SMARTer bodies

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Dudes and Yoga

Melissa was recently asked about men and what particular challenges they face in a yoga class.  Here’s some of what she said:

Men are often used to moving—in society and in their bodies—in a way that requires force, strength and extreme muscular effort. It’s been my experience that I have to tell men all the time to stop trying so hard. Yoga is not to be practiced by pushing and muscling through the poses!

No, seriously. Men tend to fall asleep in savasana in my classes more than women. Like, full-on snoring.

This is probably the “most difficult” asana in general. Most people who lie down and fall asleep do so because they are sleep deprived, over-worked, over-stressed or don’t have the mental discipline to meditate. I’m not sure what the reason is for men specifically, but I would suggest simply learning to practice savasana with the explicit intent of not falling asleep.

Clearly, Melissa is making generalizations.  We are very well aware that there are AMAZING men practicing and teaching yoga.  Hopefully, no one is offended or thinks that these statements apply to ALL men.   These are a few challenges that Melissa has seen come up again and again in her classes by which male students get frustrated.  To check out the full article go to the Daily Zeel.

If there are men out there with opinions or questions we would love to hear from them! Leave comments below.

Zeel.com: Memorial Day Weekend Recovery

No judgement.  We’ve all over-indulged on a long weekend.  But no worries, the Daily Zeel is giving you tips on how to get back on the workout wagon.  If you don’t know what the Daily Zeel is you need to start reading it NOW!  Zeel.com connects you to some of the best fitness and health professionals in your area (ahem, like us).  Well, to help their loyal readers recover from the long weekend of over eating and under moving they have a put together a plan. They’ve turned to several health and fitness gurus for advice and one of them happens to be Melissa of (your very own) SMARTer Bodies™.  Here’s what Mel had to say: Read More

Women, Eat More Fat!

Zeel.com tweeted about a new book called Why Women Need Fat.  The book is written by two male doctors and  uses the science of evolutionary biology to collect and present data that states a clear case of healthy women eating saturated fat.  Saturated fat?! Gasp!  Yes it’s true.  This is not the first we’ve heard of scientific evidence pointing to the consumption of fats, including saturated ones, as part of a healthy diet that actually promotes keeping a healthy weight.

We recently wrote a post discussing exactly a subject covered in the new book: fake health foods.  Many of the trendy “health” foods classified as low fat are now being looked at as responsible for the rise of obesity and heart disease in America.  It is true that Americans, on average, are overweight and this issue must be rectified starting as early in childhood as possible.  But it is not at the fault of eating saturated fats.  If you want a cursory look at the explanations given for the thesis of the book then read this excellent article that interviews one of the authors on Salon.com.

This book comes at such a necessary time.  Women are continually pressured and obsessed with looking like many of the unattainable physical images propagated by our celebrity culture. Low-fat and no-fat foods have been replacing traditional whole foods like whole milks, cheeses, eggs, and oils–all of which contain healthy fats like Omega-3.  Why Women Need Fat explains that many of the health foods and unhealthy fried foods our nation has adopted as part of the Standard American Diet (SAD) are full of Omega-6 fatty acids. This imblanaced consumpution of Omega-6 may actually lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Dr. Gaulin explains, “Omega-6s are one category of polyunsaturated fats found in seeds and grains. Now, it’s not bad to eat grains, it’s not bad to eat corn, and it’s not bad to eat soybeans. What is bad is that food processors extract and concentrate these oils from plants. In an ear of corn there isn’t that much corn oil, but when you subject it to industrial processing and extract everything but the oil, now you’ve got a lot of omega-6. It’s this heavy industrial processing of seed crops that makes our diet so unnatural. Omega-6s make us fat in a variety of ways. They promote fat storage. Omega-6 is also the precursor for certain signaling molecules called endocannabinoids. Will likes to call them the body’s home-grown version of marijuana. Endocannabinoids give you the munchies just like cannabis does. So the omega-6s are telling the body, “Store the fat you have.” And they are also telling the body, “Eat more, I’m hungry!”

We’re hoping that all women will go out and read this book. Even if one can’t personally identify with evolutionary theory, much of the evidence presented in this book is easily accessible and digestible.  Our hope is that women will empower themselves with information that can keep them happy and healthy.  So many women are over-dieting and starving themselves resulting in dangergously low body fat percentages.  Sacrificing their health for image results in many health problems including amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation due to low body fat.  Once this information becomes more available unhealthy “health” foods can stop being purchased and there can be a return to healthy eating, healthy living, and happier/healthier women.

Kim’s Class for Athleta and Zeel

As you know we taught classes for a Zeel and Athleta store-opening event.  Hopefully, you made it to Kim’s class on Saturday, despite the snow.  Here’s the glowing-review Zeel gave the class as well as helping us announce SMARTer Yoga to the world:

On the last day of Zeel Week at Athleta, the weather turned unaccountably stormy. (Really, snow in October?) Yet dedicated yogis made their way to Athleta’s UWS store to enjoy a yoga session with Zeel Expert yoga instructor Kim-Lien Kendall.

And did we ever. Behind Kim’s innocent demeanor lies the mind of a hardcore yoga taskmaster. Kim took us through a series of poses that tested our ability to stretch and balance. Whenever we managed to successfully complete one asana, Kim would sweetly say, “Now we’re going to try something a bit more difficult.”  Kim, however, was not without mercy, offering modifications as needed to those of us with tight hips and knees and groins (yep, groins).

I learned a lot through Kim’s mastery of body mechanics—how the body is supposed to move. (Kim and her yoga partner-in-crime, Melissa Gutierrez, are creating a biomechanically-based form of the age-old practice called SMARTer yoga.) After congratulating myself on doing a floppy pigeon pose, I learned that my lack of resistance in my hips means that my psoas, a muscle connecting the base of the spine to the inner thigh, was way too tight. Looks like I’ll be doing psoas homework!

Even though we had to venture out in to the freezing rain after class, we did so with a smile (and perhaps a looser psoas).

Didn’t Make It to My Free Class? Here’s What You Missed.

As we mentioned before, Kim and I were participating in Zeel’s week of free classes to celebrate an Athleta store opening.  Didn’t make it to mine…MISTAKE!

Here’s the awesomeness described in the Daily Zeel blog and when you’re done reading sign up for Kim’s class on Saturday!

Weather yesterday morning: icky and rainy. Mood inside Athleta: cheerful. On Thursday morning, energetic yoga expert Melissa Gutierrez took a class full of eager students through their poses. As a newbie yogi currently suffering from super-tight calves and an inflamed supraspinatus (that is, a busted shoulder), I was somewhat nervous about the class. Luckily, Melissa’s sunny demeanor and yoga mastery put me at ease.

First, Melissa made sure we were breathing correctly. (She first turned to yoga to help manage her asthma, so she really knows her breathwork.) I learned how to expand my ribs by inhaling. My internal organs adjusted accordingly.

But this wasn’t just a “how to breathe” class. The flow was soon filled with a chorus of moans and muttered imprecations as our muscles were stretched and challenged by Melissa’s deep knee bends and leg raises. I felt pride when I was able to do a rather complicated tree pose after Melissa showed us how to open our hips.

Through it all, Melissa was entirely supportive and encouraging. “Don’t worry about doing what I do. I do this every single day!” she said when we failed to emulate her super-limber asanas and stumbled against the racks of running jackets. Melissa gave me several adjustments during the class to ease pressure on my aching shoulder; it was rather amazing how she managed to watch each and every person in the class, making adjustments and suggestions as necessary. (I especially appreciated the shoulder massage as I melted into child’s pose!)

Afterward, I felt, to my surprise, both relaxed and energetic. My shoulder felt better too. The smiles around me showed that I was not alone.

 

Awesome Free Fitness Classes


Zeel.com is celebrating a week-long free fitness event along with Athleta.

Here are the details from Zeel’s page.  Both Kim and I are teaching yoga classes at this event.  I will be teaching Thursday the 27th @ 8:30 am and Kim will be teaching Sunday the 29th @ 8:30 am.  These spots will fill up fast, so sign up now!

Who: You! And your friends. And your friend’s friends.
What: Yoga, Pilates, core-busting conditioning classes and nutrition consultations in honor of Zeel Week at Athleta.
Where: Athleta, Upper West Side location (216 Columbus Ave. between 69th & 70th St.)
When: Monday October 24th through Saturday October 29th. Most classes will be held at 8:30 a.m. and are one hour long.
Why: Because you won’t just get a great workout; all participants will also be entered in a raffle to win a yoga top and bottom of choice from Athleta valued at $150.
How: Simply go to our Facebook page to sign up for a class. Please bring your own yoga mat to yoga classes!