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Tara Stiles Wants To Bring Your Yoga Game to Bali

Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:44 am , by

I know it’s a busy day, but you’re already checking this out, so do me a favor: close your eyes.

Did you do it?

OK, do it again, but this time take a deep breath and imagine you’re standing on a quiet beach at sunrise, feeling the cool sand between your toes and hearing the gentle lapping of the waves nearby. You’re wearing the cutest workout gear (obviously) and ready to take your yoga practice to the next level. Oh, and here comes Tara Stiles, world-renowned yoga instructor (and super cute to boot), ready to help you conquer that one pose you’ve been struggling with all year.

Sounds pretty marvelous, right? Now, I’m not the type to give you all these good ideas without also providing a chance for you to make all of it a reality. Enter Stiles’ partnership with W Hotels, and their #PoseWhenever contest.

With little to no time to ourselves these days, it feels like a miracle if we squeeze in a workout at all, especially when traveling and feeling all sorts of jet-lagged—and “rebel” yogi Stiles gets that. She even has a pose for that, actually. So she teamed up with W Hotels—where she often stays when globe-trotting herself—to create FIT with Tara Stiles, an in-room program with a video and tip cards that you can practice whenever, wherever. And when I say wherever, I mean it—girl has ideas for getting bendy in the bathtub! Basically, making your health a priority, even if only for a few minutes, is easier than ever.

Now, back to this yoga on the beach scenario. You want in, don’t you? All you have to do is log onto Instagram and start showing off. Simply upload your best poses and use the #posewhenever hashtag and you’re automatically entered to win a trip for two to Bali, where you’ll stay at the W Retreat and Spa for 3 nights, and flow through a session with Stiles. But hurry, you only have until July 2nd to impress Stiles and those W Hotels judges. As a yogi-in-the-making, I’ll be checking out the hashtag for some serious fitspo, and I may even enter a few ‘grams myself.

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Find Your Calm in the Middle of Times Square

Written on June 16, 2014 at 10:01 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Honking cars, a sea of people, lit-up billboards and a naked cowboy serenading tourists. It sounds like a place of chaos (and trust us, it is most days), rather than a serene place to practice yoga. This Saturday and Sunday, however, the Athleta “Mind Over Madness” two-day yoga event is back again, taking over the heart of Times Square and challenging NYC-based yogis to restore the body, mind and spirit in the midst of city life.

So why would you want to submit yourself to a crowd of half-naked people getting bendy, when you can do it in the comfort of your own home (or just a clean studio)? Besides the fact that it’s a crazy fun and challenging way to celebrate the summer solstice, the money raised by MINDBODY Connect will benefit Bent on Learning, a nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to NYC public school children, and Urban Zen, an integrative therapy program.

And just in case you forgot what the summer solstice is (hey, we’ve all been there), it’s the one day of the year, usually around June 21st, that signals the official start of summer. In addition to it commencing the blissful time of year for flip flops, days at the beach and all things warm and wonderful, it is also the one day when the sun reaches its greatest height, shines longer and sets later, meaning more time for all sorts of outdoor fun (and calorie burning, obvs).  

Although day one is already sold out, day two on Sunday, June 22, is still open for registration, with the first class starting at 8 a.m. and the final class beginning at 2:30 p.m. Classes run for 1.5 hours, cost $20 and are taught by master instructors, including renowned yoga teacher Rodney Yee and meditation guru Alan Finger.

So go on and register for an altogether unique experience to find peace of mind amidst a crazy-busy schedule. And don’t forget to tag us (@FitnessMagazine) and use #SolsticeTsq in the swoon-worthy Instagram shots we know you’ll take—after all, you’ll get to tell all your friends (thus making them jealous) that you did yoga in Times freaking Square. How cool is that?!

Photo courtesy of Derek Goodwin

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Free Yoga! Wanderlust Yoga in the City Summer Series Is Back

Written on April 24, 2014 at 9:14 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Planning your summer but strapped for cash? Wanderlust’s Yoga in the City (YITC) series is back and we couldn’t be more excited! Like previous years, the fast-growing evolutionary brand is offering free, all-day events with renowned yoga instructors and live music from local DJs. Plus you can snag some goodies from Kashi, LUVO, Spiritual Gangster and more. See? Being a free spirit really pays off.

“While our festivals are incomparable getaways, Yoga in the City celebrates what is local,” says Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno. “It brings together the best local teachers, musicians and craft vendors in some of our nation’s most beautiful city parks. The events pull together the local yoga and mindful community around a great day of fun and practice.” So what are you waiting for? Grab your mat and get ready to find your zen. Here’s when and where you can join the movement:

May 10: Los Angeles, CA – Santa Monica Pier
May 17: San Francisco, CA – Marina Green
May 31: Chicago, IL – Butler Field in Grant Park
June 7: Philadelphia, PA – The Piazza at Schmidt’s

For more information and to sign up, check out Wanderlust’s site to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Vincent Tran

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For Love of Art and Yoga: Join the Global Lolë WHITE Tour

Written on March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Are you a yogi with a love of fine art and an urge to travel to some of the world’s most beautiful museums? Ever have an itch to break out your mat and drop into a warrior pose in front the most powerful or inspiring statue? OK, so that notion might not be exactlywhat’s gone through your head during your last gallery visit, but if the notion sounds pretty cool, then the 2014 Lolë WHITE Tour is right up your alley. Taking place in five major museums in five major cities around the world, the series will bring together yogis—beginner, advanced and everyone in between—all dressed in white to experience a session dedicated to peace and set to the soothing sounds of a local symphony orchestra.

If this sounds like your keep-calm-and-om-on moment as much as it does to us, all you have to do is grab your mat, choose your date and sign up. These are the cities the tour will stop at:

  • April 12: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
  • May 8: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
  • May 22: The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York City
  • June 12: Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
  • July 2014: Specific date and location TBD, Edmonton, Canada

Last year’s tour brought more than 10,000 yogis together and this year promises to be just as grand. “The five prestigious museums—each one selected for its unparalleled space and atmosphere—will be transformed to provide the serenity of a yoga studio while accommodating between 500 and 1000 guests, for a yoga experience unlike anything else,” says Nathalie Binda, Lolë ’s vice president of marketing.

Ready to sign up? Tickets are $25 each and include a signature Lolë  yoga mat (score!). But hurry! Space and mats are limited, so click here to secure your spot. And if you don’t have the required all-white attire, check out the new WHITE BY Lolë  collection—100 percent of the proceeds go to support wellness programs that promote an active lifestyle in the communities visited by the tour.

Photo courtesy of Lolë 

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The Hybrid Workout We Can’t Stop Talking About: Snowga

Written on January 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Anne Anderson.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Growing up in the south, I can safely say that I’ve hopped onto a pair of skis a mere three times in my life. I can also say that those three times started with a fair amount of trembling, anxiety and general fear that I would lose control and go flying off the mountainside. But if I had met Anne Anderson back then, I’m sure my skiing experiences would have turned out a little differently.

A yoga and snow sports enthusiast, Anderson began teaching yoga classes and ski lessons in 2000, and by 2008, she discovered the organic connection between the two practices. “It was magical; it worked beautifully,” she says. “The breath is the greatest tool we have to calm the mind and body.” Since coining the term “snowga” and successfully launching the hybrid class at Connecticut’s Mohawk Mountain in 2012, Anderson has watched the mindful practice help transform the way newcomers and veterans alike experience snow sports.

Each class is structured similarly to Kripalu yoga. “The mountain becomes the yoga studio; the slope becomes the yoga mat,” says Anderson. Beginning in a circle at the base of the mountain (no skis strapped on at this point), she begins class with a relaxation breath and centering mediation lesson to calm the minds of her students. After setting a positive intention for the day, the group warms up and moves through asanas to relieve tension and stretch the body (in other words, make sure you bring gloves). The actual ski lesson follows, incorporating a few yoga postures while clipped in, like Mountain, Eagle and Chair pose, which creates an experience similar to Vinyasa flow. “Everyone loves to ski with this natural rhythm,” says Anderson. “It’s like dancing on the snow and lots of fun!” The class ends off the skis with her teaching the importance of deep-relaxation pose Savasana, or the always-popular corpse pose. It may not be conventional, but we wouldn’t be opposed to tossing in a few snow angels at the end. After all, you are already in position.

The one question on our minds: why hasn’t someone thought of this before? “Students told me that practicing snowga helped them break through to a new level of skiing, and they experienced a new sense of serenity and connection… they could relax and enjoy skiing,” she says. So basically, we’re sold.

Although classes aren’t offered across the nation yet, there’s no reason you can’t give it a go on your own. “Take time to warm-up and get centered before heading off to the chair lift. Notice the surroundings; get in touch with your breath, your body and all of the senses,” she says. “While on the mountain, think flow instead of force. Keep calm through conscious breathing,” and if you need to take a few minutes for yourself, go for it.

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Actress Tia Mowry’s Path to Healthy Living

Written on December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Tia Mowry puts her hands together for a flu-less holiday season and a healthy 2014. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for FluMist Quadrivalent)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Actress Tia Mowry (we know you’ve seen throwback show Sister, Sister) has quite a few projects on her plate. From the premier of her new television show, Instant Mom, on Nick at Nite to the postpartum products brand she is developing with twin sister Tamera, it was amazing she found the time to sit down for a chat with us! And one thing is for sure—despite her hectic schedule, her top two priorities remain in tact: her family and her health.

Despite marrying a man with a passion for health and wellness, Mowry wanted to discover it in her own way. Unfortunately, her journey began with a sudden diagnosis of endometriosis, an extremely painful infertility disorder. She quickly gained control of her health, though, and hasn’t slowed down since. “I wanted to have kids, so my doctor told me, ‘Tia, you’re going to have to change your diet,’” she says. After following the Body Ecology Diet for a full year, which focuses on alkalizing the body, Mowry became pregnant with her son Cree. “I’m now a believer that food can be medicine.”

Mowry also decided to try veganism earlier this year to help with other physical ailments – eczema, migraines and genetically high cholesterol – and she could not be happier with the decision. “What I like most about it is the emotional benefit that I get, realizing and understanding that I am doing the best that I can possibly do for my health,” she says. “I feel better, I have more energy, my eczema has disappeared, I no longer get migraines and my cholesterol levels are now fine.”

When it comes to working out, Mowry is all about doing what she loves, thanks to the advice she got after meeting yoga pro Tara Stiles. The routine that’s captured her heart? Dance cardio. “I was the type of person who would be out on the dance floor until the club closed, so I’m doing all types of dance cardio now,” says Mowry. “I’ve done Zumba, I’ve done Piloxing—which is boxing and Pilates at the same time—and I go to classes.” Oh, and she doesn’t look to the mirror for her workout motivation. “It’s not about what I look like; it’s about how I feel. When I focus on that, I actually find that I work out more,” she says. And cute workout clothes don’t hurt! She picks her outfit the night before for a little motivational push the following morning to get up and go have fun with her fitness.

This season Mowry teamed up with Flumist Quadrivalent, a nasal spray influenza vaccine option, to address another health issue she is passionate about now that she has little Cree to consider. “In the past, I did overlook flu vaccinations,” she says. “But after understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on an entire family, I started making it part of my annual routine. I want to protect my family.”

Mowry has experienced quite the journey to health and fitness, so maybe we should take a note or two from her book. “Changing your lifestyle takes time, so don’t get frustrated,” she suggests. “We have a lifetime to get this right, so don’t be too hard on yourself—it’s not beneficial. Start out slow and then build up your momentum and endurance. And just do what you love to do! I have seen a big change in my body since Tara gave me that advice.”

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Explore Yoga’s History with a New Exhibit at the Smithsonian

Written on October 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm , by

(Photo courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Most of us know that the practice of yoga stems from deep historical roots, but we’ve never had an opportunity to experience this rich culture visually—until now. “Yoga: The Art of Transformation,” which opened Saturday, October 19, is the first museum exhibit of its kind to share more than 2,000 years of yoga’s diverse history through artwork at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Through the exhibit, yogis and history buffs alike can explore yoga’s various transformations and meanings through a collection of more than 130 pieces curated from museums and collections throughout India, Europe and the United States. The pieces reveal yoga’s ancient roots and how people have been trying to master their bodies and spirits through the practice since its introduction.

On Saturday, October 26, the museum will also host a free public festival, “Diwali and the Art of Yoga,” celebrating the opening of the new exhibit alongside Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. The event will include spotlight tours of the exhibit, Asia-inspired games, classical Indian music, Indian deity storytelling, and a chance to make some yoga artwork of your own. Not to mention free yoga classes throughout the day!

Yogis, make sure to visit this exhibit before it leaves Washington, D.C. on Jan. 26, 2014. It will appear next in the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (February 21 through May 25) and then the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22 through September 7).

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We Tried It: Equinox’s Flow Play

Written on October 23, 2013 at 10:24 am , by

Flow Play capitalizes on the power of music and sound for an overall enhanced practice. Namaste to that.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

I’m quite the traditionalist when it comes to practicing yoga—all I need is my mat, my body and a soft-speaking instructor guiding me through postures in an otherwise quiet room. However, Flow Play, a new yoga class from Equinox that matches each yoga posture with musical soundtracks from around the world, helped me experience the mind-body connection of yoga in an entirely new way.

Co-created by Equinox instructor Derek Beres and three-time Grammy nominated musician Philip Steir, Flow Play is designed for yogis of all levels—especially those looking for a new style of practice. The class takes recent psychological research about the deep connection between listening to music and the body’s physical movement and brings it to life. Each song selected for particular postures helps students focus more purposefully on their pose and elicit a certain physiological response. Indian sitar music, for example, is proven to lower cortisol levels and inspire a state of relaxation, so the DJ plays these tunes during shavasana and other restful poses. Heavy beats, on the other hand, increase the heart rate and inhibit the body’s pain receptors, helping you push through the more difficult components of a workout (think sprinting to the finish line or lifting your maximum weight). So the DJ matches these more intense sounds with more challenging poses like the Vinyasa flow series or warrior postures.

No two classes are the same, because each instructor creates original series of postures and the DJs adjust their playlists accordingly. Flow Play debuted in select clubs in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas earlier this month, and Equinox will continue expanding the class schedules through early 2014. They offer a Vinyasa class focused on energetic and athletic movements as well as a therapeutic Restore class that opens the joints with deep stretching and full breathing techniques. Are you ready to give this musically inspired yoga class a try?

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Find Your Center: Celebrate Yoga All Month Long

Written on September 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm , by

Stretch and lengthen your thighs, groin, chest and shoulders with one of our favorites, tree pose. (Photo courtesy of Chris Fanning)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With summer coming to an end and a post-vacation workload piling up on your desk, National Yoga Month could not have arrived at a better time! In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated the month of September to raising awareness of yoga’s benefits—improving strength, flexibility, posture, breathing and stress management—so what better way to celebrate than hitting the mat? Studios, teachers and brands nationwide filled these 30 days with a variety of events to help newcomers and experienced yogis alike strike a pose in fun, budget-friendly ways. Take advantage of these special classes, programs and even an app to balance both your mind and body.

  • New York City’s Pure Yoga studios are offering a selection of free yoga classes between Monday, September 9 and Friday, September 13 for first-time visitors and longstanding members. Be sure to sign up for these zen sessions soon – spots will go fast!
  • Athleta and YogaGlo teamed up to create a series of free online yoga classes available throughout September. The videos are separated into three practice levels to meet every yogi’s needs. If group fitness is more your style, Athleta storefronts are also hosting special events all month long. Visit their website to find one near you.
  • For the yogis with limited free time, DailyBurn.com is offering a free, 30-day trial of their online yoga program YogaFlow. This video progression caters to practitioners of all levels by integrating different styles such as mobility, meditation and strength recovery yoga.
  • Internationally acclaimed yoga expert and teacher Christine Martitz developed Dive Into Yoga, a mobile app for iPhone and Andriod that helps you take your practice virtually anywhere! The 26 professional videos demonstrate each posture with far more detail than other apps that rely on still images alone.

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Why Surfing on the East Coast May Be Better Than Catching Waves in Hawaii (Seriously!)

Written on July 16, 2013 at 9:50 am , by

Post-wave riding with my Hot Wax Surf Shop instructors!

Surfing. It’s on everyone’s bucket list. And when you imagine yourself crossing that particular item off the to-do list, I’m sure you envision white sandy beaches, lots of palm trees and, well, hot surfer dudes in Hawaii. At least, that’s how I pictured it.

When I actually crossed it off my list earlier this year, though, it happened somewhere I never would’ve expected: North Carolina! More specifically, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast at Emerald Isle Beach. I met up with Mike Crews, owner of Hot Wax Surf Shop, who’s been surfing since he was five years old, and instructing for the last 15 years. After getting zipped up in an oh-so-sexy wetsuit (insert sarcasm here), I hit the beach – not the water – for lessons on how to power through the waves, nail my timing, paddle like I’m about to die, and pop up to catch and ride that glorious wave.

One lesson Crews stressed that I wasn’t expecting: yoga is a critical component to successfully surfing. Wait, what? I knew you needed balance, core and upper body strength. I felt I had a decent amount of all three, but hadn’t been “om-ing” regularly. Would I be able to hang ten?

Not only does Crews instruct surfing, he’s also been teaching yoga for the last 15 years. So it made sense to get the low-down on both sports from him. Read on to find out what the big deal is, and why you should pop up on the Crystal Coast this summer (August kicks off their season). Spoiler: While I definitely got knocked around a bit, I rode a wave by the end of the day. Success!

Why are yoga and surfing so closely related?

Yoga is something most people have at least dabbled with, so if I make the connection between the activities, it’s often easier for them to relate the two. They understand that when they’ve popped up on the board and are riding, they’re basically in a Warrior II pose. Downward-facing dog is another similar pose because it’s how you shift from lying on the board to popping up to that Warrior II pose – if you can jump between those two poses quickly, then that simulates jumping up to the position you need to catch a wave. The only major difference is you’re on a surfboard instead of a yoga mat.

What are some top poses you recommend for surfers outside of the water?

I would always recommend that you do a few sun salutations before you go out. They’re going to stretch your entire body every way, and it gets your breath going. Yoga is so great for surfing because it helps with flexibility and expanding your breath, which are both critical components to being a successful surfer.

Why is the breathing part so important?

A lot of different yoga programs teach retention of the breath, which helps you inhale quickly, hold the breath and then release it slowly. If you’re about to hit the water, you need that quick inhale. As you swim to the top, you’re not necessarily holding your breath, but slowly releasing it. By the time you run out, you should be at the surface. So the practice of letting it go slowly and deliberately can really help you out. Yoga and breath retention helps you learn to keep calm during stressful situations, too, which is big if and when a scary situation pops up.

Um, scary situation? 

A lot of people forget how strong the ocean is. If you get stuck under water, it can be like God holding his thumb down on you. You have to be able to maintain that sense of calm while having a lot of lung expansion. You don’t want to panic and  fight – that only makes it worse.

How often would you recommend a beginner surfer practice yoga?

If you asked that in a yoga class, the instructor would likely say, “Do whatever you feel comfortable with.” While that’s true, I would say that you should really become proficient at yoga and go around three times a week if you want to surf.

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