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Water and Rock Studio Opens Studio in Burlington, VT!

Water and Rock Studio Opens Studio in Burlington, VT!

Japheth and I are really excited to announce the grand opening of our third Water and Rock Studio location, this time in Burlington, Vermont! After four and a half years of growing our studios in Chestnut Hill, PA, and Glenside, PA, we are expanding our business to bring our cutting edge health, fitness and wellness services to the residents and visitors of Burlington, Charlotte, Colchester, Essex, Essex Junction, Hinesburg, Jericho, Richmond, Shelburne, South Burlington, St. George, Williston, and Wonooski, VT. Our new studio opened November 1, 2017, and is located in the heart of downtown Burlington, Vermont’s largest city which borders Lake Champlain. Situated just a few blocks from Lake Champlain on one side, and two blocks from the well known Church St Pedestrian Mall on the other, our studio is the perfect place to come after a day of shopping, before paddle boarding, or maybe after your classes at UVM (located minutes away). Take in the majestic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains while meditating in front of our large windows at the end of a private session.

Located only about 40 minutes from the mountains of Stowe, and with the feel of a beach town due to its proximity to Lake Champlain, the Burlington area is known as a destination spot for those from all over the world, including Canada (Montreal is about 1.5 hours away), and cities such as Boston, New York, and of course Philadelphia.  Come visit this gorgeous and vibrant city and stop in to see us!

Our Burlington, Vermont location will offer the same variety of high quality services that our current Chestnut Hill and Glenside, Pennsylvania locations offer, in a beautiful studio with a character all its own! Water and Rock Studio services include:

-Personal Training

-Health Transformation Consulting

-Yoga and Meditation

-Functional Fitness

-Self Defense and Mixed Martial Arts

-Kids and Teens

-Seniors

-Prenatal/Postnatal

-Virtual/Online Private Sessions and Classes

Visit our website for more about us, our studio, and our services.

We are grateful for this opportunity and are endlessly thankful to all of our friends, family, clients, and community partners for helping make this happen. We are passionate about helping others optimize their mental and physical health and can’t wait to continue our work in Vermont! We hope that you will spread the word and come by to visit!

Water and Rock Studio

Burlington, Vermont Studio

100 Main St
Suite 7 (up the stairs to the left)
Burlington, VT 05401

802-787-1300 (call or text)

-Suzanne, Japheth, Quinn and Xavier

7 Workout Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency

If you’re like most people, finding time to exercise is a challenge. In fact, for many of our clients, it’s such a difficult feat that they become discouraged and just skip it altogether. While exercising essential to health, when it comes to time constraints, it is often one of the first things to be pushed aside. For this reason, and many others, we are big proponents of high intensity functional fitness training. This type of training allows you to get the most out of your workout, and to workout anytime, anywhere, for any amount of time that you are able to. Yes, even 5 minutes. Who really doesn’t have 5 minutes? If you want the most out of your workout, in the shortest amount of time possible, read on.


7 Workout Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency

  1. Do Not Always Rely on Equipment. We talked about the relative inefficiency of machines in this post. Reliance on machines is not only unnecessary but can even be detrimental to your overall health and fitness goals. If you’d like to use equipment, we recommend keeping a kettlebell or a couple of dumbbells at home or at work to use. If you don’t have these available, try using something in your environment: laundry detergent, gallon on milk, bag of kitty litter, a large rock, a pet or a child…the list is endless! And if you still don’t have anything available, the beauty of functional fitness is that you can actually do a very effective workout using body weight only. BAM! No more excuses.
  2. Do Whole Body Movements. One common mistake when working out is focusing too much on the large muscle groups: hamstrings, quads, back, etc. But focusing only – or primarily – on these areas can result in imbalances, pain and even injury. We recommend whole body (or compound or multi-joint), functional movements that affect and benefit every large and small muscle group in the body. Learn more about the many benefits of compound/multi-joint movements in this post. Some examples of these include air squats, burpees, and kettle bell swings.
  3. Be Ok with Sweating, and Breathing Hard. If you want the most out of your workout, and in a short amount of time, your workout needs to be high in intensity, you need to sweat, and increase your heart rate. Yes, it can be hard. But remember, it’s only for a short amount of time!
  4. Take Rest. Make sure you’re incorporating rest periods, in both short and long workouts. There are multiple factors influencing the duration and frequency of rest periods; this article breaks it down.
  5. Switch It Up. There’s no reason you can’t have a little fun with your workouts. It’s beneficial both psychologically and physically to vary up your routine and get creative. Vary up the movements, the style (tabata, power interval, etc), and the environment. The more interesting you make it, the more likely you are to want to continue.
  6. Don’t Skip the Stretch. We are big advocates of incorporating yoga into any workout routine, and it’s not unusual for us to add in yoga postures between and after sets. Make sure you take the time to stretch after working out, take several deep breaths with each pose, and allow your body to enjoy it. Don’t think of it as additional time added to your workout, but rather a necessary part of your workout.
  7. Be Kind to Your Body. This is a big one. Listen to your body and honor what it’s feeling. Modify the movements to avoid pain. Modify workouts to accommodate for injury or illness. Read more about why its important to keep moving, even when not feeling well, here.

So there you go. We hope you use these 7 Tips to Maximize Results and Efficiency in your workout routine. Just remember: exercising doesn’t need to be dreaded, it doesn’t have to be laborious, and it definitely doesn’t need to take a long time. If you need help getting started, or just need a little guidance to improve your performance, contact us for a free consult to learn about our personal training, private yoga sessions, or group fitness or yoga classes.

Yoga 101 – What Every Practitioner Needs to Know

Yoga practice…how many times have I said in my classes “it’s not called a practice for nothin’!”. Cliche, yes, but still so true. Yoga is a journey, a practice, and it is endless. The asanas in themselves constantly add new challenges, and just when you think you have that Bakasana (Crow), Urdhva Danurasana (Wheel), or even Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) down, you learn that there are more variations and transitions to work toward. But then there’s the other limbs of yoga…the endless journey to quiet the ego, to calm the mind, to reach samadhi (enlightenment). We use the asanas and pranayama to help get us there, but this is what yoga truly is. And this is why yogis and yogis will tell you, yoga really is for everyone. Yes, even you who can’t touch your toes. Yes, even you who cannot sit still for more than two minutes. Yes, even you who wants none of this “mindstuff”. Yoga is for everyone, and frankly is we all spent more time accepting this and practicing rather than making excuses why we can’t, the world would be a better and more peaceful place.  So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the basics of what everyone should know about yoga.

Yoga 101 – What Every Yoga Practitioner Needs to Know

Whether you’re a beginner or a novice, a man or a woman, an athlete or not, these apply to you. And yes, maybe some of you already know these things…but are you practicing them? I can honestly say that even as an instructor, I sometimes lose sight of some of these, and have to take a moment to revisit them periodically to keep my practice on track. It’s easy for that ego to sneak up on you, or for the mind to judge, or to forget that yoga is a lifestyle, not just an hour a week on the mat. Here are some basic reminders, what would you add?

  1. It’s ok if you can’t touch your toes. It’s also ok if you can.
  2. Even if you can touch your toes, bind in Marichyasana 2, or do full Lotus, that doesn’t make you “better at yoga” than the ones who can’t.
  3. If you care about being “better at yoga” then you need to practice more.
  4. If you don’t have time to meditate each day, then meditate twice each day.
  5. There is nothing easy about yoga. If you think it’ easy, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. If you think you can’t do yoga, seek medical attention immediately. Everyone should be able to breathe.
  7. If you’re sick or injured and think you can’t do yoga, seek medical attention immediately. Everyone should be able to breathe.
  8. If you think yoga is boring or for lazy people, find a style that works for you because everyone is different, and you need to practice better.
  9. If you’re more concerned with your Lululemon gear than the yamas and niyamas you need to re-evaluate your practice.
  10. If you’ve been practicing yoga and you don’t know what the yamas and niyamas are then you need to re-evaluate your practice.
  11. It’s ok to smile. Or even laugh. It’s ok – even encouraged – to enjoy your practice, smile while meditating, laugh at yourself, and not take yourself too seriously.
  12. It’s ok to fall. Whether doing tree pose for the millionth time or trying your first headstand, sometimes you’re bound to fall. No matter how focused you are. And that’s actually ok. Let go of judgment toward yourself, breathe through the frustration, and start again when your mind is more calm.
  13. Yoga is mostly about what happens off the mat, and only a little about what happens on the mat.
  14. Yoga isn’t just done on a yoga mat. Your yoga can be anything, anywhere. Maybe it’s golfing, hiking, cooking or drawing. Finding that mind-body-spirit connection, that calm mind, relaxed body…that what your yoga is. Go find it…and keep practicing!

Personal Training: 8 Steps to Break the Cycle of Self-Sabotage

I would love to say that every client we work with reaches their health and fitness goals and leaves our studio happier and healthier than they could have ever imagined. After all, that’s what we – as the trainers and instructors – want for them, and what we work tirelessly, both in sessions and outside of sessions, to help them achieve. We have developed a unique and foolproof plan to help anyone reach their goals, and we have proven results from lots of clients who have, indeed, reached and even exceeded their goals with us. But the truth is, many clients that we work with quit before they reach their health and fitness goals. Why? Not because they are incapable – because they are all capable. But because they sabotage themselves, in one way or another, and prevent themselves from getting to where they want to be, and from allowing us to help. Some clients even begin the self-sabotage pattern before they begin training. Here we’ll discuss how to know if you’re self-sabotaging, why self-sabotaging happens, and how you can break the cycle in order to make real progress with your goals, whatever they may be.

Most people have sabotaged themselves at some point in their life, whether it was procrastinating on that report in school, missing an important event at work, or eating Ben and Jerry’s after a commitment to go sugar free. We sabotage ourselves when things are hard, or uncomfortable, and even sometimes when things are good. It doesn’t seem to make sense, and we often aren’t even aware that that’s what we’re doing.

It doesn’t make you a failure if you do this, it makes you human. The key is, though, to bring awareness to these patterns and to work toward change.

How to Know if You’re Self-Sabotaging

Personal Training is, well, personal. We get to know our clients really well, and because we’re more objective, we’re often able to see things – patterns – that the client may not see themselves. Here are some ways that we suspect that we’re dealing with self-sabotage:

  • A client with significant health issues signs up for a definitive number of sessions and immediately talks about quitting once those sessions are over.
  • A client who pronounces within 5 minutes of meeting is that they have a pattern of self-sabotage, yet often have not taken any steps to overcome this.
  • A client that misses sessions with various excuses
  • A client that refuses to try parts of our plan; or a client who agrees to our plan but consistently makes same mistakes without concrete attempt to overcome
  • A client that says something to the effect of “I really want to _______, but I will not do ______”. For example “I want to lose weight but I refuse to give up bread” or “I want to lower my blood pressure but I don’t have time to take deep breaths every day”.
  • A client who makes progress, but then quits before reaching his/her goals.

Do any of these things sound familiar? Do you see yourself doing or thinking this way? Self-sabotaging comes from negative self statements and fear. The negative self statements are often things that we tell ourselves subconsciously, that sabotage our efforts. For example “I’m too fat to do that”, “I won’t succeed”, “I’m not worth it”. These statements translate into fear of doing things that are hard. Fear of overcoming all the things that hold us back. Fear of allowing ourselves to do good things for ourselves because it might not last. These statements and feelings can translate into “I’ll never get to my goal so I might as well enjoy this pizza and ice cream” or “I can’t afford personal training anymore” or ” This plan isn’t for me”.

How to Break the Cycle

So if you see this pattern in yourself, or suspect that you may have a tendency to self-sabotage, you’re probably now wondering what you can do about it. We’ll, actually wanting to do something about it is the first step! Here are 8 Steps to Break the Cycle of Self-Sabotage, to move forward with your goals, and to be your best self:

  1. Acknowledge what you’re doing
  2. Dig deep and find that inner voice of negativity. What is it saying? Is there a theme?
  3. Become aware of the feelings and thoughts that arise when you become uncomfortable. The diet gets too hard, the workouts are challenging, your trainer asks questions that make you reflect on negativity from your past: what do you see yourself doing and hear yourself saying in these moments?
  4. Now that you have brought awareness to the negative voices and your behavior patterns, you must work to actively and consciously change these things.
  5. Set small goals – setting goals too big or unrealistic can lead to failure and further negativity toward yourself.
  6. Practice non-judgment and non-harming toward yourself. When you hear the negative voices creeping in, acknowledge them, without judgment, and consciously change them to positive or kind voices. By consciously changing the internal chatter, the subconscious will soon follow.
  7. Enjoy and celebrate in your accomplishments, no matter how small.
  8. Don’t give up. When you feel like giving up, go back to Step 1.

If you find that self-sabotage is something you struggle with, or if you struggle to reach health and fitness goals but aren’t sure why, come see us, we can help! Contact us to schedule your free private consult in-studio or virtually!

Illness or Injury: Why It’s Important to Keep Moving

Illness and injury can put a damper on a health and fitness routine, and can sometimes result in complete loss of motivation. Aside from not feeling well, being sick or injured can be frustrating to say the least, especially if you’re someone who works hard to reach certain goals. But illness and injury are not necessarily good excuses to miss your appointment with your trainer, your daily visit to the gym, or your home yoga practice. In fact, if you stop moving you can actually do more harm than good to your body, and as a result, your mind too.

Benefits of Exercising When Sick or Injured

There are benefits to keeping up with some form of a workout routine when suffering a minor illness or injury.

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  • Sticking to a routine. Maintaining a health routine leads to better success in reaching your goals in the long run. You will be more likely to continue your health and fitness routine once you recover, and will feel less intimidated by the thought of returning. Psychologically and physically, maintaining your routine and schedule is imperative to reaching your health and fitness goals.
  • Post-surgery, exercise can help you heal faster. Obviously this depends on the type of surgery, and workouts will need to be modified, but by keeping the body moving you are increasing your chances of a speedy and healthy recovery.
  • Help relieve pain. While joint pain and inflammatory injuries make you feel like you don’t want to move, ever, exercising can actually improve symptoms and discomfort.
  • Boosts energy. Being sick or injured can deplete your energy levels, causing you to want to remain sedentary, which then makes you more tired…it’s a vicious cycle. Movement can help boost your energy and therefore your ability to recover faster.

When Should You NOT or When Should You STOP?

Obviously if you’re severely sick or injured exercise may not be an option. Additionally, you never want to push your body to the point that your illness or injury is made worse. According to an article by Dr. Mercola, fever, widespread body aches, and vomiting are all good reasons to take it easy. However, if you have a head cold or sinus infection, feel free to keep moving. Likewise, you can speed the healing of minor injuries through movements and stretches, when done the right way. But always listen to your body. High intensity may not be the most effective or beneficial type of exercise when sick or injured, for example. Yoga or lightweight movements may be a better choice. Here are some examples of modified exercises or movements that you can do when sick or injured, being mindful of your body and what your body is going through.

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  • Lightweight or bodyweight exercises, such as thrusters, air squats, or even push-ups can help the body recover, increase energy, and keep fit even during illness and injury. Modify the amount of weight you use and the number of repetitions to avoid fatigue or pain.
  • Different kinds of movements. Using different areas of the body than the areas that are injured is one way to keep moving when injured, without re-traumatizing the body.
  • Plank or modified plank is a safe movement for many illnesses or injuries. Depending on how you’re feeling you can get creative with it, or simply hold it for increasing amounts of time.
  • Yoga. Meditation is great anytime, no matter the illness and no matter the injury. It’s a great way to stay focused, to reduce stress, and to help the body heal through a positive mind and body. Yoga poses can also be extremely beneficial, as some poses are even designed to help certain areas of the body heal from both sickness and injury. Yoga is a wonderful way to keep the body moving, to relieve pain and stress, and to maintain strength and flexibility while recovering.

If you are fortunate enough to have a well-trained, knowledgeable personal trainer or yoga instructor, you are in good hands! Continue your regular routine with them, and they will be able to modify your sessions around the needs of your body. We often encourage clients to come in, even if just for a meditation practice, in order to keep their routine, their motivation, and to uplift their mood during illness or injury. When clients are unable to come in we offer virtual sessions via Skype.

Interested in a free consult to learn about our personal training or private yoga sessions? Contact us to try our online private training or health transformation consulting services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session!

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Why Farm Animal (aka Goat) Yoga?

 

 

When I first tell people about our Farm Animal Yoga classes, most either think it’s “interesting” or “hilarious”. And I agree, it is kind of both.  But yoga has gotten some backlash for all of its trendy new takes on the practice, from BeerYoga to Hot Yoga to yes, Goat Yoga. Yoga, like everything else, has its critics. But is combining yoga, steeped in thousands of years of tradition and methodology, with beer, heat, or animals, taking something away from the practice? In my opinion, it depends on what you consider to be a practice.

Let’s go back for a second to what yoga really is. Beyond the poses, the sweaty arm balances, the lotus on the beach, meditating at sunset awesomeness of what our images of yoga may be. The foundations of the practice; the reason the practice is so hard; the reason for that euphoric “ahhhhh” feeling after an hour of “paying attention” on your mat; the reason so many of us strive to be yogi, and are so eager to hop on any bandwagon that will get us there. Yoga enables us to be our best selves, and to let go of the negativity and toxicity that surrounds us and influences us. Yoga gives us the freedom to be who we are naturally, and to be okay with just being, with presence. Yoga quite simply means to unite mind, body and spirit, and according to the sutras, yoga is the “cessation of the fluctuation of the mindstuff”. In other words, yoga quiets the mind and the ego. Yoga’s yamas and niyamas teach kindness, compassion, truthfulness, nonjudgment, and self-discipline; to relinquish hostility and to live less materially and more cleanly. To honor not only yourself, but the living beings that surround us, and our environment.

Yoga is work, and through this work we help to create a more peaceful and sustaining space for ourselves and a more peaceful and sustaining universe.

Yoga is only in part what happens on the mat; but mostly it’s about what happens off the mat.

With this in mind, does it really matter if yoga is practiced on paddleboards or in a heated room or with animals? Isn’t it still the same practice? If you drink a glass of locally crafted beer before, after, or during your asana practice, does that make it less of a practice? If, while doing downward dog, a goat jumps on your back or you get distracted by a puppy nuzzling your arm, does that take away from living mindfully?  If you’re yoga is playing a round of golf, rock climbing, or ailing your boat, does that make you less of a yogi? I would argue not.

Farm Animal Yoga

Farm Animal Yoga is not only a way to make yoga accessible and fun, and to bring people to the mat that maybe needed a little extra incentive to begin a practice, but it’s also about connecting to animals and nature, a basic human need. I think Goat Yoga has been such a big trend in cities across the country because people are yearning for the excuse to spend time on a beautiful farm, with amazing little creatures, away from the stressors of everyday life. Through our Farm Animal Yoga classes, we hope that people will find a reconnection to – and maybe a newfound love for – outdoors and to animal life. And to find the space to explore the practice of yoga and what that may mean for them. Lastly, we want – and expect – students to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, while also uplifted and happy because of their new animal friends!

I encourage you to make your yoga your practice, whatever that may be. If you love nature, and/or you love animals, or if you’re curious what a farm animal yoga class would be like, for if you’re just into trying new things, you are welcome to our Farm Animal Yoga classes, and we hope you’ll come. New to the practice or seasoned practitioner, all are welcome! We encourage students to stay after to snuggle with the animals and take pictures if they want!

Serving Dresher, Abington, Glenside, Jenkintown, Flourtown, Oreland, Maple Glen, Willow Grove, Mt Airy, Chestnut Hill, East Falls, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, Ambler, Philadelphia, Wyndmoor, Wyncote, Yardlsey, Springfield Township, Blue Bell, North Hills Ft. Washington, Bala Cynwood, Conshohocken, Springhouse, North Wales, Horsham, and all over PA and everywhere else!


Water and Rock Studio Presents: 

Farm Animal Yoga (aka GOAT YOGA)

Goat Yoga is a thing. And we’re doing it! With several adorable baby goats, fun-loving adult goats, and llamas and alpacas looking on, this is a yoga class you’ll never forget. Practice yoga while these cuties nuzzle you, sniff you, and even jump on you in their natural yogi element! Stay and play with animals after! No experience needed. All levels welcome.

Location: Mountain Pride Farm, 869 Woodbine Lane, Quakertown PA
When: Sundays 9-10am

Cost: $30/drop-ins (advanced registration required)

Register today as spots are filling quickly!

 

7 Ways Functional Movements Are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines

As functional fitness has become more and more mainstream, the fitness world – and gyms – have had to evolve to keep up. Research has shown that whole-body, multi-joint movements and high intensity workouts are extremely effective, as we discussed in our previous post.  Still, the appeal of exercise machines such as the elliptical, the stairmaster, and a plethora of other resistance machines, remains for many. Machines are easy, and routine. You can set your pace on the elliptical or treadmill and read a book or zone out listening to music. Some gyms even have movie theatres where you can plop yourself on your elliptical for an hour or so while watching an old favorite on the big screen, and leave feeling like you did a great workout for yourself. Simply said, machines make working out easy.

But working out isn’t supposed to be easy.

If we’re looking for easy, aren’t we missing the point? It’s called “working out” because it’s work. It can be fun, and I’m all about making fitness fun, but it shouldn’t be easy. Working out should, if done effectively, be challenging and stimulating to mind and body. That’s how you reach your optimal health, and your health and fitness goals, not by doing what’s easy or monotonous. Here are 7 Ways Functional Movements are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines:

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  1. Mindfulness. Zoning out isn’t an option when you’re moving and working your body in the most effective ways. In fact, zoning out can lead to stress and injury. Functional fitness requires you to be mindful and to pay attention to your body, the mechanics of the movements, your form and your level of intensity. Being present leads to stress reduction and improved overall physically and mental health.
  2. You can do it anywhere. One of the reasons the functional fitness movement has caught on is because, let’s face it, Americans want convenience. Using free weights, or even better – body weight movements – is convenient. You don’t need to be tied to a gym or a bulky machine to get a great workout. You can literally do functional movements anytime, anywhere. That’s why they’re functional, duh.
  3. They are functional. It’s worth repeating. Functional movements are functional. Thats means they are exercises that translate to everyday activities and movements. With these movements, your body moves in three dimensions, which is how your body moves in daily life. Machines on the other hand, do not. Machines force us to move on the path of machines, rather than on the path of our bodies.
  4. Man making burpees during strength training in gym.More muscles are engaged. Through functional fitness exercises, the whole body is engaged, and more muscles are working to stabilize the weight. Machines on the other hand tend to focus more on larger muscle groups, ignoring some of the other muscles necessary for stabilizing, which can result in injury.
  5. More efficient. Functional fitness is more efficient than working out with machines. A 5-10 minute functional fitness workout can be more beneficial (and yes, burn more calories) even than an hour on an elliptical machine.
  6. They stimulate the mind. Just as functional movements work the whole body, they also work the mind. The mind and body work together to move through the exercises and various movements. Functional fitness workouts are constantly varied and high intensity, making them fun and intellectually stimulating too.
  7. It’s how our bodies were meant to move. We weren’t created to rely on machines to move our bodies. It’s really that simple. Functional fitness allows our bodies to move the way they are supposed to move, and to do movements that keep our bodies functioning optimally, despite our culture of sitting and minimizing movement. It’s a way of allowing our bodies to do what they naturally do best, and we are often surprised by what our bodies can do when given this freedom!

Curious and ready to try Functional Fitness for yourself? Contact us  to try our online functional fitness services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session!

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Self Defense: Getting Comfortable In Uncomfortable Situations

Have you ever taken a self defense class? I’m not talking about the fun girls’ night, gouge the eyeballs, kick ’em in the groin, and laugh at your friends one-time self defense class that often comes to mind. I mean a self defense class, with a well-trained instructor that teaches techniques and skills that can actually be useful in real-life situations? A self defense class that incorporates techniques from some of the most functional and effective martial arts in the world, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga. If you have then you know what I mean when I say these classes teach you to get comfortable with being in uncomfortable situations. And while some of these uncomfortable situations do incite giggles, it’s clear that being uncomfortable is not just for fun, but is a necessity for learning how to defend yourself effectively.

My First Class

I remember when I began learning self defense from Japheth, years ago, in a class with several other women who were also new to self defense. There was a lot of nervous giggling, and I’m not ashamed to say a lot of it came from me. While I enjoyed the kicking and striking parts of class (who doesn’t?) I was nervous and cautious when it came to kicking and striking pads that other women were holding. It felt weird putting all my strength into essentially fighting another person. I eventually overcame this of course, but it took some getting used to. And then came the takedowns and the ground work, and the introduction of a whole new level of discomfort. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a true art form. A powerful combination of cognitive skill, mental manipulation, and physical mastery that is unrivaled. It is a challenge like no other, not just because of the amount of mental and physical energy required, but also the level of discomfort involved. The ability to be okay with straddling a stranger or being straddled by a stranger, often bringing faces, crotches, and/or feet into close contact with various other body parts, does not come naturally for a lot of people. In fact, I’d venture to say that some women and men do not like BJJ – and often do not stick with self defense classes – for this reason. People are not innately comfortable with being put in uncomfortable situations. Psychologically and physically, we choose flight.

So Why Do It?

To answer this question, let’s come back to why you came to a self defense class in the first place. Chances are you want to learn to prevent and defend against an attack. Think of an attack that feels comfortable. Right…there isn’t one.

So when learning to defend yourself from an uncomfortable situation you must face the discomfort, acknowledge it, and overcome it.  It’s survival. 

BJJ gives students the skills necessary to defeat even bigger and stronger opponents, how to get out of inferior positions, and how to instead achieve advantageous positions. What would you do if attacked from behind? Or taken down to the ground with the attacker on top of you? Learning how to move and use your body on the ground, especially while in uncomfortable positions, is necessary in order to be successful in any type of ground encounter.

Submission choke hold

BJJ teaches real life techniques for real life situations. With a skilled and trusted instructor, in a safe environment, you can and will learn to become more comfortable with the thought and the reality of uncomfortable situations. Take it from me – and the other women in that first class that are still my friends years later, despite us sparring each other every Wednesday night – getting through that discomfort is worth it, for you and for your loved ones.

I encourage you to find an ongoing self defense class and learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn more about our self defense classes and contact us to try our online self defense services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.

 

15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

I love starting my day with yoga, and can tell a big shift in my day, and my ability to handle the challenges of my day, when I do. For me, it doesn’t have to be an asana practice, on my mat, with peace and quiet. That’s not realistic in my life, and I’m okay with that! Sometimes my morning yoga practice is a 2-minute meditation during my shower, or a few deep breaths as I’m waking. And on those rare days that I wake before the kids do and have time to pull out my mat, it’s breathing, asana, and meditation. This 15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence is a favorite of mine to flow through when I need a little extra boost in the morning. If you don’t have 15 minutes you can shorten the number of sun salutations, and on the flip side if you have more time, add more! With each posture, take 5-10 deep breaths before moving on to the next.

By the way, here are some of my favorite yoga props and mats to help you explore the poses a little more, and with a little more ease and fun:


15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

  1.  5 Sun Salutations A (Surya Namaskara A). When ready, begin gently flowing through your Sun Salutations. Remember to modify or take breaks as needed. Here is a video of Suzanne demonstrating a basic Sun Salute A:

 

2. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I).  From your last Downward Dog, bring the right foot forward and step it in between your hands. Spin the back heel down to the floor, toes pointing slightly forward. Bend the front knee and you reach the arms up toward the ceiling and lift your gaze. Move to Warrior 3, right side.

 

 

3. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III).  From Warrior 1, Firmly root front foot into the ground and begin shifting your balance onto the front foot, lifting the back leg so that it is parallel to the mat, while simultaneously tilting torso forward, until parallel with mat also (for modified version, only lift leg and lower torso partway). Activate back leg by lengthening leg and flexing the foot, toes pointing down. Try to even the hips so one is not higher than the other. Reach arms to the side for this flying version. Repeat Warrior 1 and Warrior 3 on the other side.

 

4. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II).  From Downward Dog, step right foot in between your hands, spin back heel down, and bend the front knee as you cartwheel the arms up, reaching hands to opposite sides of the room. Root down through both feet evenly, and breathe into the pose as you gently feel the hips and shoulders softening. Move into Half Moon, right side.

 

 

5. Half Moon (Ardha Candrasana). From Warrior 2 right side, plant right hand about 6 inches in front of right foot (use a block to place hand on if the floor seems too far). Begin shifting your weight onto the front hand and foot as you gently lift the back leg, raising it parallel to the floor, and stacking the hips. Activate back leg. Left arm reaches straight toward the ceiling, creating a strong line from the left hand all the way down through the right hand, grounded. Gaze toward the ground or up toward top hand. *Modification: Keep both hands down in front of front foot foot, until you feel stable enough to begin lifting one arm.

 

6. Boat (Navasana). From Downward Dog, step through to seated. Lift legs in front of you, keeping them together, so that you make a “V” with your body. Sit up tall on your sitz bones, lengthening through the spine as you breathe. Reach the arms forward, fingers extended. Legs can be straight, bent, or you can hold the backs of your legs if needed.

 

 

7. Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana). From seated, stretch your legs out onto the mat straight in front of you. Root down into the ground as you lengthen your spine, lifting crown of the head up toward the ceiling. Activate the legs by flexing the feet, toes pointed up and pulling back toward you. Inhale lengthen, exhale fold forward, reaching for the sides of the feet or the backs of the leg. (If hamstrings are tight here, you can use a strap around your feet to assist in the fold!). Continue extending through the spine with each inhale, and melting into the fold on each exhale.

 

8. Butterfly (Badhakonasana). From seated, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together, knees out to the sides. Draw the heels in close and open up the feet like opening a book. Inhale and lengthen the spine, lifting crown of the head toward the ceiling. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold over feet. With each in breath continue to elongate spine, folding a little deeper with each out breath.

 

 

9. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). From your back, bend knees and plant feet hip distance apart, bringing the heels in close (ideally brushing heels with your fingertips). Rooting down into your feet and big toes, lift hips toward ceiling, tucking shoulders under you slightly to open through the chest and collarbone. Keep knees parallel, activating inner thighs as if squeezing a block between them (use a block if you have one, and notice the difference!). Hold for several breaths and then repeat. When done, keep knees bent, step feet a little wider, and windshield-wiper knees from side to side.

 

10. Corpse (Savasana). Lie on your back and take a little rest! Let feet fall open, arms relax by your sides, palms up. Make any little adjustments you need to make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, bring awareness to the breath and relax here for several breaths. Thank your body for all of the amazing things that it does!

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

 

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Spring is just around the corner and with the inconsistency of this year’s winter weather here in Philly, some of the flowers are confused. Daffodils and crocuses have bloomed in our yard, and last year’s chives are already making a reappearance. I can’t help but start to feel a little spring in my step (pun intended) too! So for my kids yoga classes I am beginning to add in some spring-themed poses, activities and discussion. Spring is such an inspiring season for kids yoga, as there are ample opportunities to talk about nature! Gratitude toward the sun and rain, new life beginning, budding flowers, animals reappearing after hiding away all winter. I encourage you to get creative, have fun, and try a little spring yoga with your kids. Learn more about the benefits of yoga for kids here. Here are some of my favorite spring-themed yoga poses and activities that are easy for parents and teachers to try, and hopefully they will inspire you to get creative too!

Spring Theme Ideas

Standing Poses:

  1. Warrior 1 – From Mountain Pose, step the left foot back about 2 feet. Bend front knee. Opening arms up toward the sun, breathe in the fresh air and warmth of the sun’s rays! Switch sides.

    Quinn doing Tree Pose

  2. Tree Pose – From Mountain Pose, bring the left foot onto the lower part of the right leg, with knee bent, out to side. Balance on one foot and use your arms to “make branches”. Imagine that you have roots growing from your feet down into the earth. What kind of tree are you? Repeat other side.
  3. Sun Salutation – For older children you can talk about why we’re thankful for the sun, and why we need the sun. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing tall with hands by your sides. Inhale, Reach up to the sky to say hi to the sun. Reach down to the ground to pat the earth. Deep breath in, step back to snake or cobra pose as you breathe out. Hsssssss. Deep breath in, and exhale to downward dog. Bark like a dog and wag your tail. Few breaths here. I gale jump feet back to hands. Next inhale rise back up to say hi to the sun again. Exhale back to mountain. Here is a great video demonstrating a kids sun salutation by Quinn:

 

Seed to Tree Activity

Quinn doing Child’s Pose, or “Seed”

Begin with a short discussion about seeds ad what they need to grow.

We’re going to be little seeds now who grow into beautiful trees or flowers. Have child(ren) come to Child’s Pose (seeds). Alternately announce the warm sun shining down, then rain (pat their backs with your fingers), then, as they grow, the wind (they can sway in the wind). Each round they grow a little more until they are all the way up to standing, swaying in the breeze and enjoying the warm sun rays. Ask them what flower or tree they are, what color, what smell!

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My kids love this book. No matter how many times we read it, it never gets old. I love using it in my Kids Yoga classes too, especially in the spring. Depending on the age of children you’re working with, a little discussion about new life and how things grow is a great way to introduce this story. When reading, have the children act out the different poses (i.e. Child’s Pose for the seed, inch on bellies for caterpillar) and have the young ones help you count the food. Kids love being a hungry caterpillar, finding “food” all over the room as they wiggle about, and then turning into beautiful flapping butterflies!

Seated/Supine Poses

  1. Quinn and Xavier doing Flower Pose

    Butterfly – Sit up tall, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together. Hold ankles and flap “wings”. Wear “antennae” (using hands for antennae) and fly around smelling the flowers (your feet). What do they smell like? What color are they?

  2. Flower (partner or group) – Sit up tall and press feet into your partner’s feet, or sides of the feet into your neighbor’s. Holding hands, lift legs, keeping them spread wide. Take a few breaths.
  3. Snake – Lie on tummy. Slither and lift head and chest.  Can you move without using your arms and legs?

Dandelion Breath

My kids love finding dandelions, and of course making wishes on them. For this technique all you need is imagination! Have children hold their imaginary dandelions in their hand, make a wish on the inhale and blow the dandelion seeds on the exhale. You can have them practice blowing softly and blowing in short hard bursts. Watch the seeds fly in the wind!

I hope you enjoy doing some of these Kids Yoga Spring-themed ideas, and that it inspires you to create your own as well. Have fun with it, and let me know how you and your kids get creative! Contact us to learn more about our Kids programs and offerings.

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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.