No matter how long it’s been since you swore off hot dogs and leather boots, there’s an app to make your vegan lifestyle easy and full of community support.Read More
We all want to look and feel our best, but finding time for Yoga is a challenge! If you don't have the time to do a full class- my friends, I present to you 7 Yoga Poses you can do daily with no commitment to a set time frame. You can do these everyday to raise your energy, calm your mood, get more flexible, or simply start a more mindful wellness routine.Read More
I used to be one of those people that had a very hard time falling asleep. Sometimes it would seem like a miracle if I did! I know that life's challenges and work load can play a big part in it but there are a lot of really healthy ways to fall asleep fast without the use of medication or some expensive tea or herbs to help you snooze.Read More
There has been a wave of dieting for a very long time! Healthy, not healthy, kinda sorta healthy- no matter what type of diet it is they never seem to really work, right? How many times have we begun a diet only to go back to the same habits as we had before, and in some cases even worse habits than before! We feel heavy, defeated, and like we have no self control. Its not an empowered place to be at all and it creates suffering.
What if I told you, however, that it wasn't the diet that was the problem? What if it was the mindset going into the diet that made all the difference? We could be beating ourselves up for trying and failing at a diet which was never the problem in the first place.Read More
Mornings can be rough for people, I know! Myself included, its not always easy to get up on the right side of bed! We feel groggy, perhaps still tired from the day before, or maybe simply not excited about the day ahead. I totally get it!Read More
One of the biggest obstacles that keep people from practicing yoga and meditation is their busy schedules. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day! Here are 4 steps to adding Yoga to your Busy dayRead More
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My personal account on my First Holiday as a VeganRead More
While everyone begins their holiday diets, or begin thinking about it come Thanksgiving, I have been doing a lot of thought on mindful eating. I have put together a list in the hopes of giving you some insight on my own experience and to steer you away from dieting all together. Yes, you read that right, my advice is NO DIETING!!! While some of you are jumping for joy, others are calling me crazy, however I tell you no lies. Here is my advice for you on eating for Health & Wellness. No.1) Start a Meditation Practice
"But this has nothing to do with eating", I can hear you say! Actually, it can lead to a deeper and more meaningful eating experience. When you meditate the neurons in your brain begin to act differently, thus changing your thoughts and actions to become wiser with more intention. Once this has happened you will notice your eating habits begin to change. For instance, you might begin to notice after meditating that you eat salty foods when you feel stressed. You might notice also that when you are feeling sensitive or sad you eat a lot of sweets. Once you have meditated for a while you can start to curb that behavior and choose to actively avoid sweets and salt and rather go to a yoga class or walk your dog once these emotions begin to arise within you. When you begin to listen to the body on a deep cellular level, your habits begin to change slowly to become more mindful of your actions. For myself this was a gradual process but so powerful that I now eat a solely plant based diet as a result of my changed behavior. I no longer eat junk food, have cut out processed foods and sugar by 90%, and eat 2 raw meals a day. As a result I feel healthier and more clear, focused, and strong. Notice how I am not on a diet though, because I notice that when I force myself to do something I end up stressing not just my mind out but also my body. Instead I make decisions day by day to think healthy and I am very thoughtful of my choices, but I never force myself to do anything. This ends up giving me full power over my physical and mental health which is ultimately what it is all about.
No.2) Eat More Fresh Food
This goes right into nutritional education, and you are definitely encouraged to do your own research on this, but eating fresh means you are eating wholesome nutrients for maximum health. You can gradually start increasing your daily fresh food intake, such as salads with little to no dressing, whole fruits and veggies like apples or carrots, and a variety of juices and smoothies. You can eat fruits for breakfast, a veggie plate and Juice for lunch, or a large fresh salad for dinner. While I am not suggesting you get on a raw only diet, what I am advising is for you to introduce as much raw and fresh ingredients into your day as possible, the more organic the better. The great thing about this is you can customize it to your daily schedule. If you want to save money, buy seasonal and from the farmers market. You can eat whole fruits and veggies as snacks, you can create fresh juices, or you can blend up some smoothies. There are thousands of fresh and raw recipes online and from books to help you get creative. Try this out for a month and notice how you feel, integrate it into your journaling and mindful practice. When you buy and eat food, notice why you're buying it and if you are in a particular mood. This practice can substantially effect your health in positive ways.
No.3) Read The Ingredients List
This is a great practice for anyone to do, especially children. Knowing what ingredients are going into your body is essential to your wellness. It can seem overwhelming at first if this is not a practice you have ever partaken in, but over time it becomes like second nature. When buying packaged food, always look to see what it was made out of, then scan the nutrition box for things like calories and sugar. What I usually scan for are grams of sugar, preservatives, and dairy content. A general rule that I, and most people have, is if you cant pronounce it then don't eat it! However I take it a step further and say if I don't know what it is then I don't eat, meaning if the ingredient is so far from anything I know then I stay away from it. When you make a choice to read your ingredients you are actively partaking in your wellness and health education by default. You know exactly what you are eating and can make choices on what you continue to eat and what you can leave behind on the shelf. I began this practice several years ago as a way to become more mindful of my choices, and it has transformed my eating completely! I am not obsessive about it though, and that can become tempting if you let it. Again, this is a practice in mindfulness not obsession and negative behavior. If you become too obsessed about your food then you begin to cross over into eating disorder territory, which is very unhealthy. Be sure not to put pressure on yourself and push yourself into any habit that is not serving your highest self. The moment you find yourself upset about food is the moment you should take a step back and give yourself a break. No one is perfect and you shouldn't try to be. If you eat some junk food and a pastry its not the end of the world, its simply a choice.
Let yourself eat to live, don't live to eat!
Finally, Forget Body Image. In today's society we are taught that the way we look is more important than health and wellness. Just because someone is skinny doesn't mean they are healthy, and the same is true for the opposite. When I was younger I modeled and I looked very skinny but ate fast food, chips and soda, and candy on a daily basis. I looked healthy, by society standards, on the outside but was extremely unhealthy on the inside. Most importantly I was very unhealthy mentally, my mood was very imbalanced and I abused alcohol to control my depression and anxiety. On the flip side I now know people who aren't skinny, by some peoples perspective, but eat incredibly healthy food and keep their bodies active and fit, proving that you should not judge a book by its cover. Forget body image and simply focus on healthy habits. This can radically change your outlook on life and also help you to think more lovingly of yourself. Love is what this practice is all about!
What does self care have to do with the holidays? How can meditation help with the stressors of the season?Read More
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Home Practice, its not always easy and not always serene! Essentially we would love to be practicing in a very romantic and spa like setting, but often we find ourselves in weird positions close to our couch with a puppy in our face! Knowing where or how to begin can seem exhausting but once you understand how to get started you will never regret it. But first a few myth busters:
1) Home Practice does not have to be hours long
2) Home practice does not have to be done alone (pets/kids are allowed)
3) Home practice does not look the same as it does in a studio
Now that our myths have been busted, lets move on to the good stuff!
When you decide to take on a yoga practice you figure out quickly that once a week is not nearly enough to sustain wellness. Yoga is like dance, you can't just do it an hour a week and expect to be amazing! You really have to commit a bit more time during the week to really feel like you are getting the benefits. No matter what you practice for, it is not sufficient to your progression or your mental stability to only practice once a week! So here are a few mindful tips to get started on your journey past the studio.
1) Set a time based on your schedule.
You can chose between 15-45 minutes daily for your practice, and it doesn't always have to be the same amount of time each day. When I practice it could be 20 min one day and 45min the next, and so on. It depends on what I have going on and how loud or in my face my puppies decide to be! If you have children this too will determine how long you practice. Whatever the time might be, don't be frustrated about it, the last thing you want to do is yoga while frustrated! Instead, allow yourself to be flexible and enjoy your allocated time to yourself.
2) Pick a spot that is the least interrupted.
This might mean the living room is out of bounds! It might also mean you will be practicing in a smaller part of the house or outdoors. Personally I get very distracted practicing asana outside but love to sit in silence or savasana outdoors, so you need to know what will be more conducive mentally to what you wish to gain. If you are going for a restorative practice then you definitely don't want to pick a time when everyone is home! If you are practicing and loud noises are bothering you try putting on music to drown it out, or better yet learn to be accepting of it and transform your practice to one of equanimity. For a long time my dogs bothered me to the point of absolute irritation! Then one day I learned that I needed to be more accepting of them and now include them in my practice. Now, ironically enough, they nap next to my mat when they see me on it and only occasionally join me!
3) Make it as calm a setting as possible
If you like candles, light some. If you have an altar, put it in front of your mat. If you need soothing music, turn it on. I often light my dry sage or palo santo and wave it around the space as a sign that my practice is beginning, its in ritual to clear the air of any negativity or loudness that I might feel is hanging around. This doesn't mean it will always be calm at all! It means the intention is there to set aside a space that is as tranquil as possible. In the times when I am feeling emotional I allow myself to feel like its a safe enough place to cry or laugh or be silly. That wouldn't be possible though if I felt like I hadn't initiated that to be the case in the first place. Your mat alone should bring a sense of calm mentally and then you adjust your surroundings to match what is already inside.
4) Plan your asanas or wing it!
You can deliberately pick what you want to practice or do whatever comes to your head at the moment. I don't personally have a preference, sometimes one method works better than the other. Sometimes you can plan and then change your mind depending on how the body is reacting. The beauty of home practice is that no one is there to tell you what to do! However you do need to pick things that you are able to accomplish without injury. For example if you have never done a headstand or shoulder stand with proper alignment instruction, your house is not the place to start! Only do a practice you feel 100% secure about and can safely accomplish. If you find yourself really wanting to practice something in particular that you don't know how to do then pull up a video tutorial on youtube or another service and have yourself a guided practice. I sometimes use YogaGlo for their experienced teachers, and meditation and philosophy options as well.
5) Always start and end in meditation
Yoga is not yoga without Yoga! What I mean is if you are not practicing mindfully and meditatively then it is not a yoga practice, it is a workout. Even if the practice time itself is short, always allow at least 2 min of reflection and intention before and after. Thats only 4 min, even the busiest person has 4 min to spare! I often meditate for 5-10min at the beginning and 15min at the end. This I find works for me, but for you it might be the opposite, shorter or longer. Whatever the case, don't sell your practice short by skipping the most important part. Yoga is a meditation, anything other than that is a poor translation ;)
I hope this helps to open the door to your daily practice. Remember it is totally yours and is as diverse as the flowers in a shop! Do it with the intent to be more mindful, less irritated, and more open hearted. Happy practicing!
Fear is a tricky little monster. It can make us feel trapped and hopeless. It makes the body submit to weakness or anger. Some of us might react by lashing out at others, or staying stuck in your own heads paralyzed. Theres mental fear which is all stories about the past or future, and then theres physical fear which is in real time and in your face. Either way it all feels very deep and very real, sometimes even isolating. I was recently reading Pema Chodron's book "When Things Fall Apart" and I was totally struck by one of the stories she told. It was about a man who was on spiritual retreat in India and had been sent to a hut to meditate in solitude. When night came he lit a few candles and noticed a snake sitting in the corner of the room. Understandably he was afraid and couldn't go to sleep with a snake in his hut! One by one each candle began burning out and the snake stayed in its corner upright and looking at the man. The man and the snake continued all night this way, and the man could not sleep. Just as the last candle began to burn out the man experienced something deep and he began to cry. With tears of compassion streaming down his face, he accepted his fear and began to have compassion for himself and the snake as well. This really struck me as a profound moment. How many of us have been in a situation where we have allowed ourselves to feel fear? To be stuck in a room with something so awful, like grief or near death experience, and truly felt every inch of that fear in our bones. How many times have you sat and been willing to experience the intensity without running away?
"He accepted that he was angry and jealous, that he resisted and struggled, and that he was afraid. He accepted that he was also precious beyond measure- wise and foolish, rich and poor, and totally unfathomable. He felt so much gratitude that in total darkness he stood up, walked toward the snake, and bowed".
The man was so humbled by the experience that he recognized the snake finally as his teacher. Can you imagine what an amazing freedom the man must have felt?! Free of the burden, free of the chains that clung him to a fleeting experience, free to be free in every sense of the word! To experience life not as he sees it but as it truly is. The man fell asleep and when he woke up the snake was gone, never knowing if it was a delusion or reality but being forever changed as a result. And what an incredible transformation! As long as we are human, there will always be something to be afraid of. There will always be a little monster on our backs telling us we should fear this and that. For that very reason we should make it our friend.
My favorite line from a John Mayer song says "Fear is a friend that you misunderstood". Allow it to be, allow yourself to face it head on. Don't miss one moment of its purity. The greatest teachers of this world are the ones who make you uncomfortable and challenge you so that you begin to see the truth. In yoga asana we have Sivasana which in its tradition is a meditation on death. Why meditate on death? Because it is humans ultimate greatest fear. To sit still and truly contemplate death is a hard thing to do, it brings up the greatest kinds of emotions, might make you feel dark and uncomfortable.
Once, I meditated on the death of my senior dog Lilu, who is still alive, and I burst into tears. I cried for 20 minutes until I stopped and felt a deep compassion for her and the greatest sense of appreciation. How wonderful that I got to experience life with her, that I got to watch her grow and receive her unconditional love. How blessed am I that I get to experience her presence for years and years. In that moment my fear resolved and I no longer wanted to "own" her but allow her to be as she was, without fear of loss. There are many things we can meditate on and no matter what it is for you see if you can allow it to become a deep experience, one that will elevate you past the chains of your fear. Feel it and allow freedom to come, this is true Letting Go.
I went to a workshop not too long ago that asked "why do you go to yoga classes?" and I found that simple question to be a more profound answer for me. So I wanted to know from you guys...
I am teaching a special class for women this month and Im extremely excited to come together as a community and support other women in their practice!
March 20th from 6:30pm to 7:45pm at Flex in Oakland
Cost: $10-$20 sliding scale
All Levels Welcome
No prepay necessary, To be placed on the list for this event email "Yogini Flow" to firstname.lastname@example.org
In this 75 min class we will practice in the safety of female community. Practicing a special sequence to balance our moon energy with the sun. In Yoga there is Siva and Shakti energy and as women we can learn to balance both energies to help us deal with stress and conflict better. When challenges come about, rather than reacting to them in a negative way, we can find wisdom in our yoga teachings and practice to act with awareness and grace. Coming together in community allows us to find solace in support and form positive relationships. Join us!
Flex is located on Piedmont Ave, next to Wells Fargo in Oakland
Master Teachers can give us inspiration, guidance, and self respect. Abby Tucker has done just that and so much more for my own practice. These are my top 5 lessons learned...Read More
Theres a story behind everything we do in life. The first car you ever bought, the coffee table in the living room, the dog you rescued from the shelter. Not much floats through life without gaining a history along the way.
There is a park not too far from my house that I like taking the dogs to. Its not a very exciting park, theres the usual grass and weeds, the random dry dog poop someone didn't pick up, the metal fence that people can see through. I wasn't feeling particularly sunny that day, some days you just wake up in a funk. I figured spending quality time outdoors would do the trick. As I looked around at the dogs playing and sniffing the ground I noticed the flowers that had grown in small patches around the park. I walked over and inspected their long stems and bright colored petals. On instinct I began to pull them out and collected myself a nice stack. Naturally I wanted to do something with the flowers and without hesitation I began to tie them at the stems. I figured if I couldn't feel like sunshine, I could at least wear it! A flower crown was born that day, I put flowers in my dogs hair too! I noticed my mood got lighter and suddenly I didn't feel like poop. My creative juices got flowing and I had a rush of happiness fill my body.
"All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them." - Arapaho
When I got home I thought to myself I would really like to make one that lasts! So I got in the car and headed to the crafts store. I picked the flowers that spoke to me the most and brought me a sense of joy and peace. The daisy has always been one of my favorite flowers. As soon as I saw it I was immediately drawn to it. When I began working on my flower crown, I took great care to make it as perfect as I could. When I finished I placed it gently on my head, looked in the mirror, and again felt the same brightness I felt at the park. There is something very natural and powerful about wearing flowers on your head. It must be primitive and engrained in our DNA to feel a certain kind of special once we adorn ourselves with anything from nature.
Every crown made has this feeling of natural serenity to it. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is as beautiful as the simplicity and grace that nature gives us. It is a gift that I wish to extend to as many people as I can.
You can find the Daisy crown on my Etsy shop HippiesAndGranola
Find us on Instagram @hippiesandgranola
As I get deeper and deeper into this world of "All Natural" I am consistently fascinated by the amount of information there is on all natural remedies! We have become so accustomed to buying things made ready to use in pretty packaging that we have lost sight of our very basic nature, and going back to natural becomes a whole new world we forgot about! In one of my recent online scavenger hunts for natural beauty recipes, I found a current fad evolving.
No Poo, aka no shampoo, is an incredible new way of thinking about how to get healthier and shinier hair. It involves getting rid of your current shampoo, no matter how natural it might be, and using a baking soda rinse instead. Just a few times a week you rinse, not shampoo, your roots and then after condition the ends with oil. This is AMAZING! So simple, cost efficient, and incredibly smart. When I was in high school I took cosmetology and looking back at it now it was such a dangerously misleading field of study. Chemicals filled the air in the rooms, suffocating your lungs, and polluting your body. I regret now being so naive about the class, knowing now that I was certainly poisoned by the chemicals my lungs and skin were exposed to.
But no need to be gloomy! Its a new day and its time to discover what is possible with natural care. If you are wanting to give this no shampoo thing a try, make sure you are patient! It takes about two weeks for you and your hair to get used to the change. What this method does is it allows your natural oils from your scalp keep your strands healthy. Kind of like oil in your car helps to keep things rolling, the same is true with our hair. Using the rinse no more than 3 times a week helps to keep things smooth and working properly. You can add a vinegar rinse, just like Shirley Temple's mom used to do, to really do yourself some good. Apple Cider Vinegar works wonders for many things, this included, just make sure you dilute it with water.
No Poo Recipe: 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda for one cup of warm water. Rub it on the scalp and rinse very well! Only do this up 2-3 times per week. Follow up with Olive oil on the ends of the hair to condition. For curly and long hair I found Coconut oil to work the best.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXAPiksRS_M The process of perception and enlightenment