Schedule
Five Pillars Yoga

Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’

Fall Focus: Top Tips For Finding Balance During Vata Season

Happy Autumnal Equinox! Here at Five Pillars we hold the Intention to move through life in synch with the seasons. Listening to the messages and even advice each has to share with us and going with the flow or counterbalancing where beneficial – letting the pillars of Right Movement, Nutrition, Breathing, and Relaxation support and inform our choices.

According to Ayurveda—an ancient traditional system of medicine in India that’s been called Yoga’s sister science—Fall is Vata season. As the humidity of summer begins to wane and the Northeast experiences the incredible annual display of colorful Fall leaves, you may discover some signs and symptoms that suggest your Vata dosha is aggravated. You can adopt Vata-balancing practices to attain optimal health and feel your best.

But first, what’s a dosha? Three primary energies (aka doshas) based on the elements make up our physical and mental constitutions. These energies are Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire) & Kapha (Earth + Water). Each of us has all of these elements, though one will likely be dominant in our constitutional makeup. If you want to #GoDeeper, try an online quiz.

The cooling weather patterns, Fall winds and shifting daylight hours that have arrived with the equinox often aggravate Vata. After all, the qualities of the Vata dosha are cool, light, dry, moving, and erratic—just like the weather patterns—and a basic tenet of Ayurveda is like increases like. Some common symptoms that occur when the Vata dosha is out of balance are anxiety, dry or chapped skin, indigestion, sudden bouts of fatigue, and light interrupted sleep.

Additional symptoms can occur on the physical or mental dimensions.

Common physical signs of a Vata imbalance:

  • • cold hands and feet
  • • constipation
  • • gas
  • • bloating
  • • aversion to cold and wind
  • • irregular appetite
  • • twitches
  • • spasms
  • • restlessness
  • • low body weight
  • • aversion to loud noises
  • • hypertension
  • • arthritis
  • • weakness
  • • restlessness
  • • irregular menstruation

Common mental signs of a Vata imbalance:

  • • nervousness
  • • fear
  • • panic
  • • racing mind
  • • worry
  • • spacey
  • • scattered
  • • inconsistency

The Five Pillars of Fall Wellness can help bring you back into balance, achieving your optimal state of being.


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.19.46 AM

Right Intention: Want To Book The Next Plane Ticket Out Of Here? Think Again And Dig Into A Steady Routine


When the Vata winds blow, we all need a little more grounding and stability. Now is the time to dive deeper into your mindfulness practices and stick to routines. It may help to begin by creating healthy patterns of eating and sleeping—try to sleep before 10 p.m. and eat regular meals around the same time each day. Beyond the basics, this is the perfect time to pick up or continue a yoga and meditation practice. Set an intention to be gentle and loving with yourself, and allow for plenty of time to reflect and go within. Your inner clarity will keep your health and wellness on track no matter what life throws your way.

Our recommendations: Take time to set an intention to stay grounded and stable during Vata season. Avoid the temptation to discard your routines and book the next plane ticket out of here. Instead, take a moment to organize your days into a soothing routine full of self-care and balance.


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.19.46 AM

Right Movement: Take It Easy


Choose a Right Movement practice that is light and easy on your body. Focus on flexibility and balance rather than long distances and speed.

Top movement tips: Walk through the park or take an easy breezy stroll with a friend. Power down your yoga practice and opt for therapeutics or gentle yoga, yoga nidra, tai chi or qi gong. Take some time out to practice pranayama and meditation. Focus on breathing deeply and be gentle with yourself.


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.19.46 AM

Right Breathing: Alternate Nostril Breathing


Pranayama (aka breathing practice) has incredible balancing effects on the entire body and can ward off unwanted stress & anxiety. Our favorite pranayama for inner balance and harmony during the Fall season is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, otherwise known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, helping to focus the mind and keep unwanted stress and anxiety at bay, providing the very foundation we need to stay peaceful and responsive no matter what the Vata winds blow into our lives.


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.19.46 AM

Right Nutrition: True Nourishment For the Fall Season


Fresh, cooling crudites were perfect for the hot summer, but the crisp fall air invites forth a natural desire to nourish ourselves with warming butternut squash soups, more protein, and hearty stews. Freshly cooked veggies are easier for our bodies to digest and assimilate than raw produce. If you are already in the practice of eating fresh, seasonal foods and shopping at the farmer’s market, you may notice the natural seasonal shift toward heartier produce that balances the vata dosha.

Begin to see your vegetables as vessels for healing herbs and spices. Each of the ancient, lasting cuisines around the world incorporate delicious, healing herbs and spices into meals. Oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary make their way into Italian sauces. Turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cayenne spice up Indian fare.

As you know, food is so much more than fuel and nutrients. Many of the aromatic herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-fungal properties. As we spice up our recipes and savor the incredible flavor of international cuisine, our meals become medicine that support the immune system, keeping seasonal colds and the flu at bay.

Try cooking a healing coconut-milk curry with plenty of spices and seasonal vegetables. For inspiration, view this recipe: South Indian Style Vegetable Curry. For more information about Ayurvedic wisdom, check out this article: Vata Pacifying Diet.

Additional Vata-Pacifying Recommendations:

  • *Eat full-sized, well-portioned meals, but avoid overeating.
  • *Sip on tea and warm liquids throughout the day. Avoid chilled beverages.
  • *Sweet, sour, and salty tastes pacify Vata. Favor warming, oily, and heavy foods such as natural grains (particularly rice and wheat), soups and stews, cooked root vegetables, and sweet fruits (bananas, avocados, coconut, figs, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, dates, etc.). If you consume animal products, warm milk soothes Vata. Buy organic eggs, chicken, turkey and seafood.
  • *Integrate Vata-pacifying spices: cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed, basil, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme, and black pepper.
  • *Avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods. Minimize your intake of beans, aside from mung bean dahl and tofu. Light, dry fruits such as apples and cranberries can aggravate Vata. To avoid indigestion, steer clear from cabbage, sprouts, and raw vegetables in general.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.19.46 AM

Right Relaxation: Self-Care


Book your favorite masseuse, invest in acupuncture, or get some reflexology done. These practices boost circulation and promote relaxation. Consider investing in a weekly or monthly self-care routine that includes your favorite treatments.

Want to keep it simple and stay at home?

  • *Give yourself a massage using warming oils such as sesame or almond.
  • *Play relaxing music
  • *Connect friends who make you feel calm and relaxed
  • *Try aromatherapy
  • *Take deep breaths often
  • *Pause in between tasks
  • *Take an Epsom salts bath
If you’d like to discuss how best to attune to the season, we’re here to support you! Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, or for an individual consultation.

 

 

*Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Healthy Holidays – Easy Tips For Mindful Eating

As the holidays ramp up we’re just moments away from the dreaded/delicious culinary decadence vortex: a busy calendar means more wine or cocktails at social and work gatherings, overindulging in brunches, lunches and dinners with family and friends. Pies, cakes, holiday cookies, gravy, roasts, and a cornucopia of veggie and grain side dishes each more incredible than the next, and all too wonderful to pass up.

I might have put on five pounds just writing that paragraph!

It’s the same cycle every year, and changing recipes to “low fat” versions of everything is just as ridiculous as trying to play hermit and hideout fasting until the whirlwind is over. Worse yet would be to enjoy everything in the moment, only to wallow in guilt and remorse later.

 

So what are we to do?

 

How-to-Eat-279x418

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has some advice, in the form of a small, simple and highly practical book aptly titled HOW TO EAT.

Bringing our mindfulness practice to our dining table (or office party or family gathering) is a powerful tool for not only truly enjoying the abundance of the season, but also staying balanced nutritionally and where weight is concerned. The simple tips shared in the book encourage “a joyful and sustainable relationship with all aspects of eating.” Meaning we can absolutely say yes to dessert, just so long as we pledge to actually enjoy it. This means, slowing down, tuning in, chewing and actually savoring each bite before we load the fork up for our next mouthful.

Scientific research is now revealing the effect of mindful eating on obesity and binge eating disorders. The results of this practice include not just enjoying each bite more, but supporting healthy digestion and cultivating an awareness of your levels of satiation – all of which also leads to portion control and maintaining a balanced weight. Simply by using the power of your attention.

 

You can click here for a little “taste” of the book, and also to purchase. The book also makes a sweet stocking suffer or hostess present – the type of gift that keeps on giving.

I recommend getting the book and savoring each usable piece of advice. And in the meantime, here are some simple tips:

 

Mindful eating is a before ~ during ~ & after process.
A process of tuning in.

 

Before, we can tune into the efforts of the chefs or bartenders, the efforts of the farmers and grocers and bakers who contributed their energies into the forthcoming morsel. The efforts of the soil and sun and water that all conspired to facilitate your nourishment. If we’re cooking we can make the kitchen into a meditation room, cook without rushing and cook with love. We can thoughtfully set the table, supporting enjoyment for all those who will sit at it.

 

During we can chew and enjoy, tuning into the dance of flavors and activating our healthy digestive process at the same time. According to Thich Nhat Hanh we can let ourselves pay attention to two things: “the food that we’re eating and the friends who are sitting around us and eating with us. This is called mindfulness of food and mindfulness of community… true community building.” The good news is our powerful multi-tasking brains can listen to what’s being said around the table while also tuning into what’s happening on our plate, on our fork and in our mouth. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll find you’re able to enjoy what you’re eating even as you listen to your tipsy cousin recount an embarrassing story for the third year in a row. We can sit down – turn off the radio or TV – and tune into our body’s signals. This will help us feel when we’ve had enough.

 

After a meal we can once again remember gratitude, and allow the body to be nourished by the nutrients in the food and the energy of our company. We can take some time to “rest and digest” so our systems can properly absorb and assimilate what’s just happened, before rushing to our next meal or engagement and overly taxing the system. We can even think of the act of doing the dishes as a meditation, a pause for digestion and appreciation.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.38.10 AM

 

Bringing mindfulness into the decadent deliciousness of holiday season is a way to keep your yoga practice going “off the mat” and truly continue to live a yogic lifestyle.

 

 

 

Four Ayurvedic Practices to Boost Your Immune System

Leaves blanket the ground creating an artful display of fall colors. Hearty root crops and winter squash are abundant at the farmer’s market. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, autumn is the vata season, known for its cool, light, dry, moving, and erratic qualities. There is incredible momentum, movement, and vitality that occurs with when the wild vata winds blow, generating transformation. And yet, we can also find ourselves forced to stop in our tracks as colds and the flu spread through schools and workplaces like wildfire during this time of year. To go forth with steady confidence and healthy bodies, favor a vata pacifying lifestyle which boosts the immune system and brings the body, mind, and spirit into balance. Check out these four tips to be well and stay calm.

 

One: Begin to see food as medicine.

Incorporate a vata pacifying diet this fall, which consists of foods that are warm, moist, smooth, and nourishing. Fresh, cooling crudites were perfect for the hot summer, but the crisp fall air invites forth a natural desire to nourish ourselves with warming butternut squash soups, more protein, and hearty stews. If you are already in the practice of eating fresh, seasonal foods and shopping at the farmer’s market, you may notice the natural shift toward heartier produce that balances the vata dosha.

Freshly cooked veggies are easier for our bodies to digest and assimilate than raw produce. Minimize stress and support easy digestion by consuming lightly cooked foods that are warming and soothing. Sip ginger tea with meals to aid digestion, or make a healing, anti-inflammatory turmeric-honey tea to support the immune system. Go deeper with this recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

Begin to see your vegetables as vessels for healing herbs and spices. Each of the ancient, lasting cuisines around the world incorporate delicious, healing herbs and spices into meals. Oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary make their way into Italian sauces. Turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cayenne spice up Indian fare.

Food is so much more than fuel and nutrients. Many of the aromatic herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-fungal properties. As we spice up our recipes and savor the incredible flavor of international cuisine, our meals become medicine that support the immune system, keeping seasonal colds and the flu at bay.

Try cooking a healing coconut-milk curry with plenty of spices and seasonal vegetables. For inspiration, view this recipe: South Indian Style Vegetable Curry. For more information about Ayurvedic wisdom, check out this article: Vata Pacifying Diet.

 

Two: Wake up before sunrise and create a morning routine.

Routine balances the vata dosha. The early morning hours before sunrise are the vata time of day, inspiring movement and energy. Practice pranayama, sun salutations, yoga postures, and meditation first thing in the morning to stimulate your body’s cleansing systems and set the tone for your day. Sip room temperature or lukewarm water with lemon first thing to stimulate and balance your digestive tract.

Poses that work on the colon (the bodily seat of vata), intestines, pelvis, lumbar spine, and sacroiliac balance vata by bringing energy back down into the base of the torso. Spinal twists and inversions of all kinds soothe this dosha. Sitting and standing forward bends are choice poses, particularly for insomnia; boat, plank, staff, and plow are also powerful vata-reducers. To support grounding, work with standing poses such as mountain, triangle, warrior, and tree. Avoid back bends, such as bow, cobra, pigeon, and arch, which increase vata, or hold them briefly. If you enjoy vinyasa, do sun salutations S-L-O-W-L-Y. Let child’s pose lead you back to your innate innocence and trust. End your practice with a long Savasana (20–30 minutes); it is really okay to do NOTHING for a while.

Selection taken from Kirupalu’s Yoga and Ayurveda article. 

Three: Give yourself a thorough rubdown.

A self-massage with warming sesame oil may provide the moisturizing nourishment your skin needs to maintain its healthy glow this fall. Plus self-massage boosts the immune system, improves circulation, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body and mind. Follow the sesame-oil massage with a relaxing bath or shower. For more information on balancing your skin and body, check out Five Pillars’ recent article by Erika: Defeating Fall Dryness.

 

Four: Practice alternate nostril breathing.

Alternate nostril breathing is very balancing year-round, but particularly supportive during the vata season. Check out this video to go deeper:

 

 

Miso Tahini Chickpea Stew

I came across this recipe last winter through one of my favorite Instgram follows, Andrea Bemis of Dishing Up the Dirt, a farmer and foodie in the Pacific Northwest whose feed is full of her fresh-from-the-earth produce and enticing recipes in which to use them. After making this soup once I quickly elevated it to “regular” status and enjoyed it often through early spring.

What I especially like about Bemis’ cooking style is her focus on keeping it intuitive. This recipe calls for turnips and sweet potatoes, but it can easily be made with any root vegetables you favor or have on hand. White or purple potatoes, parsnips, beets and carrots would all work just as well. As with any soup and stew, this one is great to double or triple and freeze. Enjoy!

Miso Tahini Chickpea Stew

 

  • PREP TIME
    15 minutes
  • COOK TIME
    25 minutes
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium sized turnip, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chickpea miso (or white miso)
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  • Minced cilantro for serving
  • toasted sesame seeds for serving
  • tiny dash of Sriracha for serving (optional)

Serves 4

  1. Combine the 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid and can easily be fluffed with a fork. About 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or soup pot add the chopped veggies, grated ginger and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Pour about 1/2 a cup of the hot water into a bowl and stir in the miso and tahini (this prevents clumping and helps thin out the mixture a bit). Add the thinned miso/tahini mixture to the soup. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the chickpeas and spinach and stir until everything is well combined and the spinach wilts a bit.
  3. To serve place a generous scoop of the cooked quinoa into each bowl and top with the stew. Add a few healthy pinches of toasted sesame seeds, cilantro and a tiny dash of Sriracha sauce if desired.

Visit Dishing up the Dirt for more recipes and images of farm life. If you’re a fan of this recipe, keep your eyes open for Bemis’ first cookbook, due March 2017.

Images and recipe from Dishing up the Dirt

Boo-Asana

The benefits of doing yoga with kids are manifold. Besides improving balance and endurance, yoga and mindfulness practices increase concentration and self-esteem while reducing anxiety, stress and the effects of ADHD.

Also? It’s fun.

With a little imagination yoga lends itself perfectly to Halloween. After all, the ultimate pose is named after a dead guy.

Our reccomdation is to do the following poses in costume, with lots of candles burning and the lights low. The presence of kids is not necessarily required.

Cat

One of the most common instructions for getting into Marjaryasana, Cat Pose, is to dome your back like a Halloween cat. It’s an enduring image: a hissing black cat, teeth bared, with its fur standing on end. Hollow your belly into your spine and press your palms flat against the floor to fully lengthen through your arms.

f859a35f-e404-4e4d-8187-96ae119855ffCrow

Crows have long been a symbol of death and are often the consort of witches. Like vultures, crows are carrion birds and have a general air of otherwordly spookiness. Of course, your Bakasana can be smiley and kind; there are lots of good witches out there, too! Kids are natural balancers so play with getting the knees really close to the armpits before shifting your weight forward. Remember to look out, not down.

focus_276_05_fnl

Creepy Bug Pose

Tittibhasana, or Firefly Pose, really does look like a creepy bug. Float your feet off the floor, nestle your eblows in the hollow of your knees and move your heart center forward to pick your seat up off the ground. Walk on your hands for added spook factor.

Scary Lion’s Breath

Sit on your shins and press your palms against your thighs. Take a deep breath in through the nose, hollow your belly, and breathe out, “BOO!” Simhasana, or Lion’s Pose, is all about the demon-chasing breath you do with it. This is a great pose to do if feeling scared; it relieves tension in the face, strengthens the throat muscles and clears the air of any unwanted energy…like uninvited ghosts.

Zombie Pose

Even zombies need to stay limber. Sit in Dandasana, Staff Pose, with your legs outstretched in front of you. Instead of folding forward, extend your arms out long, parallel to the floor. Sitz-bone walk while making like the living dead.

Corpse Pose

Now’s the time to play dead. Tonight in Savasana picture your bones settling into the earth and drift into that limbic state between worlds. Who knows who you might meet?

kidsyogafreyasavasana

Happy Halloween!

Photos: Skeleton crow; black cat; bakasana; firefly; You Are A Lion!; zombie pose; shavasana 

Moving with the Moon

The full moon in Aries this week rose on Saturday night and will stay big and bright in the sky through this evening. Known as a Perigee or Super Moon because of its proximity to earth — closer than most full moons — it’s also a Hunter’s Moon; rising 30 minutes earlier than usual, it keeps the sky lighter longer, a traditional boon for hunters.

2fa90dcb9a74b2b2f329f3db363def8f

If you’re sensitive to the moon’s energy at all, this time of the month may bring on insomnia or unexpected feistiness. While new moon energy is about initiation and contemplation, the full moon is party time. Everything we’ve been cultivating or growing is illuminated; energetically speaking, it’s about looking outward and sharing your insights and gifts. If the new moon is palms face down — a sign of introspection and contained energy — the full moon is palms face up, a gesture of offering and receptivity both.

Surya Namaskar A is a sequence that gives love to the sun. It is dynamic, heat-building and balanced. Chandra Namaskar is the Moon Salute. It is watery, leisurely and works the body one side at a time through a series of lunges. A gentle hip-opener, Chandra Namaskar brings us into our second chakra, the energetic locus in the body at the base of the sacrum associated with fertility, creativity, sexuality, the color orange and the element of water. In other words, moon stuff.

unnamed

Chandra Namaskar

The moon takes roughly 30 days to complete a full cycle, from one new moon to the next. In a nod to the lunar calendar, this flow is fifteen poses long, one step for each tithi (lunar day) in the moon’s transformation from new to full.

  1. Tadasana, Mountain Pose

  2. Utthita Tadasana, Extended Mountain

  3. Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold

  4. Low Lunge

  5. Adho Mukkha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog

  6. Table

  7. Balasana, Child’s Pose

  8. Rise to kneel

  9. Devotional Balasana, arms overheard with palms together

  10. Urdhva Mukkha Svanasana, Upward Facing Dog

  11. Adho Mukkha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog

  12. Low Lunge, second side

  13. Uttanasana

  14. Utthita Tadasana

  15. Tadasana

This sequence can be taken as many times as you like. Move slowly, breathe deeply and enjoy the moonlight, you party animals.

yoga

 

Photos: Crescent lunge; full moon; Venus; Child’s Pose 

Welcome, Sweaty Betty!

As a community-centric studio, Five Pillars is thrilled when like-minded neighbors move in. This winter Sweaty Betty, a UK-based yoga apparel brand with outposts in NYC and abroad, opened its doors on Madison Avenue in Carnegie Hill. We figured it was time to give them a proper welcome!

We stock yoga apparel we love at Five Pillars, but the versatile and thoughtful street-to-studio wear at Sweaty Betty is too good to pass up. The brand’s goal is to inspire women to find empowerment through fitness — a mantra we can get behind.

The boutique is playful and bright, with plenty of room to test your apparel with a sun salute or two. For fall the team at Sweaty Betty suggested a standout bra top; a featherlight, open-back sweater (a smart choice as temperatures ping-pong from hot to cold); and a pair of marbled harem pants that look like weekend lounging staples.

 

sweaty-betty-fall-picks

 

We couldn’t be happier to welcome Sweaty Betty to the neighborhood; we love that Carnegie Hill is becoming a hot spot for health and wellness. Bring it on!

To learn more about Sweaty Betty, check out their website.

Store Details

1153 Madison Avenue & 85th St
212-320-9724
Monday – Friday: 9.30am – 7pm
Saturday: 10am – 7pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Nearest Subways: 86th Street (4/5/6/)
 Photos: All courtesy of Sweat Betty; jump photo from nycpretty.com

Falling Into A Good Habit

Even though there’s a lingering hint of Summer in the weather — and we’re grateful for that — you might have noticed a shift in energy pre- and post-labor day. A revving-up in pace and stress levels around the city. You might not be sure what to wear because the weather is a bit erratic. You might have noticed people around you getting sick.

 

So while we’re not quite in the crisp-air, leaves-falling, squash-eating, heart of Autumn yet, we’re in the threshold between Summer and Fall and the effects are real. What we do NOW will greatly impact how well we’re able to stay healthy and balanced to fully enjoy the coming season.

 

I was speaking with a student before class the other day. Like many of us, her Summer had been peppered with travel and an irregular work schedule. While fun, the warmer months had lacked routine, and now she felt herself dragging her heels to get back to her regular work, yoga, and life rhythms. It felt harder than it should to get back in the flow of things, yet she was a bit exhausted from all the fluctuations of Summer. Sound familiar?

 

It’s interesting the way this paradox can exist — on the one hand we crave the rooted feeling of a balanced routine, and yet it feels more difficult to plant those roots. According to Ayurveda, this paradox not only makes sense, but is completely predictable.

 

As we segue into Fall we enter the season of Vata Dosha and we begin to feel the qualities of Vata in a more pronounced way. Made up of Air & Space Elements, Vata in the natural world is associated with gusting wind, cooling air temperatures, slowly darkening days, and dry, brittle leaves. Energetically it is a time when anxiety or stress seems to surge — energy is moving towards something. In NYC it feels like back to school/back to reality energy.


Historically the more urgent energy of Fall might have been associated with harvest and preparations for winter. “Hurry Up!” Fall seems to instruct.

 

Just as we see Vata in the natural and energetic landscapes around us, we might also experience elevated Vata within us: often our skin, hair or nails get dry and brittle at this time of year, our joints might ache. We might feel a little all-over-the-place. We might have great ideas but difficulty actualizing them. We might slip into anxious “monkey mind”… thinking which feels productive but actually saps us of energy leaving us “wired and tired.” It is easy to become depleted and fatigued at this time, which then leaves us with even less energy to be productive or “get back into our routine.” As we get depleted our immunity wanes and it’s much easier to get sick, which of course knocks us even further off our course. It can feel like we’re trapped, going around and around on a carousel. And all we need to do is just step off the ride.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-08-43-amVata benefits immensely from the anchor of a routine, from the stability and sustenance of roots. This is why, as Vata kicks up at this time of year, it is especially important. And yet it is the dosha furthest away from watery anchors and earthy roots — air and space elements can whip us up into a frenzy, which is why it’s so hard to get back into a routine when we need it most! This is that predictable paradox. And by the way, these predictable paradoxes exist in all the doshas – just wait until we get to Kapha season!!

 

But, for the time being, even though it might feel tough, begin to invite some routine, some ritual, some roots into your daily life. It’s even harder to establish routine once the gusting Autumn winds have kicked up, and much harder to fortify our immunity once it’s been compromised.  Even one little thing done regularly is enough to begin. Many clients have asked, well what is the best thing I can do… and the answer is usually “whichever thing you will do.” It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to be a commitment to yourself that you keep.

The more you can invite water and earth elements in the better. Here are some ideas:

 

1. I’m going to say it right out of the gate: Return to and stick with a regular yoga practice. This time we make for ourselves strengthens us, builds immunity, decreases stress, and on and on. When I was speaking with the student we joked about how even for teachers sometimes the hardest part of yoga is just showing up. Well show up and keep showing up because there’s nothing better for grounding Vata than being embodied.

2. Swap your iced coffee for hot, swap cooling mint tea for ginger root tea. Best of all is a real chai made with those warming, aromatic roots and spices.

3. Include Restorative or Yin in your weekly yoga schedule or your at-home practice – these slower, grounding practices help to center us amid the swirl and they nourish the nervous system, which can be especially overworked at this time.

4. If possible see how it feels to swap your spin class for swimming laps, choosing water element over spinning your wheels. Might be an interesting experiment for a few months.

5. Work your core! Build a little heat from the inside out.

6. Begin to eat more root vegetables, even if they’re still in salad form!

7. Add a good multi-vitamin, probiotic and herbal supplement containing echinacea to your nutrition plan. Many people begin to take echinacea only once they’re sick, but this herb is actually most effective in a cummulative/long-term way, not as an acute medicine.

8. Write a To Do list that feels attainable, either set just a few key goals for a day, or write your list to span the whole week so no one day is too overburdened.

9. Explore what a little Dinacharya, or self-care ritual, might be for you. It might be 7 minutes of meditation every morning, or at 4pm. It might be a curfew for your screen time. It might be taking the extra 2 minutes to apply coconut oil or a nourishing moisturizer before bed. Any little gift you can give to yourself every day can become an anchor. 


By understanding and balancing Vata at this time we can work towards maintaining healthy energy and strong immunity so we’re less susceptible to seasonal colds and flus (and, um, pneumonias!) which are all too common this time of year. The time to fortify is now. Set yourself up for a healthy and stable season to come. So consider which practice or practices you can commit to, understanding that committing to the routine is part of the medicine.


 

Stay tuned for more Ayurvedic inspired seasonal articles over the coming weeks. And check out these related articles to #Go Deep

Join our 10-Day Attitude of Gratitude Challenge!

The week before the Thanksgiving holiday is an ideal time to deepen into an “Attitude of Gratitude.”

It’s impossible not to be reminded of the heartbreaking struggles and tragedies taking place every day around the world every day. This week, in the wake of such horror and such loss in Paris, Beirut, Kenya and elsewhere, it is easy to feel deep sorrow, confusion and even hopelessness. We wouldn’t be human if this didn’t touch us.

And even though our own daily struggles, god-willing, pale in comparison, it’s still easy to get mired in the daily grind, daily disappointments, daily frustrations.

It can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of our blessings.

This is a time of year that asks us to remember. That asks us to give thanks. That asks us to acknowledge all of the blessings, no matter how big or how small, make up our individual lives. And they are indeed, different for each of us.

Aside from cultivating a state of grace, compassion and connection, living in a state of gratitude has a host of incredible physical and psychological benefits. Forbes has published an article on seven scientifically-proven benefits including reducing aches and pain, reducing anxiety and frustration, reducing aggressive behavior, while boosting self esteem and supporting optimum sleep.

fhdjskfkds

Join The 10-Day Challenge!

Our invitation for you this coming week is to end each day with a reflection on three things you’re grateful for. You can write them down in your journal. Text them to a friend. Simply sit in quiet contemplation and think about them to yourself.

Join us via Facebook and share the things, moments, people or blessings your thankful for! 

As part of our gratitude for YOU — our community and students who help make Five Pillars Yoga the special place it is — everyone that participates on Facebook will receive 50% off your their class. 

fdjhskfdks

If you’re a little stumped on where to start, you can check out this fun article from Happify.com. They point out it’s easy to be grateful for the big things, like a promotion at work, but we’re also allowed to appreciate the small things — like just how delicious a piece of pie can be. You can go broad, like “I’m grateful for my family,” or specific like “I’m so thankful my daughter cleaned her room today!”

 

9f52528a0710d778dbae2e822022d97d

 

Taking the time out to notice moments of blessings in your life will have a profound impact over time. You may notice as you attune yourself to notice blessings you’re more in the moment, more centered and calm. And when you attune to your blessings, you may begin to notice just how many of them there are!

 

fdshjkfdshjkfds

To kick off the challenge, I’d like to express my appreciation for Peter Tunney’s “Grattitude” billboard that soars over the Bronx. I’ve gotten to see it many times as I’ve been inching along in traffic on the Major Deegan Expressway, and it always reminds me in that moment to take a pause and count my blessings.

So give it a try this week and see how you feel.
Join us on Facebook to share the love!

 

 

Defeating Fall Dryness

Can you feel that?
The qualities of the world around you as we settle into autumn?

You might notice a certain crispness in the air, you might feel the wind blowing through, the dryness of the leaves as they become more brittle and fall to earth. You might also sense a change in the pace of life — as kids go back to school, as we rededicate to work. Things seem to speed up, responsibilities swirl around, and all of a sudden it feels we have a lot of balls in the air.

And you might be wondering: What does all of this have to do with Me?

Well, according to Ayurveda, it has a LOT to do with you.
*
Check out our Intro To Ayurveda Article for some context*

Autumn is the Vata time of year, and just as these qualities of dryness, cold, increased movement, and wind affect our environment, they can affect our physical and mental wellbeing.

~ Just as the leaves get dry, you may notice your skin thirsting for moisture.
~ Just as the leaves blow in the breeze, you may notice your thoughts     whirlwind.
~ Just as the days start to shorten, you may notice your energy reserves waning and you might become more fatigued.

As you tune in to the natural rhythms around you, you can begin to see how they are mirrored in your own health. And from there you can begin to create balance.

Ayurveda is a lifelong study and practice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few easy ways you can incorporate this wisdom into your daily routine.

Here are Three Easy Ways to Boost Your Moisture This Season:

1. Heighten your Hydration with Aloe

Of course we need to be drinking water, and yes, perhaps even more now that it’s so dry out. But why not benefit from one of nature’s incredible super-plants as well? Known as the “plant of immortality” by the ancient Egyptians, LIL003_Xlaloe is perhaps best known in the west as a soothing topical ointment for burns. It’s aloe’s soothing, moisturizing and nourishing actions that help regenerate skin, and taken internally the same principals apply. Aloe juice and gel is now widely available for purchase, and goes great in smoothies at home – here are a few delicious recipes. If you’re buying a store-bought aloe juice drink, be sure to check the sugar content – many of the bottled beverages add refined sugars, which are dehydrating… kind of defeats the purpose! Aloe is with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and around 200 active plant compounds, so while it is incredibly hydrating, it also supports good digestion, healthy blood sugar levels, skin health, reduces inflammation, and boosts immunity.

2. Supplement Your Suppleness with Coconut Oil Capsules 

Coconut has been having a moment. And we couldn’t be happier. It’s been lauded for countless health effects, and the oil has a plethora of uses from cooking, to “oil pulling,” to topical moisturizing of skin and hair. And of 522874-Coconut-capscourse coconut water is a delicious and hydrating beverage. Well there’s a new kid on the block, and it’s already a favorite: Coconut Oil Capsules. In New York where time is precious we appreciate when something beneficial can be made convenient, or even down right easy! Coconut oil capsules can be carried with you so you can take them a couple times day, and they’re great for travel. Best of all they moisturize from the inside out.

 

3. Show Yourself a Little Love with Abhyanga

Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of massaging the body with warm oil. It nourishes the body and lubricates the joints, benefits circulation and of course, softens skin, along with a host of other effects. There are specific techniques for abhyanga, and different oils can be used for different conditions and constitutions. But even the simplest version will have a great impact. Sesame oil is particularly beneficial in the fall, but coconut, almond, even jojoba will do just fine. My favorite way to include Abhyanga in my routine is to warm the oil (the same way you’d warm maple syrup, in a glass in a pot of water on the stove), apply the oil (using long strokes on the limbs and sweet, round circles on the joints), let it sit for about 20 minutes and then take a nice hot shower. The hot water will drive the oil into your system, and then you can go on about your day without being all greasy! If you don’t have time to do your whole body pick the joints that are asking for it. The word for oil in Sanskrit is sneha, which also translates as “love.” And indeed this practice is nothing less!

 

 

 

Fall Fashion Favorites

The “athleisure” clothing trend is here to stay, and we aren’t complaining! It’s so much easier to make it to yoga class when you know you can continue your day without having to head home to change.

So we’ve stocked the yoga shop at Five Pillars for Fall with the best from local brands Nesh NYC and Prism Sport: luxe layers, slinky track pants and sexy tops, all designed to bring a bit of glam to your workout wear. With a bit of sparkle here, a peekaboo cutaway there, and a dash of faux-snakeskin, neither style nor performance is compromised. And all items are made responsibly in the U.S.A.

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.10.31 PM

 

Bundle up with this soft hooded sweatshirt from Nesh NYC.

We love its versatility, and the mix of un/structured design — the front is drapey and romantic with the hood doubling as a flowing collar, while cinched waist detailing on the back flatters every figure.

hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk

hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk
hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk

 

5018TRP-ana_0

 

Slouchy jog pants are comfortable and great for ease of movement in Yoga, but they’re often a bit too
casual to wear out.

Enter Prism Sport’s Anaconda Track Pant. An edgy snakeskin pattern and soft charcoal tuxedo stripe will take you from down dog right to dinner with the girls.

hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk

hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk
hdfjskfhdjkfhdsjk

 

3000 PEP-sadd

 

 

And for outerwear to match our inner bliss — Prism Sport’s zip-up peplum jacket in either warm saddle or flinty granite.

Poly-spandex material moves with you, while fitted tailoring maintains a chic, streamlined silhouette. 

 

 

 

Looking to get your street style on? Check out Prism Sport’s fun new fashion video!

 

Yoga Lab: Tree Pose

Tree Pose is often among the first standing, balancing postures we learn in yoga. It is practiced in many, many classes, and eventually can become like an old friend: Reliable, predictable, welcoming. And just like with an old friend, the more comfortable we are, the more casual or haphazard we might get. It’s easy, over time, to get kind of bored with Tree Pose.

Autumn is just the time to fall in love with Vrikshasana all over again.

Like the glorious maples, oaks and beech trees that will soon display brilliant fall foliage, Vrksasana (pronounced vrick-sha-sana) evokes rooted strength and grace. The kind of strength that — because it is firmly planted — will last through the hardship of winter, along with the grace to bend in the breeze, but not break. These are quite a powerful collection of attributes that could be applied in all areas of life.

 

Tree Pose teaches us to:

Stand firmly and find our roots, so that we may not easily be diminished or knocked over
Establish a solid foundation that will nourish us and support all our endeavors
Bend but not break, learning to be supple, yielding where necessary so as not to “snap”
Cultivate balance, standing on one foot, which is increasingly important as we age
Develop the muscle of our attention; balancing postures require resolute focus, which comes in handy at work, at home, with family, in conversations and during all sorts of tasks

 

Physically, Tree Pose stretches and strengthens at the same time. Muscles are gently but effectively toned in the calves, thighs and back, while the chest, shoulders and groin are stretched. Plus, Vrikshasana has been shown to relieve sciatica!


So the next time you’re in class and it’s time for tree pose, greet this asana like an old friend you’re thrilled to see again!


Here are a few tips, tricks or modifications to greet Vrksasana with enthusiasm and curiosity:

Feet: Remember to always place the lifted foot either above or below your knee – never right on the knee. Gentle pressure from the sole of the foot into the leg, and the leg right back into the sole of the foot. If you’re used to practicing with the foot above the knee, try placing it against the calf for a change… you may find it’s harder than you think!
Hips: Check out your hip points and try to level them, making sure one isn’t hitched up much higher than the other
Balance: Find a Drishti or focal point that isn’t moving on the wall ahead of you or ahead and slightly above. Using this point to focus on might improve your balance. Once you feel steady, challenge yourself by trying to close your eyes
Arms: Begin with Anjali mudra (prayer hands) and when you feel stead and ready, extend the arms up to the variation that’s comfortable for you. Again, once you’re steady have a bit of fun… imagine a breeze blowing and gently sway with it. Now imagine a storm….



Go Deeper with these two articles…

 

yogapedia_270_01_450x450

Click Above – If you’d like to go Back to Basics with Tree Pose, check out Yoga Journal’s step-by-step instructions

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 10.22.46 PM

Click Above – If you’d like to Go Deep into the mythology of this asana, explore this lyrical essay at Yoga International