Going on our first yoga retreat to Yogaville, VA last year was a major turning point in our lives. These are truly transformative experiences and we believe that anyone who enjoys a lifestyle of health and wellness can greatly benefit from a retreat, whether local, or further away.
Here Are 10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat:
1. You'll take your yoga to the next level. Practicing yoga regularly can be challenging if you have a busy schedule. But when you’re on a retreat, chances are you’ll have 2 classes offered a day, which will ensure your progress and you will see the positive effects more quickly.
2. You'll get a new perspective. Going to a new place creates an opportunity to see the world, and yourself, in a new light. Experiencing the unknown is an accelerated way to grow and learn.
3. You'll *actually* meditate. When you have extended free time, it’s a lot easier to meditate. No cell phone buzzing or boss reminding you about deadlines. On retreats, it feels a lot more natural to breathe deeply and be present in the moment.
4. You'll detox digitally. One of our favorite things about a retreat is shutting off the technology. While lots of resorts have wifi, you don’t feel the need to constantly tweet, text, update facebook or call friends. It feels good to unplug.
5. You'll relax and de-stress. Sometimes we have to be far from home to give ourselves the permission to truly relax. Being on a retreat allows you to listen to your body, rest when you need it, and be free from stress.
6. You'll eat well without having to do all the work. If your retreat is all inclusive, you get three healthy and delicious meals a day without the need to find recipes, go grocery shopping, prepare the food, or clean up. Getting the nutrition you need has never been easier. All the work is done for you.
7. You'll replace old habits. The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new healthy one. When you get out of your regular routine for a week, you can replace unhealthy habits with conscious new behaviors that support you in being your best self.
8. You'll make new friends. Undeniably, you will meet individuals with similar interests. Even if you go alone, you have a chance to make friends with people from around the world who you might know for the rest of your life.
9. You'll appreciate home. While a few days or a week in paradise is always nice, we often come home with a refreshed appreciation for life. You feel happier, healthier, and re-energized to jump back into your routine with new vigor. Heck, it might even feel fun!
10. Because you deserve it! Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” While this quote might be on your refrigerator, chances are you make excuses about why you can’t YET. Often times the excuses are about money, time or circumstances but guess what, you deserve a break. You work hard for a reason and you can always find reasons why you should or should not do something. The key to happiness is deciding what you really want and (as Marisa says) “making it happen”. No excuses. You deserve to invest in yourself!
11. BONUS: Our one-day retreat at Blueberry Gardens is booked for September 29, 2018. We’d love for you to join us! This retreat is specifically designed to help you experience bliss and all of the 10 delightful benefits listed above. With yoga for all levels, body treatments, goal-setting, a delicious lunch, and plenty of time to relax, this retreat will be a dream come true.
"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices
“At this moment, you are seamlessly flowing with the cosmos. There is no difference between your breathing and the breathing of the rainforest, between your bloodstream and the world’s rivers, between your bones and the chalk cliffs of Dover.”
― Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life
“The Tantric sages tell us that our in-breath and out-breath actually mirror the divine creative gesture. With the inhalation, we draw into our own center, our own being. With the exhalation, we expand outward into the world.”
― Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga
What is Pranayama and why is it important?
Pranayama is a Sanskrit term referring to the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises. Prana means energy or life force, while yama means to control. Ayama means to set free. Therefore, pranayama can both control your life force energy and set it free. Pranayama is a freeing of the breath and of the spirit. What sets yoga apart from other forms of physical exercise is its emphasis on the breath. Without the breath, there is no yoga. In fact, breath control, or pranayama, is the fourth of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga.
Pranayama can reduce stress, improve our health and improve our quality of life. Scientific research is showing that mindful breathing—paying attention to your breath and learning how to manipulate it—is one of the most effective ways to lower everyday stress levels and improve a variety of health factors ranging from mood to metabolism.
Manipulating the breath can alter how we feel, accounting for as much as a 40 percent variance in feelings of anger, fear, joy, and sadness, according to findings in the journal Cognition & Emotion. Yogic breathing practices increase levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat tissue that signals the brain to inhibit hunger, according to research from Shirley Telles, PhD, director of the Patanjali Research Foundation in Haridwar. A cardiologist at the University of Pavia, Italy, a group of mountaineers who practiced slow breathing an hour a day for two years before attempting to climb Mount Everest to a group who didn’t. The breathing group reached the summit without needing the supplemental oxygen the other group did, and their blood and exhalation samples showed they were using 70 percent of the surface area of their lungs, an amount that maximizes the O2 taken in.
Just one session of relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, and chanting influenced the expression of genes in both short-term and long-term practitioners, according to a Harvard study. Blood samples taken before and after the breathing practices indicated a post-practice increase in genetic material involved in improving metabolism and a suppression of genetic pathways linked with inflammation. Since chronic inflammation has also been associated with such deadly diseases as Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer, and heart disease, it’s probably fair to say that better breathing may not only change your life but may also save it.
How does it work? Basic breath physiology
The autonomic nervous system governs the body’s sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-restore) responses, regulating heart rate, respiration, and digestion up or down as necessary in response to potential threats. Breath changes in response to emotion: You’ve probably observed in yourself, when you feel panicky and anxious, your breath becomes shallow and rapid. We now know from a number of studies that actively changing the breath rate can actually change autonomic function and mood state.
With each breath, millions of sensory receptors in the respiratory system send signals via the vagus nerve to the brainstem. Fast breathing pings the brain at a higher rate, triggering it to activate the sympathetic nervous system, turning up stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, sweat production, and anxiety. On the other hand, slowing your breathing induces the parasympathetic response, dialing down all of the above as it turns up relaxation, calm, and mental clarity.
Sit up tall. Begin by noticing where you already are with your breath. Where do you feel it in your body? Often just becoming aware of your breath tends to slow it down. Breathing through your nose, observe the inhalation and exhalation. Which happens faster? Which is longer? Don’t manipulate them and don’t judge. Just watch. Continue for 2–3 minutes.
If you or your family members ever feel stressed, try this simple “take five breathing” exercise appropriate for all ages (kids and adults too). Trace your hand slowly with your finger while breathing in and out. Breathe in as you trace up starting at your thumb, breathe out as you trace down. Do this for a few minutes and notice how it makes you feel.
Want to practice with a teacher? Join us on Saturdays at 7am for our Meditation Practice or come to any yoga classes at NiMaSte Yoga to learn more.
The ability to bounce back from stress or adversity is important throughout life, especially in our later years. That's when we face many transitions, such as health problems; job, income, and home changes; the loss of loved ones; and isolation or separation from friends, grown children, and grandchildren. How we adjust to these changes helps determine what life will look like moving forward.
The Benefits of Resilience
Coping with stress in a positive way is known as resilience, and it has many health benefits. It's associated with longevity, lower rates of depression, and greater satisfaction with life. Likewise, a lack of resilience means that you may not handle stress well in difficult situations. Chronic stress is associated with harmful health consequences such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion, and heart disease.
Some people are born resilient, like a child who falls down and hops right back up without crying. If that's not you, take heart: resilience is a skill that you can learn and improve upon every day.
Meditate. Practicing a meditation technique counters stress by eliciting the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. Enhance the response with yoga!
Reframe your situation. See the upside rather than the downside of a problem. For example, if you're sad that your grown child isn't communicating as often as you'd like, try instead to be proud and happy that you raised your child to become an independent adult.
Lean on your social network. Friends and family are important stress buffers. Sometimes all you need is a chat with a friend over a cup of tea to make things better!
Cultivate positive thinking. When you're stressed, it's easy to think about what's wrong. Think about 3 things that are going well instead.
Laugh more. Laughing can decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system. Try watching a funny movie, reading a funny book, or even forcing yourself to laugh. We took a class on “Laughter Yoga” at Yogaville in Virginia!
Be optimistic. Think of a positive outcome, not a negative one. Consider an upcoming situation, and visualize the positive qualities you want to bring to it.
Make It A Habit
Work on one or several of these resilience-boosting skills every day. The more you practice them, the better you'll become at dealing with stress. Good Luck!
THE ABC’S OF SANSKRIT NAMES
When we come to a yoga class, sometimes the instructor uses the traditional Sanskrit names for each of the poses. “Asana” means pose, so you can take those letters off the end of each word to break down the letters that come before it. Here is a guide to 25 of the more common poses:
We started selling doTERRA essential oils in Spring, 2017. We chose doTERRA since the company uses rigorous testing for standards of purity and potency. They source from growers around the world to get the best compound possible. They are a little more expensive than some other oil brands, but they are 100% pure, while others are not. If you want the best experience possible, doTERRA is the way to go.
There are three main ways you can use essential oils: aromatic (diffused in the air or inhaled), internal (certain oils only**), and topical (put on skin using coconut oil as a base). Here are some of the oils we carry:
We offer free one hour essential oil workshops every other month. You come away with more knowledge about the oils, and a small sample to take home. Our September workshop focused on a healthy immune system for the Winter. OnGuard and Breathe were the featured oils. Come to our Retreat on October 14th to get a personalized aromatouch treatment by our doTERRA representative, or look for an upcoming workshop in November. Happy Oiling!
How often do you lie awake at night? Ease into a restful night with a yoga practice focused on deep breathing to calm your mind and release physical tension. This combination of breath and movement activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract stress. Use a block or pillow under your forehead in several of these poses to encourage deeper relaxation.
In 10 Minutes:
In 20 minutes, do poses above, then add:
In 30 minutes, do everything above, then add:
Enjoy Marisa’s playlist designed to keep you motivated to practice yoga throughout the warm summer months, enjoying sounds from Latin America, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. End with relaxation to some meditative music.
It’s never too early or too late to start yoga! From Prenatal Yoga, to Yoga for Teens, we’ve got yoga for everyone in your family at NiMaSte Yoga!
Prenatal Flow Yoga is a yoga practice uniquely designed for pregnancy that can help support moms-to-be emotionally and physically. No prior yoga experience required. Please consult your physician or midwife prior to class participation.
Baby and Me Yoga/Postnatal Yoga combines baby yoga and massage with yoga for you! Please check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program; usually waiting 6-8 weeks postpartum.
Tot and Me Yoga is yoga for ages 17 months to 3 years with rhymes, songs, games, and yoga poses geared toward their development. An adult must participate with the child but no yoga experience is required.
Playtime Flow Yoga (All Levels) is a yoga class for you and your children are welcome to play, read, sleep, watch something, or maybe even join in the yoga!
Family Yoga is a workshop for families and children ages 3-10 to play yoga games, explore yoga breathing, and do fun yoga poses. No yoga experience necessary.
Tween (ages 7-11) Yoga and Teen (ages 12-16) Yoga will combine creative and playful functional movement with mind-body practices that reduce stress. Learn traditional poses, yoga games, and breathing exercises to calm the mind.
Move, Be Create is a summer camp (July 10-14 from 1-4pm) for children ages 6-10. Have a fun, creative, educational, and enriching experience doing yoga movement, mindfulness activities, relaxation, yoga games, and arts & crafts.
Zen for Men is a welcoming yoga class for men of all fitness levels designed to strengthen, stretch, and balance the entire body.
If you have ever taken Claire’s Candlelight Flow class, you have been treated to an experience that simply melts your stress away. Light some candles and play this playlist to guide your home practice after a long day.
Claire’s Candlelight Flow Playlist
Do you ever wish you could recreate the feeling of being in a yoga class when you are doing your home practice? In addition to incorporating some sequences you learned in class into your practice, you can also try a yoga playlist from some of your favorite teachers.
If you took Nicole’s class the week of Spring Break, you likely were transported to the Caribbean, North Africa, South America and even the Jersey Shore for a uniquely NiMaSte “staycation”. Travel the world with her playlist:
The Namaste From NiMaSte Blog is written by the Nimaste Yoga staff.