Reflection: Restore

  
|| RESTORE || If you are an ambitious person as I am, sometimes you have to remind yourself to take the time to restore. I keep myself busy doing the things that I love, accomplishing goals, and working towards new ones. Before I finish one project, I am often thinking about and working on the next, and the next, and the next one. I stay productive and like to keep the momentum going. My body however, sometimes tells me to pump my brakes, and I have learned to listen to it.

The other day I decided to get an early start, so woke up and took a 7am class. That class was followed by a casting, then gymnastics, then dance, then another class, then teaching Pilates until 9pm. Although I had a lot of energy and felt pretty good throughout the day, I got home feeling completely exhausted and passed out on the couch…clothes on, lights on, no dinner, and no shower (this happens often). 

The next morning I woke up and could barely move. Wtf was I thinking doing so much the day before?? Oh, I know… I was trying to accomplish things and having fun doing so (I really was). I had plans to teach and take multiple classes but decided to end my day early. 

After work, I took a Pilates class which felt good, and then I spent hours catching up with my BFF. I got home early and passed out again but this time at 830pm. I’m pretty sure I slept for about 10 hours that night, and my body definitely needed the rest.

I listened to my body and so made my schedule a little lighter for the rest of the week. I allowed myself to get home and to bed earlier, and I booked a much needed massage. When the weekend came, I let myself sleep in a bit and gave my body 2 days of rest. I still did a morning practice of seated meditation but focused on my breath and being still rather than working out like a maniac.

Monday is here and I feel rested and recharged for the upcoming week. It can be difficult to slow down when you are driven but it is essential that we give our bodies rest. It is fine to work hard and to push ourselves, but if we push to the point of exhaustion, we will have nothing more to give. Do yourself a favor by taking time during the week to restore. In order to show up and be fully present each day with energy and enthusiasm, we must allow ourselves to rest.

[Photo by Aggie Photos]

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Move of the Day: Teaser

  
|| TEASER || Teaser is my move of the day and one of the most challenging classical Pilates exercises. Most of the movements that are performed early in the matwork are meant to prepare the body for teasers.

Benefits:
• Strengthens the abdominals and hip flexors

• Improves balance and coordination

• Stretches the hamstrings

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1 — Start lying supine with arms along sides of the body. Inhale to prepare, engaging the abdominal muscles by pulling the belly button in.

2 — Exhale to roll up, lifting the upper and lower body simultaneously. Legs should be at about a 45 degree angle and arms reaching upwards, parallel to the legs.

3 — Inhale to hold the balance, and exhale to roll back onto the mat, ideally with the head and feet touching at the same time.

4 — Repeat x4.
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Tips: Be sure to sit up tall in the teaser with the head and chest lifted, but keep a slight curve in the lower back. Keep the abdominals engaged, focus on the breath, and relax the shoulders as you balance. For more of a challenge, start with arms extended behind the head rather than along the sides, and have the legs lower in the balance.

Modifications: If you have tightness in the hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back, keep the knees bent with the heels together, toes apart, and knees slightly apart in a diamond shape. If you are a beginner and teasers feel too challenging, try practicing the hundred, the roll up, and the lower lift exercise in the matwork series to build core strength.

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Photo by Masha Creative for Nóli Yoga with fellow Pilates instructor Katie Yip

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Reflection: Breathe

  
|| BREATHE || Today was one of those days where absolutely nothing was going according to my plans and everything seemed to be going wrong. It is those days that I remind myself to breathe, to make changes, to adapt, to look for the lessons that I am suppose to learn, and to recognize that everything is actually going right.

Rather than sleeping in on weekends, I wake up early to take yoga. It feels good to move, to stretch, to meditate, and to breathe. Post yoga I typically go to my local coffee shop sometimes for up to 3hrs, where I read, write, organize my schedule, make plans, and work on new projects. Then I feel like I have plenty of time during the day to do other things like go to brunch, run errands, cook etc. 

On Sunday, I woke up and headed to morning yoga only to be turned away because the class was filled to capacity. I was bummed that I was missing one of my favorite classes and that I would have to change my plans for the day. However, I told myself to breathe and decided that instead of being upset, that I would just look forward to taking an afternoon class instead. So, I went back home, had breakfast, FaceTimed with a friend, showered, and started to organize my schedule and tackle my “To Do” list.

The afternoon came and once again I made my way to class. This time around, the class was full but everyone was able to participate, including a little girl that looked to be about 8yrs old. Five minutes into the class, the little girl stood still looking at her mom, clearly not understanding or enjoying the practice. Her mom decided to take her out, along with another family member. They walked across people’s mats, got their bags, took turns using the bathroom, and stood in the back of the studio talking. After a while the teacher asked them if they needed help with anything, as their exit was disruptive and seemed to be taking quite some time. They said they were fine and so they left, allowing the room to be quiet, except for the voice of the teacher, and the sounds of our breath.

Just as I was enjoying the peaceful vibe of the room, a phone started to ring. Of all the ringtones available, I’m pretty sure this one was the most obnoxious and set at the highest volume possible. It’s that one you pick when you know you have to wake up early and there’s no way you’ll sleep through it. The teacher asked for the phone to be turned off but no one moved to do so. A few minutes later, the phone started to ring again. This time the teacher took the bag, put it in a back closet, and shut the door. Finally, we had quiet once again, until another phone began to ring.

‘This is a $h!t show!’ I thought. Here I am coming to yoga for peace, and it seems like there’s nothing but chaos. The guy in front of me almost kicked me in my face in a few times in a downdog split, as he clearly lacked coordination and spatial awareness. Also, the content of the class was very basic as if it was an “Intro to Yoga” class, and I really wanted to flow. That’s when I thought, ‘I guess I’ll just breathe.’

When the class was finished, I thanked my teacher and left feeling a bit unsatisfied. I looked online to see if I could find another class and saw one listed at a studio that I had never been to before. I booked it and quickly went to the train to commute. I stood on the platform waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the train to come. Weekend train service can sometimes be delayed so I hoped that the train would come in time for me to make it to class. Finally, it did and I got on and sat down. A couple stops later, a big guy came on and said, “Excuse me,” as he squeezed himself in between myself and another passenger. ‘Is this dude seriously tryna fit his big a$$ into a small seat not caring that he’s making other people uncomfortable?!” I thought. In addition, he smelled like a mixture of heavy cologne, cigarettes, and funk. I told myself to breathe.

As I got off the train, I ran up the steps trying to make it to my class on time. Just then, it started to rain heavily. I fumbled, digging into my bag looking for my umbrella, dodging puddles and crowded sidewalks, and rushing to the studio. I checked in at the front desk, threw my bag and clothes in a locker, set up my mat in the classroom, and began to flow. The class was wonderful and felt so good. It was just what I had wanted and even more for the morning class that didn’t happen, for the afternoon class that was basic, for the delayed train, and for the uncomfortable commute.

It was so nice to discover a new studio and teacher, to meet and have locker room conversations with new people, and even to run into an old friend from a gym that I use to go to.

Although my day did not go according to my plans, everything worked out in a good way as it often does. Life happens to all of us and things will not always go the way we plan. Though there are many lessons to take away from this story, I am choosing to focus on the breath. Regardless of the outcome of a situation, be it a good or not so satisfying one, I choose to be calm and I choose to breathe. If ever you have a day where it seems as though everything is going wrong, know that it is going right and as one of my teachers says, “All you have to do is breathe.”

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Photo by Simon McDermott-Johnson

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Elephant Journal: 5 Reasons

  
|| READ || If you have ever wondered what it would be like to go on a wellness retreat then this article is for you! Read my 5 Reasons to Book a Wellness Retreat in Elephant Journal.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/09/5-reasons-to-book-a-wellness-retreat/

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5 Reasons to Book a Wellness Retreat

  

Do you ever see beautiful pictures of wellness retreats and wonder what it would be like to go on one? I did, so decided to book one over the summer. 

As an avid yogi, I had been wanting to go on a yoga retreat for quite some time. Though many retreats are held in exotic locations like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Bali, I opted for a weekend retreat with one of my favorite NYC teachers. It was such a wonderful experience that I cannot wait to sign up for the next one!

Here are my 5 Reasons to Book a Wellness Retreat:

   
1 — Deepen Your Practice 

On a retreat participants are typically offered 2 classes per day. This gives you the time to deepen your practice which can include working on physical postures, focusing on your breath, and sitting still during meditation.

 

2 — Healthy Eats

Most retreats provide nutritious meals throughout each day. On my recent trip to Heathen Hill Yoga in upstate New York, organic vegan cuisine was served using fresh produce straight from their farm. The food was so delicious that I even purchased a cookbook from the gift shop so that I could make some of the same recipes at home. 

3 — UNPLUG!!!

In a time period where many of us rely so heavily on our technology to communicate and do business, it is essential to take a break and unplug! It feels so good to connect with nature and other people without constantly checking text messages, emails, and updating your Facebook status. 

4 — New Friends

You are likely to meet people with similar interests when you go on a retreat. When I signed up for my first retreat, the only person I knew was my teacher. After traveling, eating, and doing fun activities together, I ended up leaving with new friends.

  

5 — New Adventures

Whether traveling abroad or just heading a few hours out of town, going to a new place creates an opportunity for new experiences. During my time on the Heathen Hill farm, I took a botanical class where I learned about different plants and how to combine them with essential oils to make a body cream. I was also able to visit a nearby dairy farm where I was given a tour and got to play with the cows and goats.

  
A retreat is a wonderful way to detox, relieve stress, and to open yourself up to experiencing the unknown. Life is about balance so it is important to take time from a busy schedule to rest and to connect with new people and places. Book a wellness retreat now and discover how much it can truly enhance your life!

  
A big “Thank You” to my yoga teacher Dina Ivas and Heathen Hill Yoga for a wonderful retreat!

  

  

   
    
    
   
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Fit Tip: Meditate!

  

(Photo by Audrey Lackey)

|| MEDITATE || Although I enjoy an active lifestyle where I run around NYC all day, my wonderful teachers have encouraged me to sit still and meditate. Studies show that meditation can help to reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and can improve concentration. I aim for 5-20min of meditation every morning to begin my day with peace, calm, and focus. I recommend meditating first thing in the morning before you check your email, social media, and start a busy day. 

Namaste, Angilique.

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