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!
What is Shavasana and why is it 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 that?
Let’s start 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 home schooling responsibilities for your children. Have an elderly family member who is staying home bound these days? Perhaps you are also doing shopping for that family member. Or you are multi-tasking in a a work meeting reading and answering text messages instead of concentrating 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 years, and later as a yoga teacher at 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 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.
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 such as “I love myself” or “everything will be okay”, etc. 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, and 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. For now, the Moonflower Yoga studio doors in Bellmore, Nassau County, Long Island, New York are closed due to the coronavirus. Moonflower Yoga is instead offering daily online yoga classes. Come give one of these great online yoga classes a try! Online, remote yoga classes via Zoom offer a nice advantage for 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 yoga class and always remember to take time for YOU to reduce your stress in your yoga postures including Shavasana. Namaste!
It is Moonflower Yoga’s 8th anniversary!
By Nancy Weshkoff
This week marks another milestone for Moonflower Yoga – it is our 8th anniversary! When I embarked on the journey of opening a yoga studio 8 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 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, Needle Arts Group, Mah Jongg Club and Canasta Club 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. Reiki became an addition to the schedule, and many people have become trained in this calming healing system to help the practitioner learn tools 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.
I 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 each day. To those who provide these great yoga classes and help students improve their practice, I thank you for your dedication!
Most importantly – THANK YOU to the people who have walked through the doors of Moonflower Yoga and now join us on a regular basis via great online Zoom classes. Your support of Moonflower Yoga and your friendship have created a very special place.
These are challenging times for small businesses as we cope with the pandemic. With your continued support, we can weather the storm and look forward to clearing skies in the future. THANK YOU for 8 wonderful years!
Small Businesses in a Coronavirus World
By Nancy Weshkoff
These are very difficult times for so many of us. This is particularly true of small business owners. Small business owners form the backbone of our local economy. They are your local restaurants, hair salons, service stations, and businesses such as Moonflower Yoga. They greet you when you walk in the door of their business because you are special to them. We are the people you meet on the street when walking through your neighborhood. We live in the community and we pay taxes in the local Nassau County, Long Island community to support the schools, parks, police, and other services. We are the stores you see on Main Street, and we are essential to keeping our communities flourishing.
I fully support the need for social distancing in our current Covid19 world, as it is vital that we stay safe. The health and safety of the Moonflower Yoga students and teachers is of the utmost importance to me. While we are following these social distancing protocols, it is causing a financial hardship for many of the local businesses in the community. We need local businesses! The owners of the small businesses are also paying salaries to their local workers to help those workers feed their families and have shelter. Local businesses give you the special attention that you do not get when ordering from giant online services. When this crisis has passed, we need local businesses to still be here. Sadly I think some of us will not survive this.
YOU can make a difference in helping to keep these local businesses still alive. Some local restaurants are staying open for take-out orders or curbside pick-up. Support them by ordering from them. I order my fresh produce from a local Wantagh business that offers curbside pick up. Service stations are still open to take care of your automotive needs. If there is a local business that can be open during this crisis, please help them.
As for Moonflower Yoga, while the doors of the studio are not open for physical classes in the Bellmore studio space, I am still running Moonflower Yoga, and the great yoga teachers you know and love are still teaching great yoga classes for Moonflower Yoga through online class offerings via Zoom. The people you have met at Moonflower Yoga are still around, and you can see them and speak with them in the chat area before the online classes begin. You may be feeling isolated and alone these days, but you are not alone. Join us remotely for a great yoga class, workshop, or Club event from the safety and comfort of your living room and connect with the people and teachers you have met through Moonflower Yoga. Some of the “snowbirds” who are in Florida and California are joining in. By attending a great online yoga or mediation class, you are doing 2 important things: Firstly, you are taking care of YOU by taking steps toward stress reduction in this challenging time, as well as moving your body which might be getting less physical activity than normal as we stay indoors. Secondly, you are helping a small business such as Moonflower Yoga, which supports the local community, survive. Small businesses such as Moonflower Yoga need you! Please help small businesses survive this challenging time and keep our local Long Island communities alive. Thank you!