havenNestled in the bustling side-streets of SoHo is a true Haven amongst the busyness and at times, this chaotic center of shopping, restaurants and art galleries.  Haven has been around since 1998 and is one of New York’s original and affordable day spas. The ambiance here is incredible in that as one walks through the halls it  feels less like a spa in SoHo and more like a retreat in a remote and quiet place in New Mexico.  Haven is gently well lit and inviting with warm hues of mauve and plum.

I have enjoyed a variety of services here as I proudly was employed for five years at this spa.  This makes me favorably biased which is a good sign.  Not everyone can recommend places they were previously employed.  The owners have diligently put together a spa menu that is a head to toe fantastic and rejuvenating experience.  From body treatments to specialized manicures and pedicures.  I witnessed them consistently experiment till they would find the right combination of essential oils, scrubs and other delicious products for their services.  It would be difficult to review all the services offered here but I recommend Haven highly as a full service spa for grooming and relaxing.  Waxing is also available with both regular and organic wax for sensitive skin.

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chakraThe practice of Yoga has gained an immense popularity over the last few decades.  There are classes in gyms everywhere in small rural areas to cosmopolitan centers.  Among the benefits of participating consistently  in a well instructed class are good alignment, improved breathing and more spiritual connection (alignment through the Chakra system).  This last part is often forgotten or completely overlooked because yoga is often represented as simply another form of exercise.  Yoga means path or way.  The practice of the Asanas (poses in yoga) are meant as a way to connect to one’s center,  to source energy and spirit. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that effects your body, mind and spirit by practicing balance, strength and focus as we connect to the chakra system.  The words Yoga and Chakra were taken over by a flighty new age perspective at one point -it is important to reclaim them as they are refreshingly structured and grounded.  They are concepts that have been around for thousands of years and for good reasons.

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aroma therapy candleThe word aromatherapy often appears in my articles,  so I would like to share some simple  tips on how you can use it to enhance the quality of your environment and to help improve your mood.  First, go to your local health food store and check the lovely assortment of flora and fauna sitting there on the shelf!  Always make sure it says 100% pure on the label.  This means exactly what it says without that marker you may be purchasing artificial oil which will not have the same healing value.  You can, of course, purchase essential oil online but going to the store allows you to sample scents prior to buying.

If  you or anyone you live with has allergies, be very mindful when making your selection.  Avoid the strong scents at first such as eucalyptus or tea tree.  Though they have great therapeutic value, they can be very overpowering when introducing aromatherapy for the first time in your home.  Try the more simple and equally beneficial scents of citruses!  Grapefruit, sweet orange and even lemon are fantastic!  Bergamot, a citrus fruit similar to grapefruit and the main ingredient in Earl Grey tea, is one of my favorites.   Most people will not have a problem with these scents (unless they have a food allergy to them).  In addition, they have the familiarity factor which make people feel comfortable and welcome.  Citrus scents are great to use in those dark winter months to bring a little sunshine in your home and combat depression.

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Spine curveHow many times have you thought…I wish I had better posture? Maybe at one time you did have good posture, but with years of being slumped over a computer, gravity has pulled you forward. Maybe you noticed your reflection accidentally and gasped ” What happened to me!”…Or like me you may have suffered from scoliosis since birth and always had difficulty feeling comfortable and aligned. We feel guarded and are protecting our hearts when we roll our shoulders forward. Life’s trials and tribulations understandably can do this to all of us. This makes us give-in to low self-esteem, leading our physicality to display any anxiousness we may feel inside.

Well, after many years of searching I can honestly say I have solved a good deal of my discomfort and found ways to sort out my posture. I’d like to share with you one simple seated technique you can do in a chair that will help. You can practice this even at work-no one has to know what you’re up to!

Good posture should feel Good! Not stiff or uncomfortable. Dismiss the saying you may have heard in grade school: “SIT UP STRAIGHT!.” It is incorrect. The truth is the spine has curves (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral) Therefore, it only makes sense that we should align our posture in accordance with those curves.

Here’s the technique, which I call seated posture with coccyx bones pointed backward. (catchy title-I know). If you have Lordosis (sway back) posture this may not be the most effective technique for you. Feel your coccyx bones on the chair-they are the two bony parts under your bum! Most of us will sit on them pointing forward. Try arching your lower back a bit and have your coccyx bones pointing diagonally towards the back. Now feel how your spine stacks itself up on top of itself. Do you feel how your neck is in a better position? Try the old way with the coccyx pointing forward-you feel how your whole torso collapses onto itself and your neck jets forward? It is also more difficult to breath. Now try the new way-pointing those bones towards the back. There should not be too exaggerated of an arch of the spine. Feel your muscles support the spine. Now gently raise your chest up about an inch. This is referred to as “Heart to the sky.” Try it. Lift your heart to the sky. Now your chest is open and you have a better ability to breath. This position also feels great for the spirit! Gently look up to the ceiling, move your neck around a bit. This looking up will counterbalance constantly looking down.

Try this discretely next time you are in a meeting or an interview- you will feel so grounded and present because you are! It is very pleasant to be around someone in this state and you will probably get the job or the loan because you are solidly in your body not pretending to be confident. To pretend confidence is generally a turn off and a sure sign that you’re not secure. True confidence is presence and awareness-ability to roll with the punches/take what comes your way with dignity.

The position should feel relaxed and natural. This will probably happen more as you get used to it. Eventually you will be able to use it in standing and than in walking. Remember, Heart to the sky (and feet on the ground).  Most importantly, this technique can greatly improve your posture.