a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

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a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

Who doesn't wish they could squeeze in a few more zzz's? Sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing, proper immune function and lowering our stress levels. Although we might be aware of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, sometimes it can be challenging to transition from the busyness of everyday life into a restful slumber. If you could use a bit of help winding down for bedtime, check out the restorative yoga sequence below. Taking 20 minutes before bed to slow down and unwind could be your ticket to snoozeville. 

For this practice you will need:

2 blocks or firm pillows, some wall space, a blanket (optional), and an eye pillow (also optional)

Short and sweet meditation

Begin in a crossed leg seated position, back facing the wall. You might want to sit on your block or blanket for additional support. You can also use the wall for back support if this is helpful. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. Before you change your breath in any way, notice the natural rhythm of your breath. Take note of where the breath wants to live in the body and the quality of the breath. Be aware, there is no right answer to these questions. This is not about judgement but rather building awareness. Take this time to check in how you are feeling at the beginning of your practice.

After a minute or two gradually begin to deepen your breathing and begin:

3-part breath (dirga swasam pranayama)

Divide the inhale into 3 equal parts, breathing into the belly, the ribs, and the chest. If it is helpful, you can use your hands to guide your inhale as you move the breath up the torso. Allow the breath to be continuous as you initiate your inhale from the low belly, lift the breath into the rib cage/diaphragm, and then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale, take a long, continuous exhale, following the same path in reverse. Repeat 5-10 rounds. You may slowly start to lengthen the breath as you feel ready.

*as with all pranayama (breathing exercises), stop if you become dizzy or lightheaded

 
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Legs up the Wall:

Snuggle one hip next to the wall, knees facing up toward the ceiling

Lay on your back as you simultaneously swing both legs up the wall. You can place your hands behind you to help this action.

Cover your eyes with an eye pillow. 

Take long deep breaths into the belly. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes

*If the legs fall asleep, you can either come out of the pose or hug the knees into the chest for a few breaths and re-stretch the legs when you are ready.

*If the hamstrings are tight, the knees can stay a little bent in this pose. 

 
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Supine Twist

Bend the knees into the chest 

Rock the knees over to the left with your feet  gently pressing into the wall

Stretch your arms out on the floor, in line with your shoulders, chin turned towards your right shoulder

Optionally place your left hand on top of your right thigh to gently encourage the leg toward the floor, thus deepening your twist. 

Breath deeply, finding a smoothed out version of that same 3-part-breath with which we started practice. Hold 10 breaths, then switch sides

 

Supta Baddha Konasana

Lie on down on your back with an optional low folded blanket under your head. 

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Bring the soles of your feet to touch, open your knees to the sides, laying the thighs on either your blocks or firm pillows. 

Gently place an eye pillow over your eyes and a blanket over the belly. A blanket placed on the abdomen adds a sense of grounding, which is very helpful as you ease your way towards dreamland.

Enjoy this pose for 10 minutes. 

When you are ready to finish your practice, draw your knees together and rock side to side a few times. Roll to one side to press yourself up to sit.

Take a few breaths in a seated position, take note of how you feel. Then head to bed for some seriously sweet dreams!

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Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video

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Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video

Dear yogis,

I am off to Tulum this weekend for Brynne Billingsley and my Winter Escape retreat and I couldn’t be more excited! For those not joining us on the retreat this time around, I wanted to leave you with a new video so we can practice together while I am away :)

This 20 minute hip opening vinyasa flow is great for any time of day. Take a short break to stretch, breathe & re-center. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

Enjoy this feel good flow and let me know how it goes!

Adios!

xoJenny

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legs up the wall: the cure-all yoga pose

Legs up the wall is sometimes know as the cure-all yoga pose. It boasts healing benefits for ailments ranging from anxiety to headaches to insomnia, making it a go-to yoga pose for just about anything.

I practice this pose almost every day as I find it to be a brilliant way to rest my legs after running around the city all day. It is also a wonderful way to find a bit of energy when you feel like you could use a boost.

Check out the video below for a rejuvenating, relaxing 5 minute restorative practice. This video includes a short and sweet meditation followed by legs up the wall with optional variations. You can practice this sequence any time of day, but it is especially helpful as an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening wind-down at the end of a busy day. I hope you enjoy this powerful healing pose as much as I do!

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wishing you a bright new year!

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wishing you a bright new year!

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As we bid farewell to 2017 and say hello to 2018, I would love to share with you a practice I have found to be a powerful way to ring in the new year.

A few years ago, I started the tradition of closing out the year by listing all the positive aspects of the past year. No matter how big or small the event, the accomplishment, the blessing, I sit with my journal and list all the beauty that has entered my life. This has proved to be both a wonderful way to reflect on the past year as well as a way to embrace a positive perspective for the year to come. 

Not only does this practice frame the closing year in a positive light but it is very telling as to what IS working in our lives and how we can grow the positive aspects of our lives rather than being overly focused on what we need to change, uproot and shed. 

I encourage you to give this exercise a shot for a happy and positive transition into 2018.

Wishing you and your family a bright and happy New Year!

Much love,
Jenny

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Easy Maple Brussel Sprouts

Easy Maple Brussel Sprouts

your local farmers market is a great place to pick up locally grown brussels sprouts.

your local farmers market is a great place to pick up locally grown brussels sprouts.

Looking for a healthy dish to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? This easy brussels sprouts recipe is a great way to incorporate some greens into your holiday menu. Nutrient rich brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants as well as high in vitamin C and fiber. A natural sweetener, maple syrup will keep your blood sugar steady (no sugar crash!) Walnuts add some healthy fat and protein. This dish is a healthy addition to any meal :)

Head to your local farmers market this week to pick up these awesome veggies and some local maple syrup. Check out the recipe below!

My favorite fall recipe- nutritious & delicious!

My favorite fall recipe- nutritious & delicious!

 

Easy Maple Brussels Sprouts
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups brussels spouts, halved
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbs Maple syrup (the real stuff, if possible!)

Step One:
Sauté olive oil, salt and brussel sprouts in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until tender (about 10 minutes)


Step Two:
Add walnuts and maple syrup. Sauté for one more minute. Remove from heat and serve warm. 

Bon Appetite!

Too busy for Yoga?

Too busy for Yoga?

There is an old Zen saying, "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are very busy; Then you should sit for an hour." 

This saying rings so true as I am currently moving out of my apartment where I have lived for the past 7 years. Between sorting through papers, organizing clothes and getting the room ready for the next tenant, this Zen reminder is just what I have needed to keep my practice going, even when super busy.

I think of all I have to do in order to get ready for my move (on Sunday!) and it feels like any spare moment when I am not teaching, I should be working to prepare for the move. However, knowing myself and knowing the power of meditation and yoga, most days I have carved out time for practice. Having a little time on my mat has given me the calm focus I need to stay on task and not get too distracted. This post-yoga focus has been a sharp contrast to days when I was 'too busy', didn't practice and somehow wasted more time than if I had spent just a bit of time on my mat.

I always love a nice, long yoga practice but it is true that we do not always have the time. That's why we could use a break from the all or nothing mentality. A 15-30 minute practice can do wonders, leaving you grounded, centered, focused and ready to take on whatever tasks are at hand. 

For this reason, I have been creating short yoga sequences and sharing them on YouTube. (You can subscribe here if you haven't already!) Anytime you need a shift of energy but don't feel like you have the time, try a video from the Urban Om Yoga channel, like the one below. Just 13 minutes is all you need for an afternoon boost :) Check out the video and, as always, let me know if you have any questions! 

xoJenny

This video was filmed in the loft I have called home for 7 years. Excited for a change but I will miss this dance floor!

Yoga for a Strong Core

Happy Self Care Sunday, Yogis!

I am excited to announce that I have started a YouTube Channel, Urban Om Yoga! I started this yoga channel to offer some peace and calm in an easily accessible (and free!) platform. Through various practices we will sweat, rest, restore and meditate. There will be a wide range of practices on the channel so you can find a practice that works best for your specific needs each day. I am so excited to share this project with you. Subscribe to the channel here

Check out the most recent video below. A strong core supports from the inside out, promoting good posture and a healthy back. My yoga practice has been influenced by my recent pilates training and I have found some incredibly helpful exercises to weave into my everyday yoga flow. Check out the video and subscribe to Urban Om Yoga to stay in the loop for future videos- More coming soon!!

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

xoJenny

Traveling Yogi

Traveling Yogi

I recently returned to Brooklyn after a 10 day vacation in California. I love traveling and California always feels like my home away from home so I was happy to head west for a bit. 

Traveling can be an amazing adventure, one that encourages you to leave your comfort zone, try new things and experience different cultures. It creates opportunity to discover fresh perspective by nudging you out of your usual routine. Combining your travels with a bit of yoga here and there can keep you feeling grounded and calm while on the road. Below are a few tips to help squeeze in some yoga and healthy habits while exploring new terrain. Happy travels yogis!!

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Pack a yoga mat

You can purchase a mat bag for as little as $10. Lightweight and easily portable, you can carry your bag onto the plane as a carryon and slide your mat under your airplane seat. If you have your mat during your travels, you are much more likely to practice. It can be great to find a class at a local studio but sometimes when one is visiting family and friends, there is not time for a full yoga class every day. Find a quiet space to practice for as much time as you have available.

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

10 minutes can make all the difference

Really. Taking time to center yourself, set an intention for the day and move your body makes you a happy traveler and travel companion. Even if you only have a few minutes to stretch and breathe, you will find yourself making healthier choices throughout the day. So often traveling is the opposite of structure. We are often going with the flow and ‘winging’ it, so to say. By adding a bit of structure to your day in the form of a yoga or meditation practice, you will find that you can relax and go with the flow a bit more. 

Practice first thing in the morning

I know it’s vacation and you want to sleep in but if you can wake up just a few minutes early to squeeze in a practice, your body will be happy with you for the rest of the day. 

Meditate

I personally love the Headspace meditation app. It has super simple meditations and cute animations to boot. Choose from several minutes of meditation up to one hour. They also have 1 minute kids meditations if you are traveling with kiddos. On my recent JetBlue flight there were several Headspace meditations in the inflight entertainment so check your flight’s channels and you might be so lucky. 

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Pack Healthy Snacks

Keep your blood sugar even to avoid sugar crashes. I always love having snacks such as Lara bars, almonds, and fruit in my bag as to avoid the hangry stage ;) It is also always great to have options while at the airport where food is often overpriced. 

Find a local studio

It can be a lot of fun to check out a local yoga studio while traveling. Often times family or friends will have a recommendation or they will be up for trying a new class with you. Just as it can be eye opening to experience a different culture, it is always interesting to try a new practice and experience a new view on yoga and meditation.

Know that it’s ok if you stray from your yoga plan

Also, remember that you are on vacation and if you fall out of your usual yoga routine, it is not the end of the world. Sometimes we need a break from practice for one reason or another. Often it is the absence of our yoga practice when we realize how much benefit our practice offers. Do your best while on the road and then get back into your usual routine once you are back home. 

I wish you safe and happy travels!

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City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

My yogi toolkit is a collection of short practices I count on to bring balance and calm to my day. These practices are a great way to supplement a yoga practice when I have a few minutes to spare.

One simple practice I carry in my yogi toolkit is 2-1 breathing, or Rechaka Pranayama. This simple breathing exercise doubles the length of the exhale, bringing stress relief to body and mind. It is the perfect antidote for anxiety, insomnia and stress. Unlike other pranayama techniques, this practice can be done anytime, anywhere, without the supervision of an instructor.

Practice this yoga gem the next time you have a few minutes to spare and want to quiet the mind and regain focus. It is a great exercise to have in your back pocket and I highly recommend adding it to your yogi toolkit :)

The how to:

Begin by taking a tall seat, with the legs crossed. Ideally the hips are higher than the knees. Feel free to sit on a blanket or yoga block if this makes this alignment possible and/or feels better for your back. Close the eyes and begin to breathe evenly in and out through the nose.

Once you feel you have established a consistent rhythm, breathe in for the count of 2 and breathe out for the count of 4. Take a few rounds of this breath ratio. As you are ready, increase the breath ratio by inhaling for the count of 3 and exhale for the count of 6, then progressing to a ratio of 4 to 8, and so on. Take care not to push past your breath capacity. This exercise should feel calming and should not create strain.

Take this 2-1 breath for a few minutes, or until you feel the mind settle. Once you feel ready, take a few even breaths, bringing the breath back into a steady, equal rhythm. Open your eyes and continue your day, with a bit more calm and clarity. 

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

Self Care Sunday: Gratitude Practice

Self Care Sunday: Gratitude Practice

Practicing gratitude is one of the simplest ways to change your perspective for the better. Whether you are going through a difficult time or just want to brighten your mood, this practice has the ability to offer a more positive point of view. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, there is always something to be grateful for and if we can cultivate this mindset, we will be happier for it. 

Here are several ways to give this powerful practice a try. Use one or more of these techniques today and enjoy a positive mindset as part of your Self Care Sunday :)

Gratitude Meditation

Have a few minutes and want to improve your mood? Find a quiet place to sit or lie down with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths and begin to think of something you are happy to have in your life. You can either choose to let all the people, things, and activities you are grateful for flow steadily through your mind or you can meditate on one thing for which you are grateful for the entirety of the meditation.

Create a Gratitude Journal

For the next 30 days write down at least 3 things you are grateful for every day. It can be helpful to create a ritual, practicing gratitude first thing in the morning or before you go to bed each evening. These points of gratitude can be big or small, from the first sips of your morning latte to those in your life who make your heart hum. Writing down these highlights every day strengthens your gratitude muscle and you will find looking on the bright side becomes more of a habit over the course of the month. 

Gratitude Walk

Take a walk and bring your attention to everything that brings you joy while you stroll. Turn your phone on silent or leave it at home so you can be truly present while you take your gratitude walk. You could notice the sunny day, the cute dog walking by, the beautiful flowers, whatever suits your fancy. Bringing attention to all of the beauty of life can brighten your mood and make more space for the wonders of life. 

Whichever technique works best for you, give gratitude practice a try for your Self Care Sunday. The benefits are so vast, it might be a practice you will want to turn to every day of the week.