Slap Your Negative Thoughts with an Om

Yoga is my way to take a break from life's stressors. For one hour, I turn off my brain and choose an affirmation for my practice—whether it's eating healthy for the day, working out consistently or having a positive attitude toward the people around me—whatever it is, I get to make it happen. If I'm having a rough day or if I'm anxious about something, yoga is the perfect way to escape. I was talking to my friend today, who was griping about how she had to pay a fee to change her plane ticket, and she was ANGRY. Later in the day, I was shopping at Trader Joe's and some woman yelled at me in the parking lot for and almost drove her car into my car because I apparently cut her off. This made me ANNOYED. These situations happen almost every day; some people yell, some cry, some complain, and some even try to run you over. Believe me, I'm not one to stay calm and deal with every situation in the most mature way all the time, but when something doesn't go your way, it's important to find a way to channel your negative energy into something positive. If you get mad or upset, who are you helping?

How do you release tension and rid yourself of unhealthy thoughts?

With my personal training test coming up, I've been studying intensely over the last few weeks to get those last few chapters finished, and yoga has been my good friend. When I want to turn off my brain and relax, I head over to Sol Yoga, my favorite hot yoga studio in San Diego's La Jolla area. I have taken a couple different classes, but I love Power1 because it's a combination of Vinyasa flow (different poses each class) with Bikram (the same 26 poses every class). The class is 60 minutes and the room is heated to 95 degrees, whereas traditional Bikram is 90 minutes and heated to around 105.

If you love regular yoga, you will really love hot yoga; once you get accustomed to the intensity and sweat dripping out of your pores onto your towel and the floor (literally). I do a lot of weight lifting outside of yoga, so I love coming to class a day after a tough workout at the gym because I get to really stretch my body and relax the tight muscles. Also, a lot of people don't realize that yoga is a full body, conditioning workout, so if you don't believe me, try it and let me know!

One of the most important parts of yoga is breathing. In our respiration process, we breathe in oxygen, which goes through our systems in a form of energy to charge our different body parts; we then exhale carbon dioxide and all toxic wastes from our body. Through the practice of yoga breathing, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide is attained, so with your breath as your guide, poses become easier and more fluid. I have always had issues with breathing (I'm a chest breather, rather than a stomach breather), and yoga has been instrumental in improving my technique and reducing anxiety. Other benefits of yoga are listed below (from Sol's website).

Sol is great because most of the teachers will adjust your form to make sure your body is in ideal alignment. You want to make sure each posture is correct to reduce the chance of an injury, and when you leave class, you will be more aware of how you move in other situations. One of my favorite instructors is Chaise, because she makes a point to correct and help students achieve the best postures. In addition, she makes yoga approachable.

One of my favorite poses is Ardha-Kurmasana (half tortoise pose). Half tortoise is great for tense necks and shoulders, increases blood flow to the brain, which enhances memory and mental clarity, and this posture also stretches the lower part of the lungs, which is therapeutic for asthma, and counter indigestion, flatulence, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. If you type all day on a computer, you will love this pose, too! I'm sorry about the picture; it's the best I could find.

Tortoise Pose

BENEFITS OF YOGA Physiological Weight control Increase strength and flexibility Strengthen and tone the body Increase energy Improve circulation and complexion Posture and alignment improvement

Psychological Relieve mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue Improve sense of well being Improved sleep Personal growth and self awareness Promotes peace and relaxation Better mental function and focus

Biochemical Detoxify and stimulate organs and glands Improve metabolism Stimulate central nervous system Improved immune response