Heart Chakra – Yoga for the Heart

Love is good for the heart… so is yoga — especially when you open the Heart Chakra.

By opening the Heart Chakra you will instantly increase your self respect. You will open yourself up to allow love, and you will gain a positive outlook on life. To open our Heart Chakra we have to know what throws it off balance: Difficulty in relationships, attempting to live vicariously through others, and/or dependence on others for your happiness can be some of the causes.

Each chakra is associated with a color. The color green represents the Heart Chakra. Green represents harmony, creativity, abundance and health. Green, which is also representative of nature, offers new energy and revitalizes a tired body!

The best heart chakra yoga poses are those that open the chest area as well as poses that draw energy into the heart.So throw on a green shirt and let’s practice 4 asanas to assist us in opening our Heart Chakra!

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Kneel on the floor with your legs hip width apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Place your hands on the back of your hips. Inhale and slowly lift your heart up and allow your hips to move forward. Draw your shoulders back as you breath into the posture then together once your in the asana hold for 3-5 breaths then take a moment in Balasana (child’s pose).

Sphinx Pose

Lie on your stomach, with your forearms flat on the mat, elbows under the shoulders and legs together. Press forearms down into the mat and inhale as you lift your head and chest off of the mat, keeping the neck in line with the spine. Bring big toes together and zip all the way up your legs engaging the gluts. Keeping your elbows close to your side using your arms to press the mat away keeping your shoulders out of your ears. Hold here for 6-10 breaths then, again, relax in your child’s pose.

Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

Start on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Have your fingers fully spread with the middle fingers pointing straight ahead. Make your back horizontal and flat. Gaze at the floor. This is your “neutral” positioning. Take a deep inhale here and on the exhale begin to tilt the pelvis in. Do this by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone under, gently contracting the gluts. Press downward with your hands so you stay lifted away from the shoulders, and press the middle of your back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine upward. Curl your head inward. Gaze at the floor between your knees.

On the inhale offer up your heart center while tilting your tailbone up towards the ceiling and lifting your gaze. Take this flow as much as you like!

Supine Badaknonasana

For the one I love using a block in between the shoulder blades releasing the crown of the head towards the mat. Laying on your mat bring your toes and heels together allowing the knees to fall open. Turning the palms up towards the ceiling, lift your sitting bones off the floor so your spine can relax on your mat.

Take as much time here as you like, inversion the color green as you feel the expansion, freedom and growth of a open Heart Chakra.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

Men and Yoga: Why Guys Should Roll Out a Mat

Until recent history yoga was practiced strictly by men but now a days, in the US especially, the majority of classes are filled with women. This should be an obvious reason why a single guy should stumble into class, but there are also major benefits for men who practice yoga. Here are 5 reasons why you should include yoga into your exercise routine.

1. You Will Reduce Stress and Anxiety

First and foremost you are going to relax. During your class you will practice breathing techniques that you can apply to everyday traffic jams, work emails, and other anxiety inducing events. It’s also a great time to get out of your mind and tune in with your body. Really, who can think about that work deadline when you’re holding a side plank?

2. You’ll Work Your Core

Speaking of planks. Guys, you’re going to work your core! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “it’s chest and arms day” or “it’s leg day,” but I rarely hear “I’m working my core today.” This is the place to do it! Yoga teachers are great a sneaking in a lot of core work without sit ups! Once you start to notice the strength in your core increasing, your endurance will increase. It will also help keep your back safe while lifting weights.

3. Your Will Improve Your Sleeping Habits

Yoga is great for those who aren’t able to fall asleep or stay asleep as well as others.  Along with reducing stress and anxiety, you will start to notice tension in the body releasing. Unfortunately guys are notorious for not stretching well, so once you start to stretch those muscles, you’ll release toxins helping to naturally induce slumber.

4.  You Will Burn Calories

You will lose weight practicing yoga. The breath you practice is going to help you warm up your bodies which increases your metabolism mixed with asana’s (poses) you’ll work up a good sweat.

5. You Will Have a Support System

Everyone has a great reason for coming to yoga. Chances are you’ll find fellow students coming to their mats for the same reason as you. It’s a great place to find comradery and support in your fitness and health goals!

Alright guys! Time for you to head out and buy a yoga mat (yes they come in other colors besides pink and purple) and no you don’t have to wear spandex…..now hit the mat!

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Let’s Do a Twist (Yoga Poses)

“Can you twist yourself into a pretzel?” Is usually the first thing I hear when I introduce myself to someone as a yoga instructor and, unfortunately, no I can’t twist myself up like doughy goodness but I do appreciate a good twisting asana (pose). Let me introduce three of my favorite yoga twist that you can practice at home to get amazing benefits like,  improved flexibility, spinal mobility, internal health benefits, and mental clarity.

Uttanasana (Forward Fold) With A Twist

Take a deep exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend pull the belly button to the spine and begin to release out of the base of the neck (take out any wrinkles back there). Place left finger tips or palm on the floor (use a yoga block or thick book if you are having trouble reaching the floor) and place right hand on hip, bend right knee and begin to spin open keeping your belly button to spine. Keep your hand on your hip or extend your finger tips up or drape the right arm behind your back and reach to the inner left thigh continuing to spin open from your heart center. Hold for 5 breaths then release and repeat in other side.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, or just seated twist)

Sit on the floor and bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then bend left leg under your right to the outside of your right hip( for a modification straighten leg out) Step the right foot over the left leg grounding it to the floor. The right knee will point directly up. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind you and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Sit up tall and spin open keeping your belly button to spine. Hold for 5 breaths, unwind and repeat on other side.

Reclining Twist

Lie on back spreading arms out to the side bend knees up and drop knees to the right bringing your drishti(gaze) to the left. Stay here as long as you like, if you like extend top leg out and bottom leg down moving a little deeper into the twist. Take a deep inhale and on the exhale unwind and move to the other side.

Twisting  is going to be different from side to side each day so twist to your comfort. Before you begin a twist, use your core to square your hips, this provides a stable base. Keep your shoulders comfortably back and your posture upright. This is the ideal way to start a twist. If you have back issues stick to seated or lying twist. After your twisting asana practice take a few minutes in Savasana just allowing your body  to reap the benefits. Enjoy!

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Are You Stuck in a Yoga Rut?

If your a regular yogi, you’ve probably had those times where you find yourself practicing the same asanas (yoga poses) with a lack of enthusiasm. You’re frustrated with your Uttanasana (forward fold) and feel that your fingers are never going to reach the floor or you just have the overwhelming feeling of being stuck in your practice.

Your probably in a yoga rut! Here’s 5 tips to get you back on the mat and in love with your practice.

Cross Train Your Practice

Try out some infusion classes. Practicing the same exercise everyday can lead to cranky joints and tight muscles. So change it up! Does your studio offer a fun class you’ve never tired? Go for it! You’ll end up noticing new changes in your body and might find a new favorite class! Heat Yoga and Fitness in Clearwater offers traditional yoga along with a Pilates infusion class, cardio flow class, yoga ballet infusion and body sculpting class using props.

Take Your Practice Outside

We live in paradise. Take advantage of it! There’s nothing like a yoga practice on the beach, in a park or on a paddle board. Check out meetup.com, you’ll be able to find your perfect outdoor practice!

Take A Workshop

Do you have a fear of going upside down? Or maybe need some help on meditating? There’s a plethora of workshops in our area! Check out Yoga Tampa Bay’s Facebook page you’ll find new new workshops posted daily!

Share With Friends and Family

There’s nothing like sharing your accomplishments and getting a thumbs up! You’ve worked hard to get into your crow pose!

Take A Break

If you’ve tried everything and just can’t shake the funk take a few days off. It’s ok to rest. Just try not to stay off your mat more then a week. It’s going to miss you!

Staying fresh and excited about yoga ultimately boils down to being willing to step outside the box.  Just remember not to compare your practice to anyone else. Yoga is a journey and should always be enjoyed!

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Ahhhhhh Savasana: Five Tips for Total Relaxation

You made it! For the last hour you’ve been down dogging, planking and twisting your body in ways that you didn’t think were possible Now the moment has arrived…. it’s time for savasana, or corpse pose.

You get to spend the next 10 minutes stretched out on your mat with your eyes closed, something you haven’t been able to do since kindergarten nap time It should be easy, right? Your just laying there.

Then it hits you, your monkey mind, it starts to go wild thinking about that to do list and the most sensible thing to do is roll your mat up and leave as quietly as possible and just hope your teacher doesn’t notice.

Next time you find yourself ready to bolt as soon as your teacher says “sa” remember these 5iv tips to help you get the time out you deserve!

1. Lie down on your mat with legs stretched out towards the corners and arms relaxed by your side, palms facing up, and close your eyes. Lift your sitting bones off slightly placing the base of the spine, sacrum, to the floor then begin to lengthen your spine all the way up and out the crown of your head.

2. Relax the feet completely allowing them to fall open, push the heels away lengthening through the legs.

3. Relax the shoulders as if they are melting into your mat and tuck the chin towards your throat so that your neck can lengthen. (Notice how I’m using the word “length” a lot? I see a  theme)

4. Now relax your jaw, separating your lips slightly and allow the tongue to fall from the roof of your mouth. Let your eyeballs sink and your forehead to be smooth.

5. Breath. As a yoga instructor I can’t emphasize how important it is to breath throughout practice but it’s most important to breath during your savasana. Just allow your breath to flow freely through your nose filling up to full lung capacity, allowing the whole body to breath. As the breath deepens allow the whole body to melt into your mat, surrendering yourself to all the benefits this time has to offer. Practice 5 minutes of savasana for every 30 minutes of asana practice.

When your ready to come out of savasana being to wiggle your fingers and toes, take your arms up over head and stretch really long as if your waking up. Roll to one hip and gentle guide yourself into a comfortable seated position.

I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.

Namaste.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Ultimate Workout: Yoga and Stand Up Paddle Boarding

By now we’ve all seen what we thought was someone walking on water but after the initial head scratch and a closer look we’ve realized that it’s someone SUPing (stand up paddle boarding).

Stand paddle boarding is a isometric workout which targets the core while using your back and arms to paddle and legs to stabilize yourself. It’s a great way to combined fitness and the great outdoors even for those who are balanced challenged.

Leave it to those water loving yogi’s to take their practice to the board. SUP yoga combines all the benefits of yoga and paddle boarding. It helps with stability and flexibility while engaging your whole core. Taking your yoga practice to the board increase awareness off weight transfer and takes your Virabhadrasanas to a whole new level. SUP Yoga can amplify your practice because the paddle board response to your movement. You’ll engage muscles you don’t typically engage on the mat.

After an eye opening practice, it’s time for the most relaxing savasana you’ll ever experience! Laying flat on your board, allowing your feet to fall apart, palms facing up towards the sky and closing your eyes, you being to relax the physical body.

As your body starts to absorb your asana practice your mind beings to absorb the surroundings. You take in the sounds of nature, the feeling of the sun on your skin, and the smell of the outdoors, it’s truly the best meditation environment a yogi could practice in.

I fell in love with SUP about 4 years ago when I was looking for a low impact cardio workout because of back issues. I’ve recently took my practice to the board and am now guiding other in their SUP yoga practice. Find out more about SUP lessons to take a SUP yoga class.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Easy Steps to Mastering a Handstand

It’s probably been years since you’ve been upside down. As kids we never had the fear of flying, but over time we become more cautious and loose trust in ourselves. Well it’s time to change all of that.

Let’s flip the world upside down and change our perspective on things! Follow these step by step instructions and get back the feeling of soaring!

Step 1- Steady Your Base

We all know that it takes a strong foundation to stabilize any structure, handstands included. So let’s start with the basics! Drop and get into your plank. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominal. Keep a neutral neck and spine. Create a straight line from head to toe.

You can practice the key to headstands while in your plank pose; get your shoulders out of your ears! Pull them back and activate your trapezius, deltoids, and rhomboids. This is your handstand. This is the position you want to be in. Take note of the hollow position your midsection has formed. It will come in handy.

Step 2- Get Ready To Climb

Take down your newest piece of art from your wall and roll out a yoga mat. Start in a Downward Facing Dog meeting your heels to the wall. Start to walk your feet up keeping your hands where they are, moving into a 90 degree angle. Remember: shoulders out of the ears!

Step 3-Easy Does It

Once you stack your shoulders on top of your wrist begin to take the right toe off the wall pointing it straight up towards the ceiling. Just hang out here and get comfortable with being upside down. Try out both feet until you feel comfortable leading with your favorite foot. Then slowly start to walk back into your down dog.

Step 4- Go For It!

Come back into your down dog this time hands facing wall. Place the palms flat, about shoulders distance apart, and stack the shoulders over the wrist. Rotate the triceps in and broaden the upper back. Walk your feet slightly in and start lifting your favorite leg. With your hips being square to the wall bend the bottom knee and softly take a few hops here working those hips on top of your shoulders. Take your time here.

Step 5- Get Comfortable!

Once the hips get all the way over the shoulders and both feet get to the wall, lengthen the tailbone up. Draw the ribs in, engage the forearms in and keep your gaze slightly forward. Remember your plank position. Shoulders out of ears and hollow through your midsection. Remember to breathe!

Step 6- Enjoy The World From a New Perspective

Of course with anything new practice makes perfect over time and you’ll be able to use the wall just in case. But for now enjoy the feeling of using your hands for feet!

To learn more about handstands, headstands, and other arm balances join me August 4th at Heat Yoga and Fitness in Clearwater for the Soar High Workshop. To find out more info call 727-216-3997.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.

Three Day Juice Cleanse: What’s It Really Like?

Ever have those times where you feel sluggish, rundown, or overly exhausted? Ever wished there was a way to hit your reset button?

I recently took part in a three day juice cleanse to do just that. Follow me on my journey as I resist cheese and peanut butter cravings, juice every meal and give up my beloved coffee!!!

Day One

After getting over the initial shock that I would be facing the next 3 days without coffee, I woke up extra early this morning to prepare green tea with lemon and stevia before indulging in my first taste of the Master Cleanse Lemonade, mixing fresh squeezed lemon, organic grade B maple syrup, Cheyenne pepper and cold purified water together I was a little hesitant on the first sip but much to my surprise had found a new beverage to enjoy post cleanse!

Breakfast was filling, how often do you eat a whole cantaloupe? I highly recommend juicing one (rind and all). Lunch was surprising good juicing kale, celery, parsley, apple and lemon but shortly after the lack of coffee catches up and so does the massive headache.

Fortunately on this cleanse I can enjoy an abundance of tea which easies my mood and holds me over till snack. Juicing up some beets and carrots, while a little messy, delicious! Finishing the day with a juiced yam, apple, and pears I survived day one.

Day Two

I woke up feeling amazing! The morning went by in a blink of an eye as I taught two yoga classes came home and juiced up lunch. Then the 3pm peanut butter craving sets in……how delicious would all the celery and apples taste with the yummy organic peanut butter calling out to me from my kitchen cabinet?

Begrudgingly I juice up my beets and ran out the door to teach two more yoga classes. Fortunately by the time I got home my body was ready to crawl into bed so a juice was just fine by me. I don’t weigh myself but I did notice that I looked a little toner through the midsection then usual so my guess at this point in time I am down a pound or two. Day two comes to an end enjoying Yogi bedtime tea.

Day Three

“Home Stretch” is the first thing I saw to myself when I wake up. I must admit though my skin is GLOWING!! The day flys by and I find myself on a laundry and organizing kick. The biggest challenge is soon approaching though. I teach a hot (105* room) gluts and abs class then a Standup Paddle Board Yoga class back to back.

I get trough the classes fine but after burning a lot calories in two hours I look at my husbands steak like its the last piece of food on the earth, this coming from a pescatarian who hasn’t eaten a land animal in a year. Tonight was tough. I juice up my yams and drink my tea and imagine how glorious my first cup of coffee in three days will taste.

The Final Product

I had a few friends join me in this cleanse, I strongly recommend if you do something like this program do it with a support group, and everyone had great results. Some were in it to loose weight and some were just up for a challenge but one ended up loosing 10 lbs and used it as a kickstart to get himself back on track after putting his health on hold.

The first day was the hardest and wanting to quit seemed like the right thing to do. In yoga we have a practice that helps the body confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. This practice for me was sent into overdrive that first day.

But overall, I enjoyed the challenge and the discipline required and will continue to juice daily. Thanks to The Belly Fit Club who provided the support and recipes. I look forward to doing this again and plan to about four times a year.

Remember: Consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian  before starting any special type of dieting.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton. 

What’s the Real Deal With Gluten-Free?

Just when bread thought it was safe to return to store shelves after the Atkins craze, a new trend in dieting is once again taking aim at our beloved carbs. The Gluten Free diet is the newest fad diet promising weight-loss by avoiding all things gluten.

The gluten free diet is nothing new for those who suffer from Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a genetic condition affecting an estimated 1 percent of Americans. People with Celiac disease have to avoid the protein known as, you guessed it, Gluten. Gluten protein is found in wheat, rye, barley, and some grains and causes damage to the lining of the small intestine in those who suffer from it.

So what does this mean for dieters?

I decided to go behind all the eye-catching labels and advertising lures to debunk and better understand what the big deal is about gluten, to help I asked Meghann Scholl RD, LD, a couple questions about how this diet has gained so much popularity and if you could benefit from it.

HT: How do you think the diet got so popular?

MS: First, you have to start by looking at the type of foods that contain gluten. Gluten is in a lot of different types of foods. People who are very strict with avoiding gluten eliminate a lot of food choices. Gluten is obvious in bread, pasta, chips, cookies, cereals, crackers, etc. but it is also in dips, sauces, condiments, beverages, ice cream, etc.

There are plenty of foods that are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs and more.  The common theme tends to become eliminating of grain-based carbohydrates and calorically dense foods.  People who decrease their intake of carbohydrates and high-calorie foods usually loose weight and may even feel “less bloated.”  This may have lead many people to believing that they have a gluten intolerance and need to follow the gluten free diet.

HT: Would people who don’t suffer from celiac benefit from a gluten free diet?

MS: No. Gluten free diets when followed correctly are very restrictive.  Managing celiac disease is not just about eliminating gluten from your diet. It also involves making sure you get all the vitamins and nutrients you need — particularly iron, calcium, fiber and the B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate—that are found in fortified grain-based carbohydrates.

Those who follow a gluten free diet but have not been diagnosed with celiac disease by a medical professional put themselves at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

HT: Can you look into your dietitian crystal ball and tell us about any up and coming diet trends?  

MS: I would encourage you to touch on “trendy” diets when it’s pertinent (like gluten free) but also focus on diets that are science-based and are more highly recommended for the general population for lifelong health success (i.e. DASH, TLC, MyPlate, etc)

Bottom Line: Consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian like Meghann Scholl before starting any special type of dieting but with an active lifestyle and general healthy eating you will be on a the right track to a happy and healthy life.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton. 

What Type of Yoga is Right for You?

We’ve all seen it before…fitness trends that come and go but one that is here to stay is the 2,000 year old trend of yoga! There are so many different types of yoga that it could be intimidating to take a class. Here are 5 popular yoga classes in our area explained in non-yogi terms.

Ashtanga yoga is a style of yoga that is great for athletes. It’s physically demanding and involves synchronizing breath with progressive and continuos movements.

Bikram yoga is done in a room between 105-110 degrees. This type of yoga benefits those who are looking to lose weight, gain flexibility, and advance muscular strength and endurance.

Hatha yoga is great for beginners. In this practice the student incorporates postures, breathing and meditation.

Kundalini is another great practice for beginners. This concentrates more on the spiritual awakening and practices drawing energy from the spine, meditation and sometimes chanting.

Vinyasa is my personal favorite. Using your breath with coordinating movements, you get a full body and intense cardiovascular workout.

Whatever your practice of yoga may be remember its just that, a practice, leave the competition at the door and enjoy the journey!

Namaste.

About the Author

Heidi Templeton is a former competitive gymnast and Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot, and standup paddle board yoga. Heidi shares her zest for all things health and wellness at www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.

View all posts by Heidi Templeton.