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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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Find Calm in the Busiest City: Summer Solstice in Times Square This Friday

Written on June 19, 2013 at 9:47 am , by

Slow down, city hustle and bustle! Focus on your breath with Tao Porchon-Lynch, Drisana Carey and more this Friday. (Photo courtesy of Athleta)

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.

Wanderlust Yoga in the City

Written on June 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm , by

Sun salutation in the sun on Sunday? Yes, please! (Photo courtesy of Michael Malandra)

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!

2 Yoga Moves For Type A Personalities

Written on April 18, 2013 at 9:09 am , by

Some runners, spinners and bootcamp devotees skip yoga classes thinking they’d be bored by the slow pace and not challenged enough by the practice. Luckily, as yoga grows in popularity, a wider variety of styles is offered. And if you’re willing to try some new things, it is possible to find a omm-azing fit, even if you’re not the most zen.

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:

Spiderman Push-ups

  • 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.

Wall Walks

  • 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.

Yoga on the Go: Practice Anytime, Anywhere with Yogify

Written on March 27, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Stretch those muscles anywhere. (Photo courtesy of EA Sports)

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?

Chrissy Carter Explains How Food and Yoga are the Perfect Combo

Written on March 4, 2013 at 11:46 am , by

Editorial Assistant Samantha Shelton laughs at one of Carter’s many food references throughout class…she’s making us hungry! (Photo courtesy of Jim Lafferty)

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?

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Fit Blogger We Love: Sweet Tater

Written on January 4, 2013 at 9:18 am , by

Katie practices hot yoga every day – we only hope we can be as flexible as her some day! (Photo by Courtney Linnehan)

If we ever got the chance to meet Katie Levans, or should we say Tater, from Sweet Tater in person, we can only imagine it would be full of smiles, laughs and quickly segue into a blissful hot yoga session. The instructor and nutritionist draws us in with her yummy meal posts and makes us laugh with her weekly “Caturday” blurbs.

Since we likely won’t get to hang anytime soon though (darn!), we’ll take the next best thing: Katie is starring on one of our favorite guilty-pleasure TV shows: season 17 of The Bachelor. Gunning for Sean Lowe’s heart, we’ll cozy up on the couch while she tries to win the coveted rose week after week from the blonde heartthrob. If he doesn’t immediately fall in love with her beautiful curly hair like we did, then the bachelor definitely will once he sees her bust out some yoga poses, right?

Regardless, we wanted to get to know a bit more about the yogi with great taste. Check out some of her favorite things, and keep reading for a super yummy recipe!

My favorite way to work out: I practice hot yoga every day, but prefer to separate that from the concept of “working out” because it’s so much more than that. When I strictly want to work my body, I head to FlyBarre. It’s 60 minutes of low-weight, high-rep intervals that tone and tighten all over. If you’re looking to shed inches (not necessarily pounds), this is hands-down the most effective workout I’ve ever done.

I’m happiest when I’m: Cooking. I guess when most people are stressed out or short on time, they order takeout. I crack open a cookbook and all of my cares seem to melt away. There’s something so therapeutic about chopping, dicing and dreaming up new dishes.

My fave fit snack: If I could buy Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds by the barrel, I would. I usually prefer not to eat immediately before or after a hot yoga class, but almonds fuel me with healthy fat and protein without leaving me feeling full or unsettled.

My “I Did It” moment: When I finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training and Master of Science in Nutrition in the same week. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t wise to work on both simultaneously. I was mentally and physically burned out and, by the end, had hit a major breaking point. Once I was done, the sense of accomplishment overshadowed anything else, but I can’t say I’d do it all again.

My gym bag must-have: Suave Dry Shampoo. When I’m teaching back-to-back classes or have to run straight from the studio to an appointment, dry shampoo saves me the hassle of washing and air-drying my long, unruly curly hair. People are always telling me I smell so clean. But oh, if only they knew!

For a fun, hearty recipe sure to warm you up during these cold winter months, check out Katie’s Vegan Chili below – the dish comes straight from mom!

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The Scoop on Jane Fonda’s Latest Workout DVD and Her Stay-Fit Secrets

Written on December 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm , by

Fonda is proof that fitness has no age limits. (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment)

Written by Jennifer Fiorentino, editorial intern

When Jane Fonda released her debut exercise video in 1982, Jane Fonda’s Workout, it became its own genre, leading her to create 20 additional fitness videos and selling over 17 million copies combined, more than any other workout series. Now at 74, she’s looking great and feeling better than ever with her latest DVD Jane Fonda’s AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, which breaks up yoga into a rejuvenating morning session and an unwinding evening one.

We got the chance to chat with Fonda, who is one of our fitness icons about her latest workout routine and how she’s staying in shape these days.
What made you decide to create this new routine?
I started my new brand Prime Time three years ago aimed it at the baby boomer generation and older. I realized that there was a hole the series and yoga was that missing link.

Describe this new workout in one sentence.
It is yoga that has been marinating in Pilates. But it’s not pure yoga; I didn’t want it to be intimidating. Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: Cait Plus Ate

Written on December 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm , by

Cait is a pro at eating healthy on-the-go. We’re in awe of her daily salad creations!

We’ve all probably had our fill of “Kate Plus 8.” But Cait Plus Ate? That’s a completely different story. Just like that other Kate, Cait is a master at juggling: she rocks her job, her school work (Cait’s working toward her MBA!) and her active lifestyle—and with way less conflict than on a reality show.

Read on for Cait’s can’t-miss gym class,  her super-powered snack pick and more.

My favorite way to work out: A well-choreographed, intense step class! My gym has an amazing one during which a routine is taught (broken down into combos) and dispersed throughout are tough cardio peak intervals. The step routine includes kicks, jumping knees and more heart-rate elevating workouts. It’s fun to try to hit every move and the class flies by because I’m so busy concentrating on learning the combos! Top 40 hits on the playlist are the cherry on top.

On my fit life (fitness bucket) list: Aerial yoga! I have read so many cool reviews of these classes on blogs and would love to try one out for myself, but none are offered in my area. I enjoy yoga and any workout that switches it up and keeps things interesting is one for me—how much more unique can you get than aerial yoga?!

My fave fit snack: Fruit with plain Chobani. I prefer to flavor plain Chobani with chopped fruit than purchase the flavored Cho varieties. Bananas are my favorite fruit to combine with the Greek yogurt but I also love doing blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Sometimes I also throw PB into the mix.

My fitness mantra: Do what I enjoy, not what I “should.” I have forced myself to attend plenty of group fitness classes that absolutely crawled by simply because I thought that they were the classes I should be doing. I’ve realized that I reap so many more mental benefits of exercise when I go with the form of fitness I’m feelin’ on a given day. If I want to do Zumba, I’ll enjoy my workout and it’ll go by faster if I do that and don’t make myself run on a treadmill just because running seems like it might burn more calories. Movement should be fun and the enjoyment-not-should mantra is something I am actively working on learning each day, but I have made great progress!

My gym bag must-have: My Big Banjees running wallet by Sprigs! I actually use it to hold my iPhone, case and all, when I lift weights because I use my phone as my iPod too. It’s the only running wallet I’ve ever found that will a) stay fixed on my arm and b) hold my iPhone with the case still on. I used to try to stick the iPhone in my waistband or sports bra, but you can imagine how cumbersome that was. My strength training sessions are easier now!

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

Fit Blogger We Love: Live Run Love Yoga

Written on November 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm , by

Whitney always gives us the reminder to show our bodies some love.

While some of us discover our passions later in life, Whitney from Live Run Love Yoga found hers early: running and yoga. The fitness enthusiast has been active since she was a young girl and hasn’t stopped since! Now an accomplished marathoner who loves flowing through sun salutations just as much as she enjoys lacing up her sneaks, Whitney’s page is one we often turn to when in need of a good stretch (we admit, we don’t always practice as much as we should!). Keep reading to find out which races she has her eye on and what beauty product might need to make its way into your gym bag.

My favorite way to work out: I love to hit the pavement for a run and then find my way to the yoga mat to stretch out my tight muscles. Not to mention it works my abs and upper body!

On my fit life list: Complete the World Marathon Majors! I’ve run the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. Next up, London and Berlin! I also really want to run the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco!

I’m happiest when I’m: Doing anything that involves running or yoga! Whether it’s running or working a race, talking or blogging about those subjects, or being in the studio practicing, teaching or learning. I’m fortunate that my jobs are my passions!

My gym bag must-have: Yes To Cucumber or Yes to Blueberry Facial Towelettes. They’re so refreshing; I love them!

My motivation comes from: Myself! It’s my own love of running and yoga that gets me out of bed at 5am or through a 20-mile long run. I love the satisfaction and sense of confidence that my runs and practice provide; it’s what keeps me coming back for more each day!

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com