Tai Chi for Life

We are excited to announce our Etown Tai Chi Classes will be back—starting October 4th!!! Located at Crossfit Elizabethtown, 208 Peterson Dr, Elizabethtown KY, our initial series of classes will be in-person at 10:30 am on Tuesday mornings! $20 to drop-in or $15 per class when you commit to a 6-class series! These classes will be taught by Grand Master Mingye Ding and Jenny-Marie Greenough, LAc.

Why Tai Chi? Tai Chi is a practice rooted in martial arts that teaches balance, relaxation, and mindfulness. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of Tai Chi. In fact, Harvard Medical School wrote an entire book on the subject detailing the research findings and benefits of a regular tai chi practice. The only other practice that has been shown to slow signs of physical and mental aging, reduce the risk of falling, and increase general wellness as much is dancing! That’s right—not running, not golf, not swimming or cycling or weights…dance and Tai Chi are two of the best things you can do for your long-term health. And in many ways, Tai Chi is a dance—challenging us to be more fluid, rhythmic, and powerful in our movements. 

Most studies on Tai Chi have been done using Yang-style Tai Chi, the most commonly practiced here in the US, but the benefits transcend the various Tai Chi forms. Grand Master Ding can teach Yang-style, but he is world famous for his mastery of Chen-style Tai Chi—in fact, he was featured on a stamp in China for his contribution to martial arts! Chen-style adds a dynamic of hip movements and alternating very slow movements with faster movements throughout the forms. There are several other styles of tai chi he may bring into our class as well as basic tai chi warm-up movements that are different from the typical “gym” warm-ups most of us are familiar with. Some days, we may practice a more healing-focused form of Tai Chi called Qigong as part of our warm-up for the form.

All ability levels are welcome!

These forms can be adapted to all levels of ability—from seated-forms to gentle standing to dynamic and physically challenging, that will give even the most agile of athletes something to improve on! Each of the basic forms have associated sword forms, fan forms, and various ways to take the practice to new levels of understanding!

That is the beauty of Tai Chi—no matter where you start, there is a place to begin and a goal to pursue! I was so proud when I learned my first version of the Chen forms, so imagine my shock when Master Ding said “Good job, now we begin again!”; and we did, from the very first step, with a more nuanced exploration of each movement. Over the years we have begun again and again with the form—each time there is something to learn and I can’t wait to share this with all of you!

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Not everyone considers themselves the creative type—we often think of that word as being reserved for artists, musicians, and writers. But what if I told you that we are all innately creative beings? Creativity isn’t just reserved for those who are “artsy.” Creativity has real-life applications and it’s vital to our well-being; we’re all capable of tapping into it. Creativity is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes! 

If you’re not feeling in tune with your creative side, think of what inspires you and causes a spark of joy. For some, this is art, music, or writing. For others, it may be landscaping or plating a beautiful meal. Some may even prefer a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation as their canvas. The possibilities are endless—creativity can be deployed anywhere, by anyone. Whatever you choose to spend your time on, make sure it resonates with you and remember—if you’re trying something new you will harness that skill with practice. 

Everyone can benefit from unleashing their creative side!

Creativity can boost motivation and productivity. Taking the time to focus on a hobby or even trying your hand at a new skill relaxes the mind and increases the ability to problem-solve. “Thinking outside the box” can boost efficiency in our everyday lives as we look at things from a different angle and find the best approach more naturally and quickly. 

Not only does having a creative outlet help to calm the mind and improve focus, but it also gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can raise our self-esteem to boot. Freedom of expression is a beautiful thing—and it can help us find our true place in the world

Creativity can also be community-driven. We don’t have to carve out time alone to be in a creative space—there are many classes, volunteer organizations, and even online communities that exist solely to spark your creativity in whatever it is you’re looking for. 

One of our amazing (and easy to do!) art pieces!

For instance, Nikki Prell, RYT, is hosting a Creation & Balance Workshop on the last Sunday of each month here at Raja Wellness for a little painting, yoga, meditation, and tea to get your creative juices flowing. It is not only relaxing but incredibly freeing and inspirational! We’d love for you to join us! You can sign up here.

As another example, I love to cook and have signed up to volunteer for an organization that serves home-cooked meals to families in need—I get to share my “art” of cooking, and it makes me happy to express myself through food and to share that with others. There is a bounty of options to choose from to find the best fit for you

Whatever your best-suited creative outlet may be, set aside time to focus on it. Just like how we exercise our body to keep in shape, it is so important to set aside that time to stimulate and “exercise” our mind! Whether in a group setting or alone, you’ll gain an openness to new ideas and experiences, trigger positive emotions, hone your problem-solving skills, and boost your confidence! 

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Spring is now in full swing (thank goodness!) and that means the Raja Wellness crew has some exciting adventures in our near future. We may not be able to take you with us, but we hope you will tag along in spirit! We’ll be deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina taking in the scenery, visiting with vendors, and attending some epic events centered around medicinal herbs, gardening, and crystals

First up and fast approaching is the revered Asheville Herb Festival. This is the largest herb festival in the US and Canada—a yearly tradition we enjoy wholeheartedly. With a focus on Western North Carolinian growers, farmers, and herbalists, there are over 60 vendors to visit.  Interestingly, this area of Appalachia has a climate that is nearly identical to that of southeast China, meaning that it is the perfect environment for many herbs and plants to thrive that are commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, the Asheville Herb Festival is where we’ve met and grown relationships with some of our favorite vendors. 

We’ll be navigating our way through a variety of culinary and medicinal herbs, tinctures, salves, handmade soaps, carnivorous plants, perennial flowers, trees, and bushes, and hopefully grabbing another glorious sample of ginseng wine before our day is complete. The herb festival is also jam-packed with gardening and herbal medicine workshops. Our staff is excited to bring back and stock our store with many curated favorites for clinic use, as well as for our own gardens and greenhouses. For more information about the Asheville Herb Festival, visit ashevilleherbfestival.org

In mid-May, Mary (our NC native), will be traveling to visit three gem shows. Combined, there will be nearly 200 vendors to peruse with crystals from all over the world, rare gems, cathedrals, fossils, unique jewelry,  statement pieces, lapidary equipment, and more. Many of these vendors can also be found at the renowned Tucson Gem Show.  During this trip, Mary will be mining for gems as well! Aside from a biodiverse region for growing a variety of plants and herbs, this region is also incredibly abundant and diverse in minerals and gemstones.

If you’re local to our area in Kentucky, we’d like to invite you to send any special requests to mary@rajawellness.com, we’ll be happy to reach out with specifics and discuss your crystal needs, purchase, and pick-up options. Examples of previously requested items include amethyst cathedrals, ocean jasper, peridot, celestite, dumortierite, chalcopyrite, Ethiopian opal, and smoky quartz. With so much to choose from, Mary will be on the search for rare finds to add to the diversity of both our collection at Raja Goods (and her personal stash!)

With these events just around the corner, you can imagine our anticipation and excitement! We hope our patients and customers will enjoy the stories and items we have to share upon our return and hope that you will follow along during our travels! We plan to share pictures of the fun on our social media accounts so keep an eye out for updates

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Getting our kids to eat healthily doesn’t have to be a nightmarish challenge. You don’t have to be a chef to make delicious meals the family will enjoy; you don’t have to be a master negotiator either. Getting our families to eat more healthily often starts with what is most readily available in the home and our own habits and attitudes when it comes to food. Children often mimic us caregivers—so leading by example can be very effective (for all of us!).

Here are a few tips and reminders to help instill those healthy habits—easily!

  1. Lead by example: Do you display healthy eating habits? Do you choose whole, healthy foods instead of chips or sweets? Is it considered a “treat” when you all sit down for a healthy meal for dinner, or do you save that term for the Friday night take-out pizza or greasy bag of burgers from the drive-thru? Do your kids see you choosing water when you’re thirsty or guzzling back a can of soda? Kids are easily influenced by what goes on in their personal environments; and the choices we make in front of them about food and drink should be considered just as much as, say—not letting a curse word slip in front of them.  
  1. Involve the family in meal planning: Meal planning can be quite fun, and involving everyone ensures that each family member has something to look forward to when it comes to sitting down at the table for a family meal.  If one family member wants a dish that another family member isn’t so crazy about, think of a simple variation you can make so that it’s more enjoyable for them and you don’t have to cook a separate meal. 
  1. Offer (healthy) options: Providing options gives your child the autonomy they crave, while helping you have some control of the nutritional value of their food. Offer things that you know they like—such as apple slices or whole grain crackers with almond butter for a snack. If there’s a vegetable they really like, offer to serve it a couple of different ways with your meal and see which they prefer. Offering choices doesn’t just give them a sense of inclusiveness and independence, it is also is a time saver for you. Instead of scrambling to find a replacement when your kid turns a nose up to something, you can have more confidence about your kid actually eating what you serve them. 
  1. Mix things up: You may have a picky eater, but you don’t have to surrender!  Preparing foods they may not typically love but in different ways may just pique their curiosity.  Consider using different seasonings or methods of cooking, or even making the food more visually appealing and fun for kids. Try using small cookie cutters in shapes or characters they like; or little colorful silicone cups. The key is not to force it. Invite your kids to try something new and different and if they prefer not to try it—describe what it tasted like and tell them why you liked it. 
  1.  Educate your kids about food and where it comes from. Have you ever taken your child to a farmer’s market? This is a great way to learn about where food comes from, the care that is taken in growing and harvesting it, and opens lines of communication with local farmers; and your kid will likely enjoy the experience! There’s also the visual and learning aspect—the colors of homegrown fruits and vegetables are often more vibrant! I also recently learned from our friends at Living Water Ranch that the yellowish tint I’ve noticed in the beef fat means high beta-carotene content. This shows you that beef is a good source of Vitamin A. Even us adults can learn new things at the farmer’s market! Spending some family time at a farmer’s market can make for some great memories and can also be educational (and not to mention, quite affordable!)

These changes may need to be done gradually, and it may take some time for everyone to adjust. If the habits have been in place for a while, just remember to practice patience, understanding, and open dialogue, and the payoff will be huge—with better nutrition, overall health, improved energy, money, and time savings in the end. Eating healthy won’t seem like a “downer” or “punishment”; but a real treat that can be easily shared among the family—and can instill healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Let’s talk about downtime. When was the last time you had some real downtime for yourself

I’m not talking about that obligatory quarantine that may have been your only actual time off in a while although you were sick, your typical 7 hours of sleep so you can be a functioning human, or that 15 minutes you desperately carve out for yourself on occasion to sit on the couch and take a few deep breaths. I’m talking about real time for yourself to recalibrate and come back to life focused in the present. 

Wait, is that even a thing!!!!??? That’s right—it’s a thing and it can be done. It’s not a fictional fantasy, but something you can do without feeling guilty—even though it can feel a little selfish and seem impossible to squeeze in at times.  

I don’t think I’m the only one that sees a shift in the level of busyness of life lately.  With staffing shortages everywhere, work seems more demanding for nearly everyone I encounter. Home life is even busier for most of us—the trends I’m seeing the most are either that we’re so eager to be out doing things after the past couple years of isolation, or that work is bleeding into home life more and more. On top of everything else, we are also trying our best to care for loved ones, prioritizing the mental health of others and often leaving ourselves burning the candle at both ends for everyone but ourselves. 

Downtime is one of those interesting little things that if we don’t seek out, it will seek us out with a vengeance. When stress levels are too high, all kinds of wonky things begin to happen with your health—and some of those things can be rather debilitating (and put you down for the count unexpectedly!). Aside from the health risks of stress and overexertion, being spread too thin or overly-stressed often affects personal relationships as well. Remember that you can’t serve from an empty vessel, and prioritizing time for yourself is beneficial to you, and your most important relationships as well. 

If you’re an “overachiever” by nature, I realize that downtime may seem to be unproductive for you—but I promise, you will reap the rewards. Why not give yourself the time and space to enjoy the things you’ve worked so hard for?

When planning downtime, consider what works best for you. Do you find yourself focusing more if you schedule some downtime into your daily routine? This could be journaling, meditating, taking a walk, meeting a good friend or a family member for coffee, or even enjoying a lovely bath at the end of your day. If you function best and feel more clear-headed and present by having more substantial downtime, it may work better for you to schedule this time in heftier blocks: weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. However, the longer you wait to get that downtime in, the more time you should schedule for yourself to recalibrate.  

A few examples for more in-depth downtime are enjoying a long massage, going to a yoga class, working on a hobby that brings you joy, going to a movie, or even a “staycation” centered around doing things that make you happy. The possibilities are endless—and the only real rule is that you utilize the time to do something healthy and enjoyable for yourself with as few interruptions as possible.

Some of our favorites (that can be purchased at our Raja Goods location!) to enhance downtime are:

  • Our exclusive in-house bath salts
  • Gem Elixirz—especially: Abundance, Shift and Calm
  • Ground Control by Kelly Kohler LMT
  • Chrysanthemum and Goji Berry tea
  • Chi Chi brand Chocolate Bars

Remember there are many benefits to having an appropriate amount of downtime for yourself; such as gaining a fresh perspective for overcoming obstacles, a feeling of rejuvenation and integration, time to connect with loved ones, an improved stress response, and improved focus. Integrating downtime into your schedule is a necessity that will help you avoid burnout and fatigue. Think of the things you love to do the most and start making time for them—you’ll enjoy a better quality of life and your daily tasks will be easier to complete!

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US; more than 800,000 people die of heart attacks alone each year. 1 in 3 deaths in the US are linked to heart disease in most statistical data reviewed. This vital organ is often neglected or inadvertently stressed with poor diet and lifestyle habits. Strokes, heart failure, and many other cardiovascular-related issues are all attributed to poor heart health. Worse yet, it is misunderstood as “only” a pump—when it has other key functions in our body.

Most everyone has heard: reducing cholesterol to healthy levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure are keys to good heart health. Less discussed is the role of Heart Rate Variability (HRV), the variation in time between each heartbeat, as a measure of health. Higher HRV is associated with decreased risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. And low cholesterol and blood pressure alone are not enough to maintain a healthy HRV because HRV is largely regulated by the balance of the autonomic nervous system. HRV used to only be measurable with an EKG; but many of today’s wearable fitness devices are accurate enough to give a reasonable estimate of HRV, especially those that have the ability to add data from a Holter monitor or finger sensor.

Yoga and tai chi have a long history of improving health and research is clear that both can directly improve HRV and coherence with consistent practice. Consistent quality sleep, limiting alcohol consumption, regular exercise, drinking adequate water, and focusing on eating real, fresh food with an emphasis on vegetables and healthy fats, also help protect heart health. 

How else can you help maintain health HRV? Well, acupuncture has consistently been shown to improve HRV even when the focus of the treatment is on other complaints.  When it is focused on regulating nervous system balance and heart function, it’s even more effective. Frequency Specific PEMF has also shown to regulate the autonomic nervous system and therefore HRV.  Another great way to improve HRV through enhanced coherence is our equine programs. Just simply being in physical proximity to a horse has been shown to increase coherence and HRV. Add to that the benefits of the meditation and tai chi that we teach with the equine exercises, and you have tools to take home with you to continue to improve your heart health and well-being.

If you want to learn more about heart health I recommend the HeartMath Institute. They are a leading researcher in heart health and generous with their free products to support public health. They offer a number of free classes and publications to help people learn practices to improve their HRV and even have tools for sale to help them measure their progress. This link here is one of my favorite, 10 HeartMath Practices | HeartMath Institute.

Bags come in all shapes and sizes, colors, fabrics, and prices. The only thing that matters is the functionality of it. Maybe you choose a bag that has a way to tote your yoga mat around or has extra pockets for accessories (maybe rings/jewelry, wallets, cellphone and hair ties). If you are a minimalist, consider a simple, no-fills bag with ease of access and simplicity in mind.

So what do you have in your bag? There is no need to stress about having everything—just think about the essentials! A good place to start is a change of clothing. Unpredictable weather and that “pop-up” class may spring up at any time; and a change of clothes to keep you dry and comfortable should you need to make a stop somewhere after class—is a must. 

Hydration is important! Pop in a water bottle ready to fill.  There is nothing worse than getting a tickle in your throat mid-pose and not having something to soothe it—or getting into your hot yoga class and needing to be quenched. This leads right into bringing a towel or two. Needing to wipe sweat off your face or hands and not having a towel can be uncomfortable; and if you have long hair—don't forget your headbands or hair ties.  As you further ponder how to pack your bag, you may think of nice-to-have (but not absolutely necessary) odds and ends to tuck away; such as an extra phone charger and maybe your favorite mat cleaner. 

One more last thing—after a session your bag may have accumulated packed clothes, towels, your water bottle and maybe a few yoga props; don't forget to unpack your bag along with your best self in the four corners of your mat and honor the time you have taken for yourself!

The Year of the Tiger is quickly approaching, and this will be a time of action and change. February 1st marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year.  

Those born in 1950, 1962, 1974 1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022 were born in the year of the tiger. 

Forthright, determined, passionate, and bold, the tiger is a natural born leader.  Tigers help lead the way for others. Rebellious in nature, tigers are attracted to adventure and action.  Tigers are also empathetic, chivalrous, and noble. 

The year ahead will also be a water element year.  In Chinese astrology, the water element represents maturity, deep emotions, spirituality, vital essence, and creativity. The most powerful of all elements, water is able to go around any obstacle without losing its essential nature. 

There will be strong aspects of both power and sensitivity this year.  Risk-taking will provide rewards, while sensitivity and deep emotions may cause quite a bit of chaos. Despite adversity, this period is also expected to draw strength and growth from new found enthusiasm and vigor. 

With tiger and water element aspects of the year ahead, we can expect it to be a year of extremes. This will be a year of big changes! There will be big decisions to be made, and emotions will run high. Tigers are quick to pounce, changes can be anticipated to happen quickly and unexpectedly.  The go-getter tiger vibes of the year can also be helpful in turning “pipe dreams” into reality. We will find ourselves weighing our priorities more this year, and postponing less important matters—which will help us focus more narrowly on those “pipe dreams” as well. 

The year of the water tiger will call on us not to succumb to the emotions of a moment, as well as to avoid focusing on things of minimum importance.  Willpower and a sense of calm will be necessary to get us through an ideal 2022. As a result, we can expect our dreams to unfold as we also make way for unexpected adventures. 

Lastly, lucky colors of this year are blue, green, red, and yellow. The color blue will bring luck in negotiations and communication, while green will bring luck in any new endeavor. Red will attract luck in love, and yellow will bring financial luck.  Incorporate these colors into your wardrobe and home to optimize good fortune throughout 2022.  

As we make our way through the year, remember to remain vigilant and steadfast. Just as tigers trust their instincts, so should oneself! The coming year promises to be an exciting one, and situations can change quickly, emotions can run high, but with those comes great opportunities and great benefits. This is the year of strength, rebellion, and bravery!

We here at Raja Wellness wish you and your family a healthful, prosperous, and joyful New Year!

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard of (and many have experienced) the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, the slow-brewing storm of improper sleep, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, and the feeling that our happiness switch has been dimmed, is the result of fewer daylight hours—affecting our circadian rhythm and serotonin output, all typically during the busiest time of the year. Here we are, showing up to work and family events, conjuring up all of the energy we have to make hors’ d'oeuvres for the holiday potluck while checking off our shopping lists, keeping up our day-to-day chores, making travel plans, working overtime, etc….all while we try our best to hide our fatigue and lackluster zest for life. Seasonal Affective Disorder is only reported to affect about 10% of the population, but the reality is that the changing of the season, cold dreary weather, and increased daily demands put a lot of us in “overdrive” mode—much more of us than the 10% reported.

At Raja Wellness, we understand the importance of self-care during this season, and we are here to help you through it.  Here are a few things we have to offer that can help to significantly improve the “winter blues” along with some proactive things you can do at home: 

#1: Move Your Body 

Yes, as you’ve heard time and time again, one of the best ways to improve your mood is to get moving! Outside exercise during the day is optimal since you can get some sunshine in as well, but indoor exercise will also help improve feelings of gloom.  You don’t have to have a gym membership, or even a whole lot of extra time each day.  Setting aside 10-15 minutes for a quick and easy routine can work wonders when done consistently. 

There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life without it taking time away from the rest of your responsibilities. You may choose to follow along to a YouTube video based on your current fitness level, spend a little extra time outdoors walking a local trail or playing a sport, park further away than usual at the grocery store, or even break out in a song and dance while folding laundry.  When able to make the extra time, in-person classes not only offer socialization, but extra support and individual attention as well.  

We’re also excited to announce that our newest member of the Raja Wellness team, Nikki Prell, is now offering yoga classes at our Magnolia location! These classes focus on breath, mindfulness, and gentle movement. 

To view schedule and join us, BOOK HERE

Or,  for at-home gentle exercise, check out qigong18.com

#2: Soak Up Some Rays!

The sun DOES still come out in the winter!  It may not be bathing suit weather, but a little sunlight goes a long way to helping to offset the winter blues, even when we’re bundled up and trying to stay warm. When you’re indoors, consider opening the blinds for natural lighting. Natural sunlight helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles, which are thrown off when the shorter winter days roll in.

When we spend more time indoors and out of the cold, our daily dose of vitamin D is decreased. Actual direct sunshine is the best way to supply Vitamin D— the “sunshine vitamin”, which is produced naturally in the body when the skin is exposed to UV light. It plays a critical role in our overall health, and helps the body to function at its best. 

#3: Eat Healthy Foods that Nourish the Body! (and keep track of it!)

A good idea in general, if we’re being honest.  Eating healthfully and mindfully has so many important health benefits—and improving your mood is one of them! Have you ever tracked your eating habits by keeping a food journal (or using a food-tracking app)? This is an excellent way to not only give yourself a visual of what you’re taking in and where you can make adjustments, but also to help identify and eliminate the things that make you feel sluggish, bloated, possibly even a little cranky. When tracking your food intake, be sure to make a note of how you feel after each meal or snack.  

Incorporating foods rich in Vitamin D can be helpful in fighting off the winter blues. Some of these foods include: 

  • Fatty fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks
  • Red meat
  • Liver

#4 Do you REALLY know how your body reacts to certain foods? Are you aware of what nutrients your body is deficient in? Do you know what your body needs so that you feel your best? The truth is, that there is no one perfect cookie cutter diet for everyone.  We all have our individual needs, sensitivities, and beliefs—While mindfulness and tracking your intake can be helpful, if you need a more personalized approach in your journey to feeling better (and improving your mood!) through diet, check out our trusted partner, Sakina Bunch.  Sakina is a Holistic Coach and Wellness advocate, and can help get you back on track through personalized nutrition coaching, cooking classes, and more!

#5 Find out how holistic therapies can help you navigate the winter blues! 

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, Frequency Specific Microcurrent, reiki, and even aromatherapy can help significantly reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. By bringing the body back into balance and releasing feel-good endorphins, your mood will be lifted as will your sense of well-being. To find out more about these therapies and how they can help you, book a free 15 minute consultation with us here!

Small, consistent changes can help to boost your mood and support your overall health.  Consider putting these suggestions into action and see what improvements follow!  

The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results.
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