Free Workouts in the New Year: Part 2

In the new year, would you prefer barefoot or lacing up your kicks for a jog?  Either way we got you covered (and for cheap too!) with Part 2 of our Free Workouts in the New Year blog.

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Running

Fleet Feet Run Clubs

With 9 different Chicago area locations, you could run with friendly folks every day of the week.  Fleet Feet fun runs include themed runs like Chick’s Night, Pint Night as well as new running gear demo events.

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Shake Shack monthly runs

Looking for Pavlovian fitness techniques?  Trendy burger chain, Shake Shack, hosts monthly fun runs on the second Tuesday of every month with a twist.  Your reward for running: A free shake, beer or discounted burger!  Details here.

City Fit Girls

Starting in Philly and imported to Chicago, City Fit Girls strives to give women and comfortable and supportive environment for stretching their running legs.  Chicago fun runs are Wednesdays at 6:30 pm in Lincoln Park.  More information available here.

Yoga

Community Yoga

Chicago has an infinite amount of yoga studios and many of them aim to give back to community with donation based or free yoga classes.  Our top choices are Zen Yoga Garage (Logan Square), Tejas Yoga (South Loop) and Pilsen Yoga Tribe (Pilsen) at Thalia Hall.

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Yoga at your fave clothing store

Whether you rock Lululemon, Athleta or Lole, each of these clothing stores encourage community yoga with weekly or monthly free yoga and strength training events.

Yoga With Adriene

This talented Texan yogi is friendly, silly and cares enough to share the gift of yoga classes with us!  She is currently running a YouTube 30 day Yoga Camp to your daily yoga flow fluidly flowing.

 

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YogaWorks Guest Post: 5 Yoga Poses for Jump-starting a Home Practice Sequence yoga

We’ve had this lingering intention…the intention of rising with the sun and doing yoga to get the day started right.  This intention turns into slapping the snooze button for 30 minutes and then grumbling out of bed.  As the sun’s coming out a little more these days, we thought we’d seek some expert advice on a sequence that might give us the structure we need to make daily yoga a habit!  Enter Sarah Ezrin, a Los Angeles based yoga teacher,  Lululemon brand ambassador, purveyor of joy, and our guest yogi!  Sarah also teaches for YogaWorks and the online MyYogaWorks platform which offers over 500 online classes and 24 hour access so you can get that at home yoga guidance.

Sarah offers 5 starter poses to help us and you build your home practice!  Pictures are courtesy of photographer, Julia Heredia, are were taken during Sarah’s Costa Rica retreat (jealous….).

5 Yoga Poses for Jump-starting a Home Practice Sequence by Sarah Ezrin

  1. Child’s Pose – Child’s pose is no child’s play.  A great posture for grounding one’s energy, it creates a conscious shift inward as one is literally folded in upon themselves.  Come to kneeling on the floor big toes together, knees slightly apart and sink the hips back toward the heels, laying your belly over the top thighs.  This pose can be restful with the arms relaxed by your sides or made more active with arms forward reaching energetically.  Elevate the head with a block or even stacked fists is as it will align the spine and create space for the neck and shoulders.  Feel free to repeat throughout the sequence as needed.

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  1. Cat/Cow Breath – Open the heart and awaken the core with this pair of postures.  Practiced dynamically (meaning moving with breath) this set warms up the spine.  Start in a table top position, aligning wrists under and shoulders and knees below hips.  On an inhalation, create a backbend by lifting the chest bone up towards the ceiling and gently taking the gaze up, back of the neck long.  Exhale round the back tremendously by pushing the palms into the floor and hollowing the bellybutton.  Gaze toward the naval.  Repeat five times (with an inhale/exhale counting as a single rep) following the natural flow of breath.

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  1. Downward Facing Dog – Probably the most notorious of yoga poses, no practice is complete without a down dog!  Lengthen the spine and release the entire back body, which gets stiff from hunching over those iPhones.  Start in a table top position, pressing the hands evenly into the floor.  Tighter shoulders will benefit from having the hands slightly wider than shoulder’s width.  Curl the toes underneath and begin to lift the knees off the floor while extending the hips up and back.  Start with the knees slightly bent and work lengthening the spine.  Straighten the legs and press the heels toward the floor.  You are looking to create an inverted “V” with your body.  If the spine feels rounded, the lower back or hamstrings (muscles at the back of the legs) may be tight, so keep the knees slightly bent to get more length.  Make a long spine priority over straight legs.  Beginners may experience wrist pain.  Be sure the entire hand is pressed into the floor at the knuckles and fingers lengthen forward actively.

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  1. Reverse Warrior – Feel both beautiful and strong with this expansive standing pose.  Tone the outer hips and lengthen the inner legs, while the added side stretch expands the lateral body improving breath. Start in a wide stance, arms out shoulder’s height and feet as wide as the wrist (about a leg’s distance).  Turn the right leg out from deep within the hip and the back leg and hip facing inward slightly.  Bend the front knee until the thigh is level to the floor, tracking the front knee and ankle.  This is Warrior 2.  On an inhalation, lean back placing the left hand lightly outside the left leg and stretching the top arm overhead.  Hold for eight full breaths or play with the pose dynamically moving in and out from Warrior 2 with breath.

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  1. Supta Baddha Konasana – Often, the most potent poses in yoga are the quietest.  Soothe the mind and nervous system, while also releasing the hips.  Start lying on the back with the knees bent and feet flat onto the floor.  Allow the inner knees to fall open like the wings of a butterfly and gently place the soles of the feet together.  Pulling the heels inward toward the groin will create a stronger release of the inner thigh.  Rest one hand on the heart and the second on the belly for more grounding or take the arms overhead and grab elbows to stretch the side body.

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Just for the record, #5 is a Chi Organic Girls go-to pose for relaxation.  Check out this sequence to find your zen (and maybe find a reason to get out of bed earlier) or share your favorite yoga sequence with us.

Mastering the Chaturanga

2014 has already been a whirlwind of activity.  So much so, we didn’t even have time to sketch out some resolutions to ditch after January.  One thing that we consider a continued necessity in the big ’14 and not a temporary resolution is practicing yoga.  Both of us initially connected over our interest in not only getting some exercise at yoga class, but also reaping the relaxing benefits of being on the mat.  As relaxing as it can be,the dreaded asana, chaturanga, has never been the yoga move that made us swoon.  In fact, it has been of particular frustration at times, especially after 12 Sun Salutations  in a row (*shaking fist at yoga teachers!!).

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Chaturanga (chah-tuur-ANGH-uh) Dandasana (dahn-DAHS-uh-nuh) means “four limbs staff pose” and is part of the sun salutation sequence.  Corepower Yoga in Oak Park/River Forest recently put on a Chaturanga workshop and we were intrigued as well as afraid.  Mon ended up welcoming a new family into the world the eve of the workshop (YAAAY!), so I was left on my own to brave the unknown.

Julia and Laura were the fearless yoga leaders who walked the class through a crazy amount of variations of chatarungas.  Some of the most important points they made were*:

1) No need to do chaturangas every day.  This could lead to a possible tennis elbow injury or overuse of the shoulder (aka dang my rotator cuff is jacked).

2) A strap could be your best yoga bud for this pose.  If you wrap it around your forearms, when you go down to the bottom of the chaturanga pose with your 90% elbows at the sides of your ribcage, it gently pushes on the front of the rib cage and shows you if you’re in the right position.

*Since I am not a personal trainer or yoga teacher, do not take my advice and start slugging it out as I don’t have to money to pay for your urgent care bills.  Here’s Mind Body Yoga’s step-by-step how-to on correct form or watch the video by Lululemon.

I was surprised because we actually got a full workout during the workshop and talked through all these variations of chaturanga.

  1. Basic chaturanga – Got it down!
  2. 1 legged chaturanga – A little harder
  3. Crow to chaturanga – Umm I flopped around like an injured crow.  Best advice was use your core not your legs to propel yourself out.  At least the girl in front of me was flopping too.
  4. Forward fold to chaturanga – Somehow managed to fake it
  5. Standing splits to chaturanga – Yeah I just watched and admired the class at this point.

Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for a long time, I think it’s pretty essential to get some walk through on proper form and in my yoga class on Sunday, I felt more confident and comfortable when completing my chaturangas.  Want to get your own yoga scholar time on?  Corepower Yoga is being awesome to the community and offering another free workshop on February 8th for back bends.  Contact the studio for more details.

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Reverse Warrior sequence with Corepower Yoga OPRF Julia (left) and Laura (right).

Thanks to Julia, Laura and Morgan, studio owner of Corepower Yoga OPRF, for hosting me.  See y’all on the mat!

 

All we want for Xmas is Pilates bodies!

We have to confess…it’s been almost a week since our last workout and our abs still hurt!  Last Saturday, we kicked another Chi style birthday off right with our next Lululemon “12 Days of OM” event at Superior Pilates.  Before we got started, we shared a nervous conversation with a fellow classmate about the reformers and their semi torturous facades.  Our fears were soon assuaged by Kristen Wolf, our teacher, owner and founder of Superior Pilates as she explained that we wouldn’t tackle the machines until we had the basics down.

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Finally, we snuggled into the mats and tightened our tummies in anticipation.

So what’s the hype about this workout?  Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) helps build flexibilitymuscle strength, and body awareness and involves the legsabdomenarmships, buttocks and lower back.  This workout strengthens and stretches bulky muscles as well as tones and balances the smaller muscle groups.   Need more info?  Click here on Wikipedia.

During our 1 hour class, Kristen worked out every part of the body.  We tried our hand at the more traditional moves like “the hundred” exercise and adventured into some new territory with the use of spring-and-pulley apparatus that pushed our triceps and calves to the sculpting limits.

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The small class size allowed Kristen to give personal attention to each student.  After we had exhausted every muscle fiber, we chatted it up with Kristen about her journey into pilates.  Kristen suffered whiplash from a car accident and began pilates as a tool for rehabilitation.  She ended up loving it so much that she followed up with professional pilates training and eventually purchased the cozy and sunny studio space.

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At the end of our class, Molly from Lululemon raffled off a sweet black tank with watercolor style flowers…and guess who won?  The bday girl!!

Hurry up and get in on the holiday fun at the next 12 Days of OM or take the Pilates Plunge with Kristen at Superior Pilates.

My Om My! Free Holiday Yoga with Lululemon Chicago

Admit it.  You deserve a break from the holidays already and those snowman cookies you’ve gorging on lately certainly aren’t relieving any stress.  Well, real holiday relief is on the way!  In the spirit of the season, Lululemon on Rush & Walton has wrapped up the gift of free yoga classes, ceremoniously titled “12 Days of OM”,  at a diverse set of Chicago based studios for all of us in need of a good Shavasana.  We did a test run last night for the 2nd day of OM at Yoga Fuzion.  Nestled in River North, Yoga Fuzion’s studio space has all the accouterments you would expect from the posh neighborhood.  It boasts infrared heating technology, free towel and mat rental, and a special cushy moisture reducing floor.  During our 1 hour yoga journey with Rachel, we delighted in some much needed detoxing twists (goodbye pumpkin pie!) and a toasty heated temp which was a surprise perk given the 20 degree freeze yesterday.

We sweated it up and still somehow looked glowy at the end.  Ok, so maybe we snuck a brush in our gym bags and tussled our hair a bit before the “op”.

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Yoga Fuzion in River North

Following practice, we chatted it up with Jonna from Lululemon and indulged in mango lemonade, cucumber mint water and fresh veggies.  She explained that class sign-ups are released each Friday and pointed us to the sign up link for “12 Days of OM” on Eventbrite.  Jonna presented us a special gift in the #nohumbug Lululemon tradition, a cute coral colored sweat wicking pink stripe tank for Monica!  ‘Tis the season for you to jump on the free yoga sleigh ride as well.  Check out the “12 Days of Om” schedule below, back away from the cookies and throw those capri and tank in your gym bag!  Next classes include Power Vinyasa Flow at Yoga Loft and Mat Pilates at Lateral Fitness.

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FREE YOGA and National Yoga Month: Get it to get Hawt!

September is not only the start of fabulous fall in Chicago but also National Yoga Month.  As the hustle and bustle of school and work picks back up, yoga can bring the chill feel of summer back into your life.  Read about the 10 benefits of Yoga at alignyo.com.

The Yoga Health Foundation is a major player in this push to inspire people to practice yoga and create a more balanced lifestyle.  They also offer one free week at  a variety of participating yoga studios – click here to find one near you.

We signed up to try Bend Yoga Studio, which just moved to a new West Town location, and will be offering a full relaxed report soon!  Many other Chi Town Yoga studios get into the action of celebrating National Yoga Month as well.

For the past two years, we’ve clamored to attend Exhale Spa‘s NamasDay event.  Exhale is a high end combo spa/studio that offers traditional yoga as well as barre and fusion classes.  For NamasDay, Exhale goes all out for guests with mini spa treatments, healthy treats, and cutting edge classes.

NamasDay @ Exhale Spa

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So where can you get your Yoga hook up?

Which category do you fit in?

A) Are you wearing fitness clothes and ready to socialize?

B) Are you wearing PJs and can barely drag yourself towards the TV?

If you’re an A, Try:

1) Corepower Yoga offers a free week to all new students.   You must like it hot as they are heated classes.

2) Zen Yoga Garage, one of our favsies, gives a free week to newbies as well.  Check out our previous blog for more info.

3) Lululemon and Athleta stores are a go to for the once in awhile yogi.  Search for your local store for exact classes and hours.  They give your weekend a boost with Saturday/Sunday classes.

If you’re a B, Try:

…Not drooling on yourself!  Get up and exercise that booty!

Free online yoga in those cute cow pajamas:

1) doyogawithme.com-There is a huge library of classes for beginners to advanced students.  You also have the option to buy a class for repeat views if you like it.

2) Alignyo turns a homebody into an “ohmbody” with featured classes from celebrity teachers.  They surround you with other yogic interests such as interviews, yoga digs, and health tips.

3) Youtube, baby!  Just search for yoga.  Jillian Michael’s butt kicking yoga classes are on there as well as anything from Kudalini to Vinyasa style yoga.  Tickle your fancy for whatever works in those monkey slippers you’re wearing.

Of course, we will keep the yoga party going long after September is over.  Where is your secret place to score some free yoga?  We are a community, after all!

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