why do we use Sanskrit in yoga

Why Do We Use Sanskrit in Yoga?

AUM or Om  ( Sanskrit : ॐ) is a sacred sound or vibration from which all the manifest universe emanates.

Whether you’re new or a seasoned yogi, chances are you’ve heard at least a few Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is the ancient language the first yogis spoke and the language in which many historic yoga texts were written.

At Yoga Fever we teach Sanskrit in our teacher training courses, but we also use it often throughout our classes (not ALL of our teachers use it!). I personally love teaching Sanskrit, as it connects us to the history and origins of the practice, helping students better understand where the practice came from.

More and more, people are coming to understand that there’s a deep and rich philosophy beneath yoga practice. Sanskrit is the language by which that philosophy lives, breathes, and flows.

Why Do We Use Sanskrit?

Sanskrit literally connects us to the classical form of yoga that has been orally repeated for thousands of years.

When we use Sanskrit in our classes, we help students like you not only follow our directions but also get the most out of each session. Each Sanskrit word is believed to have its own consciousness, and pronouncing the word allows you to tap into that consciousness.

Through Sanskrit students are able to understand spiritual concepts that aren’t readily available in English. No other language can translate the mystical, transcendent, and divine as effectively.

It’s important for all of us, both teachers and students, to remember to be patient. We teachers repeat certain Sanskrit pose names often throughout class, as it often takes up to seven repetitions of a word for most people to remember it. Learning a foreign language takes a long time, but understanding some of the roots and most common words is a great first step! Read on my studious yogis.

Sanskrit Crash Course

Asana– This word refers to the poses that compile the physical practice of yoga. Maybe you’ve noticed that each individual pose ends in “asana.” For example:
Sukhasana- Easy Pose (the cross-legged, sitting position usually taken at the end of class)
Balasana- Child’s Pose

Ardha– A word which means “half,” ardha is used in poses like Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon pose).

Namaste– The universal greeting, namaste is a combination of two Sanskrit words: nama, which means “bow” and te, which means “you.” It can be translated a number of different ways, but I often explain it like this: “the light within me recognizes and honors that very same light within you.”

Kona– This component means “angle,” or “corner.” Examples include Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle pose) and Trikonasana (Triangle pose). I bet you can think of more!

Supta– This component means “reclined” and is used in many poses that ask you to lie on your back, such as Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe pose).

Ujjayi– You’ll hear us refer to this yoga breathing technique as “ocean-sounding breath.” It’s practiced with a slight constriction in the back of the throat so that an audible sound can be heard.

Now that you have a basic understanding of a few Sanskrit words, come attend one of our yoga classes. You’ll be excited to discover how much of our yoga practice includes these simple components!

yin yoga

Yin Yoga

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang: the opposite and complementary principles in nature. While most of our yoga classes focus on yang – the changing and moving aspect – yin yoga focuses on the stable, unmoving aspect. In a yin class, you’ll experience passive floor poses that mainly work the lower portion of your body, including hips, pelvis, inner thighs, and lower spine.

Who is Yin Yoga Designed For?

This practice is well-suited for anyone who has an active lifestyle and is looking to add more calmness and quiet to their lives. It’s also great for anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression and is seeking recovery or healing.

Friends with hip or knee replacements: our restorative, gentle yoga classes may be better suited for you.

Why Practice Yin Yoga?

1. Increased Flexibility and Strength – You will actively stretch your body’s connective tissue, simultaneously striving to quiet your mind and settle into the pose. Yin yoga is where poses are held from 30 seconds up to five minutes, allowing time, breath, and gravity relax your body and deepen the pose. When you gently stretch connective tissue by holding it this long, your body will respond by making it a little longer and a little stronger, which is exactly the goal of exercise.

2. Increased Awareness and Self-Intimacy – We live in a world where we are overstimulated with technology, social activities, and other responsibilities, that we often end up never switching off at all. Any kind of dynamic yoga caters to this aspect of keeping ourselves busy. That’s why it’s a good idea to balance your vinyasa yoga with a vastly different form like yin.

Finding stillness for several minutes in a pose creates gaps where the mind is free to wander. Many of us try to stay far away from meditative gaps like this because they often bring up anxiety, boredom, or anything else we suppress during the busyness of life. As with any good form of meditation, yin yoga provides the space needed to address those emotions head on.

3. A Portable Practice – You can practice yin yoga almost anywhere! You don’t always need a mat. In fact, most poses can be held while sitting at your desk, watching TV, reading, or lying in bed.

The story behind YogaFever

The Story Behind Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength

The Love Story Behind Our Studio

For some, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spend quality time with their significant other. For others, it’s a reminder to demonstrate love and vulnerability toward friends and family members. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to share my honest, vulnerable story behind the creation of  Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength – and the tremendous community we’re building together.

The Story of Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength

This story starts in 2014 when my sister passed away unexpectedly. It was one of the hardest times of my life. It took a lot of soul searching, contemplation, forgiveness, and letting go to move out of that state of constant grief. About a year later, when I was beginning to recover and rebuild, I knew I had to do something more with my life. Something meaningful. No longer could I coast along doing things I didn’t love; I felt inspired – and almost obligated – to do more, to make my sister proud and to make a real difference. I was on a quest to find internal bliss by creating a life of purpose.

I honestly had never seen myself as a business owner but have a long line of successful entrepreneurs in my family. I knew my sister was with me when the idea unveiled itself to open a traditional hot vinyasa yoga studio that would than become so much more.

As the studio grew and as I continued to evolve, I knew I wanted to expand and level up. I just wasn’t quite sure what that meant. I didn’t want to duplicate what I had already done within a few miles like others so often do.

I traveled west for 8 weeks on a mission to hit every studio to become inspired. Toward the end of my journey, I landed upon a fantastic studio that offered multiple rooms. Each room had a different purpose. One room was strictly TRX, one was hot yoga and the other was cycling. I thought wow, what a great concept to add all group fitness modalities together under one roof. I went on to take my yoga class and in savasana my eyes literally popped open, and a huge smile came over my face. This was it. This was how I was going to expand. I knew this was the wave of future for fitness; to offer multiple ways to move for one fee. I knew so many that spent a lot of money on multiple memberships around the city. It was a problem and I wanted to solve it.

There was a plethora of obstacles to overcome. But piece by piece everything fell into place. 12 weeks later our brand-new studio with 3 fitness rooms was born. A new beginning and so much fun!

Currently we offer barre, indoor cycle, hot yoga, strength training, restorative yoga + meditation, pop-up classes like kickboxing and fascia release + more.

Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength has surpassed all my expectations and grown into such a beautiful community. But I couldn’t do any of this without the help and support of my dedicated team. Imagine being able to do what you love all day surrounded by people who love it to. Life truly is a gift.

To all of you who make the choice to practice and move with us, and to heal and strengthen your body and mind, from the inside out, we thank you.

yoga poses to help you sleep better

Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake up for work in the morning simply exhausted from tossing and turning? You’re not alone – and it could be costing you more than you think. Research shows that consistent lack of sleep can lead to associated health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and diabetes.

But a good night’s sleep is within your reach thanks to, you guessed it, yoga!

Yoga practice doesn’t always have to be an intense, blood-pumping, sweaty workout. Some of the most amazing aspects of yoga are the subtle changes you experience through focused breathing and bodily awareness. I’ve found that taking a few minutes at the end of my day for yoga and meditation are essential to unwinding and relaxing before bedtime.

So, how exactly does yoga help us sleep better?

Yoga helps us get in touch with our breath. When you slow down and hold a pose, you’ll identify different areas of your body that are tense – think: shoulders, hips, back. The longer you sit and breathe through the pose, the better your chances of releasing that tension and gradually letting go. Plus, stretching in general has a wonderful calming effect.

Yoga reduces stress. Difficult and exciting events both bring stress into our lives. Whether you’re in the middle of a demanding season at work or preparing to marry the love of your life, you’ll likely experience stress. Practicing yoga mindfulness before bed will help reduce levels of cortisol (ie: the stress hormone), reducing the amount of time you spend tossing and turning.
Yoga helps us create a routine. If you’ve ever struggled with sleeping, you’ve probably heard advice like “go to bed and wake up at the same time each day” or “don’t look at your phone before bed.” While these practices may work for some, I’ve found that yoga has the most significant impact in creating a routine that works for me. Ten minutes of gentle yoga before bed can do wonders in setting you on the right path.

Yoga helps us handle uncertainty. One of the biggest culprits of insomnia is a restless mind. Often, my body is physically exhausted, but my mind won’t zip it! I’ll stress about additions to my planner, adding activities in tight spaces, upcoming events. Adapting to a yoga-before-bed practice helps me accept where I am in each moment. And, sometimes, where I am is…awake. This acceptance that I can’t sleep actually helps me be able to relax more. It’s weird, but it really does help eliminate the anger and frustration.

Looking for a few poses to aid sleep? Here’s a sample routine:

  • Hero’s pose | Virasana – take this opportunity to lengthen your spine and open your chest. Settle into your calming breath pattern and clear your mind.
  • Cat and cow– Roll forward onto your hands and knees, flowing between these two poses for as long as you like.
  • Child’s pose | Balasana – Sink your hips back and settle your chest onto the floor. Breathe deeply through your belly and lower back.
  • Legs up the wall | Viparita karani – This helps drain acid from your legs, decreasing symptoms of fatigue and soreness. Stay here as long as you like.
  • Supine twist– This is a great back stretch, helping you relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Happy baby | Ananda balasana – Gently rock back and forth on your back to massage your spine.
  • Butterfly pose | Suptabaddhakonasana – a supported butterfly can help you relax deeply while focusing on the breath.
  • Savasana- It’s called corpse pose for a reason! Use this as the final pose before crawling into bed, closing your eyes and freeing your mind from thoughts.
4 key steps to building an arm balance

4 Key Steps to Building an Arm Balance Practice

Arm balances are everywhere these days. They pop up on Instagram and yoga studio posters as the epitome of yoga accomplishment. Yet, they’re often among the most frightening poses for students to try. The concept of flying fearlessly into wild, inverted poses plagues many yogis.

I’m here to tell you: this collection of poses is not reserved for advanced yoga practitioners. With a few tips and tricks (plus practice, practice, practice), you’ll find yourself in Crow, Hurdler, and Headstand in no time!

Benefits of Arm Balances

First off, why bother practicing arm balances in the first place? Balancing poses help us connect with the present moment. And when you add in the challenge of balancing on your arms, the amount of mental focus required increases. You’re never going to get up into a headstand if you’re thinking about the day’s to-do list. Practice arm balances if you’re in need of a strengthened mental focus.

Additionally, arm balances increase flexibility, core and shoulder strength, as well as feelings of self-confidence and courage. Plus, they offer a playful and curious way to approach our bodies!

What’s not to love? If you’re eager to give these a try, but maybe a bit scared about how to begin, read on for four tips to help you build your arm balance practice.

4 Key Steps to Building an Arm Balance Practice

Confidence- Honestly, guys building confidence is key to arm balancing. We are all a bit nervous about face planting. It happens every now and then. So what?! It’s totally okay to fall out of the pose and laugh your ass off. We all do it. The more we practice balancing on our hands, the more confidence and strength we will gain. It just takes time, practice and patience.

Strategic Weight Placement– How many times have you heard your instructor remind you not to put your weight into the heel of your hand? This is because when your weight is in the palm of your hands, there’s nothing to stop you from falling backward. Instead, strategically place your body weight between your thumb and pointer finger – pushing more into your knuckles than the heel of your hand. By moving the balance point forward like this, you instantly gain more control.

Shoulder Strength – Your shoulder blades are a critical, and often neglected, body part when moving into arm balances. You need them to support your arms, especially when you’re in a straight-arm balance. We often help students increase scapular strength by holding an engaged Plank pose, asking them to puff up between the shoulder blades – almost like a Cat Pose.

Core strength- All balance poses rely heavily on a strong core, and arm balances are no exception. To build an arm balance practice, you must learn to lock off one part of your body (example: core) so you can use that stability to launch into more complicated poses. We often encourage students to focus on their core by asking them to flex their belly during every single yoga pose of the class. Eventually, engaging the core will become second nature.

3 reasons to become a yoga teacher

3 Reasons to Become a Yoga Teacher

If you’re interested in the yogic path, yoga teacher training is the best thing you can do for yourself. I know there’s usually not an ideal time to launch into this experience. But is there ever a perfect time to do anything? Nope. Sometimes you just have to lead with your heart and trust in the process.

YogaFever has offered multiple Yoga Teacher Training Programs and will continue to meet the demand of the community we serve. Upon completion of our Yoga Alliance 200 hour program, you’ll deepen your practice and understanding of yoga, learn accurate body alignment and master the art of teaching yoga with confidence and authenticity.

Besides these lessons, you’ll also learn the incredible power of self-love, confidence and body awareness. Below we have highlighted just a few of the many reasons to take the plunge.

Reason 1. You’ll Learn Self-Love: Accepting ourselves exactly as we are can be pretty darn impossible. Many of us struggle with jealousy in our friendships, families, and work settings – partly because we live in a comparative world where we can find pictures of other people’s lives at the touch of a button. Our inner judge can be a critical and demanding taskmaster, causing us to speak to ourselves with harsher words than we would ever direct toward others.

Through our teacher training program, you’ll learn to accept yourself for who you are – all flaws, insecurities, and doubts included. You’ll discover the power of a positive mentality, which will help you narrow in on the aspects that make you uniquely you! But we won’t leave it up to you to figure this out; we’ll arm you with the tools and mental strength to fight societal pressures.

Reason 2. You’ll Build Self-Confidence: Building and maintaining self-confidence is one of the toughest tasks we’re asked to do. Without self-confidence, we stay home and avoid certain events; we fail to chase our biggest dreams; we let fear conquer us.

Our teacher training program will play an influential role in boosting or restoring your self confidence by giving you a reality check: there are some tasks and activities we’re capable of performing and others that aren’t meant to be. For example, some of my students have incredible balance, while others have immense flexibility. In the same way, we each have a variety of talents in our lives. The meditation and breathing exercises you’ll master as a yoga teacher will help you grasp the concept that our limitations are not downfalls; there are simply some things were better at than others. As you continue to grow your teaching skills, your confidence and self-awareness will intensify.

Reason 3. You’ll Gain Awareness (and Appreciation) of Your Body: It’s incredibly difficult to love our bodies as they are. In a world of highly-edited advertisements and instant social media access, it’s understandable to have a hate-filled relationship with your bodies. So, how does becoming a yoga teacher help us move past these fixations and have an appreciation of our body? The answer: give up the notion that yoga is a get-thin-quick routine and, instead, embrace the practice of yoga on a much deeper level.

Through my experience as a yoga teacher, I’ve realized that yoga helps me appreciate my body as a whole, not in segments. It focuses on strength, flexibility, balance, and breath, rather than on appearance. For example, when I do a balance pose I rely on my entire body to support me, even the parts that I dislike. All of the repetitive practice in body mindfulness you experience in teacher training will carry over into your regular, off-the-mat life, helping you proactively care for your body.

Those of you who enroll in our Yoga Teacher Training Program will spend a lot of time with myself, Shannon Austin, Owner and Operator of YogaFever. I am looking forward to fully supporting each trainee on their journey toward all things yoga. After the program, TeamFever works hard to keep your teaching skills going by connecting you with possible teaching positions at the studio and within the community (if you’re ready).

If you’re even slightly considering signing up for Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Fever, let’s connect. I’d love to hear from you. Please call us at 616-805-3603, email us at info@feverycs.com, or stop by the studio. The time is now yoga-teacher-wanna-be. You can do it, and I are here to guide you every step of the way.

What are the Staples of Yoga Etiquette?

This week we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of studio etiquette. What are the staples of yoga etiquette that keep us flowing smoothly through our classes?

It takes a tribe to keep Yoga Fever going, and we always appreciate your consideration of these guidelines. Whether you’re a new friend or a veteran at our studio, these eight topics will help you remain respectful to your classmates, teachers, and self. 

Arrive A Few Minutes Early:

Scurrying in after class has already begun is not only stressful for you but also distracting for your classmates. Arriving 5-10 minutes before class is always a good rule of thumb. This affords you time to use the bathroom, unroll your mat, and prepare for practice. Maybe you can even throw in a few of your favorite, gentle warm-up stretches. 

Shoes Stay Outside the Studio:

In order to prevent injuries, it’s so important for us to maintain a clean, safe studio. This means keeping the rain, snow, and mud where it belongs – outside the studio. Remember to remove your shoes when you walk in the door and place them on one of the mats we keep handy. Yoga is best practiced barefoot, so kick off your socks too.

Talk to Your Teacher about Any Injuries:

One of the greatest blessings of yoga is its potential to craft routines around certain parts of our bodies, which means we have plenty of modifications up our sleeves if something’s just not feeling right on a given day. Be sure to check in with your teacher before class if you’re experiencing any injuries or soreness. We’ll help you find a practice that is safe for you.

Know When to Eliminate the Noise:

We love when our yoga students become friends and certainly encourage you to get to know your neighbor. By all means socialize before and after class! But once class starts, it’s best to focus all your attention within the four corners of your mat. Yoga class is a time of self-love and self-improvement, and we all focus best when we keep the whispering to a minimum. 

Eliminate other noises by silencing your cell phones or, better yet, leave them in a cubby outside the studio. Yoga class may be the one time all day when you’re able to fully disconnect from technology, so leave the distracting beeps and buzzes safely outside.

Sweat Happens:

It’s hot yoga for goodness sakes – yes, you’re going to sweat! At Yoga Fever, we pride ourselves about the cleanliness of our studio. Though we mop and clean between each class, we sometimes can’t get to the sweat puddles fast enough to prevent other students from encountering them on their way out the door. Do us a solid and grab a complimentary towel before heading into the studio. If you or your area gets a bit messy, a quick sweep of your towel is greatly appreciated.

Be Mindful of the Air Others Breathe:

In a hot yoga studio, even the faintest scents travel quickly. To respect your fellow classmates, stick to your gentle, hard-working deodorant rather than applying heavy perfume or cologne prior to class.

Don’t Interrupt Savasana:

Savasana is a time for stillness and deep rest that allows your body to fully receive the benefits of yoga. While we truly hope you’re able to stay for the entirety of class, we understand that sometimes you’ll have to leave early. Some yoga is always better than no yoga. But if you do have to leave early, be sure to select a spot near the exit door and be considerate about your timing. Try to make your quiet exit sometime as we make our way to the floor for final stretching poses.

What about the Embarrassing Questions?

“Can I sneak out to use the bathroom during class?” “What if my nose won’t stop running?” “Oh no, I touched my neighbor!”

Relax, we get it. Bathroom breaks are totally allowed during class, just be sure to avoid your fellow classmates as you make your exit. And try to avoid leaving during our meditation poses. Runny noses are so common, especially now in the winter months. We always have tissue boxes lying around, so feel free to grab a couple to have near your mat. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with inadvertently bumping into your neighbor during a full class. 

Embrace it. Enjoy the community, the connection, the tribe. Give each other a smile and keep on moving!
 

stillness

STILLNESS

Interestingly enough, one of the reasons we practice poses, or ‘asanas,’ in yoga is to help our bodies become supple enough to do the opposite: to sit in stillness and meditation.

Take a minute to think about the last time you sat in complete stillness, without wondering what you were going to cook for dinner or how you were going to accomplish all your weekend activities. We’ve talked before on the blog about busyness and the way yoga and breath can decrease stress, depression, and anxiety, but today I want to focus on one of the hardest components of yoga: stillness.

Stillness is a skill. And like any skill, it takes practice.

WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO BE STILL?

Often, we’re instructed to “relax” and sink into a resting pose. As many of us can attest, “just relaxing” is a complex request. When we stop thinking about our breath, legs, core, and post-yoga plans, all kinds of scary thoughts can creep up to the surface. Mindful stillness is so challenging, you guys – even for the most experienced yogis.

Over time, our busy lives leave us feeling exhausted, frustrated, and out of control. Yet, being alone with our deeper thoughts can be painful – so we tend to do whatever necessary to avoid moments of stillness. We add in activities and accept additional projects at work; we watch tv or turn on music when we’re home alone. While none of these activities are wrong in themselves, refusing to grant ourselves moments of genuine rest reduces our coping skills, sense of self, and even our relationships.

HOW CAN WE PRACTICE STILLNESS?

This is why we infuse our yoga practice with moments of rest. We use child’s pose, sukhasana (an easy seat), mountain pose, and, of course, savasana to coax our bodies into stillness. Yes, it’s great to get active, to warm up the body, and to get nice and sweaty, but it’s equally important to do the opposite: create quiet and peace within the body.

The pause we take during these poses is not about falling asleep, hanging out, or waiting for the next movement. The pause is designed to foster a full awareness of our body and the way things are right now. We witness our breath flowing through our limbs, the way our heart beats, and the changes and evolutions that our bodies and minds go through.

When we do this, we experience an emotional release – from the day, from our stress or anxieties, from difficult relationships, and any multitude of other daily circumstances.

CREATING STILLNESS OFF THE MAT

Though we often are forced into moments of stillness when we step onto our mat, we don’t always allow our bodies and minds to totally obey, still retracting to those pesky thoughts and concerns. Not only do we each have room to improve on the mat, but we also need to put this into practice in our daily lives.

I know, adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting if not downright impossible. Start small, with only five minutes of focused inactivity. Maybe you set your alarm for five minutes earlier each morning and spend some time in meditation or prayer. Or block out a five minute break at work and find an empty room with no distractions. Or commit to staying off your phone in the half hour leading up to bedtime to make stillness at night easier.

Whatever you attempt, remember that your mind will continually try to rebel – but with practice you can help quiet it.

Find time for rest. You totally deserve it.

why are so many yoga poses named after animal poses

Why are So Many Yoga Poses Named after Animals?

Cats, cows, and cobras – oh my! Do you ever feel like you’re at the zoo during the middle of yoga class? Yoga asanas (or poses) include crow, eagle, downward dog, pigeon, lizard, dragon (okay, maybe that’s not a real animal), and so many others. This may lead you to ask: why are so many yoga poses named after animals?

While there is no foolproof answer, most theories revolve around the idea that ancient yogis mimicked what they saw around them. In those simpler times, it’s understandable that they would have had many encounters with various live animals. Maybe they were hunting them, avoiding them, or simply observing them. Regardless, it’s not just animals that they learned from. A number of other poses exist that resemble items around them. Think: tree, wheel, and mountain.

It appears that the ancient yogis found imitating animals to be an enlightening experience for both the body and mind.

Animals have ample opportunity to release their emotions and tension through hormonal changes in their bodies. We often call this the “fight or flight” response. For instance, snowshoe hares often face multiple predators at a time – any of whom might make them their dinner that day. Yet, they don’t get sick, they don’t die, they don’t become depressed. They continue living and reproducing.

As humans, we often struggle to keep ourselves aligned – we do fall victim to that sickness, worry, and depression. The busyness and high stress levels we place on ourselves prevent us from becoming aware of our bodies’ sensations.

So, it makes sense that the ancient yoga masters would have chosen to model their practice after the animals they observed – in the hopes of learning to balance their emotions and stress patterns. When we enter an animal-named pose, we both endure a physical exercise and experience a psychological exercise of embodying the symbolism of that particular animal.

Consider the cat, an expert in relaxation. On awakening from sleep, they instinctively stretch and arch their spine in both directions before softening and moving onward. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that we generally use cat as an “awakening” pose at the beginning of practice, gradually loosening our body?

Or think about the cobra as it slowly prepares itself for action. A rather vulnerable animal itself, the cobra cautiously readies itself for attack by raising its head. We, too, practice awakening our dormant energy in this pose, often using it as a prelude to a full chaturanga.

When you think about it, many of our animal poses really do resemble the creature they’re named after. Next time your instructor calls out an animal pose, try to put yourself in that animal’s shoes (so to speak!) and consider why they do what they do. For example, dogs enter downward dog position when waking from a nap as a way to stretch.

What’s your favorite animal pose?

4 reasons yoga reduces stress

4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

Stress and anxiety exist in each of our lives. It’s unavoidable and part of the human experience. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to manage or reduce the impact that stressful situations have on us. Our daily responsibilities and worries don’t need to overwhelm us. And that, is where yoga comes in.

Let’s talk about four ways that yoga reduces stress and anxiety in our lives.

4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

Yoga balances our body – The practice of yoga actually counteracts the influence of stress, which often drains our energy and leaves us tense, tight, and tired. Instead, yoga does wonders in reducing tension – almost like a massage does. Child’s pose is, perhaps, the quintessential example of the way yoga helps us decompress. It’s often used as a resting pose or counter-pose to backbends and inversions, allowing our spinal column to relax and inducing a sense of both physical and spiritual surrender. Each time our forehead rests on the earth, it signals the body it’s time for rest, peace, and quiet.

Yoga balances our mind – In addition to treating our body with care, yoga teaches us to befriend and quiet the dancing/monkey mind. As we cultivate presence and compassion, we’re able to hone in on the actions we can take right now, in this moment. Yoga allows us to ease our frantic mind, and forget about our long to-do lists for the duration of the class. Whether we’re holding a pose or flowing through a sequence, yoga teaches us to focus.  We become as some athletes call in ‘the zone’. In other words, everything else fades away and we become one with the task at hand — i.e. yoga.

Yoga balances our nervous system – Whenever we experience stress, our nervous system begins to act up, stimulating high adrenaline and blood pressure levels. While necessary in some dangerous scenarios, this reaction can be chronic when triggered repeatedly. We use the breath as our guide in yoga. Instructors constantly remind their students (and themselves) to steady and deepen their breath, through controlled, and sometimes numbered, breath patterns. The process of learning to steady and deepen our breath allows our whole nervous system to calm down and feel peace. As yogis, we know the quickest way to the present moment is through the breath. This is a great lesson we can apply outside the studio when tough situations arise; focus on awareness of breath. Use the breath to calm yourself down and find the present moment. Even when we are facing the eye of the storm.

Yoga helps us understand how our mind works – In my opinion, this is the most important point when it comes to long-term stress management. Most of our anxiety results from the way our minds operate to various challenges. The mind can help heal us or it can help cripple us. Yoga practice forces us into mindful awareness of the way in which we react to difficult situations. For example, when you find yourself in a tough place on your mat, do you immediately pull out of the pose? Do you push yourself harder? Do you get angry at the teacher? None of these responses are wrong or right. The point, rather, is that once you identify the way you respond to stress, you’ll be able to consciously choose a different response in the future – preparing yourself to fight back against stress and anxiety.

As you see, yoga allows us to slow down and really tune in to our bodies, our mind, and our breath. By simply focusing on one thing, we’re able to decompress and relax.

Believe in the powers of your body and mind working together in unison to support your overall wellness. It’s truly key to living a peaceful and more cognizant life.

simplify your pigeon pose in yoga

Simplify Your Sleeping Pigeon

Pigeon pose was actually designed to be a back bend with a ton of variations to chose from. The west decided to add the sleeping variation which can be a bit of a love/hate relationship. It’s amazing for runners, cyclists, or anyone with tight hips. But the problem is that many of us don’t understand the proper alignment of the pigeon yoga pose, which can really compromise the safety of our knees and SI joint.

We’ll walk you through a few ways to modify this pose to make it the restorative wonder it’s meant to be – rather than the pose you endure with clenched teeth toward the end of your practice.

First, what is Sleeping Pigeon pose and why is it so beneficial?

Yoga treats stiff hips in many ways, but the most common is through a collection of poses known as hip openers. Sleeping Pigeon pose is an extremely effective hip opener that works your front leg into an external rotation, while stretching your psoas muscle (it connects your groin to your lumbar spine) in your back leg.

English please? It’s really, really, good to practice pigeon and yoga if you sit at a desk all day. And when you practice it consistently, you’ll notice significantly more ease in your lower body as you sit, walk, run and stand.

The problem is that many of us tend to thoughtlessly fold into Sleeping Pigeon, which dumps tons of stress onto our knees and sacrum. If you’re eager to improve upon this pose, read on yogis.

4 Tips for a More Pleasant Pigeon

Ease into the pose- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Extend your right leg behind you, then bring the knee up to replace the right hand. You want a 45 degree angle from right hip to knee. More than likely, your shin is not parallel to the front of the mat (yet). With time and patience, you may get there. The heel will be close to the body and that’s A-OK. The top of your left foot is resting on the earth behind you with the toes reaching straight back to avoid sickling of the ankle. Gently melt your hips down to the ground. You want to avoid dumping all of your weight into the right side of the body.

You can choose to stay here or, for a more intense stretch, extend your arms and chest to the ground in front of you. To fully experience the pose, keep the spine long versus rounding.

Use core muscles to square your torso- Once you’re in the pose, be sure to keep your hips squared to the front of your mat. This isn’t a twisty pose, so do your best to keep both hips facing the front. How do you do this? Engage and activate your core muscle to shift your front hip back toward your extended leg.

Take up space- At this point, you may be able to descend a little deeper into the pose. With your hands planted firmly in front of you, try scooching your back leg further toward the back of your mat. With every inhale, back out of the fold a bit, seeing if you can gather just a smidge more length through your spine. Then you can take up even more space as you fold forward on your exhale.

Modify when needed- It’s always okay to utilize the props found in the studio! Slide a yoga block or rolled up towel under your hip (the bent one) for extra support. There’s nothing to be ashamed about – even the most flexible yogis have days where they need some added cushion to protect their bodies.

Finally, keep in mind that Sleeping Pigeon may not be your thing. No matter how many alignment refinements you make, this just may not be the pose for you. That’s totally fine, you guys. Ask your yoga instructor for some alternatives, such as sucirandhasana (thread the needle) or lying pigeon (where you’re on your back and pull your thigh toward you). It’s always okay to skip or modify a pose.

building a toned body thru yoga

Building a Toned Body through Yoga

Summer is here and that means ice cream, gorgeous sunsets, and…bathing suit weather. Some of us are ready to show off our bikini-ready bodies, while others downright dread bathing suit season and just opt for the one-piece with the cover-up instead. What I notice is that the older I get, the harder it is to shape my midsection. Due to metabolism slowing down as we age, it takes extra attention on my part to eat healthily, and work out my body as a whole.

Many of us desire a strong, toned body. Contracting our muscles over and over again can cause the DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) and pain if we don’t train mindfully. Beginners, as well as people who have never practiced, often think of yoga as a way to stretch and relax. This is partially true, of course, depending on the type of class and practice you are taking; however, a number of poses in Vinyasa classes require you to lift your own body weight. Think: Crow, arm balances and Plank poses. Yoga is the ultimate release and realignment tool because it not only builds strength but also sculpts a toned, sleek physique.

To build leg muscle:

Focus on poses that require standing for a longer amount of time. The Warrior poses (Virabhadrasanas in sanskrit) all strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps, while also working on the rotation of the thighs, which is a serious challenge. Goddess pose (squats) build strength in the glutes & knee joint. Chair pose works your core, hip flexors, ankles, and calves (try chair up against a wall – -prepare for a super burn in the quad!). Tree pose stretches your thighs, while also strengthening your ankles.

To build core strength:

There are plenty of yoga poses that work your abdominal muscles. Plank pose and core planks are some of the best exercises for your core, especially as you work to hold it longer and longer. One of the most important tips to building strength in your core center is keeping the core engaged through the entire practice. Think of your 2 hip points like headlights shining forward. Now, it’s as if you were trying to draw those 2 hips points together to allow the headlights to cross at the navel. The abdominals draw toward one another and remain engaged throughout practice. We will continue to remind you to find a strong center as we often get lost with the other technicalities of the pose. Boat pose (Navasana in sanskrit) and low boat pose (Ardha Navasana) are also classic core yoga poses. Try mixing it up with some boat variations like twisting side to side or rocking your legs lower and higher, straightening your legs for a teaser. Power chair, leg raises, bicycle crunches and Locust are also great core poses. There’s seriously SO many core exercises to utilize in a yoga practice that it would be impossible to list them all.

To build arm strength:

When you’re ready to train your arms, try these poses. Side Plank (Vashistasana in sanskrit) requires you to support your body weight with only one arm, which works your shoulders and wrists. Crow pose is the one many people consider scary or impossible. With practice (and guidance) you’ll be able to master this fun asana. In fact, it is usually the first arm balance that we learn as beginners. The first time you reach Crow successfully, it’s like-whoa. — I can’t believe I didn’t face plant!

Each of these poses may feel like it’s targeting a specific part of your body. However, they actually require the use of multiple muscles at the same time. For example, side plank may make your arms quiver, but your obliques will hurt the next day too. Compound movements filtered into our Yoga Fever classes make building strength a more efficient reality because we encourage alignment and muscular engagement. It’s truly key to building strength and flexibility quickly. If you’re just moving your body from pose to pose without being cued how to engage and where, you are missing the Navasana (boat)!

As you can see, yoga is a great practice for building a lean, toned body. And all of these benefits are yours for the taking. But, don’t forget that like any exercise regimen, it takes work and commitment. Practicing yoga once or twice a week is just not going to cut it. Sadly, you’ll lose the physical advantage you gained and will take a step back if you miss too many days.

Bringing Yoga to Work 

While the time spent on your yoga mat at class several days a week certainly helps strengthen and soothe your body, it’s no match for the stress and tension you put on your body during the rest of the week. Whether you sit at a desk for hours on end, run around watching your children, or work a manual labor job, work places a lot of strain on your body and mind.

Most stress is a mental pressure we force onto our physical bodies, especially in the corporate setting where people operate furiously with their minds rather than their bodies. Simply hitting the gym after work won’t fix the problem. Instead, your body and mind need to be brought together to find a sense of peace and relaxation. Yoga is a perfect tool for transforming the workplace into a less stressful, more peaceful environment.

Bringing yoga to work with you can offer so many benefits. It lowers stress levels, gives you healthy energy shots (instead of that extra cup of coffee), and boosts your creativity. Any change in body posture can change your whole mindset.

We often get the question: “But how will I find the time to squeeze yoga into my work day?” The thought of sneaking out for a lunchtime yoga class may be bizarre, especially with how much we are each asked to do on the job. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay stagnant all day.

You surely receive at least one or two breaks during your day. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or checking your social media feeds, spend your time wisely. There are many effective yoga moves you can do right at your desk (or in the break room, or outside) that will not only give you a mental break but also ensure your back, arms, hips, and wrists remain in working order.

Yoga Poses You Can Do at Work

Seated Crescent Moon – Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the left, taking three deep breaths. Repeat on your right side.

Why? Our side body tends to collapse when we hunch over a computer or stack of papers. This can cause neck and shoulder discomfort. This pose brings you a taller spine, clearer head, and sharper focus.

Wrist and Finger Stretches – Extend your arms to your side and draw five to ten circles inward and outward through your wrists. Then, quickly spread your fingers and close your fists, repeating five to ten times to shake off tension. Finally, stretch one arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, using your other hand for a counterstretch.

Why? Desk work causes a buildup of tension in the muscles of your fingers, hands, and wrists. You need some extra blood flow in these areas, typically every two hours.

Chair Pigeon – While seated in your chair with both feet planted on the ground, cross your right leg over your left at a 90-degree angle (creating the figure 4). Keep your foot flexed and ankle joint strong. Maintain an equal weight distribution between your sitting bones, while keeping your back straight. Take the right hand and press it into your inner knee/thigh to open your hip a little more while also helping you to extend up through your spine. Hold for 10-15 breaths before switching sides.

Why? When we cross our legs, especially one side more than the other, we create an imbalance in the hips and lower spine. This pose helps even things out.

Neck Roll – Close your eyes, letting your chin drop to your chest. Move your head slowly in a circle while keeping your shoulders loose and relaxed.

Why? At work, we often fix our gaze for minutes or hours at a time at one point. And often our computers are below eye-level, causing our necks to experience unnecessary tension. This pose helps us stretch and remember to move more often.

Breath Work (Pranayama) – At your desk you can practice breathing exercises throughout your day especially during points of high stress. Drape your eyes closed and begin to relax your body and mind while keeping your spine extended up right. Notice your natural breathing first drawing in and out of your nose. Watching a few organic breaths mindfully will zip you into the present moment. Then when ready, begin to deepen your breath, count to a beat of 5 for the inhale and a beat of 5 for the exhale. With practice you may be able to work up to a beat of 8 for both inhale and exhale. Repeat 10 times. Voila, you have relieved some much needed tension by simply slowing down your breath, having a one-pointed focus, and clearing your mind of clutter.

So the next time you feel stressed, overworked, or brain-dead, spend five minutes practicing a few of these yoga techniques. We guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed. And your bosses will appreciate the added productivity of this new form of workday self-care.

If you’re looking to bring yoga classes into your workplace with a qualified instructor, Yoga Fever offers Corporate Yoga. Our team travels to you either on your lunch break, before or after work. Whatever is convenient, we can make it work. Call the studio for pricing or email us at info@feverycs.com

savasana the sponge pose

Savasana: The Sponge Pose

Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. This makes it one of the most challenging poses in yoga because it asks you to become perfectly still and quiet in your body and mind without drifting off into snoozeville. Yes, it’s possible. Don’t be discouraged – read on.

Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”). We like to refer to this pose as the “sponge pose”. It’s where you absorb all of the benefits and the mental imprint of the shapes you just created with your body. In Savasana, you lie completely on your back with your eyes closed. You gradually relax one body part at a time, one muscle at a time, and one thought at a time. This my friends, is FREEDOM.

Practicing Savasana stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system (that “fight or flight” concept) that’s activated during the rest of yoga practice. Relaxing your physical body offers numerous benefits, including lowered blood pressure, a decreased heart rate, and less muscle tension. Furthermore, it results in reduced occurrence of headaches, improved concentration and memory, and relief from anxiety and panic attacks.

Unlike active, physically demanding poses, Savasana requires a conscious decision to soften the dialogue in your mind and surrender fully into a state of presence. We move from a state of “doing” yoga to a state of simply “being” yoga.

And, folks, this is hard.

We must not only relax our muscles, but also become equally skilled at letting our mental chatter (chitta) vanish for the benefits of this pose to occur. Unfortunately, our bodies and minds often throw us a number of distractions. And that’s okay. Just become the witness and observe each distraction for what it is. Allow it to flow into your mind and watch it leave just as quickly as it entered. This is part of the process. A few examples of distractions may be you have an itch or your body might feel sweaty. Your mind might think: “Did I ever send that email?” or “What’s for dinner?” Perhaps you think: “Come on, relax already!” or “Zzzz…”

So, don’t underestimate the art of relaxation. Many yoga students who can easily balance, bend, and twist throughout class, struggle when it comes to lying on the floor. You can’t demand relaxation – anyone who’s ever had trouble falling asleep at night knows this. That’s why we thought we’d share five simple steps that can help you improve your Savasana practice.

Steps to a Successful Savasana:

  • Set yourself up for success– Stretch out on your mat, making sure you’re completely comfortable. Place a blanket under your head or lower back for additional support if needed. The more relaxed and comfortable you are as you begin your Savasana, the more you can easily surrender your thoughts and mind.
  • Take one large, cleansing breath– This last, audible exhale signals to your body to release into Savasana and gives you a sense of accomplishment for showing up and doing your best. It also is a detoxifying breath to let go of any remaining stress or negative residue.
  • Scan for tension– In your mind, run through each part of your body and draw it closer to the ground. Evaluate places of tension, especially those hiding in your jaw, temples, shoulders, and hips. Stress often accumulates in these areas.
  • Notice your thought patterns– Some days will be easier than others. That’s okay! Try to be at ease, trusting the power of your breath. Look out for the peaceful moments of quiet between your thoughts. Gradually, these will become longer and longer – and you’ll discover more inner quiet.
  • Exit gently– To leave the pose, first begin to wake your body by slowly wiggling your fingertips and toes. Continue by rolling your wrists and feet. Then, roll gently onto one side in the fetal position, cradling your head with your arm. Take several breaths here before pressing your hands against the floor and lifting your torso into a seated position with your eyes closed. It’s important to exit Savasana gracefully, allowing your body the time and space to return to reality.

In our rapidly moving world, cultivating the art of Savasana is more valuable than ever. While our society tends to place great value on speed and productivity, learning how to do nothing is a skill that can help you become more productive when you need to be.

Spice up your yoga practice

Spice Up Your Yoga Practice

Have you ever felt like skipping right to savasana before yoga class even starts? Do you find your mind wandering during class or that you’re anxious to get to the next pose? You may need a yoga reboot.

Spring is officially here, my yogi brothers and sisters. And that means new life is everywhere. It’s the perfect time to spice up your yoga practice and return to that place where yoga is the highlight of your day. We have a few suggestions on how to breathe new life (literally) into your yoga practice.

Bring a Friend

Finding a yoga buddy is a great way to add some fun to your practice. Whether you already have a friend interested in joining you, or you find someone who tends to go to the same weekly classes as you, your yoga pal can hold you accountable to show up on the mat several times each week and even enhance the bond you have with one another. Afterwards, grab a local brew or smoothie and discuss what you enjoyed, struggled with, or would like to try next time.

Set Goals

An easy way to break the monotony of your yoga practice is to constantly set new goals, whether physically or mentally. If you’re finding yourself dragging, maybe it’s time to experiment with a pose that’s always frightened you. One of the challenges of life is really to conquer our fears so why not bring that aspect to our mat? Take baby steps, but you may be surprised what your body can do once you set your mind to it. We are good at what we do a lot of, so practicing the goal pose once a day will not only begin to build your confidence, but it will enrich your overall yoga practice. Maybe your yoga goals are more breath and mind related. If so, spend time each day practicing breath techniques and meditation using guides, focal points, or just a good ol’ fashion sit and watch – sit in a crossed legged position and watch what thoughts enter your mind.

Move your Mat

It may sound silly, but simply practicing in a new part of the studio can change your practice and your perspective. Most of the population loves routine; we sit in the same desks at school, eat lunch at the same time at work, and drive the same roads to our house. When we place our mat in a new location, we can activate different physical and mental reactions to certain poses or find a new line of sight to our teacher.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Challenge your Intention

If you’re a yoga veteran, you’re used to the teacher asking students to set an intention before class. Often this is a positive word or phrase that serves as your motivation for the practice. For example, you might set your intention as “determination.” You’ll then try to stretch a little farther in each pose or hold plank just a bit longer. You might also use your breath to focus on the negative things in your life that you can’t control. With each exhale, give yourself the permission to surrender that worry, doubt and fear and let it go. When we let go of things we can’t control, we reserve valuable energy, time and space for new creativity, awareness and life.

If you are seasoned, and are ready to move past a simple intention, you could set  what we in the yoga world call a ‘sankalpa’. A sankalpa is a specific intention written by you, for you and used before, during and after your practice (or really whenever you want to find time to focus on your hearts desires). The idea of repeating a sankalpa is to create the life we are meant to enjoy and embrace. The sankalpa is impressed on the subconscious, planting the seed of manifestation in our soul. It must come from your mind,  your heart, and your hopes and dreams.

Specific intentions and sankalpas give you something to focus on other than what you’re making for dinner or the to-do list you still have to tackle later that day. They’re something you can come back to whenever you find your mind drifting or you want to center yourself.

5 tips for teaching yoga to your kids

5 Tips for Teaching Yoga to Your Kids

Today we’re thinking about all our parents, educators and anyone who works with children. Have your kids ever tried to climb on your mat with you, or watched with eager eyes as you practice yoga? If you’re a teacher, do you ever find yourself in need of a way to help your little ones release some stress in a controlled fashion? If you’ve never tried teaching your kids a yoga pose, now’s the time.

Children live in the fast-paced world of busy parents, school pressures, after-school hobbies, competitive sports and more. Encouraging them to develop a yoga practice can help counter these stressors. Starting yoga early is a wonderful habit for children. Yoga encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a non-competitive physical activity. It helps them feel more focused, calm and confident. From antsy five-year-olds to exhausted fourteen-year-olds, yoga offers a handful of benefits that help kids re-energize, release stress and increase their self-awareness.

5 tips for teaching your children yoga:

  • Focus on the basics– Start with simple poses, such as Downward Dog, Tree Pose or Warrior II. Show them the proper form, but expect quite a bit of wiggling and mistakes as they learn. If you have a group of children you’re teaching, try a form of duck-duck-goose to quiz them on the names of a few poses.
  • Get them their own yoga gear – Let them pick out a fun pair of leggings or a yoga mat. This way, they can begin making their practice their own – they’ll be excited to roll out their own mat and get jiggy with their down dog.
  • Play with animal poses– At young ages, children are naturally quite flexible. Ask them to go further in their poses (when they’re ready). To get started try Butterfly, Cobra, Happy Baby and Tree as these will likely resonate with children. They have the chance to be more playful and silly as they try to maintain balance, roll around, giggle, and try again.
  • Share mindfulness techniques– Allow them to find the present moment and engage with the surroundings around them with their eyes closed. Notice sounds, scents, tastes, energy points etc. they see if they can find deeper breathing without straining or trying to hard.
  • Keep it lighthearted– For young children, you can’t expect their attention spans to last as long as yours. (We’re sure you already know this) Aim for five-ten minute intervals, mixed in with some fun breathing and mindfulness training.

Once you teach your children the basics of yoga and mindfulness, they can begin to incorporate the beloved practice into their own daily lives. Help your little ones realize that movement and mindfulness is a great release from frustrations at school or in their relationships. Show your older children the value of yoga as a stress reliever from the competitive nature of school, sports and clubs.

7 common yoga mistakes

7 Common Yoga Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Our goal is to guide you throughout your yoga journey, helping you grow in strength, flexibility, cardio and mindfulness while preventing you from facing injury or discouragement. In this week’s blog we offer tips to help you avoid seven common yoga mistakes. Are you ready to get the most out of your yoga practice?

Mistake #1: Comparing yourself to your neighbor

One of the most effective ways to get injured or discouraged is looking at your neighbor and trying to mirror their pose or stretch. All of us have different body types and skill sets. The person on the mat next to you might be a former ballerina or athlete; they might have years of yoga experience under their belts; or they might be naturally flexible. Yoga is a personal journey, so there’s no reason you should be comparing yourself to anyone else.

Pro-Tip: When you find yourself trying to bend into a pose that your neighbor can do, take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and center yourself again. Remember, yoga is not about measuring your level of performance. It is about harnessing the energy to tame the mind and shedding our negative behavior and patterns.

Mistake #2: Comparing your body to the way it was 20 years ago, 2 weeks ago, or even yesterday

Remember when you were eight years old? You could practically do a cartwheel and wheel pose in your sleep. Your body moved where you wanted it to without even thinking about it. But that was when you were younger – before you sat in a desk for hours straight, or had a child of your own, experienced an injury or had a life full of stress, bills and interpersonal relationships. We carry stress and trauma deep within the tissues of the body. Limiting our movement and our mind.

Pro-Tip: Take a moment before class to meditate on the phrase: “Here I am. This is where I’m at with my body and strength today.” Always try to meet yourself where you are at – in the now.

Mistake #3: Pushing your body to do too much

Yoga beginners often mistakenly think that it will be a piece of cake. Maybe they’ve been exercising or playing sports for years. Although certain yoga poses seem simple, it’s best to listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and ease into the practice without looking for an edge. Going slow and moving to the point of sensation as a newbie. It’s easy to fall prey to questions like “Why can’t I touch my toes yet?” or “Why is this not getting any easier?” The beauty of yoga is that it benefits you on many levels. Maybe you can’t touch your toes yet, but instead you’ve learned to modify to a better plank or breathe more effectively.

Pro-Tip: Take the most modified pose you can do correctly, in order to create strength and proper alignment rather than creating negative habits. Engage as many muscles by hugging the muscles to the bone throughout the entire practice. Instead of going deep, go strong.

Mistake #4: Practicing inconsistently

You know that feeling right after you finish a yoga class? You feel open, relaxed and focused – you can’t wait to come back for another one. But all of us lead busy lives and eventually our work, social life and family responsibilities begin to interfere. When you finally do return to class, you’ve lost what you thought you had gained. Don’t worry!! The mat is always there for you to build your strength and flexibility. The key is being ready. When you are ready to get consistent, your body will gradually open up, strengthen and move further into the poses. It just takes time and patience.

Pro-Tip: Commit to practicing yoga twice a week, even if that occasionally means rolling the mat out in your own basement and sitting in a seated position for meditation. Build a relationship with your mat. It can quickly become a good friend, guide and safe zone.

Mistake #5: Holding your breath

We often see students failing to let their breath lead them through the sequences or even holding it completely, especially during the more advanced poses. Forgetting to breathe consistently is a negative habit that causes anxiety and stress, exactly the opposite effect we seek in yoga.

Pro-Tip: Focus on your slow, deep inhales and exhales throughout the whole yoga class.

Mistake #6: Taking classes that are too advanced

If you’re a beginner to yoga, you really should look into trying a few slow or gentle flow classes first. These offer the opportunity to learn the poses, discover yogic breath and become comfortable within the practice. However, even the more advanced students would benefit from remembering the positive effects of slowing it down once in awhile.

Mistake #7: Failing to disclose medical/physical conditions

When you visit many of our classes at Yoga Fever, you’ll hear your teacher ask if there are any injuries or medical conditions he or she should be aware of. Students often feel embarrassed or too shy to speak up here. Your teachers want to know these issues so they can craft a restorative practice that won’t endanger your body.

Pro-Tip: Yoga is therapeutic. An experienced, intelligent teacher will help you overcome these injuries. Speak up.

Private group yoga classes

Personalize Your Experience: Try a Private Group Yoga Class

Maybe you’re new to yoga and worried about embarrassing yourself in a large group class. Or, perhaps you’re looking for an excursion to suit the needs of a particular group, like a bachelorette party or a circle of fitness-minded friends. Maybe you and a few friends desire a little extra attention as you continue on your yoga journey or need specific help rehabilitating an injury.

Sound familiar? If so, consider trying a private group class. Traditional, public classes are fun, energizing and informative. They help to create a strong community of yogis. However, a private group class allows even more of the individualized attention and guidance that we all need at one time or another. Whether you’re new to the practice of yoga, needing rehabilitation from an injury or simply hoping to take your practice deeper, a private group yoga class could be a nice option.

What are the perks of a private group yoga class?

Besides the affordable price tag, private group classes offer a number of other perks, which makes them a valuable addition to your yoga schedule. Historically, yoga was often taught by one teacher directly to one student. These ancient teachers understood the importance of individualizing each yoga experience to meet the needs of the individual student. Private group yoga classes follow this wisdom, allowing each group to work with the teacher to personalize their yoga experience. Groups can choose a gentle, beginner, intermediate, or restorative-style class, depending on their skill level and desire.

Private group yoga classes are perfect for special occasions. If you’ve always wanted to experiment with yoga without being embarrassed, grab a few buddies and schedule a class. If you’re tasked with planning a friend’s bachelorette activities, schedule a yoga class to kick off the celebration or wind down from the festivities. If you and your pals are really into trying new kinds of fitness, mix a private yoga class in with your weekly cardio exercises.

Whatever your reason and whatever your intention, we’re here to help you get the most out of your yoga experience. If you want to learn more about our class offerings, click here. If you’d like to discuss scheduling a private group class, call: (616) 805-3603.

yoga fuel the importance of breathing

Yoga Fuel: The Importance of Breathing

If we breathe automatically and hardly think about it during the day, why is breath emphasized so much during yoga class? And how is it even possible to breathe incorrectly?

These questions are common among beginner yogis, and they’re worth discussing. Awareness of breath, as well as synchronizing breath to movement, is an integral part of yoga.

Mechanically speaking, the act of breathing can be either automatic (an unconscious, involuntary behavior) or deliberate (a conscious, voluntary behavior). By making an automatic behavior deliberate, we begin to affect our neurological programming through a state of intentional awareness. This conscious breathing affects us biologically, emotionally and physically.

Biologically:

During most of the day when we’re breathing unconsciously, our breath is controlled by the medulla oblongata (the primitive part of the brain). When we switch to conscious breathing, it stimulates the cerebral cortex (the more evolved areas of the brain). It’s in that moment that the magic starts to happen! Activating the cerebral cortex has a relaxing and balancing effect on our emotions, which leads us into the next benefit of intentional breath.

Emotionally:

When you begin to tune into your breath like this, emotional stress and random thoughts vanish. Your whole system gets a break. Your body’s energy begins flowing freely, disrupting any emotional and physical blockages and freeing your body and mind. This results in that “feel good” effect you experience after a yoga practice.

Physically:

In our physical yoga practice, the breath works side-by-side with our structural alignment. Our natural tendency is to hold our breath or use stress-induced breathing (short and shallow) while holding a posture, especially in a challenging pose. This creates stress and tension in the body. That’s why you always hear yoga teachers reminding students to continue breathing intentionally during the toughest poses and sequences.

Now, you’re probably wondering exactly how you’re supposed to breathe…. In yoga, there are a variety of different breathing styles. We’ll highlight one here called Ujjayi (ocean sounding breath). When done correctly, it calms the mind, creates internal heat and gives an uplifting boost of energy. Like most aspects of yoga, it requires practice, patience and an open mind and heart. To do this type of breath, try the following sequence:

With your mouth open, try exhaling the sound “HAAAAH” – similar to the sound you make when you’re trying to fog up a mirror. Get comfortable with this sound to get the hang of the practice.
Close your mouth and attempt a similar sound, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. If you’re doing this correctly, you should sound like waves in the ocean (or Darth Vader).

Generally, you should incorporate a positive resolve or mantra into every yoga session. This can be a single word or phrase that serves as a goal for your practice. This mantra should be integrated into your breathing process. When you inhale, gather up the stress or worries in your mind; when you exhale, imagine that stress flowing out of your entire body.

We’re willing to bet you had no idea how important – and complex – your breath is. What seems like an automatic process is actually critical to mindfulness, stress removal and energy creation.

If you’re ready to practice the art of yogic breathing, come join us for yoga class. And don’t forget to incorporate conscious breath into your daily life. When you’re feeling stressed or tired at work, school or home, spend two minutes focusing on deep inhales and exhales. You’ll be surprised how great you’ll feel after.

“A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years.” -Swami Sivananda

How does a private yoga lesson work?

How Does a Private Yoga Lesson Work?

What is a private yoga lesson?

A private yoga session is a one-on-one yoga lesson with a skilled and trained Registered Yoga Teacher. During a private yoga class together you can focus on your specific needs. Some like to go the private yoga route to learn the basics as a beginner before they throw themselves into a group setting or are healing an injury back to health. Others may just prefer personalized instruction even though they have been practicing the art of yoga for several years.

If you are a beginner, healing an injury or just prefer one-on-one attention, a private yoga lesson may be a good fit. A group setting may be overwhelming if any of the above applies to you.

What is the cost of a private session?

Pricing for yoga varies for private instruction from city to city and state to state. For example, a private session in the Midwest should range anywhere from $75 – $125 per hour. On the East or West Coast that price doubles if not triples depending on how well known the teacher is! I know, right? That does not mean that just because a teacher is popular on social channels that they are a great teacher. That just means they know how to market themselves well. On the other hand, there are several renowned teachers with a lot of cred that people would pay big bucks to train with because, well to put it bluntly.. they know their shit. In general, when looking for a private, you want to be sure that the teacher has a few years of experience if not more teaching yoga.

Is a private session right for me?

This is a question that only you can answer. If you prefer a more intimate setting with a vetted instructor than a private yoga lesson will serve you very well. If you are a beginner that is just plain unsure about this whole yoga thing, than maybe a private yoga session is best for you. If you are healing an injury and you are using the private yoga class as a source of physical therapy, than it may be just the ticket.

Can I take just one private yoga class or do I need to schedule several?

Great question. This is entirely up to you. At Yoga Fever, we recommend taking one private yoga class initially. See how it feels in your body during and after. Reflect on how your teacher served you and if you jive with them in general.

Call the studio for more information or to schedule your private yoga class with a qualified RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). ~ (616) 805-3603 or visit our personal training page within our website and contact us.

what is the significance of 108 in yoga

What is the Significance of 108 in Yoga?

Why the number 108?

The number 108 is considered a sacred number in Hinduism, Buddhism and yogic tradition. Malas or Japa beads come in a string of 108 and are used for devotional meditation, mantra and prayer. With each bead a mantra or prayer is repeated to meet a total of 108. The Meru bead is the larger bead or tassel on the mala and is not part of the 108. This is the guiding bead and marks the beginning and end of the mala/chant/prayer/mantra. We lean toward hand made, authentic beads like red carnelian or Rudraksha Tibetan beads like the ones we recommend below.

Fever will offer 108 Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar A to celebrate our transition into Spring. Spring is a season of phenomenal renewal. The earth awakens from its slumber and blossoms into new life, new beginnings and new awareness. It is a great time to reflect on health and well being. Together we will flow and breathe to become one body, one heart and one mind.

Here are a few interpretations of the significance of the number 108.

  • Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) energy 54 X 2 = 108
  • Desires. There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
  • Time. It is said we have 108 feelings. 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
  • Astrology. There are 12 constellations and 9 arc segments. There are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 X 9 = 108
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the earth.

Please join us in studio to become one. One Mind. One Body. One Spirit. Check back for more offerings of 108 Sun Salutes.

Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases

yoga for runners

Yoga for Runners

Rolling out a yoga mat may just improve your running skills

Studies show that the strength and flexibility you gain on the mat can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free. Yoga opens up several muscle groups in the legs such as the quads, IT band,  hip flexors, psoas (core), and hammys.

According to several sources, yoga can be the key to faster running times

The science of cardio exercise and running mechanics are fairly simple. Efficient and fast times are credited to alignment. Building from the ground up, feet to head is key to a successful run. Yoga has the power to change any misalignment in the body… even moving bones over time. Yes, it’s true. Strengthening and lengthening the muscles improves the alignment of the body greatly.

Runners benefit from opening the overworked leg muscles. There is also great benefit to gaining core strength to help towards the middle or end miles of your run.

How does yoga increase your speed?

Apparently, the fastest runners have an amazing 20 – 25% angle at the hip flexor and a 5% arc in the back. Back bends and hip openers provide flexibility which increases speed. If you are a runner, get on your mat and check out the benefits it can provide your body.

Hot yoga and diabetes

Hot Yoga and Diabetes

Can I do hot yoga if I have diabetes?

Yes, you can absolutely do hot yoga if you have diabetes. However, being mindful of your blood sugar level and hydration is key. Checking your blood sugar before and after class is a good rule of thumb to measure where your levels are with the incorporation of vigorous heated exercise.

Your glucose level may spike after a hot yoga class due to the stress on the body, heat and humidity. Since Diabetes varies in degree and from person to person, it is important to begin a hot yoga routine with a keen eye on your body, how you feel after class, and checking your insulin levels.

Take the time to rest after class if you have Diabetes

Don’t rush to get out the door to head home if you are finishing up a hot yoga class and you are diabetic. Give it a few minutes, relax, linger, take your time! Replenish as much fluids as you can before you get behind the wheel to head home. If you feel light headed, disoriented, or out of sorts in anyway, you should stay put and talk to someone at the studio about how your feeling. They can help you to find a relaxing location where you can check your insulin levels and rest your head.

Consult your physician

Talking to your Doc before incorporating hot yoga into your routine is always a good idea but especially if you are type I or type II diabetic. Be sure that this is a safe practice for you by getting the green light from your primary care.

Exercise is a natural healer

Hot yoga, running, traditional yoga, and exercise of any kind is a natural healer of the body and mind. If you check with your doc and monitor yourself closely, there should be nothing holding you back from picking up a regular hot yoga routine.

Congrats on getting healthy!

Why men should do yoga

Why Men Should Do Yoga

Yoga is not just a sport for women

Fact: Yoga was originally designed for men. Yes, it’s true. Ashtanga was designed for 14-year-old boys many many moons ago. Women were not even allowed to practice yoga back in the day. Of course, times have changed. When yoga moved to the west it became female-dominated with men taking a back seat. However, the number of men rolling out their mats is growing by leaps and bounds each year.

Here are a few reasons why  yoga for men is beneficial:

You will gain flexibility

Fellas, with more flexibility you will be able to play recreational sports with ease. Practicing yoga will not only help with flexibility but also your range of motion, both of which can prevent sports injuries.

You will gain strength

For men that think yoga is feminine, you should come try one of our hot yoga classes and we guarantee you will change your mind on that. Asanas or postures require a different type of strength. Yoga provides a ‘whole body’ work out that fires up your stabilizer muscles while you isometrically contract and strengthen the major muscle groups.

You will feel better

Yoga will help you in all aspects of your life. It will help you tame your inner beast and enhance your ability to focus. You may become less reactive to stressful situations with a stronger connection to peace of mind.  Yoga will harmonize the dimensions of your life including your relationships and your job. The act of mindfulness can help us deal with emotions we may otherwise internalize.

You may not be super bendy and hyper-mobile after your first yoga class. However, with a little patience, it will pay off with time.

yoga for weight loss

Yoga for Weight Loss?

Yoga for Weight Loss: Does it Work?

Let’s break it down. Yoga is a form of physical and mental exercise. Increasing your physical and mental exercise will benefit you on several levels. If the goal is weight loss, then picking a yoga style that is challenging, powerful, and gets your heart rate up is the way to go. The more vigorous the yoga practice, the more you will sweat and increase your caloric burn.

Cardio, cardio, cardio

We know cardio is the way to a slimmer self and we know toning the muscles is the way to a flatter belly and a toned body. This is what makes yoga a wonderful complement to any weight loss program. Indoor cycling, breath and movement yoga classes or momentum style classes will give you a cardio kick by getting you moving. Traditional yoga classes where you hold poses will help with added strength and endurance. Finding a yoga class that incorporates holding poses and momentum will help you shed a few pounds.

We can actually make our yoga class as easy or as hard as we want. We have the control to activate all of the muscle groups by “hugging in” or hugging the muscle to the bone. This creates an activation of the muscular energy of the body. If we want to make it easier on ourselves, we can choose to not hug in and take a more relaxed version of the pose. It’s that simple.

Can I lose more weight with hot yoga?

Hot yoga + cardio not only promotes weight loss but it helps to sculpt your body. The heat guarantees your body will sweat and work harder than in a traditional yoga studio. You will shed a lot of superficial water weight right away by sweating like a fiend in hot yoga. Hot yoga boosts your metabolism and promotes overall cleansing by flushing out your lymphatic system.

Overall wellness plays a role in weight loss

There are many different types of yoga practice that will help you gain more awareness of your body, your food choices, and acceptance of yourself just as you are. The more mental clarity and positive energy we gain from a regular yoga practice the higher our quality of life. Ultimately, yoga will change your life not just on a physical level, but on a physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual level.

what to expect at your first yoga class

What To Expect At Your First Yoga Class

Yoga for Beginners

So you’ve decided to start a new chapter and take your first yoga class. Good for you! We admire steps toward positive change. Jumping on the yoga train can be scary, we know it. We’ve all been there. Not only are you chartering new territory with your first yoga class but also jumping right into a heated class! Whoa, now that is a big deal.  There are several questions that you may be asking yourself regarding your first class. Let’s highlight a few Q & A’s, with some great tips to set your mind at ease.

Can I handle the heat?

We won’t lie, the heat will feel pretty intense your first time around. Be prepared to sweat. The atmosphere is controlled to be a toasty 99 degrees in our hot yoga classes. Know that you can step out of the room at any time if you feel it necessary. The heat helps heal and nourish the muscles, joints and the mind. It is there to help guide you into a smooth practice, not make you suffer. After class, you will notice a sense of peace, energy release and an overall sense of well being. We like to say that you can shed a skin on your mat in a heated class…leaving behind the residue that doesn’t serve you.

Will I be awkward with everyone looking at me?

You may feel slightly awkward as you learn about creating new and creative ways to shape your body and your mind. This is totally normal. Go with the weirdness. No one is judging you. The goal in a yoga space is to check your ego at the door and go inward. You may have other fellow beginners looking around for guidance but nothing to take too seriously. As you progress and grow into other classes, no one is looking around to check you out. This is an internal practice and each experience is personal and unique.

What should I wear?

You don’t need to buy expensive clothing to hit your first warm or hot yoga class. There is no point in investing a lot of money on outfits for your first time in. We believe form-fitting clothing that will not interfere with the movement of the body is best. Keep running shorts and t-shirt for the gym or your morning run. Tight clothing that breathes will help you stay focused on the yoga practice and not your clothes riding up in all the wrong places.

Please check your shoes at the door. Yoga is best performed with bare feet as it will help you maintain grip. Do what feels best for you!

Am I flexible enough to do yoga?

Every hot yoga studio will tell you the phrase they hear most is ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga’. There is a common misconception attached to yoga due to images in society that you must have a ballerina type body that can twist into a pretzel or the splits on demand. Not true! Yoga is good for every “body”. We have all shapes, sizes, and age groups in our hot yoga classes.

Long story short… Yes, you are flexible enough to do yoga. In fact, no flexibility is required to take a yoga class. With time, patience, and consistent practice, you will become more flexible in your body and in your mind (which is the true goal of yoga anyway).

What should I bring with me?

Please bring a water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated. We also sell water with to help replenish the body before, during and after your hot yoga class. We may not always cue you to grab a drink, so listen to your body and sip your water anytime you need nourishment and hydration. If you have a yoga mat, bring it with you or rent one of our yoga mats or large mat towels for your first time. Our mats are specific to hot yoga so they will provide more grip and traction on your mat.

What should I do if I feel lost or overwhelmed?

We guide you through a safe and soft practice your first time around and in every beginner class. Know that yoga is very visual as a beginner. Look around, see what everyone else is doing. Your teacher will also guide you through the demonstration. It’s always good to listen to your body if you need a break. Childs pose is what we call a ‘rest pose’. To come into this pose bring the knees down to the mat, bring the great toes together, slide the hips toward the heels and sink the torso in between the inner thighs. The forehead touches down and the arms can be stretched long in front of you or down by your sides. You will see many yogis at ALL levels taking this pose for a break for their body. We recommend using this pose frequently as a newbie to the practice. Here you can come back to your breath and surrender until you are ready to rejoin the class.