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I’ve wanted to fall in love with yoga for a very long time, but until recently yoga had been like that seemingly hot guy across the room – ridiculously enticing, but not nearly as attractive close up.
But yoga kept calling and I kept trying even though the classes I visited mostly felt like insider clubs for folks already in-the-know. Or worse.
Then two things happened to bring yoga and me together, and now it’s true love:
First, hubby discovered a local yoga studio whose instructor is naturally gifted at guiding newbies like us, helping us develop a love and understanding of the practice. She urged us to also practice at home between classes.
Second, in searching for an at-home resource, I stumbled upon Kris Fondran’s Shapeshifter Yoga, an online program that lets me practice any time anywhere. It has become a daily gift to myself.
True confession #1 - Even though I wanted to address both mental and physical health, seeking a quieter, more resilient mind and stronger healthier body, I have to admit my secret tipping point was getting in better shape and maybe shedding a few pounds. I’m comfortable in my own skin AND also wanted to flatten my tummy, slim my hips, and tone my jiggly arms. It’s perfectly OK to love yourself as you are and also want to improve on things.
Despite being comfortable with myself, I had gotten out of shape. We all have daily stuff to deal with. For me, it was a new marriage, aging parents, new grandbabies, and new writing projects. I had fallen into a weird mix of being too busy to take proper care of myself and too sedentary when I wasn’t on the run. I had gained about 30 pounds and was starting to feel old, achy, tired, stiff, and mentally blurry. I didn’t like the look or feel of the fluffiness gathering around my middle, and feeling low on energy and focus was downright unpleasant. None of this was fitting in with my plan to enjoy life for many years to come.
My body and mind needed some TLC, but...
True confession #2 – I loathe exhausting, monotonous exercise routines that eat up my precious time. Easy, relaxing, brief, and FUN is more my style, but I had never thought of yoga as “real” exercise. Because my early experiences were less than stellar, I thought yoga was mainly stretching or holding awkward poses or trying to bliss out, and never considered the potential for toning muscles and burning calories. So it was a wee bit of a shock to discover how much more it offered, especially the remarkable body-shaping and life-transforming benefits.
And that’s where Shapeshifter Yoga shines.
Shapeshifter Yoga is easy enough for anyone regardless of age or current physical condition, strenuous enough to reap fat-burning and body-shaping benefits, and calming enough to soothe my busy mind. In just a few weeks, it has become a key factor in increasing my physical flexibility while reducing mental and emotional stress.
Because yoga’s outstanding body benefits were new to me (and maybe for you) , let’s talk about them for a moment.
The biggest shock was discovering that yoga can burn about as many calories per minute as jogging or cardio exercises without all the impact stress to knees and hips. Could it be true? Could yoga be better for my figure than jogging or intense interval workouts?
That’s a huge advantage.
And yoga does something even more important to help you shape up. Without getting too science-y (you can read the science here), stress messes with your mind and body by creating cortisol. Yoga helps lower cortisol, that nasty stress hormone that tangles your thinking and lures you into the unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain.
Lots of us are walking cortisol bombs, but it isn’t always because of major situations. Instead, the real culprits are the millions of little everyday stressors like a spat with your spouse or a rough day at work or rambunctious kids. Most of us can’t eradicate stress, but we can reduce its effects by incorporating new habits like yoga.
And if fat-burning and anxiety-busting aren’t enough, here are a few more juicy benefits:
You’ll sleep better. Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, yoga can help drift you off to dreamland and keep you there. Of course, better rest means less cortisol, less stress, less anxiety, and less fat. See how this works?
You’ll suffer less pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Yoga can be a “miracle worker” for your aches, pains, and stiffness. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing just a move or two a couple of times a day, especially when I’m sitting at the computer writing. It’s also helping my husband manage his pain from old military injuries.
You’ll enjoy the best sex of your life. Got your attention, didn’t I? It’s true. Yoga can help boost desire and arousal, increase lubrication and reduce pain (especially important post menopause), and intensify your pleasure.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that I’m loving Shapeshifter Yoga. So what exactly is included? (Kris has more info on her enrollment site, but here's what mattered to me.)
The Quick Start Manual – Really important for me. I need a readable reference, and this one contains everything you need to master the essentials and get into the Shapeshifter Yoga groove.
The Pose Video Library – This is my favorite part of the program! The pose library contains very brief videos (1 – 2 minutes each) for all 32 poses in the program along with the step-by-step instructions on correct execution. I’m now doing poses I never thought possible.
The Shapeshifter Yoga Program video - The Shapeshifter Yoga Program Video links all 32 poses in the Pose Video Library together into one routine. It runs for over an hour, but don’t be daunted. It’s structured so you can do all of it at once or break it into sections…whatever works best for you and your schedule.
The Everyday Flow video – Following this video will give you a head-to-toe maximum results workout in under 10 minutes. My goal is to go through this flow twice, three days a week - 20 short minutes that can be done in two sessions.
The Yoga Pose Manual - This handy illustrated manual gives you written step-by-step instructions and tips on successfully doing each of the 32 poses in your Shapeshifter Yoga Pose Video Library.
“At a Glance” printable wall charts - Print out these easy-to-see charts and post them wherever you like to do your practice. They’ll act as a visual guide, keep you focused, remind you to keep it up, and make your yoga sessions a breeze.
There are also some very helpful bonuses:
Follow-Along Audio Files - With the Follow-Along Audio Files, you can listen on your iPod or other portable music device even when you don’t have access to the videos.
Breath Awareness Meditation Audio – So important! Improving your breathing skills and focus increases the already-wonderful cortisol lowering and fat loss benefits, plus it acts like a miracle “drug” for those times when you’re feeling stress, having trouble focusing, or struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep.
Body Awareness Absolute Stillness Audio- Even though every part of Shapeshifter Yoga helps you quiet your mind and become more connected to your body, the ancient meditation practice called Kaya Sthairyam takes you to a whole new level of stillness and body awareness. It’s also a marvelous way to banish physical, emotional, and mental stress
Yoga Nidra Guided Meditation Audio – Let me sing the praises of Yoga Nidra! Are you ready to feel totally tranquil? You won’t believe how incredibly relaxed and focused you’ll feel after doing this 23-minute guided meditation. Yoga Nidra, one of the deepest of all meditations, takes you into a conscious deep sleep. Asleep and yet fully awake, your awareness is in an extreme state of stillness and insight. Yoga Nidra is superb for reducing tension, anxiety, headaches, and pain. A 20-minute session of Yoga Nidra can feel as restorative as 2 hours of deep restful sleep. It can increase creativity and is helpful in unlocking mental and emotional blockages. We all have them!
I’ve told you a lot about the program, but who the heck is Kris Fondran? She has been teaching and practicing yoga for more than a dozen years. She also has a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and is considered one of the top experts on yoga and fitness today. The simplicity and clarity of her presentation and the results she gets with her clients mean that Kris is in constant demand for seminars and workshops worldwide. She has also been featured in Cosmopolitan, Shape, Fitness, Yoga Journal, and other leading publications.
Guess you can tell I love Shapeshifter Yoga. It’s easy and fun. It feels good. It doesn’t eat up a lot of time. And most importantly, it’s for all of us, - the newbies and more experienced - not just the 20-somethings who can twist themselves into pretzels in their sleep. If you’re looking to transform your health, have more energy, shed a few pounds, and soothe your mind, you’ll love this program as much as I do.
One more helpful hint: Be sure you get on the mailing list and like the Facebook page. She sends out a wealth of helpful teachings, tips, and pose suggestions that I use regularly.
Won’t you join me? You’ve got nothing to lose except extra weight and stress. That sounds like a plan!
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