Being Grateful this Thanksgiving
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am taking a moment to pause and think deeply about the holiday. If you look at the media blitz around us, you would assume Thanksgiving is about shopping for items you probably don’t need at discount prices. Stores are opening earlier and earlier, and this often means families spend less time together as the rush to get to the mall begins. What happened to this wonderful holiday with its family traditions?
Instead of the craziness of shopping, I am instead listing a few things in my life for which I am very grateful:
I am grateful for the many students who walk in the doors of Moonflower Yoga to attend a yoga class. It is such a blessing to have them at the studio each week, getting stronger, feeling better, and sharing a part of their lives at Moonflower. I love meeting each person as they walk in the door and catching up with them each week. Thank you to all of you who have made Moonflower Yoga a success.
It was 2 years ago this month that my life changed forever with the news that my job in corporate America was coming to an end with a forced layoff. Although that news was devastating at the time, it gave me the opportunity to try something new that I always wanted to do. Moonflower Yoga was born as a result of that, and I am grateful that my life changed for the better. As Gandhi very wisely said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
Making a life change would have been very challenging if it wasn’t for the support of my husband, Bob, who has been my rock for the last 40 years. Bob, together with friends and family, supported me and Moonflower Yoga, and I am very grateful for their love and support.
Moonflower Yoga has great yoga teachers who work alongside of me each week and bring their love of teaching and helping people to Moonflower Yoga each week. I could not run the studio without them. And there have been wonderful workshop presenters as well, who have taught us some very interesting things that we didn’t know before and helped us learn something new. I am grateful to all of the teachers and workshop presenters for making Moonflower Yoga a special place.
I am grateful to my hometown of Bellmore, Long Island, in New York’s Nassau County. I have been welcomed in the town as a new business, and it has been great to establish my business roots here as well as my home roots. I always learn something new at the Bellmore Chamber of Commerce meetings.
I am grateful to my yoga teachers who helped me discover the wonders of yoga many years ago. Yoga has been my rock when things were stressful, and now it has become my life. It all started with attending my first yoga class, and it grew from there. Yoga can help you too!
What are you grateful for this holiday season? Take a moment to reflect on the blessings in your life. You will feel inspired! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Practicing Aparigraha and Giving to Others
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
The holiday season is quickly approaching. We are bombarded with messages about things we should purchase and special sales. As I listen to all of this, I think about the principles outlined in the yoga sutras, the basis on which our yoga system is built. In the “yamas” portion of the yoga sutras, one of the sutras refers to “aparigraha” which means being content with what we have and abstinence from greed. Do we really need another handbag, tv set, game, etc., or can we be happy with what we have?
It was a little over a year ago that Superstorm Sandy hit the Long Island area. We lost lives on that terrible day. Many people lost their homes and possessions. One of the lessons of Sandy is that it gave us an appreciation of what is really important – being safe and having our friends and families. Earlier this month, a horrible typhoon hit the Philippines killing thousands of people and causing unbearable destruction. We watch in horror at the reality that so many families have lost loved ones.
And back here in New York, there are families who do not have enough food to eat each day or people who are homeless with no place to sleep and no food. With the holidays coming, I also think about children and what a joyous time the holidays can be. Yet for some, their families cannot afford food and there is no money for a small holiday gift for a child.
At Moonflower Yoga, we want to do our part to bring some joy to families in our area this year. We have been part of an ongoing food drive, working with two of Moonflower’s students, Veronica and Luther, to collect food for the hungry. Last year the food drive yielded food for 600 hungry families. This year the goal is to feed 800 families. I’m proud that we have filled three large boxes with non-perishable food to help this cause. At the same time, we are working with the US Marine’s Toys for Tots program to bring a toy to a needy child this holiday season who might not receive one. Last year we collected 50 toys for Toys for Tots, and we are looking to exceed that number this year.
Any help that you can give to a food drive, Toys for Tots, or a charity of your choice is always welcome. I go back to the yoga philosophy of aparigraha. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: “Do I really need this thing I’m buying or do I already have enough?” If you have enough, could you instead donate a portion of that money to a worthwhile charity to help someone who is need? The reward from knowing that you helped someone can be amazing!
From all of us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Long Island’s Nassau County, we thank you for your generosity.
The Changing Season
By Nancy Weshkoff
This weekend we changed our clocks back one hour from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. And while it was nice to have that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, the changing of the clocks also reminded us of something else: the changing of the season to cooler temperatures and less daylight as it is dark by 5 PM.
When it gets darker and cooler, we naturally spend more time indoors. While that is understandable, it is important that we continue to move our bodies during the cooler months. We need to keep your muscles flexible. At Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore on Long Island’s Nassau County, all of our great yoga classes emphasize stretching and flexibility. Did you know that tight hamstring muscles can cause back pain? You can keep your hamstring muscles loose through yoga. Our Stress Reducing Vinyasa flow classes, Level one and Level one-two classes, Sunday Flow, Beginner, Tai Chi, Stretch & Flow, Adaptive, Easy Beginner & Easy Flow yoga classes are all great choices for keeping you flexible. And being active can prevent weight gain over the winter months.
Aside from our physical body, our mental state can also change with the cooler temperatures. We spend less time socializing outdoors. For some people, this means spending more time watching television, playing video games, or with social media sites. While these can be fun in moderation, they may not help you deal with stress in your life. Stress can be harmful and health care professionals all agree that it is a contributing factor to many health problems today. You can reduce your stress through the physical movement of a yoga asana practice. You can also reduce your stress through meditation which provides a wonderful opportunity to let go of things that might be bothering you and to teach you to focus on the present moment. Our bi-monthly Meditation class is fantastic for this. We also have a lovely Candlelight Restorative class on alternate Tuesdays, which rotates with the Meditation class, where you have an opportunity to completely relax and refresh yourself while you stretch on bolsters, pillows, and blankets. If you are looking for a combination of light movement and restorative, there is the Unwind and Relax class on Thursday night which is a perfect way to end your day.
You can combat the winter blues, stay in shape, and feel better through a regular yoga practice. Hope to see you soon at one of our great yoga classes.
By Nancy Weshkoff
This past week, I suffered a personal loss in my life. My Uncle Lenny, my mother’s brother and the last surviving sibling from my grandparents, passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was very special to me. Because he lived around the corner from my parents’ house, we saw him frequently. When I entered the work force, we were both employed in lower Manhattan near the former World Trade Center site. This gave me an opportunity to travel into New York City with Uncle Lenny and have some great talks. Even later in my life, when Moonflower Yoga opened its doors for the first time, Uncle Lenny was there with my Aunt Betty and cousin Catherine to wish me well and offer support.
During his memorial service, many wonderful memories of Uncle Lenny were discussed amongst the crowded room of people that came to say goodbye to a special man. He adored his children, grandchildren, and wife. Although his life was a simple one, he lived it to the fullest. He worked hard and was proud of his job. He raised a great family. When retirement came, he used it to do some projects, spend more time with his friends and family, travel whenever he could to explore something new, or do a simple challenge such as assembling a new jigsaw puzzle. His son, Lee, said at the memorial service that his father always emphasized that you should enjoy every single day that you are given. Uncle Lenny had no bucket list – he was happy with the life he led and cherished each new day. And even though he battled cancer and other illnesses for a couple of years, he still retained this positive attitude.
The mention of bucket lists sparked something inside me. Although it can be fun to dream about things to do in the future, we shouldn’t ignore the present moment that is in front of us. We all have some struggles in our daily life, and things may not go exactly the way we want them to go. Yet there are many wonderful simple things that happen to us each day that we may be ignoring: a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a hug from someone you love, a smile on a child’s face, a silly joke that someone tells you, etc. It is all of these things – and more – that make life special.
At Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore on Long Island’s Nassau County, I emphasize in my yoga classes the importance of being in the present moment and enjoying each day as it comes. When you stop worrying so much about things that may not happen in the future, you can feel so much better. And after having a great yoga class at Moonflower Yoga, we spend several minutes in quiet relaxation to appreciate the goodness of the present moment.
Are you feeling stressed and worrying too much about your own bucket list? Come and join us at Moonflower Yoga to feel better, de-stress, and learn to enjoy the beauty of the present moment. As with my Uncle Lenny, it is the culmination of many present moments that make a wonderful life.
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
Meditation is such a wonderful tool. It brings you a sense of calm and inner peace. It can help tremendously with stress reduction. And in today’s crazy world of constant distractions and mega demands on our time, it is so important that we take just a few minutes to sit comfortably, breathe, and relax.
For some people, meditation is very challenging. I was one of those people. I just couldn’t sit comfortably and quietly. After just a couple of minutes, something would start to twitch, my mind would start to wander, and I couldn’t get to a peaceful place. Then I learned a few simple tips which I am sharing with you:
- When meditating, you want to be in the present moment. This means blocking out regrets from the past or worries about the future. I often liken our mind in meditation to turning on your television set and scanning through the channels. In meditation, we want to focus on one channel – the present – and stick with it. When other thoughts start to creep in, you simply acknowledge them and tell yourself that you don’t need to think about those right now. Then go back to the present.
– Being in the present moment does not mean that you may not hear sounds around you. You could hear a car drive by, a bird singing, a child playing, etc. You just acknowledge these as part of your present moment. But if you hear a car, you don’t let your mind start to think about your own car, having it serviced, etc. You just let it go.
- Your breath work is very important. If you are having difficulty concentrating, do a simple breathing exercise. Thich Nhat Hanh, who writes wonderful words of wisdom, offers this tip: Sit comfortably, breathe, and repeat to yourself several times “I breathe in. I breathe out”. This repetition helps to calm the mind and bring you to the present moment. After just a minute or two of doing this simple breathing exercise, you will feel better.
At Moonflower Yoga, I want to introduce meditation to more people. I know that its wonders can help people feel better and more relaxed. With this goal in mind, we have added a great new yoga class entitled “Present Moment Meditation”. This meditation class is offered at Moonflower Yoga on alternate Tuesday evenings at 7:45 PM. After a day filled with stress and demands, it is wonderful to give yourself an hour to feel calmer and more relaxed with a meditation class led by one of our great yoga teachers. Meditation will also help you to sleep better when your mind is calmer, and sleep is very important to being healthy. In our Present Moment Meditation class, you will be given other tools to help you meditate and reach this peaceful state. If you are in the area of Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County, come and try Moonflower Yoga’s great new meditation class on Tuesday nights! You will feel instantly better.
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
It is early October, a time when many of the summer plants have started to fade. No so for the moonflower plant. Each night when I leave the Moonflower Yoga studio, there is a beautiful white flower waiting for me on the front porch of the studio. The flower comes out at night, and the flower usually lasts one day. And the next evening there is another gorgeous flower to greet me.
Some people have asked me about the name “Moonflower Yoga”. Where did the name come from?
Well, the moonflower plant is one of my favorites. But it also symbolizes something else. While other summer plants start blooming early in their development, the moonflower plant is not that way. The moonflower plant takes it time. It grows a lot of foliage during the summer. And then at the end of the summer when the other plants have faded, the moonflower blooms, something that is unusual for a summer plant.
In many ways, I associate with the moonflower plant. If you don’t know my background, I spent many years working in corporate America until I was suddenly downsized. I decided to turn to the one thing that I always loved and which kept me peaceful – my yoga practice. After graduating from my teacher training program, I decided to take a giant leap of faith and open my own yoga studio. When considering possible names, “moonflower” seemed right to me. The moonflower plant is a bit like me. It took its time to develop into something strong and then blooms later in the season. I associate with this: I, too, grew from my years in the business world, but it is now, a bit later in life, that I am starting to bloom with having my own yoga studio that I truly love.
I hope you will come visit us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, on Long Island, New York’s Nassau County. I have built a small yoga studio with great yoga teachers where we pay personal attention to you, which many of our students have come to love. Moonflower Yoga is a friendly, warm environment which encourages you to blossom as well. And, of course, come by and see our beautiful moonflower plant in action. Hope to see you soon.
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
This week marks the 27th anniversary of the Bellmore Family Street Festival in Nassau County, Long Island, New York. Over 120,000 people visited last year’s Bellmore Family Street Festival. It is incredible to see so many people travel from all over to come visit Bellmore, have fun, and enjoy this lovely Long Island town. The town of Bellmore does a great job of organizing this amazing event with 25 square blocks of entertainment and activities.
I am proud to be a resident of Bellmore, and I am even prouder to have launched Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore over a year ago. There is a great sense of community here, and I have been welcomed by my fellow business owners who have helped support me and have given me some great advice. I joined the local Bellmore Chamber of Commerce, and I enjoy speaking with other Bellmore business owners at our monthly meetings and hearing what is new in their lives and businesses.
On the eve of this very special annual event in Bellmore, I am preparing the materials I need for the Moonflower Yoga booth on Bedford Avenue in the heart of Bellmore Village, and I am getting excited for what lies ahead this weekend. If you are one of the 120,000 people who visit the Bellmore Family Street Festival in Long Island’s Nassau County this weekend, please stop by and say hello to us! We would love to speak with you about the great yoga classes and workshops that we offer at Moonflower Yoga.
Hope to see you soon – either at the Bellmore Family Street Festival or at the Moonflower Yoga studio.
Moonflower Yoga’s One-Year Anniversary
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of Moonflower Yoga. As I write this, I cannot believe how quickly the year has flown by!
When I decided to embark on this new phase of my life a year ago, I knew it was a life-changing event. Leaving behind my former life in corporate America and opening my own special yoga studio in Bellmore, New York, on Long Island’s Nassau County was a giant leap. I remember all the planning that went into that grand opening: hiring a great staff of teachers, building a website, ordering supplies, preparing the space, developing the class program, etc. Yet, even as I made all these plans, I did not fully comprehend at that time what would happen over the course of the next year.
What happened over the course of Moonflower Yoga’s first year is that I met some of the most amazing people in my life. People who I never met before walked in the doors of Moonflower Yoga to try yoga for the first time. These students come from all walks of life, with interesting and fascinating backgrounds. I look forward to seeing them each week and catching up on what is happening in their lives. And, of course, watching these students grow stronger and become more flexible each week is very gratifying and inspires me as a teacher. I have also witnessed the strain on the faces of many students as they first enter the doors of Moonflower Yoga from a crazy day filled with stressful obligations. When they leave after an hour of a renewing yoga practice, they are once again smiling and are better able to cope with life’s challenges.
I have had fun planning and designing the class program and workshops. I am pleased with the variety of great yoga classes that we now offer at Moonflower Yoga. I also love putting together the workshop programs which give people an opportunity to learn something new as they kick off their weekend. In our first year, we have had some varied and interesting topics ranging from dealing with neck/shoulder pain issues, to understanding the principles of Ayurveda and your unique “dosha” type, to astrology, crystals, and Feng Shui. I’m busy working on new workshops for Moonflower Yoga’s second year.
Most of all, I feel truly blessed. Blessed to be waking up every day to do something that I love. Blessed to have incredible students walk in the door each day to practice yoga at Moonflower Yoga. Blessed to have the support of an amazing husband, family, and friends who have encouraged me in my new journey. Blessed to have a great staff of teachers who put their heart and soul to teach at Moonflower Yoga and who have helped Moonflower Yoga become a success.
I send out a big thank you to each of you who have supported Moonflower Yoga in its first year! If you are in the area of Bellmore, in Long Island’s Nassau County on Sunday, September 15, please stop by the Moonflower Yoga studio as we celebrate our one-year anniversary. And if you haven’t tried a class or fascinating workshop at Moonflower Yoga, come give us a try! Your first class is always free. You will gain strength, flexibility, balance, and feel better. Check out one of fun yoga classes or workshops and join the growing community of wonderful students at Moonflower Yoga.
Onward to year two!!
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
I wrote this special blog last year on the anniversary of 9/11. Like so many other people, it is a day that I will never forget. Here is my 9/11 blog which pays tribute to those who lost their lives on that September morning. May they rest in peace. And here is praying that we can live in peace rather than in senseless destruction.
12 years ago on the morning of September 11th, I remember my husband and I waking to a beautiful September morning. The weather was absolutely perfect, and we remarked that it was probably one of the 10 best days of the year. We both worked in Manhattan at that time and headed to work from Long Island and arrived in our respective office buildings shortly before 8 AM. The office buildings had beautiful views of Manhattan including the World Trade Center. Little did we know that in a few short minutes so many lives would change forever.
When we heard about the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center, like so many others, we thought this must be an accident. Sadly, as events unfolded, we realized it wasn’t an accident. From our office buildings, we could see the World Trade Center on fire. I remember being filled with shock and horror. Just like me, so many innocent people had gone to work that day, but in a different office address, and they were now dying or trapped in the towers.
As no one knew what might happen next, every office building in Manhattan was evacuated and all the public transportation in/out of Manhattan was closed. This resulted in millions of people emptying on to the streets of Manhattan. What happened next made me even prouder to be a New Yorker. There were no riots despite huge crowds. Instead we cried in the streets together and consoled and helped each other watching the smoke from lower Manhattan and praying for those who were in the buildings.
There were so many acts of bravery. I think about those heroic first responders who knew they were probably going to die but risked their lives anyway going into the burning towers to try and help people. I think a lot about the victims and their families. Family members stood on street corners after the attack holding pictures of their lost loved ones with messages such as “have you seen my daughter who was on last seen on x floor of 1 WTC.” Those pictures were later placed all over Manhattan on lamp posts and in the huge transportation hubs such as Grand Central Station and Penn Station. The victims became even more real as you looked at their smiling faces and knew they were senselessly killed that September morning.
My heart goes out to the victims and may they rest in peace. My heart also goes out to the families of the victims as they continue to find the strength to carry on.
One lesson that I learned from 9/11 was to live more in the present. Sadly we never know what will happen to us when we begin our morning. So we must make the most of each day. Don’t put off doing something that you’ve always wanted to do. It could be a simple thing such as spending more time with your family or it could be something bigger such as taking that special trip somewhere. After 9/11, I organized a trip to Disney World with my family because I wanted to create a happy memory.
Deciding to start my own yoga studio, Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Nassau County on Long Island, took some courage as I left behind the life I knew best. Yet I know that the courage to start a new venture was only a very small fraction of the courage of those brave first responders who sacrificed their lives to save others on that beautiful September morning and to the 9/11 families who have learned to cope with this tragedy. May all the victims of this sad event in our history be forever remembered. And may we always remember to enjoy the blessings we encounter every single day.
Yoga and Children
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
When I was a child in school, yoga was virtually unknown in New York. How much has changed in a short period of time! Now children are being introduced to yoga, and I think this is really fabulous. With a greater emphasis on test scores and the importance of top grades in order to move forward with a higher education, children are having their expectations and stress levels increase.
Yoga gives children confidence, and it builds strength and flexibility. Standing poses also help with good posture which is vital as children grow. All of these are wonderful things for our children. And, unlike many other activities, yoga importantly helps with both physical and mental balance. Physically, it helps children become stronger as they learn to balance their growing bodies. Mentally the stress of today’s fast-paced world takes its toll on our children too, and they need to learn healthy tools to cope and feel better about themselves.
It is because of this that we are adding a great new yoga class to the schedule at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County. The new class starting in September is Toddler and Me, designed for a caregiver and a toddler to practice together. It will be a lot of interactive fun as the caregiver and toddler will learn poses together, with each helping the other. What a wonderful bonding experience! The class will be taught by Vicky Seff, one of the great yoga teachers at Moonflower Yoga. Vicky is also a mom who loves children, and she makes this class interesting and fun.
If you would like to register for the new Toddler and Me class, or any of the other great yoga classes at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, Long Island’s Nassau County, you can do so at any time by visiting our website: www.moonfloweryoga.com. A special toddler in your life can be on a path of good health and confidence!