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Acro Yoga- 5 Reasons Everyone Should Try It! May 31 2016

In case you’re not familiar, Acro Yoga is that beautiful practice that involves a graceful symbiosis between partners. When done correctly, it looks like a calculated dance of twisting and tangling of body parts, and a balanced lifting of one another in symmetry that appears light as air and effortless. You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of beautiful pictures of Acro Yoga all over Pinterest and the internet, it’s a hot search item for yoga inspiration. More specifically, Acro is a practice that combines yoga, healing arts and acrobatics. These three practices are of equal importance, and are thought by Acro enthusiasts to perfectly balance each other out. There are two parts of Acro Yoga, and in order to understand the full practice and the relationship between them each person must explore both sides to discover where their true passion lies.

Acrobatic (Solar)- Consists of three roles, the Base or “mover”, the Flyer or person being moved, or the Spotter which consists of both.

Therapeutic (Lunar)- This person embraces the healing connection and projects loving kindness. They are the giver in the partnership.

Still not convinced that Acro Yoga’s for you? Here are 5 pretty solid reasons why everyone should give it a try!

It Builds Trust and Partnership Skills

In acro yoga, you learn to support others, and in turn you learn to allow others to support you. Acro yoga forces you to trust your body, as well as your partner entirely. The practice involves physically moving another person and vice versa, which requires both total engagement and complete release at times. You will learn to take control by letting go.

It Fosters Effective Communication

While most types of yoga involve a mind body connection within yourself, Acro Yoga requires you to effectively communicate with your partner. You are not only sharing a physical experience, but a mental one as well. If you don’t work together by physically trusting one another and efficiently communicating verbally, you will fall apart. This is a beneficial skill to have in all areas of life, particularly in partnerships and relationships.

Anyone Can Do It

Most people assume this style of Yoga is extremely difficult, or that only partners of complimentary sizes or skill levels can participate. This is not true! Acro Yoga focuses on technique more heavily than strength, so, contrary to popular belief, really anyone can participate.

Enhances Existing Relationships or Helps Form Meaningful Connections with New People

Whether you want to try Acro with an existing partner or friend, or give it a try with a new partner you’ve just met, this practice is an amazing way to foster deep connections based on trust and communication.

It Creates a Sense of Community, Tribe and Celebration

Being a shared experience rather than a personal journey like most forms of yoga, Acro Yoga creates a real sense of community and celebration unlike any other that stems from exploring your limits and pushing your boundaries as well as your partners.

We hope you are feeling inspired to grab a partner and check out an Acro Yoga class soon. You will be surprised at your own strength and ability to trust another if you are open to the process!


You Gotta Go Here! 5 Amazing and Affordable Yoga Retreats April 29 2016

While any escape from real life can be relaxing and rejuvenating, a yoga retreat simply offers a more fulfilling and nourishing experience than your average vacay. Most retreats are located in breathtaking, scenic locations that you might not find a reason to visit otherwise, and offer a zen atmosphere suitable for personal growth and self-reflection. Retreats also often offer healthy, organic meals leaving you feeling clean and refreshed in both body and mind. Retreats are a wonderful way to meet new, likeminded people, particularly if you are travelling alone or on a journey of personal growth. While these retreats offer a priceless experience, they do, unfortunately often come with a hefty price tag. We’ve sourced out a few little gems that are both affordable, and offer a unique and worthwhile experience. Below are our top 5 yoga retreats, all under $250 a day!

      

Sun Lotus- Cowichan Valley, Vancouver B.C. (June 24–26 & July 22–24 & August 19–21, 2016) - $93/day

Self-described as a “magical garden of yoga,” this property sits on its own organic farm, so you can look forward to healthy, fresh and sustainable organic meals. The retreat offers yoga, spiritual dancing, and the option to learn about the benefits of plant medicine from the retreats Shamanic Leader, Joanna Pardhy-Casey.

        

Museflower Retreat & Spa- Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Year Round) $143/day

Offered year round, this is a holistic retreat that includes two daily hatha yoga classes, organic vegetarian meals, and a therapeutic massage. This location also boasts amenities like the Himalayan Crystal Salt pool, and access to surrounding tribal villages as well as cultural excursions like elephant trekking tours. Sign me up!

         

Chill’ Asana Retreat- Sayulita, Mexico. – (Year Round) $128/day

A hidden gem in the hillsides of the jungle overlooking the Pacific coastline and the Sierra Madre mountains, this retreat incorporates both yoga and martial arts. Co-leader Nathania Stambouli claims these two practices complement each other nicely, as they are both about mindfulness, awareness, and consciousness. The retreat also offers goal-setting workshops and hiking.

                         

Finger Lakes Yogascapes- Ithaca, New York. (August 5-7, 2016) $211/day

This all women’s retreat offers the perfect balance of rustic and luxurious, with crisp linens and fresh robes in the heart of nature on the Firelight Campgrounds. The retreat offers Vinyasa & restorative yoga sessions, as well as foraging excursions and waterfall hikes! You can also look forward to a true camping experience with nightly s’more making and stargazing!

       

Kindalini Yoga Detox Week- Sacres, Portugal (March 6-13) $180/Day

Located at the Martinhal Sargres Beach Resort, this retreat is surrounded by the beautiful cliffs of the Alentejo coastline. The retreat partners yoga with meditation. Each session focuses on cleansing a specific organ of the body, while some focus on mental detoxification, addressing negativity and fears that are causing a mental roadblock or affecting one’s over-all outlook on life. There is a spa on location that offers a wonderful Ayurvedic healing massage, and is adjacent to beautiful beaches and the Natural Costa Vicenta Park.

 

 

 


Give the Gift of Health this Valentine’s Day! 5 Awesome Fitness Related Gift Ideas February 04 2016

               

Whether you and your partner have been talking about “getting fit” for a while, or your single bestie needs a little nudge out of her rut, what better way to show your love than with the gift of health and fitness for Valentine’s day?! (Maybe you can even get one for yourself, while you’re at it ;)). Here are a few awesome ideas to get your loved one motivated to make his or her health a priority, and have some fun in the process.

            

Class Pass

The class pass is a great way to access a large network of fitness studios, and try a variety of types of exercises. The class pass consists of classes like yoga, pilates, lagree, spinning, barre, kettle-bell training, and many other types of new-age exercise classes. This gift is great for an adventurous friend or someone who likes to mix it up and is thus hesitant to commit to one particular package. Purchase them their first month, and they’ll no doubt be hooked after that!

https://classpass.com/

           

30 Day Yoga Challenge

Most studios will periodically host a 30 day challenge during which customers are challenged to practice for 30 consecutive days. Within these 30 days, students are challenged to try different poses each day, building in difficulty as they progress. This is an awesome gift for any yoga loving friend, but the challenge is appropriate for Yogi’s of all levels, beginners too!

            

Yoga or Meditation Retreat

Albeit a generous gift, this one is probably most appropriate for your romantic partner. (Or a really lucky best friend or parent!) What better way to unwind and connect with yourselves and each other than a relaxing, rejuvenating yoga retreat in a tropical paradise? These retreats are usually held in exotic and beautiful locations like Mexico and Costa-Rica.

             

Salsa Lessons

Looking for a fun way to spice things up, and also get some exercise? Try salsa dancing! Grab a package for yourself and your partner, and try out this exotic, sensual style of dancing. You’ll work up a sweat, and build trust and coordination. Learning how to move together in harmony will no doubt transfer well to other areas of your relationship, too. ;)

       

Enter them in a Mini-Marathon.

This gift works well for your bestie, your partner, or even Mom and Dad! A mini-marathon is a fantastic way to work toward an attainable goal and get yourself in excellent shape through training. Most importantly, you don’t have to be an ultra-athlete to attempt a mini-marathon. This can be an intimidating endeavor, so entering yourself along with the recipient is a nice approach to this gift. Once you’ve finished, you’ll both gain a real sense of accomplishment, and will be in excellent physical shape! Hopefully, after feeling the positive effects of all that training, you’ll continue implementing these fitness habits in your daily lives thereafter.

We hope this gives you a few inspirational ideas for gifts this Valentine's day, why not offer something besides chocolate this year?


Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone with Your Fitness Routine January 21 2016

                     

Plateauing by definition is a force of nature that lessens the effectiveness of once effective measures over time. The plateau effect is a state that is experienced when the human body fails to respond to exercise that has proven effective in the past.” Have you plateaued physically and emotionally when it comes to your workout regimen? Whether we want to admit it or not, this eventually happens to all of us, which is why every so often it’s important to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Try something new! What have you got to lose? No harm has ever come from gaining new experiences or trying new things. One might argue that you could dislike something or have a negative experience and regret trying, but these lessons learned should be looked at as self-knowledge gained. Now you know!

                               

To give an example, if you’re a big weights buff, and you feel that you’ve hit your physical limit, maybe it’s time to start working some of the other areas of your body, like your core strength and balance. Unexpected forms of lower impact exercise like yoga and pilates that are often viewed by hardcore gym types as “softy sports” are actually really effective in strengthening the core, and building long, lean muscles. Even if this is a form of exercise you’d normally turn your nose up at, give it a try. You might just find you feel awesome after a few classes!

Here are a few popular forms of exercise classes available and their varying benefits. Why not try a few that you feel might suit your needs? Try to be open minded, and perhaps work on an area that you haven’t necessarily valued as much previously.

             

Yoga

As mentioned, yoga is great for building core strength, flexibility, balance and posture, and is amazing for stretching and elongating the muscles. A few other benefits are that it really helps to get you in tune with your body, establishing a strong mind-body connection. It is known to help regulate breathing as well, thus having therapeutic and calming effects for those that practice regularly.

                    

Pilates

Pilates has similar benefits to yoga, but uses machinery in its more advanced forms and can (depending on the type of yoga you are practicing) be a bit more intensive. Pilates also engages both the mind and body, builds amazing core strength, stretches and elongates the muscles, and helps to build flexibility and good posture.

                             

Zumba

Are you feeling a bit bored with your gym routine, or like you just can’t seem to get rid of that spare tire around your hips? Zumba is an awesome way to spice things up a bit, and drop some L-B’s! Zumba is an fun, upbeat combo of dance and exercise that is a great way to blow of some steam or relieve some stress! So much so that you won’t even realize how much of a workout you’re getting until you’re ready to drop from exhaustion! The Benefits? This form of exercise will dramatically improve your cardiovascular system, coordination, and with regular practice you will see rapid weight loss. (The average person burns up to 1000 calories in just one class!) By moving to the rhythm of the music, your body naturally tenses and flexes muscles all over, making Zumba a great way to tone up as well.

                            

Spinning

Spinning is fantastic as it really gives you autonomy over your workout. You are in a controlled environment and able to increase and decrease resistance, build and lower your heart rate, and train in intervals with the help of a professional teacher. As such, in this form of exercise it would be very difficult to plateau because you are constantly changing your routine and challenging yourself! The results? Amazingly toned legs and buttocks, improved heart rate and endurance, and a feeling of accomplishment (and adrenaline) at the end of every class!

            

Kettle Bell Classes

For all you weight lifters that don’t want to stray too far from home, this is a great option for something a little different that’s still in your arena. Kettle Bell training is a more of a full body workout than basic weight lifting, combining cardio and strength training. It also consists of more fluid movements, which avoids the monotony of isolated repetitions and is great for building flexibility and toning several muscles at once. The unique combo of strength training and cardio increases your metabolism exponentially and builds muscle while burning fat, which makes this method ideal for weight loss as well. Why spend hours at the gym doing separate cardio, strength training and stretching when you can squeeze it all into one class?

                                 

Swimming & Aqua Sports

Aquatic exercise is awesome for those looking for a full body workout, with little to now impact. Water exercises are deceivingly easy due to buoyancy and lack of resistance, yet swimming is one of the only sports that works almost every muscle in the body, building cardio strength, core strength, endurance, flexibility and muscle strength all at the same time. Due to the lack of stress on your joints and bones, this is also one of the lowest risk forms of exercise for injury. With regular practice, swimming also improves circulation and reduces your blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Water sports are a great option particularly for rehabilitating athletes or for those who have been hard on their bones, joints or muscles and are looking to stay fit without doing too much further damage.

These are just a few examples of some of the amazing other options there are to try outside of your regular gym routine! Grab a schedule next time you’re at the gym, or just look online to discovery many others that may end up being your new favourite thing! Sayonara, comfort zone.

                       


The Importance of Setting Goals July 27 2015

In Life:
When talking about setting goals, it all really comes down to one main factor- motivation. With anything in life, it is human nature to let things slip or push them off if we don't have any real boundaries, structure, or targets to reach. Setting goals may seem simple, but this process is an essential factor in our success and productivity in all areas. Whether it's forcing ourselves to make it to the gym three times a week, stick to a healthy meal plan, or setting goals for our kids, it is crucial to put these targets in place for ourselves to make it easier to maintain momentum and motivation. An easy way to make sure you stay on top of this is to set aside an hour for yourself every Sunday to write out a list of weekly goals. Try to include one that relates to each compartment of your life, for instance one pertaining to health and fitness, one pertaining to parenting, one for your relationship(s), and of course those pertaining to your career or personal achievements.

                     
In Parenting:
Many people don't consider setting goals to do with parenting, but this is an area that we can really let slip if we don't set guidelines and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try making a goal for each week that you yourself have to achieve, for instance "Do 3 different activities with the kids" as well as one for the kids, ex. "Help with the dishes every night" or "Get an A on an assignment." Implementing a star/sticker program can be a great incentive for kids to meet these goals as well. Create a board with each child's name on it, and place a sticker underneath for each achievement attained, working towards a grand prize after a certain number of goals have been met. It's great to train children to become achievement oriented from a young age, as it will set lifelong habits that will translate into a good work ethic later on. (Plus, you'll get a heck of a lot of chores done around the house!)
                  
In Fitness & Nutrition:
This is also an area where it's definitely necessary to set some goals. We are all busy and life does get in the way. Sometimes it's just quicker to grab that cookie and latte on the fly instead of the egg-white omelette you'd planned to prepare for breakfast. Or to skip the gym because something more fun came up. Setting a weekly goal will help you focus and make sure you don't let yourself slip in this area. After all, our health is our most valuable and important possession, without which we could not succeed in all other areas of our lives. A meal plan is a great way to ensure that you stick to a healthy diet (at least most of the time, we're all human!) In your Sunday list of goals, include a weekly plan for at least 2 meals a day. If you work, packing a lunch is a great alternative to the tempting crap that the food courts offer. Once you are hungry, it's hard to use good judgement! Do a weekly grocery shop to ensure you have most of the necessary ingredients to make most of the meals on the plan. This will also create ann incentive to stick to it, as you've already committed. Just make sure to keep things interesting, giving yourself lots of (healthy) variety. For fitness, set some weekly goals that are realistic and attainable. If you like hot yoga, try to attend three classes that week. If you're a gym bunny, set a goal for number of visits to the treadmill.  
                               
In Relationships:
With the busy hum drum of every day life, especially with young kids in your mix, relationships often start to take the back burner. Whether it's your marriage or even your relationship with your best pal, it's important to set a weekly reminder to pay attention to these important relationships so that you don't wake up one day and realize you barely know each other anymore. I find it helpful to designate one night a week for "date night" and another evening or lunch hour for seeing a friend (better yet, a group of friends so you can squeeze a few in at once!)

                    

So take the time each week to put some targets in place. You'll feel great meeting them, and your life will inevitably be more fulfilled and successful as a result!


The Importance of a Healthy Body Image in Young Children July 08 2015

         

This subject may feel somewhat tired at this point, but I am glad to see the media beginning to focus more on the saturation of dieting and weight loss incentives and their negative impact on young children, particularly girls. With growing access to technology and various media outlets, children are being bombarded with messages about “losing weight fast” and seeing headlines like “get thin in just a week” on a daily basis. They are also being shown images of “the ideal body” that have been edited and manipulated, creating an unrealistic (and unhealthy) idea of what “normal” should look like. This is so common that they are growing up with the mentality that they should constantly be trying to lose weight, to be thinner, no matter their size or weight. Weight loss has gone from being a health requirement for the obese, to a common goal of the majority of the population, at least in Western society. It’s almost like a competition, who is the thinnest? Who has lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time? Exercise has become only about losing weight, as opposed to building strength, energy and endurance.

                        

These negative messages impact all people, but children are the ones in the most danger as their bodies are still growing and developing and need proper nutrition to do so. They are also extremely impressionable, and are developing their habits and mentality towards their health and bodies that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Creating a positive body image in young people isn’t just about telling them that they are beautiful no matter what shape or size they are. Though this is important, there is more to it. Instilling a healthy body image entails focusing on the important factors, like health, nutrition and balance. There is a fine line between making sure they are conscious of their health and making good decisions when it comes to eating and staying active, and over focusing on these areas.

               

The best way to ensure that your kids maintain a healthy mentality toward eating and fitness is not to over- focus. Lead by example and provide them with healthy, balanced meals from an early age. Get them accustomed to eating this way without harping too much on the importance of it. This being said, don’t completely deny them of treats. This will only come back to haunt them later as they will likely have self-control issues when they are no longer restricted from these “forbidden fruits”. It’s all about balance and lifestyle. Treats are treats…simple as that.  In terms of fitness, try to provide an active lifestyle for them. Don’t focus on the results of fitness, but the importance of staying active and involved in extra-curricular activities. Sports are a great way to keep them active, as they are social, fun and team based which builds trust and companionship. Companionship is a really key factor in my opinion. It’s healthy to have a little competition between peers, but competing with oneself can become obsessive and self-destructive, particularly when it comes to weight loss goals.  

                  

Long story short- sign your kids up for lots of activities! Encourage them to find an active sport that they love. Keep them well fed with a healthy attitude toward nutrition, and too busy to over-focus on things like being super thin or losing weight. If they remain healthy and happy, the physical results will come naturally.


The Importance of Movement for Kids- Teaching Self-Regulation June 16 2015

As we discussed in our earlier post on “self-control,” Walter Mischel, the psychologist behind the famous “Marshmallow Test,” deduced that those who appear to have higher self-control from a young age are generally more successful, slimmer, and less susceptible to bad habits like drug and alcohol abuse. But can we train ourselves, and even our children, to exert this kind of self-control? The answer is yes.                     

                                                            

Leap Frog, Yoga Style: Sit in splits position and stretch it out while your little beaper leaps across you. You may want to throw in a chair to leap off of to avoid and accidental be-headings.

 

Early childhood experiences have been proven to shape our ability to learn, as well as our future mental and physical well-being. Intentional movement, such as Yoga, has a great impact on a child’s ability to maintain focus, remain calm, and filter sensory information. Practising Yoga at a young age, and accompanying these physical movements with other essential mental development tools, helps to build a child’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and physical self-control. Also, Yoga teaches kids to respect the body’s cues and needs to move, and eventually feel confident and comfortable in their own bodies.

                                                

The Crow Swing: Good for Mom & Dad’s Arm Muscles, great for the little one’s flexibility. Not to mention one heck of a fun ride! Have your junior assume Crow’s position while you grasp his/her hands and lift. It might take a few tries to get air born- but they’ll love it once they do!

 

Self-regulation transfers the responsibility of learning and taking control of their behaviour back to the children. The goal is to create a certain mindfulness and self-awareness to the point that they will know how to recognize and manage emotional or stressful situations that would normally cause them act out. This mind- body connection can be helpful in many scenarios, such as pulling them out of a meltdown or focusing in a classroom. Yoga is also a great activity to do as a family, as it promotes calmness, balance and connection. There are tons of fun poses to try with your kids, too!

                                        

The Back Bend and Crow Pose Combo: Get into your best bridge and have your little tot perch on top of your tummy in Crow’s position. Tons of fun for flexibility, balance, and building trust!

 

Luckily, yoga is a very portable practice! For example, my family and I have recently started a new tradition of spending our summer holiday in Costa Rica. In addition to its natural beauty and the wide variety of amazing activities Costa Rica has to offer, the most precious and valuable experiences are, in my opinion, less obvious.  I like to think of the whole experience as exercise for the mind and body. It is such a joy to practice yoga on the beach with my kids, with a beautiful view and calm ocean energy surrounding me. It’s also a great way to re-connect with your family, and with your-self.

                                                     

Family Handstands: Get inverted together, and see who can hold their stand the longest! Inversions are great for increasing blood circulation. Providing more oxygen and blood flow to the brain is thought to increase many mental functions like memory, concentration etc.

 

Article Source: http://www.kidsyogastories.com/how-kids-yoga-develops-self-regulation/