Zen Body Yoga + Wellness

Spreading the Zen to Tulsa!


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What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative YogaRestorative yoga is an excellent practice for all levels and is particularly recommended for those experiencing mental and emotional stress or turmoil, those with a Vata imbalance (feeling scattered, anxious, unable to concentrate), or individuals with chronic pain or difficulty sleeping.

This is a deeply restful and nurturing practice, designed to support the body with an assortment of yoga props, such as blocks, bolsters, blankets and sand bags so that you may remain in postures that help you feel safe and at ease.

Join me in this Restorative Yoga sequence to relax and renew your mind, body and spirit as you enjoy being present in comforting and grounded restorative postures.


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10 Ways The Master Challenge Can Enrich Your Life

Written by: Calista EvraetsMaster Challenge FB

Have you ever noticed the chart outside the studio door and wondered what it’s all about? The chart is a simple way to track the number of classes you’ve attended. Each month presents a new opportunity to complete Zen Body Master Challenge! If you complete twenty-two classes in the calendar month, you’ll get a Zen Body Master Challenge t-shirt, but there are lots of other things you can gain from taking the challenge!

1. Yoga will become a regular part of your day.
Coming to a class at least five times per week will help you to make yoga a habit! It’s a big deal to plan to spend that much time at the studio, and you’ll find yourself planning your days around yoga classes. The next thing you know, you’re in the habit of setting aside time to practice!
2. Yoga skills will advance.
It goes without saying that practice makes perfect, but you might be amazed by how quickly your strength and stamina builds when you’re practicing almost every day.
3. You’ll feel better about your body.
This can come in a number of ways. Stronger, more toned muscles may help give you a boost of confidence. You may gain more appreciation of how amazing and strong your body is. You may feel a sense of gratitude toward your body as it carries you through each class.
4. Your posture will improve.
Yoga helps to strengthen the core muscles that surround the spine, so as your strength builds, you’ll find yourself walking taller!
5. Sleep may come easier.
Practicing meditation regularly can help condition your mind toward relaxing at the end of the day. Additionally, regular exercise can help to physically tire the body. If you work at a desk all day, your mind may be tired but your body may not have burned enough energy to be ready to settle down for restful sleep.
6. Planning around yoga classes can improve your diet.
After a few days of practice, you’ll start to learn which foods fuel your body to be active for your class. Since twenty-two classes is a big commitment of time, figuring out meals in advance may help you to eat a healthier diet.
7. Your stress levels may drop.
Eating better, sleeping better, and getting regular exercise can contribute to less stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation will also give you a great outlet when you’re feeling stressed.
8. You will make new friends and build a community of encouraging people.
Yoga people are the BEST people! Every class is full of people making a similar commitment to their health and well-being. You might find yourself making plans with your yoga friends outside the studio!
9. It’s a great opportunity to try new classes.
Is there an instructor you’ve never taken a class from? Have you been meaning to try a restorative class, but haven’t found the time? Choose those new classes as part of your personal challenge!
10. You’ll feel confidence in your ability to reach a goal.
At the end of the month, when you reach your twenty-second class, you’ll be proud of your strength and follow-through!


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Finding Your Life’s Purpose

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Written By: Amy Miller

I’ve seen this diagram in the past, but it’s making its way around social media again and it still resonates with me.  Part of what I do as a Life Coach is to help people find their “Purpose.”

Spiritual Wellness is one of the 8 dimensions of well that I cover in 21 Days to Well and as a Life Coach.  Spiritual Wellness involves having meaning and purpose and a sense of balance and peace and may or may not include Religion.

Some elements of Spiritual Wellness include prayer, meditation, or personal reflection as well as understanding other’s beliefs and values. There should be a direct relationship between your personal values and your daily actions. Ultimately, we are talking about the self-awareness and understanding of your place in the universe, your purpose in life, your true passion.

Often, we are not immediately aware of our “purpose in life”.  Maybe you even think there is no such thing as a “purpose,” but it is here, in your purpose, that you will find true fulfillment.  Your purpose in life may not be something profound like “to heal others” or “to teach the next generation” or “end war.”

One purpose may be “to love” or “to be happy” or “to take care of my pets” or “to find and share my gift.” We may get so caught up searching for our Life’s Purpose, that we forget we may have many purposes.  But how do we find them?

We find our purposes by following our hearts and intuition and trusting ourselves to make the right choices. Listen to the thoughts that occur to you during or after meditation.  During meditation, we open the channels of communication between our mind and our unlimited awareness.  Listen carefully, as it will often be as quiet as a whisper and it might be overshadowed by the voice of the world – what you have been nurtured and enculturated to believe.

Try this exercise.

  1. Keep a notebook and pen just for writing down your plans for your future.  I like to have a pretty notebook and a special pen that I don’t use for anything else.  I keep mine in my bedroom because it is a calm space where I feel safe.  You might have a special meditation room or an office that makes you feel at your most comfortable.  Keep your notebook and pen in the place where you most often meditate.
  1. Practice meditation daily, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes.
  1. Once your meditation has become easier and you are able to let the mind and body relax for 5 minutes or more at a time, begin occasionally saying to yourself “reveal to me my highest calling” just before you begin to relax.  Then forget about it; don’t start thinking about what your calling is or should be.  It will only be revealed to you when you stop thinking and listen.
  1. During your meditation, if a thought pops into your mind, quickly write it down and then go back to meditating.  Don’t explore the thought now; that will close off your connection to your all-knowing spirit and set the human mind to work.  You can take care of that later.
  1. Remember that not every thought that comes into your head during this time will be an answer to your question, but it is usually placed in your mind for a reason.  Listen!

Don’t get discouraged when life doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction you want.  Sometimes, when things don’t happen in our lives exactly the way we planned or on the time frame we imagined, we think all is lost.  However, we ultimately have the knowledge of the way life is meant to unfold and while it doesn’t always meet our conscious expectations, if you listen to your heart and soul, the path you are on will not fail you.

Set-backs on your path are there to teach you something.  The sooner you learn from these trials the sooner you can get back on track to fulfilling your purpose.  As you explore your purpose, don’t be afraid to let it evolve and change.

Within each of us is a deep understanding of our values and through allowing our conscious minds to uncover these values, we can apply our personal strengths and abilities to create our purpose, our goals, our legacy.  Through this process we become the author of our destiny.  Every choice you make is a part of your life story but your story progresses in any way you choose.  Whatever you want with all of your heart, you can make happen.


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Using a Yoga Block

Written By: Margaret Wish

Yoga BlocksDo you use a yoga block in your practice? Personally, I always grab a block for every practice because you never know if and when you may need one. Some days my body will be fully open, other days I may be tight and need a little support.

When I first started my yoga practice, I didn’t realize the importance of using this prop. I thought that since I had a dancer background that yoga would be no problem for me, and that I would be able to do everything with ease. That was my ego talking. Once I became more serious about my practice, I realized that having a block is not a sign of weakness, but rather acknowledging that it is okay to need help and support.

Lately, I have learned several different ways that you can use your yoga block, and I thought it would be fun to share that with you! Here are 2 of my favorite ways that you can use your yoga block to improve your yoga practice:

1) Feeling Grounded
If you have used a yoga block during your practice, you probably already understand this tip! The yoga block has three ‘settings’: high, medium, and low. These ‘settings’ simply mean the way in which you are holding the block.

As you start your practice, you may need to use the high setting in your extended side angle or triangle pose until you are able to slowly move your hand to the floor. The block brings the ground to you, and can bring ease into a posture that would otherwise be uncomfortable.

2) Improving Technique
Alignment is key in your yoga practice, and your block can help you better understand how to properly hold your arms and legs.

Here is a great way to learn and practice engaging your shoulders in downward facing dog:

Holding the block long ways in your hand, press your hands into the side of the block while trying to make your pinkies touch. You should feel an internal rotation in your arms, similar to being in downward facing dog. Next, try holding downward facing dog and applying this technique to the posture. Do you feel the difference?

Next time you step onto your mat, don’t be afraid to grab your yoga block and use it to further your practice.


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Mountain Bubbles & Tummy Time

Written By: Laura Brownphoto

Pause and breathe.

I have to tell myself this all the time with my 3 young kids. I am trying to teach my children that people do not make good choices when they are stressed and not self-regulating.

How often do you make it through the day in a calm state?

Let’s keep it real…

Not often.

Being able to self-regulate throughout the day is quite tough, especially for children. As parents, we have to be good role models, and give them tools to better self-regulate.  One great tool is to teach children to take deep breaths.

Bubble Mountain is a super fun way to do this. Making bubbles grow and grow by taking deep breaths in and then blowing out is so much fun for kids. Deep breaths are also a great way to help with self-regulating. Taking deep breaths before sitting for long periods of time, before doing homework, or to improve your mood can be very beneficial.

Another great way to help with self-regulation is as easy as laying on your stomach, in prone position on your elbows. In this position, you engage the shoulder and back muscles, which then activates the brain stem, which can help you to self-regulate. This is one of the reasons that tummy time is so important in infancy. Babies need to be on their tummies often in order to properly develop. This is also why crawling is so important to do before walking.

Instead of sitting for coloring, writing, playing games, and reading, do it on your tummy to help improve your day.

This week, try spending more time on your front side instead of your backside.


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The Importance of Sleep

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Written By: Amy Miller

Sleep plays a vital role in your health and well-being throughout your life.  This is the time when we regenerate physically and mentally.

Most of us know that not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on our emotions, reaction to change, and mental acuity.  But sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults need an average of 8 hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as 6 hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for 6 to 8 hours at one time may be reduced, resulting in an increased need for daytime naps.

As many illnesses (anxiety, asthma) and lifestyle choices (drinking alcohol or caffeine) can cause sleep disturbance; if you suffer chronic disturbance, you should consult your doctor.

A night’s sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages, defined by types of brain waves that reflect either lighter or deeper sleep. Toward morning, there is an increase in rapid eye movement (REM), when the body is relaxed and dreaming occurs, and when, researchers have discovered, recent memories may be consolidated in the brain, allowing for maximum brain functioning during waking hours.

Stress is the number 1 cause of short term sleep difficulties.  This can be work or school-related stress, family issues, stress caused by illness or any other mental and emotional stress that impacts your ability to fall asleep easily.  Working or doing other mentally intense activities close to bedtime and make sleep even more elusive.

However, there is a way to break this stress-related insomnia cycle.  Studies have shown that stress management therapies have a greater effect on sleep difficulties than popular sleeping pills.

Think about how easy it is for a baby to fall asleep. We’re born with the instinct to relax and sleep when our bodies or minds need a break. We have evolved to control and suppress these natural urges as we age, since we must remain alert as we attend school, go to work, or care for a family. Mothers are especially familiar with the change in sleep patterns while the children are young; they can awaken with the slightest sigh or whimper from their babies.

The problem is, after so many years of necessarily suppressing our tiredness, we have impaired our ability to actually “let go” and relax when we do find the time.

Here are my top 5 tips to getting a good night’s rest.

  1. First, you must five yourself permission to sleep. Remember that your ability to function at your best tomorrow is directly related to the quality of your sleep tonight.
  2. Stop ruminating about work or personal problems or tasks. If it helps, make a physical list of issues and projects, so you won’t worry about forgetting or neglecting any responsibilities the next day.  Keep a pen and pad of paper by your bedside to write things down if you wake up in the middle of the night with anything you need to remember to do.
  3. Practice meditation and yoga. Many people find they learn helpful relaxation techniques in addition to the numerous other benefits.
  4. Try visualizing a beautiful or peaceful setting in as much detail as you can.  Perhaps you are lying on the beach with your eyes closed, the warm sun on your skin and the sound of the ocean waves crashing nearby.  This type of imagery technique can help reduce the tendency to dwell on stressful thoughts.
  5. Practice breathing exercises.  Try this one: lie flat on your back (or on your side if you are pregnant or are uncomfortable on your back.  Place one or both hands on your belly and feel in expand as you inhale.  Breathe normally for 7 breaths with an enhanced focus on the movement of the breath through the body. Next, begin to deepen the inhalation, counting to 3 slowly and exhale, counting to 3 again.  Repeat this for 7 breaths.  For the next 7 breaths, inhale for 3, pause for 3 and exhale for 3, pause for 3.  And finally, inhale for 3, pause for 3 and exhale for 6, pause for 3.  Repeat this last exercise until you feel deeply relaxed.

I hope you will find that one or more of these tips will work for you.  Share them with a loved one and help them sleep better too!

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What is Self Myofascial Release and How is it Done?

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Written By: Amy Miller

Also known as Trigger Point Therapy, myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy that can ease chronic muscle pain caused by scar tissue adhesions in muscular (myo) fascia.

Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures but it can become restricted due to disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow. Damaged fascia is a leading cause of chronic pain and decreased flexibility.

A trigger point is a small patch of tightly contracted muscle, which cuts off the blood supply to that part of the muscle resulting in irritation, aching or down-right pain. Trigger points are a key factor in headaches, neck aches, back pain and many other common ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, ear aches, and toothaches.

Almost everyone has a head start in self-diagnosing trigger points, because almost everyone already more or less knows what it’s like to have a muscle knot. If you have ever had muscle stiffness, tried to massage out that annoying spot in your neck or back, then you already have some experience with this — you have trigger points. You have pain and stiffness that feels like it’s in your muscles.

Trigger point therapy has gained popularity among athletes, particularly runners and cyclists, but it is beneficial for even the most sedentary individuals.

There are indirect and direct ways to release myofascial tension and I love both! First, you can indirectly release the tissues by simply stretching, because fascia covers all organs of the body, muscle and fascia cannot be separated. When you stretch a muscle, you stretch the fascia around it, thereby releasing tissues that have become stiff from immobility.

To directly release the fascia, I perform a release technique similar to a deep-tissue massage utilizing tools like a foam roller and a hard ball. Using body weight on these hard surfaces, I locate the trigger points and then pause, placing as much pressure as I can stand on the spot and breathing deeply for 20-30 seconds and visualizing the tight spot melting into the rest of the muscle.

The first couple of weeks of release therapy will be painful. It is important to be diligent and commit to doing it every day for two weeks, because the payoff is well worth it. If you use the foam roller and/or ball every day, within a couple of weeks you will begin to notice not only does the therapy not hurt as much, it will begin to feel good and you will be on the path to feeling great!


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