With the holiday season upon us, stress can be a significant factor in our mood, productivity, and enjoyment of the season. To help prevent stress and holiday burnout, City.Life.Style. sat down with Michelle Moten of Urban Solace to get tips on the benefits of yoga and how mindfulness can help you manage the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
City.Life.Style: How did Urban Solace start?
Michelle Moten: Urban Solace was an offshoot of our corporate wellness programming, Wellness Urban Group, where we do health education and community fitness initiatives as well as corporate wellness. We started off with yoga on the riverfront, and this is our tenth year.
CLS: What does Urban Solace mean?
MM: The name itself is pretty self-explanatory. When you think about the urban setting and all the craziness in the news, people have a stigma surrounding urban life, and we’re are changing that. Urban Solace means peace. Finding people and peace wherever you are and that’s something we can all do. The goal is to find peace within.
CLS: What is yoga?
MM: There’s a big misconception. In the beginning, people think that yoga is a religion or a kind of cult when it’s really just a lifestyle. It’s also about awareness, not only the physical aspect of exercise but being aware of how you feel, listening to your body and not pushing yourself beyond your limits.
CLS: What advice would you give yoga newbies?
MM: Well, fitness and health is progress. It’s progression. You have to take it step by step instead of stepping into the gym and thinking something is going to change after a week. Yoga is a process, and each time that you come to the mat you should learn something new about a pose, the class and even about yourself.
CLS: Is there a difference between yoga and mindfulness or are they connected?
MM: I think that mindfulness is a little bit different for each person, depending on how they were raised, or how they find solace or peace, or how they manage stress. I think being mindful is being connected. Listening to yourself and your body knows when to slow down. Balancing and not being overextended, overtaxed and even being overscheduled. Recognizing your cues, when am I stressed out and super fatigued I catch myself yawning in meetings or start to get cranky, all of those are usually cues to start listening to your body.
CSL: So, yoga can be used as a tool for you to slow down and connect with mindfulness. Do you recommend any other tools?
MM: We encourage people to use journals too, to keep track of their progress. Also, understanding their cues on the daily or weekly basis and how maybe their stress levels change when they practice yoga versus when they don’t.
CLS: What is a yoga practice?
MM: It’s a lot of different styles because it is a practical philosophy as well as a physical discipline. The yoga practice originated over five thousand years ago in India to help individuals prepare for meditation. Examples, if you’ve had a super busy day, multiple meetings, you didn’t eat a whole lot, and then you were forced to go into a room and meditate, how effective would it be? Probably not effective at all. Through your yoga practice, you get the kinks and wiggles out then you can relax and allow your mind to present.
CLS: What are some good tips for people starting or looking into yoga or do yoga at home?
MM: You should have enough space in your house or apartment where you can extend your arms and move freely. Your space should induce a sense of calm, whether it’s lighting a candle or dimming your light, you need to feel comfortable. You want to make sure you turn off all your electronic equipment. Put some soft music on and prepare to relax and set aside the stress every day.
CLS: What in-studio classes are offered at Urban Solace?
MM: We offer morning and evening classes along with different style classes. Everything from Yin (which is more slow poses more restorative) to our more popular classes like gentle flow class, which is a great beginning class, to power flow, which is more athletic. Our classes run like a semester series so you can come in at the beginning of the series or come in whenever you want. There’s usually anywhere from six to eight weeks, so again it’s manageable so that anyone can do something.
For more information on Michelle Moten and Urban Solace or to sign up for classes, visit http://www.urbansolacestudio.com