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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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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Quick Daily Detoxing – Dry Brushing

Dry Brush ImageWritten By: Amy Miller

Dry brushing stimulates the organs of detoxification to function more efficiently, which has a myriad of benefits for the body:

  1. Dry brushing cleans the lymphatic system. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph.
  2. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cellular renewal.
  3. Dry brushing strengthens the immune system, possibly reducing the duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins.
  4. Dry brushing stimulates the hormone and oil glands, thus helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency.
  5. Dry brushing tones the muscles by stimulating the nerve endings, which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even distribution of fat deposits.
  6. Dry brushing stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes! However for most people this vital route of detoxification is operating far below its capacity because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry brushing encourages your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes. By activating the circulation, you also help prevent varicose veins.
  7. Dry brushing increases skin functions. It helps your skin respire by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.
  8. Dry brushing helps reduce cellulite. Improving cellulite is one of the main reasons people look into dry brushing. Toxins are often trapped in the subcutaneous layer of fat cells just beneath the skin, which contributes to cellulite.

Always dry brush your body before you shower because you will want to wash off the impurities from the skin as a result of the brushing action.

Ideally you want to brush from toes to neck because most of the lymph in your body drains to a central area near your collarbone. The entire body should be brushed, but skip the face and scalp.

Use long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction to help drain the lymph back towards your heart.

Note: Stroking away from your heart can put extra pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels, and over time, may lead to ruptured vessels and varicose veins.

Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin and harder pressure on places like the soles of the feet. Avoid sensitive areas like bruises and anywhere the skin is broken. Never brush an area affected by poison oak, poison ivy, or sun burn.

After getting out of the shower, dry off vigorously and massage your skin with pure plant oils such as jojoba, avocado, apricot, almond, sesame, coconut or cocoa butter.

Make sure to properly clean your brush. It is best to tap the brush over a trashcan to shake off the dead skin cells. Additionally, each person should have their own dry brush, just like a toothbrush! Make sure to keep your brush in a dry area away from steam and potential mildew.

How to Dry Brush (Fast and Easy Instructions)

  • Begin with your feet and brush vigorously in circular motions.
  • Continue brushing up your legs.
  • Proceed to your hands and arms.
  • Brush your entire back and abdomen area, shoulders and neck.
  • Use circular counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen.
  • Use light pressure on the breasts and other sensitive areas.
  • Brush upwards on the back and down from the neck.

Share with us your experience with Dry Brushing!

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What is Wellness Coaching?

instructors at zen-99Written By: Amy Miller

As a Certified Wellness Coach I offer an Authentic Wellness Plan specially designed for each individual client. Authentic Wellness utilizes Positive Psychology principles and the StrengthsFinder method to empower you to draw upon your own abilities and strengths to achieve lasting lifestyle changes.

Coaching helps you take action in your life; so after each coaching session you will apply what you have learned and the plan you have developed to create positive change. I will help you focus on the goals you want to achieve and develop strategies to be sure you reach them. Authentic Wellness Coaching helps you gain clarity, focus and support build a life that best matches who you really are.

Your Authentic Wellness Plan encompasses the 8 dimensions of wellness: Physical, Environmental, Financial, Emotional, Social, Intellectual, Behavioral and Spiritual.

Physical wellness involves the condition of a healthy body, good physical health habits, good nutrition and exercise, and obtaining appropriate health care. Some elements of physical wellness include exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and even wearing a seat belt.

Environmental wellness involves being and feeling physically safe in your surroundings. This includes the places where we live, work, and learn as well as our communities, country, and the entire planet. Some elements of environmental wellness include keeping your home and work space free from clutter, avoiding unnecessary and overwhelming noise, and surrounding yourself with things that you love.

Financial wellness involves the ability to have financial resources, meet practical needs, as well as control and knowledge about your personal finances. Some elements of financial wellness include paying your bills on time, having a handle on financial status, and having available credit for unexpected life occurrences.

Social wellness involves having healthy relationships with friends, family, the community, and having an interest in the needs of others around you. Some elements of social wellness include having a network of close friends and family, communicating with a variety of people, and showing compassion or empathy when possible.

Emotional wellness involves the ability to express feelings, enjoy life, adjust to challenges, and deal with the stress that occurs in life. Some elements of emotional wellness include accepting responsibility for your actions, having the ability to laugh at life and yourself, and learning from your mistakes.

Intellectual wellness involves lifelong learning. This includes an application of the knowledge you gain as well as sharing that knowledge with others. Some elements of intellectual wellness include having an interest in learning new things, participating in creative and stimulating activities, and engaging in intellectual discussions.

Behavioral wellness involves participating in activities that provide meaning and purpose in your everyday life. Some elements of behavioral wellness include being happy in your career path, balancing work and leisure time, and participating in activities that are in line with your personal values.

Spiritual wellness involves having meaning and purpose and a sense of balance and peace. 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.

As your coach, I will work with you to develop a lifestyle plan that includes a balance of health habits: adequate sleep, rest, and good nutrition; productivity and exercise; participation in meaningful activity; and connections with people and communities that are supportive.

Authenticity as a quality of being genuine and worthy of belief. You know whether you are behaving in a manner in line with your values and inner being; you cannot hide a disbelief of your own actions and words from others. They will sense your dishonesty and instinctively become distrustful and will pull away from you. Being who you really are is always admirable, even to people who don’t share your values.

When you are true to yourself, you harness the power that lies dormant in the unauthentic being: the power to achieve any dream, to live your highest purpose. When you are not true to yourself, you hide the power and your dreams are inaccessible.

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Getting to Know Jessica Cummings

zen body-12What brought you to yoga?

I was first introduced to yoga as a child. I enjoyed the stretching, but at the time didn’t see it as much more than that. Over a period of years, as my personal Journey of Self expanded, I was reintroduced to yoga as part of a support system in my growing “tool belt.”

After spending some soul-searching time in the Rocky Mountains, I was inspired to embrace Hatha Yoga training at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona. This 5-week intensive program led me to many new layers of what I felt life was truly about. I awoke each morning at 4 a.m. – cleansing, neti-potting, meditating, eating vegan for the first time in my life, taking cold showers and releasing any form of technological support system, comfort food, or glass of wine I had once used to “escape” – and I began to see life much more clearly.

Being cut off from the mainstream to dive into my own personal oasis was truly life changing. As each week passed with others acquiring their 200 hours of yoga and hiking the blissfully charging lands of Sedona, a new Being inside of me began to arise. I learned through this journey of self-surrender that wherever you go, there you are. So here “I AM” – happy, healthy and whole – on my true path of Heart Source.

What is your favorite style of yoga? Why?

My favorite style of yoga is ever changing! After spending several years focusing on the classical yoga practice of Hatha, improving my alignment and flexibility, I began moving into deeper aspects of meditation, raja and mantra yoga. Currently, my highest focus is on Kundalini Yoga, as I have found that through this style of yoga, I have received the most energy at the fastest rate. Kundalini’s ability to shift internal perceptions as your external environment changes with it is like no style of yoga I have ever experienced.

I have found that this is truly a style of yoga that gives back as much as you offer. Yogi Bhajan said, “Let your effort be an offering to your highest self.” Through my time practicing, I have found this to be true. I feel more at peace with all things around me, less reactive and able to manifest my destiny at an increasingly faster rate. With the technology of Kundalini Yoga under my belt, I feel truly prepared for anything that comes my way.

What is one thing that yoga has helped you with?

One thing yoga has helped with is to shift my life “expectation” to the concept that I have a choice! I can choose to “be sad” or be experiencing sadness. I can choose to “be angry” or experiencing anger. I am able to step outside of my emotions and observe them as a witness to self. This has created a much more peaceful and loving environment internally and externally in my life.

I am grateful towards my teacher in Sedona, Shraddha, for sharing the Enneagram with us. As I was able to uncover my personality type through the Enneagram and see “what my ego does,” I was also able to find a gateway through the ego and back to heart center.

How do you integrate yoga into your everyday life?

I integrate yoga through leading by example. I choose daily to allow my practice to influence my lifestyle by choosing to make healthy and conscious decisions. Whether it is through my diet, kindness to others or my personal practice, yoga is a part of my everyday life.

When I go home, my home reflects yoga as I sit peacefully in my mediation room or enjoy the rock, water and fire elements around my house. I keep live plants always growing to remind myself and those around me that life is a gift in the present and when we don’t take care of it, it will cease to exist. Yoga is a constant and forever choice that I am choosing to live by.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to a new student beginning their yoga journey?

When you come up to your wall, you may choose to back up and go the other way, or accelerate and go through it! Throughout our practice of yoga, which is often described as “a life long journey,” we come up against many blocks. These may present themselves as a physical, emotional, energetic or spiritual block; but no matter what type of block, BREATH WILL GET YOU THROUGH! Just remember, it’s usually those breaths right after you want to give up and move out of a pose that the sweetest part begins to reveal itself.

Inhale the tension and Exhale the release – as Theodor Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” Be patient and kind to yourself as your journey to heart is endless.


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5 Foods to Remedy Sore Muscles

Written By: Brandy

You just took your first Yoga class in a long while and you’re feeling amazing… but there are a couple spots that feel a bit sore.  You’re probably thinking, “I really want to get back to another yoga class tomorrow, but I’m in too much pain.”  Never fear, we have your remedies here!

What is muscle soreness exactly and why do we incur such pain?
After any good workout, our body has a build-up of lactic acid in our muscles.  Due to this accumulation of lactic acid, our muscles become irritated and inflamed. You could go to your medicine cabinet and pull out the old pain reliever, but what if there was another way to make that pain a little more manageable? We have researched and compiled a few tasty alternatives that work to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Bluberries1. Blueberries
Blueberries are a super food, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Their super power is in the phytochemical compounds. Research shows that these berries are especially high in anthocyanins. Due to the higher amounts of this compound, the fruit has higher oxygen radical absorption capacity, which aids in controlling free radicals formed from exercise.  So, the next time you are headed to a workout, pop a handful of blueberries in your mouth before and after class.

Cherry

2. Tart Cherries
There are two types of cherries that people consume, sweet and tart. In recent studies, drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before and after a marathon reduces inflammation and pain associated with the strenuous workout.  Similar to blueberries, tart cherries are packed with Phytochemical compounds and antioxidants.  In addition to soothing sore muscles, tart cherries are beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis and back pain.

Ginger Root

 3. Ginger
Try adding a tablespoon of grated ginger to a glass of lemonade. This super root has a long history of providing remedies to many health ailments including inflammation, intestinal issues, morning sickness, seasickness, arthritis, and sore muscles.

Sliced Watermelon

4.  Watermelon
Eat a slice of watermelon an hour before your strenuous workout and you will be sitting pretty…and painless.  Researchers have found that an amino acid called L-citrulline eases muscle soreness 24 hours after your workout.  Watermelon season is right around the corner, so stop by your local farmer’s market and stock up!

Sliced Banana5.  Bananas
Bananas are rich in potassium.  This mineral is a necessity in your body for heart health, digestion, and muscle contraction.  Too little in your diet can lead to many troublesome issues including irregularities in the heart, weakness, fatigue and sore muscles.

The list could go on forever, but we want to encourage you to get back to your workout.  However, this time, try to include some or all of these foods in to your daily routine. What are some foods that you use to help with muscle soreness?

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Men & Yoga – Jonathan W

Margaret & Jonathan - Strike Your Zen2

Written By: Jonathan Wish

I have always been an athlete, and therefore have always had an interest in fitness. However, growing up in the South in the 90s meant that my exposure to fitness activities was sports, and the training for those consisted of bench press, squats, and a lot of running. We may have known about yoga, but it was more likely to be thought of as some sort of California hippie thing to do rather than a serious physical or mental exercise.

I never tried yoga until I was in my late 20s, and my first exposure to it was through P90X. You may or may not consider that real yoga, but it was definitely something new and challenging. After joining a gym and creating my own routine, I made sure to include a regular yoga practice to ensure a well-rounded exercise regimen. I believe that you should design your workouts with real life goals in mind. Sure, a guy may be able to deadlift 500 pounds, but what does that matter if he’s too inflexible to bend over and touch his toes? It didn’t take long for me to realize that yoga was going to be a key part of allowing me to do anything I wanted to do physically, especially in the coming decades.

BindAs a man it could be a little intimidating going into a yoga class. If you haven’t been, you might expect to be the only male there. While it is true that most classes will be made up mostly of women, there are plenty of men who regularly practice with varying degrees of success. You’ll see guys in some classes who can do every pose with seeming ease, and you’ll also see some that struggle to balance in the basic poses. Regardless, it is easy to see the small number of men and think that you wouldn’t belong in a class.

However, there is very little judgment in a yoga class. People fall. They come out of a pose to rest. When this happens, no one looks at them as a failure. We are all there for our own reasons, and we all have our own goals and abilities. This helps to create an empathy for each other that you don’t necessarily get with a bunch of guys doing bicep curls. When you don’t feel that judgment, your fears will evaporate and you’ll be more comfortable no matter who is behind you in downward dog.

Eight AngleWhile the physical aspect of yoga is great, there is more to it than that. Yoga developed out of Eastern religions as a way of attaining peace. People have been practicing yoga in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years, and it could even go all the way back to the Stone Age. Whatever your religious leanings, though, yoga has some important benefits that go past the physical. It helps you live more in the moment, without worrying about the past or the future. You can spend an hour in meditation learning both about your own body and how your mind works. These are lessons that can be taken and applied to every day life that can help to live more fully and happily.

My personal practice has helped me in many ways. I’m much more flexible now, and I can do things that only months ago I thought I’d never come close to doing. As a bigger guy, I never thought I’d be able to balance upside down on my forearms. It took a few weeks of practice and a lot of falling, but now I can do that along with other types of balance poses. While I don’t have any particularly favorite poses, I love pushing myself. It has been a reminder that what I think of as my limits and what are actually my limits are not the same.

I would definitely recommend everyone try a class. Don’t let your preconceptions stop you. You may use it as part of a fitness routine, or it may be a mental health exercise. Either way, there are many benefits, and what is the worst that could happen?

– Jonathan W