Friday, February 15, 2013

So who's Kathy Anyway?

   If you have been reading the past few posts, you may be wondering who this new person is writing for the Essencia Yoga blog.  Well, I am here to introduce myself.  My name is Kathy Szczesniak.  I found Jeannine through the Yoga Alliance website when I was looking for a local yoga studio that does teacher training.  She was the first school I called, and the last.  At first, I was unsure if I was ready to take the plunge into becoming a certified yoga teacher, and Jeannine made sure that I knew that was okay and to take my time.  Well, I am here to tell you that everything happens for a reason.  Over the next couple of months, Jeannine and I kept in contact until I found some time in my schedule to begin training.  What an experience!  My first day, I was welcomed with hugs and laughter while all the other teachers in training welcomed me with open arms.

  Since I have finished my training as of January 31st, Jeannine has given me the wonderful opportunity to help out with the Essencia blog.  I have a health blog of my own (Luana Ola) that I have been writing on for just over 2 years.  I am so honored to now be writing for Essencia as well!

   For a little bit about my background, I have a bachelor's degree in Exercise Sport Science from Carthage College and am currently working on a license to be a Registered Dietitian at Dominican University.  I am also a published author of the book, Medieval Feats and Marvelous Treats.

  These posts are inspired by conversations we've had thorough training and spontaneous ideas.  I hope you have been enjoying the posts and will enjoy the posts to come as well.  Please feel free to comment all you'd like, we love to hear what our readers have to say!

We have found a joy in partnering in this adventure.  When we work together, we can lean on each other for strength and courage to pursue anything.

Luana ola!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ideas to Share the Love

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we can tend to become secluded and might feel overwhelmed with all the things to catch up on from the start of the new year.  It is during this time that we all need to step back and give ourselves a little love.

Whether or not you are in a relationship (which can include kids, a spouse, significant others, or any one of the other forms of relationships that we all have), take some time this Valentine's Day to connect with yourself and enjoy being loved.

Some ideas to share the love:

  • Set a timer and sit in silence for at least 10 minutes.  The longer you can be still in silence, the better, but just being still  and being one with your thoughts and emotions is a good way to really show yourself how much you care.  You care so much about your health and well-being that you just took time out of your busy day to pamper yourself with silence.
  • Sit in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot tea and a good book.
  • Just do something you love to do.  Now is the time to make time for yourself and be with those you love


Written By:  Kathy Szczesniak from
Written for:  Esssencia Yoga

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Partner Yoga

If the thought of practicing yoga is intimidating to you, or if you just want to change up your yoga routine, try adding a partner to practice with you!

Partner yoga can be such a fun and new experience to try with a friend or loved one.  This type of practice brings a sense of connectedness between yourself and the other person.  It can strengthen relationships by building bonds and breaking boundaries. 

The really cool thing about partner yoga is that it changes up the routine of yoga and adds a whole new dimension! You will feel your body in a whole new way and come to find that the postures you might have been doing for years is completely different with someone's assistance. The important thing to remember when practicing partner yoga is to try to breathe in rhythm with each other so that both of your energy’s connect and you can feel the bond.
Some postures to try:

  • Downward facing dog with one partner either pushing or pulling lightly on the hips.  This will create a space in the lower back and shoulders that you could not experience alone.
  • Boat pose with your feet touching your partner’s and if you are flexible enough, you can hold hands.
  • Dancer pose, reaching the extended arm towards each other; maybe even touch hands! It really makes you feel the stretching and strengthening that occurs in your legs.
  • If you are not yet comfortable practicing a supported headstand on your own, try it with your partner in front of you as support.  This way, you know that if you lose your balance, he or she is there to catch you before you fall.  Come to think of it, isn't that what great friendships and relationships are for?

In addition to the wonderful benefits you receive physically, this would be a wonderful idea to incorporate into assisted living homes. As human beings, we need the sense of touch on a daily basis. Something about this sense brightens the energy within our bodies and we feel more happy, more alive. Having partner yoga and deep breathing can really help people feel more at ease, connected, and happy.

Try it out during this month of love.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Embracing our Failures

We so frequently glean things from our practice and can integrate the lessons into our lives, bringing about a truly holistic benefit to our Yoga.  As teachers we will often hear ourselves say, "embrace this as a practice, and not a performance, where we have expectations of ourselves, our teachers and our abilities ... but rather use our limitations and even 'failures' to our advantage that open the door to various kinds of opportunities.
Our thought processing is not always effective in helping us grow.  We might, by default make irrational decisions if we aren't more intentional at the front end.  Heidi Grant Halvorson, writing for productivity and ideas blog the 99u, points out that when we try to avoid our  failures we eliminate creative possibilities.
The problem with the Be-Good mindset is that it tends to cause problems when we are faced with something unfamiliar or difficult. We start worrying about making mistakes, because mistakes mean that we lack ability, and this creates a lot of anxiety and frustration. Anxiety and frustration, in turn, undermine performance by compromising our working memory, disrupting the many cognitive processes we rely on for creative and analytical thinking. Also, when we focus too much on doing things perfectly (i.e., being good), we don't engage in the kind of exploratory thinking and behavior that creates new knowledge and innovation.
Let's allow for ourselves to be human, as we live in a world full of them.  Each of us embracing our limitations and extending space and margin to ourselves and others ... learning from failures and accepting them as part of life's journey.

Backpain and Yoga

We all carry stress in our bodies in different parts, but many people hold the bulk of their tension in their upper and lower backs.  When we hold tension in any location, it increases the chance of injury due to the tightness and inflexibility in that area.  In our backs, especially, inflexibility can lead to tight hamstrings, head aches, migraines, and an overall lack of comfort.
There are many reasons for having back pain including, but not limited to: poor posture, stress, working conditions, and even medical needs.
Yoga can help to ease back pain by strengthening the core muscles so it is better able to carry the body and by stretching the back in all directions to increase range of motion.  These two components are what yoga is all about and can leave you feeling refreshed and lighter in only a few practice sessions.
If you have a "bad back" and it hurts to do some of the postures, ease up on your body, be gentle with it, and just do what you can so that it does not hurt.  It takes time to develop strength and flexibility, just like it takes time to make changes throughout other parts of your life.  Be patient and breathe into each posture.  The breath of life is a powerful tool in healing and making life more joyous.


Such a meaningful practice.  Having learned so much from Andre Lappa in my 500 hour work,I treasured the opportunity of attending his workshop.  Not only was it rewarding to be under his instruction, but very special to have Annie, a Yoga Teacher, who recently came through Essencia's Teacher Training Program. In many ways, appreciating the way yoga honors lineage and teaches respect for the many who have gone before us and who will come after us. Humbling and inspiring to see our place in line!
Preview a sample:

Benefits of Customized Yoga

The priority of Essencia Yoga is to grow in quality and efficiency.  Personalizing the methods of teacher training to the student and their needs requires great diligence and discipline.  This organic movement seeks artful collaboration between the student and teacher, which come together in ease when we are unitied in the spirit of learning.
This customized approach provides various options for the student.  Through working more closely with the student than in a larger group setting, the teacher can have the time needed to more deeply listen and interact with each individual, really being able to personalize the curriculum.