On May 7th we celebrated our one year anniversary at FreshJax! It has been a beautiful year for our students and staff, full of growth and progression. Our café menu of healthy smoothies and delicious baked goods has grown to include nutritious breakfast and lunch items. Our storefront continues to offer more and more diverse vegan and gluten free specialty items, some of which were introduced to us through our client suggestions and requests. Our collection of organic spices, which are handcrafted right here in the store, has increased in variety and bottle sizes. We continue to welcome new yoga teachers from diverse walks of life and training backgrounds, as well as new café staff members who each bring different strengths to our team. Our yoga classes have grown in size, which has made it possible to add more and more class times to our schedule. In the New Year, we were able to add more variety to our class options, including the addition of Prenatal Yoga, Baby and Me Yoga, and Kripalu Flow. Over the year, we have even been able to put on unique and innovative workshops, diet and cooking classes, fundraisers and special events, which have set FreshJax apart from other yoga studios. We are thankful for the growth we have seen in this yoga community throughout our first year, and we are excited to see what the future holds for FreshJax.
As we reflect on this past year, we encourage you to take the time to reflect on your yoga practice and health over the past year, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The first step to self acceptance is self reflection. Here are some questions or topics you can ask yourself, discuss within your yoga community, or journal about. Remember, these are open questions with no right or wrong answers.
As we adventure into our second year at FreshJax, we are setting goals for our studio as a whole, as well as intentions for our individual practices and journeys. Whether you are a studio member who practices with us consistently or a student who drops in occasionally, we encourage you to set your own personal goals and intentions for your yoga practice on and off the mat. Here are some ideas to get your mind flowing.
Thank you all for helping our first year at FreshJax to be one of joy, peace, and relaxation. Our teachers and staff are thankful to be investing in your journey towards self discovery, good health, and well-being. Let’s celebrate our one year anniversary with more yoga and more health food. Namaste!
By: Lisa Venancio, FreshJax Yoga Teacher + Blogger
In Kripalu yoga, class begins with a centering meditation and pranayama (breath), followed by a mindful series of warm-ups and asanas (postures), and ending with a relaxed shavasana and closing centering. As a yoga teacher who mainly practiced Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Hot Yoga prior to becoming a certified in the Kripalu tradition, it took time for me to understand the importance and benefits of incorporating all of these components into my practice. This is not to say that these other styles of yoga did not value or incorporate relaxation and warming up, but it was not until I found the Kripalu tradition that I become comfortable with the stillness and progression.
Admittedly, before I became a yoga teacher, shavasana was my most challenging posture. This may sound silly to some people. We’ve all seen the yoga t-shirts and memes that say, “I’m here for the shavasana.” However, I was always half present during centering and shavasana. These practices meant quieting the mind chatter, becoming still, and receiving the benefits in full. I knew it was important, yet my mind often wandered to my to-do list, or replayed a recent conversation, or overanalyzed something for the twelfth time. This was the place where the anxiety, insecurity, fear, sadness, anger, or self-criticism found a way to creep in. This momentary relaxation was my biggest challenge. I fought it. Why? Because I was not okay with being still. I was not being present. Momentum was where I thrived, which is not a bad place to be, but we can miss the benefits of warming up and slowing down the mind and body if we stay here.
By performing warm-ups prior to the formal yoga postures, we release tension while improving muscle and joint flexibility. We also generate heat in the body from the inside out. Early in my yoga practice, I was always itching to get through centering and warm-ups quickly and jump right into the postures. Then once I was in the postures, I wanted to flow from one to the other without staying anywhere too long. I was always one step ahead of myself, and sometimes even the teacher. Who knew yoga would challenge me in patience, humility, and mindfulness. After all, I was just there to burn calories and stretch, right? Wrong. I’ve realized that if we cannot be mindful while standing, walking, and sleeping, we certainly cannot be mindful through sun salutations and asanas. Centering warms up the mind, next we warm up the body, and then we explore the asanas.
Mindful yoga even approaches asana as meditation. When we practice mindfulness through triangle, for example, we ask ourselves what is happening to our bodies when we progress into triangle. This builds on feelings and sensations, rather than emotions. What does it feel like to hold a posture like warrior one or pigeon? When a posture feels pleasant, we enjoy holding the pose, but if it feels unpleasant, we desire to come out of it. I always tell my students, “It is when we want to come out of the posture that the posture truly begins.” If we experience sensations as our limbs start to ache, the yoga mat becomes a safe space to understand the difference between discomfort and pain.
When we learn to spend time with unpleasant feelings as they come up on the mat, we are able to build coping skills in facing challenging situations off of the mat. This self awareness is where growth begins, and as we carry positive energy, mindfulness, and peaceful intentions into our world and relationships, change happens. I have learned to love centering, meditation, warm-ups, and shavasana just as much as I love the asanas. I have also learned to truly experience each asana. It is here that I have found healing, both physically and mentally. At FreshJax, we find joy in facilitating healing and growth in your yoga practice and encourage you to discover a positive relationship with mindful yoga.
Super foods! We love to cook, bake and blend with them here at FreshJax, but what are they? What makes them SUPER for our bodies? A super food is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Let’s break down the top three super foods we offer here at FreshJax.
Chia Seeds: Everyone is talking about chia seeds, but do they really live up to the hype? The benefits are astounding, which is why we use them in so many of our recipes here at FreshJax. The seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family. They’re loaded with calcium, omega 3 fatty acid, fiber and protein. In addition, they absorb up to twelve times their weight in water, which improves hydration throughout your day. You can sprinkle them on salads, fruit, yogurt or cereals, bake with them, can with them as a substitute for pectin, mix them into pancakes, soups, stir-fries or casseroles, use them in breading, and blend them into smoothies. Our cooks at FreshJax ensure the benefits of these gems by soaking them into our overnight oats, which are raw oats that sit overnight in liquid, specifically almond milk in our recipe. This creates oatmeal without ever cooking the oats, which enhances the benefits of the raw oats and chia seeds, aiding in digestion and receiving the nutrients in their truest form. We also offer chia seeds as a topping on smoothies and acai bowls, and we sell a variety of delicious handcrafted chia puddings.
Acai: First, let’s tackle the pronunciation, because we know that is a struggle. Say it with us: ah-sigh-ee. Acai is a South American palm tree producing small, edible, blackish-purple berries, which is indigenous to the rainforests of the Amazon. The berry is an antioxidant rich, healing, immune-stimulating, energy-boosting fruit. It promotes heart health, fights harmful organisms, aids in weight loss, supports healthy skin, helps digestion, reduces lung irritation, increases the strength of the body’s cellular protective system, boosts energy and the immune system, has anti-aging effects, encourages a healthy libido, and improves mental function. Here at FreshJax, we prepare an acai smoothie bowl and an acai berry blast smoothie, both blended with organic acai berries that are wild-harvested from the heart of the Amazon.
Maca: Maca root is an adaptogen (healing plants that help balance, restore and protect the body) and a member of the cruciferous family, similar to broccoli and cabbage. However, it’s unique properties set it apart to be one of the world’s natural super foods. This root is grown in the mountains of South America, mainly in the high altitude regions of Peru. After being harvested and ground down, it is generally available in powder form. Some benefits are healthy hormone balance, positive energy levels, and boosted immune health. It is very rich in absorbable plant-based nutrients, including protein, calcium, fiber and magnesium. It can help to increase fertility, stamina, libido, memory, focus, and even those “feel good” endorphins. It is a natural antioxidant with a pleasant taste that restores endocrine health (especially adrenal and thyroid hormones), reproductive health, and mental health. Maca root will leave you with an overall sense of well-being and help your body naturally adapt to stressors. We prepare all of our incredible chia puddings using powdered maca root here at FreshJax. By avoiding the heating process, you receive the nutrients without diminishing their nutritional value. You can also blend maca root into smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal, for example. It has a nutty, partially sweet taste, similar to cinnamon or nutmeg, so we started by adding it to breakfast foods and went from there.
Here at FreshJax, all of our prepared and packaged foods are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and when available, organic and local. Food and yoga can be medicine, and super foods help enhance these benefits at FreshJax. Next time you visit us, be sure to try one of these amazing super foods in our chia puddings, smoothies, or overnight oats, and let us know how they make you feel.
"I am not flexible enough. Fit enough. Strong enough. Zen enough. Granola enough. Thin enough. I am too busy. Too out of shape. Too tight. Too overweight. Too awkward. Too old. Guys don’t do yoga, do they? Is it safe for pregnant women? Do I need to have good balance? Do I need to wear yoga pants? I don’t have a yoga mat. I don’t have time. I will laugh too much. I never have a break from my children. What if I pass gas in a yoga posture? What if I have a health issue? What if I can’t touch my toes? What if I am recovering from an injury?”
It is true, and our goal at FreshJax is to create an all inclusive environment for people to fall in love with yoga and receive the many benefits of this practice. We welcome all women and men, including pregnant women, senior citizens, new mothers and even their babies, kids, athletes, empty nesters, working professionals, runners, teenagers, teachers, college students, and all shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, languages, religions and physical impairments. No matter what your season of life or experience is, yoga is for YOU. Our teachers are expertly trained to assist you in modifying your practice in order to meet the needs of your body and health. Whether that means modifying a posture to make it more comfortable or safe for your body, or advancing the posture to provide more challenge and take you to a new edge.
We will help you develop better body awareness, understand contraindications of each posture in order to keep you safe, and become knowledgeable of the benefits of each posture. You will become more connected with your body and breath, mindful, present, and have a deeper understanding of how to engage in a complete state of relaxation. This practice serves and regulates all of your major body systems and organs. It is a 6,000 year old system of self care with a host of amazing benefits.
FreshJax is centered on relaxation. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the world around us. Tension can go unnoticed and affect our overall health if we don’t take the time to rejuvenate. Stress looks different for everyone, yet we all experience stress in some form. The common ground we share is our need for relaxation and stress relief. From restorative and gentle yoga, to health food, to aromatherapy and self-care products, FreshJax makes relaxation possible for everyone.
The truth is, you don’t need to be flexible and strong to do yoga. You can do yoga to become flexible and strong. We are an all encompassing studio. Come just as you are, wear what helps you to feel comfortable, and allow us to provide the rest. We provide yoga mats and a variety of props to enhance your practice, and we encourage you to borrow these items free of charge. We aim to decrease any obstacles stopping you from getting here and experiencing the refreshing benefits of yoga. Come get centered, stretched, relaxed and strengthened with us at FreshJax.
Welcome to our yoga community. Namaste.
A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on specific life goals. It is a display of words and images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.
No matter what happens during your day, your vision board is a constant reminder of where you intend to be. Appealing to you on both conscious and subconscious levels, a vision board can work wonders toward keeping your mind focused on your goal, your attention on your intentions, and your life headed in the direction you choose.
Your vision board should focus on how you want to feel and the steps you’ll need to take to get there, not just on things that you want. Creating a sacred space that displays what you want actually does bring it to life. What we focus on expands. When you create a vision board and place it in a space where you see it often, you essentially end up doing short visualization exercises throughout the day, just like professional athletes before a big game. They visualize themselves performing to the best of their abilities before stepping into the spotlight.
The purpose of your vision board is to bring everything on it to life. First, write down your answers to the following questions to help focus your vision.
Next, gather anything that inspires and motivates you. This could be photographs, quotes, images, letters, words, etc.
Then, attach them to your vision board and place it where you will see it every day. Each time you look at it, visualize yourself achieving your goals. When an item on your board no longer matches your goals, replace it with something new!
By Guest Blogger: Jean Ann
I go through rough times. The following are things I need to hear... and maybe you do too...
Here is something that you probably don’t even realize.
Everyone in the world looks at their own body differently than the people around them.
That person that you always compare yourself to...yeah I GUARANTEE they do not view their body the same way you do.
And oh, lets talk about comparing yourself to other people.
Comparing your body to someone else's is as silly as comparing an oak tree to a palm tree. Yes they are both trees, but they are not and will NEVER look anywhere near the same!
Why is this? Because they are two completely different trees.
You will never look like that person because you are not that person.
AND THAT IS OKAY.
It’s okay to have flaws. It’s okay to know them and it’s okay to point them out to yourself.
If you can’t point out the things that you may find inadequate about yourself, then they have no way of fixing it.
If the flaw that is holding you back is something that you can change…
Now don’t get me wrong, it will be hard. Nobody said this was going to be easy.
Positive change is something that takes time to blossom.
If the flaw that is holding you back is something that you cannot change…
There is no sense in beating yourself up about something that you have no control over.
But this won’t be easy either. Building up mental strength is harder than getting a perfect score on an exam.
It’s possible, but it will take a lot of brainpower.
Be clever, and love yourself.
The way you are right this second physically is not going to change.
Accept yourself. In all of your glory. You are a living, breathing miracle of life, so take the opportunities that you are given in life and RUN WITH THEM.
Don’t hold yourself back because you are too afraid of judgement.
IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF YOU.
The only thing that matters is how you view yourself.
Explore yoga + healthy living in Jacksonville, FL with FreshJax!