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!
by Nancy Weshkoff
I wrote this blog previously during Thanksgiving week The sentiments expressed in the blog are still true, and I encourage all of you to take a moment to count the blessings in your life. Doing so can help you realize how amazing each day that we spend on this earth can be. Here is the blog, and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am taking a moment to pause & 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 they rush to get to the mall. 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 Yoga. 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 6 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. And Bob’s delicious, homemade desserts at our workshops, events, and Moonflower Yoga Book Club & Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts meetings bring a smile to everyone’s face. And now Bob is offering his own vegan and gluten-free cooking workshops at Moonflower Yoga.
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. We now have Reiki training at Moonflower Yoga taught by Connie helping to bring healing to people, as well as IET/Angel healing training taught by Chris. I am grateful to all of the great instructors 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, and it has been awesome to establish my business roots here as well as my home roots.
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 holiday.
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.
Tomorrow, on the anniversary of 9/11, we are holding a special meditation for peace at Moonflower Yoga, with all the proceeds donated to Voices of September 11th, an organization that provides ongoing support for the victims of 9/11 and their families. Please join us tomorrow as we come together to pray for peace, and help Voices of September 11th provide support for the 9/11 families. To mark the anniversary of 9/11, I am also reposting this special blog that I wrote four years ago. Like so many other people, 9/11 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.
15 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.
Coping with Stress
By Nancy Weshkoff
Life can be tough. You may find yourself in a situation where you are caring for children, in addition to aging parents. Employers are demanding more from employees, and with electronic media, jobs that were previously 9-5 are extending past this, as you may be expected to be checking and responding to emails in the morning or in the evenings. Teens and young adults find pressure from social media. Children are feeling stressed from rigid testing requirements. Yikes!
Stress has negative effects on our health. It contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US. Stress has also been linked to other health issues. We need to find healthy ways to cope with stress.
At Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, we have instituted a great, new program to help you cope with stress. On Tuesday nights at 7:30 PM, we have a “Stress Buster” group of classes, with each class designed to help you feel more relaxed and calmer. These classes range from meditation with mesmerizing singing bowls or guided meditation while comfortably seated in a chair, IET/angel healing where you can learn to work with the healing angels, a Reiki healing circle where you receive a relaxing Reiki treatment while reclining on a massage table, a candlelight restorative class to help you stretch and deeply relax with bolsters and blankets to support you, etc. Our great yoga and meditation teachers have designed these fabulous classes to help you feel calmer and relaxed, putting you on a path to good health.
If you are on the south shore of Long Island, in Nassau County (New York), come try one of these great yoga, meditation or specialty classes in our Stress-Buster series. Discover the calmness that comes from these relaxing classes!
By Nancy Weshkoff
One of my favorite yoga classes to teach each week at Moonflower Yoga is Chair Yoga. It is a special yoga class to me because it enables yoga to be available to students who would find it challenging to be part of a regular yoga class. Chair yoga at Moonflower Yoga is not just for seniors – it is also great for women in the latter stages of pregnancy. Do you feel stiff and tense from sitting in your office chair most of the day staring at a computer screen? Chair yoga will teach you some stretching exercise that you can do from your office chair to alleviate muscle tension. For people with injuries that might make it difficult to be in a regular yoga class, Chair Yoga is also a great option.
For the seniors who do attend the weekly Chair Yoga class at Moonflower Yoga, I applaud them for trying yoga for the first time in their 70’s and 80’s. How cool is that! Chair yoga provides them with fabulous stretching poses to keep their muscles flexible. We also work on yoga poses to build strength. Each class also consists of mantra (chanting) to quiet your mind, as well as several minutes of quiet relaxation with bolsters, blankets, and essential oils to enhance the relaxation while you meditate. The mantras are something that everyone can use to help with stress reduction, as well as use as a tool if you are having difficulty falling asleep at night. Meditation is something that is helpful for everyone, and meditation is recommended by leading doctors.
Chair Yoga is wonderful for people of all ages. Come to Moonflower Yoga on Tuesday mornings and give this great yoga class a try! Moonflower Yoga is located in the town of Bellmore, in Long Island, New York’s Nassau County. You will love this great yoga class or any of the fabulous yoga classes on the Moonflower Yoga schedule from some of the best yoga teachers on Long Island.
By Nancy Weshkoff
On this Mother’s Day, I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to the amazing women who walk through the doors of Moonflower Yoga every day. Today’s woman often faces many challenges: raising children, working full-time outside of the home in her career, keeping a healthy relationship with a significant other, and helping to maintain a household. Because we are living longer, today’s woman sometimes helps with care for their aging parents while juggling these other responsibilities.
Whew! This can be overwhelming. This is why it is so important to remember that you need to take care of YOURSELF first. If you don’t take care of yourself, there is no energy left to take care of the other responsibilities in your life.
At Moonflower Yoga, we have some of the best yoga classes on Long Island – all designed to help today’s busy woman take some much-needed time for herself. If you’re looking to relax, our new Stress-Buster series of classes on Tuesday evenings are a great option. We also have great yoga classes for stretching, flexibility, and balance. If you are in the area of Bellmore on Long Island’s Nassau County, come give us a visit and enjoy a relaxing hour for YOU.
And to all the amazing women out there, have a great Mother’s Day!
My Favorite Essential Oils
By Nancy Weshkoff
What are essential oils? Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers & other plant parts. Essential oils have been being used for thousands of years to support wellness of the mind, body & spirit. Moonflower Yoga has a wonderful variety of essential oils for sale from Young Living, a leader in high-quality, therapeutic quality essential oils. Essential oils can be useful for so many things including:
- Help you feel calmer and more relaxed
- Opening up the nasal passages to reduce sinus congestion
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Giving you a boost of energy
- Increasing spiritual awareness
At Moonflower Yoga, my yoga teachers and I offer each student an essential oil to apply before they begin their yoga class. It is a great way to help you feel centered and relaxed. Essential oils are fabulous for use before meditation. We also diffuse essential oils at the Moonflower Yoga studio which sets a wonderful mood as soon as you walk in the door.
I love so many of these great essential oils. I’ve decided to pick a few of my favorite ones that I would like to share:
- Stress Away: The name says it all! This beautiful essential oil which is a blend of copaiba, lime, cedarwood, vanilla, ocotea, and lavender just instantly helps me to feel calmer and more relaxed. I especially love the touch of vanilla added to this blend.
- Lavender: One of the most versatile essential oils. Its lovely scent instantly relaxes you. Some students like to apply a tiny drop to their third eye (the space between the eyebrows) to help them sleep better at night. It can also help with certain skin problems, such as acne, as well as provide some relief from respiratory issues. Because Young Living essential oils are pure, we use the Young Living lavender oil in some of the desserts made at the studio, and they are yummy.
- Peppermint: This essential oil is so invigorating and great to use if you are feeling tired and need a boost of energy! If my nasal passages are a little congested from the winter cold or from spring allergies, breathing in peppermint helps relieve nasal congestion. It can also support good digestion. We use peppermint in many of the desserts served at the Moonflower Yoga studio. Anything with peppermint and dark chocolate is heavenly!
- Citrus Fresh: I love this clean blend of orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, and spearmint. It is a great essential oil to use first thing in the morning when you need a pick me up to get your energy going. It is also a great air purifier providing your environment with a fresh scent.
If you’d like to try one of these beautiful essential oils, or several other amazing Young Living essential oils, come to a yoga class at Moonflower Yoga. We are located in in Bellmore, in Long Island, New York’s Nassau County. You’ll feel wonderful from the great yoga class and leave the studio with a beautiful fragrance from a lovely essential oil. To learn even more about essential oils, join us on Saturday, May 7th for a fabulous Discover Essential Oils workshop at Moonflower Yoga, where you will learn the basics about 12 lovely essential oils (including those listed above) and make 2 fun Mother’s Day gifts using essential oils which you will take with you. You’ll have a blast! If you’d like to have a great essential oil to keep at home, we have a great variety of essential oils and essential oil products for sale at the Moonflower Yoga studio. You will love the many ways in which you can enjoy your essential oil.
The Positive Effects of Knitting and Crocheting
By Nancy Weshkoff
Did you know that learning to knit or crochet can have health benefits? Here are just a few of the many benefits:
- Creating a knitted or crocheted piece lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, and taking steps to reduce your risk of heart disease is highly recommended.
- It lowers your stress levels, and has been found to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
- It is meditative. Working on your piece helps you to concentrate on the present moment. Being mindful and letting go of regrets from the past or worries about the future is key to good health.
- It has been found to help people stop smoking by providing a positive outlet.
- Can help children with math skills, especially when following a challenging instruction.
- It has been found to help people with cancer and other serious diseases cope with their illness.
- The pieces that you create are something special for both you and the receiver. What’s better than a gift from the heart handmade with love!
At Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Nassau County, Long Island (New York), we have a very fun Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group that meets approximately every 4-6 weeks. The members of this group work on their individual pieces. Many do crocheting, while others prefer quilting, needlepoint, or knitting. Whichever handicraft you prefer is fine. Everyone comes together to show their latest creations, to get advice from the group, and have fun catching up with the other members on what has transpired since the last meeting. For newcomers who have never tried doing this before, there are experienced members of the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group who offer free advice on how to do some basic steps. It is a great way to spend an afternoon. And, as stated above, knitting and crocheting offers many other fabulous health benefits.
If you are near Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County this Saturday, February 20th, please stop by and join us for the next installment of the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group. You will have a blast working on your own piece, enjoying the company of the fellow Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group members, sampling delicious homemade snacks, and, of course, you will do some great things for your health as well. We also have a great variety of yoga classes with great yoga teachers at the Moonflower Yoga studio, as well as fascinating workshops. We look forward to having you join us soon!
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.