All Posts By

Christine D. Fronterotta

​Pranayama for Anxiety and Stress Relief

By Pranayama, WellnessNo Comments

We are indeed in a unique and transformational time as we witness our world’s response to the Coronavirus. There has been a complete upheaval to daily life, and it has left many of us without regular avenues of stability. This has caused stress and panic for many people, as abrupt uncertainty tends to do. So, it is vital now more than ever to maintain health and wellness on all levels, and to remember that everything in life, including the challenges, is an opportunity for us to develop deeper levels of strength, love, and compassion. Yoga, Reiki, breathing techniques, and other mindfulness practices teach us how to move calmly through the ups and downs of existence with more grace and awareness. Through these holistic practices we remember how to deactivate fear-based mindsets and activate calm and clarity of mind.

What’s the first thing a yoga or meditation instructor usually asks you to do at the beginning of a class? Usually, it’s to begin focusing on your breath. Breathing techniques, or Pranayama, are a powerful tool to regain control of anxious thought patterns. Pranayama has physiological benefits as well, by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system which science tells us can slow down heart rate and increase digestion as the body becomes more relaxed. Typically, when we are stressed, breathing becomes more shallow and rapid, and heart-rate increases. As you can imagine this causes a chain of events physiologically, that can lead to increased anxiety and even ailments such as dizziness or nausea. If we remember to pause, and take a slow breath, we can regain control over our system.

Regulated breathing is an unbelievably powerful tool and meditation technique that has been utilized by yoga practitioners for at least two-thousand years or more. Pranayama is a branch of the 8-Limbed yogic path, or yogic guidelines, and is a key process in the overall practice of yoga. The word “prana” translates roughly to life-force energy, and the word “yama” roughly translates to restraint. Therefore, Pranayama goes beyond the actual breathing techniques themselves, and truly describes the connection of life-force energy within the body. Breathing exercises are practiced to keep the body clear from physical, energetic, and emotional blockages, so that your life force energy becomes healthy and balanced. Let’s take a look at one of my favorite breathing techniques for stress relief, called Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

The word “nadi” generally translates to channel, and “shodhana” approximately translates to purifying. Therefore, Nadi Shodhana is a potent breathing technique for clearing the inner subtle channels of the body and has been known to have an overall balancing effect.

How To Practice

1. Press your pointer and middle finger between your eyebrows, take one deep cycle of breath.
2. Then press your thumb against your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril for a count of 4-8 seconds, hold at the top of your inhale plug both nostrils, press your left nostril with your ring and pinkie finger to exhale through your right nostril for the same count, pause at the bottom of your exhale.
3. Keep fingers as they are and breathe through the right nostril to repeat the cycle in the other direction.

Practice as many cycles as you’d like, I would recommend at least 9 cycles if you can. If you can increase the length of your cycles you are welcome to do so, you may find that your lung capacity and breath control increase with practice. Once you are finished with your cycles take a couple deep rounds of breath regularly. How do you feel?

Simply focusing on slowing down your breath is incredibly beneficial as well. Often referred to as Belly Breathing, as you inhale let your belly extend with a gentle hold at the top of your breath, and keep your shoulders relaxed. As you exhale draw your belly back in towards your spine, pause at the bottom of your breath. Go through as many cycles as you would like, and keep your jaw as relaxed as possible. It can be helpful to place your hands on your lower belly and chest, so you can feel where your breath is going first.

Remember, you have the power to shift your energy and mindset, it takes practice. Take 5 slow, deep breaths right now. Your mind is clear and calm, you are in control.

 

 

 

 

With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine Fronterotta is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine writes regularly for YogaRenew Teacher Training. She is passionate about offering a healing and teaching yoga to others.

 

Holistic Health And Immunity In Times Of Uncertainty

By WellnessNo Comments

The majority of us are at home practicing social distancing, while others are still going to work to the essential jobs that support us during this global pandemic. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, taking good care of yourself seems more vital now than ever. Most of the time our immune systems do a good job of fighting off illnesses, however sometimes it isn’t able to for various reasons, and we get sick. There are many factors that can determine immune health. Genetics, lifestyle, exercise, sleep, diet, mental health, etc. are all said to play a role in overall health and immunity. Looking at our body and mind as an overall whole can contribute to an immune system that elicits a healthy and strong response to attacks. Yoga and Holistic practices offer beneficial tips as well.

Nutrition

Good nutrition may perhaps be one of the most important factors in maintaining body health, as well as mental health. Our body needs proper macro and micronutrients, antioxidants, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, fat, and water to function, stay healthy, and provide defense for disease and environmental factors. Rather than letting this be a source of stress or overwhelm, it can be helpful to have guidelines, and simply start to notice the foods you are purchasing more closely. Organic meats processed without hormones or antibiotics if you are not vegan, minimally processed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, switching from processed sugar to dates, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar, micronutrient rich herbal foods such as spirulina, turmeric, and wheat grass, and lots of water are a few suggestions. All of which are beneficial aides in maintaining body health, but also mental health.

More research has been done the past decade regarding the connection between a healthy gut, or GI System, and healthy mind. In fact, studies have been done that link chronic anxiety to an unhealthy gut or imbalanced gut bacteria. Yogis have told us for thousands of years that every part of us is connected. It’s in the word itself, “yoga” means to yoke, or to bring together. Modern day science is confirming what the ancient yogis have known all along, that our body and its systems are interconnected.

In order to maintain a healthy gut, probiotics and fiber-rich foods can bring balance. Examples are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, bone broth, and kimchi. If you are vegan you can usually find options in these categories. Just be mindful of sneaky extra ingredients such as processed sugars or preservatives.

Holistic Allies

In addition to healthy food nutrition, herbal remedies have the potential to assist in relieving certain ailments, boost immunity, and have a myriad of medicinal properties. For example, Lemon Balm has the potential to calm the nervous system, relieve occasional indigestion, and promote a sense of calm that relieves anxiety. Garlic and echinacea root are known as immune stimulants. A potent oil, oil of oregano, has been shown to have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, in addition to other powerful properties. Also, mushroom powders such as reishi, astragalus, and turkey tail are thought to help regulate the immune system. Another ancient medicinal herb is ashwagandha, it is known as an adaptogenic herb that can help relieve stress or provide energy, depending on what your body needs. If you feel the early onset of something coming on, try making a tonic such as hot water, fresh lemon, fresh ginger, and 1-2 tablespoon(s) of apple cider vinegar with honey and 2-4 drops of oil of oregano. Be mindful as oil of oregano is very strong and can burn or cause upset stomach. Remember to speak to your health professional before ingesting herbs as they are often not regulated.

Therapeutic grade essential oils are said to have a myriad of healing properties as well. Lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and tea tree are potent oils and can aide in overall health and immunity. Be aware that not all essential oil brands are created equal. Some are meant only for diffusing, and some can be used topically with a carrier oil, or some even minimally ingested. Without proper knowledge these healing oils can quickly become detrimental. Do your research before purchasing an oil and speak with a health professional before use. The term therapeutic grade on the bottle isn’t enough to ensure quality, check for the company’s test results such as GC/MS, and verify there are no fillers or additives in the oil. That being said, with proper knowledge, essential oils can be a powerful tool to maintain health and wellness with antiviral and antibacterial properties, among others.

Overall

Yoga and holistic practices remind us to look at ourselves as one whole. To take into consideration our nutrition, herbal remedies, adequate exercise, good sleep, balancing practices such as breathing techniques, meditation, and mantras, in order to achieve overall health and wellness. It’s not just our body that keeps us healthy, it is our emotions, thoughts, mind and spirit. During this time of quarantine, it can be a great time to integrate more healthy and holistic practices into your daily routine if you are able to. I know not everyone is able to do this, and many are struggling greatly right now, but if you are able to, one of the best things we can do is take care of ourselves, so that we may better be able to take care of others in our community. Have patience with yourself along the way.

Note: The above information is simply to serve as alternative knowledge, and thus should not be taken as medical prescription or advise. Please consult with a physician before taking any herbs or changing diet as there can be adverse side effects with certain medications, and certain conditions should be taken into consideration.

 

With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine Fronterotta is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine writes regularly for YogaRenew Teacher Training. She is passionate about offering a healing and teaching yoga to others.

 

 

 

​What is Meditation And Why is it Beneficial Today?

By MeditationNo Comments

What comes to mind when you think of meditation? Probably something along the lines of a person sitting cross-legged on a pillow with their eyes closed, hands placed in an intentional position, and perhaps making the sound of OM. You wouldn’t be wrong, but meditation is a profound practice that goes beyond the common image we see on social media nowadays.

Meditation has roots that go way back. Some scholars believe it’s as old as humanity itself, while others document the practice back to the first set of meditation techniques originating in India over 4,000 years ago, as documented in the oldest Hindu texts. What can be concluded is that it’s an ancient practice that has made its way all the way in to 2020 and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. Let’s take a look at some reasons why that might be.

What Is Meditation?

Most commonly today in modern Western society, meditation is the term used to describe the technique of training your mind to be calm, similar to how you go to the gym to train your body to be strong and flexible. Meditation refers to a practice that brings the practitioner into a state of consciousness, connectedness, and profound awareness. Usually attained by sitting still, focusing on breathing, and clearing of erroneous thoughts. It is often described as the journey into stillness, silence, and space. Meditation teaches us to look within ourselves, which ultimately deepens the connection we have to ourselves, and the entirety of life and existence.

Slightly varied to modern use and terminology, in traditional Yogic philosophy, meditation is the 7th limb of the 8-Limbed Yogic Path, known as Dhyana. The technique to attain Dhyana, is the 6th limb of the 8-Limbed Yogic Path called Dharana. This yogic path explains that a practitioner must first practice the previous limbs, to then master the technique of focus and concentration (Dharana), to then reach a state of meditation (Dhyana). The practice of concentration brings the practitioner into a state of awareness uninterrupted by thoughts, otherwise known as meditation.

In meditation, the mind is relaxed and still. One known example is to think of a mind that’s engaging in the outside world, processing stimuli, thoughts, and emotions, as similar to a turbulent ocean where it’s difficult to hear or see anything due to the commotion. Compare this to an inwardly focused, silent, and still mind, as similar to a crystal clear, calm sea. One in which you can peacefully see the ecosystems both beneath, above, and between the water and its surroundings. Here we can visualize the difference of a meditative mind versus one that’s actively engaging in thoughts and the external world.

Why is Meditation Relevant in our Modern World?

Political tension, changing natural environments, wars, debt, high rent, deadlines, office politics, fires, and deadly viruses. The majority of people have felt stress in some area of modern life, many of whom a significant amount. It’s no secret that modern life while wonderful and exciting, can also be extremely stressful. A lot has changed in the just the past 100 years, and it will continue to. The modern world is often fast-paced with screens full of information always available at our fingertips. Again, while this has its benefits, it can also become emotionally draining, sometimes to the point of mental or physical illness. While meditation isn’t meant to replace professional help, it has proven to be an incredibly powerful aide to remain balanced and clear in a world full of chaos and distractions. One could argue that perhaps it’s more vital today than it was over 3,000 years ago.

Time spent in silence and stillness, connecting to one’s own inner experience is often pushed further down on the To-Do list in the life of a busy, modern person. As the old Zen saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” While not everyone has a full hour to practice meditation, starting small with a realistic goal is beneficial. A three or five-minute meditation can increase a state of calm and peace amidst a world that never sleeps.

Try it out for yourself, set a timer every morning, or every night before bed for three to five minutes. Sit with a tall spine on a folded blanket, close your eyes, slow down your breath. Let your thoughts float by, become an observer of yourself. Have patience with yourself as this takes practice. You also might be surprised where you can fit in a longer meditation practice in your day with some strategic maneuvering. Such as only watching one episode of a show instead of three, meal prep to save time cooking dinner, or get your kids involved in the practice with you. Clarity, peace, and awareness are available to all of us with practice, and patience.

 

 

Muladhara Chakra 101: The Root Chakra & Yoga

By ChakrasNo Comments


This pose is beneficial for your Root chakra. You may have heard an instructor say this in a yoga class, but what does that mean? The word chakra translates to “wheel” or “vortex”. The ancient Indian texts describe chakras as energetic wheels or vortexes that spin in the body and create our vital life-force energy, otherwise known as Prana or Qi (Chi). While these ancient texts state that there are upwards of 80+ thousand chakras, in most yoga classes there are 7 main chakras that are focused on.

Location

The first of these 7 primary chakras is called Muladhara, or the root chakra. The term ‘mula’ translates to root, and the term ‘adhara’ translates to foundation or base. Therefore, Muladhara is a perfect term for the first chakra. Yoga and Ayurveda, yoga’s ancient sister science, teach us that the root chakra is located at the base of the spine or coccyx. The anatomical location of this energy center includes the first three vertebrae and the pelvic floor or perineum. It’s additionally associated with the organs and structures responsible for elimination, the skeletal structure, and blood.

Description

The Muladhara chakra is said to be associated with our survival needs and encompasses the energy of the “Fight or Flight” response. It’s not just physically located at the root of the spine, but is said to be the root of our being. That which connects us not just to our physical body, but also to our surrounding environment. It includes our instincts and is the primal part of our being. The root chakra includes the part of us that is connected to family, and our need for food, shelter, and necessities for survival. This includes our abundance and if we can have our needs met.

There are also specific attributes descriptive of the 7 main chakras. For instance, the color associated with the root chakra is red, the element is Earth, the sound is LAM, the deity in Hinduism is Ganesha, and the list goes on. The Muladhara chakra is often depicted as a lotus flower with four petals, which has a symbolic meaning of the aspects of the psyche. It can also be depicted as an upside-down triangle, within other shapes, all of which symbolic and representative of the aspects of the root chakra.

Root Chakra And Yoga

Now that we’ve briefly gone over what the root chakra is and where its’ located, how does it apply to a yoga practice and why is it something to focus on? Yoga is all about the balance of body, mind, and energy. When something in our body is out of balance, usually we can tell that something is up. Similarly, our chakras can become out of balance. When the root chakra is out of equilibrium it can cause feelings of instability, fear, insecurity, sadness or a feeling of being stuck. When it’s in balance, it means that you can process through the ups and downs of life with more ease and grace, and release feelings of guilt or grief so that you can continue to move forward in life or access the upper chakras. On a physical level, an unbalanced root chakra is connected to low back pain, lower-body ailments, elimination problems, and water retention. Certain yoga poses can help bring the root chakra back into balance.

5 Yoga Poses for Muladhara Balance

  1. Sukhasana, Easy Pose: a seated cross-legged position, this pose allows the parts of the body associated with the root chakra to physically touch the ground. This pose is meant to invoke stability and a sense of trust from within
  2. Balasana, Childs’ Pose: a supportive and grounded posture often seen at the beginning of a yoga class, or as a resting point.
  3. Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold: this pose can promote a sense of calm, with the feet firmly planted on the ground and the head below the heart, it can bring a sense of relief for this with low back pain.
  4. Salabhasana, Locust Pose: a belly-down pose that keeps you close to the Earth and strengthens the back muscles.
  5. Prasarita Padottanasana a, Wide-Legged Forward Fold: this pose stretches the groin and is said to help boost confidence and reduce feelings of depression.

It can be fascinating and interesting to look at how the physical and energetic aspects of our being relate and interact. What do you think of the Muladhara chakra?




With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine Fronterotta is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine is passionate about offering a healing and light to others.

3 Physical Benefits Of Yin Yoga

By Yin YogaNo Comments



Calm, cool, passive, and slow. These are some terms that describe what it can be like to take a yin yoga class, but what is yin yoga exactly? If you are a practitioner of heated, strengthening, or movement-based yoga classes, think night versus day when it comes to a yin practice. In a world where we are often told that we need to do more, yin yoga asks us to do a little less. Postures are typically held anywhere from 2-5 minutes or more, and the breath is softer than say Ujjayi Pranayama, Victorious Breath, that you may practice in a Flow class. However, just because this style of yoga is slower and more passive, doesn’t mean it is without challenge. Yin yoga is also different than restorative yoga. Let’s dive into how and why.

The description and benefits are in the name itself, Yin. To describe yin yoga, it can be helpful to describe yang styles of yoga first. The movement-based yoga mentioned above is a yang style of yoga. Meaning it is active, dynamic, and muscular work is a focus. Some examples of a yang style of practice are Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Power, or Hatha yoga. Yin yoga has the same aims as any other practice of yoga, however, it’s slow, passive, mostly seated postures, are less about muscular utilization or contraction and instead target deeper connective tissues. This is also what makes it different from restorative yoga.

Restorative yoga is very supportive through the use of props, to restore the body and mind to balance through very passive postures without any active stretch. Yin yoga may use props; however, the intent is a deep level of ‘stretch’, or healthy physical stress to the connective tissues, where the challenge can be to find peace and ease in a pose that is slightly uncomfortable. Remember that too much discomfort in a pose can be damaging to the body and counterintuitive to the intention of the practice! Less is often more in yoga, listen to your body and modify where needed.

Yin yoga additionally works with the meridian lines, or energy flows and channels, of the body. The conduits of energy that create Qi (Chi), or Prana, life-force energy. According to the philosophies and teachers of yin yoga, a blocked meridian line can lead to emotional or mental imbalances, and even physical imbalances. Specific yin postures and how they are sequenced are said to bring forth health in this way.

Below are three physical benefits of yin yoga and why focusing on your deep connective tissue is something to be interested in.

1. Connective Tissue

Connective tissue is a general term to describe the material in your body that supports and surrounds other tissues and is even the material in between cells. Connective tissue includes bones, ligaments, joints, and fascia of the body, and this is the focus in a yin class. Long, passive stretches and compressions in the yin postures stress the connective tissue which has the potential to lead to lengthened, healthy, hydrated, and strengthened tissue.

2. Joint Health

Decreased range of motion in joints such as the hip joint, can cause stiffness and lack of mobility. This can be caused by a myriad of factors, yet it could mean the connective tissue around and within the joints has either shortened or become ‘dry’ so to speak, due to lack of use. Since yin yoga targets connective tissue such as fascia, which is everywhere in the body, joint lubrication can occur since fascia stores and moves water and fluid.

3. Flexibility

You may have heard an instructor say that if you want to increase your flexibility, take yin yoga. Why? The theory behind this concept is that our bodies are more malleable than we give them credit for. The long static holds in yin can increase the elasticity of the connective tissue, such as the muscular fascia, and the healthy amount of stress on the joints in these poses can strengthen the ligaments. This goes in line with joint health, yet it can also mean an increased range of motion in terms of flexibility. Many yin postures focus on the lower half of the body and the spine, and advocates of yin have claimed to find increased flexibility especially in these areas. While the permanence of this increased flexibility is debatable, many practitioners advocate for this particular physical benefit.

As with most things in life, balance is key. You can overdo it in a yin class, just as you can overdo it running, lifting weights, or in a heated yoga class. The key is to learn how to listen to your body and be patient in your Asana, physical practice. Additional scientific research needs to be done on the physical benefits of a yin practice. However, proponents of yin conclude that these passive and compressive postures can indeed increase the health of connective tissue and lead to less pain in the body, increased flexibility, fascia suppleness, overall stress reduction, and the ability to embrace the beauty in slowing down. What do you think?


With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine is passionate about offering a healing and light to others.