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Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Health, Inspiration, Weightloss

Lose Weight Without Even Trying

Lose WEIGHT

I struggled with weight loss all of my life. When I was teenager, I was 30 pounds heavier than I am now. I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and feel ashamed that I couldn’t fit into my clothes. I wore baggy tops so no one could see that I squeezed myself into my jeans. In total, I’ve gained and lost over 100 pounds in my life. 10 pounds here, 20 pounds there… It’s been a real roller-coaster ride. Finally, I have it figured out!

Like many of you, I wanted to discover the combination to not only losing weight but feeling great, once and for all. Here’s the secret: Continue Reading

Finding Strength, Health, Success, Wisdom

Reboot Your Resolution

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One of the most basic yoga poses is called Tree Pose, but on this day, for me, it was incredibly difficult.  I can do advanced balances with one leg in the air behind my back, but for some reason I could not stop wobbling in Tree Pose. I fell. I tried again. I fell. There are times in life when we wobble before we get to our destination. We oscillate. We are off balance. The most important thing is that we get up and attempt the endeavor again.

There are many stories of celebrities and wealthy individuals who have tried only to fail. Continue Reading

Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Mindset

Try Something New

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Many of us make a New Year’s resolution to be happier and healthier.  Sadly, however, most of us never reach our goals.  Why?  How can we stack the odds in our favor?

The University of Scranton determined that only 77% of people who make resolutions are still going strong a week into the new year.  And after six months, the percentage drops to forty.  Bad habits sneak back into our lives within days of having grandiose ideas about how the next twelve months will be different.

Here are a few tips and tricks to lose weight, get in shape and be happier: Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Inspiration

Holiday Health Tips

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As we approach the holiday season, it’s important for us to maintain our health so that we can visit friends and relatives without that dreaded cough or cold. That means putting yourself first and making daily exercise and healthy eating a priory now. I’m all for having indulgences on occasion, like apple or pumpkin pie, but then it’s important to burn off those calories because they will catch up with you.

Each year the average person gains a few pounds over the holiday season. Let’s make sure that we don’t this season by doing a few simple things:

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Fitness, Health, Wellness

Bank on Your Health

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We all know the basics of banking; you cannot withdraw money you don’t have in your account.  What if we looked at our bodies as bank accounts and the healthy choices we make as money deposited into our account?  Every time you exercised, ate healthy meals, slept well and had a positive mental attitude you’d receive more cash flow!  But all the unhealthy choices, like smoking, excessive drinking, too much stress and lack of sleep would be withdrawals that may result in poor health, depression or injuries.

There will always be times in life when we are unexpectedly hit with a curve ball and we’ll have too much stress, miss a night of good sleep, indulge in junk food, or have one too many glasses of wine.  After those occasions we feel a little less perky, more sluggish and even run-down.  Our body functions at a lower vibrational frequency and if we make yet another withdrawal on the body bank account we risk becoming overdrawn.  Injuries and illnesses are more likely to occur when our immune systems have been compromised.  In our twenties or thirties, we may have been able to get away with a few too many drinks and lack of sleep from partying but eventually, our bodies will rebel in the form of a cold, headache or something worse.

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Fitness, Health

Work Out

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An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.Henry David Thoreau

Getting regular exercise doesn’t mean you have to work out an hour or more a day. Who has time for that? Short bursts of strength-training moves and at least two days of cardiovascular exercise weekly can help you keep fit.

Many of us use the lack of time as an excuse to not exercise. If I’m not teaching a fitness class, I can come up with more excuses than anybody about why I’m too busy to exercise. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.—life gets in the way, right? Wrong!

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Health, Meditation, Mindset, Wellness

Be Still

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I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.T. S. Eliot

Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest, and feel your heartbeat. Focus on slowing down your breath and relaxing every part of your body, beginning at your head, down through your jaw, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, and toes. Imagine that every cell in your body is operating at its utmost potential. Envision every muscle and bone healthy and strong. Bring your awareness to your breath. Pretend you’re breathing through a straw slowly. Inhale to the count of ten and exhale even more slowly. Try to slow your heartbeat.

Studies show that we can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and diminish anxiety just by being still and calming our bodies and minds. Meditation helps the mind find a happy ground where it’s not working so hard and spinning out of control. It helps control anxious and negative thoughts.

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Health, Wellness

Become a Sleuth for Health

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Have you been ignoring minor or major aches and pains? Is your body trying to tell you something? Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my body and became deathly ill.

I have been a group fitness instructor since 1980. I’ve appeared in exercise videos and cable TV shows. I know my body, and I know when something doesn’t feel right. Around 2002, I began to have flu-like symptoms and debilitating migraines. I knew something was wrong. I went to several doctors. One of them told me I might be too healthy and I should try eating at McDonalds!

I was constantly tired and hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years. Ten minutes into the exercise classes I was instructing, I couldn’t get enough air, and I was scared. I knew something was terribly wrong but I couldn’t figure it out.

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Fitness, Health

Which Workout Is Right For You?

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As a fitness professional for more than 30 years, I have seen a lot of exercise programs come and go. More have gone than stayed. It can be difficult to determine which new trend is best for you and your lifestyle.

In the 1980’s I started teaching high impact aerobics where a good class was measured by the number of people who dropped out — or the number of people who could not keep up.  Aerobics instructors in the ‘80s would typically do can cans for a minimum of 10 minutes straight. For those of you who don’t know, that’s jumping on one leg doing a knee lift, jumping again and doing a kick. That was a trend that didn’t stick around.

In the 1990s, I owned my own aerobics studio and taught everything from step, to slide, to Spinning, and trained with the creator of that program, Johnny G.  I was teaching what is now called Soul Cycle decades ago. It was fabulous and I got really familiar with a bike seat, but how much can you do on an indoor bicycle?

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