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5 Yoga Poses to Improve Sleep
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An often forgotten fact about yoga is that it actually helps people who struggle to sleep. Yoga relaxes the body and mind and when both are at ease, it increase the chances of quality sleep. Although compared to Chromotherapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, yoga hasn’t been proven to be as definitively effective against insomnia. Research however, has shown that it is increasingly helpful in combating poor sleeping habits. 

Harvard Medical School conducted a study in which 55% of people who did yoga discovered that it helped them fall asleep easier. Additionally, 85% of the individuals surveyed confirmed that the exercise decreased their stress levels immensely. The results concluded that daily yoga sessions resulted in profound improvements in both sleep quality and quantity.

With a multitude of poses and yoga disciplines, it can be quite overwhelming when it comes to choosing which type of yoga best suits your needs. So without further ado, here is a look at 5 different yoga poses that will undoubtedly help you in your conquest to get a good night’s sleep.

1. Balasana

According to their study, Harvard Medical school listed Balasana, or Wild Knee Child’s Pose, as one the most effective poses. They share that the pose provides a sense of calmness and stability. However, individuals with hip and knee injuries are advised against attempting this particular pose due to its complexity.

The pose can be achieved with your hands either stretched out in front of your body or at the back to ease your shoulders.

2. Supta Baddha Konasana

Another suggestion from the Harvard Medical School is Supta Baddha Konasana, also known as the Reclining Bound Angle pose. The school states that tension in the hips and groins areas are relieved when doing this specific pose. This complex pose will enable the entire body to be fully stretched, relaxing all the muscles ideal for a good sleep. Similarly to Balasana, people with special hip and knee conditions are advised against trying to the pose.

3. Viparita Karani

The Legs-Up-The Wall pose, known as Viparita Karani, is said to release tension in the legs and feet. The Art Of Living shares that this pose also increases the blood supply to the brain and can cure headaches. The reclining aspect of the pose will aid you in dozing off later at night.

4. Savasana The Art of Living also lists down the Savasana pose in helping relaxing the body in time for bedtime. The pose is also known as the “Corpse Pose” as it consists of leveling the entire body by lying flat on your back. Laying straight down on the mat will instigate the body and the muscles to prepare for sleep. The pose is also highly recommended after eating as it stabilizes the entire internal system.

5. Siddhasana

Siddhasana is a pose recommended by the Yoga Journal in helping avoid insomnia. The pose is achieved by sitting on crossed ankles while putting your left hand to your outer right knee and placing your right hand behind you. Eventually, you will have to switch sides to feel the utmost effect of the pose. The relaxing stretch will leave your body tension-free and as relaxed as ever, very much like Supta Baddha Konasana, perfect for a good night’s sleep!

This is very positive considering the amount of people who suffer from insomnia across the United States. Leesa claims that 30% of Americans will experience some form of insomnia during their lives. Therefore, it is important to find counter measures that will help guard against the chances of sleep deprivation.

Kelly MerydithComment
Meet The Ambassador: Mia Kanney

I spent the day with one of our ambassadors, Mia. She is our youngest ambassador. Mia is a student at Naperville Central high school. She loves all things photography, music, and Jesus. She is outgoing and loves to be around people. Mia is very involved with her church. Whether she is worshipping, leading a small group, or taking photos she is her happiest self. One of Mia's greatest joys besides church is photography. Patience and motivation are key factors in how she has been successful. Mia will never pass up an offer to go to Chick-fil-A (also known as her favorite restaurant). She loves plugging in headphones and grabbing a good book- they're essential to help her relax.

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Mia beamed with excitement as we ordered our drinks from Owl and Lark. It was her first time in the juice bar and she was amazed with the plethora of options: smoothies, juices, hot drinks and snacks. 

The barista calls out "Mia" and hands over the pink dreamlike "Pitaya Smoothie". "I didn't know it was going to be pink!" Mia exclaims. "It's really pink. I love it". She continues, taking a sip of her pineapple-mango smoothie. 

She looks around, admiring the juice bar and noting how conveniently close it is to the studio. It's perfect for refueling after a yoga class!

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Feeling rejuvenated after our smoothies, we headed back outside to walk the streets of downtown La Grange. We hunted for street art and went window shopping- chatting about everything from yoga to camera gear and everything in between. 

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Photo: Macaila Britton Model: Mia Kanney

Next up was Elmhurst. We found a peaceful spot in the Wilder Park Conservatory to meditate and spend time in nature. The sun was beaming down on us as we laughed and walked the garden. Admiring the beauty of the world and feeling the serenity of the moment.  She explained how yoga is something she is working on practicing more. Mia reminisced on the days she and her grandmother would take their Tuesday yoga class. She noted how peaceful and energetic she feels after yoga. 

 

More about Mia:

Currently Listening To: Cage the Elephant and Foster the People

Favorite Snack: Fruit and Chocolate

Currently Reading: 'If I Stay' and 'Perks of Being a Wallflower'

Favorite Movie: If I Stay

Dream Vacation: Snowboarding in Colorado

Dream Travel Destination: Anywhere in Europe

Hobbies: Painting

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Gandhi

Mia is wearing "Define Your Inspiration" (DYI for short) leggings. This is one of the newer brands we carry at our four studio locations. We're particular about the brands we partner with and choose to include in our four studios. Why? It's because we care about you and want you to look and feel your absolute very best! Based out of Houston, Texas, DYI is an athletic brand that incorporates style and comfort. They believe that "feeling comfortable but sophisticated helps us move through life easily from workout to work, school days to date night or errands to homework"- we couldn't agree more! 

Each one of our locations (Oak Park, Berwyn, Elmhurst and La Grange) has different leggings. Berwyn is filled with deeper colors while Oak Park is home to funky striped designs. Stop in and check out the patterns! 

Here's a sneak peek of a few of the leggings we have:


macaila-britton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MACAILA BRITTON

Macaila is a yoga teacher in training, writer and photographer. She likes meeting new people, is passionate about helping the community and also enjoys traveling, all kinds of dessert and cheesy jokes. She aspires to become the best version of herself by investing in others.

Yoga has helped her become more centered and focused on serving her higher purpose. In January she started the social media campaign called Operation Beautiful Nation. OBN is focused on raising awareness towards social injustice, which provides people all of the globe to take action and tackle these issues with a peaceful solution oriented attitude. 

Macaila hopes to someday eliminate social injustice and wants you to help.

To keep up with her latest adventures, visit MacailaBritton.com


Introducing: The Lotus Root Eye Pillow

Do you see the woman in the photo above looking incredibly peaceful? Well, this could be you. I'll let you in on a little secret. The key to her state of relaxation is the eye pillow. Let me tell you what an eye pillow is exactly. It is a handmade slice of heaven. Eye pillows are ideal for relaxation and easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Personally, I use mine during savassana. Yes, I'm totally the girl who bring a prop to class. But hey, it helps me deepen my practice and focus on meditation. The all natural essential oils infused into the pillow help me calm down and truly feel relaxed. If you have allergies and you're worried about the scent, don't be! We have unscented eye pillows, as well. My favorite class to have this is, is restorative yoga. I like how the eye pillow blocks out the light as I center myself and set my intentions for the day. Plus, this helps relax the eye muscles!

Eye pillow options: 

1. Unscented: For those with allergies or sensitivities to scent.
Or - for those who like a little variety, add your own essential oils to the washable cover to change the scent and to get a different aromatherapy experience each time.
(filled with organic golden flax seeds. Choose "no scent, just flax" when checking out) 

2. Lavender (filled with organic lavender buds + golden flax seeds) 

3. Lavender Peppermint (with organic lavender buds, peppermint leaves + peppermint essential oil + organic golden flax seeds)

To use: 

• Place pillow over your eyes to block out light

• Let the weight of the flax relax your eye muscles

• breathe in the soothing scent of lavender

• Place in the freezer in a ziplock bag for 1-2 hours and use as a cold pack

• Take it with you when traveling - use it in the airport or on a plane to get a peaceful moment to yourself

• Squeeze to reinvigorate the scent

• To wash cover: remove and hand wash with cool water, lay flat to dry.

This item will be Made to Order - Please allow up to 2 weeks to create your eye pillow. Pillow will be shipped 2 day priority mail within the US & first class internationally. Click here to order!

Fun Facts: 

-Handmade with love and hand screen printed with original artwork, these eye pillows are unique and an introduction to aromatherapy.


-This pillows slip cover is made with silky smooth bamboo + organic cotton. (Softer and feels better against your skin than silk). Material has been upcycled from a t-shirt from my shop that has never been worn. Cover is removable & washable. Inner pillow is made from linen.


macaila-britton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MACAILA BRITTON

Macaila is a yoga teacher in training, writer and photographer. She likes meeting new people, is passionate about helping the community and also enjoys traveling, all kinds of dessert and cheesy jokes. She aspires to become the best version of herself by investing in others. Yoga has helped her become more centered and focused on serving her higher purpose. To keep up with her latest adventures, visit MacailaBritton.com

A Note to the Shy Student

I would like to start off this post with something that may surprise some of you who have met me at the studio: I have always considered myself a pretty shy person outside of Ahimsa. Shy in the sense that I don’t like to go up to people and start talking to them, even if I want to say something to them. I am not very outgoing and I’m not the life of the party. 

When I opened Ahimsa something changed and now I try to talk to everyone who walks into the studio because I want that person to feel acknowledged and seen. I think that’s very important and one of the core values Ahimsa instills in it’s team. I also love hearing what people are thinking about the studio and making them feel comfortable.

In this post I am mostly speaking to the shy yoga students, because I am also a shy yoga student. I don’t like to speak to my yoga teachers after class, and if I start attending more than 1 of their classes I start to feel even shyer –now they might notice me! When they look me in the eyes I feel pretty uncomfortable, and small talk can be awkward for me, too. Did I say the right thing? Did my joke even make sense? Should I follow them on Instagram? Should I like their posts? Am I liking too many? Should I go on their retreat, or will they think I’m their stalker?

As a yoga teacher as well and as someone who knows many, many, yoga teachers, I want to let you know something: We. Don’t. Care. We don’t even notice. We love it when you tell us you loved class or when you come up to us to share something after class. Of course, there’s a fine line between sharing and overloading our time and leaching onto us, but hopefully you can distinguish between the two. Believe it or not, even if you are a bit quirky, we don’t harbor any ill will toward you. To be honest, we don’t think about it much. Teaching yoga gives us such incredibly good feelings, we probably just love seeing your face! 

We don’t think you’re a “stalker” when you follow us on social media, like our Instagram posts, show up to class each week, or come on our retreat. We don’t think about you like, “Omg I can’t believe Sarah keeps coming to my classes, what a loser.” As much as we try to take the ego out of teaching, it is still there. We give so much and in return we receive (other than monetarily) the satisfaction of helping someone with something – whether it’s finding some stillness and peace in their day, healing, or teaching them a new variation on a handstand.

We haven’t seen you in a while? We’d love to see you again! Has it been a while like… high school? Even better! I am telling you – there’s nothing that gives a yoga teacher more satisfaction than hearing from students what they loved about class and seeing them back for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 20th time.

Namaste,
Kelly


kelly-merydith-ahimsa-yoga-studios-illinois

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: KELLY MERYDITH

Kelly Merydith began practicing yoga regularly in 2008 when she had an internship at a financial company in downtown Chicago. During lunch and after work, she took classes with Vinnie Hunihan at Akal Yoga Studio in the Chicago Board of Trade Building. She discovered that yoga was a way to reduce stress and find mental clarity. While earning her degree in Finance and Marketing at Northeastern University, she realized she wanted to open a yoga studio in her hometown of Oak Park. In the summer of 2010, Kelly completed the 200-hour Teacher Training with YogaWorks in Santa Monica, CA with Kia Miller and Sonya Cottle. In 2012 she completed Moksha's 500-hr training program. Through yoga Kelly discovered her true passion - sharing the joys of yoga with others and creating a conscious, kind yoga community. She is the owner of Ahimsa's Oak Park location and co-owner of Ahimsa Berwyn, Elmhurst, and La Grange.

Common Misconceptions of 200hr Yoga Teacher Training

Ahimsa’s second teacher training is around the corner (starts August 17, 2017!) and as the work ramps up I find myself thinking about my first teacher training and recent conversations I’ve had with potential trainees. During last year’s teacher training I found myself saying “in my teacher training…” a lot as if I was referring to the 1950s when TVs were black and white. So, I wanted to share what my teacher training was like and also some common misconceptions about teacher training. 

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1. You have to be great at yoga and able to do all of the poses

NOT true! Forgive me if you are hearing this for a 3rd or 4th time, but the firs time I did a handstand was during my teacher training… in front of the whole group because even after the instruction (don’t worry, we were at the wall) I still couldn’t get up on my own. I still remember that moment because all eyes were on me and because I did something cool for the first time. 

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Even in my current practice I don’t even practice the full version of extended side angle, I still can’t do lotus pose safely, not even firelog pose (jibberish to you? Sorry! I’m just trying to say that I have tight hips so I stay within my limitations). I can’t stick a handstand in the middle of the room without toppling over, and I can’t do 100 chaturangas in a row. Now you’re probably starting to doubt my ability to be able to lead a teacher training… 

Being able to do all of the poses perfectly is nearly impossible! Thank goodness, not for Cassandra, though, because she modeled all of the poses in our Asana Manual! One of the most important things about being a yoga teacher and yogi is Ahimsa – non-violence. The “goal” of a teacher training is to be able to understand safety and alignment. The goal (for most) is to understand how to teach yoga – physical and non-physical aspects. Many teachers who come out of a teacher training will teach Restorative, Hatha, Beginners, and not desire to teach Forearm Balance. And that’s okay. It’s all okay…. You don’t have to be perfect to start a teacher training.

 

 

 

 

2. You have to have practiced every single day 365 days a year for 2 years before a teacher training

NOT true! You do not have to know everything or be perfect to start a yoga teacher training. 6 months of a consistent practice is recommended. You don’t want to start a teacher training not knowing what Downward Facing Dog is or what a Sun Salutation is. You do need experience. You do not need to be an expert – that’s what teacher trainings and years of practice are for ;). 

For example, take my dad, Chuck. After I finished my teacher training in the summer of 2011 I used him at my guinea pig for teaching yoga. I kind of forced my parents to help me pay for and install bamboo floors in an unused upstairs sunroom in our old house… but that’s a story for later. Anyway, my dad took some private lessons with me while he was freelancing and looking for a full time job. He was still going to the Tennis and Fitness Centre gym frequently, so I hadn’t converted him 100% quite yet. What did convert him was when I opened Ahimsa May 26 of the next year, 2012. He was still out of a full time job (sorry Dad!), so he was the most loyal student – taking classes every day. He was finally in LOVE with my favorite thing – yoga!

About a month in he had the itch that he just had to scratch – he wanted to become a yoga teacher! He was dead set on it – there was no talking him out of it. He enrolled in YogaWorks’ 200hr teacher training in Pacific Palisades, CA – the same town where his sister lives! It was perfect – he would ride one of the family’s bikes to teacher training every day. Thank God for Uncle Roger who would swoop by and rescue him on his way back from work – the trail back to the house was uphill for a few miles! Chuck came home skinny, lean, and tan, something he’s somehow managed to keep up 6 years later. 

The point I’m trying to make is that Chuck didn’t have the 6 straight months of practice under his belt. He was the worst yogi in the room (his words, not mine!), and probably knew the least. But it didn’t matter because he KNEW he needed to become a yoga teacher to share the gifts that he discovered. 

He came home eager to teach. To be completely honest, he needed a lot of practice, so he agreed to teach free classes during the week until he was more comfortable. It was great that he was able to teach at Ahimsa for practice because not a lot of yoga teachers will get that opportunity. And look at him today! He’s happily teaching in prime spots and also leading Sound Baths. My mom tells me he regularly talks about how much he loves going to the studio and teaching yoga. We may need a separate blog all about Chuck ;)

 

3. you have to be in great shape

When I was in my teaching training (there it goes again) I wasn’t the fittest yogi in the room. In fact, after day 2 or 3 I started setting up my mat in the back of the room because all of the girls in the front were freakin’ strong! They were lean, they were practicing in their sports bras, and they could do a bunch of cool stuff so I stayed in the back with my baggy tank tops and capris. I took child’s pose a lot. I thought I would maybe lose weight during the training. I didn’t. I was obsessed with starting a yoga studio at the time I spent nights after the training building a website. I got photos taken on the last day of the training after eating the meat filled pot stickers I brought to the potluck (that’s for later in the blog!). Here they are! They’re kind of fun to look at.  

4. It’s expensive

JUST KIDDING. It is expensive. That’s not a misconception. I think it’s safe to say that most people doing a teacher training are in their early 20s… who has a great job and 3k to just SPEND in their early 20s? I certainly didn’t. I know that that’s one of the main barriers to a teacher training. 

The only way that I could pay for mine was with college graduation money (I’d just graduated a month prior) and a killer 2010 US Census job I had my senior year in college that paid $18/hour (next census apply for a job if you have time – I loved it so much). I can’t offer any financial advice on paying for a teacher training other than do your research, find a training with an easy commute and early bird rate, considering babysitting, lyft, uber, or other means to supplement your income and start saving. Consider cutting back on drugs (just kidding) and your shoe habit. 

 

5. you have to be a tree hugging, hairy armpit, vegan

No offense to tree hugging, hairy armpit, vegan yogis! You are still awesome! What I’m saying is that you don’t have to BE one to join a teacher training. In fact, can you guess what’s coming? When I was in my teaching training… I was not a tree hugging, hair armpit vegan. In fact, I was just a regular meat eater (I’m now not, but that doesn’t really matter). What I’m trying to say is that I was just a “regular person.” 

In fact, I’ll never forget how I brought pork pot stickers to the teacher training potluck. One of the teachers asked me if they were vegetarian and I opened my eyes wide – I hadn’t even thought of it. No, they were not vegetarian. They had to be placed in a special area so vegetarians would not eat them. To my surprise, they were all gone by the end of the potluck. The meat eaters were pretty happy with my contribution.

 

Since my first teacher training, I’ve really surprised myself! I’ve finished my 300hr certification and a 50hr Kirtan training where I sang, played the harmonium, drums, and cartels (symbols) in front of a bunch of strangers. I don’t eat meat (except fish) because I don’t support the killing of animals, and I’ve stopped going to the doctor entirely because I’m able to heal myself with crystals (that’s a joke). 

 

My point is that you do not have to be anyone or anything other than yourself to do a teacher training. Please comment below if you have any questions or comments. 

Namaste!
Kelly Merydith


kelly-merydith-ahimsa-yoga-studios

About The Author: Kelly Merydith

Kelly Merydith began practicing yoga regularly in 2008 when she had an internship at a financial company in downtown Chicago. During lunch and after work, she took classes with Vinnie Hunihan at Akal Yoga Studio in the Chicago Board of Trade Building. She discovered that yoga was a way to reduce stress and find mental clarity. While earning her degree in Finance and Marketing at Northeastern University, she realized she wanted to open a yoga studio in her hometown of Oak Park. In the summer of 2010, Kelly completed the 200-hour Teacher Training with YogaWorks in Santa Monica, CA with Kia Miller and Sonya Cottle. In 2012 she completed Moksha's 500-hr training program. Through yoga Kelly discovered her true passion - sharing the joys of yoga with others and creating a conscious, kind yoga community. She is the owner of Ahimsa's Oak Park location and co-owner of Ahimsa Berwyn, Elmhurst, and La Grange.

Benefits of Drinking Water

Did you know that 75% of Americans are considered chronically dehydrated? We hear how important it is to drink water, but why exactly is it so important to stay hydrated? Our bodies are made up of mostly water. Every organ and part of our body relies on water. Studies show that in order for our bodies to stay properly hydrated, we should drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. Are you drinking enough water? It can be difficult. As a reminder, set an alarm on your phone, purchase a water bottle or write it on your to-do list. 

8 Benefits of drinking water

1. Helps with weight loss

Water helps boost the metabolism and preventing the body from retaining excess water, leading to weight gain or difficulty loosing weight. 

2. Rids the body of toxins

Water helps keep all of the germs and toxins moving out of the body, allowing for all of the bad stuff to make its way out. 

3. Helps clear skin

Drinking water can flush out the toxins in our body which causes our pores to become clogged and produce acne. 

4. Boosts the immune system

Drinking water helps fight off germs and rid the body of germs. Water flushes out the bad bacteria from our bodies and helps to keep everything in order. When we are dehydrated, we become more tired and irritable. This can lead to headaches and sleep irregularity throwing the immune system out of wack. 

5. Increases energy levels

When we aren't drinking enough water, the body becomes slow and sluggish. Water helps wake the body up and keep everything flowing as it should be. 

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6. Prevent and relieve headaches

Oftentimes headaches are a result of dehydration. When the body does not have enough water, it starts slowing down and in extreme cases shutting down. 

7. Helps treat and prevent kidney stones

Out kidneys are getting rid of waste and water helps the body flush out what is not needed. 

8. Boosts concentration

Most memory problems and lack of concentration happens when we are not drinking enough water. To keep your mind sharp make drinking water a daily priority.


Stay hydrated, Ahimsa family! We want you to feel your best. If you are in search for the perfect water bottle to keep you motivated, stop by our studios and pick one up!


macaila-britton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MACAILA BRITTON

Macaila is a yoga teacher in training, writer and photographer. She likes meeting new people, is passionate about helping the community and also enjoys traveling, all kinds of dessert and cheesy jokes. She aspires to become the best version of herself by investing in others. Yoga has helped her become more centered and focused on serving her higher purpose. To keep up with her latest adventures, visit MacailaBritton.com