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A friend of mine recently emailed me saying he was interested in starting to practice yoga but wasn’t sure which style he should pursue.  As you probably already know, there are many different styles of yoga.  It can be overwhelming as a beginner to figure which type will best meet your needs.  Luckily, I don’t really think you need to stress this decision.

Style Seeker

All styles of yoga have the same end goal of focusing & quieting the mind, as well as promoting body and breath awareness.  I primarily practice Vinyasa yoga (sometimes also called Power yoga); it is a style of Hatha yoga.  Bikrim yoga (or hot yoga) is quite popular these days though personally I’m not much of a fan.  Most people I know who get into Bikrim yoga like more of a hardcore workout and are motivated by the challenge and intensity of the heat. Iyengar is a practice that focuses strongly on body alignment.  Ashtanga is a set sequence of poses that you work on at various levels every time you practice.  Kundalini focuses on incorporating breath work and chanting.  Restorative yoga is very passive and super slow moving – fabulous for relaxation and stress reduction.  (This site goes into more detail on some of the different styles.)

Teacher Seeker

My main piece of advice to people just starting yoga is to find a teacher that you like.  And once you do, you will be hooked!  Instructors often incorporate a few different styles into their classes.  But even when a class remains solely one style, the class experience can vary significantly based on the instructor.  Try out a few different teachers and you’ll quickly learn what elements you most appreciate in an instructor and in a practice.

My second piece of advice for people looking to start a yoga practice (which you could somewhat infer from the first piece of advice) is to start by going to an actual class.  I personally love putting on a podcast and practicing at home, but I really don’t recommend that until you’ve spent some time practicing with a good teacher who can make sure you are in safe and proper alignment.  This is so important as you’re learning and will help you develop good habits and avoid injury.

First-timer

When you get to a new class, let the teacher know it’s your first time.  Usually they’ll ask if there’s anything going on with your body that they should know about (injury, etc.).  Don’t hesitate to talk to them about why you’re there and see what individual info or resources they can provide.

Most importantly, don’t worry about doing the poses right!  The whole reason that yoga is referred to as a practice is because it is just that, a continual practice to connect with yourself and your body.  It’s always going to be a little different every day.

Related posts: Eight Limbs | Home Practice Essentials | My Favorite Yoga Podcasts

[posted by Lauren]

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It was incredibly gorgeous when I woke up on Saturday morning so decided to get a cup of coffee and go and spend time in one of my favorite neighborhood spots: the Liz Christy Garden.  This long and narrow community garden runs the length of the avenue on Houston Street between Second Ave. and Bowery St.  Living in Manhattan, it can be easy to feel removed from nature and green space; but this well-loved and beautifully gardened land reminds me that it doesn’t take much to reconnect.  Life lately, along with season, has been in constant duality.  The garden this weekend was a mixture of summer and fall and though we’re not quite fully in either, the days of late have been spectacular.  It’s bonus season and I hope you’re enjoying its spelndor!

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[posted by Lauren]

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I made a pretty delicious summer meal over the weekend, if I don’t say so myself.  It included a Mediterranean farro salad based off of this recipe.  I really love farro for its density and slightly nutty flavor.  Of course quinoa is always a great go-to grain but I think I’m going to keep branching out in my grain exploration.  

After preparing the farro, I added tomatoes, sliced onion, kalamata olives and French feta cheese, which I’m not sure I’d ever had before but really made the salad.  I mixed it all together with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper and voilà!  The salad accompanied baked salmon with a cucumber dill yogurt sauce and a glass of rosé.  Summer never tasted so good!

I think I told you before that I have been going to meditation on Monday nights at a Buddhist center. I have come to find this to be one of my favorite activities throughout the week. I am always eager to hear the topic of the day and excited to listen to whichever teacher speaks. The teacher tonight was the founder of Against the Stream, Noah Levine, and was my favorite so far. The theme was not so specific, but more general in asking why we meditate and what we can expect. It is an always welcome reminder to me not to stop meditating – to keep practicing every day. The reason that we all meditate is to help us cope, deal and detach from suffering. Most people are brought to this practice to lessen pain. For me, it has truly helped lessen a discomfort in life. It has given me a tool that gets me through in a smoother and more peaceful way. These reminders might seem redundant and simple, but they are usually the best ones. Just keep on keeping on with whatever you do to make yourself better. It’s subtle, but it’s working. Trust that.

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(Image found here)

The past couple of Monday nights, I have started to go to a Buddhist meditation center.  Every week they have a different teacher and topic that we discuss after mediation.

This week, there was a Buddhist monk who spoke. She was a really powerful teacher and there are a couple of things that I have thought about since:

The first is that your quality of life is a result of where you put your attention. 

She also told us that the mind repeats 3 patterns:

  • There is something wrong – with me, with you, with the world, etc.
  • There is not enough – money, friendship, kindness, time, energy, etc
  • I need to be doing something – the dishes, becoming famous, make more money, etc

There have been a couple times this week where I have become aware of these patterns. I have also noticed how I seek out things that continue this pattern.

It’s definitely something worth being mindful of.

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(image via here)

There’s a bit of a TMI factor to today’s post but yesterday I watched the video below, “Is The Birth Control Pill Destroying Your Health,” and felt it was worth sharing. I was on birth control pills for several years in my twenties. They never caused me any trouble, that is until I stopped taking them. Without my knowledge my doctor had switched my prescription to a generic brand. I wasn’t aware of the change until I went to pick up it up at the pharmacy. I wasn’t happy about the change and was equally frustrated with the pharmacist who told me it wasn’t a big deal, that they were exactly the same ingredients but this one was $10 cheaper. I’d always considered myself lucky not to have had the various negative side affects birth control medications can cause and would have rather paid the extra $10 to stick with what worked. Nonetheless, I backed down and started the generic pack. Shortly thereafter I broke out in the worst acne along my jaw-line that I’d ever had in my life. I put two and two together, and as I wasn’t in a relationship at that time, decided to go off the pill all together.

The following months were some of the hardest in my life. A deep depression had come over me and I didn’t know why. Sure there were plenty of external life circumstances I think contributed but I also had a vague, nagging sense that it also had to do with going off the pill. I tried to little avail to do online research to support my theory but mostly only found a few similar stories buried deep in online forums. This video (via Healthy Crush) finally provided me a clear answer as to what was likely going on in my body. It’s also chock full of other details related to hormones, birth control pills and other contraception, should you be in the market for such info.

Is The Birth Control Pill Destroying Your Health? from Jenny Sansouci on Vimeo.

I recently took a hormone test to see if I could get any leads on my headaches – but in turn I found out that I have adrenal fatigue. I am pretty sure it is something that most of us have just not everyone is getting tested for it.

Since I got the results back, I have started an adrenal protocol and been trying to take it easy.

Some treatments other than the supplements are:

  • Sleep/rest and nap more often
  • Eat a whole foods based diet
  • Knock out that caffeine addiction
  • Eat within the first hour I am awake and have a light snack before bed.
  • Oh, and laughing a lot.

Let’s be honest, this is not a very daunting set of tasks. I will say however that taking it easy, resting and admitting how freaking tired I am has proven to be challenging. I am trying my best.

If you think you might have adrenal fatigue or want more information on it, check out Dr. Mark Hyman’s site.

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