Monday, October 29, 2012

Mountain Yoga featured in Johnson City Press

This past Sunday, October 28th, the Johnson City Press had yoga on the front page of their business section! Madison Matthews wrote an article entitled, “Yoga Studio Business on the Rise in Area”. This article was driven by Mountain Yoga’s growth, and the opening of Samadhi, by Ryan Fair & April Borisewitz. Madison wanted to know why yoga is seeing such an up-surge in the Tri-Cities area. Ryan, April & I all talked about how it was just timing. It took time for the idea of yoga to take hold in our region. Also, the idea that yoga studios like to collaborate was a nice way to distinguish the yoga community from other types of businesses.

The article is color, and features a great picture of Ruth Van Sickle teaching class, and headshots of the three interviewed studio owners.

I hope the article brings all the studios in the area into the public’s view. The yoga community in Johnson City has really grown over the past years, and I’m sure it will continue to grow in the coming years!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Is Junk Food Cheaper?

“But it’s cheaper to eat at McDonald’s” Have you ever heard that? Worse yet, have you ever said that? It’s ok. I’m not surprised. It’s a common misconception. In September 2011, Mark Bittman wrote an article for the New York Times called, “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?” He went to McDonald’s, and ordered an assortment of foods for a family of four. It totaled $28, or $7 per person. He reasoned that meals at home are so much less expensive. For about $14, a roast chicken and veggies, with a salad and milk would feed four or more people! And there are even cheaper ways to provide a good, wholesome meal.

In August of that same year, Slow Food USA set up a campaign to have members share their $5 meal ideas. Their members submitted over 5,000 meal plans, all for under $5 per person.

Eating slow food, versus fast food, doesn’t just make sense, it also makes “cents”!

For more information, and a link to these cheap & healthy slow food meals, go to

Friday, October 19, 2012

Strength training & mental health

Mental health concerns affect us all. If you don’t have a mental health problem, you at least know someone who does. But what works? What kind of exercise helps? In 2010, the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine included an article entitled, Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults (O’Connor, Herring, & Caravalho, 4 (5), 377-96.) Following are just a few highlights from that article:

According to the article, 15% of the US population reports frequent anxiety symptoms, lasting 15-30 days a month. That’s a lot of anxiety! It’s normal to experience occasional anxiety, but this type of prolonged anxiety can interrupt sleep, cause mental distress, body pain, poor health and limitations on what a person can accomplish, physically. The authors looked at seven different studies with resistance training, and found that strength training can be a meaningful intervention for those with anxiety.

They also studied depression, with 18 studies, with the conclusion that resistance training is linked to large reductions in depression.

25% of the US population experiences persistent fatigue symptoms. Chronic fatigue is a debilitating illness. But O’Connor & colleagues found that 94% of studies found that exercise is significantly beneficial…even more so than drug or cognitive-behavioral interventions.

This same article also addressed positive results of resistance training on cognition, self-esteem, and sleep. Resistance training may also improve central nervous system functioning, which can affect mental health.

What does this have to do with yoga? An active yoga practice isn’t just stretching and breathing (although those are definitely a big part). In yoga, we use the weight of the body as resistance for our strength training. I was a personal trainer before I became a yoga teacher, and I find that my core strength is even greater now than it was then. Your practice should include a good dose of resistance training, which will help your mind be healthy, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Forage & Feast Recipes

Below are my quick adaptations of the recipes Marc gave out at his Forage & Feast.  You haven't tried any of these until you've tried them with wild ingredients!  If you get a chance, check out Marc's work at his website or his facebook page.
From Marc Williams at

Basic Pesto
2c Fresh herbs
2 large garlic cloves or similar
1/2 c freshly grated hard cheese
1/4 c nuts or seeds
1/2 c oil
salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blender or mortar pestle
Save nuts and/or seeds till last to preserve texture

Basic Dressing
2/3 c oil
1/3 c acid (vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice)
1/4 c fresh herbs
1 garlic clove or similar
sea salt to taste
Combine ingredients in blender, adding oil last while blender is running to ensure emulsification

Herbal Tea
1 c fresh herbs per gallon (1/2 c dry)
options: (just a few of Marcs are listed here!)
peppermint, applemint, spearmint, lemon balm, rosemary, holy basil, yarrow, dandelion, echinacia, sassafrass, spice bush, ginger, honeysuckle flower, ginseng, honey, licorice, stevia, maple syrup
Bring water to a boil then turn off heat.  Steep ingredients to desired length of time ( at least 15-20 minutes)
Strain and sweeten if desired to taste

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Zumba is fun, sometimes silly, and totally a “girl-thing”. But is it doing anything to help you lose weight? The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2012; 11, 357-58) thinks so. In a recent study funded by the American Council on Exercise, scientists measured the HR and VO2 of Zumba participants. What they found was that they were expending at least 300 calories per workout, which is the accepted guideline for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. The Journal concluded that “regular participation in Zumba should positively affect body composition.”

At Mountain Yoga, we offer a Zumba class on Fridays at 10 am. It’s upbeat, it’s fun, and it’s proven to help you lose weight. What are you waiting for? The class is only $5, and it’s not crowded. So, bring your fitness shoes and a friend, and start burning calories!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Niyama: Isvara Pranidhanam (surrender)

The word has so many connotations, both good & bad.  To surrender in a physical battle is frightening.  it puts you at the enemy's will.  So many times in history, warriors killed themselves to avoid torture at the hands of the enemy.
But what if you're surrendering to a friend?  What if you're surrendering to someone you trust?
You might begin by surrendering to someone who knows more than you do about a topic.  Can you surrender enough to learn something?  Or maybe just surrender a little in your yoga pose.  Just give up a little of the 'fight' for the pose, and see what you can soften.  But to truly practice Isvara Pranidhanam is to surrender to One who is greater.  To surrender to God.  Giving up my will, my way, my plans is probably the toughest battle I'll fight.  Every day, I try to surrender my ego to His plan.  Every day I fail.   Guess that's why we call it our PRACTICE.
The picture above is of a beautful new mama and baby in Nicaragua.  This little one is so precious, but so incredibly vulnerable.  But he trusts his mother, and those around him.  Full surrender...
How much can you surrender today?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Niyama: Svadhyaya (spiritual study)

Svadhyaya is one of my favorites.  It's simply spiritual study.  It's reading scriptures, or anything that inspires you.
I love to read.  Since the great tv extraction of 2011, I read all the time.  I have several books going at any given time.  One that's just for fun (I have a strange love of shoot-'em-ups), one that's work or business-related, and something spiritual. 
I know I've mentioned some of these books before, but here are some I recommend from my library:
-The Bible.  One excellent, easy-to-read translation is the ESV, or English Standard Version.  Start with the New Testament, but when you want to get deeper, try the Old.  I especially love the Samuels.  They're like ancient shoot-'em-ups.
-The Thich Nhat Hanh Collection, which includes Peace Is Every Step, Teachings on Love, The Stone Boy and Other Stories
-The Language of Letting Go & More Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie.  Melody is a recovered addict, and writes specifically for AA members, but the lessons apply to all of us.
-My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.  Jill, a brain scientist, suffered a stroke, and it's all about her journey.  Excellent for anyone, but especially family members of stroke-survivors.
-The Mindful Way through Depression, by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn.  This book will change your inner dialogue, and how you approach mental health.
-Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison.  A great daily study, to help you understand yoga philosophy and your own yoga practice better.
-A Path With Heart, by Jack Kornfield.  As a monk who now lives in the "real world", Jack has some great insights into living outside an ashram while practicing meditation.
-Yoga:  The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, by Erich Schiffmann.  This is a great place to begin to design an at-home practice.
-Job's Body:  A handbook for body work, by Deane Juhan.  This one's for you anatomy geeks out there.  If you are a massage therapist, a yoga teacher, or a body-worker of any sort, this is a great book.  It changed my understanding of connective tissues, and even of brain function.  Not light reading, but worth slogging through.
So, today, try to make a few minutes for your own inspiring study.  And if you run out of books, let me know...I've got a few more like these sitting around...