The hidden benefits of yoga

Yoga_Oct12_AWhile many of you already know that yoga helps increase flexibility and boost endurance, and allows you to breathe your way to a calm mind, the fact is that yoga can do more than help you twist your body and find inner peace. With that in mind, we’ll explore the benefits of yoga that you may not know about, but will be glad that you do now!

Boosts immunity

According to research from the University of Oslo, just two hours of practicing yoga can cause your genes to change. Specifically, it turns on 111 genes that help regulate your immune cells. The changes start to occur the moment you’re on the mat, and rev up your immunity better than going on a nature hike while listening to soothing music, which turns on only 38 genes. Not only that but, as you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all other organs in your body function better too.

Eases migraines

If you suffer from migraines, then you already know how painful and disruptive they are to your daily life. But believe it or not, research from Headache: the Journal of Head and Face Pain shows that migraine sufferers have fewer, less painful migraines, and use meds less often after only three months of yoga practice.

What’s more, certain yoga moves can help alleviate migraine pain in no time. For starters, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart on the floor. With your hands resting on the floor, begin to press down into your legs and draw your hips toward the sky. Keep your shoulders in line with the base of your neck, moving the back of the shoulders together so your shoulder blades are close. Lift your chest towards your chin but move your chin away from your chest. This causes the upper trapezius muscles to flow away from the head, which will ease your pain.

Improves sexual performance

You read correctly, yoga actually improves things in the bedroom! Studies have found that 12 weeks of yoga can improve sexual desire, arousal, performance, confidence, orgasm and satisfaction for both men and women. How? Yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which helps with arousal and erections. It also strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, and the breathing techniques you get from the practice can help with endurance and performance.

If you really want to take things up a notch, try sitting with your feet together and your knees bent and reaching toward the floor. Then slowly fold over your feet while trying to bring your knees closer to the ground, moving the groin back, and engaging the pelvic floor muscles. This is a great hip-opener, plus the pelvic floor engagement tones the muscles for orgasm.

Relieves PMS cramps

Three specific yoga poses — the cobra, cat and fish, were found to significantly reduce the severity of young women’s menstrual cramps. It is best to perform these poses at the start of, or mid-way through, your period cycle.

Try the cobra pose, lying face-down on the mat with your palms down by the sides of your rib cage and the tops of your feet pressing into the floor. Press into your hands, puling the floor toward your toes as you lift your chest forward off the floor, and then lower down again. Focus on your abdominal connection and avoid lifting your leg off the floor.

Quells food cravings

Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice helps with mindful eating by causing breath awareness. This strengthens the mind-body connection and helps you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings. You’ll also slow down and make better choices when cravings do strike.

The next time you have the munchies, try laying down in a comfortable position and bringing attention to the natural breathing movement in and out through your nose. Then bring attention to the triangular area around the tip of your nose and upper lip, while also focusing on your breath hitting this space as you exhale, the temperature of your breath, and the nostril you’re breathing through. No moving, no reacting; just stay present. Try this for two minutes or more.

Stops embarrassing leaks

Believe it or not, yoga can treat urinary incontinence. This mainly affects women after having given birth, and often takes its toll on them at the gym or while they’re running. However, women who took part in yoga programs designed to target the pelvic floor muscles experienced a 70 percent reduction in the frequency of their leaks.

These are just some of the benefits of practicing yoga that will help enrich the quality of your everyday life. If you would like to know more about how yoga can benefit your mind and body, or would like to talk to an expert about getting started, just give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

A beginner’s guide to yoga class clothing

Yoga_Oct26_AIf you’re new to the world of yoga, selecting the right clothing is crucial for a positive first experience. While yoga doesn’t require you to invest a lot in equipment and garments, you still can’t just wear anything to join a class. You need to choose proper clothing that allows for stretching and bending, in order to ensure that your sessions will be as comfortable as possible. So check out these guidelines before you go shop around for yoga wear.

Yoga tops

We highly recommend tops that are made of cotton or knitwear. This is because most yoga postures involve a lot of stretching, and therefore it is necessary to wear clothes that are able to support all of your body’s extended movements. Cotton and knitwear textures are soft enough to prevent any rashes to the skin. They are also highly absorbent, preventing body sweat from getting in the way during your practice.

Don’t forget to consider the tightness of your yoga tops. Pick one that’s neither too loose nor too tight for your body shape. Try it on and see if you’re able to move freely in it. You should practice a few moves and poses in the fitting room to see if the top works for you.

Yoga pants

The perfect yoga pants are ones you can wear just as comfortably as your yoga tops, preferably made of a light material and with an elastic waist that conforms to your body’s shape. You have the option of choosing between full-length pants, capris, or shorts. Although this is all a matter of preference, you should choose a pair that complements your yoga practice. For instance, you should choose a pair of full-length, breathable pants for calm and gentle yoga, while shorts are recommended for hot yoga classes.


In addition to yoga tops, you can also put on long-sleeved thermal hoodies or zip-up jackets. These extra layers are ideal for the winter, when you’re traveling to a yoga class or when you perform yoga in a chilly room. Wearing an extra layer of clothing will help raise your body’s temperature and loosen muscles during the warm-up stage, as well as prevent chills when your body is not producing heat during the final relaxation stage.


After you have carefully selected your yoga wear, it’s time to consider the right accessories to go with the outfit. Avoid putting on any jewelry, so you don’t distract yourself and others during class. Some yoga accessories that may come in handy are headbands to keep your hair in place when you go through postures, yoga gloves to tighten your grip on the mat, and a yoga towel; these are super absorbent, making them perfect for wiping off the sweat during practice.

Looking to start practicing yoga? Get in touch with our expert instructors today and we can help get you started.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Why you should practice yoga at a studio

Portrait of a beautiful young yoga instructor smiling during one of her classesIn today’s busy and hectic world, joining traditional yoga classes in a studio is no longer the only option for practitioners. You can easily practice yoga right in front of your laptop in the comfort of your home. Doing yoga at home and following instructions from videos might be convenient, but there’s a good chance you will put your body into postures that are neither efficient nor properly aligned, which could potentially lead to injuries. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should keep on taking yoga classes at a studio.

Posture correction

One of the things that a home yoga practice lacks is adjustments and corrections from experienced instructors. Misalignment in poses can happen to anyone, from beginners to the most seasoned yogis. When you join a class, you’ll benefit from real yoga instructors who are always on the lookout for students who require assistance. Guidance and modifications from instructors are customized for every body shape in a particular lesson. Their immediate advice helps reduce the chances of students performing injury-prone poses.

Better insight

Practicing in a studio gives you the opportunity to approach your instructors and ask for their expert advice and insight, whether it’s before, during, or after class. Whether you’re looking to improve your postures, gain more flexibility and strength, or express concerns about pain in specific parts of your body during practice, your instructors are there to provide guidance and solutions to your problems. While they might not be able to answer all of your questions, they’re still a valuable source of information you can’t find in yoga videos and podcasts alone.

Improved focus

Let’s face it – it can be pretty easy to veer off course when practicing yoga at home. There are so many distractions with the potential to divert your focus from your sessions. You may need to take the dog out for an evening stroll, do the laundry, cook dinner, or pick up phone calls – the list goes on. Participating in a dedicated session full of like-minded individuals who share the same passion and goals can direct your mind and attention towards the practice at hand.

Social interaction

While the ultimate purpose of yoga is to find yourself and relax both your body and mind, you’ll often need the connection and help of others to get there. Yoga classes can create a strong sense of community and connection. It is a place where instructors and students try to support each other, even in the most difficult of postures and challenging moments. By joining in a studio environment you are fostering a sense of connection with others, which is a fulfilling and meaningful experience.

Practicing yoga in a studio can develop you as a person, reduce the risks of injury, and give you the opportunity to share and connect with fellow yogis.

To learn more about how our yoga classes can benefit your well-being, get in touch with our expert instructors today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Preparing for your first hot yoga class

Yoga_Oct5_AHot yoga is an intense practice that takes place in a heated room where temperatures range between 98 to 105 degrees. Before you feel overwhelmed by the heat, it’s worth knowing that this type of yoga provides various health benefits including toxin removal, weight loss, and stress relief. While hot yoga is open to practitioners of all levels, it pays to do some research and prepare yourself beforehand. We have some tips to help you get started.

Hydrate yourself

During hot yoga classes, you’ll sweat more than you’ve ever sweated in your life, which is why your body needs more fluid than it would for other types of exercise. Make sure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day leading up to your practice. Just don’t guzzle it or you’ll twist and stretch into poses with a belly full of water which will make you feel very dizzy and uncomfortable.

Bring your towel

You probably know that a mat is mandatory for most yoga classes, but in hot classes you’ll sweat so much that it’ll be near impossible to perform postures without a towel laid over your mat. Consider investing in a special hot yoga towel made from microfiber – they are thicker and more absorbent than other types of towels. Also, it helps to bring a hand towel to mop your sweaty brow and hands to make the poses more manageable.

Don’t eat before class

The intensity of the heat coupled with demanding postures will have you feeling nauseous within the first few minutes of your first hot yoga class. Not eating for two or three hours before class can greatly reduce the feeling of nausea. If you find it hard to control your cravings, keep it simple and munch on a very light snack like fruits or crackers.

Wear the right clothing

There’s no need to buy expensive outfits to impress the people you’re in class with. You’ll be drenched in sweat, and we recommend tight-fitting clothes such as leggings, tight shirts and tank tops for optimum results. Some prefer longer leggings for a better grip when performing certain poses, while others would rather wear as little as possible to keep themselves cool. There’s no fixed formula when choosing your yoga wear, but keep in mind that supportive and breathable clothing is key.

Be prepared to stay in the room

The one challenge you must overcome on your first hot yoga class is resisting the urge to leave the hot room. It will take time for your body to acclimate to the heat so try not to rush to the exit when you feel like you’ve had enough. Instead, allow your body to cool down by spending a few moments to lie down on the floor or taking a short break with a child’s pose – you can join the rest of the class again when you’re ready.

Your first few classes may seem strange or feel uncomfortable, but it’s all part of the new experience. When your body adapts to working out in the heat, you’ll leave the class feeling fantastic and full of energy every time!

Want to learn how hot yoga can improve your health and wellbeing? Get in touch with our yoga instructors today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Is it possible to do too much yoga?

Yoga_2015Sep28_AYou love yoga. We get it, because we love yoga too. But if you are not careful, it can be easy to overdo it. One of the most important principles of yoga is to do no harm onto self or others. However, doing too much yoga or pushing yourself too hard can result in this ideal being neglected. It’s important to remember that yoga, just like anything else in your life, should be practiced in moderation.

The thing about yoga that makes it different from other forms of exercise is that you can do it every day and still feel great. Now this depends on the type of yoga you practice, but it is possible to partake in yoga seven days a week and not have any problems. Of course, whether you can and should actually be doing it that often are two very different questions.

While there is no definitive way of knowing when you’re overdoing the yoga practice, the first thing you should be doing is listening to the messages your body sends you. If you are feeling soreness and pain, it is important to stop and rest. You might think this sounds like a no-brainer, but many of us lose track of this in the heat of the moment and just put pain down to aches and sprains without thinking it could be a sign more more serious damage.

As we try to master a pose or push ourselves to the next level, we disconnect from the moment and let our minds become distracted. Once that occurs, we are less mindful of what the body is experiencing physically, and more focused on the end result. This negates many of yoga’s benefits and probably isn’t the reason you started practicing in the first place.

If you find yourself either experiencing physical pain or losing focus on what your body is telling you during yoga, it can be a sign you’re practicing too much. When you overpractice, it is possible to strain and sprain ligaments and tendons in your body, as well as cause problems for your joints, so it is important to be alert to what is happening in these areas of your body at all times.

The signs of doing too much yoga don’t apply only to the realm of physical or mental issues. Part of yoga is considering others, and it’s possible to get so caught up with practicing that you forget about friends and family. Much like you need to be mindful of your body as you are doing yoga, you should listen to what people say about how yoga relates to your life outside of the studio.

Do family and friends complain that you no longer have time for them because you are always practicing yoga? Have they expressed concern about how many yoga classes you participate in? It’s possible that there is some truth in these claims that you may have never even considered. Be mindful of the needs of other people in your life, and try not to neglect them in favor of yoga.

As long as you are practicing yoga in moderation, it is likely you won’t ever have to worry about doing too much. It’s also important to point out that the meaning of moderation will vary wildly from person to person. Some can do it five hours a day without it being an issue, while two or three classes a week will be the right amount for others. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else does, because you will end up losing sight of the most important aspect of practicing yoga in the first place – your mind and body.

We’re here to help you better understand all things yoga. Contact us today for advice, tips or answers to any questions you may have.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

New study reveals yoga helps with arthritis

164_Yoga_AOne in five adults are affected by arthritis, which adds up to over 50 million people across the United States. While the condition causes varying degrees of discomfort – ranging from minor annoyance to debilitating pain – it is in fact the leading cause of disability in the country, with over 20 million people claiming it limits their physical activity. So if you happen to suffer from arthritis, the results of a recent study may have some good news for you. It reveals that yoga can help alleviate some of your symptoms. Here’s the scoop.

Although there is no known cure for arthritis, there are ways to manage it. It is widely accepted that physical activity is one way to alleviate some of the pain. In fact, even the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity each week can reduce arthritis symptoms. It therefore makes sense that yoga also helps. While not all yoga counts as aerobic exercise, it does get your body moving, which can only help in the struggle against arthritis.

The study

Conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and later published in the Journal of Rheumatology, the study took place over eight weeks and consisted of 75 adults who suffered from either knee or rheumatoid arthritis. They participated in three yoga sessions a week: two one-hour long classes, and a session at home.

It’s worth noting that the researchers were quite cautious with the patients who participated. Because yoga could potentially have a negative impact on their arthritic joints, the researchers were careful to incorporate poses tailored to each individual’s needs.

The results

At the conclusion of the study, participants reported a 20% improvement in a range of categories including pain, mood, energy levels, and the ability to perform daily tasks and activities. What’s more, nine months after the study, the participants reported these improvements hadn’t lessened in any way.

So what do the researchers of the study have to say about the results? Co-author Susan J. Bartlett says: “Yoga may be especially well suited to people with arthritis because it combines physical activity with potent stress management and relaxation techniques, and focuses on respecting limitations that can change from day to day.”

Because yoga can be a gentle way to incorporate physical exercise into your day, it may be a perfect match for those with arthritis. So if you suffer from this condition and are looking to give yoga a try, start slowly with a gentle yoga class first. Listen to your body and only push yourself further when you’re ready for more of a challenge. For recommendations specific to your needs, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

5 tips to clean your yoga mat

Yoga_Sep14_AWhether you enjoy traditional hot yoga or fast-paced Vinyasa classes, one thing is for certain: no matter how often you use your yoga mat, it will get dirty and eventually wear out. In order to extend the life of your yoga mat and keep odors at bay, you need to clean it regularly and carefully maintain it whenever you use it. We’ve listed some yoga-mat-cleaning tips to help you get started.

Making a cleaning solution

Creating a mat-cleaning solution is simple – simply mix a tablespoon of detergent and about a gallon of lukewarm water in a bowl. If your mat is particularly stinky, make sure you add a teaspoon of baking soda to douse the smell. You can either drop your mat into the solution and quickly pull it out, or apply the solution to the mat with a small spray bottle or a clean sponge.

Spraying your mat

Clean your mat with a good spritz. You can easily find a spray bottle at any department store. In addition to the cleaning solution above, we also recommend mixing one part water to three parts white vinegar, and applying the solution over the surface of your mat. If your mat seems especially dirty, let the solution sit and soak in a bit before rubbing it off. Alternatively, you can add a couple drops of essential oil to create a nice scent. Some essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oils, have antibacterial properties, and therefore will help eliminate the germs on your mat.

Cleaning your mat in the washing machine

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can always put the mat in the washing machine. Get started by arranging your mat in the machine as evenly as possible. Then add a couple of drops of mild detergent. Baby detergent works well here, because it is formulated to get rid of body-related residues. Run the machine on the gentle cycle using warm water. If the drum becomes unbalanced, turn off the machine and arrange the mat so that the weight is evenly distributed.

Drying your mat

The best way to dry a yoga mat is to let it air dry on its own. Roll your mat up with an absorbent towel and gently step on it to squeeze out the excess water. Leave it unrolled while it dries, in order to avoid moisture being trapped between the folds. Then either lay it flat on the floor, hang it on your towel bar, or even spread it outside if it’s not too hot. It may take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to fully dry your mat.

Keeping your mat clean

Don’t forget to wipe your mat clean each time you use it. Try to always wipe soil or dirt off your feet before stepping on the mat, too. These are the easiest ways to keep your mat clean and free of dirt, sweat, and dust, as well as prolong its life.

Your mat keeps you from slipping in standing poses, and gives you cushioning for seated or reclining poses. Therefore it makes sense to provide it with the cleaning and care it needs. Want more yoga tips and tricks? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

5 things you should never do at a yoga class

Yoga_Sep7_AYou’ve probably heard all about the benefits of yoga. As a workout, it’s incredible for increasing your flexibility, toning your muscles, and relieving stress. And September is National Yoga Month, so if you haven’t practiced yoga before, there’s no better time to summon the courage and give it a try! Of course, If you’re fairly new to yoga, then you might feel intimidated at the idea of joining your first class. No one likes to look foolish by doing something wrong. So get started by reading these five things that you should never do in a yoga class.

Entering class late

Entering the studio while a class is still in session is disruptive to both your instructor and fellow practitioners. What’s more, your instructor will likely plan classes very specifically, so turning up late and jumping straight into the practice won’t be good for your body. You should be punctual, or even arrive 10 minutes early to allow time to settle in before class, practice a pose, do some stretches, or just simply sit quietly and reflect.

Bringing your mobile devices

Most of us are dependent on our smartphones to keep our lives and work running smoothly. But yoga is a time of relaxation and self-exploration. Simply put, it is a time that you don’t need to use any electronics. Constantly checking notifications, texting, or answering calls will only distract you, as well as others around you, from the practice. So it’s best to leave your phone in the locker room, or at least keep it on silent if you must have it by your side.

Chatting with the person next to you

Making friends with your yoga neighbors before and after a session is part of the group class experience, but you should stay silent when class commences. Many yogis relish the practice as a time to turn inward and connect to their own bodies, so don’t be offended if no-one talks to you. People around you need to focus on performing challenging poses, and you should be doing the same.

Invading other people’s space

Be aware of where you’re placing your mat, so you don’t position yourself right in front of, or too close to, someone else. Don’t fuss and move around too much when the class starts, either. Space can be really tight in some yoga classes, so try to avoid collisions with other people, and leave plenty of room to stretch your arms and legs.

Rushing out of class

Instead of going straight to the dressing room and leaving the studio quickly, take some time afterwards to think about what you did in class, so you can retain what you’ve experienced and learned. Take a closer look at the poses you practiced, and note any useful tips and instructions from your instructor. Reviewing each of your sessions can help deepen your own personal practice and sharpen your skills as a yogi.

After a class, you’ll feel a great sense of peace, relaxation, and inspiration. If you want to give yoga a try, get in touch with our expert instructors today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Here’s why to consider shirtless yoga

Yoga_Aug25_ARemoving your shirt during your yoga class, and practicing in your sports bra, might not be something you have ever considered. Many of us have inhibitions about going semi-topless in a sports environment, even in the usually supportive setting of a yoga class. Yet it can be the ideal way to connect with both yourself and the other women at your studio, and to derive a deeper experience from your yoga practice. Here’s why slipping off your shirt, and letting out your true self, might be something you want to consider for your next class.

You’ll feel comfortable in your own skin

It’s easy to spend our lives hiding behind clothes and make-up. But a big part of yoga is about letting our real selves shine, accepting who we are – imperfections included – and loving ourselves. Yes, it might take a leap of faith and a big dose of bravery the first time you pull a pose in just your bra, but taking off your shirt during a yoga session gives you the chance to develop more confidence and feel more comfortable in your own body.

The confidence and warmth you give off will make you appear more attractive and likeable to others, and you’ll also feel a positive vulnerability that puts you in a better place to push beyond your comfort zone as you explore the spiritual side of yoga. What’s more, it’s a chance to feel deep gratitude for the body you have, and to reject the pressures that society places on us to desire physical belongings or to forever seek to change our appearance.

It makes others think about it, too

You’re not the only one who will benefit when you remove your shirt. There’s no doubt you’ll catch the eye of other women in your yoga class, who will likely admire you for having the confidence to just go for it. Some might have considered doing the same but never quite felt able to go through with it, while many others won’t even have thought about it – and might ordinarily say it’s not the sort of thing they would ever do. But by going ahead and demonstrating the benefits of a deep, semi-topless yoga experience, you’ll inspire other yogis to move beyond their comfort zone and feel the sense of liberation too.

It helps you to cool down

Let’s face it, yoga can get hot – if you’re practicing a variety of poses, and especially if you’re doing them to a high level of intensity and in quick succession, you’re likely going to break a sweat. What better way to cool down and let your body regulate its own temperature than by losing the shirt and instead experiencing the full depth of your poses without the constriction of clothing? The benefits of keeping cool mean you’ll be able to practice for longer, too.

Yoga is about discovering and embracing the real you as much as it is about physical exercise and all its undeniable health benefits. If you want to find out more about how yoga can put you on the path to a happier you, just give us a call.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

The difference between Bikram and hot yoga

164_A_YogaYou may have heard of both Bikram and hot yoga: students pile into a heated studio where they sweat while moving through different yoga poses. What you may not know, however, is that these two types of yoga are actually not the same thing. While every Bikram class technically falls into the hot yoga category, not every hot yoga class qualifies as Bikram. If you’re interested in giving either of these practices a try, here are some of the key differences to know and what you can expect in your first class.

Bikram yoga defined

Founded by Bikram Choudhury, this type of yoga is a bona fide brand that has been copyrighted by its founder. Because of this, Bikram yoga follows a very strict set of guidelines. First off, every instructor must actually be certified to teach the class – meaning, a studio or teacher can’t advertise their class as Bikram unless the instructor has gone through the Bikram training program.

In addition to certified teachers, there are number of strict circumstances that must be met in order to qualify as a Bikram class. Here are three key requirements:

  1. The studio must be heated to 105 degrees with a 40% humidity level
  2. Classes must be 90 minutes long
  3. The same 26 postures, repeated twice, are done in the same sequence each class

In addition to these key requirements, the general atmosphere of a Bikram class can also feel very militant and disciplined. Both speaking and interaction with other class members is frowned upon. And you will rarely, if ever, hear a laugh in a Bikram class. You are expected to follow the postures, and little else.

Hot yoga

hot yoga classes are a lot more lenient than Bikram in both atmosphere and structure. To start, the temperature of a hot yoga room can be set anywhere between 80-105 degrees. And as for postures, they can vary from class to class depending on the teacher.

Also, talking and interacting with classmates is allowed in hot yoga classes, and you may even have a playful teacher who cracks a joke or two. And one last thing you may find in a hot yoga session that is strictly forbidden during a Bikram class – music. It may not be played during every session, but don’t be surprised if you yoga out to some tunes.

Want to learn more about hot or Bikram yoga? Have questions about other types of yoga like Hatha and Vinyasa? Check out our class schedule today, or call us to talk with one of our experts.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.