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!
March: One Year Later and the “New Normal”
By Nancy Weshkoff
This March marks the one-year anniversary of the studio closing its doors to in-person classes. It is hard to believe that one year has passed.
Thinking back to March, 2020, it started to become apparent by the middle of the month that New York was in a bad situation. People were getting sick all around us. Hospitals were filling up and beds became scarce. Health care workers bravely and tirelessly put their lives on the line to help as many people as possible. And we faced shortages of supplies such as toilet paper, as well as masks to protect us from the virus. On March 16th, I made the painful decision to close the studio doors due to the pandemic and cancelled the future in-person activities on the schedule.
When I went home that March night, I shed many tears. What I had worked so hard to build for 8 years just disappeared overnight. How did we get here? I went into a depressed state starting that evening and had difficulty getting out of bed. I could not face what was happening. The world that I loved had just turned upside down.
After several days of this, I received a phone call from another studio owner who I had met through training programs. She gave me a jolt to get out of bed and save Moonflower. She told me about the online Zoom classes that she was starting up at her studio. I then investigated Zoom and decided to give it a try. That competitive studio owner, who did not need to help me, gave me some tutorials on Zoom so that I could start offering online classes. I will always be grateful for her kindness and advice. I also decided to attend the tutorials that Zoom provided to help me further understand Zoom, and I am blessed to have an amazing partner in Bob who is IT savvy.
Next came the outreach to the great teachers who had supported Moonflower, and we agreed on new online class offerings to accommodate the Zoom technology. I did test classes with each of the teachers so we could practice working with Zoom. By the end of the month, I was ready to give online classes a try, and I made the announcement of the new online schedule to the Moonflower Yoga community.
There were some hiccups at first. One-on-one Zoom tutorials were offered to some Moonflower clients who needed help navigating Zoom. But overall the launch was a success. Once that was in place, I started to offer some online Zoom workshops and relaunch the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and Needle Arts Group.
And here we are one year later. I never thought I would be spending more than a year in Zoom world – the “new normal” .
Many wonderful things have happened as a result of Zoom. There is no longer a geographic or size limitation to the yoga or meditation classes. Students join me from other states, not just from the local Nassau County or Long Island, New York communities of Bellmore, East Meadow, Merrick, Wantagh, or Seaford. Classes are not limited to 6 people, and several popular classes have more than that number attending. Most importantly, I can still stay in touch with each of you, the Moonflower Yoga community that I love. Social distancing is important to prevent the further spread of the virus, but it can create loneliness. Through the Zoom rooms, we can safely and happily chat before/after class and not feel so lonely and isolated. And, of course, the Zoom classes provide an opportunity to take care of our physical bodies as well as provide relaxation and enable us to de-stress as we cope with our changed lives as a result of the pandemic.
With all the snow that we received in February, having the Zoom classes was a godsend, as we can still hold classes despite the bad weather and not worry about roads being plowed and parking being available. And some of the meditative activities such as Cathi’s lovely Relax and De-Stress with Guided Meditation class on Monday nights, or Jackie Lee’s monthly Yoga Nidra work very nicely when done at home as you can be reclining in your own bed as you de-stress and not lose that relaxation by having to drive home after class. The In the Kitchen with Bob cooking workshop series is a lot of fun, as we connect in our respective kitchens and then enjoy sharing via Zoom the meal we just prepared. Bhante Sujatha, who offers such wonderful wisdom through his monthly meditations for Moonflower Yoga, teaches these meditations from Sri Lanka or Chicago – something that would not have happened in the physical studio world. We have witnessed sunrise over the mountains of Sri Lanka during Bhante’s meditation. Jessica, who taught for the studio for years before becoming a mom and then relocating to South Carolina, can now reconnect with the studio with 2 great weekly yoga classes due to Zoom.
It is also fun to see have some of our furry friends joining the Zoom classes. Walter, the dog, and Daisy, the cat, and others enjoy the Zoom classes also.
There is sadness too. I loved the sound of that creaky studio door opening to signal someone was entering, and I loved popping up from my desk to greet people. I miss giving someone a hug who was having a bad day. I miss handing out essential oils and cards with messages from the universe when people settled into the Moonflower Yoga studio room. I miss doing Reiki training which is not safe to do while the virus is prevalent. And while we do have the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and Needle Arts Group online, I miss the Moonflower Yoga Mah Jongg Club and the new Moonflower Yoga Canasta Club where we had laughs and which must be on hiatus for now.
Like many small businesses, these are challenging times financially. We are doing everything we can to survive the pandemic and keep our heads above water until the pandemic is behind us. It is why I ask you to please support a small business if you can. The dollars that small businesses receive stay in the community to pay for schools, police, sanitation, etc. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhood.
So what does the next year hold for Moonflower Yoga? Well, it is a continuance of online classes, workshops, and the Clubs for a few more months. I have repeatedly stressed “ahimsa” – kindness. That means I need to keep the teachers and the students safe from the virus, which I cannot due at the moment if the studio doors reopen to in-person activities. We need to have more people vaccinated and for the numbers to drop significantly before I will consider reopening the doors. I do think that will happen but it will take time.
I am so very grateful to those of you who have continued to support Moonflower Yoga through this challenging time. THANK YOU! And for those of you who have not yet tried an online class, I encourage you to give it a try. It is just $11 for a great 30-40 minute online yoga or meditation class with NO contract to sign. Or join us for a great workshop where you learn something new and have fun. The Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website provides the calendar of upcoming activities. I look forward to seeing you soon!
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!