Find Your Match Among the Many Types of Yoga

You say Ashtanga, I say Kundalini. What’s the difference? Use this guide to find the right yoga for you.

As studies continue to reveal yoga’s many health benefits, this centuries-old Eastern philosophy is fast becoming the new fitness soul mate for workout enthusiasts. Contemporary devotees range from high-powered execs trying to keep hearts beating on a healthy note to image-conscious Hollywood stars striving for sleek physiques. Even prominent athletes are adding yoga to their training regime to develop balanced, injury-free muscles and spines.

Yet to applaud yoga for its physical benefits alone would only diminish what this entire system has to offer as a whole. By practicing yoga on a regular basis, you may be surprised to find that you’re building much more than a strong, flexible body.

“Americans are usually drawn to yoga as a way to keep fit at first, but the idea behind the physical practice of yoga is to encourage a deeper mind-body awareness,” explains New York yoga teacher and author Beryl Bender Birch. “Healing and balancing the physical body helps bring clarity and focus to the mind as well.”

Initially, the sole purpose of practicing yoga was to experience spiritual enlightenment. In Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), yoga translates as “yoke” or “union,” describing the integration of mind and body to create a greater connection with one’s own pure, essential nature.

Classes that have gained popularity in the United States usually teach one of the many types of hatha yoga, a physical discipline which focuses mainly on asanas (postures) and breathwork in order to prepare the body for spiritual pursuits.

To get started on your individual yoga quest, it’s helpful to begin with a list that clearly prioritizes what needs you want to fulfill: Are you looking to sweat your way into a lean form, or does a gentler, more meditative approach sound more appealing?

“Not all practices fit into nice little cubby holes,” warns Bender Birch. “There’s a great deal of crossover among the various yoga schools, and there’s even a diversity in teaching approaches within each discipline.”

4 REASONS WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO EXERCISE DURING THE WINTER MONTHS

by Jennie Mason

For those living in colder climates during the winter months, the much-anticipated arrival of freezing temperatures and snowfalls can be synonymous to burrowing in your apartment for a few extra months. Sweatpants, hair tied, chillin’ with no makeup on. Drake was preaching the ultimate winter fantasy, sans radiator blasting. However, you’re doing more harm than good while keeping your body sedentary for long periods of time. Sorry, Drake, what’s best is to stay active when the temperature drops. The benefits of regular exercise are enough to get you off the couch and get moving. The benefits for combatting common winter ailments…enough to rap about.

You’ll Fight Winter Fatigue

If you’re feeling lazier when the temperature drops, you’re not alone. Shorter days mean less sunlight, so your brain produces more melatonin in response, leaving you fatigued. Your body is also producing less vitamin D than what it’s used to, which can cause tiredness. According to a 2016 study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 14 to 18 percent of Americans suffer from low levels of vitamin D. This is not a good sign, considering it helps regulate genes, strengthens bones and improves your immune system, among other benefits. 

Get this: roughly five percent of the human genome is regulated by vitamin D. This is a big deal, and researchers believe this has larger implications than previously thought for mental health. Doing outdoor exercises like jogging a few miles for 20 minutes will give your body necessary sunlight exposure for a boost of vitamin D. This will fortify your physical health and lift feelings of weariness.

You’ll Alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 percent of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is characterized by regular depressive periods during fall and winter months, and non-depressive periods during spring and summer. Sunlight is one of the best treatments for SAD because of vitamin D, hence the alleviation of symptoms during the summer months.

Another great treatment? Regular exercise. Simply put, any form of moderate-intensity exercise gives participants a mind-body connection, which will reduce symptoms of SAD. 

Karla Hollan, DPT, RYT, CEAS-I, says that whether you’re outdoors or indoors, doing aerobic or yoga exercise, an extended period of movement and focus on that movement will help. “Guided imagery in meditation and relaxation techniques in yoga will create a deeper mind-body connection, which aids in coping with SAD,” Hollan says. “Yoga has a deeper connection because it allows people to be more aware of their body and tune in to deeper breathing patterns which calm the nervous system.” 

As for aerobic exercise, sweating it out also releases feel-good hormones like endorphins and enkephalins, which are proven to improve mood. Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic workouts like running, cycling and dancing, is shown to reduce depression and anxiety. The increased blood and oxygen circulation will also improve your motivation, thus the feeling of a “runner’s high.”

Finally, if your job means sitting in an office from 9 to 5, bring a pair of athletic shoes or a yoga mat so you can do a quick exercise routine during your lunch break, or head outside for a 20-minute walk to get your blood flowing and heart rate higher. Simple physical activity is known to boost your concentration and reduce stress.

You’ll Burn More Calories

There’s a cool phenomenon (pun intended) that happens when working out in colder weather. But first, a crash course: Our bodies produce two types of fat, brown and white. Hollan says a common misconception is that we physically eat white and brown fat. What is true is that diet contributes to how the body processes and stores fat.

White fat (white adipose tissue (WAT)) is the predominant form of fat in the body, and because of its cellular composition, stores extra energy (the largest energy reservoir in our body!). It can either be white or yellowish in appearance. White fat is the fat that mostly shows up in your thighs, hips, abdomen, buttocks, and breasts. Hollan mentions that white fat is not only needed for insulation, but it also helps with hormone regulation during stressful times. “Just like anything else, too much white fat [can] be a problem,” Hollan continues. 

For example, VAT fat is a type of white fat that surrounds the organs. Too much of this is detrimental because, at a minimum, it can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also mess with the bodies metabolizing of nutrients. At the maximum, it can increase our risk of developing certain types of cancers. “We need it, but too much [of it] can be a risk factor for major conditions,” says Hollan.

On the other hand, brown fat (brown adipose tissue (BAT)) is found on the back of the neck and upper back. Hollan said brown fat burns calories and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Rather than act as an energy reservoir, brown fat’s purpose is to burn those calories. 

Everything from exercise, diet, and sleep can affect brown fat conversion, Hollan said. Healthy levels of these create fat balance in the body and reduce stress, so get a good night’s sleep and eat nutritious, whole foods in addition to exercising regularly. 

Hollan mentions that on a metabolic level, outdoor cold weather activities do convert some of the white fat to brown or beige fat. When the body needs to generate heat, it will metabolize brown fat so that it does its job of burning calories. Science!

So while you may think it’s not in your favor to go outside for a run, you’re actually increasing calories burned.

How do you tell your stylist you are unhappy with your hair?

When I think back to the years I spent behind the chair doing hair in my private studio, it feels like a different life. And in a lot of ways it was! While I miss the connections with my clients and seeing so many of them on a regular basis, I cannot see a time that I will return to doing hair in the future. I’m not saying never, but for now I think that chapter of my life is closed.

Regardless of that fact, I still have about 10 years of experience to draw from when I’m asked questions from readers about how to handle tough situations in the salon.

I got an email recently from a reader asking the following question:

I just spent a few hours at a salon getting my hair cut and colored. The total was close to $350 and I’m really dissatisfied with the color. You can barely tell a difference and I’m not sure what to do! I never want to go back there because I’m not confident that the stylist knows what she’s doing, but I feel totally screwed. Is there anything I can do in this situation?”

I felt for her because I’ve been there. I’ve gotten beauty services done (from pedicures to massages) that are less than enjoyable and I feel like I completely wasted my money afterwards. Plus, it feels weird not to tip so it’s even more frustrating that there is an expectation to tip on top of a service that you didn’t enjoy. I haven’t had personal experience with having my hair not turn out the way I wanted, but I can certainly understand the frustration!

If it were me, I would recommend calling the salon and talking to the manager or owner. Take a bit of time to calm down if you are emotional, so you can speak calmly and rationally to the manager and owner. Explain how you feel and ask what they can do about the situation. If they ask you to come back in (and I hope they would!) take them up on that and ask the person you spoke with on the phone to be present when you show up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager asks for the stylist who did the work to take another look at your hair and explain her process so they can try to understand what happened.

Sometimes a miscommunication in the consultation can lead to poor results, and other times the stylist may have made a mistake or not known how to achieve the look you wanted. The more thorough the consultation, the better. My hope would be that your displeasure with the results was simply from a miscommunication with the stylist, as that would signal an innocent mistake that is easily fixable.

In an ideal situation, you would be offered a free service to try to make adjustments to get closer to what you were expecting. But it all depends on the salon’s policies and each individual situation.

The easiest way to avoid this happening again in the future is to go to a stylist who you were referred to by someone you know. Bring photos in for your consultation so he or she can SEE what you are talking about, instead of you simply trying to describe it!

THE BEST ATHLEISURE BRANDS THAT ARE SIZE DIVERSE

Plus Size fashion is evolving and it’s about damn time! With more fashion brands and designers styling for larger bodies and including inclusive sizings finding clothes for people size 12+ has gotten easier. Now I’m not saying it’s perfect, because anyone who’s ever tried to just buy a pair of leggings can attest to it, but the increase of brands including diverse sizes is a step in the right direction.  And contrary to stereotypical beliefs, large people do go to the gym and workout, so why can’t we look cute while doing it! With that being said, if you’re searching for a good pair of workout leggings or a comfy shirt to lounge around in, these size-inclusive and diverse brands have chic and simple designs that you’re going to want to buy immediately. And just to clarify here, size diverse is different than size inclusive. Size diverse meaning that a brand or store offers size varieties in different styles while size inclusive means that a shirt that is made in a size small will also be made in a size 4XL or larger. Whether you’re prepping for a long yoga sesh or just walking to get your mail, these brands have options for everyone of every shape and size.

Girlfriend Collective

Besides having inclusive sizes that range from XXS to 6XL, Girlfriend Collective is very upfront with how their clothes are made. The brand keeps to its mission of being sustainable and uses recycled materials all while creating cute styles in a variety of colors. With a brand focus on being transparent and focuses on quality over quantity, Girlfriend Collective is size inclusive, sustainable, and overall a badass brand that you won’t question buying from. One of my favorites, the fit itself is so comfortable you’ll probably never want to take their stuff off.

Calvin Klein

Oh yes, Calvin Klein! The well-known designer brand is a favorite among many and for good reasons. Not just athleisurewear, but their full line of womenswear and underwear include plus sizes that go up to a 3X. The athleisure wear is definitely meant to be more on a comfortable and practical side. The leggings and hoodies are very simplistic in design and color while the product itself is made of breathable material that adds to the comfort. 

Fabletics

Kate Hudson knew what she was doing when she created Fabletics. This size diverse brand has funky and cool designs that you’ll want to wear everywhere. With colorful bras and leggings extending from a Small to 3x, there are plenty of options to choose from. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials of a super fit Kate Hudson in her colorful leggings and tops and wondered what it is actually like, but the membership-based subscription is easier than you think. There’s no need to buy something every month, but you’re totally going to want to. 

Athleta

Another sustainably savvy brand, Athleta, has been in the athleisure game for a while. Keeping with the chill and comfortable look, many of the styles include inclusive sizes in Tall, Petite, and Plus from XXS to 2X. The Gap-owned company is all about empowering women and girls, celebrating bodies, and raising their employees’ and customers’ voices. Epic #girlpower, another favorite of mine, I’m there during every sale. 

Superfit Hero

This ethically made brand is surrounded by the mission of embracing different bodies and different types of athletes. Fitness truly is for “every body” with Superfit Hero, this indie brand has a focus on premium brand activewear for athletes of all size! All products are ethically made in Los Angeles and tested by real athletes, so you know it will be useful during the gym, i.e. no uncomfortable rolling or fit. With simple styles, the brand features sizes XS to 5XL and can be worn on many different body types. Oh and bonus! Most of their leggings have pockets. 

Ustrasana Camel Pose

Kneel with your knees in line with your hips, pressing firmly into the tops of your shins. Roll your inner thighs back and reach your tailbone down toward the backs of your knees. Place your hands on your hip points and press down on your pelvis to lengthen it away from your low back. On an inhale, press your shoulder blades forward to lift your chest. On an exhale, lift the back ribs away from your low back. When your sternum is facing the sky, reach back with your hands to grab your feet and hold here for 5 breaths. Can you recall all of the work of the crunches in this pose? To come out, press down into your shins to lift your chest skyward, then sit back on your heels. Place your hands over your heart and check in with your breath.

Nutella Lava Cake

For Oscar Cabezas, Executive Chef at Telefèric Barcelona, even the jar Nutella comes in floods him with memories. “In my childhood, the glasses in my house were from empty Nutella jars,” he says. “Nutella tastes like home to me.” Cabezas suggests a Nutella Lava Cake to try making at home. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but tread cautiously. “Because Nutella has soy lecithin and vegetable oil, keep in mind that its texture will change radically when heat is applied,” he says. “On the other hand, the flavors of hazelnut will be accentuated with the heat. So, you must be very careful not to burn [the Nutella], otherwise its flavor will turn sour.”

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Nutella
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F
  2. Frost four square-shaped Nutella cubes on an ice cube mold.
  3. Microwave the butter until is soft and add 4 ounces of Nutella in a large bowl until both are melted.
  4. Mix the eggs with the Nutella. Stir in the flour. Mix all carefully and divide the mixture among the silicone molds.
  5. Add 1 iced Nutella cube inside all of them.
  6. Bake them until the sides are firm, about 14 minutes.

3 ways to keep humidity from ruining your hair

For the most part, humidity is not welcome on days when you want your hair to cooperate. For a rare few, humidity can help make bouncier curls or add some wanted volume, but in general it seems like it’s much more of a burden than anything else.

For me, humidity makes my hair go flat and limp. And those are two terms I’ve spent my life trying to avoid when it comes to how I want my hair to look.

Living in North Carolina means that the humidity is fierce all summer long, so I’ve found a few tips to help combat the humidity from winning and ruining my hair!

  1. Use a humidity fighting hairspray, either with a level of hold or not. Kenra Volume 25 is my all time favorite hairspray (it simply cannot be beat!) and it fights humidity. Another spray would be No Frizz Humidity Shield by Living Proof. This doesn’t offer any hold like the Kenra hairspray would, but it acts as a protective spray to the hair to keep the humidity out! A long time favorite for me was the KMS Hair Stay Anti-Hmidity Seal , but it seems to be discontinued. I’d love to try Amika’s The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray since their products always deliver.
  2. Even though I just mentioned a bunch of products, try to have a light hand when you are applying anything with a hold factor. For example, doubling up on a strong hold hairspray may SEEM like a good idea to keep your hair in place, but it will backfire as soon as it gets heavy from the humidity.
  3. Master a go-to hairstyle for pulling your hair back if it melts on a humid day. I wear my hair up a lot in the summertime. If I’m dressed up a bit, I like to pull it back into a low ponytail and loosen a few hairs around my face to make it feel a bit dressed up. If it’s a casual day, I’m more likely to throw it up into a messy top knot. Here is an easy-to-follow tutorial to check out if you want to learn how to pull your hair back into a pretty ponytail!

My favorite hair ties lately are these from, of all places, H&M. I also love soft elastic ones like these too!

Conditioning Products for Dry, Distressed Hair

Alterna was nice enough to send me a few products from their line after I raved about their Volume Mist on stories and I’ve fallen head over heals in love with 2 of their Restructuring products. I also wanted to throw in this Living Proof serum too because it’s great!

The Restructuring Bond Repair Leave-In Overnight serum is incredible for dry hair. My hair is drier than ever before so I’m slathering it in products to help revive my distressed ends! I trimmed it recently which helped but I’m also trying to continue to care for it. I was worried this product would feel waxy or thick on dry hair but it slid right on and conditioned even the driest section. I wash my hair often because I typically work out every day but I love that I can slide this onto my dry hair at night, sleep, work out, and then rinse it out when I wash my hair. It doesn’t leave a greasy residue and it feels great on dry hair.

I’ve also been using the Restructuring Bond Repair 3-in-1 sealing serum to help keep my dry split ends from splitting higher! It is light, thin, and conditions my ends so well. I use this daily!

Another product I’ve been enjoying is the smooth blow out concentrate by Living Proof. It has very high heat protection which is helpful for the hair and also helps cut some frizz. This is a thin serum just like the 3-in-1 sealing serum.

You certainly don’t need to use all 3 of these products at once, but I wanted to share a bit about them since I’ve been enjoying them and they have helped my hair!

New Year New Hair? 3 Suggestions to Ensure the RIGHT Cut

I kind of love the emotional aspect of women and their hair. This isn’t true for everyone, of course, but quite often in my life, and the life of my clients, a drastic haircut would follow a wedding, a birth of a baby, a move to a new state, etc.

If something significant happened in their life, they wanted to do something significant to their hair.

So here we are at the beginning of 2019, are you changing your hair? I’m on the fence (like I always am) about the length of mine. At this moment I want it short and blonde but I’m trying to keep this newer slightly darker, root-y look for a bit longer!

I did have the chance to chop about 7 inches off of my sister’s hair right after Christmas and MAN that was fun. Nothing really significant has changed in her life, and I mean that in the most neutral way possible, but I think she just grew tired of how long it was. Plus her hair grows extremely fast so it’s sort of no big deal to chop it off. Regardless, it’s fun to start a new year with new hair!

It was cute to see Mike, her husband, react to it. He knew she was cutting it but when we saw it he went right over and put his hands through it. It was sweet!

Anyway, if you are planning a drastic change soon, here are 3 things to keep in mind to make sure it will work for you!

1. BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT KIND OF TIME/EFFORT YOU WANT TO PUT INTO IT.

I always asked clients what level of maintanence they were interested in signing up for before I did their hair. Whether it was cut or color, I did not want to create a high maintenance style if they only wanted to devote 5 minutes and no product to their daily hairstyling.

2. BRING A PHOTO WITH YOU!

I say this constantly but there is almost no point in trying to explain using only words what you are going for to your stylist unless it’s a very specific haircut like “mullet” or “shave it off”. Those are pretty much the only two haircuts that everyone pictures the same thing in their head after hearing the descriptive term. So, bring a photo with you! That’s what Pinterest is for guys! Blonde doesn’t just mean blonde. There are a million variations in the tone, brightness level, amount of blonde, etc.  Having a visual reference is the best way to make sure you and your stylist are on the same page.

3. BE OPEN TO NEW PRODUCTS OR TOOLS TO GET THE LOOK YOU WANT. 

Product knowledge was always something I majored on when I did hair. I wanted my clients to understand that they may not be able to get a specific look or feel to the hair without product. This doesn’t mean you have to buy e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g your stylist may recommend, but be open-minded to the fact that products can really make or break a hairstyle. From smoothing frizz to adding out of control volume, it’s usually the products that are the star of the show more than a haircut in itself.

Quick Hair Tip: How to get a soft swoop

Creating a curve shape right along your hairline is the easiest way to “fake” a professional blowout. It looks as if a round brush was used to create volume and lift, and even if the end result is smoother and flatter to your head, having the hair swoop back from your face instead of being blown back away from your face is really flattering.

I wrote a step by step tutorial awhile back but thought I’d update with a short video demonstrating how to achieve this look! You’ll see a big difference in the before and after photos below!

I didn’t use any other tools than my blow dryer and brush for this final look. You may have noticed I used a paddle brush but you could use a round brush if you would like more lift and bend in the hair!

In the tutorial I used my T3 Cura blow dryer and a vented paddle brush. I applied a few smoothing/conditioning products beforehand, and you can learn how to do that here!