Aug 15

How Exercise Helps the Immune System

Want to feel more energetic and avoid those occasional bugs that lay too many of us low? Getting regular exercise can help make your immune system stronger and keep you going all year long. A few of the reasons exercise can be so valuable:

1. Exercise may flush bacteria from the lungs and airways.

Researchers theorize that elevated respiration like you experience during the tougher parts of your barre Pilates workout may flush bacteria out of your system, decreasing the chances that you will get sick. Getting out and moving could be the ticket when a summer cold starts making its way around the office.

2. Exercise changes the activity of your white blood cells and antibodies.

When you exercise, these cells circulate the body more rapidly. Researchers believe that this can result in faster detection of illnesses than you would otherwise experience.

3. Exercise slows down your body’s release of stress hormones.

When we have higher levels of our bodies’ stress hormones circulating, it makes us more vulnerable to inflection. Lowering the levels of stress hormones in your body can make you less susceptible to illnesses. The affects of stress hormones is cumulative: we lower them each time we exercise, so regular workouts are key.

4. Exercise makes us crave healthier foods.

When you are getting to class regularly, hydrating before and after and doing other good things for your body, you’ll find yourself craving more of them. Our minds go through something that scientists call the “transfer effect.” Healthy habits in one area make us more likely to desire improvement in another. So, when you get out of a tough barre class, you are more likely to pick a dinner that has healthy servings of fruit, vegetables and complex carbs than you are to pick up a burger on the way home.

5. Healthy habits help control your weight.

When you are exercising regularly and observing healthy eating habits, you are more likely to attain and keep a healthy weight. People who are neither underweight nor overweight have better resistance to illnesses than people who’s weight is outside the healthy range. By keeping your weight within that healthy range, you can make it more likely that infections will pass you by.

6. Exercise briefly raises body temperature.

The rise in body temperatures can make your body less hospitable to invading viruses and bacteria. The effect is similar to what happens when you get sick and develop a fever. The good news is that the temperature rise from exercise is temporary and healthy.

While colds and flus are most common in the winter months, they can strike any time of year. By keeping your body healthy and your immune system primed, you can lower your chances of getting sick and keep yourself active and energetic.

Aug 01

What to Bring to Aerial Yoga Class

If you are gearing up for your first aerial yoga class, it’s natural to be a little nervous. Feeling that you’ve properly prepared for the class can help ease your nerves and allow you to engage more fully. To be prepared for class, make sure that you have brought the right items along and left the ones that are intrusive or not-needed at home:

1. A water bottle.

Bring along a bottle of water so that you can rehydrate immediately after class. Try to avoid drinking too much water immediately before class begins. Inversions may be uncomfortable with a full stomach. (For the best results, hydrate regularly throughout the day.)

2. A yoga mat.

Even though you will be in a hammock for most of the class, you still need to bring your mat along to an aerial class. The mat will be used for floor exercises and as a soft surface below your hammock.

3. Toe socks or yoga socks.

While many people prefer to practice barefoot, yoga socks are good to have if you are worried about slipping during practice. For your first time in the hammock, it’s better to have them along with you and not need them than to wish you had them when you left them at home.

4. Form fitting clothing.

When dressing for your class or packing your bag, make sure that you have the right clothes for a good experience. Clothing should have at least short sleeves and come below the knee to avoid abrasions or rubbing. Make sure that clothes are form fitting so that they do not ride up an inopportune moments during inversions.

5. A bag to keep it all.

Your yoga bag doesn’t have to be something fancy. Any duffel bag or gym bag will do to keep everything corralled during class. This ensures that it’s easier for you to keep everything together and that you haven’t left something behind when class is done.

 

Aerial yoga classes also have a few “don’ts.” Leave these home for a better experience:

  • Perfumes and lotions. These can stain or weaken hammocks. Additionally, strong scents like perfumes or essential oils can linger in a hammock after you’ve gone.
  • Jewelry and belts. All jewelry should be removed and either left at home or kept safely in your bag. Jewelry can snag or tear hammocks, leading to expensive damage.
  • Your phone. Be sure to turn your phone off or set everything to silent before class begins. Buzzing and beeping can be invasive and can take people out of the experience.

Aerial yoga can allow you to get deeper into positions and more fully relax. By ensuring that you have taken care of the small bits of preparation before you come to class, you can enjoy the experience more fully and without any lingering worries that can get in the way of your practice.

Jul 15

How and Why to Work on Your Posture

Poor posture doesn’t just look bad. It can cause back pain, self esteem issues and can contribute to back and neck injuries. Is your posture less than perfect? Consider these tips and practices to improve your posture and your health.

1. Work on your core.

Your core muscles support your torso and make it possible to have a tall, straight posture. The benefits of barre pilates and other core-focused cannot be overstated. Regular barre classes will help you develop these muscles and support your weight properly.

2. Practice sitting up straight.

Do you tend to slouch at your desk at work? Make a point of sitting up straight every time you realize that you are hunched over. It will feel unnatural and a little uncomfortable at first. However, you will find over time that you sit up straight naturally once you adjust.

3. Get plenty of vitamin D and calcium.

We get vitamin D from fortified milk, sunlight and, if need be, multivitamins. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and muscles. Calcium builds healthy bones and can help preserve bone health as you age. You can get calcium from dairy products, leafy greens, beans and from canned fish with the bones like sardines or salmon. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.

4. Lift weights.

Many people focus on stretching and cardio, but weight training is important for health, too. Weight bearing exercises like weight lifting, stair climbing and swimming can help you develop the muscle mass to support your body correctly. They can also help cut down on issue like thinning bones as you age.

If you are not getting enough of these important nutrients, it can become harder over time to maintain good posture.

5. Correct the way that you stand.

Poor posture when standing comes from a combination of improper body mechanics. To ensure good posture when you stand, start from the feet up. Your weight should be held primarily on the balls of your feet. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart when resting. Knees should not be locked and should be kept very slightly bent. Tuck in your stomach and hold your shoulders pulled back. This will be a lot easier if you have built up your strength with regular exercise.

Poor posture is not something that you can correct overnight. If you have years of slouching when you sit or stand, it will also take some time to develop the sort of posture that is better for your health. Regular workouts, like our ballet barre pilates, can help you develop the strength and muscle support that makes good posture natural. By committing yourself to healthier posture now, you will enjoy a lower incidence of injury, less back and neck pain and good health even as you age. Ready to be healthier? Sign up for a class today.

Jul 01

Best Aerial Yoga Moves for Stress Relief

Many people think of aerial yoga as an acrobatic and highly athletic practice. However, it can be one of the most relaxing yoga styles, as it allows you to sink more deeply into poses and enjoy practice without pressure on the parts of your body that come into contact with the mat. Looking for stress relief? Put emphasis on these poses and strategies to get the most out of your aerial yoga practice:

1. Deep breathing.

Yogic breathing, known as pranayama, plays a huge part in yoga’s soothing nature. Your breathing should be deep and even as you go through each pose. The key is to keep the intensity at a level where you do not have to breathe hard or hold your breath. Keep under that level of exertion and focus on your breathing throughout the class.

2. Cross position.

This position involves letting your hammock support your upper back while you lean back and spread your arms wide. This position is great for stretching tense back muscles that have been hunched while you work all day. It opens the chest and shoulders, allowing tension to flow away.

3. Star inversion.

Many people are nervous about inverted poses when they first start aerial yoga. There is no reason to worry; you are not very far above the mat and are securely supported by the strength of the hammock. In the star inversion, your waist is supported by the hammock while your arms and legs spread open. This position relieves pressure on the spine, leading to excellent back pain relief. Like other inversions, it helps calm and center your mind, which can push stress and intrusive thoughts away.

4. Bridge pose.

In both floor-based and aerial yoga, this is an excellent pose for relieving the tension you carry in the muscles in your back and neck. While being supported by your lower back, arch your back and let gravity help. This stretch is credited with relieving headaches that are caused by tension. Relax fully and extend so that you get the full benefit of this pose.

5. Aerial lunges.

Are standard lunges sometimes rough on your knees? Aerial lunches provide support and allow you to get a deep, full lower body stretch. Stand close to your mat so that you can easily slide one leg into the U of your hammock, keeping the other leg at the center of your mat with your toes pointing forward. From there, gently lean into the lunge to stretch your quads and your hip flexors. Repeat with the other side. You’ll find that the tension you hold there dissipates and you will experience less pain and tightness after.

Regular practice leads to better flexibility and lower levels of stress. you use a break from your hectic day? Add an aerial yoga class to your schedule. We offer classes throughout the week at times that work for you. Sign up and schedule some relaxation today.

Jun 15

Can I do barre pilates when I’m injured?

There’s nothing more frustrating that being sidelined after an injury. What’s going to happen to all your progress? Should you just push through the pain? While you may feel like you want to get back to your regimen as soon as possible, there are times you should take a break and times when you should change your barre Pilates workout so that you can heal fully without losing progress.

Modifying for knee pain.

If you have a strain or another condition that’s causing knee pain, modifications can keep you active without exacerbating the injury.

Working an inch or so above your pain threshold can help you avoid additional pain in standing postures. When doing standing postures, do not go low if it causes pain. Lifting your hips higher can give you the same benefit without risk.

In some cases, using a small exercise ball between your knees can help stabilize them and relieve some pressure.

Helping with lower back pain.

If you have a back injury that is causing pain, modifying some moves can help you exercise without pain and even heal more quickly.

Taking every move very slowly is a good practice. Don’t worry about keeping up with everyone, we’re not in competition. Just ease into each posture and stop if something feels wrong. This can help you find your range of motion so that you do not overextend.

If going deep into a pose causes pain, modify it so that you work higher and stay upright.

Modifications for shoulder pain.

The joints in our shoulders are among the most vulnerable to strain and injury. If you’ve hurt your shoulder, modify barre moves so that you do not raise your arms more than shoulder height. This reduced range can help you avoid pain and reinjury.

During moves like shoulder walks and push-ups against the bar, keep your elbows pointing downwards. When doing under the barre exercises, use a strap to hold on.

Above all, listen to your doctor.

If your doctor has recommended light duty while you are recuperating from an injury, not following doctor’s orders can result in slower or incomplete healing. We’ll see you back in class when you’ve healed up!

Ice, rest and elevation can all help after class if you feel sore or like an area has been overworked. Pay close attention to your body’s communication about what works and what is too much.

If you have concerns about the suitability of different moves during our barre Pilates classes, show up early to talk to the instructor. She can make some recommendations about the best moves and suggest some modifications to keep you from exacerbating an injury. By finding your limits and listening to what your body has to say, you can keep limber and fit while healing and get back to your full capacity more quickly.

Jun 01

5 Tips for a Great Aerial Yoga Class

Aerial yoga can seem a little intimidating before you start. But, this form has a lot of advantages that can actually make it easier for you to get more out of your workout. To make your class the best one possible for you, remember these important tips:

1. Pick the right clothes.

Loose and airy items are just going to get tangled around you or the hammock during a lot of moves. Instead, pick something form-fitting that is also comfortable. Clothing that breathes is best to keep you cool. Shits with sleeves are better than tank tops; the latter can lead to friction against the hammock. Most people practice barefoot, but you can wear yoga socks if you prefer. Remove any jewelry before class to keep it from catching o snagging on the hammock.

2. Skip the creams and products.

Avoid applying lotion, sunscreen or perfume before class. The first two can stain or damage the hammocks. The third can get cloying and overbearing in a tough class. While a scent may seem unobtrusive to you, it can get amplified while you are going through your poses.

3. Eat a couple hours before class.

You don’t want to go into class with your stomach growling in hunger, but you do not want to have a full stomach, either. Eating something nourishing like a bowl of oatmeal, some steamed salmon or another meal that stays with you is best.

You should also drink plenty of water throughout the day before class. This can keep you well-hydrated even if you are not taking breaks to drink during your aerial workout.

Make sure that you do not consume fizzy or acidic drinks before class. During inversions, these can lead to heart burn or an upset stomach.

4. Relax into the poses.

You will get a lot more out of every pose if you just let gravity do its job. Do not worry about the hammock supporting you. Most are rated for as much as 1,000 pounds. When you relax into each pose and ground in your hammock, you will get better stretches and more benefit.

5. Move slowly.

Don’t rush from one pose to another. This can throw your balance off, which can make it harder to move fully into every stretch. If you are rushing into or out of an inversion, you may wind up getting dizzy. Instead, slowly and deliberately move from one pose to the next.

Doing all of these before and during class can lead to a better experience all around. You will feel more comfortable during class and be able to get more out of every pose. It can take a few classes to get the swing of this style of yoga. Just keep coming to class and be open to learning to ensure that you get the fullest experience and the best benefits from your aerial yoga practice.

May 15

How Aerial Yoga Battles Back and Neck Pain

When people think of aerial yoga, their thoughts usually go straight to impressive acts of flexibility and balance, often performed many feet in the air. However, this view of the practice leaves out some of the best benefits that aerial yoga can provide. This type of yoga is especially good for neck and back pain. A few reasons why:

Aerial yoga makes you feel weightless.

This style of yoga is performed in a soft hammock a few feet above the ground. When you are suspended like this, you do not have the pressure of the floor or mat beneath you. This means a more comfortable yoga experience if you are already dealing with back or neck pain.

Deep stretches are easier.

When you have gravity working on your side, it is much easier to get the deep stretches that help you work out kinks and pain. Simply relax into positions and discover how easy it is to get the full benefit of each stretch. Stretching helps relieve pain in the short term by relaxing tight muscles. In the long term, it helps you build flexibility to avoid injury.

Aerial yoga is invigorating.

When we exercise, it releases endorphins. These feel-good chemicals are powerful pain relievers. When you engage in the graceful, weightless practice of aerial yoga, you will get a good dose of that beneficial reaction. You’ll find that you are relaxed and less likely to feel back or neck pain.

Aerial yoga allows you to breathe more deeply.

Breath is at the center of yoga. Maintaining smooth breath flow helps you relax into the positions and get the calming benefit from your practice. With aerial yoga, you will not find yourself tense and straining for a position. As a result, you will breathe more deeply, which in turn helps combat neck and back pain.

Almost anyone can do aerial yoga.

As long as you are within the hammock’s weight limit, you can do aerial yoga. Do not feel that it is something reserved for people with the bodies of acrobats. Anyone can start with aerial and begin getting the benefits right away. Aerial yoga’s graceful movements help you build confidence right away. This, in turn, makes it easier to commit to a regular yoga routine that will help you grow stronger and more flexible. You’ll find that the better you get at aerial, the fewer neck and back problems you will have.

We offer several aerial classes every week for people of all yoga skill levels. Check our calendar to see one that fits your schedule. Our instructor can answer your questions before class and help you achieve the right moves to help you become more flexible and cut out back and neck pain.

May 01

What are isometric moves?

If you’ve ever watched a ballet barre workout, you have probably noticed that there isn’t a lot of movement going on a lot of the time. Participants will either stand perfectly still or move in tiny inch by inch movements. Why is that? Isn’t barre supposed to be an intense core-focused work out. It it. It’s just that the poses themselves, known as isometric exercises, can help you get fit without having to make it look intense.

Isometric exercises involve tensing muscles without really moving them. Try pressing your hands against each other, palm to palm. They won’t move very much. But, you’ll feel tension and activity through your arms and chest.

In barre workouts, you hold poses that activate the muscle fibers, even though there won’t be movement. In many cases, you will either hold still or move in tiny one-inch increments. While you won’t move a lot, you’ll definitely feel like you worked out.

These exercises need good technique to ensure that you get the highest level of benefit. To make your ballet barre workout pay off, remember the following:

1. Breathe.

When you are tensing muscles, you can wind up unconsciously holding your breath. Concentrate on keeping your breathing as deep and steady as possible, just as you would during yoga. Pull breaths deep into your belly to get ample oxygen during your workout.

2. Work on your form.

Your form during a barre workout should have turned hips to keep you stable. Watch your instructor for the correct movements and poses. Doing it right means a more effective workout and a lower chance of injury. It’s also important to remember that class is not a competition. If you need do to modifications at first, talk to your instructor about the best moves for you. It’s better to go softer and build up than to injure yourself and miss classes!

3. Squeeze!

Since you are not moving during isometric exercise, good pressure is important. You should aim for about 60 to 80 percent of your strength. This is enough for you to get the maximum benefit without wearing yourself out with maximum effort.

4. Mix up your workouts.

Doing different types of exercises throughout your week can help you gain endurance and build strength throughout all your muscle sets. Consider mixing ballet barre workouts with yoga to get flexibility, strength and a long, lean dancer’s body. We offer a range of class times throughout the week so that you can catch whatever one you want to do.

Ballet barre workouts are hugely effective. Most people start to see improvements within a couple of weeks. While this exercise can be challenging, the pay-off is huge. Start with ballet barre now and start seeing the benefits in strength, flexibility and confidence right away.

Apr 15

Avoiding Injury During Ballet Barre Workouts

Ballet barre Pilates offers a great core workout; but, like any exercise, there is a risk of injury. To keep yourself off the sidelines, remember these important injury-avoidance tips during every barre workout:

1. Watch your posture.

Barre exercises are meant to be performed with your hips, knees and ankles turned out. If you do not have a background in dance, this can feel unnatural. However, this posture is necessary for the movements in class. A good teacher will help you attain the right position for every move during your barre workout.

2. Remember that it is a class, not a competition.

It is important to always work to your own abilities instead of trying to keep up with the people around you. By working at your own pace, you can gradually increase your abilities without risking painful injuries. The only person you are in any competition with is the person who you were yesterday. Focus on individual improvement instead of being as good or better than everyone else.

3. Focus on your core.

Draw your abdominal muscles up and in during each movement. This keeps you safe during exercises. It also helps you build more core strength over time; this will protect you from injury not just at your ballet barre class, but also during other day to day and athletic activities.

4. Tell your instructor about any past injuries.

If you have an old knee injury or another issue, this can increase your chances of being injured at barre class if you do not make changes. Take a few minutes before your first class to discuss any limitations with your instructor. She can help you with modifications to poses that are easier on your body.

5. Don’t overdo the tuck.

Tucking your pelvis is part of how you get the proper poses in ballet. However, in a barre class, excessive tucking can do more harm than good. This position can put more stress on your back, knees and hips. Instead, keep your spine in a neutral position. You will still get the benefit of every move. You’ll also avoid damage to delicate tissue.

6. Don’t try to push through pain.

The old adage “no pain, no gain” has been proven wrong in study after study. If you are experiencing pain that is more intense than the feeling of effort, it is time to stop. Do not try to push farther in a pose when your body is resisting. Listen to your body’s cues and stay within your limits. This allows you to build up endurance and flexibility over time.

As with any exercise, it is important to take on challenges gradually and to avoid pushing yourself beyong your body’s limits. Common sense precautions can help you keep your barre classes challenging and fun without leading to painful injuries.

Apr 01

Can I Do Yoga When I’m Sick?

Feel a bug coming on? One of the decisions to make is whether to continue your practice as normal or whether it’s better to take a few days off to recuperate. The answer is that it’s not as simple as a yes or no question. When you are under the weather, consider these tips about when you should practice and when you should hold off:

You’re never too sick for meditation.

While most of us think about the physical activities associated with yoga, the mental ones are just as important. If you are feeling too achy and fatigued for a full asana, at least spend some time in quiet meditation. It will help you stay centered and focus more fully on getting well again.

Just do what you feel comfortable with.

If you have a headache, a full aerial yoga session complete with inversions is probably not a good idea. When the flu leaves you stiff, it is likely that any poses that push the limits of your flexibility will be out. Listen to your body and adjust your workout to fit what you are currently up to. When we first begin yoga, we are told that the goal is not to push as far as you can but to do only as much as you can while keeping your breathing smooth and even. Do what you can while focusing on your breath, even if it is less intense than your usual routine.

Make sure you stay nourished and hydrated.

Having enough fuel and water is important even when you are at 100%. When you are sick, it becomes even more important to ensure that you are feeding your body. If you can’t keep down full meals, sip broth and eat foods that are gentle on your body, like yogurt. Drink tea to ensure that you are getting enough liquid even when it hurts to swallow.

Simple stretches can help.

If you are feeling sore and stiff, doing a few gentle stretches can be just the right thing. These restorative movements can help ease pain and aid in relaxation. Aim for about 60 to 70% of the intensity of your usual routine to ensure you do not push yourself too far and add injuries to your illness.

Make sure you don’t pass it on.

Above all else, it’s a good idea to stay away from the studio if you might be contagious. Even though yoga mats and aerial yoga hammocks are cleaned and disinfected regularly, the chances of infecting someone else in your class are too high.

Careful attention to your body’s needs can help you get through your illness faster and get back to full health. Stick with whatever level of activity suits you best, get plenty of rest and come back to join us when you are back to full health.

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