Yoga Review: Yogadownload.com

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If you fall into any of the below categories, you will LOVE YOGA DOWNLOAD

  • A yogi with a busy schedule
  • A yogi on a budget
  • A yogi who travels
  • A yogi without a worthwhile studio nearby
  • Love to sweat
  • Need a deep stretch
  • A runner
  • A beginner
  • Enjoy Pilates

I discovered Yoga Download through Groupon a little over one month ago and have been practicing through the site 2-4 days/week ever since.  The site is stocked with hundreds of yoga classes and even Pilates, cycling, kick boxing, dance and running classes.  They even have yoga with weights!  My Groupon gave me the “Yearly Elite” package which allows me to stream and download unlimited videos for one year.  The regular price for this pass is $90 annually.  While this sounds steep, it is going to cost you $7.50/month if you break it down.  That is the cost of one [cheap] brunch cocktail per week.  You can also chose to pay for 1, 3 or 6 months at a time, click here.

It’s easy to find the type of class that will serve you on any particular day.  You can search through classes via your objective (detox, sweat, weight loss, recover, etc); focus (yoga for athletes, morning yoga, yoga for seniors, etc); body part; pose type (arm balances, twists, sun salutations, back bends, etc); featured channels and through studios/brand.  You can also locate classes by scrolling through the various yoga styles as well.

Each video comes equip with a description, preview and reviews you can study before deciding to stream/download.  I love having the ability to read customer reviews.  There is nothing worse than getting half way through a class and realizing it is not challenging enough or too advanced for your practice.

The ability to download a class to your own device means you can practice yoga anywhere (with or without WiFi)  as you travel for work or leisure. 

I use the site to sweat, stretch, detox, meditate and wake up.  I have been able to find classes for all my yoga objectives and I have not had the need to repeat a class with so many options to chose from.  With a busy schedule, I am often squeezing classes in between clients and the ability to just open my lap top and step onto my mat allows me to flow much more often.

Yoga studios can be intimidating to beginners, I think this site is great for people who want to try yoga without committing to the prices of a studio they may not even like.  In addition, a site like Yoga Download allows you to hand pick your classes to fit your instructor and style preference.  I absolutely love the experience of visiting my local yoga studio, but I am usually with clients the during the time slots I enjoy.  In addition, studios are expensive. One year of yoga download would not cover the cost of a monthly membership at your average yoga studio.  So if you practice regularly, you cannot go wrong purchasing this service.

In addition to personally using the site, I have had clients and friends purchase the service in the past month after my recommendation.  The site is a value and worth every penny.

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Product Review: Smart Bar

1001555_611192732307519_882851334_nIf you don’t live in the Virginia Beach area, you have probably never heard of Smart Bars.  I only came across these hand made bars while scanning through WordPress myself.

Being a personal trainer means I am always on the go,  my dinner often consists of protein bars, green smoothies or whole fruit.  Over the years I have become very picky when it comes to the protein and snack bars I chose.    Many products marketed as healthy are filled with sugar, chemicals, and non food ingredients with a name more than 3 syllables long.   I have my “go-to” snacks, but I am always looking for something new–for myself and to recommend to clients.

When I am looking for a nutritious snack, I look  at the ingredients first.  You want to make sure you can pronounce everything on the list.  In addition I like to keep sugar under 8 g when choosing a snack or protein bar.  If the sugar is relatively low and the bar is made with all natural ingredients, you are usually in a good place.  Protein is always a plus. One sneaky nutrition fact to be looking out for is Sodium, which fills so many “health” foods.  I don’t worry about the fat content. If the bar is filled with healthful and natural ingredients like almonds and walnuts, it’s good fat and will keep me full through all my evening sessions.

Lets talk about Smart Bar now.  Smart Bar is created by Matthew May, a chef in Virginia Beach.  He makes the all natural granola bar by hand with whole food ingredients.  The round granola bar uses only 9 ingredients and contains no preservatives.  It’s also gluten free! The snack bar is advertised as “perfect for breakfast”, “perfect for lunch”, for “before or after your workout” and as an “anytime” snack.  Take a look at the label here:

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I had half of a bar this morning and it is very tasty.  You can pick out all the ingredients as you nosh.  It is a chewy vs. crunchy granola bar, like a bowl of steel cut oats without the nuisance of dishes to clean.  I had a bowl of fruit around 8 am and half a Smart Bar around 9:30 am and I was full and satisfied until 1:00 pm.  All the ingredients in this product are things I enjoy on their own (dried fruit and chocolate are my weaknesses), so it is no surprise that I enjoyed the flavors and texture of Smart Bar.

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I love the round shape, you trick yourself into thinking it is a cookie

I was a little surprised by the sugar content.  This all natural snack bar has 2 g more sugar than a snickers bar.  I would like to see honey  further down on the list of ingredients.  However, dried fruit is pretty high in sugar as well, so that could be another culprit.  I would not recommend this bar for anyone who is watching their carbohydrate intake.  On the other hand, this is a great pre workout snack for endurance athletes.  I will probably save the rest of these bars for a snack prior to a 10 miler.

1510987_619496081477184_148302298_nOverall, this is a tasty all natural snack or meal replacement.  I love that you are not ingesting any sketchy hidden preservatives.   I would recommend Smart Bars to endurance athletes (runners, cyclist and triathletes), who have the need for the 45 g of carbohydrates that his product pacts.  While the bar is very wholesome and delicious, I don’t think I could recommend it to my everyday clients who are looking to lose and maintain weight.  I would love to see a lower glycemic version of this product with less honey and maybe some more nuts.

I absolutely love the packaging.  Each bar is individually hand wrapped in wax paper.  I can tell the labels have been put on by hand.  It is refreshing receive a quality product from a small business. If you are in the Virginia Beach area I recommend making an order for pick up, just to give them a try.

If you are interested in purchasing Smart Bars you can do so here.

In addition, I want to share with you my current “Go To” Bars.  You can find them all at most grocers.  Chia Bars by Health Warrior are a little new to the mainstream grocery market but I saw them at Harris Teeter recently and I know you can get them at Whole Foods.  Chia Bars are great for in between meals.  They contain just 5 g of sugar and only 100 calories.  This is great for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight.

A good tip is to avoid anything that tastes like dessert.  If it is low sugar and tastes like a snickers, it is probably packed with unnatural, non food ingredients.

What is your “Go To” snack/meal bar? Leave a comment, I am interested!

 

 

Max Strom Empowerment Workshop

Happy Hump Day! I have been neglecting my blog for the past week but I am really excited to share my yoga workshop experience with you all.  This past Sunday I attended a workshop put on by Ananda Shala in Frederick, Maryland.  The 2.5 hour workshop featured Max Strom and was hosted in the top floor of a historical building in downtown Frederick. The room was full of character with floor to ceiling windows and a sky mural painted above us, it was the perfect place to practice yoga.

Now for all you yogis out there, I am sure you know of his teachings on breath.  His book A Life Worth Breathing is published in six different languages and he has released a second book There is No App for Happiness.  I posted a snippet of a TED Talk he did on his second book if you are interested:

I learned about Max Strom after I signed up for the workshop.  I knew the class would have a strong focus on the breath after proper Google-ing and talking to my mom who has attended his workshops before. Max teaches a deep breathing technique that many of us know, Ujjayi breathing.  He calls it ocean breathing, which I think is much less intimidating to newbies.  Now I did not think my Ujjayi needed much work, but the workshop proved me wrong.  While I know how to correctly breath, I don’t always do it, especially in some of the long holds when I need to be breathing the most.  The class helped me change my focus from accomplishing more high level poses, to accomplishing deep and conscious breath throughout my entire practice.

Max shared with us insight into the importance of breath.  Did you know that deep breathing calms the nervous system and reduces anxiety? So did I, but that does not mean I stop and “breath” every time I am feeling flustered.  He had opinions on the overuse of anti depressants and anti anxiety medications by women, which I found particularly interesting.  He shared statistics (which I cannot remember) proving that deep breathing techniques lower blood pressure and regulate physical pain as well.

A great thing about his class was his approach to teaching an all level class.  He gave a variation for a level I, II & III student.  His approach was very friendly to yoga new comers.  We have all been or will be new to practicing yoga at some point and a class full of yoga enthusiasts can be harrowing to a beginner.  He was humble and even cracked jokes through some of the longer pose holds.  It was a very relaxing and carefree workshop.  I left feeling very relaxed and enlightened.  My major takeaway from the workshop is to not only practice more consistent Ujjayi in hatha, but also in daily life.  So next time someone cuts you off while your driving or rams their shopping cart into yours, just take a few deep ocean breaths and smile.  Namaste.

Yoga Studio Review

logoLast night I tried a new studio in Reston, Virginia called Beloved Yoga.  It is a small studio at the bottom of a commercial office building on Sunrise Valley, but once you walk in you forget you are in commercial office space.  Inside, the decor is everything you want to see in a yoga studio, which for some reason makes the experience more enjoyable.  I was ready for 90 minutes of “me time”, so I put away my parka and purse and got right on my mat.  I looked around and saw everyone had the same blanket so I followed the crowd and grabbed one and some blocked too.

I learned in the first 10  minutes that the block and blanket would be added to our sun salutations.  One sequence involved holding the block between your thighs while you flowed.  This I had never done before.  The Blanket was used in the next flow.  We stepped off of our mats and onto our folded blanket to “slide” through the sun salutations.  I saw this as a way to fire up the core, but the instructor never vocalized her intentions (from what I can remember).  It is always fun and interesting to try new things, but I prefer my smelly mat.yoga meme

I signed up for a $8.00 new member drop in, which I thought was reasonable.  I do like when the first class is free, but who doesn’t? The Vinyasa was vigorous and fun.  We did a creative sequence I have not particularly done before.  It is always interesting to experience new teachers.  The instructor was much louder and bolder than anything I have experience, but it made the flow feel more like a workout as sweat literally rolled off my face.

There was no deep stretch towards the end of class, which I probably could have used.  My hamstrings, butt and upper back are pretty sore today, a positive of course! We did do frog for three minutes, which made me want to cry.  Like so many people, my hips are too tight from sitting at a desk most of the day.I would give the class four out of five stars. It was challenging, outside the box and relaxed my brain for 90 whole minutes!  It was nice to get our of my home studio (my bedroom floor) and really lose myself in the poses, as cheesy as it sounds.  I would love to go back and make it a regular thing.  Unfortunately, yoga is so damn expensive when practiced at a studio.  I feel frivolous when I can do it at home.  The new member fee for the first month is $75, which is reasonable.  I will have to sleep on it and see if it is something I would like to commit to for the next month.

If you are in the Reston or Great Falls area I encourage you to look into their studios.  It definitely has the aesthetic that every aspiring yogi loves.  For me, it is like a mini vacation with sweaty strangers and I absolutely enjoyed it!