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Using the Breath to Increase Energy

When I was going through my yoga certification program two years ago, one of the trainers began a lesson by stating, “The breath is my Guru.” I had absolutely NO idea what that meant. None.

Fortunately, the instructor went on to clarify what he meant. He discussed how our breathing tells us a lot about the state of our mind and body – it can tell us when there is ease, dis-ease, tension, anxiety, etc. But the part that fascinated me most was that, as he explained, we can learn to use the breath to affect our state of mind and body. In fact, that’s really the heart of the study of yoga: becoming tuned into our own body so that we can “read” it, determine what it needs, and then use the combination of movement and breath to deliver energy to those areas in need. A well rounded yoga practice is like an energetic tune up for the body. And, if we become adept at understanding the breath – how to “read” it and how to work with it – it can be an invaluable tool in maintaining/improving our health. (It can be our ‘Guru’…now it makes sense, right?)

One of the many ways that we can use the breath is to combat fatigue. Notice that I didn’t say, “to increase energy.” That’s because fatigue is usually not due to a lack of energy in the body, but more to the stagnation of energy. In order to energize the body, yogis believe that we must move energy from the lower chakras, where it tends to stagnate, to the upper chakras (For an in depth explanation of the chakra system, you’ll want to check out this post). This balances and stimulates all of the chakras/energy centers. When more energy is delivered to the upper chakras – the heart, throat and third eye points – we feel stimulated and “energized.”

There is one breath technique, in particular, which is super-effective at doing this. It’s called “Breath of Fire” and, as the name implies, it will fire you up!

Below is a short video, where I explain this technique in detail and model it for you. As stated in the video, you can start with 15-20seconds and work your way up to 1-3 minutes. I do it for one minute each morning (usually after I’ve meditated)  and I’ve found it to be a great way to wake up the body, mind and spirit.




Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




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Adapting Our Fitness Regimen to Suit Our Changing Body: Interview with Fitness Expert an Author, Bonne Marcus

I’m so excited to share this interview with you! I had the opportunity to chat with fitness expert/author Bonne Marcus recently and the result is an interview full of Bonne’s tips, tricks and wisdom!

After the success of her own weight loss, Bonne has spent the last 31 years in the fitness industry and is a sought-after instructor and writer. Bonne currently leads classes throughout NYC and Long Island.

Among other things, we discussed how to adapt our fitness regimen in response to our bodies changing needs, as well as the change of seasons, change of schedule, etc. (after all, we all know that the only constant in life is CHANGE!).

Bonne is super motivating and inspiring. I hope that you enjoy listening to Bonne’s interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!

And for those of you who’d like to work with or speak with Bonne, she may be reached at


Note: Below the video link below, you’ll find the 7-move workout that Bonne referenced in the interview, so be sure to check it out after you listen!

Be well,


7 Muscles in 7 Minutes
by: Bonne Marcus

No time for strength training? No excuse!
In the time it would take you to mull over whether “to train or not to train,” you could be halfway through best body-blasting, inch-incinerating, time efficient sculpting session you have ever experienced. This 15 minute mini- workout reaps maximum results by pumping oxygen-rich blood through every major muscle group in your body. Believe me; your heart rate will prove it as will your fabulously fit physique, if you stick with the plan.

So what’s the plan?
The workout consists of 4 cycles of 7 different exercises, 1 for every major muscle group. Each cycle lasts 3.5 minutes, and each exercise is performed for 30-seconds per cycle. This brings the complete length of the workout to a whopping 14 minutes, of which each muscle group suffers a grand total of 1 minute.

What you do:
Perform repetitions (about 20) of each exercise for 30 seconds. Once you have completed all seven exercises repeat the 7-muscle cycle again. Please consult a certified fitness professional (or ME) if you are unsure about the proper form or technique of any these exercises below:

1. Squats

Squat Mitzvah Mom makeover

2. Push-ups

Push ups Mitzvah Mom makeover

3. Lunges

Lunges Mitzvah Mom makeover

4. Shoulder press

Shoulder press Mitzvah Mom Makeover

5. Bent over rows

Bent Over Row Mitzvah Mom makeover

6. Bicep curls

Bicep curls Mitzvah Mom makeover

7. Triceps dips

Tricep dips Mitzvah Mom makeover

Point to Ponder
Select weights that make the exercises challenging, but not impossible. If an exercise becomes too difficult, modify it. Remember, it’s better to modify an exercise than to risk getting injured. If after completing the 14-minute body blaster you still have a smidgen of time to spare, drop to the floor for a quick crunch-a-thon. Try to incorporate a variety of abdominal exercises such as reverse crunches, oblique crunches, and bicycles. Aim to crunch continuously for 3 to 5 minutes, or until you just can’t crunch no more!

Never underestimate the power of a workout, no matter how short
Just think, for a mere 14 extra minutes a day 4 days a week, you can add almost an hour of body revving activity to your weekly workout regime. Who knew it could be so easy?!

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Yoga to Tone the Core

As summer nears, most of us look forward to donning swimsuits and lighter, more form fitted clothing. For many people, however, that excitement is coupled with a bit of hesitation. After all, winter clothing tends to hide “a multitude of sins” and some may not feel toned and ready to bare all just yet.

Fortunately, toning the core isn’t difficult. And no, you needn’t do hundreds of sit-ups!? In fact, there are many ways to work the muscles of the core and back (they work together to tighten up the mid-section, so it’s most effective to strengthen both the abdominals and the back muscles). Walking/hiking is a great way to strengthen the core. Swimming is a great core workout, as is Pilates. And then there’s my personal favorite, yoga!

Because a key component of yoga is balance, most asanas/postures require that one utilize some degree of core strength. There are, however, a few key postures that will work deeply into the core to tone and tighten. They’re super effective and, in just a short time, you’ll see noticeable results – an increase in strength as well as a firmer mid-section.

Do these exercises a few times a week, along with whatever cardio you like best and you’re likely to be strutting your summer stuff in no time!

Here’s the sequence:

  1. Mountain Pose:

Begin in Mountain Post, feet hip width apart and weight evenly distributed. Pull the navel in and up, long straight spine, shoulder blades back and down. Sweep the arms overhead and inhale. If it’s comfortable, join your hands together, otherwise keep them separated, palms facing each other.

  1. Standing Side Stretch:

On the exhale, reach up and over to the right. If it’s comfortable for your neck, you may turn your head and look under your left arm. Hold here for one full breath. Inhale and bring arms back to center, then exhale and lean towards the left. Hold for one complete breath. Return to center.

  1. Forward Bend:

Swan dive out and over, coming into a forward bend. If your lower back is tight, keep your knees bent.

  1. Plank:

Plant the palms into the mat and step back into a plank pose. Feel as if you’re pushing the floor away from you. Keep the heels reaching back and maintain a straight spine. You should feel as if you are one long line of energy from the heels to the crown of head. Hold this posture for as long as you can (try to work up to a minute or two).

  1. Locust Pose:

Keeping the elbows close to the body, bend at the elbows and lower the body down to the ground. Rest for a moment. Then, reach the arms back, palms facing the sky and lift both the upper body and lower body off of the ground. Be sure to keep the chin slightly tucked so that the neck is in line with the spine. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you can.

  1. Child’s Pose:

Bring the arms and legs down and push back to Child’s Pose. Rest for a moment.

  1. Staff Pose:

Come up to a seated position with legs extended out in front of you.

  1. Boat Pose:

Keeping the spine long, lean the torso back and lift your legs approximately 45 degrees from the floor and balance on your ‘sitting bones’ (if, like me, you have a sensitive tailbone, you may wish to do this on a blanket or towel). Hold for 30 seconds or so. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, lower the legs and torso a bit. You may repeat the motion of lifting and lowering the legs/torso several times, if you wish. Play around to see what feels best to you.

  1. Forward Fold:

Return to a seated position, arms extended overhead. Then, fold over into a Forward Bend. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

  1. Knees to Chest:

Lie back and pull your knees into your chest. Smile and take a well deserved rest!



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Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




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A Journey Through the Chakras

Have you ever experienced a knot in your stomach during a particularly stressful experience? A lump in your throat as you held back from expressing something you wished to say? A “heavy heart”? It’s very likely that, at some point, you’ve heard someone refer to the “chakras” or the “chakra system” in the body, but we often don’t make the connection between physical sensations like the ones described above and our chakra system.

Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine were founded on the principles of managing the energetic body and working with this chakra system. Whether or not you practice yoga or Ayurvedic medicine, however, an understanding of our energetic body and the ability to manage it is a powerful way to support our health and wellbeing.

Now, I know…the concept of an energetic body can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for some (What? I have another body that I need to care for??). For that reason, I’m going to take you on a brief journey through the chakras in this post and give you some quick and easy tips for understanding,  working with and balancing your own energy system.

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Reasons to Rebound


Most people looked at me a bit cross-eyed when I told them that I got a rebounder (or mini-trampoline) for Mother’s Day last year. I could almost hear them thinking Isn’t she a little old to be playing on a trampoline? Truth is, I had been wanting a rebounder for some time, mostly because I thought that it seemed like a fun form of cardio to complement my yoga practice.

Once I began doing some research on rebounding, however, I realized that there are many benefits to rebounding that go way beyond cardiovascular conditioning. In fact, rebounding has powerful detoxifying, strengthening and energizing effects on the body. And It’s especially beneficial for us over 40 gals, as it addresses two of our major health concerns – loss of bone mass and hormonal balance.

How? Well here’s where things gets really interesting

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Flexibility and the Spine


“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” – Yogi Bhajan

In the Kundalini yoga tradition, tremendous emphasis is placed upon the spine. The practice involves the conscious awareness and control of kundalini energy (sometimes referred to as prana, chi or life force energy), which tends to become stagnant and coiled around the base of the spine. The goal of the kundalini practice (and, in fact, all forms of yoga) is to uncoil/activate this life force energy, open up the spinal column (also known as the Sushumna channel) and move this powerful energy up the spine, through each of the chakras (energy centers) and, ultimately, throughout the body. In doing so, complete physical, mental and spiritual balance can be achieved. Pretty fascinating stuff.

For that reason, it’s not surprising that so many yoga postures work on building the strength and flexibility of the spine.

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