Time to Clean that Yoga Mat!

I don’t know about you, but my yoga mat goes everywhere with me! It rolls around in the trunk of my car, I use it in several studios and even outside in the grass so, it gets dirty, not to mention the simple fact that my bare feet are the main point of contact! Besides the daily, quick wipe-downs, I like to give my mats a good scrub a few times a year. So today, I took advantage of a warm, fall day to make them squeaky clean.

How do you clean a yoga mat?
This is a question I often get from students. There are several ways to do this, such as: soaking the mat in a bathtub, manually swishing around in a top loading washing machine, hanging over a shower rod and scrubbing, and the list goes on. I’d like to share the easiest, and fastest, way I’ve found to get the job done!

Take your mat outside and find a fence,
low wall or even a lawn chair and drop your mat over it.
Spray down both sides with a hose until the water that drips off doesn’t look dirty :/

Make a solution of half water/half vinegar in a spray bottle
and spritz generously across your whole mat
(don’t forget to get the portion draping over the top by flipping it around)

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Wipe down with a sponge or a new shower scrubber.
Go up and down and side-to-side along the whole mat
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 Repeat on the other side.

Let the sunshine and fresh air warm and dry your mat.
Your mat will not smell like vinegar once dry, but if you’re worried,
simply hose off after you let the vinegar sit for 10 minutes
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Note: It could take a few hours for your mat to dry. Flip it over once the front surface feels dry to speed up the process.

Even if it feels dry to the touch it may not be. The material absorbs the water quite well, so make sure you have plenty of time for it to dry before your next class. The last thing you want are wet pants after standing up from opening meditation!

TIP: You can also lay your wet mat on the ground, place a towel across the full length of it and then roll them up together in order to squeegee excess water out before hanging it to dry. In the cold, winter months, I hang my mat over my clothesline or laundry drying rack to dry.

Enjoy your fresh mat!

 

Checking in with our Expectations

 

We all struggle with our emotions from time to time, and for some, these difficult emotions can upset the balance of their lives for days, months or even years, robing them of good energy and good fortune. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to control our emotions, but most of the time, it’s our expectations that really effect these emotions. This quote was so powerful the first time I heard it that I had to find it, and read it again and again. Read it a few times, then read it again. Stop and digest what this quote is really saying and think about how you feel about it. The next time you’re feeling out of balance, try checking in with your expectations and see if it makes a difference!

“The emotion you feel is always the vibrational variance between where you want to be and where you are. If you are out of balance, there are only two ways to bring yourself into alignment: Either raise your expectation to match your desire-or lower your desire to match your expectation.”

Excerpted from a workshop in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, July 24th, 2004  – Abraham-Hicks

Back-to-School Tummy Troubles

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The beginning of a new school year can be a rough transition for many kids. Adjusting to new teachers, routines and workloads can take their toll, even on the littlest student. As parents, it’s rough watching our kids suffer, particularly since we remember being the same age, feeling the same way.

Anxiety can show up in children much the same way as in adults. Kids will complain of  tummy troubles, they might even experience vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and insomnia. Every day they might have different symptoms. When the nervous system is taxed, the body responds by trying to get our attention.

Our autonomic nervous system has two parts-the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The better know part, is called the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the”fight or flight” response. The lesser known part, the parasympathetic nervous system, is responsible for keeping the balance of the body systems and is know as the “rest and digest”response.  Stress typically shows up in the weakest part of the body first, often moving around the body or showing up as a different ailment with every episode of anxiety. This can be confusing and frustrating.

I’ve put together a few tips and resources to help you teach some breathing techniques to your child. Breath work is the fasted and easiest way to calm the nervous system. Kids love to know they have a tool or two in their toolbox to use when they find themselves feeling uncomfortable and scared.

  • Identify Sensations-First, try having your child identify the physical unease they feel. See if they can articulate the distress they are having. Don’t ask them why they are feeling this way, simply stay with what they are feeling in their body. They need to be able to recognize the symptoms as they show up. You are teaching them not to be afraid of the sensations and showing them that they have control over their body when they are anxious.
  • Tense and Release– this is systematic way to move through the body to let go of tension and relax the body. Here is a fun video to watch and practice together.
  • Deep Belly Breathing. Sounds easy, but kids need some help differentiating between their upper lungs, where shallow, short breath induces anxiety, and breathing completely with their diaphragm. Showing them how lengthening the exhale will calm them almost immediately will give you a good practice to use in the coming weeks. Many kids have had yoga in school, ask if they can share what breathing exercises they remember and practice those or share this little video with them.

Hang in there, parents! I’ve been there. I hope these little tips are a good start to comforting your child.

I am now offering private sessions focused on breathing techniques for children dealing with anxiety. Please call me to schedule an appointment at 216-501-1465.

Remember, this too shall pass.

 

 

Julie Konrad is not a doctor, just a mom with three kids, who has experience working with hundreds of kids through her yoga teaching and once being a child with clinical anxiety herself. This works!

 

Celebrate Summer Solstice!

Mandala created from stones and flower petals

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Summer arrives in Cleveland, Oh this Sunday, June 21st at 12:39 pm! Plus, it’s Father’s Day a great day to celebrate. Summer Solstice is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is finally warm, my garden is green and budding with fruit and veggies, and it’s a time when being outdoors hiking, kayaking and rock hopping in the river with my family become choice activities.

So, what exactly is Summer Solstice? The word solstice is made up of two Latin words “sol” meaning sun and “sistere” meaning to stand still. Summer Solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere when the Earth’s axis is tilted closest to the sun. It is also the longest day of the year. Even though summer arrives on this day, sometimes you’ll hear it described as midsummer. This is because European farmers considered June 21st midsummer for the growing season. I’ve read many interesting articles about Summer Solstice celebrations including; traditions from the ancient Celts crowning of the Oak King, to ancient Pagans and their midsummer night’s bonfires and love magic, to Wicca’s healing rituals, and of course, Prehistoric Europe’s building of Stonehenge. It’s fascinating! You can find more information about summer solstice celebrations HERE.

Now that you know a little more about The Solstice, go build a bonfire (if you have a safe place to do so) or simply fire-up the grill, cook your favorite foods, gather flowers from your yard to decorate your home or table, and then, sit back and read one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream! It’s a wonderful time to enjoy the season with friends and family!

Activities for Kids

1) Make a nature mandala

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2) Go out on a nature walk/hike and find treasures to display at home, light a few candles and have each member of the family say what they would like to do together this summer.

3) Make Paper Lanterns

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4) Fairy Glow Jars

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5) Practice 108 Sun Salutes!

Happy Solstice! Enjoy the Light!

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. -Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism

Have We Become Too Mindful About What We Eat?

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I used to enjoy eating. It was virtually effortless: open fridge, grab food, take a bite. Nowadays, every time I open my refrigerator or pantry, a loud internal debate ensues – over the sugar content, nutrient value or inflammatory risk of all my possible choices. The crazy thing is that these items were already vetted by me at the store. I bought local and organic where possible, and spent what felt like hours carefully scrutinizing labels. So, why the debate? Why am I questioning my choices? And, why do I feel like I never have anything to eat?

In January, Mary Elizabeth Williamson wrote an eye-opening article in salon.com that resonated with me. It was called, “We’re Clean Eating Our Way to New Eating Disorders”, and in it she discusses a word I had never heard before, orthorexia. She references writer Heather Hansman, who explains that orthorexia differs from other eating disorders in that the obsessive focus is not on how much or how little one consumes, but the perceived virtue of the food itself. Williamson also quotes an article written last summer by popular health and food blogger Jordan Younger, who made headlines when she announced that she was, “transitioning away from veganism” as she realized that she had, “started fearing a LOT of things when it came to food,” and had been struggling with orthorexia. I couldn’t believe there was a word for what I recognized was a developing problem for me and my friends.

I decided to start a discussion about orthorexia with friends and students at the yoga studio where I teach. Almost everyone I spoke with admitted to worrying a lot about their “healthy choices”. They were concerned about consuming too much of this and too little of that. Are they getting enough vitamins and are those vitamins being properly absorbed? What should they feed their kids? I know people avoiding food almost altogether out of fear. We’re all just trying to do the right thing. If you feel you can’t eat the food or drink the water, that not only affects your health, it affects your happiness and your experience of living. One friend admitted that after becoming vegan she avoided going out to eat with friends because it was likely she wouldn’t be able to order anything at the restaurants they chose. She says it was a very lonely time.

I can’t open my newsfeed without being bombarded with articles warning of the dangers of eating what most of Americans would consider healthy foods – things like almonds and kale. I remember 20 years ago when fat was the enemy. Now fat is our friend and carbs are going to kill us. We have gone from whole grains to no grains. We are told to eat more fruits and vegetables, then we are warned they might be toxic. Wait! Is that blueberry you’re about to put in your mouth, organic?

I am married to an environmental scientist. We often have discussions about the dangers in our food. Recently, I told him I read that kale can be toxic and he replied, “Hmmm, that’s interesting…I haven’t heard of anyone dying from kale.” We like to measure risk. He reminds me that we are living in a time when regulations over food have never been higher, water has never been cleaner and manufacturers are held accountable for what they produce, how they produce it and what they leave behind on the land and in the air. I’m reassured when he points out how fortunate we are to live in the time and place we do. The CDC reports that Americans are living longer than ever before, the average age for women is now 81.2 years and men is 76.4 years; and in the last 12 years there has been a 15.7% drop in overall mortality. So why are we so freaked out about our food? I hear the kickback as I type this, GMO’s, pollution, global warming, but who do we believe?

There is so much information available to us, and it is often contradictory. You can find a study to support almost anything. There is always a new trend, often negating the previous one. It is overwhelming. But, maybe we already know what works for us. The bombardment of media and access to information has taken a front seat and we have lost our gift of intuition and one of our basic human abilities – to think logically. Our natural instincts are whispering somewhere behind all the noise, but we have stopped listening.

The smarter we get, the more disconnected we’re becoming from ourselves. Many of us know moderation in all things to be true. We’ve experienced overindulgence and we’ve learned our lessons. Aristotle made this point back around 330 B.C. He taught that the keys to a happy life are balance and moderation. In yoga, we learn the tenet of moderation in the eightfold path. How do we get that balance back? Would we rather believe a stranger than rely on our personal experience? We need to listen to our bodies and eat what feels right for us. My aforementioned vegan friend chose veganism for ethical reasons. She says it is what is right for her soul, and no study will convince her otherwise.

Maybe, instead of reading the latest study, you can remember that the last time you ate chocolate after 3PM, you couldn’t sleep. Or, too much broccoli gives you gas. Or, depriving yourself of dessert makes you depressed. What works for someone else, may not work for you. Just because giving up gluten changed your mom’s life, does not mean it will change yours. I have friends who thrive on raw vegetables, I digest them better when they’re cooked. We each need to listen to our own body, and encourage our friends to do the same.

When you begin to pay attention to your body and what it needs, craves and enjoys, you will gain balance in your life. Then, you can read studies and listen to other people’s experiences all you want – with interest – but also with a grain of [iodized] salt. (Or, Himalayan salt, if that works better for you!)

And, remember, even the gods had nectar.

No School Means Family Yoga Tomorrow!

 

Stretching Hamstrings

Please join me February 12th from 9:30am-10:45:am. All ages welcome. This will be a fun, casual session where parents can share the benefits and magic of this amazing practice with their kiddos. Stay for hot chocolate and tea after class.

$10 adults
$5 Kids
Pass holders: one card punch and one child free.
RSVP’S recommended as this class may fill up. Please call 216-501-1465 and leave your name contact info. and number of spaces needed and I will confirm with you.

Don’t miss the FUN right here in the neighborhood!

~Julie

 

 

Celebrate Winter Solstice

 

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Winter Solstice Arrives in Cleveland on Monday, December 21nd at 11:49AM EST in Cleveland, OH 

Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and from this day, until the summer solstice in June, the daylight hours increase each day. In ancient times, people held huge celebrations to welcome the light, it also marks the first day of Winter.

The Winter Solstice is a wonderful time to celebrate the season with your family! Consider making ice lanterns and line your driveway or front walk, make a yule log or visit your child’s classroom and share a story about the solstice (teachers love this!). There are countless ways to celebrate the return of the sun. Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!  Be sure to let me know your solstice traditions in the comments below! Let’s welcome the LIGHT together!

  • Make a wreath from evergreens (a symbol of the Solstice) collected by family members. On or after New Year’s Day, your wreath can be returned to Nature.
  • Make your family’s favorite food and/or a cake and put a sunshine on it.  Birthday candles can be put on the dessert. Each family member can light a candle and make a wish for the holiday season or the upcoming calendar year. Once all candles are lit, the family as a whole can blow them out to send wishes on their way. Then call out “Happy Solstice” or “Good Yule” in unison.
  • Ring a bell together to celebrate your connection with the cycles of Nature and to celebrate your connection with life on planet Earth and all of Nature.
  • Light a candle (also a symbol of the Solstice) and talk about what the Solstice means. Ask family members to focus on a candle, and then extinguish. Sit in darkness for a few moments and reflect on the importance of light and of Sun to life on the planet.
  • Feed the birds! Take your family outdoors during the Winter at this Solstice time. Focus on being part of the fabric of life of Nature. Then express appreciation for the beauty of Nature. Each family member then takes a handful of seeds and focuses on the seeds as symbols of life and as messengers of goodwill toward other parts of Nature and then places the seeds in a feeder or grass. Enjoy the light!!!!

Join me on this Adventure!

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November 1st I will be setting off on this inner adventure with Tanya Markul editor and
co-creator of Rebelle Society and Rebelle Wellness – my all time favorite sites for real-life stories and perspectives from women around the world!

CONSIDER JOINING ME!

LIVING WELL DOESN’T REQUIRE A PHD. IT REQUIRES YOU.
The idea is not to find a new continent, but to rediscover, reintegrate, rebuild, recycle, reunite, rewrite, redesign, and redefine our uniqueness and our signature beauty in an everyday synchronicity with our truest, deepest selves, others and the rest of nature.

Health is synonymous with Success, in any shape or form or version. Healthy people thrive in every aspect of their lives — it is the foundation of our greatest achievements, of confidence, of limitless creativity and of longstanding relationships.

TAKING THE POWER OVER OUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING BACK INTO OUR HANDS.
JOIN US NOV 1

More info + sign-up:
http://www.rebellewellness.com/detox/

Back to the Mat Yogis!

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Welcome Back to Yoga Class!

Like most of you, I have been in the whirlwind of back-to-school transition. Rushing to get in a few more fun, family outings and finishing up school shopping while wrapping my brain around the idea of my youngest beginning kindergarten and my own new found freedom. What a journey we are on!

The break from teaching just a couple weeks of classes has been nourishing. I am rested and ready for my yogis to return! I’ve missed you.

You can look forward to our usual Tues./ Thurs. 9:30-10:45am classes as well as THURSDAY EVENINGS from 6:45-8:00pm. Class passes remain $75 for 6-classes or $14 drop in.

Remember to invite new friends and neighbors-their first class is complimentary. Also, please be sure to sign-up on the homepage for email notifications if you are not receiving them. I’ve switched to a new format.

Monthly Family Yoga returns on October 5th at 3pm-4pm. This is such a fun way to connect and bond with your family.

And most importantly, I want to thank you for your patronage and continued support. I feel  so grateful to be able to offer yoga in my neighborhood for my neighborhood and have you all to practice with each week.

See you next week!
Julie

“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” — Aadil Palkhivala