I have been wanting to create a series with you all dedicated to meditating, and I finally got it all worked out! On my YouTube Channel I posted my intro video to the series. It will be a 4 part series where I go over meditations that are accessible and sustainable. Meditation has been the catalyst to transforming my life and I want to share it with you all. The benefits are immeasurable and I cannot wait for us to get started, and the best part is that its FREE! Watch the video here. Subscribe to get notifications when the videos go live so you don't miss them!
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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!
Theres a strong tradition in many cultures to honor loved ones that have passed on by celebrating their lives rather than weeping after their death. I have always been fascinated by this and have always admired peoples abilities to recognize the joyful aspect of life and death. Growing up as a Latina, I always had a sense that death was not a terrible thing. Most latin cultures have enthusiastic funerals that include music, dancing, and ritual. My mother loved celebrating Day De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). She would create elaborate altars with pictures of her loved ones and skulls and flowers. It was a beautiful way to honor, not just the aspect of death, but that of a life well lived. Death is something most people fear, it is a fact of life that most wish wouldn't be. This fear tends to cause a lot of anxiety and makes for quite a stressed out body and mind. In my own yoga practice I have meditated a lot on this fear, particularly the fear of death and loss. On my 28th birthday I took a workshop on Death and Dying, with my mother and Godmother by my side, I chanted and danced and cried and released. It was one of the most profound experiences I had ever had. Letting go of the notion that death is a scary thing that must be avoided at all costs was powerful.
How can we begin to pass this fear from our cells? First, by recognizing the fear is there. I often think of the ritual of creating an altar for your loved ones, lighting a candle, and remembering that persons life. This is a magical tradition that can begin the practice of acknowledgment and allows for the releasing of fear. Most of us don't actually fear death itself but rather loss. Losing things is challenging, transitioning is uncomfortable. It makes us face the fact that we have become attached to someone or something and often its the biggest shock of our lives. Death in particular forces us to see nature, something our modern culture has stripped itself from, for what it truly is; ever changing and impermanent. In Nature things evolve in order to allow the ecosystem to thrive. For thousands of years our ancestors have celebrated the death and rebirth of the earth, "It appears that in every country the Day of the Dead occurs at the year's end, after the last harvests, when the barren earth is thought to give passage to the souls lying beneath it."- Yourcenar
After we recognize death and loss as a natural thing, we can begin to realize that our love was not for the physical form but that of an eternal essence, an essence that lingers long after someone passes. Like a fragrance from a flower or the smoke of incense, that energy lingers within and never truly goes away. The fear that we will somehow loose this is actually the ego gripping to something that was never in physical form to begin with.
"Energy can never be destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another"- Einstein
As we move into the darker time of the year and begin to slow down with the season, its important to pay tribute to our ancestors. To remember their stories and pay homage to their triumphs and struggles. Chant their names and ask for their grace and comfort. Moving into a space of deep gratitude to all that has come and gone, to all that will rise and will disappear. Into the mist we follow the energy of our people, we ask that they show us the way, guide us into the light, and remind us to celebrate. Life is a celebration, a miracle that has gone from the formless into form. The gifts that we give each other in the short amount of time we are here is magical. When we move beyond the grief, which for a time is natural and understandable, we can begin to truly celebrate and heal.
This October 31st & November 1st, allow yourself to step into the shadow and remember those who have come and gone. Allow yourself to feel their presence and in so doing begin to step into grace. Dia de los Muertos is about feeling their energy and asking for their blessings. Stepping into our own courage to be guided by wisdom far beyond our own knowledge, but felt within our hearts. Celebrate and be celebrated!
Breaking News: Karma knows what you did last summer.
LostStand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you, If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows Where you are. You must let it find you.
An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Wagoner, in The Heart Aroused - Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte, Currency Doubleday, New York, 1996.
Yogis Protest Captivity I love this because it shows that there are yogis in the world who actually practice YOGA not just asanas. If you want to do more for captive whales and dolphins visit savejapandolphins.org and watch The Cove and Blackfish
Never regret a thing. You are who you are and always will be because of every experience you've ever had.
For all the new yoga teachers of the world!!! This really helps, its a way of aligning the purpose and intention within with our new career path. Don't be a sell out, but don't be discouraged either. All things will come with time. All you have to do is show up, every time!
When you become Identified more with the timeless inner body than with the outer body, when presence becomes your normal mode of consciousness and past and future no longer dominate your attention, you do not accumulate time anymore in your psyche and in the cells of your body. The accumulation of time as the psychological burden of past and future greatly impairs the cells capacity for self-renewal. So if you inhabit the the inner body, the outer body will grow old at a much slower rate, and even when it does, your timeless essence will shine through the outer form, and you will not give the appearance of an old person.
From Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now. Page 123
Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and stretch
I will be teaching the next 2 Vinyasa classes at Piedmont Yoga Studio on Thursdays ,10/24 and 10/31! Come get your flow workout with added mental and spiritual elements which relate to daily life. At $14 for the hour, you cant beat it! See you on the mat!
Learn the unique system of Yoga from the famous Lineage!
November 9th from 2pm-4:30pm
Cost $18 register by Nov 2nd, $25 after Nov 2nd
At YogaLove Studio in West Oakland, CA!
Register by leaving a comment below with your name and email
or by sending me a messege at Facebook/elianayogalife
*Learn the 5 points of health
*12 Basic Postures with added asanas
*Pranayama and meditation
*8 Limbs of yoga
*Opening chant for practice
This will be a great chance to deepen your practice!
See you on the mat!
The ultimate warm up sequence, Sun Salutations are one of the best ways to get the body working and sweating! Try 108 of these and see how you feel afterwards!!!! Its such a cleansing experience and it requires so much focus a yogi can be transcended to another plane after just 5 rounds! I absolutely love doing this sequence in the mornings and right before dinner to stimulate the senses and raise up the energy, I even think its better than caffeine!!!!
Change your perspective from 'Alone' to AllOne
Vinyasa All Levels
Community Hatha Class (Pay what you can!)
Piedmont Yoga Studio, Oakland