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.

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

dolphin

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.

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.

Pose of the Week: Triangle

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Triangle Pose

TRIKONASANA

Benefits:

  • Relieves stress & anxiety
  • Aids to back tension and pain
  • Strengthens thighs, ankles & knees
  • Stretches abdominal muscles that assist better digestion.
  • Good for sciatica, osteoporosis, & flat feet

Asana Break Down:

Begin in Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), straighten front leg and extend forward, hinging your torso over your front thigh. Allow your front hand to find a block, shin or the floor. If your hands are placed on the floor, make sure your hand is firmly placed palm touching the ground or remain on your fingertips without compromising your thumb. Some people even like to allow their hand to free float by their shin or ankle, using their core muscles to maintain the integrity of this asana. Allow your other hand to reach towards the sky.

Next, we want to align the body by twisting deeper in the pose. To do this, imagine someone was pressing into your hand that is in the air and encouraging you to twist your lower ribcage forward. Head should align with the line of the spinal chord. Draw shoulder blades closer to one another and check your torso’s alignment over your front leg. Often, people will puff their chest forward and either collapse their ribcage or put their body dramatically off balance. Make sure the center of your torso aligns with the center of your front leg. Allow there to be a mirco-bend in the front leg so that you don’t hyper extend. Back hip muscle should descend down towards the ground. Allow the back body to lengthen. Take your gaze towards the sky.  ❤

Lemon Garlic Tilapia with a Garden Salad & Green Beans

tilapia dinner

Hello internet family ❤ This is a long awaited recipe, requested by one of the sweetest women I know! Similar to the Salmon recipe. Same same, little different. Here it goes: Clean eating for the entire family!

Fish are a wonderful source of protein, omega-3’s, B12 and Niacin, amongst other nutrients. So however you do it, it’s a great meal to add into your diet!

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Ingredients

1/2 lb tilapia

1 lemon

3-4 cloves garlic

A pinch of Salt

A pinch of Pepper

Handful of Green Beans

1 sprig of dill

Olive Oil

1 head of Lettuce

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 Carrot

1/2 avocado

Serving 1

Cooking Time: 30-45 min.

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Alright folks, I’m pretty proud of this meal. It’s so nutritious and well balanced! You’ve got a great source of protein, good/healthy fats, and tons of veggies, each with health promoting qualities. Oh, and by the way…it’s delicious.

Set the oven to 375. Take out a baking pan and tin foil. Tear enough to create a tent around the fish. Take out your tilapia, place it on the tin foil, squeeze 1/4 lemon over it, season with a small pinch of salt, take one clove of garlic chopped and sprinkle on top. When your oven has preheated, cover your fish with the tin foil; again creating that tent-like quality. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Next, chop up your salad fixings. Add more or less of whatever you like/don’t like listed above. Increase quantity if more people are joining you. Once your timer goes off, expose your fish, peeling away the tin foil. Place it back in the over for another 10-15 minutes. If you want your fish to become crispy set for 10 min and then put on broil for 5-7 minutes.

While your fish is finishing up, pour roughly 2 tbsp of olive oil into a frying pan. Add green beans, again adding a small handful for each person other than yourself. Take another 1/4 of lemon and squeeze over green beans. Take a pinch of salt and pepper, season to taste, and sprinkle over the beans. Add chopped garlic to the pan. Add 1 clove of garlic for every 2 people your cooking for. (For example: if you’re feeding 3 people, add 4-5 garlic cloves.) Mix ingredients together, covering the green beans with olive oil. Put on medium, cover with lid, stir every 30 seconds or so. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Allow them to steam for 5-7 minutes, turning the heat down, if needed.

Once the fish is cooked, take 1/4 lemon and squeeze over top. Add a bit more salt or fresh dill if your would like. Taste the green beans, maybe add the last 1/4 of lemon to them and continue to season to your liking.

Enjoy ❤

Please leave a comment or request bellow! Keep em’ coming, I love it!

Be Here Now

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Being is not knowing. I first heard these words from Harville Hendrix, PhD and it struck a chord in me. As a yoga teacher and someone who wishes to pursue a spiritual path I have found that spirituality has seasons. There are many days where I don’t want to practice yoga or I don’t want to sit and meditate. That’s just human. But knowing is not being. So knowing the Sanskrit of a pose and all of the minute mechanical movements of each asana, is not the same as showing up on the mat with an authentic, devotional heart. It’s not. I know because I have spent so much of my life living outside of the present that I have become so cerebral in my practice that I sometimes practice without heart. Knowing is not being. Yet, being is knowing. To show up in your life in each unfolding moment is a beautiful and challenging thing. Become what you seek. For what you seek is surely seeking you. It may not find you through the mind however, but through the heart instead. How do you become what it is you are seeking? I once asked this question through the lens of spirituality having seasons to a guru of mine. I said, “It seems to me like spirituality has seasons. Some seasons are abundant and I feel a deep connection to source and my practice. Other seasons feel depleted and I don’t want to practice at all. How do I continue to flourish when my practice is full and honor it when it is weak?” And he replied, “Spirituality is like a tree. It does not bare fruit in every season, but it needs to be watered every day.” Where can you water yourself more in this life? How can you become the most authentic version of yourself? 

Knowing is not being, but to be is to know. ❤

Let Food Be Your Medicine: Candida Cures

Candida Cures

During the Fall and Winter I tend to eat lots of sweets, basically from Halloween through New Years. And I think so do a lot of other people…. Unfortunately, in addition to exciting your taste buds, these seasonal eating habits add unwanted weight to the body and unwanted bacteria to the gut which can lead to imbalances in the body, namely Candida. So many people experience symptoms and side effects of Candida but they don’t even realize they have it. Common symptoms include: depression, anxiety, crying spells, low libido, poor memory, nausea, indigestion, stomach aches, athlete’s foot, hives, persistent cough, mucus in throught, sore throat, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, PMS and menstrual irregularities, yeast infections, and much much more1

The harsh reality is that everyone has Candida and most people experience one or more of these symptoms. In my unprofessional opinion I recommend doing the diet for one week to one month this holiday season will dramatically improve your health, your gut flora/bacteria, and your overall happiness in your body.

I, myself, recently found that I was experiencing a variety of Candida symptoms and am going on the diet for the next month. It’s a bit challenging as a vegetarian, and I will admit some rules will be broken for the sake of improving my health. But if you’re a strict vegetarian who may be experiencing these symptoms, don’t be scared away! You can still do the diet and be a vegetarian.

I’ve noticed that there is a huge emotional battle that happens when you try to rid the body of Candida, so just be aware of that. It’s like have the devil sit on your shoulder and tell you that not eating sugar is wrong. My guess is that this happens because your body is going through sugar withdrawals and sugar is 8x more addictive that cocaine.

Up above I took a picture of my groceries for Candida Care:

(From the left) Celery, Broccoli, Vaginal Yeast Suppositories, Salmon, Artichoke Heart, Olives, Sesame Seeds, Almond butter, Kyolic Garlic Supplement, Free range eggs, Plain Kefir, Zucchini, Zucchini squash, Lemon, Spinach, Candida Care, Licorice & Peppermint tea, Miso Soup, Quinoa, and Plant Based Abult Probiotic.

Being on the Candida Diet means not only avoiding sugar, but anything that can turn into sugar including: Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Honey, Wine, Alcohol, Bread, Oats, Pasta, Fruit, Carrots, all cured meat products, and so on. If nothing else, getting on a good probiotic will help a ton, but unfortunately not as much as giving your body a break from the sugar overload.

The only two things that are not food are the vaginal yeast suppositories and the Candida Care Tincture. The suppositories are for women, they are made up of boric acid and tea tree in gelatin capsules. They are inserted vaginally as needed. As a women, let me tell you, in my experience, they are the fastest relief to any irritation downstairs. The Candida Care Tincture promotes healthy intestines, heals the body of Candida albicans overgrowth, and supports the immune system and contains, Desert Willow, Usnea, Echinacea, Milk Thistle and Chaparro Amargosa. The tincture is taken orally and is a great addition to the other supplements useful on this diet/cleanse.

Yeast Suppositories:http://dancingwillowherbs.com/vaginal-yeast-suppositories.html

Candida Care: http://dancingwillowherbs.com/candida-care.html

To get recipes, Do’s & Don’ts, and more information about Candida follow the link bellow:

http://www.thecandidadiet.com

Sources:

  1. “The Candida Diet.” The Candida Diet. Perfect Health, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Please note that any and all posts on this blog do not substitute for professional medical help, diagnosis or treatment.I am not a health care provider my any means. The content provided on this site is designed to be used for informational purposes only. The content is based on personal experience and outside research. 

Pose of the Week: Downward Facing Dog

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Downward Facing Dog

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Ego says,’ Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Once I feel peace, everything will fall into place.'” ~Marianne Williamson 

Benefits of the pose:

  • Decreases Stress & Mild Depression
  • Wakes up the body
  • Stretches shoulders, hands, spine, & calves
  • Strengthens hands, arms & legs
  • Relieves insomnia, headaches, and back pain
  • Helps with digestion

Asana Breakdown:

I want to take you a little farther down this path than maybe you have gone before. Practically everyone has done Down Dog at least once in their life, but I’ve found a lot of people, myself included, don’t really know how to do it. I had been practicing it for about 7 years before someone showed me how to properly do it. Here’s what I mean: Begin in table pose, flat back, hips stacked above knees, shoulders stacked above ankles. Curl onto your toes and lift up your legs. And allow your hips to move both upwards and backwards. This is about as far as people usually go, but wait, there’s more! From here, Root down through the first three knuckles of your palm so that they touch the mat. Allow for an external rotation through the shoulders. By this I mean that your collarbones should move away from one another, and that your shoulders should physically turn outward. Usually, this compromises the tailbone and causes the chest to beam forward. Correct this by energetically wrapping your ribs into your sternum and tucking the tummy inward. Check to make sure you haven’t compromised your hips, continue to move them upwards and backwards. Now, for the final element of the posture: feel an energetic pull between both of your forearms as if they were moving closer together. Put all of this together and you, my friend, have yourself a downward facing dog!

For a visual break down check out my youtube video: https://youtu.be/Zn3-XJlBltU

As always, leave any questions or comments bellow! If you have a request for the next pose of the week let me know! ❤

Sources:

“Downward-Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana – Yoga Pose.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, 28 Aug. 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.