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.
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.
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.
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!
LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF
By Nancy Weshkoff
It makes me incredibly sad when a student at the studio starts to describe herself with negative imagery: “I’m too fat”, “I’m not flexible”, “my hips are too big”, “I don’t like my midsection”, “I have wrinkles”, etc.
Sadly we are being deluged by the media that shows “perfect” bodies in magazines and billboards. Do you know that many of those “perfect” body images have been altered before publication to give the model a smaller waist, longer legs, no wrinkles, etc.?
We need to LOVE OURSELVES. I’ve learned to do this by being positive. When someone points out that I have wrinkles around the corners of my mouth or my eyes, I smile and happily remark that I’m proud of those wrinkles – it means that I have smiled a lot in my life to create them.
On Sunday afternoon, November 8th, Moonflower Yoga has a great workshop to help women look at their bodies in a different way. It is entitled LOVE YOUR BODY NOW and is presented by the talented Shana Sweeney. In this incredible workshop, you learn that many women have a negative body image and wished their body looked different in some way. If you are unaccepting and critical of your body as it is right now, you are not alone. In this great LOVE YOUR BODY NOW workshop, Shana will teach you how to break the negative belief system and embrace and love your body just as it is right now. You will use tools such as meditation, free writing, and ritual to help you heal your relationship with yourself and your body. You do not need to try to attain a shape defined by this culture, and you can give beauty a new definition and have a positive body image.
If you are in the area of Bellmore, in Long Island, New York’s Nassau County, come join us on Sunday afternoon, November 8th, at the Moonflower Yoga studio for this great workshop with Shana. You will learn something new and feel great about yourself! For more information on this workshop or any of the great yoga classes or teachers at Moonflower Yoga, click on the class descriptions section of the moonfloweryoga.com website. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Heart Disease: The Silent Killer for Women
By Nancy Weshkoff
February is Heart Health Month and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement, with February 5th designated as Go Red for Women Day. I applaud the American Heart Association for their work in bringing to light this very important issue.
Here are some key factors about heart disease in women that you need to know:
– Did you know that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in the United States?
– Did you know that if you stacked up ALL cancer-related deaths for women together (breast, lung, ovarian, liver, skin cancer, etc), that all of these cancer-related deaths together would still be number two behind heart disease?
– Did you know that 1 in 3 women in the United States will die every year from heart disease? And of this number, did you know that more than 1,800 of these women who die from heart disease will live here on Long Island in New York?
– Did you know that you can help PREVENT becoming one of these very sad statistics by proactively taking steps to lower your risk?
While there are some things that you cannot change, such as your family history of heart disease, there are several things that doctors all agree that you CAN do to lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These include:
– Engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis. Sitting on a couch and not moving is bad for you in so many ways. Your body needs to move. Yoga is extremely helpful in helping you with your exercise goals. The postures in a yoga class will build strength and flexibility, and at the same time, the deep breathing techniques (pranayama) used in a yoga class increase the flow of blood to your heart and your organs.
– Reduce your stress levels: We all face stress. How we deal with stress is key. Being in a “fight or flight” mode, which is how our body reacts when our stress levels are high, is putting a huge strain on your body functions – including your heart. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help you lower your blood pressure and stress levels. Yoga classes also help you reduce your stress. The yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga can get you on the path to accomplishing your stress-reduction goals.
– Learn to be “in the present moment”. We often worry unnecessarily about things from our past that we cannot change or things in the future that MIGHT happen but haven’t happened yet and may never happen. In our classes and workshops at Moonflower Yoga, we teach you ways to be more in the present moment and let go of unnecessary worries bringing you more peace and calm.
– Lower your blood pressure: Moving more, decreasing your stress levels, and using tools such as meditation and yoga mentioned above can all help you with this. How about learning something new? Spending some time reading a great book or engaging in a fun activity such as art or coloring are meditative and can help lower your stress levels. A few days ago, we enjoyed coloring mandalas in our Kundalini and art workshop. We also have a fun Moonflower Yoga Book Club that meets every 4-6 weeks and an upcoming art workshop entitled “Collage for the Soul” where no prior art experience is needed and you learn to meditate through art. Or try something completely different and learn to how to read Tarot Cards in our upcoming Tarot Cards workshop. Spending time with your Tarot cards is very engaging and takes your mind off of your worries. These types of interesting and meditative activities can help you on the path of stress reduction and lowering your blood pressure.
As someone who has a history of heart disease in my family, I take heart disease very seriously. My stress levels and blood pressure were very high – all red flags for being on the path to a heart attack or stroke. Through yoga, meditation, learning to be more in the present moment, and spending time in engaging activities such as reading, I have been able to lower my blood pressure to normal. You, too, can lower your risk. We hope to see you soon at a great yoga class, meditation, or workshop at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore in Nassau County, Long Island, where we can help you reduce your risk of heart disease as well. Let’s lower these frightening heart-disease numbers for women!
What was your New Year’s Resolution?
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
Do you find yourself making a resolution on New Year’s Eve with good intentions but which is suddenly forgotten shortly after January 1? I found myself guilty of this as well until I learned about goal planning and strategies. From my past experience in corporate life, it was a regular occurrence to have certain requirements or tasks assigned to you. Once I learned written goal planning techniques, it was much easier to accomplish these tasks and measure the progress of my goals.
I am very excited to be sharing these goal planning techniques this weekend at Moonflower Yoga in our “Goal Setting and Vision Board” workshop. You CAN accomplish your goals if you mindfully map out the goal with a realistic goal plan.
Another great way to also keep your goal on track is with a vision board, where you place images and positive messages on a board as a daily reminder of your goal. By seeing this every day, it is a fantastic motivational tool. Chris Senetto will be working with me this weekend to help the workshop participants create their own personal vision board representing their dreams and goals.
If you are in the area of Bellmore, in Long Island, New York’s Nassau County, I hope you can join us this Sunday, January 16, 2015, at 2 PM, for our fabulous Goal Setting and Vision Board workshop. You can make 2015 the year in which YOUR dreams come true with careful planning and a great motivational tool in your vision board.
And if one of your goals for 2015 is to take better care of yourself, find some inner peace, and get in shape, check out the fabulous variety of great yoga and meditation classes or workshops at Moonflower Yoga which can help you on this positive path for this new year. The staff of dedicated teachers at Moonflower Yoga and I look forward to seeing you!
Here is to a great 2015 !!
When Things Happen for a Reason
By Nancy Weshkoff
Life is often like a roller coaster. You encounter some curves and dips that you were not expecting. And when that happens, I always think that what has occurred has taken place for a reason, even if that reason is not immediately apparent. I had one of those drastic roller coaster curves 3 years ago this week.
Some of you may know that my past experience before Moonflower Yoga was in the corporate world, specifically I was in the music industry on the business side. It was very interesting, and I met some amazing people, but it also had its stressful times. I had been in the music business more than 30 years. Three years ago this week I received the news that I was being laid off from my current position. It was a shock that I was not expecting. What made it much worse was that my husband had lost his job of 30 years just 3 months earlier when his employer went bankrupt. Now we were both unemployed, just as the recession was hitting its peak and companies were not hiring and making their own cutbacks.
Things looked very bleak. Yet, through it all, I kept a positive spirit that things happen for a reason. My yoga practice had always been my savior, and I found that yoga and meditation helped me with this drastic life change. When my yoga teacher announced the start of a teacher training program, I enrolled – still not sure where this was going to take me. When I completed the training and graduated, I knew that my life was meant to go in a different direction. The corporate world was no longer my path. I also knew that I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny and start my own yoga business, bumpy as that was going to be.
And so Moonflower Yoga was born! I took a giant leap of faith and signed a lease to rent space for my new venture. Those first few weeks of having the doors open were challenging as I worked hard to build the business. Each month things improved and more and more people walked in the doors to try a yoga class. Now Moonflower Yoga has been open for more than 2 years, and yoga classes are selling out with waiting lists.
What has also happened is that I have met so many amazing – and inspirational – people that I would not have met if I had stayed in the music industry. There are a wonderful group of students who I am blessed to have walk through the doors of Moonflower Yoga to try a yoga class or workshop. Many never tried yoga before, and they have fallen in love with yoga as I did. Yoga has helped them cope with their own difficult life challenges in a positive way. At the same time, I have learned things from these amazing students and getting to know them has helped me grow as well. I am also blessed to have a very dedicated group of teachers at Moonflower Yoga who also love teaching and helping people.
And so I go back to the start of this blog…. Things happen for a reason. Although I did not know it 3 years ago, being laid off from the corporate world enabled me to have this incredible new chapter in my life. My husband, who had lost his job 3 years ago, found a new position at a great company that is closer to home. If you are feeling as if life has thrown you into a dip on the roller coaster, think positive! And if you would like to experience an amazing yoga class or workshop to help you feel better, come join us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Long Island’s Nassau County (New York). And always remember that things do happen for a reason.
Reflections on Moonflower Yoga’s 2-year anniversary celebration
By Nancy Weshkoff
For those of you who may not know my background, I spent over 35 years in the corporate world, most of these in the music industry where I worked my way up the ranks and had an opportunity to meet some amazing people. While it was an interesting and important phase of my life, it is this new phase at Moonflower Yoga that is so special to me.
When my life in corporate America came to an end, it was a gut-wrenching period trying to decide what to do next. I decided to turn to the one thing that always brought me peace during the stressful times in my life: my yoga practice. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in a teacher training program, and realized this was my new destiny. Upon graduation from the teacher training program, Moonflower Yoga was born. I decided to open the studio in Bellmore in Long Island’s Nassau County (New York) and say goodbye to commuting on the LIRR every weekday.
And while I had a dream of what I would like the studio to be, it has far exceeded what those initial drawing plans were. Moonflower Yoga offers a very interesting mix of classes, and I am very proud of how varied the schedule is, with classes such as Vinyasa flow classes for energy and strength, Iyengar-style classes that increase your flexibility, Kundalini yoga, wonderful meditation classes, restorative yoga to reduce stress, Tai Chi, very gentle yoga classes for the beginner, and an eclectic mix of classes under “Calming and Healing Your Spirit” ranging from Angel Healing (IET), to a Reiki Healing Circle, to Laughter Yoga, to a Gallery Reading with an intuitive medium, etc. The small-class setting at Moonflower Yoga has encouraged newcomers, as well as fellow baby boomers such as myself, to come and try yoga, and they are getting stronger, more flexible, and finding inner peace as a result.
I also love the workshop programs on very wide-ranging topics from natural ways to improve your health, astrology, spiritual development, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and Qigong, crystals, aromatherapy, meditation, Tarot Cards, ways to relieve neck and shoulder discomfort, goal setting to help you reach your dreams, etc. These have enabled people to learn so many fun and interesting things. And in the last year the Moonflower Yoga Book Club was formed where we have a great time meeting every 4-6 weeks, sharing the new things in our lives, and learning something new through the books selected.
Most of all, it is the students and teachers who have become such an important part of my life that have helped to make Moonflower Yoga special. I love the community that has developed here with people meeting other people, becoming friends, and supporting each other. I feel very, very blessed when I open the doors of the Moonflower Yoga studio every day and know that amazing things are going to happen at the studio. I send out my thanks to all of you who have made Moonflower Yoga a success!! And a final thanks to the other half of my life: my husband, Bob, who has been my rock through my journey and helps with so many of the functions at the studio, especially those absolutely delicious homemade goodies that we serve for the workshops and the Moonflower Yoga Book Club.
If you are in the area of Bellmore (Nassau County) on Long Island’s south shore this weekend, come join us for our fun two-year anniversary party this Saturday, September 7th, from 1 PM – 5 PM. Come say hello and help us share in an important milestone. You will get to meet some great people. And thank you again for your support!!!!