Tips to Start a Yoga Practice

b083c5de947d497c86344c6304252e8bHave you been curious about taking a yoga class, but feel too intimidated to go? Maybe you’ve heard about the many benefits of practicing yoga: strength, flexibility, balance and stress relief – but you have no idea what to expect from your first yoga class. I’ve been teaching yoga for one year, and I’ve met so many people that are hesitant to go to a yoga class.

Walking into a yoga studio for the first time can be a scary experience. Just being brave enough to be there means you belong there. Doesn’t matter your body type, how flexible or not flexible you are, if you have the latest and greatest gear. Yoga is for everyone.

If possible, take a beginner’s class or series. This will give you a solid introduction to the basic poses. If your local studio or gym doesn’t offer this, still go to yoga. It’s helpful if you let the instructor know that it’s your first class. Throughout class the instructor can guide you to variations of poses that will work for you. Remember, yoga is a practice. You don’t have to be “good” at it or hit all of the advanced poses. You just need to show up!

As you get ready for your first yoga class, here are a few tips:

  • Wear clothing that allows for a full range of motion
  • Bring your yoga mat if you own one
  • Wear a form-fitting top or something that can easily be tucked in
  • Leave your phone in your bag ringer turned off
  • Bring water and a towel if you sweat a log
  • Yoga is practiced with bare feet, so remove shoes/socks before class
  • If the teacher suggests using certain props (block or strap), grab them before class starts

Also, there are a few words you might hear in class. You don’t need to commit these to memory, but it mighten lessen your confusion to review these now.

  • Namaste “the light in me acknowledges the light in you,” usually said at the closing of the class
  • Vinyasa – a style of yoga linking breath to movement as you move through poses
  • Ujayii – a kind of breath that makes a sound, reminding you to stay with the breath as you practice
  • Om – a sound chanted at the beginning and/or end of class to connect with universal energy and bookmark your practice
  • Savasana or Corpse pose – the final relaxation at the end of class
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New Recipe: The Easiest Tahini Dressing

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This is the salad dressing I make all of the time. Below is the base recipe, which you can then customize with herbs and spices of your choice.

Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free

Gather:

2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey
Pinch of cayenne
Optional: herbs of your choice, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, ginger – get creative!

Blend! Save the rest in a jar or container for later. Will keep up to 5 days.


Chakra Series :: 4th Chakra

wordswag_1492017615485chakras_map-svgWe are working with our 4th Chakra this month as part of the chakra series. The 4th Chakra, called the Anahata Chakra, is located at our heart space – the center of the chest at the sternum. This chakra is the seat of our empathy, compassion, kindness, love and passion. This is the chakra that opens your heart. It’s earth element is air – so being mindful of breath is a big part of working with this chakra. It’s color is green and its sound is “YAM.”

Yoga Poses

Different yoga poses can activate certain chakras. Here a few beginner-level poses I like to use to activate my sacral chakra:

Cow Face Pose
Start in a tabletop position. Bring your right knee forward and cross it over your left knee. Then slowly lower your hips down. You are working towards having your right knee stacked on your left. Try to bring the heels at equal distance from your hips. Inhale and raise your right arm up towards the ceiling and extend your left arm out to the side, thumb face down. On your exhale bend your elbows behind your back and clasp your hands. If you are not able to clasp hands, use a strap, or just grab the back of your shift. Stay here or take a deep breath in, and on your exhale start to fold forward. Stay for one minute and breathe. Ease out of the pose into tabletop, then take the other side. This pose opens the hips, chest and shoulders, promotes deep breathing and softens your heart.

Cat and Cow Pose
Start in a tabletop position, knees over the hips, hands under shoulders. Spread your fingers side. As you inhale, arch your back and lift your sitting bones towards your ceiling. At the same time lift your chest up between your shoulders, and broaden your shoulders. As you exhale, reverse this action and round your spine up towards the ceiling like a halloween cat. Release your head and neck here. Continue these actions… inhale, arch your back into cow pose, exhale, round your back cat pose. After several rounds, return to a neutral spine in tabletop position. These poses promote flexibility in the spine, deepens the breath, and opens your heart.

Camel Pose
This is a great pose to open the heart, stretching your front body, and preparing for deeper backbends. Kneel on the floor with your knees hips width. Place your hands on your lower back, fingertips facing downwards. Root down through your knees, they are your foundation in this pose. Slightly bring your tailbone in to lengthen your back – at the same time slightly press your front thighs back to counter the forward action of your tailbone. Inhale and lift your chest up. To deepen the pose, bring your hands to your heels. If you feel any strain on your lower back return your hands to your lower back. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.

Healing Foods for the Chakras

You can also nourish chakras through the foods you are eating. The color of the heart chakra is green. Eating your greens and green veggies will really activate this chakra. Green juices, green smoothies and salads are a great way to nourish your heart chakra.

Cashew Chopped Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing
Makes 2 huge salads

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Gather:
1 small head of red leaf lettuce (any lettuce will work here), chopped
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup corn
1 cup chickpeas
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup raw cashews

Dressing:
1/4 cup peanut butter
1” ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 cup of water
Splash of Tamari sauce

Make:
To make the dressing, blend all of the dressing ingredients.

To assemble the salad, divide the Lettuce into 2 plates (or one plate and a to go container for tomorrow’s lunch). Divide the rest of the ingredients between the 2 salads, and top with the peanut dressing.



New Recipe: Asian Quinoa Salad

asian quinoa saladVegan, Gluten-free
Makes 2-3 servings

Gather:
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup slivered kale
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage

Dressing:
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sambal olek chili paste
1 tsp maple syrup
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Make:
In a lidded pan, bring to a boil the quinoa, water, and frozen edamame. Then cover and cook on low for 14 minutes.

Meanwhile chop all of the other veggies you are using and put them into a bowl. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Then add the cooked quinoa and edamame and stir.

Will a last a few days in the fridge, this salad gets better the longer it marinates.