Opportunity abounds!

For many years in my BC (before children) era I toiled in the restaurant industry and, because I enjoy suffering, my jam was waiting tables in fine-dining houses. It’s a very self-explanatory position. As a waiter, I waited. I waited for the kitchen to prepare the food, I waited for the bartenders to pour liquor and I waited for the diners to dine. 

 

If you were savvy enough to avoid restaurant work you might not know the three universal rules that govern all dining establishments with regard to the waitstaff. Because these rules have proven to have great value out here in the Real World, I thought I would share them with you. They are as follows: 

 

Wash your hands. 

 

You’ve got time to lean? You’ve got time to clean. 

 

Never leave your section empty handed. 

 

The first two are pretty straightforward. Nobody needs a lecture on the merits of keeping sickness at bay with clean hands, nor has anyone I know ever completed their to-do list. In other words? Get to work.

 

However, the third rule is a bit more than it seems. While you can interpret “never leave your section empty handed” to mean the obvious and entirely useful, “Never head up or down the stairs without a laundry basket”, it also has a deeper meaning to me. It pushes me to consider what my “section” is in this world and for how much of it I am responsible. When considered in that light, NLYSEH can be interpreted as, “Never walk by garbage on the ground in public, pick it up”. Or perhaps, “Never walk by a grandma-type loading her groceries into her trunk without offering to help”. Further, and more challenging for me, it can mean “Never be afraid to apologize to a stranger for causing them inconvenience, even if they are the one being difficult”.

 

Our community is our section and we shant wait for the opportunity to be of service in little ways; we all have the capability, the responsibility, to clean things up a bit. Never leave your section empty handed, even if its a simple handshake, a kind word, a generous smile or simply filling a bag of trash on your way to the studio. 

 

Opportunity abounds. Don’t be a waiter. 

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Teacher
 
 

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

Sing your heart out: Do we sing because we are happy or are we happy because we sing?

Yoga aims to connect us with ourselves, with each other, with the universe. Yoga means union. Singing or chanting is a means of coming together. It is done at birthdays, celebrations, and to share common emotions. At times it can be used in a religious context, but beyond that it brings people together with a common intention. Whether that intention is to celebrate God or celebrate life, health, overcoming obstacles, or love, singing is a means of connecting to each other and to ourselves. 

Something I have noticed in my 12 years of teaching yoga is that singing is a powerful tool. It can bring up feelings of vulnerability disguised as anger or resistance. But let me reassure you, that singing in the shower or on your yoga mat does not need to be Grammy worthy to have a powerful impact. The voice is as unique as each individual, no one sound is exactly the same. It is freeing to face fears and be completely comfortable with who you are, what you look like, what you sound like. So embrace your uniqueness, your beauty and the healing power of your sound.


Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Meditation Instructor 

 

Back To Nature: How The Outdoors Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is a powerful tool we can use to help us connect. After all, the literal translation of yoga is “union”. In a world full of noise and distraction, the ability to connect with yourself is key to thriving. This is why when we practice yoga, we practice being present. We practice stillness, self-awareness, and finally self-acceptance. When we are able to connect deeply with ourselves on this level, we find that the connections we share with our family, friends, partners, colleagues, acquaintances, and all living things around us become much more authentic and meaningful.

Practicing yoga offers us a way to incorporate seemingly simple ideas into a world which has complicated itself. While yoga is one of the tools we can use to help us connect, connection with nature can offer many similar effects. Studies have shown that being out in nature can offer one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways incorporating nature can enhance your yoga practice.


Practicing outside can challenge you.

Within the confines of a studio, the aromas, soft lights, pleasant sounds and even the floor your lay your mat on, is controlled to set the ambience for your practice. When you take your practice outside, however, you become vulnerable to what nature has to offer you. Whether it’s the slight breeze of wind, the heat from the sun, the sounds from the animals around you, or the uneven earth beneath you, taking your practice outside means allowing yourself to embrace all that is happening in your surroundings while still remaining true to your practice. It challenges your focus, balance, and ability to stay present. Instead of battling the elements, let the elements of nature deepen your practice. Allow the breeze from the wind to remind you to deepen your breath, the sounds of the animals around help you practice stillness, and the uneven surface of the earth at your feet challenge your balance. 


You can take your practice anywhere

When you learn to embrace nature in your practice, you are learning how to embrace all external conditions that may affect your practice. Whether you are practicing in a studio, on a beach, on top of a mountain, or in a bustling city, learning to embrace all conditions means being able to practice anywhere. Being able to accept and embrace the conditions around you as you practice can help you build a solid internal practice. Having a solid internal practice will allow you to find peace even in the most chaotic scenarios and situations. 


You become more aligned with nature

Nature drives many of the poses we practice in yoga already. Whether its finding balance in tree pose, embracing the sun in sun salutations, connecting with the core in moon pose, or walking in downward dog, nature naturally inspires our practice. Connecting with nature is ultimately having a greater connection to everything beyond yourself.

“When we embrace nature in your practice, you can evoke a sense of harmony, connection, and timelessness with the universe.” 

By learning to embrace our inherent oneness with nature, we can start our connection to the greater things around us.

Diana Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Barre Instructor

 

Back To Nature: How The Outdoors Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is a powerful tool we can use to help us connect. After all, the literal translation of yoga is “union”. In a world full of noise and distraction, the ability to connect with yourself is key to thriving. This is why when we practice yoga, we practice being present. We practice stillness, self-awareness, and finally self-acceptance. When we are able to connect deeply with ourselves on this level, we find that the connections we share with our family, friends, partners, colleagues, acquaintances, and all living things around us become much more authentic and meaningful.

Practicing yoga offers us a way to incorporate seemingly simple ideas into a world which has complicated itself. While yoga is one of the tools we can use to help us connect, connection with nature can offer many similar effects. Studies have shown that being out in nature can offer one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways incorporating nature can enhance your yoga practice.


Practicing outside can challenge you.

Within the confines of a studio, the aromas, soft lights, pleasant sounds and even the floor your lay your mat on, is controlled to set the ambience for your practice. When you take your practice outside, however, you become vulnerable to what nature has to offer you. Whether it’s the slight breeze of wind, the heat from the sun, the sounds from the animals around you, or the uneven earth beneath you, taking your practice outside means allowing yourself to embrace all that is happening in your surroundings while still remaining true to your practice. It challenges your focus, balance, and ability to stay present. Instead of battling the elements, let the elements of nature deepen your practice. Allow the breeze from the wind to remind you to deepen your breath, the sounds of the animals around help you practice stillness, and the uneven surface of the earth at your feet challenge your balance. 


You can take your practice anywhere

When you learn to embrace nature in your practice, you are learning how to embrace all external conditions that may affect your practice. Whether you are practicing in a studio, on a beach, on top of a mountain, or in a bustling city, learning to embrace all conditions means being able to practice anywhere. Being able to accept and embrace the conditions around you as you practice can help you build a solid internal practice. Having a solid internal practice will allow you to find peace even in the most chaotic scenarios and situations. 


You become more aligned with nature

Nature drives many of the poses we practice in yoga already. Whether its finding balance in tree pose, embracing the sun in sun salutations, connecting with the core in moon pose, or walking in downward dog, nature naturally inspires our practice. Connecting with nature is ultimately having a greater connection to everything beyond yourself.

“When we embrace nature in your practice, you can evoke a sense of harmony, connection, and timelessness with the universe.” 

By learning to embrace our inherent oneness with nature, we can start our connection to the greater things around us.

Diana Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Barre Instructor



Momentary Encounters with Balance

This past week, the Vernal Equinox came and went -- the first day of Spring, when we experience that half-and-half balance of daylight and darkness. The sense of equilibrium between the seasons on both the Spring and Autumn Equinox is a lovely invitation to explore balance in our day-to-day existence.

Striking a balance in a hectic life -- whether that’s a balance of effort and ease, of chaos and calm, of obligations and options -- can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Achieving a lasting state of perfect equilibrium sounds unachievable with the on-going pressures of family, career, bills, responsibilities, ad infinitum.

But perhaps that doesn’t need to be the goal. A beautiful reminder of this is the yin-yang symbol. It’s a familiar representation of balance, with light on one side and dark on the other, but my favorite part is the small bit of light that inhabits the darkness, and the small bit of darkness that occupies a patch of the light.



Let’s view the balance of effort and ease through the lens of the yin-yang symbol. Poses that may on the surface seem the very embodiment of ease (such as savasana or “corpse pose”) in fact require a fair bit of effort because it takes work and practice to quiet the busy mind and fully experience the restorative offerings of the posture. On the flip side, in poses that require more physical effort (for example, arm-balances like crow, or inversions such as headstand or handstand), one can find surprising pockets of ease. I find it is easier to let go of my to-do lists, worries, grudges, and other distracting thoughts when engaged in an asana that calls for greater effort from my physical body, and therefore it’s easier to be fully present in the moment.

It can be so helpful to remember that there is often effort within the ease, and ease within the effort. And once I open up to applying this yin-yang metaphor to more aspects of my life, the more achievable a sense of balance seems. Perhaps there will always be a little chaos in my calm (in the form of children’s toys strewn about or unfinished tasks on my to-do list when I pause to relax and read), and that’s okay. It encourages me to also seek (or create) rays of calm in the chaos.

Returning to the recent passing of the Equinox: its fleeting nature (only two days a year!) is also a much-needed reminder that a sense of balance isn’t necessarily a “destination” we can work toward and then settle down in permanently. Rather, it’s something that we may pass in and out of, periodically and momentarily, perhaps many times over the course of our lives.   

May you seek and find the interplay of yin and yang in your life, and may your momentary encounters with balance come more frequently than twice a year!


Kat Stein-Ross
Hot Feet Fitness Instructor