Jackson Hole Writers Conference

May 13th, 2014

Each summer, writers with a passion for the word come to Wyoming and to Grand Teton National Park’s backyard for the Jackson Hole Writers Conference. Writers drive in from the neighborhood, states like Utah, Idaho and Montana, and fly in from as far away as Florida and Alaska. Writers come to Jackson Hole for the spectacular mountains and amazing wildlife, but we like to think that writers come to our conference because they know they are going to get something special. Because of our intimate size, attendees at the Jackson Hole Writers Conference meet each other and the faculty, sharing ideas along with their beer, making new contacts in a workshop, finding a mentor on a walk. Whether you have pursued the craft of writing for decades or only recently have set yourself on the journey to share your words with others, this writers conference won’t put you off.

June 26-28, 2014 — Entering its 22nd year!… See YOU there!

 

 

 

SPA BLOG- Your Brain on Yoga

May 13th, 2014

 

This is Your Brain on Yoga

We all know that yoga does wonders for the mind. Even novices of asana, pranayama, and meditation report feeling increased mental stability and clarity during and after practice. Now, thanks to sophisticated brain imaging technologies, neuroscience is proving what teachers and practitioners have known for ages—that yoga and meditation can literally change your brain. But what exactly is going on up there? Take a peek inside—a basic understanding of brain anatomy and function can serve as a handy road map for your inner journey.

The frontal lobe is the hub of higher cognitive functions—including planning, discriminating, abstract thinking, personality, and behavior. The Bihar School refers to the breathing practice of kapalabhati as “frontal brain purification,” due to the rejuvenating effects it has on this area of the brain.

Known as the seat of conscious functioning, the cerebrum is the largest part of your brain. It’s divided into right and left hemispheres. On the physical level, the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right. On the level of the subtle body, ida nadi (the lunar energy channel) is connected to the right half of the brain, and pingala nadi (the solar energy channel) is connected to the left side of the brain.

 

The pituitary gland is related to the sixth, or ajna, chakra. Ajna literally means “command center.”

The anterior part of the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex, is the most evolved part of the brain and is responsible for positive capacities like concentration, happiness, creativity, and rational thinking. Studies using EEG have shown that meditation strengthens communication between the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain.

Roughly the size of a pea, the pituitary gland is the endocrine system’s master gland, producing and releasing hormones that control growth, metabolism, and the function of other hormones. On a more subtle level, the pituitary gland is related to the sixth, or ajna, chakra. Ajna literally means “command center.”

Neurotransmitters serve as the brain’s chemical messengers, relaying information between nerve cells. Neurological disorders are often the result of a neurotransmitter snafu—for instance, low levels of a neuro-transmitter known as GABA are linked to depression and anxiety. Recent studies show an association between regular asana practice and increased GABA levels.

The brain stem, which connects the brain and the spinal cord, plays a crucial role in digestion, heart rate, and diaphragmatic breathing. Neurons found in the brain stem send a nerve impulse to the diaphragm, which causes it to contract, thereby initiating inhalation.

 

A 2010 study found that subjects who meditated 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala—which is linked to fear and anxiety.

The cerebellum controls balance, muscle coordination, reflexes, and movement. Asana would be impossible without it.

The limbic system is comprised of structures related to memory and emotion, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus. A 2010 study found that subjects who meditated 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala—which is linked to fear and anxiety—and an increase of gray matter in the hippocampus, which plays a vital role in memory formation.

As the primary visual processing center of the brain, the occipital lobe helps you follow along visually in yoga class. And you can thank the temporal lobe for your ability to process verbal asana cues—it’s responsible for auditory perception.

The parietal lobe is associated with limb movement, understanding speech, and sensing pain. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in April 2011, brain scans of this region demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can dramatically reduce sensitivity to pain—even more so than morphine.

 

Washington Spa Alliance

January 19th, 2014

The date is set for the next Washington Spa Alliance Symposium! See you June 5th a that National Press Club, just blocks from the White House.

SPA BLOG: South Africa Spas and Mandela’s passing~

January 19th, 2014

I just got back from 5 weeks in South Africa, where, by the way, the spa and beauty industry are thriving. In Johannesburg/ Sandton, there is an emergence of Thai massage spas, with traditional masseurs, who deliver traditional Thai massage. Fantastic! The salons are located in either shopping malls and/or stand alone properties, but all celebrate the tradition of washing of the feet, slippers, Thai pajamas and a tea ritual afterwards. I had (2) 90-minutes massages that were absolutely 5 star.

While visiting the Drakensburg mountains, the Midlands Meander, and even to Kruger National Park, spas were located or at least accessible in all locations. I celebrated my during during this trip and was treated to a lovely massage at the famous Oyster Box, located in Durban. The spa is gorgeous, with a full banquet in the relax area, steam room, pools and therapists who are well trained in Oyster Box brand. Meaning, as routine they asked the “right” questions about the service, they share the  meaning of the ritual (or their spa brand concept) and ended with a promotion of retail.

During all of this travel and spa treatments, a historical passing occurred, that of the beloved Nelson Mandela. I found out about his passing while in Washington, DC the night before my departure to South Africa. Basically my flight the next day was one of the first flights out… packed with Secret Service Agents, security and press.  I was concerned about what the Johannesburg airport would look like during this time, but  I landed in a quiet and somber place.

It was a very quiet time the entire week I spent in Johannesburg, glued to the news and watching events of Mandel’s funeral services. Even visiting Mandela Square in Sandton, felt quiet and orderly. Piles of flowers were left on the square and a queue of mourners/tourists/locals waited peacefully to have their picture taken in front of his statue, me too. Grocery stores were empty, streets vacant, traffic sparse.

I was unaware that we would pass the “capture place” of Nelson Mandela my drive through the Midlands. I guess I did not fully do my homework, and was surprised at the number of people who roamed through the  rustic museum and grounds (pictures attached).

As a spa consultant, I am always interested in our industry, no matter where I go in the US or abroad, I find myself at a spa or wellness/new age center trying out new services and observing new concepts. But as circumstances unfolded last month, my trip  (even though it was during Christmas and New Years) developed into a different type of participation and celebration~ it was a participation in celebrating a global figure, a man who gave South Africa and its people a chance for peace. And then the country, if even for just a week, became very quiet.

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SPA BLOG: Dia de Muertos at Rancho la Puerta

November 1st, 2013

This week is extra special at Rancho la Puerta, as it is the celebration of Dia De Muertos. Yesterday afternoon a team of students from The University of Tijuana, lead by Jose Flores, Ph.D. decorated the dining hall with an altar in memory of Professor Szekely, (the founder) and his son Alex. All of their favorite foods, wine, sports and hobbies… even a trusted dog, decorated the altar. Tonight is a huge fiesta with the Ranch guests and Fiesta Band! Viva Dia de Muertos.

Playing pianoHanging aroundLounging corpes Panoramic  guitar the path the Professor Sassy Skeleton

SPA BLOG: Fall Arts Festival

September 3rd, 2013

The 29th Annual Fall Arts Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming starts this Thursday September 5-15th. (click link for more info and schedule)

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SPA BLOG: Old Bill’s Fun Run

September 3rd, 2013

This Saturday the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming will come together for a walk, run, stroll to raise money for the Community Foundation. Old Bill’s Fun Run has collected millions of dollars for hundreds of foundations in Jackson Hole. Join us at the town square this Saturday at 10am, and let the “giving” begin!

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Global Spa & Wellness Sumit

July 28th, 2013

This October in New Delhi the Global Spa and Wellness Summit will be presenting the first Wellness Tourism Congress, with a special speaker… His Holiness the Dalai Lama. See you there!

SELF Magazine: Workout in the Park

April 13th, 2013

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Saturday, April 27th at American University, SELF Magazine is sponsoring an amazing fitness event, “Workout in the Park”~ Yoga, Crossfit, Pilates,… and the list goes on! See you there for a great day of health.

SPA BLOG: Inauguration and MLK 2013!

January 19th, 2013

Washington, DC is filled with energy as we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr and the Inauguration of our President.

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