The Benefits of Chair Yoga
By Nancy Weshkoff
One of the misconceptions about Chair Yoga is that the attendees are all the people are seniors with disabilities. And while Chair Yoga can certainly be a great option for people with physical challenges, it is available to everyone.
How many of us spend a lot of sitting in a chair all day on Zoom calls or working at a computer screen? For all of those people, your muscles can get very tight, and you can have neck and shoulder strain from online meetings and computer work. Wouldn’t it be nice to have less neck, back, and shoulder strain from these activities? For women who are pregnant, they can feel fatigue from the pregnancy and getting up/down from the ground for a regular yoga class can be very challenging. And for those seniors who find a floor yoga class difficult but are very much in need of stretching and strength building, Chair Yoga is a wonderful option.
Chair yoga will teach you some stretching exercises that you can do from your office chair or a home chair to alleviate muscle tension. For people with injuries that might find it difficult to be in a traditional floor 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. Chair yoga provides them with fabulous stretching poses to keep their muscles flexible and improve strength. And for pregnant moms, doing some gentle stretching to help release tightness can be helpful. The Chair Yoga classes at Moonflower Yoga are something that everyone can consider, and they are fun as well. We also finish the Chair Yoga classes with some quiet relaxation to help you further de-stress and feel better.
Join me on Tuesdays or Vicky on Thursdays at 12 noon and give a great Chair Yoga class a try! The Moonflower Yoga studio is located in the town of Bellmore, in Long Island New York’s Nassau County. But you do not need to live on Long Island to join us for a great yoga class. Both classes are available via Zoom for online class attendance. We have attendees joining us from other states including Florida. You will love these great yoga classes or any of the fabulous yoga classes on the Moonflower Yoga schedule provided by some of the best yoga teachers.
Tags: Bellmore, best yoga teachers, chair yoga, great instructors, great yoga classes, great yoga teachers, Long Island, meditation, Moonflower Yoga, Moonflower Yoga studio, Nancy Weshkoff, Nassau County, New York, seniors, stress reduction, Yoga, yoga classes, yoga for seniors, yoga studio, Zoom, online classes, Florida, pregnancy, Benefits of Chair Yoga, stretching poses, de-stress.
This week marks a major milestone for Moonflower Yoga – it is our 10- year anniversary!
Ten years ago, I decided to leave corporate life behind and pursue something that I loved and that made me feel great, which was yoga. I knew that I did not want to work at a gym but instead wanted my own yoga studio. I had a dream that I wanted to reach students who might not feel comfortable in a gym setting or large studio and would often choose to “hide” in the back of the room.
Moonflower Yoga was born with a mantra of “small class, personal attention”. Having this type of studio enabled the teachers to interact with the students and guide them more closely in their practice. It also helped many yoga students learn, improve their practice, and discover how much they love yoga. By having the small class size, friendships were formed, and many of those students now spend time with people they met at Moonflower Yoga.
I also knew that community was important to me, and so I launched the Moonflower Yoga Book Club where we had fun reading a book and then discussing it. The Moonflower Yoga Book Club is still going strong today with monthly online meetings. Later, the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group was formed and the Moonflower Yoga Mah Jongg club.
I also became a Reiki Master Teacher and began offering Reiki training at Moonflower Yoga. Reiki is a wonderful way to relax and take care of you.
We also learned something new in great workshops on a range of topics from creating art, cooking ideas, crafts, and so much more. Lots of laughs have been shared in these workshops. Some of these activities are now offered online such as “In the Kitchen with Bob” where we cook a meal together from our respective kitchens and then eat it together at the end of the workshop at our kitchen tables. There is also “An Evening of Guided Meditation and Relaxation” with Bhante Sujatha, the loving kindness monk, who offers his words of wisdom from all over the world. We have witnessed the sun rising over the mountains of Sri Lanka as Bhante taught his relaxing meditation. There is also “Yoga Nidra” with Jackie who helps you completely chill out and get ready for a good night’s sleep. There are special yoga-related workshops from Moonflower Yoga’s great roster of yoga teachers where you can more deeply understand each pose to help improve your practice.
I cannot say there have been no bumps in the road. The onset of COVID and the forced closure of the studio for in-person activities for over a year has been very difficult. With every cloud there is a silver lining, and online classes via Zoom were formed. The online classes enabled Moonflower Yoga to remain open, albeit virtually. But it also did something great too which is it allowed us to connect to students who lived geographically away from the studio. We now have students who live in Florida, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, etc., who regularly attend activities. And some teachers who we missed because they moved out of state can once again teach for Moonflower even though they live hundreds of miles away from Long Island. Last year, I launched “hybrid” yoga classes which are the best of both worlds: up to 4 fully-vaccinated students are attending in person at the studio while there are simultaneously students attending online via Zoom.
So what does the next year bring? It brings a great variety of yoga and meditation classes that students can attend on a weekly basis. It also brings special workshops and other activities. Most importantly, it brings people together to feel physically better and stronger but also mentally by providing a de-stressing environment where you can relax and feel better.
For those of you who have never tried an activity at Moonflower Yoga, we welcome you to give it a try! Check us out in Bellmore (Nassau County, Long Island). If you do not live near the studio, online classes are available 7 days a week. There is NEVER a contract to sign. You can register for just one activity of your choosing from the Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website, following the simple registration steps, and see how you like it.
To those of you who have supported Moonflower Yoga through these 10 years, THANK YOU!! You have helped the studio grow and created a very special community. And to those great teachers who join me every week to teach amazing yoga classes and workshops, THANK YOU to you as well. Dozens of students have discovered the benefits of yoga through your great yoga and meditation classes.
With much gratitude!
Enjoy the total relaxation of Shavasana and why it is so important
By Nancy Weshkoff
Shavasana is the final relaxation pose that is part of a yoga practice. It is also referred to as “corpse pose”. Of all the poses that comprise your yoga practice it is the most important one. Why is it is so important?
Let’s begin by thinking about what a normal day is like for most people these days. We are often multi-tasking. In today’s environment, you may find yourself juggling your work responsibilities with helping children with their school responsibilities. Have a family member or friend who is home bound? Perhaps you are also doing shopping for that person. Are you multi-tasking in a work meeting, reading and answering text messages while trying to also concentrate on the meeting. Our bodies are tense from all these responsibilities, and our minds are racing a mile a minute thinking about things that need to get done.
As a yoga student for many years, and later as a yoga teacher and the owner of Moonflower Yoga, I have seen it happen where a student attends a yoga class and when it is time for that final relaxation on your mat in Shavasana, the student leaves because they have so many things to do. I am so sad when this happens. You are missing the most important part of your practice when you skip this!
Most yoga classes begin with some breathing exercises and then move immediately into “asana”, which is yoga movement. These movements can be seated or standing. This is also important because it enables you to release muscle tension in your body and stretch your muscles. By focusing on alignment and working on your breath, you should find some joy in the movement of your body.
But asana (movement) is that steppingstone that opens the door to the loveliness of Shavasana. The great yogi sages put the movement first so that you could release tightness and relax in Shavasana. Shavasana is where you let everything go. In a traditional Shavasana, you are reclining on the floor on your back resting on your yoga mat. It is important that you be physically comfortable, so you can add some comfort by placing a blanket or folded towel under your head or perhaps a rolled blanket or towel under the knees. In the cooler months, you may wish to cover part of your body with a blanket. For some people, having the weight of a blanket can also help you feel more grounded. If you are attending one of the great chair yoga classes offered at Moonflower Yoga, you are relaxing in the chair to enjoy your shavasana.
Once you are in your set up, you then begin to scan your body and let everything go. In the classes I teach, we start slowly scanning each part of the body to release muscle tension. If anything is still tight, you can send a signal to your brain to relax that area. Just sink into the ground and let the ground support you.
The next part is a challenging one for some people: quieting the mind. Thoughts might pop up about things on your “to do” list. Here is where the practice of pranayama – breathing techniques – can help. Focus on your breath to shut off the chatter in your head. Something as simple as saying to yourself “I breathe in, I breathe out and relax” while performing these breathing techniques generates relaxation. For some people, they may find it helpful to replace a negative thought or worry that is popping up in your mind with a positive mantra. Examples of positive mantras are “I love myself” or “everything will be okay”, “I am beautiful” or simply the word “relax”. Once you are settled, then spend at least one minute of Shavasana for every 10 minutes of asana movement, i.e., 50 minutes of asana movement should be at least 5 minutes of Shavasana. If you can stay longer in Shavasana, that’s great.
When you are ready to move out of Shavasana, you should do so slowly. Bring some gentle movement back to the body. If you are reclining on the ground, then ever so gradually roll over to one side into a fetal position. Take several breaths in fetal position, and when you a ready, you will slowly come into a seated position for several breaths. Take this time to continue be in the present moment and enjoying this lovely feeling of relaxation before slowly starting to “return to the room” and end your yoga session.
By taking these several minutes of Shavasana for yourself, you are doing positive things for your mental and physical health. It brings you relaxation and can help to balance the right and left sides of the brain. The practice gives you a clearer perspective and helps you better cope with challenges that come your way. You can feel so much calmer from those few minutes of Shavasana.
In the yoga classes that I teach at Moonflower Yoga, I make sure that we focus on this important part of your yoga practice.
If you cannot join us in person for one of our hybrid yoga classes at the Moonflower Yoga studio located in Bellmore, Nassau County, Long Island, New York, you can join us for our daily offering of great online yoga classes! EVERY class on the schedule is available to attend online through Zoom so you can relax at home and not worry about driving. Attending online and relaxing at home is a great way to enjoy your yoga practice and discover that total relaxation that you receive from shavasana. Once you are ready to come out of shavasana, you do not need to get in your car and drive in traffic back to your home, losing some of that quiet relaxation. Instead, you can continue to enjoy that relaxation from a great online yoga class in your home to give you a more peaceful remainder of your day or evening.
I hope you will join me or one of the great yoga teachers at Moonflower Yoga for a wonderful online or hybrid beginner-level yoga class and always remember to take time for YOU to reduce your stress in your yoga postures including Shavasana. Namaste!
Tags: beginner yoga, Bellmore, de-stressing, de-stressing yoga classes, great instructors, great online yoga classes, great yoga classes, great yoga teachers, Long Island, meditation, Moonflower Yoga, Moonflower Yoga studio, Nancy Weshkoff, Nassau County, New York, online yoga classes, remote yoga classes, Shavasana, stress reduction, what is Shavasana, Yoga, yoga classes, yoga studio, zoom classes, Zoom yoga classes, hybrid yoga classes.
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 all year, the month of February is Heart Health Awareness 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 these days 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, including 30-minute 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 FREE “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, including Operation Gratitude which ships our finished creations to our brave men and women in the military. We have online meditation classes, as well as a wonderful monthly Evening of Guided Meditation and Relaxation with Bhante Sujatha, the loving kindness monk, including a Special Valentine’s Day Evening of Guided Meditation and Peacefulness this month. There is also a monthly online yoga nidra evening with Jackie Lee on the last Wednesday of each month, which is deep relaxation “yogic sleep”, a wonderful way to de-stress, which you do while reclining at home. 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.
– On February 11th, in honor of Hearth Health Awareness Month, Moonflower Yoga also has a wonderful “Natural Support for Heart Health” workshop with author and herbalist, Jovanka Ciares. Jovanka will discuss natural ways to care for your cardiovascular system. Incorporating these ideas into your wellness routine can go a long way in ensuring that your heart stays healthy and strong. Topics to be discussed include the history of modern heart disease, the relationship between stress and the heart, and heart-healthy food options and botanicals. Come join us for this important workshop!
– 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, processed food, or other unhealthy foods that are high in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar? Eating unhealthy foods can clog your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. One fun 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 together in our respective kitchens 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.
– See your doctor on a regular basis. Your doctor can access your risk of heart disease and offer recommendations on ways to improve your heart health.
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, and eating a healthy, plant-based diet, 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, Arizona, 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!
#heartdisease #heartdiseaseawareness #heartdiseaseprevention #hearthealth #healthyheart #womenshealth
Reflections On 2021
By Nancy Weshkoff
As we say goodbye to 2021, I am looking back to the year that was. 2021 was another strange year as we continued to battle coronavirus. Coronavirus very much was a part of the year, as the year began with the studio doors closed to in-person classes to keep people safe. The teaching schedule still offered great online yoga classes 7 days a week.
As vaccines become available and the virus numbers started to decline, it was time to return to some normalcy. Hybrid yoga classes were formed whereby we could continue to offer great online yoga classes via Zoom, while simultaneously having the return of in-person classes for a small group of students. It was so nice to finally reopen the studio doors to see people in person again, especially those who have been such an important part of the Moonflower Yoga community for many years.
And then came new and more contagious virus strains which are affecting not just Bellmore in Nassau County, Long Island, but many parts of the United States and the world. Once again, the painful decision was made to close the studio doors to all in-person activities to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep the Moonflower Yoga community safe. Great online yoga classes and workshops continue to be offered.
Through it all, I have felt a sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the students who continue to attend online yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga, and it is always nice to see their smiling faces in the “Zoom Room” as we chat before and after each class. I am grateful to the great yoga teachers and workshops presenters who teach their classes and workshops online as we offer a very interesting variety of activities. I am grateful for my husband, Bob, who supports me on a daily basis and who joins in the Moonflower Yoga community with his monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” online cooking workshop where we prepare plant-based, vegan recipes in our kitchen with attendees cooking alongside us in their homes. I am grateful to the Moonflower Yoga community that attends the fun Moonflower Yoga Book Club and Needle Arts Groups where we have some laughs together. I am grateful to the medical community that has discovered treatments that help combat the virus and the healthcare workers who tirelessly aid those in need. I am grateful that we have made it through a challenging year.
As we look ahead into 2022, which begins in a few hours, we are beginning the new year similar to the one we are leaving behind. Yet, I am hopeful that things will be better in the spring and summer. We need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. It is important to take care of our physical bodies as well as our mental health. Attending a great online yoga class can help with both goals. And attending a meditation class or one of our special monthly offerings such as An Evening with Bhante Sujatha or the relaxing Yoga Nidra deep relaxation can bring you some inner peace. There is no contract to sign and no recurring payments, and you can attend just one great online yoga or meditation class and start to feel better. Come give it a try!
Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me. May 2022 bring you good health, happiness and many blessings.
November: A Time for Giving Thanks
By Nancy Weshkoff
It is hard to believe that November is here and that Thanksgiving and the holiday season are not that far away.
Thanksgiving has always been a special period of time to me. It is not the hectic period of December with its holiday shopping. It is a time to reflect and be THANKFUL and GRATEFUL for the blessings in our life.
I would like to start with a message of gratitude to all who have supported Moonflower Yoga through the years, and especially in this crazy pandemic period in which we are now living. I am grateful to those who continue to attend online yoga and meditation classes via Zoom, including students from out of state, as well as those living on Long Island. THANK YOU for helping to keep the studio alive. I am grateful for the technology that has also enabled Moonflower Yoga to introduce “hybrid yoga classes” that began this summer where we can have 4 fully-vaccinated students in the Moonflower Yoga studio in Bellmore, while simultaneously running the class through Zoom for those who are more comfortable attending remotely. And for those who join us in the studio for the classes, it has been so nice to see your smiling faces walk through the creaky front door of the Bellmore, Long Island studio and enjoy a class with us. Thank you for walking through the Moonflower Yoga doors to practice with us!
I am grateful for the great Moonflower Yoga instructors (Theresa, Rose, Lynn, Jessica, Cathi, Vicky, Dona Dovie, and Rosanne) who share their knowledge and love of yoga and help to create a wonderful space in which students can enjoy a fabulous yoga or meditation class, whether you are a seasoned practitioner or seeking a great beginner yoga class. They enhance the schedule so there is always an interesting class available to attend that can help you stretch, become stronger, improve your balance, and relax. I am also grateful for the monthly workshop presenters: Bhante who leads his meditation evenings from Sri Lanka (even though it means getting up at 3 AM to be with us), Jackie Lee who leads a monthly, relaxing Yoga Nidra for deep relaxation, and Cathi who offers a lovely monthly gong relaxation at the studio.
I am also very grateful to my husband, Bob, who is as much a part of the studio as me. During this year, Bob has led the monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” online cooking workshops where we have fun cooking delicious and healthy plant-based meals from our kitchen, while simultaneously you are cooking alongside us from your kitchen. We have had lots of laughs (and some yummy wine) as we prepare these meals together, and then all sit down at the end of the event to eat the meal together in our respective homes. And with the transition to the hybrid classes, you may have heard me lovingly refer to Bob as the “IT Guy” because he jumps into the studio room and helps with any technical issues to keep the classes flowing. He also provides me moral support when things are challenging.
I am grateful for the essential workers who are keeping things flowing in these unprecedented times. We have nurses, teachers, and other essential workers who are part of the Moonflower Yoga community. Thank you for working tirelessly to help others!
I am also grateful for my yoga, meditation, and Reiki practice. When things are tough, rolling out a yoga mat or sitting quietly to meditate or do a Reiki self-healing session is what helps me cope. It is why it is so important to me to keep the studio going in these difficult times – yoga and meditation can help you to feel better and cope too!
When things do not go as planned, I encourage you to think of 3 things during the day for which you are grateful. It can be something simple, such as having your morning cup of coffee, a gesture from a stranger such as holding a door open for you, a sunny day, or a smile or hug from a family member, or your family pet offering a paw. When things are challenging, it can help us re-frame the day and put you on a positive path.
THANK YOU for all your support, and I wish you all a wonderful and happy November and Thanksgiving season. Namaste!
The Return of the School Year
By Nancy Weshkoff
September is always a stressful month with the return of the school year. For teachers, you are meeting your new students for the year and ascertaining how you can help them grow and learn. Similarly for students, it is beginning a new curriculum and becoming comfortable with your new teachers. Parents need to help their children become adjusted to the new grade level. In 2021, this stress seems to be amplified even more. The COVID pandemic has added more complexity: should there be mask mandates, vaccine mandates for those who are eligible, remote learning or in-person learning, etc.
At Moonflower Yoga, we have many schoolteachers and parents who attend classes and events. I see the stress and worry start to build in mid-late August and continue through September and October as they try to cope with the onset of the new school year.
For the teachers, the parents, and the students, they all agree that taking even just 30 minutes to RELAX can you help feel better. A great yoga or meditation class, available via Zoom, can help you do that. Yoga can release muscle tension from the day. By doing pranayama (breathing techniques), the mind and body begin to relax. When you are relaxed, you can think more clearly and feel better, and your blood pressure can be lowered creating less stress on your heart. Guided meditation takes your mind away from your worries and anxiety and helps you channel it in a more positive direction. Come give a yoga or meditation class a try with a great Moonflower Yoga teacher who can help you learn ways to relax and cope! With Zoom, you do not need to live in Bellmore, Long Island, New York to attend a class, and we have people attending online yoga or meditation classes from neighboring Nassau County towns such as Merrick, East Meadow, Wantagh, Levittown, and Seaford, as well as out of state from Pennsylvania, Florida, Vermont, Arizona, and California. Take 30 minutes for yourself and begin to feel better! And have a great start to the new school year.
By Nancy Weshkoff
On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I am re-posting a blog that I wrote 8 years ago that pays tribute to those who lost their lives on this September date. Like so many other people, 9/11 is a day that I will never forget. May those who lost their lives rest in peace. And here is praying that we can live in peace rather than in senseless destruction and hatred.
20 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.
It is Moonflower Yoga’s 9th anniversary!
By Nancy Weshkoff
This week marks a happy milestone for Moonflower Yoga – it is our 9th anniversary!
It is hard to believe how quickly the years have flown by. When I embarked on the journey of opening a yoga studio 9 years ago in Bellmore, Long Island, New York, I was not exactly sure how things would progress. I will be the first to admit that some things did not always go as planned. But I am happy to say that many things did.
The vision that I had of building a community where people could come together to practice yoga and meditation but to also make friends and expand horizons through the Moonflower Yoga Clubs such as the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group have all happened. And we have all had fun and learned something new in the great workshops including cooking workshops, jewelry workshops, yoga-related workshops, and much more. Meditation activities to promote relaxation and stress reduction were added to the schedule, and we now have ongoing classes, as well as a monthly evening of Guided Meditation and Relaxation with Bhante Sujatha, a Yoga Nidra evening with Jackie Lee, and a Gong Meditation and Relaxation event at the studio with Cathi. Reiki became an addition to the schedule, and many people have become trained in this calming healing system for stress reduction and relaxation. And, of course, the yoga classes which were just a handful of classes at first but have grown to a wonderful variety of daily classes. I have personally witnessed students of all ages who were not familiar with yoga fall in love with yoga as they become stronger, more flexible, improve balance, take care of themselves, and make friends with their fellow attendees.
There have been challenges too. The onset of the COVID pandemic with a forced closure of the studio doors for in-person classes was a very sad time for me. I missed the sound of that creaky front door opening with students walking into the hallway. Through online Zoom classes, we were able to stay in touch and practice yoga together, as well as still hold online workshops and other activities. This proved to be very important for so many in the Moonflower Yoga community who felt less isolated because of the online activities, while they continued to improve their physical health with a regular yoga practice. With the introduction of hybrid classes this summer, we are now welcoming a limited group of fully-vaccinated students into the studio for select classes, and it is nice to see people in person again.
I am so grateful to all the wonderful people who have supported Moonflower Yoga through the years – THANK YOU! You have made a dream come true. Your support of Moonflower Yoga and your friendship have created a very special place. I also could not have done all of this without the great yoga teachers who join me in offering an amazing variety of yoga and meditation classes. To those who provide these great yoga and meditation classes and help students improve their practice, as well as lead wonderful workshops, I thank you for your dedication!
These are challenging times for many including small businesses as we cope with the ongoing pandemic. With your continued support, we can weather the storm and look forward to clearing skies in the future. THANK YOU for 9 wonderful years!
My Favorite Yoga Pose
By Nancy Weshkoff
I have been practicing yoga for many years, and through those years have engaged in many different yoga poses. Like most things in life, you find yourself enjoying some things more than others. While I encourage students to try a wide variety of poses because this enables your body to use different muscle groups, I am indulging myself for today by settling on one pose that I always enjoy and love to do when I roll out my yoga mat. That pose for me is Warrior 2 pose, also known as Virabhadrasana 2 in Sanskrit.
Warrior 2 helps me feel strong. It requires concentration as you focus your Drishti (gaze) towards the outreached palm. With the concentration on your outstretched hand, other worries disappear. I feel powerful and strong as the strength of my physical body enables me to hold the pose and stretch.
Here are some of the overall benefits of Warrior 2:
- It builds strength in your legs.
- It is a great stretch for many muscles in the body.
- It helps improve your balance and stability.
- Tight muscles can be slowly stretched to improve flexibility.
- The shoulders and upper body also are stretched.
- May help with osteoporosis or sciatica issues.
- Improves your stamina.
- You feel good after doing it!
Do you have a favorite yoga pose? If you are new to yoga and are not sure about Warrior 2 or other yoga poses, then come and try a great beginner-level yoga class at Moonflower Yoga with one of our great yoga teachers and discover which yoga posture makes you happiest! There are beginner-level yoga classes available 6 days a week from which you can choose. You do not need to live in the Bellmore, Long Island area of Nassau County to attend a class. ALL of the yoga classes on the schedule are available via Zoom so you can try a great online yoga class from the comfort of your home. Join us and discover YOUR favorite yoga pose too!