Hey all! This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink) about Ana’s and my recent research trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Of course, hubby was there, too! Check it out at
Hey all! This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink) about Ana’s and my recent research trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Of course, hubby was there, too! Check it out at
Hi everyone! Please help me welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate Marcie Leek to the blog today. Marcie is truly amazing, both in the audiences she touches and the innovative ways in which she teaches. Enjoy!
What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?
When I first came to Viniyoga, I was a burned-out (English) teacher taking a sabbatical. In the classes I attended at Whole Life, my chaotic and self-critical mind stilled during class. This was miraculous to me (truly!). I found a peace there I had not found in previous yoga classes. My hunch is that Viniyoga’s focus on the breath, and connection between breath and movement, helped me find a meditative, calm, and (self-)loving side of myself that I hadn’t been able to access before.
How has yoga changed your life?
So many ways! I am so much better at practicing living in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or being fearful about the future. I’m not cured of this, of course, but I often notice when I go there (into my head and/or into my fear), and I even manage to call myself back pretty quickly sometimes. I also have become much better at observing self-care boundaries than I was. I’ve slowed down, and I pause more. I’m nicer to myself in my head. I am more aware of my body and of the connections, positive and negative, between my body and my mind. I’ve also become more courageous about bringing ideas into fruition and putting them out in the world, even though it scares me. I know myself more, and I trust my Self more. And I have made some wonderful friends!
What made you decide to take a yoga teacher training program?
I wanted to help other people find that peaceful place within themselves.
Now that you’ve graduated, how are you sharing what you learned?
First, I teach two series classes that aim to bring two very different populations to that peaceful place I have found through yoga. I teach a series and classes called Befriending Your Body through Yoga, in Seattle and now online. It’s a series for plus-size women who want to learn how yoga can help them develop or maintain a self-compassionate relationship between body and mind. I also teach a series called Moving through Grief with Yoga, which teaches people how the tools of yoga can help them as they go through the process of grieving. I am passionate about both of these series and have loved watching them grow! I also teach cancer patients and caregivers for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance the same tools as I teach my other students: self-compassion and how to work with the body, breath, and mind as they navigate a challenging time. I’m so grateful to be able to share yoga with all of these people who might not otherwise know how it can benefit them.
What specific populations do you most enjoy teaching?
I love to teach yoga to anyone who will let me teach them, but I am particularly fond of what I call “tender” populations. This might be the people who come to a particular series, but it also includes newcomers to yoga (especially people who think they can’t do it), expecting mothers, and more.
What would you say to someone who thinks they “can’t” do yoga?
Yes, you can!
How are you different from a “typical” yogi?
Well, I sure don’t fit the physical image most people have of a “typical” yogi – my body is much rounder, and I’m much older than most people I see on the cover of yoga magazines. I was in my late 40s when I graduated my first round of yoga school and 50 when I finished the advanced training.
Where do you teach?
My series (Befriending Your Body through Yoga and Moving through Grief with Yoga) alternate 6-week blocks most quarters of the year, and classes are on Thursday evenings at OmTown Yoga (5500 35th Ave NE in the Ravenna/Bryant neighborhood). I also teach a drop in class at OmTown on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm. Befriending Your Body through Yoga has a Level 2 drop-in class at 7:45 on Tuesdays as well as the Level 1 series on Thursdays. The SCCA classes are limited to residents of the Pete Gross House.
How can people learn more about you?
My website: www.nourishingbreathyoga.com
My NBY Facebook Page: Nourishing Breath Yoga
Marcie Leek is a Seattle-based yoga instructor and is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level. She is also certified in Yoga for Round Bodies. She has found yoga, meditation, and breath work to be powerful tools in her life, and she is inspired to help others do the same. You can learn more about Marcie’s classes at her website, www.nourishingbreathyoga.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s post will be short and sweet. I spent most of last week kicking off my newest teacher training program and traveling to Cannon Beach, Oregon doing research for my fifth book, tentatively titled Pre-Meditated Murder. (I’m sure that title will change.)
So today, I’ll just introduce you to the twenty-three new students and five assistants that have embarked on this ten-month journey with me. We range in age from early twenties to sixties, experience from relative yoga newcomer to already-certified teachers in other lineages. Some practice Power Yoga, some Hot Yoga, some general Hatha yoga, some are Viniyoga veterans. We have software developers, construction managers, physical therapists, stay-at-home moms, and social workers, among many other professions and avocations. We won’t all teach the same when it’s over, but we all have an interest in deepening our practice, and we are all drawn to the uniqueness of Viniyoga.
I always learn as much or more from my students as they do from me, and I know this year will be no exception. Stay tuned for lessons from the journey. It’s going to be an AWESOME ten months.
PS–Can you spot the guest visitor that came to our first Sunday class?
Please welcome guest blogger Jane Evans to the Whole Life Yoga blog today. Jane is an advocate for overall health and well-being. She writes for GO Mammoth Pilates and Yoga departments and also teaches classes across London. Tell us, Jane, what are some of the benefits of practicing yoga?
Practicing Yoga has many incredible benefits, not only is it an intense workout for your whole body developing strength and muscle tone it also increases mental concentration combined with spiritual awareness. All of the above help to enhance lifestyle because you can apply the principles of Yoga to practically every activity you do day to day. Of course, there are plenty of other superb benefits of Yoga some of which you may not know about. As Yoga has been around for many centuries it’s no surprise that millions of people across the globe enjoy the positive gains and scientists agree that there are so many benefits both mentally and physically from Yoga practice. Here are 13 insane Yoga benefits which certainly give you food for thought!
If you find that you can’t bend or stretch as much as you’d like or perhaps your joints and muscles are stiff then Yoga will help to loosen and strengthen where you need it. For example, bending over and touching your toes might seem like an impossibility but a few months of Yoga practice and you’ll more than likely be able to bend over and place your palms flat on the floor!
You might think you stand perfectly well and why should you change the way you walk? Yoga will enhance your posture because it encourages you to stand tall and give your body suppleness so will actually improve your stance. This is because Yoga stretches the muscles and elongates them but it also works on the principle of balance so the body works equally on either side. Your posture will change, even subconsciously for the better.
Who needs to go to the gym to strengthen your body when you can practice Yoga and get better results without profuse sweating? Yoga is designed to strengthen every muscle in the body and the various poses must be held for a while which really hones in on muscle training. The more advanced you become with your Yoga, the more complex the poses, so there’s always a new challenge to take on!
Yoga is an intense workout and requires concentration and dedication – the sessions aren’t designed to be easy but the results don’t just bring about body changes, they also go a long way to quiet your mind. This means you can relax quicker and with ease – even sleep better! This is because Yoga works on the nervous system, helping it to relax and focuses on meditation which is an art-form that soothes the mind. There are even specific Yoga poses which can help you to rest when you want to.
While Yoga can relax you when needed it also boosts energy levels because of the breathing technique applied to this workout. It’s all based on how much oxygen you breathe in and Yoga makes you breathe far deeper than you would normally. There’s another reason too, some Yoga poses regulate the cortisol hormone helping to balance energy levels and then again, as Yoga helps you to sleep well you’re bound to feel more energetic the next morning.
Yoga Gives You A Healthier Heart
This is one of the reasons why so many doctors recommend Yoga to heart disease patients because Yoga delivers oxygen to the body’s organs helping them to function better. Yoga also thins the blood because of the poses and this helps to circulate blood all the way round the body and pump the heart. Thinner blood can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Yoga Decreases Water Retention
If you suffer with water retention particularly in your hands, legs and feet you will find that taking up Yoga helps to decrease swelling. This is because of its blood thinning benefits and it helps your body to rid itself of toxins so circulation is improved and unwanted water removed.
Yoga Helps Metabolic Rate
If you have a low metabolism you might be looking to give it a much-needed boost. Taking up Yoga will help you to quicken your metabolic rate which in turn could help you to shed any unwanted weight. This is because Yoga boosts your energy levels which affect how quickly your body converts food and drink – Yoga is an active workout after all!
Yoga Teaches You How To Breathe
Well that sounds ridiculous because of course you know how to breathe – but actually do you know how to breathe properly? Generally, people don’t breathe deeply enough and Yoga teaches incredible techniques which help to increase oxygen levels in the body. This is why it’s often prescribed as a method to use in respiratory conditions. Yoga really does focus on breathing and expands your lung capacity so it’s excellent for asthmatics or other breathing difficulties.
Yoga Boosts Memory
Yoga is one of those exercises that is superb for mental agility because it encourages you to concentrate. It’s fairly simple to explain, Yoga pushes blood flow around the brain so it is very beneficial to the memory area and in studies, participants reported greater recall and improved concentration after just one short Yoga session.
Yoga Reduces Blood Pressure
It does this in a number of ways. Firstly it is a relaxing workout and focuses the mind on poses and meditation so is a great stress-reliever, often stress is the reason behind high blood pressure. If you practice hot Yoga, you will greatly reduce your sodium stores because of the sweat involved, while everyone needs sodium in their diet, too much salt is bad for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Yoga Improves Bone Density
This is why it is often prescribed as an exercise for osteoporosis or osteoarthritis patients. It’s also excellent for arthritis sufferers because it focuses on mobility and strengthening muscles. Yoga can also keep calcium present in the bones and calcium deficiency leads to brittle bones.
Yoga Brings Peace
In today’s busy, anxious world many people find themselves over-stressing the little things in life and forgetting to focus on what’s really important such as friends, family, partner and of course – themselves. Yoga brings inner calm and peace because it is a mindful exercise which teaches meditation and spirituality. Just a few weeks of Yoga practice will help to change how you perceive different situations and also go a long way to help you switch off from anxiety and negative thoughts.
Hey all! This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink) about some of my mystery writer friends and how we use our writing to benefit causes we hold dear. Check it out at
I became interested in methods to build bone health in my early thirties. Not coincidentally, it was the same day my first DEXA scan showed that I already had osteoporosis, likely due to excessively low estrogen levels in spite of estrogen replacement therapy.
I’ve long believed that yoga could safely help build bones, as has my teacher, Gary Kraftsow. It makes sense. After all, yoga is a low impact, weight-bearing exercise that strengthens the muscles supporting the spine, wrist, and hip, which are at particularly high fracture risk in individuals with osteoporosis. Anecdotally, I also know that my own bone density increased from moderate osteoporosis and osteopenia (depending on the bone) to “low normal.” The increases began after I started practicing yoga–in spite of the fact that the doctor took me off of bone-building medication.
Finally, we have some research that backs us up.
The ten-year study done by Dr. Loren M. Fishman—a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine—involved Iyengar postures, but I have every reason to believe Viniyoga (which uses repetition as well as “staying” in poses to build strength) would have results that are as good, if not better.
Study practitioners performed yoga poses for twelve minutes every day (or at least every other day) for ten years. The time period is important: Bone density builds slowly. It can take years to find measurable change. According to a December 21 New York Times article:
“The findings, as reported last month in Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation, showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises.
Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.”
Even more encouraging, there were no fractures or significant injuries among any of the participants in the study—indicating that yoga is a safe activity even for older individuals with significant bone loss. And unlike bone-building drugs, which come with a host of gastrointestinal and other side effects, yoga gives increased strength, better posture and improved mental health.
Go forth and practice! Your body, breath, mind, and bones will thank you!
Yet another research study proves the benefits of meditation. Meditation research is hardly unusual. This study, however, was the first to prove that meditation actually increases brain density—also known as gray matter—in as little as eight weeks!
The study appeared in the January 30th, 2011 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging and was led by senior study author Sara Lazar, who is a Harvard medical school psychology professor. Ms. Lazar and her affiliates at Massachusetts General Hospital took MRI images of study participants two weeks before and after they participated in an eight-week Mind Body Stress Reduction course. They then compared those scans to control group of non-meditators over a similar time period. The meditators self-reported spending an average of twenty-seven minutes per day on mindfulness-based activities during the study.
The results were impressive. Meditators had significant increases in gray matter density in the hippocampus—the portion of the brain associated with learning and memory. They also reported decreases in stress levels compared to the non-meditators. For more information on the study, check out this link at Harvard.edu.
And put that research to the test personally with this simple candle flame meditation.
Well, it’s here virtually, at least. The first audiobook in my Downward Dog Mystery series, Murder Strikes a Pose, is now available! I’ve wanted to put the series on audiobook since I typed the words “the end” on the finished manuscript. I battered and harassed and cajoled and pleaded with my agent, but she wasn’t able to sell the series to Audible.
So I took matters into my own hands and self published.
ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) made it, not easy, but definitely doable for a newbie like me. I auditioned several narrators, found Anne James, who matched my vision of Kate’s voice and spunk perfectly, and we got to work.
Six months later, I have a product that I’m ecstatic about. I hope you will be too.
PS—I have three free copies that I’d like to give to the first three readers who agree to listen to the book and give an honest review on Audible no later than September 30. If you’re interested, e-mail me at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.
PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available! Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.
Thanks for reading!
Please welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate and instructor Julie Miller to the Whole Life blog today. Julie can be reached at email@example.com. Julie, I know you teach classes on Yoga Nidra and the Chakras. Can you tell us a little about the chakra system?
No matter what you may think of Donald Trump you will likely agree that lack of self-confidence is not an area where he struggles. Third chakra in overdrive! Cookie Monster’s addiction may be driven by second chakra issues (especially if the desire is emotionally driven), and one could consider the Dalai Lama’s immense capability for compassion as coming from an open fourth chakra. That said, there are no “good” or “bad” chakras. No one is better or more important than the others. When they are balanced, all work together to support good health in mind, body, and spirit. When they are out of balance, behavior or energy can swing to extremes, i.e. an out of balance fourth chakra might look like someone who can’t act without seeking approval from others first or the opposite extreme of being very guarded and untrusting.
To back up a bit and give a quick introduction to the chakras, they are centers of energy in the body –places where pathways of energy, called nadis, converge. These nadis often overlap with the energy meridians diagramed and used in Chinese Medicine. While you are probably most familiar with the seven chakras that run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, there are other chakras in the body as well particularly on the palms of the hands (engaged for energy healing) and soles of the feet (absorbing healing energy from the earth). Yoga is just one of the many ways to work with bringing the chakras into balance. Mediation, chanting, color, sound, scent, foods, and crystals are other popular ways to clear, balance, and activate your energy centers. The ordering and synthesis of the chakras has been compared to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or an elevator from which one gains a wider perspective with each level. Just like with the elevator, it is important to have a strong foundation and stability in the lower levels before moving in to the top floor. Let’s take a quick tour of the seven main chakras that run up the spine.
1st Chakra – Muladara (Root Support). Located at the base of your spine, this is where you ground yourself. Working with this chakra means looking at what makes you feel safe, secure, and centered. It can also mean taking a look at ancestral patterns, these might be inherited habits or tendencies that may have made sense in another time or generation but do not serve your highest good. Practices: walk barefoot, surrender in child’s pose.
2nd Chakra – Svadisthana (Sweetness-also thought of as one’s own base). Located just below your navel, this is where you awaken to pleasure. It is associated with the element water and all that water often symbolizes: emotions, movement, and sexuality. Practices: dancing, journaling, or any other form of art that that allows you to express your emotions.
3rd Chakra – Manipura (Lustrous Gem). Located at the solar plexus, here is where our light shines through. The qualities of this chakra are courage, self-confidence, personal power, and will. The element of fire associated with this chakra is the element of transformation. Focused intention here can help you to get motivated and transform old habits. Practices: candle meditation, twists with the intention to release can be very powerful.
4th Chakra – Anahata (Unstruck, as in the unstruck sound of the sound of the Universe). Located in the center of the chest. The energy of the heart center is that of compassion, tenderness, and unconditional love. Practices: heart opening poses like bridge or warrior 1, especially with hands starting at the heart, loving kindness meditation.
5th Chakra- Vishuddha (Purification). Located at the throat, opening this center clears the way for self-expression, communication, and speaking your truth. As we move into the upper chakras the practices become less physical and more inward focused. Practices: chanting your favorite mantra or kirtan.
6th Chakra- Ajna (Perception). Located between the eyebrows, often called the third eye. The association here is with the mind, imagination, and intuition. This chakra can be utilized to help to visualize your best life path. Practice: one of the best practices to access this chakra is Yoga Nidra.
7th Chakra- Sahasrara (Thousandfold). Located at the crown of the head and symbolized by the 1,000 petaled lotus flower that connects us to our highest self. Opening the crown chakra leads to a path of recognizing the wonders of the Universe and our connection to all living beings. It is the chakra of community. Practices: silent meditation or prayer.
A great way to begin is to start with a grounding practice engaging the root chakra and then working with whichever of the chakras may feel a little out of balance. There are many great resources online included guided mediations or suggestion on colors, foods or scents. Be gentle with yourself and know that it is an ongoing process, like the practice of yoga, working with chakras can be a tool for cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, and a general sense of increased well-being.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.
Hey all! This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink) about an event I recently attended called DogFest! Check out the photos of some of my newest four-legged fans.