Mantra and Stress Reduction
By Nancy Weshkoff
Beginners to yoga often ask what is a mantra and why is this used in yoga classes. Mantra is a short phrase, or a chant, or it may be a single word. It can be in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, or it can be in English. As an example, “shanti”, is a Sanskrit word and means “peace”. At the end of a yoga class, a yoga teacher may close the class with “shanti, shanti, shanti” as a message that peace be with you and with the world.
Mantra can be any word or combination of words that has meaning to you. It is important that it be a POSITIVE message. For example, you can say “I am smart”, “I am beautiful”, “Everything is going to be okay”, “I am grateful”, “I am happy”, etc. You want to avoid negative versions of this such as “I am not stupid”, as your brain has difficulty processing the negative and hears “I am stupid”. You could also choose a famous phrase that resonates with you. A simple “I love myself” is also wonderful.
Sometimes people think a mantra can only be used in a yoga class or if you are doing a seated meditation in your house. This is certainly when you might encounter mantra, but mantra is available to you at any time during the day. If you are sitting in traffic, on a train, waiting in a doctor’s office, standing in line at a store, or just walking down the street, you can use a mantra. Just silently repeat to yourself the positive mantra of your choosing.
So, why is mantra important and how can it help with stress reduction? During our day, our mind is occupied with many thoughts – not all of them good. We might find ourselves regretting something from our past and reliving the past scene in our mind. Or perhaps you are imagining what might happen in the future at a certain event which is making you anxious, and we start to worry. Our blood pressure rises, which increases a strain on our heart and other organs. Guilt and worry are two negative emotions that we should try to reduce as much as possible.
Instead of negativity, how about changing this to something positive? If you change the negative into a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself, you start to relax. It helps with stress reduction and lowers blood pressure.
Try doing this for just 2-3 minutes. Select a positive mantra that is meaningful to you. Notice how you feel before you start the mantra. Take a few deep breaths. Then start repeating the mantra to yourself. If you are alone in a room, you can choose to say it aloud. After just a few minutes of slowly repeating the mantra, notice how you feel. You should notice a reduction in your stress and your mind should be calmer. Mantra can be miraculous!
If you would like to discover more about mantra, come try one of the great yoga classes at our Moonflower Yoga studio in Bellmore, in Nassau County (Long Island, New York). Our yoga teachers offer mantra to our yoga students and encourage them to incorporate these into their daily routine. In our singing bowl meditation classes, mantra is used with sound, which is a fabulous way to relax. In our Kundalini yoga classes, mantra is part of the yoga practice, and you may repeat your mantra while moving in a certain yoga posture or with a breathing technique offered by our Kundalini yoga teacher. I encourage you to incorporate mantra in your life and see how it can help you relax and feel great!
Meditation and Yoga Benefits
By Nancy Weshkoff
I was watching a morning news show program recently, and I was so happy to see an uplifting story about an inner-city school program. In this school program for elementary school children, the children were taught meditation and yoga as a healthy way of coping with stress. If a child had an anger issue with another student or teacher, the child was sent to a meditation area and would meditate quietly for several months. The children also began their day with several minutes of simple yoga postures and breathing techniques setting a positive intention for the day.
The results were excellent. The children learned positive ways of coping with life’s stresses. They reported feeling peaceful and calm. And a disciplinary trip to the principal’s office was no longer needed as there were no longer student infractions as previously. These children learned skill sets that can be used throughout their life, which is terrific.
These de-stressing techniques of yoga and meditation are fabulous for people of all ages! In the great yoga classes that we offer at Moonflower Yoga, we teach you to link your breath with movement. So many times during the day, especially when we are under pressure and stressed, we forget to breathe deeply. Our mind is going in a million directions, thinking about the various deadlines we need to meet, perhaps worrying about a child or an elderly parent, etc. Shallow breathing is not good for our organs. And all that stress leads to disease including heart disease – the number one killer of women in the US. In our meditation classes, our teachers give you some gentle guidance to help your mind relax so that you can learn to be in the present moment and not worry about the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” that plague us.
Come join us at Moonflower Yoga in Long Island New York’s Nassau County and try one of our great yoga or meditation classes! Like the children mentioned above, you will find a fabulous tool to help you feel better.
Yoga and Your Bone Health
By Nancy Weshkoff
As an avid fan of yoga for many years, as well as a yoga teacher, I have experienced firsthand the many benefits of yoga. It is a wonderful practice for helping you feel great, reduce your stress, while teaching you to worry less as you focus on the present moment. The breathing techniques that you learn also calm you while bringing more oxygen to your organs. And your balance improves, which is very important as we age.
Did you know that yoga is also good for your bone health? Many of the poses that you do in yoga are weight bearing which helps to strengthen your bones. In a recent study, Dr. Loren Fishman tested the benefits of yoga on seniors who were suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia. In this study, the test group performed a standard set of yoga poses on a regular basis. The test was conducted over a 10-year period with more than 90,000 hours of yoga practiced by 741 participants. The results were eye opening. During this period, no fractures or serious injuries of any kind were reported by the participants. Several participants also showed better internal support for their bones. There were also improvements in posture and balance. All of this is great news. Plus with yoga, there are no harmful side effects which you might experience from certain medications.
Yoga can be practiced at ANY AGE. At Moonflower Yoga, located in Bellmore, in Nassau County, Long Island (New York), we have students ranging from children to seniors. No matter what your age, you can always work on improving your bone health, as well as your health in general. If you have never tried yoga before, give one of our great beginner yoga classes a try. Our dedicated yoga teachers are here to help you, and Moonflower Yoga has a small class setting with personal attention, so we can work closely with you as you learn. Keeping your bones healthy is so important! A fracture or fall can be devastating. Come check out one of our great yoga classes and help improve your bone health today.
NEW YEAR, NEW BEGINNINGS
By Nancy Weshkoff
There is something very special about the new year. It is a time for new beginnings. One of my favorite authors is Lucy Maud Montgomery who wrote the wonderful “Anne of Green Gables” series of books. In this series, Anne Shirley made this comment after having a not-so-good day: “Tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes in it.” How true! If there were some things in 2015 that didn’t turn out as planned, just say goodbye to that, and turn the page to 2016. It is a brand new year!
One of the best things to do for 2016 is to take care of YOU. If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of the others in your life who may need you – children, elderly parents, spouse, your boss and co-workers, friends, siblings, etc.
At Moonflower Yoga, we have a great selection of yoga and meditation classes where you can take care of you. In just one hour you can de-stress, learn to take some deep, cleansing breaths to remove tension, and engage in physical activity designed to help you become stronger, more flexible, and improve balance. If you are afraid to take that first step, don’t be! Everyone is welcome and greeted who walks through the door. Our class sizes are small and semi-private in nature (with generally no more than 6-8 students per class). We have great yoga teachers who will pay attention to you and help you with alignment and feeling comfortable. There are many props at Moonflower Yoga to support you. If you have difficulty with a standing class, we have Chair Yoga on Tuesday mornings where you’ll get a great workout and feel amazing while seated in a chair. Or come to a Tuesday meditation class and find some inner peace and relaxation.
Make 2016 a year in which you learn something new. You can join us for the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group where you will learn how to knit, crochet, or quilt, or try the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and go on a wonderful journey with a fascinating book. There are great workshops on the schedule to start 2016 including a Feng Shui workshop to learn how to situate items in your environment to get the best energy flow, the Ayurveda workshop where you discover your “dosha” type and learn how following the lifestyle for your dosha can help you reduce stress, feel better and sleep better. Or learn a wonderful healing energy such as Reiki in our Reiki training sessions or Reiki Healing Circle. Discover essential oils and how they can fill your home with aromatic bliss while also providing other benefits, and learn to make homemade, organic gifts using essential oils. Most importantly, you can feel relaxed while meeting new people and making new friends in one of our great workshops, training sessions, or events.
Here is to 2016 and its new beginnings! If you are on Long Island, New York, in Nassau County, come give Moonflower Yoga a try in the town of Bellmore. We would love to help you start the new year with a great beginning!
The Positive Benefits of Yoga on Baby Boomers and Seniors
By Nancy Weshkoff
At Moonflower Yoga, in Bellmore, on Long Island’s Nassau County, we have a steady group of baby boomers and seniors who attend our yoga classes. From personal observation, I know that yoga is helping them. They are getting stronger and more flexible, improving their balance, finding inner peace, and enjoying the comradery of being in a small-class setting with personal attention. Plus they are meeting new people and becoming friends with fellow students. But there is something else that yoga is helping: your brain function.
My personal observation of this improvement for baby boomers and seniors has been recently confirmed in a new study. The University of Illinois studied 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79 years of age. 61 of these attended hatha yoga classes – the style of yoga taught at Moonflower Yoga. The remaining group did not attend yoga classes but did general stretching and toning exercises.
At the end of 8 weeks, the results were checked. The participants who did yoga for 8 weeks were speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility, and task switching than they were before they began taking yoga classes. The yoga participants showed significant improvements in memory capacity, and were able to perform tasks more quickly without getting distracted. This is very key to daily living, as we often are required to multi-task in our everyday life. The people who oversaw the study believe that the yoga group benefitted from hatha yoga because it required focused effort as you moved through the poses, controlling the body and breathing at a steady rate. Studies have also found that yoga provided immediate positive effects on decreasing anxiety, stress, and depression by quieting the sympathetic nervous system.
And, for the record, there was no improvement in mental capacity for the participants in this study who did not attend yoga classes.
I personally believe that yoga can help you feel better and function better at ANY age. As this study has confirmed, it definitely helps baby boomers and seniors.
If you are the area of Bellmore, on Long Island’s Nassau County, come try one of our great yoga classes at Moonflower Yoga! Our team of very dedicated yoga teachers will pay attention to you in our small-class setting making sure that you are doing your poses correctly. You’ll gain strength, flexibility, and balance, reduce stress levels, and at the same time improve your mental capacity. How cool is that!
Calming and Healing Your Spirit
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
Life brings us many challenges. The strain, tension, and stress can weigh down upon us. It is so important that we take a break from these challenges and take care of ourselves. Doctors all agree that stress is one of the leading causes of diseases. You CAN do something to help relieve your stress.
Moonflower Yoga is proud to announce a new series of classes on Wednesday nights at 7:30 PM. The new series is entitled “Calming and Healing Your Spirit”. During each one-hour class, you will learn and experience a de-stressing activity to help bring you inner peace. In our first class on February 5th, Anthony and Mindy of Happy and Healthy Now, will lead a Reiki Healing Circle. Reiki is a fabulous way to release negative energy. In our second class on February 12th, Chris will teach you “Tapping” (Emotional Freedom Technique), a wonderful tool that you can self-administer to help remove negative reactions to certain situations or people. Members of our military are using “Tapping” to help them with the after-effects of combat duty. In our third class on February 19th, Connie will lead you into a deep meditation, as you recline on the ground nestled in warm blankets, with soft candlelight, and leave your worries behind. In our fourth class on February 26th, there will be a special evening of Moonflower Yoga’s very popular Candlelight Restorative class, as you melt away stress while comfortably supported on bolsters, blankets, and pillows. Our March classes will include a lovely Chanting class on March 19th led by Diane, with more classes to be announced shortly.
I hope you can join us for these wonderful Wednesday evening Calming and Healing Your Spirit classes at Moonflower Yoga. Whichever class you choose, led by one of our great teachers, you will feel more relaxed and renewed from an amazing de-stressing class. We could all use some more relaxation!!! If you are in the area of Bellmore, Long Island, in Nassau County, New York, come give this a try. You’ll be glad that you did.
By Nancy Weshkoff
This week marked the celebration of International Women’s Day. This tradition actually started in the early 1900’s as women marched for the right to vote and for better pay. A great deal of progress has certainly been made for women since then. In my lifetime, I can recall life before the women’s movement of the 1970’s. It wasn’t that long ago when jobs were classified as “help wanted male” and “help wanted female” with the female jobs often those with low pay and little chance of advancement.
While things have improved, so much still needs to be done. In many countries, women are treated very poorly with little equality with men. Even here in the United States, while jobs can no longer be classified as “male” or “female”, a glass ceiling exists in many companies making it very difficult for women to reach the highest positions. I have heard comments that women need to work three times as hard as a man in order to be considered for promotion, and this is sadly often true.
I am so amazed by the women that walk in the door at the Moonflower Yoga studio in Bellmore, Long Island. These women come from all walks of life. They are mothers, grandmothers, and daughters. Many are in demanding full-time positions working outside the home. But their responsibilities do not end when they come home, as they also take care of children, elderly parents, and handle other domestic responsibilities.
All this juggling and multi-tasking can take its toll. It creates a great deal of stress. Stress is not a good thing and is linked to so many diseases for women, including the number one killer of women: heart disease.
Take some time for yourself. I often think about the message from the flight attendant before a flight begins advising what to do in case of an emergency. An air mask will drop from the ceiling. The attendant advises to place the mask on yourself first and then place it on a child traveling with you. Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. Giving yourself an hour to de-stress and unwind in a great yoga class can help you feel much better. If you are in the area of Bellmore in Nassau County, Long Island, New York, come and try a restorative yoga class or one of the other de-stressing yoga classes offered at Moonflower Yoga to make you feel better.
There has also been much attention in the news this past week on women becoming entrepreneurs. I am proud to now be one of these. After many years in corporate America, I decided to leave corporate life behind and forge ahead with something I truly love: yoga. In creating Moonflower Yoga, I wanted to have a place where people of all ages and experience levels can come and have a great yoga experience. I am also proud that a community is building at Moonflower Yoga of women who enjoy practicing together, having some fun, sharing their life experiences, and de-stressing. I am truly blessed to have these women at Moonflower Yoga. I salute these amazing women and women everywhere.