Music for your mind

Mid-week woes have you feeling less than inspired? Time you change things up with a fresh playlist.

"Sound Literally penetrates the human body"

Think about it. Sound is a vibration that enters in through your ear and reverberates your ear drum.  Feeling calmed by a hum, startled by a siren or emotionally charged by an Adele song shows how sound can directly affect the body and the mind. Sound therapy can even help stroke victims regain the ability to speak

Ready to harness the power of sound?

#1. Turn off the Top 40

Let your mind doddle in the grooves of Woodstock Past or try out some music style you've never heard of.  Switching up your playlist and listening to new music stimulates the brain. The next time you're in a rut, turn something new to you. The total brain workout will get the creative juices flowing.

#2. Listen to what you like

Every body is different. Slow down and take time to listen to your body's responses to different music.  Weave music that stimulates positive responses like relaxation and happiness into your self care routine and feel the results.

#3 SHARE WHAT INSPIRES YOU

Find something that really clicks for you? Enlighten us with your by leaving a comment or  using  #CheersAndNamaste to share your favorite "new" music.

Recommended Grip The Mat Playlist

Wednesday Wonder 

Yoga for Election Relief

When the country's fate teeters on one decision, it's natural to feel anxious. Add any personal stressors + maybe the occasional toe stub or traffic jam and you have yourself a recipe for emotional overwhelm. 

To keep you on your path, we've teamed up with the Washington Post. In our Facebook Live event, our DC instructors lead yoga poses and other techniques to keep you calm during the presidential election. Regardless of your level of experience with yoga and/or your political stances,  these tips will help you find your center in this time of stress.  

Introducing... Grip The Mat's 2016 Step-By-Step

Election Relief Plan


#1 Stand Tall 

MOUNTAIN POSE

If you want to be an unwavering force, start with this basic posture.

ALIGN

  • Stand up
  • Big toes to touch or keep your feet separated.
  • Knees track toes
  • Palms faceward

ACTIVATE

  • Spread your toes. Look down and notice if you favor placing your body' weight to the inside or outside of your foot. Sway side to side until you find where you can stand through the center.
  • Press down through your feet to stand up TALL. Feel your quads activate and your inner thighs roll in.
  • Tilt your pubis down and feel your abdominals turn on.
  • Roll your shoulders down and back to lift your chest. Allow external rotation of your shoulders bring yous shoulder blades together. 

#2 Get In The Hips

FIGURE 4

When we tense up emotionally, our bodies tighten and contract. Similar to how shoulders clench and hunch over, hips store trauma, stress and anxiety. If you want to dig out the emotional junk, you'll want t get into the hips.

ALIGN

  • Start in Tadasana with hands at heart center
  • Shift your weight into your left foot.
  • Place right ankle on left knee. 
  • Reach your hands forward so your biceps are in line with your ears. Palms face each other
  • Neck is in line with your spine

ACTIVATE

  • Inhale to contract your abs, pulling your navel towards your spine.
  • Exhale  to shift your weight into your heels.
  • Inhale to reach forward and up with your arms
  • Exhale to reach your hips back and deepen.

#3 Get Grounded

WARRIOR II

In yoga, we learn to balance effort and ease so that we can safely progress. Warrior II is a useful grounding pose that helps us grow gracefully in strength. 

ALIGN

  • Start in a wide stance with both feet on the ground
  • Turn your front toes to point forward with the front knee over the ankle
  • Turn your back toes 45 degrees with the leg extended and hip externally rotated
  • Chest and heart open
  • Reach your arms forward and back
  • Externally rotate shoulders
  • Palms face down to internally rotate the forearms
  • Look towards your front fingers

ACTIVATE

  • Engage your abs
  • Drop the hips
  • Press down firmly and equally through both feet
  • Reach up through the head
  • Drop shoulders away from your ears
  • Actively reach forward and back 

#4 Open Up to Increase Self Esteem

REVERSE WARRIOR

ALIGN

  • From Warrior II (see #3) 

  • Flip front palm up and reach it straight up

  • Place back hand on back thigh, palm facing up
  • Chest and heart lift in direction of lifted arm
  • Legs and hips stay the same as Warrior II
  • Gaze is in direction of your chest and heart
  • *To deepen reach the top hand up and back with the chest following

ACTIVATE

  • Distribute weight equally through both feet
  • Firm your abs
  • Deepen in the legs and reach higher with your heart and top hand

#5 Twist to Eliminate the Unnecessary

LUNGING PRAYER TWIST

Twists help detox the body of physical and emotional blockages. Do this twisting lunge to stimulate your internal organs,  improve digestion, and stretch deeper into your hips.

ALIGN

  • Find a low lunge with the back knee down and your hands at your heart and front knee in line with front ankle
  • Bring opposite elbow to the outside of opposite knee
  • Hips point down as middle and upper back twist toward the sky
  • Gaze follows chest

ACTIVATE

  • Hug your abs in
  • Inhale to press your palms together and engage your arms
  • Exhale to twist deeper

#6 Fold Forward to Shut Off Distraction

STANDING FORWARD FOLD

Just as our body opening facilitates confident self-expression to the outside world(see #2), folding inward gets us in touch with our subtle body.  While out of sight the Achilles tendon, calves,hamstrings, spinal columns and neck should be kept in mind if long-term wellness is your goal.

ALIGN

  • From Tadasana (see #1) step your feet apart slightly
  • Interlace your finger behind your back
  • Fold forward with knees either bent or straight

ACTIVATE

  • Press the heels of your hands together. If interlacing is not accessible, hold a towel or a strap in either hand to help open up the chest.
  • Shift your weight into your toes
  • Relax your shoulders, neck and jaw
  • Exhale to fold deeper

#7 High-Five Your Inner Kid

YOGI SQUAT

We saved this essential movement for the end. Is squatting is painstakingly difficult foryou now? It wasn't always! As a child, your body moved safely and efficiently, bending at the hips to pick up things off the floor. Maybe it was the pencil skirt or the starchy slacks that kept us from bending at the hips. Regardless of the reason, this pose is worth the work if you seek longterm mental and physical stability.

ALIGN

  • From Tadasana (#1), step your feet apart.
  • Keep your feet as close together as you comfortably can as you drop your hips into a squat. 
  • Torso fits between thighs
  • Hands at heart and upper arms around knees
  • *If heels do not stay grounded, place a rolled up towel or blanket under them 
  • *For tighter hips, take a wider stance and turn your feet out (but make sure your knees track your big toes)
  • *If you experience any pain behind your knees, lift your hips or place a block underneath you.

ACTIVATE

  • Relax your front ankles
  • Lengthen your spine by lifting your chest towards your hands
  • Relax shoulders away from ears
  • Press elbows or upper arm into knees to deepen

#8 Sit Back & Relax

RECLINED BOUND ANGLE

When you lay flat on your back, close your eyes and let your hips open, your physical body starts to release tension and your perspective turns inward. When the world around you feels like a tornado is brewing, this is the perfect pose because it calms the nervous system and can help you find something we all seek... contentment.

ALIGN:

  • Lay down flat on your back.
  • Bring the bottoms of your feet together and gently drop your knees open wide.
  • Place your hands on your stomach palms facing down.
  • *If you feel any strain, support each of your thighs on a block or folded blanket. 

ACTIVATE:

  • Close your eyes, soften your neck and shoulders.
  • Allow your hips to soften by relaxing the hip flexers.
  • Feel your breath rise and collapse, and feel any emotions that might be swirling around in your "gut."
  • *The natural tendency in this pose is to push the knees toward the floor in the belief that this will increase the stretch of the inner thighs and groins. But especially if your groins are tight, pushing the knees down will have just the opposite of the intended effect: The groins will harden, as will your belly and lower back

Note: there is a lot of opening going on in your hips, groins, and inner thighs, and for some people the sensations quickly become intense. Don’t overstay your welcome; three to five minutes is plenty.Give yourself some time to settle in and make any adjustments you need.

Photos by Matt Tarro. To see more of his work, check out @Pharroo on Instagram.

Source: www.instagram.com/pharroo

Video: Whip Your Soul Into Shape With This Empowering Video

Do you ever feel weighed down? Like something's holding you back and you're not quite sure what exactly? GTM LA Instructor Nichol Chase gets to the root of the issue and, trust us on this one, it's worth hearing her out! Nichol's voice of reason has some simple, yet powerful advice. If you want to live the most badass life possible, check out this quick video for motivation and inspiration.

Cheers & Namaste!

 

 

 

The Summertime Playlist

Music for Your Soul

Washington, DC - GTM DC Producer Drew Carpenter wants everyone to have a slammin' summer. What's number one on his summertime bliss list?  After his yoga mat and wine glass (obviously) is his playlist.  Let us clarify: 

THE Playlist

Summer Edition

Follow GripTheMat on Spotify to access summer playlists and more! 


 TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL  AND TURN UP YOUR SUMMER PLAYLIST.  

Yoga goes beyond your mat.

While yoga class is place to learn about postures (or "asanas") and practice mindfulness, the real yoga starts when you step out into the world (so much tougher being zen when there's a semi truck, a crying baby and a siren buzzing by you).

To apply yoga is to live with loving purpose!

You are perfect. Right now. In this moment, you have everything you could possibly need to live a life of happiness. What's more is when you do just that, you lift others up in the meantime.

Don't be shy about it! 

You were born with all of the wisdom  you'll need in that tiny little baby head of yours.  That means you have everything it takes to live your yoga because you ARE it. Listen to your intuition and do what your heart tells you to do. If the (Soul &) Spirit(s) moves you, drop it low in Dupont Circle. If you feel the urge, call your childhood friend who you haven't spoken to in years.  Do what makes you feel good.

 Which leads to our conclusion

Feeling Good (AKA choosing happiness) + Helping Others Feel Good (AKA extra Karma points) = Yoga   

Do you want to let go of stress and finally do some yoga? Then do it! Bump your jams and dance like an idiot who loves life and is happy with life just as it is. You might be surprised at how quickly you begin to believe it!

 

Got song suggestions?

Tell us what you like to listen to and we'll spread the goodness together! 

Cheers & Namaste,

GTM


Want good music, great friends, feel-good yoga and fine wine?

Join Grip The Mat in LA or DC at Vinyasa to Vino this Wednesday 7.20! 

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFmE7pfxJBL/?t...

Why We're Child's Pose Advocates

At the beginning of every Grip The Mat event, we demonstrate one pose because everyone needs a reminder to take Child's Pose. 

 GTMxMiG

Sit down on your heels, take your knees wide and walk your fingertips forward. Don't stop until your head rests on the mat and your belly spills over like a jar of silly puddy. What happens next is wondrous:

1. Gentle stretch 

Sweeeeet. We love yoga poses that don't feel like yoga poses! This one eases hip and back pain by gently elongating the spine and opening the hips. Ya, baby. 

2. Centering

Ever find yourself in the middle of a yoga class with your mind already out the door? Child's Pose folds your body inward, signaling your body to relax and bringing you home. Take it whenever you find yourself distracted.

3. Epic hangover relief

Skip the ibuprofen! Child's Pose helps ease the post-party pain by aiding  in digestion (it's like a thai massage for your internal organs!) and, if you place a block underneath your forehead,  decompresses swollen sinuses.

The list goes on as to why this pose rocks our list of Asanas.  If it were up to us, we would make Child's Pose socially acceptable anywhere anytime... Until then, add in some extra Child's Pose to your routine and see the refreshing side affects yourself!

Playlist: Boston's First Vinyasa to Vino

Bang, boom, the beat
My baby is the bang, the boom, the beat

Last night marked Boston's first ever Vinyasa to Vino.

By the looks of the sold out house, we would say this Puritan-founded city was eager to reform their day-to-day.

So, we brought the yoga and the wine. #CheersAndNamaste.

Of course, that could have been enough... but we tied it all together with breath-taking art and heart-pounding music.

Here's the playlist that brought it home:

Do your yoga. Drink your wine.

Meet GTM's Fierce Boston Producer, Kyle Carbone

Our favorite Guy Upside Down is bringing the GTM feel-good yoga movement to Boston. Learn about his "teach-for-two approach" and why taking this leap of faith inspired him to join GTM. 

Read More

3 Ways to Stay True This Holiday Season

As the clock leaps forward and our calendars fill with social commitments, life can start feel overwhelming. Holiday music and advertisements flood the senses. Unrealistic expectations fill the mind.  Or, must they? Here are three tips to help yourself stay focused, healthy and happy in the midst of seasonal chaos :

1. Gain perspective.

It is difficult to live a day without being bombarded by society's standards of happiness, beauty, validity and its falsely created definition of "normality".  It is no wonder Americans struggle with high blood pressure and sink into regular bouts anxiety and depression. Even in the midst of all the high energy, feelings of lonliness spike during this time of year.*

Before you become overwhelmed, take a step back. Be an unbiased observer to your present. Gain perspective, not on how you THINK your reality is unfolding, but how it actually IS unfolding. Note what is truly important to you this holiday season. Is it staying late at work to make a few extra bucks, or is it going home early to see your loved ones? Is it bolting around town to every social engagement, or is it balancing your personal needs with the needs of those around you? There is no one "right" answer. Your truth is yours. When you feel the chaos of your surroundings, take a brief moment to come back this truth.  Gain perspective.

2. Show gratitude.

We aren't just saying this because Thanksgiving is approaching. Cultivating gratitude is proven method for sustaining wellbeing. A Harvard Medical School publication researched and analyzed the benefits of expressing thanks:

"With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power".**

Make a commitment to count your blessings, say "thank you" and smile. It is CLINICALLY PROVEN to make you feel good. Show gratitude.

3. Breathe.

Really. Close your eyes and take a deep breathe. Now, do it three more times. How do you feel?

You can use intentional breathing as a tool to help pull yourself back to your present, gain perspective on your now, and realize your gifts. Not to mention you can use this as a tool to harness your emotions, calm your nervous system, and lower your blood pressure and stress levels.***

How-to: Come to stillness (sitting or standing).  Begin by exhaling completely to create space for a full inhale. Now, take a breathe in and don't stop until your lungs are full. Slowly exhale on the count of 5. Repeat. On every inhale, notice your chest rising and lungs expanding. On the exhale, feel your sternum fall and imagine your burdens physically seeping out. Breathe.

In case you aren't convinced by thousands of years of yogic knowledge ...

*Western medicine says so: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/25-ways-find-joy-balance-during-holidays?page=2

** Harvard says so:  http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_mental_health_letter/2011/november/in-praise-of-gratitude

*** NPR says so:  http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever

Photos by the one and only Carolyn D. Rush