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!
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.
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!
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!!!!
GOODBYE WINTER DOLDRUMS
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
It has been a brutal winter here in Bellmore, on Long Island, New York. Our snow fall totals have already reached approximately 60” and there is another snowstorm on the way later this weekend with the prospect of possibly 10 more inches of snow. Mother Nature has not been kind to us this winter.
I am, however, shaking off the winter doldrums. While the temperatures are still cold outside, there are signs of better days ahead. Officially spring is just 3 weeks away. Have you noticed the extra daylight? It is no longer dark at 5 PM. And when the snow is cleared away in my garden, there is beauty coming from the earth. Several of my spring bulbs already have a couple of inches of green foliage. A few of the spring perennials also have some green growth. The robins have returned. The flowers and birds know that spring is just around the corner.
There is something wonderful about the prospect of spring. It marks a new beginning. Are you ready for spring?
Warmer weather means shedding those baggy, extra layers of clothes that have kept us warm. It is time to start thinking about getting in shape for the lighter clothes of warmer weather. It is a great time to get off the couch, wake up our bodies, and get toned and stretched. If you start now, you’ll feel fabulous and be ready for the warm days which are ahead.
Moonflower Yoga has some great yoga classes to help you get in shape for spring. If you have never practiced yoga before, or have been inactive, start slowly with one of our fantastic beginner yoga classes which are offered several times a week. We have lots of props on hand to help our students as you are getting back into shape. Ready for something more challenging? Try our Stress Reduction Vinyasa Flow class on Monday night at 7:30 PM or Sunday Flow at 9 AM each Sunday. We also added a wonderful Move and Stretch class to the Tuesday schedule at 6:15 PM, and there is a fun Stretch and Flow class every Thursday morning at 10 AM. We have an Iyengar-style Level One class on Tuesday at 10 AM and Thursday at 6:45 PM to help you tone. If you are working in the vicinity of Bellmore, Long Island, we added a Yoga Lunch Express class on Mondays at 12:30, which is a great 45-minute lunch class: skip the heavy calories and try a wonderful class to energize you.
Remember spring is just around the corner. It is time to shake off your winter doldrums! Come visit us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County, for a great yoga class with our dedicated team of yoga teachers to help you get into shape and feel great. Hope to see you soon!
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.
Is Christmas Stress Driving You Crazy?
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
Christmas is just two weeks away. And, as we get closer to Christmas, I witness people experiencing more stress than normal with holiday obligations. With that stress comes some bad habits such as overeating or eating high carb sugary foods. We also tend to not get enough sleep. There is one other thing that happens: we often stop exercising and taking care of ourselves.
When we stop taking care of ourselves, bad things start to happen. We gain weight from poor food choices and not exercising, putting more strain on our body. Our reserve of energy becomes exhausted. We are much more likely to become ill when our bodies are pushed to their limit. And if we are not breathing properly, our body is not functioning efficiently.
I would like to suggest a different path this holiday season: Set aside some time for yourself!!! One way to do that is with a great yoga class. You will gently stretch your muscles relieving muscle tension. During the yoga class, you will also take deep breaths to increase the oxygen to your organs, which helps with stress reduction. And by moving your body you are burning calories, keeping your weight in check. Most importantly, you will generally feel better. And when you feel better you can start to enjoy the holiday season rather than feeling overwhelmed.
Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County, has some great yoga classes that can help you feel better and more relaxed this holiday season. And because we have small class sizes with a maximum of 6 students per class, our teachers pay personal attention to you making sure that you are comfortable and having a great yoga experience in your class. Our students always say they feel so much better after just a one-hour yoga class. You may also find that you sleep more soundly on the evening when you attend your yoga class, and having a good night’s sleep is essential.
So take a bit of time for yourself this holiday season. When you do that, you may find that you enjoy this special time of year a bit more, while you are also keeping yourself healthier. Hope to see you soon at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, Long Island!
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.