Friday, October 30, 2015

The Playfullness of Ageless Grace®

By Amy Podolsky

Birthdays can bring up all sorts of feelings, and as I approached my last one, I felt kinda funky. While it wasn't a "milestone"--unless the number 44 has some deeper numerological meaning of which I'm unaware-- it nonetheless felt poignant in that I was approaching the halfway point-- a bridge between early and mid forties. And I realized there is no stopping the clock; ready or not, here it comes.

Enter Ageless Grace®. The day after my 44th birthday, I took a seminar (followed by a two-day Educator Certification) with Ageless Grace® creator, Denise Medved. I'd signed up for the training on somewhat of a whim: I had heard great things about the program, knew of Denise through the Nia world (she's a former Nia trainer and First Degree Nia Black Belt instructor), and had read remarkable things about Neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain and the nervous system to change structurally and functionally through the practice of movement). In hindsight, I see now that "The Universe" was clearly handing me a priceless gift in Ageless Grace®, one that would help me get off the pity pot and accept that aging is a gift in and of itself (even when I'm not thrilled about its "byproducts.").

For those of us lucky enough to celebrate birthdays-- and truly it is a blessing when you consider how often disease point their awful, senseless fingers at those we know and love-- the choices (as I see them) are these: Let go or be dragged. We grow older every day, whether we like it or not. We can choose to let go and play, or we can be dragged, kicking and screaming. Either way, we are heading toward our next birthday in every given moment.

Play wasn't a familiar concept for me before Ageless Grace® came along. The truth is, I was afraid of looking foolish. But, as I sat in my chair and played with Denise and my lovely group of fellow trainees that weekend, I couldn't stop smiling. It was pure joy, and I didn't even care what I looked like. I began practicing and teaching AG almost immediately after completing the training. Having felt so good in my body, all I wanted (and still want) was to pass that same gift on to others (my fear of heights is the only thing holding me back from standing on the rooftops shouting "I've discovered the Fountain of Youth, People!"). When I'm practicing and/or teaching Ageless Grace®, I feel awesome. My core muscles feel tighter (and more fit), my awareness of (and appreciation for) my body increases, and my mind feels much sharper. If this is what "Aging" looks like, then bring it on.

Teaching Ageless Grace® at Lumina Mind Body Studios is a pleasure. What a fabulous community! Class is so much fun ("it's like a party," one student recently remarked), and also deceptively powerful and invigorating. Don't let the chair fool ya, you will get a great workout. Every Body is happy in these classes, without fail. That never gets old for me. When asked what the class is like, I've started to say: "It's like chocolate; you can't describe it, you just have to try it." I hope you'll join me for this delicious Body, Mind and Soul treat. I whole-heartedly believe in Denise Medved's mission, to "help create a new paradigm for aging, one where we all, from childhood on, incorporate daily movement into our lives...that enhances our movements, our ability to function with comfort and ease, our attitudes, our outlooks and intentions and our overall quality of life!" Amen and cheers to Ageless Grace®!

Amy Podolsky is a Nia Brown Belt Instructor and Certified Ageless Grace®  Educator. She loves sharing the Joy of Movement with people of all ages, and with her trademark warmth, humor and attitude of "no judgement," is committed to empowering Every Body to stay fit by choosing pleasure over pain.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reducing Anxiety by Being a Mountain

By Janine L. Agoglia

Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, is one of the foundation poses in asana practice. Although seemingly simple, you are merely standing on two feet, it is a very powerful pose when done properly.

Creating a stable, secure standing pose, such as Tadasana, will create more stability in your physical body, allowing you to ground your mind in the present moment. Anxiety lives in the future, with thoughts like "what if" and "what could be," but in reality, these things may or may not actually come true. When you bring yourself into the present moment, feeling your feet on the ground and connecting to your breath, anxiety drains away and all that is left is peace.

Anxiety often causes a sensation of being untethered, floating without connection or root, feeling out of control. If you stand like a mountain, you are standing firmly on the ground, stable, steady but comfortable and relaxed. Your connection to the earth through your feet makes Tadasana a very grounding, anxiety-reducing pose.  By standing in Tadasana, you re-root to the earth and feel more in control.

Stand with your feet parallel to each other other about 3-4 inches apart. Feel your weight set evenly on both feet. Keeping the knees relaxed, stack your knees over your ankles. If you tend to hyper-extend your joints, your knees should feel very slightly bent. Engage your quadriceps to encourage stabilization of the knees. Stack your hips over your knees, gently activate your bandhas (Mula Bandha--your pelvic floor lifts, like doing a Kegel; Uddiyana Bandha-- two fingers below the navel contracts inward and upward toward your lower back). Your shoulders should stack over your hips, the shoulder blades should move down your back and you want to lift through your heart center. Finally your head should stack over your shoulders.

When you are standing in Tadasana take 5 deep, slow breaths, imagining drawing the air up through your feet to your head, then exhaling back down from your head through your feet. Any time anxiety hits, doing this simple, calming, stabilizing pose can get you out of your head and reconnect you with your body. When you are in your body, anxiety doesn't exist.

Janine L. Agoglia has been teaching Vinyasa yoga since 1998. Her yoga journey started in 1995 with Iyengar Yoga and she discovered Vinyasa yoga in 1997. The combination of breath with proper body alignment is what fuels Janine's practice and the classes that she teaches. She believes that yoga should be safe as well as challenging, creative and fun. She always emphasizes proper alignment within the flow, as well as focus, breath and humor to help students find the balance between strength and ease. Deepening one’s physical awareness helps one strengthen his/her spiritual awareness and mind-body connection. Janine loves being able to help people deepen their own practices, finding yoga in everyday life on and off the mat. Her DVD, “Vinyasa Yoga for Regular People” is available for purchase at the front desk at Lumina Mind Body Studios in Wayland, MA.

In addition to being the Co-Director of Yoga and teaching yoga classes at Lumina Mind Body Studios, Janine is also a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist who practices at Integrative Therapeutics in Natick, MA.

To contact Janine, please email or visit her website,