearm, and elbow against the doorframe and twist your chest gently to the left. Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.




Taking time to stretch all the major muscles you’ve just worked will minimize soreness and increase your chances for the quickest snowpocalytic recovery possible. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and remember the most important pose of all: couch-asana, which should be done lying down and for an extended amount of time. :)




*Thank you to my co-snowga photographer and model, STC

Whoa! I’m so thrilled to be part of this awesome article, “How to maintain your yoga routine while traveling” featured in USA Today’s Travel Section! It was written by journalist Nancy Trejos, as part of her Thriving on the Road series, which is all about staying healthy while traveling.

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How to maintain your yoga routine while traveling

Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY

October 24. 2012 – Roseann Day can’t go without yoga, especially when she’s traveling. That’s when she says she needs it most, what with cramped seats on airplanes and luggage to haul.

“Yoga’s a wonderful exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment yet helps with strength and flexibility,” she says.

If she can’t find the time to take a class, the Massachusetts-based information technology consultant will do yoga in her hotel room in the morning.

Now, more than ever, yoga enthusiasts have plenty of options for maintaining their routines on the road, yoga instructors and hospitality industry experts say. A number of hotels offer classes or in-room equipment. And if they don’t, yoga instructors say, there are many ways to practice the craft even on a plane, in a hotel room or outdoors at a park or beach.

“Yoga is one of the most feasible ways to exercise while on the road — limited amount of equipment: You lay down a towel if you don’t have a mat. (It) can be practiced indoors or outdoors,” says Marshall Sanders, a registered yoga teacher at VIDA Fitness and EPIC Yoga in Washington, D.C. “And you don’t have to worry about bringing multiple pairs of shoes because you practice barefoot.”

Interest in yoga has grown over the years. A 2012 study by Yoga Journal, a national yoga publication, indicated that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, up from 15.8 million in 2008. And they spend $2 billion a year on yoga retreats, up from $630,000 in 2008.

In an Omni Hotels and Resorts survey last year, 26% of respondents said they wished their hotel would help them find nearby yoga or spinning studios.

Equipment to go

Many hotels are doing better than that by offering classes or equipment.

Kimpton Hotel guests can request a yoga bag at the front desk that contains mats, straps and exercise bands.

In Washington, the Mandarin Oriental offers yoga mats and videos upon request. The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, a Marriott property, has Saturday-morning yoga classes in its Urban Garden when weather permits. In Boston, the Liberty Hotel offers “Yoga in the Yard” with instructors from the Equinox gym.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Northeast Florida has a yoga treehouse, where guests can practice yoga while overlooking the water.

Hilton Worldwide is testing a dedicated “Yoga Room.” The guestroom, available at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, has a designated space to practice yoga, a full-length mirror to check poses and yoga accessories.

“It’s yet another way to empower our guests and motivate them to maintain their healthy lifestyle on the road,” says Jodi Sullivan, senior director of global fitness for Hilton Worldwide. “We’re seeing more and more travelers, individuals, guests, consumers realizing the importance of yoga as far as breathing, meditation, stretching.”

Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, says hotels are trying to appeal to both younger and older guests.

“Yoga cuts across all age groups and many demographics, so it’s kind of universal,” he says. “Yoga and other types of exercise and fitness and health are all good messages for hotels because people feel stressed traveling.”

Start your trip off right

Yoga instructors recommend practicing some moves as soon as you arrive at the airport.

San Francisco International Airport recently opened a dedicated yoga room. Other airports have fitness centers on-site that offer day passes.

But there’s much you can do even while sitting in your seat at the gate or on the plane. Try an Eagle Arm pose while sitting, says Gabrielle Benoit, a yoga and pilates instructor and founder of Core Club LA in Los Angeles. All that is required is positioning your right arm under your left arm, then vice versa.

“If you are stuck on an airplane or in the airport, there are many different yoga poses you can practice in a chair to keep the blood flowing and get a little workout in as well,” Benoit says.

If you arrive at your destination and discover that your hotel doesn’t offer yoga amenities, there are other ways to get in your workout.

Many travel mats are now lighter than the ones you typically get at a studio.

If you can’t remember all your poses, online classes are available at such websites as YogaGlo.com. Pay an $18 monthly fee, and you can get instruction anywhere you go. Some websites allow you to download classes onto your iPod. Many instructors offer free instruction in YouTube videos.

If you prefer the physical company of an instructor and classmates, there are plenty of studios that let people drop in for about $15 to $20.

Sanders recommends calling the studio ahead. “Confirm the style, time and request feedback on the instructor and find out if a reservation is necessary,” he says.

Fresh air is refreshing

For a cheaper alternative, take your mat to a local park or a towel to the beach and practice while getting some fresh air, he says.

Sara DiVello, a registered teacher with classes in Boston, recommends travelers develop a routine for the road. Ask your favorite instructor for a private lesson, and have him or her customize a travel routine, she says.

DiVello says traveling yogis shouldn’t push themselves too hard when on the road.

“You don’t have to do a full 90 or even 60 minutes,” she says. “If you’re crunched on time, you can do an abbreviated practice.”

The best strategy, Sanders says, is to practice your routine first thing in the morning.

“Travel schedules tend to throw us off our routines, so doing your practice first thing in the morning will ground you (and) help reinvigorate normal body functions,” he says.

Recently, while I was at a wedding, a random dude from India came up and told me I had nice skin…and from this, he could tell I did yoga. Naturally, I assumed this was a bad pickup line/he was a creepy stalker/this was yet another brush with crazy. Although the fact that he was from India, and India being the birthplace of yoga and all, did make me pause to wonder if maybe he had some inside track of knowledge.Turns out, he did. According to an article in Marie Claire by Sarah Z. Wexler, in addition to all the bad stuff that we know stress is linked to, like lower immunity and higher blood pressure yadda, yadda, yadda, stress might also be causing you skin woes.The article recommends some different products for various problem, as well as dietary adjustments and…you guessed it…yoga. Check it out! And if the link isn’t working, find it pasted below.

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Marie Claire
http://www.marieclaire.com/hair-beauty/trends/skincare-tips-for-stress

Is Your Skin Stressing You Out?

The bad news: Your anxiety over aging could be causing wrinkles, zits, and blotchy spots. The good news: You can – and must – relax.

By Sarah Z. Wexler
The yoga class I’d signed up for to unwind was doing just the trick–that is, until the instructor stopped in front of me during corpse pose and told me to relax. “Try to cut the imaginary string that’s furrowing your brows together,” she whispered. “You’re getting a stress wrinkle.” Stress wrinkle? I wanted to tell this guru to namaste out of my business, but I had a hunch she was right. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the kind of stress that drives us to yoga class–or a third Diet Coke or checking our e-mail from bed–isn’t good for our skin, but it may be more serious than we realize. “There are very few skin conditions that stress doesn’t exacerbate: among them dryness, acne, rosacea, eczema, sensitivity, redness, and wrinkles,” says Boston dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch. It may even play a role in the development of skin cancer, as suggested by a 2005 National Cancer Institute study in which stressed-out mice (who moved my cheese?!) were less immune to the effects of UV light and so developed skin cancer more rapidly than their nonstressed peers. If that isn’t stressful enough to consider, know that “in extreme cases, stress can even mess with your hormones enough to cause villous hair growth,” aka a layer of facial peach fuzz, according to New York City dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler.

THE STRESS CYCLE

The way stress affects your skin is that when you’re tense, your brain releases cortisol, a stress hormone, into your bloodstream. That tells oil glands to ramp up production, leading to breakouts. Stress also dilates blood vessels, which causes redness and aggravates rosacea. Another side effect is skin becomes dehydrated, sensitive, and more susceptible to damage. Besides causing lines from furrowing your brow, stress also makes you look markedly older. We already lose 1 percent of our skin’s collagen supply every year after we hit age 20, but stress can accelerate that. “Younger women are coming into my office with wrinkles and older ones are still fighting acne. These issues are caused in large part because patients are more stressed out than they were even five years ago,” says California dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad. Some triggers are relationships, money, work, and family, according to Hirsch, but Murad also sees a rise in “cultural stress–the feeling that women expect perfection from themselves in all areas at all times. We all know that stress is unhealthy for your heart and brain, but it’s just as bad for your skin.” Repairing it works best with a dual-pronged approach that incorporates internal and external fixes.

SKIN-DEEP: TOPICAL SOLUTIONS

Since stress marks everyone’s skin differently, the first step is to take note of how your face reacts during the two weeks surrounding a high-stakes work presentation or a fight with your sister.
· BREAKOUT BUSTERS
For those whose skin reacts with greasiness and breakouts, the key is exfoliating to unclog pores that can harbor bacteria. “Instead of a gritty scrub exfoliant, which can cause further redness, use a product with lactic acid, which hydrates as it removes dead skin cells,” says Baltimore dermatologist Dr. Noëlle Sherber. “Then follow with an oil-absorbing kaolin clay mask.” (The Kinara Red Carpet Facial Kit includes both steps.) Spot treat blemishes with a salicylic acid gel. But if your acne comes with sensitivity and patches of dryness, the standard over-the-counter routine won’t benefit you as much as a trip to the derm’s office. In those cases, Wexler recommends Isolaz, an acne-fighting light therapy, with a salicylic acid infusion to brighten skin and clear acne. Another in-office treatment is an antioxidant-rich glycolic acid peel, such as Vivité, paired with blue-light treatment. “The light waves kill acne-promoting bacteria underneath the skin without causing dryness or irritation,” says Sherber.
· DRYNESS RELIEF
If your skin goes to the other extreme with dryness, flaking, peeling, redness, sensitivity, rosacea, or eczema, you’re not alone: A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that when women experience psychological stress, their skin becomes more easily dehydrated, even leading to eczema. Try products with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. “They absorb water and surround each dead skin cell with lipids, making the cell more able to hang on to water,” says Murad. For daytime, use SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel with hyaluronic acid or Clinique Redness Solution Daily Relief Cream, which contains caffeine and glycine to reduce redness and inflammation. For evening, treat with CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM, since it has both hydrat-ing acid and ceramides. Another temporary skin soother is “a nightly 20-minute bath–that’s not superhot!–before you apply a moisturizer,” says Sherber. “For patients with stress-related dryness, it hydrates the skin and also builds in time to unwind.” For your body, swap your traditional cream for one of Darphin’s Aromatic Care Oils; they moisturize just as well, plus offer relaxing aromatherapy benefits.
· WRINKLE REPAIR
For lines, sallow skin, and other visible signs of aging, you want to help skin fight back against free radicals and environmental damage with antioxidants. Murad’s favorites are products that contain pomegranate extract and vitamin C, like his Essential-C Daily Renewal Complex. The next step up is a chemical peel to reveal your newer, younger skin below. Or check in with your doctor to bring in the big guns: fractionated laser treatment to brighten dull, wrinkled skin and up collagen production. Sunscreen is even more important than usual, since when you’re stressed, “the dead cell layer on the skin’s surface becomes thin, with microscopic holes in it,” which can’t protect as well against aging UV rays, says Murad.

Marcus Ohlsson/Trunkarchive.com

INTERNAL AFFAIRS: LIFESTYLE FIXES

Sure, topical treatments can offer temporary benefits, but you can slather on as much retinol as you want and still create a forehead crevasse if tension keeps your heart rate on par with that of a neurotic hummingbird. Experts agree that some of the most effective long-term ways to improve your skin are to chill out and to drink more water, though they offer a variety of methods for finding your Zen place.
· REALISTIC GOALS
“It’s very easy for me to tell a patient to reduce her stress, but it’s not so easy for her to go home and do that,” says Hirsch. “The most critical step is realizing what your stress triggers are and then creating a plan for dealing with them. That could mean setting specific times twice a day to check your e-mail inbox, taking a weeklong Twitter holiday, or outsourcing what projects you can. It is really helpful to set limited, achievable goals so you don’t always feel like you’re falling behind. You may not clean all the closets in your house, but maybe you can organize your sweaters for winter.”
· STRESS-FREE EATING
Crazy-high expectations for yourself and being obsessed with perfection are a recipe for stress that many people handle with a bag of chips or a brownie. No, chocolate doesn’t cause acne, but “processed foods can worsen skin by causing inflammation,” says Murad. Instead, reach for snacks that can actually improve your complexion, like raw fruits and vegetables, thanks to their antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. (The fact that they’ll keep you in your current jeans size is a double bonus.) “If you have redness, stay away from spicy food and shellfish, since they can cause blood vessels to flare,” says Wexler. A good bet is whole-grain crackers or pasta. “To encourage collagen production, I eat whole grains plus foods rich in amino acids, like eggs, beans, and seeds. Eating cold-water fish and almonds, which contain omega-3’s, will help dry skin,” says Murad.
· TOUCH THERAPY
Murad also recommends ways to reduce stressed-out skin that are more touchy-feely–literally. “Hands-on therapies like Reiki, craniosacral bodywork, and even hugging a friend help. I actually refer my patients to get massages,” he says. Other experts recommend visual imagery of your “happy place,” behavioral modifications like tensing and then relaxing each area of your body one by one, and doing yoga–so long as you get a teacher who doesn’t point out your wrinkles.

http://www.marieclaire.com/hair-beauty/trends/skincare-tips-for-stress

 

There is a great article, American Anxiety: Why we’re such a nervous nation on Today. com this week. And by “great,” I mean important and yes, somewhat anxiety-inducing in and of itself.As the article detailed how anxiety has become a problem for many of us, how our thoughts race, our hearts pound, blood pressure sky rockets, and we lay awake plagued by insomnia and worries, I felt my own pulse pick up and thoughts start to race–ironically getting anxious about my anxiety.Anxiety about anxiety? Surely, that is a level-two problem. And by “level two,” I obviously mean, “crazy person problem.”

Oh well, according to the article, I’d be in good company.

Here’s the thing though: when I’m not reading anxiety-inducing articles about anxiety, I’m actually fairly calm. Or at least calmer than I used to be, which was a high blood-pressure insomniac with a racing heart. But over the years, I’ve used wine, more wine, gallons of wine yoga as a tool to lower my anxiety and its many unpleasant side effects.

Here’s how you can too.

  1. Got an extra hour a day (and no injuries)? (If injured, proceed directly to #3)
    Take a yoga class. One with lots of core work will help burn off that agida.
  2. Are you LOL at the idea of having an extra hour? No problem. Got 15 minutes?
    Do five rounds of sun salutations as follows:

    • Stand with your big toes together (or hip-width apart) and heels slightly wider. Take a deep, slow inhale and sweep your arms up slowly. Exhale slowly, drawing your palms to your heart. Set an intention for yourself. Maybe it’s “Ground myself.” Take a deep breath in. On the exhale, engage your core and slooooowly fold at the hips, bringing the hands toward the floor. Bend your knees to get there. Inhale half-way up to a long spine, pressing the palms against the shins. Sloooooowly exhale out, bending the knees and bringing the palms back down to the floor.
    • Inhale and step the right foot back to a low lunge. Exhale slooooowly. stay here.
    • On the next inhale, lift the left foot and then hold here in a “knee hanging” high plank for 3 cycles of breath. Lift the navel to the spine for extra core work. Breathe slooooowly and deeply, extending the exhale.
    • After three cycles, step back to high plank on your exhale. Keep the elbows slightly bent.
    • Next inhale draw the right knee to the right elbow, exhale slowly return to high plank. Inhale and draw the left knee to the left elbow, exhale and step back. SLOWLY repeat on both sides.
    • Are your arms shaking? Oh good–it’s working.
    • Inhale and draw the knees down to the floor (or stay on your toes in your name is Clark Kent or you’re freakishly strong). Inhale and drop the chest only to elbow-height. Stay here, with the hips high, for 3 cycles of slow, steady breath. Keep extending the exhale.
    • On your next inhale, breathe through to an upward-facing dog. Take a cycle of breath here. Release the shoulders down, away from the ears. Release any tension they’re holding.
    • Tuck the toes under and with strong core engagement, lift the hips first up and then back to downward facing dog or child’s pose. Stay here for 5 breaths.
    • Inhale, walk the palms back to the toes. Stay here for a breath. Then roll slowly back up to standing.

    Repeat this 4 times.

    Next, sit down (on the floor, on your desk chair, anywhere). Close your eyes and breathe 5 cycles of extended exhale breathing. Return to your intention. Open the eyes. You’re done!

  3. Got 1-5 minutes?
    1. Do one sun salutation (above) OR
    2. Sit. Think of what’s stressing you out and take a deep breath. Exhale (extending it longer than your inhale) and flick your hands as though you’re trying to get something off of them (you are–the stress!). Also know as the “there’s no paper towels in the restroom flick.” Repeat 3-5 times. Now, settle into extended exhale breathing with the eyes closed, concentrating on your new-found wellness.
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