Spring: New Beginnings
By Nancy Weshkoff
Spring is my favorite time of year. We shake off the remnants of winter. All around you, life is starting to come alive gain. The trees start to bloom, lawns and shrubs are turning green, spring bulbs are blooming, and the weather is warmer. We have more daylight and start to feel more alive than when it is dark before 5 PM.
With a year of living with the Covid pandemic that has gripped the world, spring takes on added meaning for me. I start to feel that we are leaving the darkness of the Covid winter behind us and are moving into the light and to better days ahead. With spring’s arrival it is time to dust off the cobwebs of winter and start to feel renewed and refreshed.
With the warmer weather ahead, you start to wear thinner clothes. Wouldn’t it be great to feel toned in those lighter clothes? A great yoga class can help you tone and stretch your muscles, as well as improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga and meditation are also wonderful for stress reduction and helping us cope with these challenging times. If you are a beginner, there are beginner-level yoga classes on the Moonflower Yoga schedule 6 days a week. And while the studio doors remain closed for the time being, you can still enjoy a great yoga class with one of our great yoga teachers, as you join us online from the comfort of your home using Zoom.
In addition to the daily yoga classes, there are also some great meditation activities on the Moonflower Yoga schedule including a weekly Relax and De-Stress with Guided Meditation class on Mondays at 7 PM, as well as a deep, relaxing monthly Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) with Jackie Lee, and a fascinating monthly evening of Guided Meditation with Bhante Sujatha, a 30+ year Buddhist Monk who is singularly focused on adding more love in the world. Bhante teaches loving-kindness meditation to people around the globe for all those seeking the art of happiness and contentment. Discover how meditation can help you relax, reduce your stress levels, and put you on a brighter path.
Perhaps you would also like to learn something new as part of a spring renewal. There is a monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” cooking workshop where you cook in your kitchen, while we simultaneously cook from our kitchen. We supply the recipes in advance, and have a blast cooking delicious, plant-based, healthy recipes together in our respective kitchens. At the end, we enjoy sharing our meal together using Zoom.
For the month of April, we also added a “New Beginnings for Springtime” workshop with clinical herbalist, nutrition educator, and author Jovanka Ciares on Friday, April 23rd. In this workshop, Jovanka will discuss how to use foods and botanicals to support our natural detoxification system and help improve our well being.
Come join us this spring at Moonflower Yoga and take a step towards renewal for yourself! Using Zoom, you can join us from a wider geographic location and are no longer limited to only the Bellmore, Wantagh, Merrick, Seaford, or East Meadow vicinity of Nassau County, Long Island. We have people joining us from other parts of the United States, including mothers and daughters from different states enjoying a class together. I hope you can join us too and have a great start to your spring!
Heart Disease and Women
By Nancy Weshkoff
Heart health is something I take very seriously. And while it is important to focus on heart health year round, the month of February is Heart Health Month and part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement. I am therefore writing this blog to discuss this very important topic.
Let’s begin with these key factors about heart disease in women:
–Heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in the United States.
–If you stacked up ALL cancer-related deaths for women together (breast, lung, ovarian, liver, skin cancer, etc), all of these cancer-related deaths together would still be number two behind heart disease.
– One in three women in the United States will die every year from heart disease. If you were sitting in a group of women and looked to your right and to your left, sadly one of you will die from heart disease. And of this number, more than 1,800 of these women who die from heart disease will live here on Long Island in New York.
-If you have heart disease, you are at a higher risk of contracting COVID or having serious complications related to COVID. With the spread of coronavirus, it is even more important to pay attention to your heart health.
– Did you know that you can help PREVENT yourself from 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. Spending long hours in front of a computer screen without moving is not good for you. Your body needs to move. Yoga is extremely helpful in helping you with your fitness goals. The postures in a yoga class will build strength and flexibility, stretch your muscles, 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. This can be particularly challenging in this coronavirus period where we might find ourselves multi-tasking. It makes it even more important to notice how you cope with stress. 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 online yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga can get you on the path to accomplishing your stress-reduction goals. Perhaps you do not have a lot of spare time right now with multi-tasking due to the pandemic. I would suggest that it is so important to take even 30 minutes FOR YOU which helps lower those stress levels and enables you to better cope with life’s challenges. Moonflower Yoga currently has great online yoga and meditation classes which you can do from the comfort of your home to help you lower stress and help your heart health. The Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website lists the daily options taught by our great yoga and meditation teachers.
– 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 have not 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 can help lower your stress levels. We have several great online activities that you can do from home including two fun “Clubs”. In the Moonflower Yoga Book Club, we have fun going on a journey with a new book which helps you discover something new. There is also the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group where you crochet or knit (very meditative!) while enjoying each other’s company. With the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group, we also donate some of our beautiful creations to various charities. And there are great yoga workshops, as well as crafting workshops where we make beautiful jewelry. We have online meditation classes, as well as regular guided meditation workshops. There is also a monthly online yoga nidra evening, which is deep relaxation “yogic sleep”, a wonderful way to de-stress. One hour of yoga nidra = four hours of sleep! These types of interesting and meditative activities can help you on the path of stress reduction, lowering your blood pressure, and having fun – all great things for your heart.
– Fighting loneliness: In this coronavirus period, it is very important to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. But social distancing often creates loneliness. We need social interaction. Online yoga, meditation, and other activities via Zoom are a great way to combat loneliness and help you feel better. Before and after each online class, there is a Zoom Room where you can safely see and chat with fellow attendees, have a laugh, or share a story. It makes a big difference to have this social interaction and help you feel better, thereby reducing your stress levels.
-Are you eating a healthy diet, or are you eating fast food or other unhealthy foods that are high in fat and cholesterol? Eating unhealthy foods can clog your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. One fun, new online activity that we offer at Moonflower Yoga is a monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” cooking workshop where we connect online via Zoom, and we cook healthy meals together during the workshop and then enjoy the finished product at the end of the workshop. These delicious recipes are plant-based, low in fat, and heart healthy. And we have a lot of laughs cooking together – a great stress reducer.
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 and needle arts, 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 online yoga class, meditation, or workshop at Moonflower Yoga. With online yoga and meditation classes offered via Zoom, there is also no longer a geographic limit to Bellmore, Wantagh, Merrick, East Meadow, Freeport, Seaford, Massapequa, or other towns in Nassau County, Long Island. We now have students joining us from states other than New York including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. It is great to connect with new people! All are welcome!
Please take care of yourself and reduce your risk of heart disease, or the risk of heart disease for a special woman in your life. I hope we will see you soon for a great online yoga class, meditation, or other activity as you take positive steps to lowering the risk for heart disease!