The Benefits of Gratitude

 

 

We are in full swing of the holiday season, which means a lot of extra get togethers, parties, and time with friends and family. This can be really fun and also add a touch of stress. Adding in a bit of gratitude to the mix can really boost our moods, relationships, and health. 

 

There have been many studies done about gratitude. One study was conducted by two psychologists from the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami. They had a group of people that they divided into three groups. They were all asked to write a couple of sentences each week for ten weeks. One group wrote about things they were grateful for. The second group wrote about things that irritated them. The third group wrote about events in their lives that affected them, neither positive or negative.

 

After the ten weeks, the gratitude group were more optimistic, exercised more, and felt better about their lives. 

 

What are the benefits of gratitude?

 

·      Gratitude improves mental health and general well being

·      Gratitude strengthens relationships

·      Gratitude frees us from toxin emotions

·      Grateful people have higher self-esteem and feelings of self-worth

·      Grateful people are more resilient under stress

 

How can we add more gratitude in our daily lives?

 

·       Tell someone you are grateful for them

·       Write a quick note to someone and send in the mail or leave on the bathroom mirror or their desk at work

·       Write something you are grateful for on a piece of paper or journal just for yourself

·       Send a nice text to someone new each day during the holiday season

·       Invite someone over for coffee or dinner as a thank you for their friendship

 

 

Want to read more inspiring articles about gratitude? Here are the articles that inspired me:

 

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude

How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

Why Gratitude Is Good

Author: Alli Shircliff

Save the Turkey! Healthier Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

 

We all love a plate full of the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving: bright red cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, squash, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This year try incorporating a couple of vegan dishes that are sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. They are so tasty that you won’t even tell the difference!

 

Here are two ideas:

 

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

 

Ingredients:

 

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries

1 small orange, zested and juiced

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup water

1 pinch sea salt

1 cinnamon stick

 

 

Directions:

 

1.    Combine cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, water, salt, and cinnamon stick in a pot; heat over medium-high heat until simmering.

2.    Reduce heat to a simmer, place a lid on the pot, and cook, gently stirring every 5 minutes, until sauce is thickened and cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes.

3.    Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

 

 

Butternut Squash with Walnuts

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

 

1 butternut squash- peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices

 cup water

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup dark rum (optional)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch salt

¼ cup walnuts

 

Directions:

 

1.    Combine butternut squash, water, maple syrup, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a skillet; bring liquid to a boil.

2.    Reduce heat to low, place a lid on the skillet, and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

3.    Transfer butternut squash to a serving dish, keeping the liquid in the skillet.

4.    Continue simmering liquid in skillet until a thickened sauce forms, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour sauce over butternut squash.

5.    Garnish butternut squash with walnuts right before serving.

Author: Alli Shircliff

Körper Stretch Teacher Training First Take

I recently attended the Körper Stretch teacher training and give it five out of five stars. As a yoga instructor, I haven’t been to a teacher training since my yoga teacher training. The Körper Stretch teacher training was just what I needed and wanted.

 

The instructors, Shea and Spring, were very welcoming and professional. They handed out the curriculum booklet when we arrived, gave us a schedule for each day of the training, and made the environment warm and comfortable. We went through the background of what Körper (meaning ‘body’ in German) Stretch is all about: a class focused on full body stretching for all fitness levels, body types, and ages. We learned that it isn’t a yoga class, but a class focused on stretching. 

 

We learned the benefits of stretching: increased flexibility and range of motion, injury prevention, improved posture, improved sports performance, and stress relief.

 

We were then led through a master class taught by Shea, which was a great way to think and feel the class a little differently after having learned the background of Körper Stretch. Then we spent some time going through potential stretches to use in class and wrote our own 5-minute sequence. Each of the participants then taught a 5-minute class segment and we got feedback afterwards.

 

I left feeling stretched (physically and mentally), got a good night’s sleep, and returned the next day. On the second day, Spring led us through a master class. This was a nice way to start the day and to see a different version of the same type of class. We learned that every teacher will teach the class differently, while at the same time providing an environment of stretching. 

 

Then the participants each led a 25-minute class. This was the real test of how we understood the material and concept of Körper Stretch. Then we each got feedback and wrapped up the training.

 

I would recommend this training to anyone who wants to learn more about stretching and anyone who wants to take their exercise or practice to the next level by teaching. The Körper Stretch Teacher Training is an inspiring way to learn, to grow, to stretch, and to be part of the community!

Alli Shircliff
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Stretch Teacher

 

 

Kind Words

"I am not a social media type and do not want to join Yelp. However, I do want to give Kudos to Hot Feet Fitness in Burien, WA. I am in town for a 6 week training seminar for work and Hot Feet Fitness has been a life saver. I attended class 10:30 yoga flow class Sunday Sept, 1, 2019. The instructor music and quality of class went well above and beyond my expectations. However, what was even more impressive was how squeaky clean the studio is. I would definitely recommend this studio to anyone looking for a quality yoga studio with experienced and high quality instructors."

 
All the best,
 
Jeanette Muzio
Alaska Airlines 

Why You Should Consider Yoga During Pregnancy

 

 

As yoga’s popularity increases, its benefits are becoming more and more well known. Many people around the world will attest to the stress relief, core strengthening and flexibility that yoga provides. One group that can especially benefit from yoga is expecting mothers. 

 

Prenatal yoga will ease the burden of childbearing by supporting key muscles, making it easier to sleep and preparing pregnant women for childbirth. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga will increase confidence leading up to labor and calm the minds of expecting mothers. Still wondering if prenatal yoga is the right choice? Read about some of the proven benefits below. 

 

Strengthens Key Muscle Groups

Regular prenatal yoga will strengthen and tone important muscles like the abdominals and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor supports the baby as well as the digestive organs during pregnancy. Carrying a child places an extremely large burden on this important muscle group so strengthening it through yoga is a great idea. 

 

Promotes Good Posture

Carrying a child can place a great strain on the lower back, which changes the mothers’ center of gravity and can lead to bad posture before and after childbirth. There are many yoga poses designed to help alleviate pain and tension in the lower back, which improves posture and makes daily life easier. 

 

When the center of gravity changes, the feet may also be affected with problems like over pronation. This can lead to heel pain, feet and leg cramps that make standing and walking extremely unpleasant. Yoga allows the feet and legs to be elevated and stretched to reduce soreness.

 

Preparing for Childbirth

By doing yoga, you can become more in tune with your body which may increase confidence leading up to and during childbirth. The deep breathing techniques often practiced in yoga are useful during labor to make the body relax. Studies have shown that the confidence boosts associated with yoga lead to smoother deliveries. 

 

Aside from the physical benefits of prenatal yoga, joining a yoga class can provide a support system during pregnancy. Exercising and socializing with other women will help ease tension and anxiety about childbirth. 

 

Quality Sleep

Getting a good night of sleep can be challenging during pregnancy and will only get harder after childbirth. Cramps, heartburn, and stress are all common reasons why falling and staying asleep can be such a pain. Luckily, bedtime yoga has important benefits that will make sleeping easier than ever.

 

Practicing yoga before bed will help establish a bedtime routine which is a great way to wind down at night and tell your body it is time to rest. Additionally, yoga provides relief from some of the pregnancy related aches and pains that may keep women awake. Yoga encourages steady breathing which helps calm the mind and prevent anxiety and stress from getting in the way of rest. 

 

Make sure to consult a physician before practicing yoga if you are expecting and avoid hot yoga classes as well as poses that place a burden on the abdominals. Soon, you will be experiencing the wonderful benefits yoga can provide.

Stephanie James
Freelance Content Writer 

Make Your Habits Stick!

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” the saying goes. Often times, this is used to justify the belief that some people can be too old to change, that once a person has made a particular action or thought process a habit, they are doomed to repeat this for life. 

And while it is human nature to stick to our habits, we don’t necessarily have to be the victim of unhealthy ones we build.

When it comes to our habits and the brain, our biology can tell us a lot about why we tend to autonomously perform an action. Every time we think in a certain way, perform a task, or feel a particular emotion, we continue to strengthen the neural pathways in our brain in carving these processes as habits. This is called Neuroplasticity.

When we think about something differently, learn a new task, or choose a different emotion, our brain creates a new pathway. Using this pathway enough eventually replaces the old one. It just takes time to carve that new mental pathway in order to do so.

Of course, this is an ultra-condensed and simplified version of what actually goes on in the mind when we move through our habits. In real-time, we move through our habitual actions in the blink of an eye, often times not realizing what we’ve done until far after it’s finished. When it comes to ending old habits and creating new ones: 

-Awareness is key: Become aware of events leading to a particular negative thought or
emotion. Understand its root.

-Avoid Avoiding: Allow the experience to penetrate itself. Fully.

-Experience, Without Acting: It is possible to experience pain/pleasure without being driven to act upon it

-Recognize that the moment is temporary and that this too, shall pass

When it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks, it turns out you can! You are never too old to change, but it does get harder to change the older you get. Anyone who is willing to do the work is able to change if they want to.

Diane Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Barre, Meditation, and Yoga Instructor

Sing your heart out: Do we sing because we are happy or are we happy because we sing?

Yoga aims to connect us with ourselves, with each other, with the universe. Yoga means union. Singing or chanting is a means of coming together. It is done at birthdays, celebrations, and to share common emotions. At times it can be used in a religious context, but beyond that it brings people together with a common intention. Whether that intention is to celebrate God or celebrate life, health, overcoming obstacles, or love, singing is a means of connecting to each other and to ourselves. 

Something I have noticed in my 12 years of teaching yoga is that singing is a powerful tool. It can bring up feelings of vulnerability disguised as anger or resistance. But let me reassure you, that singing in the shower or on your yoga mat does not need to be Grammy worthy to have a powerful impact. The voice is as unique as each individual, no one sound is exactly the same. It is freeing to face fears and be completely comfortable with who you are, what you look like, what you sound like. So embrace your uniqueness, your beauty and the healing power of your sound.


Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Meditation Instructor 

 

Back To Nature: How The Outdoors Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is a powerful tool we can use to help us connect. After all, the literal translation of yoga is “union”. In a world full of noise and distraction, the ability to connect with yourself is key to thriving. This is why when we practice yoga, we practice being present. We practice stillness, self-awareness, and finally self-acceptance. When we are able to connect deeply with ourselves on this level, we find that the connections we share with our family, friends, partners, colleagues, acquaintances, and all living things around us become much more authentic and meaningful.

Practicing yoga offers us a way to incorporate seemingly simple ideas into a world which has complicated itself. While yoga is one of the tools we can use to help us connect, connection with nature can offer many similar effects. Studies have shown that being out in nature can offer one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways incorporating nature can enhance your yoga practice.


Practicing outside can challenge you.

Within the confines of a studio, the aromas, soft lights, pleasant sounds and even the floor your lay your mat on, is controlled to set the ambience for your practice. When you take your practice outside, however, you become vulnerable to what nature has to offer you. Whether it’s the slight breeze of wind, the heat from the sun, the sounds from the animals around you, or the uneven earth beneath you, taking your practice outside means allowing yourself to embrace all that is happening in your surroundings while still remaining true to your practice. It challenges your focus, balance, and ability to stay present. Instead of battling the elements, let the elements of nature deepen your practice. Allow the breeze from the wind to remind you to deepen your breath, the sounds of the animals around help you practice stillness, and the uneven surface of the earth at your feet challenge your balance. 


You can take your practice anywhere

When you learn to embrace nature in your practice, you are learning how to embrace all external conditions that may affect your practice. Whether you are practicing in a studio, on a beach, on top of a mountain, or in a bustling city, learning to embrace all conditions means being able to practice anywhere. Being able to accept and embrace the conditions around you as you practice can help you build a solid internal practice. Having a solid internal practice will allow you to find peace even in the most chaotic scenarios and situations. 


You become more aligned with nature

Nature drives many of the poses we practice in yoga already. Whether its finding balance in tree pose, embracing the sun in sun salutations, connecting with the core in moon pose, or walking in downward dog, nature naturally inspires our practice. Connecting with nature is ultimately having a greater connection to everything beyond yourself.

“When we embrace nature in your practice, you can evoke a sense of harmony, connection, and timelessness with the universe.” 

By learning to embrace our inherent oneness with nature, we can start our connection to the greater things around us.

Diana Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Barre Instructor



Back To Nature: How The Outdoors Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is a powerful tool we can use to help us connect. After all, the literal translation of yoga is “union”. In a world full of noise and distraction, the ability to connect with yourself is key to thriving. This is why when we practice yoga, we practice being present. We practice stillness, self-awareness, and finally self-acceptance. When we are able to connect deeply with ourselves on this level, we find that the connections we share with our family, friends, partners, colleagues, acquaintances, and all living things around us become much more authentic and meaningful.

Practicing yoga offers us a way to incorporate seemingly simple ideas into a world which has complicated itself. While yoga is one of the tools we can use to help us connect, connection with nature can offer many similar effects. Studies have shown that being out in nature can offer one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways incorporating nature can enhance your yoga practice.


Practicing outside can challenge you.

Within the confines of a studio, the aromas, soft lights, pleasant sounds and even the floor your lay your mat on, is controlled to set the ambience for your practice. When you take your practice outside, however, you become vulnerable to what nature has to offer you. Whether it’s the slight breeze of wind, the heat from the sun, the sounds from the animals around you, or the uneven earth beneath you, taking your practice outside means allowing yourself to embrace all that is happening in your surroundings while still remaining true to your practice. It challenges your focus, balance, and ability to stay present. Instead of battling the elements, let the elements of nature deepen your practice. Allow the breeze from the wind to remind you to deepen your breath, the sounds of the animals around help you practice stillness, and the uneven surface of the earth at your feet challenge your balance. 


You can take your practice anywhere

When you learn to embrace nature in your practice, you are learning how to embrace all external conditions that may affect your practice. Whether you are practicing in a studio, on a beach, on top of a mountain, or in a bustling city, learning to embrace all conditions means being able to practice anywhere. Being able to accept and embrace the conditions around you as you practice can help you build a solid internal practice. Having a solid internal practice will allow you to find peace even in the most chaotic scenarios and situations. 


You become more aligned with nature

Nature drives many of the poses we practice in yoga already. Whether its finding balance in tree pose, embracing the sun in sun salutations, connecting with the core in moon pose, or walking in downward dog, nature naturally inspires our practice. Connecting with nature is ultimately having a greater connection to everything beyond yourself.

“When we embrace nature in your practice, you can evoke a sense of harmony, connection, and timelessness with the universe.” 

By learning to embrace our inherent oneness with nature, we can start our connection to the greater things around us.

Diana Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Barre 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