ERICA BLITZ

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    Happy + Healthy During The Holiday Season

    It's that time of year when schedules get hectic with working long hours, eating on-the-go, and getting little sleep. There's the robust urge to nibble on sweet treats while we dash around from one holiday party to the next raising our glasses to toast the merriment of the season. Operating at full-speed aiming to complete the workload of one year before we head into the next – and have fun along the way – our stress levels often elevate and it's not uncommon to hear an echo of sniffles and coughs. While not always the case, many people report that winter afflictions (feeling tired, sore throat, congestion) creep up in times of stress, when they're pushing themselves too hard. 

    In addition to a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper rest and washing your hands, better your chances of staying healthy this holiday season by nourishing your body and mind with yoga. For thousands of years, yoga has not only helped to ward off seasonal colds but it has also helped yogis to achieve optimum levels of health and vitality. When yoga postures are practiced mindfully they help to strengthen the immune system by lowering stress hormones that compromise the immune system, stimulate the thymus gland (which plays an important role in the development of the immune system), and promote deep relaxation (during times of complete rest the immune system is able to work to destroy foreign bodies and bacteria). 

    Yoga creates a physiological and mental response that occurs when the body consciously relaxes. To relax is to rest deeply and this is different from sleep. It is a state where there is no movement, no effort, and the mind is quiet. Muscular tension is reduced, blood pressure becomes balanced,  circulation is improved and the immune system is restored to allow the body an opportunity to heal. 

    The yoga tradition also suggests that compromised immune functioning may result from poor digestion. Improper digestion may lead to the build up of toxins in the body, which in turn may manifests as disease so practicing yoga poses that gently compress, twist, or extend the abdominal area can ease digestive ailments. Not only does yoga bolster the digestive and immune system but it also stimulates the lymphatic system to facilitate the removal toxins from the body and bring oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function. 

    While yoga postures support the immune, digestion and nervous systems, the benefits of yoga don't stop there. Since both colds and flu stress the respiratory system, the slow controlled breathing techniques (pranayama) often included in yoga classes work to relax the nervous system, help combat stress and  strengthen the lungs and respiratory tract to help clear mucus from the sinuses. 

    Instead of reaching for the Kleenex or NeoCitran this winter, opt for your yoga mat (and your neti pot!) and roll into the New Year feeling restored from the holidays. And if you do succumb to illness, you'll find yoga postures provide just the rest and relaxation you need to get better.

     

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    soft is strong.

    Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will over come what is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.

    - Lao-Tzu

     

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    change.

    "Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they're meant to be."

    ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

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    the universe within.

    So when I look up at the night sky... I know that, yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts... is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up... many people feel small because they're small and the universe is big, but I feel big. Because my atoms came from those stars. There's a level of connectivity.

    ~  Neil deGrasse Tyson

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    rhythm.melody.harmony.

    “The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”

    ~Iyengar

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    time to bloom.

    Spring is on the horizon and it's the time of year that we awaken to the parts of us that have been dormant over these long winter months. Just as nature enters a cycle of renewal, growth and expansion, so too does our capacity to expand the energy within us through our yoga practice. What blooms within you?

    Bow into the seeds of your heart - water them with your breath and the light of your awareness.

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    twist away tension

    The holiday season is a time for celebrating the gifts of life and simply being with loved ones. However, the holidays can also be a time of year where stress and anxiety are heightened.  Whether shopping for gifts, travelling, finances or even dealing with uncomfortable family situations, as much as the holidays can be joyful, they can also be quite draining. In the current swirl of commercial and social pressures, it's easy to forget the meaningfulness of the season when holiday stress leads to impatience, feeling tired and being overwhelmed.

    It's also the time of year where there's a tendency to put our own health and wellness on the backburner until the holiday season is through. We shove the gym bags and yoga mats into a corner and instead parade from one holiday party to the next succumbing to the temptation to (over!?) indulge in holiday beverages and sweet treats along the way. By the time December 31st rolls around we're well ready for those New Year's resolutions (you know, the ones that are lucky if they make it past January 17th ) and reversing the tide of over-consumption.

    In the hopes of a healthy and happy holiday season, consider taking time out for yourself and listen to what your body needs. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to relax and, fortunately, yoga offers the perfect remedy with techniques to ease your holiday worries and energize the body. It also teaches you to stay calm in challenging situations, while also fostering a sense of happiness and harmony. 

    While yoga has a strong effect on the physical body, it has an even stronger effect on regulating the emotions and subtle energies of the body. The meditative and mindfulness practices of yoga are excellent tools to bring awareness to our emotional states to help conquer holiday stress. Yoga also teaches us to look inside and to focus less on the material things and more on what truly makes us happy.  Roll out your yoga mat, take a deep breath, flow through a Sun Salutation or have a seat for meditation. Guaranteed you will leave your mat feeling more relaxed and energized.

    Namaste!

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    great.full.

    "The ideal purpose of your life is that you are grateful—great and full—that you are alive, and you enjoy it ."

    ~ Yogi Bhajan

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    be still and wait.

    When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
    When doubt no longer exists for you then go forward with courage.
    So long as mists envelop you, be still;
    Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
    -as it surely will. Then act with courage.


    ~ Chief White Eagle

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    1.15. Drsanusravika Visaya Vitrsnasya Vasikara Smjna Vairagyam 

    1.15. Drsanusravika Visaya Vitrsnasya Vasikara Smjna Vairagyam 

    “At the highest level there is an absence of any cravings, either for the fulfillment of the senses or for extraordinary experiences.”

    ~  Desikachar 

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    you.