Friday, May 03, 2013

Secrets to relaxation

Professor shares secrets to relaxation, spiritual healing
New book outlines healing powers of crystal meditation
PHILADELPHIA – According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half of those say they need help learning how to manage stress. In For Starseeds: Healing the Heart-Pleiadian Crystal Meditations, Dr. Ruth Starseed Hoskins shows how daily crystal meditation can decrease stress, which will drastically improve one's life and spirit.
Hoskins used her experiences as a licensed psychotherapist and professor at Chestnut Hill College as well as her educational background in holistic health sciences to show people the importance of spiritual wellbeing and relaxation through crystal meditation.
"Meditation is the one tool that opens a person to higher consciousness," said Hoskins. "By combining meditation with crystals, people are able to get in touch with their inner-selves and step into the knowledge that we are spiritual beings of light on Earth."
By using the 28 crystal meditations that are presented in Hoskins' book, readers will embark on a spiritual journey that will allow them to grow in their minds, bodies and spirits. Not only will these meditations aid in experiencing a higher consciousness, but they will also alleviate stress and increase positive psychological health.
"Stress can hurt and distort perception and make it difficult to let go of anger," said Hoskins. "The meditations that I have provided in my book are meant to encourage people take time for themselves and meditate so that they have an opportunity to relax."
For more information, visit
For Starseeds: Healing the Heart-Pleiadian Crystal Meditations
By: Ruth Starseed Hoskins
ISBN: 978-1-45256-149-3
Softcover retail price: $33.99
E-book price: $3.99
Available at, and
About the author
Ruth Starseed Hoskins, PhD, HHS, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist, and the director of Relaxation International. Hoskins presents educational programs on stress management, healing the heart from grief and loss, spirituality, effortless meditation, crystal healing, balancing work and home life, dreams to solve problems during sleep, and past-life regression.

Wedding ideas: Workouts

The Wedding Dress Workout

Personal Trainer & Nutritionist Franci Cohen Unveils the Best Workouts by Wedding Dress Style 

Miami, FL (April 23, 2013) – Flowers? Check. Invitations mailed out? Check.   Photographer and band booked? Check.   With only a few weeks left before the big day, now it’s all about the dress.  Every bride-to-be wants to look her very best on her wedding day.  Once you've found that perfect dress, you're probably working extra hard at sticking to a healthy diet and exercise plan.   “Your workout should be catered toward what style of dress you're wearing,” says Franci Cohen, personal trainer, certified nutritionist and exercise physiologist in New York City. “There are the sleeveless ball gowns that hide lower body flaws but really show off your shoulders and arms. There is the mermaid style that hugs the body and demands a toned butt and hips.  Whatever your style, there are workout routines that target the specific areas your dress reveals.”

The Mermaid Workout
Form-fitted, sheath, column, hourglass, mermaid and trumpet style dresses cling to the body, drawing attention to the belly, butt and thighs.
What You Want: A sleek, smooth torso for even the slinkiest sheath.
The Workout: For a clingy dress that leaves no stone uncovered, and bares even the slightest bit of bulge, try this “Progressive-Plank Trio.” It works the entire core in a progressive series that will cinch your waistline, and give you the sleek and smooth torso you desire!
1. In plank position, lift your feet one at a time (just an inch off the floor) so it appears as though you are walking in place without bending your knees. Repeat 60 times (approx. 1 minute) STAY IN PLANK!
2. While still in plank position, progress to plank push-pulls! Push forward so that your weight is on your toes for 1 count, and then pull back so that weight is towards your heels for 2 counts. The cycle goes like this "push-pull pull, push-pull pull, etc.". Repeat this cycle 20 times. STAY IN PLANK
3. In your final minute remaining in plank position, your final progression is to plank rolls! In plank position, gently and with control, roll your body weight to the right, all the way, so that you feet roll onto their sides as well. Then roll all the way to the left. Continuously, and with fluidity, roll side to side (as far right and left as possible) 20 times.

The Baby Got Back Workout

Although Hilary Swank’s navy blue backless Guy Laroche dress may not have been a wedding gown per se, it did however remind us that when it comes to sex appeal, a nicely toned back may be your most underrated asset.  Open back wedding dresses are the new ultra-romantic wedding trend for the 2013 spring and summer seasons.   Depending on how low cut you want your dress, they can be incredibly sexy and classy all at the same time.
What You Want: An upper and lower back workout to help firm up that all important rear view.
The Workout: Want to wear an open back or even a super low back stunner? A strong upper back and toned physique will give you the killer backside you desire, to go bare back in style! Try this:
1. Bent over rows. To start, holding a body bar, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your head up. Bend so that you are almost (but not quite) parallel to the floor. Bring hands straight down directly below your chest. Your palms should be facing toward you as you lift the weight. Use your back muscles to draw the weight up to touch your chest while keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. Lower the weight under control and repeat 25 times.
2. Pull-Ups. This may seem like an exercise that’s more appropriate for the arms but a great deal of work is placed on the upper back to lift the weight of the body and lower it with control. This exercise is a true measure of upper back strength, and is a great challenge, because you’re lifting your full body weight. An alternative for beginner would be to use an assisted pull-up machine that uses weight to counter act your own bodyweight. Use this machine until you can perform regular pull-up/chin-ups in proper form. Start with an overhand grip (palms down-away from you) for pull-ups, and underhand grip (palms up-facing you) for chin-ups. Keep your hands at shoulder width approximately for pull ups and just to the outside of the width of the jawline for chin ups. Perform 25 pull-ups of chin-ups, trying your best to hold for a second at the top of the movement.                            
3. The Dive-Lie. Face down on the floor with your hands on the floor right in front of your shoulders, and elbows bent out to the sides. Straighten out the arms and lift the upper body into a cobra position. Next, lean forward and lift both legs in the air, and lift hands off the floor, emphasizing lower-back engagement even more. Continuing rocking forward and back diving between the 2 movements.

The 360-Degree Strapless Dress Workout
The strapless wedding dress is a classic, timeless style.  It will also put your upper body on a 360-degree display during the walk down the aisle, the first dance and of course the bouquet toss.
What You Want: Toned triceps, biceps, and pectorals to really strut your strapless
The Workout: Try these super-toning moves to get those arms sculpted to perfection in no time!
1. Triceps Dips. Begin by sitting on a step or chair with hands next to thighs.  Balance on your arms, moving your rear end in front of the chair with legs straight (harder) or bent (easier). Bend the elbows and lower body a few inches, keeping the shoulders away from your ears and the elbows parallel to one another, going no lower than 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position. Repeat for 1 long superset of 25 repetitions.  If you have any wrist or shoulder problems, skip this exercise.
2. Suspended Bicep Curls. With a 3-5 pound weight in each hand, raise your hands up, so that elbows are parallel to your shoulders, and hands are directly above the elbows (basically form a right angle at your elbows). Keeping your arms suspended, with palms facing you, curl you hands in towards your shoulders, and then extend back out to starting right angle position (do not extend the arms fully to straight). Repeat for 35 curls.
3. Push-Ups. Start in plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside of your shoulders. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. As you lower yourself, tuck your elbows, pulling them close to your body so that your upper arms form a 45-degree angle when your torso is in the bottom position of the move. Hold for just a second, and then push back to the starting position. Keep your core braced the entire time. Don't let your booty lift up into the air, and don't let your hips sag either. You want your body to be on neutral position-one straight line from head to toe. If it hurts your wrists to put your hands directly on the floor, place a pair of dumbbells (use a pair with flat edges, like hex dumbbells) at the spots where you'd position your hands. Then grasp the dumbbells' handles and keep your wrists straight as you perform the exercise.

The Get Shorty Workout

Mia Farrow made it iconic.  Cindy Crawford made it cool and bohemian.  Whether you're having a low-key beach wedding or looking for a second, more casual, dress to wear to your reception, short wedding gowns are all about the gams.  
What You Want: Toned and sculpted legs, quads and butt.
The Workout: Want those sexy sculpted legs and glutes? Try this:
Stand facing a mirror with your hand holding on to the top of a chair. Place a squishy ball behind your right knee, and bend your lower leg to secure the ball in place. Lift your right leg so that your right upper leg becomes parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your left standing leg. Start pulsing the right thigh up and down (and inch in each direction). Repeat for 60 pulses. Next, rotate your right hip in and down, so that your right knee rotates down to face the floor. Then rotate up and out, so that your right foot faces the floor. Continue rotating in and out 30 times. Finally, return back to starting position, with your right thigh parallel to the floor and right knee should be level with your right hip. With your knee, start drawing circles. 20 circles rolling forward and then 20 in reverse. At this point you can now release the ball from your right leg, and repeat the entire cycle on your left leg.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Meet Franci Cohen
Franci Cohen is a personal trainer, certified nutritionist, exercise physiologist and creator of SPIDERBANDS®, a total-body cardio resistance workout that leverages gravity and your bodyweight with other intense exercise modules such as rebounding, kickboxing and indoor cycling.  With over 18 years of experience, Franci has been a mainstay in the fitness and nutrition industries. Franci believes in a tough love approach to fitness and health.  “We all have our fitness wake-up call at some point in our lives and it can be a powerful catalyst for change,” says Franci. “Unfortunately, many people overcompensate and try to change everything at once, which is a disaster. Making lasting change involves going through stages that aren't necessarily linear.  People fluctuate and transition between the stages. Knowing how to move through them can get you where you want to be.”

Franci devotes much of her time to Fuel Fitness, a specialty fitness center in Brooklyn, NY and continues to teach group fitness classes, train clients and broaden her perspective in all areas of fitness, nutrition and wellness.  She designs unique fitness modules and group exercise programs for her clients utilizing the most effective and popular products, tools and exercise equipment available.  “Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health, but sometimes it’s hard to just get motivated.  My goal is to keep it fun and interesting by creating out-of-the-box programs that wow my clients with both the innovative nature of the classes, as well as with the rapid results they see in their bodies!  My classes are the ultimate playground where fitness meets fun, and nothing is off limits!”

Franci has been married for 14 years and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and four children.  

Take the 3-Minute Mental Health Screen Free for May, Mental Health Month

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – (May 3, 2013) – According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in any given year approximately 25 percent of the adult population in the country are diagnosable for one or more mental health disorders. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that antidepressants rank as the third-most-common prescription drugs taken by Americans of all ages. May is known as Mental Health Month, making it a great time to raise awareness about the need for evaluation.

“Many people suffer from mental health issues but are unaware of it, of how serious it is, or what to do about it,” explains Dr. Gerald Hurowitz, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Columbia University, as well as president of M3 Information, a company that makes tools to assist in mental health assessment and management. “That’s why so many people are taking three minutes out of their busy day in order to see what their number is.”

M3 has developed WhatsMyM3 mental health screen, the only assessment tool that has been medically proven to screen for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD.  The tool can provide helpful information to the person taking it, as well as to clinicians.

The three minute test online at has always been free.  For the month of May the developers have made the iTunes and Google Play WhatsMyM3 app, which gives people the ability to track their scores, as a free download.  By answering a series of questions about how one is feeling and sleeping, and a variety of other lifestyle factors, the person is given a score. A score of 33 and up may indicate that the individual’s life is being impacted by a mood disorder.

In the efforts to end the stigma surrounding mental health, people are sharing their WhatsMyM3 mental health scores on line and using the hashtag #WhatsYourNumber to encourage others to do the same..
“Having an underlying mental health issue can be devastating,” adds Dr. Gerald Hurowitz. “It impacts your life, it puts you at a higher risk for chronic diseases, and it can take years off of your life. Our three-minute test can be life-changing for those who may need mental health assistance.”

To learn more the mental health screen, or to take  the test, visit the site at   To learn more about the social media campaign and the partnership with Mental Health America please visit:

About M3 Information
M3 Information, based in Rockville, Maryland, creates innovative tools that help people with mental health assessment and management. The goal of the Mental Health Number tool is to help people assess their state of mental health within three minutes. It was created based on the M3 Checklist validation study that was published in the Annals of Family Medicine. The information provided by the test helps reduce the incidence of missed mental health cases and mistreatment. For more information about M3 Information, visit the site at

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over. <>
National Institutes of Mental Health. Any Disorder Among Adults. <>

Spring flowers - Photo by Annelise Woodward

Crab apple blossom - Photo by Annelise Woodward

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Moksha Yoga: Hottest off-the-mat challenge

Moksha Yoga
Classic neck stretch
TORONTO, Canada, – Moksha Yoga, North America’s leading collective of highly accessible, socially and ecologically conscious hot yoga studios, unveiled today Grow Your Yoga, a 30-day off the mat challenge to bring together the global yoga community, educate on the roots of the Moksha practice and raise funds for a significant cause.

Formerly known as Living Your Moksha, Grow Your Yoga is the third annual challenge for the Moksha collective focusing on topics that promote vitality in every day life.  Kicking off May 1 and running through May 30, Grow Your Yoga will celebrate the seven pillars that Moksha Yoga is founded on including health, peace, accessibility and support for others.  Funds raised during the challenge will go to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT)—an organization backed by actor and activist Edward Norton that works to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa.  

See what Edward has to say about it here:

“Moksha Yoga’s mission is to promote a healthy awareness for our practice on the mat, while living by a set of philosophies that carry our practice off the mat,” said Moksha Yoga co-founder, Jessica Robertson.  “Grow Your Yoga provides us with an opportunity to remind our community of our foundation, to challenge ourselves to live by these ideas and to give back to a great cause.”

"We are thrilled to partner with Moksha for the Grow Your Yoga campaign," said Edward Norton, American actor and President of the U.S. Branch of MWCT. "MWCT shares Moksha's vision to protect and serve the natural world and it starts with education and awareness. Yoga teaches us that we are all connected, and that how we choose to act today will be our legacy for the future. As an avid Moksha practitioner myself I can't imagine a better way to embody the values of yoga off the mat than by committing to Grow Your Yoga and supporting the MWCT.”

The Grow Your Yoga Challenge will be broken down into 4 weeks, encouraging the community to showcase their success online through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #growyouryoga. Additionally, each challenger will be set-up with a personal profile via Crowdrise—a unique fundraising platform that allows challengers to set fundraising goals, personalize their page and reach out directly to their contacts—to fundraise throughout the campaign.  

Week 1: Be Healthy

Eat environmentally sustainable foods including locally grown, vegetarian, organic or vegan and share  a recipe or image of your dish online with hashtag #growyouryoga.  20 participants will receive a cookbook by Renee Loux.

Week 2: Be Peace

Practice 10 minutes of meditation every day and pay attention to what your voice is saying when your mind is silent. Share your reaction to this challenge, an image or quote that evokes peace online with hashtag #growyouryoga.  20 participants will receive a Manduka meditation and travel cushion.

Week 3: Be Accessible

Practice one week of no gossip and be accessible to deeper conversations. Share the impact listening rather than reacting has on you via the #growyouryoga hashtag. As a bonus – bring a friend to class for free.  20 participants will receive a 90-minute Moksha CD.

Week 4: Reach out

Participate in a worthy cause. Moksha Yoga is trying to raise $100,000 for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust Fundraiser. To do this Robertson suggests sharing the fundraiser URL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or uploading your cutest animal photo using the #growyouryoga.  20 participants will receive handmade Maasai bracelets.

Interested participants can find the studio nearest them, sign up and receive ongoing community updates at Registration for the challenge doesn't cost anything although there is a suggested donation of $10. All proceeds collected benefit the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) and will contribute to the $100,000 goal.

For more information on Moksha Yoga, please visit, or join us on Facebook:, Twitter: @MokshaYoga,,  or

About Moksha Yoga®:

Moksha Yoga® is a Toronto-originated yoga studio model dedicated to helping students find a calm mind, fit body and inspired life. With over 65 independently owned studios across the globe, Moksha Yoga’s unique hot yoga series makes ancient yoga traditions accessible and practical for life in the modern world. Moksha Yoga provides a body-warming physical regimen with a peaceful, fun and insightful mental and spiritual practice that encourages students to become healthy, passionate members of the planet. All Moksha Yoga studios are committed to community initiatives, eco sustainability, social causes and having good fun with good Karma. Find the nearest studio at