Archive Monthly Archives: January 2018

Yoga for a Healthy Heart!

When asked how to correctly write out the sound of a heartbeat, replied, “There are different versions in different languages. In English I have seen thump thump, ba boom, ba bump and lub-dub. In India, it is ‘dhakdhak.’ In Italian, it’s ‘tu tump.’” Regardless of how the sound is described, the sound of a healthy heart is like music! Unfortunately, the tune some hearts play can be a bit off key.

Sunrise Yoga recently began a series of yoga classes to promote a healthy heart. The classes were offered by Sunrise Yoga founder, Valerie Kiser, to fulfill graduation requirements for Cardiac Yoga Certification. The interest in these classes was overwhelming and seemed to point out a need for more information regarding yoga for a healthy heart!

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.”

Kathryn Boland, a Certified Yoga Therapist, noted in an article on, “Ancient cultures saw the heart as the seat of our emotions, while modern culture has largely regarded it as the organ that pumps life-giving blood throughout the body. We mostly now see the brain, with its firing neurons and moving neurotransmitters, as the place where thoughts and emotions originate. On the other hand, modern science is coming to understand cardiovascular impacts on emotion, such as the strong connections between anxiety and breath rate, pulse, and body temperature—all of which are closely tied to the condition of the heart.”

She goes on to say, “Because of the physiological link between breathing rate and heart rate, pranayama, yoga’s science of breath control and awareness, can perhaps contribute to heart health. The emotional aspect of heart disease care is another area to which yoga can offer powerful benefits.”

“The effect of pressure can never be under estimated. Ask someone who has undergone bypass surgery or suffered cardiac arrests or other heart diseases! If they have lived to tell the tale, they will tell you that they have to continually battle fear and stress.” notes This is further underscored by the president of Positive Health Solutions, founder of Cardiac Yoga, and yoga instructor, M. Mala Cunningham, Ph.D., as quoted on the American Heart Association site, “The acute emotional stress of such an event certainly has a significant and adverse effect on the heart,” she said. “That’s where yoga can be a tremendous benefit to manage the stress, and half of bypass surgery patients go through depression, facing emotions ranging from anxiety to grieving. All these things come into play when you’ve got a potentially chronic disease to manage for the rest of your life.”

As Sunrise Yoga reports on its website, the benefits of yoga include the relief of stress, increased serenity and peace, and increased energy, among numerous other benefits. The healthy heart class focuses on breathing, mindfulness and relaxation with poses adapted to meet the needs of heart patients. The current series of classes will end soon but we encourage you to contact us for other classes that could be appropriate for you so that you too can experience the heart healthy benefits of yoga.

February is American Heart Month. Make it your goal to get your heart singing a happy song! We would love to help you get in tune! Download the Sunrise Yoga app, visit the web site, or call the studio at 336-778-1233.

Thyroid Awareness Month – Yoga Can Help!

Have you been trying to get back to yoga, back to the gym, get in shape, make changes, begin anew? January is also the month that has been deemed Thyroid Awareness Month. Thyroid awareness may change your perspective on your progress with your new year’s resolutions.

According to, “The thyroid is a small gland located in the base of your neck that is part of the endocrine system. This tiny gland has a big job and nobody disputes that! The gland is responsible for various functions including the metabolism, regulating body temperature, cognitive function, digestion, and much more. To make it easy, the thyroid affects the entire body and when it is not working properly you will definitely feel the effects.”

From, the facts regarding thyroid issues include:
• More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
• An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
• Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
• Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention.
• The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.

And they note common symptoms include:
• Weight loss or gain
• Palpitations
• Feeling anxious or jittery
• Increased sweating
• Feeling hot or cold
• Trouble sleeping
• Constipation
• Depression
• Fatigue (feeling very tired)
• Hair Loss
• Dry skin and hair

Problems start to arise when there is either too much thyroid hormone in the system (hyperthyroidism), or there is too little thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism). notes, “Hypothyroidism carries a range of symptoms that include unexplained fatigue ,weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, feeling cold, hair loss, low sex drive, constipation or infertility”
Because hypothyroidism usually has insidious onset and nonspecific symptoms, Nadia Yaqub, MD — a UC Health endocrinologist who treats patients with all spectrums of thyroid disease— says: ‘People don’t connect the dots right away’ and the symptoms are easily brushed off and attributed to other factors such as poor diet, stress or even depression.

On the flip side, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism—rapid heart rate, heat intolerance and unexplained weight loss and anxiety—manifest quickly and may cause people to seek medical attention sooner, she says. According to the AACE, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, where antibodies target the thyroid gland, causing it to overproduce thyroid hormone.

The majority of thyroid disease sufferers are women, often diagnosed by their OB/GYN when women are trying to conceive. Thyroid hormone also plays role in infertility as well. Some females are diagnosed for the first time during their pregnancy.”

What do issues with the thyroid have to do with yoga?

According to, “There haven’t been too many studies which specifically show how yoga can help improve thyroid health.” and “Although yoga doesn’t seem to have a direct effect on thyroid health, it can help to improve the health of people with these conditions in other ways. Research shows that yoga can modulate the immune system, and as I mentioned earlier, this can lead to a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6, interleukin 8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and CRP.”

“Since stress is believed to be one of the major factors for thyroid disorders, meditation keeps the mind calm and relaxed and reduces everyday stress. The chanting of ‘Om’ everyday for a few minutes also helps. After chanting, do this small activity: put your hand on the thyroid gland and feel that it is getting healed. Let the positive vibrations of chanting have a stimulating effect on the thyroid gland.”, from

Yoga Poses for Your Thyroid include:

* Supported shoulderstand
* Plow Pose
* Fish Pose
* Legs Up the Wall Pose
* Cat Cow Pose
* Boat Pose
* Camel Pose
* Cobra Pose
* Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose
* Corpse Pose

Think you have a thyroid issue? Contact us at to see if we can help you with this. We would love to help you!

Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna) or Extended Triangle Pose

This month’s pose is the Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna) or Extended Triangle Pose.

From, “Utthita, means extended/spread and Trikona, means triangle. In other words Utthita Trikonasana means , extended triangle pose. Uttihita Trikonasana requires mastery over the upper body, as the hips and the neck need to be turned easily. This Asana comes under the category of Standing and Balancing Asanas. They can also be considered as Hip Opener Poses.”

The benefits and focus of the extended triangle pose include improved balance and flexibility, relief from back pain, sciatica, and osteoporosis, stimulation of abdominal organs, improved digestion, increased energy and focus, stress relief, and relief from menopause symptoms. Physically, the calves, hamstrings, and ankles are strengthened, and the hips, chest, and shoulders are opened.

As Gwen demonstrates in this image, and as points out, “You can see several triangles in the pose: Your hands and back foot are the points of one; your two feet are points of another; and your torso, arm, and front leg form the sides of yet another. The main triangle that you can see in the pose is the one at the bottom, where the floor is the base and your legs are the sides. The feet and floor form the foundation of the structure.”

Step by Step (from

* Facing the long edge of your mat, step your feet wide apart, about the length of your leg.
* Turn your right foot 90 degrees so the toes point to the short edge of the mat, and turn the left foot in about 45 degrees towards the right.
* Distribute weight evenly over the four corners of both feet, lift arches and inner ankles up.
* With straight legs, lift your knee caps drawing the top of thighs up and back, roll the right thigh out so the right knee is in line with first two toes.
* Lengthen through both sides of the waist, draw you lower belly in and up. Inhale and lift your arms parallel to the floor, extend through to the fingertips as you exhale.
* Inhale and reach to the right extending your body over your right leg, shift your hips towards the back of the mat and exhale as you bring your right arm down, placing your hand where it reaches, either on the leg, foot, the floor or a block outside the foot.
* Point the left arm straight up to the ceiling, hand in line with your shoulder, palm facing forwards.
* Keep as much length in the left side waist as in the right, rotate your ribs to the ceiling.
* Lengthen through the sides of the neck, keeping your neck in line with spine. Look straight in front of you, or tuck the chin slightly and turn to look up toward your left hand.
* Keep your face relaxed and breath gently as you keep pressing through the feet, extending through fingertips and lengthening through the crown of the head.
* To come out press your feet firmly into the floor, inhale and reach your left arm up to the ceiling as you come back to standing straight.
* Pivot your heels so you reverse the orientation of your feet to the other side and repeat on the left.

Need help learning this pose? Contact us at and find a class on our schedule that will connect you with one of our instructors.

Karen Hoglund – She’s Got Your Back (and Mind and Spirit)!

Meet Sunrise Yoga instructor, Karen Hoglund!

Karen became a student of yoga in 1999, eventually receiving her 330-hour yoga teacher training certificate from Triad Yoga Institute in 2004 and her 500-hour certificate from Triad Yoga’s Vidya program in 2008. In January of 2017 she began her 1000-hour certification program to become a certified yoga therapist with East Coast Yoga Therapy.

Karen’s challenges with her back (scoliosis) have taught her how important good alignment is and how yoga can strengthen the body while reducing pain. She is inspired by music and ancient traditions so her flow classes often have playlists geared to the sequence, sprinkled in with the occasional myth, and all classes are interwoven with pranayama, asana, and short meditations to hopefully bring us into balance and add a little peace into our lives.

Karen is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level (RYT500).

If you don’t already follow Karen on Facebook, look her up! She is currently posting a series of meditations that began January 1st and will continue through January 21st. You can also find Karen on Friday leading this week’s Quieting the Mind class (6:00-7:30 pm) which will be a New Year’s Walking the Labyrinth Meditation, open for all levels. In this class, you will set your intentions for 2018 in a meditative walk of the labyrinth to release what is no longer serving you, encouraging restoration, rejuvenation and transformation.

Karen also leads the Back Care Yoga class (Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm, and Saturdays, 11:00 am-12:30 pm) and Level 2 Flow Yoga class (Saturdays, 9:00-10:30 am).

Questions for Karen? Email us at