I had all intentions of writing this ASAP after a mini trip to Joshua Tree a few weekends ago. But then life happens, things get pushed to the back burner, and here we are. As I just started a new job, I am pretty limited on vacation days, so Alex and I took advantage of the long weekend for President’s Day to take a quick trip up to Joshua Tree. From San Diego it’s about a three-hour drive, so very do able for a weekend. I was teaching a class Saturday, so we left early Sunday, came back Monday and the drive still wasn’t bad.
There is a small town that has been built up around the park, but for the most part the park is in the middle of nowhere. The park itself has no wifi (love it) which makes it the perfect place to disconnect, go off the grid for a bit, and just enough the scenery around you. For any trip Alex and I make that is nature oriented, I love to leave my phone behind as much as possible or leave it on airplane mode. Between being out in nature and away from all other distractions, it makes the trip extra relaxing.
Joshua Tree is popular among both hikers and climbers. Although we aren’t climbers and did not do any climbing while there, it is always fun to see people scaling up the rocks. The first day we explored around the park, walked the Willow Hole and Split Rock trails, and scrambled over rocks. We may have done another trail but my memory is failing me here. Wanting to get back to our Air Bnb before sunset, we called it a day after that. The house we stayed at was so impeccably put together; the owners had clearly put significant effort both in renovating the home, but also adding personal touches like essential oils in the bathroom, chocolates for each guest, lots of cozy blankets, etc. It was the perfect zen spot.
At the Air Bnb, I rolled out my mat for some easy flows, snapped a few pictures at sunset, and then popped my feet up with a glass of wine and a bowl of vegan chili 🙂 After the sky got nice and dark, we went outside to stargaze. Being far away from any city lights makes an incredible difference. The entire sky was lit up with a million shining specks. If you are into star gazing, I highly recommend the “Sky Guide” app. You hold the phone up to the sky and it will tell you which constellations you are looking at – so cool!
We woke up well before the sun Monday as we wanted to catch sunrise at the Cholla Cactus gardens. It took us a bit longer than expected to weave our way through the entire park, but we caught sunrise as we drove and made it to the gardens as soft beams of light were just beginning to come through.
After that, we went back to Skull Rock. There were way too many people there the day before and I prefer to be out in nature with as few humans as possible 😉 We had all intentions of hiking Ryan Mountain, but I had greatly underestimated how cold it was going to be and the wind was STRONG, so we opted for one of the easy loops. This ended up being a very good call as shortly after we finished, dark clouds rolled in and it hailed. Yup, hail in a desert. Given the weather, we opted for brunch instead of anymore hiking and then made our way back to San Diego.
I cannot stress enough how much putting my phone away for this trip made it feel so rejuvenating and like a much longer getaway than just an overnight trip. Whether it’s on vacation, for a day over the weekend, or past a certain hour each night, I am trying to more consciously spend time disconnected from technology and connected to the present moment and those around me.
i didn’t set any intentions for February and I honestly felt the difference. Setting intention makes me feel more focused, more aware of what I want to bring into my life, what I want to make time for, what I want to work on personally, etc.
so with that, here are my March intentions:
1. let go: releasing control over what I cannot control is hard, even harder is to fuller release it from my mind, to stop letting it go round and round in my head. I am working on letting be what will be.
2. be present: this seems to be a reoccurring intention for me and one that I need to remind myself to make a priority. Whenever I put everything else aside to be truly in the moment, it is so rewarding. This month I want to make time to meditate + carve out phone free time.
3. dream big: …and then dream bigger. I find myself getting way tied up in the logistics of making something happen instead of putting that aside for the time being to simply imagine what COULD be possible.
4. channel you energy: there are only so many hours in a day and so much energy to give, my intention here is to be intentional about where I am investing my energy.
5. keep my orchid a l i v e. This beauty you see behind my notebook is my third. If you’ve seen How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, orchids are akin to the love fern for Alex + I. So far I’ve managed to kill two of ours. Fingers crossed this third one is a fighter because my green thumb is seriously lacking.
Last weekend I took a Yin Yoga Teacher Training. I have so much to write about this this training and my experience with it, but wanted to dive in on some Yin Yoga 101 first. So much of this was new knowledge to me and has provided new depth to my yoga practice, that I wanted to share it with you!
Yin is the counterpart to a “Yang” yoga practice. Yang yoga is your more common hatha or vinyasa style, characterized by movement, change, and heat, focused on uncovering or bringing things to light. Yang is male, active, and positive in nature. Yin is slow, unmoving, cool, and focused on the hidden aspects. Yin is female, passive, and negative in nature. They are the balance to each other’s halves, in opposition to each other. Yin and Yang are in a constant, shifting relationship with each other.
Within the body, there are more Yin and more Yang organs and functions. Yin, the feminine, is associated with the inner body (organs), below the waist, the fluids of the body, and such organs as the liver, spleen and kidney. Yang, the masculine, is associated with the outer body (skin), above the waist, the qi, and such organs as the gall bladder, stomach, and bladder. Yin yoga poses stimulate pairs of Yin and Yang organs through opening of the energy meridians, allowing chi to flow.
Closely linked with Chinese medicine, Yin yoga works with the Meridian Theory. Meridians are tunnels throughout the physical body through which the body’s subtle energy, or chi, travels. There are 14 main meridians, 12 of which correspond to the Yin and Yang organs in the body. Half of these meridians end in the feet (Yin) and half in the hands (Yang). Yin postures focus on restoring healthy chi to these pathways. Chi nourishes the body, providing balance to the body and the mind. Chi can become blocked or stagnant when it is not able to flow through the tunnels in a smooth pattern. Chi can also be deficit when there is a lack of energy. Healthy chi brings strength, mobility, and balance to the body. Yin yoga, breath work, and acupuncture are all ways to help restore chi in the body.
In her book, Insight Yoga, Sarah Powers details three tenets of yin yoga:
Come into the shape of the posture to an appropriate edge. You want to move slowly and carefully into the posture, with intention and purpose, and search for the point where there is enough intensity to the pose, without being overwhelming. Remember that you are looking to encourage chi flow.
Soften into the posture. Allow gravity to work its magic. While holding the postures you want to release any tension in your muscles, this allows the chi to move into the joints instead of the muscles.
Hold the postures for long enough to fully nourish the meridians. 5 minutes is an average for a yin class, however this can be adjusted depending on the posture and the student. Holding a pose for this amount of time can feel uncomfortable at times – that is all part of it. Note that uncomfort is different that pain; if you feel pain in a pose, back off or exit the posture. Uncomfort is the level where it is just enough to challenge you a bit, in body and mind. Yin teaches us a willingness to experience this, to sit with it, and to observe our thoughts around it.
A yin yoga class is typically made up of a series of long hold, passive postures, taken on the mat, and held for an extended period of time. One distinction to make is the difference between a yin and a restorative class. While a restorative class is focused on relaxation, a yin class invites you to find the edge, to get a little uncomfortable.
Yin has SO many benefits, both to our bodies and our mind. One key benefit of Yin yoga is improved joint health. Through habitual, repeated actions or postures, the connective tissue in our joints gets bound together, creating adhesions. Yin helps to break up these adhesions, releasing the fascia. The mild stress placed on the joints during a yin pose also helps to improve joint mobility. Joint health overall is improved as the connective tissues around the joint are able to gently stretch, squeeze, compress, etc. in the postures. Because we typically engage our muscles during daily actions, we are not able to get into the deeper layers. Yin yoga also offers us a change to slow down. The pace of a Yin class is slow, thoughtful, and with pause. As you hold the postures for extended periods of time, there is the space to practice patience, to be observers of our own bodies and mind – notice what thoughts arise, where does your mind go? When the pose becomes uncomfortable, when you find that edge, can you be non-reactive to those feelings? Can you find kindness towards your body? Yin is a quiet practice that gives us the space to turn inwards, to calm our minds, and to find stillness.
did you find this helpful?
any yin yogis out there? how has the practice influenced you?
It’s been a bit since I wrote one of these and I always find it fun to read what other people are eating, what workouts they’re doing, what they’re reading, etc. When I re-read that it mostly just sounds like I’m a nosy person.
In case you’re nosy too, here’s what I’ve been crushing on lately:
Breakfast smoothies: I get it, mornings are busy and it’s much easier to run out the door than it is to make breakfast. Study after study shows the benefits of eating breakfast, whether you’re trying to focus better at work or lose weight.
Personally, when I’m hungry I tend towards hanger. And even if I manage to keep that under control, having a full belly makes me 100x more productive, whether I’m at work or running errands on the weekend. That said, my mornings are busy and making a full breakfast spread isn’t in the cards. Lately I’ve been hooked on protein smoothies. I keep it real simple:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop Xology protein
1 tbs. flax seed
Handful frozen banana, strawberries, etc. (whatever is in the freezer)
The smoothies are sweet from the fruit (quieting my morning sugar cravings), the flax provides a good dose of fiber to keep everything moving along, and the Xology gives me a protein boost to start the day – keeping me full till lunch.
I love Xology’s vegan protein because it is soy, sugar, gluten, and dairy FREE but is still unbelievably creamy. The smoothies turn out almost in a melted ice cream texture – none of that chalky texture that protein powders (especially vegan ones tbh) tend to have. I’m a vanilla girl through and through so I’ve stuck with their vanilla chai but they also have an Arabica Mocha that sounds like it’d be delicious with a scoop of PB blended in too. Just a suggestion 😉
Use my code: “Julia30” for 30% off your order! They’ve got a whole line of whey proteins as well if you aren’t dairy free.
Air Wander: I love traveling and have prioritized it as something I want to save for / spend on with my extra cash. If you’re like me and want to see as many new places in the world as possible, Air Wander is for you. Basically when you’re booking a flight somewhere, it helps you book stopovers in other cities on the way there or way back. It’ll auto populate with suggested cities and show you if you’re saving money (score!) or how much more your ticket will be with the stopover. Stopovers can be for multiple days, giving you enough time to quickly explore a new city.
Full disclosure, I haven’t actually booked a trip through them, just endlessly perused their website and planned approximately 10 different trips around the world I want to take. This isn’t sponsored. I just think the site is cool and fun if you’re into maximizing your trip, seeing more of the world, and saving some money!
Spring collections: It never stops being summer in San Diego but I like to keep with the seasonal vibes and Alo Yoga’s spring collection has me feeling all Easter-y and spring flower bloom feels. Especially crushing on this open back laced top from Alo yoga. I’m also very into the expanded sweatpants offerings. Because if you can never have too many yoga pants, you can REALLY never have too many sweatpants. AMIRIGHT?
This brush is LIFE CHANGING. I promise this is not an exaggeration. My mom told me about it and I lol’d a bit thinking, there is no way it’s that different than my regular brush. Is it ever! I have a mass of wild curly hair and this brush runs through it like BUTTER. If you’ve got curly hair or are tangle prone – this is a must.
Easy at home bath remedies, everything from insomnia, to detox, to sunburn.
There seems to (strangely?) be a lot of controversy about New Year’s resolutions. Being anti-resolutions seems like the new fad. If New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing, you do you.
But I for one, love them. I like a fresh start, new goals, and setting a plan. New Year’s resolutions are an awesome way to set focus for the New Year, get clear on what I want to work towards, and identify what I want to cultivate in the year to come.
I want to share my resolutions via the blog, not so much to keep myself accountable, but as something to refer back to, to remember what my thoughts and intentions were at the beginning of the year. Hopefully, these inspire your own resolutions, goals, intentions, etc.
En route back from London last week, I wrote all my intentions / resolutions. Looking back over them, I summarize my overarching resolution as this:
to live simply & connected
to expand my horizons
Each resolution below feeds into these umbrella resolutions.
Nurture current relationship, cultivate new ones: Living at a distance from family and friends, taking the time to maintain and nourish those relationships is key. Time spent together is few and far between. Setting up phone dates, FaceTime, or old school letters are all key to maintain that closeness, even at a distance. I also want to make a real effort to build new relationships and friendships this year, with people both similar and different than me, with people who inspire me, and with people who I could inspire.
Prioritize saving, spend on experiences, not things: I am already a pretty good budgeter. I have a monthly budget spreadsheet that lays out all my base expenses, money for savings, and money for spending. This provides a pretty solid foundation to work off of. Base expenses aside, I figure out how much of the leftover I want to put into savings. What doesn’t go into savings is my spending money for the month. Instead of things (e.g. growing my yoga pant collection), I want to focus on putting this money towards experiences: workshops, traveling, trying new restaurants. Along with not accumulating new things, I also want to go through and really tailor down what I have to what I need. KonMari the whole apartment.
Create space for disconnection and self-care: An introvert by nature, I recharge when I am alone. Solo time is so important for me to be my best self. Although it can be hard to find the time or justify it to myself, I plan on setting aside some time each week that is just “me” time. This could by my practice, a walk, a bubble bath – anything that is solo me time. An important aspect of this time is disconnection. The internet, social media, and our phones provide such an incredible way to connect with each other and are an endless source of information. For me, my phone can also be a huge source of stress and anxiety, spending time truly away from it is a critical part of my self-care. Self-care also means taking care of my body – some form of movement each day and nourishing it with whole, clean, plant-based foods.
Continue to try to new things:I think there is so much to be gained from trying new things. It break you out of your comfort zone, expands your horizons, exposes you to new people, provides new perspective, and is a learning opportunity. Continuing to try new things applies to my yoga practice – I want to work on pincha and handstand — two poses that are very much a work in progress and outside of my regular practice currently. Trying new things also means traveling to new places, cooking new recipes, trying a new restaurant, or maybe a finding a new hobby. Lots to be learned, lots to be gained!
Commitment to learning: I have always loved learning. I loved being in school and going to class. I crave learning and although I am not an official student anymore, I believe you can be a student throughout your life. This year I want to commit to my education – through reading, workshops, and my own resources. I plan to sign up for a Yin Yoga teacher training and to seek out other workshops to develop my teaching and my practice. I also want to dive back into the French language. I took French while I was in school, but it has now been years since I really used it. I would love to be fluent, or close to fluent again.
So there you have it! 2018 resolutions. Reading over them gets me excited for the year to come and motivated to make them a reality.
One of my resolutions for 2018 is to remove excess sugar from my diet. Sugar is added into so many packaged foods – sauces, dressing, cereals, and 98% of the PB I find in stores. I don’t buy much packaged food, but make sure the PB I buy is only peanuts and salt (no added sugar or palm oil!!) and I have made the switch to unsweetened almond milk for coffee and smoothies. Although I’ve removed a lot of the added sugars from my diet, I still have a major post dinner sweet tooth to keep in check.
I saw these coconut fat balls on Lee From America’s instagram and knew I needed them in my life. Full of fat and protein, but low in sugar, these are the perfect post dinner snack. I would also highly recommend them in the morning with coffee, after a workout, or really whenever hunger strikes.
I closely followed Lee’s recipe, but made a few adjustments, here’s what went into the blender:
1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut butter (if you have not tried this before, you are MISSING out!)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup cashews (I did salted)
1/2 cup almond slices
2 tsp cinnamon
3 medjool dates (pitted)
1/3 cup almond milk, plus a few extra splashes to keep things moving
One of my favorite parts about living in San Diego is the abundance of National Parks within weekend-ish distance. This year, I took advantage of the couple extra days off of work over Thanksgiving to make the mini trek out to Zion National Park. The drive is about 7 hours from San Diego (no traffic) and a fairly easy drive as you’re mostly on one highway the entire time. We took off early Thursday morning and arrived at the park mid-afternoon. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite hikes from the weekend 🙂
Angel’s Landing: This trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 4 hours in Zion’s trail guide. Round trip, with photos and snacks, it took us about 3 hours but we were definitely pushing the pace a bit on the way up. This hike starts with switchbacks going up and down the side of the mountain called “Walter’s Wiggles” that will give you a solid glute workout. After the switchbacks, it is a fairly easy hike with a slight elevation gain till you get the Angel’s Landing. This is where the trail gets fun.
If you aren’t someone who enjoys heights, you could stop here and still get some great views. I’m not the fondest of heights, but can say the trail forward looks more treacherous than it actually is. There are chains to hold onto along the way and a few spots where you have to scramble over the rock, but for the most part the trail is a steady elevation gain with enough rock to get a solid footing. The views at the top are beautiful and there are lots of flat rocks to sit on, have a snack, and soak up a little sun before heading back down. Overall, Angel’s Landing was the most unique hike because of the challenge of having to wind your way, somewhat precariously, over the cliff.
PRO TIP: get up early and go first thing! I thought it was busy as we were going up, but coming back down there were major lines building up to go across. The ridge has a bunch of pinch points where only on person fits so if the trail gets busy, these points back up real quick.
If you are up for a bit of a longer hike, I would highly recommend Observation Point. The trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 6 hours in Zion’s trail guide. It took us about 3 and a half hours, including snacks and photos at the top. While I think we had a good pace, we were definitely making a point to go slow(ish) and enjoy our journey up and down. I think you could safely budget 4 hours for the hike. Similar to Angel’s Landing, the hike starts with switchbacks going up the side of the mountain.
From here, the trail carries you back through the canyon, then wraps around to Observation Point, which summits at 6,507 ft. Higher than Angel’s Landing, I think this hike gives the fullest view of the park. I found the trail up to Observation Point to be the most diverse and I think the section that goes through the canyon is just so cool and worth the hike in itself.
PRO TIP: Again, go early. This trail was quieter than Angel’s Landing but still starting to fill up as we were making our way back down. Also, bring layers. In the morning and in the shade it is much colder than in the sun. It gets pretty variable depending on if you’re in the canyon or on the ridge. I took on and off my hoodie at least 10 times throughout the hike.
Weeping Rock: This is a super easy, quick walk from the same trailhead as Observation Point. Water that has filtered through the sandstone formations is forced out of the rock here, creating a waterfall of sorts. There are also “hanging gardens” along the side of the rock. Quick and picture worthy stop.
Pa’rus Trail: By the time we arrived to the park the first day and checked in, we didn’t have a whole ton of time to hike so we opted for this trail as we didn’t have to worry about being back before sunset. The whole trail is paved and is more of a walking trail than a hike. The path winds through the valley with mountains on either side of you. You’ll likely see mule deer along the side of the trail who are (at least compared to the white tail deer I’m used to in NY) very unafraid of people. I saw one just a few feet away from me off the trail. Really pretty views along the trail and a nice, easy walk to end your day with.
Lower and Upper Emerald Pools: These were the least thrilling hikes for me. Combined I think it is 2 miles to the upper pools with fairly easy, small sections of incline. The pools are pretty and have mini waterfalls similar to Weeping Rock. These trails can get busy as they are more accessible to families or those looking for a shorter hike. If you have the time, worth going. We did these trails after Observation Point and found they were perfect to end the day with.
Kayenta Trail: After the Upper Pools trail, instead of retracing our steps, we took the Kayenta back to the trailhead. Kayenta adds a couple extra miles onto your hike, mostly of paths that wind along the side of the mountain, providing incredible views of the valley and the Virgin River. I feel like I’ve said there are incredible views a lot, but there really are. The whole park is stunning.
Overall PRO TIP: if you are going to Zion anytime in the near future, beware that they are redoing the main road going in and out of the park. Traffic can back up for up to 30-40 minute waits on either end as you often have to wait for cars to clear out from the other direction. We stayed in the center of town and were able to walk to the entrance and avoid this madness. I loved not having to drive the whole weekend 🙂 Check the road status before you go and plan accordingly!
Packing PRO TIP: Bring snacks and water with you as there’s not anywhere in the park to get food aside from the lodge at the beginning. Wear layers and sunscreen. Bring hand sanitizer.
Last PRO TIP: As you take the shuttle through the valley, keep an eye out on the side of the canyon for rock climbers. We were lucky enough to see a group of climbers scaling the mountain as well as a guy ON A TIGHT ROPE between cliff edges.
Also, because hiking makes you HUNGRY, here are a few of the places I recommend:
Zion Canyon Brew Pub: Right by the entrance to the park, we stopped here both days after hiking for a glass of wine/beer and some fries. #hikinghunger
HooDoo’s General Store: Good place to grab any food you forgot to pack for your trip. Great soy lattes and a variety of wraps or sandwiches for a quick bite.
Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon: When going to a bar in the middle of nowhere Utah, I wasn’t exactly expecting excellent Mexican food. Count me wrong on this one because they had amazing burritos, fajitas, and spicy margs.
Apologies I have zero food pictures. We chose to leave our phones at the lodge for all dinners. This was part of a conscious effort to disconnect during the trip.
For the majority of the trip I was pretty phoneless. I brought it with me for the hikes in order to take photos, but left it on airplane mode all day. For meals, the phone was left behind. I really tried to not have it be present, which was SO rejuvenating. The more I take conscious breaks away from my phone, the more I move away from the need to consistently check it, the more I tell myself I don’t need to instantly respond to messages, the more I feel my stress levels decreasing. I recognize in today’s world that our phones are pretty critical, BUT, if you have an opportunity, like a trip to a national park, a day hike, or even just a dinner, turn it on airplane mode. Let the messages wait. Disconnect. Be present.
Still left on my Zion hikes to do: the Narrows. Waiting for warmer weather for that one!
a few of my fav things I’ve been crushing on recently
Workouts: Aside from my yoga practice, I’ve been focusing on taking my workouts outside. As we move towards “winter” here in San Diego, we move into hiking season. It’s not nearly as warm as the summer and the breeze is slightly cool aka ideal hiking weather. Getting outside as much as possible has the double benefit of helping to reduce stress, while also not feeling like a workout at all. I’ve had the personal goal of trying to get more movement in each day, whether that’s a weekend hike or just a long stroll to get coffee. If I’m in a funk, feeling lazy, or need to get centered, a little dose of nature and fresh air always seems to help.
Books: In the Superwoman Rx, Dr. Taz helps you identify your own “blueprint” to determine how to build a diet and fitness plan around that to optimize your health. You take a quiz to determine your Power Type: Gyspy Girl, Boss Lady, Savvy Chick, Earth Mama, or Nightingale. Each type has a plan tailored to their needs: including meditations, exercises, supplement, and general strategies. I really like that Dr. Taz pulls on her holistic health background to incorporate Chinese Medicine and ayurvedic systems of medicine in each plan. This book is an easy, fun read that gives lots of good tips to bring into your daily routine.
Podcasts: Lately I’ve been super into listening to podcasts. They make my commute to and from work go by so much faster and make the traffic slightly less aggravating. I also love listening to them when I’m at the gym or going for a walk. A few of my favorites from the past week:
TED Radio Hour: Manipulation – touches on just how much social media is influencing us and how memories can be swayed
The Skinny Confidential Him & Her with Lorna Jane Clarkson – Lorna is SUPER inspiring and gives lots of tips on living a healthy life.
The Balanced Blonde Soul on Fire with Kelsey Patel – I’ve heard amazing things about Kelsey from friends and this podcast did not disappoint. Jordan and Kelsey talk lots about reiki and transitional times.
Radically Love with Rosie Acosta featuring Ruby Fremon – Ruby shares her journey to becoming a transformational coach, including her own struggles and how she took power in her life through decisions.
Life: Turkey Day – This year I am celebrating Thanksgiving in a non-traditional, yet very traditional way? There will be no big feast with turkey and stuffing, but instead lots of hiking and exploring at ZION NATIONAL PARK (all caps= my level of excitement). I love Thanksgiving as a time to be able to gather with family and share good food. My personal favorites are stuffing and mashed potatoes. But I am beyond excited to be spending this Thanksgiving exploring more of the natural beauty of our country, which I feel like is equally as fitting for celebrations. If you have any hike recommendations for Zion, send them my way please 🙂 Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, and Observation Point are all high on my list!
Things: If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I have a thing for phone cases and love getting new ones fairly frequently. I’ve tried to limit myself to at least 6 months between switching them up, but sometimes it’s hard to do that… like when you see the perfect COSMIC case from Sonix.
With Thanksgiving coming up fast & feeling the holiday spirit, it seemed timely to reflect on gratitude.
“[through] acknowledging abundance (aparigraha) we recognize the blessings in everything and gain insights into the purpose for our wordly existence,”
– translation of the Yoga Sutra by Nischala Joy Devi
Aparigraha is normally interpreted as “non-attachment” or “non-greed”, taking no more than we need and not being possessive over what we have. I love this interpretation because it brings the focus to recognition of the positive, instead of negating what may be there (non-attachment, non-greed, non-possessive). Generally speaking, I find it much more effective to focus on what you can become versus what you should not be — by focusing on gratitude for all that you have, by default you will be less focused on greed for what you do not have.
Gratitude fosters more love in your life and less stress. It is show to improve both your physical and psychological health. Gratitude increases optimism, spirituality, self-esteem, and energy. It makes us happier. A few guiding principles in cultivating gratitude:
Life moves quickly and gets busy. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, to be constantly moving from one thing to the next, on the treadmill of life. Take a moment to p a u s e. To sit for a moment and reflect on all of the good in your life. This could be from as big of things as having a supportive family or close friend network to as small as the sun was shining. There is room for gratitude everywhere in your life. Seek it out and when you find it, acknowledge it. Reflect back on it.
See the good in all lessons
This can be a hard one. Life isn’t always peachy. Sometimes it straight up sucks – breakups, bad bosses, sickness, loss of a loved one – this list goes on. Life has its ups and its downs, but the opportunity for gratitude is always there. When everything is going wonderfully, gratitude is easy. Embrace it. Enjoy it. But what about when life isn’t so grand? Try to take a step back from the situation – imagine how this might play out in your bigger story. What will you learn from it? How will you grow through this? How might this change your path for the better? Even when it is hard to see the good, trust that there is a lesson there, that there is a reason behind everything.
Contentment in the present
It is easy (I find myself doing it frequently) to compare ourselves to others. To look at someone else’s life and wish that we had their job, money, family, closet, lifestyle, etc. etc. First, remember comparison is the thief of joy. Second, instead of looking at what you do not have, focus on what you do. Let go of your notions of what you wish you had, the “if only I had X I would be happy,” – be happy with what you have and where you are now in your life. This is not to say don’t strive to reach your goals, but rather to give thanks and find contentment where you are presently.
Radiate and reflect
Through expressing gratitude, opening up to it in our daily lives, we reflect this out into the universe. You are magnifying the joy and gratitude around you, sending it out into the universe – it will come back to you. The more you acknowledge it, the more it appears back to you. While gratitude should be given without expectation, it is my firm belief that by sharing this love, the love comes back to you. Karma and all 😉
A couple of quick ways to manifest gratitude in your life:
Daily Gratitude Journal – this could be an actual journal or use the “Notes” app in your phone. Each morning write down one thing you are grateful for.
Gratitude to Others – Write letter / email / text to those in your life, telling them why you are grateful for them.
Self Gratitude – Tell yourself how grateful you are for you being the rad human that you are. This can be in your head, to your reflection in the mirror, out loud – whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Tell yourself one thing about you that you are grateful for.
I’ll leave you with one more quote:
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life and you’ll find that you have more of it.”
A co-worker asked me the other day what I do to workout and it took me a few seconds of staring blankly & scanning my brain (What do I do?! Do I even workout?!)
I eventually came to and responded “Yoga mostly, and some cardio here and there when I’m craving it.” For someone who typically gets on my mat 5+ times a week, you wouldn’t think this would be something I’d have to think about. But yoga to me isn’t a workout, at least not in the traditional sense.
When I think of “working out” I think of treadmills and elliptical, ab circuits, and squats. I think of sweating away until you hit some numeric goal – miles, calories, reps, etc. Yoga is anything but that for me, its “me” time, it’s time to decompress, time to center myself before the day begins.
Yoga also stretches so much further beyond the four corners of my mat. Yoga weaves its way into every aspect of my life, every day. It impacts my relationships, my methods of communication, the lens through which I see the world, the foods I choose to eat, the products I choose to buy, and the path on which I try to set my life.
The reason why I chose to name this blog and my instagram “Eat Flow Live” is because I want them to embodied yoga as more than just the poses (asanas). I want to have a platform that shares the practice, yes, but also the food, actions, and thoughts that round out the yogi lifestyle.
While I don’t technically consider yoga a “workout” (because it is so much more) – it is an incredible way to move your body and to become more in tune with what your body needs. The combination of these two of these has resulted in me being far happier with my body now than I ever was back in my gym-cardio crushing days.
Your yoga practice can absolutely be a workout.
Power and vinyasa style classes will challenge your muscles, balance, and cardiovascular systems. More restorative classes may not be as physically challenging, if that is what you are craving, but are wonderful for centering your mind and working out any kinks or soreness in your muscles.
Any style yoga class will help you tune into your body’s needs, and this, just as much as the workout, is crucial to being in shape, being healthy, and being happy with your body.
Yoga helps you to really listen to what your body is telling you. Ultimately, when you are able to intuitively feed your body what it needs —
a long walk or a power class?
a big bowl of veggies or a slice of pizza (dairy free chz plz)?
a nap or a hike with friends?
— you are able to get to a point of optimum health and functioning. This is where yoga (IMHO) far excels any diet or exercise program because you are doing what you need.
Listening intuitively to your body is obviously more complicated, but with time, the practice will get you there.
All that to say, I don’t do yoga to “workout”,
I do yoga because it is part of my life.
If I am craving a workout, my favorite ways to move my body are:
spin classes (the only cardio I really enjoy)
getting on the elliptical or stair stepper (while watching food network)