VARIETY YIELDS VITALITY

When was the last time you took a different route to work? Home? Or to pick up the kids? It is very easy become conditioned to doing things one way, because of time management or any number of reasons, including just habit. Over time the grooves of a daily routine become more entrenched and often unconscious. It is not until forced or pulled by life to do things differently that changes might occur. Why? It is uncomfortable to do new things, try new things, or be open to an unpredictable outcome, especially the deeper entrenched habits.

I tried it this week. I took a different path to work. I was nervous the whole time about whether it would take me longer and questioning why I did this to myself. It was shocking how stressful it was to just do something so simple as take a left instead of the usual right. This experiment reminded me that doing yoga is much more effective if we try to be open to the constant changes that are occurring in daily in life. A regular practice can be very humbling, the paths keep changing, not everything is predictable, so vulnerability sets in and the opportunity presents itself to become an even clearer witness to all that is. I often share with students the most brave thing you can do is show up for class.

Meditative practices, like chanting, can push boundaries and be effective tools for training the mind to break from the normal routes.

Heal the deepening grooves of repetitive, unconscious living and dare to experience the variety that is the true nectar of life.

Kristen O'Conner
Hot Feet Fitness Instructor 


A Meditation Practice for Improving Memory & More!

There are many things that we cannot change as we get older, good thing memory loss does not have to be one. A growing body of research suggests that a mind-body exercise could improve memory and cognitive function in older adults: specifically Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Studies conducted by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation have shown that this particular meditation can be particularly helpful for the aging adult. The practice boosts cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, has been practiced for thousands of years to help bring the body, mind and emotions into balance to enable healing. This non religious form for meditation combines mudra (hand gesture), mantra (vocalization), visualization, and regulated breathing. The combination is a powerful stimulus for the brain.

It is a very detailed meditation that can most easily be practiced with a qualified Kundalini instructor. However, here is a link to a description of the practice to get you started at home.

Resource: http://alzheimersprevention.org/research/kirtan-kriya-yoga-exercise/

How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?    

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form (see illustration), while your eyes are closed. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
  2. For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
  6. To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya (see illustration below).

Kirtan Kriya finger positions (mudras)

  • On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
  • On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor 

Family Yoga!

When I had my first daughter 3 plus year ago I had no idea how to take everything I had been learning during my years of yoga practicing and teaching and apply it to how to be a compassionate, patient, and loving mother. I did have a great example to follow and I am thankful for a mom who was all those things.

It is one thing to embody compassion in the quiet morning hours when I choose to meditate, but it is another to try to live up to that expectation every hour of the day and in the middle of the night.

As I am encouraging her to think of something happy, we sing a quiet song together. We hug.  My daughter and I take a deep breath, and we both feel better. We are learning it together how to approach each new moment as mother and daughter. She taught me a mantra to go with a hand gesture meditation I wanted to share with her. "I feel much better".

The beauty and simplicity of those words stunned me and made me feel better. We try it together.

Touching the thumb to the tip of each finger repeat out loud.

Index finger: I

Middle finger: Feel

Ring finger: Much

Pinky finger: Better

I wish that there was never a time when I felt anger or frustration, but I have these feelings. I am aware of them.

When I do yoga with my 3 year old I do not teach her, I share it with her and try not to get in her way, but keep her coming back. I try to remember just how lucky I am to be joining in that moment with her whatever it looks like.

Today I have another daughter and I feel like it is yet again a whole new experience in being present. However, this time I am able to take a step back and see so much more clearly. Of course hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case the gift of presence is truly 20/20.

Make life an effortless and enjoyable game, why not? It doesn't mean that there are no times for serious, but to live in a state of stress is not good for anyone in the family, so why not make it fun for everyone.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor

GET OFF YOUR BUTT RIGHT NOW! Your future self will thank you.

"I don't have time"

"I have to go to a fancy gym, buy expensive equipment"

"I have no motivation"

"I have no energy"

"It's boring"

Sound familiar?

My excuse is I don't have time. I am a busy businessman and I just can't spare the time. As I thought about this, I came up with a plan. Could I workout for just 5 minutes a day to start? We all have 5 minutes a day to workout. But starting a workout regimen is harder after a long period of inactivity. With this in mind, I created the 5-minute workout. It only takes 5 minutes a day that's it. EVERYONE has 5 minutes they can spare. 

I want to give the 5-minute workout book for free so you can continue to live healthy.

Download your 5-minute workout here.

Exercise Adds Years to Your Life

One study found that the average 65-year-old can expect an additional 12.7 years of healthy life meaning he will live disability-free until age 77.7. Highly active 65-years-olds, however, have an additional 5.7 years of healthy life expectancy — they will remain disability-free until age 83.4.

Without exercise, you increase your risk of a wide assortment of chronic illnesses. Here is a list of conditions and how many people have them:

  • Coronary heart disease (12.6 million)
  • Heart attack (1.1 million)
  • Diabetes (17 million)
  • Hip fracture (300,000)
  • High blood pressure (50 million)
  • Obesity (50 million)
  • Overweight (108 million)

Sitting around or lying around all day makes you weak. Do you want to live your life like this? 


ASK YOURSELF: How do you want to live your life? 
Do you want to add years to your life?


Your time is running out! You will not live forever. Get off your butt right now. Your future self will thank you! 


Jerrod Sessler
Owner & Founder Hot Feet Fitness 

Freedom in Structure

After teaching the Hatha26 class at Hot Feet this past month, one of my students and I had a yogi-geek-out conversation about the more subtle benefits of a yoga sequence that never changes. We concluded that knowing what to expect results in a freedom to explore limits and examine details within its structure. In the practice of Hatha26, because the sequence remains static, the variable is the individual.

 

The predictable nature of the Hatha26 enables the yogi to exercise their mind as well as their body. For example, after learning the sequence, a yogi can change the focus of their practice to careful listening, deliberately not anticipating or moving forward before it’s time. For others, remaining mentally present throughout a class is a challenge and thus, the focus of their practice can be to exercise and strengthen their ability to “be here now”.

 

Before class that very morning, while driving my daughter to school, I noticed I had entirely tuned out of the details of my regular route. Over time I had begun driving faster than a good neighbor should and I wasn’t noticing anything but the road in front of me. I had become inured to the beauty all around and I was rushing to hurry through what I had apparently begun to see as mundane. Beauty was everywhere but, for some reason, I had compartmentalized the practice of examining the details of my predictable sequence.

 

Enter yoga. After class that evening I realized that my approach to the Hatha26 should not be limited to the studio. While the exploration of new routes and new practices is surely worthwhile, there is also value in the routine. The routine, any routine, can be explored on many different levels, in many different ways. I arrived home that evening with a renewed purpose, intent on seeking other ways to appreciate the minutiae of life more purposefully; to “be here now” even if here is the familiar; to purposefully explore all of life’s redundant practices intentionally, with an appreciative attitude. Easier said than done, very much like yoga.

 

It’s a safe bet that you and I are the same. We both have routines that have become unexciting; monotony has set in and we would like to find a new route because we’ve got the itch to explore and we all relish the feeling of something new. Maybe that itch is more serious than a simple drive home; maybe it’s a relationship, or that sneaky negative self-talk, or perhaps you’re struggling with what you do to pay the bills. Whatever that something is, I challenge you to notice and appreciate the freedom of its predictability. Choose to see something beautiful in the small details of your routine. Spend some time today listening carefully. Explore your limits and even if you think you know what comes next, don’t anticipate.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor

The Wonderful World of Indoor Plants

 

“All I want is to plant some trees, save the bees and protect the seas”

Why plants…..

 

Uh they are amazing! No really though - they have so many benefits! They make your space look cozy and beautiful, they are air purifiers, they have feelings, they absorb noise and stress, concentration and production is improved, the list goes on.  Sooooo many people are afraid to get plants because the curse of the ‘brown thumb’ so I decided to make it super easy. Trying to research what kind of plant does well in a west facing window can be tiresome and super overwhelming. Here are my favorite indoor plants and where I keep them in my house and how much I actually remember to water them……

Boston ferns…..literally one in each room. They look cool - low maintenance and every room of my house gets a different amount of sunlight. The Pacific North West is literally the greatest place ever - you can pull off the side of any road and find a fern. This plant is one of the greatest air purifiers in the green family - it’s specialty is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is all over your house - glues, plywood, insulation, and everyday use home items (that’s an entire other blog!).  These little guys like indirect sunlight - so a corner of a room that isn’t in the window. Ferns like humidity so you can even leave it in your bathroom! Make sure the soil is moist and not to drown it, not only will it make a mess but it will stress the roots out.

Yesssssss - my next favorite is the snake plant! This plant comes from West Africa and has some really cool nicknames - ‘the mother-in-laws tongue,’ and ‘ the vipers bowstring hemp.’ This plant I keep in my bedroom, my office, and my sons room. This plant is extra special for a few reasons - it can survive a drought so you don’t have to remember to water it very often AND it has a very rare way of exchanging gases. The pores on the plant only open at night to prevent water from evaporating in the sun. Basically the plant will give you an extra boost of oxygen at night! NASA did a study on it and it can remove 4 out of the 5 main toxins in a home and you can give a cutting to a friend and they can grow their own!

Lastly, the reed palm. I have four in my kitchen, two in my living room and one in my bathroom. Another great air purifier! This plant’s filters out all the chemicals that can be found in furniture, cleaners, and almost every other household item. These green friends like a little bit of sunlight and a more drainable soil. I use soil with rocks in it…or if you don’t want to buy any of that make your own. I have a bunch of little rocks in my outdoor garden that I collect and mix it in my potting soil. These are a little more high maintenance because you have to remove dead leaves so that it encourages the rest of the plant to grow! They are slow growing but they take up corner spaces nicely and the leaves are beautiful!

 

Of course these aren’t the only indoor plants - there are so many!!!! My house is like a living jungle - sometime when I move plants around they start to look sad so I move them around to see where they are most happy. Just make sure you keep them out of drafty areas/heaters and make sure to tell them how pretty they are! Plants are living beings, they absorb stress; enjoy Mozart and help you breathe better!

Lauren Bragg, Hot Feet Fitness Live Healthy Program Coach, Yoga & Barre Instructor 

Hearty Vegan Sweet Potato & Vegetable Chili

Craving a hearty meal that satisfies the taste buds, but is easy on your insides too? Then try out this recipe from one of our instructors Elise! 

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp avocado oil

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small sweet potato

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

3 cups veggie broth (check ingredients & make sure there's no added sugar)

1 cup frozen (or fresh) corn

1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)

1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)

1 can diced tomatoes no salt added liquid included

1 6oz can tomato paste

3 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp white miso paste

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/2 basil

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

handful of fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large pot, heat avocado oil over medium heat.

2. Add onion and sweet potato and cook until onions are softened (about 5 minutes).

3. Add garlic, red pepper, and green pepper and let cook for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in chili powder, white miso paste, and tomato paste.

5. Add veggie broth, diced tomatoes, and the remaining spices and let everything simmer until

the sweet potatoes are completely cooked, about 10 minutes. (Make sure to check them

regularly so they don't get mushy.)

6. Stir in beans and corn. Let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

 

7. Top with cilantro and enjoy!

Submitted by Elise Powers
Certified Yoga & X21 Trainer


A Summary of the X21 Workout

An excerpt from a trainer summary of the X21 workout...

Throughout this X21 certification journey I have learned a lot about both myself and the people around me. I have learned the true meaning of dedication and practice; passing along health and wellness, meeting people where they are at, wherever they may be. The goal at Hot Feet Fitness, and with X21, is to help every single person be their best possible self. If we don't address where we currently are we will never be able to address moving ourselves forward. Becoming healthy starts as a thought, turns into an intention, turns into an action, and we bloom. X21, in my experience, is really about finding that boundary, the power to bloom-- and pushing it.

The drive for health, the drive for fitness, the drive for treating your body right, actively eating healthy foods, meditating regularly. The drive to educate ourselves and others about our collective environment. These are our expectations. As a public face of the Hot Feet Fitness community I am compelled to both pursue and lead in these realms of health. Eating a plant-based diet, no processed foods, no meat, no dairy, less carbs, more living produce. Simple foods, with the notion that 80% of our effort is put into our diet, and 20% into our physical and mental health. Maintaining emotional stability, navigating a positive pursuit, sharing that positive energy with whatever room I'm in or with the members in the studio. This is what makes us leaders. Armed with the knowledge to share. What I am excited to soon be certified in sharing the X21 workout. X21 is a high intensity, body weight based workout. It is simple at its core. Each workout consists of 28 bodyweight exercises, 45 seconds a piece, for 21 minutes in total. "Twenty-one and done!" As they say. Just to note, a bodyweight based exercise is one that that you can perform without the use of any weights, props, or machinery. We do encourage you to use a yoga mat as it helps with gripping the floor throughout the various exercises (and a water bottle, of course!), and we do offer advanced options with simple resistance tools such as 3-5lb weights, a lightweight ball, floor sliders, etc. However, all you really need is yourself and the floor. This is the power and the simplicity of X21.

X21 always opens with the instructor introducing themselves and X21, mentioning techniques and tips to the members before their workout, and offering reminders to listen to their bodies and push themselves when they can. The instructor also reminds each member that they are welcome to add props if desired, and outlines which props (if any) they will be adding into the workout for more advanced variations.

Then, the workout opens with deep squats. The first exercise we do in every single class (day or night) is deep squats. The same is true for sprints, being the last exercise of each X21 workout. The rest of the exercises in between are all curated and lead by the instructor. These exercises might consist of things like pushups, burpees, lunges, etc, and often reflect the specific instructor's individual teaching style. Often the workouts are designed to flow up and down, working out all the different parts of the body consecutively.

Overall, I am so insanely appreciative of the amazing opportunity that is Hot Feet Fitness. Everyone in the vicinity of being possibly associated with this place has only been positive facing. The community is strong, and the member-base is growing. I can see the longevity of the vision that Hot Feet as a business model is fostering, and I can see the utmost of benefits to the members and surrounding communities.

Thank you so much for believing in me to represent Hot Feet Fitness as an X21 instructor. It is truly an honor to carry this torch. I have begun on a path of furthering my inner self more deeply than I ever thought was possible. I call each of my classes my X21 family, because that's truly how I feel when I am surrounded by such boundless life all around me. I could not be more grateful for the life I am living every single day. Thank you! Now, let's push it.

Brianna Lee
Hot Feet Fitness X21 Workout Trainer


 

 

Momentary Encounters with Balance

This past week, the Vernal Equinox came and went -- the first day of Spring, when we experience that half-and-half balance of daylight and darkness. The sense of equilibrium between the seasons on both the Spring and Autumn Equinox is a lovely invitation to explore balance in our day-to-day existence.

Striking a balance in a hectic life -- whether that’s a balance of effort and ease, of chaos and calm, of obligations and options -- can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Achieving a lasting state of perfect equilibrium sounds unachievable with the on-going pressures of family, career, bills, responsibilities, ad infinitum.

But perhaps that doesn’t need to be the goal. A beautiful reminder of this is the yin-yang symbol. It’s a familiar representation of balance, with light on one side and dark on the other, but my favorite part is the small bit of light that inhabits the darkness, and the small bit of darkness that occupies a patch of the light.



Let’s view the balance of effort and ease through the lens of the yin-yang symbol. Poses that may on the surface seem the very embodiment of ease (such as savasana or “corpse pose”) in fact require a fair bit of effort because it takes work and practice to quiet the busy mind and fully experience the restorative offerings of the posture. On the flip side, in poses that require more physical effort (for example, arm-balances like crow, or inversions such as headstand or handstand), one can find surprising pockets of ease. I find it is easier to let go of my to-do lists, worries, grudges, and other distracting thoughts when engaged in an asana that calls for greater effort from my physical body, and therefore it’s easier to be fully present in the moment.

It can be so helpful to remember that there is often effort within the ease, and ease within the effort. And once I open up to applying this yin-yang metaphor to more aspects of my life, the more achievable a sense of balance seems. Perhaps there will always be a little chaos in my calm (in the form of children’s toys strewn about or unfinished tasks on my to-do list when I pause to relax and read), and that’s okay. It encourages me to also seek (or create) rays of calm in the chaos.

Returning to the recent passing of the Equinox: its fleeting nature (only two days a year!) is also a much-needed reminder that a sense of balance isn’t necessarily a “destination” we can work toward and then settle down in permanently. Rather, it’s something that we may pass in and out of, periodically and momentarily, perhaps many times over the course of our lives.   

May you seek and find the interplay of yin and yang in your life, and may your momentary encounters with balance come more frequently than twice a year!


Kat Stein-Ross
Hot Feet Fitness Instructor 

A New Yoga has hit the Block!

Hatha26 is a stripped down practice of the moving meditation formally known as Bikram.  While, traditionally, these 26 postures are performed in a 105 degree room with 40% humidity, that will not be the case at Hot Feet. We will be practicing these postures in an 80 degree room with around 25 - 30% humidity. I am very excited to share this practice with you, especially with you yogi’s out there that have a desire to explore this style but have been understandably apprehensive regarding the extreme heat integral to a traditional Bikram studio.

 

If you’re wondering what makes this practice different than the many other classes Hot Feet currently offers it’s this: our other yoga styles are, to me, like a box of chocolates. Not only are they a treat, you also never know what's coming next. In contrast, Hatha26 is a set sequence of postures, each asana is intended to compliment the previous pose. The sequence, in my opinion, is where you find the yoga magic. In other words?  The predictability and familiarity of the sequence is where you discover the very different YOU that arrives on the mat each and every practice. The Hatha26 practitioner will eventually find that knowing what is to come reveals an entirely different aspect of their internal exploration because, when each practice involves the same asanas in the same sequence, the yogi is freed from thinking about what is coming next and, therefore, can escape their mind and spend some focused time in their body. It challenges the yogi to actively listen to the teachers instructions and to move, without anticipation, to the next posture. It is a practice of patience.

 

You’re invited to arrive and imbibe in 51 minutes of being in the moment, to leave your interpersonal baggage checked at the door and think only about the words spoken and your reflection in the mirror. 51 minutes to think about strength, balance and breath alone. 51 minutes to remind yourself that you are strong and capable of handling what’s coming next, without expectations.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor



Picture Credit: Unsplash