Category Archives: Empowering

New Year, New You – 10 Healthy Habits for 2015

New Year, New You – 10 Healthy Habits for 2015

Happy New Year everyone!

I know it feels good to kick off the new year while feeling motivated, but it is the coming weeks that will be a challenge to help you create new and healthier habits for yourself. I dedicate this post to the corporate worker and home-bound mommies out there.

Here are 10 fresh & healthy habits you can do throughout your days that will keep you feeling refreshed! Make this your new years check list! I even included a small checklist for you to print out at the end!

1. Start your day right

Skip the coffee. Instead, drink hot water with lemon. It flushes us out, cleanses the palate, and is great for your digestion. Do 5 minutes of stretching, I mean it, FIVE MINUTES. Do some shoulder rolls, neck rolls, a forward bend, a cobra or just roll on your spine and do a few tick tock twists. It will change your whole life and it will get you breathing. Eat an apple – it’s said to have the same effect that coffee does.

2. BREATHE

I remember someone saying about how the world makes a lot of money on breathing these days. Well it is true, but unnecessary. We have all we need to do it, so do it. Close your eyes, just breathe a few deep breaths in through the nose out through the mouth. Then when you relax do it out the nose as well. One minute of breathing is all you need to get a little balance and clarity back. REPEAT AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY. Set a reminder on that fancy phone you have.

3. Pack your lunch

I find that when lunchtime comes I am rushing around to get the kids fed and I don’t eat as well as I can. When I get a jump start on the day and make a big pot of soup, or just pre-slice up a ton of veggies to get me through a few days to snack on, I eat so much better ALL DAY LONG! Try my daikon soup and eat it will lo mein noodles. It is so good and light! Replace one meal a day for this soup if you want to lose a few pounds, too! For weight loss, MEASURE YOUR SERVING SIZES. Store in containers and the work is done! Then you can grab and go.

4. Power snacks

When you pack your lunch or make that awesome big pot of soup, cut up a ton of carrots, celery, cukes, and whatever raw veggies you like to snack on. Put in a big ziplock and shake with a little pepper, pinch of salt if you have to, or other herbs. Anytime you crave a crunch, go there! Put single servings of organic raw nuts so you can grab and go. Measure the nuts, or we tend to eat too much.

5. Kick the sugar

I mean it. It drags you down and makes you crave all bad things. If you notice, all of this is about food so far. Food is medicine, so if you put toxins in your machine, it is not going to run well. Instead of sugar, eat the opposite. I know it’s weird, but if you eat sauerkraut when you crave sugar it gets rid of the craving. Do a little research on food cravings and see what you can balance. Do not go to the vending machine or keep it in the house or you will EAT IT! You have the power to make the right choices for yourself, so make them!

6. Take 3 stretch breaks a day

When you are at work or at home all day doing chores and taking care of kids, you need to counterpose all that sitting, standing, and crouching over or you will wind up aching, tight and tense. At your desk, stand up, walk around, and do a few stretches for your shoulders, neck and hips. Sit in your desk chair, and cross your ankle over the opposite thigh and lean forward. This is a great release for your hips and back. If you are at home, do a few downward dogs, lay on your back and do a few twists, or do my neck and shoulders video (I promise I will make more videos soon!) These breaks can just be a couple of minutes!

7. Give your eyes a break

New Year, New You – 10 Healthy Habits for 2015

Hey! Your eyes need a break too! Rub your hands together until they feel good and hot and cup your palms over those tired eyes. Take 5-8 deep breaths and then slowly lower the hands away from the eyes. Hey, that got you a breathing break, too!

8. Leave work at work

For those of you who spend more time at work than at home, leave work at work. Remember who you are? Remember that stress is stress and we own that stress so it does you no good to keep it with you all the time. Tell yourself “I will release stress connected to my job” all day long. Let everyone own their own stuff, don’t burden yourself with other people’s “crap”. Don’t just veg out in front of the TV, you’ve got a life to live. Move, do yoga, walk, breathe again, initiate a project that needs to be done, clean, rest, journal, call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, get a massage… just don’t lose your brain cells to the idiot box.

9. Clean your desk and workspace

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Use an aromatherapy wipe to clean down your desk, it will make you feel fresh and uplifted and it kill germs! Buy a salt lamp or a plant for your desk. Do the same thing if you are at home…run a diffuser and open windows even if it is cold for a couple minutes. Let the light in!

10. Drink a TON of water

Buildings that run air conditioning and heat 365 days a year are very toxic and dehydrating to our bodies. Drink water out of a large mason jar or glass of some kind…don’t use plastic. Try to drink your body weight multiplied by .66 in ounces of water a day. So yes if you weigh 100lbs drink 66oz of water. You will feel fuller, more energized, and happier! This is one of those life changing things I have done this year and it has helped with weight loss and overall well being.

 

Fresh and Healthy Habits Checklist

Click here to grab the printable PDF!

Have some of your own ideas for living more healthily in the new year? Share them on my Facebook page!

Autumn Equinox, Yoga Style

Autumn Equinox, yoga style

Autumn Equinox marks one of my favorite times of year. The weather is still warmish, and the air is changing. Pumpkins, apples, hay rides, fall activities are all on their way. I find it all so inspiring and exciting to head into the change of any season, but Fall is by far my favorite.

In my home we celebrate nature’s bounty. I can bulk food with friends. This year, pears, tomatoes, sauce, salsa are gracing my pantry shelves. It is a reminder of all the abundance that is around us that we can use and preserve.

As far as my yoga practice, asana becomes highly important. As Fall arrives, our bones get cold and our muscles feel stiffer and tighter with the changing weather. We feel the need to get warm to the soul. I choose asanas that are warming: Warriors, Surya Namaskara series, core awakening practices, inversions to clear my lungs and my head, and breathing practices that warm my body and clear my mind.

Behind all of this, though, is always the power of intention and sankalpa. Equinox is a great time of transition with BALANCE (try my balance yoga class, below!).

Every equinox I like to celebrate it as a practice of Thanksgiving. I cook a big vegetarian meal and invite over some friends. Everyone shares in lighting a candle and talks about what they are grateful for and what they are harvesting in their lives from their garden of the heart.

In personal celebrations, I might just take a nice bath by candlelight, then journal some personal statements of gratitude such as, “I am abundant with life…love…family…friends…power“, or, “I am filled with gratitude for…

I always have a harvest-style home altar to share in the essence of the season. Mums, pumpkins, apples, spicy candles, and a rich bottle of red wine to celebrate the season.

Then of course a nice meditation focusing on transition always helps me put this transitional time into perspective. I just sit, maybe with a steaming cup of tea next to me, close my eyes, explore my yogic breath for a few mins and see what comes in and out of the mind. What can I do away with? What thoughts are not serving me? What am I manifesting or what do I need?  These patterns start to take over until a deep state of peace comes over me. By the time I am ready to open my eyes, my tea has cooled and I can stretch and enjoy the moment.

What are you grateful for? What can you celebrate in your life that you have in abundance? What can you give away in turn for all that you have and to help you release your attachments?

Enjoy the practices above or try this Autumn balance asana practice below.

Autumnal Equinox Practice

This practice celebrates balance, but it also honors those with little time.

I would like to note… as I was trying to take the pictures for this practice, I was not listening to balance (as my little one would not take her nap). I was really pushing to find the time to do this while the weather was nice. I changed rooms, outfits and was very grumpy when setting up for this little project.

Finally I gave in, got my little one and brought her outside with me where she was happy and I could just breathe.

I should have just honored that she needed me and saved myself the aggravation of not having all the space I needed to get things done.

Even just doing this little photo shoot, and not really doing the “practice”, felt good. So if you can find 15 minutes to yourself, I hope you enjoy this. Whether or not the setting is perfect!

The Practice

Click each image to get a closer look

Find a nice place outside to practice. Get your feet on the earth, no mat and no shoes if you can! Otherwise, just find any quiet place to practice.

1. Start with a few warm-ups:

Ardha Chandrasana

Stand in Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, for at least 10 breaths or more. Ground your feet down into the earth, breathe a few refreshing breaths in through the nose and out the mouth.

Now stand in Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon Side Bends. Keep your base long and grounded, belly in, inhale and stretch your arms up overhead clasping your fingers. Exhale and side bend. Repeat on each side 3-5 times.

2. Trikonasana

Trikonasana

Stand with the legs part and arms wide to prepare for Trikonasana. Root into the feet and feel as if you are drawing energy up the outer pants seam sides of your legs. Inhale and lengthen your torso up to the crown of your head. Trikonasana is a great way to practice balance between heaven and earth.

Turn a set of toes out and the other toes in slightly. Inhale, lengthen your arms apart, keep your whole body facing wide except your front knee. Keep that front knee in the direction of your front toes, exhale and tip your body down so your hand can rest on your thigh, shin, or the earth. As long as you are not feeling like you are going to overstretch or fall over, enjoy a few breaths here. Come up and stand for a moment, then do the other side. Feel free to repeat a few times if you like, and work on steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha).

Come back to center in Tadasana for a few breaths.

3. Lunges

Balancing Lunges

From Tadasana, bring your hands down to the ground and step a foot back into a lunge. From here, make sure your knee is not over the ankle, but try for a nice amount of bend. Engage your core and your legs, keep your back heel up and practice lifting your arms up with your inhalation.

You can try some twisting variations with the arms to challenge your balance! Remember to breath, and try for 3-5 breaths! Bring the arms down to the earth and repeat on the other side.

Come back to Tadasana, take a few breaths.

4. Vrksasana or Tree Pose

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Shift the weight of your body from one foot then the other and start on the side you feel works best for you. Bring your balance to one foot and gently place the sole of your foot below or above the knee. It is helpful to not squish the toes, but do engage the legs and core. Now lift the arms up overhead! Play with the arms here or practice twisting the upper body if you like!
Lower the leg and arms down, and switch sides after a brief pause.

5. Little Prayer & Half Handstand

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Find a tree, and stand with your back to it. Squat down and bring your hands in prayer pose to your heart’s center. Now place your hands on the earth a few feet in front of the tree and walk your feet up the tree to hip height. Engage your core, arms and shoulders down the back. Practice caution, this should not be done for those with untreated HBP, shoulder issues or low back issues.

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Now, hug your baby, relax in savasana, or go for a Fall walk. Whatever you do, don’t fight with yourself. Find peace somehow and breathe!

jenn-and-daughter

 

The Bonds of Womanhood: a Ritual for Women of Wisdom

The Bonds of Womanhood - a Ritual for Women of Wisdom

The Bonds of Womanhood, Motherhood, Sisterhood…

I hear all their voices in my head as I write this, a quiet moment to myself in a usually interrupted life.

Wife, Mother, Business Owner, Goddess of the Joyful Path – all titles that I like about myself, mostly.

The titles I don’t like – Hurt by Others, Fear of Speaking my Truth, Being Seen in My Own True Nature, The Woman Who Walks Alone (pause for long breath) – are all ones that I am afraid of and at times run from.

And the big one, VULNERABILITY.

All the things I love about my life are the very things that make me (and let’s face it, all of us) vulnerable.

I feared opening my yoga studio because it meant a door was opening into my soul for all to see. My studio is a space that somewhat defines me but also gives me absolute freedom. I dislike being in an undefinable space, but at the same time it is what liberates me completely, like change, but I don’t want any of it to hurt me. I like moving on as long as it’s comfortable (another breath), but all in all I know “comfortable” gets us nowhere but to a space we already know.

My sisters, my souls of Self…share in each other a space so intimate and a bond so unbreakable that it makes us whole even when we are broken.

When our hearts are hurt to the most undefinable space, we call out to one another and find each other again. A gracious card in the mail, a visit with tea or wine, a phone call, a whole-hearted soul searching ritual of divine force…whatever healing bond we make with one another, it is the essence of our own true nature that binds us.

I am of course familiar with toxic sisterhoods, ones where the past keeps you together but the present is just unnatural to be in. You have to let go of each other because you know that it no longer serves you anymore, but you scratch the curtains like a cat and meow about being pulled out of your comfort zone and it becomes a painful break up of souls. But eventually you get it together and find the people who bring you back to you. These toxic sisterhoods only happen when we are not truthful with ourselves.

I love my sisters. They’re my family. Even when they are so busy with their own, they will drop it all to wipe your tears away, take you to a birthday dinner of the highest specialties and feed your soul with laughter and love.

For you who have no sisters, and have a longing in your heart, I wish for you to find one another, as there more than 3,301,112,087 of us are roaming the world as we speak, according to Ask.com.

The Bonds of Womanhood - a Ritual for Women of Wisdom

A Ritual for Women of Wisdom

Sit in a circle, and have each woman pass a white candle around.

Each woman will say a silent prayer of devotion and love into this candle, for all the women in the world.

Now light the white candle in the middle of your circle of women.

Take 3 slow deep breaths in and out through the mouth.

(at this point, my goddess gals like a good tonal, raw moment of chant where we just sort of “Om” or make sounds that feel natural to us to raise the energy of our space)

Visualize yourself holding hands with all the women in the world. You have a billion arms, like Durga or Kali, and you’re sharing your inner wisdom with all the women in the world.

We are all one“, just keep telling yourself this over and over or chant it out loud with one another.

Feel free to move and sway or hold the space rooted, whatever feels natural to you and your sisters.

Send that support to women in your mind who need it, women you despise, women who are sick, alone, tired, abused. Women of wealth, business, philosophy. Mothers, daughters, sisters… reach it out to all of them in a million white, black, bejeweled, tattooed, glittery shimmering arms – you see what gives you power.

Now stand up and send your prayers out to the universe. Speak them out loud, first quietly, then louder and louder raising that energy out into the world until you feel it build. Then let it go with a big breath out, exhale completely, then fold forward and touch the earth with your hands, swaying your hips a little…

At this point you can dance, drum, meditate or lie down. You will feel what the energy needs you to do.

Just be yourself, your most authentic goddess self.

Sat Nam, Blessed Be, Namaste.

 

Strength and Sankalpa: A Journaling Exercise

Strength and Sankalpa: A Journaling Exercise

Strength

Give me strength…give me strength…I ask for wisdom and peace in this trying time of my life.

When we face challenges, we often ask for strength. But I am not sure how to define it. I have needed strength these last few months more than ever, all on a subconscious level. I have needed it to recognize my faults, fears, and my future…

I have needed it to stay present, to hold myself here and stop digging into the past or looking to the future for answers unknown.

Yoga teaches us to stay in the present and I find it is always the biggest challenge a student will face.

Sankalpa

I believe the best way to focus on the present is through the practice of intention, or the Sankalpa. The Sankalpa is the BIG intention in our life. The big focus that will make us better people, and the world better for it. Sankalpa is this constant thought stream that helps us manifest our deepest spiritual intentions.

We start by making baby Sankalpas, like “I will be happy”, “I will be strong”, “I am healing my past”. Then we work towards bigger spiritual goals, such as “I am practicing non-attachment”, “I am whole in heart”, “Compassion is setting me free”, to help us become a whole being.

The Sankalpa helps keep my head as I deal with normal human stuff in my relationships and life practices. When I lose sight of it I can always bring myself to the present moment, to my consciousness, which will gather me up in its arms, brush me off and send me on my way.

Strength and Sankalpa

Ways to practice your Sankalpa

Throughout your life your Sankalpa practice will only deepen with regular practice. Some ways to do this are:

  • Making this a daily 10 minute ruotine to enhance your concentration
  • Using it before and after your yoga asana practice
  • Journaling about it (and about what gets in the way of it). This is what we’re going to do later on in this post.

I find it keeps me honest with myself and with others. It makes me a kinder, more patient and compassionate person. Everyone is going through something, usually, whether it be the daily feats of lives or a much larger problem. It can only overtake us if we give it permission to. If I just sit and repeat my intentions and Sankalpa, I will almost immediately find grounding, peace and inner wisdom to show me the way.

Alongside this, I find more power and inspiration with having a sacred space or altar to go to at home. My space is a quiet corner in the bedroom where my sacred reading and journals are kept. It is this devotional space I can go to and light a candle each morning that will help me remember my truest intentions and desires. With the flip of the lighter and a turn of an oracle card, a skim of a page of a book that inspires, and a glance at my devotional figures, I am renewed and reminded of what this life’s purpose is.

Journaling Exercises: The best way to find your Sankalpa

Journal these questions:

  • What are my biggest challenges in life? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
  • Out of all of these challenges, what is the hardest for me to overcome?
  • What would make my heart sing?
  • What would bring me peace?
  • What do I need more of in my life?

After you have written down your thoughts, start to notice patterns about what you need to be in a better place. Write down key words that repeat themselves throughout the pages.

Now write little intentions that start with words “I am”. These intentions must be 100% positive, so no negative words at all! Make your statements present as if they were already true in your life and write them like so:

Instead of “I will lose weight”, try:

I have the body I need
I am balanced in my physical health

Or instead of, “I will make more time for me”, try:

I have all the time I need
I honor my time wisely

“I release stress” has a negative word in it that you are trying to get rid of, so instead try:

I am living a peaceful life
Relaxation is natural to me

The bigger intentions will come when these more mundane things that commonly plague us are in a better place.

Wishing you all well,

Jennifer