We’re growing our roots to get ready for the New Year. Tree pose (Vrksasana) is a classic yoga pose that grounds, lengthens, strengthens, opens hips, and encourages correct posture. The busy month of December is the perfect time to root down, ground ourselves, stay balanced, and foster growth into 2016. To perform tree pose, stand strongly and balanced on one leg, while bending the other knee so that your foot is resting on the ground, your standing ankle, or above your knee. Once balanced, place your hands in prayer position and then slowly move them to reach upwards to grow your branches. This month, you’ll be alternating between tree pose and chair pose to maximize grounding and growing. To perform chair pose, (Utkatasana) stand straight up, with weight evenly dispersed in both heels. As you inhale, reach arms up as you bend your knees and squat down, keeping knees and thighs together, as if you’re sitting in a chair. Keep arms and torso up at a slight angle and roll shoulders down. Stay in the pose at least 10-20 seconds to maximize benefits. Chair will not only ground you down, it will also fire up your glutes and thighs to burn some serious calories. Just print, pin, or save the calendar below and commit to grounding and growth all month long! Think of it as preparing your body and mind for what’s to come as the holiday season ramps up and we turn the corner into a fresh, new year of opportunities.
So, the past few weeks have been pretty tough. Bitter without the sweet. Long,
cold frozen, windy, sniffly, snowy, slippery, and overall, pretty darn miz. Mother Nature just won’t budge. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the Hamptons year round, but it’s about that time when I can totally understand how others migrate south for some sun, warmth, and beauty. Luckily, I totally got my fix of all of the above this weekend, right in our own backyard thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, three of the best lululemon ambassador yogis on Long Island, and Gurney’s Montauk.
The drive out to Montauk (sans traffic!) was decompressing in itself, but knowing that a weekend of yoga bliss lay ahead was even better. As we unrolled our mats in the Great Room, with the sun shining through the windows and waves crashing down at the beach, I quickly began to defrost and fill with warmth and gratitude.
The first of three classes on Saturday morning was taught by Lana Russo, lululemon ambassador at the Manhasset store. The class was pretty much exactly what I personally seek when signing up for a yoga class: a combination of feel-good stretching, challenging poses to push outside of the comfort zone, and a relaxing meditation. Lana does it all with a seamless flow, a warm heart, and some non-traditional yoga music. We’re talking a yoga-remix of Katy Perry’s “Roar” and such – what’s more fun than that?! Lana makes yoga more accessible to all levels as she breaks down advanced poses into manageable steps. Here’s Lana below, being the yogi rockstar that she is:
The second class, rounding out Saturday morning’s practice, was taught by Evelyn O’Doherty, local yoga teacher, SUP racer/instructor, lululemon EH ambassador, and friendly face we all know and love (if you don’t know Evelyn, you should.) It’s impossible not to get stronger during Evelyn’s class; her light-hearted style benefits all walks of life and all types of athletes. She has this amazing ability to make anyone smile, even when instructing challenging poses, burning abdominal exercises, and “hanging out” in plank. Evelyn’s smile always reminds us, that no matter what, it’s all going to be A ok. Here’s Evelyn practicing a playful, yet perfect, inversion:
After two and a half hours of Vinyasa Flow, Saturday afternoon was free for our choosing. I followed the crowd to the Seawater Spa and fell even deeper into ‘vacation mode as I sat by the Seawater Pool in my bikini, robe, and flip-flops. While it took some imagination, Montauk in February quickly became my own personal island retreat. I soaked up the goodness and sailed away into Shavasana…for the third time that day.
Saturday evening wrapped up with a Yin Yoga class taught by Angela Williams-Jones, owner of Flower Power Yoga and lululemon Ambassador at the Walt Whitman store. Lucky for me, Angela’s mat was next to mine during the morning classes, so I knew that whatever came next, there would be laughter and love. Yin is a restorative practice full of therapeutic poses to cleanse, balance, and regulate the body. Poses are held for at least a few minutes to increase circulation, enhance immunity, improve flexibility, maintain focus, and deconstruct emotion. Typically, Vinyasa produces discomfort the longer we’re in the pose; however, I found that Yin was just the opposite. At first, the poses were awkward and uncomfortable, but the longer we settled in, the better it got, especially knowing we were cleansing all of our major organs and systems of the body. Although I was exhausted, mentally and physically, after Saturday’s three classes, I couldn’t wait to get back to the mat the next day for more adventure with these amazing people.
Sunday morning’s class confirmed that Angela is so not your typical yoga teacher and this class was definitely not your typical yoga class. The Yoga Fusion Flow class took us through a series of songs, poses, emotions, stages, transitions, and experiences, some recognizably familiar and others new and different. That’s life, right? Just when we think we’ve mastered it, just when we become accustomed to the journey, just when we’ve settled in or fallen head over heels, we’re reminded that life is an ever-changing journey. Good or bad, things shift, we react, we sway, we readjust, shake it off, and keep going, hopefully with a big smile, a full heart, and possibly our yoga mat. Click here to see a quick clip of Angela’s heart-warming class!
This weekend was just that for me – a reminder that life is ever-changing, growing, supporting, experiencing, and full of love and opportunity. Not only did Gurney’s provide a rejuvenating escape, but I found that my personal yoga practice grew more in these two days than ever before. Stepping outside of my comfort zone on the mat came easily thanks to the three amazing ambassador yogis supporting us, teaching us, and making it all fun and playful. Thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, yogis Evelyn, Lana, and Angela, and Gurney’s Montauk for providing exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Namaste!