How to Sit

Focusing on body alignment in fitness classes is great, but ideally, that awareness would not be confined to just workouts. SunstoneFIT’s vision is to become one of the world’s most influential fitness associations who transforms the very idea of fitness from isolated physical activity into an integrated body, mind and life practice.

Our classes bring awareness to the body and stimulate a mindfulness that is rooted in our yoga foundation, allowing students to take these lessons “off the mat.” Alignment of joints, muscles and bones affects the way you live in and relate to your body every day. An easy example? Learning how to sit.

Many people have bad posture and don’t know, don’t care, or don’t know how to change it. But active sitting is simple to learn, and though it requires a lot of discipline initially, it’s a subtle but effective way to tone your core.

Start by finding your sitz bone (sitting bones, ischial tuberosity, etc.). The sitz bone is the bony protrusions at the very bottom of the pelvis; you have them even if they have padding over them. Take a minute to find them. That is the part that should directly connect to the seat or floor.

Notice that when you relax your core, the angle of your pelvis changes and your sitz bone is no longer directly connected to the seat. This is what happens when you slouch. (The angle of your pelvis also changes when you over-arch your back.)

Re-connect your sitz bone to the chair. When you make that connection, your spine lines up over your pelvis. This “uprightness” requires a bit of core engagement, which is why most people slouch instead.

It’s a subtle core activation that you will barely feel, but if you have very poor posture or a weak core, it can require constant mental and physical effort at first. It will become second nature if you stick with it! Instead of slouching when you get tired, try reclining on your side, ancient Rome style. This allows your core to relax without putting pressure on your lower spine. Then get back to sitting as soon as you can.

Respect yourself enough to make the effort! Not only will it strengthen your core over time and help prevent lower back pain, it’s also a sign that you have truly begun to make fitness a way of life beyond the doors of the studio.

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Why You Should Actually Go To Yoga

Almost everything can be done online these days—attending church, dating, and even grocery shopping. But some things are better in person, and despite the popularity of online yoga tutorials like YogaGlo and Gaiam, yoga remains one of them.

Books, blogs, and videos can be great supplements to an existing yoga practice, and they’re better than nothing if you truly don’t have access to a studio, but the best way to begin a yoga practice is by going to a class. At a physical class:

  • Instructors can check your form. Yoga postures have a lot of nuance to them. It can be difficult to understand the correct alignment or the muscles to engage without some prior experience. In your attempt to figure out these details, you might push yourself too far or even injure yourself.
  • Instructors can physically adjust you. The right physical adjustment can make a posture “click” for you in a way that verbal direction might not. Common cues like “roll the hip forward” or “lengthen your spine” can be hard to translate into the body—that’s where teachers come in! Individualized feedback can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your efforts and how much you enjoy it!
  • There’s accountability. It’s too easy to pause a video or put down an app when you get tired or frustrated. You might have the discipline to hold a sixty-second Triangle when no one is cheering you on and the couch is just a few steps away—but most people don’t! Left alone, it can also be tempting to do only the postures you enjoy, while skipping the less fun ones that might be exactly what you need. When you are alone, you have to muscle your way through an entire session, but in a studio, you only need enough discipline to show up—the communal energy will carry you the rest of the way.
  • You can connect. Although it’s easier than ever to engage with people online, remote connection will never replace a simple handshake or a shared coffee run after class. It goes beyond the actual physical practice and becomes a community. If you never go, you’ll never know what you’re missing.

If cost is keeping you from going to class, do some digging. Many studios, like Sunstone, have great introductory offers or other specials. Some will advertise special donation based (or “pay what you can”) classes. Public parks and stores often host free classes as well.

If fear or intimidation is holding you back, buddy up! Everything is easier when you go with a friend. Many studios offer an orientation or a beginners’ class – we’d suggest Hot Yoga Lite or Calm Flow at our studios. Check the studio’s online reviews (or ask friends for recommendations) so that you know the place is beginner-friendly. Tell the instructor that you’re new and feeling nervous. A good teacher will know how to put you at ease.

You don’t need to give up your home practice, which can be a great way to stay regular and focused. Just balance it out with a communal practice led by certified instructors.

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Say Hello to Yoga Core

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Our Yoga Core Series (previously called Wood) is the perfect performance-enhancing complement to your fitness practice. For years, Sunstone has helped its members improve their balance, core strength, and overall fitness with this unique class, and now we’re taking it to the next level! It’s still the great blend of Pain-Free Yoga™, Pilates, and resistance stretching that you know and love–but with a few twists.

So what’s changed?

Updated language. The Yoga Core concepts are important and subtle, and can confuse new students (or even experienced practitioners!). We’ve changed some easily misunderstood phrases and terms to be more accessible. For example, you won’t hear anyone talking about “20% effort” anymore. Don’t worry, your favorite reactivation exercises like Strong Pigeon and Strong Wind Relieving aren’t going anywhere! They’ve just been repackaged. Even someone who has been taking Wood for years can gain new insight from the updated wording.

Strong_wind_relievingNew Sequence The revamped order is designed to energize you right from the start of class, and keep the energy flowing. Periods of high intensity are broken up–sometimes with “reset” postures like a quick Cat or Bridge, and sometimes in sets (we no longer do all 96 crunches at once!)–to keep you from fizzling out. Your mind and body will stay engaged from start to finish.

New postures. Craving variety? Even a classic sequence like Wood can use a little spicing up every now and then! In addition to all your old favorites, look for new additions like Bridge Figure 4, Dynamic Standing Glute Raises, and more. It’s a great chance to put all the strength you’ve built in the rest of class into action.

The updated Yoga Core series is coming to Sunstone studios everywhere on September 7th, 2014. Try it out and let us know what you think!

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Skin Care In The Heat

In Texas we are aware that there is just no real way around the heat or exposure to the sun during the summer months. Without even enjoying a day of swimming, hiking, biking, or sun bathing, we are exposed to the elements just walking to and from our car, driving, and running errands.

As Sunstone devotees, our bodies have become used to warmth during our practice, but the added element of heat in our everyday environment creates additional stress on our skin and compromises our hydration levels. What can be done to keep our skin looking good? Our friend and expert, Dr. Chritsine Stiles has a few suggestions on taking care of ourselves in the heat…

Skin Care In The Heat

As the temperatures rise, many people experience an increase in problems with their skin. Heat and sweat dry out the skin, open pores and can bring bacteria to the skin’s surface. Here are some ways to enjoy the heat and keep your skin healthy!
Keep the skin hydrated from the inside out by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day (Even more if you are practicing yoga!). This helps keep the skin supple, elastic, and will work to maintain a youthful glow!

While sweating is a great way to cleanse the body and open pores, this often leads to opening a pathway for bacteria to come to the skin surface, leading to pimples and acne flares. Cleaning the skin with a salicylic acid wash daily and after exercise helps prevent these breakouts and keep a clear complexion. (SkinMedica Purifying Foam Wash (4% salicylic acid) $40 or Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne wash (2% Salicylic acid) $9) Regular exfoliation of the skin prevents dirt and dead skin cells from building up in the pores. A facial scrub with a small particle size, roughly the size of table sugar, should be used 2-3 times per week (Skinmedica Skin Polisher $40 or Olay Regenerist Detoxifying Face Scrub $15). Large particle scrubs may irritate the skin and lead to redness. The Clarisonic cleansing system can be used daily to remove the superficial skin cells. Exfoliation with a Dermasweep and chemical peels (Vitalize Peel $125) remove deeper layers of the skin that lead to a dull appearance and reveal a younger healthier skin surface.

Heat can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Using a daily sunblock is important to avoid redness, hyperpigmentation, and early aging of the skin. The following are key components to look for in a sun block. First, the sun block needs to give both UVA and UVB protection. Second, it should be “non-comedogenic” to avoid acne flare ups. Third, facial sun blocks should have an SPF of at least 30.(SkinMedica Physical Defense SPF 30 or 50 $45 or Neutrogena Helioplex SPF 45 $14)

Click here for additional ideas on ways to care for skin and hair before, during, and after practice.

About our Author:

DrStilesDr Christine A. Stiles, owner of The Center for Breast and Body Contouring, has enjoyed the benefits of practicing at Sunstone Yoga for the past 9 years. As a surgeon, neck and back injuries are common maladies. Her yoga practice has kept chronic neck and back pain at bay, improved her overall health, and helps her to find balance in life despite a hectic career and busy family life.

She enjoys her career in helping her patients improve their self-image and enhance their self-esteem. Nutritional supplementation and exercise are integral parts of the recovery process and ensure an improved quality of life post-surgery and beyond. She recommends that patients begin a yoga practice post-operatively to help decrease swelling, accelerate healing, and create an overall sense of well-being.

Office Location:

The Center for Breast and Body Contouring
5575 Warren Parkway, Suite 304
Frisco, TX 75034
214-618-4000
www.drcstiles.com

Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons
Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

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Sharing Sunstone

This year we are focusing on connecting within our community. What does this look like? Getting closer as studio teams; getting to know our students and understanding their personal fitness goals; and expanding our community by bringing in new faces.

Noemi_Email

Sharing is a continuing theme both in our locations and outreach–whether it’s sharing our ideals and principles with students, sharing our yoga and Hot Pilates knowledge, sharing our time and space with those who practice beside us, or just sharing our love of Sunstone. We hope that you will get in on spreading the love! Here are some EASY ways to share your fitness passion with your friends and family:

  • Ask your friends to arrive 30-minutes before their first class to attend Orientation and get their First Class Free. (They’ll also get our best membership offer.) Remember, all of our classes are filled on a walk-in basis. No reservations are necessary to attend.
  • Buddy up. Building connections within the Sunstone community can be as easy as coordinating class times with a fellow practitioner, perhaps through Twitter or Facebook. Try paying attention to the students who attend your preferred class hours and see if another “regular” is interested in a partner.
  • Talk about what your practice has done for you! If you are noticing changes in your body, your sleep or eating habits, or your mind, don’t keep it to yourself. Many people simply don’t know the profound effect that a regular practice can have on them, or they would have tried it a long time ago.
  • Sign up for a workshop in a local studio. New workshops are offered all the time, usually focusing on a particular class series. You can take your practice to the next level with an affordable and convenient immersion into the world of fitness! Signature members attend for free, but they are open to anyone.
  • Talk to your teacher after class. They’re people, too, and we love getting to know students! Whether it’s your health, the trip you took recently, or a posture you want a little extra help with, we are all ears. And of course, your teachers are a great resource for advice on taking your practice to the next level.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out within the community. If you always visit the same studio, try a new one. Enjoy meeting new teachers and students! If there is a particular class type you avoid, or if you have never attended a workshop, take the leap!

See you in the studio!

PFV_email

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Clear Your Mind

Are you stressed? It’s no secret, of course, that modern lifestyles often go hand-in-hand with cluttered, unsettled minds. Chances are, if you are not experiencing stress right at this moment, you have recently or will soon. Eager to find a “fix,” well-intentioned folks advise slowing down and taking time for what’s important–while simultaneously giving constant tips for fitting more into already packed schedules. But HOW?

Our society is almost universally plagued with a perceived abundance of problems, and a shortage of time to deal with them. Even now, you probably have a running to-do list in the back of your mind and a mental list of ongoing areas of concern in your life.

Trying to juggle the countless responsibilities that come with each of the many roles we play (such as employee, parent, or student) is enough to drive anyone crazy, and that’s just ONE possible source of stress. Add on top of that finances, relationships, health concerns, and so on, and it’s no wonder the American Psychological Association revealed that more than half of all Americans are concerned about the amount of stress in their everyday lives.

Can a solution to internal chaos really be as simple as “slowing down”? Life has become busy and fast-paced, of course, and physical rest can be beneficial. But a still body does not guarantee a still mind. Even during sleep, a state of almost total physical relaxation, the mind tends to remain active. And even sedentary people can be addicted to distraction, needing media like television or music to keep their mind off the present.

So what IS the solution? The answer lies not in a big, one-size-fits-all overhaul, but in small, personal, everyday life choices. Tiny steps can be made towards awareness, which lead to relief from the mental rat race, and finally to being fully present in life. The act of accomplishing mental presence is hard, but not impossible. With practice, it is a discipline that anyone can access.

Many tools can help on the quest for a clear mind and stress relief. Unsurprisingly, yoga is pretty high on the list! Countless studies testify to the positive effects of yoga on mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and of course, regular stress. Different aspects of class–such as the commitment to showing up, the singular focus required to hold difficult postures, and the discipline required to remain still in savasana–can all serve as “stepping stones” toward inner stillness.

While these examples are specific to the yoga room, what is mastered on the mat will carry over into the rest of life. You CAN create change within yourself. Become aware of and limit things that take you out of the present. This might mean shutting off your smartphone when you’re not using it, avoiding excessive alcohol intake if you find yourself using it as a way to avoid being in the present, or even choosing a simple phrase to repeat and focus on if your own mind is the culprit. Even more importantly than just limiting things that take you out of the moment, is learning how to love the moment while you are in it!

Your still and present mind will not come overnight, but it is worth the effort. Enjoy filling your life with moments that you can fully appreciate. Though you cannot add hours to your life, you can add a lot of quality life to your hours.

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3 Ways Change Is Beneficial (And 3 Ways You Can Embrace It)

Most people fight change, especially change that is beyond their control. Habit and routine keep things orderly and safe, and when things don’t go as planned, it’s hard to see the positive side. But change brings with it some often-overlooked benefits. Think that change is good in theory, but you could still do without it? Here are some things to consider:

1. Change encourages growth. Fact: The body and mind are highly adaptable and will quickly stop responding to the same challenge. Variety prevents that plateau (in the fitness world, changing up your routine to encourage growth has been called “muscle confusion”). To see this principle in action, imagine a Hot Yoga (Fire) junkie attending her first Flow Yoga (Earth) class. She may discover parts of her body that have been habitually neglected and might feel sore in muscles she didn’t know she had!

2. Change allows new beginnings. Recall the very first time you met a now-dear friend, your first yoga class, or the first time you heard a beloved song. Life change is the only way to experience the excitement of discovering something new. Everything that leaves your life is an opportunity for something new to come along. Parents who were saddened to see their children start to grow up will understand this, as letting go of those happy years can lead to the blessing of seeing them become mature and independent adults making their way in the world and starting their own familes.

3. Change is inevitable. Like it or not, the future will always hold change; we all experience periods of relative stability, but nothing can remain static indefinitely. Embracing that change will bring peace and alleviate frustration. Knowing that change will come regardless of your attitude, it makes sense to come to terms with it. This mental switch is a huge step toward learning to surrender the need for control–something most of us struggle with more than we probably admit.

With that in mind, how can you make change work for you? Sometimes the small things are the ones that have the most lasting impact, and embracing small changes will prepare you to tackle the big ones. Here are some baby steps to help you open yourself to change:

1. Take the initiative. Go out of your way to shake up your own routine and it will be easier when something else does the shaking. Start small. You might make a health-conscious change, like going to bed half an hour earlier or switching from soda to electrolyte water. Or you might simply set up your mat in a different spot in the yoga room each time you take class. If life circumstances take you away from the studio, you don’t have to lose your practice, having learned to be okay with changing it up. Small shifts can make a big difference in your perspective.

2. Reflect on positive changes. Just reminding yourself of all the times that change ended up being pleasant–even if you weren’t excited about it initially–can do a lot for your attitude towards change in general. Try making a list of all the happy surprises life has thrown your way in the past ten years, or of changes that seemed undesirable but paved the way for something great. You might want to keep these lists in a journal to revisit from time to time.

3. Expect the unexpected. Learn to put a mental asterisk by all your plans with the disclaimer, “If all goes as expected.” A great many things will not go as planned, and mentally preparing for (and being okay with) a different outcome will make it easier to accept when things seem to be going off-course. Make preparations for the future, of course–this is not an excuse to throw readiness to the wind! Just make sure that you see your plans as a road map, not as a certainty.

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Discover Sunstone… Orientation is where it’s at!

Have you ever thought about why beginning something new, or even picking back up something you have done before, is often a source of anxiety? Maybe it is because there is little frame for expectations of this fresh experience, because looking like the new kid can be embarrassing, or maybe it is just because a new path can often feel lonely.

We have all been there and felt anxiety of the unknown. At Sunstone, we want to help new and returning students feel welcome in our studios while ensuring that our members’ practice experience is not interrupted by those just learning our culture, so we have launched our all-new, 30-minute Intro.

Who should come to Orientation? Anyone who is not currently a member!

What will happen during Orientation? Offered at each Sunstone location 30 minutes before every class, this relaxed half-hour information session is a space for students to learn about our class series, studio etiquette, our history, vision and teaching principles. Learn what you can expect; it is a time to ask questions. Get to know other new students as well as a few members of the Sunstone team. Each new attendee is gifted their First Class Free for their attendance and receives our best membership offer.

If you are thinking about building a practice with Sunstone, make time for Orientation, and if you are able, attend a class immediately following! You will walk away with an immediate understanding of who we are and what we do.

If you are a current member, Orientation provides a great opportunity to get your friends interested in Sunstone. Help them earn a free class by referring them to this new offering.

We want our students to succeed in reaching their personal fitness goals and discovering lasting health. Encouraging students to attend Orientation is the best way we know to ease the anxiety of a new experience and help each attendee build a regular practice at Sunstone. After all, preparation and repetition are the keys to success!

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Many Different Types of Love

It would appear there are many different types of love.

Most of us have felt the thrill of new love: that exciting rush of a new relationship. Parental love is, at its best, unconditional, all-encompassing, unending and at times, overwhelming. Sibling love is perhaps as powerful as parental love, though sometimes tumultuous and unpredictable. Love between friends, both male and female is usually a more patient, supportive love. However, are these many versions of love really any different?

I offer that love, in its truest form, is not just something we give and then seek to find. True love is something we build within ourselves until it simply cannot be contained, spilling over and out from us like a waterfall!

Love is not truer because it is shared by romantic partners, rather than one brother for another, one child for its mother. It is truer because it comes from the deepest place within us – a place of full self-acceptance.

Yoga teaches us to love and accept ourselves within our practice, regardless of any outcome in the present moment.

Group_StandingBowIt is not important whether you hold your standing bow for the entire 60 seconds without falling. It is only important that you see each fall as an opportunity to stand again. This is our inner yoga practice which extends outside of the yoga room.

Similarly, it is not important that you make no mistakes in your life, or your relationships. It is important that we begin to see our mistakes as triumphs in becoming more, rather than circumstantial evidence of our failure as a human being. As creators, we become more by embracing our miss-steps, and arranging them into stepping stones to whatever higher place we seek.

We have heard the expression, “love is not a noun, but a verb.” From this perspective, loving is something we do in the world, rather than just something that happens to us. We have control over the amount of love we send out, which in turn tends to affect the love we draw towards us.

Strong_Dog

If we withhold love from others, we withhold it from ourselves, as well. We cannot be that love we wish to see in the world, without knowing what it is to feel that love for ourselves first—to see our own love action as a force strong enough to change the world.

Nurturing our practice is one way we love our bodies and strengthen our minds. Making the time for that care is not selfish, but necessary.

My practice at Sunstone reminds me that simply being in the yoga room is enough to help me grow. Yoga is a gift we may give ourselves in any moment we decide to breathe in gratitude, and exhale love.

Jen Wanamaker – Sunstone Team Member

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Why Hot Pilates? And More!

I am very excited for Sunstone to be offering Hot Pilates (previously called Metal)! The postures Sunstone offers in our Pilates series are dynamic movements that complement the more static nature of most of our yoga postures. The dynamic movements of Pilates challenge the muscles, cardiovascular system, and mind in new and complementary ways. In our hot yoga classes we generally (not always) get in a posture and hold a static position. In contrast in Pilates, we generally stabilize our ‘Pilates Core’ (abdomen, back, inner thighs and buttocks) and making a controlled but dynamic movement.

Yoga Core (previously called Wood) has always been a good ‘bridge’ between Yoga and Pilates; now the new, 45-minute Hot Pilates completes the transition.

The new Pilates class is naturally energetic with dynamic transitions and is paired with equally energetic music. Looking at the chart below, the series sequences are broken down showing the approximate percentage of postures that are static versus dynamic movements. The chart also shows transitions and environment added for comparison:

Class Comparison Chart

 

In short our Hot Pilates class is a truly unique experience with new challenges that support our purpose of helping you connect with and cultivate your very best self.

Not only will the it be a welcome challenge for our Members, it is also an exciting challenge for the elite team of Sunstone teachers. The Sunstone Academy has leveraged 10 years of experience to deliver, to your teachers, the most comprehensive training program it has developed to date. The program is composed of hands-on training, practice classes, video and written support materials that layer onto the foundation each teacher learns when they train through the Sunstone Academy. There is always a learning curve when introducing new classes but I think you will be pleasantly satisfied with the initial classes and amazed at how quickly the teachers improve. I encourage you to support your teachers’ development with patience and feedback in the quick surveys you receive after every class.

For 2013 Sunstone is also bringing you a new and improved Flow Yoga Series (previous called Earth) that fuses the best elements of the original Earth and previous Metal classes into an invigorating power flow class set to music. We have also repackaged our popular Hot Yoga Series (previously called Fire) and created our new Hot Yoga Lite Series (previously called Spark). This new class features the familiar Hot Yoga postures but delivered in a milder environment with adjusted hold times. It’s a great place for beginners, returning students, and those of us who just want to take it down a notch. You will also notice we have finally produced the much requested 60-minute version of our Yoga Calm Series (previously called Water). This year at Sunstone we can all enjoy an expanded spectrum of classes.

Finally, for new students we have redesigned our Intro class into a 30-minute orientation. This will help new students learn about Sunstone at an accelerated rate, reduce their first class anxiety and the stress of ‘learning the ropes’ of the Sunstone community. To encourage new student participation in the Intro class, participants earn a free class; replacing our previous introductory offers. (Note: original post updated for 2016)

I encourage everyone to come and experience the new Sunstone.

Happy New Year,

Brandon Hartsell
CEO

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