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.

Transitions

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Written by: Calista Evraets

Zen Body-74One of the things we often talk about in yoga practice is being present. Being present can mean a lot of different things, but lately I’ve noticed that while I don’t have too much difficulty being present with the each individual pose, I tend to ignore the transition from one pose to the next as if they were dead space. I’m in such a hurry to reach the next pose and be present, and I fail to notice the way I get there. Recently, I spent a couple of classes paying special attention to my body during those transitions. What was moving? What was stable? At what moment was the tension on a certain muscle released? Where did I feel the stretch as I moved into that forward fold?

With some exercises and poses, the majority of the muscle growth takes place during the return rather than the holding of the position or pose. I realized I’ve been wasting the potential for growth by rushing through the transitions to get to the next pose. Sometimes taking it slower results in a better physical workout!

Life often mirrors my yoga practice, and the transitions in my practice led me to note the transitions in my life. I’m too frequently guilty of rushing from one thing to the next without noticing the journey. As big life changes come along, I’m looking forward to the next phase, trying to hurry through the transition where I don’t feel that anything is happening. In doing so, I’ve missed the potential for personal growth. So much of life is a transition! How much did I gloss over in my haste to get to a better place?

I challenge you to notice the journey and the transitions, both in yoga and in life outside of your practice! It can be as simple as noting the change in the fall leaves from one work commute to the next, or using that drive time to listen to an audio book or some music that feeds your soul! It could come in the form of looking at how you’ve grown as you wait for that promotion you’re expecting, or for your baby to sleep through the night. What has changed? What has stayed stable? Be present today during your transitions, and see how much you can grow!


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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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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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