In honor of National Yoga month, Exhale Spa is celebrating their second annual namasDAY on Thursday, September 20th, with FREE yoga classes at locations nationwide. Cristi Christensen is the Yoga Director of Exhale in Los Angeles and she unleashes her passion by teaching a variety of classes and workshops there. She has studied with world-renowned fitness gurus and traveled the globe spreading her knowledge and enthusiasm for yoga and all things fitness. I caught up with Cristi after spending time with her at the amazing Exhale Spa retreat in Santa Monica last week. She gave me an insider perspective on practicing yoga and shared some of her health and beauty secrets.
MM: There are many different types of yoga classes available today. How do you differentiate between them and what are the most popular practices? Any tips on how to choose?
CC: There are many many different types of yoga; the key is finding the one that is right for you! Exhale’s yoga program falls under the Vinyasa style of yoga which is certainly amongst the most popular growing yoga in the U.S. Vinyasa is a rhythmic, flowing style of yoga with an emphasis in linking movement with breath. Vinyasa helps to not only build strength and endurance, but also enhances flexibility and brings the body and mind into a more relaxing, meditative state.
MM: What advice do you have for someone who has never taken a yoga class but is eager to try it?
CC: Start with a few beginner classes so that you can learn the basics of each one including the alignment techniques and the language; this way you can find the style that resonates with you. Let the teacher know you are new to class too so they can take extra good care of you!
MM: What yoga class do you suggest for the toughest physical challenge?
CC: Believe it or not, some of the most challenging classes I have taken have been Level 1 (beginner) as you are holding poses for a really long time! Level 2/3 classes usually move at a faster pace which definitely get your heart pumping and energy flowing! Vinyasa yoga is generally a very athletic practice- which will detoxify your body and take you to your edge!
MM: What are some of the benefits of yoga and what has it done for you personally?
CC: There are so many amazing benefits to this practice – physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.
To name just a few…Strength, flexibility, balance, focus, youthful body and spirit, calm mind, deepen connection with self, inner peace, compassion, and joy.
Personally my yoga practice has become part of my life and lifestyle. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of the practice have helped me become more centered, grounded and connected into my self and my personal power. My body is as strong and subtle as it was in my athletic days and through my practice I have become more present and more joyful in each moment. My yoga practice truly feeds my mind, body and soul.
MM: Paddle boarding and surfing have become very popular and I know you enjoy mixing them with your yoga practice. How do they complement each other?
CC: Two of my passions are both yoga and surfing, and more recently I have been enjoying SUPing. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive then being totally engrossed in the present moment, and when you are in the ocean you have no choice but to be present. Yoga, in addition to building strength, body awareness and agility, helps build focus and concentration-all things you need in the water!!
MM: You have the most gorgeous hair. What products do you use to keep it shiny and healthy?
CC: Thank you! I use Pureology shampoo and conditioner. I also eat a lot of avocados and coconut oil!
MM: What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?
CC: I love Keen-wah coconut almond bars, apple slices with raw almond butter, raw kale chips, and dark chocolate!
MM: How did the idea for namasDAY develop and what do you hope people get out of it?
CC: September is National Yoga Month & namasDay is all about celebrating yoga and introducing yoga to as many people as possible around the country!
Celebrate namasDAY on Thursday at your nearest Exhale Spa location. Free classes will be offered throughout the day, capping off with a celebration of live music, healthy cocktails, and giveaways in the evening.
Cristi is the Director of Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, CA, where she is a passionate yoga and Core Fusion teacher. A former elite-level gymnast and platform diver, she earned her degree in Kinesiology while training with the Olympic diving team. After an injury cut her Olympic dreams short, Cristi shifted her focus to helping others improve their level of fitness through personal training, Pilates, Core Fusion + yoga. In 2004 she joined exhale, and has since studied extensively with world-renowned teachers, including Saul David Raye, Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito. Cristi has combined her teachings, practice, and bright energy into a dynamic and unique classroom style that translates into an infectious energy that her students can’t help but feel during each class. Cristi has brought this energy across the globe, leading workshops, retreats, and bringing positivity with her to every corner of the earth. When Cristi isn’t teaching, globe-trotting, or keeping exhale Venice as the number 1 ranked yoga studio, you’ll likely find her surfing, playing in her Venice backyard, or doing back flips on Venice Beach!
Countless skincare products claim to give you results simply by applying them. But did you know we can change the way our skin looks on the outside by what we put inside our bodies? Incorporating superfoods into your diet can help improve your skin. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, creator of the skincare lines Perricone MD and SUPER by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, has spent years researching how what we eat can affect how our skin appears, feels and even ages. Dr. Perricone shares with us 5 superfoods for beautiful skin:
There are many superfoods that benefit the skin—here is a sampling.
1. Wild salmon and other cold water fish (salmon, sardines, herring, trout, etc.) are great sources of protein, necessary to maintain and repair the body—including the skin on a cellular level. Protein cannot be stored. For optimum health and cellular repair we need quality protein at each meal. When rating a food either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory, we find that protein is neutral. However, some sources of protein, such as the fish listed above, provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits for two reasons:
· They are high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 essential fatty acids which keeps skin radiant, supple and wrinkle free, moods upbeat and brain functioning is at optimal levels
· Wild salmon’s pink or red color, owes its pigment to astaxanthin, a super carotenoid anti-oxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties
2. Green Foods. Green Foods are young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheat grass. Nutritionally, they are close cousins to dark green leafy vegetables, but offer greater levels of “nutrient density.” An ounce of concentrated green foods contains more of the beneficial phytonutrients found in an ounce of green vegetables. Green foods, such as Green Magma™ detoxify the body to keep skin clear and radiant.
Studies show that green foods have marked beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, and cancer prevention. These effects are attributed in part to their high concentrations of chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll, the phyto-chemical that gives leaves, plants, and algae their green hues, is the plant equivalent of the oxygen-carrying red pigment hemoglobin in red blood cells. Dietary chlorophyll inhibits disease bacteria and exerts therapeutic effects on bad breath and internal odors.
3. When it comes to maintaining beautiful skin and keeping unwanted pounds at bay, beans and lentils are a body’s best friend. They are very low-glycemic and unlike sugary, starchy foods, won’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. They are anti-inflammatory foods, key in preventing dull, dry, wrinkled sagging skin and body fat.
4. Olives and extra virgin olive oil. We need a source of good fats in our diet to help us absorb nutrients from our vegetables and fruits, keep our cells supple, skin glowing and wrinkle-free, brains sharp and mood upbeat. We also need dietary fat to burn fat. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleic acid, which helps us to absorb the omega-3s and other vitamins and nutrients from our foods. Oleic acid is vital in keeping the outer portion of the cell, known as the cell plasma membrane supple, thereby allowing nutrients to enter the cell and wastes to exit.
5. Green Tea contains polyphenols which help eliminate inflammation-producing free radicals. Polyphenols protect healthy cells from cancer causing DNA damage, while ushering cancer cells to their death. Another remarkable finding is the power of green tea polyphenols known as EGCG to reactivate dying skin cells. Researchers consider this amazing energizing of dying skin cells to potential benefit skin diseases such as psoriasis, ulcers, rosacea, wounds—and wrinkles.
Check out Dr. Perricone’s line of products Perricone MD and Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone
|Nicholas V. Perricone, M.D. is a board certified dermatologist, world-renowned anti-aging expert, award-winning inventor, educator, philanthropist and creator and host of a series of Public Television specials which aired nationally on PBS-TV. He is also the author of several New York Times Best Sellers, including The Wrinkle Cure, The Perricone Prescription, The Perricone Promise and most recently Forever Young.Dr. Perricone is Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Dermatology, is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Society of Investigative Dermatology. Dr. Perricone has served as Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and as Chief of Dermatology at the state of Connecticut’s Veterans Hospital.Dr. Perricone is the recipient of the Eli Whitney Award, presented by The Connecticut Intellectual Property Law Association to an outstanding individual who has made significant contributions to science, invention and technology. Prior recipients include National Medal of Science beneficiary, Igor Sikorsky, (founder of Sikorsky aircraft) inventor of the first practical helicopter, which established the bedrock upon which today’s helicopter industry rests, and Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome – the lightest, strongest and most cost-effective structure ever devised. Dr. Perricone is also the recipient of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) 2000 Norman E. Clark, Sr. Lecture Award for his, “dedication and contributions towards advancing Complementary and Alternative Medicine.”Dr. Perricone holds dozens of US and international patents for the treatment of skin and systemic disease, and for the use of topical anti-inflammatory formulations to reverse and prevent damage to skin caused by chronological age, poor nutrition, hormonal changes and environment stress. He is the author of numerous scientific articles, is a contributing editor to the peer-reviewed medical journal Skin and Aging, and is a member of the editorial board of Archives of Gerontology & Geriatrics. He has contributed a chapter on antioxidants and aging for Skin Diseases in the Elderly, a recent textbook written by scientists from Stanford University.
Dr. Perricone is internationally recognized as a pre-eminent scientific expert in the fields of health, beauty and anti-aging and is regarded as the father of the Inflammation Theory of Aging. Dr. Perricone’s initial quest to find ways to stop, prevent and reverse the negative effects of chronic and sub-clinical inflammation in his dermatology patients laid the foundation for Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, which launched in 1998. The company introduced his patented formulations and immediately set a new industry standard for product efficacy with results that often rival more invasive and potentially risky dermatological procedures. This new category, known as cosmeceuticals, has raised the bar in people’s expectations for topical skincare. Moreover, his well-known mantra of creating beauty from the inside out inspired the creation of a line of targeted supplements, known as Perricone MD Nutriceuticals, which work collaboratively with the topicals to achieve optimum visible results.