Advertisements

New Yoga Video- Core Strength and Balance Challenge on YouTube

Core Strength and Balance Next Level Yoga Tara Kestner

Question: What are the two things people tell me they want to work on most?  Answer: Core Strength and Balance.  Question: What are the two things people groan about when we work on them in class?  Answer: Core Strength and Balance.   Interesting….

Next Level Yoga presents Core Strength and Balance Challenge

Summer Porch Yoga Core and Balance Challenge Video

Ready for a challenge? This class combines the two things clients request most, core work and balance. I firmly believe that balance is not improved by standing on one leg, but rather, by challenging the body’s ability to adjust during movements in all planes of motion.

Handily enough, all balance work requires core strength. This class has kneeling core and balance work, a core isolation flow series, then a long-levered balance sequence.

We finish on our backs with a tough and tricky series I call, dead crow progression. Not gonna lie, this one’s a killer.  It may take you a couple times through to get it, but when you master this class, it feels amazing.

You will need a block.; if you don’t have a yoga block a large book like Stephen King’s It or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will do, but put a string or rubber band around it so it doesn’t open on you at an inopportune time.

If you like this video, I would be ever so appreciative if would subscribe to my YouTube channel.  I need 1,000 subscribers for the folks at YouTube to take me seriously, I am currently at 17, clearly I am playing the long game 🙂

For more info on some of these classes check out some previous posts Yoga Video Yin Yang Flow and Hips and Hamstrings

More Yoga Videos from Next Level Yoga on YouTube

Short Soothing Yin Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Neck and Shoulder Elixir Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Hips and Hamstrings Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Yin Yang Flow by Next Level Yoga

Upper Body Stretch and Strengthen

 

Advertisements

Best Ever Vegan Biscuit Recipe

Vegan Biscuits? WTF, Tara? Yes why the food, indeed. I know it’s a little off topic here, but let me explain.  On my stats page I can see the top searches on my site.  They are usually things like “child’s pose,” “hip flexors” and “can yoga fix my back.”  But awhile ago, my top search was “vegan biscuit recipe.”

This went on for a few days, and I began to wonder who would be searching this site for a vegan biscuit recipe.  Do they think just because I teach yoga I am a vegan too?  Not only a vegan, but one who bakes! That’s a lot of pressure buddy, I am not that disciplined. I could not get it out of my mind, and decided I needed to help.

I did a little research, and found a variety of vegan biscuit recipes.  Since I don’t bake (and, full disclosure, I am also not vegan), I asked my daughter, Piper, to test out several recipes until we decided on the best one.  And here we are, don’t ever think I don’t care about my people.

I present the best Vegan Biscuits recipe ever.

vegan biscuit recipe
Vegan Biscuits and Jam, because Vegan Biscuits and Sausage Gravy would be wrong.

Here’s what you are going to need.

Vegan Biscuit ingredients
Everything you need for awesome biscuits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who are not “visual learners”  Here’s an ingredient list.

I cup of unsweetened Almond Milk

1 TB of fresh lemon juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

4 TBS cold vegan Butter (we used Miyoko, I am clearly skeptical)

vegan butter
Vegan butter, really? I don’t know about this stuff.

Preheat oven to 450.  Add lemon juice to almond milk to make vegan buttermilk.

Mix all the dry ingredients, whisk together.  Add butter to bowl and mix together with your hands until it resembles wet sand.  Work quickly you don’t want your butter getting warm.

Make a well in the center with wooden spoon and add in buttermilk a little at a time.  Keep mixing until it all comes together, you may not need all the buttermilk.

vegan biscuit 3

Turn out dough to a floured surface, sprinkle with flour and turn it on itself 5-6 times. Flatten it using your hands to about 1″ thick, then cut the biscuits with a glass or biscuit cutter.

vegan biscuit sprinkle.JPG
Messy Business, these biscuits.

Put the cut biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows with the edges lightly touching. Indent each biscuit in the center, and brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

vegan biscuit 5.JPG
Biscuit belly buttons, adorable!

And voila, perfect, delicious Vegan Biscuits.  Enjoy! (I hope these were not needed for a time-sensitive event.)

vegan biscuite voila

 

Yoga Video Alert- Stretch & Strengthen the Upper Body on YouTube

revolved lunge pose next level yoga

Do you have neck and shoulder issues?  If so, it might be caused by tight chest and shoulder muscles.  Stretch & Strengthen the Upper Body is designed to loosen the muscles of the chest, shoulders and upper back.  At the same time, working the muscles of the arms to develop tone and definition. Here is a link to the class Next Level Yoga Upper Body Class

If you want “yoga arms” or are already buff but need some definition to really prime your entry to the “gun show,” this is the class for you.  It starts out slow and easy, then builds some mobility in the shoulders with some gentle flow work.

Then on to some deep upper body stretches to really loosen the chest and upper back. Finally, a smooth landing on the mat with some reclined stretching and a nice, long final relaxation.

If you tried this class and liked it, please show your support by subscribing to the channel so you will receive an email message whenever a new video is posted.

More Yoga Videos from Next Level Yoga on YouTube

Short Soothing Yin Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Neck and Shoulder Elixir Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Hips and Hamstrings Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Yin Yang Flow by Next Level Yoga

Thanks so much,

Tara

Yoga Club Review-Take 3

Yoga Club tree pose bubble

yoga club logo

Shameful confession #1, I have no fashion sense. Apparently I am not alone, which is why Yoga Club exists and is thriving.  Yoga Club is like Stitch Fix, but for workout clothes.  If you don’t know what Stitch Fix is, you may find my post about my Stitch Fix adventure interesting, or not, no pressure, but aren’t you a tiny bit curious now,  here’s the link just in case you want to take a peek, I’ll wait.  June Stitch Fix Review

You may remember my last Yoga Club installment (Yoga Club Review Take 2) included a top that was not to my liking and I was going to check out their exchange program.  I discovered I had two options; I could join a Facebook group exclusively for selling and exchanging Yoga Club items, or I could choose a replacement from some options on their website.  I chose the latter and picked an MPG Sport t-shirt in a color called “fiery coral”  Let’s see how that turned out.

Yoga Club bright pink t shirt
MPG Sport Link Seamless T-Shirt retail price $38

WOW!  Needless to say, Fiery Coral is such a retina searing color, sunglasses are required.  I don’t think this one is going to work for me,  the fit is great but the color is shall we say, a bit garish.  So, I went back in and traded this out for another shirt in a more soothing palate which will come with next month’s box.

Next, was this…

Yoga Club Kenneth Cole Tank Singlet
Kenneth Cole Reaction Cosmic Singlet retail price $44

There is just no way around it, I am not a bubble gum pink tank top kinda gal.  To be fair, this top is really cute and it fits well, but it’s just not me, so it will be going back and will hopefully find a home with someone who can pull off this color.

The next item in the bright pink box was this..

Yoga Club 3 vest
Glyder Moxie Vest retail price $76

Now we’re talking.  This vest is more my style.  It’s a nice length, the fabric is super soft and there are big pockets to hide my Skittles.  These Threads for Thought leggings were also included, they are great, the fabric is really soft, they have a cute bandage strap detail on the leg (which looks a little bondage-y), but, I have so many pairs of black pants I think I will try to exchange these as well.

Yoga Club thread for thoughts legging zaria
Threads for Thought Zaria Legging retail price $98

So what have we learned, first Tara can’t wear pink, second it is possible to have too many pairs of black pants, and finally I eat too many Skittles.

Want to give Yoga Club a try? Here are the details on how to get started and save 25%?

How it works: YogaClub is a subscription service,  when you join you will choose a commitment level.  The Mantra (a pair of leggings), the Karma (leggings and a top), and the Guru (leggings, a top and a layering piece). Prices range from $45-$79, and you choose monthly or seasonal shipments.

If you use my referral code, ( Yoga Club Referral Link ) you will get 25% off your first box.  Full disclosure, I will get “Lotus Bucks” in return, but frankly you need a ton of them to just to get a 10% discount, so if you use someone else’s link I won’t be upset.  But please use a referral code, don’t be a chump like me and pay full price the first time.

When you click through that link, you will take a little style quiz and; yes, you do have to give them your credit card information.  Shortly thereafter you will get a bright pink YogaClub box full of goodies just for you.  It’s like your birthday every month.

Yoga Video Alert- Yin Yang Flow on YouTube

yoga video next level yin yang flow

If you liked the short tribute to Yin Yoga video, take some time and check out my Yin Yang Flow Yoga video which is now available on YouTube. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the channel to receive notice when a new video is posted.  Or, you can always follow this link to the class:      Yin Yang Flow by Next Level Yoga

Seek Balance in all Things.

This Yin Yang yoga video is designed to balance the sweet ease of a yin yoga class, with the spicy effort of a yang flow class. The first twenty minutes are slow paced, gentle poses. The middle 20 minutes are a slow easy flow designed to loosen the joints and get your energy moving. The class finishes with 20 more minutes of quiet yin postures for a soft landing into final relaxation.

Bring a blanket or big towel for some extra padding.  The class is a little longer, but it will be worth the time. Put on some quiet music, take some time for yourself, you deserve it. Enjoy.

If you tried this class and liked it, please subscribe to the channel so you will receive an email message when a new video is posted.

More Yoga Videos from Next Level Yoga on YouTube

Here are links to some other videos you may like.

Short Soothing Yin Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Neck and Shoulder Elixir Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Hips and Hamstrings Yoga Class by Next Level Yoga

Thanks so much!

Natural Pain Relief Products-When Yoga Isn’t Enough

Back Pain Relief

Recently my husband hurt his back, and as he limped around someone sarcastically asked him, “what, the magic of yoga couldn’t fix you?” Well no Ian, it couldn’t, but thanks for your sincere and heartfelt concern.  When yoga isn’t enough, you need a little help in the pain relief area.

Everyone suffers from some kind of malady at one time or another, and no matter how much you stretch, massage, ice or elevate it, the pain persists. In those cases I have two all natural pain relief products I recommend to clients.

The first is Myo-Med Pro Pain Relief creme. I was introduced to this product by my phenomenal massage therapist and I love it.  It’s not greasy, works really fast and does not smell as strong as other similar products. Here is a link if you want to check it out: https://amzn.to/2JuqmsG

The second is DoTerra’s Deep Blue Rub. Like Myo-Med, this product is formulated with essential oils, but along with the standard camphor and wintergreen for pain reief, Deep Blue has helichrysum which is known for its healing properties. Unfortunately, it’s also for it’s price which runs about $100.00 for 5 ml. YIKES!

This is why this product is markedly more expensive.  My clients who have issues with arthritis and other chronic inflammation disorders have had really good results with Deep Blue. Here’s a link if this seems like something you would like to try: https://amzn.to/2HiDBYB

The next time you find yourself in pain, and the “magic of yoga” has failed you as well,  you can give one of these natural pain relief products a try and hopefully find some comfort.

 

 

This post is not a paid endorsement although it does contain affiliate links. If you are concerned about this blog receiving a small commission for using the link, you can simply use a search engine to find products elsewhere on the internet.

Block Party- 5 Great Uses for a Yoga Block

If I intend to teach a class that uses a yoga prop (block, strap, blanket or bolster) I usually have to provide said prop. Therefore, if I am going to lug 35 blocks to class, you better believe I plan to use it for more than one pose.

In a great stand-up bit by Tyler Fischer, he talks about yoga class and says there is always some mystery prop. The teacher will say something like, you are going to need to get yourself a blanket, two blocks and a live turtle. He’s spot on hilarious. Here is a link if you want to check out the whole bit. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Comedian-Tyler-Fischer-Video-About-Yoga-Torture-40599586

Blocks are probably the most versatile of the props. Think of them as a way to bring the ground closer, or, alternatively, make your arms longer.  If you don’t have a block you really should consider getting one.  They come in 3 and 4 inch versions, I recommend the 4-inch,  here are two good ones.  Four inch block  https://amzn.to/2J84MHc   Three inch block https://amzn.to/2JbSpdj

Once you have procured yourself block here are five of my favorite ways to use them.

  1.  Runner’s Lunge- Use the block to lengthen the arms by placing it under the hands; or,  lower down onto the forearms to drop into the middle-ground between hands on the floor and forearms on the floor. Try them both to see what your body responds to.
    Elevated Runner’s Lunge

    Supported Runner’s Lunge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Revolved Lunge-  use the block to get a little height and allow the ribs to more fully rotate towards the inner knee.

Elevated Revolved Lunge

3.  Bridge.  Placing the block between the knees balances out the strength of the outer leg, which tends to pull the knees apart.  The block between the knees engages those inner leg muscles and forces you to distribute the work between the inner and outer leg more equally.

Aligned Bridge Pose

4.  Supported Bridge-  This is a great way to release the hip flexors, align the SI joint and relieve low back pain.  Place the block under the sacrum (the bony area above the tailbone, below the L5 vertebrae).  For a more intense experience, try straightening out one or both legs.

Supported Bridge Pose

5. Pigeon.  Slide the block under the elevated hip, and allow the block to fill in the space between the hip and the floor.  Stay for a minimum of one minute best results.

Supported Pigeon Pose

Yoga Club Review Take 2

Those of you who know me are aware, fashion is not my strong suit.  I will happily teach a yoga class in a ratty, 10 year-old Ohio State T-shirt and plain black leggings (full length in Winter, capris in Summer, because variety) without a hint of self-consciousness. But, when I started making videos, I realized that’s probably not the best look, so I decided to tighten my yoga fashion game and subscribed to YogaClub.

How it works: YogaClub is a subscription wardrobe service like Stitch Fix, but for workout clothing.  When you join, you choose a commitment level.  The Mantra level is a pair of leggings, Karma level is leggings and a top, and the Guru gets you leggings, a top and a layering piece. Prices range from $45-$79, and you choose monthly or seasonal shipments.

If you use my referral code, which is, https://my.yogaclub.com/TaraK7 you can give Yoga Club a try and get 25% off your first box.  Full disclosure, I will get “Lotus Bucks” in return, but frankly you need a ton of them to just to get a 10% discount, but please, use the discount, 25% off is nothing to sneeze at.

When you click through that link, you will take a little style quiz and; yes, you do have to give them your credit card information.  Shortly thereafter you will get a bright pink YogaClub box full of goodies just for you.  It’s like your birthday every month.

My first Club box was a smashing success and is chronicled here if you are curious https://nextlevelyoga.net/2018/05/11/yoga-club-review-take-1/

My second box was also good, but not quite as successful as the first installment. Let’s take a look.

This is the Glyder “Slash” Racerback Tank  https://amzn.to/2H5rHkm  First, the softness of this fabric cannot be overstated, it’s like wearing a kitten.  However, it is really sheer, like I can see the details of your bellybutton sheer, and then there is this little detail…..

ahhhhh, no.  The mystery of the name Slash is solved, it looks like I just barely escaped an unfortunate paper shredder encounter.  Given the foregoing, this will be my first experience with the YogaClub exchange program.  But wait, there’s more.

Let’s talk about these guys.  The Alternative Scoop Neck T  (cheaper version in gray here https://amzn.to/2IV6oYA ) and the MPG Frame High Waisted Side Pocket Legging, here they are in black,  https://amzn.to/2sscJj8  The shirt is amazingly comfortable, and the color is gorgeous, it retails for $42, I don’t know who pays that for a T-shirt, I paid $26 for this one and that seems about right.

But these, pants… words cannot describe how much I love these pants.  They fit perfectly, sometimes high-waisted leggings fit me like maternity pants, but not these, they don’t roll or slide around.  The fabric is soft and the mesh vents are just cool.  All of that, and a place to hide my Skittles.  WINNER!

So to recap, Yoga Club Round Two was mostly a success.  I will investigate my exchange options for old see-through Slash, and let you know how it works out.  If you want to give it a try, use the referral link https://my.yogaclub.com/TaraK7 and let me know how it works out.

Tara

Short and Soothing Summer Porch Yoga-Yin Edition

 

Need a break? My short Yin inspired yoga class is now on YouTube. Grab a blanket or big towel, find a quite spot and take 20 minutes to stretch and chill. If you like the class and can find it in your heart to subscribe to my channel, I would be massively grateful.
Here is the Link: https://youtu.be/d8taXkqs6G0
Enjoy!
Tara

Hello Youtube… Summer Porch Yoga has Arrived

My daughter Piper tells me that all the cool kids put their “content” on Youtube; and, we all know coolness is my lifelong goal, so I am uploading my free videos onto YouTube. You can find me wedged between “Crazy Nuttyass Honey Badger” and “Goat Yelling Like a Man” Or, you can follow this link to my Hips and Hamstrings class https://youtu.be/TCey6kBCIqM
(but seriously that Goat is unsettling)

See you there!

Tara

Yoga Club Review Take 1

Yoga Club is a subscription wardrobe service like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club or Wantable, but for workout clothing.  I recently participated in a challenge on Yogadownload.com in which a Yoga Club subscription was the prize, and while I did not win, I was intrigued by the idea and thought I would give it a try.

With Yoga Club, there are three levels to choose from, Mantra, Karma and Guru, the names are a little hokey I know, but I guess they had to call them something.  With the Mantra you just get a pair of leggings, the Karma is leggings and top, and the Guru gets you leggings, top and layering piece.  The prices range from $45-$79, and you can choose monthly or seasonal shipments.  I went with the Guru, cleverly deducing that the per item cost is around $26 which is actually quite reasonable.

If you use my referral code, which is, https://my.yogaclub.com/TaraK7 you can give Yoga Club a try and get 25% off your first box.  Full disclosure, I will get “Lotus Bucks” in return, but frankly you need a ton of them to get just to get a 10% discount, so I am a bit nonplussed with their reward program. But please, get yourself that discount because 25% off is nothing to sneeze at.

First, you will take a little style quiz and yes, you do have to give them your credit card information.  Shortly thereafter you will get a bright pink Yoga Club box full of goodies just for you.  It’s like it’s your birthday every month. Let’s take a look at what I got in my first box.

In my happy place watching birds and eating peanut butter 🙂

This is the LA Soul Happy Tank and Peek A Boo Glyder leggings.  I really like both these pieces. At first the leggings seemed a little stiff, but as soon as they warmed up, they fit like a glove.  They are mid-rise and have a cut out detail on the back of the calves. The tank, speaks for itself, quite literally.

Showing a little skin.

Next up, the layering piece, meet the Amari  Revive Pullover.  How did they know I hate hoods, but love these loose mock-neck sweatshirts?  Well played Yoga Club. I really like the weight and finish on this top.  It’s warm, but not too heavy.

Perfect hanging out and drinking coffee top.

Bonus, there is a kangaroo pouch to hide your secret stash, whatever your particular vice may be.  No Judgment.

Skittles, what Skittles? I have no idea what you are talking about.

Since I liked all three pieces there was no need to explore the exchange feature this time.  However, had there been a item I did not want, I could have gone to the website and chosen another item which they will send in the subsequent box, along with any envelope to return the unwanted piece.  There is also a Facebook group where members trade and sell Yoga Club clothing.

So to recap, Yoga Club Round One was a success.  I look forward to seeing what they send me next.  If you want to give it a try, use the link above and treat yourself.

Tara

Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

People will ask me which yoga mat is the best, and while I can answer that question with absolute certainty for myself, I think you have to consider a number of variables. Here are some tips to buying the perfect yoga mat for you.

My mat of choice is the Jade Fusion, it was an absolute game changer. Given that I have the boniest knees on the planet, I tried numerous mat and supplemental padding permutations. When I found the Fusion mat, my life changed. No more folding mats or setting up towels, I could just drop a knee and focus on the pose, rather than counting the seconds until I could get back up. I have several of these mats and I let clients use them just so they can see the difference. It is always a transformative moment. Check out the Jade Fusion here https://amzn.to/2qKMjsn

This is not to say I think the Fusion is the right mat for everyone, it has some downside. First, in comparison to other mats, it costs a small fortune. Second, it weighs as much as my cat, so lugging it around can be a burden. And, because of the extra density, it makes balance poses a bit more challenging. But to me, those are prices I am more than willing to pay.

Oh, that’s why it’s so heavy

My standard advice when choosing a mat is the same that I give when buying a cake, look for density. There are some nice mats out there that won’t break the bank. If you have been practicing for a while and are ready to treat yourself to a premium mat, check out Jade and Manduka. I have a Manduka mat that I use at my office and it is really nice, not quite as dense as the Fusion, but a really good mat at about half the price. Check out my Manduka mat here: https://amzn.to/2H7PqkT

There are good options at places like TJ Maxx and Target. Gaiam is probably best known, they have a premium line which I am seeing a lot of, and people seem pleased with them. When looking at mats, try to find a minimum density of 5mm, you can generally tell by the size of the roll how dense the mat is, if it looks like a taquito, it is probably 3mm so move on. Here is a nice Gaiam mat with lots of color choices: https://amzn.to/2J5ZjjD

Also, consider length. Standard length is 68” which is fine if you are 5’8″ or shorter. For taller clients, I recommend they spend the extra few bucks for the 74” mat, it is a rarely regretted decision. Extra wide mats also exist, so don’t just buy the first thing you see, get what you need, you are going to spend a fair amount of time, face down on this thing. The Jade 74″ Fusion mat is here  https://amzn.to/2J6i2f3 Gaiam also has a nice extra long/wide mat as well: https://amzn.to/2HtgTAR 

While there are plenty of mats which will serve you well out there, I have definite opinions about those big puffy “fitness mats.” Stay away from them. They are not designed for yoga, they have no grip, the ends roll up, and they condense to a tissue-thin sheet when you press on them. I cannot tell you how many people have bought them thinking the puffiness will make them more comfortable, only to be disappointed and frustrated when they don’t work.

This guy, yeah… avoid him.

Bottom line when buying a mat, consider how often you practice, if it’s more than once a week, spend a little more for a premium mat. If you practice once a week or less, get yourself a nice quality 5mm from one of the mass retailers. A final word of warning, if you float the idea of getting a mat as a present, be specific about the mat you want, otherwise the decision will be made on color and price and that does not always end well.

I would love to hear from you, please comment below and let me know your favorite yoga mat, and what it is about the mat that you love.