In the era of Coronavirus who knows what the answers are?  Here in Connecticut our Governor Ned Lamont is telling us that gym/studios can open as of June 17th.  However, we must be 6 ft apart and wear masks.  Or, we can be 12 ft apart and not wear masks.  I prefer no masks.

So, that leaves us with a max capacity of 5 students to a class and a whole lot of cleaning to do.  And, since we have been financially impacted I have to ask, will it help pay the rent?  Currently, we have 20 classes online and most folks are feeling pretty safe with that.  Plus, we are putting together a video library for students who can’t make the live classes.  Not to mention the warnings about the cases getting worse in the Fall.

No one wants to have to think about all these things.  I’m exhausted.  My brain is exhausted.  I’ve made more decisions in the last 3 months than the last 3 years!  As I hear of yoga studios closing due to Covid-19 I don’t want us to be one of them.  How long will we have to socially distance?  Can we  sustain financially month after month after month?  We want to stay in business!  We want (when it’s safe to come out) to have a sanctuary, a place to process, space to decompress and restore our bodies and minds.  We want our community to re-connect with the people they have bonded with over the last 9 years.  That will be our path to healing.  And, in years to come we can say, “do you remember when…….” and the new students at Fuller Yoga will say, “what was that like?”

Since we have the green light to open here is our solution.  Students can book private and semi-private classes from 1-5 people for you, your family or friends either in the studio, outdoors or via zoom.  We will open some group classes limited to 5 people and specialty classes will slowly come back on the schedule.  And our favorite new class will be Courtyard Yoga, a donation based class every Friday night at 5:30 pm starting July 3rd weather permitting.  Look out for free Intro to Yoga classes as well as fun workshops online and outdoors throughout the summer.

We’ll get through this, together.

The word yoga means to yoke to bring together.  So it’s fitting to look at bringing yoga and the black community together.  When I talk about yoga to those who don’t practice I always hear the same things.  Oh, I can’t do yoga.  Isn’t it hard?  But I’m not flexible.  Do I have to chant om?  I can’t be in class with those skinny girls.  Is it a religion?  And this is just from “white people”.  So I asked my yoga trainees of color, how can we break down the stereotypes of yoga for communities of color?  How can we make yoga more inviting and less intimidating?  I hear others in the yoga community talk of making yoga more affordable to people of color and I think now that’s stereotypical.  To assume just because of the color of someone’s skin that they don’t have money?  So, if they are Jewish we should charge them more?  Everyone needs a break now and then but it shouldn’t depend on the color of their skin.

I appreciate the #yoga5BLM and all the Caucasians standing up for people of color and yes we DO need to raise our voices.  It HAS gone on too long.  It IS injustice.  But, I have to ask, who among you has a black friend?  Who among you have reached out to your black co-worker to find out “how are you with all this?”  Does your child have black friends?   Maybe their aren’t many people of color in your area but if there are, are you really reaching out where you can?  Are you really there to emotionally support those you know of color?  Have you really been a true neighbor?  Have you asked, do you need anything?  Because, until we are together as friends and neighbors this #yoga4BLM is only a moment. Where those people posting slick Instagram images get to feel powerful for standing up for something, which is great don’t get me wrong, but back it up.  Put some muscle into it.  Don’t let it just be the statement of 2020, the post on your feed, that time period when…  Let your commitment be real.   Take a virtual class from Afro Flow Yoga™, or somewhere else that looks interesting, start making friends and neighbors of color, for now and all the days to come and your life will be much much fuller.

 

Top 3 Yoga Mats Today

June 7, 2020

So where do you start when it comes to all the Yoga Equipment you will now have to drag to class?  Which mat should I buy?  How long will it hold up? Do I really have to spend $100 on a yoga mat?  What about blocks? Do I need them? Which blankets should I buy and what about that bolster?  Do I have to lug that thing to class too?

It’s a strange new world when it comes to our social activities now.  We have to stay 6 ft apart from each other in yoga, wear a mask to enter the building and bring all our yoga equipment.  So what essentials should you really buy?

First of all, let’s start talk yoga mat.  This is not an exercise mat.  Exercise mats are at least 1/2 an inch and pretty squishy.  Your typical yoga mat is going to be about 1/8-1/4″ in thickness and can be as light as 2.2 lbs or as heavy as 7.5 lbs. and depending on what style of yoga you practice will make a big difference on which one you buy.

See below for some of the best mats on the market now.

My absolute most favorite 5 star yoga mat right now is the B-Mat Strong.  The first time I used one I was like wow this is it!  I loved the grip, the cushion and I didn’t have to do anything to make it more perfect than it is. (Like add water or a yogi toes towel.)  Here’s what they have to say.

  • PERFORMANCE GRIP: The B Mat is ultra grippy and will keep you grounded and supported in any practice, even in sweaty conditions
  • OPEN-CELL TECHNOLOGY: Non-slip Rubber, an open-cell material, means that sweat won’t pool on top of your mat which can create a slippery experience
  • PREMIUM QUALITY: Made of high quality ingredients and constructed to withstand heat, sweat, and the most butt-kicking vinyasa flow of your life
  • B YOGA: Our products are sustainable and responsibly produced for all types of fitness or any floor exercise routines including Yoga or Pilates
  • DIMENSIONS: 71 inches L x 26 inches W x 6. 0mm in thickness

LOVE IT!

Next I’d have to say is the Manduka PRO Yoga Mat.  This was my favorite for a while.  We even carried them in the studio however, I am not a person who sweats much but my students are and they found they were slipping when it was wet.  Maybe due to the closed cell surface as opposed to the open cell with the B-Mat.  A yogi-toes towel is usually recommended with the Manduka Mat and I’m sure if I sweat more I’d love that too.  This mat is great for gentle yoga, all levels yoga, Pilates, Barre, vinyasa yoga with no heat and some methodical and precise Iyengar yoga.  Here is the deets on what you need to know.

  • Imported
  • High-density Closed-cell surface prevents sweat from seeping into the comfortable mat cushion, superior joint protection, and unmatched grip and support, With a Lifetime Warranty offered when sold and shipped by Amazon.com
  • Standard: 7. 5 lbs. ; 71″ x 26″; 6 mm thick, due to the unique craftsmanship, there may be slight variances in weight and length which can range +/-1”
  • Extra long: 9. 5 lbs. ; 85″ x 26″; 6 mm thick, due to the unique craftsmanship, there may be slight variances in weight and length which can range +/-1”
  • The PRO Series is certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX️ (12.HUS.17706 | Hohenstein HTTI) to keep you and your family safe from harmful substances.
  • To Store: Roll Manduka PRO mats with the top side (fabric-finish) facing outwards. This keeps the corners of the mat flat when practicing.
  • To Break In: The surface texture of Manduka PRO mats improves with use. The best way to break in your mat is practice, practice, practice.
  • To Clean: Keep your mat in the best condition by wiping it down after every practice with Manduka All-Purpose Mat Wash. It’s specially formulated to clean your mat without damaging the surface or causing slippage. DO NOT soak, shower or submerge your mat

Yoga Design Lab Infinity Mat takes it for the heat.  Once you get a little sweaty, BAM! There you go stuck on your mat! I also love the amount of designs (in the name) and colors they have to choose from.  The Mandala print keeps your mind on your practice so you mind practicing. Here’s their claim to fame.

  • PERFORMANCE: Premium non-slip yoga mat offers superior wet or dry grip. The beautiful laser cut mandala print helps to align your poses.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY: Ethically sourced natural tree rubber mat base is 5 mm thick for extra cushion
  • EASY TO CLEAN: Wipe down your mat with a soft towel dampened with soap and water. Allow to fully air dry lying flat or hanging. Roll with the colored/designed side on the outside.
  • DISCOUNT YOGA SET OFFER: Buy two or more YDL products and get 10% or more off your order. Scroll down to Promotions section for codes.
  • GIVING BACK: $1 of each purchase goes to support boys and girls youth yoga programs in need 

 

You’ve probably never thought of it before now, but Thank You is a powerful statement. It says, I see you, I appreciate you, I am receiving what you are giving, I acknowledge you. And, I don’t know any better time to keep saying thank  you, than right now. I know for me when our students say thank you after a class, it says my time and instruction was valuable. It keeps me going to knowing I’m making a difference and that me being here matters.

Think about all the essential workers you come into contact with every week. Basically, taking the risk of contracting COVID-19, just to make (for some) minimum wage. Your grocery store cashier, ups driver, mail person, the pet store re-stocker,the person handing you your takeout and anyone else who is working.

Make a difference, take the time to say Thank You, to everyone you come into contact with. Even your own family and your pets. They understand. This is hard on everyone, so give a thank you.  give yourself a thank you and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Humanity is strong. You’ve got this.

THANK YOU!

We are here!  We are working and we are thinking of you!

Now what can you give mom or any special woman in your life that is thoughtful, under $40 and support local businesses looking to survive COVID-19?  The instructors and I have a few simple items that say “I’m thinking of you Mom.”

Here you go.  We hope something calls to you.

DIY Semi-Precious Stone Bracelet Kit

Now is the perfect time for a little DIY.  Easily make wonderful bracelets with your mom, sister, daughter or friends through zoom if you don’t live together.  A fun thing to do together or by yourself to make something lovely and meaningful.  Beading is super relaxing and a great way to take your mind off things for a while.  Each kit includes semi-precious stone beads (your choice of color), string, clasps, and good juju from Melissa to create your own beautiful and unique bracelet just for you.

These are a perfect gift to make for yourself, someone else or purchase as a gift for another.

$35.00 Includes Free Shipping!

Purchase 1 Bracelet Kit Here!

Purchase 2 Bracelet Kits Here!

Purchase 3 Bracelet Kits Here!

Purchase 4 Bracelet Kits Here!

*When making your Pay Pal payment please let me know if you have any bead color preference or any kind of vibes you’re looking to manifest into your life!

 

Lavender Eye Pillows

Great for women, men and children!  These lavender eye pillows are perfect for relieving headaches, tension, migraines, puffy eyes, and sinus pressure.  They can be used during meditation, final relaxation after yoga, during yoga nidra or anytime you just need a break from the computer or life in general.  These eye pillows can be used for hot or cold therapy. Use hot if you need relaxation, have sore muscles, or abdominal pain.  Serve chilled if you have an injury, migraine, headache, puffy eyes or to reduce swelling anywhere.  Using only organic lavender and high quality handmade durable silk you will want to take it where ever you go.

#30 Includes Free Shipping

Colors available purple, turquoise, blue and pink.

Click here to purchase!

When making your PayPal payment let me know what color eye pillow you’d like.

 

Energy Clearing Kit

This energy clearing kit is a beautiful bundle of palo santo and selenite, wrapped with an organic dried rose.  This set is great for energetically clearing spaces, meditation rituals and decorating your space.

-Palo Santo is good for clearing negative and stagnant energy while sealing in positive energies.

-Selenite is cleansing and brings good luck and protection.

-Rose is wonderful for love and healing.

$25 Includes Free Shipping!

Click here to purchase

For questions on any of the above products you can email

melissa@blissfulbymelissa

Wow, the internet has exploded with offerings of online classes.  There are fitness classes, meditation classes, yoga classes, cooking classes and any other thing you might want to learn about. With so much out there, how do you choose?
Well, we now know money is powerful. Our purchases make a big impact on businesses big and small and it’s important to ask yourself who you want to support.  With so many people flocking online with their offerings, you might encounter some shoddy stuff.  So, I’ve created a few ways for you to think about looking for online yoga and Pilates classes.
  1. Do they have a brick and mortar location? These establishments definitely need your support. Hosting online classes without overhead is hugely profitable, so the expenses might be low and if you are paying for classes you may want to support a studio with an actual location. Your dollar will mean a lot more. Plus, when we can return to going into public places you will be able to meet the teacher and the people you’ve been practicing with.
  2. Do they offer your level? Does the online offering have the level that fits you? Do they have enough offerings that you won’t have to jump from website to website to find what you are looking for?
  3. Do they get to know you? If you are taking a free class or sign up for a yoga video subscription service, can the instructors really get to know you and your issues? What if there is an ongoing injury and some postures should be avoided? Only with a qualified instructor who gets to know you and interact with you, will be the most help.
  4. Do they charge? That’s not a bad thing. Studios who have online classes who charge will be invested in your experience and will want to keep you as a customer. The other thing you can look for is if they are charitable. Does your money to them support others as well?
  5. Will they let you try it for free? Since classes are online, you won’t be taking up the spot of a paying student. So see if they will allow you to take a complimentary class before you commit financially.
Use your power wisely. Consider what is really important to you in your practice or if you are just starting out. Then invest the time to investigate to find the right fit. You, your body and your mental health are worth it.

Having a place of sanctuary right now is pretty key.  We are in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and yoga studios are closed, kids are home from school, and no one can sit down at restaurants.  So how do we find a place to calm our minds, tell ourselves it will be o.k. or even cry some tears when it all feels overwhelming?  We create; that’s what we do!

  1. First thing you have to do is CLEAN!  Before diving into your practice or workout take time to sweep, mop, dust the shelves, open the windows and let some fresh air in.  Cleaning your space is just as important as the practice itself.  It will help you know what the space is specifically for and keep you focused on just that.
  2. ORGANIZE!  Pick up any clutter.  Place books, magazines, pillows and blankets into cabinets or neat piles that look put together and don’t disturb your eyes.  This way there will be less distractions both visually and mentally thinking I really should put those away.
  3. Find MEANING!  Find a direction to face that feels right.  Maybe the floor slants or the sun comes in a particular way and you feel better facing one direction vs. another creating a focal point.  Then at the top of your mat, make it SACRED!  Place pictures, memories, rocks, candles, dolls, flowers.  Use anything that helps you feel at peace, evokes love, gives you joy, or helps you feel grounded.
  4. Have what you NEED!  You may end up doing yoga and other activities that require props and equipment.  So make sure you have your blocks, blankets, bolster, strap, yoga mat, weights, Pilates ring, theraband, and maybe a ball.  The last thing you want to do is waste time trying to find something in the middle of your practice/workout.
  5. RITUALIZE! Before starting your activity, do something that will give you a boundary, a ritual that you do each and every time.  Say a Mantra or prayer.  Put up a sign, “Do Not Disturb.” Close the door, and draw a line on the floor “Do not cross until practice is over!”  Find a way to put up a boundary around your practice so you can keep distractions at bay.

Home practices present a multitude of challenges that your local studio has eliminated for you.  So now that we have to spend some serious time at home we should make the best of it and see if we can vibe up our space until we can get back to the studios.  But until then…..Om is where the heart is.

 

Silver Linings

March 22, 2020

There is a lot of time to think and ponder.  For one, now that I’m cooking every meal I realized, my mom had cooked or prepared food up to 3 times a day.  WE NEVER ATE OUT!  We sat down as a family and ate.  She told me that if your child was involved in a sport (like one) that was a big deal.  Not only for the time, but also for the expense.  So as awful as the COVID-19 virus is it has opened our eyes to more simplicity and that we can live just fine with less, and if you have more now is the time to share your time and your resources.

Things I appreciate about the the current situation.

1. Using up things. Like getting to the bottom of my lotion before buying a new one.

2. Being resourceful. Getting creative with meals, and cleaning products and finding different ways to do things.

3. Working on new projects. Like figuring how to stream our classes online.

4. Supporting our students and connecting with our community through text, email, phone, zoom.

5. Finishing projects.

6. Contemplating. Taking the time to slow down and feel my way through this. What is the right thing to do? How can I support others right now? What is the best choice for myself and the business at this time and how does that affect the future?

In the midst of a lot to fear. I invite you to pause and think of others, be of service and count any blessing you can find. We are still holding classes online for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home.  Just look for any class that says online, sign up and we will send you an email with the link. https://fulleryoga.com/schedule/

LIVE SIMPLY AND WISELY

Being Honest.

February 5, 2020

Recently I’ve come across individuals who say yes.  People with good intentions.  People putting on a front.

But it’s not real.

We’ve become such a sensitive culture that we’ve lost our back bone.  People are afraid to speak their truth, even if it’s done with great kindness.  The fear of either looking bad or disappointing someone is so much greater than just being honest.  Well, guess what?  When you say yes and you really mean no there will be disappointment and maybe even bigger disappointment due to wasted time and even money.

So how can you tell if someone is not being honest?  For one thing they will say yes.  Then, while they are doing the task, they will complain, mumble under their breath, talk badly about others, blame you, or procrastinate.  What should you do if you suspect someone is not being honest with themselves.  CALL THEM ON IT!  You can say things like, “you know, I get the feeling you don’t really want to do this.”  or “are you sure you are ok with this?” or “Why are you complaining?” or my favorite, “I don’t believe you when you tell me you are ok with this.”

It’s hard to tell the truth.  It may mean you have to face some parts of yourself you may not want to.  You may have to admit that you have a not so attractive side or face someone you love being disappointed.  However, when you can really be honest with yourself and communicate with kindness when needed you will find that you have developed character.  That people respect you and they can count on you to not be wishy washy.

To say yes when you mean no is clearly not the yogic way. In fact it goes against two of the 8 Limbs of the Yoga Sutras.  Satya and Ahimsa.

There are 5 Yamas within the Yoga Sutras.  Yamas are tenents in which to live by that make life flow easily and can keep you connected to a higher energy.  Of the five, the two that deal with honesty are

Satya which means Truth or to be truthful and Ahimsa which means Non-Violence, to act in a way that is not hurtful to yourself your others.

So, when you say yes to something and you don’t want to, you are first not being truthful and second violent in the way that you are hurting yourself by going against your truth and dragging the other person down a road that could of been avoided.  If they knew you didn’t want to do it they could of made a different choice.  One that was going to work better in the end.  They could of found someone who indeed meant their yes.

Find your courage.  Take a deep breath. Put a smile on your face and kindly say “I’m sorry but I’m not able to do that at this time.”  or “At this time that is not the right thing for me to be doing.” or “In order to be at my best I need to decline but thank you for offering.”  You can say it any way you want that is not hurtful and I’m sure everyone will be happier in the end.

for more articles on truth click here.

 

History of Pilates

January 9, 2020
Joseph H. Pilates
(1880 – 1967)Joseph Humbertus Pilates lived to be a robust and vital 87 year old icon. Had he not succumbed to the effects of smoke inhalation during a fire, in the restaurant below his studio on 8th Avenue in New York City, he potentially could have demonstrated an incredible level of physical fitness for many years to come. Looking at photographs of Joseph Pilates, even well into his eighties, it may be hard to imagine that he did not always enjoy such vitality.Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. His unusual last name is actually derived from his Greek heritage and would have been Pilatos. Much controversy surrounds the correct pronunciation of his name; however, nearly all publications show it as (Pi –LAH – teez). All instructors crack an amused smile at the mispronunciation of his name by those outside the Pilates loop. Living relatives of Joseph Pilates say that the name was not pronounced as it is popularly known today. Mary Pilates LaRiche, the niece of Joseph Pilates, and a long time resident of South Florida, says her family name, as best she can recall, was pronounced (Pi – LOTTS).

Mary Pilates LeRiche qualifies as an expert and probably was Joseph’s earliest disciple as she had worked in her Uncle Joe’s exercise studio as a young woman in her 20’s. A now famous photograph of Pilates’ exercise studio at 939 Eighth Ave., NY, NY displays a long rectangular room with at least four Reformers (the original group sessions?) in a line. Joseph stands between two, his wife, Clara, in her nurse’s uniform, by another, and his niece Mary at yet another Reformer. Mary relocated to South Florida in the 1960’s and continued teaching fitness as her uncle had taught her. Even today, at 81 years young, she will demonstrate the “only way” the exercises should ever be done. That would be just the same way it was done in the 1940’s.

“People won’t understand the brilliance of my work for 50 years.” That is a quote from Joseph, himself, about 50 years ago. Mary LeRiche says that her uncle would be quite happy and surprised at just how much impact his work is having on the world. Today, healthcare professionals are studying and implementing his work into their healing therapies. Medical doctors are writing prescriptions for their patients: Pilates. His clever exercise apparatus designs are virtually the exact designs used by today’s equipment manufacturers. How many of the exercise machines found in today’s traditional gym setting can accommodate hundreds of exercises on one single piece the size of a twin bed? The Wunda Chair doubled as a small living room side chair that when flipped upon its back becomes a gymnasium with two bedsprings. Pilates felt that every home should have one.

As a child he had suffered with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. Even as a young adolescent he made a life-altering decision that he would restore his own health. He studied the Eastern disciplines of yoga and martial arts and blended them with Western forms of physical activities such as bodybuilding, gymnastics, boxing, and recreational sports. At the young age of just fourteen years he had sculpted his physique so well that he was posing for anatomical charts.

As a young man he moved from Germany to England where he became a boxer, circus performer, and self-defense instructor. When World War One erupted he, and other German nationals, were incarcerated in Lancaster as “enemy aliens.” Pilates influenced the other detainees to follow his exercise regime which he called, “Contrology.” His fitness program was so beneficial that he and his fellow compatriots survived the 1918 influenza epidemic that took the lives of thousands of people. He attributed their survival to their physically fit lungs! Hence, the Pilates Principle of Diaphragmatic Breathing!

Pilates was later sent to the Isle of Man to work as a nurse orderly caring for the war wounded. One can imagine the condition of many of these soldiers; some had probably grown weak from lingering in hospital beds for months, their muscles atrophied, further inhibiting their potential for recovery. Unable to participate in Pilates’ floor exercises, these men benefited by Joseph’s cleverly designed apparatus to rehabilitate them right from their hospital beds and wheelchairs. Looking at the Cadillac one can see the table as the hospital bed; plumbing pipes create the canopy and borrowed bedsprings become first assistive and then resistive exercise tools. Despite whatever injuries the wounded may have had, Pilates was able to strengthen their muscles and restore them to their potential good health.

After the war Joseph returned to Germany but became disenfranchised with the political direction his country was taking. He decided to immigrate to the United States of America. He met his future wife, Clara, on the ship. Clara was a nurse and they realized that they shared the same interest of wanting to restore the good health of others. When they arrived in New York they decided to open up a physical fitness studio.

Joseph Pilates’ method of physical and mental wellness has been a best-kept secret of the dance and entertainment world since the 1920’s when his studio was discovered by Martha Graham, the mother of modern dance, George Balanchine, the artistic director for the New York City Ballet, and Rudolf von Laban, founder of Labanotation. Dancers such as Hanya Holm and Romana Kryzanowska, along with prizefighters, actors, actresses, and traveling circus performers embraced his methods both for the total body conditioning needed for the rigors of their work and also for rehabilitating the injuries that often plague dancers, performers, and athletes.

Dance companies all over the world use Pilates’ exercises to keep their dancers in top form. Many dancers go on to become Hollywood celebrities; Patrick Swayze and Madonna to name only two. Due to the attention the mainstream public gives to Hollywood celebrities the name Pilates is now a household word. If Madonna does it, it must work.

Romana Kryzanowska entered Pilates’ world as a young dancer in New York. Pilates regarded her as his disciple; she had absorbed and could express the essence of his work as if it were coming from him. She continues his legacy today in New York and has generously shared her knowledge with the world through her students, books, videos, and lectures.

Joseph’s obituary, appearing in the New York Times in 1967, reads like an advertisement for his methods. He is described as a white-maned lion with steel blue eyes (one was glass from a boxing mishap), and mahogany skin, and as limber in his 80’s as a teenager.

Joseph and Clara operated their exercise studio for over 40 years. He had dedicated his life’s work to restoring the health and vitality of others. Gone now for thirty-five years, the essence of his work continues on into the 21st century.

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