Effort versus ease

By Guest Blogger: Eva Montalvo

Sthira Sukham Asanam

We may think that ease (sukha) is better than effort, because it just sounds so, well EASY.  Yet without effort (sthira) there is no strength or stability.  On the other hand, we can overdo effort and feel as if we are straining and stressed.

In yoga we come into poses (asanam) that may be relaxing, and others that feel more strenuous.  Practicing Sthira and Sukha really isn’t an either/or, though.  It is balancing both at the same time

For example, even in a relaxing stretch like child’s pose we can find a steadiness in our breathing and thoughts.  In a stronger pose such as Warrior II, even while feeling the effort of the body’s muscles used to hold the pose, we can still look for a lightness and comfort by letting the shoulders relax down away from the ears and softening the muscles of the face.

Often, we can find ease or contentment simply by letting go of expectations – what we think “should” be – and simply acknowledging what IS.  We can feel the pose and use the breath as a guide to that sweet spot of harmony within.

As you step off your mat and into your life, can you find this same balance of effort and ease?  For example, even while performing a task such as preparing dinner, I find a sense of ease by putting on my favorite music and reflecting on the day with gratitude.  

More about our guest blogger:

Eva is the Owner/Founder of Nourish Yoga & Wellness. Her mission is to inspire adults to live more energetically and vibrantly by helping them incorporate simple changes in their lifestyle, especially in learning how to move and breathe to connect to their body through yoga. She believes strongly in making yoga available for EVERY BODY and specializes in working with beginners and older adults. To learn more click here: https://www.nourishyogawellness.com/

Saffron For Health

By Guest Blogger: Rae Steinbach

Have you considered the health benefits of adding saffron to your diet?

A range of health benefits may flow from simply consuming natural ingredients. Consider saffron. Research shows it can boost health in numerous ways when taken as a saffron drink or ingested with food. Here’s more:

It helps protect the heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.  Saffron might help. This is because it reduces the stress on arteries and blood vessels. What this means is less risk of heart attack and similar cardiovascular health problems.

Managing anxiety

There’s evidence that saffron can improve mental and emotional health. Specifically, saffron has been shown to reduce anxiety to a degree. Its mood-boosting qualities also make it a powerful aphrodisiac for some. 

Improving immunity

Just as important as treating illnesses properly, is guarding against developing illnesses in the first place.

Saffron may help in this capacity: Research indicates it boosts the immune system. This makes colds, viruses, and similar illnesses less likely.

Adding saffron to the diet can be very beneficial for health and wellness.

Possible option if looking for a saffron drink

Please note: With the introduction of any new product, herb, or supplement, please consult with your healthcare professional before partaking, to ensure there aren’t any contraindications.

More about Rae Steinbach:

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing. Twitter: @araesininthesun

Essential Oil and the Limbic System

By Guest Blogger: Beverly McGivney

Ever wonder why a certain smell can bring up memories and even elicit a physical response? Our sense of smell effects the limbic system in the brain — it has powerful healing capacities!

Our limbic system is a combination of higher mental functions and our emotions. It is directly linked to parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. It’s because of this, that the smell of essential oils can produce profound positive effects. Essential oils can help support overall wellness. They consist of over 100 different natural organic compounds that supply support for every system in the body. When inhaled, the aromatic molecules of an essential oil interact with sensors in our nasal cavity, lungs, and pores. Once engaged, the sensors emit strong emotional signals starting from the limbic system, then the hippocampus, and spread throughout the rest of the body to places like the heart and the digestive tract.

Some essential oil examples are:

Citrus oils: orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit. Known for uplifting aromatic qualities.

Floral oils: geranium and rose. Known for an aromatic quality that encourages peaceful feelings. Does all this make scents?

Read more about Beverly McGivney (YL # 1149206) here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebodhiseed1121; Instagram: @thebodhiseed1121
Beverly, the creator of the Bodhi Seed, has a passion for whole person wellness. During her personal exploration of whole person wellness body, mind and spirit, Beverly was inspired to create The Bodhi Seed. The Bodhi Seed is a platform to educate and advocate on wellness using nature’s energy while inspiring purpose and abundance! She believes in creating non-toxic living mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically!

Should?

Just because you CAN do something, does it mean you should? I recently realized while practicing yoga, after years of thinking I can’t do Camel Pose (Ustrasana), I actually can. Imagine that! I felt accomplished, proud of myself. All from a discovery that if I widened the space between my knees, I’m able to bend back just a bit deeper and take hold of my ankles. Prior to this discovery, I’d been priming my back with other poses which created some space. So I was ready at that time for this epiphany.

Fast forward about 2-3 weeks and I decide to teach it in class. First I demonstrate the gentle version of it, which I really like. And then for those who want to try a fuller expression, I demonstrate. The next day, I noticed sensation in my mid-back. The only explanation is that I should have stayed with the gentle version knowing that when I teach, I have a harder time being mindful of myself, because I’m focused on students. I did not, in that moment, have the ability to discern my best course of action. The Sanskrit for the concept of discernment is Vivek. I’d been learning about Vivek in a weekly class through the Princeton University Hindu Life Program. I had discovered the perfect lesson in Vivek (the hard way).

How can we take this lesson into our every day lives? Discerning how much we want to take in. One more news segment? One more Netflix series? Reaching, striving. One more commitment on the calendar? Should? Should not? Pause, breathe, think, weigh, assess…

Read more here about Camel Pose: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/camel-pose

Don’t Blink…or you might miss what’s coming up!

There has never been a better time to close your eyes or soften your gaze. To look and to feel deeply within yourself at the center of consciousness and your being. Where a divine light exists and every answer to every question about your truest self lives. ~LLS
Coming soon:

Virtual Gentle Yoga for Computer Users – Saturday, May 30th 9:00-10:30. Looking to counter the effects of heavy computer/device use? Are your shoulders, neck, upper back bothering you and maybe even your wrists or eyes? Look no further, this Gentle Yoga class is for you! Cost $10. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.

The Basics of Meditation – Saturday, June 27th 9:00-11:00. There has never been a better time to begin a meditation practice. Have your heard about the many benefits of meditation for your health and for anxiety? Come learn the background, benefits, and practical techniques in order to get started right away. Cost $25. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.


Weekly Programs (open registration):

Virtual Gentle Yoga and Meditation – Friday Mornings at 9:00. New session beginning 6/12 (five classes: 6/12, 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, and 7/10). Registration is open. Cost $40. Classes left in the current sesson are: 5/29, and 6/5. There will be subsequent sessions, so please reach out if you’re interested. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.

Virtual Mindful Chair Yoga and Meditation  – Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. beginning 5/19 (includes 5/19, 5/26, 6/2, 6/9, and 6/16) Cost: $40.
 There will be subsequent sessions so please reach out if you’re interested. Anyone who lives anywhere can join from the comfort of home and even in PJs!

For a limited time, I am offering a free virtual Yoga Nidra and Meditation experience. Gather your props in advance: mat, cushion, blanket/s, pillow/s. Meet me in cyberspace!

~Virtual Yoga Nidra (Deep, Profound Relaxation) and Meditation – Tuesday evenings 7:30-8:15 p.m. This can be practiced reclining or seated. Yoga nidra takes the student on a journey within connecting the mind/body through a series of steps to a quieter place for meditation. Ongoing until further notice.Register for Yoga Nidra/Meditation with this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/v5Akde-ppzsid3XXbWe7mZw1DtClCDlp8Q

Clear the Path

It’s the time of the year for stuffiness, allergies, and blocked sinuses. There are many great methods to cleanse the nasal passages – saline sprays and gadgets galore! My favorite is very simple. It is one that a dear friend introduced me to years ago that I never thought I could use – a plastic netipot. Now, please do your research about the use of netipots. Learn how to use them properly. Learn how to clean them and what type of water to use. The best way to describe the feeling after using one is this: Image stepping outside on a snowy winter’s day and inhaling deeply (sorry, if you’re in a warm climate!).

Another practice I’ve come to love is the use of organic oil in my sinuses. Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) recommends using nasya oil, or putting oil drops in your nose. Here are some of the many benefits:
  • It’s balancing and calming.
  • It soothes and moisturizes dry sinuses.
  • It is said to improve the quality of your voice, strengthen your vision and prompt clarity. It helps to release tension in the head and mitigate the build up of stress.
  • Nasya promotes clear breathing and supports the flow of prana (life force).

You can find netipots and nasya in stores and online. It’s something worth experimenting with. Who nose?

Please note: As with any new practice or substance used in your body, please check with your medical professional to ensure there are no contraindications or issues with use.

Yoga In Place

While we’re sheltering in place (and even afterward), virtual yoga can be accessed from anywhere. If you’re enjoying the content I share, you may enjoy my virtual classes as well! If you’d like to be added to my email list for regular updates of virtual and in person offerings (some are free), it’s easy. Just email me at: lyn.sirota@gmail.com. See below:

For a limited time, I am offering a free virtual Yoga Nidra and Meditation experience.  Please ensure your account and device are set about 15 minutes in advance and gather your props: mat, cushion, blanket/s, pillow/s. Meet me in cyberspace!

~Remote Yoga Nidra (Deep Relaxation) and Meditation – Tuesday evenings 7:30-8:15 p.m. This can be practiced reclining or seated. Yoga nidra takes the student on a journey within connecting the mind/body through a series of steps to a quieter place for meditation. Ongoing until further notice.

~*New* Remote Mindful Chair Yoga and Meditation  – Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. beginning 5/19 (includes 5/19, 5/26, 6/2, 6/9, and 6/16) Cost: $40. There will be subsequent sessions so please reach out if you’re interested. Registration is now open. Anyone who lives anywhere can join from the comfort of home and even in PJs!

~Remote Gentle Yoga and Meditation – Friday Mornings at 9:00. New session beginning  Friday, May 8th (five sessions: 5/8, 5/15, 5/22, 5/29, and 6/5). There will be subsequent sessions so please reach out if you’re interested. Cost $40. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.

~*Hurry* Remote Gentle Yoga for Anxiety and Busy Minds – Saturday May 16th, 9:00-10:30.  In this class we’ll practice poses to calm the nervous system blended with mindfulness practices for anxiety. Cost $10. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home. This class is free for Healthcare professionals.

~Remote Gentle Yoga for Computer Users – Saturday, May 30th 9:00-10:30. Looking to counter the effects of heavy computer/device usage? Are your shoulders, neck, upper back bothering you and maybe even your wrists? Look no further, this Gentle Yoga class is for you! Cost $10. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.

Enlightened Readers Book Group – Lyn/Lilavati leads these discussions on mostly historical fiction titles (with some exceptions). Next meeting TBD in June via Zoom. Princeton Integral Yoga Community Center, 12:00. Book discussion:  The Rules of Magic. This is a free offering.

Testimonials

“Chair yoga is a practice that nourishes the mind, body, and soul! I have found it outstanding “exercise” for arthritis as well. Instructor, Lyn Sirota understands joints and how movement and breath can relieve pain. For me, chair yoga is gentle impact and far better rehab than any physical therapy I’ve done. Give it a try!”

~Lynn R

“I’ve been a student in Lyn Lilavati Sirota’s Gentle Mat Yoga classes for several years now, and can’t imagine a week without this type of yoga practice that stretches my body and mind. During her class I can just focus on myself, learn breathing practices that help me cope with life and stress, practice staying (and living) in the moment, and of course stretch out my body. I feel renewed, less tense, more flexible, for the whole day!”

~Stephanie C

“I just wanted to thank you one more time for that amazing class this morning. You are truly so talented and I feel like this is the class I’ve been looking for all my life LOL! I loved the little extras that you added like explaining what each pose was and the reason for doing it, the reading of the passage, incorporating scents like lavender and eucalyptus. I defuse it with essential oil’s, but I really loved how your house smelled and so many other little things that really made it the perfect class. I look forward to joining more in the future.”

~Joanne H

“Thank you for giving so much of yourself to your students. I feel so calm and safe in your classes.”

~Tamar B

Immunity Nutrients

By Guest Blogger – Nicole Printon

Our immune systems need to be fully functional at all times, particularly during a global pandemic.  Lifestyle habits are essential: regular exercise (active and passive, for balance), good sleep habits (regular bed time-before 10 pm for melatonin/cortisol ratios), and daily self care.  Good nutrition is key.

Incorporate these specific nutrients to boost immune function:

Vitamin A – plays a regulatory role in immune responses 
Foods rich in vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, iceberg lettuce, king mackerel, salmon, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs

Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant, squelching free radicals in the body that cause chronic inflammation.  Recent research suggests C protects against bacteria linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.  C supports cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system
Foods Rich in Vitamin C: cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes

Vitamin D – Research has shown that people with adequate D levels get sick less often.  For adequate amounts of Vitamin D, consuming foods rich in D is NOT enough.  Daily exposure to sunlight – sunscreen free; about 15 minutes daily is critical.
Foods rich in Vitamin D: salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, fortified milk (drink whole milk), yogurt (full fat)

Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant, protects cell membranes from oxidation and combats free radicals in the body.  Supplementing Vitamin E is NOT necessary unless you have been diagnosed with a true deficiency.
Foods rich in Vitamin  E: spinach, almonds, sweet potatoes, pine nuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, peanuts, butternut squash, olive oil, wheat germ

Zinc – critical for development and function of immune cells and accelerates wound healing.  Plays a critical role in collagen synthesis, immune function, and inflammatory response.  Zinc is an essential player in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.
Foods rich in Zinc: oysters, beef, oatmeal, mushrooms, chicken, hemp seeds, lentils, seeds, yogurt

Guest Blogger Nicole Printon holds certifications through WITs (personal training), ACE (Certified Health Coach with Behavior Change Specialty, and Group Fitness), and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Holistic Nutrition Therapy through Nutrition Therapy Institute.  She is completing her first 200 hour yoga teacher training mid May. She truly believes that fitness is the gateway to confidence, personal growth, and endless possibilities to live our most vibrant optimal lives. Nicole resides in Franklin Park with her 4 kids, 3 cats, and husband.

www.nicoleprinton.com

Lose the Lizard Legs

It doesn’t take much to really nourish your skin and it’s a powerful practice in reducing anxiety. Your skin is a system of the body called the Integumentary System and needs care just as much as the inside of your body.

I keep this do-it-yourself (DIY) scrub in the shower for when my skin is calling for attention. Today was one of those days. I had lizard legs this morning, so I reached for this scrub.

Take care of the skin you’re in, save money, and make use of something that would otherwise go to the compost or trash. Trifecta!

DIY Body Scrub

Mix together:

1/4 C organic coconut oil

1/4 C sugar

1/4 C coffee grounds

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

A small jar or container with a lid (I use a small plastic container since I leave it in the shower and wouldn’t want broken glass). Also, note, the coconut oil will make the floor of the shower slippery, so please be careful.

AND, it smells and works great!

Pause

I don’t know about you, but speaking candidly, I’m having a hard time staying focused these days. Starting, stopping, starting again, maybe finishing, maybe not. I’ve accepted that this is my current state of mind. What I do find helpful in the midst of moving, but not actually going anywhere, is taking time to pause. Pausing to look at how beautiful the clouds are especially against the bright blue sky, pausing to feel the sun on my face, pausing to inhale the outdoor scents of blooming trees, bushes, and flowers, pausing to notice patterns in the stone tile in my house I’ve never noticed before and taking time to just be in that moment.

Each day I think about all the things in my life I am grateful for. I try not to focus on what I don’t have, but turn toward the abundance that I do have. What do you notice when you pause?

#thistooshallpass