Next Level Yoga, Ltd.

Yoga designed to improve performance in sports & life.

Yoga + Essential Oils

Incorporating esseyoga-eontial oils into your yoga practice is a great way to maximize the benefits of yoga. I know, it can feel a little out there to think that rubbing a drop or two of some plant oil on you is going to have some tangible effect on your body. However, think about this: before we had modern synthetic based drugs, people cured multitudes of maladies with plants alone.

Scientists who are way smarter than me, figured out how to mimic those plants’ chemical compounds and created drugs that have profound effects on the body, curing all manners of disease. So I ask, why is it so far-fetched to believe those same plant oils, in their purest forms, would not have the same effect now?

In short, its not, it just takes a little getting used to the idea. To be clear, no-one is suggesting you should forgo all modern medicine for essential oils, that would be irresponsible, but why not give it a try and see if you realize any benefits?

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The use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes is called aromatherapy. Different oils provide different benefits. Some oils can improve concentration or reduce stress, while others help boost the immune system or improve the quality of sleep.

There are many different oils out there, the trick is to find what works for you. That will depend on what you hope to achieve. Here are a few essential oil basics: for enhanced relaxation try lavender, marjoram or ylang ylang. Conversely, for energy try peppermint, rosemary or wild orange. For focus and concentration, try grounding oils like sandalwood, frankincense and cedarwood.

Now to amp up those benefits try incorporating essential oils into your yoga practice. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:

  • Use a Diffuser: Diffusing aerosolizes the oil molecules allowing you to breathe in their benefits. The most safest and most effective method is to use a diffuser which you can find either online or at most stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond. You simply add water and a few drops of oil and hit the start button. diffuser
  • Topical Application. Basically, you rub a few drops directly on to the skin. Always test for skin sensitivity first, and consider using a carrier oil such as fractionated (fatty acids removed) coconut oil to dilute the oil and cover more of the skin’s surface. Depending on the oil and the desired effect, there are a variety of ways to apply, for instance; rub peppermint on your chest or biceps before sun salutations for an energy boost; for relaxation, massage some lavender into the soles of your feet before final seated and reclined poses, or rub some sandalwood into your hands, cup your hands in front of your face to breath in the scent during the initial breathing exercises at the beginning of class.Foot care and foot massage in salon
  • Ingestion. Oils that are safe to ingest, such as lemon, lime and peppermint can be added to your water to sip during and after class. Be sure to confirm the oil you are using is safe for ingestion. Personally, I use doTerra products which carry a supplement label, letting you know they are safe to ingest, unless you see a similar label, do not assume you can ingest the oil.

supplement

If you are interested in learning more, I teach Essential Yoga Workshops each month which incorporate oils into the yoga practice, consider giving one of those a try. The yoga is suitable for all levels of experience, the oils are all provided and most importantly, we have a lot of fun.

Here is the link to our Facebook page for more information on yoga and essential oils https://www.facebook.com/essentialyogaworkshop/ or better yet, go to: http://bit.ly/essentialyoga and register to join us sometime.

TOLEDO FIREFIGHTER YOGA STARTS JANUARY 11, 2016! (For real this time)

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WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT?
This class is beginner friendly and appropriate for all experience levels. It will be therapeutic yoga, designed to undo the damage done to the body either at work or just the stress of everyday living. Each class will have a nice balance of work for increasing flexibility, joint stability, balance and overall stress relief. Sound like something you need, then read on…

WHO’S IT FOR?
This class is available to active and retired firefighters and their immediate families.

WHEN?
Mondays from 5:00 pm-6:00 pm, please arrive at least 10 minutes before class begins. Starting date- January 11, 2016.

WHERE?
Toledo Firefighter Union Hall
714 Washington Street
Toledo, OH 43604

HOW MUCH?
Free, yep that’s right, zero dollars, it is a benefit provided by Local 92 to firefighters and their families.

I’M INTRIGUED, TELL ME MORE….

**Don’t own a mat? No problem. Mats and props will be available for use, the only condition is you must let Tara know that you will be coming and need a mat before class.

** What should I wear and bring? Don’t feel awesome in spandex pants, no problem. Just wear something comfortable, Lightweight clothing is best, layers are your friend. I recommend bringing a beach size towel with you, the floor can be hard and cold.

HOW DO I JOIN?

You can email me at kestnert@bex.net or message me on Facebook at Tara Kestner Next Level Yoga Ltd. if you need a mat, otherwise just show up about 10 minutes before class starts at 5:00 pm.

WANT MORE INFORMATION?
Like our facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/nextlevelyogaltd
or, email kestnert@bex.net

TOLEDO FIREFIGHTERS YOGA CLASS UPDATE

4-ways-to-love-the-yoga-poses-you-hate

Houston, we have a problem, but like the crew of Apollo 13 we will sort it out and get back on mission shortly. Until that course correction is complete the start date for the Yoga for Toledo Firefighters class is on standby.

To be clear, the class will still launch (sorry, can’t seem to stop with the NASA puns) and it will still be available to, and specifically for Toledo Firefighters and their family members. Further, it will be on Monday evenings at 5:00 pm, it will just not be starting on November 16, 2015.

In the meantime, contact me and I can direct you to some free online yoga classes you can do in the privacy of your own home, or full view of the public if that is your game, no judgment here.

Thanks for hanging with me, I will keep you posted here and on my Facebook page when I have a solid start date.
Tara

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YOGA FOR FIREFIGHTERS CLASS DETAILS

Helmets not necessary.

Bunker gear and helmet not required.

WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT?
This class is beginner friendly and appropriate for all experience levels. It will be therapeutic yoga, designed to undo the damage done to the body either at work or just the stress of everyday living. Each class will have a nice balance of work for increasing flexibility, joint stability, balance and overall stress relief. Sound like something you need, then read on…

WHO’S IT FOR?
This class is available to active and retired firefighters and their immediate families.

WHEN?
Mondays from 5:00 pm-6:00 pm, please arrive at least 10 minutes before class begins. Starting date- November 16, 2015.

WHERE?
Toledo Firefighter Union Hall
714 Washington Street
Toledo, OH 43604

HOW MUCH?
5 class pre-paid pass is $60.00.
Passes are perfect for those that know they want to commit to a class, but may not be able to make every week.

Drop-in price is $15.00 per class.
Not sure yoga is for you, try dropping into a class. This one class at at a time approach is a perfect way to test the waters with no long term commitment.

Cash, Check or Credit Cards accepted.

I’M INTRIGUED, TELL ME MORE….

**Don’t own a mat? No problem. Mats and props will be available for use at no additional charge, the only condition is you must let Tara know that you will be coming and need a mat before class.

** What should I wear and bring? Don’t feel awesome in spandex pants, no problem. Just wear something comfortable, Lightweight clothing is best, layers are your friend. I recommend bringing a beach size towel with you, the floor can be hard and cold.

**Drop in participation is welcome, so long as there is space available. If you want to drop into a class shoot me (Tara) an email at kestnert@bex.net before class just to ensure space is available and I have enough equipment on hand.

HOW DO I JOIN?

You can email me at kestnert@bex.net and indicate if you want a pass or want to drop in. Message me on Facebook at Tara Kestner Next Level Yoga Ltd.

WANT MORE INFORMATION?
Like our facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/nextlevelyogaltd
or, email kestnert@bex.net

FOOD!!! Piper’s Power Bites Recipe

 

For those of you who were at the Yoga & Essential Oils event, and loved my daughter’s treats, here is the recipe. They are not low cal, but they are full of clean, whole, delicious food.

power bites
Piper’s Power Bites
Ingredients:
1 cup finely shredded coconut
1 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew whatever you like)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 raw honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS chia seeds
3 drops doTerra Wild Orange essential oil

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl EXCEPT for a 1/2 cup of coconut. Mix well until well combined. Refrigerate until firm (10-20 mins).

Roll into balls then coat with remaining coconut. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Store in the refrigerator.

All Level Wednesday Yoga Class

All level poster

I have an new on-going yoga class which is open to the public, here’s the 411…

WHAT’S THIS?
Hatha yoga is the name for the type of yoga generally practiced in the US. The word hatha translates to Sun and Moon, denoting the union and balance of opposing forces, heavy right? Basically, it means yoga with movement, postures and a focus on breathing for increased flexibility, joint mobility and stress relief.

This class is beginner friendly and appropriate for all experience levels.  It’s designed to undo the damage we all do to the body either from athletic activity or just the stress of everyday living. Each class will have a nice balance of work for increasing flexibility, joint stability, balance and overall mobility. Sound like something you need, then read on…

WHEN?
Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm-7:00 pm

WHERE?
CPW Health Center
3130 Central Park West Dr. Suite A
Toledo, OH (419) 841-9622

HOW MUCH?
6 class pre-paid pass is $60.00.

Drop-in price is $12.00 per class, subject to space availability.

Cash, Check or Credit Cards accepted.

I’M INTRIGUED, TELL ME MORE….

**Don’t own a mat? No problem. Mats and props will be available for use at no additional charge.

**Space is limited, therefore, participants holding pre-paid passes have first chance at class space (another good reason to buy the pass).

**Drop in participation is welcome, so long as there is space available. If you want to drop into a class you must check with me (Tara) at kestnert@bex.net before class just to ensure space is available.

HOW DO I JOIN?

You can email me at kestnert@bex.net and indicate if you want a pass or want to drop in. Message me on Facebook at Tara Kestner Next Level Yoga Ltd.

You can call CPW Health Center (419) 841-9622 and tell them to sign you up.

WANT MORE INFORMATION?
Like our facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/nextlevelyogaltd
or, email  kestnert@bex.net

Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition, Part 3- The Sequence

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In the final installment of Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition series, we will put together the poses from Parts 1 and 2 into a sequence.

First, get comfortable. Wear something that allows you to move freely, but not so loose that it falls over your head. Second, since you are going to be on the ground, I suggest you use a yoga mat. If you don’t have a mat, try a beach towel. You may want to consider a little extra padding for your knees, you can fold up a blanket or towel for this purpose.

And finally a word about music. There is a big debate in the yoga world about whether you should play music while doing/teaching yoga. I am on record as a big, fat YES. Maybe it’s just my mind being a bit too dark and twisty to be alone in, but I like a little distraction.

That being said, the classic, new age yoga music is not my thing. Instead, I use a wide mix of music for yoga, tunes that I like but are not too upbeat. I have found old Motown is the universally accepted genre, but use what you like.

Let’s start out with a brief warm up.  I like to use a simple vinyasa as a warm-up.  What’s that you say, a vin-what-sa? Vinyasa is a fancy yoga word for breathing and moving, all at the same time, it’s gets the circulation going and gives you a chance to practice a little deep breathing.

It’s quite easy, start out by standing with your hands down at your side.  With a big inhale, roll your palms up, thumbs back and lift your arms up over your head.  Pause.

Then with a big, exaggerated exhale, bend your knees, to protect the low back, and swan dive down over the legs to a forward fold. Get yourself a nice roll going at a comfortable pace, inhaling up exhaling down, and continue for a full minute.

Here are some forward fold pointers.

forward_fold_smforward_fold-good_sm

After this brief warm up, let’s start out by getting and holding the shoulders in proper alignment with Extended Mountain/Upward Salute for 5 long breaths.

The details of this pose, as well as, Reverse Tabletop and Spinal Balance are here: https://nextlevelyoga.net/2015/04/29/yoga-for-firefighters-shoulder-edition-part-2/

Extended Mountain Pose or Upward Salute

Extended Mountain Pose or Upward Salute

After Extended Mountain, let’s work on some strength in Reverse Tabletop. Take this pose two times for about 3-5 long breaths, with a 30 second rest.

Reverse Tabletop works the same as Upward Plank, it is a personal preference thing.

Reverse Tabletop works the same as Upward Plank, it is a personal preference thing.

After Reverse Tabletop, lets stretch out the back of the shoulder in Thread the Needle, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side (or 5-10 long breaths).  The details of this pose, as well as, Anterior Shoulder Opener and Puppy pose are here: https://nextlevelyoga.net/2015/04/26/yoga-for-firefighters-shoulder-edition-part-1/

Thread the Needle pose

Thread the Needle pose

Now let’s hit the deck and move into Anterior Shoulder Opener for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side (or 5-10 long breaths).

Anterior shoulder opener

Anterior shoulder opener

From here, push up to hands and knees, and move into Puppy pose for 30 seconds (5 breaths).

Puppy Pose.

Puppy Pose.

Finally, let’s finish this thing with a nice Supine Spinal twist for at least a minute per side.

Reclined Spinal Twist

Reclined Spinal Twist

For those of you who don’t need the visual, here is a list of the poses and times:

Warm up Swan Dive Vinyasa 1 minute

Extended Mountain/Upward Salute, 5 breaths

Reverse Tabletop, two sets 3-5 breaths each

Thread the Needle, 30 secs/1 min. each side (5-10 breaths)

Anterior Shoulder Opener, 30 sec/1 min. each side (5-10 breaths)

Puppy Pose, 30 seconds (3-5 breaths)

Supine Spinal Twist, 1 minute each side (10 breaths)

Total time- about 10 minutes

Give this a try a 3 or 4 times a week and see if you notice a difference in your shoulder health and performance.

If you are interested in trying an all-level yoga class, I have an open class which meets on Wednesday evenings at CPW Health Center, contact me for more information. Also, if you would like a live Yoga For Firefighters class, contact Lt. Joe Clark, or the Toledo Firefighters Health Plan and let them know you are interested.

Tara Kestner, RYT 200

Yoga For Firefighters, Shoulder Edition, Part 2

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In part two of this Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition, we will cover a craze which appears to be sweeping the nation, labrum issues.  It seems like everyone has a piece of this particular action, just ask Kevin Love.  I cannot count the number of times someone has sidled up to me after a class and said “what have you got for a bad shoulder.”  After a little bit of q & a, I usually find out the person has some sort of labrum damage.

In my previous post, cleverly titled Shoulder Edition, Part 1, I covered the shoulder structure. Building on that, we will delve into the details of the glenoid socket and labrum. By the way, the labrum is in the shoulder and hip, if you are thought it was a part exclusive to females, you are going to need some remedial anatomy work, and that’s a whole other post.

The glenoid socket is rimmed with a fibrous tissue called the labrum. Injury to the labrum can happen either through trauma or repetitive action. Common occurrences include falling on an outstretched arm, a sudden pull when trying lift a heavy object or a violent overhead reach. Know anyone who might do this as part of the their job? If a labrum tear is diagnosed, anti-inflammatory drugs are usually prescribed and surgery may be necessary.

Once a labrum tear is healed enough that the person is cleared for activity, yoga can be helpful to regain mobility in the shoulder joint.  Certain poses can strengthen and condition the rotator cuff muscles which support the shoulder structure. Finally, by increasing the circulation to the area, the labrum and other connective tissue is conditioned and will hopefully develop more elasticity and tone.

Here are a couple of examples. First, assuming the inflammation has passed and the joint pain has subsided, we need to re-determine the right alignment of the shoulder, to do that try Extended Mountain pose (also called Upward Salute). This may seem like simply reaching your arms in the air, but there is more to it than that.

Extended Mountain Pose or Upward Salute

Extended Mountain Pose or Upward Salute

Stand with your hands by your side, turn your palms up rotating your thumbs back, then sweep the arms up overhead. Once up there, allow your shoulders to sink down away from your ears and slightly back, then notice how your shoulder feels in this proper alignment.  You may be surprised how difficult this is to hold properly. Hold for 3-5 long breaths, then lower arms and repeat 2 more times.

Next for flexibility, try Reverse Tabletop (or Upward Plank). This  pose will stretch and strengthen the pectoral attachments at the front of the shoulder. I prefer Reverse Tabletop, but many people like Upward Plank.  They accomplish the same stretch, choose the one you like.

Reverse Tabletop works the same as Upward Plank, it is a personal preference thing.

Reverse Tabletop works the same as Upward Plank, it is a personal preference thing, choose the one you like.

For Reverse Tabletop, sit on the ground with your hands several inches behind the hips, fingers pointed toward your feet. Place your feet on the floor, at least a foot from your butt. Lift your hips until your torso and thighs are parallel with the floor, adjust your feet as necessary. Press your shoulder blades against your back to lift your chest, allow your head to fall back as far as you can without compressing your neck.

Upward Plank is simply Reverse Tabletop with straight legs, flattening the soles of the feet, reaching toes for the floor. There is more leverage at play in Upward Plank, which can make it more intense. Hold for 3-5 breaths, sit back on the floor, rest, then repeat one more time.

Upward Plank Pose

Upward Plank Pose

Finally, let’s work on strengthening the back rotator cuff muscles, which are usually the weak sister of that group of muscles. We will do this in a reclined pose called Supine Spinal Twist.

Reclined Spinal Twist

Supine Spinal Twist

Lie on your back with your knees lifted directly over your hips. Extend the arms out palms facing up, pressing the forearms firmly into the floor, activating the backs of the shoulders.  If this is too painful, try the cactus arm version with a 90 degree bend in the arms, pressing elbows firmly on the floor.

Now, allow your knees to drop to one side. Adjust the knees so that BOTH shoulders stay fully anchored on the floor. That means you are going to have to adjust the height of the knees and probably the degree of bend as well. Gently press the upper back into the floor forcing the rear rotator cuff muscles to contract. Hold for about 1 minute on each side.

These are a few more of the many yoga poses that can help with shoulder issues.  In the final installment of Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition, I will put together a short sequence you can do everyday to help relieve shoulder pain and condition the shoulder for better performance.

If you are interested in trying an all-level yoga class, I have an open class which meets on Wednesday evenings at CPW Health Center, contact me for more information. Also, if you would like a live Yoga For Firefighters class, contact Lt. Joe Clark, or the Toledo Firefighters Health Plan and let them know you are interested.

Tara Kestner, RYT 200

Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition: Part 1

fire-yoga-fold

We are working on getting a Yoga for Firefighters (and their families) class approved by the Firefighter’s Health Plan. The tenacious and dapper Lt. Joe Clark is spearheading this effort, but until that is off the ground, I wanted to address some of the specific physical challenges that firefighting creates.

First up, the shoulder. In order to understand which yoga postures are helpful to prevent shoulder injuries, and in the event that fails, promote recovery of shoulder issues, you have to know a little about the shoulder structure.

In short, the shoulder is built for mobility, not stability or strength. The shoulder joint (the glenoid socket) is a wide and shallow joint which has a large range of motion.  Because of this huge range, injuries happen fairly easily. The supporting cast of the back side of the shoulder are the four rotator cuff muscles, the trapezius, the levator scapulae and the rhomboids. The pectorals support from the front, and the deltoids form the end caps.

Common issues include, tendonitis, bursitis and impingement (often vaguely called “rotator cuff injuries”). Cumulative stress on the shoulder is caused by repetitive movements, compression (being forced to bear weight) and sustained, awkward positional use (like overhauling a building). Any of this sounding familiar?

So how can yoga help? Well first of all, thanks for asking, good to see you are still reading, yoga can help a couple of ways. Yoga increases flexibility and range of motion, allowing you to move more freely avoiding impingement issues. Yoga poses which strengthen and condition the rotator cuff muscles add support to the shoulder structure. Finally, you can expect increased circulation to the shoulder to help avoid inflammation issues, and speed recovery should an injury occur.

Three of my favorite shoulder poses include Thread the Needle, Prone Anterior Shoulder opener (it doesn’t have a cute yoga name) and Puppy pose. First, Thread the Needle, great for opening that space between the shoulder blades.

Thread the Needle pose

Thread the Needle pose

Come to hands and knees, extend your right arm out to the side lining up the wrist, elbow and shoulder. Then feed the right arm (palm facing up) behind the left arm and lower down on the right outer shoulder, adjust yourself until you find a place where your head and neck are comfortable.

Start to walk the fingers on the left hand up towards the top of the mat, until you can gently press into the palm causing a little more sensation and rotation in the upper back. Hold for 5-10 long breaths and then switch sides.

Second, Prone Anterior Shoulder opener, is a fantastic pose to open the front of the shoulder. This is an easy pose to overdo so show some restraint.

Anterior shoulder opener

Anterior shoulder opener

Lie on your belly, turn your head to the right (resting on your left cheek). Extend your right arm out and line up your index finger with your sight-line. Then turn your head to the left, so you are resting on your right cheek.

Start to roll onto your right side and bend your knees, bringing your left palm to the floor, close to your chest. If you are feeling a lot of sensation in the front of the shoulder stay here. If you need a little more, straighten your right leg and place your left foot on the floor behind you. Stay here for about 30-60 seconds, and then take it to the other side.

Finally, Puppy pose for an overall shoulders and the spinal stretch.

Puppy Pose.

Puppy Pose.

Come to hands and knees, keeping the hips over the knees walk the hands forward, lowering the chest towards the floor. Lower your forehead, (or possibly your chin) to the mat, draw your shoulder blades back and down into the spine and reach your hips for the ceiling. Hold for 5-10 slow breaths.

These three poses can help improve your shoulder health.  In part 2 of shoulder edition, I will address the specific problem of labrum injuries, a craze that seems to be sweeping the nation.

Tara

Tips for Choosing a Yoga Mat.

big stack of mats

There are a lot of options out there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People often ask me which yoga mat is the best, and while I can answer that question with absolute certainty for me, I think you have to consider all the variables.

My mat of choice is the Jade Fusion, it was an absolute game changer. Given that I have some of 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 kneel and focus on the stretch, rather than counting the seconds until I could get back up. I have several of them that I let clients use just so they can see the difference.

This is not to say I think this is the right mat for everyone, it has some downside. First, it cost a small fortune by comparison to other mats. 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.

cat in mat

Oh, that’s why its so heavy…

My standard advice when buying a mat is 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.

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.

Also, consider length. Standard length is 68” which is fine if you are 5’8 or shorter. If you are taller, there are longer mats available, you just may have to order them. 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.

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 stay away from him

This guy, yeah stay away from 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.

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