All of the teachers at Core Health bring their own unique outlook and set of skills to the studio. Some may teach a similar style, but no two classes are the same. This is the beauty of yoga teachers in general but few studios exemplify this diversity more than Core Health.
The months of November, December and January are devoted to helping to share this gift with the community and the current student base. We at Core Health would like to help the student get better acquainted with the teacher, and maybe encouraging everyone to broaden their horizon and take a different class than their norm.
Last week started the "Class of the Week". This is where a particular class of each respective teacher will be featured. In addition to this, we will also be focusing on a teacher feature. Each teacher was asked a series of questions. Their responses will be shared the week following their showcase class.
Our first class of the week featured Adam Hellquist's 6:00 Easy Peasy Yoga on Wednesdays. Adam always does 'First Class Free'. If you couldn't make it to his showcase class please join him next week for his Monday 5:30 class or his Wednesday 6:00 class.
This introductory post is his interview.
Q: What would you classify your yoga style as?
A: I try to incorporate pieces of lots of different styles to have a well rounded style. But for the most part my style is vinyasa-based.
Q: What is your favorite yoga pose?
A: My favorite to say is triang mukhaipada paschimottanasana my favorite to teach is trikanasana and my favorite to do is bakasana.
Q: How has yoga changed your life?
A: I don’t think it has, but it has enhanced it.
Q: What do you look for in a yoga teacher/class?
A: Usually something that can be a challenge either physically or otherwise to help me grow
Q: What is the most important lesson yoga has taught you?
A: To breathe.
Q: What do you want students to know before coming to your class?
A: Come with an open mind and no fear. Each class has something for everyone.
Q: What do you hope your students gain from attending class?
A: I like seeing students leave with a smile, feeling better than they did coming in.
Q: What is the biggest myth about yoga?
A: That you must be flexible to do yoga. Yoga helps you with flexibility.
Q: What do you appreciate about the historical and traditional aspect of yoga?
A: That seemingly thousands of years ago the study of our bodies and minds was just as understood then as it is now or even more so.
Q: How is yoga different than other physical exercise? How is it similar?
A: Any regular movement of the body has a positive impact on the mind and body. Yoga is different with its focus on breath, mindfulness, and prana. Each pose has a subtle purpose with deeper meaning.
Q: What are the yoga cliches you love? Hate?
A: I’m not sure.
Q: What is the one yoga book you think everyone should read?
A: Anything by Thich Naht Hanh
Q: What do you do for fun (outside of yoga)?
A: Running, playing guitar, coffee, and hopefully skiing
Q: How do you integrate yoga into your everyday life?
A: With trying to focus on things in the moment rather than their possible outcomes.
We all have that favorite time of year. Fall just happens to be mine. EVERYTHING about the season creates a feeling of warmth and comfort. I want to sit in a chair with a book and a cup of tea. I dream of pumpkins carved on the front steps and pears baked into crisps. My dinner menus move from grilled meats and veggies to baked squash and soups. Every time autumn rolls around I have the greatest intent to take full advantage and to truly get my fill of the glorious season, but every time I feel shorted. I never make enough soup, I never read enough books, and I certainly never sit around a bonfire with a glass of bourbon often enough. In the past I have felt angry and frustrated that the season ended so soon but lately I have started to see the value and gift that a short season brings. Would I treasure the things I listed if I was actually able to tire of them? Would I enjoy the look, taste, and feel of pumpkin if it was a year round staple? Maybe... but most likely not. As human beings we crave novelty and fall is a novelty for certain. We can travel anywhere at any time of the year to find the cold of winter or the warmth of summer and even the dampness of spring is accessible at times, but to find that delicious sensation of warmth and coolness, where the air starts to feel crisp and the sun warms you not quite enough but just a little, where the leaves turn that beautiful landscape of color. To find this is nearly impossible outside of the season. So take the time to find the beauty in each season but most especially look for the joy that can come from this glorious time of year.
“… there will be enough sleeping in the grave..” –Benjamin Franklin
The world we live in is fast paced, full of coffee and sleep deprived. We celebrate those who can work on little to no sleep and caffeinate all the others. In business we push to get more done in a days time and we value and admire those who say they work all night. Even old Ben seemed to feel sleep was a waste of time. In addition to famous quotes on the subject we also coin our own cute little phrases like “You can sleep when you’re dead”. These serve to encourage us to believe that this lack of sleep is worth something, that there’s a bigger payoff in the end. But is there?
One thing that we don’t see popping up in conversation is how a human can go without food longer than they can go without sleep. Or that lack of sleep can cause heart problems, weight gain and memory loss, to name a few. These are the byproducts of less sleep and like most negative and depressing side effects, we conveniently brush them to the side.
Sleep is one of the few consistent pillars of wellness and unlike some of the other areas of health, the need for sleep has never changed. There are no sleep “diets” or sleep short cuts. There is only one way to fill the need, and that is to sleep. In our world of fast fixes and life hacks, this makes sleep less exciting to work on. But truly sleep can have the strongest impact on health, and if taken seriously, be the difference between good health and poor.
Sleep is the time when our body hits the refresh button. This is when we physically repair ourselves and when we mentally clean house. We sleep in 90 minute cycles and have approximately five cycles a night. There are different stages of sleep in each cycle. The two most important stages are deep sleep and REM sleep.
Deep sleep is the physical restoration stage and is what makes us feel the most rested the next day. This is what happens in deep sleep:
REM sleep is dream time. This is also when our brain does a sweep through and tidies things up. This is what is going on in this stage:
Tips for better Sleep
1. Eliminate blue light in the bedroom, think electronic devices. This blue light inhibits melatonin production; which is the sleep hormone that helps with sleep cycles.
2. Hide the clock. Looking at a bright red digital time piece only adds anxiety and increases sleeplessness. Cover the clock on the T.V, get a non-light up alarm, or turn your clock the other way.
3. Sleep in darkness. This is especially important if you work at night and sleep during the day. Darkness is what helps our body produce melatonin. If you have a bright room you can buy black out curtains, use a sleep mask, or cover your windows in tinfoil.
4. Wake up at the same time. This is more important even than going to bed at the same time. To figure out your best bedtime determine your desired wakeup time and count back 7.5 hours. This is when you want to be falling asleep.
5. Plan your bedtime routine. Whatever you do at night try to give yourself 20-30 minutes of down time before you fall asleep. This needs to not excite your mind. That means no social media or the latest thriller, maybe try deep breathing, prayer or some stretching.
6. Keep it cool. 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to have your room set at for optimal sleep. Use a fan on those hot summer nights and ditch the extra blankets on those cool fall evenings.
7. Get some sunshine! If possible get 15 minutes of direct sunlight in the morning. Stand outside with your coffee, or roll the window down on your way to work. If sunlight is not possible consider getting a light box. Place it on your desk or set it in the bathroom and turn it on for 15 minutes. Or even consider special light bulbs for your bathroom. See the next editions article for where to find these.
With that I will say Good Night and watch for part two in Januarys edition of In Mag to find out what the signs of sleep deprivation are and how to pay back your sleep debt.
Sleep Smarter, 21 Essentia strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
The Sleep Doctors Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep, by Michael Breus PhD
August is all about thanking the wonderful clients who make Core Health possible.
Here are a few ways Core Health wants to support your Health and Wellness Journey this month:
Please Note- These specials apply only to classes with Jessica
Most of us have heard of, participated in or been a victim of April Fools day, but less of us realize the other important holiday at the beginning of this month.
The first Wednesday of April happens to be National Walking Day! How do you think you should celebrate this day? By taking a walk of course. Research done by the American Cancer society has found that even just a little walking has a big impact. However, I encourage you to do more than just a little walking.
I have heard it scarily said that sitting is the new smoking and although I don't readily have the data to support this, I trust it to be true. In fact I see it with my clients. Those who struggle with chronic or inflammatory health conditions generally tend to have jobs that require sitting for an extended period of time. And unfortunately it's not just sitting itself that is the problem, it's sitting for extended periods of time. This means that it is best to move around throughout the day. Or at least reduce your sitting as much as possible. I still tell people to move when they can and if you can only do so after work then by all means do that. But if there is any opportunity to alter your day or your environment to allow more movement then you should definitely take that route.
One of my favorite reference to use with clients (as well as with friends and family) is the Blue Zones. In fact most of the education that I do with clients stems from the information that Dan Buettner and his team were able to gather and publish in regards to these scattered locations across the globe. What makes these places so special? This is where there are the most centenarians living, meaning the greatest population of people who live to be 100 in a small secluded area. I don't necessarily focus on the longevity aspect of living with my clients, rather I focus on the quality of life these individuals have. In fact an email from the Blue Zones website this morning was what informed me that there was such a thing as National Walking Day. As the article on their site will tell you, the individuals in the Blue Zones don't necessarily go to the gym or do a workout video when they get up in the morning or at the end of a long day of work, in fact very few of them would even consider "exercising". Movement is just a part of their day. Life is simpler in many of these areas, people live in close proximity and much of their food is sourced locally. This means that there are very few if any desk jobs, there is more walking to and from locations, and there is the need for physical tending of animals and gardens. Daily movement is just one area that the Blue Zones is #winning.
So what can you do? Aside from moving to a Blue Zone and completely uprooting your family and life- (I encourage you to do so if you can, although I have yet to get my husband to bit on that one...)- I would suggest you start simple. Too often we focus on how this or that WON'T work for us, but let's look at what you can do right now. Can you stand up? Great! Do that! Can you walk to the bathroom or to a neighbors desk or even down the hall? Great! Do that after you finish reading all this. :) Maybe you can't walk down the hall then just continue to stand up every so often. If you are literally glued to being seated take a few moments to move your feet around. There are many options for desk sitters on the market, one you can request a standing desk. These are quite popular and not so hard to come by anymore. You can also get something like a pedaling station under your feet or even a stability chair that works your core while you sit. If you aren't as glued to your seat then take advantage of every opportunity to move. Instead of sending an email to Suzy Q down the hall- go deliver the message yourself. Not only will this help you get movement in but also addresses the issue of our loss of connectivity with people. There is just something so much more valuable about a face to face discussion. If you can't remember or think to create opportunity for movement in the day then use your handle electronic devices to remind you. You don't even need a special app or device, simply set an alarm as a reminder. Try setting it every 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and at least strand and stretch.
If you can take it a step farther consider walking over your lunch break, maybe you are in a location that you could walk to a coffee shop for lunch. Could you even walk to the school to pick your kids up? Sometimes I will purposely park a few blocks away so that I and they have a forced walk after class. There are so many ways to add movement into your day. Do not limit yourself to the confines of going to the gym or not. Set your life up so that it requires movement. Park further away, walk or ride your bike whenever its an option, Take multiple trips up and down the stairs at home when cleaning the house. Take multiple trips to carry groceries in - we are all guilty of fitting 15 bags on one arm to avoid taking two trips in....
Whatever you can do, do it! Here's a list to sum it up but don't be afraid to pave your own path (pun intended).
Do you struggle to find quality yoga clothes in Bemidji? I know I do. One of my first goals in opening the studio was to carry a couple of lines of clothing that I felt were quality, somewhat sustainable and came in ALL sizes. After researching I have been able to find some brands that check those boxes. Right now my stock is limited but over the next month I will be getting in more styles, colors and an assortment of bigger body clothes so that women of every shape and size can feel comfortable and secure in their practice.
So come on in and check Core Health's own little boutique. It is brimming with yoga clothes and supplies as well as candles, books and other health and wellness paraphernalia.
What is the value in a workshop? Why pay extra for a "longer" class? What does a workshop even look like? What would I need to bring?
These are all questions I had before attending my first yoga workshop and these questions were at the forefront of my thoughts upon planning my own workshop. Although I survived and there was some value in not knowing exactly what to expect and in opening myself to the unknown, the pitta in me still likes to have a plan. This is why I am sharing this post. So that whenever you decide to take a workshop you are prepared and know what to expect. Hopefully that knowledge will encourage you to be open to the opportunity of a workshop.
To understand the importance of a workshop I have a couple of visualizations. The first is for experienced practitioners who not only do asana daily but also dabble in the other areas of yoga. The second visualization is for those individuals who are newer to yoga and/or only have a physical practice.
So first I want you to imagine all the different areas of a yoga practice, physical movement, breath work, meditation, etc- now see these as a working body and being different parts of the body. Visualize this however it works for you. Maybe the physical practice is your limbs or muscles, perhaps meditation is your mind. Now think of what nourishes all the areas of your body. Of course breath does but this is another conversation all together, but what about your blood? Your heart? Think of a workshop as the heart of it all. This is where everything connects. None of our systems or parts work without fresh nourishing blood being pumped to them. Participating in a workshop is like giving new life to your heart. Its strengthening it.
For the second metaphor I want you to picture yourself on an island. Imagine the physical practice of yoga is that island. Now visualize "mainland" a ways from that island. Mainland is all the other areas of yoga. You could probably survive just fine on the island for your whole life, just practicing asana and never moving beyond that. But imagine the opportunity that would open if you built a bridge to that mainland. Imagine the world that would be at your feet if you were able to cross into those other areas. It might seem a little terrifying to walk across the bridge but you see people you know on the other side of it and they seem happy and thriving, so your heart and mind tell you to do it. A workshop is that bridge. It is a way to bring your physical practice to another level, another area.
Regardless of what metaphor worked better for you or even if you are not a visualization type of person. The point is to understand the value and importance of a workshop. Workshops bring understanding to why we practice. They allow you to expand beyond the physical. They open you up to all the other modalities of yoga. They bridge the gap. This is especially important for yoga in the west as it is heavily portrayed as primarily a physical movement practice. And yes, that is a part of it, but there is so much more. Perhaps not every workshop is an amazing, earth shattering, life changing, enlightening experience. But remember each workshop , just like each class, is what you make of it. Yoga is a personal practice and coming to the mat is always a fresh chance to quiet the mind and experience life, but yoga itself is part of life, tis our every day actions and thoughts. We don't just practice yoga for those few moments on our mat, we practice it everyday all day and workshops remind us and teach us that.
Without further ado here is a list of what to expect and what to bring for most workshops. Although a huge disclaimer- just as every teacher is different, so to is every workshop. If you are really unsure and want to be prepared do not be afraid to ask, but also do not be surprised if you receive a vague answer such as "Whatever you think you need is what your should bring..."
Items to bring
What to expect
Does yoga ever feel complicated? Do you find yourself wondering what poses to do at home? Are you ever confused about how to start and how to end?
If you answered yes to any of the above then feel comforted that you are not alone.
Before I became a yoga teacher I was always wondering how to do yoga at home. Sure I could throw youtube on or watch a DVD, but then I spent the whole time watching the instructor, pausing to try the pose and then rewinding to do it as a flow. It was annoying. What I wanted was to be able to do a simple practice without an instructor. Something that I didn't have to think about but I could still reap benefits from.
As a teacher I have kept this in mind and have made it a point to always teach with the emphasis on doing the practice at home. One way I do this is by pointing out specific poses that can be done throughout the day at a desk or while standing. And the other I build their home practice is through the use of the sun salutations, specifically Sun A. The simplicity of the poses in Sun A as well as the limited number of them make this an ideal sequence to memorize and do on your own. In a Sun salutation you are able to practice all the aspects of any yoga sequence in a shortened flow that can be repeated as many times as a person desires.
Lets break it down:
You start in Mountain pose with your hands on each side of your body, facing forward at the front of your mat. On an inhale you will raise your hands up to the sky bringing them together in namaste and turning your gaze to rest on the two thumbs.
Then you will exhale and bending at your hips you will move into a forward fold.
It is ok if your legs are not completely strait or if your belly doesn't touch your thighs. In fact often times this won't happen for many years because of tightness in the back and in the hamstrings. It's important not to force yourself into this pose. Bend your knees if you find yourself barely able to fold forward.
On an inhale you will straiten your back, lift your head and turn your gaze forward. In this position you may need to slide your hands up your legs so that you can rest in a comfortable strait back. For some people they will be able to come into strait back while leaving their hands on the ground or coming to their fingertips.
After strait back you will exhale and place your hands on the ground and walk your feet back so that you come into a high plank.
Once you are in high plank you will want to ready yourself for chaturanga. Chaturanga is best described as a push up with your elbow hugged into your side. It is ok to come to your knees and then lower down or to lower your belly all the way down. For some people they will stop with their head about 2 inches from the floor in chaturanga. If you have a sore back it is ok to raise the bum a bit as you lower down. This is a good pose to build upper body strength and is difficult to do without variations.
After chaturanga you will inhale and push your head up and chest out into upward dog. It is helpful to have a slight bend in the elbows for this pose although many times we want to straiten them. It is also helpful to roll the shoulders back if possible instead of pushing them forward. Rest the top of your feet on the ground in this pose and either hold your body slightly off the ground or start your back bend at the waist and allow the entire leg to be touching the mat.
Next you will exhale and tuck your toes under pushing your hips back and coming into the most well known yoga pose, downward dog. Here you will hold for 5 even breaths. This is technically an inversion and inversion poses are very important for health. However, they should be done with caution for individuals with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular or vertigo issues.
To come out of down dog you will glance up at your hands and either walk your feet forward or walk your hands back to meet your feet. As you do this inhale and raise your head up and come into a nice strait back again.
Then exhale and forward fold
Inhale and raise your hands up...
And then exhale your hands down to your side.
As you can see this makes one full circle. You end as you began. This is a sun A.
Now go practice!
Fitness has always been easy for me.
Well, I should correct that and say that the concept, the rules and the structure of exercise and fitness make sense and are controllable and manageable. This makes it fall into the "easy" category of my life. Fitness was a disconnect from the mind. What you put in, is what you got out. No thinking involved and as simple as that. Not to say that the process or the work itself is easy, running a marathon was more than difficult and no weight lifter will tell you that the journey there was rainbows and sunshine. But in my mind these are doable things with a start and finish. Yoga felt that way also. I would see "yogi's" practicing these crazy poses, I would pin images from pinterest of my "goals". Even if some of these seemed off the wall, they were still something I could put time and effort into and see an end result. I figured if I worked hard enough and stretched long enough eventually I would reach these goals.
Then I actually started yoga. And not just going to classes. I had been to classes before and I had practiced at home. In fact I did most of my practice at home, in front of the T.V. I also held my breath on the tough poses and almost laid into the deep stretches. What I was doing was maybe a version of yoga, but what I was gaining was nothing compared to what yoga could give me. I actually started the process of a deep and meaningful yoga practice my first day of teacher training. Although I did hope for teacher training to deepen my own practice, I did not realize to what extent that would happen, or how I could not truly become a teacher without that happening. In fact I assumed it would be similar to every other certification I have. Study, go to trainings, take home a bit of information to apply to myself, take a test, and then eventually apply the knowledge in the work environment. I expected to learn a lot of course, but I didn't understand how deep that education would go. One thing that I definitely did plan for was to be decent at the poses. I admit I had a bit of confidence here. Maybe its because I am the most athletic person in my family so it has always been easy to impress, or maybe its because I have a certain level of fitness that gave my ego a boost. But I figured I would have no trouble with the poses after a bit of practice. Never have I been more wrong. It's not that I was or am bad at the poses or that they are unattainable. Its just that I never realized that there is no end result with them. You can always move more into the stretch, or hold the pose with better alignment. And the number of yoga poses is almost infinite. The goal is never to work to a certain point and stop, the goal is to continually push your limits (safely of course) through the journey of your life and practice. And more than that the goal is that there is no goal. Your practice is what you bring each day to the mat and to your day. It doesn't matter if you can twist your body into a million angles while in the upside down lotus pose or if you can barely get your arms strait in down dog. What matters is that you come ready and open to the process. What matters is that you embrace what the practice can give you.
This is how yoga humbles me. I can't just short cut the process or push myself to finish the race. I have to be patient with my practice and my poses. I can't come to practice making a to do list or going through my day. I have to come ready to be present. I have to leave my troubles at the door. I have to accept where I am in my journey. I have to understand that my journey in yoga is not one that is necessarily like anyone else's. I can't hope to impress my co-workers or friends with my super flexibility. I have to change how I present my yoga in general. My whole view of yoga has changed. I am humbled beyond measure and I appreciate it. In fact I love it and I am thankful that I have started this never-ending journey.
(This is a repost)