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11:06 am

My New New Year’s Resolution

By Lisa Wells Year after year my New Year’s Resolution was “Lose weight.”  It did not matter what my weight actually was.  I always wanted it to be less.  My resolution was solidified by the inevitable increase in weight that started at Halloween and continued through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve Celebrations.  I was never happy with what the scale foretold on the morning of January 1st.   I would begin another crazy diet with ‘guaranteed success.’ I’ve tried everything from counting calories to The Grapefruit Diet to Atkins to Raw Food to training for a marathon. Regardless of what I might have said about choosing a particular diet for health reasons, somewhere deep in my mind, I just wanted to lose weight. Over the years I tired of the roller coaster ride. I got tired of picking up old journals and reading the same resolution over and over again.  I didn’t want my gravestone to say “she never lost those last 5 pounds.”  Honestly, I was bored with myself.  So at some point, I gave up. Mind you, the tape has not fully erased itself.  I can still hear its echo playing deep in my mind.  But it has become much easier to ignore as I practice mindfulness and embodiment. Mindful eating and embodiment are challenging resolutions.  They require slowing down, being patient, and listening.  They require letting go of the judgmental and predatory mind that wants to force my body into compliance.  They require learning to tell the difference between what my body wants and what my mind wants.  For those of us who have spent a life time alternatively battling and numbing our bodies with food, hearing and understanding what the body needs and wants is a challenging resolution in itself. The first step is surrender, to stop battling, to give up.  Once we’ve surrendered we can use meditation techniques to witness what we choose to eat and how we choose to care for our bodies. We can begin a scientific exploration of eating, exercising and observing how the body responds.  We disengage from the scale as the measure of success.   Instead we choose a sense of wellbeing as our measure of success.  Here are my simple suggestions toward finding wellbeing:
  1. How to eat: Eat with love for yourself and integrity for the higher good. To quote Geneen Roth: “Eat what your body wants, when your body is hungry, stop when you have had enough.”
  2. What to eat:  Eat with love for yourself and integrity for the higher good. To quote Michael Polan: “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother would not recognize as food.”
  3. How to exercise: Move your body, in a way you enjoy, every day.  To quote myself:  “Dancing (walking, running, yogaing…) is your birthright.”
  4. How to think: Make a daily gratitude list. To quote my friend Happy Jack: “My happiness is directly proportional to my gratitude”
  5. More on how to think: Meditate and pray. It doesn’t really matter who or what you pray to.  Meditation and prayer are the opposite of worry. Use them to guide your mind in the direction you want to go.  If eating is your meditation, you have at least 3 opportunities to meditate each day.
  6. How to survive and thrive: Join a support group (like the Well-Being Group at Live Well Studio), talk to friends, the journey is more difficult in isolation.
Our Well-Being Classes include support and fellowship along with personally researched instructions for the path to mindful eating and embodiment. Registration is now open for: Wednesdays, 7-9pm, January 23, 2013 through March 13 Fridays, 10:30-11:45am, January 25, 3013 through March 15

4:56 pm

You are invited to the Yuletide Yoga Retreat

By Lisa Wells As the holidays approached this year, I decided to take a winter solstice retreat.  I’m looking forward to two days of silence and darkness.  I’ll have my home to myself and dip deeply into meditation and yoga.   And I’m curious to spend a few days in deep winter without artificial light.  I think my eyes will appreciate a respite from the compact florescent and halogen lights in my home and from the glare of my computer screen. My husband and sons will be visiting relatives.   They will be returning late on the 25th,which left me spending most of Christmas Day alone.  And while I was looking forward to my retreat, I knew that spending Christmas day by myself might leave me feeling sad and lonely.  I know a fundamental piece of my internal struggle is constant craving for solitude competing with the desire for community.  From this pondering was born the idea for the Live Well Studio ‘Yuletide Yoga Retreat.’  I wanted to bring the intention of my personal solstice retreat to my Yoga community. In our current world with its pervasive lighting and computer screens our minds have lost touch with the natural rhythms our bodies need. We don’t indulge our need for darkness or rest. And we feel poorly when we don’t meet an external standard of cheer or party enthusiasm.  The combination of high expectations, the push-push-push to consume more and the lack of rest are part of the cause of winter blues and seasonal affective disorder.   For those of us who find ourselves alone on the holiday, the possibility of self-pity and depression is just too high. During this retreat we will drop deep inside ourselves while enjoying the company of other yogis and yoginis. This will be a day to relish the space between, the liminal space, that opens at the solstice.  We will savor solitude and community, strength and surrender, darkness and the returning of light. The Yuletide Yoga Retreat will be an antidote to the holiday blues. We will spend time resting in community. We’ll be fed delicious healthy foods. We’ll be quiet and we will be social. We’ll stretch our bodies, our minds and our spirits.  We’ll laugh together.  I hope you will join us. Register here

5:00 pm

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

By Lisa Wells Travel takes it’s toll on the body.  We scrunch ourselves into small spaces for hours. We eat poorly. It is difficult to stay hydrated.  We’re stressed by the environment and by the pressure of holiday expectations.  There are many simple yoga exercises you can do in the confines of a plane, train or automobile that will relieve your body and your stress.    But please don’t practice yoga while your in the driver seat of the car.  As Thich Nhat Hanh wisely said: “when driving, just drive.” Simple breathing can go along way toward making you feel better and at ease.  Begin by turning your attention to your breath.  Experience the simple act of breathing. Then extend your exhalations.  Work toward exhalations that are twice as long as your inhalations.  On your exhale think of detoxing your body, on your inhale think of replenishing your body.  You can practice this for as long as you like. Ankle and wrist circles will begin the process of moving lymph and blood from the extremities back toward the lung and heart.  Make about 10 big circles in each direction with each wrist and ankle. Point and flex your ankles, roll through the ball of the foot, turn your foot over and press the top of the toes into the floor.  Do ‘spider pushups’ with your hands, make fists and then extend your fingers, flick your finger tips, do the Star Trek Vulcan salute and then switch to a ‘W’ salute (pointer and pinky extended, middle and ring fingers together). Switch back and forth between those two.  Flick your fingers again a few times when you are through. Neck circles ease the strain from your shoulders and  your neck. Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder, then drop your head forward and chin toward your chest and then left year toward left shoulder.  Circle back and forth about 6 times. Then, keeping right ear toward right shoulder use your right hand to gently enhance the stretch.   You can turn the face downward to take the stretch more into the back of the neck. Repeat on the left side. Seated Cat/Cow can release low back strain.  Sit a little forward in your seat so you are not leaning onto the seat back. Rest your hands on your thighs and sit up very tall.  On your exhalation engage your abdominal muscles, drop your head forward and round your back.  On your inhalation keep your belly strong as you lift your heart and your gaze and come into a gentle back bend.  Alternate back and forth from the stretch of the front of your spine to the stretch of the back of your spine. Continue for as long as it feels pleasant. Seated Chandrasana stretches the sides of the body.  Stay forward in your chair as you arch your spine left and right.  You can bring the right arm overhead as you arch left and the left arm overhead as you arch right.  Do as many as feels good. Seated Twisting will complete the range of motion exercise sequence through your spine. Bring your left hand behind you and your right hand to your left knee.  Use the strength of your arms help you into a spinal twist.   Keep yourself very upright as you do this.  Stay in the twist for up to 6 breaths before changing sides. Seated Pigeon will help your release your low back.  Sit up nice and tall.  Bring your right ankle to your left knee.  Allow your right knee to drop down toward the floor.  Gently forward fold over your right shin.  Hold for up to 6 breaths and then change sides. Seated Apanasana is good closing pose for your mini-yoga practice.  Sit up nice and tall again and draw your right knee into your belly.  Interlace your fingers and use your clasped hands to pull the knee in tight to the belly. Drop your forehead towards your knee. Hold this pose for up to 6 breaths and then change sides. You can complete this whole sequence in under 10 minutes or stretch it out for 15 or 20.   If you have a long trip, repeat the sequence once every hour and you should feel much better at the end of your trip.  If you are in the driver seat, take regular breaks and do yoga at the rest stops. Make sure you drink lots of water. Take along food that you know will nourish you. If you’re on a plane or train get up and walk the aisles from time-to-time.  And have a great trip!

7:20 pm

Yoga for Breath & Mind

By Lisa Wells At the beginning of yoga class, I often ask how people are feeling and what they need.  Someone will mention their low back, another their knees, another their neck or shoulders.  Inevitably someone will say “the space between my ears.”   We’ll all laugh because ‘the space between the ears’ is a universal complaint.  And yoga can help.  Contrary to what is presented on the covers of magazines, the goal of yoga is not fancy poses; the goal of yoga is to calm and quiet the space between your ears so that you can be realized.  As Pantajali said  “Yoga chitta vritti Nirodha.  Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam.  Yoga calms the storms of the mind.  Then one rests in their true nature” Notice that Pantajali used the words ‘their true nature.’  A basic precept of yoga psychology is that you are already realized, the problem is that you have forgotten.  Being born into this life we forget our true nature. We become charmed by the glamour of the world. We get distracted by baubles and trinkets, by glory and majesty, as well as by pain, suffering, tragedy, work, and struggle. We confuse the ephemeral with the eternal.  We forget who we are.  Our minds, doing what minds do, spin into the future or the past, worry, fret, get angry, plan, play, and imagine.  These are the ‘chitta vritti, turnings of the mind,’ that Pantajali spoke of. If you have ever tried formless meditation, you’ve no doubt witnessed the ‘chitta vritti’ of your mind.  When followed in sequence yogic meditation give us tools to calm our mental storm and find our way to meditation. We begin with breathing exercises (Pranayama), followed by quieting the senses (Pratyahara), proceeding to concentration (Dharana), continuing with meditation (Dhyana) and finally, experiencing Samhadhi, the realization of our true divine nature. Notice that nowhere does this say ‘silence the mind.’  Somehow we have acquired the idea that we are seeking a silent mind.  That is not right. The process of meditation allows us to detach from the mind’s chatter. We realize that the chatter is not who we are.  By detaching, we learn to direct, concentrate and focus our minds.  We learn to guide our minds where we want to go.  As we set our sights on Samadhi, we discover we are already there. More practically, the yogic breathing exercise will also improve your respiratory and mental health.  You’ll increase lung capacity and ease of breath.  Yogic breathing exercises can relieve asthma, allergies and sinus infections.  These exercises have been shown to ease anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders and PTSD.  Overall, yoga makes you a happier and healthier person, and if in the process you happen to Realize, Bingo! Learn more at the Happy Breath & Mind Laboratory !  Led by Lisa Wells on Dec 11, 2011. References: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/April/Yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200011/yoga-not-just-exercise http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819112124.htm http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/04/06/17144.aspx http://www.yogajournal.com/health/127 http://news.health.com/2009/06/01/yoga-helps-those-asthma/

6:20 pm


By Lisa Wells “My happiness is directly proportional to my gratitude.”  ~ Happy Jack. Gratitude is a practice that makes a direct difference in the quality of our lives.  It changes the way we think and the way we view our lives.  Gratitude is a prayer that keeps us in a positive frame of mind. Worry is prayer that keeps us in a negative frame of mind. You choose. Your mind is malleable. This is one purpose of meditation: to discover that you choose what occupies your mind. Meditation is a little like learning to ride a bike.  You have the ability to steer your mind.  “Think where you want to go.” I begin each day with gratitude, gratitude for very simple things. Before I get out of bed in the morning I say simple prayers.  “I am grateful for my warm bed.  I am grateful for a roof that does not leak. I am grateful for my family.  I am grateful for the beauty outside my window. I am grateful for work that satisfies me. I am grateful for my friends and my colleagues.  I am grateful for my practice and my teachers.” When I start the day with prayers of gratitude, the rest of the day is reflected in that light. It is easier to deal with the bumps in the road when the bigger picture is clear.  I can shake off the small distractions of worry and doubt and dwell in turning my mind where I want it to go. Each of us has much to be grateful for.  Remind yourself daily of the gifts in your life. Practicing gratitude you will feel grateful. And you will begin to show some of that mental sparkle that I attribute to my friend Happy Jack.  You too will discover that “your happiness is directly proportional to your gratitude."

3:34 pm

Yoga Teacher Falls for Pilates

Guest post by Miranda Knox Yoga and Pilates form an ideal union. I've always heard that Pilates could strengthen my core muscles (i.e. abdomen), and that sounded like a compliment to my yoga practice. Yet, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to devote my precious 60 minutes of blissful yoga practice to an unfamiliar practice. The new experiences I've had with the Pilates reformer machines and the incredible teachers at Live Well have been nothing short of life enhancing. To my surprise, the class includes a mind body connection, stress reducing breathing, laughter, and what seemed like a lesson in anatomy. I am learning about muscles, joints, and bones that are part of integrated body movements. Pilates is allowing me to teach my yoga classes with more precise directions and effective imagery. I've learned so much after taking only 5 classes, and they are so fun! My posture is better, and my body is different. I feel stronger, happier, and more complete. It's been super rewarding to try something new, and then incorporate it to my routine yoga practice. Now, I can hardly wait for the next Pilates class. Miranda has created a class Centering Flow melding her passion for Yoga with her new found appreciation of Pilates. Join her Wednesdays at 5:30pm.

10:01 am

Kundalini Yoga: The Yoga of Awareness

Guest post by Miranda Knox Have you ever had the feeling that yoga found you?  In 2008, Kundalini Yoga found me. I had already used pictures from yoga magazines on vision boards that included Kundalini yoga, but I had no idea at the time. When I finally went to my first Kundalini class, I had recently started an exciting career of being a full-time yoga teacher!  My energy was full of a spiritual desire for devotion. I wanted to live a life full of purpose. During a lunch with a fellow yogi, I learned that Kundalini yoga worked on moving energy through all your charkas more acutely than any other type of yoga. This sounded promising, and I left lunch with the information of where I was going to try Kundalini. The class itself was different that any other yoga class I’d ever taken. We ran in place for 2 minutes to build perseverance. We did body drops from seated mountain to release fear. We meditated on the color green for abundance. We chanted words I didn’t understand. After I left class, I felt like a better version of myself. I kept getting phone calls from friends I hadn’t talked to in years. All doubt about my life was forgotten. I suddenly went from feeling lost to feeling in the flow of the universe. I went back to class to ask the teacher more about how I could teach this kind of yoga, but many people surrounded her after class. It’s tradition to share tea and conversations after class. So I only managed to get her business card. It said, “ spiritual teacher”. I emailed her, we met, and she gave me a Kundalini practice that would illuminate my relationship to my self, others, and destiny, based off my birthday. I had to practice every day for 40 consecutive days. I set my intentions of growing as a teacher and finding a life partner. The next forty days were magical as my goals started to come true. Most importantly, I became more confident, happier, spiritual, healthy, whole, creative, and compassionate. My yoga students noticed I seemed more meditative in my persona, and I was in awe of how things were falling into place. I knew my next step was to learn how to teach Kundalini Yoga. It gave me strength through a transition in my life, and I wanted to share that with others. Kundalini Yoga is a sacred science that expands your creative potential into its highest consciousness. It gives your power to attract the health and happiness you are seeking. You instantly feel a connection to your divine purpose. There are Kundalini practices for every purpose ranging from health to spiritual but all of them work on every level of your being. The power is in the experience. To read more about Kundalini Yoga check out www.3ho.org. Miranda teaches Kundalini Yoga, Mondays, 6:30-7:30pm at Live Well Studio.

6:07 pm

Ayurvedic Treatment for Joint Pain

Last night I was watching TV. I don’t watch TV often, but I do have a few naughty pleasures.  Anyhow, I’m always struck by the commercials.  What are we being sold?  What are we ingesting, physically and psychologically? One of the commercials that struck me the most was for an arthritis medication.  After touting its benefits, the announcer began to recite an extraordinary list of side-effects that seemed to include death and dismemberment.  (Not really, but you get it, right?).  Who would want to take that stuff?  Especially when there are safer and even pleasant ways to feel better in your body. And this is the place of Yoga and Ayurveda.  Pleasurable treatment. They don’t work overnight. They take some persistence. But there are no side-effects and you’ll actually enjoy taking them.  You’ll begin to glow as a result of your treatment. What more could you ask for? I mix up an oil for Joint Pain that I simply call “Joint Oil.”  It has no side effects. I enjoy using it.  It doesn’t work overnight. But using it shifts you toward a feeling of wellbeing that permeates more than just the joint.  It’s good for you.  How cool is that? ‘Joint Oil’ is a blend of Mahanaryan and Kastor oils.  Joint oil is great for any sore joint.  If your problem is low grade and chronic joint pain, massage Joint Oil into the painful area each day before you bathe.  Let the oil penetrate your skin for about 10 minutes before bathing with warm water. If your pain is high or you have an acute injury, then also massage Joint Oil into the painful area before you sleep at night and wrap the area with an ace or wool bandage for the night.  Joint Oil is also fabulous for circulatory problems, cold hands and feet, or Reynaud’s syndrome.  The treatment is the same as it is for joints: massage the oil into the effected area before a bath or bed.   Do not use Joint Oil internally or on an open wound. I mix other Abhyanga Oils specifically for each Dosha (Ayurvedic Body type). The oils are light and delicious on the skin.  A complete Ayurvedic skin care regimen begins with drying brushing your skin each morning, followed by an oil massage and then a warm shower or bath.  Dry brushing your skin removes dead skin cells while stimulating circulation.  Warm water allows the skin to absorb the oil it needs while washing away any excess.  The oil not only improves skin softness it also creates a light protective barrier. We are also carrying oils and nutritional products from Banyan Botanicals.  Taking Ayurvedic herbs is very different than taking western medications.  Their intention is to create balance and harmony. They are pleasantly aromatic and pleasurable to ingest.  They shift the body toward Sattva, harmonious existence.  It has taken about 6 months, but taking Banyan's Joint Formula treating my knees with Joint Oil  and doing my yoga practice with a eye toward knee health has effectively removed the arthritis pain I was experiencing in my knees. If you are curious to learn more about your Dosha, individual body type, we encourage you to sign up for an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation with Lisa or Angie.  Through the end of 2011 the consultations are being offered at a special rate. We’d love to see you sooner rather than later. You can be your most vibrant and healthiest self for the New Year!

8:45 pm

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India. Ayurveda literally translates: complete knowledge for longevity. The Veda's are the ancient texts of India on which Yoga is founded. The Ayur Vedas can be thought of as the texts that describe health care. The word has come to mean a preventative health care system based on ancient Indian wisdom. Ayurveda reminds us that our whole life is medicine: what we eat, what we do, how we sleep, and how we care for ourselves. Ayurveda counsels us to seek balance in our lives and to tune our lives to the seasons: eating, sleeping, feeding, and exercising ourselves appropriately to the season of the year and the seasons of our lives. Ayurveda is a ‘slow-acting long-lasting therapy.’ Do not expect overnight changes. As you change your lifestyle, your body will change and your health will shift toward balance.

What is a Dosha?

Ayurveda view is that each individual is born with a particular constitution with particular health challenges. Your constitution is your particular balance of elemental energies: earth, water, fire, air and space. Each of us tends to go out of alignment in specific areas of life and health. Bringing our elemental energies back into balance, our physical, emotional and spiritual health also returns to balance. The three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, describe which elements tend toward imbalance in us. Some of us are dominantly one dosha, others of us are a mix of two or all three doshas. All of us have all the elements, thus three doshas within us. Our body type, prakriti or vrkriti, speaks to the balance or imbalance of the doshas in our body at birth, prakriti, or at a particular moment in time, vrikriti.

Vata Dosha is dominated by the elements Air and Space. When Vata Dosha is out of balance, nervous and anxiety issues are likely. Vata-types are prone toward fear in the face of stressful situations.

Pitta Dosha is dominated by the elements Fire and Water. When Pitta Dosha is out of balance digestive and coronary issues are likely. Pitta-types are prone toward anger in the face of stressful situations.

Kapha Dosha is dominated by the elements Water and Earth. When Kapha Dosha is out of balance, stagnation (in the lungs or digestive tract) issues are likely. Kapha-types are prone to stubbornness in the face of stressful situations.

What can Ayurvedic Counseling offer me?

An Ayurvedic Counseling session will assess your current lifestyle and make recommendations toward acheiving a balanced and harmonious lifestyle. You will receive individualized suggestions for nutrition, yoga and exercise, meditation, rest, bathing and skin care. You may choose to supplement these suggestions with skin oils and herbs to help balance your Doshas. Angie and Lisa will be available for Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counseling beginning in late October. A special introductory rate is two sessions for $75 until 12/31/2011.

11:47 am

Yoga Hip Openers with a Bolster, with Lisa

Here is the delicious Yoga Bolster sequence we do in class regularly.  Enjoy!!!