Scents Making Sense

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, VANESSA, ANDREA WREN, THERESA JONES

 

Debby Siegel’s essential oils story:

 

Other than a brief affair with Givenchy’s Amarige in the 90s, I’ve generally gravitated toward more natural scents. Bread baking, pine trees, rain in the dessert, honeysuckle, and campfires top my odor preference list. These smells send me to a good place. Just typing them brought some of these good connections back.

Noting the proximity of my nose to my brain, the power of scents makes sense to me. It’s like I’m waking up and smelling the coffee!

Enter essential oils. One does not need to be a yoga teacher long before essential oils make their way across one’s mat radar. The mind-body medicine research tells us of the distinct ability for our thoughts to affect our health outcomes. Since nostrils are connected to a section of the brain called the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, as well as the nervous system and hormones, I’m all ears when it comes to plant-derived oils for scentual healing.

I looked up “essential.”

es·sen·tial – əˈsen(t)SHəl/
adjective
  1. absolutely necessary; extremely important. “it is essential to keep up-to-date records”

  2. MEDICINE

 

Essential oils are “essential” because they contain the “essence” of the plant, meaning the taste or odor. These popular oils have legitimate therapeutic use and the science to back it up.[1] Although the exact benefit depends on the oil in question, some have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Others can affect cognitive function, mood, and memory. Some can even help alleviate sore muscles and joints. The first oil I bought was my trusty Nag Champa. It brings me back to incense burning at Singing Dawg – the record store in my childhood hometown. It’s also the most common scent in head shops and yoga studios. I like the way it smells, and prefer the oil to burning incense. Here’s a list of some essential oils in my potion collection that I use topically only and the benefit descriptors I would apply. I don’t use a diffuser since reading about how it might be dangerous for my dog who is four pounds of best friend. Also, I am not a doctor, certified herbalist, medical professional, nor essential oil rep. These statements have not been approved or evaluated by the FDA and none of this should be considered treatment or diagnosis. Just my current stash and what I’ve found through using them diluted in my home and topically.

  • Bergamot: Uplifting, makes me smile as I inhale it, deodorizing
  • Eucalyptus: Purifying, invigorating, balancing, cooling
  • Lavender: Relaxing, soothing, I spray this on my pillow
  • Lemon: Energizing, uplifting, refreshing, makes me want a lemonade
  • Nag Champa: Rooting, masking of body odor and elicit drug odors (allegedly)
  • Patchouli: Masking of body odor, uplifting, soothing, for inducing desires of twirling
  • Peppermint: Revitalizing, refreshing, energizing, cooling
  • Pink Grapefruit: uplifting, I used this edible one in homemade lip balm holiday gifts
  • Rosemary: Clarifying, warming, invigorating
  • Sweet Orange: Cheering, refreshing, uplifting
  • Tea Tree Oil: Treating pimples and acne, as an anti-fungal for nails and feet, skin refresher
  • Ylang Ylang: Sensual, euphoric, romantic, alluring, exotic, my lure scent…

 

These little mood potions have brought about many rewards for friends. Here are some essential oil stories from some YoGoGirls’ friends who integrate oils into their daily lives:

Vanessa Montenegro’s essential oils story:

 

As I grow and learn new things, move my body, take time to find a flow in breath, and fuel up with powerful pant-based products, I feel these invisible switches flip on inside me. Switches for energy, creativity, connection and ease that had been dormant, hanging out in there, are now on.

When the tough get going on the road, they grab oils! As a runner and yoga teacher I use essential oils daily. Essential oils are made by steam-distilling or cold-pressing plant material. More then just pleasant smells – essential oils cause a physical effect in our bodies. Because of the complexities of the human brain, certain aromas can elicit emotions by triggering memories and stimulating emotional responses. This concept, known as the “Proust Phenomenon”, suggests that although we all have different memories and experiences, everyone has the ability to experience a distinct response when inhaling aromas. This internal response acts as an “aromatic pathway” that connects the aroma to different areas of the brain, thus triggering an emotional response. When we inhale a distinct aroma, the scent is processed through the brain’s olfactory system, the sensory system responsible for controlling our sense of smell. The olfactory system is connected to the limbic system, an area of the brain where memories and emotions are stored. At this point, the limbic system produces a distinct response to the aroma based on memories that are associated with the particular smell—creating a rush of feelings that follow. Essential oils can produce responses that can be used to enhance well-being and manage emotions.[2]

 

Andrea Wren’s essential oil story:

 

I got my first whiff of an essential oil during a massage then went on to purchase my first blend, Chill Pill, which I mixed with Epsom salt for bath time but I didn’t get serious about essential oils until another massage.

I experienced a major bout of congestion last year.  A month before the congestion appeared, I booked a massage session and thought my stint with congestion and watery eyes would be short-lived but I found myself close to the date of the appointment and still acutely congested but not wanting to cancel at the last minute.

Upon arrival, I let the therapist know about the congestion and she told me there were several adjustments she could make to help me breathe better and she also gave me essential oils to rub on my chest; it was the first time that I had been able to breathe comfortably in a long time.

Since I’d had several reactions to allergy medicines, I decided to deal with congestion with oils; my go-to ones are lemon, peppermint and lavender.

At night, I like the fragrances, gentle percolating and soft colors that emanate from my diffuser. Nowadays, I put oil in my car diffuser before heading out and when I get to work, I put a few drops of lemon or grapefruit in my jewelry then I lean in the direction of my bracelet and take a deep breath.

Theresa Jones’ essential oils story:

 

My family started using essential oils four years ago for a chronic ear issue my daughter was having. After months of struggle, and missed surgeries due to the severity of her issues, we decided to give oils a shot.

They not only worked, but completely changed our lives. If applying and diffusing oils gave her the body the support it needed to be healthy… what were we doing that was having a negative effect on our health? Turns out, a LOT.

My journey with oils changed from addressing things that were wrong to wanting to support and encourage optimum function in all my body systems. Sleep, stress, emotions, working out, body care, cleaning products – we use oils in and for all of these things, and are by far the healthiest we have ever been. I love having options to care for my body at my fingertips in the form of concentrated and pure essential oils.

As my healthy and fitness journey continues I know I’ll have new needs arise (I’m nursing a badly sprained ankle currently), and I’m so grateful for the tool and benefits essential oils will provide me along the way!


  1. “Essential oils.” National Library of Medicine (n.d.): n.pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
  2. “Emotional Aromatherapy: Psychology Meets Chemistry”

Debby Siegel is breath manager, energy shifter, connector who entered yoga as a flexible triathlete spaz. Find Debby humbly guiding yogis all over the world this year.
Instagram: @debby_yogogirls
Vanessa Montenegro: Toronto-based JOGA Coach Manager & doTERRA Leader. Movement + Oils + Running = good vibes..
Instagram: @heyflipswitch
Andrea M. Wren is a native of East St. Louis, IL. Her interests include, bicycling, photography, rock climbing, swimming, writing and yoga.

Instagram: @andrea_mw

Theresa Jones is a hope spreader. Encourager. Wellness advocate. Wife + Mama. Jesus follower. Leader of Just A Little Drop.

Instagram @theresamjones1

Safe Touch in Yoga

BY SARAH FUHRMANN, E-RYT

The first time I received a hands on assist was about two weeks into my yoga journey. It was during Savasana and I felt my instructor place his hands on my shoulders massage them and then move down to my legs and press down on them and then rub my feet. If you are in the world of teaching yoga, then you know this is a very common hands on assist. However, new yoga me did not. I shut down, completely terrified. After that I quit going to his class. I felt completely violated and didn’t understand what I had done to give the invite to touch me. I am survivor of sexual trauma and advocator for safe touch on the mat. I’ve spent years teaching and growing my knowledge. Especially in the realm of hands-on assists.  I wish I could say that this incident doesn’t happen that often. Unfortunately, there are many more that relate to this story than I’d like. Why? Because safe touch in the context of yoga didn’t come to the forefront of thought until the last decade or so and much of it due to the misconduct and unethical behavior by prominent yoga figures.

 

In many Yoga Teacher Trainings, hands-on assists are discussed on average of about 2-3 hours out of the 200 hours of required training; and most of this content is focused on the physical. Providing hands-on assists can be a very positive and beneficial experience for students, bringing students’ awareness and connection to parts of their body, something perhaps not available outside the yoga class. Assists can foster a sense of knowledge and growth in students’ practices and propel them into new experiences. This is why you give them, right?

 

However in many Yoga Teacher Trainings, there is no requirement to discuss trauma-informed touch in the context of a yoga setting. I see this as a big problem especially when it comes to providing physical touch.  What is your intention when you walk up to your student and place your hands on them? Do you have the knowledge and background about this human? Not just their body and all the benefits explained above, but what thoughts, feelings, experiences they have hidden inside that may be potentially released? Were you taught what to do for them when it comes out in the form of freak out, shut down, transference when you touch them? Unless you specifically sought that out, my guess is no.

 

If you are a newer yoga teacher or even one that’s been around for ages, I encourage you to take the following steps to provide safe and supportive touch in your class, and on top of that get trauma-informed. There are yoga teacher trainings available on this subject around the country. In St. Louis, YogaBuzz.org’s training includes this and they’ve created The Missouri Model: A Developmental Framework for Trauma-Informed.

 

Here are some trauma aware steps I implore you to take as a yoga teacher:

There’s more >>

Adhirohati Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

Adhirohati:

To rise above. Transcend. Shed the layers of our untruths, our biases of self and others. To come together as family and support, nurture, experience, and tap into our highest possibilities.

 

Join Sarah Fuhrmann, Josh Lynn, Christine Kick and Debby Siegel for a New Year’s yoga retreat on the western shore of Costa Rica!

Each of the 6-days’ activities is based on one of the Tantric Yoga Qualities of Consciousness. These concepts invite you to fully engage, nurture, and grow yourself and others. You will dive into inquiry through 2 yoga offerings per day, music, communal connection, exciting adventures, a massage, acro yoga, thai yoga and personal time for yourself.

This large estate is comprised of 3 spacious homes which offer both togetherness and privacy. All 3 homes are next to each other, on top a hill with panoramic ocean views, serene surroundings and cool breezes. Guests can easily go from one to the other home through the lush gardens. Each home as its own kitchen and laundry, rooftop terrace and its own pool!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

• 2 Daily Yoga Classes (AM and PM classes)
• 3 Meals a Day
-Meals outside the estate are not included.
• 2 Excursions
-Catamaran Day Sailing and Snorkeling and Rainmaker Day Tour
• Drinky Drinks
-Drink card for 6 alcoholic beverages during your stay.
• Massage
-State your preference at time of booking.
• Life Evolving Workshops
• Airport Transfers
• Self Discovery
• Transformation
• Fun

Your stay, airport transfers, and all meals at the estate are included in the price. Your flight to and from Costa Rica is not part of the fees.

Creating connection, living memorable experiences and having the best adventures shouldn’t mean maxing out credit cards and creating financial stress. You’ll find many different pricing options for this retreat because YOU deserve to be a part of this. We strongly recommend booking in groups to save the most money… and who doesn’t want to go to Costa Rica with their besties anyway?!?

(Payment plans are also available and encouraged so that you can plan ahead and prepare for an awesome time without the burden of the bill.)

What is a Mala and Why 108 Beads?

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT & JEN STOCK

Have you ever wondered why 108 is a number used in yoga sun salutations, classes and malas? I have posed the question many times with few answers. So I thought I’d research it myself.  Here’s some of what I found…

The number 108, discovered by ancient Vedic mathematicians to represent wholeness of existence, involves complex, mystical energies.

108 represents:

  • The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
  • According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India.
  • There are 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.
  • The sun’s diameter is 108 times the earth’s diameter.
  • The 12 zodiac signs multiplied by the 9 planets equal 108.
  • Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance of Lord Shiva has 108 poses.
  • The heart chakra contains 108 energy channels.
  • Many Buddhist temples have 108 steps representing the 108 steps to enlightenment.
  • In Japan, at Zen Buddhist temples, a bell is chimed 108 times at the end of the year closing a cycle to serve as a reminder of the 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.

Malas are beaded strands consisting of 108 prayer beads. A mala is used for helping you focus and count as you repeat a mantra or prayer 108 times. The use of malas dates back thousands of years to 8th century B.C. in India when ancient sandstone sculptures depicted people praying with beads to Lord Shiva. The word mala is short for the Sanskrit “japamala,” with “japa” meaning recitation and “mala” meaning garland.

Working with a mala connects us with the mysterious powers listed above. In addition to their 108 small beads, malas contain a larger bead called the bindu or guru bead. This bead helps the practitioner feel where the strand begins and ends, thereby allowing her or him to focus attention on the mantra while keeping the eyes closed.

How to Use a Mala

According to Jen Stock  — a spiritually-inspired jewelry designer whose malas adorn the necks of many celebrities including Rihanna, Usher, and Heidi Klum — one should dangle the strand between the middle and index fingers of the right hand. Start at the guru bead, and use the thumb to advance each bead over the middle finger toward the body, chanting aloud or silently. (The index finger is avoided since it represents the ego).

When an entire circuit of the mala has been traversed, the practitioner turns the mala around and resumes chanting in the other direction. Working with a mala calms distractions and deepens meditation, and even one round on the mala serves as a rewarding component of sadhana.

How Mala Beads Are Made

For this answer I sought out a pro – Jen Stock. She writes:

Malas may be made from a variety of different materials. One of the most common is rudraksha, which is a seed of a sacred Himalayan tree connected with Lord Shiva.

It is said that Lord Shiva (also called Rudra) emerged from deep meditation and cried a tear (aksha) for humanity, which became a seed that blossomed into a tree. To derive the utmost benefit, a rudraksha mala should be worn directly touching the skin where it protects the aura, dissolves negative karma, and conveys health benefits.

Followers of Lord Krishna use a mala made from the wood from the tulsi plant. Some Buddhists use a mala made from yak bones or seeds from the Bodhi tree.

Semi-precious stone malas imbue the practitioner with the properties of the stones themselves. Ultimately, the perfect mala finds each practitioner, guiding him or her along the path, offering a reservoir of peace.

A spiritual object that accumulates energy from a practitioner’s devotion, a mala should be treated respectfully whether worn or placed on an altar and handled only by the one using it.

Like a gentle tool for introspection, a mala helps deepen the calling to turn within, allowing the practitioner to be one with the breath, the chant, and his/her practice.

YoGoGirls’ Favorite Mala Beads:

New Yorker, Jen Stock creates some of our favorite malas. Jen’s designs are vegan, which means no silks, leather or pearls are used, they’re cruelty-free and handmade by women in New York. Each piece of her jewelry is a symbol to be mindful in your day-to-day activities and to be aware of others and conscious of what you put out into the universe for your own well-being.

Come see Jen Stock pieces for yourself at her Mindful Jewelry Trunk Show at Lusso in Clayton near the Ritz-Carlton for a little Happy Hour Trunk Show April 12, 6-9pm.

Banish the Body Bash

BY DANIELLE LEBEAU, RN, Health Coach, Eating Disorder Survivor

PHOTO BY MD BLACK PHOTOGRAPHY

 

We’ve all done it.

Criticized our bodies.

Critiqued, poked, pinched, and added body parts to a bucket list of “things to improve”.

Never. Ending. Never-quite-enough-ness.

It’s not just you.
It’s me.
And your best friend.
And probably your mom.
And maybe your daughter.

FOR WHAT. Answer these:

Is it making you better?
Is this self judging, self shaming, self controlling getting you anywhere?
Are you learning to trust yourself?
Are you learning to listen to yourself?
Are you learning to love yourself?
Probably not.

What does YOUR body mean?
What does your body one way and not another way mean?
If your body is another way, does mean you’re not good?
That your body isn’t something to be proud of or loved?
That you don’t have as much value or worth?
That you’re weak?
Or lazy?
Or lack willpower?

Have you met you?  You’re beautiful. And fierce. And graceful. And bold. And honest. And loving. And gentle. And powerful. And loyal. And creative. And funny. And wild. And thoughtful. And sensitive. And faithful. And courageous.

Your body is the vessel of your heart and soul. You are good. Your body is good.

You are a student. Remembering how to love. Thank your body for getting you to this place now.

Grant yourself the space to be right where you are.

Give yourself permission. Just for now. To be here.

Where you want to go is good. And you’ll have to start HERE to get there.

Be here.

And start, right here, with these words.
“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, body, I’ve criticized you for so long. Poked and pinched and critiqued you so hard. I’m sorry.
You quietly tolerate all the harsh things I’ve said to you and to others. I want to learn how to care for you. I want to learn to love you. I want to learn to listen to you.
Thank you for being.
I want to partner with you from this moment on, to go forward through life with you. I want to live with you being friends, not enemies.
I promise to be here for you because I know you’ve never left me. All I put you through, you are here for me.
I promise to be here for you.
I am here for you.
I love you.
Thank you.
Love, Me.”


Danielle LeBeau is the owner and creator of So Happi Health. So Happi Health is an Eating Psychology Coaching company developed by a recovering “health nut” who knew knowing-it-all wasn’t enough. So Happi Health gives clients the power to discover and dissolve barriers to creating a happi, fun and fulfilling life they alway knew they could have. She is hosting Banishing Body Image Issues a group coaching class where she’ll be coaching on body issues this Friday, March 16, 7-8:30pm at TechArtista, 4818 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108.

Fight the Flight Mode with Plane Old Yoga

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY JQ WILLIAMS, E-RYT

 

Cramped in an economy seat for nearly 19 hours this week — roundtrip destination Wanderlust Oahu — the skies opened up to me and it became clear that it’s time… time for Sir Isaac Newton to meet Pantajali. Newton’s laws interpreted by a couple of brothers gifted us the ability to spread wings and travel to virtually anywhere in the world. But just what is happening in our bodies when confined in these pressurized tubes moving at more than 500 mph above the clouds?

In addition to your body being subjected to much higher levels of cosmic radiation in the thinner atmosphere at 30,000 feet, flying can do a number on your breathing. Airline passengers can experience minor oxygen deprivation in airplanes’ pressurized air. Hmmm…. limited breathing and radiation? Combine this with time zone changes, lengthy inactivity, tiny spaces and cabin pressure affecting blood circulation, and you might agree with me… it’s time. (insert astounding, announcing ringtone) Yoga to the rescue.

So here’s your plan, should you choose to accept:

Breathe Deep:

You’ve done it. You boarded. Done standing in line and lugging that bag that just barely permitted the overhead compartment to close, you’re ducking into your 24 square inches of space allotted you with that ticket you bought by googling your destination and the words “cheap flight.” So now it’s time to begin the awkward neighbor love and start with some deeper breathing.

With your feet hip width on the floor (it’ll help if your carry-on truly does fit under the seat in front of you), hands on your lap (tops of thighs), on an inhale squeeze the shoulder blades together as you lift and open the chest toward the flight attendant call button.  As you do this, focus on lifting the sternum and smiling across your collar bones. Root into that seat/floatation device while telescoping your spine upward. For more lift, press your forearms into the arm rests. (If you have access.) Remember to draw your elbow wingtips together behind you as you lift and inhale. Exhale and come back to a neutral spine and even flexing your spine while drawing your chin to your chest and naval in and up. Practice this at least once per hour for 10 deep breaths.  

Save Your Own Neck:

You’ve got seat 27A’s attention now. So just go with it. Let’s get the crick out of your neck.

Keeping your gaze level and the cervical spine elongated, turn your head slowly as far as you can to one side keeping your torso facing forward, pause, breathe several times and smile. Then look the other way too (don’t want anyone asking to be relocated just yet). Bring your face to center and slowly roll your head forward and down, chin to chest, and then lift it up with your chin up, smile up. Breathe multiples here too.

Drop the ear to its shoulder, then the other, without raising either shoulder. If you’ve got an appropriate wing span (this girl is out), reach the right hand over the head so that it rests on the left ear, and gently guide the head toward the right shoulder. Use the left hand to massage the left side of your neck. Repeat this on the opposite side. 

Tap it Out:

Oh, now you’ve got your neighbors noting how wise you are and possibly joining along. Let’s get this party started. Wake up your chi with some sweet body taps.

Wake up each part of your body and charge your Qi (or chi, you decide the spelling) with some light tapping: Using your closed fists, alternately and quickly begin tapping the knuckle/heel side down the sides of your thigh and back up the front of the thigh, add in the front and back of the lower leg as well. Then repeat this with the other leg. You can also keep your legs together Missy, and just try double tapping with your legs together. (Not to be confused with liking on Instagram. This is just involving both legs at once.)

Next, try tapping down each arm and even beat your chest while seated. Open your hands, face your palms toward you and using all your fingertips, tap beneath the collarbone near the sternum while breathing deep into your belly. Then cross your arms on your chest and begin tapping down your arms as you come all the way to your wrists and go back. (Tell your new friends, you read it on YoGoGirls!)

Not That Swell:

Many long haul passengers experience swelling in the feet, ankles and lower legs due to blood pooling there. (Ask Big Shark founder, Mike Weiss about this phenomena.) To limit swelling, wear support socks, and stand your weight onto your feet occasionally. You may now lift up on that buckle, stand up and move about the cabin. (You were paying attention during the preflight lesson weren’t you?) Try to get up and move around every 30 minutes. If you’re in a window seat and the guy hogging your armrest is stone-cold drooling while snoring with headphones on, try these seated movements for improving your lower extremities’ circulation:

With the feet parallel to one another and flat on the floor, lift and tap the just the heels on the floor. Then lift and tap the toes. Next, alternately roll the feet from heel to toe. While doing so, contract your calf muscles and spread your toes to circulate blood upwards, which will also boost oxygen levels and fight feelings of fatigue.

Lower the heels to the floor about eight inches apart, turn the toes out and in; then lift the feet again and make circular movements around the ankles in each direction. If it helps, put on some headphones and do this to music. I suggest Adventure of a Lifetime by Cold Play.

There’s more. Grasp the right knee with both hands and raise it toward the chest. Inhale and squeeze the knee as close as possible to the chest while lifting the sternum; exhale and release. (Smile and wave at anyone now glaring at you!)

If you’re able, place both heels on the front edge of your seat, grasp your knees and pull them toward your armpits. Hold while breathing deeply, then release. It’s like one of those rolled up in a ball hugs we practice on our backs in yoga class! (I ask my students to kiss their knees at this point, but that’s up to you.)

Get Grounded:

And for Heaven’s sake, when you’ve landed get your feet onto some of the surface of our planet as soon as you’re able. Earthing, or grounding, involves placing your feet directly on the ground without shoes or socks as a barrier. Dozens of studies confirm the physiological benefits of grounding, which include anything from anti-aging and heart health benefits to improved sleep and more. Many folks report earthing helps them cope with jet lag as well. Anyway you look at it, reconnecting to our Earth’s current is vital to resetting your body after it’s been thousands of miles away from the Earth’s ionosphere.

There’s more >>

Child Bearing Hips

BY SARAH FUHRMANN, E-RYT & DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

 

I recently caught up with one of my yoga teacher training leaders, Sarah Fuhrmann, and we discussed something she’s been dedicating her thoughts and actions to – a healthy body image. According to Webster’s lexicographers, Body Image means: the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body.

Here is Sarah’s:

I’ve been an avid self body shamer my whole life. Ever since I can remember, I was tall and referred to as a “big girl”. When I was a kid I remember wishing to be a boy like my brothers because they could look and act however they wanted and it didn’t matter. When I hit puberty, my hips doubled in size and so did the comments about my body. It’s as if growing into womanhood sent off signals to the world that commenting on my appearance, my body, was acceptable. I just wanted to fucking hide. I used to poke and prod and pinch at all the parts on my body I thought were ugly, oversized, underdeveloped etc.

Poor self image is quite a real thing folks.

I know a lot of women in my own circle besides myself that suffer from it even if unconsciously. The words uttered “I ate too much last night.” “I’m bloated” “Ugh, I didn’t work hard enough in that whatever.” This issue is a united women’s problem and it’s something that we can come together on and help create change in. So why do we as women judge ourselves as harshly as we do? Why do we look at one standard of beauty as the only standard? What if instead we began to embrace our bodies..to idolize our bodies..to feel and connect and realize that all bodies are in fact beautiful amazing vessels capable of amazing things! I won’t say that shifting out of self hate is easy, I still catch myself in it. AND we have to go back years and years into our conditioned behaviors, unmask our biases, and start to see that the stuff we’ve been believing about ourselves and others isn’t the truth. Are you ready to stop lying to yourself and LOVE who you are? I know I am.

Our conversation, coupled with preparation for an upcoming speech I’ve been asked to give on Self Love, got me thinking about how we can effectively shift our head speak to ourselves about our bodies. Here’s what I came up with. May you find some answers here. Sarah and I would love to learn about your shifts and how you overcome the messages we’ve all carried for our lives….

According to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist and Princeton professor Daniel Kahneman, each day we experience approximately 20,000 moments. A moment is defined as a few seconds in which our brain records an experience. The quality of our days is determined by how our brains recognize and categorize our moments—either as positive, negative, or just neutral. Rarely do we remember neutral moments. The memories of our lives are recorded in terms of positive and negative experiences. Scientists are proposing that a ratio of our positive and negative moments contributes to our overall mood. (I guess we needed scientists to tell us this?)  But a somewhat interesting fact elicited by their research, is that this ratio can be used to predict—with remarkable accuracy—everything from workplace performance to divorce.

In marriage counseling, I was introduced to John Gottman‘s exploration of positive-to-negative ratios in marriages. He created his famous Love Lab and discovered a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative for marriages to succeed. They discovered that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions. In their studies, Gottman and his colleagues predicted with 94% accuracy whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce after 10 years from just one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife based on their 5:1 ratio.

So let’s extrapolate this. Let’s have a loving marriage with our bodies. Maybe this ratio is where our answer for shifting the self-loathing head speak lies? How about this for a plan… the next time you find yourself in a “negative body moment,” stop, breathe deep, and counteract it with 5 positive statements about your body. If you need some, here’s a list of amazing things your body does for you every single day. Feel free to use them in your 5/1 battle:

There’s more >>

Advanced Yoga

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

Amongst the the joys of being a yoga teacher is the perspective of a room full of people landing in the present moment. Watching faces soften. Seeing bodies relax. Noting defenses fall away. It’s an honor to observe this shift. Being the teacher in the room also provides the vantage point of how unique we all are on the mat. None of us is built the same and none presents the same exact asana outcome.

As humans, we learn very early on to judge these differences. We acquire labels as we grow up that we internalize and believe, and we constantly categorize and compare ourselves to others. Right v Wrong. Fun v Boring. Easy v Difficult. Beautiful v Ugly. Every day, we’re surrounded by judgments, whether on the internet or in our own minds. Some of this discernment is necessary in yoga. For example your mind-body connection will actually prepare you for a class labeled 2/3 differently than it would for a class labeled restorative. Your amazing body will ramp up its energy reserves to carry you through the class you choose. But, as we look around and decide how our practice looks compared to others inside a classroom, that’s when judgment can be harmful.

We all recognize that the yogis with more advanced asana practices are the ones in cute sport bras or shirtless in the front row, where those who feel intimidated by their skill level tend toward the back, even hiding in their clothes. Many might believe that my practice makes me an “advanced yogi.” That the ability to jump to handstand in the middle of the room, put my legs into lotus in headstand or press into forearm stand (ok, once) means I’m advanced. I would say I’m not. While my asana practice has grown a lot in the 5+ years I’ve been practicing, yoga is so much more than the outward physical appearance.

Lately I’ve been listening to the podcast Vinyasa Yoga with Nathan Johnson, primarily to gain language and flow ideas. One thing he said in an episode that stuck out to me, is that the most advanced yogi in the room is the person who breathes throughout the class with mindfulness, allowing the breath to determine the flow versus the flow determining when to breathe.

From a teacher perspective, I totally agree. I would also add that the

Advanced Yogis are those who:

 

  • treat their asana practice as a way to build concentration or single-minded focus. They actively practice pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) while flowing. Instead of looking around the room to see what others are doing, they’re focused on their breath and their mat space. So, while I often try to flow with eyes closed for this purpose, I’m also the girl picking at her toenails during power yoga and noting how my sweat sometimes forms heart shapes on my mat, or actually thinking of a media post I am going to so cleverly write after class. Rookie.
  • engage the body using the teacher’s alignment cues in order to help increase their energetic flow throughout poses while creating space for further expansion. Well, got me here too. I have spent at least 4 of my 5 years not totally isometrically engaging my inner thighs toward one another in warrior poses. I mean, no one can tell that I’m not… Novice.
  • use the asanas to prepare themselves for Savasana, versus sort of rushing through class for the celebrated end. They are also basking in all out bliss in Savasana, not mentally writing shopping lists or preparing for a work meeting. Ok, I’m seeing a pattern here. I’m even more of a beginner when it comes to Savasana. Amateur.
  • are willing to admit, that they don’t have all the answers. They know that it’s not about the poses, their diet, or even the number of trainings they’ve taken, but how one lives one’s life. You can achieve some pretty awe-inspiring poses (guilty) and still be dishonest or unkind to others or to yourself (ahimsa). The truth is, asana is “advanced” when it gives us better interior alignment and allows us greater comfort in living our truth in our daily lives. Ok, I’m maybe a sophomore here! Progress…

I’m sure there are other bullet points I could add to this list and would love to hear yours (debby@yogogirls.com). But what I have learned in regard to my own yoga practice is this: I love my asana practice and will always love the strong and vital body it permits me to enjoy. But I am more than this body. I am merely allowed to play in this body. And it will require me to slow down eventually as I age. And as Dianne Bondy told me this past weekend, “Aging is a privilege.”

There’s more >>

Cue the Cues: Open Your Heart Center

BY BRIANNA OWENS & DEBBY SIEGEL

All those power ballads had it right, the heart is a complex thing. This 4-chambered muscle in your chest beats over 100,000 times per day to keep you alive. The heart or “heart center” is referenced consistently in yoga classes as this organ is housed the in the middle of our breathing center, our chest, and without it, no yoga… ok, or life.

When we hear cue “open your heart or open your heart center” in a yoga class this carries multiple meanings. The general intention of this cue is to dissolve restrictions of the heart—both around the physical heart center— through a lifting and spreading of your chest, lungs and rib cage; and on an emotional level through the symbolic heart center which is associated with a sense of connection and compassion.

The psychological benefits of opening the heart are centered around the symbolism of expanding compassion and connection to others, thus perhaps decreasing isolation, depression, and anxiety. By opening up the front of your body, you can release and break through stress.

Physiologically, heart openers help to tone the spine and increase the breathing capacity of the lungs. Improved breathing opens your mind and heart to new possibilities. Heart openers are energetic poses. Stretching your abdominal muscles and internal organs increases strength and feelings of trust. Heart openers relieve tightness in the back and shoulders. Other benefits include increased blood circulation and stimulation of the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands

In this 14 minute video, Brianna Owens, RYT guides Debby through a short series of accessible heart opening postures. To increase the benefits, try adding in some visualizations. Close your eyes and imagine that you could breathe from the heart, inhaling and exhaling from your heart center. Imagine the breath entering through the heart and spreading into the lungs, filling the lungs and expanding the rib cage. Imagine the lungs emptying the breath into the heart, through the heart, and out the heart center. Imagine this, visualize it, really feel the sensation of it. Inhaling and exhaling through your heart.

There’s more >>

Wanderlust Stratton

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL & MICHELLE THOMAS

When we are born, our minds are clear and our bodies supple. Throughout life, we gather unnecessary luggage, adorning labels handed to us by even the most well-meaning people. This external messaging continuously fogs our minds and over time reveals itself as tightness and pain in the body.

At Wanderlust Stratton you will find space in your mind and body. Yoga Outside the Lines will guide you on this journey back to the artist you were prior to the baggage. With charcoal as your medium, you’ll flow on a canvas and venture back to a place when you were unencumbered by labeling thoughts, back to your true nature where inspiration and intuition flow. You will reveal a more delightful and delicious perspective and life.

Yoga Outside the Lines will be offered multiple times throughout the Wanderlust – Stratton, Vermont festival – a mash-up of all our favorite things: the great outdoors, good food, great music, and mindful ways to move our bodies.  Attend June 21-24 and you will discover new ways to move and connect with a vibrant, like-minded community.

 

You are a soul. You have a body. Let’s create magical moments with both together in Stratton Mountain Resort‘s 600 acres of natural terrain, while breathing in the clean air perfumed by pine needles.

Tickets are on sale now.

Asteya in Your Leggings

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

There’s more to yoga than what we do on a rubber mat in a class and on Instagram. While the stretching, balancing and occasionally falling (ok, maybe a lot of falling) are beneficial ways to develop a healthier, more vibrant sense of being, the asana postures are just one limb on the big tree of Yoga. There are eight limbs on that tree, each with branches. If you’re like me, and a huge percentage of Americans who found yoga, you came into it for the physical benefits. Then I slowly began to find the impacts of its meditative qualities and chose to devote myself to learning more through yoga teacher training (YTT).

In YTT, we learned of the eight-limbed Yoga Sutras, sort of the guide for living in order to find enlightenment. While this Baptist-raised / cyclist / climber / YoGoGirl was a little resistant to the Sanskrit dogma type stuff, some of it did sink in. In fact, it’s why I’m writing this article today. One of the eight limbs – Yamas (moral disciplines) – gives us some ethics for finding a more aware state of being. I found it interesting that there are five Yamas, and five Niyamas (observances) for 10 total, same number as those commandments I was made to memorize in my formative years. But I digress. I want to talk about one of the Yamas today – that of Asteya – or not stealing. (Sounds familiar, eh King James’ readers?)

Asteya is the fourth Yama, but by ‘non-stealing’ Pantajali meant so much more than not physically taking something from someone else. The practice of asteya asks us to look at where we hoard or have greed and reminds us of the nonmaterial richness of our lives. For me, it means a lot of things, but today I am focusing on the giving back aspect, of empathetically sharing with others.

Recently I met a lady on Instagram who makes yoga pants. (I know, surprise surprise…) But this one resonated with me in that she chooses to give back consistently with her brand. Her hashtag #wearyourvalues spoke to me. Dana Yaniro of Root to Rise Official designs eco-conscious leggings with her original art in her small, family-run business in northern California. Each season, Dana chooses a charity and donates the proceeds from a print or collection to them. She’s the daughter of a legendary climber – Tony Yaniro – so she’s donated to Access Fund one season.  Root to Rise has also contributed to the firestorm relief in her northern California area, and others.

Today, Root to Rise Official is supporting a charity that’s dear to me with their leggings. All of them. All you have to do is insert the code: YOGOGIRLS at checkout and not only do you save 10%, but an additional 15% of your purchase will go toward supporting DASA’s (Disabled Athletes Sports Association) Rock Climbing Sessions here in St. Louis now through their February 10 event. The St. Louis chapter of Adaptive Climbers was founded by my dear friend, Jasmine Raskas, and it gives all people the chance to experience the thrill of climbing. They are always in need of help, so if you would like to offer your assistance and/or your don’t need some new sexy (high waisted!) leggings, please contact Meghan at meghang@dasasports.org for more information.

The real benefits of yoga are when we expand it beyond the mat and into life. Then it’s not just our bodies that get stretched, expanded and strengthened, but our minds and hearts as well. Please consider contributing to others who may not have all the advantages you do, through your purchases, your choices and your life. It will move you ever closer toward wholeness, connectedness and unity. Let’s not just ‘do’ yoga, but live it.

Shop Root to Rise Official.

 


January 30 Update:

Dana and I have co-created a pair of Root to Rise yoga pants as an ongoing fundraiser pant for DASA’s Adaptive Climbing Group. The lotus flower design inspired by my first tattoo – a lotus flower drawn by my teenage daughter and inked onto my hip at 48 years old!

Bloomers leggings supporting DASA
BLOOMERS: Yoga leggings co-designed by Root to Rise and Debby in support of DASA’s Adaptive Climbers Group.

 

 

 

 

Mantraband: No mud. No lotus!
Mantraband (inside waistband on BLOOMERS leggings)

Dana asked me to name the pants. So BLOOMERS it is. Starting this month, all Root to Rise leggings will begin having a mantra printed inside their waist bands, and BLOOMER’s MantraBand is

No mud. No lotus! 

100% of the proceeds from the sales of these leggings will go to support DASA’s Adaptive Climber Group in St. Louis. #WearYourValues. Choose to give back. It’s important. We are all interconnected.

 

February 12 Update:

You helped raise just over $200 for adaptive climbers in St. Louis with your purchases these past two weeks! Thank you for contributing to the good we all wish to see in the world. I’m happy to report that the climbing event at Upper Limits on February 10 was well attended. Each volunteer was busy throughout the day belaying and assisting the group of people finding the rewards of climbing up walls.


Debby Siegel, MSA, RYT: A plant-fueled, daydream believer who calls herself the Yoga Evangelist, Debby attempts to inspire joy and crush fear while leading yogis through mindful practices all over the U.S. A wellness blogger and co-founder of YoGoGirls.com, Debby’s readers share in her journey through stories about a variety of active, healthy, conscious-living experiences. Debby highly values community, creativity, and adventure, and the healing power that only wild places can provide. Maybe you’ll get to discover her guiding yoga at Four Seasons and Yoga Six in St. Louis, at Wanderlust or at her own midwest Music + Yoga Festival Manifest Station this year?!

Resilience: Pain as a Catalyst for Growth

BY BETH BLAKE, RYT
PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL

Eckhart Tolle described the pain body in his 1994 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now as accumulated pain and a “negative energy field that occupies our bodies and minds.” He tells us “every emotional pain that you experience leaves behind a residue of pain that lives on in you.” Yoga can help. The potent healing powers of yoga can enable students to open up, release old wounds and allow healing to begin by directing minds inward. By asking our bodies to hold a yoga pose that requires balancing on one foot and possibly the fingertips of one hand, we are not leaving it much access to simultaneously stress over outside events. Your mind, unable to think two thoughts at the same time, will not be ruminating over past or future. With a consistent yoga practice, you can learn to control the mind and then release suppressed emotions.

 

Some yoga poses are helpful. Through hip openers, backbends, and inversions you can journey toward inner peace. Hips and hearts are warehouses for stored emotions to collect. Opening them can bring forth much growth and release. While Inversions are perfect for flipping your perspective, leading you to look at life and situations differently.

 

We all have pain. Yoga teachers too. We recently visited with a friend and yoga teacher who volunteered to share her pain perspective, and how yoga assists her in transforming pain into growth.  Beth Blake writes:

 

like the rainbow
after the rain
joy will reveal itself
after sorrow
— rupi kaur, the sun and her flowers
Before I started practicing yoga, I intentionally closed off from the world in an attempt to protect myself from experiencing emotional pain. I am deeply impacted by the interaction that I have with others — which sometimes leads to difficult feelings. 
Rejection has been one of my biggest fears. Isolating myself was my way of preventing wounds from happening in the first place, or so I thought.
Over time, I came to realize this mindset/behavior only resulted in more suffering. Pain cannot be avoided. By avoiding, I was also creating. 
I was drawn to the practice of yoga [translated from Sanskrit to English as union, unite, yoke, connect] almost a decade ago for the emotional and mental benefits. 
During my first Kundalini yoga class specifically, I witnessed my pain [fear] alchemize into love [trust]  — a love I created through my own effort/awareness/breath. My consciousness and heart broke open, expanding tenfold. It was one of [if not] the most pivotal moments in my life. 
Moving energy from the lower chakras into the heart space [Anahata chakra], it became very clear my yoga journey wasn’t just all about me anymore. Almost immediately, I remember asking myself “how can I be of service or benefit to others?” In that moment, I realized my life purpose was to help others heal themselves, in the way I was healing myself.  
The wounds I have experienced were necessary to feel drawn to lead myself and others toward the light. It oriented me toward my path and tapped me into a deep reservoir of internal strength which over time has grown more powerful than I could have ever previously imagined. There is so much wisdom and beauty to be gained in dark moments.  
I feel pain daily [in fact, as I am writing now.] Its intensity varies. I understand now that it is not permanent, as with any feeling state. If I find stillness, close my eyes, breathe deeply and place my hands to my heart — instead of trying to escape — the discomfort will inevitably transmute into something else. There will be a bliss proportionate to the hurt. 

Beth Blake, RYT: Beth quietly started practicing yoga in 2009 as a form of solace, seeking the mental & emotional benefits. It quickly became an integral part of her daily life.From 2013-2014, she earned her Hatha & Kundalini teaching certifications through Semperviva Yoga while residing in Kitsilano, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Find a restorative or slow flow class with Beth at Shanti Yoga or Yoga Six Des Peres. She is also guiding Awakening the Heart Chakra – a sequence of Kundalini kriyas aimed at opening your energetic heart center (anahata chakra) on Feb 17, 1-2:30pm at Shanti in Maplewood. Kriyas are exercises that utilize breath/movement/mantra/mudra designed to produce a specific outcome (in this case, opening the heart.) Opening the energetic heart center allows you to accept that all is as it should be and to experience harmonious relationships.

I Speak Yoga: Navel to Spine

BY DEBBY SIEGEL AND JOSH LYNN

#CuetheCues Series

Navel to Spine is our next #CueTheCues phrase we are poking around trying to understand. You’re likely to hear this cue during poses in which core engagement is particularly important.

Here’s one way to understand it:

Sit up tall and inhale. Exhale completely but don’t inhale another breath. Instead, while holding your breath, use your abdominal muscles to pull your belly in. Retain your exhalation for as long as you can so you can feel where your navel is in relationship to your spine. Inhale when you need to and return to your natural breath pattern. You just practiced one of the most powerful locks, or bandhas, in hatha yoga. It is called uddiyana bandha.

Josh Lynn of Yoga4Equality and got to chat a little about this cue recently and filmed it along with some breathwork to help you retain the concept of this abdominal engaging and strengthening cue.

Navel to spine is a yoga cue that is important for your spine’s integrity and for strengthening the girdle of muscles around it that offer your back support in yoga classrooms and in general with posture and life.

Sometimes even if the cues you hear from a teacher make sense, you will encounter moments during classes when the teacher’s instructions don’t immediately resonate with you. This is true for all of us.  When this happens, feel into where you are in your practice and consider whether or not you need the particular cue. If it serves you, take it! But if the extra instruction feels like “noise,” listen to it for a moment and then let it go.

Thank you for following along with this series of #CuetheCues. To be part of this series, reach out: debby@yogogirls.com. I’d love to work with you.

 


Josh Lynn, 500 RYT: Josh finished Massage Therapy training in 2010. After some travel and personal growth, he landed back in his hometown of St. Louis where he finished my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in March of 2012 through WE Yoga. Josh then expanded his education through a 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training in March of 2017 at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India. He teaches regularly at Pura Vegan Yoga and Yoga Six.

Thank you Pura Vegan Yoga + Cafe for allowing us to film in your beautiful yoga studio.

Babylon and Beyond: Resolve to Evolve

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

Ah, Early January… a time where many reflect on the past year and resolve to improve their lives in some way in the coming calendar year. The tradition of a New Year’s Resolution can be traced back about 4000 years to Babylon. In their March ceremonies held during the first new moon after the Spring Equinox, Babylonians made promises in order to get on the right side of all of their gods, feeling this would help them start the new year off on the right foot.

Well we still believe in the right foot thing, but the multitude of gods… not so much. However, looking back on our prior year with gratitude and releasing those things that no longer serve us then allows us to create space to begin a new year with intention and cultivate what we would like to bring into our lives. Many yogis practice this flushing each new moon cycle. You may even have this type of renewal of your spirit integrated into your daily meditation practice. Whichever timeframe, we are here to be your cheerleaders. You are the squad leader.

Wonder what others tend to try out each January? The most popular resolutions according to Google’s 2013 Resolution Map:

  • Lose Weight
  • Get Organized
  • Save More Money
  • Enjoy Life
  • Get—and Stay—Healthy
  • Learn Something New
  • Quit Smoking
  • Help Others Pursue Their Goals
  • Find Love
  • Spend More Quality Time With Family Members

Feel like I’ve made most of these before. Certainly I meant to. Research also shows that about 8% of us actually follow through on these annual vows for a year. I’ve actually made some life altering resolutions over the years that I did commit to. I gave up candy for a whole year in 2014. 2015 started my meat-free lifestyle I continue today. (Candy survived this continued abstinence.) This year, I’ve chosen to split my annual resolution into one for my body and one for my mind. (I know, so evolved of me eh?) We’ll see how I do.

Body

My 2018 “no longer serves me” list topper is to attempt to live within the 25 grams of added sugar recommendation for my daily diet. I will be trying new recipes to help with this and am happy to share my successes as well as my failures with you. I also welcome your tips and input.

Mind

My mental health intention this year is to remember that everyone is doing his or her best, and not to be dissuaded by others’ choices for their paths. I am a sensitive person who has a tendency to take things personally. I have improved over the years. Looking back to the graphic design years of my early 20s, past me wasted much time brooding over criticism of my work. But it’s a continuous process. Witnessing the same sensitive tendencies in my daughter and helping guide her has provided me many growth opportunities in this arena.

Reflecting and realizing that every person is living out his or her own path and taking steps to serve that purpose, I find more focus and less self-defeating head talk. The struggle is real. Really real.  But my daily mantra is to recognize that my future with all its infinite potential arrives as a result of my perseverance, compassion and love of family and community. My 2018 is bright. Yours is too. Persevere.

If you’re looking for a way release unhealthy patterns and evolve this year, perhaps try journaling. You don’t need to be a writer. One sentence per day is enough. Maybe begin a gratitude jar, find Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal, or check out Dailygreatness’ Well-being and Lifestyle Journals.  When you write down your mantra, it involves more than just stating the words in your mind. Now your eyes take in your intention. Your body responds to your brain by gripping the writing tool and pouring out your thoughts. You see it and read it. This process has been elemental in my evolution. Revisiting my entries reinforces them more. Reading your gratitude notes at the end of the year from a gratitude jar will likely have a similar effect – that of reinforcing positive brain messaging. Some people choose social media to write their affirmations. If you do, please friend and tag me. I’m happy to read them and cheer for you.

If your resolution involves improving your physical health, tracking your improvement will help here too. Maybe your journaling includes one measurable way in which you succeeded. For example, I just ate 9 grams of added sugar in an instant oatmeal at a hotel this morning and another 9 grams in 10 Nutter Butter bites. I actually was about to chomp my way through the whole bag of these vegan cookies when my boyfriend reminded me of my one day old resolution! (I did actually forget. Darn boyfriend.) A quick check of the label released me from failure and hiding the remaining cookies in the console released them from today’s demise.  Anywho, this lead to my wondering if there is an app for that. There is. Of course there is. It’s 2018. If you are interested in tracking the amount of sugar you or your family are consuming and uncovering the ‘hidden’ sugar in packaged food and beverage products, it’s That Sugar App. Thanks Apple. Literally. I see more apples in my year ahead.

There’s more >>

Songs for the Solstice

BY LYNDSEY SCOTT

Today, December 21, is the winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the year here in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Many celebrate the Winter Solstice, a universally sacred occasion honored for centuries as a time to gather around a blazing fire, cheeks flushed and hearts warmed in soulful celebration. Lyndsey Scott, a prolific artist /yogi / yoga teacher who is also very much a plant-whisperer and song-seeder devoting her Self to “catalyzing the #restorativerevolution in the heartland of the U.S.” gives us songs for that fire and encouragement for finding your own voice, again and again. This is the first of what we hope is many contributions by this soul with such a gift for moving ours.

{{ Everytime i go into the darkness, i return with fistfuls of jewels }}

{{ Midnight velvet wraps all around me; stars glitter brilliant above }}

{{ Dreaming darkness: dreaming light }}

BARBARA MCAFEE

 

I’ve always loved to sing in the dark. When I lived in St. Louis my art studio was atop the fourth floor of an abandoned warehouse. To feel safe on the traipse up the dark stairwell, I wrapped my voice around me like a cloak and shield.  “Love, don’t worry. Perfect love casts out fear.”

 

But: cat got my tongue? Somehow, early November, after landing home from a month-long midwestern bike trek “songride”I stopped singing.  This was to my mental health like taking a solid break from teeth-brushing would be to my smile’s chagrin. I sorely missed my two co-pilots and our harmonies and deep kinship. Contrasting my small-town solitude and relative staidness with wild woman open-road spontaneity, I landed home bewildered in a fat heap of writhing existential questions. WTF am I doing Here capital H.  I dropped my guard, got sloppy, let fear swallow me whole, and quicksand sank into a stanky, bonafide funk ~ reliving familiar old patterns of self-hatey-doubt I thought I’d long-since outgrown. MayDay! MayDay! My tools aren’t working!   Full on health scare skin-flare, Netflix-binging, sleeping-bag hiding, woe-is-me kind of Who Turned Out the Lights.  Freaking the fuck out. Stuck in the mud.

 

Until……..but……. Wait.  Ahaaa. I know this place.  Feeling along the walls in the pitch black. Smell of wet earth and pregnant pause.  Lost form.  Eyes wide.  Let go. DON’T KNOW.  It’s the Fertile Void!  At our Kripalu YTT, they mapped the cycles of spiritual growth in a cute diagram, and voila:  it’s that aptly named space between the total chaos of old paradigm breakdown and the emergence of the next new. ”Hello darkness, my old friend.”  Erase the whiteboard.  Burn the plan. “It may be that when we no longer know what to do,  we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.  The mind that is not baffled is not employed.  The impeded stream is the one that sings.” Wendell Berry

 

I remember my first indicator toward the gift of this place, as a 22 yr old in a punk house collaging an Adbusters mag that had the same exact pic on each front and back cover captioned differently: “I’m having an emotional breakdown.” &  “I’m having an emotional breakthrough.”  Behold the choice that rests in us to Wait and See. To gather our bravery, let go defenses, melt definitions, and get acquainted with the night.

There’s more >>

Yoga with Extra Potty Breaks

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT & JESSICA CULELLA, E-RYT200, RPYT

PHOTOS BY JESSICA CULELLA

Whenever I hear someone say “I just love(d) being pregnant!” my reply out loud is “Oh yeah, 9 months without a period. I gotcha.” Cuz that and getting to see that dessert menu for a second round (once your prego is showing) is about all I can come up with for my reasons I loved being pregnant. Inside my head my conversation goes a tad differently. Something like… “Huh? Are you nuts? The hormones, feet the size of hot air balloons, heartburn, melasma, stretch marks, sleep issues?…” and I go on sometimes but usually the out loud conversation continues so I have to halt my monkeys. To each her own.

Don’t get me wrong. Bringing another life into this world is the most amazing thing I’ve done. I’ve had three full term pregnancies. At 19 I became a birth mom after almost 10 months of pregnancy. At some point during that pregnancy I knew I would be ending my relationship with my baby / fetus upon his day of birth, as I was placing him for adoption. That gave me a slightly different perspective on this very young experience. Plus, I weighed just a tiny bit more than a toothpick before it, and had all the body messaging most 18 year olds get handed to them going in. So that 1980s pregnancy was vastly different than my two later on in my 30s. However, had I known anything about breathwork, yoga & meditation back then, perhaps my internal voice would have allowed me more appreciation during my second and third go rounds later. Who knows… I do know that my life has been impacted immensely by the powers of yoga and mindfulness in the last 5 years, and I’m completely certain it could hugely benefit anyone carrying around a little one inside her, and most definitely during childbirth.

If you ever find those two little pink lines covered in your pee staring back at you, and have been gifted the opportunity to try your hand at parenthood, may you also have the opportunity to start (or continue) a yoga practice. You will find a multitude of benefits. Those who participate in a regular prenatal practice show better emotional and physical outcomes after delivery, increased lung capacity, increased optimal baby positioning, shorter labors, and increased strength and stamina for labor, delivery and recovery. Plus, you can find even more connection to this extension of you prior to your wee one’s arrival and after.

To gain a less tainted impression of pregnancy and how yoga might influence this 40 weeks of one’s life, I sought out words of wisdom from a mom friend who not only corrals two boys under the age of five, but guides women in prenatal yoga classes conjunctively. My friend, Jessica Culella, started teaching Prenatal Yoga about 4 years ago. She describes it as “immensely rewarding.” Jessica feels, “It doesn’t get much better than witnessing the difference this practice makes in the physical and mental wellbeing of these mamas.”

Here’s some of Jessica’s wisdom:

I like to start prenatal yoga practice with a group discussion, my favorite part of the class. I strive to create an open, non-judgemental environment where ladies can ask questions or share their experience on a variety of relevant topics. We may discuss anything from diapers to childbirth to postpartum depression. So much wisdom and support is cultivated during these conversations. It’s beautiful.

I build the physical practice around breath, space, strength, balance and knowledge.

 

Breath

The breath holds so much power. With it, we can cool the body, calm our minds and draw in energy. Weaving pranayama such as nadi shodhana, ujjayi, or the humming breath into the practice brings a sense of calm and deeper mind-body connection to my students.

 

Space

Creating space in the body, and in life, is vital during pregnancy. Many expecting mamas experience a shift in energy, priorities and how they view the world and themselves. I encourage my students to view these shifts as preparation for making more space in their lives for a new little one to join them in this world. With a growing belly, many things begin to change in the practice of asana (physical postures). Many postures get kicked to the curb, or modified. This can be a difficult transition for those with a strong practice. But this new space in the practice gives so much opportunity to explore new ways to safely twist, lengthen and engage.

Prenatal Yoga by Jessica Culella at Urban Breath and Yoga Six in St. Louis.

Strength

During pregnancy, we need strength in the legs, glutes and transverse abdominals (inner core) to keep proper spinal alignment and alleviate low back pain, one of the most common discomforts in pregnancy. Building strength in these key areas helps these ladies feel more capable throughout their pregnancies and ready for childbirth. I also like to incorporate mental stamina exercises into the practice to help prepare them for the emotional marathon that is childbirth.

There’s more >>

Move and Improve: the Therapeutics of Dance

BY ARICA BROWN, SAM GAITSCH, & CARL BRINGENBERG

PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL

 

“I was fourteen and I had been dealing with seven years of anger sparked by the fact that both of my parents were incarcerated. As a transplant to Oakland School of the Arts, I took dance as an elective my first year. I discovered breaking, and after another year, I was taking dance classes regularly. The disciplinary requirements of being a student of dance required me to steer clear of my fighting habit. Eventually, I wasn’t angry anymore. Practicing dance allowed me to have an outlet for physical expression that didn’t end with someone getting hurt.”

“In the wake of my grief over losing my grandmother, I left dance behind for some time. It wasn’t until I found dance again that I was finally able to begin the healing process.”

“Dance allowed me to have control over my scoliosis.”

“I was painfully shy and awkward as a child until dance brought me out of my shell. It not only helped me to gain confidence, but was also a great way to make friends.”


These are just a few of the stories shared by the dancers at Consuming Kinetics Dance Company (CKDC). Everyone has a story about movement and how it continues to influence their lives. What’s your story?

 

Psychology Today lists countless studies that indicate dance’s ability to improve cognitive function, and even relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recent findings suggest that dancing improves your quality of life and has an impact on longevity. Dance even has a positive influence on people suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. People often tell themselves “But… I’m not very good at dancing… how can I benefit from it?”

Consuming Kinetics Dance Co in St. Louis offers drop in jazz, contemporary, and hip hop for adults.

 

You can, absolutely. If you would like to improve your energy, buoy your mood and lowered stress, try it. If you suffer from social anxiety, collective dancing has been prescribed by therapists for decades as an effective therapy for anxiety sufferers. Just stepping foot inside a dance studio and moving with a qualified professional instructor, you can unlock the joy and expression that pure movement brings. Dancers of all ages and abilities find significant stress-relief from dancing. At CKDC, dancers with professional experience share the floor with first-time movers. They come together in a welcoming environment where all are able to express themselves freely. It’s a safe place for people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of experience.

 

Dancing isn’t just something you do, it is a lifestyle. Dance training follows you for the rest of your life. It instills the importance of time management, self care, respect for others, empathy, acceptance, discipline, and open-mindedness. Like yoga, dance is a practice, you never arrive at perfection. You’re never done training. Each day is a journey and an opportunity to move in new ways and improve.

The life of a professional dancer comes with huge responsibilities. Dancers have to work on their bodies full time, but often they must also maintain full or part-time jobs. Dancers that work with very prominent companies in their cities must still rely heavily on side gigs and teaching opportunities to make ends meet. Artists are some of the hardest working individuals out there, as they are constantly striving to improve, while living in a world that is increasingly difficult for creative people and endeavors. As Ohad Naharin says, “For me, to dance, is very much the idea of surviving.”

 

Consuming Kinetics Dance Co in St. Louis offers drop in jazz, contemporary, and hip hop for adults.

 

While it isn’t easy for dance educators, one of the biggest rewards is connecting with people and hearing their stories of how dance has impacted their lives. If you are looking to move your body more in the new year and would like to feel safely surrounded by a family of movers, try Consuming Kinetics Dance Studio’s drop-in style classes for adults (and of course kids). Classes for adults run continuously and there are no registration fees to join. You can try out your Hip Hop style, or free flow and learn a routine in a contemporary class. There’s also Music Video Moves, Jazz and FloorBarre, among others. Find one that speaks to you and fits your schedule and experience the healing properties of practicing dance.
And take it from Al, “Nothing happens until something moves”  ~ Albert Einstein.

Four Corners of Your Foot

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS: CONSUMING KINETICS DANCE CO.

#CueTheCues, number 3

One of the many reasons yoga makes sense to me… it’s practiced barefoot. This former desert rat spent her youth barefoot in the Arizona sands. My childhood defiance of shoes gifted me with some significant grounding or earthing benefits as it turns out. Earthing (standing on the Earth barefoot) appears to reduce chronic inflammation through the transfer of negatively-charged electrons from the surface of the Earth into the body where they neutralize the positively-charged destructive free radicals involved in chronic inflammation. Who knew? More vitality, health, and healing from this thing called yoga.

So when a teacher instructs you to “Ground down into the four corners of your feet (or foot)” he or she could really be helping you fight free radicals. And just in case you never saw your feet as having corners (neither did I), this Cue the Cues episode is here to help clarify this cue heard in yoga classes.

Getting your feet situated is the foundation of all standing poses. So let’s look at your foot in terms of this cue. From the bottom of your foot, you have the heel portion and the ball of the foot, or the mound just below the toes. The four corners of the feet are:

  1. the outer ball of the foot, just below the pinkie toe
  2. the inner ball of the foot, just below the big toe
  3. the outer heel
  4. the inner heel

In all of the standing postures you want to get grounded through these four corners and distribute your weight evenly across the four points. This gives you a very strong, stable foundation to work from, as most of the standing postures require some degree of balance and coordination.

Related Article: Yoga is Good for Your Sole

In order to feel and work with the four corners of the feet, stand in Mountain Pose with your feet hip distance apart and your feet parallel.

There’s more >>

Hip to be Square

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, RYT

The intention of YoGoGirls’ #CueTheCues videos is to offer you understanding of what yoga teachers mean when delivering a cue. You are your best teacher and you have your own individual physiology. Yoga poses can be honest conversations with your body rather than performances of superior skills. So honor that bod. And use these #CueTheCues videos as little helpers when you hear a cue and wonder, “What the heck does that mean?”

Today’s cue is “Hips Square to the Mat.”

Let me begin by recognizing that no one has body parts that are square nor symmetrical. So the “square your hips” cue is one that should merely have the intention of seeking an approximation, rather than some photo-perfect rendition. I know for me, in my splits (especially standing splits) my hips open. I’m sure it’s something to do with how my hip joint fits together with the labrum or something. So I do my best, to back out in order to support my body and lengthen my spine, which means my hip is not so open and splits not so deep.

When students are guided into 3 legged dog, is generally the first time I witness this cue given in a vinyasa class. At this point, here’s how you might think of it… those hipbones you can feel with your hands, to have them square means not having one hip higher, lower, in front of, or behind the other. A great way to visualize this is to look at the front of your mat, which is a straight line. Are your hips parallel to the top of your mat? Are they even with each other in height? Then your hips are square!

Here are some other ways it can be said that might offer you some clarification:

  • draw the hip of your front leg back and your other hip forward
  • level out your hips
  • drop your front hip
  • flex the extended leg’s foot and dial its toes down toward the earth (in three legged dog)
  • the sitting bone of the front leg moves forward toward the back knee while the pubic bone of the back leg moves toward the front knee

Asymmetrical poses where hips are squared to the mat below and the front edge of it:

  • three legged dog – Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • low lunge and high or crescent lunge – Anjaneyasana
  • warrior 1 – Virabhadrasana I
  • pyramid pose – Parshvottanasana
  • revolved triangle pose – Parivritta Trikonasana
  • splits or half splits – Hanumasana or Ardha Hanumasana
  • standing splits – Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
  • low twisted lunge or revolved crescent lunge – Parivrtta Anjaneyasana

Asymmetrical poses where hips are open and face the long side of your mat in general:

  • half moon pose – Ardha Chandrasana
  • triangle pose Trikonasana
  • warrior 2 – Virabhadrasa II
  • reverse warrior – Viparita Virabhadrasana
  • extended side angle – Utthita Parsvakonasana

If you have a cue you’d like explained, please email debby@yogogirls.com. If you’d like to be the student in these videos, I’d love to have you join me filming more episodes of this series.


Thank you Blue Sky Yoga for allowing me to film in your beautiful space. Thank you Jamie Austin for modeling revolved crescent lunge. Thank you Michelle Thomas for the photography. And Thank YOU for taking time to learn more about yoga.

No Sugar Added Divine Chestnut Crepes

BY DEBBY SIEGEL & CHRIS POWERS

Breakfast of champions includes more than my daily allowance of sugar? What?

I became a vegetarian in January, 2015 as a New Year’s Resolution and have since migrated toward eating entirely plant-based. The crazy fact is, Oreos are vegan. Vegan or plant-based eating doesn’t mean I have been eating entirely healthier. Sugar is plant-based. Although the sugar industry has actively fought to change public opinion about the health effects of sugar, we know today that sugar impacts just about every organ system in the body. And not in a good way. So my 2018 resolution is to attempt to stick to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) or 100 calories per day of added sugar. This is the recommendation for women, you fellas get 3 more teaspoons for no more than 9 or 150 calories a day.

Enter any grocery store and the first section you’re directed into will contain food-based, refrigerated juice smoothies and protein drinks. They are all the rage. But the sugar content of most is astronomical. Some of Naked’s juice drinks contain over 60 grams of sugar, that’s more grams of sugar than a 12 oz. can of their parent company’s soda – Pepsi! And Coca-Cola’s Odwalla beverages have enough sugar to send a kid up the face of El Cap in record time. Next time you’re lured into this front-of-the-shop aisle and find yourself reading the labels, check out St. Louis made, plant-based Karuna beverages. They are sweetened with monk fruit and Chinese dates. And one we selected to create a breakfast recipe with — Divine Chestnut — has just 8 grams of sugar per 12 oz. As my vegan-chef boyfriend and I are seeking ways to make a satisfying breakfast without any added sugar, we tested out this one below for crepes. And there were divine.

As I look for ways to fuel my upcoming days with less sugar, I’ll be documenting my resolution throughout the year with recipes to help me stick to that under 25 grams of added sugar per day number. Here’s one I’ll likely make with Chris often, just switching out the filler with seasonal fruits…

No Sugar Divine Chestnut Crepes:

 

Crepe:

1 cup flour

1 12 oz bottle of Karuna Divine Chestnut

2 Flax Eggs (see below for recipe)

1 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Filling:

3 medium size Honey Crisp Apples

1 D’Anjou Pear

2 Tsp Coconut Oil

2 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp Vanilla

pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Cut apples and pears into square chunks
  3. Stir together fruit chunks, with coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon and salt
  4. Bake fruit for 30 minutes at 350º
  5. Bake apples and pear mixture for 30 minutes, then keep warm in the oven while prepping the crepes.
  6. Make Flax Eggs –

    Coffee grind 2 Tablespoons of flax seeds.  Put it in a separate bowl.

    Add 6 Tablespoons of warm water. Mix well.

    Refrigerate for 15 minutes or more, while you wait for the apples to finish baking.

  1. Vegan eggs are made from ground flax seed
    Vegan eggs are made from grinding flax seed.
    Vegan eggs are made from ground flax seed.
    Flax seed we ground in a coffee grinder.

     

  2. When oven timer goes off, turn off oven (important step!), but leave fruit in there to keep it warm.
  3. In large bowl, mix together flour, Karuna Divine Chestnut, flax eggs & cinnamon
  4. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add 1/4 of the batter and swirl to completely cover bottom of skillet. Cook the thin crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a rubber spatula, turn and cook the other side.
  6. Fill & serve hot!

    Vegan crepes with no added sugar for breakfast, brunch or any meal.
    Vegan crepes with no added sugar for breakfast, brunch or any meal.

Makes 4, no sugar added servings!

Carpe your Crepes!

Please let us know how you like this recipe. If you have any suggestions for recipes you’d like to see, let us know! Debby@YoGoGirls.com


More on woman-owned, St. Louis-based Karuna:
You have many options when shopping for a healthy juice drink. Perusing the beverage aisle of your grocer can be confusing. All the juices claim healthy ingredients and splash nutrition buzz words on their labels. However, when it comes to nutritious, plant-based beverages, Karuna drinks have no peers. Kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Only Karuna offers original, nutrition-dense ingredients, like Chinese red dates, aronia berries and mung bean sprouts. Their hydroponic, chemical-free and hormone-free growing methods stand out as well. You can be certain when selecting Karuna that the juice found in your beverage is from real fruits high in phytonutrients, not nutrient-poor fruit juice concentrates. Karuna is waste conscious as well. Many other juices are pressed from fruits and vegetables and their remains become trash. Karuna uses that healthy portion in other drinks and composts the minimal left overs.
Karuna is Sanskrit for “compassionate action.” This compassion for your health and the health of our planet is the root of Karuna’s mission. Precisely why I drink them and feel confident sharing them with you.

Behind the Ballerina

INTERVIEW OF AMY HERCHENROETHER
PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS
She’s gone in a little over a year. My baby girl is 17. She will begin the trek to schools this summer and have her foot out the door. So we started regular mother-daughter dates. November’s outing to St. Louis Ballet’s Giselle was a perfect way to connect to this teen who assistant teaches Theater Dance classes. We were mesmerized by the fluidity of the ballerinas and felt all smug with our accurate understanding of the story of Giselle without reading it in the program first. The ballerinas have to tell a story without words, and they did so, superbly.
Imagine my excitement when I learned that several of the ballerinas practice yoga at Yoga Six with me?! Having connected with one of the leads in Giselle – Amy Herchenroether – we got her in Michelle’s studio for a shoot and caught up with her to learn more about her and this professional dance company right here in our fine city of St. Louis. Enjoy…

Tell us about you… where you grew up, how many siblings, where’s home?

I grew up in Pittburgh, PA with my parents and older brother. I trained with some amazing teachers at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School for thirteen years before moving to Boston and studying as a trainee with Boston Ballet for two years. I go back to Pittsburgh around the holidays to visit family, but St. Louis is definitely my home now.

When did you begin dancing and when did you believe ballet would be your future?

I started dancing when I was three, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to dance. My mom used to read Angelina Ballerina books to me, and apparently I told her that I was going to be a ballerina one day! However I did struggle to find a job and started to doubt that I could actually make my passion a career. I’m 5’8”, which is relatively tall for a female dancer. I got a lot of rejections because of my height. I feel lucky to have found a job with St. Louis Ballet, because the dancers here don’t fit just one mold. There’s a really wide range in heights; I also love that we all have different training and backgrounds, yet we can dance cohesively as a group.

Was it your favorite ballet role to date?

The highlight of my career thus far was definitely dancing the title role in Giselle earlier in November. It was my first time dancing a full-length principal role, and it was so thrilling! Giselle is also one of my favorite classical ballets, so this opportunity was extra special. It was an amazing way to start my fifth season here in St. Louis. I joined the company in 2013.

Did you study dance in college?

I actually didn’t go to college. I’m interested in pursuing a degree at some point, but many dancers join companies or at least trainee/apprentice programs straight out of high school. I joined Boston Ballet’s trainee program as a senior in high school and completed my education through an online school.

You played Giselle after she dies right? Tell us a little about the story and your favorite aspect of the story of Giselle.

Yes; I loved playing Giselle, because the character changes so much between the two acts. In the first act, Giselle is so vibrant and full of love for dance and her man, Albrecht. However she has a weak heart, and is consumed by pain and betrayal when she finds out Albrecht is secretly a nobleman and engaged to someone else. This trauma ultimately leads to Giselle’s death. I really enjoyed getting to explore this character and do so much acting on stage. So often ballet dancers have to just appear beautiful, happy, and smiling, so it was interesting to find a more dramatic side to the performance. In the second act, Giselle is dead and appears as a ghostly spirit. All of her movements should look effortless and ethereal. I really loved this act in particular, because the movements felt more natural to me.
There’s more >>

Chaturanga Flow – Floor-based Variations

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, RYT

 

The most common repeated sequence in vinyasa yoga classes is the four-part Chaturanga flow. In this part of class many teachers streamline their guiding language to “take your vinyasa.” Injuries in our bodies come from moving in ways not safe for our joints and ligaments repeatedly. Since this is a series repeated often, let’s begin by highlighting some safe variations for Chaturanga flow. When a teacher says “Honor your body.” refer to these options in the video below for this series and choose some that work for your shoulders, wrists, hips, back etc on that day, in that class, during that hour, in that particular Chaturanga flow.

Chaturanga Floor Options:

You can do the flow on your knees, flow through tabletop, lower all the way to the floor and choose between low cobra or upward facing dog, or even keep one leg lifted as you lower half way to low plank or Chaturanga Dhandasana. (We will look at options for using a chair or the wall in a future Yoga Evangelist lesson.)

There are some important factors to keeping your arm joints and back safe during this vinyasa yoga flow:

Tips for Safely Flowing:

  • Try to keep your elbows pointed straight back behind you as you hinge at the elbow, not hugging in too closely and not winging out too widely.
  • Broaden your pectorals as if you were spreading your collarbones away from each other
  • Tuck your tailbone to lengthen your low back
  • Utilize the back muscles of your body (back torso, shoulder blades, triceps, hamstrings, and calves) with equal effort as the front
  • Stack your elbows above your wrists
  • Continue to reach through the heels, sternum, and crown of the head as you breathe
  • When lowering to Chaturanga Dhandasana, move your shoulders forward past the crease of your wrists, rolling forward on your toes before lowering

Avoid Injury with these Tips:

  • Avoid sticking your butt up
  • Try not to lett your center sag
  • Keep from letting your shoulders collapse any lower than your elbows
  • To maintain shoulder joint stability in chaturanga, the front of the shoulders should point either forward or up, not down

For the breathwork flow of the series:

There’s more >>

A MENTAL SHOWER IN OUTER SPACE

BY SIRIATMA KAUR

PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL

A good gong session often feels like you are floating in outer space, blurring the lines of where you end, and where the vast vast cosmos begins. From the very first strike of the mallet, you feel it – you’re in for a ride. It is said that any and all sounds that can possibly exist can be created from the gong. Within 3-90 seconds the mind realizes that there is no way to organize or predict what its hearing, and you feel as if your mental reset button has been pressed. This happens because the sounds of the gong are not harmonious. The experience tends to take you into a Theta brainwave state, which is like a dream state – things are coming up from the subconscious mind. One might experience vivid visualizations or emotions similar to a dream, the difference being that the gong is helping to actually clear the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind can eventually “fill up” and begin to spill into the unconscious mind, at which point our work to clear the garbage becomes much more challenging. A gong meditation, like any meditation, is essentially like taking a mental shower. Just as we clean our bodies to keep them healthy and pleasant, it is necessary to clean or clear the mind to keep  a state of optimal balance and well-being. The advantage of sound healing meditation is simply that you do not have to do anything but let go and let the gong take you wherever it is you need to go!

As we all know, letting go is not always easy. Sometimes we notice the junk being drawn up from the subconscious and we might attach to it. The attachment might feel somewhat unpleasant if we experience self-judgement, sadness, or any other thought or emotion stemming from fear. In those brief moments it is extremely helpful to focus on the sound and ride that sound current into the Infinite. Remember, this crud is being drawn up to be cleared out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, opening the eyes and watching as the sounds are created proves to be very grounding. A good cleansing cry can be a beautiful release, and is very common in Kundalini Yoga classes and gong sound healing sessions. The gong offers many benefits, like balancing one’s glandular, circulatory, and nervous systems. In a “gong bath” students are bathed in sound vibrations helping to alleviate stress while inducing deep relaxation and restoration. Time often goes by very quickly – 90 minutes may feel like only 10. The experience is different for everyone, every time.

There are of course the variables of different gong types, and the different intuitive processes and styles of each sound healer, but remarkably the most impactful variant is due to the ever-changing arrangement of the extremely fine hairs inside one’s ears which determines how each gong session is received. 

One constant tends to be how awed and amazed attendees feel as they share “where” they went during their experience, and the testimonies of lasting impacts of self-awareness.

Most gong sessions range from 15 minutes at the end of a Kundalini Yoga class, to 90 minutes in a gong bath or sound healing meditation. St. Louis is lucky to have many sound healers and gongs in the community, several of which will be coming together on New Year’s Eve at Urban Breath in Maplewood to co-create an All Night Gong Puja. The event begins at 9pm with a brief meditation series for prosperity, and proceeds with continuous sound healing until 3am on New Year’s Day. Whether you sleep, or remain in an aware meditative state, this could very well be the highlight of your holiday festivities. No need to drive at 3am when the sound healing ends. After an hour of quiet time, Aquarian Sadhana, a separate donation oriented event, will begin at 4am and last until 6:30am, to which all are welcome. Just like the Gong Puja, you’ll be soaking up the healing vibes even if you choose to slumber. Visit urbanbreathyoga.com for detailed descriptions of both events or to register should you decide you’re going…going…GONG!


SiriAtma Kaur: 

SiriAtma’s yoga journey began in the summer of 2010 when she started practicing to relieve stress. Just two years later, she completed her first yoga teacher training in hatha yoga with East-West Natural Healing and in 2013, she finished a 200-hour Kundalini yoga training with SatInder Kaur Khalsa and KartaPurkh Singh Khalsa at the Sat Tirath Ashram in Kansas City. SiriAtma holds a SuperHealth Certification, which is focused on healing addictive behavior with Kundalini yoga and meditation. Her Kundalini classes incorporate movement, breathwork, and chanting and are invigorating and aimed at inspiring bhakti (devotion to the highest self). SiriAtma’s personal practice has increased her self-awareness and improved her ability to respond to stressors. Her compassionate and encouraging teaching style encourages the same in students. When she’s not practicing and teaching Kundalini and hatha yoga classes, SiriAtma is exploring life with her three young sons, maybe dancing, singing, or enjoying nature. And if you’re curious, there are long locks underneath her turban; SiriAtma doesn’t cut her hair, as it’s said to strengthen the aura. 

Manifest Station: Music + Yoga Festival May 4-6, 2018

WITH DEBBY SIEGEL, CHRIS POWERS, CHRISTINE KICK & FRIENDS

Manifest Station is an all-inclusive yoga and music festival in southern Illinois which aims to inspire positive collective consciousness for all through the collaboration of talented musicians, both local and international, and outstanding yoga instructors, performers and healers. By keeping the ticket price low and including accommodations and food in one price, we have made this weekend accessible to every person who wishes to join the Manifest Station community.

Manifest Station Music + Yoga Festival southern IL May 4-6, 2018
LS XPRSS | . photo: William Cooley Media

Community is not possible without families. Manifest Station goes to great lengths to welcome and embrace families and young ones at our festival. There is a designated quiet family area back away from the action and a platform tent gathering specifically for those with children. There are many kids activities simultaneous to adult classes so that everyone has a chance to experience long-lasting memories at this weekend getaway. Our Kids Activities leader, Katie Rodgers is a Master’s Degreed school teacher turned yoga instructor who specializes in yoga for children.

Manifest Station: Music + Yoga Festival May 4-6, 2018 in southern IL.
Kids Yoga at Manifest Station V2 with Christine Kick

We believe in the betterment of ourselves and the planet. Manifest Station offers healthy vegan food in our dining hall throughout the festival. In between the five meals offered from dinner Friday night through brunch on Sunday, vegan snacks will be available in the dining hall 24 hours per day. We go to extra lengths to recycle our waste, by collecting and delivering recyclables, composting food waste, and dining on real dinnerware, not styrofoam or plastic.

Manifest Station: Music + Yoga Festival May 4-6, 2018 in southern IL.
QiGong by Meredith Trewolla at Manifest Station V2

Let’s create a utopian community for one weekend on this 257 acre property.  You will find an array of healing modalities in our Healing Village, with diverse hands on therapies, energy work, and sound healing offered.  To get involved in the healing village, please email debby@yogogirls.com or text her: 314-369-7399.

 

 

For more info about this festival, visit:

MUSIC + YOGAKIDS ACTIVITIES | HEALING VILLAGE | GUIDELINES | FOOD | SHELTER | SCHEDULE | REGISTER | SPONSORS

 

Manifest Station: Music + Yoga Festival May 4-6, 2018 in southern IL.
SUP Yoga at Manifest Station V2

Be Seen. YoGoGirls 2018

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY KEATON HANSON AND DEBBY SIEGEL

Being seen. It’s what we all want. To be seen and heard and understood. The recent #metoo hashtag with its 12 million posts overnight around the globe clearly exhibited our willingness to vulnerably share the truth of our experiences to have them acknowledged.

Being seen is somewhat different for everyone.

We each base our acknowledgement needs on our life’s path and how we synthesize and attach to our experiences. I personally feel seen when risking and sharing the truth of my experience, and it is relevant for someone in the moment they need it most. I also feel most seen when engaging one-on-one and in person.

As an online entrepreneur, how “seen” I am matters, and social proof is the barometer of my work’s success. As a yoga teacher, this is confusing at times. Teaching puts you in front of people. You have the responsibility of holding space for others, acknowledging all of them, yet in front of everyone, sharing truths, some of you is also being seen. Like yoga, it’s a balance. I’ve discovered for me, connecting deeply with and influencing the people in my immediate world far more satisfying than how many followers I have in a virtual one. At the same time, my ability to connect depends on my ability to measure up digitally sometimes. It is the dichotomy of the modern age for yoga teachers. (I imagine my yoga teacher friends wanting to click at least the heart emoticon to that!)

I want to share some new commitments I am making to me and you. Here goes… In my life, being truly seen felt risky and vulnerable. So I would allow, and even ask, to be Photoshopped, filtered and edited. Not just on social media images and profiles, but I sometimes altered my personal presentation – the words I’d say, gestures, inclinations, and even my feelings. Edited me would get more likes and even in person, it was about being more accepted. Validation from a double tap or click. I know from my digital marketing job, social media post engagement is a metric that validates its budget. It doesn’t however, validate me. I will try to keep this in mind. I am enough. You are too. I am vowing to be present with you and bring the best version of me to all situations. To refrain from the distractions of my ego, and lead from my soul.

The future of YoGoGirls is shifting to reflect this new commitment. For over four years, Michelle and I have created art with her masterful lens, connected through our blog and held many events.  We are both proud of the work we’ve collaborated on. Going forward Michelle will bring many creative videos, images and ideas to her followers (@michelle_yogogirls on Instagram and Facebook), and I will continue the brand of YoGoGirls through this blog, social media and emails. We will still collaborate on some work.

YoGoGirls has been a great time. As two moms of teenagers in our late 40s I sort of knew this time would come. That we would shift. I have mourned this, and moved through all five stages of mourning. With this shift comes a new vision for YoGoGirls and it is simple. Being seen. YoGoGirls will acknowledge all women – all shapes, sizes, colors, abilities and ages – all women are YoGoGirls. If you are interested in being featured or know of someone who should be on YoGoGirls’ blog and social media please reach out to me: Debby@YoGoGirls.com or 314-369-7399.

I am well aware that this new vision will bring about a shift in our social following. It’s ok.

My relationship with a man who’s not on social media nor the owner of a smart phone, has gifted me with a sweet vantage point. That it’s ok. Witnessing his unique way of touching the world with his cooking or music secured my value of sincerely connecting to people in the moment. I’ve watched him (even with his social anxiety) form true relationships with people as he connects to others, showing interest in learning more about them. He actually remembers people’s names when meeting them. I noticed this too. It has fueled my desire to invest more of myself in genuine connections.

There’s more >>

A Pain in the Neck

BY DEBBY SIEGEL RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMASRJ HARTBECK

 

TEXT NECK RELIEF

We are living in an increasingly fast-paced world that keeps us connected to these little devices that are wreaking havoc on our posture. Feeling your text neck? Here’s an exercise you can do at your desk or anywhere!

 

Hands into Head:

Begin seated with the bottom of your pelvic bones rooted evenly into the chair or ground below and the top of your head stretching toward the ceiling. Reach your arms up overhead, clasp your hands together by interlacing your fingers with your thumbs free. Bend at your elbows and place the palms of your hands on the back of your head, resting your thumbs where your hairline meets your neck in the occipital area. Inhale and gently press the back of your head into your hands while keeping the sensation of your tailbone lengthening into the floor/chair and the crown of your head up toward the sky while drawing the chin in. Breathe here 5-7 breaths. Enter a state of being, and away from doing.

 

Text neck is result of our always doing, checking status, likes, messaging people back, etc etc. Let’s step away from this state and into a resting state of being. We are human beings, not human doings. See you on a yoga mat soon.


If you’d like to practice a Thanksgiving flow with me, it’ll cost you a non-perishable food item or two. Meet me on a mat at Yoga Six Des Peres at 9am, Nov 23. (Food will be donated to The Fit and Food Connection to feed hungry people in North St. Louis. In the St. Louis area, over 20% of households hold high rankings of food instability, according to the 2013 Missouri Hunger Atlas Data Report. Fit & Food Connection benefits low income families, senior citizens, and the disabled who deal with food insecurity in their daily lives.)

Yoga Outside the Lines – Magic Moments

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY RJ HARTBECK & DEBBY SIEGEL

At one stage in your development as a human, you were a child, devoid of the voice inside your head. You know the one. The voice that speaks to you constantly, judging your surroundings, telling you good and bad, guiding your movements and your interactions with the world around you. This voice is an intrinsic part of our make up as thinking, communicating beings. But there was a time in your development when you didn’t have this voice. You just loved and flowed throughout your days with a clean imagination, your life’s vinyasa filled with pure belief in yourself.

Go back to that time before the world told you who to be and not to be. Find past you.

Even if you are not able to pinpoint the pre-voice time and go exactly back, agree with the understanding that this time did exist for you. A time when you just simply colored, or drew, or danced, or sang, and you had never once heard yet, any other human’s comments on your art. Find that early version of you. Listen to that child. This child understands magic moments. This child is still you.

Repeat after me: I am infinitely capable. I can. I will. I am creative. I am love. I am art.

Yoga Art Therapy by Debby Siegel, RYT in St. Louis.

Yoga Art Therapy by Debby Siegel, RYT in St. Louis.


At some point we all decided whether or not we would continue to create art. In Yoga Outside the Lines, a vinyasa yoga class using charcoal and paper canvas at Utopia Studios in St. Louis, we will journey to the days of our youth.  We will provide you the tools to revive your child.

The class is being offered in a 90 minute format Sunday, April 15 4-5:30, and on Sunday, April 29 with a special reception that includes a special drink made just for the event, called Creative Inspiration.

REGISTER FOR APRIL 15

REGISTER FOR APRIL 29

Body Positive Yoga, Interview with Amber Karnes

PHOTOS BY Robinson Imagery

 

Between teaching online at bodypositiveyoga.com (through free classes on her blog and her monthly subscription site, where she posts lots of new, really original videos every month), and her online course for teachers with Dianne Bondy called Yoga For All, and leading workshops and retreats all around the country, Amber Karnes had time to answer some questions for our readers! I’d hoped to write here that I’m in the Yoga for All course, but alas my furnace had other plans for that money. So I’m saving and have it on my agenda. I have taken a lot of online classes, have an online yoga membership and have participated in several of Amber’s and Dianne’s online classes, even a live one, and I appreciate their style and guidance.

 

1. You have practiced yoga for over a decade. Do you remember your first class and what you were thinking? 

I went to my first yoga class in my early 20s. I was on some big weight loss project at the time, and the trainer at my gym said that I should do yoga on my rest days because “Yoga doesn’t really count as exercise, but you still burn calories.” Well, sign me up. I was pretty sure fat people didn’t go to yoga studios, but I went anyway.

I remember being the only bigger person in the room. I don’t remember what we did in class. What I do remember was leaving the class, walking to my car behind the building, driving away, getting on the interstate to go home, and about 10 minutes into my drive, the familiar mental soundtrack started back up. Maybe you’ve experienced this soundtrack too: that voice in the back of your mind that second-guesses everything you do, tells you you aren’t good enough, reminds you of that stupid thing you said or did, and constantly judges and casts shame onto your body.

What I realized was that if the ol’ judgment reel had started back up, that meant it had stopped. Even for a few minutes, my mind had quieted itself and I had spent those minutes not thinking about or judging my body or myself. This was new! I was eager to repeat this experiment, so I went back to class. A few classes more, and I was hooked.

2. What language/components do you feel are important to use in every yoga class you guide?

I like to normalize taking different variations of poses, using props, and having bodies that aren’t always in “perfect working order.” So we talk about bodies. We talk about sensation and what it might mean. We learn how to use props and take variations for almost every pose we do. It’s important to me that my students feel that they have agency to choose how to interact with their mat in any given practice – to take the yoga practice back into their own hands and realize they are their most important teacher and the only expert of their bodies.

See?  LOVE THIS TEACHER! (Related articles: 21st Century Yoga Props: Making Yoga More AccessibleVitruvian Man Uses Props)

3. You are touring the U.S. with your Body Positive Yoga and Yoga for All beginning in October. How did you decide to come to St. Louis and in what other cities will you be teaching?
Oh boy! It’s a long road trip! I’ve been to Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Ripon & Madison, Wisconsin, I’ll be all over Illinois, St. Louis, West Virginia – I’m so excited! Honestly the tour came together very quickly. I realized I had weekends in Minneapolis and Chicago just a few days apart and didn’t want to spend all that time on planes. I put a screenshot of a square on a map and asked “who in this square wants me to come through their town?” on my Facebook page. Less than 48 hours later, the tour was done! I’m so excited to come to St. Louis (my first time!).

4. You have committed yourself to offering inclusive, adaptive yoga to empower diverse practitioners around the globe. Do you still get nervous before teaching? Do you have a ritual for centering before beginning?
I get nervous every time. Will this resonate with anyone? Will they like me? Will someone come that doesn’t feel accommodated or included? My ritual is usually pacing back and forth awkwardly in and out of the yoga room and cracking jokes until it’s time to start. I try to embrace the awkward and laugh about it!

There’s more >>

Raising the Bar on Wellness in St. Louis

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY SARAH BACHMANN

Confused by my text asking him to join me at the bar, my Team USA triathlete friend wrote back, “For alcohol?” “No, we’re going to drink air.” Michael obliged. So did Sarah. We all bellied up to the oxygen bar at Radiance Float + Wellness and discovered what people have been inhaling for health purposes since Cleopatra’s time. We inhaled aromatic botanical essences (essential oils) combined with some pure O2.

 

The theory of essential oil aromatherapy is based on the powerful influence of people’s sense of smell. For example, ever have someone walk by wearing an ex’s after-shave or perfume? And how does the aroma of freshly ground coffee affect you? Yep. See… scents can subtly alter our moods and emotions. Some even have a natural ability to cause us to relax and destress.

 

So I chose the Pumpkin Pie scent, of course, because I mean when in Rome in the fall… Michael strapped the plastic tubing over his ears and sent the little prong thingies into his nostrils and started with the lavender. The germaphobe in me was relieved to know we get to keep our tubing thingy, and then the somewhat maniacal tree hugger Debby felt the urge to reuse them. Kayla said I could, so phew… onto the next scent. There were six options including Eucalyptus, peppermint (loved it), and sandalwood. We all understood how slowing down long enough to inhale some soothing smells would benefit us. Sold. We’ll be back, and we’ll bring our nasal tubes with us.

 

Next on our healthy field trip, we checked out Radiance’s hydromassage chair.

There’s more >>

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

 

It’s an often used analogy, airlines urging caregivers to secure their own oxygen mask before helping those needing assistance. It is refreshing to know that it is necessary to remind people that in a dire situation such as an airplane losing oxygen, to think of oneself first. It’s good to know that our first instinct might be to make sure others are safe before looking after ourselves.

With so many disruptions in our societal fabric these days and the ramifications everywhere, it is time to put on our masks and breathe in the rich air, then turn to help others who may not be able to reach theirs or understand how to access theirs.

Take Care of You:

Maintain your energy so that you may continue to connect with your web of people – those who need you and those you need. Energy requires sleep, healthy diet, and some exercise. It also feeds on creative outlets. Here are some ways you might recharge:

  • Put the baby in a stroller and go for a walk
  • Go apple picking
  • Nap
  • Journal
  • Listen to music
  • Play an instrument
  • Sing
  • Commute by bike
  • Paint
  • Color
  • Draw
  • Yoga
  • Garden
  • Read a book
  • Hug for 20 seconds or more
  • Chant a Mantra

Chanting a Mantra:

Remember that you are a part of the universe and can positively impact all of creation. We can radiate a prayer of love for the world around us through chanting mantras. Chanting is an audial mediation and a vibratory healing. Here’s a chant we’ve been singing in this time of need in our world: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. It is ancient Sanskrit and means, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” If you’d like an example to follow along, play this YouTube video:

Thank you for taking time to read our words and for choosing a few of the self-care items on this list to make sure you have enough to give to your network. If you have any ideas to add, please email us: debby@yogogirls.com.

We are planning YoGoGirls’ 2nd Annual Labyrinth Peace Ceremony in November again at Robert Robert N. Kohn Memorial Labyrinth on the grounds of Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Stay tuned to our social media for the date and time announced soon.

Yoga for the Road

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS OF YOGOGIRLS BY STEVEN DANNER at MINI of St. Louis

 

If you’re the average commuter, Harvard Health Watch tells us you spend just over 100 minutes sitting in a car every day. Add in time spent sitting for a job, and it becomes clear why issues arising from hunching and inactivity are plaguing us all. Lengthy commuters are more likely to have high blood pressure, an oversized waistline, and other health problems that increase their risk for chronic diseases.

Despite all this, we have some good news. When practiced regularly, yoga can lower blood pressure and improve your circulation naturally! So, while your life may require you to sit for long periods each day, you may want to spend a few more minutes in your car, not driving, but stretching out your spine, neck, shoulders and hips, and your breath. 

The yoga poses YoGoGirls outline below should be performed in your car, but not while driving. Practice them while parked. Skip that last snooze and spend those extra 10 minutes breathing deeply while stretching out instead.

Focus on Your Breath

Just 10 minutes spent practicing the simple act of watching your breath move in and out of your body, will naturally slow your system down and aid your body in relaxing and healing. Begin seated upright, facing forward in your car’s seat, with it moved back as far as it will go. Plant with your feet on the floorboard, hip width apart. Sit up tall. Begin to slow your inhales and exhales and observe the sound of drawing air into your body deeply through your nose, and exhaling it out through your mouth. Elongate the breath. As your draw air in, feel your abdomen, chest, then throat expand and rise. As your expel air out, empty out your throat, collapse you ribs together, and finally draw your abdomen in (naval toward your spine). Continue this 3-part breathing, known as dirga pranayama, moving oxygen into your body, filling up bottom to top, and expressing out carbon dioxide, collapsing from top to bottom. Do this for 8-10 breaths and then begin adding in these stretching yoga poses:

 

Debby Siegel, RYT describes relieving neck tension in your car

Neck Rolls

People often hold tension in their necks and shoulders. For some, even thinking about driving can increase this tension response. To loosen up let’s practice some simple neck rolls, moving your head from side to side. Begin by sitting tall in your seat and lowering your chin toward your chest as you roll your shoulders back and down away from your ears. Now roll your head to your right, moving your right ear toward your right shoulder. To intensify the stretch, place your right fingertips above your left ear, and let the weight of your right hand gently hold your head here for a neck stretch. Hold this for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on both sides coming through the center stretch first.

There’s more >>

MINI Yoga for Cancer Event

MINI of St. Louis Open House with YoGoGirls

Sunday, October 15  |  12n – 4p  |  Yoga: 1-2p  |  $10
MINI of St. Louis | 40 Sunnen Drive | Maplewood, MO 63143

MINI of St. Louis Yoga Party Open House with YoGoGirls

Join YoGoGirls and  friends at MINI of St. Louis‘ showroom for a uniquely fun event that will support Pedal the Cause in their quest to eliminate cancer. This open house party is complete with a 60-minute Vinyasa Yoga Class led by Debby Siegel of YoGoGirls from 1:00-2:00pm. Then stick around for refreshments and to check out MINI’s first hybrid vehicle and get your name thrown in the hat for a 2-year lease on a 2017 BMW X5.

  • Test drive NEW Plug-in Hybrid MINI Countryman
  • Refreshments
  • 60-minute All Levels Vinyasa Yoga Class led by Debby (1-2p)
  • 100% of the proceeds donated to Pedal the Cause
  • Entered to win a BMW X5
  • Limited to the first 50 guests

YOGA CLASS 1-2P:

Debby Siegel, RYT, will guide you through a class designed with the driver in mind. Our intention to undo the shortening of the front body brought on by sitting for long periods. You will be safely guided no matter your level of yoga experience. Your body will thank you for showing up on a yoga mat. You will leave with stretches you can do on your own as well.

For some simple stretches you can do in your car to help undo all we overdo by driving and sitting for hours, check out our blog article: Yoga for Drivers and Desk Jockeys.

Debby Siegel teaches yoga to drivers at MINI of St. Louis.

Join the conversation on our Facebook Event Page too!


(Winner of the BMW X5 must be 18 years of age at the time of drawing, applicable taxes apply. Drawing will take place at the PTC check presentation on November 16, 2017.)

Yoga is Good for Your Sole

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT
PHOTOS by MICHELLE THOMAS

Whether you’re a climber, like us, and cramming your toes into climbing shoes regularly, or are wearing heels to work or play, your feet may benefit from some stretches. Yep, it’s time for Toega – yoga for your toes.

Climbing shoes are designed to maximize toe strength on tiny footholds, and their snug fit can eventually be tough on our feet. And if you’re dancing in those sassy platforms that are hot this summer, you know how distributing all your weight onto your toes can feel. Having recently experienced foot strain from basing in acro yoga, I thought it time to explore some ways to keep your plantar fascia and toes happy with yoga moves designed to stretch out your tootsies.

Toe Yoga

We will begin by standing in and bringing awareness to our feet by rooting through the heel and toe mound of our foot while lifting all ten toes up. Then one at a time, lowering a toe beginning with the pinky toe and ending with the big toe. Feel the spaces between your toes. Lean a little forward so that you engage your toes as your “brakes” and then rock back onto your heels, and eventually landing so that you evenly distribute your weight onto your whole foot with your toes spread wide. Repeat this a few times throughout your day.

Toe squats are good for opening your toes and feet, strengthening ankles and stretching out the arches of your feet. Plantar fascia is the largest ligament in the human body and it’s found in the arch of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is a chronic local inflammation of this “bowstring-like” ligament stretching underneath the sole, connecting the heel bone to the toes. Treat your feet to a stretch now and then and try this squat pose.

Debby Siegel RYT plantar yogaBegin by sitting on your heels with the feet together. Tuck the toes under and try to be on the balls of the feet, not the tippy-toes. You may need to reach down and tuck the little toes under. Sit in this static stretch for 5 to 10 breaths.

To come out of toe squat, lean forward onto your hands, lift your hips forward, and release your feet. Point the feet backwards, lower the tops of your feet to your mat and sit back on top of your heels.

Plantar Faciitis yoga by Debby Siegel, RYTNext, sit in bound angle pose, with your tailbone on the floor, knees bent and dropped out wide, soles of your feet kissing in front of you. Bring your feet in as close as you can to your body, open your feet out like they’re the covers of a book. Work them open and gently massage the arch of the foot with your thumbs. Sit up nice and tall. Massage away, in a dynamic way, thumbing into the plantar area under your toe mound and running your fingers up into the spaces between your toes.

When’s the last time someone gave you a foot massage? Well, it can be right now if you try this toe yoga out. So give your feet some relief and undo some of the overdone with an overdue foot stretch today.

Silence Your Mind with Silent Yoga

It was only a matter of time. Technology for helping curb distractions during yoga. Have you attended a yoga class and found your mind wandering to that barking dog, talking or traffic? Problem solved. Now there’s a way to silence all but your breath, the instructor’s voice and music. Donning SoundOff® noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones, yogis are attending Silent Yoga classes at Wanderlust Festivals and all over both coasts. Now it’s here in St. Louis.

Silent Yoga by Debby Siegel in Forest Park Aug 12This techie trend for concentration will make its debut at two yoga classes this Saturday, August 12 at Forest Park’s Grand Basin. Find your vinyasa with sound isolating LED headphones at this open air space that has been an iconic backdrop to many a wedding and prom photo shoot in its over 100 years of existence.

Let the sounds of this outdoor space drift from your consciousness and those usual distractions just melt away in either class or both. Dianna Lucas’ Silent Yoga Class 5:30-6:30pm and Debby’s 7-8pm Silent Sunset class are just $16 each or $28 for both.

This Silent Yoga event is produced by Nightchaser and is in addition to their Silent Disco using these SoundOff® headphones on Friday night at Sk8 Liborius, a 127 year old church-turned-skate-park in North St. Louis. Tickets for the Silent Disco and Silent Yoga classes should be pre-purchased online.

Dianna Lucas has been teaching yoga at Forest Park’s Grand Basin weekly throughout the warmer months for nine years now.  Her classes offer inspiration from many traditions and include meditation, intention setting, calling in the elements, and directions, pranayama and appropriately challenging asana. She will be guiding you for a 60-minute class with her music selection from 5:30-6:30pm. Please arrive early and plan to begin and end class on time.

Promptly at 7pm, you’ll travel your mind and body to another dimension with YoGoGirls’ yoga evangelist, Debby Siegel in a 60-minute Silent Cosmic Yoga class set to Chris Powers’ live music on guitar & harmonica.  Eclipse those busy thoughts with their Mindful Metronome, balanced breathwork and transformational movement in a vinyasa flow. No prior yoga experience necessary. A willingness to explore the cosmos of your relaxed mind a plus. Bring a yoga mat, water & you.

>> PURCHASE SILENT YOGA TICKETS <<

INSPIRED YoGoGIrl- Lori Pruett

What does happiness mean to you?

Happiness to me is a mindset. It’s a combination of self-awareness, clarity, trust, and community. When I am present where I am, where I want to go and what I need. I’m happiest when I take care of myself, both physically and mentally.  Each day gives moments where I take a few deep breaths and feel the world around me.  During these moments, I know I am exactly where I need to be. I know I’m suspended, free from being pulled in many directions by the demands of life. Happiness to me is also linked to gratitude, for myself, for others and for the opportunity to create any life I choose.


What are you in the practice of?

Compassion toward myself.  I’ve always held myself to such a high standard, especially when it comes to my work. I can recall instances over the last few years where I have made mistakes (big and small) and held onto them for WEEKS. I’d let the guilt or shame over that thing I did (or didn’t do) trickle into other areas of my life until I felt like I was failing at everything.

There’s more >>

Yoga Junky

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

You found yoga, and slowly but surely the reason you tried it became just one of the many you now crave it. Yoga seeps into your life and next thing you know, you find yourself having to practice. It’s a necessity. Well, good thing it’s the healthiest drug available. We have found that euphoric head space on a mat while connecting breath to movement and now it seems we’ve shifted every aspect of our lives to fit our yoga practices. If you’re wondering how serious it is, here are the top 10 ways to know you’re a yoga junky:

 

10. You search yoga studios in your vacation destination and plan your schedule accordingly.

9. Your laundry consists of two loads – yoga clothes and towels.

8. You own more than one yoga mat and sometimes coordinate it with your outfit.

7. You have an Instagram with just a few yoga pose photos.

6. You have a yoga-related tattoo.

5. You know a few sanskrit words.

4. You have taken part in a yoga challenge at a studio or online.

3. You hear a song and think it would be a good one on a yoga playlist.

2. You have a yoga or meditation app on your phone.

and the number one way to know you have an addiction to this thing called yoga…

1. You are reading this article and relate!

Elevation Inspiration – Adaptive Rock Climber Extraordinaire!

PHOTOS by YOGOGIRLS

We recently stumbled across an article in a BJC newsletter about a girl who was destined to compete in the biggest indoor climbing event in the world, Paris’ International Federation of Sport Paraclimbing World Championships.  We just had to meet this amazing young lady, Jasmine Raskas. May you get the same opportunity. She is a 22 year old whose courage, infectious joy and determination helped us refocus some of our own priorities. We are honored to share a bit about Jasmine and her passion with you.

Tell us about you. I read an article on BJC’s website that you were diagnosed with a genetic connective tissue disorder.

I was diagnosed with a complex case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) after a lifetime of unexplainable pain, injuries, and medical complications. EDS is a genetic connective tissue disorder that can affect every system in the body. It is most commonly known for causing joint laxity. There is large scale of how severe the syndrome can. Some people may simply be extra flexible and only slightly more prone to joint sprains while others, like myself, partially or fully dislocate multiple joints everyday. The best form of treatment for the joint aspect of the disorder is to strengthen the muscles. This is why early diagnoses and preventative action are the best way to increase quality of life. For awareness purposes I will share a little more about the condition as a whole. Aside from my joints I struggle the most with my digestive organs. I have dysmotility, which means food does move fast enough through the digestive tract. This causes nausea and vomiting on a regular basis, kind of like having the stomach flu on and off all your life. Others common problems include, dizziness and fainting, extreme allergies, and immune deficiencies.

So far on my search for wellness, rock climbing has by far become my number one treatment option. Most forms of exercise, I tried prior to climbing resulted in further joint problems. Climbing has now replaced more than half of my tedious physical therapy routines. I am thankful that climbing is saving my joints, but I do want to emphasize that there are many variations in the forms of EDS and for people who easily tear ligaments and tendons this would not be a exercise to partake in.

I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in college, after years of unexplainable pain and neglected injuries. Many years of gripping a pencil had led to painful instability of my right fingers and shoulder that could no longer be ignored. As my fingers bend more than others, I tend to try and grip things tighter to gain more control of moving objects. Hunching over in front of a laptop caused my skull to slide forward on my neck giving me a massive headache, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sounds as my brainstem was being pressed on. There is a possible fusion surgery, which could correct this problem, however neuro-dignostics have revealed that my entire cervical spine is unstable and to have the surgery I would need seven to ten vertebrae fused at one time. This is why I wear the neck brace. It’s dangerous for me to rotate my neck and if I have a bad fall or get into a car accident without the brace I have a high risk for paralysis. Even though this all sounds scary, I have a great team of doctors who feel that this brace is just as safe, or possibly even safer in the long run than the fusions. Since I’ve been using the neck brace all my headaches and neurological problems have disappeared, so I’m pretty happy with staying in the brace.

There’s more >>

Play it Forward: Connecting FEB 19 at City Museum

Play is the universal language of connection, and connection the very definition of yoga. If you wish to live longer, strengthen your immune system, lower anxiety or depression, then social connections need to be a big part of your life.

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Shower Singers Unite!

Do you sing in the shower? How about your car? Next time you’re singing into the shampoo bottle, but mentally on an American Idol stage belting out some 80s station Motels, Prince, or your favorite show tune, know this – singing is like the perfect drug – it simultaneously soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits, and its effects are cumulative. If you go a step further and begin singing in a group, you’ll gain the added benefit of harmony with others too. Group singing begins with an intimate sound emanating from inside you. This sound is shared with a roomful of people making complimentary sounds, co-creating a harmonious connection, one of our most important basic human needs.

There’s more >>

21st Century Yoga Props: Making Yoga More Accessible

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, 200 RYT

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

While yoga poses can offer many physical benefits, improper alignment in a pose can actually do harm to your body. Cues are given in yoga classes by well-intentioned teachers in order to safely guide students into poses in order to reap the asanas’ benefits while avoiding injuries. Having observed in many classes, I’ve often witnessed students’ desires to attempt postures that are beyond their body’s present capability. These risky moves can actually do damage to ligaments and joints and leave a person who is seeking more flexibility with a body less capable of movement.

There’s more >>

Why We Do This

BY Kelly Hogan, RN BSN RYT 

PHOTOS & VIDEO by Michelle Thomas, YoGoGirls Photographer

Behind every beautiful photograph showing a dynamic yoga pose, or a dancer or an athlete’s best performance, is thousands of hours that most likely were very unpretty. Hundreds of times questioning, “Why don’t I just sleep in?” Many little decisions day after day to help keep that person aligned with his/her passion; from food choices to declining events, to saying yes to things, that person anticipated and overcame many roadblocks – scheduling and the mental kind.

There’s more >>

Symmetry in Yoga and Why It’s Important

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS

PROPS BY INFINITY STRAP

We all have a dominant side – a stronger hand, more flexible leg, a foot we put in front. We favor the side in everything from standing up, eating, opening a door, carrying a child, loading laundry, and on and on. Our movements and body have, since birth, become accustomed to this tendency.

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MEDITATION.2016

BY YOGOGIRLS

Do you dream in color? In 2008, a study conducted at Scotland’s Dundee University found that adults who had grown up in a household with a black and white television set were more likely to dream in black and white. Participants who grew up in the age of Technicolor nearly always experienced their dreams in color. The American Psychological Association seconded these findings in 2011. This is one of the earliest ways in which a glowing screen affected our brains.

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Labyrinth Peace Ceremony

Wednesday, November 23, 2016  |  4:00p – 5:15p

 

Possibility • Peace • Calmness • Balance

These are words people use to describe their feelings after walking the paths of a labyrinth. Labyrinths have been traced back 4000 years and are a tool for unwinding the mind and letting go of stress, worries, and concerns. This is why so many hospitals, prisons, universities, and churches have installed them. They can assist people in arriving at a place of peace or relaxation.

There’s more >>

Vitruvian Man Uses Props

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, YoGoGirls Editor
PHOTOS by Michelle Thomas, YoGoGirls Photographer

If you’ve practiced yoga in any studio with the compulsory metal shelves in the corner filled with contraptions reminiscent of foamy toy blocks, pillows, blankets and 70s sailor belts, you have some mental message about these contraptions known as yoga props. Since beginning teacher training and now working with students, I’ve witnessed all manner of reactions to the suggestion of using blocks, straps, bolsters or other props in a yoga class. I’ve of course had my evolving opinion of these tools. I’d like to offer you some insight into their value. Primarily their ability to help you love your body.

There’s more >>

Turmeric Tea – Liquid Gold

The winter winds are howling. Yesterday, according to USA Today, 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground! It’s time to snuggle inside with a warm drink that heals.

We have concocted a recipe for a yummy hot elixir that has become our daily ritual – Turmeric Tea. There is a variety of recipes all over the internet – but we like the magical ingredients ours includes – Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream in the brown can and Penzeys Turmeric Root powder.

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Yoga Events

debby-siegel-yogogirls-yoga-teacher-workshop

Yoga Classes & Workshops with Debby Siegel

As a teacher of this healing practice, ultimately Debby creates space that helps students see what is already there. Healing is a personal journey and it is an honor to be a guide that can shine some light in that direction. Come home to yourself through self-love and the growth that comes from discomfort coupled with a bit of challenge in one of her yoga classes or workshops.

As of May, 2018 you may find all Debby’s workshops and classes

on her new website: Yoga-Evangelist.com.

 


 

debby-siegel-yoga-teacher debby-siegel-ryt-200

Yoga Teacher Training Taught Me
Witness Consciousness

by DEBBY SIEGEL

Life has its roller coaster times, and I don’t mean like some kiddie mine shaft coaster, I am talking Tower of Terror with its 90 degree, 164-foot drop and loops, and scream-inducing twists and turns. It wasn’t until my 40s and especially since meditating regularly and now learning about Witness Consciousness in yoga teacher training, that I have found an ability to hold on to those safety bars and smoothly ride it out.

Along with 19 other yoga teacher hopefuls, a radical experiment clarified Witness Consciousness for me. It began with us all in a circle on the floor. Each of us given a small hand towel and asked to sit in sukhasana (easy, cross-legged pose) with our palms face up on our knees, we were to place the cloth on top of our knee area of our thigh, under our hand. We were then to close our eyes. Ooooh, this is getting interesting. Immediately my monkey mind began attempting to decipher what was going to happen. Why the little hand towel under my hand? Why are my palms face up?

Next, my chatty mini primates tried making sense of what was being distributed to each of us through sound. I could hear Christine Kick (our teacher) gently gliding along to each person, and some sort of hollow plastic sound, which I determined to be a bucket and the contents I believed plastic too. She was giving us a little toy and we were going to have to feel it and guess what it was! Yep, I had it all figured out.

There’s more >>

As Seen In, On and Around

News media around the world have joined forces with YoGoGirls in our mission to inspire others to grasp hold of their edge and nudge it along. Here are some places you may find motivation to explore your threshold:

DECEMBER 8, 2016

St. Louis Magazine

SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

Cyclelove

AUGUST 30, 2016

Terrain Magazine

AUGUST 19, 2016

Elle, Italy

AUGUST 18, 2016

NewsGiro

AUGUST 17, 2016

Huffington Post UK

New York Post

Daily Mail

The Telegraph

APRIL 28, 2016

Yoganonymous

APRIL 11, 2016

Birdy Magazine (Russian)

MARCH, 2016

TAKE HOLD (video by So iLL Holds)

FEBRUARY 22, 2016

Town and Style

FEBRUARY, 2016

The Idle Man

FEBRUARY 15, 2016

TechKnowd (Bicycling Magazine)

JANUARY, 2016

Mantra + Yoga and Health Magazine

JANUARY 6, 2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

AUGUST 10, 2015

Pointe Studio

JULY 17, 2015

Malendyer

JUNE 1, 2015

Katie Loves You

MARCH 5, 2015

Peonies and Miles

JANUARY, 2015

A Twisted Spoke

JANUARY 6, 2015

Buzzfeed

NOVEMBER 17, 2014

Yogomotive

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

Self Magazine

Win a DAT MAT + YoGoGirls Photoshoot


How’s a funky new yoga mat

and a yoga shoot with YoGoGirls sound?!

You in?

dat-mat_mats

Well, it’s simple to make this happen for yourself. Just enter our sweepstakes for this $640 value prize and check our Facebook wall and Instagram on October 1, 2016 to see if you won.

As the winner, you’ll receive a DAT MAT yoga mat of your choice, plus a photo of you on a DAT MAT to be used on YoGoGirls and DAT MAT’s social media! The winner will be selected and announced on YoGoGirls’ social media on September 30, 2016 and the photo shoot will take place by Oct 14, 2016. (lookatdatmat.com to view mat options)
Oh, and if you want extra entries for yourself, share the contest with friends after you’ve entered. For each of your friends who enters, you’ll get 3 more chances at winning the mat and shoot!

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Jamie Austin – Yoga Studio Owner Extraordinaire

This is Jamie Austin. We met her at the front desk at Yoga Six St. Louis years ago. She has since obtained her 200 hour yoga teacher certification and opened her very own light-filled yoga studio in a part of St. Louis where there are none. Jamie is a hero and we applaud her choice to create this studio’s encouraging atmosphere dedicated to making yoga accessible to all.

Jamie’s yoga establishment – Mindful Movements – is in Old North St. Louis, north of what locals know as the Delmar divide. Jamie is a pioneer. She wanted to take yoga into an area ripe for growth and layered with diversity and say “Hey you can do yoga, if you’re not already, and I’m going to make it as accessible as I can.”

She has been doing just that too. With a schedule of classes offered 6 days a week, Mindful Movements will achieve their mission. And added to their schedule this fall, is a tour of yoga classes taught by area instructors who specialize in their specific area of practice. From Ashtanga to Restorative, there are 13 varieties being offered through a non-profit company called Yoga Buzz. The weekly 75-minute, all levels classes on Wednesday evenings this fall are just $10 to drop in. Now that’s accessible!

The purpose of this Yoga Tour is to offer students a variety of class formats from around our area, so that they may explore a style of this ancient art they may have wanted to explore. The schedule of classes and their weeks are as follows:

There’s more >>

TAKE HOLD of PLAY

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

The secret to remaining youthful and agile is to play. Good thing St. Louis is home to some of the best playgrounds available. Two of which – City Museum and Forest Park – are in the city proper and offer YoGoGirls many opportunities to sustain enthusiastic hearts, young mindsets and athletic physiques.

 

Constructed of repurposed industrial debris, City Museum, with its 10 stories of continuous labyrinthed chutes and caves is the world’s largest funhouse. It’s an outstanding place to awaken the kid in you and connect to the joys of play. In addition to frolicking through a myriad of mazes and slides, I have seen concerts at City Museum, attended a wedding and even practiced yoga at City Museum with Yoga Buzz. And, we understand there are yoga classes for kids beginning there this summer! (Check their Facebook for details).

 

Then there’s St. Louis’ nearly 1,400 acre Forest Park. Just last month Forest Park was rated the number 1 city park in the country in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, nearly a third larger than New York City’s Central Park. The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and Planetarium, History Museum, Zoo, Jewel Box and Muny Theater are a few of the many attractions located on the grounds. Michelle and I use Forest Park for outdoor recreation and photo shoots. We bicycle on its paths, jog its trails, practice yoga at many locations throughout the park, and ice skate and paddleboat there.

 

So when we were recently approached by the owners of a climbing gym (my new home away from home) and outdoor equipment manufacturer to be filmed as part of their series on athletes around the country, we knew we had to shoot our footage in these playgrounds.

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Yoga Home Retreat SEPT 23-25

Your transformative weekend awaits…

Christine is a dynamo and sprouting with the Earth’s bountiful energy. And Joshua Holder will soothe your soul. Meditation, Acro, Music, Yoga, Hiking, Boating, Photography by YoGoGirls, and some surprises that we know will affect your energetic imprint.

Treat yourself to a weekend of playing with friends, while elevating your vibrations with sacred music and creative class offerings at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Join YoGoGirls, Christine Kick, and Joshua Holder SEPT 23-25 in the 9,400 square foot Kinderhook Castle on Lake of the Ozarks. This home sits on the highest elevation in Old Kinderhook Golf Course with its great room and three separate patios offering spectacular views of sunrise and sunset, the private golf course and the Lake. Its landscape is plush with a cascading water fall and pristine foliage all around.

We’ll dine on healthy meals in the gourmet kitchen complete with three ovens, built-in wok, warming drawers, wine storage, ice maker, wine refrigerator, and two sinks. We may even choose to challenge each other to a game of air hockey, basketball (an indoor court), ping pong or pool in the game room.

We’ll practice yoga indoor and out, frolic in various outdoor and lake adventures, and of course experience acro yoga, meditation, and lots of love and laughter. Come free your heart with a weekend of joyful play. Accommodation options range from building your own fort inside the massive home to a private room.

Yoga Home
346 Country Ridge Drive
Lake of the Ozarks, MO 65020

Photos of the Home 

REGISTER ONLINE >> christinekick.com

Facebook Event Page

Fun Facts about Lake of the Ozarks:

 

  • The lake runs 92 miles end to end.
  • The Lake holds around 617 billion gallons of water.
  • At roughly 1,150 miles, the total shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks is longer than the coastline of California.
  • The lake was the largest man-made lake in the United States, when it was completed in 1931 by the Union Electric Co. of St. Louis.
  • The total cost to build Bagnell Dam was approximately $30 million (nearly $360 million in today’s money).
  • At 17,741 acres, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the largest park in Missouri.
  • Lake of the Ozarks covers 61,000 acres and contains 617 billion gallons of fresh water, what the city of St. Louis typically uses over a decade.
  • Roughly 3.5 million tourists visit Lake of the Ozarks from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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Prime rib burger, house-made avocado salsa

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Spicy Thai Basil Noodle

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Old Fashioned Burger

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Prime rib burger, double-smoked bacon, aged Cheddar cheese, mayo

Mayan Burger

$14.95
Prime rib burger, house-made avocado salsa

Chef Selection

Farmhouse Burger

$14.95
Prime rib burger, fried egg, peameat bacon

Spicy Thai Basil Noodle

$14.95
Prawns, chicken, coconut milk and basic infused chili sauce

Old Fashioned Burger

$14.95
Prime rib burger, double-smoked bacon, aged Cheddar cheese, mayo

Mayan Burger

$14.95
Prime rib burger, house-made avocado salsa

Farmhouse Burger

$14.95
Prime rib burger, fried egg, peameat bacon

Spicy Thai Basil Noodle

$14.95
Prawns, chicken, coconut milk and basic infused chili sauce

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Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, we’re offering groups of 10 or more that book an area in our bar a complimentary bottle of Champagne.

Call our reservations team on (027) 8338 145 or simply contact us below.





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Your Wonderland.

BY YOGOGIRLS

Dosomething.org reports that 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. Let’s change this. Our bodies are amazing because of what they do for us each day. Let’s rejoice in the fact that we can stand, sit, walk, practice yoga, ride bikes, dance, skip, and all the things we ask of our soul-carrying, skin-covered, physical beings.

Some of you reading this are already stating something in your head in regard to your body or Michelle and my bodies and how we display them on social media. Not only do you have feelings about your body, you have an opinion of others’ bodies and it is based on your personal choices and beliefs, media’s influence, and how you feel about your own body. Let’s all shift the self-talk about ourselves to that of the 9%. Let’s all become those women who are happy with their body and incorporate the empowering wisdom of loving our spirit vessels into our daily presence.

However you are thinking right now, we invite you to take this moment and ask yourself this question:

What do I like best about my body?

 

We began this conversation, asking many of our friends to become a part of our collection of affirmative body statements. It’s a start. If you’d like to be added (this list will continue to evolve), please email debby@yogogirls.com to be included. The list is in order received.

 


The thing I like best about my body is…

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Creating Sacred Space

altar sacred space YoGoGirls Yoga Six YTT

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

No matter who you are, no matter your age, health, or your occupation; everyone benefits from meditation. However, many people – myself included – find the lengthy concentration part a challenge. Allocating the time to just sit and be and not focus on anything? Wha? It’s 2016. I’ve got my Instagram family responding to my feed to check on my watch in between FaceTiming my kid at camp, self-checking at the grocery, studying, working, picking weeds and a whole slew of other forms of adulting to attend to. Time and space that is sacredly held for just me and my spiritual nourishment? Yes, even for us… there is help.

We can improve our ability to focus in meditation by creating a space held solely for this purpose. To create your sacred meditation space, intentionally choose the location and all you place in it.  Your sacred space will be uniquely you. It should reflect what is powerful in your story. What calms you. What draws you inward and closer to what’s in your heart.

Use décor, lighting, pillows, sculptures, altars, furniture, photos, candles and anything you find that will help you tangibly connect to a safe space of calming energy. Summon the healing power of nature by bringing in any piece of nature to which you connect deeply. If sounds of the ocean are meaningful and help you connect, then include them. If you have something you made in Shop class (aka Industrial technology for the younger set), and it resonates with that younger version of you – the one that was less tainted by the layers added onto him/her by the world – then by all means, add it to your area you are building for the purpose of spending quiet time meditating.

earth mandala morning altarHere are some items that you may want to consider including in your meditation area, but please just use this list as a guide and be certain to include items in your sacred space that speak to you:

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VIBRATE HIGHER – Shift Happens

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

PHOTOS BY YOGOGIRLS

Seventeen hours into Yoga Six’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. No turning back. This is it. This shift is happening…

We have learned much in this opening weekend. One lesson – that of energy vibrations – I must share.

Science has shown that everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies. Things that look solid are really made up of vibrational energy fields at the quantum level. When you look at an object through a high-powered microscope and view its smallest components: molecules, atoms, neutrons, electrons and quanta (the smallest particles measurable), it is mostly empty space interspersed with energy. This includes us.

Our overall state of being is our vibration. From a scientific and metaphysical perspective, we are a being made up of different energy levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each of these levels has its vibrational frequency, which combine to create your overall vibration of being. And it is these vibrations that attract others with similar vibrations. Thus, as one might imagine, yoga teacher training rooms are bubbling with inquisitive energy. I’m surrounded by frequencies of people who chose this study. This is a good space. This is where we each will find love, healing, acceptance, and inquiry.

Here’s a simple experiment you might try to test the power of your vibration in the world. Spend a day making eye contact and smiling at absolutely everyone you see. Everyone. Your neighbor, the trash hauler, the front desk clerk, cashier, patrons and staff at a restaurant. Everyone you encounter. See and Smile. Next, spend a day not making eye contact with others. Don’t smile at them. Don’t even look at anyone. Stay in your bubble, don’t share, and don’t respond. Then see how different you feel at the end of each day. Which feelings you prefer. You likely don’t even have to do this experiment to know.

The concept of sharing positive energy versus negative is relatively easy to grasp. For extremely tangible, astounding evidence of the power of our words and thoughts, look up Dr. Emoto’s experiments on water. We learned in YTT about this man’s incredible studies on the effects of positive and negative energy on water crystals.

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GOTTA GET THAT FUNK

…OUT OF MY YOGA FABRIC

 

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

So you rented a yoga towel for class and when you were down-dogging you noted a slightly pungent aroma wafting from its surface? This smell reminds you of your boyfriend’s hockey / running / cycling (insert sport) clothes and jock and you are now distracted from that zen place to which this class was intended to bring you. The fact is, activewear and most yoga fabrics are made of technical materials used specifically for repelling water, which is exactly what you want them to do when you’re sweating all over yourself, but not when you’re trying to wash them. So cleaning these items can present a challenge.

YoGoGirls is here to report we have done the research and tested various options for removing said stench and are happy to share that we’ve successfully de-odorized a towel or two of our own, and perhaps a tri kit and some other stinky stuff we discovered.

We have been told of the powers of Borax – that stuff your grandma used to use. It’s actually still available on grocery store shelves. We’ve heard a vinegar solution, baking soda too. And we’ve been told of and tried out Oxy Clean.

Well… the winner from these options turns out to be vinegar.

Before you wash your yoga fabrics, soak them in the sink with one part white vinegar to four parts cold water. Leave them soaking for about 30 minutes, then clean in the washing machine. You can add a little white vinegar to the wash too, if you think they need it.

Also, try to wash them soon after sweating in them, but if you’re unable to get them into a wash cycle just after wearing your activewear, at least hang them on the side of the basket, not thrown into it in a wet clump in it. And if possible, try drying your workout clothes using the power of the sun. The sun’s rays are a natural bacteria deterrent, so hanging your clothes out to dry will help keep them fresh as a daisy, like you!

 

MEDITATION ON MUSIC

BY NATALIE PIONTEK

Ever been in yoga class and wonder, “What’s this song playing?” But then you promptly forget to ask because you’re sweaty and disheveled, and all of a sudden you’re in crow or a side-arm balance, and all you can think about is when the heck you can get back to a nice comfortable child’s pose again? Well…

Here are thirteen relaxed, upbeat tracks that you can use for an hour-long practice—at home! The playlist starts with a bit of ambient electronica to warm up, a mixture of house music and psychedelic pop for your flow, and Coldplay’s “Oceans” for a relaxing cool down. Roll out your mat or kick up your feet—or both, if you’re doing headstands today 😉

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE24bMkab2LkWrrqV6rD9FIEJXHvEtfpG

Track List:

  1. Lusine — Two Dots
  2. Max Richter — Spring 1
  3. Fleetwood Mac (Gigamesh edit) — Dreams
  4. Oh Wonder — Without You
  5. Paradis — Hemisphere
  6. Tom Misch — The Journey
  7. Glass Animals — Gooey
  8. Chilly Gonzales — Knight Moves
  9. Favela — Gong
  10. IAMNOBODI — Good Wine
  11. Darius & Crayon — Alicia
  12. The XX — Angels
  13. Coldplay — Oceans

Natalie_yogogirls_playlist 1-smaller

GLOBAL WELLNESS DAY – June 11

Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis and YoGoGirls will celebrate Global Wellness Day on Saturday, June 11, 2016 with sunrise yoga followed by a healthy breakfast, a new therapeutic spa treatment and more.

“On Global Wellness Day, we will join thousands of wellness organizations in more than 100 countries and turn our attention to physical and spiritual well-being,” remarked Martin Hilton, the Hotel’s Spa Director.

At 7:00 am on Saturday, June 11 attendees can start their day with complimentary yoga alongside YoGoGirls on the eighth floor Sky Terrace, offering panoramic views of the Mississippi River and downtown skyline. This all-levels class will emphasize breath, movement, strength and alignment, instructed by leading local yogi Keena Alexander.
Following yoga, attendees are invited to refuel with complimentary small bites from Chef Gian Nicola Colucci of Cielo Restaurant and Bar, including freshly-squeezed juices, fruit and breakfast burritos made with locally grown vegetables. Chef Colucci will also be featuring tri-colored quinoa with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and local honey on the breakfast menu. Add a scoop of organic Greek yogurt for additional protein or enjoy a house-made juice with added antioxidants.

There’s more >>

The C Word…

COMMUNITY.

 

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

The word community traces back to the late 14th century Old French comunité, a word that meant “commonness”. Creating community, as YoGoGirls see it, is one reason for our very existence on this planet. To find and connect to people, our people.

 

This past weekend I was fortunate to reach the age of 48. A slight deviation from prior birthdays, this year’s celebrations included back-to-back triathlons. Both offered ample community. Both offered all the commonness amongst participants that gather people together. One tri however, had no competition factor. It was not timed, no ribbons or awards for finishing. No real training necessary either.  It was a Wanderlust version, called a “Mindful Triathlon”.

 

yogogirls wanderlustWanderlust 108 took place in Kansas City on Saturday, May 21. Participants finished a 5k, a 75-minute yoga class, and a 30-minute meditation. It was as blissful as it sounds. A cool 76 degree high, the sunny skies were filled with the higher vibrations of MC Yogi and Dharma Punx, and the ground covered in yoga mats and happy people. The day could not have turned out better. We got to play with friends, hang out in aerial yoga slings, gain some body art and enjoy the community of nearly 1000 yogis along the Missouri Riverfront.

 

The second triathlon on Sunday – the St. Louis Triathlon – was the swim, bike and run type. This olympic and sprint distance triathlon in its inaugural year at St. Louis County’s Creve Coeur Lake, greeted about the same number of people and had equally sunny skies and music playing. Its organizer, Rich Adams with MSE Racing, has completed more than 30 triathlons since his first in 2007, and putting this one together was a dream of his come true. He included paratriathletes in his race and introduced a swim, mountain bike, trail run version of this sport at this May 22 event as well. It was a big gathering of athletes all collecting in one spot with the same goal… crossing that finish line.

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Curbside Enthusiasm – VeloFix, the Concierge Bike Shop

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

You’re a cyclist. You understand the thrill of balancing on two wheels with a destination in mind, and that connection your bike gives you to a community, its streets and people. You also know that minimally you need to get that bike tuned up and parts replaced once a year. This means finding a bike shop you trust and feel comfortable going into, getting your bicycle to the bike shop, dropping it off, waiting for the call back with an estimate, and then waiting for the subsequent work and of course paying for it and picking it up.

But what if you could eliminate many of these steps and have your bike mechanic come to you? That’s just what we did when Francesca DeRanzo of VeloFix St. Louis visited us this past week.

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Behind Our Scenes

One question we consistently hear – “What exactly is YoGoGirls?”.

Online May 17 a short TAKE HOLD film highlighting YoGoGirls should help give you some of our perspective. We are two friends who, in our midlife found one another and have made this portion of our paths the best yet by indulging our creative talents on a regular basis. Creative people will understand how vital it is to consistently engage their imagination. We get to for fun and recently for a portion of our living.

Crafting with the lens and keyboard, YoGoGirls intends to embolden others to rise to their highest calling.  We enjoy the process of this creative outlet… of coming up with the setting, costuming, postures and quippy messages for each of our Instagram or Facebook posts. We have recently delved more into videos as well, and have a silly fun cycling video planned for this weekend, and a second in our Sporting Sporty Hair series featuring 2 of our friends next week. Stay tuned.

We thought we’d help answer identity questions by taking you behind the scenes in yesterday’s shoot. Excited by the chromatic look of Onzie‘s new yoga wear, we thought Laumeier Sculpture Park with its “living laboratory where artists and audiences explore the relationship between contemporary art and the natural environment” would be the perfect shoot location. So we met just before sunset at this park in a suburb of St. Louis with the intention of getting a few cool shots on some of the huge structures there. Well, to our surprise all the sculptures had new signs posted stating to KEEP OFF, NO CLIMBING, etc. etc. We understand. The artists want their art preserved. (Although, why you would create a piece of art shaped like a stage and/or a bench and then ask that no one get near it had us a tad confused.) But we reluctantly respected all the new rules.

debby-yogogirls-photo-shoot-scoutingSo we shot some in front of the art and headed into the nearby woods and climbed on the handrails of the walkways instead! (No signs there yet.)

There’s more >>

Sporting Sporty Hair

So you’re an active girl and you want your hair to show pizzazz no matter the activity? We understand. So we asked our hair stylist to help us put together hair styles for the girl on the Go – aka the YoGoGirl!

We cover dos for the cyclist, climber and yoga enthusiast in this first video.

Our experience has taught us that cycling hair looks best in and out of a helmet with shaggy braids. So we asked Helen our hair stylist to demo that. Debby has noted that sport climbing, especially during rappelling, requires hair to be up and back out of the way of the ATC. So Helen added a modern twist on a pony tail for her, adding in some viking style braids, cuz, you know, climber chicks are badass viking types. And yoga hair. We all know there are magic spots on your head for keeping hair up and out of your face during inversions or shoulder stands and even in savasana. We have dreamt up many, but the side bun with twisty bangs clipped in, is our first Michelle chose to demo today.

The 49 second video…

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Daniel Rama, the Book

by DEBBY SIEGEL

We are not supposed to judge books by their covers, right?  Well, if we apply this reasoning to Daniel Rama, you’d still be binge reading this book cover-to-cover and then lending it to your friends at book club. This 23 year old, ink-covered, hunky guy with crystally blue eyes and impressive balancing skills taught us much about yogic living and mindfulness. In the brief time we spent with Daniel Rama during his hand balancing workshop tour, we found his energy and presence to be that of a great leader. His demeanor well beyond his years. His ego balanced. His skills immense. His guidance respectful and respectable. We just know Daniel Rama is going to bless many lives with his journey. And now that you’re reading this interview with him, he’ll likely bless yours too.

 

I was fortunate enough to attend a weekend of hand balancing workshops with you, and recall some points you made about how it takes 20 hours of repeating something for your brain/body to retain it. Will you please expand on this?

Whether you’re learning balloon sculpting, handstanding or conversational French, it takes roughly 20 hours to learn the basics of any new skill or activity. That works out to almost 45 minutes per day for one month.

 

I used to try learning something new every month. Not necessarily for the sake of that particular skill or action – I’ll be surprised if a talent such as rolling a coin across my fingers will ever come in handy – but because learning new skills unlocks new neural pathways within the brain, it makes it progressively easier to learn other new things.
In the context of our workshop, I was simply shedding light on the fact that all forms of learning are important and interconnected.

Your energy is so balanced, inviting and calm, were you always like this?

Anyone who knew Daniel De France would say he was quite the opposite. We need not discuss the dirty details my history with substance abuse, selfishness, mental illness and more. The important thing, is that we all came from somewhere, pleasurable or painful. And ultimately, it is because of my troubled past that I started to move toward a more meaningful present.

You are younger than most yoga teachers, and yet you offer wisdom like an ancient master and are so well versed in the philosophies of yoga.  To what do you attribute your maturity? 

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WANDERLUST STRATTON JUNE 21-24

Nestled in the Green Mountains, Stratton Mountain has become a beloved location for Wanderlust, with lush forests that roll out in every direction from the resort. Located just up the road from Bondville, Vermont, Stratton’s quaint village draws Vermont locals and travelers alike. When our festival tents begin popping up along the stroll, the resort comes alive, with performers and music filling the air and green spaces with the magic of Wanderlust.

Join Debby and some friends in celebration of this magical place and come back to your true north atop a mountain in the lush state of Vermont. Debby will be guiding students on four occasions through Yoga Outside the Lines at this festival filled with ways to let out your inner child. If you are in need of a place to stay we may have some beds in a big airbnb we rented for the weekend. Email debby@yogogirls.com for more on that.

 


Wanderlust 108 in Kansas City
May 21, 2016

 

 

 

YoGogirls’ photos from Wanderlust 108 in KC May 21 are in this Facebook album for you!

Read more about our time in KC in our blog post: THE C WORD.
yogogirls-wanderlust-2016


A triathlon with yoga? Wha?

On Debby’s birthday?!   Ok… THANK YOU, Universe!

A MINDFUL TRIATHLON

5K  + YOGA + MEDITATION

This is exactly what we’ve been looking for.
A no competition triathlon.  Just a community of people elevating their vibrations to the sounds of DJ Taz Rashid and MC YOGI while exploring mindfulness. YoGoGirls are so in!

Find all the details about it >> WANDERLUST 108 in KANSAS CITY.

As of the end of April, 675 people have registered for this festive one day event.

You and a friend can be two more! Enter our drawing below to win 2 Tickets to Wanderlust 108 in Kansas City, MO May 21 PLUS a mini onsite photo shoot from YoGoGirls. (Winner announced May 14, 2016.)


UPDATE >> Congratulations to Lori Fix! You are headed to Wanderlust KC May 21 with a friend courtesy of YoGoGirls! << UPDATE


We look forward to seeing you at this and future Wanderlust festivals, including Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass June 30-July 3.

Pre and Post Natal Acro Yoga

Lizzy & Josh captured by YoGoGirls’ lens just days before giving birth, and again with their newborn on ABC News, Fox and People.

We have been intensely inspired by the acro duo, Josh Young and Lizzy Tomber since meeting them a couple years ago in an acro class. A year and a half later, we hired them to facilitate at our first SO FLY Yoga Festival. This couple who met each other while pairing up in an acro yoga class, have such energy and passion for their chosen profession, it is a joy to be in their presence. If they are coming to your town to teach this sport of connection, communication and playfulness, we implore you to put it on your calendar and go soak up some of their bubbly vibes. They have a tour now that includes everywhere from Oregon to Belgium. Check out their Events page or Facebook to find one of their acro clinics.

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Once Upon a Mine

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

It was there, munching on some authentic chili rellenos at Superior, Arizona’s Los Hermanos restaurant at the end of a long day climbing, where a Tonto Apache Chief told me a story. A story I must share. A story that needs a champion and a happy ending…

On a 3700 mile midwest-to-southwest Spring Break road trip, I found myself climbing Queen Creek Canyon’s spectacular rocks in Superior, a small Arizona mining town 70 miles east of Phoenix. While camping at the adjacent Oak Flat Campground on public land, we hit Queen Creek Canyon’s The Pond, a popular destination with rock climbers. In fact, for 15 years, Oak Flat was the site of the largest climbing competition in the world. Climbers, along with thousands of hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers and campers visit the Oak Flat campground recreation area annually. We camped alongside many this March. 

 

ONCE UPON A MINE

 

Oak Flat CampgroundOnce upon a time, we humans respected our planet’s resources. We tried to ensure mining was done responsibly to protect communities and the environment. This is not that time.

This story’s setting is Arizona’s Oak Flat Campground, where in 1955 President Eisenhower placed an executive order to declare the campground off limits to mining. Some politicians have since wanted otherwise, so they devised a method.

Often in stories there’s conflict that arrives at a climax where greedy motivations create the tension that is ultimately resolved by some hero(es) to arrive at the story’s glorious end. This story is at its climax. A controversial land exchange passed as part of a defense-spending bill late last year that will allow Resolution Copper Company to begin mining a low-grade body of copper ore located 7,000 feet below Oak Flat. The bill was tucked inside this unrelated bill after 10 years of not passing on its own.

The mining process Resolution will use, called block caving, will leave a 2 mile crater where anything on the surface, like sacred sites, campgrounds, and rock climbing cliffs, are likely to collapse and be destroyed forever. Other Arizona towns who have employed this type of destructive mining have had to shift their economies to other means to survive. So the justification of bringing a positive impact to the local economy seems just another bewildering chapter in this story’s dramatic tale.

If mined as currently proposed, the project would constitute the single largest loss of rock climbing on public lands in US history.

This story needs heroes to bring it to the glorious outcome. You can be that hero. Here’s how:

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UP ON A ROOF with Yoga Buzz & YoGoGirls

On April 28, the festivities begin at 6:30 pm with a one hour yoga class led by Eric Betz of Yoga Buzz on the roof of Climb So iLL, adjacent to Element Restaurant and Lounge. Once you’ve limbered up, linger a bit for the debut of a short 5 minute TAKE HOLD Series film featuring YoGoGirls and City Museum, Forest Park and Climb So iLL. Then hit Element for a free glass of bubbly, late night happy hour food specials and drinks (8-11p) and/or grab some climbing equipment and shimmy up the walls of Climb So iLL (open until 10p).

Should you have an interest in any of the following, please sign up for this unique Yoga Buzz event:

  • Getting to know members of your community
  • Touching your toes
  • Using your smiling muscles and those required of your core during laughter
  • Yoga pants
  • Sunset on a roof downtown
  • Champagne
  • Food
  • Climbing walls

One ticket to attend is just $20.

PURCHASE TICKETS

A ticket gets you the yoga class, the world premier of YoGoGirls TAKE HOLD film, a coupon for a glass of bubbly at Element, and a coupon for equipment rental to climb at Climb So iLL, plus access to a late night Happy Hour at Element with a special food menu 8-11p.

LATE NIGHT HAPPY HOUR MENU:

  • Arrancini- Black Beans, Tomato, Cilantro Aioli $5
  • Steamed Bun- Pulled Pork, White BBQ, Pickled Onion $2 each
  • Beer Salad- Romesco, Dill, Cucumber $5
  • Chopped Salad- Tomato, Bacon, Buttermilk $5
  • Chickpea Salad- Cauliflower, Broccoli, Golden Raisin Yogurt Vinaigrette. $6
  • Shredded Carrot- Cabbage, Celery Harissa $5

If you want to use your gear rental coupon to climb at Climb So iLL on Thursday (it’s good for 30 days), and it will be your first time climbing at Climb So iLL, you can expedite your entry to the wall by completing an online waiver prior to coming.

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Hand Balancing: Vertical Workshops by Daniel Rama at Yoga Source

April 23 & 24, 12n-3p

Want to learn the necessary skills to intentionally turn your world upside down?

Whether you’re a novice with a desire to add handstands to your wellness arsenal (see the Benefits of Handstand Inversions below), or you have figured out how to get upside down but would like to master additional movements while standing steadily on your hands, Vertical Workshops at Yoga Source with Daniel Rama is for you.

Two opportunities to take your balance practice to the next level with this international hand balance teacher:

Intro to Hand Balancing

Saturday, April 23  12n-3p

Intro to Hand Balancing is a 3-hour, all levels workshop, focusing on the techniques required for successful hand balances. Students will learn effective strength building exercises, proper alignment and activation principles, and leave with a greater understanding of the connection between body and mind. No prior handstand experience is required for this intro level class, although prior yoga experience is a plus. Bring a yoga mat and your willing mind.

Advancing Hand Balancing

Sunday, April 24  12n-3p

Advancing Hand Balancing is suited for those with an existing hand balance practice or for those who have taken Daniel’s Intro to Hand Balancing. This 3-hour workshop will expand your understanding of the subtler secrets in holding a perfectly straight handstand. Students will be exposed to Daniel Rama’s personal training technique and will leave feeling confident in bettering their balance practice on their own! While not mandatory, students attending this workshop will feel most comfortable with the pace and content if they already have an understanding of standing on their hands.

COST: $40 to preregister for one or $70 for both days.

 

REGISTER FOR ONE OR BOTH WORKSHOPS

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Road Trips Teach

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

Just having spent 11 days of spring break putting 3669 miles on a rented mini cargo van, we find ourselves reflecting on all the valuable lessons of the open road. While this trip was planned around the ultimate destination of Phoenix to visit family, about half of the adventure was left to the decisions made in the moment. Packing road bikes, yoga mats, bouldering pads, sport climbing gear, ski pants, helmets, a tent and camping gear complete with a tea kettle, we set off with just a few overnights pre-booked. It was an adventure of epic proportions. We happened upon unknown landmarks, found cool radio stations and podcasts, and ventured into the Americana of highway public restrooms all over the mid and southwest.

In all, we gained an experience no plane ride, nor any other form of transportation could provide. We acquired road wisdom from the plethora of reasons we recommend road tripping:

WE LEARNED:

  • Chatting with locals is still equal to, if not better than, Googling.
  • We each have a ranked gas station preference list.
  • A community’s social issues are evident on its billboards & bumper stickers.
  • Bring ample change for toll booths.
  • Town names of those that border two states are fun.
  • Improved squat muscle control (in all that public restroom use).
  • A packing system that includes a bare essentials bag (toothbrush, lip balm, headlamp, matches) stored in an organized, accessible location in the vehicle is key.
  • Air mattresses have short life spans. (Ok, maybe we already knew this.)
  • Dispersed camping (camping outside of a campground area on public lands) is allowed on most Bureau of Land Management land for up to 14 days.
  • The middle prairie-land states are erecting more and more wind turbines!
  • Those one legged yoga poses help with the balance required in changing pants out in nature.

Stay tuned for more about this voyage and one of the social issues mentioned above. If seeing this country through the bug-splattered windshield of an automobile is feels good to you too, you must have road wisdom to share. Please do. We’d love to hear from you. Debby@YoGoGirls.com

T G I Y: Thank Goodness It’s Yoga (on Friday)

There was a day when our plans for Friday night meant phone treeing friends to find the best kegger. The pre-party consisted of gathering with friends to pick out clothes, do each other’s hair, and begin the night’s shenanigans.

Fast forward to 2016, a year after Michael J. Fox promised supercool hover boards as the norm, and we are desperately seeking yoga for our evening to begin.

We imagine that some of you might want to begin your weekends with a stretch and centering yoga class too, so we set out to compile a list of the studios and classes offered to us modern day party animals.

The criteria for our list: a studio within 50 miles of St. Louis offering a class that begins after 5:00pm on a Friday evening. If we’ve ommitted your class, please email debby@yogogirls.com to have it added and accept our humble apology.

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International Women’s Day!

Society has placed so many expectations on us as women. Let’s break the rules.

Let’s obliterate that box.

Let’s collect monumental moments, not debt for things like designer handbags.

Let’s start each day approving of ourselves, accepting all of our body.

Let’s dance in the moonlight and drink the air of the woods.

Let’s put aside the comparisons and find beauty in each other.

Let’s be examples of unmitigated love for all generations.

Let’s put our oxygen masks on first.

Let’s hold space for all sisters, even those who have our same job titles.

Let’s gaze at the stars.

Let’s begin each day with gratitude for life.

Let’s smile at strangers.

Let’s smell the flowers.

Let’s hug more.

Let’s swing on the swings and slide down the slides and laugh at ourselves.

Let’s eat chocolate. Lots of  c h o c o l a t e.

 

Sometimes The Best Plans are the Ones You Don’t Make

By Lauryn Humphrey

Originally published on Balanced Bike

 

The 2014 cycling season came to a close for me with a thud. It was the last race of the season, Benton Park. I think I was just a little too excited to just ride around during the off season and somehow missed a manhole cover, or rather did not miss it. This was the second year in a row that my cycling season had ended in this fashion. A flare for the dramatic you might say. Despite the fractured elbow and concussion it was a really exciting season, however. Since I was acquainted with the injury and healing process – second elbow in two years – I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Trainer, trainer, trainer and then lots of slow riding outside. I kept at it. I mean who doesn’t have obstacles to overcome? Mine are no worse than most of the women with whom I ride and race. We all have jobs, families, friends and we all find the time to train. Of course there are days when I simply don’t want to ride. I am not alone in this. But I do it, we do it. Then there are the days when there is nothing else that I would rather do. I count down the minutes until I can leave work and get out on the bike and just let go.

 

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In March I got married. It was one of the best days simply put. I spent much of the spring preparing to race in the Joe Martin Stage Race. This would be the third year there but it was going to be dramatically different this time. We were going to be in the Pro 1/2 race, a UCI event no less. Talk about scared out of my mind.  It was going to be such a big jump in the level of competition. We would be racing with some of the pro women I have only heard about, never raced against, unless you count the few crits including the aforementioned thud in Benton Park. But those were all crits, so in my book it didn’t count. Crits are not my favorite type of race. But stage races with a time trial (TT) and a road race, yes please. Anyway, I just really wanted to have a good race at Joe Martin, to show that I am able to race at that level. I had no ill-conceived notions that I would be winning or making a top placement. I just didn’t want to suck.

Well I sucked. ;-) Okay, it was not a simple case of just performing terribly but things leading up to the race did not go according to plan. I got sick, really sick about a month before. I had some kind of virus. Took a few days off hoping I would be on the mend and then bam, strep throat. More time off the bike including a week off leading up to the race. NOT RECOMMENDED. Needless to say I was even more nervous and pretty bummed. All of my training leading up to the race prior to getting sick had been going so well! Again, it happens to all of us, things don’t always go according to plan, but you deal with it. I didn’t have the race I wanted to and I did seriously consider not going but I am really glad I did. I learned a lot about myself during this race. I learned that as part of a team you show up. You may not be at your best but you just show up. I learned that you give it all you have and you smile when you cross the line even if you miss the time cut by 3 minutes. I learned that you have to accept the cards you are dealt, even if it is a hard lesson to learn. I learned about the type of rider I am and the type of rider I want to be.

The rest of the season was pretty awesome. For the first time I was able to walk away from a crash, get back in the race, and finish with my friend and teammate Anina when she won the Illinois State Championship Road Race. So even though the crash was not part of the plan it turned out to be a fantastic race. Things were wrapping up nicely. Then one of coolest things happened, but I’ll get back to that here in a second.

hello friend!

 

If someone were to ask me what I love the most about cycling, it would be the community. It is pretty small compared to other communities. Especially for women. When you start out as cyclist it can be pretty intimidating. Cycling itself can be scary, dealing with cars on the road, it can be a dangerous sport. So when you find a group to ride with, especially a group of women, it makes conquering fears and insecurities so much easier. The encouragement you get from fellow female cyclists can truly be inspiring. As I said earlier, one of the coolest things happened to me the week before my final race of the season. My friend Lisa Glad, another female cyclist from the St. Louis area, sent me a message asking whether I was planning on going to Masters Nationals to compete in the Time Trial. I said no because I was not eligible to race. It had been my understanding that I was in that void where I had no place to race. Too young for Masters, too old for the U23 amateur division, and not on a UCI team for the Pro division. I was incorrect as it turns out and had it not been for Lisa I would have never known that I was indeed eligible to compete in the Masters 35-39 division. I was not sure I would be able to go. Bike transportation, timing, and the overall cost were all going to be a challenge. Like I said before, the cycling community here in Missouri is pretty amazing, had it not been for this community I would not have been able to go. I owe a huge thanks to Lisa for encouraging me to go for it, for picking me up at the airport and sharing her lodging. I also owe Dana Braet a huge thank you for transporting my bike all the way to Utah and helping me get the bike race ready. I could not have done it without his help. I want to thank MOBRA for helping me with some of the cost. Due to the support I received from my Balanced team, MOBRA, and all the people who encouraged me, I had the opportunity to compete at a national level.

At the start of the season I would not have guessed I would wind up in Utah to race. It was certainly not part of my plan. I never could have imagined that by riding a bike I would have found a community of people and a group of friends like I have, but that is exactly what happened. Racing has opened doors for me. I have traveled and met amazing people. I have pushed myself in ways I never thought possible. Ultimately it has transformed my life. 2015 turned out to be pretty amazing for me, and I am excited about what lies ahead, whether it’s part of the plan or not.

Lauren post

Lauryn is a graphic/web designer who loves running, swimming and other outdoor activities. She was introduced to cycling after deciding to attempt a triathlon. After competing in several local triathlons, she decided she really enjoyed the bike portion, and wanted to try focusing on cycling. She enjoys riding with other local cyclists and is looking forward to being part of an organized women’s team and learning how to effectively work together during races. Lauryn rides a Trek.

 

 

Sort out Your Cycling Chakras

By YoGoGirls

Model: Michael Palumbo

Hunched over a bicycle frame with your back curved, chest closed and shoulders pinched while your legs are locked into pedals making a repetitive, forward motion? Yoga is a powerful solution to the tightness induced by time spent in the saddle.

yogogirls_bicycling_palumbeau_stretch_2

The earth his yoga mat, and his kit his yoga clothes, we caught up with our friend and yoga teacher, Michael Palumbo, in the woods this morning warming up with a dynamic flow. (Witness the flow on Bicycling Magazine’s Instagram – @bicyclingmag.) If you have been under the impression that yoga is a ladies-only thing, and that you have to bring a mat to a classroom to incorporate its benefits into your life, YoGoGirls is here to tell you it’s accessible anywhere and absolutely worth it.

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Take Time to Smell the Pizza

by YoGoGirls

Model Maura Kinsella of Happiness Watts

 

In September, 2015, YoGoGirls caught up with Maura Kinsella while she was in town for the Gateway Cup and just prior to her heading to the Team Time Trial World Championships in Richmond, VA. She taught us of her lifestyle company – Happiness Watts – which is dedicated to finding the fun in competitive sports.

Watts are the unit of energy cyclists use to measure how much power they’re generating. Competitive riders can hyper focus on watts. Some spend more time staring at their onboard computers than appreciating the scenery. Maura found that adding in some small tokens of life outside the races, helps to round out the intense needs of a competitive athlete.

 

yogogirls_happinesswatts_bicycling_abs_2

Maura’s Happiness Watts is a push to slow down and drink a beer, or eat a slice of pizza. “A milkshake every once in a while is actually going to be good for physical performance, just because it’s something that makes you happy,” Kinsella says. “I think that the psyche is really important for physical performance.”

yogogirls_happinesswatts_bicycling_abs_3

Maura has left the racing circuit for the time being, and is focusing more on yoga, and especially restorative yoga now. She knows the importance of balance in life and finds it these days on her cruiser bike and yoga mat. If you find yourself faced with a life-altering injury try to accept where you are and unroll your mat every day as a commitment to the devotional path of yoga. You will learn new techniques that keep your mind and body healthy. While Maura’s racing career has been sidelined due to some injuries suffered during race crashes, she is finding healing through yoga and her #HappinessWatts company is still very much alive and well. Follow Happiness Watts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and hashtag your happiness watts photos #happinesswatts to be featured.


yogogirls_happinesswatts_bicycling_abs_1

 

Vintage Trek Bike from Billy Goat Bicycling Company

Maura wearing Trek Bontrager Gear
Alignment yoga mat by Liforme

 

Stretches for Cyclists

Stretches by YoGoGirls

Images by Fedele Studio

Cyclist Trainer / 500 RYT Consultant, Julie Funke of St. Louis Spinning

 

So you want to increase mobility to ride stronger and longer, and you like to feel good the day after riding?  One word: S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

The repetitive motion of cycling can cause your leg muscles to tighten and be sore. And the low back tightening that riding, especially road cycling, can produce, may be improved by a few simple stretches. YoGoGirls, Debby & Michelle have collected some of our favorite post cycling stretches for you.

To reap the benefits of stretching, it’s best to stretch out muscles just after riding. Hold each stretch up to the first sensation of resistance, then breathe your way through it. Inhaling while lightening the stretch a tiny bit, and exhaling as you lengthen deeper. Try holding each stretch for up to 20 seconds.

Modify any stretch to suit your particular needs. Use padding under your knees, or try the same stretch sitting down, lying down, or standing up if it’s more comfortable for you. We show two variations for each stretch here to give you alternatives for unwinding those muscle groups most used by cyclists.

If you’re looking for a way to ease your mind into it. Instead of thinking, “I’m so tight!” or “I can’t reach my toes,” try replacing these thoughts with “This is just what my body needs” and “I am getting more flexible each time I stretch.”

 

Hip Openers – As a simple rule of thumb for keeping the IT band and the muscles around it in peak condition so you can cycle pain-free, focus on hip openers as well as quadriceps and hamstring stretches, all of which can reduce the pull on the IT band. Keeping feet flexed during hip openers is important, as it will lessen any impact on your knees.

yogogirls_fedelestudio_bicyclimgmag_stretches_5

Hamstring Stretches – Lunges are good for elongating both hamstrings and quads, and they will help lengthen those tightened hip flexors.yogogirls_fedelestudio_bicyclimgmag_stretches_4

Lower back arching poses like camel (Debby) or bridge (Michelle) can open the groin, thighs and entire back, as well as stretching the muscles in the chest, the front of the shoulders and back of the neck. For bridge pose: Lie supine on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, with your heels as close to your sitting bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the sky, lifting the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.

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Piriformis Stretch – Half pigeon pose (Michelle)  is ideal for the piriformis muscle. Debby is demonstrating a sitting version of this same stretch. An indication of this movement happening correctly is that the knee points out to the side. To enter half pigeon, start off in a comfortable seated position. Then, externally rotate your right hip joint, pointing the right knee to the side. Align the right shin so that it is parallel with pubic bone. Extend the left leg back, orient the pelvis forward, and square your hips. Exhale as you relax your torso over your right shin and keep the back as straight as possible, being mindful not to sickle the foot inward. After a period of 30-60 seconds, repeat on the other side. 
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Lower back stretches. A series of cat and cow poses can help to lengthen those low back muscles used so heavily in maintaining cycling posture.yogogirls_fedelestudio_bicyclimgmag_stretches_1

If you have any stretches you find helpful, we’d love to hear them. Email us: debby@yogogirls.com and michelle@yogogirls.com

 

Debby’s gear by Onzie

Vintage bikes from Billy Goat Bicycle Company

Alignment mats from Liforme

Some Like it Hot

BY YOGOGIRLS

Debby Siegel, Editor
Michelle Thomas, Photographer

 

As the air chills outside, it feels so good to warm yourself up with some hot yoga. It is vital in hot yoga to find a studio and teacher who recognize that you are the best judge of your body and its capabilities, and allows you to modify poses when you need. We also suggest getting inside the heated room a little prior to class beginning, to acclimate your body to the temperature in the room. Heated studios range from 90 to 105 degrees. Proper hydration in this environment is critical too. Bring water and drink plenty every day, but especially when attending hot yoga.

Hot yoga can refer to any yoga class done in a heated room. The room is usually maintained at a temperature of 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most often, hot yoga tends to be a flowing vinyasa style of practice in which the teacher instructs a series of linked poses.

The Bikram method of Hatha Yoga is a 90 minute series of 26 stretching and strengthening postures (asanas) with 2 breathing exercises, and is the same class each time. Bikram specific studios are available around St. Louis and their room temperature is a strict 105 degrees with 40% humidity.

We put together a list of St. Louis area studios we found offering hot yoga classes.

There’s more >>

The Top 5 Pick-up Lines for Cyclists

by YoGoGirls

 

So you say you were alone on Valentine’s and that your current strategies aren’t working? Well, we have carefully selected some of our favorite cheese-tastic pick up lines and collected the top five for you.

 

5. Do you know what my jersey is made of? Boyfriend/Girlfriend material.

4. Is it me or is your bottom bracket super tight?

3. Your pace or mine?

2. Nice frame.

..and the number 1 pick up line that you might try when attempting to sweet talk a cyclist:

1. Wanna go for a long ride after I make you breakfast?

 

yogogirls_bicyclingmag_kiss
Follow YoGoGirls and The Poggio on instagram

 

Main image Josh – Acropeia.org

Catching On

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

 

Since we were our tiniest size and being defined by the pediatrician’s charts, we’ve all been told of the importance of maintaining a healthy height/weight ratio. Keeping fit is important to longevity. Now, the methods for getting enough exercise in order to keep the balance change throughout our lives. In high school it may have required little more than the fact that you played some sport or walked or cycled everywhere. Post high school, how many of us managed to counteract any beer and pizza guzzling with a bunch of grapevines left and hamstring curls to all four walls? Later adding the plastic step to the aerobics room, we’d get on that riser and bop around to kitchy tunes while the lady on the microphone confused us with individuals much more coordinated.

In my thirties, I used everything from volleyball, kickboxing, spinning, weight machines and personal training to counteract the 50 pounds I’d gained with each pregnancy. Adding a jogging stroller to my regimen when they were toddlers, and a gym membership later, helped me fit in fitness while staying in touch. Then tennis in my late 30s re-introduced some of the afformentioned coordination skills while keeping me moving – aka exercising. And now, in this decade, I have found alignment, strength and agility through regular cycling, swimming and yoga.

Today, (almost literally today, I’ve been doing it so briefly) it’s a new form of fitness attuning this figure. This method so cleverly disguised as fun, that I don’t even think of it as a workout. I want to do it. I want to fit it into my very busy schedule. My newest thing – sport climbing – has got to be one of the best times I have had while being vertical. It is a sport that involves technique, ropes, some coordination, and friendships based on trust and communication.  Climbing is accessible. It’s noncompetitive in nature and physically gratifying. You will find unusual strength (and soreness) in parts of your limbs not normally speaking to you after you climb a wall or two.  

There’s more >>

Our Fly Over City

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

MICHELLE THOMAS
YoGoGirls Photographer

 

There are people flying all over St. Louis.

Playing with a partner form of yoga that boosts human connection, playfulness, trust, and has been shown to increase the frequency of giggles for those who participate, these people are discovering the joys of AcroYoga.

A fusion of acrobatics, yoga and healing arts, AcroYoga is taking over our fair city, transforming this town from a midwest land of ordinary folk into an evolved community of fit, fun-spreading, aeronautical superpeople. By physically connecting to, and relying on the communication with, another person you grow exponentially as a human. The earmarks of AcroYoga – physical touch, accurate communication, and increased trust – dictate this transformation. 

Now, you may be already inclined to come up with ways in which you feel unsuited for this trifecta of sports, but we are here to tell you that AcroYoga is approachable and attainable regardless of your skill set. You need not be a master gymnast, circus acrobat, or seasoned yogi to enjoy it. You don’t even need a set partner. Classes and jams (free gatherings of various skill-leveled acro yogis) gather people together to learn, support, climb, dangle and fly in trusting groups all around St. Louis.  We collected a roster of AcroYoga classes and jams currently available about our town in this blog post and would love to see you at one soon!

There’s more >>

Baring our Soles

MICHELLE THOMAS
YoGoGirls Photographer

DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

 

Get %15 OFF your Mahabis as a friend of YoGoGirls. Click here: DISCOUNT

 

Not to be confused with your very attached soul, these slippers with detachable soles are our new best friends. We live both inside and out, and shoes that allow us to do both comfortably and quickly, well… that’s a blessing to our soles and our souls.

Once you go Mahabis, you will never go back to any other slipper. The soft, sculpted footwear lined with sheep’s wool and specially-designed easy slip-in heel is certain to make you a lifelong Mahabis fan. Have to grab the mail? Well, clip on your outdoor sole and adapt. And with 35 different look variations available, you’re sure to find a pair to heel your sole.

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Higher Vibrations

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

MICHELLE THOMAS
YoGoGirls Photographer

 

Yoga is personal. While we understand that the most common western version is about connecting breath to movement, yoga really takes on its own definition for each individual practitioner. That is the best part! As we study more deeply about the culture and philosophies of yoga, it is evident that the benefits are numerous and that anyone can practice… ANYONE!

This particular yogini has been immersed in a physical asana practice for just over three years and very recently began exploring the more spiritual aspects of yoga life. The savasana made me do it. Each time I ended a class with minutes of quiet stillness – post my body having been wrung out with great stretches – I began experiencing a serenity not proffered often to single, business-running, middle-aged moms. The clarity of those moments changed me. For at least 6 months post divorce, I would seriously look forward to these opportunities to just be. (I cried in each one for all 6 months.) I still practice for the savasana. It has improved my sense of observation, perception and expression. I feel more balanced in my approach to my days as a result. The way I experience the complexities of life and how I react to them has been forever altered into a more even keel, balanced, optimistic version. I will always practice yoga as a result. And this propels me to explore more opportunities to find this relaxed state, called meditation.

I did so this past weekend at a Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation with Mark Biehl, CSTC at Shanti Yoga Studio in Maplewood.

There’s more >>

MANTRA YOGA + HEALTH

BY DEBBY & MICHELLE
YoGoGirls

It is with true humility in our hearts and extreme glee in our souls that we share in Mantra Yoga + Health’s vision for “creating a cohesive and connected community that collaborates and creates.” Our hearts feel best when collaborating and creating with our community.  

What started as two 40+ year old creatives biking and training together for a triathlon, has blossomed into a lifelong friendship and partnership. Through delightful images with light-hearted captions, we attempt to inspire joy and crush fear while creating art with our friends. YoGoGirls.com readers share in our journey through stories about a variety of active,

Leggings by So iLL Holds.
Leggings by So iLL Holds.

healthy, conscious-living experiences. Through yoga, mindfulness, health, adventure, the outdoors, family, friendships and gratitude, we progress.

Thank you Mantra Yoga + Health for sharing us with your readers.  We connect to your publication’s goal to “set out to create a visually stunning and context-transforming publication that doesn’t play it safe.” These words echo our sentiments for YoGoGirls precisely. 

To find a copy of this November 2015 publication, subscribe online for a digital download version or a hardcopy or check your neighborhood Whole Foods or Sprouts, or any of the 100s of stores on their list of distributors.

The YoGoGirls horizon is beautiful. Look for more of our YoGo Yoga Festivals. We are busy planning the next one in Colorado. SO FLY 2 will offer acro yoga, Thai yoga, tantra, climbing, hiking, cycling and of course photography, along with many other adventurous activities. Stay tuned for more incredible announcements in the near future too! We have so much to be grateful for… most of all, you. Thank you for reading this, following our journey, and sharing us with your friends.

~ Debby & Michelle

YoGoGirls Get Knotty and High

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

MICHELLE THOMAS
YoGoGirls Photographer

 

With the expert guidance of Jon Richard of Vertical Voyages, YoGoGirls recently climbed a 100 foot tall pin oak tree inside Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. We recorded the action in 5 parts and have embedded the videos in this blog post. If you’re interested in the technical side of this type of climbing where Jon enlightens us on all the necessary equipment, the safety checks and features, and provides his expert instruction for this exhilarating form of getting high, watch all our live recordings (total of about 35 minutes of viewing). But if you’re strapped for time, STEP 4 & 5 are the actual experience.

:: NO TREES WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THESE VIDEOS. ::

Conservation of plants and their diversity is central to the mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Jon of Vertical Voyages has special permission to take others up in a few of the majestic trees inside this 154 year old National Historic Landmark center for science and conservation, education and horticultural display.

There’s more >>

Exercise. You’re Right!

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

 

The reason we are YoGoGirls, not Yogagirls? Our passions for fitness lie in many forms. In addition to our regular yoga practice, we cycle, climb, hike, paddleboard, swim, and Michelle runs, while Debby sorta jogs.

At any rate, staying consistently active in our mid-40s keeps us young. And while exercise is paramount to our lives, so is sustainable living. For these reasons and more, we most often opt to commute by bicycle – the fuel-free mode of transportation. So imagine our delight to find a company like Boo Bicycles, who makes its bicycles out of bamboo! We got to play on one of their cyclocross bikes this weekend in Colorado.

There’s more >>

Meditation with a Grain of Salt

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

I recently got the opportunity to spend quiet time meditating while breathing in the salty air… in land-locked St. Louis! On October 20, I attended Angie Campbell, 500 E-RYT’s Guided Meditation and Pranayam Practice in the St. Louis Salt Room.

St. Louis’ Salt Room in Maplewood is a halotherapy chamber entirely covered in salt from the ceiling to its salt beach floor, with this amber glow from lights shining through benches of salmon-colored Himalayan salt bricks in the corners. The space incorporates halogenerators that produce negative-ionized dry saline aerosol particles that can travel into the deepest and smallest parts of the lungs. According to their website, the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the dry saline mist reduces edema of the mucosal lining, restores the normal transport of mucus, and unclogs blockages in the bronchi and bronchioles.

Salt therapy, known as halotherapy or speleotherapy, was born in the mid-1800s after it was discovered that people who worked in the salt mines of Poland had remarkably low rates of respiratory illnesses. Artificial salt caves began to pop up across Europe in an effort to mimic the effects. The original salt spa is still in operation today, and these rooms are typically sought out by those with a range of respiratory and dermatological issues.

halotherapy salt room in Maplewood, MOAs I arrived, I met fraternal 3 year old twin girls exiting the salt spa. Their mother found the salt treatment center for them a year and a half prior in order to eradicate a night cough in one of the girls that just wouldn’t subside. After just 2 sessions, the cough was gone. Now this mom incorporates the halotherapy into her daughters’ cold and flu season routine.

There’s more >>

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls editor
Photos by Sheila Dugopolski
#share1minute

 

Calculate the approximate amount of time you’ve spent looking at a technological device today. Then compare this to the time spent peering into the eyes of another person on this same day. Vast gap in quantities? You’re not alone. Well, at least you can not be alone… by offering eye contact.

On October 15, a public experiment where individuals shared eye contact with strangers for 60 seconds called The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment was conducted worldwide. On this particular Thursday, more than 90,000 people across 140+ cities participated in this humanity exercise. Cities included: Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Montreal, Toronto, Prague, London, Helsinki, Paris, Hong Kong, Milan, Ibiza, Boston, and Los Angeles. (For a full list of all the participating cities click HERE.)  I attended one such gathering in Kiener Plaza, situated in downtown St. Louis.

We all make outward judgements about each other. Even my selection of who to sit across from and connect to through his/her eyes was based on some judgement. My first, a man, a choice outside my comfort zone. But he was closest to where I’d just parked my bike and it felt safest and the least disrupting to choose the closest. I learned in my 20s at clubs and the likes, that eye contact with men can sometimes be misinterpreted, so I adapted as a human to shortening this skill over the years. It was somewhat liberating to have my first experience in this gazing adventure be a man. I struggled a lot at first. I kept laughing and looking away. It took way longer than 60 seconds to accomplish our minute.  But eventually we were able. After we stared into each other’s souls in silence at a table across from one another for that minute, he told me of his life. His story focused mostly on his love for his 2nd wife, his passion for scuba diving, and his occupation. We genuinely connected. Our judgements melted away and we connected on a human-to-human level. I may never have met, nor chosen to speak with this man elsewhere. I am so grateful I did that day. He taught me of hope and happiness at any stage in life.

There’s more >>

Happy Girls are the Prettiest (& Fastest!)

INTERVIEW OF MAURA KINSELLA

ELITE ATHLETE AND MEMBER OF OPTUM’S PRO CYCLING TEAM

 

We were fortunate enough to catch up with hometown girl, Maura Kinsella, this weekend at the Gateway Cup in St. Louis, where her pro racing team – Optum Pro Cycling – took second place overall. She is a delightful, inspiring young athlete, with a clever new endeavor she’s dubbed HAPPINESS WATTS.

 

Professional cyclists measure their legs’ output in wattage (watts) and it’s a very technical aspect of these sometimes intense racers’ jargon. Maura, like many of our yogi readers, has opted for more balance in her training and pro athlete life. She coined the phrase “Happiness Watts” to describe the energy one can put toward race day output from his/her happiness input. Happiness, according to Maura, includes more factors than training and racing. She finds additional strength from this balance she encourages. She will put happiness fuel in her tank in a variety of ways – letting her hair down and dancing, playing outside with friends, yoga, and even eating a donut. Happiness Watts is working for her too, as she has raced some of the biggest Pro/1/2 races in the nation and all over Europe, including the Tour de France.

cyclephotos-womens-tour-of-britain-121717-laura-trott

Here’s more we learned from this amazing lady today:

 

1. So, you’re from St. Louis. Is this where you began your bike racing career? Tell us about it.

Yep! As a senior in high school, I traded in my Cross Country running singlet and knee problems for some spandex and a bike to compete in my first race in February in Columbia, MO aptly named Froze Toes. I had no clue what I was doing and I crashed three times but still won so I began to think, “This is awesome!” I wound up hooking up with a local junior (U19) cycling team through Mesa Cycles, practicing my technical skills, and racing a full season that year. Then, I got a taste for some real elite-level racing in California when I went to college at Santa Clara University the following year. It’s been an upward trajectory ever since!

There’s more >>

Become a YoGoGirl

INTERVIEW BY
ALLIE GREENBERG
of POINTE-STUDIO

 

YoGoGirls comprehend the intense work required of a successful startup. We have poured ourselves into this “side job” for nearly 2 years now and are extremely grateful for the support along the way; and consequently are enjoying the fruits of our labor. It’s rewarding to find your passion and live it.

 

As a successful brand marketing agent in the fitness/wellness community, YoGoGirls is approached regularly for our story. We are humbled to tell it. It is our wish that in relaying our adventures, we inspire others to believe in themselves and take risks necessary to fully actualize their lives.

 

Recently, Allie Greenberg of Pointe-Studio interviewed us. So if you’d like to smile and feel inspired, read the interview and learn…

How to Transform into a YoGoGirl

YoGoGirls brand agents

YoGoGirls with Flying Colors

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls’ Editor

You’re reading this post on a computer or digital handheld device that you’ve likely spent countless hours on today alone. This digital age is here to stay, but the chaotic noise it can create doesn’t have to rule us. YoGoGirls has your remedy! How about unplugging and taking a moment to rediscover the analog pleasures of coloring?!

 

YoGoGirls have a distinct connection to art. The creative process at the heart of YoGoGirls existence, we are intimately familiar with the outlet offered us by creating art and thrive in that space. There’s much neuroscientific research about the use of art therapy, and how the human brain can physically change, grow, and rejuvenate through art. We are here to offer you the creative outlet of coloring for a relaxing and soothing way to relieve stress and escape your daily pressures.

 

So Unplug. Disconnect. Awaken your inner child. And take a moment to rediscover the delights of coloring, while coloring our pictures! Right click on any of these six images to save it to your computer. Print it and doodle your way to a relaxed state. Then plug back in and share your finished work with us if you’d like! You’ll be entered in our coloring contest:

COLORING CONTEST!

There’s more >>

SO FLY YOGA FESTIVAL

Thank you to everyone who attended our weekend in the woods of southern Illinois September 25-27, 2015.  YoGoGirls Debby &  Michelle are busy planning SO FLY 2.

Photos from this magical time can be found on our Facebook page. We created a gallery for each day:

We are looking into places in Colorado for it. Our activities list will include acro yoga, cycling, and Thai yoga for sure. We’d love any feedback or ideas. Please email them to Debby@YoGoGirls.com.

——————————————————————————

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, our SO FLY: Yogo Yoga Festivals are for you.

  • Does the latest issue of National Geographic sit atop your coffee table (or in your restroom)?
  • Do your social media feeds fill with images of people in incredible places, doing extraordinary things?
  • Do you feel off if you don’t incorporate something active in your day?
  • Are you a nature lover who makes regular stops at outdoor retailers?
  • Do you own more yoga wear than dress clothes?
  • Have others used words like energetic, alive, monkey, bendy, or strong to describe you?
  • Do you prefer acting like a kid?
  • Is “swimming in a lake” in your list of activity favorites?
  • Does swinging in a hammock to the sounds of nature interest you?
  • Have you canoed or cycled this week?
  • Do you like s’mores?

Active individuals enjoying nature through acrobatic, coed, playful adventures. The first SO FLY: YoGo Festival was held at Camp Manitowa, just 90 miles from downtown St. Louis in the woods of southern Illinois Sepember 25-27.

Some options at our First SO FLY YoGo Festival weekend:

  • Acro Yoga Classes with Josh Young and Lizzy Tomber (zero previous experience required)
  • Thai Yoga Massage and Power Yoga with Kim Winn
  • Paddleboard Yoga with Eric Betz
  • 50 Foot high, 7 station High Ropes Course with climbing wall start and 450 foot zipline end
  • Kayaking / Paddleboarding / Aqua Jumping / Swimming on Camp Manitowa’s Lake Hamilton
  • Mountain Biking the trails and/or Road Biking a course around Rend Lake
  • Photo Sessions with YoGoGirls available
  • Fishing / Exploring Rend Lake by boat
  • Winery tour by Camp Manitowa Hippie Bus
  • Campfire Entertainment lit up hooping by Flow Bear and Amy Greenley & s’mores
  • Labyrinth on premises for meditative walks. (Debby designed and built this labyrinth with the camp, her kids and her friend Dianna.)
  • Volleyball, basketball, hard or softball courts available.
  • Games like Twister and Poker available
  • Private or semi-private, 400 round foot Yurts for nomadic dwelling! All levels of accommodations available, from your tent to a yurt to an air conditioned dorm with semi private bath.
  • Possibly the 3.5 foot deep, 20 yard Swimming Pool will be open for the weekend, 24/7
  • Food to write home about. Healthy, all options available. Menu will be posted soon. But rest assured, Chef Corey is a legend. You will remember the food and Corey.

Learn more about SO FLY: Yoga Festival here. And be sure to follow the SO FLY event page on Facebook. We will update it with new additions to this weekend of extraordinary adventurous fun for all.

 

 

Thank you to our SO FLY Sponsors:

dimvaloo active living logo

 

 

 

 

Synergy Organic Clothing

ABOUT THE YOGOGIRLS

We’re Debby & Michelle

Photographers/graphic designers and athletes living in Saint Louis, MO, we met at a triathlon training camp in Illinois in 2012. It was kismet! We have been spawning new ideas together, pushing boundaries, doing yoga, cycling and playing together ever since.

 

What got you into yoga?

We’ve both always been into fitness and had passions related to it throughout our adult lives. Life is a path, full of twists and turns, and yoga helps balance it. That is what makes yoga different than other sports. This additional value drew each of us to it. Yoga has been the light on the path. We tend toward the acro and strengthening / stretching aspects, but have shed more than one tear in savasana realizing the immense power of the meditative aspects of yoga as well.

 

How did the concept come together for YoGoGirls?

We began playing around taking pictures and blogging about our active lives less than a year ago. When we’re together, it’s all creative energy and giggles. We were meant to cross paths and create this adventure together. We decided on the name YOGO girls because we are more than just yogis. We have a ton of unbridled energy and we wanted to show this in as many different activities that we are passionate about.

 

YoGoGirls is more than just yoga, whats your superpower? 

We believe that we represent an artistic view in our images and with each image we attempt something new, whether it be inspired by something we have seen that we alter, or a completely original idea like the #yogokickstand series. We like to think of our images as effortlessly effortful. At the core we do it because it is fun and sparks our creativity, but for the most part each image has a concept and is meticulously styled, be it costume, setting and/or lighting.

 

Which was your hardest but most successful photoshoot

We both agree that it may be one in the future, because we haven’t found one too hard yet. We do some funny things though in the winter, due to having to shoot indoors. We have had some silly episodes when using the camera’s timer. Someday they’ll need that footage for our debut on TV.

 

 

What are some current projects you are working on? 

We are collaborating with several yogis around the country and world on projects. We also have been asked by some fitness lines to shoot images for their online presence. These are exciting opportunities and we feel are true to us and the YoGoGirls brand. We are also aligning with, and fundraising for, charities that resonate with our brand – one being DASA (Disabled Athlete Sports Association).

 

What influences the way you craft a moment?

Our flexibility during that moment! We sometimes realize we should do a class first then shoot. But, mostly we just hope something awesome comes to us, or that we remember that cool move we just learned in yoga class long enough to shoot it.

 

 

Youngster Yoga

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Editor

 

Yoga studios didn’t exist in the U.S. for kids when Michelle and I were kids. If so, I am certain my garden-growing, fruit dehydrating, tofu-serving, seamstress mother of the 70s would have signed me up. Instead, I attended gymnastics, and I feel fortunate that the Girls’ Club in my neighborhood offered this means for me to stretch and strengthen my childhood body. I believe it some of the reason for my advanced practice today. 

Nowadays kids can add the helpful mindfulness aspects of a yoga practice to their childhood imprints. How amazing will this next generation be with that foundation?!  A dedicated and intentional yoga practice, including breathing techniques and physical postures can be incredibly valuable for children – helping them with coordination, concentration, confidence and connection. Sonima Foundation – a non-profit dedicated to health and wellness best practices, primarily for underserved students from preschool through high school – has the research to prove their online statement that 40 minutes and a mat twice a week can improve a child’s life.

There’s more >>

SO FLY: Yogo Yoga Festival Sept 25-27

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, our SO FLY: Yogo Yoga Festival is for you.

  • Does the latest issue of National Geographic sit atop your coffee table (or in your restroom)?
  • Do your social media feeds fill with images of people in incredible places, doing extraordinary things?
  • Do you feel off if you don’t incorporate something active in your day?
  • Are you a nature lover who makes regular stops at outdoor retailers?
  • Do you own more yoga wear than dress clothes?
  • Have others used words like energetic, alive, monkey, bendy, or strong to describe you?
  • Do you prefer acting like a kid?
  • Is “swimming in a lake” in your list of activity favorites?
  • Does swinging in a hammock to the sounds of nature interest you?
  • Have you canoed or cycled this week?
  • Do you like s’mores?

Join a group of active individuals for an acrobatic, coed, active adventure just 90 miles from downtown St. Louis in the woods of southern Illinois September 25-27.  YoGoGirls is co-hosting the weekend with Acropedia.org’s Josh Young and Lizzy Tomber.

 

Just some of your options at the SO FLY weekend:

  • Acro Yoga Classes with Josh Young and Lizzy Tomber (zero previous experience required)
  • Thai Yoga Massage and Power Yoga with Kim Winn
  • Paddleboard Yoga with Eric Betz
  • 50 Foot high, 7 station High Ropes Course with climbing wall start and 450 foot zipline end
  • Kayaking / Paddleboarding / Aqua Jumping / Swimming on Camp Manitowa’s Lake Hamilton
  • Mountain Biking the trails and/or Road Biking a course around Rend Lake
  • Photo Sessions with YoGoGirls available
  • Fishing / Exploring Rend Lake by boat
  • Winery tour by Camp Manitowa Hippie Bus
  • Campfire music (play an instrument? Bring it!) & s’mores & beer
  • Labyrinth on premises for meditative walks. (Debby designed and built this labyrinth with the camp, her kids and her friend Dianna.)
  • Volleyball, basketball, hard or softball courts all available. We will schedule a volleyball game hour
  • Games like Twister, Bingo and Poker available
  • Private or semi-private, 400 round foot Yurts for nomadic dwelling! All levels of accommodations available, from your tent to a yurt to an air conditioned dorm with semi private bath.
  • Possibly the 3.5 foot deep, 20 yard Swimming Pool will be open for the weekend, 24/7
  • Food to write home about. Healthy, all options available. Menu will be posted soon. But rest assured, Chef Corey is a legend. You will remember the food and Corey.

Learn more about SO FLY: Yoga Festival here. And be sure to follow the SO FLY event page on Facebook. We will update it with new additions to this weekend of extraordinary adventurous fun for all.

Yogo-yoga-festival-sponsor-button

Where Passion and Freedom Align

BY ALEX KAHN

@prettyfitladies

Blue Lagoon at Nusa Cenigan, Indonesia

For the past three weeks I have traveled around Bali with two girlfriends who practice yoga and meditation regularly. Both full time workers, yoga gives them a sense of peace and comfort in the stress of their busy lives. Although yoga is not a regular occurrence for me, I enjoy the physical and mental challenges the poses provide. Our journey began in a small surf town in the south of Bali called Uluwatu.

prettyfitladies_yogogirls_yoga_1

Next, we traveled north to Ubud, a town world renowned for its yoga. On the way, we made a few stops to villages known for different types of artistry and visited a famous temple where we found some peace and quiet in a small courtyard.
prettyfitladies_yogogirls_yoga_5
Ubud resembled more of a city than we had prepared for and despite attending a yoga class at the famous, Yoga Barn, we did not receive the inner peace we desired. The three of us began a hike through the nearby rice fields and it is here where we began to play with yoga poses.

There’s more >>

Daily Habits for the Urban Yogi

BY DEBBY & MICHELLE
Urban Yogis / YoGoGirls Team

It’s Debby & Michelle! – two uber active, single moms and multiple business owners, who manage to find balance in our lives while inspiring women with our YoGoGirls blog & our social media. We are passionate about encouraging you to find your edge and become all you can. To this end, we jumped on the recent opportunity to share our advice through a free global online summit on living consciously amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

Mother Theresa once stated, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier.” This is our hopes for participating in this summit. 

Daily Habits for the Urban Yogi is hosted by the spiritually-enlightened and sweet yoga instructor, Alba Creales. In it, experts from around the globe offer tips for meeting the demands of high-pressured lifestyles while making time for living more spiritually meaningful lives. This free video series is ideal for anyone, seasoned and aspiring yogis alike.

Register here to participate in this FREE online event!

Please join Debby, YoGoGirls editor, and many other powerful experts in this series so that you can learn how to take the edge off, turn the pressure down a notch and still be highly productive.

We look forward to sharing any insights we may be able to offer yogis for actualizing each dream.

Namaste!

Let’s Right our ChatuWRONGas

EDITOR DEBBY SIEGEL

INSTRUCTOR KIM WINN

YOGA MODEL KAYLI DICE

PHOTOGRAPHER MICHELLE THOMAS

 

After practicing yoga fairly regularly for about 2 years, Michelle and I were in Kim Winn’s power yoga class when she stopped the class to properly correct the majority of us on our chaturanga dandasana. Chaturanga? We had done this move hundreds, perhaps thousands of times by this point, and I, along with most others in this full class, was doing it wrong! Since Kim’s minor adjustment correcting my form, my capabilities and practice have grown exponentially. Michelle echoes my sentiments here. Unfortunately and fortunately, correct form requires more strength than incorrect form. Your body will generally accommodate for positions that require more of it. However, correct posture prevents injury and is critical to reaping the benefits of the asana or pose.

We asked Kim to show us more about accuracy in yoga poses, and about her adjustments that help yogis achieve the deepest benefit from their practice. Kayli Dice, a plant-based chef/dietitian and food blogger planteatersmanifesto.com demonstrated for us.

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The (Ir)responsibilities of a YoGoGirls Intern

BY MEREDITH BERKOWITZ

Intern at YoGoGirls

 

As a YoGoGirls intern, I’m asked (forced) to do a lot of unique (these girls are nuts) things. The least of which was to come up with a rap song (sorry Nelly) in 15 minutes to be filmed (wha?) and subjected to the Saint Louis community and beyond VOTE HERE (scroll to bottom for ballot). I’m game for anything (mostly) and I love my hometown, (I’m a wannabe tourist) Saint Louis!
I’m YoGoGirls‘ Meredith Berkowitz, (the shizztaker) and I’m down to entertain you on the streets of St. Louie. From the Gateway Arch Riverboats to The City Museum, (coolest place on EARTH) I’m in love with this town and can prove it. Here’s a little ditty about my favorite spots about town, sang to Nelly’s Ride Wit Me (again, sooooo sorry Nelly)
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Take a F.LO.A.T. Trip

BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls editor, stylist and silliness supplier

Photography by MICHELLE THOMAS YoGoGirls

 

Last night, by the light of the full moon, I took a vacation from my senses in a cocoon of salt water.  I went on a F.LO.A.T. trip in downtown St. Louis.

With all light removed, insulated from sound, and floating in a tank of Epsom salt-laden water while completely naked, I found serenity like none I’ve known.  Initially, my body took a bit to gain composure and fully relax in the weightlessness of the womblike orb.  But once there, it was uncanny how even the slightest sensation of my pinky toe touching the edge reminded me that I even possessed limbs at all.  I liken the state to an awake version of REM sleep. The only constant being the methodic rhythm of my breath. A daily yogini, this recognition is not foreign to me. Noting it in a vacuum of all distraction however is new and altogether refreshing.

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Win a YoGoGirls Photo Shoot
at Yoga Buzz Ball

Yoga Buzz Ball Fundraiser Bash

Photo by Michelle – YoGoGirls | Model Melissa Zahner

Chase Park Plaza | Friday, March 27, 6-11pm

Benefiting the Yoga Buzz scholarship fund and Camp Ferguson

Arrive in the Starlight Ballroom at 6pm atop the historic Chase Park Plaza and get ready for an amazing evening. Kick things off with an hour-long, all-levels yoga event led by Yoga Buzz founder Elle Potter, set to live music. After class, enjoy the most extravagant Yoga Buzz event yet, sampling a huge variety of food, beverages and desserts from local restaurants and vendors (like food from Sugarfire Smokehouse, dessert from Ices Plain and Fancy and spirits from the distillery of New Holland Brewing). Partake in the silent auction or purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win one of our incredible giveaways, watch YoGoGirls perform Cirque de Yogaleil, and then get down on the dance floor with the DJ.

YoGoGirls will be offering a yoga photography booth from 8:30 to 10pm, where yogis and yoginis can have their favorite pose styled and snapped by our professional lens to be shared on YoGoGirls Facebook page! We’re also giving away one professional shoot with YoGoGirls in our studio or at an area location like Forest Park, City Museum or the Chess Museum. (Shoot scheduled for a spring date tbd. Winner announced on YoGoGirls social media.)

You say you’re nervous, you’ve never done something like this before? Well we’re ready to share in that mode. Come watch YoGoGirls, Debby and Michelle, entertain guests live with our Cirque de Yogaleil routine just prior to the dance floor opening! We are practicing what we preach: comfort-zoneless living! Gulp.

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Bend and Mend

By Chelsea Benjamin instagram @boucles25

When I first discovered yoga, I was a heartsick 19 year old looking to distract myself from my first heartbreak. I was so lost. I prayed for a way out; a way to undo the rejected and worthless feelings that consumed me.

I had tight shoulders that hunched over, protecting my heart. I had tight hips that made me cry in pigeon pose in my first-ever yoga class. And I had hamstrings that were wound as tightly as my nerves. I unrolled my mat. It changed my life.

Yoga quickly became my new routine. I knew early on that it was something I would not just try and give up on, like basketball, swimming, running, and ice-skating.  A few weeks in, lying in savasana after a particularly challenging class, I felt myself drift away from my worries. I felt my heart burst open. My broken thoughts of my former love shifted to compassion and unconditional love. I’d made a leap. This shift in my heavy heart was a huge moment for me. I recognized the power yoga had to heal. I became a lifer.

Since then I’ve found compassion and an increasingly open heart through rolling out my mat. Yoga has provided me an outlet to face my fears and let them go. There are still those days I start to close my heart again. And yoga is the place where I let the light back in.

My regular yoga practice helped heal me.

 

What does your practice offer you? Write us to let us know. We love featuring our yoga friends’ stories. michelle@yogogirls.com

Meditation, the Game Changer

BY BRITTNEY POETZMAN ~
a fellow Instagram yogi explains her evolutionary experience of meditation

Follow Brittney at @novayoga Photos by @jobiotso
Legs folded in Padmasana, hands at my heart. Closing my eyes I bring my focus to my breath, cool air flows slowly through my nose as I give thanks for the opportunity to come back to the present. Meditation has had a major impact on my life. I began meditating as part of my yoga practice and have discovered that like myself, at first, most people find meditation difficult, boring, and sometimes frustrating. When I first began meditating I would set an alarm for ten minutes and would constantly be checking to see how much longer I had left. Every few breaths I would lose my focus and find myself thinking about my day, plans I might have later, and things that had bothered me in the past. Bringing my attention back to my breath again and again, I eventually found myself able to sit for longer periods of time without being bombarded by distracting thoughts or signals from my body such as an itchy shoulder or feet that had fallen asleep.

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Finding the Light

by BRITTANY HOOGENBOOM
Follow Brittany: ladiboomyogini

Brittany is a kind follower of YoGoGirls, and she bares her soul in this post about her path. We hope by sharing it, we are a conduit for more positive stories.

The darkness engulfed me.  I hit my all time low and was lost in all of the madness.  Sex and drugs were all I cared about, it didn’t matter how or where I found it, I was going to get what I wanted.  There were times that I didn’t think I would live, times where I didn’t want to live any longer.

I thought I had ruined my life and the relationships with the ones that I loved.  I had already been through rehab and anger management, nothing was helping because I was being forced.  Than one day I literally opened my eyes to see what I was doing to myself.  I remember practicing yoga in 9th and 10th grade during track practice.  We had it a few times a week and I thought nothing of it,  I wasn’t aware of the power of yoga back than.  It wasn’t until I was searching for something to pull me out of the darkness when I finally realized that yoga was magic, literally magic.  I decided to go buy a yoga mat, after seeing something on television about the power of yoga practice, and that was the day that my life begun to change.  Yoga saved me from myself. It showed me the light, the path to happiness and positivity.

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Illuminated Chakras

BY YOGOGIRLS & TAHL RINSKY A Collaboration on Instagram. Follow @yogogirls and Tahl  for all the details.   According to eastern medicine we have invisible energy channels circulating through our bodies. This energy force is called Prana by the Indians or Chi by the Chinese. Prana is constantly circulating through our bodies, running through a series of nadis (Sanskrit for ‘tube’ or ‘pipe’). Some ancient texts say we have more than 72,000 nadis in our bodies. They intersect with the chakras lining our spinal column. Like blood vessels transporting oxygen, they transport our life force through our extremities and beyond. The three most important nadis are the lunar ida (yin in Chinese philosophy) of the left side of the body, which is associated with feminine qualities; the solar pingala (yang) associated with our masculine qualities; and the central shushumna running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Running along the shushumna channel we find the seven main chakras. The chakras are believed to be moving in a clockwise direction moving energy up and down the spine. Eastern medicine believes that the fluctuations of energy we experience all the time are directly related to our chakras. Like any tube or vessel they can get blocked or overworked. If we are feeling slow and sluggish, our chakras are blocked up with stagnant energy. When we are feeling hyperactive, our chakras are too open and we are at risk of burning out.

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Peaking with YoGoGuys

INTERVIEW BY DEBBY SIEGEL
YoGoGirls Silliness Supplier, Photo Stylist and Editor

 

Introducing YoGoGuys featured athlete, Sam Hall. He’s young, well-dressed, handsome, and an accomplished business owner. Sam co-owns a niche real estate firm in St. Louis Warner Hall Group.

An avid cyclist, triathlete and yogi, Sam set out on a new challenge this past year… climbing to the top of the alpine giant, Mount Rainier. He accomplished this tremendous goal in October.  At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the highest volcano and largest glaciated mountain in the contiguous U.S.

I could tell you all about the various details of the actual climb, but I think his personal growth journey as a result of accomplishing his mission is where the story is at. Here’s Sam’s journey…

His Training:

I spent six months training, pretty intensely with yoga, running, cycling, triathlons, and hiking, sometimes with weight packs and an oxygen deprivation mask.

I know, I have seen this guy in a few triathlons and long distance cycling events. He’s a motivator in spandex, just saying.

His Mindset:

I wanted to push the limits of what I think my body and mind are capable of.  Plus, I have a severely underdeveloped sense of fear, and I enjoy exploring those boundaries as well.

Um, severely underdeveloped sense of fear? YES! This is making more sense now…

His Peak Understanding:

It was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done, three days of walking up hill (very few switchbacks), through newly fallen snow, between crevasses, and in the dark freezing wind on the last day.

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10 reasons to do headstands or handstands every day!

Photography by Michelle – YoGoGirls

Handstanders Debby – YoGoGirls & Cole Bombino

 

1. They’ll make your upper body super strong. Get those yogi guns firing!
2. They will increase your balance. Use your thumbs and index finger for grip and balance!
3. They are fun and can boost your mood.
4. They build core strength. Abs! Abs! Abs!
5. They help with bone density, blood circulation and breathing.
6. You see the world from a different perspective.
7. Relieve your feet for a while, walk on your hands instead.
8. You can finally master the keg stand.
9. You can wow your friends and neighbors.
10. Keeps your face young and lifted. Not necessarily the skin but with a smile.

 

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Uncomfortably Comfortable

By DEBBY SIEGEL
@yogogirls on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter

Photo by Michelle – YoGoGirls  Model Bianca Jade – Mizzfit

 

It’s 2015, the start of another year in your life. What will you choose to do with this one? Did you make a resolution? Did you keep last year’s?

 

With each exchange of the calendar, we are given a whole new 365 days to choose who we want to become. And each new day is an opportunity to grow as humans. But growth can be uncomfortable, something new, frightening even.

 

Human development is a lifelong process of physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional growth and change. We can continue to assimilate new portions of ourselves at any age. Or not. We also have the opportunity to stay comfortably stagnant. To continue with the status quo, do what’s been done. Either is acceptable. And either even expectable. But growth is so fulfilling as an evolving species. From the first time you sat up as an infant and saw the world from this whole new vertical perspective, you knew that growing was important. The momentum of improvement when we’re young and inhibition-free propels us. But along the way, we find obstacles to continuing at a steady, fast rate. YoGoGirls to the rescue!

 

Michelle and I started YoGoGirls over a year ago now with some understanding of how we affect others in our daily lives. But the way this blog and accompanying social media has gifted us with opportunities to help others get outside their comfort zones is immeasurably immense. It is our hope that through YoGoGirls, we are able to show people the “whole new perspective” like those infancy leaps. We want to help women (and now men on YoGoGuys) choose to try something new, something challenging, something that may in turn inspire others to do the same.

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We OPEN HEART a Good Cause

What opens your heart? How about Michelle’s son’s new puppy, Lela? She’s a heart opener for sure! Check out Debby’s gorgeous Open Heart Warrior Bracelet by @MaryCarolinejewelry It’s an original design created with ancient techniques and cast with recycled sterling silver and non-toxic hand-dyed silk.

 

This wrap’s intention is to constantly remind us to keep our hearts open as we are powerful goddesses filled with an abundance of love. And no matter what, we can handle it. Through mid October, you will get 15% off this piece we fell in love with by using the coupon code yogogive on etsy.com/shop/marycarolinejelry

 

In addition to offering you a discount, Mary Caroline and Yogogirls are donating 15% of these sales to a place close to our hearts – Beyond Housing (beyondhousing.org). This charity is helping give people in Ferguson and its school district access to quality education, safety, and healthy lifestyles. We hope your hearts are as open to giving back as ours. So check out and follow @MaryCarolineJewelry on Instagram and Facebook and click on the direct shop link to get yourself one of these Open Heart Warrior Bracelets and open your heart to support and love… and puppies!

United We Handstand

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

 

Michelle and I live in suburb communities of St. Louis just minutes from Ferguson. The news is depicting the divides in our great community. Let’s discuss the connects, the ways to create UNITY.

 

This weekend, I was able to connect with and support a young disabled athlete completing her first triathlon. Sydney Kendall, at 13, wanted to finish a triathlon for what she described as “bragging rights” at school. First off, she is a fish! Sydney swam that Lake St. Louis fast (faster than me I might add). The gleam in her eye as she jogged into transition to her bike told me how much this girl knew at a young age. She exudes determination. Inspiration is one of her gifts. She rode a bike that her dad altered to accommodate her for many miles with me. I learned so much from her in this time together. She believes in herself and is determined to accomplish her goal of joining the paralympic swim team. This amazing young teenager also supports other kids by being an ambassador for St. Louis’ Shriners Hospital for Children. She is a connector too. I was fortunate to be paired with Sydney.

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Tending To Your Inner Garden

BY NADIA BURKE

 

Ever thought of your Self as a garden?

 

Distracted by our roles and responsibilities to the outside world, we tend to forget about the need to take care of our beings, our Selves- our inner garden. What happens to a garden when no one waters the plants or pulls the weeds? The garden, along with its flowers and fruit trees, slowly begins to fade. But if you roll up your sleeves, give it water, and spend time de-weeding, it comes alive with vigor and thanksgiving.

 

Here are a few simple suggestions to help you tend to your Self:

 

* Pull the “weeds”: These are mindless actions which occupy your time, crowding your inner garden and suffocating its beautiful bounty. What am I talking about? Well, how about the 9 AM gossip session with your co-worker BFF? What about a ritualistic hour-long love fest with Facebook? And let’s not forget the daily Housewives fix before bedtime.

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#notsorry

BY NADIA BURKE

 

Have you ever stopped to notice all the apologies that are coming out of our mouths throughout the day? Granted, there are legitimate reasons behind some of them: spilled red wine on your best friend’s dress or forgot to pick up dog from the vet after 2 calls from the clinic. However, in many instances, “sorry” is just a word flying out into the universe before we can truly assess its necessity or genuine nature.  So why are we so comfortable with making useless apologies? And what do we do about it?

 

The way I see it, fear is to blame. In the case of apologies, fear of rejection is the invisible force that takes control of our voice, before we can even think about the necessity of saying sorry. Apologetic words become our defense to avoid a chance of not being liked or of not being accepted.  So how can each of us start to curb our enthusiasm for constant remorse?  Here are my 5 suggestions, sans $100/hr therapy session:

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Sleep Like a Teenager

By DEBBY SIEGEL
@yogogirls on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter

 

Thai massage. Have you tried it? Well those Thai chicks have had it figured out for over 3000 years ladies. I’m telling you. Think of this. You take your man to a Thai massage lesson (for lack of a better word, it is a class setting and you follow the leader) and during this 3-4 hours of basically foreplay, you get massaged and stretched! Win-win. Right?

 

Thai massage (also called Thai yoga massage) integrates movements for your whole body. Its rhythmic compressions increase blood circulation to muscles while generating a connecting experience for the massage practitioner and receiver. So again… win-win. Incidentally, Michelle and I learned to be the receiver second. So there’s a free tip from Yogogirls. If you give the massage first, you get to relax away at the end. And I mean sublime relaxation. Seriously. Everyone unanimously messaged me the next day with stories of how they slept solid that night… no small feat for adults in 2014.

 

Michelle and I chose to learn this ancient art form from renowned Thai Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, and Personal Wellness Chef, Jill Duncan LMT. Jill taught our group of four couples at Casa Bagus in St. Louis; a new, beautifully designed space filled with many new age wellness classes. The lighting and space were perfect. We started our evening with some Rockin’ Mockin’ Tuna and hummus appetizers from Seedz Cafe, a local plant-based restaurant. Jill began our session by lighting candles all around the room, and she’d lined the floor with mats covered in blankets and pillows for our massages. It was magical.

 

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Hang Time Heros!

By DEBBY SIEGEL

@yogogirls on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & any other social media we can find!

 

Like the brave settlers of long ago, those adventurous people who traversed the seas in search of more, of better, of new, I headed west this week & discovered a form of yoga I’ve not yet seen in person, nor tried. And much like my forefathers, my destiny was the result of a mishap – a lateness of arrival to my original “free” location if you will. My Google Magellan lead me to this new territory. And like the Spanish spice island seekers, my life was changed by it. For I discovered hanging yoga at The Yoga Hangout.

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We are all Villagers

POINTE STUDIO Brienne Lyn FundraiserIt takes a village… and our active-mom villager, Brienne Lyn, is in need. As dedicated moms and athletes, Yogogirls can only imagine what our friend, Brienne, is facing as she shows this leukemia diagnosis her strength and courage. Please help us support this barre teacher and mother of two little boys. By purchasing Pointe Studio’s Mercer in Teal socks (just $10) this month, you’ll be donating to her cause: beating acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Visit the Pointe Studio page and read more about how our collaboration with this generous organization came about. It’s a sweet story that will reward you with smiles. We are all in this together.

BEAUTIFULLY {IM} PERFECT

By THUY DOCKENDORF

Find more from Thuy @mango_twee on instagram

 

Three years ago, stationed in Korea as a metal fabrication mechanic in the air force, I began my quest for the new me. My brother and I were raised in Florida by our mom. I never had the opportunity to meet my dad. My school years were filled with comparison opportunities. Me in my Wal-Mart clothes, and the other kids dressed in their expensive brand names, I felt left out. I was petite with scrawny arms and legs. My friends called me “two by four.” My inner voice began then. It said, “Your body is not right. You are flawed.”

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VERNAL YOGANOX

BY YOGOGIRL DEBBY SIEGEL

 

Today’s lunchtime enlightenment for my 10 year old had me showcasing my vast knowledge on the scientific importance of this day, the vernal equinox (March 20th 2014). I went into details I knew about spring’s equinox — most of which turned out were remembered slightly differently than Google would have the rest of the world believe. But… he was impressed. Me feeling so fly as I munched on turkey and cheese. Watching his eyes light up when I explained how tomorrow begins longer days, I started to realize all the correlations in my words describing today to those I hear during my favorite regularly scheduled portion of most days — during yoga.

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WHO THE HECK ARE THE YOGOGIRLS?

We’re Debby & Michelle

Photographers/graphic designers and athletes living in Saint Louis, MO, we met at a triathlon training camp in Illinois about two years ago. It was kismet! We have been spawning new ideas together, pushing boundaries, doing yoga, cycling and playing together ever since.

 

What got you into yoga?

We’ve both always been into fitness and had passions related to it throughout our adult lives. Life is a path, full of twists and turns, and yoga helps balance it. That is what makes yoga different than other sports. This additional value drew each of us to it. Yoga has been the light on the path. We tend toward the acro and strengthening / stretching aspects, but have shed more than one tear in savasana realizing the immense power of the meditative aspects of yoga as well.

 

How did the concept come together for YoGoGirls?

We began playing around taking pictures and blogging about our active lives less than a year ago. When we’re together, it’s all creative energy and giggles. We were meant to cross paths and create this adventure together. We decided on the name YOGO girls because we are more than just yogis. We have a ton of unbridled energy and we wanted to show this in as many different activities that we are passionate about.

 

YoGoGirls is more than just yoga, whats your superpower? 

We believe that we represent an artistic view in our images and with each image we attempt something new, whether it be inspired by something we have seen that we alter, or a completely original idea like the #yogokickstand series. We like to think of our images as effortlessly effortful. At the core we do it because it is fun and sparks our creativity, but for the most part each image has a concept and is meticulously styled, be it costume, setting and/or lighting.

 

Which was your hardest but most successful photoshoot

We both agree that it may be one in the future, because we haven’t found one too hard yet. We do some funny things though in the winter, due to having to shoot indoors. We have had some silly episodes when using the camera’s timer. Someday they’ll need that footage for our debut on TV.

 

Video to produce? why? 

We auditioned for Amazing Race in November and shot & edited the piece in 3 days. Most of which were rainy and cold. That was a challenge.

 

What are some current projects you are working on? 

We are collaborating with several yogis around the country and world on projects. We also have been asked by some fitness lines to shoot images for their online presence. These are exciting opportunities and we feel are true to us and the YoGoGirls brand. We are also aligning with, and fundraising for, charities that resonate with our brand – one being DASA (Disabled Athlete Sports Association).

 

What influences the way you craft a moment?

Our flexibility during that moment! We sometimes realize we should do a class first then shoot. But, mostly we just hope something awesome comes to us, or that we remember that cool move we just learned in yoga class long enough to shoot it.

 

 

MOMENTAGE APP

YoGoGirls are featured on Momentage App’s blog. Check it out and have a fun day!!

TAKE CHILD’S POSE

“The sensation of energy expands with increasing relaxation.”

― Ilchi Lee

 

INSTAGRAM | YOGOGIRLS

Look for YoGoGirls on Instagram! Tag your fun yogi, bike-y, run-y, swim-y, etc-y photos #yogogirls. We will try to re-post as many as we can without annoying people.

MY GUILTY PLEASURE:
GRANNY PANTIES

BY ELLE POTTER

Find Elle on Facebook
 

It all began on a camping trip a few years back with my friend Cynthia. In our planning the trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, we joked that we would dance around our campfire in granny-panties and polka-dotted socks like good little Pagans. By the time we got to our destination, I had all but forgotten about this – but Cynthia had not.  We finished our hot dogs and a bottle of wine. Then she surprised me with socks and underwear for us both. We put them on and began our fire dance.

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YoGo KICKSTAND

When your view is turned upside down you make the most amazing discoveries!

 

Share your “kickstand” on instagram #yogokickstand or facebook

 

yogogirls-yogokickstandinstagram@ aries_yogini

 

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instagram@yogogirls

TRI-ING & FLYING

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

 

Oh President’s Physical Fitness Badge, how you eluded me throughout my formative years. Each year, taunting me with your requirements to climb and run fast. Well, have I got some updates for you Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. I am a grown woman triathlete who performs aerial stunts in between. So please, mail me a badge. If there’s still money in the budget for one. If not, an email will suffice.

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WHAT’S SUP?

BY DEBBY SIEGEL

PHOTOS BY boy vs girl photography

 

As fast as you can surf a wave into the shore (or fall off and get tugged by that strap around your ankle), I latched on to paddleboard yoga, aka SUP yoga. I’ve experienced countless forms of yoga — from kundalini to ashtanga, hatha to vinyasa flow, Bollywood and acro, even hot yoga entered my winter world for a brief nauseous moment this year.

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YOGA MAMA

BY SHEILA FAZIO

All by 7:30am. My morning as a mama of a 2 month old, 4 year old and 6 year old:

 

  • Wake up to baby sleeping next to me all night- what a sweaty milky mess!
  • Look over see my beloved’s entrenched frown as he sleeps on a slither of the bed left over for his wideass shoulders (so sexy though)
  • Laugh because I know he has ninja’ed out of the bedroom for some uninterrupted sleep in the spare room at 2am and snuck back in at 6.
  • Hear pitter pat of the girls feet running to our bedroom to yell, “Surprise!” (They woke up on their own.)
  • Get up
  • Get the Girls Dressed
  • Untangle Hair, Whoops I forget to put my clothes on – but they don’t even notice because I’ve been naked so much feeding this little baby on demand… (which, hopefully my mother will stop posting photos of me half naked with the baby on Facebook).
  • Pull sarong on now, gentle laugh at self, wondering if they remember this – baby now happy in the swing.
  • Sisterly love power rocks the swing, baby Will barraged with loving accolades from his four year old sister who must believe him deaf and blind…
  • Eat cereal for breakfast, nebulizer, vitamins, oh.. 2 dollars for Gia’s turkey cookie experiment at school… Did we do her homework?
  • Pack homemade chicken salad for Ceca’s lunch- with a new twist of Cilantro (taste test approved) 3 bites of my own for breakfast!!
  • Get out the door, coats and mittens along for the ride
  • Note Ryan’s out the door with kids in tow. Battery of the truck is dead.
  • Switch the carseats, laugh out loud, It’s only 7:30am.
  • Ah sit down for a second before heading to mommy and me yoga.
  • Baby asleep in swing- how nice, so peaceful and loving to see
  • No way to get to yoga with Dianna Lucas.
  • Hear her say through time and space- “Okay breath, breath, accept and laugh. Enjoy this time of absolute quiet.”

I love you Ryan. I love you Ceca. I love you Gia. I love you Will. I so need a date with You! xoxo Sheila

kids-410x496  sheila-siblings-yogogirlssheila-ryan-will-200x286

Sheila Fazio is a licensed clinical social worker and practices as a holistic therapist in the St. Louis ar