shine yoga blog

boise yoga, for boise friendly yogis


Yoga Taught Me

Too often we avoid dealing with issues we believe we’ve overcome, maybe we avoid out of pain, laziness, but whatever the reason, there is a belief that nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. 

 

I was unhappy and anxious, and didn’t know how to change.  I felt overburdened, stressed, overworked, and unappreciated, and didn’t see an end in sight.  I couldn’t even imagine being happy, feeling calm or lighthearted.  Avoiding confrontation at all costs was a priority for me, and I believe this philosophy is what prevented me from working through many of the issues that caused pain, stress, sadness, and anxiety.  I wanted to hide from everyone, and everything.  I was full.  Full of problems, full of pain, full of anxiety.

 

And then, I found yoga. Please, please don’t take this the wrong way.  Yoga is not a miracle cure.  Yoga doesn’t happen overnight.  Yoga is simply a vehicle that allowed me to carefully, on my own time, peel back all the layers of the stinky onion that I was, and work on those lessons that weren’t going away.  Yoga allowed me to breathe through times of high-anxiety.  Yoga allowed me to do the work, to take the time, to practice more patience and stillness, and that is where I found peace.

 

I wish I could say I found peace in poses I struggled with, I did not.  In fact, early on, many poses made me doubt myself, question whether I’d ever be worthy of calling myself a yogi.  I had a taste, a moment of feeling “light” after my first yoga class.  I wanted to feel light and airy again.  I wanted to be free from anxiety – so I went to another class, and another, and another until I came to believe it was the classes that helped me achieve the feeling of “lightness”.  I went every single day, even on vacation, because this was the best I had ever felt in my entire life. 

 

But it wasn’t the classes that gave me that feeling of freedom.  It wasn’t the poses or the breathing either.  It was all these things that helped to change my perspective on life.  There will always be struggles, how you choose to react emotionally, physically, and mentally to those struggles is the single greatest factor in creating a happy life.  Yoga gave me the ability to acknowledge situations (scary, stressful, uncomfortable) rather than react.  The difference in my life has been dramatic.

 

Acknowledging a situation requires no emotion or energy, it is simply accepting the situation as a witness.  Reacting to a situation is what changes you from a witness to a participant.  When a stressful/tumultuous/rowdy/emotional situation occurs, you have the choice to continue being a witness or a participant.  This is one of many lessons I have learned through the practice of yoga, and the best is yet to come.  The longer you practice being present for yourself on your yoga mat, the more present you can be for those you love.

 

Be grateful for the things you love.  Treat every day as if it were the best gift.  Every day you wake up, you have the gift of do-over, the gift of another day of sun on your skin, and wind in your hair.  When you wake up each day,  treat it like Christmas morning.  Remind yourself, think to yourself, “YES!  I get ANOTHER DAY” to do it all over, bigger, better, and with more love.

 

Each morning, I open one eye at a time.  When that first ray of sunshine hits my pupil, that's my cue.  That's my reminder.  Today, I get an extra day with my husband – to tell him how important he is to me, to tell him all the ways he makes my life better.  I get an extra day with my kids to hug, to kiss, to cuddle, and tickle and paddleboard.  I get an extra day to feel love, to be love.  I get another day to do YOGA!

 

 

Want to know more about how you can find the life you love?  If nothing else has worked, why not try yoga?  $30 for 30 Days of unlimited yoga – it might just change your life the way it changed mine.  

First Steps

Every day we wake up, we have choices to make.  We can choose where to spend our time, we can choose whom to spend that time with, we can choose where to place our efforts, our passion, our energy.  But, for individuals living with anxiety, racing thoughts make any decision seem cloudy, or worse suffocating.  The idea of leaving the house, sometimes just the bed seems unbearable.  That’s where we begin, with first steps.

 

For me, some days are easier than others.  On tough days, I encourage myself to get out of bed to complete 15 minutes of Sun Salutations (Surya Namasakar) before I convince myself of the day and the decisions ahead.  Sun Salutations, are a wonderful way to wake up and start the day.  When practiced with purpose and deliberate breath, the slow rhythmic repetition of Sun Salutations can calm the mind and calm the body.  But how?

 

Before deciding this is just one more hippie, trying to convince you yoga is the answer to everything, consider this: when a mammal is in a state of “fight-or-flight” or “stressed” hormones are released in the body. Those hormones include adrenaline, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, and cortisol, just to name a few.  These hormones cause the body to increase heart rate, increase blood pressure and increase your blood sugar.  Subsequently, the most effective way to calm the body, calm the heart, and calm the adrenal glands, resides in your ability to control your breathing. 

 

Wouldn’t you know it, 90% of yoga is breath-work (that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much).  Ujjayi breathing, (breathing in and out through the nose and back of the throat) also known as “ocean breath”, or for Star Wars Fans, “Darth Vader” breath, is an excellent form of Pranayama.  So what does any of this have to do with choices?

 

Choices are something we make every day.  We can choose how we prioritize our time, our health, our breath, and in doing so, lead the life we want to lead instead of the life we feel forced to lead.  Being deliberate in everything you do in life, including your breathing has a direct effect in the life you choose to lead.  If anxiety is something you’ve struggled with, consider choosing to learn a new way to cope with stress and anxiety.   Choose to find your breath, so no one, nothing, can steal your peace.

 

Here are some first steps:

  1.  Learn & practice Ujjayi breathing
  2.  Start a morning meditation
  3. Join a yoga studio to learn more about Pranayama breathing, sun salutations, and meditation.
  4. Attend Shine's  Workshop: Yoga for Anxiety

Yoga for Anxiety

This is meant as an initital post for our workshop on anxiety, just to infomr you of what is coming up at the studio.  If you have been dealing with anxiety, check back here to learn you're not alone.  Anxiety is the reason our owner fell so deeply in-live with yoga.  Tune in to follow along and learn the ways yoga has improved the lives of yogis around you, and how yoga may help you in dealing with anxiety as well!  

 

Yoga for Anxiety Workshop:

Join Julie as she shares her struggle with anxiety, how yoga transformed daily life, and learn the poses and breathing techniques to help control anxiety in your life.

Workshop includes:
Month of unlimited yoga for September
Book, "Yoga for Emotional Balance".
Four, 90 minute, Yoga for Anxiety Classes taught Monday nights from 7pm-8:30pm.

Dates: September 4, 11, 18, 25

$165 

Idaho Gives Day at Shine!!! We love Wyakin Warriors!

Shine Yoga and the Wyakin Warrior Foundation invite you to join in a dynamic yoga class exploring the benefits of yoga when breath work is linked to movement, a whole new level of relaxation, calm, and peace can be found.

 

Your $9.11 donation for this class goes directly to the Wyakin Warrior Foundation serving post-9/11 wounded and injured veterans.

 

Curious about Idaho Gives Day?  Idaho Gives is a statewide, 24-hour giving day taking place on May 4th, 2017, and it’s all online! Since the inaugural event in 2013, Idahoans have raised more than $3.5 Million for participating organizations, one donation at a time. 

 

Every year on one amazing day, people across our state come together for Idaho nonprofits. It's a day to celebrate the awesome work of Idaho’s nonprofits and benefit from the power of many. Idaho comes together—be a part of it! Click Here to learn more about idaho gives day!

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Leaning In.

More than equal pay...ladies its time, Lean in.

I've served on several boards designed to address the issue of equal pay, equal representation,  Each one of those boards has something in common, cattiness.  The moment some woman had to leave due to sick child, or any other family or personal emergency, a significant portion of those remaining in the room would PILE ON, rather than leaning in,  

 

that my friends, is one of the many reasons we don't have equal pay or representation.  SO, I stopped serving on these boards and asked myself what I could do to change the status quo.

 

WOmen have physically carried every previous generation,  without this selfless contribution to humanity there would be no next generation, no workforce, no humans, no one.  It's time to stop penalizing women via inequitable pay, even more importantly, its time to stop demoralizing women who choose to have families.  Children are our next generation, the next work force, the next leaders.  THe only way humanity continues is with a new generation.  right now, women are the only way we get that next generation.  its time to lean in rather than talk about how that family emergency de-rails your board meetiNG,  Lean in, and ask the woman experiencing the family emergency how you can help.  

 

Lean in, stop allowing your meetings to get bogged down with gossip if someone has to abruptly leave.

Lean in.  The future generation isn't some mothers responsibility alone, The next generation impacts us all.

Lean In.  Not only for equal pay, but equal respect, not more, not less, Equal.

 

So, what did I do? How did I lean?  I saw a need for yoga teachers (predominantly women) to be paid more for a service that is truly priceless, and I opened a yoga studio where I paid teachers twice that of local area gyms (some area gyms/fitness Centers pay as little as $8), and shared profits among all teachers.  As the business makes more money, so do my teachers!  LEAN IN!

 

Tomorrow, on April 4th, join shine, and all the shine teachers as we lean in together.  APril 4th is national equal pay day, As woman are paid 20% less than men, on average, shine is offering 20% off all packages!  To Learn more about this national movement visit www.leanin.org/equalpay  #20percentcounts #leanin #equalpay


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Kelsey Crow - Yoga Bug

Yoga bug - Kelsey Crow, RYT200

 

The yoga bug first bit me when I read an article online about the many health benefits of a yoga practice. Then it really bit me several months later when I watched a video on YouTube called “Yoga by Equinox.” I was living in Seattle and my roommate at the time suggested I watch it. In the short video, yogini Briohny Smyth executes an advanced practice full of inversions and arm balances on a mat in a beautiful minimalist loft in New York City.

 

Simply put, the video took my breath away. I felt like a whole new world was opening up before me—just on the other side of my fear of trying something new—in form-fitting clothing—in a room full of really fit strangers. And that’s exactly how things felt for the next few months: I would go to a yoga class, feel excruciatingly self-conscious, swear off yoga entirely, and then go to another yoga class the next month with a small bit of hope. Repeat process.

 

I finally broke through my wall of fear and self-consciousness when I joined up with my boyfriend at the time to go to hot yoga together every week. The yoga room was so miserably hot and humid, and everyone looked so exhausted, I didn’t care about how I looked to the other people in class. Plus, the pure physical exertion of ninety minutes of hard labor in that sweat chamber got me out of my head—possibly for the first time in my life. Such sweet, sweet release.

 

I was hooked, prepared to do whatever I needed to do to keep getting that feeling of tired, contented bliss. I switched to another hot yoga studio that focused more on the therapeutics and spirituality of yoga—and I stayed there nine months. I progressed from toppling out of balancing poses and having my legs instantly burn out in Warrior poses, into feeling strong and supple on my mat like Briohny Smyth in the video. As long as I wasn’t analyzing and critiquing my body in the front mirror.  

 

I embarked on travel adventures at the beginning of 2016, gawking at yoginis in wonderful Crow poses and Headstands in Kona, Hawaii, taking delicious Yin classes with purple fleece blankets and Lavender essential oil in Prague, Czech Republic, and practicing at the same hot yoga chain in Portland that I had loved in Seattle. Then I moved back home to Boise in summer 2016 to be near my family and reconnect with my roots.

 

Within a few weeks of being back, I attended Shine for the first time, taking a Yin class from Jen Carr. I felt on top of the world afterwards and I gushed to my family over dinner about how I had found a yoga studio in Boise that combined elements from my favorite yoga studios around the world. Now, after two years of practicing yoga regularly and six months of teaching it, I feel closer than ever to achieving the element of grace, power, and reverence for one’s own body that I witnessed in Briohny Smyth in her yoga video.

 

My body certainly doesn’t look like hers and I can’t do handstands (yet), but I am trying to imitate how she places her hands ‘just so’ next to her feet in Forward Fold during Sun Salutations, how she spreads her toes in the air for balance during inversions, does deep belly-breathing, and uses precise, mindful micro-movements to get in and out of advanced poses instead of jumping or jerking herself around on her mat. More than trying to achieve the perfect yoga body or an advanced practice filled with dazzling poses, I caught the yoga bug because I want to progress towards a constant element of grace, power, and self-respect in each movement of my precious and flawed body on the mat—and each movement off of it.

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Susan Delyea - "One month of yoga gave me a second chance."

Katey & Susan both completed Shine's 30 Day Challenge March 2016!
Katey & Susan both completed Shine's 30 Day Challenge March 2016!

Through sports, running, and dancing, and everyday movement, I have treated my body as if it is nothing more than a machine that didn’t matter as long as it kept moving.  By the age of 24,  I realized that I was physically at the worst place in my life.  I reached obesity at 250 pounds, I had early signs of diabetes and pain was a constant friend.  I was depressed, and I hated my body.  Why wouldn’t live up to what I expected of it?  

 

At 26, I was done.  My body was done.  I could no longer run.  I had an ankle with previously torn ligaments, a groin tendon tear, sciatic pain, and a busted knee.  I even dropped 50 pounds, but my body couldn’t do anymore without putting me in the hospital.  I started recognizing all the hateful things I was saying to myself about my body and mind, and I knew I needed a change.

 

That was the day I called Shine Yoga Collective.  I had a lot of anxiety over that call.  In fact, that was one of the hardest calls I've ever made.  Julie Hart, the owner, answered my call and in less then 10 minutes I started feeling as if I had found hope for my journey to recovery.  I signed up for the 30 Days Challenge, and even though I felt anxious of going to class, Julie said she couldn’t wait to meet me, and I felt like I had found a place that would welcome me. 

 

The first week was difficult as everyday I faced a mirror, and in every pose I saw what my body looked like, and that was hard.  I couldn’t do many of the poses, and I was sore.  Yet, I started listening to the words of every Yoga Instructor.  The instructors kept asking us to thank our bodies for the pose, for the breath, for the love we have for our selves in making it to and through class.  At the end of the first week, I realized they were practicing what I wanted to achieve, self-love.  Every instructor imparts a different message, and yet it’s the same.  From one instructor I learned to open my heart to my body, accepting my body with all its limitations and strength.  Another instructor taught me to connect to every muscle in my body and to let go.  One taught me how to connect my spirit to my mind and heart. 

 

Slowly, I started changing from looking in the mirror to disparage myself, to looking at myself and thanking my body for all the effort it made in my practice.  As I started listening to  and connecting with my body for the first time ever, I started practicing poses I wouldn’t have been able to do, even as a little girl.  I could touch my toes, bend in half, and stand on one foot.  Pain that had been my friend for so long started to release and leave my body.  I gave myself completely to yoga for a month, going everyday, and sometimes twice a day.  It was the first time I was appreciating myself.  Physically, the swelling in my body decreased, I slimmed down,  and I became stronger, not just physically but emotionally too.  I was able to start running, dancing, and lift again.  I love the changes, but I find I don’t concentrate on the physical in yoga class anymore.  I concentrate on being present in the moment. 

 

Within the first month at Shine Yoga Collective, I learned a few lessons that I never accepted before as truth.  First, it is okay to make myself a priority.  Second, my body is amazing and part of me, not a machine, but a part of my whole-self.  Finally, I learned that this is not an exercise to improve my image, but a practice of self-care, self-love, and discovery of body, spirit, and mind.  After years of punishing my body, it took only one month to completely change my view of my body and my life, and I will continue to practice and learn about myself through yoga.  One month of yoga gave me a second chance with my body and heart.  I went from a broken body at the early age of 26, to a recovering body and mind.

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SWEAT ANGELS

Starting today, every time you check-in on our Facebook page, your check-in will generate a donation to a great cause. The donation is made possible by our new partner, Sweat Angels.

 

Sweat Angels exists to help more people experience the joy of doing good. And together, we can make a major impact in the world, just by checking-in! 

 

August check-ins will help build schools with the nonprofit buildOn.  Every 6 check-ins = one brick.  This year buildOn will build its 1,000 school in impoverished countries to help raise the education and literacy levels to ultimately raise entire communities out of poverty.  

 

So, check in for every class you take at Shine, bring a friend, have them check-in too, so we can help change the world with buildON one brick at a time. 

 

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Kristin McGee on Camel Pose, Fit Yoga

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Kristin McGee - FIT YOGA MAGAZINE, 2008

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What is "Hatha" yoga?  And how in the galaxy (far, far away) are you going to make a Star Wars analogy out of this!?!

Yes, I am a Star Wars nerd.  I have been for a very long time.  As a kid, my favorite movie was Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. My favorite toy was this little Play-doh set that made Ewoks.  Naturally, I'm excited about the new Star Wars movie.  I see a lot of "the FORCE" in yoga, so how could I miss the opportunity, to join two of my favorite things together?  

 

The word Hatha means "willful" or "FORCEful".  Hatha yoga is designed to align your spine.  It combines Pranayama breathing exercises with asanas to join the body and mind.  Hatha has also been translated, "Ha" meaning sun, and "tha" meaning moon, referring to opposing FORCES, the push and pull of those FORCES, and their union.

 

I have quite a few "Type A" students, most of whom religiously attend my 5:30AM class, and within their first few yoga classes have become mildly frustrated with themselves for not having perfected the poses.  I have to laugh a little at these yogis, because I remember being the same way.  In fact, my first yoga class was at a Bikram Studio (105 degrees, and 40% humidity), where they tell you your goal is just to stay in the room.  I stayed up and completed all poses.  I was not going to let the heat get to me.  I was not going to sit down. 

 

While "Type A's" are busy winning, there is a DARK SIDE to this personality; we push ourselves, and expect too much.  Excuses are not allowed, and when we hear them, we oftentimes become judgmental.  We even think, "if you just pushed yourself a little harder".  Yoga is not about being the best, the fastest, or smartest.  Yoga is a journey to find balance.  For many "Type A's", yoga is about learning to cut yourself a break.  It's about letting go of control (and stopping to think twice before force-choking the driver who cut you off), because there are a million things in our lives we have no control over.  We have to learn to accept some situations as they are, our bodies as they are, and people as they are.  If we cannot come to terms with ourselves as imperfect human beings, we will wear ourselves out.  Don't give in to the DARK SIDE. 

 

Human beings cannot continue to push their bodies and minds without stopping to fuel up.  Savasana is your fuel in yoga class, rest is your fuel in life. Learning to breath through your poses takes time.  Perfecting your poses takes time.  Yoga takes time. Patience takes time.  If you can tap into the LIGHT SIDE of the force,  find rest, prioritize relaxation, allow forgiveness, show love,  and welcome acceptance, you're well on your way to finding the peace you seek.  

 

Just remember if DARTH VADER can master Ujjayi breathing, you can too.  

 

-Namaste, Julie

Just a couple shots of Star Wars Legos, my son and I have put together over the years, a pair of my Star Wars Vans, and some Star Wars Cupcakes a good friend of mine made me and my kiddos for Easter one year!  

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The Practice and The Pose

This article was originally posted by BB Vohwinkel on Evolvemovement.com

 

Recently, Strala Yoga in NYC shared a piece written by their founder, Tara Stiles called “Don’t be a Poser”. In it Tara wrote about the blessing and curse of trying to attain a certain pose in yoga class. She says “often people start practicing yoga because they want to feel better, be less stressed, more connected with themselves, healthier, stronger. Then they fall into the trap of really desperately needing to nail a pose.” She’s right!

 

As a teacher, I see students scrunch up their shoulders and brow, clench their jaw and hold their breath in order to force themselves into what they believe is the shape that I’m teaching. No amount of going slowly, stopping to relax, easing in or pleading with them to breathe will distract them from their goal. Don’t get me wrong! I love the strength, flexibility and endurance that my practice has brought to my life. There simply is more to it than the poses. Learning to move into and out of any shape, and situation, without sacrificing the breath or hurting the body or spirit is the true practice of yoga.

 

Once, I was teaching the practice of moving from tree pose into a controlled side bend fall (literally, until the foot has to come to the floor) and one of my students kept her hand on a wall the whole time, refusing to practice falling. The practice of falling and rising again is an essential one. In fact, as babies, it was one of the first things we all practiced.

 

When you’re on your mat in a classroom setting, it’s hard to really take in everything the teacher is saying. So I want you to hear this loud and clear while you’re not on your mat:

 

Yoga poses are not about the pose.

 

That’s right. You read it just the way I wrote it.

 

Yoga poses are not about the pose. Yoga poses are about how you react to the pose, or the situation of getting into, being in or getting (often falling) out of the pose. Asana, the physical practice of yoga, is not about being good at asana. It’s about being in an uncomfortable, often ridiculous situation and still being able to breathe and find some ease in your body, mind and spirit.

 

And while we teachers often offer a “peak pose” or opportunity to challenge yourself, keep in mind that the pose is not your practice. Your practice is moving from one pose to another, staying mindful of the space at the top of each inhale and the bottom of each exhale. That is your practice.

When a class is preparing to coming into a balance pose, for example, I tell them that it’s NOT about being able to do the pose, it’s about being in the mall parking lot at Christmas time. It’s about being in the grocery store right before a Southern snowfall or an East Coast hurricane. A balance pose, done right, doesn’t look at all like something Yoga Journal would put on their cover because the “work” to stay balanced isn’t physical, it’s mental.

So next time you’re on your mat, halfway through your physical practice, bring your awareness to your breath ~ is it shallow? panting? are you even breathing? Are your glutes, shoulders and jaw clenched? Don’t get caught up in the whys and hows. Just notice. And when your Asana practice is over, ask yourself if your world would end if you took a rest in child’s pose to recover your breath next time? What would your internal dialogue sound like if you did that? Supportive or critical? Physically, if you exhaled and relaxed straining muscle groups, would you fall over? If the answer is yes, are you ok with falling over? Would you smile and move on, or berate yourself for not doing better?

 

Learning to be ok with giving your entire being what it needs when it’s needed is the essential lesson your yoga practice is waiting to teach you. So go ahead and work on those challenging poses. But keep in mind what they’re there to teach you; that balance is mixing equal parts effort and ease. That strength is staying calm during times of craziness and stress. That courage is in sweeping your arms wide and opening your heart. And that focus is staying in the moment between the moments for a long as possible.

 Then you won’t just be “posing”, you’ll be practicing.

 

BB Vohwinkel,  RYT-200, teaches Hatha and Vinyasa Flow at EVOLVE Movement. She loves to dance, loves her cats and her wonderful family! BB once drove from Biloxi, Mississippi. to Omaha, Nebraska in a ‘67 Plymouth Valiant, pulling a u-haul trailer and trying to keep a cat calm. The car could either go 55mph or I could run the air conditioner….but not both.

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38 Health Benefits of Yoga - Yoga Journal 

Original Article Written By Dr. Timothy McCall, MD for Yoga Journal

August 28, 2007, Link to Original Article 

 

If you’re a passionate yoga practitioner, you’ve probably noticed some yoga benefits—maybe you’re sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you’ve ever tried telling a newbie about the benefits of yoga, you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or skeptical ears.

Researchers Are Catching On to Yoga’s Benefits

As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won’t feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.

 

First-Hand Experience With the Benefits of Yoga

I myself have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest.Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I’d arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn’t exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand.

“…for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.”

 

My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, Pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.

 

Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.

 

38 Ways Yoga Improves Health

My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I’d collected in India as well as the West to identify and explain how yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it. Here is what I found.

 

1. Improves your flexibility

Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.

 

2. Builds muscle strength

Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis andback pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.

 

3. Perfects your posture

Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

 

4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown 

Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.

 

5. Protects your spine

Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.

 

6. Betters your bone health

It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, likeDownward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) may help keep calcium in the bones.

 

7. Increases your blood flow

Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.

 

8. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity

When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

 

9. Ups your heart rate

When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.

 

10. Drops your blood pressure

If you’ve got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects ofSavasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number—and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.

 

11. Regulates your adrenal glands

Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call “food-seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry, or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.

 

12. Makes you happier

Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. Better yet, rise up into a backbend or soar royally into King Dancer Pose. While it’s not as simple as that, one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. More dramatic left-sided activation was found in dedicated, long-term practitioners.

 

13. Founds a healthy lifestyle

Move more, eat less—that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.

 

14. Lowers blood sugar

Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down, and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.

 

15. Helps you focus

An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.

 

16. Relaxes your system 

Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.

 

17. Improves your balance

Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.

 

18. Maintains your nervous system

Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you’re trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you’re having trouble falling asleep.

 

19. Releases tension in your limbs

Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.

 

20. Helps you sleep deeper

Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.

 

21. Boosts your immune system functionality

Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

 

22. Gives your lungs room to breathe

Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. A 1998 study published in The Lancet taught a yogic technique known as “complete breathing” to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After one month, their average respiratory rate decreased from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their exercise capacity increased significantly, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. In addition, yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation.

 

Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things you’d rather not take into your lungs.

 

23. Prevents IBS and other digestive problems

Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation—all of these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease constipation—and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And, although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.

 

24. Gives you peace of mind

Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. In other words, it slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems—from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks—if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.

 

25. Increases your self-esteem 

Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard, sleep around—you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself. You’ll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.

 

26. Eases your pain

Yoga can ease your pain. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you’re more inclined to be active, and you don’t need as much medication.

 

27. Gives you inner strength

Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.

 

28. Connects you with guidance 

Good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. Exceptional ones do more than guide you through the postures. They can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper in poses or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance and personalize your practice. A respectful relationship with a teacher goes a long way toward promoting your health.

 

29. Helps keep you drug free

If your medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy, maybe it’s time to try yoga. Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), and obsessive-compulsive disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications and sometimes get off them entirely. The benefits of taking fewer drugs? You’ll spend less money, and you’re less likely to suffer side effects and risk dangerous drug interactions.

 

30. Builds awareness for transformation

Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain steady in the face of bad news or unsettling events. You can still react quickly when you need to—and there’s evidence that yoga speeds reaction time—but you can take that split second to choose a more thoughtful approach, reducing suffering for yourself and others.

 

31. Benefits your relationships

Love may not conquer all, but it certainly can aid in healing. Cultivating the emotional support of friends, family, and community has been demonstrated repeatedly to improve health and healing. A regular yoga practice helps develop friendliness, compassion, and greater equanimity. Along with yogic philosophy’s emphasis on avoiding harm to others, telling the truth, and taking only what you need, this may improve many of your relationships.

 

32. Uses sounds to soothe your sinuses

The basics of yoga—asana, pranayama, and meditation—all work to improve your health, but there’s more in the yoga toolbox. Consider chanting. It tends to prolong exhalation, which shifts the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system. When done in a group, chanting can be a particularly powerful physical and emotional experience. A recent study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds—like those made while chanting Om—open the sinuses and facilitate drainage.

 

33. Guides your body’s healing in your mind’s eye

If you contemplate an image in your mind’s eye, as you do in yoga nidra and other practices, you can effect change in your body. Several studies have found that guided imagery reduced postoperative pain, decreased the frequency of headaches, and improved the quality of life for people with cancer and HIV.

 

34. Keeps allergies and viruses at bay

Kriyas, or cleansing practices, are another element of yoga. They include everything from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestines. Jala neti, which entails a gentle lavage of the nasal passages with salt water, removes pollen and viruses from the nose, keeps mucus from building up, and helps drains the sinuses.

 

35. Helps you serve others

Karma yoga (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do. A study at the University of Michigan found that older people who volunteered a little less than an hour per week were three times as likely to be alive seven years later. Serving others can give meaning to your life, and your problems may not seem so daunting when you see what other people are dealing with.

 

36. Encourages self care

In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit. This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.

 

37. Supports your connective tissue

As you read all the ways yoga improves your health, you probably noticed a lot of overlap. That’s because they’re intensely interwoven. Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected—your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world. This interconnection is vital to understanding yoga. This holistic system simultaneously taps into many mechanisms that have additive and even multiplicative effects. This synergy may be the most important way of all that yoga heals.

 

38. Uses the placebo effect, to affect change

Just believing you will get better can make you better. Unfortunately, many conventional scientists believe that if something works by eliciting the placebo effect, it doesn’t count. But most patients just want to get better, so if chanting a mantra—like you might do at the beginning or end of yoga class or throughout a meditation or in the course of your day—facilitates healing, even if it’s just a placebo effect, why not do it?

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Stories of Boise yoga, for boise friendly yogis

Yoga Taught Me

Too often we avoid dealing with issues we believe we’ve overcome, maybe we avoid out of pain, laziness, but whatever the reason, there is a belief that nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. 

 

I was unhappy and anxious, and didn’t know how to change.  I felt overburdened, stressed, overworked, and unappreciated, and didn’t see an end in sight.  I couldn’t even imagine being happy, feeling calm or lighthearted.  Avoiding confrontation at all costs was a priority for me, and I believe this philosophy is what prevented me from working through many of the issues that caused pain, stress, sadness, and anxiety.  I wanted to hide from everyone, and everything.  I was full.  Full of problems, full of pain, full of anxiety.

 

And then, I found yoga. Please, please don’t take this the wrong way.  Yoga is not a miracle cure.  Yoga doesn’t happen overnight.  Yoga is simply a vehicle that allowed me to carefully, on my own time, peel back all the layers of the stinky onion that I was, and work on those lessons that weren’t going away.  Yoga allowed me to breathe through times of high-anxiety.  Yoga allowed me to do the work, to take the time, to practice more patience and stillness, and that is where I found peace.

 

I wish I could say I found peace in poses I struggled with, I did not.  In fact, early on, many poses made me doubt myself, question whether I’d ever be worthy of calling myself a yogi.  I had a taste, a moment of feeling “light” after my first yoga class.  I wanted to feel light and airy again.  I wanted to be free from anxiety – so I went to another class, and another, and another until I came to believe it was the classes that helped me achieve the feeling of “lightness”.  I went every single day, even on vacation, because this was the best I had ever felt in my entire life. 

 

But it wasn’t the classes that gave me that feeling of freedom.  It wasn’t the poses or the breathing either.  It was all these things that helped to change my perspective on life.  There will always be struggles, how you choose to react emotionally, physically, and mentally to those struggles is the single greatest factor in creating a happy life.  Yoga gave me the ability to acknowledge situations (scary, stressful, uncomfortable) rather than react.  The difference in my life has been dramatic.

 

Acknowledging a situation requires no emotion or energy, it is simply accepting the situation as a witness.  Reacting to a situation is what changes you from a witness to a participant.  When a stressful/tumultuous/rowdy/emotional situation occurs, you have the choice to continue being a witness or a participant.  This is one of many lessons I have learned through the practice of yoga, and the best is yet to come.  The longer you practice being present for yourself on your yoga mat, the more present you can be for those you love.

 

Be grateful for the things you love.  Treat every day as if it were the best gift.  Every day you wake up, you have the gift of do-over, the gift of another day of sun on your skin, and wind in your hair.  When you wake up each day,  treat it like Christmas morning.  Remind yourself, think to yourself, “YES!  I get ANOTHER DAY” to do it all over, bigger, better, and with more love.

 

Each morning, I open one eye at a time.  When that first ray of sunshine hits my pupil, that's my cue.  That's my reminder.  Today, I get an extra day with my husband – to tell him how important he is to me, to tell him all the ways he makes my life better.  I get an extra day with my kids to hug, to kiss, to cuddle, and tickle and paddleboard.  I get an extra day to feel love, to be love.  I get another day to do YOGA!

 

 

Want to know more about how you can find the life you love?  If nothing else has worked, why not try yoga?  $30 for 30 Days of unlimited yoga – it might just change your life the way it changed mine.  

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First Steps

Every day we wake up, we have choices to make.  We can choose where to spend our time, we can choose whom to spend that time with, we can choose where to place our efforts, our passion, our energy.  But, for individuals living with anxiety, racing thoughts make any decision seem cloudy, or worse suffocating.  The idea of leaving the house, sometimes just the bed seems unbearable.  That’s where we begin, with first steps.

 

For me, some days are easier than others.  On tough days, I encourage myself to get out of bed to complete 15 minutes of Sun Salutations (Surya Namasakar) before I convince myself of the day and the decisions ahead.  Sun Salutations, are a wonderful way to wake up and start the day.  When practiced with purpose and deliberate breath, the slow rhythmic repetition of Sun Salutations can calm the mind and calm the body.  But how?

 

Before deciding this is just one more hippie, trying to convince you yoga is the answer to everything, consider this: when a mammal is in a state of “fight-or-flight” or “stressed” hormones are released in the body. Those hormones include adrenaline, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, and cortisol, just to name a few.  These hormones cause the body to increase heart rate, increase blood pressure and increase your blood sugar.  Subsequently, the most effective way to calm the body, calm the heart, and calm the adrenal glands, resides in your ability to control your breathing. 

 

Wouldn’t you know it, 90% of yoga is breath-work (that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much).  Ujjayi breathing, (breathing in and out through the nose and back of the throat) also known as “ocean breath”, or for Star Wars Fans, “Darth Vader” breath, is an excellent form of Pranayama.  So what does any of this have to do with choices?

 

Choices are something we make every day.  We can choose how we prioritize our time, our health, our breath, and in doing so, lead the life we want to lead instead of the life we feel forced to lead.  Being deliberate in everything you do in life, including your breathing has a direct effect in the life you choose to lead.  If anxiety is something you’ve struggled with, consider choosing to learn a new way to cope with stress and anxiety.   Choose to find your breath, so no one, nothing, can steal your peace.

 

Here are some first steps:

  1.  Learn & practice Ujjayi breathing
  2.  Start a morning meditation
  3. Join a yoga studio to learn more about Pranayama breathing, sun salutations, and meditation.
  4. Attend Shine's  Workshop: Yoga for Anxiety
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Yoga for Anxiety

This is meant as an initital post for our workshop on anxiety, just to infomr you of what is coming up at the studio.  If you have been dealing with anxiety, check back here to learn you're not alone.  Anxiety is the reason our owner fell so deeply in-live with yoga.  Tune in to follow along and learn the ways yoga has improved the lives of yogis around you, and how yoga may help you in dealing with anxiety as well!  

 

Yoga for Anxiety Workshop:

Join Julie as she shares her struggle with anxiety, how yoga transformed daily life, and learn the poses and breathing techniques to help control anxiety in your life.

Workshop includes:
Month of unlimited yoga for September
Book, "Yoga for Emotional Balance".
Four, 90 minute, Yoga for Anxiety Classes taught Monday nights from 7pm-8:30pm.

Dates: September 4, 11, 18, 25

$165 

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Idaho Gives Day at Shine!!! We love Wyakin Warriors!

Shine Yoga and the Wyakin Warrior Foundation invite you to join in a dynamic yoga class exploring the benefits of yoga when breath work is linked to movement, a whole new level of relaxation, calm, and peace can be found.

 

Your $9.11 donation for this class goes directly to the Wyakin Warrior Foundation serving post-9/11 wounded and injured veterans.

 

Curious about Idaho Gives Day?  Idaho Gives is a statewide, 24-hour giving day taking place on May 4th, 2017, and it’s all online! Since the inaugural event in 2013, Idahoans have raised more than $3.5 Million for participating organizations, one donation at a time. 

 

Every year on one amazing day, people across our state come together for Idaho nonprofits. It's a day to celebrate the awesome work of Idaho’s nonprofits and benefit from the power of many. Idaho comes together—be a part of it! Click Here to learn more about idaho gives day!

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Leaning In.

More than equal pay...ladies its time, Lean in.

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