Stop Drop and Yoga

5 Tips to Keep Up Your Yoga Practice While Still Enjoying Your Summer!

Does the glorious weather outside have you chafing at the bit every time you head to a studio for a workout? If you live in San Francisco, then this is probably not your issue. But if you are like me, and exist in one of the many states where the weather is only glorious for a short 3 months of the year, then you can probably relate.

I know that every time I head into the studio during the summer, and pop a downward dog, I find myself peeking outside and thinking "It's beautiful. I should be out there." Then I lower to plank and think "we only have a month of this left! I need to be at the beach!!" Flowing through upward dog "maybe I should just run during the summer and skip the studio..." Needless to say, these thoughts do not help me have a relaxing practice. So I have come up with a few ways to keep both my yoga and my summer sanity! 

Do a morning yoga practice on your deck. Getting yourself moving around in the morning is a great way to start your day anyhow, so why not combine your workout and your morning outside hangout. Earlier is better if you don't enjoy the neighbors staring.

 

Beach Yoga is a thing. And it is huge! In my town, they organize classes at least once a week. Even if you can't get into an official beach yoga class, it is still a great place to take your friends and come up with your own flow. The beach also doubles as a perfect place for Acro Yoga.  The sound of the waves relax you, and the sand makes the perfect landing pad for when you get hit with a case of the wobbles. 

beach acro yoga

 

SUP Yoga (Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga) It's amazing. You get to enjoy the sunshine, the water, and if your 3 legged dog is a bit wobbly, you get to take a swim. This is not just for experts. I tried my first SUP yoga class when I was just beginning yoga, and I found it to be one of the most relaxing things ever. If you live in Southwest Michigan, there are multiple locations along rivers or right down at the beach that will rent you a board and teach you yoga for an amazingly fair price. 

 

Yoga Festivals (these are abundant in the summer. Meet new people, take lots of classes and enjoy yoga in the parks.) Cities as big as Chicago are not the only places to find a great yoga fest. Many small towns will host them as well, and it is an amazing way to do yoga in the great outdoors. 

 

Sunday Beer, brunch and yoga! Ok maybe they just have these in the charming town of St. Joseph Michigan, but I'm pretty sure its a thing other places too. Usually held on a sunny rooftop, this kind of class will definitely keep you loose! 

 

No matter what you choose, just remember that there are better alternatives than simply setting aside your practice for the summer months. Perhaps one of these tips will help inspire you to keep your Downward Dogs Sunny Side up :) 

 

Posted by Johanna White on 18 July, 2017 0 comments | Read more →

Going Upside-down to Turn Your Health Right Side Up!

I'm sure that if you follow any number of yogis on Instagram, then you have seen your share of inversions. Headstands, handstands, crazy one handed stands that I could never do... lol.

Maybe you just skim by, maybe you stop and admire them for a second. But few of us take the time to find out just why inversions are such an integral part of yoga, and how much of an amazing role that they can play in your overall health and fitness.

And before you write this off as a no-go, because you can't do the crazy stuff... don't worry! The true definition of an inversion is any pose where your head is below your heart. 

While headstands, handstands and forearm stands get the most social media attention, simple poses such as downward dog, legs up the wall & forward fold are all equally good for your heart!

Below are a just a few of the many benefits of inversions:

Inversions reverse the blood flow in the body and improve circulation:
Inversions use gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood thus increase mental functioning, and improve concentration, memory, and processing abilities. Increased blood flow to the brain also often equals less headaches!

Increase immunity and prevent illness:
The lymphatic system is a key player in keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

downward dog

Decreasing Mood Swings
Standing upside down can actually make you feel better! When blood circulation gets fine, this releases neurotransmitters, balances the hormones which make a person feel light hearted and more happy than usual. So, if you are really sad, try doing inversions! It might make you feel a lot better! This is said to control depression, premenstrual symptoms and mood swings.

Countering Insomnia
Inversions also help to decrease insomnia. When your mind is all relaxed and in high spirits because of the healthy blood flow, a person will be able to sleep better. When inverting, muscle tension decreases by 35%. This is one of the reasons why a person can sleep better after inverting.

A little bit of Legs up the wall pose can do wonders for those who have trouble sleeping.

Inversions Improve your balance
Inversions add another dimension to balance training. It also forces you to learn to sense your body in space in a different way (proprioception). Inversions help create better body awareness. 

Clears Skin & Reduces Wrinkles (ladies, who doesn't want that?!)
With an increase of oxygen-rich blood flowing to your head and face, you may also notice clearer skin and fewer facial wrinkles. This one is not proven, but many inversion lovers claim that it has been the case with them. 

These benefits are just a few of the many that can come from inversions. Ask your yoga instructor what their favorite inversions are and why, and get ready to turn your yoga practice upside-down! :)  

 

Yin Yoga - Mind Over Body

Temptation Leggings Backbend

Tonight I am going to take a yin yoga class.It is really about the last thing I want to do right now, because yin requires that you hold each pose for several minutes, and I feel very very restless at the moment. The thought of holding still so long seems more daunting than a butt kicking workout. Which is exactly why I am going!


Often in yin my mind tries to convince me that I absolutely need to move now. But when i think through it for a second, I realize that the pose doesn't even hurt. Mostly it is just a little uncomfortable. Its funny how even the slightest discomfort triggers movement. But when we can learn to lean into that discomfort, not only do we become mentally stronger, but we begin to see some major body changes as well!

I have struggled with knee and hip twinges for the last few years, and I think at some point I just accepted it as part of life. However, once I started taking yin classes in addition to my favorite flowing & hot yoga classes, I began to see a difference in those old injuries. Truly, it was the absence of them that I actually noticed. One day I swung up on my horse and my hip didn't yell at me like it usually does. I put two and two together, and you can bet I will be going to many more yin classes in the future. Including tonight. And I will overcome those fidgets, and grow in mind as well as body!

Here is a great article on the reasons why you should try yin as well. I'll see you on the mat! 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 17 May, 2017 detox, Fitness Blog, Stress and Yoga, Yoga Blog | 0 comments | Read more →

Yoga & Emotional Detox

 

Last week I told you that I was starting a detox journey. This week, that journey is leading me through the concepts of what I will call "emotional detox." When I say those words, I am sure you can all come up with your own working definition, but for now, lets focus on it being the idea of watching what goes in and out of your mind, as well as your body. As any good mentor or motivational speaker will tell you, what goes in to your mind matters!

One of my favorite quotes is “You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” - Zig Ziglar

But emotional detox is more than just adding good stuff... it is ceasing to allow the toxic thoughts to enter your mind any more. I love how the Bible puts this concept:
"whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things...and the God of peace shall be with you" - Phil 4:8

More on this topic later... But for now, think about the discouraging thoughts that try to get you down, and see if you can trace back to where they come from. Stop letting that source in, and start replacing it with truth!

Yoga can help with emotional detox as well as physical too! This is a neat article on how they often tie together!

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 15 May, 2017 detox, Feature Blog Posts, Fitness Blog, Stress and Yoga, Yoga Blog | 0 comments | Read more →

How Detox & Yoga Go Hand in Hand

Shoulder Stand_Jade Queen

If you are like me, then sometime in your life, you have tried some sort of detox. Maybe lots of sorts of detox. Some have worked, some haven't. Some may have helped for a short while, but perhaps only a few have had lasting results on your body and your overall health.

I am starting a journey to work my way through detoxifying my body, not only by adding healthy supplements, and eliminating problem causing foods & chemicals, but also by trying specific types of exercise.

Yoga is cited by many as one of the best ways to detox & destress. Some poses are better than for detox than others, and throughout my journey, I plan to explore all of the poses, and find out which ones make a lasting difference in my health & stress levels.

Feel free to come along for the ride!

This article has some great poses included, and I intend to try them all this week! http://www.chopra.com/articles/7-yoga-poses-to-detox-your-body#sm.0000tfagtj1ahkfg0xn4hmkjzfh3g

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 11 May, 2017 detox, Feature Blog Posts, Fitness Blog, Stress and Yoga, Yoga Blog | 0 comments | Read more →

How to Get Your Man to Try Yoga

If you have done yoga for any period of time, you have probably at some point faced the challenge that many women face today: getting your guy to try it with you! Yoga is fun. It builds strength of body and character, and on the list of best couples activities, it can be right up there at the top. But let's face it, getting any guy to settle for an hour of yoga rather than an hour of sweating it out at the gym with his buddies can be tough!

As far as boyfriends go, I consider myself one of the lucky few who didn't  have to try at all. My guy enjoys fitness of any sort, and having spent many years competing on the ballroom dance circuit already, there were no "Yoga isn't Manly Enough" complexes to overcome. I'm pretty sure the first time I thought of inviting him, all I had to do was say "Hey! Want to come to yoga with me?" And that was that. 

To be fair, I my yoga days didn't begin on the ground. My very first exposure to yoga was through acro, and when I asked him to join me for acrobatic yoga, I might as well have said "Hey, want to be super manly and strong and lift me over your head and stuff?" Cause i'm pretty sure that is what he heard. And let's face it, what guy wouldn't be down for that? 

However, If you face the tougher challenge of wanting your man to come to a regular yoga class, there are many methods to breaking down the barriers. 

Let's start with the easiest solution: Put on your cutest yoga pants, and walk in front of him a couple of times. Odds are good he will just follow you right out the door, no questions asked. However, if that doesn't work, you may have to overcome a few common male yoga myths:

1. Yoga Isn't Manly... If this is his approach, you may hear some of the following arguments: The pants are tight, the classes aren't even hard, and obviously if it was for guys, there would be a lot more of them present in the classes. 

In this situation, you should start by pointing out that yoga was actually invented by guys! Obviously it is a time honored man tradition.

If they say that the classes aren't even hard, challenge them to come to just one with you. Take them to your favorite hot vinyasa flow class. If they still feel that way at the end, congrats. You may not have yourself a yoga partner, but you might be dating Superman... so that's a plus :D

Overcoming "the pants are tight...what are guys supposed to wear" barrier. This is a big one. Lets face it. When it comes to men, and yoga, not a lot of clothing options exist. The traditional manly basketball type of shorts tend to puddle around their waist in any pose where your feet go over your head. Basketball & Warm-up pants have bulky gathered waistbands with strings that hurt when you are laying on your back. Most actual yoga pants for men somewhat resemble a saggy diaper. Some men have bravely entered the world of wearing regular yoga pants sheerly out of desperation, but are left feeling like a cross between a ballet dancer and and an old country gentleman ready to ride with the hounds...

Luckily, UnderArmor has recently come out with a pretty great solution to the manly yoga pants problem, with a style of men's pants that are slim fit, but not leggings. These Pants have a fitted waistband, to eliminate the bunchy extra fabric, and a sleek look that is completely athletic without feeling girly. 

2. Yoga is boring: If he just isn't interested in trying a traditional yoga class, perhaps you can sign yourselves up for a couples yoga class, or even better, an acro class. With the promise of isometric strength training, combined with laughter and fun, most guys are down to try this at least once. Don't try this if you don't want to keep going back though. Acro has been found to be severely addictive, and before you know it, your man will be dragging YOU to class. 

3. "I work out to look and be strong. I don't want to look like those scrawny yoga guys!:" If this is the reason your man doesn't want to try yoga, then you have been showing him all of the wrong pictures. Gone are the days when yoga was just for a skinny monk on top of a mountain. Many of today's greatest athletes now know that yoga only ENHANCES their current workouts, rather than diminishes the effects. Maybe part of the reason he enjoys the weight rack so much more than the idea of yoga is that he knows those barbells are putting on the muscles that YOU like to see. Well, take it from former "fully fledged jock," as this muscle bound blogger likes to call himself, that if building up strength, AND impressing the girls is on his to-do list, yoga can put him ahead of the pack!

 4."I don't want to look stupid in front of a class full of women." Let's face it. That thought can be quite daunting when it comes to convincing him to try your favorite workout. If that is his barrier, perhaps starting out in a classroom isn't the best way to go. Plan a sunny afternoon to have a date. Make up your own yoga flow, and go through it with him in your back yard or at the beach. (Yes the beach still has lots of people, but they are usually too busy having their own fun to pay much attention to what people are doing around them.) 
The main perks of taking this route:
• It's FREE! What guy doesn't want to take you on a date that costs him nothing?
• It's different! Yes, movies and popcorn is fun...but everyone likes to try something new once in awhile. 

Final Thoughts:
Relationships are best when they are based on mutual love and respect. If he simply doesn't want to try yoga, don't badger him into it. It won't be fun for either of you if he goes begrudgingly, and you will lose some of your chance to love him just like he is. If he really really really doesn't want to come to a yoga class, perhaps he would like it if you came along for one of his workouts! Let him show you the ropes for his favorite training circuit, or take you for a run on his favorite trail. Working out together has so many relationship benefits, but it doesn't HAVE to be yoga that brings you together :) Enjoy your differences, and take comfort in the fact that you can still love yoga for yourself, even if your guy never shares that passion. 

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 13 May, 2016 Acro Yoga, Fitness Blog, Stress and Yoga, Yoga Blog, yoga humor | 0 comments | Read more →

Following Your Bliss to the Life of Your Dreams

 

A little over two years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was discovered by an onset of horrendous migraines, partial paralysis of my left shoulder and arm, as well as paralyzed vocal cords, and the inability to swallow food or water without it coming out of my nose. I had always identified myself as a strong and active person, and the loss of that identity shook me to the core. For a while, I gave up on physical activity, because it felt like, "what is the point of working out and getting fit if I am going to wither up and die young no matter what I do?"

The full roller coaster ride of my life after brain tumor is a story for another day. However, today's story started with a YouTube video that my dear friend Misty, who later became my yoga instructor, showed me shortly after my diagnosis. This video featured a couple known on Instagram as Yoga Beyond, and it was my very first introduction to yoga of any kind. I fell in love with Claudine & Honza's AcroYoga flow instantly, and decided that pain or no pain, I was going to be able to do those moves by the end of the year. 

Despite the hopelessness that tried to overwhelm me, I resolutely determined that if the tumor was going to destroy some of my muscles, then I was going to build up the remaining ones until they took over and I could function again. Watching their Cello Flow video over and over again became a unique lesson in visual goal setting, which quickly spread beyond my yoga practice and into the rest of my life. 

Now, two years later, thanks to yoga and lots of prayer, I experience miracles daily. I not only have nearly 100 percent of my muscular function back, but I have also found the courage to follow my dreams in the rest of my life. One of those dreams was founding Uniquely Yoga, for the purpose of bringing fitness and inspiration into the lives of other people. And today, I am so thrilled to report that my acro yoga heroes were generous enough to grant me an interview and share their wisdom on dreaming big and making those dreams a reality. 

When Honza and Claudine aren't busy teaching acro at their Sydney Studio, they are traveling all over the globe, teaching AcroVinyasa to others, and sharing their love of yoga with the world. 

Alright. Intro over. Now on to the part you came here to read :)

1.) You guys are Instagram famous. How does that translate to normal life? Do people recognize you when they see you out and about? Or does that platform maintain a much more tame level of fame?  

Instagram has certainly expanded the awareness of who we are beyond our Sydney yoga bubble! We have never really lived a ‘normal life’ but we do find that when we travel, we are recognized. We’ve been stopped in the supermarket, spotted on airplanes and on the streets in New York City but in the grand scheme of things with celebrities and mass scale attention, we are still living a pretty ‘normal life’ and we’re very happy with that!

Yoga Beyond showing the city something new!

And this is what they call normal life ;) 

 

2.) What sort of process goes into creating a new Acrovinyasa move?

To be honest, we are not reinventing the wheel. While we pride ourselves on having brought more traditional asanas back into the AcroYoga practices, there are many poses that have been around for quite some time.  What we have introduced into the ACROVINYASA practice, are very clear postures that can be taken from the Earth into the Air, namely on someone else’s feet or hands. Whenever we practice, we find a way to refine our existing Level 1 and Level 2 sequences by dropping into the breath, slowing down and creating more flexibility from pose to pose.

 

3.) One of the things that I admire the most about you guys is how you constantly appear to make your dreams a reality.  What was your turning point / defining moment when you started to “follow your bliss” and make your dreams happen?  Do you remember a particular event? Or did you just wake up one day and realize that you were in the middle of living your dreams?

Before we met, we had both done our soul searching and started asking the bigger questions about why are we here and what is our purpose. When we connected in person, fell in love and chose to spend the rest of our lives together, we both made a resolute decision to be happy no matter what. We may waver at times, like any human but we both feel that by focusing on positive thoughts with an attitude of gratitude, dreams can become a reality. There wasn’t a particular turning point for us other than a firm agreement that we made to create something together that would enable us to connect with and inspire people. We are both passionate givers and healers so when we unified our intentions it seemed as if the universe began to conspire in our favor! We have also worked hard at reaching out to many people in our local communities before our presence on social media. It has been an incredible, expansive ride over the past few years and every day we still wake up with tremendous gratitude for what we have created. You never know when something incredible may happen or who may walk into your life, unless you are receptive and ready to say yes.  



4.) If you could give some advice for people who dream big but are struggling to see those dreams fulfilled, what would that be?

We would say that you have to feel your way into your dreams first. Envision that whatever you want has already arrived. The longer you can experience something in your mind and heart first, the more energy is gathered in the direction of your dreams manifesting in the body and in the rest of your physical reality. Next you have to do the work to start calling it in, vocalizing what you want, write it down, tell your friends and family what it is that you want to create, ask for support where needed and remain open to all the magic that abounds. Then it’s time to jump in and embrace what comes. Even if there may be some fear, staying open to all possibilities will never steer you wrong. It is much better to jump in with both feet and grab a hold of your dreams than to sit and wonder what may have happened. Even if you don’t catch this particular dream, keep going and know that there are as many dreams to catch as there are stars in the sky. The journey to making dreams come true, isn’t always easy but it sure is worth it!

A Yoga Beyond Dream Session

 

5.) Were there any major roadblocks to forming Yoga Beyond? Did you ever wonder where the money was coming from next month, or almost give up before you got to where you are today?

When we decided to start YogaBeyond, we had both removed the obstacles in our mind that it would be difficult or that it wouldn’t be successful. Honza: Claudine had already been teaching yoga full time for many years and I had my personal training business, both of which were well established and supporting us well. When I returned from Nepal, I knew that we were meant to create something together. We choose to create this brand as a passion project to document our practice, try something new and to inspire others to do the same. It was not about the money, it was about creating something that we were adamant about sharing. There are many ways to create abundance and we have realized that money is not the only way. When you stay open to connections and signs from the world around you, you never know where they may lead.  

 

6.) Did you always dream of doing what you are doing now (traveling, teaching acro yoga, taking killer photos)? Or did you plan for something else, and this life just evolved along the way?

Claudine: Yoga found me when I was 15. Before that, I had been practicing jujitsu so I knew that my passions were in movement. My parents are avid travelers and have made a living through the clothing industry, which has allowed them to travel for work and they have taken me with them for most of my life. I have a deep well of curiosity and am always looking for the next adventure, inside and out. I feel as if I am living my life on purpose as it is meant to be. We make a firm commitment to staying open to the possibilities of whatever may come, which has lead us to the right here and now!


Honza: My first passion was running and fitness, which lead me into starting my own personal training business which I successfully ran for nearly 12 years.  Over the past decade, I have explored my creative and spiritual side through painting, meditation, yoga and photography. My ethos in life is to always find what makes you happy and move on when it no longer feels good. I’ve always wanted to turn my passions into my livelihood and feel that I have found a way to bring all of my gifts together into one place. Since meeting Claudine and creating this life together, we both knew that we would do something together that was meaningful, exciting, prosperous and most importantly FUN! The details didn’t really matter as long as we were both clear on wanting to carve out these experiences together with the same mindset, we believed our dreams would unfold just as they were meant to!



7.) They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and you guys have hundreds of gorgeous Acro pictures from all over the world. If you could sum up living your dream in just one of those photos, which one would you choose to represent your thousand words?

This was a picture taken in Paris, about two years ago. We had planned our own amazing race through Europe, planning to document our favorite poses in front of iconic landmarks. We had already spent the day galavanting around Paris, exploring this beautiful city and had found so many great spots to take pictures and make memorable moments but this one was by far the best. We met a photographer who was intrigued by what we were doing so while we were setting up our shot, he offered to take it for us and this was the result! Everything about this photo represents love, spontaneity, connection, synchronicity and magic.

What a beautiful "Thousand Words"

 

8.) I have learned, through my somewhat limited experience, that the physical stress of Acro can sometimes bring out tough spots in relationships. While It does build a lot of trust and joy, the pain of a poorly placed foot or a too tight hand grip can also cause tempers to flair. How do you use Acro to make you stronger as a couple rather than to create relationship stress?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone is always trying to do their best. It’s so easy to point fingers (or toes) and blame. Do everything at least twice before talking about what may have gone wrong or what wasn’t comfortable. Remembering that this practice is about partnership, play and community building can help pacify a situation before it escalates. We also adopt the languaging around ‘we’ instead of ‘you’. A simple change in languaging can make all the difference in eliminating a potential blow up.

 

9.) Does the fun and adventure of travel ever wear off? Have you ever reached the point where you are hanging out on a gorgeous island somewhere, teaching yoga, and wishing you could have just woken up in your own bed that morning?

Nope! We love what we do and wouldn’t change a thing!

 Yoga Beyond demonstrating how the couples who play together, stay together

 

10.) This question is less deep, but i’m dying to know… How many pairs of yoga pants does Claudine own? :D  As the owner of Uniquely Yoga, I feel that I own too many pairs myself. But I  must say, when I look at your photos on Instagram, I often admire the diversity of your leggings nearly as much as your gorgeous surroundings.

Ha ha! I think the last time I counted my yoga pants, I was at 120. I regularly give away pants to our students and friends because it always feel better to spread the love!


11.) Can you guys possibly get any more awesome? What is next for Yoga Beyond?

We are excited about our schedule for 2016 that will take us to new places and events - teaching at Bali Spirit Festival, teaching tour around China, intensives in Koh Samui, Thailand as well as our teaching tour around the States at festivals such as Hanuman and Wanderlust. The adventure continues and we are ready to walk forward, hand in hand and embrace it all!

 

Thanks so much to Claudine & Honza Lafond for sharing their wisdom and playful spirits with us. Blessings to you both as you continue your journey. 

 

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 03 December, 2015 Yoga Beyond | 1 comment | Read more →

The Top 10 Over-Used Yoga Poses on Instagram.

Have you ever seen something crazy hard and amazing so many times that it becomes commonplace? Welcome to the world of Instagram. We've all been there... scrolling through posts, and the first time you see some insane Cirque de Soleil-esque yoga pose you think "WOW!" That person is so talented, that is awe inspiring! I must try to master this someday. And then a few posts down you see the same pose again... and again... and again. Suddenly the shocked amazement withers into something resembling annoyance, and the once incredible pose (which I'm sure is still very difficult) suddenly appears normal and easy. Now instead of dreaming of holding that pose yourself someday, you are beating yourself up about the fact that you can't ALREADY do that pose. What kind of wimpy yogi are you?? Whether this is a real problem for you or not, I have decided to amuse myself today by publishing a list of the top over-repeated poses floating around the internet today. 

(disclaimer....these are counted by their hashtags. I have seen many many more that aren't labeled so easily, but since I don't have a year to re-scroll though my instagram feed, the number of hashtags is what we will judge by)

Number 10 - #InvertedStaffPose - 3,788. Sometimes with one leg, sometimes with two, I'm sure you have seen this pose more than once in your Instagram lifetime. 

 

Number 9 - #standingsplit -  With 11,000 tagged posts, and tons more floating about, I can assure you that this pose has shown up on my news feed more than once. 

 

 

Number 8 #peacockpose - 14,937. This pose is easier than it looks. Even I can squeek it out on occasion. But I will give major props to the one hander, and the old guy using a bench. If I tried that it would end in a bloody face and a broken nose! 

 

Number 7. #fireflypose-15,727. If you choose to try this at home, be aware that it may result in soundly bruised glutes and tailbone. More impressive than the photos are the seemingly endless videos of Yogis doing the press from firefly to handstand. It seems impossible. But I guess if EVERYBODY DOES IT... then maybe someday I can too. (It is important to note here that Instagram will give you a severely warped impression of the definition of "everybody")

 

 

Number 6. #scorpion - 37,391. I see this one all the time! (I'm pretty sure that it is being undersold in the 6th position, simply because it is often labeled as a handstand, forearm stand, or just an inversion. Also harder than it looks... but thanks to the flood on my newsfeed, I really feel that I should easily be doing this by now. lol) These are apparently the best looking when taken out in nature, or when jazzed up with a prop. (books or computers recommended) To REALLY take it to the next level, please include both books AND nature (see top left for shining example.)

 

Number 5 #dancerpose - 53,000. This pose is apparently most effective when photographed at sunset. (on a side note, I cannot make too much fun of that fact, since I am one of the guilty parties here.) 

 

Number 4 #forearmstand - 110,140. Jumping into the 6 digits of hashtags, This one is tough. (just kidding. It's only tough for me. Apparently Everyone Else in the World can do it like nothing) See above for definition of everyone. And doing it on a paddleboard? Yeah I tried that too.. And I ended up in the drink.

Number 3 #crowpose - 116,000 posts. With multiple fun variations, and the reputation for actually being much more attainable than it appears, its no wonder that the Crow pose is number 3 on the list. For the most authentic photo possible, use a fence, rock or fallen log. This will help you truly feel like the creature that you mimic. (At least I assume that is the case. Why else would everybody do so?)

 

Number 2 #headstand - 512,000. Because even the overly headstand posting yogis are not completely immune to the over posting of headstands problem, you will find them doing their best to vary the look of the headstand in any way they can think of. The most recent phase is including the Eagle Leg twist. Despite seeing this repeatedly, I still find myself impressed, simply because I can't rest on the top of my noggin for more than 2 seconds without acquiring a whopping headache. And really, the excessive use of this pose prepares me for real life. Thanks to Instagram, the next time I see someone planted head first in a field, I'm probably not even going to do a double take. I won't panic and I won't call 911. I will simply give them a thumbs up, and continue calmly on my way. 

Headstand

 

And the top most over-posted pose on instagram is the #handstand - cracking a million, with a whopping 1,540,920 posts. I gotta hand it to them... The one handers can still impress me a little, despite the insane amount of posts. The high level of competition keeps them trying to one-up each other, much to my viewing delight. I mean, you haven't really lived until you have seen a guy doing a handstand on a truck while it tips over... or on a camel.. or a horse. But it is all a matter of perspective, because let's face it... Once you have seen the guy on the top right, is the girl on the left even a LITTLE impressive? Suddenly i'm feeling very remorseful over my lack of a basic handstand. Sigh.. Ah well. 

  

 

Hopefully this post doesn't ruin your enjoyment of yoga feeds via Instagram. (You know, like when someone points out that your best friend from college chews like a cow... and even though you never noticed it before,  suddenly its all you can hear, and you can never eat with them again.) Yeah. Hopefully it wasn't like that. Keep on dreaming. Keep on posting. But for heavens sake... please...come up with a new pose once in awhile. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 22 October, 2015 1 comment | Read more →

Yoga Fashion Then and Now...

Yoga styles have changed a lot since the beginning of the art...mostly for the better I think. I decided to go back in time and do a little research on it to see if my theory was correct. 

Take this guy for example...

 

He is wearing a traditional Dhoti... which was nothing more that a simple piece of cloth that you apparently just kept tying and retying until it was safe to assume poses like the one featured above without being cited for public indecency. I hear they were very comfy...? In fact, some yoga companies still sell a modern version of this...

...which I'm sorry to report though still apparently quite comfy, looks way too much like an over full saggy diaper for my taste!

Along came the modernized 1800's, and us women were working out in the height of fashion..


Granted... this doesn't really count as yoga. But i'm pretty sure sears and Robucks would sell you the dress, the machine AND the workout manual all for the exorbitant price of $2.95 (that might be the only perk to working out back then)

Lucky for us, the fashion world rapidly learned that working out in skirts was in NOBODY's best interest. So by 1901, the split skirt/bloomer look was apparently taking the workout world by storm... er... at least by small squall. 

This yoga/zumba class rocked it. They even had zumba in 1901. WHO KNEW? 
Skip a few years, and then eventually, along came the 60's... And with great color pallets (not,) great yoga fashion. Sort of...

This lovely 60's glam yoga shot was a magazine cover. 


The 70's were equally great.. because two of the greatest  styles ever invented entered the yoga world. They were.. the UNITARD (really? how did the name not keep people from falling for this trend all by itself?) Another yoga magazine glam image for this one... apparently the Savasana  was the hottest move that year. 

And even better... the Yoga Diaper.

Don't be jealous folks! Apparently in some circles that style lasted, and you can get your own pair here

 Also not listed but never forgotten.. the Jane Fonda years. Ah that look. Leotards over tights... even as a small child I knew it was wrong! Thank goodness that by the time I fell in love with Yoga, the fashion had finally settled into something a lot more like it is today...

 Its true that the styles and colors rocking todays yoga circles are bold... some may even say crazy! But to recap... These Uniquely Yoga leggings are: 
A.) Not underwear!
B.) Not a dress!
C.) Not a diaper!
D.) Do not have the word "tard" in them anywhere!

Really, I think that settles it for me, and that is why i'm so glad that I live NOW and not THEN!

Posted by Johanna Johnston on 02 October, 2015 Fitness Blog, Yoga Blog, Yoga Fun, yoga humor | 0 comments | Read more →

How Stress Affects Your Body... and what Yoga can do about it

I have had some major health issues in my (not that long) lifetime. And over the past few months in a job environment that was growing increasingly tumultuous, I started to notice that I would have a pounding headache on Friday that would begin to lift the second that I walked out of the building. Then, over the weekend, I would get to the point that my body would feel almost perfect again. But come Monday morning, all of my symptoms would hit me like a lead balloon. Now I'm no doctor, but I can come to the conclusion that real symptoms don't come and go quite that regularly. (Now personally, I decided to solve that problem by quitting my job and going into freelance.) But since that may not be an option for everybody, I thought I would share one of the other great de-stressors in my life. Yoga. 

Disclaimer: I am not an old school Yogi. I don't chant OMs, I don't walk around quoting great philosophers, and I don't think that self reflection is the cure to all of the world's problems. However, what I have personally gotten from my yoga practice is the ability to completely turn off all outside stressors for at least an hour, and just be in the moment, focusing on things like whether or not my downword dog looks more like a topsy turvy camel.

I started taking yoga classes over my lunch breaks a couple of years ago, and while I was still in the office environment, it may have been one of the best choices that I ever made. The first few times I took classes, I'm pretty sure I tried to solve all of the problems on my desk in my head while half heartedly sweating it out in a somewhat sloppy Crescent Pose. But eventually, the focus needed to perform some of the harder yoga poses managed to pull my attention from my work, and to my surprise, when my brain was free to STOP focusing on all the problems in the world, it was actually much faster to think of solutions when I DID get back to my work. Thanks to yoga classes, I began to realize that life goes on without me telling it how, and that it is ok to simply take a break from trying to figure everything out once in awhile. Yoga helps you step back and see the problem from a distance, and realize that whether YOU have the answer or not, the sun will still rise in the morning.

Before I tried yoga, the idea of meditation weirded me out, because I was always told that it meant you were supposed to clear your mind. Do you know how freakin HARD that is? I don't think I have ever successfully had zero thoughts. But when I started doing yoga, i realized that all meditation really is (at least for me) is granting myself permission for an allotted period of time to simply NOT think about a single one of my problems or challenges. It doesn't work however, to just not think. So I simply use the time to think dream about something that I want to do some day, remind myself of my favorite promises from the Bible, to praise the Lord for all the amazing stuff that IS happening in my life, or to just be thankful. 

If you have a motherload of stress pounding you down, I recommend stepping it up a notch with Acro Yoga!!! Not only does it require your full concentration (thus eliminating your minds ability to continue to throw worrisome "what ifs" into your thoughts,) but it also requires your full body strength, thus equaling a killer workout followed by floods of happy de-stressing little endorphins! (See photo below... you can almost see the dancing endorphins :))

According to Mayo Clinic, the common effects of stress are: 

Common effects of stress ...
... On your body ... On your mood ... On your behavior
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal

And according to happy people everywhere, the common effects of yoga are:
• Boosted Mood
• Higher Metabolism
• Lower Blood Pressure
• Increased Strength and Flexibilty
• More Fun in Your Life (ok, that one is my loose interpretation. You can read the official article here)

Life will try and hand you stress, whether you want it or not. But you get to make the choice on whether you receive it. 

Photo Credits: Olivia Kohler Photography
Posted by Johanna Johnston on 10 September, 2015 Fitness Blog, Stress and Yoga, Yoga Blog | 0 comments | Read more →

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