Gut Reactions: How to Heal the Self

The gut plays a major role in our health and happiness, however, due to the cultural habits of today’s world, many people experience imbalances in the gut that show up as allergies or disease. In this talk we will learn what the gut microbiome is, what it used to look like in the recent past versus today, and how we can move forward in order to heal ourselves by using food as medicine.

3 Tips to have Healthy, Glowing Skin from Within

We all want beautiful, glowing skin. It carries a lot of weight in a first impression and it also seems to be one of the first things we criticize about ourselves if it isn’t flawless. If you are one of those people who seem to have tried everything on the market to get rid of acne, age-spots, dark circles, and redness, but nothing seems to work, try some of these methods bellow. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and many of the external impurities or “imperfections” are related to internal imbalances.

TIP #1 Hydrate

IMG_4483.JPG  Hydration may seem like one of the most obvious things we can do for our skin and our entire body, but it is one of the most commonly over-looked steps when it comes to healthy, glowing skin. The key here is that when you keep your body well hydrated through out the day, your body can more efficiently flush out toxins through your kidney’s and liver. The best way to do this is to start your morning off with one of the following:

Can of Coconut Water

Fruit-Infused Water (Strawberries, lemon, and mint in the picture)

Warm water with lemon and/or ginger

Be sure to drink one of these thirst quenching options at least 15 minutes before you eat anything. Then, be sure to drink water through out the day. There is no real recommended amount of water, despite false-scientific studies; just drink when you feel thirsty and remember to hydrate often.

TIP #2 Superfood Vitamin C Smoothie Bowl

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Seriously, this is one of the most delicious ways to support your body. Vitamin C increases your body’s collagen production which will reduce darkness, age spots, increase elasticity, and heal your skin from within! Not to mention the long list of benefits of the superfoods, which load up the body with much-needed nutrients.

Here is the ingredient list:  Blend 1 mango, 1 orange, almond milk, 1 banana. Top with: goji berries, hemp hearts, strawberries, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

TIP #3 Eat Your Greens!

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The best thing you can do for your entire body, not just your skin, is to eat your greens. Eating 3-4 servings of greens daily is known to improve your immune system, increase your life span, reduce disease and inflammation, and make your body feel good! It’s best to eat your greens raw as much as possible, so that the heat sensitive nutrients stay in-tact. My personal favorite way to do this is to add greens to my smoothies, add a salad to my dinner, or add greens to my carrot juice (side note: carrot juice is packed with carotenoids which have anti-inflammatory properties that tighten skin, even skin tones, reduce scarring, prevent wrinkles, naturally moisturize, and improves digestion). Keeping a regular routine of eating your greens will serve you and your body for the rest of your life!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! If you are curious about what your body might be telling you based on where your impurities is on your face, click here to learn more about what you can do to support your body.

As always, feel free to leave questions and comments bellow!

 

3 Ways to Improve Mental Hygiene

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It feels like the thoughts in my brain become extraordinarily more vicious as soon as I become conscious of them.

Several days ago, someone told me how in Toltec philosophy, they believe that there are etherial beings that act as parasites to our beings. Similar to the story of the two wolves, the parasite feeds on certain negative emotions that are particular to each individual, and thus puts us in situations that will create more of this emotion on which it can feed.

Truthfully, if I had to guess what mine was feeding off of? It would be sadness. Now, regardless of whether or not the Toltec philosophy plays to your world views on this point doesn’t matter. This conversation of habitual patterns and self-talk comes up time and time again in pop psychology.

We, as humans, have a tendency to have extremely negative self-talk. Things we would never say to any one else, especially someone we care about. What causes this type of behavior? Perhaps it is the “parasite” or the ego or our culture or perhaps that is just how the mind works.

Interestingly enough, I have been playing with the idea that my negative emotions are parasitic. That they do, in fact, harm and degrade my mental hygiene and feelings of self worth. By choosing to actively listen to my thoughts, I have seen that it is practically second nature for my mind to start thinking about negative things. Or, in other words, my mind continuously vacillates between the judge and the victim. So I have begun an experiment: Every time I start to think negatively, I actively replace those thoughts with something positive, with something that I am truly in love with, happy with, or excited for.

The effects have been extraordinary. I feel as though I am witnessing myself choosing to place the bowl of food in front of the good and kind wolf, watching the negative and sad wolf angrily fight me for its regain of strength. Another way to look at it, is that I have changed brands: At first, I was feeding myself with thoughts that engendered more negativity and now I have replaced those thoughts (or, at least, I am trying to) with thoughts that engender positivity. ❤

So what are ways that we can all do this? To keep our mental hygiene in check so that our thoughts don’t go running with the wolves, so to speak.

3 Ways to Improve Hygiene:

Floss Your Thoughts:

Become aware of what you are saying to yourself, especially when you are experiencing a trying situation and especially when you are not “listeninyou are enoughg”. What I mean by this is that our minds seem to be chatting to us constantly. Try to observe what you are thinking when you are not thinking of anything in particular. Soon you may see that there are lies you have taken for granted as truth, simply because there wasn’t active focus on your thoughts.

Brush Up On Your Positive Affirmation:

Run of the mill hippy-chick tip? Yes. Very powerful? Yes. I have watched my life turn around, just by having nice things I routinely said to myself. I like to pick one or two phrases that are my go-to positive thoughts. Keep them in your back pocket to say to yourself whenever you need. This will take your mind away from the negative thinking and give you the keys to positivity. Similarly to when people say “fake it till you make it”, telling your mind positive thoughts, sends chemical signals and responses that can actually make you a happier person over time.

Wash your Thoughts of Negativity:

One step beyond the affirmations is actually getting into your brain and consciously replacing a negative thoughts with positive ones. An example of this would be: “Wow, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on that report, even though I prepared for it. I’m an idiot. I hate myself.” Catch yourself. Take a breath, rewind, cut, replace, repeat: “Wow, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on that report, even though I prepared for it. I bet there are ways I could improve next time. I know that I did my very best.”

 

So there you have it folks. Please feel free to comment or share bellow ❤ I would love to hear your thoughts, insights, and opinions on the matter.

Thoughts on Meditation For Beginners

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Meditation can be incredibly intimidating for the ruminating or monkey-mind, as I call it. For me, I often find a lot of self-judgement around meditation: “Am I doing it right? When was the last time I had a thought? Am I still thinking? Om Namah Shivaya… why can’t I stop thinking?”

And that, right there, is the ultimate fallacy. The goal of meditation is not to “stop thinking”. It is about awareness. Taking time to truly notice the breath, to feel the weight of your clothes, and the sensation of them touching your skin. To become aware, but not attached, to the mind as it wanders through the vast hallways of your life.

This is easier said than done, but that is why we call it a practice. I can guarantee that every great yogi has had to work towards gaining peace in their mind, that the constant chattering did not merely stop because they decided to sit crosslegged, in silence, for an extended period of time. It stopped because they chose to make a habit of meditation.

What is truly phenomenal is that just the action of becoming still, of listening to the mind chatter, of noticing the emotions, as well as physical distresses of the body, actually has striking effects on your overall health and wellbeing.

In fact, the University of Wisconsin, among many others have proven that meditation alters gene expression. Changing the bodies response to fight or flight by giving an additional reaction: action. The Yoga Sutras discuss this. They say that eventually the dedicated yogi will reach a point where they no longer react to situations, but rather respond situations with clarity and diligence. With consistent practice, it also begins to turn off genes related to cancer, alzheimer, and obesity as it begins to turn on genes that promote mental clarity, longevity, and overall wellbeing.

So here are some tricks you can bring into your meditation practice to get the ball rolling. Remember, you are just noticing what is happening around you. Resist the need to judge or label the mind as it being to string thoughts along throughout your practice.

Breathing — Using Uijayi breathe (the breath of victory) begin to place your awareness solely on the breath. Listen to breath as it moves in and out of the body. As the mind wavers, take it back to it’s basic.

Chanting — Often finding a chant can be very helpful. Whether it is an intention, a prayer, spoken out loud, in silence, in your native tongue, or in sanskrit; it doesn’t matter. Having a chant can be very powerful because it allows the mind to focus on a simple phrase. This can help to bring about joy in the heart and turn the volume down on the monkey-mind.

Listening to a tape — Sometimes it can be helpful to listen to a meditation tape. This way you have something to listen to when the mind starts to wander. This will also help you focus on intention and can bring new elements into awareness.

Set a timer — Another huge fallacy around meditation is that is has to be for a long period of time. Even though meditation is most beneficial when practiced on average for 27 minutes a day, that’s not realistic for some people. So you do what you can. Sitting for even 5 or 10 minutes can make a world of a difference. So set a timer, let go of the need to look at a clock, and take a moment to be still.

Find ways to bring it into daily life — The truest and most evident benefit of meditation is finding ways to take in off the mat and into daily life. As you delve into your mediation practice, notice how your tolerance or patience begins to change. Or choose to actively incorporate the meditative mind into simple tasks such as getting cut off in traffic, waiting in a long line in a grocery store, or having that uncomfortable conversation. That state of being is what will serve you the most. It can be a compass in your life to point you in the direction of where you need to be and the path of least resistance to get there.

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should mediate for an hour.” ~ Old Zen Saying

Pose of the Week: Peaceful Warrior

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Peaceful Warrior

SHANTI VIRABHADRASANA

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.”

~Dan Millman

After the incredible amount of violence this week, it only seems fitting that the pose of the week would be peaceful warrior. I love that traditional yoga often centers around the warrior postures. It reminds us, we do not need vengeance to be strong. We do not need to inflict pain upon another to be triumphant. It reminds us that we do not count our victories as the number of wars have defeated on the battle field, but rather the amount of wars we have overcome within ourselves.

My heart goes out to those suffering right now at the hand of another. I feel so removed from that reality, I can only say this: The war stops externally, when the war stops internally. Peace is a choice. And it is possible. Do not lose faith. Do not lose your smile to grief. Draw inward and we will be triumphant. ❤

om shanti om shanti om shanti om.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Strengthens the Legs
  • Stretches abdominal muscles and engages core
  • Stretches and supports the lungs
  • Opens Chest & Shoulder
  • Opens Heart

Asana Break Down:

Come into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), check your alignment with the front ankle. Make sure it is in alignment with the arch of the back foot. The back foot should be flat at a 45 degree angle. Bend deeply into the front knee. Make sure your front knee does not go past the front ankle. Draw the thighs together, squaring the hips, as if they were being pressed between two panes of glass. Arms should come out directly from the shoulder blades. Turn the hands towards the sky and bend backwards. Back and highly presses into the back leg. Most of the strength is being drawn from the core; the weight is not on the back knee. Open the chest and the heart lifts and spreads. Front arm comes over head, gaze comes towards the sky or the thumb.

 

Above, I have a chant you can say out loud or silently to yourself, either in this posture or sitting quietly. Om shanti translates into “om” the divine universe and “shanti” translates to peace, as a phrase it means may the divine creator, energy, and wisdom grant eternal peace to all things.

Pose of the Week: Dolphin

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Dolphin

MAKARASANA

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Relieves mild depression, headaches & back pains
  • Helps to calm the mind
  • Relieves symptoms of osteoporosis
  • Strengthens shoulders and abdominals
  • Stretches Hamstrings
  • Opens Heart
  • Preparation for forearm balance

Such a beautiful posture, amazing for alignment and strengthening the body to prepare for forearm balance. To get into this posture, begin in table or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down ward facing dog). Once you have come into alignment in your preparatory posture, come down to your fore arms. Hands can come together into prayer, lay flat on the floor, or gently be clasping one another. If hamstrings are tight, you may take a bend in the knees. Otherwise, root though your ankles, allowing them to press into the floor. Allow the collar bones to lift and spread as shoulder blades draw near one another, chest beams towards the knees. Head hangs heavy. ❤

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or recommendations bellow.

A Change In Perspective

  

“Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. 

The lotus flower has long been a symbol for the unfolding of spirituality. It is one of the most elegant illustrations of the meshing of our human and Divine natures.  

The lotus seed is planted and grows in muddy waters, below the surface of the lake, far from the light. Though the light is murky and clear, the flower blossoms by drawing energy from within. As the bud passes through the muddy waters, it lifts its face to the sunlight and finally emerges. Miraculously, not a trace of soil remains on the flower. It lives in the mud yet it is not affected by it….

Yogah Citta Vritti Nirodahah. Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart” (Devi 16).

I am happy to report a change in my life. For the past two months or so, everyday has seemed to bring new horror and drudgery, leading me into the shadow-self. It didn’t take much, just a few changes and suddenly I was able to see the beauty around me and the amount of abundance I have to be grateful for.

There were so many people I encountered in the last two months that were so blissful and grateful for the life they had. I saw them and thought to myself, I want that kind of bliss and contentment. It’s hard to feel happy all the time or even grateful for one thing in your life. Yogis are often painted as figures who see the world in technicolor all of the time because they are supposed to have some mystical secret told to them by the yoga gods, but that’s not true. Yogis are human, just like everyone else. We each have the opportunity, like the lotus flower, to be affected by our circumstance, to blame what has come before. However, we can also choose to see each day anew and gather strength from within. Instead of looking at all of the mud we are surrounded by, we can take our gaze to the sun; to the infinite.

So today I shed gratitude for all of the circumstances of my life, they bring to to new depths and new challenges, but they also bring me to new heights and new joys.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

-John Lennon

Pose of the Week: Upward Facing Dog

Photo Credit: Lily Russo

Upward Facing Dog

URDVHA MUKHA SVANASANA

Benefits of the pose:

  • Strengthens arms, shoulders & wrists
  • Stretches spine, lungs & shoulders
  • Tones stomach muscles
  • Helps relieve mild depression and fatigue
  • Opens chest

Asana Breakdown:

To get into this pose, begin in low cobra. Firmly press your hands into the ground as your arms lengthen. Draw shoulder blades onto the back as the collar bones begin to lift and spread. Feet are together, big toes touching, tops of the feet touching the ground. Hips, thighs and shins are off the mat. Chin can gently tilt towards the ceiling.

Sources:

“Upward-Facing Dog.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Pose of the Week: Hanumanasana

Lord Hanuman Pose

HANUMANASANA

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Stretches groin, hips, & thighs
  • Opens Heart
  • Strengthens & improves functionality of abdominal muscles
  • Increases flexibility of hips when practiced frequently

Asana Breakdown:

This pose requires great flexibility and strength and definitely requires a bit of a warm up before getting into it. Personally, I keep this posture till one of my final poses, to ensure that I don’t hurt myself and can get the most benefit out of the asana. For preparation, I like to start off in Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Hanuman/Half Splits). To begin, start in Downward Facing Dog. Inhale one leg into three legged-dog, exhale step it in between your legs and bring your back leg down to the floor. Begin to straighten the front leg, allowing your foot to come off the floor, resting on your ankle. Begin to melt your heart closer to your knee and breathe here. This is the traditional prep pose for Hanumanasana.

Once you feel comfortable here, you can begin to ease your front leg forward and extend your back leg on the ground behind you. Straightening both and coming into full Hanumanasana. Here, you want to square your hips as much as possible. So let’s say your left leg is forward, take your attention to the right hip and begin to draw it closer to the front and allow for an external rotation in the the back leg. Lengthen the spine and allow the collar bones to lift and spread.

This can make the pose uncomfortable. The best way to ease int this pose from grace here is to use your hands as leverage and pull your groin a few inches off the ground. Drawing the thighs in closer together, you will begin to get deeper into the pose as well as your hips. Practice here, until you can comfortably remain in the traditional expression with integrity. From here, you can start to play. Options including, bending the back leg and grabbing the foot, reaching arms up over head or leaning forward over the front leg.

Nutrifetti Super Smoothie

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A party in your mouth, this one is! Full of superfood and goodies, you’ll want to try this one out for sure!

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2 bananas

1/4 cup Vanilla Brown Cow Yogurt

1 tbsp Spirulina

2 tbsp Hemp Seed Hearts

3-4 tbsp Goji Berries

1/2-1 cup Orange Juice

Serves 1-2

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Blend baby blend ❤