Warm Mineral Springs

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

With the red tide affecting our beautiful Gulf beaches, it gives us a good reason to explore our extraordinary area and look for other outdoor activities. Approximately 40 minutes from the downtown studio is the Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port. 

This is the only warm mineral spring in Florida and visitors have been frequenting these so called healing waters for decades.There is a plaque upon entry titled, The Original Fountain of Youth, which states the Springs is the Fountain of Youth sought by Ponce De Leon. 

An underground spring produces nine million gallons of water daily. The water is 87 degrees year round, which feels comfortably warm yet still refreshing in the hot summer months. 

Soaking in the Springs is a form of balneotherapy, which is treating disease through immersing oneself in mineral waters. Health claims include increased circulation and blood flow, increased metabolism, absorption of essential minerals through the skin, and help with other digestive issues and diseases.

These springs are rich in over 50 minerals including sodium, potassium, silica, sulfate, selenium, and radium. Minerals are alkaline which can help the body recover and regenerate itself. They also contain positive ions which can help with chronic pain and some types of disease. 

Not all of the health claims are not proven to be true, although soaking in warm mineral springs induces relaxation which in turn calms the breath and quiets the mind much like the Bikram Yoga practice. 

The park is surrounded by breathtaking grounds with grassy areas and shady trees to relax under. It is open year round (except on Christmas day) and the cost for Sarasota residents is $15. If interested, more information can be found on their website.

Even though the situation with the beaches can be disheartening, it is fun to explore and discover the abundant natural beauty around the area. Places in nature like the Springs can compliment a yoga practice by providing relaxation and a sense of overall well being. 

The Name Behind Eagle Pose and It’s Benefits 

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Eagle Pose or Garudasana was named after Garuda. In Hindu mythology, Garuda is a bird creature, half eagle and half human. He is known as “King of the Birds.” He represents birth and heaven and is associated with sun and fire.

During this posture, along with strength, flexibility, and balance you also sharpen the third eye chakra from the concentration of focusing on one point in the mirror to help hold the pose. The name Eagle relates to the keen and observant eye of an eagle who can see 4-8 times stronger than the average human. This pose helps to enhance intuition and clarity. 

In this posture, first you swing your right arm under left, crossing at the elbows and wrists. Palms face each other and fingers are below the nose. Pull the elbows down, this helps to open up the shoulders.

Then, sit down low and twist your legs by lifting the right leg high across the left wrapping the foot behind the lower calf so all five toes are visible in the front mirror..

In the second set, you switch sides, the left arm swings under the right, and the left leg wraps over the right. 

There are numerous benefits and some include:

  1. Improves balance
  2. Strengthens legs, trapezius, and deltoids
  3. Reduces varicose veins
  4. Awakens the 14 major joints in the skeletal system:
    1. Ankles
    2. Shoulder blades
    3. Shoulders
    4. Wrists
    5. Elbows
    6. Hips
    7. Knees

 

Studio Etiquette

Hot yoga Sarasota

Please help us maintain an intentional, considerate space that will facilitate your yoga practice by observing the following:

BEFORE CLASS:

  • Sign in when you arrive to the studio.
  • Leave your expectations and your shoes in the lobby.
  • Come early! If you are on time, you are late! Classes start on time, the studio is locked during class.
  • Please use the restroom before class.
  • Turn off cell phones and please refrain from using them in the studio.
  • In consideration for those with sensitivities or allergies, please refrain from wearing scented products in class. No perfume, cologne, essential oils, or any fragrances in the yoga room.

DURING CLASS:

  • Bring only mat, towel, and water into the yoga room. Please leave purses, gym bags, cell phones, watches, fit bits, gum, and other personal belongings in the dressing room or your car.
  • Make sure your water bottle has a lid and is not made of glass.
  • Please find a space close to the mirror, filling up the classroom from front to back (beginners may stay in the back). Please work together to create enough space for everyone and a good flow of energy through the room.
  • Maintain silence in the yoga room before and after class as many students utilize this time to quietly meditate. Respect the silence of your neighbors.
  • Follow the directions exactly, as they are given, to the best of your ability in each posture. Focus on what you can do now, rather then what you can’t do yet. When you are not actively doing a pose, try to remain calm and still, and focus on yourself in the front mirror. Any extra movement are distractions to you and others.
  • Stay in the yoga room. It’s always okay to take a break if you need to. If you must step out, please notify the instructor first, and re-enter the class between postures.
  • Allow yourself to sweat with no wiping. Sweat has a cleansing effect and helps regulate your body temperature.
  • Practice on your mat and towel unless you are instructed to step off your mat. The towel is there to catch the sweat. Please do your best to keep sweat on your mat/towel.(Hand towels are provided to wipe the sweat off the floor after the standing series. We do NOT use them or any prep for the postures).
  • Move together with the class during postures. Please reserve additional postures or stretches you want to practice until after final Savasana.
  • Be a good role model. Practice your stillness and discipline between poses. Notice if you are in front of a beginner, they will follow you.
  • Have compassion for yourself and others. Remember: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

AFTER CLASS

  • Still no talking
  • Enjoy Savasana. This is the final relaxation. Please do not leave the room until the teacher does. The last few moments of relaxation in Savasana at the end of class may be the most important.
  • Place rental mats on the ballet bar or hangers in the back of the room when finished with Savasana and rental towels/hand towels in the bins in the lobby or the changing rooms.
  • After class, respect others’ Savasana time and leave the room quietly – walk softly, roll your mat carefully, and shut the door gently.
  • Please limit your shower time to two to three minutes in consideration of others.
  • Check to make sure you have your personal belongings, if you forgot something be sure to come back within 24 hours to collect.
  • Take the peaceful energy you create in class into the rest of your day.

See you tomorrow, Namaste!

Tips for Practicing in Higher Humidity

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You may have noticed your Bikram Yoga practice is a little extra sweaty during the summer months. While the outside temperature has increased, it may seem like that translates into higher temps in the studio, but it’s the higher humidity, not the heat that you are feeling. 

A regularly practice is essential during the summer to help you better acclimate to the outside temperatures and to keep your practice consistent throughout the year to reap maximum health benefits. Here are some tips on how to best tolerate the increased humidity both inside and outside of the studio.

Listen to Your Body

Sweat is your body’s natural air conditioning. With the increased humidity in the air though, sweat doesn’t evaporate from the skin as readily and internal body temperatures may rise. This may also cause an increased heart rate. As with any session, it’s important to listen to your body. Remember, every day and every body is different. Honor what yours is feeling and don’t push it beyond reasonable limits. 

Stay Extra Hydrated

Staying hydrated assists your natural internal ac unit by allowing you to sweat to cool down. Keeping hydration levels consistent the days before and after practice is key. Remember, you can also hydrate with the foods you eat and with other non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages along with plain water.  

Also remember to replace lost electrolytes. You can avoid sugary sports drinks with natural electrolyte-rich sources such as coconut water, watermelon, bananas, and vegetables. 

Wear the Right Clothing

You don’t have to go out and overspend on expensive yoga clothing. But it is important to wear moisture-wicking materials. Avoid cotton clothing because they absorb sweat, become heavy, and get in the way while in some postures. You want to wear clothing that moves with you and does not require adjusting in order to stay in a meditative state during practice.  

 

Foods that Cool and Hydrate

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It’s important to stay well hydrated in the hot summer months upon us. It’s not just the heat that can be depleting, but also the increased humidity. Even with increased heat and humidity, it’s important to keep up your Bikram Yoga practice during the summer. It will actually help you adjust better to the temperatures outside and keep your mind and body in shape year round. 

Fresh water, mineral water, herbal caffeine-free teas, and juice are all excellent ways to replenish fluids, but the foods you can eat play a big role in hydration and cooling the body down as well. Here are some examples that will help you to have your best Bikram yoga practice this summer.

Watermelon

An added bonus with this juicy fruit is that along with being rich in carotene and vitamins A and C, it’s rich in electrolytes. It’s important to replenish electrolytes after sweat-inducing exercise. Watermelon is one of the most water-dense fruits you can eat. Eat it whole or extract the juice for a yummy alternative to plain water. 

Cucumber

It is 95 percent water and is perfect for snacking on, juicing, and even added to plain water to give it flavor. This cooling vegetable can also reduce swelling, like on puffy eyes, and help calm sunburn.

Mint

In an earlier post, we mentioned the powerful benefits of peppermint, one of which is it’s cooling effect on the body. You can use mint in a variety of ways to reap its benefits. Chop it up and use in salads and on other vegetables, steep the leaves to make a refreshing tea, add it to plain water, or add to fruit salads and desserts. 

Why You Should Practice Without Gadgets

Sarasota Hot Yoga

When practicing Bikram Yoga, you are in your most natural, real, vulnerable state. Even if your hair was fixed, or for the ladies your makeup applied perfectly, the sweat from the heat and humidity is sure to mess it up and melt it away quickly. 

This is one of the purest forms of yoga. There are mirrors surrounding you and for a good portion of the class, you are instructed to look directly at yourself in them. Clothing is simple because the heat and humidity of the room dictate that it pretty much has to be. Other than your mat, towel, and water, there is no need to bring anything else into the yoga studio. This includes watches and watches that are synced to a mobile device, smart phones, fitness tracking devices, etc. 

Bikram yoga is beneficial equally for the mind as it is the body integrating the two together. This is why it’s called a 90-minute moving meditation–movement in the body, calmness of the mind. Give yourself these 90 minutes to dedicate this practice solely to you without outside distractions of text messages, emails, phone calls, etc. 

If you are on a specially-regimented fitness routine where tracking your heart rate and other fitness-related goals is necessary, use the device in just a few classes, get an average of your rates, then leave it at home. Using such devices breaks the union between the mind and the body. It takes away from listening to your own body. Each class may feel different on any given day and it’s important to stay in-tuned with the messages you are receiving. 

These gadgets take yoga out of its natural state. This is the state of yoga which has proven to be beneficial for thousands of years. Reap the maximum benefits of this incredible practice in your most natural, real, and gadget-free state. 

The Importance of Following Instruction Part II

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The last post was about the importance of following the exact Bikram Yoga instruction not only to receive maximum benefits, but to also protect the body when moving through the postures. Here are some additional instructions taught during the practice and the reasons they are important.

Breathing with the Mouth Open

In the first breathing exercise, called pranayama, the fingers are clasped under the chin and the stomach is sucked in for six counts of inhalation and then six counts of exhalation. When the head goes back, you’ll hear to breath out through your mouth with a “ha” sound. This is to warm up and prepare the body for class.

Breathing Through the Nose 

With the exception of the two breathing exercises, you will will hear to breath through the nose only and this is to help cool the body down. 

Opening the Chest and Shoulders

During standing bow, the ankle is grasped from the inside to assist with opening the chest and shoulder once deeper into the posture. When kicking the leg back and up while the upper body and opposite arm are down and forward, it important to keep the arm that’s holding onto the foot relaxed to allow the chest and shoulders to open up. Too tight of a grip and a tense arm will prevent this opening. 

The same holds true in floor bow when holding onto both ankles and kicking the legs back and up simultaneously. You’ll be instructed to use the hands like hooks with straight wrists, this looser grip keeps the arms relaxed to again allow for the chest and shoulders to open up. 

Stretching the Achilles Tendon 

When in standing head-to-knee and head-to-knee and stretching poses, kicking your heal out and flexing your foot back to your face is done to stretch the Achilles Tendon. This is especially important for the health and flexibility of the lower leg and for improving leg circulation.

Getting Oxygenated Blood Circulating

Keeping arms and legs close to the body in savasana allows for the heart to not have to work as hard to get the freshly oxygenated blood flowing faster to the arms, legs, and knees.

Release Toxins

When doing kapalbhati, or blowing in firm, breathing at the end of class, you will breath in through your mouth. This is to release toxins from the mind and body, cleanse the lungs and respiratory system, improve digestion, and help cool the body down. 

Why It’s Important to Follow This Exact Instruction

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The Bikram Yoga practice is referred to as a 90-minute moving meditation, and is a powerful meditative practice, if you allow for it. One instructor says, “Bikram’s teachings, my words, your body.” What this means is to not let your mind wonder in its own direction altering poses or the timing of the series. Instead, focus on the words being said and follow along with your body's movements. 

The series has been carefully put together so that each posture prepares the body for the next. These series of movements were designed for maximum healing benefits. It is not a free-style type of practice where everyone moves to a different pace. 

When you get into the meditative state your mind benefits as much from the practice as your body does. 

The practice was designed to thoroughly follow the teacher’s exact instruction and not go into or out of the posture before or after instructed to do so. When the class stays together, a beautiful energy, a flow, takes place among the practitioners. It’s an energy from which they can feed off of one another creating a stronger, more focused practice. 

There’s another importance to those words, they are emphasized to protect different parts of the body and help prevent injury. One of the first ones you may hear is, “are you breathing?” Keep this in mind and check in with yourself throughout the entire practice. It doesn’t matter how deeply one thinks they can go into a posture if they are not breathing naturally, calmly, and through the nose. When you master this one skill, it allows for a deeper expression of the posture than when holding the breath or breathing too hard. 

The instruction of sucking the stomach in and holding it in during forward folds protects the lower back. During the floor series in wind-removing pose, the calf of the leg extended should be touching the floor; this keeps the hips in alignment. Another phrase that is heard in class is, “chest up,” this also protects the lower back and ensures the posture is strengthening the correct part of the back whether it is lower, middle, or upper. 

Lastly, “lock your knee.” Locking the knee in postures like standing head to knee is important so that you don’t hyper extend the knee joint. It also allows for the hamstrings to safely stretch. 

So while it isn’t always fun to listen to instructions in the Bikram Yoga studio, it’s important to do so to get the most out of your practice. 

Spring Cleaning for Your Gut

How Fermented Foods Keep Your Gut Healthy and Your Whole Body Healthy

Downtown Sarasota Yoga

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” If that is true, wouldn’t it make sense that a healthy gut means a body free from disease; therefore keeping the body in a healthy state? One way to accomplish this is by feeding the body bacteria, the good kind. 

Here locally in Sarasota, Sharon Juraszek has created a line of fermented foods called Fermentlicious. She began experimenting making fermented foods when she, herself, was experiencing health issues and sources she turned to for help referenced fermented foods. The beneficial bacteria in these foods killed yeast and zapped sugar cravings, two culprits of illness. Fermented foods have strains of healthy bacteria that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria changing the gut flora or microbiota for the better. 

Sharon makes a variety of products which are cabbage based and include curry, ginger, turmeric, and other naturally medicinal ingredients, all which serve a beneficial purpose. There is also a kimchi hummus made with chickpeas and fermented chocolates the are delicious. You can find fermented food products at the grocery store and at the Sarasota Farmers Market on Saturdays near the studio. 

Yes, there are probiotics you can take that are ingested into your stomach, but the fermented food contain fiber that pulls the healthy bacteria down into your intestines and colon where it is most needed to be effective. 

Being well hydrated and eating a proper diet is an essential part of a Bikram yoga practice. You can feel a positive difference when you take care of yourself outside of the studio. A healthy body makes for a healthy practice.

Private Lessons Available for Individuals, Groups, and Sports Teams

Bikram Yoga Private Lesson

Private lessons for individuals, groups, and athletes offer a world of benefits for those new to the practice, experienced yogis looking to take their practice to the next level, as a way to work through and past an injury, as a group activity, and for athletes to enhance their training. 

Individuals

If you’re new to yoga and prefer to learn the practice in an individual setting rather than in a class right away, you can take advantage of this offering. Learn the postures the right way from the start. In this setting, you can stop to ask questions and have a custom session unique to your individual needs.

Experienced yogis can benefit from private lessons when they have hit a plateau and want to advance in their practice. A small tweak can make a huge difference in the way a posture feels and benefits you. You can come alone or have a private lesson with a friend or significant other. 

For those with injuries, private lessons can help get you back on your path to being recovered and help the healing process go more smoothly. There’s no reason to skip out on practicing, you can learn modified poses to work around and through your injury. 

Groups

Do something different as a girls get together or with a bridal party, as a team building exercise with your peers, or with a group you may belong to who is wishing to change up their routine. Bikram yoga group lessons are a fun and unique way to spend time with the people you choose and have a class tailored just for you.  

Sports Teams

Bikram Yoga is beneficial to an an array of athletes. Not only does it strengthen the spine, muscles, and increase balance and flexibility, these 26 postures are formulated to regenerate tissue, cure chronic ailments, and heal and prevent injuries. 

It’s no wonder the Bikram Yoga practice has become increasingly popular with professional athletes including San Francisco 49ers Tony Parrish; NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabaar; Kobe Bryant; Wimbleton winner Andy Murray; and many more–for its injury-healing and preventative properties and also to prepare the body to perform better at sports.

Call the studio at 941-447-0090 for more information and pricing. 

The Difference Between Organic and Hydroponic

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There is a heightened awareness of where our food is coming from and how it is grown. Many are familiar with and seek out organically-grown produce. And then there is hydroponic farming which has been around for centuries. It is not organic, but it is 100 percent pesticide-free. So what’s the difference between being organic and hydroponic and why isn’t hydroponic produce organic? 

The major difference between organic and hydroponic farming is organic plants are grown in the ground in soil, while hydroponic plants are grown above ground under greenhouses. To be organic, you must grow in soil. The soil used to grow organic food is enriched with fertilizers and may contain animal manure and other animal-derived products. With hydronic farming, there is no dirt used. The seedlings are planted in elevated trays and water-soluble minerals are fed through an irrigation process directly to the roots of the plants. 

Since there is no soil used, this type of farming is very clean, pesticide-free, and produces nutrient-dense food that uses only one-tenth the amount of water than traditional farming. Locally, we have a hydroponic farm called The Homestead Hydroponic Farm. They use a system called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) instead of pesticides or any other sprays used as a repellant. This is an eco-friendly pest control method which incorporates insects, such as lady bugs, and flowers. Both act as natural protection for the produce. Because the growing takes place above the ground in greenhouses, twice the amount of food can be produced in the same amount of space with longer growing seasons. It is a very safe and nutritious way of growing food. 

Hydroponic produce is available from Homestead at both the Wednesday Phillipini Farmhouse Market and on Saturday at the Sarasota Farmers Market, nearby the downtown Bikram Yoga studio. They sell beautiful lettuces, tomatoes, and edible flowers. The farm is located next to the Myakka River State Park just 20 miles or so outside of town. You can be certain you are are eating clean, pesticide-free, and local food.

Importance of Self Care–Especially at the Holidays

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You take care of you finances, household duties, work responsibilities, and possibly look after a family. But who’s looking after you? While we may be fortunate to have people love and care for us, there is no substitute for taking care of one’s own wellbeing. Self care is an essential part of having a healthy mind, body, and spirit and to be able to nurture others. 

While it would be great if self care came automatically, unfortunately it doesn’t. It is something we must mindfully incorporate into our everyday routine. Self care can mean a number of different things to different people. And it’s not to be confused with being selfish or self absorbed, it’s actually just the opposite. A healthy practice of self care makes you calmer, more focused, and less stressed; therefore more pleasant to be around and present when in the company of others. In a way, not making time for it In our lives could be interpreted into selfishness. 

Doing one healthy behavior on occasion is not enough, just like all things in life that matter and make an impact, it requires practice and doing so frequently. 

Practices can include committing to a diet of all organic healthy foods; taking a walk during a lunch hour several times a week to get fresh air, movement, and sunlight; meditating even for just five minutes per day; making time for a regular yoga class; scheduling a regular massage; etc. Any of these are examples and it may mean incorporating a few or maybe even all of these activities to form healthy behaviors.

Adversely, if we don’t take this essential time to better ourselves we could impose stress on our minds and body which will lead to disease, cause you to give up, experience anxiety, and come to a breaking point because of work and mental overload. Neglecting oneself can also cause you to be not fully present damaging relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. 

A saying by one of the yoga instructions at the studio is, “take care of your body, so your body can take care of you.” That may just say it best!

Give the Best Holiday Gift This Year

Bikram Yoga Downtown Sarasota

Holiday gifting season is upon us and shopping for someone can be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. This year, give someone you love or care about the best possible gift there is, a gift to improve their mind, body, and spirit. Bikram Yoga Sarasota offers gift certificates in any amount. 

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If your gift recipient is a Florida resident and has not been to the studio before there is special introductory price of $50 for one month of unlimited yoga. Or choose one of the packages in ranges from three classes to an unlimited full year. This also includes access to Inferno Hot Pilates classes.

And don’t forget about mat and towel service. This added bonus gives the gift of convenience by providing your own high-quality yoga mat to practice on and two fresh towels. Your yoga mat is cleaned and stored for you and there’s no soggy towels to carry home and wash. 

Bikram Yoga Sarasota is the only authentic studio in Sarasota offering a full 90-minute class of two sets of poses and two breathing exercises. There are a lot of “hot yoga” classes offering “Bikram-style” classes in an abbreviated 60-75-minute time frame. It is these last extra  minutes of class that are most beneficial. For some they may be the most difficult, but when you learn to calm the mind, you change your life. 

And there’s more, there is now a full line of retail in addition to the already wonderful Kulae mats, which are made from an eco-friendly material called thermo-plastic elastomer, so you can feel good about gifting them. Choose from a selection of logoed hats and shirts, high-quality and affordable Manduka yoga shorts for him and her, and Spalding tops for her. Holiday shopping made easy and you are giving the best of all.

Improve Your Practice with a Posture Clinic

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Attend a Bikram Yoga Sarasota posture clinic to fine-tune your practice and expand your knowledge and understanding of Bikram yoga. These posture clinics are two and a half hours long allowing for time to answer individual questions. They are held in a regular class-like setting with other students, but you’ll get tips, one-on-one attention, corrections, and guidance. 

There was a posture clinic held a few weeks ago at the studio and afterwards in class, students applied the principles and practices they learned and have achieved transformational results. There is another opportunity to attend a posture clinic this Sunday, December 3, 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm. This class will focus on proper posters of the floor series, where the “true yoga begins.” 

Learn proper alignment and have time to practice that alignment in each floor series pose. This is the one time where you can talk during class and get the answers to your questions. This is an excellent way to improve your practice because you’ll learn and feel the proper way to do the postures and you can apply those principles in your own practice to get deeper into the poses. All levels are welcomed. 

Learn everything from the fundamentals to the final expression of each posture. Work through any obstacles and challenges you may be experiencing. Because it is in a class-like setting you’ll be able to listen and learn from fellow students who may ask questions you didn’t think to ask. 

Bring your mat, towel, and water to the clinic and wear your regular yoga attire.You can choose to attend class before the clinic if you wish to get your regular practice in, just be sure to hydrate, shower, change into a fresh set of yoga clothes, and have something very light to eat. Or you can choose to attend the 3:00 pm class afterward to practice what you just learned. We’re looking forward to seeing your transformations on the mat!

Foam Rolling for Your Yoga Practice

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

You may have seen those thick cylinder-foam objects everyone seems to be rolling their sore or tight muscles over. While they are not a new invention–trainers and sports players have been using them for years–they are gaining popularity and they can be beneficial to your yoga practice if used correctly. 

Bikram Yoga has many benefits which include increased strength and flexibility and it is sometimes practiced in conjunction with other exercises like walking or running and also by athletes. These other activities can cause sore and tight muscles making your practice more difficult. Foam rolling can help get the body back into balance. Recently, The New York Times published an article on inexpensive ways to help you recover from a tough workout and foam rolling was included. They recommend one by AmazonBasics that seems to get the job done well. 

When foam rolling, you’ll want to start slowly and be mindful of your form. It is comparable to a deep tissue massage putting all of your body weight into those sore muscles. When you feel a tight spot stop on it for just a short time while breathing through the pain until the muscle releases, but don’t overdue it.

There are several videos and techniques available to do these exercises correctly to avoid injury. Just like when having a massage, drink plenty of water after to flush out toxins that have been released.

Two of the most important things to remember to not injure the lower back are not to roll the actual lower back itself and just like in the Bikram practice, you’ll want to tighten your stomach muscles. To get lower back relief work the muscles surrounding it, such as the hips, both front and sides, and also from the very top of the glutes down to the start of the thigh.

The next day or two after using one for the first time, you may feel a bit sore. This is normal, allow a few days to go by to recover before you use it again. As with any exercise, do so carefully, don’t over due it, and learn the proper techniques to avoid injury and to get the best results. 

What's in Season: Kohlrabi High in Vitamin C and Potassium

Fall Seasonal Vegetable Kohlrabi

By now, we probably know the importance of eating what’s local and in season. Lucky for us, we have two excellent sources for local, seasonal, and some organic produce literally a stone's throw from the studioWhole Foods Market and the Sarasota Farmers Market, which is in full bloom. 

Ryan Duncan of Jubilee Organics, an all-organic farm located in Northwest Bradenton, reminds us about the importance of eating locally and informs that a large percentage of nutrients are lost just after hours of fruits and vegetables being harvested. 

Imagine what happens to those strawberries or that bag of spinach on the grocery store self that originates from California. It travels a long way on a truck to a nearby store and that’s before it’s been processed and packaged at a distributing facility. 

This time of year there is an abundance of squash available. Another not so common vegetable is Kohlrabi. This is a root vegetable in the cabbage family that may be prepared in numerous ways. Kohlrabi is similar in texture to a radish without the spiciness, but rather a slightly sweet flavor. Because it’s in the cabbage family you will get a taste of that familiar flavor, almost broccoli-like. 

It’s high in vitamin C and potassium. Double bonus! Vitamin C this time of year is essential with the winter cold/flu season just around the corner. Another reason vitamin C is especially important is the flux of seasonal visitors this area attracts coming in from northern parts of the country and possibly transporting cold and flu germs with them that have been circulating in cooler climates.

The fall issue of Edible Sarasota just hit the shelves—you can pick up a free copy at Whole Foods and other places around town. In it you can find a wealth of information on locally-sourced food in our area and they featured Kohlrabi. You can find delicious and easy recipes on their website that you can try at home using seasonal ingredients. 

One that stood out was the Sweet Potato Gratin recipe, which may be a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving table this year. 

The Next New Superfood: Moringa

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Look for the superfood green, moringa, also known as ben tree, horseradish tree, or drumstick tree. It’s been getting some buzz lately even though it's been around for centuries. Eastern cultures have been using it for decades for its multitude of health benefits and for its nutrient dense properties–rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, iron, and protein.The leaves may be eaten like a salad green, added to rice and pasta dishes, juiced or blended into smoothies, and may also be made into a powder for tea used to ward off colds. 

Moringa grows well here in Florida and is found at Jubilee Organics, a farm in Northwest Bradenton which will have a stand this season at the Bradenton Farmers Market. Farm owner Ryan Duncan, uses this superfood in his juices and smoothies each morning and also tosses the leaves into salad mixes.

Compared to its counterpart, popular matcha, which has been showing up everywhere from coffee and tea drinks to ice cream and yogurt, moringa has more fiber, calcium, sodium (great for replenishing after Bikram yoga), and vitaminsC and A. It also is an excellent source of protein and iron, two things matcha does not supply. 

A very versatile green, there are an abundant amount of recipes using moringa as an ingredient including those for cupcakes and muffins, chicken dishes, and even pesto. 

Here’s one perfect for fall found in Shape magazine: 

Pumpkin Seed Moringa Cupcakes

Recipe by Fresh Planet Flavor

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp moringa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing muffin molds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Frosting
  • 1/2 cup palm shortening, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Melted chocolate and pumpkin seeds, for topping

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a silicone muffin pan with coconut oil, or line a muffin tin with parchment liners.

2. Pulse the coconut flour, tapioca flour, pumpkin seeds, moringa powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor until the pumpkin seeds are ground into a fine meal.

3. Add the eggs, oil, and honey and puree until smooth.

4. Spoon into the cups of the silicone mold or muffin tin, then place in the preheated oven. Reduce the heat to 350° F, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean, then set aside to cool.

5. To make the frosting, whip the shortening, honey and vanilla until smooth. Fit a pastry bag with a coupler and tip, then load the frosting into the pastry bag.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting on top in the design of your choice.

6. Top with melted chocolate and more pumpkin seeds. if desired.

 

 

How to choose a yoga mat: open cell vs closed cell

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When choosing a yoga mat, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important is knowing the difference between open cell versus closed cell. With a hot, sweaty practice like Bikram, open-cell mats provide more traction and absorb sweat better than smoother closed-cell mats. But that absorption characteristic can also trap odors, germs, bacteria, and other unwelcome things. 

Closed-cell mats, on the other hand, are sometimes thought of as more slick making them more suitable for a gentler practice where one does not sweat much. But because they are water resistant and more hygienic than open-cell mats, they may be a better bet for a practice like Bikram. The slicker surface can be easily remedied by using a towel on top. Closed-cell mats also last longer than open-cell mats ultimately making them a better bet all around. 

The studio sells Kulae brand mats made from an eco-friendly material called thermo-plastic elastomer or TPE. It’s a recyclable material free of PVC, latex, rubber, etc. and it is nonporous, closed repelling those unwelcome “things” like odors, bacteria, fungi, etc. They are uber-durable, lightweight, and easy to clean. The brand’s meaning translates to community and their mission is to help bring communities together through yoga and good karma, helping to maintain healthy people on a healthy planet. So along with being more hygienic, they are environmentally friendly another important factor to consider when choosing a mat. 

Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas for Back-to-School or On-the-Go

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It’s almost back-to-school time which involves packing lunches and snacks. Recently, Whole Foods Market had an event called Fuel for School and demonstrated some fantastic healthy lunch and snack ideas for the upcoming school year. Even if you don’t have little ones at home, these ideas are great for everyday–at work, traveling, and on the go.

Recipes from Whole Foods Market

Lunches:

CLUB SANDWICH KABOBS

Ingredients:

            •           4 thick slices whole grain bread, toasted and cut into (1-inch) cubes

            •           4 slices deli ham

            •           4 slices deli turkey

            •           16 cherry tomatoes

            •           4 leaves butter or romaine lettuce

            •           1/4 pound cheddar, cut into cubes

            •           1/4 pound provolone or mozzarella, cut into cubes

            •           2 kosher dill or sweet pickles, thickly sliced

Method: 

Alternating ingredients, thread bread, ham, turkey, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and pickles onto skewers and serve.

 

AVOCADO, LETTUCE AND TOMATO PITA POCKETS

Ingredients:

            •           1 large ripe avocado

            •           1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

            •           Pinch fine sea salt

            •           Pinch ground black pepper

            •           2 whole grain pita pockets

            •           4 butter lettuce leaves

            •           1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

            •           2 medium tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices

Method: 

In a small bowl, mash avocado with vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth. 

Cut pita pockets in half. Stuff pita pockets with lettuce leaves and basil. Evenly divide avocado mixture between pita pockets, spreading it on the lettuce leaves. Add two tomato slices to each pocket.

 

After School Snacks

PB&J BITES

Ingredients: 

            •           1 1/4 cup rolled oats

            •           1 1/4 cup dried currants

            •           1/2 cup no-salt-added unsweetened peanut butter

            •           2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

            •           1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method: 

Place oats, currants, peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon in a food processor and process until smooth and sticking together. Drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water so that the mixture comes into a ball. Using a teaspoon, scoop out a heaping spoonful of the mixture. Roll into a ball, pressing firmly so that it sticks together. Chill bites until ready to serve. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze for up to one week. 

Tip: Experiment with your favorite nut butters, dried fruits and spices.

 

BAKED APPLE CHIPS

Ingredients: 

            •           2 apples (Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp)

            •           1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

 

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch or thinner (use a mandolin if you have one). Arrange slices in a single layer on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon if using. Bake 1 1/2 hours; flip slices and continue baking 1 1/2 hours longer or until completely dry and crisp (they will not crisp more upon cooling). Timing will vary depending on the moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to one week.

 

Mushrooms

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You may have noticed fewer local produce items at the store and fewer vendors at the nearby Sarasota Farmers Market this summer season. During these months, when crops are not as abundant, is a good time to incorporate less common health food items that we may not regularly eat. We recently wrote about the ancient seed amaranth and its many beneficial properties. Another less thought about food is mushrooms and the healthy attributes they offer.

Mushrooms are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food and provide protein, vitamins, fiber, and calcium. Some research has been done about certain varietals supporting healthy immune systems and they may have anti-cancer properties.

Being a very versatile food item, there are a number of ways to prepare them–sautéed, roasted, stuffed with goat cheese, fresh herbs and baked, add them to kabob skewers, portobellos can be grilled for a vegetarian meat option, and sliced thinly, they make a great salad ingredient.

We are lucky to have a local purveyor, Gulf Coast Mushrooms, supplying a large variety including fresh oyster mushrooms, shiitake, Lion’s Mane, dried reishi, and chaga and they can be found at the Sarasota Farmers Market.