Say Hello to Wood

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Our Wood Series is the perfect performance-enhancing complement to your fitness practice. For years, Sunstone has helped its members improve their balance, core strength, and overall fitness with this unique class, and now we’re taking it to the next level! It’s still the great blend of Pain-Free Yoga™, Pilates, and resistance stretching that you know and love–but with a few twists.

So what’s changed?

- Updated language. The Wood concepts are important and subtle, and can confuse new students (or even experienced practitioners!). We’ve changed some easily misunderstood phrases and terms to be more accessible. For example, you won’t hear anyone talking about “20% effort” anymore. Don’t worry, your favorite reactivation exercises like Strong Pigeon and Strong Wind Relieving aren’t going anywhere! They’ve just been repackaged. Even someone who has been taking Wood for years can gain new insight from the updated wording.

Strong_wind_relieving- New sequence. The revamped order is designed to energize you right from the start of class, and keep the energy flowing. Periods of high intensity are broken up–sometimes with “reset” postures like a quick Cat or Bridge, and sometimes in sets (we no longer do all 96 crunches at once!)–to keep you from fizzling out. Your mind and body will stay engaged from start to finish.

- New postures. Craving variety? Even a classic sequence like Wood can use a little spicing up every now and then! In addition to all your old favorites, look for new additions like Bridge Figure 4, Dynamic Standing Glute Raises, and more. It’s a great chance to put all the strength you’ve built in the rest of class into action.

The updated Wood series is coming to Sunstone studios everywhere on September 7th. Try it out and let us know what you think!

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Skin Care In The Heat

In Texas we are aware that there is just no real way around the heat or exposure to the sun during the summer months. Without even enjoying a day of swimming, hiking, biking, or sun bathing, we are exposed to the elements just walking to and from our car, driving, and running errands.

As Sunstone devotees, our bodies have become used to warmth during our practice, but the added element of heat in our everyday environment creates additional stress on our skin and compromises our hydration levels. What can be done to keep our skin looking good? Our friend and expert, Dr. Chritsine Stiles has a few suggestions on taking care of ourselves in the heat…

Skin Care In The Heat

As the temperatures rise, many people experience an increase in problems with their skin. Heat and sweat dry out the skin, open pores and can bring bacteria to the skin’s surface. Here are some ways to enjoy the heat and keep your skin healthy!
Keep the skin hydrated from the inside out by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day (Even more if you are practicing yoga!). This helps keep the skin supple, elastic, and will work to maintain a youthful glow!

While sweating is a great way to cleanse the body and open pores, this often leads to opening a pathway for bacteria to come to the skin surface, leading to pimples and acne flares. Cleaning the skin with a salicylic acid wash daily and after exercise helps prevent these breakouts and keep a clear complexion. (SkinMedica Purifying Foam Wash (4% salicylic acid) $40 or Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne wash (2% Salicylic acid) $9) Regular exfoliation of the skin prevents dirt and dead skin cells from building up in the pores. A facial scrub with a small particle size, roughly the size of table sugar, should be used 2-3 times per week (Skinmedica Skin Polisher $40 or Olay Regenerist Detoxifying Face Scrub $15). Large particle scrubs may irritate the skin and lead to redness. The Clarisonic cleansing system can be used daily to remove the superficial skin cells. Exfoliation with a Dermasweep and chemical peels (Vitalize Peel $125) remove deeper layers of the skin that lead to a dull appearance and reveal a younger healthier skin surface.

Heat can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Using a daily sunblock is important to avoid redness, hyperpigmentation, and early aging of the skin. The following are key components to look for in a sun block. First, the sun block needs to give both UVA and UVB protection. Second, it should be “non-comedogenic” to avoid acne flare ups. Third, facial sun blocks should have an SPF of at least 30.(SkinMedica Physical Defense SPF 30 or 50 $45 or Neutrogena Helioplex SPF 45 $14)

Click here for additional ideas on ways to care for skin and hair before, during, and after practice.

About our Author:

DrStilesDr Christine A. Stiles, owner of The Center for Breast and Body Contouring, has enjoyed the benefits of practicing at Sunstone Yoga for the past 9 years. As a surgeon, neck and back injuries are common maladies. Her yoga practice has kept chronic neck and back pain at bay, improved her overall health, and helps her to find balance in life despite a hectic career and busy family life.

She enjoys her career in helping her patients improve their self-image and enhance their self-esteem. Nutritional supplementation and exercise are integral parts of the recovery process and ensure an improved quality of life post-surgery and beyond. She recommends that patients begin a yoga practice post-operatively to help decrease swelling, accelerate healing, and create an overall sense of well-being.

Office Location:

The Center for Breast and Body Contouring
5575 Warren Parkway, Suite 304
Frisco, TX 75034
214-618-4000
www.drcstiles.com

Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons
Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

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Sharing Sunstone

This year we are focusing on connecting within our community. What does this look like? Getting closer as studio teams; getting to know our students and understanding their personal fitness goals; and expanding our community by bringing in new faces. 

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Sharing is a continuing theme both in our locations and outreach–whether it’s sharing our ideals and principles with students, sharing our yoga and Hot Pilates knowledge, sharing our time and space with those who practice beside us, or just sharing our love of Sunstone. We hope that you will get in on spreading the love! Here are some EASY ways to share your fitness passion with your friends and family:

  • If you are already a Signature member, take advantage of your perks by asking friends, family members, or co-workers to join you for free at the
    studio. If you are not a Signature member, don’t worry; you can still get guests to the studio. Try sending them to Intro where they will
    receive a free week, or earning free guest passes by completing the 60-day yoga challenge.
  • Buddy up. Building connections within the Sunstone community can be as easy as coordinating class times with a fellow practitioner, perhaps through Twitter or Facebook. Try paying attention to the students who attend your preferred class hours and see if another “regular” is interested in a partner.
  • Talk about what your practice has done for you! If you are noticing changes in your body, your sleep or eating habits, or your mind, don’t keep it to yourself. Many people simply don’t know the profound effect that a regular practice can have on them, or they would have tried it a long time ago.
  • Sign up for a workshop at Sunstone Yoga Academy, and ask about our Buy One Get One postcards. New workshops are offered all the time, some focusing on a particular class series, others related to concepts like nutrition or mental stillness.  You take your practice to the next level with an affordable and convenient immersion into the world of fitness!
  • Talk to your teacher after class. They’re people, too, and we love getting to know students! Whether it’s your health, the trip you took recently, or a posture you want a little extra help with, we are all ears. And of course, your teachers are a great resource for advice on taking your practice to the next level.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out within the community. If you always visit the same studio, try a new one. Enjoy meeting new teachers and students! If there is a particular class type you avoid, or if you have never attended a Special class, take the leap! 

See you in the studio!

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Clear Your Mind

Are you stressed? It’s no secret, of course, that modern lifestyles often go hand-in-hand with cluttered, unsettled minds. Chances are, if you are not experiencing stress right at this moment, you have recently or will soon. Eager to find a “fix,” well-intentioned folks advise slowing down and taking time for what’s important–while simultaneously giving constant tips for fitting more into already packed schedules. But HOW?

Our society is almost universally plagued with a perceived abundance of problems, and a shortage of time to deal with them. Even now, you probably have a running to-do list in the back of your mind and a mental list of ongoing areas of concern in your life.

Trying to juggle the countless responsibilities that come with each of the many roles we play (such as employee, parent, or student) is enough to drive anyone crazy, and that’s just ONE possible source of stress. Add on top of that finances, relationships, health concerns, and so on, and it’s no wonder the American Psychological Association revealed that more than half of all Americans are concerned about the amount of stress in their everyday lives.

Can a solution to internal chaos really be as simple as “slowing down”? Life has become busy and fast-paced, of course, and physical rest can be beneficial. But a still body does not guarantee a still mind. Even during sleep, a state of almost total physical relaxation, the mind tends to remain active. And even sedentary people can be addicted to distraction, needing media like television or music to keep their mind off the present.

So what IS the solution? The answer lies not in a big, one-size-fits-all overhaul, but in small, personal, everyday life choices. Tiny steps can be made towards awareness, which lead to relief from the mental rat race, and finally to being fully present in life. The act of accomplishing mental presence is hard, but not impossible.  With practice, it is a discipline that anyone can access.

Many tools can help on the quest for a clear mind and stress relief. Unsurprisingly, yoga is pretty high on the list! Countless studies testify to the positive effects of yoga on mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and of course, regular stress. Different aspects of class–such as the commitment to showing up, the singular focus required to hold difficult postures, and the discipline required to remain still in savasana–can all serve as “stepping stones” toward inner stillness.

While these examples are specific to the yoga room, what is mastered on the mat will carry over into the rest of life. You CAN create change within yourself. Become aware of and limit things that take you out of the present. This might mean shutting off your smartphone when you’re not using it, avoiding excessive alcohol intake if you find yourself using it as a way to avoid being in the present, or even choosing a simple phrase to repeat and focus on if your own mind is the culprit. Even more importantly than just limiting things that take you out of the moment, is learning how to love the moment while you are in it!

Your still and present mind will not come overnight, but it is worth the effort. Enjoy filling your life with moments that you can fully appreciate. Though you cannot add hours to your life, you can add a lot of quality life to your hours.

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3 Ways Change Is Beneficial (And 3 Ways You Can Embrace It)

Most people fight change, especially change that is beyond their control. Habit and routine keep things orderly and safe, and when things don’t go as planned, it’s hard to see the positive side. But change brings with it some often-overlooked benefits. Think that change is good in theory, but you could still do without it? Here are some things to consider:

1. Change encourages growth. Fact: The body and mind are highly adaptable and will quickly stop responding to the same challenge. Variety prevents that plateau (in the fitness world, changing up your routine to encourage growth has been called “muscle confusion”). To see this principle in action, imagine a Fire junkie attending her first Earth class. She may discover parts of her body that have been habitually neglected and might feel sore in muscles she didn’t know she had!

2. Change allows new beginnings. Recall the very first time you met a now-dear friend, your first yoga class, or the first time you heard a beloved song. Life change is the only way to experience the excitement of discovering something new. Everything that leaves your life is an opportunity for something new to come along. Parents who were saddened to see their children start to grow up will understand this, as letting go of those happy years can lead to the blessing of seeing them become mature and independent adults making their way in the world and starting their own familes.

3. Change is inevitable. Like it or not, the future will always hold change; we all experience periods of relative stability, but nothing can remain static indefinitely. Embracing that change will bring peace and alleviate frustration. Knowing that change will come regardless of your attitude, it makes sense to come to terms with it. This mental switch is a huge step toward learning to surrender the need for control–something most of us struggle with more than we probably admit.

With that in mind, how can you make change work for you? Sometimes the small things are the ones that have the most lasting impact, and embracing small changes will prepare you to tackle the big ones. Here are some baby steps to help you open yourself to change:

1. Take the initiative. Go out of your way to shake up your own routine and it will be easier when something else does the shaking. Start small. You might make a health-conscious change, like going to bed half an hour earlier or switching from soda to electrolyte water. Or you might simply set up your mat in a different spot in the yoga room each time you take class. If life circumstances take you away from the studio, you don’t have to lose your practice, having learned to be okay with changing it up. Small shifts can make a big difference in your perspective.

2. Reflect on positive changes. Just reminding yourself of all the times that change ended up being pleasant–even if you weren’t excited about it initially–can do a lot for your attitude towards change in general. Try making a list of all the happy surprises life has thrown your way in the past ten years, or of changes that seemed undesirable but paved the way for something great. You might want to keep these lists in a journal to revisit from time to time.

3. Expect the unexpected. Learn to put a mental asterisk by all your plans with the disclaimer, “If all goes as expected.” A great many things will not go as planned, and mentally preparing for (and being okay with) a different outcome will make it easier to accept when things seem to be going off-course. Make preparations for the future, of course–this is not an excuse to throw readiness to the wind! Just make sure that you see your plans as a road map, not as a certainty.

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Discover Sunstone… Intro is where it’s at!

Have you ever thought about why beginning something new, or even picking back up something you have done before, is often a source of anxiety?  Maybe it is because there is little frame for expectations of this fresh experience, because looking like the new kid can be embarrassing, or maybe it is just because a new path can often feel lonely.

We have all been there and felt anxiety of the unknown.  At Sunstone, we want to help new and returning students feel welcome in our studios while ensuring that our members’ practice experience is not interrupted by those just learning our culture, so we have launched our all-new, 30-minute Intro.

Who should come to intro?  Anyone who is not currently a member!

  • Those new to exercise
  • Those new to Yoga
  • Those new to Hot Pilates
  • Those who are guests of a Sunstone member
  • THOSE NEW TO SUNSTONE SINCE 2013!

What will happen in Intro? Offered at each Sunstone location several times a week, this relaxed half-hour information session is a space for students to learn about our six class series, studio etiquette, our history, vision and teaching principles. Learn what you can expect; it is a time to ask questions. Get to know other new students as well as a few members of the Sunstone team.  Each new attendee is gifted a FREE WEEK of classes for their attendance, and receives a special membership offer.

If you are thinking about building a practice with Sunstone, make time for Intro, and if you are able, attend a class immediately following!  You will walk away with an immediate understanding of who we are and what we do, plus receive a whole week to experience a range of our classes.

If you are a current member, Intro provides a great opportunity to get your friends interested in Sunstone.  Help them earn a free week by referring them to this new offering.

We want our students to succeed in reaching their personal fitness goals and discovering lasting health.  Encouraging students to attend Intro is the best way we know to ease the anxiety of a new experience and help each attendee build a regular practice at Sunstone.   After all, preparation and repetition are the keys to success!

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Many Different Types of Love

It would appear there are many different types of love.

Most of us have felt the thrill of new love: that exciting rush of a new relationship.  Parental love is, at its best, unconditional, all-encompassing, unending and at times, overwhelming.  Sibling love is perhaps as powerful as parental love, though sometimes tumultuous and unpredictable.  Love between friends, both male and female is usually a more patient, supportive love.  However, are these many versions of love really any different?

I offer that love, in its truest form, is not just something we give and then seek to find.  True love is something we build within ourselves until it simply cannot be contained, spilling over and out from us like a waterfall!

Love is not truer because it is shared by romantic partners, rather than one brother for another, one child for its mother. It is truer because it comes from the deepest place within us – a place of full self-acceptance.

Yoga teaches us to love and accept ourselves within our practice, regardless of any outcome in the present moment.

Group_StandingBowIt is not important whether you hold your standing bow for the entire 60 seconds without falling.  It is only important that you see each fall as an opportunity to stand again.  This is our inner yoga practice which extends outside of the yoga room.

Similarly, it is not important that you make no mistakes in your life, or your relationships.  It is important that we begin to see our mistakes as triumphs in becoming more, rather than circumstantial evidence of our failure as a human being.  As creators, we become more by embracing our miss-steps, and arranging them into stepping stones to whatever higher place we seek.

We have heard the expression, “love is not a noun, but a verb.”  From this perspective, loving is something we do in the world, rather than just something that happens to us.  We have control over the amount of love we send out, which in turn tends to affect the love we draw towards us.

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If we withhold love from others, we withhold it from ourselves, as well. We cannot be that love we wish to see in the world, without knowing what it is to feel that love for ourselves first—to see our own love action as a force strong enough to change the world.

Nurturing our practice is one way we love our bodies and strengthen our minds.  Making the time for that care is not selfish, but necessary.

My practice at Sunstone reminds me that simply being in the yoga room is enough to help me grow.  Yoga is a gift we may give ourselves in any moment we decide to breathe in gratitude, and exhale love.

Jen Wanamaker – Sunstone Team Member

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Why Hot Pilates? And More!

I am very excited for Sunstone to be offering Hot Pilates (our new Metal Series class)! The postures Sunstone offers in our Metal Series (Hot Pilates) are dynamic movements that complement the more static nature of most of our yoga postures. The dynamic movements of the Metal Series challenge the muscles, cardiovascular system, and mind in new and complementary ways. In our yoga classes we generally (not always) get in a posture and hold a static position. In contrast in Pilates we generally stabilize our ‘Pilates Core’ (abdomen, back, inner thighs and buttocks) and making a controlled but dynamic movement.

Our Wood Series has always been a good ‘bridge’ between Yoga and Pilates; now the new Metal Series completes the picture with its transition to Hot Pilates.

The new Metal Series class is naturally energetic with dynamic transitions and is paired with equally energetic music. Looking at the chart below, the series sequences are broken down showing the approximate percentage of postures that are static versus dynamic movements. The chart also shows transitions and environment added for comparison:

Class Comparison Chart

 

In short Metal Series is a truly unique experience with new challenges that support our purpose of helping you connect with and cultivate your very best self.

Not only will the new Metal Series be a welcome challenge for our Members it is also an exciting challenge for the elite team of Sunstone teachers. The Sunstone Academy has leveraged 10 years of experience to deliver, to your teachers, the most comprehensive training program it has developed to date. The program is composed of hands-on training, practice classes, video and written support materials that layer onto the foundation each teacher learns when they train through the Sunstone Academy. There is always a learning curve when introducing new classes but I think you will be pleasantly satisfied with the initial classes and amazed at how quickly the teachers improve. I encourage you to support your teachers’ development with patience and feedback in the quick surveys you receive after every class.

For 2013 Sunstone is also bringing you a new and improved Earth Series that fuses the best elements of the previous Earth and previous Metal into an invigorating power flow class set to music. We have also repackaged our popular Fire Series and created our new Spark Series. This new class features the familiar Fire postures but delivered in a milder environment with adjusted hold times. It’s a great place for beginners, returning students, and those of us who just want to take it down a notch. You will also notice we have finally produced the much requested 60-minute version of our Water Series. This year at Sunstone we can all enjoy an expanded spectrum of classes.

Finally, for new students we have redesigned our Intro class into a 30-minute orientation. This will help new students learn about Sunstone at an accelerated rate, reduce their first class anxiety and the stress of ‘learning the ropes’ of the Sunstone community. To encourage new student participation in the Intro class, participants earn a free week of yoga; replacing our previous introductory offers.

I encourage everyone to come and experience the new Sunstone.

Happy New Year,

Brandon Hartsell
CEO

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How to Really Advance Your Practice

As yoga teachers, we sometimes hear students categorize themselves and others as “beginner” or “advanced.”  It is interesting to hear people talk this way because they usually base the label on the number of classes attended, length of time they’ve practiced, or whether they can do certain postures.  The fact is that everyone is advancing–it just looks different for each individual.

Everyone has room to advance their practice, and there are tons of ways to do it!  Focus on small things like:

  • Maintaining steady, six-second inhales and exhales throughout class
  • Branching out into a new class series (have you tried Earth and Metal yet?)
  • Deepening one particular posture.  Ask your teacher to help you with it!  We love that :-)
  • Pushing yourself, within a safe range of motion for you, to deepen in a posture past your usual stopping point (like Half Moon)
  • Taking a private lesson
  • Using your exhales to soften and deepen into postures if you are less flexible

The above pointers focus on the physical part of yoga, but there are many other ways to deepen your practice by extending beyond the physical and working on a deeper mind & life focus. For example:

  • Come to class focused and listen with an open mind
  • Stay mentally engaged throughout class
  • Take a step back and nurture yourself when you need to
  • Focus on your own body for the entire class- really look at yourself in the mirror
  • Be completely still in Savasana; resist the urge to wipe sweat or adjust your clothing
  • Be still and return to your breath between postures
  • Set an intention at the beginning of your class and return to it throughout class
  • Attend a workshop or a special class
  • Take your yoga off the mat.  Use your deep breathing when you are faced with stressful situations outside the studio

Remember that being able to do Standing Splits does not an advanced yogi make.  Define your own version of “advanced” and keep working at deepening, strengthening, and improving. In life, and in yoga, there is always room to advance.

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When To Take A Break

Everyone needs to take a break sometimes, even from something as wonderful as yoga.  Have a conversation with your teacher about your experience and be ready to give yourself permission to take time off if:

  • You are injured (or something doesn’t feel quite right).  If you have a serious injury like a broken bone or torn hamstring, listen to your doctor.  If it’s something less obvious like a persistent ache in your shoulder, back off your workouts entirely or don’t do postures that could potentially aggravate it.  Give your body some time to heal and recuperate.
  • Or maybe you need to not take one particular class for a little while.  For example, if your wrist is bothering you, cut out Earth for a week (and talk to your teachers about how to not put pressure on your wrists during Downward Dog!).
  • You are ill.  Whether you have a bad cold or are just feeling tired and a little run down, your body is telling you it needs time off.  Rest is what you need.  Whenever you are feeling better, ease back into your practice until you truly are back to feeling 100%.
  • You’re tired.  If you can barely keep your eyes open, give yourself permission to go home and go to bed early rather than battling through a 90-minute class.
  • You haven’t seen your family and friends lately.  Yoga is all about balance–inside and outside the studio.  Spending quality time with your loved ones is just as important as practicing Triangle.
  • It feels like a chore.  If you’re forcing yourself to go to yoga and not enjoying your time there, you are suffering from burnout.  Ask yourself whether you need a few days off.  Or maybe the solution is to take a different class style or try a workshop.
  • You’re engaging in negative self talk.  Do you think mean things about your thighs throughout Fire?  Are you mentally berating yourself for not being able to do every posture “perfectly”?  Taking time away to explore why you’re having these feelings and thoughts may be just what you need.

And when your break is over, come on back – we’ll be waiting for you with open arms (oh, and a mat and a towel).

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