Yoga, as we know, means ‘mind-body connection’. As we move through our postures (or asanas), it’s easy to be caught up in just the physical movement of the body – like with any other form of exercise. Yet, there is much more to a consistent yoga practice and as you begin to explore the nature of your mind during yoga class, you begin also to learn a lot about who you are.
Mindfulness has become a ‘buzzword’ of late. We are encouraged to be more present. To not live in the past or the future. This can be more easily said than done. Most of us struggle to find the time to meditate, let alone face sitting still for an hour or even, 10 minutes. We know it can be a great thing for our health and creating the discipline can be daunting. The good news is, yoga practise can help.
You may have noticed it can be tricky focussing on doing a posture and dealing with your ‘to do list’, or the gossip from work
earlier in the day, at the same time. We’re so focussed on listening to our teacher, working on our task at hand and striving for a stronger, better posture. If you lose your focus, you fall out! Perfect! You could almost consider it to be ‘instant karma’ for allowing your mind to wander when focus is what’s called for. We’re so used to multi-tasking these days, even driving your car at 100km/hr down the freeway (a potentially deadly task) is pretty much an unconscious activity we undertake regularly!
A great way to ensure your focus remains strong in class is to set your intention before you even take your first breath in class. You’ll notice the class always begins with some form of opening. Whether it be the teacher just asking you to feel grounded and/or to actually set your intention for class. After a while, having such an intention gives you something to come back to, should you lose your focus or your drive to keep going when things get tough! It’s a wonderful tool to help you get the most out of your class. And remember, if it all gets too much – just come back to the focus being on your breath. It’s always there, without fail.
Your intention may be just about your postures on that day. It could be to build some aspect of your mental strength. Perhaps it’s to resolve and come to peace with being uncomfortable or under pressure – all in the name of better health and mindset, of course. Or it could even be an intention you’d like to set on behalf of another person. Maybe someone who is struggling themselves, or is sick or incapable of participating in physical exercise…. whatever or whoever is important to you will surely lead to a stronger and more focussed practice.
As you learn to increase your focus in class and strengthen your intentions for practise, you will find a whole new perspective to your yoga. Not just another form of exercise but an opportunity to grow and to contribute to others.
Human beings are wired to be part of a group. We evolved each as an integral part of the ‘human tribe’ – everyone holding an important role in the group, whether it be chasing down food for dinner or tending to the children. We have formed communities not just so that we can feel part of something but also for survival and rapid expansion as a species. Our hormonal profile (e.g., Oxytocin and Serotonin) dictates the biological need for belonging. Yet, we have technologically evolved so quickly, we have lost the connection between each other. Belonging is the third highest human need in Maslow’s hierarchy of survival. So, why’s it so important and how do we maintain a strong level of connection with others?
One of the first things to realise is that we become like the 6 people we hang around with the most. That in itself can be a scary thought! If you work next to someone who is not your ideal role-model 8 hours a day, be sure to get your human connection from more uplifting beings in your downtime. You can’t really choose your family – and for some of us lucky ones, it’s worked out pretty good. If you find you’re getting weighed down by old stories from those in your gene pool, again be sure to satisfy the need to belong with people who resonate closer to your own values and ideals. You can choose that and choose wisely for your own health’s sake.
Team Mtg2Whenever you are already part of a community or thinking about becoming part of one you need to be aware of the potential effects that it could have on you. Where do you hang out now? What impact is that having on you and your sense of wellbeing? Is it driving you forward in your growth, or potentially holding you back? There are many questions to consider…
At Elemental, we are focused heavily on creating great communities for health-minded people. We want to surround ourselves with people who are driven to have better health, have a positive view, and are focused on changing their lives for the better.
We have such conviction in the power of strong, healthy communities and the impact that thatch have on the world, we have chosen to make community the centre of our business and provide as many means as possible for our members to come together and share their energy.
Here are some important reasons why you should become part of a community:
Inspiration & Motivation – in strong communities there is always someone doing something amazing, which can have the effect of inspiring you to go harder and achieve bigger goals. Community members act more like a team – edging each other on to successful outcomes. If you feel part of something bigger than yourself, you’re far more likely to follow through and achieve what you set out to do.
Expansion through Sharing -why reinvent the wheel? Rather than having to learn from your own mistakes you can reach out to the community and ask if anyone has had an experience that could be valuable to your situation. This is the shortcut to success. Everywhere around you, there are people you can learn from and those who can learn from you. An incredibly powerful platform to quickly improve your experience and the lives of others. Even something as simple as a shared recipe can make a difference in someone’s day.
A Network of Support – there are times in life when you are in need of a particular service, advice, support, understanding or may like to meet a particular person. When you are in strong community it is highly likely that someone may be able to help you out or just share your celebratory moments. Even finishing a class is a big ask some days! To take the time out to share a chat over a smoothie after class can really complete the way you feel and boost those healthy, happy human-connection hormones!
Opportunity – as part of a community we get to learn from other people’s success and what other people do with their day-to-day lives. Successful people are always doing cool stuff and when you are hanging out with them you often get a sense of how that could be real for you, too (and as we said above, possibly feel inspired to do the same). Whether it’s a social activity, perfecting a posture or a once in a lifetime experience, there is always an opportunity for expansion and growth to be found.
Fun – we are social animals and when you are part of a community there are always social activities involved where you can have a lot of fun.
It’s just plain good for your health – People who feel like they belong have far less behavioural issues (such as anxiety or depression). You feel there is more meaning and purpose to your life and that you are exactly where you’re meant to be. The on-flow of positive health effects are massive. Less stress, more happiness, greater contentment, less chance of chronic disease.
Everybody needs to be part of some community. Choose your community wisely and play full out for maximum fun and vitality. We look forward to welcoming you to the Elemental Community at any time – a place to actualise your own highest potential.
We spend many hours a year sweating it out on the mat. Not just for the sake of losing water but also for the big detox. Our Infra-Red system helps but there’s plenty you can do OFF the mat to ensure your toxic load is low and your body is getting stronger and healthier. With less toxic load on board, not only do you have more energy and mental clarity to function but your immune system is primed and ready for any potential ‘invaders’.
If you follow these 5 simple steps between classes, you increase your chances of staying healthy all year long.
Let’s start with something a little less known: LIGHT. phone2
“Wow, did you say light?”, I hear you say. Yep – light. Light of certain frequencies at the wrong time of day/year can set your body reeling in terms of function. In our modern age, we stay under bright lights until late at night, we watch bright screens (even if the lights are off) and rarely get the normal spectrum of sunlight for the season we are in. There is increasing research on the potential detrimental effects of ‘inappropriate’ light including links to MS, epithelial cancers (like skin, breast and colon) and mood disorders. TIP: Try to avoid bright light beyond 1-hour post sunset – screens (TV/phones/computers); install f.lux (free) on your computers for accurate screen colouration for time of day, get out into the early morning sunlight as much as you can to help generate Vitamin D and balance your hormones; sleep in completely darkened room.
Now, for one of the most common: FOOD.
Food sources are not always clean. Whether it be what the farmer or distributor sprays on the food right through to genetically modified produce, you want to find out what potential toxins you’re putting in your body. As a general rule, if it’s coming home in a packet, likely it has things in it you don’t want in your body. If your consume animal products, remember that they are what they ate. So, if it’s farm raised fish, they probably got fed a LOT of grain or waste products. If it’s from a caged chicken – tons of GMO corn. Look for ethically farmed animal products and raised in ways as close as possible to their natural state and diet e.g. free-roaming, 100% Grass-fed cattle. TIP: Know where your food came from and how it is produced (and stored); find out if it is ‘in season’. If not, you’re not meant to be eating it; Wash every fruit and vegetable thoroughly – residual pesticides and fertilisers can build up in your body over time; become a ‘conscious eater; avoid non-organic grain and legume products (they are sprayed with Roundup routinely).
An absolute necessity for everyone and as a hot yogi, you’re probably even more aware of how important it is to you. Get a good filter at home that removes the toxins such as chorine and fluoride. This interfere with neurological and gut function and are not healthy consumed over time. We need the chorine added to public water to ensure it’s safe to drink but the fluoride is an unfortunate unproven ‘mass medication’ program and has detrimental effects in the body over time. There’s plenty of places to read of on this. Make sure you get your information from a reputable source – not the tin-hat wearers conspiracy club. TIP: Choose to drink water over all other beverages – most pre-prepared drinks are made on tap water (=toxic); get a filter at home; use glass or stainless steel bottles as much as possible to avoid toxins from the plastics; bottled water is ok if you know the source and only use occasionally (they usually come in plastic!)
Super obvious known toxic baddies: SUGAR, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, VEGETABLE/SEED BASED OILS
No need to go too in depth here. We know we love ’em. We know we should stay away from them. They have been engineered by food companies to taste extra yummy so we want to eat these things all the time. Just don’t. After a few weeks avoiding certain foods, you don’t miss them anymore. TIP: If its got loads of sugar, agave, maple, rice syrup, HFCS – stop kidding yourself and get off that toxic crud. It’s causing you a fatty liver, an unhealthy cardiovascular system and giving you a spare tyre!; Artificial sweeteners will rot everything from your brain to your bones – just don’t; throw out all canola, margarine, any other seed oil based product – replace with olive, coconut, lard…. anything that comes from a natural source (rather than the equivalent of a petrochemical plant).
Another obvious but rarely actioned one: CHEMICAL EXPOSURE
We are surrounded by modern day conveniences such as deodorants, washing powders, bleaches, sunscreens, petrol, gas and glue to name a few. Then there’s the little luxuries – perfumes, cosmetics, shaving creams, insect sprays…. pretty much all of them now considered ‘necessity’. Now, I’m not one to advocate the smelly pits brigade – I can’t stand being it the presence of “odourousness” myself but there are awesome non-toxic alternatives to be found all around. They can be a bit more expensive but when it comes to looking after your health, it’s well worth it. TIP: Find out what chemicals your really need in your life on as many levels as possible and eliminate the rest; If you have an issue with body odour – get a zinc test, you may be low; for those things you absolutely cannot live without, find a clean alternative that works for you.
Whilst many of us often throw caution to the wind and join in as our teens call out YOLO, it’s good to remember health is always easier to maintain than regain. Become curious and start to find ways in which you could reduce your toxic load. Then each time you get on the mat, you get to take your health to a whole new level!
~ Dr Linda
You know that feeling when you lay on your mat, possibly in child’s pose and you… well, you start to get a bit of a hint that something’s not right. Perhaps your mat? Maybe the crop top you’re wearing? Heaven forbid it’s your towel??! Fear not if it’s your favourite pair of Lululemon duds or your skidless towel. We’ve got the low-down as the hot yoga professionals on how to revive and re-instate these much-loved (and often costly to replace) items.
Saving your Clothes & Skidless Yoga Towels:
Step 1: Wash your gear as normal to get rid of any sweat/grime/skin etc.
Step 2: Fill a large bucket or the laundry sink with water and tip in about 250mL of Apple Cider Vinegar. It seems a lot – but this is the magic formula for success…. Stir and put gear in.
Step 3: Leave overnight to soak. You’ll love waking to the aroma of Apple Cider Vinegar through the house – you’ll feel cleaner straight away.
Step 4: Wash gear in your washing machine in the normal manner again.
Step 5: Hang wet gear in a well ventilated and if possible, sunny position. (Sun is excellent for killing off any other residual bugs.) Don’t leave it out in the elements too long – it may fade.
Saving your Mat:
The process here is going to depend on the type of mat you have. Some mats go into the machine OK, others not so much.
Recommended for Jivana/all-in-one type mats:
Step 1: Wash your mat in the washing machine using your usual detergent. (Cold – Warm, never hot)
Step 2: Half-fill the bathtub with water and tip in about 500mL of Apple Cider Vinegar. Place mat in bath.
Step 3: Leave to soak 2-3 hours.
Step 4: Re-wash mat in your washing machine in the normal manner again.
Step 5: Hang mat in a well ventilated and if possible, sunny position straight away. (Sun is excellent for killing off any other residual bugs.) Don’t leave it out in the elements too long – a little while is fine but some mat manufacturers don’t recommend any sun exposure. If you’re worried about that, check the washing instructions. Personally, I’ve never had a mat degrade under sunlight exposure for a few hours. I like the benefit it provides.
Recommended for Premium/‘Quick Dry’ or TPE Style mats:
Step 1: These can often go into a normal wash cycle as well. WARNING: They can get a bit ‘chewed’ up in the spin cycle if it ends up in the wrong position. It’s rare but does happen. Wash your mat in the washing machine – use a little detergent. (Cold – Warm, never hot)
Step 2: Quarter-fill the bathtub with water and tip in approximately 10-20mL each of Eucalyptus and Tea-tree oil. Place mat in bath.
Step 3: Agitate the mat around in the mix for 5 minutes or so.
Step 4: Hang mat in a well ventilated and if possible, sunny position straight away. Don’t leave it out in the elements too long – a little while is fine but some mat manufacturers don’t recommend any sun exposure. If you’re worried about that, check the washing instructions.
Recommended for the cheaper Vinyl Type Mats: (aka Beginner Mats/Kmart cheapies etc)
Step 1 – 4: Follow recommendations above BUT beware Vinyl mats often become porous and start to soak in water. The means they are also starting to hold onto your sweat from class and will become smelly and gross pretty quickly.
If you suspect your mat has become porous (usually feels a bit damp when you first start class and you’re not even sweaty yet), it’s time to chuck it out and get a new mat. If you’ve practised long enough to make it ‘gooey’ spend the extra on TPE or Jivana Mats – they last for years and are well worth it.
Recommended for Thick, Camping Mat Style:
Step 1: Throw in Bin.
That thing will be nasty! They are porous from day 1 and become a massive sponge of sweaty stinky bugs!!! Treat yourself to a real yoga mat… savasana is not really for snooze time!
I hope this helps you rescue and rejuvenate your gear for the year. If you have any questions, be sure that all the Elemental Teachers have had to deal with this issue before. Ask us for our best tips and tricks to get the most out of your gear and make your workout more enjoyable.
Elemental – Fresh is Best!
~Dr Linda 🙂
You can purchase your Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in-studio!