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>Because it’s Monday, I thought it’s a perfect day to try something new, so I checked out Anti Gravity Yoga. It’s a class offered at Crunch Gym in West Hollywood that has hammocks suspended from the ceiling allowing you to stretch and float in midair like a Cirque de Soleil performer. Not only is it unique and fun, but it is a tougher workout than floor yoga because you stretch further and it takes more core strength to maintain poses without gravity!

If being suspended in midair doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe you would like to put your energy into a trip that can help others. The Rainbow Fund is a charitable organization which uses 100%, yes ALL, of the donations to help those in need. Go to Haiti to help plant a garden of vegetables, or take the Rainbow Bus to Tijuana to help eradicate Aids by delivering supplies to a clinic and some orphanages.

And if you want to put your money into something that is good for the planet, check out Alt Energy Stock‘s website which has information on companies that are working with or on wind, solar, and biofuel projects. They even have Mutual Funds and ETFs if you don’t want to single out one company.

It’s nice to have so many alternatives to lift your body, soul, and finances to new heights.

Because it’s Monday, I thought it’s a perfect day to try something new, so I checked out Anti Gravity Yoga. It’s a class offered at Crunch Gym in West Hollywood that has hammocks suspended from the ceiling allowing you to stretch and float in midair like a Cirque de Soleil performer. Not only is it unique and fun, but it is a tougher workout than floor yoga because you stretch further and it takes more core strength to maintain poses without gravity!

If being suspended in midair doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe you would like to put your energy into a trip that can help others. The Rainbow Fund is a charitable organization which uses 100%, yes ALL, of the donations to help those in need. Go to Haiti to help plant a garden of vegetables, or take the Rainbow Bus to Tijuana to help eradicate Aids by delivering supplies to a clinic and some orphanages.

And if you want to put your money into something that is good for the planet, check out Alt Energy Stock‘s website which has information on companies that are working with or on wind, solar, and biofuel projects. They even have Mutual Funds and ETFs if you don’t want to single out one company.

It’s nice to have so many alternatives to lift your body, soul, and finances to new heights.

>Laughter is one of the best antidotes to relieve everything from depression to the blahs, and even if you are already in a good mood, laughter can elevate that even higher, to euphoria! Medical studies have shown how laughter lowers stress and helps boost your immune system, so if only for medicinal reasons, enjoy a dose of laughter along with your vitamins.

If you haven’t already heard about Laughter Yoga, you can watch the video on You Tube with its’ founder Dr. Madan Kataria. Dr. Kataria has even taken his program to Indian prisons! If you have heard about it and want to try it, Hilary Kimblin (who has studied with Dr. Kataria) has a free monthly meeting in Beverly Hills that is so much fun you will want to do it every month.

Anyone can do it, you don’t need any special clothes or training and you will enjoy it more than almost any other exercise, simply because it is fun! If you enjoy Hilary’s Laughter Yoga, she also takes it on the road to companies, social events (parties), and schools, so take a 30 minute laughter break with her to share some laughter with other people.

There is something about being with a group of people that makes the laughter infectious and more intense. Human interactions have a way of multiplying the prevailing energy, so when that energy is fun and light, the upward spiraling effect is a delicious cocktail of bubbling laughter.

>Some brand name athletic clothes are a challenge to find at any discount (unless you buy them used on ebay or at your local consignment store). Activa carries lines like Prana, Patagonia, Lole, and Nike for 10-70% off retail. I found a brand new Prana top ($25 instead of the $40 retail) on their site for less than the same top on ebay used! They even have very sweet deal right now if you want to stock up on your yoga or hiking wear; buy four items and the lowest priced item is yours for only $1.00, just use code FZ190001 at checkout.

You can sort your searches by category, size, price, color, or brand, so they really do try to customize your shopping experience. For those who are style challenged, they even have an outfit tab which puts together a coordinated outfit for you whether you are lounging around home or going to a power yoga class; this is the website for all my friends who ask salespeople in stores for the outfit on the mannequin.

Service is the best thing about Activa; they will actually tell you (if you call them, they are not psychic) if a particular piece of clothing of a brand runs large or small so you can order online or by phone with less guesswork.

Sorry guys, Activa only carries women’s clothing, but you can still shop here for your sister, girlfriend, mother, or wife for Valentine’s Day and save enough to buy her some flowers too!

>The first time I had coconut water I was amazed that it was so different than coconut milk; it is literally as different as water is to milk. All the fat and creaminess associated with coconut milk is like cream being associated with skim milk. Among the benefits of drinking coconut water are all the nutrients like potassium and electrolytes, without any fat.

I tried Zico, a pure coconut water from Brazil, today and I love it for its’ taste, its’ purity (no added sugar or fat) and the container, which is a compact paper carton with a foil pull top. You can literally take it anywhere. It is being marketed as a sport drink alternative since it is loaded with five essential electrolytes, more potassium than a banana, low acidity, no fat, no sugar added, and no cholesterol. Because it is 100% pure coconut water, it is very light and has only the flavor of coconut, but no sweet taste, so Zico has several fruit juice blends for those who want more zest. It’s sold online and in various retail & yoga studios, but I found the best price ($1.49) was at Smart & Final.

It’s not quite the same as drinking it out of an actual coconut, freshly taken off a tree (truly the best way to drink coconut water), but if you close your eyes and drink, you will get a taste of Brazil to tide you over until you can get to the source.

>My friend Pel told me about a Thai massage place in the Valley that she said was wonderful; Pel should know, she lived in Thailand for some time and she is a massage connoisseur. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember the name of the place and only knew the general area, so she told me to meet her at Vara’s (which is where she thought she had gone).

It is said that all things happen for a reason, and I guess the reason is that we were supposed to discover a new place together. For those who have never had a Thai massage, it is similar to interactive yoga; you wear loose clothes (scrubs are provided by the spa), lie on a futon/mat and the therapist stretches you and walks on you. It is good for people who love pressure (they will tone it down if you want less), and also a good style of massage for those who do not like being undressed for a massage.

Vara’s is very clean, very hospitable, (the kind and polite culture of Thailand translates to Thai businesses in the U.S.) and very professional. My therapist Ann did a good routine (I would rate her work a 6.5), and Pel’s therapist Da did some good deep work (she rated her work a 7), so the therapists are well trained. I am as picky about my massages as I am about my food, so my ratings are as tough as Olympic judges (who haven’t been paid off-I have never gotten paid for a post about a company or service). Your therapist may not speak English very well, so make sure your preferences are clear before and during your session.

For only $39 per hour (longer sessions and varied styles are offered at higher prices), it is definitely worth trying traditional Thai massage if you haven’t yet. Now that Pel has remembered where she wanted to take me originally, we plan to try that place next week.

Stay tuned for next week’s ratings….

>I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of music could probably fit on a post it note. I once tried to play a music trivia game and could not answer any of the questions (we ended up playing Trivial Pursuit instead). My friends still laugh when they remember that I told them I “discovered” this new band named Aerosmith in 1995. I consider it a necessary part of my education to learn more about music by listening to more artists (and my friends agree).

I appreciate music of nearly every genre and I love artists who play from their hearts, whether it is a masterful guitarist, like Carlos Santana, a saxophonist like Gato Barbieri, or a pianist like Jim Brickman. Some singers use their voices as instruments; Brownstone, Christina Aguilera, Kiri Te Kanawa and Josh Groban all personify their music with the most unique of all instruments.

Music can calm your senses, ease your soul, and send you off to sleep. Liquid Mind V, called Serenity, or Liquid Mind III, called Balance, are both ideal for meditation or yoga. The Serenity CD has actually been used to calm hyperactive babies (it works on adults too).

Since nearly all artists now offer single songs for sale on iTunes, you can sample one, buy a few, or buy the album, it’s all your musical choice.

>Gyrotonics and Gyrokinesis are exercise and movement systems that were developed by an injured dancer to rehabilitate himself from injuries he sustained while dancing, but you don’t have to be a dancer or injured to benefit from the training. Gyrokinesis is done without machines, and Gyrotonics is with machines, so a personal trainer is required for safety and to ensure that you are performing the movements correctly. The movements are more elliptical than linear and they make you move your body in ways that stretch out muscles not usually affected by regular gym work-outs. If you like Pilates, you will enjoy and be challenged by Gyrotonics.

I had a personal session with Tavi Stutz (who has worked with Cirque du Soleil performers) at In-Spiraling Movement Arts . A good instructor will make the difference between being frustrated, and excelling, so make sure you have a trainer you like when you start. I had tried sessions with another trainer, but Tavi made my sessions fun. He explained the intentions behind the movements, understood how to correct my uncoordinated faux pas, and encouraged me to try it again (and again). The movements are easy to do, but challenging to do correctly (like shooting a basketball toward the basket is easy, but getting the ball into the basket, not so easy). I felt looser and more relaxed after my session, like after a good yoga class.

If you have any chronic pain or are challenged by any injuries, try this type of movement. It’s not a sweaty fast paced exercise, so if you are looking for something like a spinning class, go somewhere else. However, if you love to dance, or simply like making fluid movements with your body, you owe it to yourself to try Gyrotonics. In some countries like Switzerland, Gyrotonics is actually covered by their health insurance! Maybe everyone will do gyrotonics here one day because their insurance requires it, or simply because it feels better to move through life with ease and fun!

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