Summer Yoga in Gozo!

Summer is finally here! To celebrate the summer and to make you feel your best, body mind and soul, we have added some extra classes. All classes will be guided by Monique, Nop or Lina, and you could find Antje on the mat as well some times! So whether you want to come to our beach and outdoor classes in Masalforn, Qbajjar, Xlendi and Xaghra, or you want to come to our comfy air-conditioned indoor classes in Victoria: we are here for you!

Summer schedule for yoga as from 22 June to 7 September 2019

  • Mondays: 10:00 – 11:15 Yin Yoga at Gozo Sports Complex Victoria – Monique
  • Mondays: 18:30 – 19:30 Hatha Yoga at Gozo Sports Complex Victoria – Nop
  • Tuesdays: 7:00 – 8:00  Fityoga by the sea, Qbajjar Batterija – Nop
  • Tuesdays: 18:30 – 19:30 Hatha Yoga at Xwejni Beach – Monique
  • Wednesdays: 7:00 – 8:00 Fityoga at Xwejni Beach – Nop
  • Wednesdays: 18:30 – 19:30 Sunset Yoga by the Sea in Xlendi – Lina
  • Thursdays: 9:00 – 10:15 Yin Yoga – Satori Centre in Xaghra – Monique
  • Thursdays: 17:45 – 18:45 Yoga for Beginners at Gozo Sports Complex Victoria – Monique
  • Thursdays: 18:30 – 19:30 Sunset Yoga at Xwejni Beach – Nop
  • Fridays: 7:00 – 8:00 Hatha Yoga by the sea at Qbajjar Batterija – Monique
  • Saturdays: 7:00 – 8:00 Rooftop Yoga at Calypso Hotel Masalforn
  • Saturdays: 7:00 – 8:30 Fityoga by the sea, Qbajjar Batterija – Nop
  • Saturdays: 12:00 – 13:00 Hatha Yoga at Gozo Sports Complex in Victoria – Monique
  • Sundays: 8:00 – 9:15 Yin on the Rocks – Salt pans behind Qbajjar Batterija – Monique

Summer schedule for outdoor fitness

  • Thursdays: 7:00 – 8:00 GetFit with Nop, Qbajjar Bay
  • Mondays: 7:00 – 8:00 GetFit with Nop, Qbajjar Bay

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Have a great summer!

Yin yoga Gozo: stay a little bit longer….

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…..stay a little bit longer in your yoga pose every now and then! It is something I am experimenting with, as I have just finished a teaching training course in Yin Yoga. Over the past few months I have done a lot of private yin yoga classes here in Gozo, outdoors and indoors and a weekly group class in Victoria. As I am about to start a second group class at Satori centre in Xaghra, it is probably a good idea to share a bit more about yin yoga and why it has become so immensely popular world wide.

Yin yoga: what is the fuss about?

Yin Yoga is a kind of yoga derived from Hatha Yoga. It is a slow paced, passive kind of yoga to calm the body and the mind. It is a wonderful way to counter balance the yang, over-active way we sometimes live our lives, at least, I tend to. But of course all yoga styles counter-balance our busy lives, so how is Yin Yoga different from Hatha Yoga or Vinyasa? It was certainly I question I had when I started my training. Especially as Yin Yoga is becoming so popular around the globe, I was wondering why.

What is it?

Yin Yoga consists of Hatha Yoga poses. The difference is that poses are held longer than in a typical Hatha Yoga class. In a Hatha class you will hold a poses for 5 to 10 breaths or for 30 seconds up to a minute. In Yin Yoga you will hold the pose for 3 to 5 minutes. Why is that?

Getting younger with Yin Yoga?

Long holds of poses stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid (HA). HA attracts water and ions. Our connective tissues and our joints function better when lubricated. It is like rejuvenating your body by providing extra moisture. This is why you will find hyaluronic acid in face cream as well, it helps to reduce wrinkles by providing moisture. excellent to get this for free with your yoga practice.

Another benefit of hyaluronic acid is that it speeds up wound healing. It regulates inflammation and has anti-bacterial properties.

Benefits of Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga relieves joint pain and preserves bone strength. This is because Yin Yoga targets the connective tissue rather than the muscles. In Vinyasa Yoga and active forms of Hatha Yoga we actively use our muscles. In Yin Yoga we just sink into a pose with as little as muscle strength as possible. That why it feels much more relaxing than an active form of yoga. You won’t get tired as much and your stretches are becoming deeper and deeper because you are stretching passively instead of actively. After a long day of work it is easier to do 30 minutes of passive stretching than a more challenging vinyasa work-out. of course this will vary from person to person.

Benefits of Yin Yoga are:

  • improvement of joint mobility
  • stress reduction
  • anxiety reduction
  • improved circulation
  • release of fascia
  • improvement of well-being in general

Woman practicing yoga, doing Seated forward bend, paschimottanas

How does it help my well-being?

Many practitioners of Yin Yoga report that they experience significant stress reduction and a general feeling of well-being. How is that possible? I thought about it and from my own experience I would say that Yin Yoga helps me to be still in a pose for a longer time. It allows me to connect with my inner-self and to observe what comes up in my mind. Emotions and thoughts come up to the surface which helps to release them. And to release whatever you’ve suppressed inside of you, will increase your energy levels and help to restore your balance.

I encourage people to try some Yin Yoga at home, just to destress and release. Just lock yourself into a room, tell the family to leave you alone and roll out your mat. You will feel more relaxed even after a short session.

Boring or meditative?!

Some of my clients find Yin Yoga quite boring though, because of the long holds. But funny enough, they do it anyway, because they feel so much better afterwards. Every pose is like a mini-meditation, time to explore and to rest. As a teacher I like to combine the Yin and the Yang. More and more I incorporate a few yin poses in my hatha classes and in my Yin classes I will encourage people to do Yang activities as well during the week. This doesn’t have to be yoga. It can be swimming, our running, our hiking or anything active really. Life is about balance and we need to work on strength, cardio and flexibility to keep our bodies in the best possible shape. But as our daily lives are becoming more Yang and active, a bit of Yin is a nice way to increase our feeling of balance and well-being. And that helps us to enjoy life, feel our best and being able to do what we want to do in life, for ourselves and the people around us.

If you want to try it, there is a weekly Yin class at 9:15 every Monday at the Sportscomplex in Victoria. Also: as from the 9th of May their will be a 75-minute group class at Satori Centre in Xaghra. For more information, check my FB-page for Yellow Rock Yoga or the FB-page of Satori Gozo. You are most welcome!

 

Talking about food…my new year’s resolutions & g-bombs

I have wanted to write about food for a while now, but the right words didn’t come to me. My diet and your diet are very personal. What is good for one, doesn’t necessarily have to be good for another. However, like most of us I try to be the best version of myself I can be. That means thinking about my lifestyle as well. And nutrition is an important part of our lifestyle. There is a lot of evidence that one’s diet, next to our genes, has a great influence on how old we will be and on the quality of our life.

Moreover, there is a lot of research on what kind of foods have the biggest influence on our health. I have been reading and studying a lot about nutrition for years, but applying what I know to daily life is something else, I can admit! I guess that goes for many of us. So one of my new year’s resolutions is exactly that, applying what I know, and making sure I make healthy choices in my diet. So what am I committed to right now?

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G-BOMBS

Several years ago I was introduced to the work of Joel Fuhrman, an American doctor and former athlete who writes a lot about health and food. He has developed his a  so called “nutritarian” diet, based on worldwide research in nutrition and he did his own clinical trials. I’ll spare you the details, but the basics of his diet are very simple:

  • eat Greens every day
  • eat Beans every day
  • eat Onions every day
  • eat Mushrooms every day
  • eat Berries every day
  • eat Seeds every day

His philosophy is that one should get as many nutrients as possible in a meal with the lowest possible calories. The focus is on what you eat and not so much about what to avoid, although salt, oil, sugar and alcohol are to be avoided.  It is mainly a vegan lifestyle, although a tiny bit of meat, fish or cheese for flavouring are allowed but not recommended. Dr. Fuhrman provides strong evidence that animal food in whatever way promotes cancer and heart disease. Things to stay away from.

So how does this work for me? My typical daily meals look like this:

  • Breakfast: smoothie with fruits and green vegetables, or oats with fruit or fruit salade with oats, seeds  and nuts and soy milk
  • Lunch: big salad with warm vegetables on top of green leafy salads, with tomatoes and cucumber. Most of the time I have beans or legumes with my salad as well.
  • Dinner: wholewheat pasta, brown rice or other grains with vegetables, sometimes with tofu, tempe or soy.

Easy, right? But there are several things that I find more complicated.

I notice that it is sometimes difficult to eat the berries and the seeds every day. Especially flax seed is recommended for the omega-3 in it. But I am not such a flax seed fan and I tend to skip it and replace it by less favourable sun flower seeds or something like that.

Also, I find it a challenge not to snack. The nutritarian diet consists of 2 or 3 meals a day, so there is no room for rice cakes with peanut butter, the occasional handful of nuts or other snacks I enjoy. Another problem is that you have to prepare ahead with this lifestyle. If you are at home, of course you can cook what you want, but in the average restaurant it can be harder to find a meal that fits the above criteria.

What I like about this lifestyle is that it really  boosts my energy levels if I get all my GBOMBS in a day and that it is a flexible way of eating. Also, if I don’t snack in between meals I am sure to lose several pounds in the process as well. Something to work on, I will let you know how that goes in later updates!

If you like to read more about the Nutritarian lifestyle or about Dr. Fuhrman’s research, I can recommend his books “Eat to Live” and “Super Immunity”. To be continued & namaste!

 

Outdoor Yoga in January? Seriously?

It’s winter time, slowly but surely, temperatures are dropping here in Gozo. Stronger winds, big waves and occasional rain. So who in her or his right mind is thinking about outdoor Yoga in January? Well, me for one and I will tell you why!

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This picture was taken of me last week, in the beginning of January. Yes, it was colder than in autumn, but still, the sun was shining, and we were practising yoga in a sheltered place by the sea in Qbajjar Bay. So “outside” the wind was blowing, but under the roof of this beautiful yoga place, we hardly felt any wind at all. So we started with jackets on, but after 10 minutes we were exercising in t-shirts.

Which brings me to rule number one: wear layers! For winter time in Gozo, the right yoga or fitness gear could be something like this: a) tight fitness leggings or yoga pants, with an extra pair of jogging pants if you are afraid to be cold. You won’t need them during the dynamic part, but you might appreciate the extra layer during Savasana, the relaxation part of the end of your session. Then, for the top layer: a t-shirt or dry fit shirt, a long sleeve sports shirt and a jacket. With three layers you can be absolutely sure you won’t feel cold. Oh, and socks. I do the dynamic part of the yoga barefoot, but for savasana, socks are recommended, and if you fear to get cold, you could try “yoga socks” as well for the dynamic parts. Yoga socks have a non-slip grip layer, some people like them for hygienic reasons as well.

Oh, and for Savasana: use two blankets  instead of one. It keeps you comfortable for sure!

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Rule number two: stay in the sun & bring sunglasses and wear some sunscreen. Yes, that’s right, sunscreen. When sheltered from the wind and with the sun on your face, your practice could feel like in summer. Get the free vitamine D, luxuriate in the warm sun, but make sure your skin and eyes get the protection they need. At this moment I have a bit of a sunburn because of a long hike with the dog without sunscreen on my face. In January, yes!

Rule number three: bring water. You may not feel as thirsty as in summer time, but still, as we are exercising or doing yoga, you could use the rehydration. Warm tea is a good alternative.

Rule number four: just enjoy your outdoor practice! Nothing can boost your energy levels more than exercising or doing yoga outdoors. Enjoy the sound of the waves rolling in, the smell of the sea, the sun on your skin and that brilliant feeling of being alive in every cell of your body.

Want to give it a try? Check out the Schedule & rates page!

Yoga at home: my favourite yoga app

Sometimes I want to practise yoga at home and I could use a little inspiration. Inspiration to try new poses or just to look up some poses I may have done before but for whatever reason I tend to skip in my own practice. Of course YouTube is a great source of motivation and ideas but sometimes finding the right YouTube clips take up too much time or it does not come with the right instructions I am looking for. Then the use of yoga apps are a great solution.

I have tried several yoga apps like Yoga International, Asana Rebel, Fitstar Yoga, Yoga Moves, Yoga Trainer Pro and Yoga Studio. Some I still use like Asana Rebel and Yoga International but some of the others I stopped using and some are not even available anymore. My favourite app, however, is still going strong and is getting better every year. I’m talking about the Yoga Studio App. And no no no, I don’t get paid to write anything positive about this app, I just want to share my enthusiasm about this app because I think it could be useful for you and other yoga lovers as well.

It looks like this:

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There are complete classes you can follow and there are different classes for different levels and goals. The video classes are in HD and there are featured classes for weight management, runners, prenatal yoga, back pain et cetera. I also like the page with a description of more than 200 yoga poses with complete instructions of how to do them, and you can even build your own sequence with the app. What I also like is that new content is added all the time, so there are always new things to discover

What helps me as well, is that I can use the app on my phone. Makes it easier to create a sequence at home and then take it to the beach to practise.

There is really nothing negative I can say about this app, apart from the fact that it is not free anymore. It comes with a subscription of 21,99 EUR a year. But if you are looking for a high quality yoga app, it could be worth the price.

 

Yoga at home

So you’ve come to love that relaxed and energized feeling you’ll get in yoga class. Maybe you’ve noticed you sleep better after a yoga class, or you feel calmer, or happier. Maybe it is a great way to unwind after a busy day or a hectic week. Or maybe yoga proved to be helpful to achieve your goals in life, because it has become easier to focus and you feel better. Whatever it is, it would be nice to get that feeling whenever you want to. Practising yoga at home might be something to try or do more often.

But how?

When my yoga teacher told me that my own yoga practice would probably be more beneficial that the scheduled yoga classes, I knew she had a point. Yoga is about your own experience, the connection with your own body and finding ways to calm your mind while doing the poses and the breathing. Of course it would be a good idea to do this on my own as well. But I remember that first time at home very well. I had bought a brand new yoga mat and there I was, sitting in “easy pose” like the picture above. And yes, I even had a cat running around as well. The thing is, I really felt silly on my mat because I did not really know what to do. Mind you, we didn’t have Youtube or Yoga Apps or anything like that at the time. I think I had a few books though, but that didn’t help much either, because I wanted to flow from one pose in another, like in yoga class, and flipping through pages in a book while doing yoga, didn’t make sense to me.

So how?

And now I am a yoga teacher myself and I encourage people in my yoga class to practise a little bit at home. One way of doing this is to keep things very simple. Your practice at home doesn’t have to be a copy of a yoga class you’ve been attending. You can make your own simple recipe.

A first helpful question is: “what is your goal”? If the goal is to relax, just pick a few relaxing poses for example as described below, and make time for the most important yoga pose: the savasana!

Savasana is part of every yoga practice, so if you want to do a short yoga practice, just do this one for 10 minutes. You lie as still as possible, as relaxed as possible, toes outward, hands away from the body with the palms facing up and follow your breath. Don’t fall asleep, but relax your body completely. Thoughts and emotions may present themselves, just observe them and bring your attention back to your breathing. That’s all, a simple pose, but for most people not so easy, because we have to lie still in savasana. And that can be very challenging after a day of running around.

Savasana is part of every yoga practise, but maybe your goal is to become stronger or more flexible. You can find lots of ideas on the internet if you look for “yoga pose” and “flexibility” or “strength”. Pick a few poses that you have done before and that you are comfortable with. Safety first, when practising alone. When in doubt, ask your yoga teacher or if you have doubts about doing yoga at home and your health, consult your doctor first.

A few ideas for your home practice – if you have done them before in yoga class – are shown below.

This is a nice side stretch. Breath into the right upper side of your body as you lift your right hand up to the sky, making space with your breath.

Another pose you can easily do at home is a forward bend. Now pay attention that you keep your knees bent a little and that your belly is in contact with your legs. Bend your knees as much as you like.

The pose above is great for opening the chest. You interlace your fingers behind your back if possible. I always use a sock or a strap to bring my hands together. The idea is to open the chest by breathing into the chest. Keep looking straight ahead.

This is my favourite pose. Legs up the wall, eyes closed and just breath into your belly. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes after a busy day and you will feel completely different afterwards!

And for those who would like to practise balance, incorporate a tree pose. Note that you can place your foot over your ankle as well, if that feels better. Breath into your belly as calm as possible and keep your eyes focused on a point in front of you.

How long do I practise?

The answer to that one is, as long as you like and/or as long as you have the time. Savasana will take up 5 minutes at least, so your shortest practice will be 5 minutes and if you add a few other poses, well, you will have a 30-minute practice before you know it. The most important thing is that you have some time to connect to your innerself and to enjoy your yoga! Namaste!