7 Secrets Yoga Teachers Want You to Know
Between holiday travel and crunch time at work, it’s more important than ever to hit the mat this time of year. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a newbie just buying her first piece of Kate Spade yoga gear, everyone can benefit from a little expert advice. So we reached out to top instructors to get them to spill their best yoga secret. Here are their top seven words of wisdom.
1. Focus on the Basics. Sure, it’s normal to get classroom envy of the lady or fella who’s holding a headstand like it ain’t no thang, but mastering the fundamentals and devoting your energy to honing in on the simple poses is key. “It’s a yoga practice, not a performance!” Gina Marciano, yoga instructor at Studio Three in Chicago, reminds us. “It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. Oftentimes, yoga poses are most beneficial when you go back to the basics and strip away the fancy variations,” Marciano adds. If you aren’t ready for certain poses in class, don’t be shy about grabbing a block to prop you up or other aids like foot bands. “This will not only make a posture more accessible, but will also allow your breath to deepen and for both your body and mind to be more responsive and less reactive to tension,” explains Marciano.
2. Try and Fail: It’s Okay! “Even if a pose looks super crazy or impossible, give it a try. You may surprise yourself, but even if you don’t, every time you try, it builds strength and confidence,” offers Rebecca Weible, Director and Founder of Yo Yoga! in New York City. Perfect example: You know that time your instructor tells you to have faith and let go and throw your feet into the air for crane pose? Trust yourself and just count “1-2-3” and then go. Hey, the worst that can happen is you teeter over and try again.
3. Connect With Your Breath. The secret? Well, it’s right under your nose and happening without you even noticing. “It’s your breath!” exclaims Karen Verechia, Yoga Instructor at Hilton Head Health, a wellness retreat in South Carolina. If you’re feeling stressed or frustrated, the yogi principle of connecting with your breath is key. “Focus on slowing down your breath. You can switch from your sympathetic nervous system (aka, the ‘fight or flight’ system) to the parasympathetic system (aka, the ‘rest and digest’ system), by simply taking the time for a fuller breath. You’ll emerge more relaxed and focused,” explains Verechia. Some important notes: Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale by about two times. First count your inhale, and then double that count as you exhale. Verechia suggests trying for five to seven breath cycles in a minute, with a cycle of an inhale and exhale counting as one. When coffee cravings strike at work and you’re feeling sluggish, fatigued and like you totally can’t concentrate, try this “breath of fire” technique first, suggests Verechia: “Exhale strongly out of your month and pull your stomach in (like panting). Inhales just happen. Focus on the exhale and get a rhythm going. Aim for 60 counts, then rest. Notice. Repeat if necessary.
4. Choose a Mantra. “Before class, I say to myself, ‘I picked this choice. I did this for a reason. I don’t hate being in the brutal heat and humidity. I’m feeling fine.’ then I wish myself good luck and knock it out like a champ,” advises Patrick Mason, a TruFusion Yoga Instructor in Las Vegas. Whitney Owens, also a Yoga Instructor at TruFusion, shares “I like to begin my yoga practice in child’s pose to ground myself into the room and get present to listening to my body throughout the practice. I use the mantra, ‘Listen and trust your body.’ That way, I am working to stay away from injury, but finding my edge in each practice.” For you, your mantra might be as simple as “I am enough” or “Let go.” Use the quote to motivate and guide you throughout the whole class, particularly when you’re trying to hold a tough pose or find yourself struggling with a move. Check out these motivational posters for some inspiration.
5. Let Things Evolve Naturally. You’ve powered your way through planning and pulling off the perfect Friendsgiving and are a rock star when it comes to acing your cycling class. So, why are you having such a hard time nailing that Chaturanga in sync with the rest of your class? Don’t be discouraged. “Yoga is meant to be a lifetime practice, so there’s no sense in attempting to master every posture in the first week, six months or even year. Allow this to be the one part of your life that isn’t goal- or task-oriented and enjoy the freedom and ease that comes from that,” comforts Gina Marciano, yoga instructor at Studio Three in Chicago. “Forget about the destination and embrace every moment of the journey to self-discovery and abundant peace,” reflects Marciano.
6. Ditch the Mat Envy. You know the drill: Arrive in class, cool and confident. Until you realize you are next to the world’s most limber yogi who manages to have perfect hair and clothes and goes through class without a bead of sweat on her forehead. Instead of being jealous, remember this: “Don’t compare yourself to others while practicing yoga! Easier said than done, right? When we compare, we automatically focus our attention outward rather than inward and lose our connection to the breath and the present moment. As soon as you observe your thoughts starting to wander, bring yourself back to your breath. Take a deep inhale, exhale and bring your attention back to your own body and mind,” says Katie Manbachi, Yoga Instructor at Yo Yoga! in New York City.
7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate All Day Long, Especially Before Hot Yoga. You might think sipping on good ol’ H2O during class is enough, but yoga pros know better: “Hydrate well with electrolytic water throughout the day. If you are fully hydrated before class, you should not need water during class. Once class starts, it’s too late to gain the benefits of the hydration and drinking water becomes simply a psychosomatic crutch,” says Mark Balfe-Taylor, Director of Yoga at TruFusion. “However, for those who struggle with the temperature of heated classes, ice water will reduce your internal temperature, enabling you to cope better,” Balfe-Taylor advises. Bottom line: Sip on water throughout the day (here’s another reason to raise your glass, in case you need it), and still bring a bottle along to class.
Do you have a favorite yoga pose? Tweet us at @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com