Why You Should Consider Yoga During Pregnancy

 

 

As yoga’s popularity increases, its benefits are becoming more and more well known. Many people around the world will attest to the stress relief, core strengthening and flexibility that yoga provides. One group that can especially benefit from yoga is expecting mothers. 

 

Prenatal yoga will ease the burden of childbearing by supporting key muscles, making it easier to sleep and preparing pregnant women for childbirth. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga will increase confidence leading up to labor and calm the minds of expecting mothers. Still wondering if prenatal yoga is the right choice? Read about some of the proven benefits below. 

 

Strengthens Key Muscle Groups

Regular prenatal yoga will strengthen and tone important muscles like the abdominals and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor supports the baby as well as the digestive organs during pregnancy. Carrying a child places an extremely large burden on this important muscle group so strengthening it through yoga is a great idea. 

 

Promotes Good Posture

Carrying a child can place a great strain on the lower back, which changes the mothers’ center of gravity and can lead to bad posture before and after childbirth. There are many yoga poses designed to help alleviate pain and tension in the lower back, which improves posture and makes daily life easier. 

 

When the center of gravity changes, the feet may also be affected with problems like over pronation. This can lead to heel pain, feet and leg cramps that make standing and walking extremely unpleasant. Yoga allows the feet and legs to be elevated and stretched to reduce soreness.

 

Preparing for Childbirth

By doing yoga, you can become more in tune with your body which may increase confidence leading up to and during childbirth. The deep breathing techniques often practiced in yoga are useful during labor to make the body relax. Studies have shown that the confidence boosts associated with yoga lead to smoother deliveries. 

 

Aside from the physical benefits of prenatal yoga, joining a yoga class can provide a support system during pregnancy. Exercising and socializing with other women will help ease tension and anxiety about childbirth. 

 

Quality Sleep

Getting a good night of sleep can be challenging during pregnancy and will only get harder after childbirth. Cramps, heartburn, and stress are all common reasons why falling and staying asleep can be such a pain. Luckily, bedtime yoga has important benefits that will make sleeping easier than ever.

 

Practicing yoga before bed will help establish a bedtime routine which is a great way to wind down at night and tell your body it is time to rest. Additionally, yoga provides relief from some of the pregnancy related aches and pains that may keep women awake. Yoga encourages steady breathing which helps calm the mind and prevent anxiety and stress from getting in the way of rest. 

 

Make sure to consult a physician before practicing yoga if you are expecting and avoid hot yoga classes as well as poses that place a burden on the abdominals. Soon, you will be experiencing the wonderful benefits yoga can provide.

Stephanie James
Freelance Content Writer 

Make Your Habits Stick!

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” the saying goes. Often times, this is used to justify the belief that some people can be too old to change, that once a person has made a particular action or thought process a habit, they are doomed to repeat this for life. 

And while it is human nature to stick to our habits, we don’t necessarily have to be the victim of unhealthy ones we build.

When it comes to our habits and the brain, our biology can tell us a lot about why we tend to autonomously perform an action. Every time we think in a certain way, perform a task, or feel a particular emotion, we continue to strengthen the neural pathways in our brain in carving these processes as habits. This is called Neuroplasticity.

When we think about something differently, learn a new task, or choose a different emotion, our brain creates a new pathway. Using this pathway enough eventually replaces the old one. It just takes time to carve that new mental pathway in order to do so.

Of course, this is an ultra-condensed and simplified version of what actually goes on in the mind when we move through our habits. In real-time, we move through our habitual actions in the blink of an eye, often times not realizing what we’ve done until far after it’s finished. When it comes to ending old habits and creating new ones: 

-Awareness is key: Become aware of events leading to a particular negative thought or
emotion. Understand its root.

-Avoid Avoiding: Allow the experience to penetrate itself. Fully.

-Experience, Without Acting: It is possible to experience pain/pleasure without being driven to act upon it

-Recognize that the moment is temporary and that this too, shall pass

When it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks, it turns out you can! You are never too old to change, but it does get harder to change the older you get. Anyone who is willing to do the work is able to change if they want to.

Diane Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Barre, Meditation, and Yoga Instructor

A Meditation Practice for Improving Memory & More!

There are many things that we cannot change as we get older, good thing memory loss does not have to be one. A growing body of research suggests that a mind-body exercise could improve memory and cognitive function in older adults: specifically Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Studies conducted by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation have shown that this particular meditation can be particularly helpful for the aging adult. The practice boosts cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, has been practiced for thousands of years to help bring the body, mind and emotions into balance to enable healing. This non religious form for meditation combines mudra (hand gesture), mantra (vocalization), visualization, and regulated breathing. The combination is a powerful stimulus for the brain.

It is a very detailed meditation that can most easily be practiced with a qualified Kundalini instructor. However, here is a link to a description of the practice to get you started at home.

Resource: http://alzheimersprevention.org/research/kirtan-kriya-yoga-exercise/

How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?    

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form (see illustration), while your eyes are closed. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
  2. For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
  6. To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya (see illustration below).

Kirtan Kriya finger positions (mudras)

  • On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
  • On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor 

Family Yoga!

When I had my first daughter 3 plus year ago I had no idea how to take everything I had been learning during my years of yoga practicing and teaching and apply it to how to be a compassionate, patient, and loving mother. I did have a great example to follow and I am thankful for a mom who was all those things.

It is one thing to embody compassion in the quiet morning hours when I choose to meditate, but it is another to try to live up to that expectation every hour of the day and in the middle of the night.

As I am encouraging her to think of something happy, we sing a quiet song together. We hug.  My daughter and I take a deep breath, and we both feel better. We are learning it together how to approach each new moment as mother and daughter. She taught me a mantra to go with a hand gesture meditation I wanted to share with her. "I feel much better".

The beauty and simplicity of those words stunned me and made me feel better. We try it together.

Touching the thumb to the tip of each finger repeat out loud.

Index finger: I

Middle finger: Feel

Ring finger: Much

Pinky finger: Better

I wish that there was never a time when I felt anger or frustration, but I have these feelings. I am aware of them.

When I do yoga with my 3 year old I do not teach her, I share it with her and try not to get in her way, but keep her coming back. I try to remember just how lucky I am to be joining in that moment with her whatever it looks like.

Today I have another daughter and I feel like it is yet again a whole new experience in being present. However, this time I am able to take a step back and see so much more clearly. Of course hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case the gift of presence is truly 20/20.

Make life an effortless and enjoyable game, why not? It doesn't mean that there are no times for serious, but to live in a state of stress is not good for anyone in the family, so why not make it fun for everyone.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor

GET OFF YOUR BUTT RIGHT NOW! Your future self will thank you.

"I don't have time"

"I have to go to a fancy gym, buy expensive equipment"

"I have no motivation"

"I have no energy"

"It's boring"

Sound familiar?

My excuse is I don't have time. I am a busy businessman and I just can't spare the time. As I thought about this, I came up with a plan. Could I workout for just 5 minutes a day to start? We all have 5 minutes a day to workout. But starting a workout regimen is harder after a long period of inactivity. With this in mind, I created the 5-minute workout. It only takes 5 minutes a day that's it. EVERYONE has 5 minutes they can spare. 

I want to give the 5-minute workout book for free so you can continue to live healthy.

Download your 5-minute workout here.

Exercise Adds Years to Your Life

One study found that the average 65-year-old can expect an additional 12.7 years of healthy life meaning he will live disability-free until age 77.7. Highly active 65-years-olds, however, have an additional 5.7 years of healthy life expectancy — they will remain disability-free until age 83.4.

Without exercise, you increase your risk of a wide assortment of chronic illnesses. Here is a list of conditions and how many people have them:

  • Coronary heart disease (12.6 million)
  • Heart attack (1.1 million)
  • Diabetes (17 million)
  • Hip fracture (300,000)
  • High blood pressure (50 million)
  • Obesity (50 million)
  • Overweight (108 million)

Sitting around or lying around all day makes you weak. Do you want to live your life like this? 


ASK YOURSELF: How do you want to live your life? 
Do you want to add years to your life?


Your time is running out! You will not live forever. Get off your butt right now. Your future self will thank you! 


Jerrod Sessler
Owner & Founder Hot Feet Fitness 

Freedom in Structure

After teaching the Hatha26 class at Hot Feet this past month, one of my students and I had a yogi-geek-out conversation about the more subtle benefits of a yoga sequence that never changes. We concluded that knowing what to expect results in a freedom to explore limits and examine details within its structure. In the practice of Hatha26, because the sequence remains static, the variable is the individual.

 

The predictable nature of the Hatha26 enables the yogi to exercise their mind as well as their body. For example, after learning the sequence, a yogi can change the focus of their practice to careful listening, deliberately not anticipating or moving forward before it’s time. For others, remaining mentally present throughout a class is a challenge and thus, the focus of their practice can be to exercise and strengthen their ability to “be here now”.

 

Before class that very morning, while driving my daughter to school, I noticed I had entirely tuned out of the details of my regular route. Over time I had begun driving faster than a good neighbor should and I wasn’t noticing anything but the road in front of me. I had become inured to the beauty all around and I was rushing to hurry through what I had apparently begun to see as mundane. Beauty was everywhere but, for some reason, I had compartmentalized the practice of examining the details of my predictable sequence.

 

Enter yoga. After class that evening I realized that my approach to the Hatha26 should not be limited to the studio. While the exploration of new routes and new practices is surely worthwhile, there is also value in the routine. The routine, any routine, can be explored on many different levels, in many different ways. I arrived home that evening with a renewed purpose, intent on seeking other ways to appreciate the minutiae of life more purposefully; to “be here now” even if here is the familiar; to purposefully explore all of life’s redundant practices intentionally, with an appreciative attitude. Easier said than done, very much like yoga.

 

It’s a safe bet that you and I are the same. We both have routines that have become unexciting; monotony has set in and we would like to find a new route because we’ve got the itch to explore and we all relish the feeling of something new. Maybe that itch is more serious than a simple drive home; maybe it’s a relationship, or that sneaky negative self-talk, or perhaps you’re struggling with what you do to pay the bills. Whatever that something is, I challenge you to notice and appreciate the freedom of its predictability. Choose to see something beautiful in the small details of your routine. Spend some time today listening carefully. Explore your limits and even if you think you know what comes next, don’t anticipate.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor

A New Yoga has hit the Block!

Hatha26 is a stripped down practice of the moving meditation formally known as Bikram.  While, traditionally, these 26 postures are performed in a 105 degree room with 40% humidity, that will not be the case at Hot Feet. We will be practicing these postures in an 80 degree room with around 25 - 30% humidity. I am very excited to share this practice with you, especially with you yogi’s out there that have a desire to explore this style but have been understandably apprehensive regarding the extreme heat integral to a traditional Bikram studio.

 

If you’re wondering what makes this practice different than the many other classes Hot Feet currently offers it’s this: our other yoga styles are, to me, like a box of chocolates. Not only are they a treat, you also never know what's coming next. In contrast, Hatha26 is a set sequence of postures, each asana is intended to compliment the previous pose. The sequence, in my opinion, is where you find the yoga magic. In other words?  The predictability and familiarity of the sequence is where you discover the very different YOU that arrives on the mat each and every practice. The Hatha26 practitioner will eventually find that knowing what is to come reveals an entirely different aspect of their internal exploration because, when each practice involves the same asanas in the same sequence, the yogi is freed from thinking about what is coming next and, therefore, can escape their mind and spend some focused time in their body. It challenges the yogi to actively listen to the teachers instructions and to move, without anticipation, to the next posture. It is a practice of patience.

 

You’re invited to arrive and imbibe in 51 minutes of being in the moment, to leave your interpersonal baggage checked at the door and think only about the words spoken and your reflection in the mirror. 51 minutes to think about strength, balance and breath alone. 51 minutes to remind yourself that you are strong and capable of handling what’s coming next, without expectations.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor



Picture Credit: Unsplash

Reason to Retreat: How Wellness Retreats can Benefit You!

As a society, we tend to praise hard work and workplace dedication...

 

So much so that it reflects our current health-care system and workplace vacation policies. Of all the countries in the world, America is one of the few that do not offer paid time off. Employers that do offer time off may provide 12 days on average for their employees. Compared to the 20 day average of European countries, we are a little far behind.

 

In the past decade, the rise of self-care and wellness practices has showered the general public with information and opportunities to treat ourselves. More and more people are realizing how pivotal self-care is in preventing us from burning out. We are starting to accept the idea that we cannot pour from an empty cup, that personal time to recharge is needed, and that in order to recharge, sometimes we need to get away.

While a strong self-care practice at home is beneficial, wellness retreats can offer the time, space, and distance we need to disconnect from the demands around us. Studies have shown that people who attend retreats receive longer-lasting benefits that those who simply practice at home (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5149565/).

 

The obstacles, concerns, anxieties, and habitual routines that are present in daily life are no longer there. While in a retreat, you can create your own world where you are allowed the chance to experience yourself differently while practicing self-connection. Whether its’ a weekend retreat nearby or a week-long experience abroad, retreats can leave you feeling recharged and rejuvenated, ready to take on life once again.

 

Retreats can be an intense, they can be an investment, but being able to experience self-connection without any of the distractions and being able to fully immerse yourself in your journey are what make retreats such a powerful experience.

 

If you are interested in experiencing a retreat for yourself, check out the few below being offered by your Hot Feet instructors below!

 

Discover Spain Cultural Immersion and Yoga Retreat

Host: Diana Ratsamee

May 11, 2019 - May 18, 2019

October 12, 2019 - October 19, 2019

 

Explore the intimate, authentic, and raw parts of yourself through travel. With travel and tourism on the rise, it has become easier than ever to get lost. And while getting lost may be part of the journey, eventually, we all yearn to find ourselves. Discover Spain goes beyond the tour by inviting you to dive into yourself through mindful practices and activities led by our team of experienced travelers, spiritual healers, and yoga teachers. We will stay with you as we traverse our inner selves through authentic connection with Andalusia.

 

Contact: info@dianaratana.com

Diana Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Barre Instructor 



Picture Credit: Unsplash 

Under Pressure!

“Perhaps I should just bury myself and become a diamond after thousands of years of intense pressure.” ~ Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

 

I believe Mr. Snicket was onto something with regards to pressure and its purifying fire of change, albeit his time frame is a smidge off.

Let me explain.  

Intense pressure applied to simple carbon forces its atoms into orderly alignment in a way that, once revealed by a lapidary, produces a captivating, light-gathering diamond. Light is invited to move through it, reflect, refract and dazzle; the diamond’s sparkle demands your attention and its deep transparency is mesmerizing.
 
If you’re lucky, you have met people that possess the same facets. They are somehow different and utterly captivating in their deep transparency. They are the type of people you want to be near, to glean just what it is about them that makes them sparkle so.

It is my observation that people of such presence have known pressure intimately. They have not only faced pressure, but have leaned into and endured it. They are those among us who have learned and, most importantly accepted, that in order to realize a greater spiritual maturation they must remain in the heat; they have accepted the pressure for the transformational force that it is and have learned to see it as an opportunity to be blessed by the experience. In other words? They are the kind of person that has cultivated the ability to find comfort in the discomfort.

When a yogi chooses to apply pressure to oneself through the practice of asanas, this very type of transformation is underway, one meditation at a time. When a yogi show’s up for a class they are consciously and intentionally applying multi-faceted pressure to push themselves; pressure to breathe with movement and not simply gut it out, pressure to find their very edge and equal pressure to let it go, to counter their maximum effort with savasana, a conscious practice of relaxation.

On the mat, under pressure from both within and without, is where we find that we are capable of withstanding more pressure than we realized.This is where we can discover comfort in the discomfort and more stillness than we thought we could endure. Yoga asks that you show up, no matter the external pressures of your day and lean into your practice; yoga reveals your ability to do hard things and begs the question; “What other pressures are you capable of withstanding?”
 
My guess? More than you think.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor
 
 

Picture Credit: Unsplash

Just Show Up!

CHEERS. Have you seen the show?
It was a constant in my house growing up and I remember singing the theme song. "You wanna go where everybody knows your name!" every time the show was on the screen. It got me thinking about where we all go every day and how we can experience the polar opposites of being "welcomed in" or feel "isolated" because we just don't seem to fit the mold. Have you experienced this? Maybe at school on your first day, starting that brand new job, moving to a new city, walking into a church, etc. Everyday we are experiencing these comings & goings into communities. What if you never open the door though? What if you never give yourself the chance to experience something because you are too scared, overwhelmed, self-conscious, busy, and so on?

This is where I want to share a story about "Crystal." She's someone that I met a couple months ago while working at the studio. Here's how my interaction went with her.
 She walked into the studio right after I was done with taking X21 (our cardio high intensity interval training class) with trainer Elise and I happened to be behind the front desk. She was new to the studio and I could tell a little overwhelmed by what she walked into. I asked her how I could help & she said she wanted to know about what we offered for classes and when. She was a Veteran, so we talked about her discounted membership, which made her really excited.
Then we started talking more about what classes she should try and she started getting anxious. She told me, “Maybe I should go move my car before we talk because everyone seems like they are in a hurry to get in & out of class & I don’t want to take up someone’s space,” and even said when I suggested X21, she said “I’m too fat for that class.” I was taken aback and sad that this is how she felt, so I literally just said, “Stop that right now. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s ok. You would be fine in that class or any other. Just come.” And immediately I saw her relax.
This got me thinking back to the show Cheers and how there are probably so many other people like her (maybe you?) who may feel like this when you go somewhere for the first time. You just want or don’t know that you need a safe place or a kind word to encourage you to make the step forward. By just showing up, and coming in the front door.
We have all been “someone new" in the various stages and places in our lives, and we all could use a word of encouragement or a “hello & welcome" when we embark on a new journey. At Hot Feet we take the time to do just that. We get to know your name. We connect. Because we all need each other.
Teanna G

Studio Manager and Operations Director