9 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is one of the best things that you can do for yourself, as well as your growing baby.

Pregnancy Yoga pic

9 Benefits of prenatal yoga:

  1. Develops stamina and strength- As baby grows within our body, more energy and strength is needed to be able to carry the weight.  Yoga poses strengthen our hips, back, arms and shoulders.
  2. Balance- Our balance is challenged physically as the fetus grows within our body. Emotionally we are drained due to the increases in progesterone and estrogen. As we try to focus on holding and breathing through each yoga pose, we are able to fine tune our balance, physically and emotionally.
  3. Relieves tension of lower back, hips, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders- As baby grows, more stress is put upon these specific muscle groups in our bodies.  We tend to have more of a lordotic/lower back curve due to the increased size of our bellies. Our hips get tighter due to the added pressure of baby’s weight in our bellies. As our breasts increase in size, our upper back and chest have more tension, along with our neck and shoulders.
  4. Calms the nervous system-Through deep breathing, the nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode, which is responsible for relaxation.  When our bodies are in that mode, our digestions operate properly, we tend to sleep better, and our immune system is at its optimal.
  5. Connection with baby- A prenatal yoga practice allows us to slow down and focus attention on what is going on within our bodies. Through working with our breath and doing each pose, you become more aware of what is going on within.
  6. Increases circulation- Circulation is enhanced within our joints and our muscles are elongated during practice.  Upon circulation of the blood within our bodies, swelling is decreased and our immunity is enhanced, creating a healthy environment for a thriving baby.
  7. Breathwork practice- This is a good tool for labor during contractions.  If we are consciously breathing, our blood pressure and heart rate is regulated keeping us in parasympathetic/relaxation mode.  Calm mama equals calm baby.
  8. Sense of community/sisterhood- It can be very comforting to be with a group of women who understand what we are going through.
  9. Nurturing time- This time allows us to stop and slow down from our busy days.  Through the practice of yoga, you are setting intention in taking care of not only yourself, but of baby.

Combining and complementing with our Pregnancy Yoga classes, the 6 week private yoga training help women and their birth partner prepare for and experience birth. If you are interested in our 6 week private yoga training email yogawithgiesel@gmail.com.

Practice working with your body and mind to make your pregnancy more spiritual than painful.

Release fears surrounding birth and embrace the natural process of what your body and your baby will do.

Here’s What International Day Of Yoga Looked Like in Belize

On Sunday, June 21, Belizeans all over the country gathered to celebrate the UN’s first International Day of Yoga.

“Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition,” Modi said when he first proposed International Day of Yoga during the opening of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly. “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action … a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

Check out these amazing pictures from the event below:

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Meet Yoga Master Yirser Ra Hotep

Yirser Ra Hotep1

Yirser Ra Hotep considers himself to be a Yoga Practitioner who just happens to be a teacher and an entrepreneur.  Not only is he the most senior instructor of Kemetic Yoga in the U.S. but he also created a new style called YogaSkills Method (YSM) which ventures away from the traditional Indian teachings of Yoga.  Both styles have roots in ancient Egypt and combine movement with breath control.

After practicing and teaching yoga for over 30 years, Hotep decided one of his life’s missions was to influence others and bring Kemetic Yoga and YSM to the mainstream.  He is well on his way to achieving that goal, as he has produced various Yoga products, such as CDs, videos, and training retreats.  His intention is to have an international organization with certified instructors teaching and promoting his unique brand of Yoga.

Hotep shares with BlackEnterprise.com his motivations and strategies that will make his vision come to fruition.

What was the impetus behind venturing into the health and fitness industry as an entrepreneur?

My main motivation for making health and wellness my business is [knowing] that what I have to offer is sorely needed.  My business evolved from teaching daily Yoga classes to taking on private students for one-on-one stress management to owning a studio.  As time went on, I decided that I wanted to travel and increase brand awareness for the style of Yoga I teach which is called Kemetic Yoga and the YogaSkills Method.  Initially, I traveled giving lectures, workshops and master classes.  I’ve recently added teacher training and certification to the mix, which is a major part of my business.   We currently have over 300 certified instructors nationally and internationally.

Yirser Ra Hotep

How has business been going for you?

Business is going very well for YogaSkills right now.  Even though we are in a recession, people are actually seeking out training and certification in Yoga as a means of enhancing their personal well-being , as well as an avenue for income.  As part of the my YogaSkills Teacher Training and Certification course, we offer training in business development and innovative ways to use your Yoga Skills for the benefit your clients and as a source of income.  Our teacher training courses are conducted throughout the United States in major cities such as New York, Atlanta, Washington DC metro, Chicago, Los Angeles and others.  We also offer exotic trainings and retreats in Jamaica that are focused on healing.  We actually take our students to out of the way locations to practice Yoga in the rainforests and then to recharge in waterfalls and mineral baths.  We offer activity packages that no one else offers in order to add value to our services and to separate us from the competition.

What resources did you use to start and grow your business?

The first thing I invested was my time and effort into becoming an expert in Yoga and expanding my knowledge of anatomy, physiology, psychology, wholistic health and later, business principles.  I hired a speech coach to improve my public speaking and obtained professional photos for business cards, brochures and websites.  You need to look the part and also be able to articulate your message effectively and communicate with a broad spectrum of potential customers.

In order to help establish my brand, I created posters with various images of me performing Yoga postures and I had a show on cable that reached over 1 million households in Chicago.  I positioned myself to be a guest on various radio shows and after a while, I was featured in Ebony Magazine and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

The main expense I encountered was in creating my first website.  I invested several thousand dollars, which was most of a modest pension I had earned while working for the state of Illinois as a child welfare administrator.

What are some of the challenges you face being an African-American Man in the Yoga space?

It is not expected that a black man would practice Yoga, let alone teach it as an expert or master.  The stereotype is that petite women teach Yoga and only women are flexible enough to be good at it.  So, people are surprised to see a 6 foot, 2 inch, 215 lb., bearded Black dude come up to teach a class.  I’ve also found out the male Yoga teachers are expected to be gay, which I am not.

Even though I meet well-known white Yoga instructors from around the country, I have never been invited to the major Yoga conferences.  Though I haven’t received a lot of play in the mainstream Yoga world, I have strong bonds in the African American community as well as the diaspora and I have requests [to teach] from people of color in South Africa, Ethiopia and New Zealand.

Source:Black Enterprise.com

About the Contributor:

Gieselarnold_blogpic

Giesel was born and raised in Dangriga Town in Belize, Central America and is now a Houston, Texas based yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health and nutrition, and self-acceptance.

On her journey to share her passions through yoga, Giesel incorporates her Garifuna and Creole culture, yoga philosophy, and awareness to attain self-love.

Giesel specializes in Vinyasa Krama Yoga, which is a flowing sequence of asanas linked by breath and intention.

She is a registered member of the National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers.

Let’s get connected

Facebook/gieselarnold

Instagram@gieselarnoldyoga

Twitter: @gieselyoga

Blog: gieselarnoldyoga.wordpress.com

Emailyogawithgiesel@gmail.com

72-Year-Old Yoga Master Talks Aging Gracefully While Staying Spiritually Youthful

Yoga Master Janice Lennard

It’s not easy mastering the art of discipline and relaxation, but with passion and persistence 72-year-old Janice Lennard makes it seem effortless. The Yoga & Pilates instructor attributes her fit lifestyle to having studied and practiced yoga, ballet and pilates for over 65 years. Lennard—who also has an extensive dance background— is quite generous with her time: She instructs classes seven days a week in Rancho Mirage, Calif. “I enjoy helping other people to relax and to get the benefits from yoga,” she told ESSENCE.com.

Lennard—who appears to have found the key to the fountain of youth—has released a series of fitness DVDs that focus on Ballet Barre, Mat Pilates and Yoga. The youthful-looking 72-year-old spoke with ESSENCE.com about the art of Yoga, hearing from God through the practice and how to embrace getting older.

Talk to us about the art of yoga and some of the things you make sure to inform your students about when you’re teaching?
Yoga is really a relaxing thing. What it does is it relaxes you; the mental part of it—to me—is so incredible. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much: I enjoy helping other people to relax and to get the benefits from yoga. Even if they can’t do a lot of the poses—a lot of the time in my classes I don’t do a lot of balancing poses, because some of the classes include older people and they can’t do those poses. So we do regular standing poses. I do that for about a half an hour and then we go on the floor and do a lot of stretching. I tell my students, make sure to just do what you can do, when you feel you can’t do something, just relax and wait and catch up with us later on in the class—don’t try and do crazy things because you don’t want to get hurt.

How has yoga assisted you in your spiritual life? Do you tend to hear from God easier through yoga?
Yes, sure. I do think spirituality and yoga is connected. The spirituality of it is really nice, just the relaxation of yoga helps the spiritual part of the brain to relax. Sometimes by myself, when I’m at home, I can sit and just relax and just start thinking about certain things—just telling myself to relax and breathe—you know breathing is very important, too—breathing in and out through your nose—not through your mouth, through the nose from the whole body—from the stomach all the way up to the chest, it tends to relax the brain and your mind, and through this, you get that spiritual thing.

How does yoga help you to embrace 72?
I think it just helps me to grow old gracefully. The mind relaxes, and it helps you accept who you are and what you can do. That’s the basic thing I tell my students in class: When you’re doing yoga, you should not strive to do exactly what the instructor is telling you to do; you should instead do it to the best of your ability.

What do you love most about getting older? 
As you get older, you learn more. You tend to accept who you are and what you can and can not do instead of trying to do what everyone else is doing and trying to kill yourself to do everything.

What are some of your secrets to staying disciplined?
Write down what you do everyday, and then look at the list and then basically cut down on some things. Just do a little bit at a time instead of rushing around and trying to do everything. Or in between things, just sit down, relax and breathe—even if it’s for only five minutes, you’ll feel better.

What words of wisdom have you learned over the years that you live by?
Patience. Just take everything a day at a time. Don’t try to race your mind and do too much at one time. This is very serious; just take it easy. When I come home from my classes sometimes I just sit on the bed and my husband is usually watching soccer, and I watch soccer with him and it relaxes me. Watching the game helps to clear my mind of everything that’s going on.

Source: Essence.com 

Yogi Spotlight- Keith Mitchell

When former New Orleans Saints linebacker Keith Mitchell suffered a severe spinal contusion during a routine tackle in 2003, his football career came to a premature end after seven years. He was only 29.

But now at the age of 40, the former football star has experienced a “reincarnation” a rebirth to what he calls his true Self as a prominent yoga and meditation teacher, as he explained in an interview with Deepak Chopra.

The injury that left him temporarily paralyzed steered him away from professional sports, toward a gentler path of yoga and meditation, which he attributes to his extraordinary recovery.

These days, he’s teaching yoga and meditation to youth communities as part of the Light It Up Foundation, helping veterans who suffer from PTSD, and even touring with Wanderlust festivals around the country as a guest motivational speaker. He’s also a leader on the forefront of teaching mindfulness tactics to injured pro athletes and NFL players, with hopes to aid in their recovery. He’s also got a book deal in the works.

MindBodyGreen recently spoke with Mitchell over the phone, to learn more about his incredible story.

Could you ever have imagined doing anything but football?

At that level you have to commit — especially something as highly competitive as pro sports. As soon as you come up with a backup plan, you’ve already failed. In pro sports, there’s no backup plan. Failure is not an option.

When did you realize that you couldn’t play football anymore?

As a football player, when you can’t use your neck, any slight trigger is a risk. So I could heal from that injury, but I might not have healed from something that triggered my neck again. At the same time, I had an expansion of consciousness about myself, and why I was holding on to this role — it’s like I was reincarnated.

The role that I was, died out — I was left with the essence of my truth. It took me to places of depression and anxiety. Through my meditation practice, I was able to come to a certain level of clarity and liberation.

And now I’m able to use my experience with depression to help the soldiers with what they’re going through — I can relate to that. I understand the hurt and frustration of depression. Meditation was a crash course of my own history, my being, and my soul.

What do you think about how the NFL has handled the long-term physical and mental effects of the game on the players?

The NFL has surfaced and created patches for the issues, but not deeply connected solutions. Even in my discovery of healing, there were no resources in place to help me besides doctors and/or meds. My idea was not to indulge in the medication, as I did when I played — the anti-inflammatories caused internal bleeding and the pain meds were addictive. I knew that wouldn’t be good for me during the depression and anxiety of going through the transition.

I’m proposing to work with the NFL to create programs through yoga and meditation. Holistic healing modalities can give players an alternative to medication, simply by introducing practices that give the body access to the ability to heal itself.

uy108 start your journey today

A nurse suggested that you try meditation as part of your recovery; is that correct?

Yeah, she just spoke of it as conscious breathing. We create our own oxygen and blood flow. That creates prana in the body. We can access that. I went through physical rehab to get functional. It was a year or so after the injury. I was in a place of openness and wanting to heal — I wanted to be well, functional, and to live. The majority of my practice was the yoga of the mind. That’s my preference, to talk about the mental capacity of yoga. That’s how I came into it.

Do you believe that yoga and meditation played a large role in your recovery?

Of course — yoga saved my life. The trauma that resided in me from years of neglecting my body and sustaining bumps and bruises was a huge discovery. I’m still learning things about what my body can do. There’s so much there, and that’s just the physical aspect.

There are also the emotional and spiritual aspects, too. Our bodies have all of this capability that many of us haven’t even connected with. We have to be honest and truthful with what’s inside of us. We have to connect with that within ourselves.

Did the contusion in your spine leave you with some level of paralysis?

Yeah, my entire body would go in and out of numbness. I was on pins and needles constantly. Some days I was stuck on the floor. At the time, I lived in a big house and I had to have someone come and watch me. As a male, you’re conditioned to suppress your fear — your need for help. It’s like, suck it up, be a big boy! Big boys don’t cry! That’s how we were wired. We internalize everything. I was just acting out what I had been wired to do.

As a football player, were you an angry and aggressive person?

Of course, are you kidding me? That’s from the insanity that goes into trying to achieve something like playing pro sports. The reason we feel driven, is that we’re trying to compensate for things that are missing. We’re looking for completion. When I teach now, I try to make the emotional tangible. When you can hear yourself, that’s when you can see yourself.

As a yogi, what are your thoughts on violence in the NFL given all the recent news about violence both on and off the field?

I believe everything is ultimately a practice, and the amount of violence that happens in the game of football naturally seeps into to your personal life.

I see similarities with veterans — when you look at the creation of sports, it’s like they were created to prep our youth for war. That being said, we must create a balance. Realizing the extent of suffering not only resides on the pro level, but the collegiate, high-school and early stages of Pop Warner levels as well. We have to influence this culture on all of these levels. This is a game changer.

In addition to your work with kids, you also work with veterans and athletes?

I recently had an opportunity to go to Capitol Hill with Congressman Tim Ryan, and we did a guided meditation with Congress members and veterans. I’m also going into communities and working with people who are suffering — youth and military.

My work is to help people feel open to try yoga and meditation. They think that they’re not flexible, so they think they can’t do yoga. But you never go into anything being the best. You build up.

So when I hold postures, they see that I can do it, so they want to try it. It’s not so much about me — they want to use me as an example. But it’s really about what they find once they try yoga and meditation. They get hooked. I teach meditation from a metaphysical perspective of understanding how you function. I’ve had some amazing teachers in my life that have created confidence within me to teach.

What style of yoga and meditation do you practice?

I can do all kinds of flows — hatha, vinyasa, tantra… I like to mix all of it in my practice to connect with, and explore myself. When we have the idea of giving ourselves to someone — in marriage, a relationship, even intimacy — we don’t even know what we’re giving because we haven’t explored ourselves to know what we’ve got. That’s missing from our perceptions. That’s an opportunity to create a new paradigm of understanding.

We’re accustomed to a warped perspective of love. The man has only been understood as an authoritative disciplinarian, not a gentle or compassionate figure. When you change that, you change the idea of the male. Then the female gets elevated because she gets to feel the gentleness, patience, and compassion that’s been missing in her life. We can go into a whole different paradigm with this idea.

With so many yoga teachers in LA, do you think your backstory as a professional athlete helps you stand out?

Maybe… but it’s not about me. It’s really about what we can create together. If I can touch someone that has never taken yoga before, then we’re just adding to our community of consciousness.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

To learn more about Keith Mitchell, check out his website for the latest news, workshops and events. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: MindBody

About the Contributor:

Gieselarnold_blogpic

Giesel was born and raised in Dangriga Town in Belize, Central America and is now a Houston, Texas based yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health and nutrition, and self-acceptance.

On her journey to share her passions through yoga, Giesel incorporates her Garifuna and Creole culture, yoga philosophy, and awareness to attain self-love.

Giesel specializes in Vinyasa Krama Yoga, which is a flowing sequence of asanas linked by breath and intention.

She is a registered member of the National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers.

Let’s get connected

Facebook/gieselarnold

Instagram@gieselarnoldyoga

Twitter: @gieselyoga

Blog: gieselarnoldyoga.wordpress.com

Emailyogawithgiesel@gmail.com

uy108 start your journey today group

Healthy Holiday Tip 2: Relax your body and mind

healthy holiday tip

Relax your body and mind.

Let’s face it. Preparing for the holidays can get pretty stressful. When you are more relaxed you sometimes get more done—and feel better doing it. When you feel wound up or overwhelmed, take five minutes to breathe deeply and scan your body from head to toe. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of two, breathe out through your nose for a count of four, and repeat.

About the Author:

Gieselarnold_blogpic

Giesel was born and raised in Dangriga Town in Belize, Central America and is now a Houston, Texas based yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health and nutrition, and self-acceptance.

On her journey to share her passions through yoga, Giesel incorporates her Garifuna and Creole culture, yoga philosophy, and awareness to attain self-love.

Giesel specializes in Vinyasa Krama Yoga, which is a flowing sequence of asanas linked by breath and intention.

She is a registered member of the National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers.

Let’s get connected

Facebook/gieselarnold

Instagram@gieselarnoldyoga

Twitter: @gieselyoga

Blog: gieselarnoldyoga.wordpress.com

Emailyogawithgiesel@gmail.com