Yoga Nook Member Profile: Jackie Cirrincione

This week on the Yoga Nook blog, we’re shining a light on one of our fantastic members: Jackie Cirrincione. Jackie tells us what led her to Yoga, what she values most about being a member and some of her favorite classes at the Nook.

What originally led you to begin practicing Yoga in general, and at Yoga Nook in particular? 

My doctor pointed me in the direction of Yoga because of the pain in my back. I was referred to Yoga Nook by a friend’s daughter-in-law who highly recommended it. Both my friend and her daughter-in-law have since moved out of the area and can no longer make it to Yoga Nook, and they miss it.

How has practicing Yoga and AIM (either group classes or one-on-one) benefited you? 

Practicing Yoga has helped me understand the limits of what my body can and cannot do. The instructors have shown me many things I can actually do when using the correct alignment. I miss the classes if something prevents me from getting to the studio.

Are there any stories you would like to share about your journey with Yoga? 

No specific story, but I am still amazed at how the instructors always take notice of who is new to their class. They make a point of introducing themselves and finding out what each member’s needs are. I have been so impressed by how they meet a new member one time and they remember their name automatically going forward. For me, that means a lot that someone would care enough to remember me after one introduction, and it makes me feel important.

What do you value most about being a member at Yoga Nook? 

Not only have I gained great value from the actual classes, which give my back the attention and support it needs, but I’ve also made friends with several of the other members. They are friendships I would be more than happy to continue outside of Yoga Nook. The Nook pulls in a really good class of people and is always a pleasant place to be.

What is your favorite class at Yoga Nook, and why? 

It is tough to pin down a specific class that I like because the variety of classes and instructors make many of the classes enjoyable for me. I try my hardest to never miss the Yoga 1 class given by Jessica on Monday nights or the Yoga 1 taught by Jeni on Wednesday nights. Then there is the Saturday morning Urban Yoga 1 — I really like that one as well.

And I cannot forget to mention the first time I took the Friday night Restorative Yoga. My first thought was, I don’t need a “nap” class, but it really only took one class for me to realize how beneficial restorative yoga is. Now I really respect what I get out of that class and don’t like to miss it either.

Related article: 
Yoga Nook Member Profile: Patti Grammatis


Becoming a Yoga Teacher

It’s the weekend of Yoga Nook Teacher Training practicums, and I’m sitting in a corner of the studio with a clipboard in my lap, pen poised. I’m attempting to be as inconspicuous as possible as I critique the teachers, but stress levels are high.

Their personal yoga journey has brought them to this point. Standing in front of a group of students, they are about to teach their first yoga class. From this moment on, they are true yoga teachers.

They’re nervous – no escaping that – yet on some level, they know that the last 10 months of practice and study are about to pay off. From philosophy to technique, and a large helping of looking inside to find their essential selves, they’ve discovered new strengths, learned new skill sets and developed the teacher within.

They have all changed from the students that began this program in January. Each transformation has been unique and stunning in its evolution. Their perspective has shifted – indeed, it will never really be the same again, as the wealth of knowledge they have accumulated will make each yoga class richer and more meaningful.

Their experience of their personal yoga practice has deepened because they can identify class progression, escalation and resolution. The thousands of years that Yoga has been used as a foundation for meditation, focus and self-control now becomes the pool from which they draw inspiration for teaching their own classes.

For us, the faculty, we are honored to be part of this remarkable process. We teach them how to hold a class in their hands and in their hearts. We guide them to discover their true Self so that through this discovery, they can be a creative leader. We offer support when they are frustrated or confused, and through being human and living our own Yoga, we are their touchstone.

Congratulations to the 2015 graduates. You are all exceptional students, and the faculty wish you the very best of luck as you continue to share your Yoga with the classes you teach and the people in your lives.

If you are interested in becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher and joining the group now forming for January 2016, take a look at the syllabus on our website or contact us via email. Proficiency in asana is preferred but not required; the only prerequisites are an open mind and heart.


Image credit: Steve Prakope via Flickr (CC)

Sleep Better Tonight: 7 Ways to Wake Refreshed

It’s 2:30 a.m. It’s hot, and the whirling of the ceiling fan is causing the window blinds to click erratically against the glass. I lie in bed and wait for the next click.

My mind is racing — I’m thinking of all the things I have to get done in the morning. Click. Then I think of all the things I should have said. Click. Then I think of all the things I shouldn’t have said. Click.

How did you sleep last night? Did you wake up before the alarm clock, feeling refreshed? Or did you hit the snooze button?

Tiredness as a result of poor sleep habits is commonplace in our frenetic world. As a nation, we average one and a half hours less sleep per night than we did 100 years ago. One in 10 people suffers from long-standing sleep problems. The image of the office worker falling asleep with their head on the keyboard is less cliché and more archetypal.

Doctors define insomnia as dissatisfaction with the “quality, quantity or timing of sleep” for a period of one month or longer. Once a poor sleep habit has been established, it can be hard to break — but just putting up with it may not be the answer either.

People who consistently sleep less than six or seven hours a night are more likely to develop heart, lung or kidney disease. The immune system is often affected, making them more likely to catch a cold or become infected with the flu. Long-term insomniacs are 40 times more likely than a normal sleeper to develop clinical depression.

sleep infographic
Click to enlarge

How Much Is Enough? 

The average human needs seven to eight hours of sleep during a 24-hour period. However, some minds and bodies thrive on as little as five hours of sleep with no obvious side effects. The real question should be, “How do you feel when you get up in the morning: refreshed or tired?” If your answer is “tired,” then your sleep may not be deep enough or long enough.

7 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

We usually don’t think much about preparing for sleep; most of us just go to bed when we feel sufficiently tired. If you’re not getting enough sleep or the quality of your sleep is poor, setting up a new routine before you go to bed can help:

        1. Stop watching television or reading work-related documents about one hour before you go to bed.
        2. Avoid drinking caffeine, alcohol or sugary juices at night, as these stimulate the brain and digestive system.
        3. Stick to lighter meals in the evening. Eating big meals or meat and dairy, which are hard to digest, can also affect the quality of your sleep.
        4. Take time for an herb-infused shower or bath in preparation for sleep.
        5. Sprinkle your pillow with a few drops of lavender oil to help you relax.
        6. Make sure the room is dark, cool and quiet.
        7. Get up and do something to stop the blinds from clicking against the window! 😉

Do you have a pre-bedtime routine? What helps you sleep better? Feel free to share in the comments below. 


Image credit: masha krasnova-shabaeva via Flickr (CC)

Got the Back Pain Blues? Attend Our FREE Back Care Basics Workshop

So here’s the bad news: Your experience of pain is real. The good news is: You can reduce your pain.

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor’s office, second only to upper respiratory infections. Ninety percent of people suffer from back pain as a result of poor body mechanics, bad posture and lack of core strength. The road to recovery must include movement education, exercise and awareness. Yoga can help.

If you’ve ever suffered from back pain, you know how debilitating it can be. Pain as a result of movement will quickly teach us to avoid moving. We begin to limit our range of motion, and when we do move, we reach out for any stable object in an attempt to decrease pain. We lean on furniture, work surfaces, shopping carts — anything that will decrease the workload of the painful site in our backs.

We become our own worst enemy as we shift our center of gravity, causing other muscles to bear the load. Vulnerable and weak, we feel as old as the pain in our backs.

I see clients with back pain every week. Using AIM (Awareness, Integration and Movement) techniques, we gradually decrease pain levels, recover range of motion and discover what movements are actually the root cause of their discomfort.

Some pain resolves very quickly, while some takes more time as we slowly unwind many years of adaptation to less-than-functional movement patterns. The key to resolving pain is to not create it when you move, so any movement must be very small and slow to begin with. Releasing tight compensatory muscles is a major factor, along with reducing the effort involved.

During a private AIM session or group AIM class, I direct attention to how the movement is created: Where does it begin? Once we have established a pain-free range of movement, no matter how small, we begin to build sequences and patterns that remind the brain of different options for functional movement.

Gradually the body and brain are reeducated, and the client can enjoy pain-free movement. Once free of pain, Yoga continues to affirm the retraining as well as strengthen and stabilize the body, preventing the recurrence of pain and increasing the client’s body awareness.

Yoga Nook @ Fifth is holding a FREE workshop called Back Care Basics this Saturday, October 10 from 10:30-12 p.m. In this workshop, we will identify some organic causes of back pain and help improve range of motion using gentle AIM sequences. If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please call 805-390-8175.

See you there!


Related articles: 
3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Back Pain
Correcting Poor Posture with AIM Somatic Movement
The World on Your Shoulders

Image credit: Michael Dorausch via Flickr (CC)