Incorporating Gratitude Into Your Practice

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Incorporating Gratitude Into Your Practice

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to gratitude and thankfulness. Incorporating gratitude into your yoga practice can help bring a feeling of thankfulness to your daily life. Here are three ways to bring gratitude to your practice.

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The Delight of Golden Milk

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The Delight of Golden Milk

Is anyone else feeling under the weather? I've been battling a cold for what feels like forever right now (in actuality, it's been about a week), and the only thing that's giving me life right now is treating myself with homemade golden milk. 

What is golden milk, exactly? It's a warming, healthful beverage made from turmeric that feels both indulgent and comforting.

Golden Milk

Turmeric is a healthful spice that reportedly has anti-inflammatory properties ... and it is, quite frankly, a mood-booster when you're sick because of its vibrant color! So when I'm sick—like I have been this past week—I like to mix up a cup of golden milk.

There are dozens of recipes for golden milk available online, but you really don't need a recipe for this simple drink. Simply heat a cup of milk (I prefer almond, but you can do that or dairy, soy, rice, coconut, whatever is your jam) on the stove and stir in some ground turmeric (bonus points if it's freshly ground!). I think that 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon turmeric is a good amount, but experiment to see what you like best. Add in approximately 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and a pinch of ginger or cinnamon or whatever else you might like for flavor. Consider also stirring in 1 teaspoon or so of coconut oil (more on that in a minute). Stir in a little bit of your favorite sweetener, if desired, and enjoy! Simple, isn't it?

Two things to keep in mind when preparing your golden milk: First, to get the greatest health benefits from turmeric, you should combine it with black pepper. One of the compounds in black pepper increases the absorption of the curcumin in turmeric by up to two hundred percent. 

Second, turmeric is fat-soluble, so make sure that there's some healthy fat involved in your drink somewhere ... which is where the addition of coconut oil comes in! 

Golden milk is not some magical illness-curing beverage, but it's definitely warming and delicious and always comforting when I am under the weather! Do you enjoy drinking golden milk? Any delicious add-ins I should try?


Photo credit: Osha Key on Unsplash

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3 Tips for Conquering the Shorter Days and Getting on Your Mat

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3 Tips for Conquering the Shorter Days and Getting on Your Mat

Our daylight hours have been steadily decreasing—and, with the winter solstice still two months away, the days will get a lot shorter before things improve. The lessening daylight can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels, which may in turn affect your yoga practice. Here are three of my tips for conquering the short daylight hours and getting yourself to class.

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Transitioning Your Practice for Fall

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Transitioning Your Practice for Fall

Fall is officially here! There are so many things to love about fall—the cooling temperatures, the crisp feel of the air, the explosion of color as the leaves change—but it is a season of change, and change can leave us feeling unsettled.

Moreover, according to the Ayurvedic tradition, our Vata doshas become more prominent in the fall season. Vata governs the movement in the body as well as our nervous systems, and so an abundance of Vata—such as we might feel in fall—can leave us feeling unbalanced.

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To combat these sensations of restlessness and unease, it's a good idea to evaluate our habits—including our yoga practices—and make adjustments to take us into the coming season. Here are five tips for transitioning your practice for fall:

Begin your day with sun salutations

Fall brings cooler weather, and so heat-building activities like sun salutations are more than welcome. By starting your day with sun salutations, you're also setting the tone for your day.

Practice pranayama

It's a good idea to practice pranayama all the time, but it's especially important during fall because focusing on our breath can help us feel more steady in our bodies. Consider adding pranayama, such as alternate nostril breathing, to your daily routine this fall.

Practice grounding asanas

Seek out asanas that are grounding yet energizing to help you transition physically into the fall season. Consider incorporating some or all of the following poses into your fall practice: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose). As always, be sure that you have adequately warmed up your body with some sun salutations or jumping jacks before beginning to practice, and, as always, remember to honor your body and its limitations while practicing asanas.

Take a long savasana

Indulging in a long savasana after practice can help stabilize the erratic Vata dosha and help you stay grounded. Consider having a blanket or sweatshirt handy to stay warm, if needed.

Recommit to your practice

Developing routines helps us adjust to change, and recommitting to your yoga practice is a perfect way to develop a healthy routine. Get started with some of the great deals the studio is currently running to help you recommit, like the membership special ($95 for an unlimited, auto-renewing membership), the two months of unlimited yoga for the price of one special, or the renewal special (once you've completed 5 classes in October, email us at info@shawyogadc.com and we'll send you a code to use in November that will grant you 50% off a 3-, 5-, or 10-class pack or 50% off the first month of membership! ClassPassers welcome; only one code per student).

Are you looking forward to fall? How do you plan to transition your practice for fall?


Photo credit: @tirzavandijk

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5 Yoga Poses for Traveling

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5 Yoga Poses for Traveling

No matter where you go or what you do, time spent on vacation can be recharging to your soul ... but it can exact a physical toll on your body. Here are five poses that can help relieve pain associated with traveling in your hips, seat, low back, and shoulders.

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New Blog and Meet Your Founders!

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New Blog and Meet Your Founders!

For our first blog feature, we would like to introduce you to your studio founders, Elizabeth and Parker! Read on to learn more about how they began practicing, what they appreciate most about their practice, and how they came to found the studio that we all know and love.

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It's a Doozy

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It's a Doozy

It’s been a doozy of a couple weeks for Shaw Yoga. Exciting and momentous things are happening on many fronts. Parker is marrying her wonderful partner John next weekend, Ben and I are a month and a little more away from having a baby girl, and we’re very close to a step to make the Shaw Yoga experience more accessible and meaningful for all our beloved yogis (teachers and students alike). More on that excitement very soon!

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The Annoyance Mantra

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The Annoyance Mantra

Well, I have this super silly thing that annoys me. Though “getting annoyed” would be cited by my family members as high on my list of faults, this one was Big.

It was an event, really, and then after happening, it transferred into a reality, a memory, and a possible future menace. I can’t be more specific, unfortunately, but I think you’ll get the gist here without the details of *exactly what happened*.

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I'm No Smarter Than My Cat

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I'm No Smarter Than My Cat

I’m pretty sure my cat has a crush on my dog. Let me explain why this is an interesting conclusion Nunzio is around 10 years old, and epically anti-social. (There was a purple sign denoting “anti-social cats” hanging on his cage in the New Orleans animal shelter in which I found him – the sign really indicated his crate-mate, Bombadil – Nunzio didn’t even register on the social scales. 

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The Slow Creep of Belief

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The Slow Creep of Belief

There’s a quote I’ve encountered in curious frequency, in a curious number of settings. It seems to keep coming back to me. It’s from Marianne Williamson. Maybe you’ve heard it, too.“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 

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Children and Dogs

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Children and Dogs

“Yoga is the attempt to get back to the state that children and dogs exist in naturally.” – Paul Akema, yoga teacher and liver extraordinaire. Recently, I was blessed to spend a weekend with a dog and a child that I know: Dexter, my 10-year old black lab mix, and June, my 7-year old niece. They are symbiotic beings (as you can see from the picture).

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You Had a Bad Day

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You Had a Bad Day

With our thoughts we make the world. Sometimes that yoga truism sounds wonderful. Sometimes we want to sock it in right in the kisser. Sometimes, we have bad days. Yoga is full of ideas like that one: ideas super-simple, that sound great and totally right when you hear them during a blissful moment of a yoga class, yet nevertheless challenging to apply fully to life.

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Yoga's Magic

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Yoga's Magic

Do you remember the first time you did yoga and thought, what is this magic that’s happening? If you continue into a long-term, lifelong yoga journey, and especially if you undertake any kinds of trainings or workshops towards teaching yoga, you’ll likely find yourself searching for the spell behind that magic. What’s its source? How can I recreate it at will?

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Sutras to the Rescue!

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Sutras to the Rescue!

I re-read the first twenty or so Sutras of the Yoga Sutras this morning. The Yoga Sutras are 196 pieces of ancient yoga wisdom, collected around the year 400 by the sage Patanjali. They’re an excellent read, any and all of them; not long, not complicated, not weird – even if you haven’t bought entirely into the notion of yoga as a complete system for living.

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Windy Today!

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Windy Today!

It’s windy today. I’m glad, though my feelings on wind are not simple. We’re entering that transition time again. Good riddance, many will say, to the zipping, nippy, unfriendly, shovel-y winter! But we don’t get spring without paying some penance first. We have to weather that transition from winter to spring, and though I think we might gloss over it in our memories from year to year...

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Simplicity

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Simplicity

When yoga teachers think about how to dedicate the tone of a class, what sort of theme or particular focus to imbue it with, they have lots of choices. Yoga encompasses and nurtures all the virtuous qualities you can imagine. Settling on a dedication can feel as daunting as any of the choices we have in modern urban life, surrounded by tantalizing and mind-boggling options everywhere from the coffee shop, to the lunch spot, to the T.V. program menu.

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New Year's Irresolution

Ahh, here we are. The season of perpetual hope; a new year! 2016. I've always liked even-numbered years better. I've got a good feeling about this one.

So, I didn't set a new year's resolution. I have in years past, and the only one (in 33 years of life) I stuck to was to do one month of CrossFit, two years ago, with my sister-in-law. Certainly the concrete length and buddy system helped me in sticking to it. There's something in that! My CrossFit month was an unforgettable and strange experience. (My brother is a CrossFit instructor, and I have a lot of respect for it, but it isn't my fitness of choice.) I've also made the normal "eat less of this, call this person more, do 10 push ups a day" tangible types of resolutions. But resolutions of the heart, of the spirit, I've never made, or at least not to my memory. But I am reflective as a new calendar year dawns, as many of us can't help being. How wonderful it is!

Today Ben and Dexter and I engaged in one of our favorite activities, a City Hike (as we've termed them). We wound from our house in Bloomingdale, up through Howard University's campus, through Meridian Hill Park, across to Rock Creek Park. We did some more serious hiking there, taking some off-the-path trails. We admired the fitness endeavors of dozens of determined joggers, walkers, bikers, admired the crisp air (is winter weather finally here?), the opportunity to think, pump our legs, talk, and observe Dexter trying to pick up sticks 2 times his size. We twined up a rocky upsweep that led us out by Oak Hill Cemetery, a beautiful, undulating, sprawling, old cemetery boasting famous inhabitants, before depositing us back into the city on the streets of Georgetown. I had never seen the cemetery before; I was surprised. I became a runner in DC, at age 25, and have pounded what I thought were most of the paths and pavements of DC. As we spied the cemetery, I felt younger again, discovering something quaint, beautiful, hidden, new to me. As we emerged past the cemetery onto R Street, through a charming park, I lost my bearings. Many times I've been on R Street, but I'd never come at it from this angle, with this particular set of steps having preceded my entrance. Emerging from the woods into a manicured park, then the comely rowhouses of upper Georgetown, I felt exhilarated. That feeling of being surprised, when you weren't expecting to be surprised, is blissful, and instructive. It reminded me, or taught me, rather, of something not always easy to remember: that we don't know as much as we sometimes think we do.

Perhaps our lives are made up of cycles. Today made me think of certainty and uncertainty, wisdom and naivete, feeling old and feeling new. There are certain times in life that fall indisputably into the category of new: first day at a new school, a new job, in a new relationship, in a new place. And perhaps there are periods of time in life, too, that feel delightfully old: a rendezvous with an old friend, a repetition of a family holiday tradition, a viewing of a favorite movie or rereading of a favorite book, a holding of a familiar yoga pose. And then there are whole sets of times, years, in life that feel more certain or less certain. As I was dazzled by the surprise cemetery and the new perspective on an old place, I realized that I had been in a cycle of certainty, of expectedness, of oldness. I was feeling I knew more than I didn't know; I wasn't expecting to be surprised. Now, I didn't feel this in a conscious way. I had never said it aloud to a friend, to Ben, to myself. But from the combination of the January 1st date and scaling the exhilarating hilltop cemetery from a strange angle, I noticed my sense of stasis, my sense of believing I knew the answers, knew everything around me, and then I watched it evaporate instantly. I was delighted and relieved to discover it. The mysteries of the city, of the country, of the world, the universe, of ourselves, are infinite. This, in its inexactitude, in its visceral nature, is my New Year's Resolution. To encounter life with this freshness, this naivete; this I had once known, and had temporarily forgotten. I want to Remember that every day of life is a mysterious miracle.

Yoga knows this. Yoga is about this. Remember what you once knew: as a child, as a younger iteration of yourself. Everything is beautiful. Nothing is boring. Life is an investigation, a treasure hunt, a parade of wonderment.

  • Elizabeth

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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