Guest Blog: Megan Reilly, Health and Wellness Coach

Hello everyone!

        I was so happy when Stacee invited me to be featured on her new yoga blog! Isn’t it just beautiful?! Stacee and I met at work and hit it off instantly with our love for all things wellness! My career in the fitness field began as a Group Fitness Instructor back in 2011 when I took a course at my alma mater, University of Maryland, College Park. I fell in love with teaching spin and step aerobics classes and felt so much JOY connecting with my participants over something fun and over something that was so good for us! That summer I interned at NIH Fitness which opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Corporate Wellness. Since, I have worked at Food and Drug Administration’s Fitness Center in Silver Spring and now, the Ronald Reagan Fitness Center as Assistant Coordinator of Wellness and Fitness.

      I am also a Certified Health/Wellness Coach! After a few years of teaching, I discovered the idea of health coaching and it seemed like the perfect next step. I love to help people and wanted to help my participants outside of just our class time!  I chose to become a Health Coach because it changed my whole life and was so simple to get started helping others!

         As you may already know from your knowledge and practice of yoga, being healthy is multifaceted and includes more than just the physical changes. A holistic approach to health  looks at mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and even financial health.  I think yoga in particular, beautifully combines all of those aspects of wellness in a natural way and integrates wonderfully with health coaching for a few reasons! Yoga helps you live a more mindful and balanced life and helps tremendously with flexibility and with your relationship with your body. You also want to check in with your other habits too. That’s where a health coach like me comes in. How are you sleeping? What are your eating habits? How much water do you drink daily? Are you within your healthy BMI range? How do you deal with stress? I have helped numerous people not only achieve their healthy weight in a physical way, but have learned lasting habits that have helped them sustain their healthy lifestyle for the long run. They have  found more time to focus on the things that matter in their life! Instead of obsessing over food, they are able to be mindful and present--just like yoga teaches! Rather than focusing on what they can’t have or what is going wrong, they approach their health with a positive attitude,  similar to making progress with certain yoga poses! You get better and better one class at a time!

I would love to learn more about you and chat on on one. Click http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2596183/Well-being-Evaluation?hc-email=mreilly519@gmail.com  to get your wellbeing score and I’ll reach out to you to schedule a complimentary health assessment with Stacee and I. Talking to a health coach could be just the thing you need to reach your Optimal Health and Wellbeing!

Namaste,

Megan Reilly

 

A post of gratitude

Hello my fellow yogis! As we approach the season of giving, and feeling thankful for all of the greatness that we have encountered, I want to take a moment to state what I feel most thankful for in my life. I want you all to do the same! Sometimes yoga and life isn’t about writing long, informational, step-by-step blogs. It is nice to take a beak at times to stop and think about our lives, and all that we have (or don’t have). It gives our minds a clear viewpoint. Once we gain awareness, we can go back to informational and step-by-step guides in life. So, here is what I am most thankful for…

Sure, it would be cliche for me to say my family, friends, and having food on the table is what I’m most thankful for. However, if I didn’t have yoga in my life, none of those things would mean anything. Thus, yoga is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me sane. It what keeps me happy. Before yoga, and when my mind is focused on other things, I don’t feel like my true self.

That being, said, I invite you all to share below what you feel thankful for! Don’t be afraid to be honest, as this is a sacred space and non judgement atmosphere!

My favorite cues to use during a yoga class

There are ways to get students into an asana, or yoga pose, with simply your words. It is often difficult, and not very effective, in my opinion, to always be on the mat demonstrating a pose without walking around the room to observe what your students are doing.

Your words serve as an extremely powerful tool when teaching a yoga class. As a matter of fact, one of the best lessons that I learned in my own teacher training was to utilize the power of my voice, and how to choose your words wisely, when being a leader in a yoga class. Below I will jot down a few powerful, yet effective words to use when cueing specific poses.

  • Baby cobra pose- Bring your palms next to your nipples, push up through the tops of your feet, legs, and pelvis, and inhale into a baby cobra for two deep cleansing breaths.

  • Exhale, curl the toes under, allow the hips to rise towards the sky, into your downward facing dog

  • Extended triangle pose- reach the front right arm towards the font of the room, inhale the right arm down towards the right ankle at six o clock, and reach the left arm up towards 12 0’ clock. In triangle pose, hips popped towards the back of the room.

  • Goddess Squat, or pose- point the toes towards the top-right corners of the mat, cactus out the arms allowing the shoulder blades to hug, exhale squat down, allowing the sitting bones to reach closer towards he earth.

  • Corpse pose- come to your final resting pose, tucking your shoulder blades underneath of your spine so that you feel more connected and grounded with the earth beneath you.

  • Chair pose- exhale sink the hips into your chair pose, with each exhale bring your torso closer to your thighs, making sure that when you look down, you see all ten toes. Hips pointed towards the back of the room. Heels, big toes, and knees are touching and in contact with one another.

  • Low lunge- circle the palms around the top right foot, left heel reaching towards the back of the room, sink into that right hip

  • high lunge- Inhale rot to rise into your high lunge, sinking into the right hip, hips squared towards the front of the room.

  • Warrior 1- back left foot turned in 45 degrees, right knee stacked over the right ankle, hips squared (back hip forward, front hip back), relax the shoulders

  • Warrior 2- Exhale and open up into a warrior 2, splashing your arms out with passion. Keep both arms in line with each other, high of the right foot is in line with the inner arch of the left foot.

  • Mountain pose- Heels and big toes touching, tailbone down, belly tucked into your spine, palms facing frontwards, shoulder blades hugging, feeling a roll of dimes in between your shoulder-blades, and crown of the head reaching towards the ceiling. Feel the breath, or energy, move from the base of the spine and all the way up to the crown of the head.

Thats it for now folks! Those are the main poses, or asanas, that I generally cover throughout my sessions, in one variation or another. Message me for more tips of cueing any other poses that you had in mind that I did not cover!

Namaste, and happy Monday!

Various forms of Pranayama, Part 1

Various forms of Pranayama, Part 1

Pranayama is classically defined as the regulation of the breath through certain exercises and techniques. Most of us don’t pay attention to our breath. As a matter of fact, most of us aren’t even aware that it exists. Imagine taking a second out of your day to focus on how your inhalations and exhalations feel. Now, imagine focusing on your breath awareness in a more specific way, sort of like a dance of the breath? That is pranayama. There are many benefits to all forms of pranayama, including greater focus on the present moment, allowing oneself to have greater focus on the body and breath during your yoga practice, cooling the body, and allowing our minds to become more relaxed, calm, and balanced. Below, i’ll describe a few different types of pranayama. Feel free to even give them a try…they are so much fun and have excellent benefits!

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Autumn is here! Time to utilize our bounty harvest!

My favorite part about autumn is utilizing all of produce that this season is known for. One of my favorite vegetables is butternut squash. It is sweet, yet hearty. I love using it particularly in this soup recipe that a few family members of mine have passed down. I’ll write both the vegetarian and the vegan versions, to please both palates!

Butternut Squash Soup - The Canadian National Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter or canola oil                                                                                                              

  • 1 lg onion, chopped

  • 2 lg garlic cloves, sliced                                                                                                         

  • 1 T ginger, grated

  • 1 T mild curry paste or powder                                                                                                 

  • ½ t salt                                                                                                                                        

  • ½  t pepper, ground                                                                                                                       

  • 2 T tomato paste                                                                                                                        

  • 5 c  Butternut  squash, peeled and cubed                                                                                  

  • 1 lg potato, peeled and cubed                                                                                                   

  • 4  c  chicken or vegetable broth, sodium reduced                                                               

  • 1/3  c light cream, 5, 10 or 18%                                                                                                      

  • 2 T lemon juice

Method

In Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Fry onion, garlic, ginger, curry paste, salt and pepper, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 5 min. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring until slightly darkened, about 1 minute. Add squash and potato; stir to coat with the curry mixture. Stir in broth, scraping bottom of pan to work up any brown bits. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer over low heat until vegetables are very tender, about 35 min.  Add cream and lemon juice; heat through until steaming.  With immersion blender, puree soup. Or, let soup cool slightly and in batches, puree in blender. Let cool for 30 minutes; transfer to shallow containers. Refrigerate until cold; cover. Store in fridge for up to 3 days.

For the vegan version, choose the oil and vegetable broth options, and replace light cream with additional broth.

I love topping this soup with toasted silvered almonds, or a finely diced sweet red pepper.

I’m also going to give you the recipe for the curried version, just in case you wanted something on the wild side.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 T olive oil, extra-virgin or vegetable oil

  • 1 c onions, chopped

  • 4 lg  garlic cloves, minced

  • 1  T curry powder

  • 1 t  ground cumin

  • 2 ½ lbs   butternut squash, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin

  • 3 c chicken broth

  • 3 c water

  • 1 lb tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  •  Red (cayenne) pepper to taste 

Method

In a large 8 qt pot, heat olive or vegetable oil, over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until golden brown.  Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds.  Add squash, vegetable or chicken broth, water, and apples. Bring liquid just to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool 15 to 20 minutes. Puree mixture in a blender or food processor, in batches. Transfer back into soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: At this point, soup may be refrigerated until ready to serve.

To serve, warm over low heat, stirring until hot. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowls.

Makes 6 servings.