Written on December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am , by FITNESS Intern
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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Written on October 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm , by FITNESS Intern
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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Written on October 23, 2013 at 10:24 am , by FITNESS Intern
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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Written on September 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm , by FITNESS Intern
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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Written on July 16, 2013 at 9:50 am , by Samantha Shelton
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.
Written on June 19, 2013 at 9:47 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Pigeons in Times Square are nothing new, but releasing tension in your hips and glutes with pigeon pose? Well, now we’re talking. For those in the New York area, be sure to kick off your summer with Athleta’s “Mind Over Madness” Friday yoga fest in celebration of the longest day of the year. From 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., thousands of yogis of all ages and skill levels will gather for Solstice in Time Square to salute the sun for free. Om, what!? As the president of Times Square Alliance and co-founder of the event Tom Tompkins said, “Solstice is an experiment in balance: The sun standing still in the sky on the longest day of the year, and thousands of yogis standing still, and being still, in the middle of the world’s busiest crossroad. It’s a metaphor for calming the mind amidst the madness of modern life.”
Sign up now (seriously, spots fill up fast) to end your week peacefully and restored in one of the five outdoor classes on Broadway Plazas. The first 1,200 pre-registered participants to arrive for each class will receive Athleta goodies and a chance to win giveaways in the yoga village. Good news for you non-New Yorkers, too: 40 store locations nationwide will also be commemorating, offering classes free of cost. Regardless, be sure to follow @Athleta on Instagram – and us at @FitnessMagazine - to participate in their “Seize the Solstice” contest and tag your photos with #SeizetheSolstice and #SolsticeTSq for prize packages. We’ll be there bright and early and hope to see you, too! To grab a mat and learn more, check out the Times Square Alliance website.
Written on June 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Listen up, New Yorkers! This Sunday, the world’s largest and fastest growing yoga and music platform Wunderlust will hold its annual Yoga in the City (YITC) at Chelsea Piers. Get your weekend warrior on by hitting the mat with the nation’s leading teachers and live music under the summer sun starting at 1:00 p.m. After all those down dogs, connect with fellow yogis and refuel with LYFE Kitchen (be sure to check out the good-for-you culinary demos!), LUNA and more! Plus, four lucky golden ticket winners—yes, similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—will score a four-day entrance to the Wanderlust Festival in Vermont, June 18 through 23.
“Wanderlust Yoga in the City serves as an urban escape for yogis looking to capture the essence of our 4-day festivals, in the midst of their regular routines,” said Wanderlust co-founder, Jeff Krasno. “We are thrilled to return to New York, bringing together top-of-the line talent, likeminded sponsorships and a strong, mindful community of people that make up the fabric of our brand.”
Wanderlust Yoga’s core mission is “to create community around mindful living,” a value-based approach to eating well, being green and aware of today’s challenges, as well as practicing with a purpose for a healthy life and open heart. For more information and save a spot, visit Wanderlust’s website. Namaste!
Written on April 18, 2013 at 9:09 am , by Karla Walsh
On our quest to find the most unique classes around, we discovered the class for type As: Yoga Bootcamp. This variety includes a mix of flowing poses and muscle-building strength moves performed at a heart-pumping pace. In our class, a top 40 playlist kept the pace moving at a fast clip…until the final five minutes. Then, the instructor (and triathlete) Lindsey Opp of PowHer Fitness, says, “The most difficult part of the class begins.” In other words, the time you lie still in corpse pose and clear your brain to focus on your breath might be even more of a challenge than the super-sculpting moves. Yup, there is a yoga class for us all…even those who have slowing down.
Try this style yourself at home with two moves from the bootcamp:
- Start in plank position, with abs tight, body in a straight diagonal line from shoulders to heels and hands under shoulders.
- Slowly lower down in a triceps push-up, keeping elbows near ribcage. As you lower, bring right knee out to the side and forward to meet right elbow (see picture).
- Push back up to starting position and place right leg back behind to meet left.
- Switch sides and repeat. Try to complete 5 reps per side.
- Begin with feet about two feet in front of an empty wall. Bend down and place hands at shoulder-width, about one foot on front of toes (A).
- Place most of body weight on hands and carefully place one foot low on the wall while the other remains on the floor.
- Step other foot up on the wall and alternate stepping legs higher, until legs are fully extended (B).
- Hold handstand position for five seconds, then walk feet back down the wall until you can step back to the starting position.
- Repeat, stepping first with the opposite leg.
Written on March 27, 2013 at 10:00 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Wouldn’t you love to have access to a studio-quality yoga class whenever the desire to practice strikes? A calming atmosphere and knowledgeable instructor make for a restorative flow that keeps yogis coming back for more. So if you can’t get your om fix live, we recommend checking out Yogify, a new app from EA Sports.
Studio yoga flows promise different sequences every time you unroll your mat, and Yogify offers more than 30 hours of practice across 50 progressively challenging classes. The app can be downloaded for free and contains five complimentary classes. Think of it this way: once you master sun salutations, then you can try warrior poses. And thanks to audio cues and photos, you’ll have no trouble applying the basics to a beginner flow class. For intermediate and advanced yogis, there are three levels of classes available, so there’s no reason why you can’t up the ante when you feel mat time might be getting mundane.
After you’ve used the five complimentary classes, the app offers pay-to-download programs that focus on building strength, balance and flexibility. Like its free classes, these workouts span three levels and help you perfect certain poses and engage specific body parts. We bet workouts like “Superman Abs, “Teddy Bear to Tripod,” and “Inversion Excursion” will fire up your muscles and keep your practice fresh.
For more information, visit the Yogify website.
Right now, Yogify is only available on iOS. For you Android lovers, we recommend checking out yogatoday.com – the website posts one free yoga class per week, and you can get an unlimited access for $9.99/month. Keep calm and om on, friends.
Now you tell us: What’s your favorite fitness app?
Written on March 4, 2013 at 11:46 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Buttery toast, rich olive oil, fluffy soufflés—have you started drooling yet? Surprisingly, we were on our mats when yoga instructor Chrissy Carter brought these images to mind, making us dream about our next meal. The ex-Wall Streeter-turned-yogi commonly references food during her classes to help students visualize and execute poses, which we experienced firsthand to celebrate the launch of her new Gaiam DVD Beginning Yoga. Ready to say om…nom nom?
How did you first discover yoga?
I danced in college and the professors would use yoga to warm us up. I became more serious about it when I graduated and worked on Wall Street. I had a crazy-intense job, so I would go and do yoga as a way to relax and check in with myself. It was a demanding career and I felt like I needed some me time; yoga really gave me that.
Why do you think it’s important for people, especially women, to practice yoga?
I think yoga puts us back in our bodies. It gives us an opportunity to let go of all the expectations that we have and all of the things that we have to be to everybody. It also allows us to have a place where we can practice self-acceptance, and for women, that’s always a challenge. We’re always measuring ourselves us against some sort of outside expectation. And to come on your mat and be like, “I’m going to do what I can do today, and that’s OK.” Beyond the physical benefits of having those strong, supple muscles, I think the connection emotionally and mentally is so much more powerful.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would say it is really clear. I am passionate about giving people the tools that they need to be their own teacher. I want to give everybody a backstage pass into how to do these poses effectively and safely for their particular body. I use humor so that people don’t take themselves too seriously, but I also take the practice really seriously because I think it’s a perfect place for people to apply it to the bigger picture: how do I react to not being able to do this pose, and how is that similar to how I react when things fall apart in my life?