Blog

Zion Adventures

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.

experience_angelslanding
Looking out over Angel’s Landing. Photo: Andtheretheygo.com

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.

angels landing
View from the top of Angel’s Landing

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.

Observation Point:

observation point
Walking through the canyon

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.

IMG_8805.JPG
View from Observation Point summit

 

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.

UWHO7823
Weeping Rock

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.

IMG_E6234
Pa’rus Trail

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.

IMG_6432
View from Kayenta Trail

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.

observation point
Observation Point Summit

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!

Current Crushes vol. 2

Current Crushes:

a few of my fav things I’ve been crushing on recently

hiking

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.

superwoman rxBooks: 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!

experience_angelslanding.jpgThings: 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.

Other obsessions:

  • This faux cheese recipe from Lee from America using butternut squash.
  • This jacket from Zara that I can’t totally justify buying since “winter” in San Diego is 65 degrees.
  • This DIY terranium table that I wish I was handy enough to make.
  • This helpful guide for what to feed and not feed your pup this Thanksgiving.
  • A cute AF planner to keep you organized.

 

Gratitude

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:

Acknowledge abundance

IMG_0405.JPG

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.”

-Ralph Marston

 

Yoga as a lifestyle, not a workout

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.

IMG_6734.JPG

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)
  • and barre class (pure barre is a fav)

Thoughts? What is your favorite way to workout?

Creating Space

“Me-time” “Self-Care” “R&R” – these trendy terms are popping up all over social media, accompanied by pictures of bubble baths, pretty lattes, and charcoal face masks. There is a lot to be said for carving out time for “self care” in your life and something I realized recently that I desperately needed to do.

IMG_4827

Let me back track for a second. Rewind about a month and I’ve got 7000 things on my plate and a to do list that never ends: I’m prepping to host a yoga challenge (coordinating with sponsors and the other hosts, getting pictures prepped, etc), preparing to travel back East for a wedding, trying to squeeze in some blog posts to keep the website current, posting daily on insta and working to cultivate real connections through the social media sphere, teaching yoga 3x a week, prepping for a yoga audition, sending out my resume to other studios, trying to maintain my own yoga practice, all while working a full time job (my team is currently under staffed by two people as well), trying to spend some QT with friends, my boyfriend and kitten, and trying to really be present in long distance relationships (my family and most of my best friends are all back East). I was pouring energy out in all directions.

Here’s the thing – for the most part, I loved it. Every area I was pouring energy into was something l loved and felt strongly about; they were all aspects of my life that I wanted to grow or nurture. I hit a breaking point at the end of August where I just felt like it was all too much. I felt like I never had a moment to breathe. I decided I need to create some space. I wanted to do it all, but in this case all was too much. I was running a deficit on my energy and it was catching up with me.

Creating space meant some difficult choices. It meant trimming some aspects of my life that I do truly love and bring me joy. I tried to take a holistic view of everything that was currently on my plate in order to create balance. To continue the food analogy (#fatkidatheart) I identified what the main courses were – what were the staples in my life that nourished me and were a necessity? This came down to time really being present with my friends and family (in person, phone, etc.), my career, and my personal yoga practice. Everything else was just dessert if you will. While some dessert is great and delicious, too much is too much. Food analogies make everything make sense, no?

img_5740.jpg

All of that to say, I’m pulling back on those “dessert” areas of my life for the next 3-6 months to help create some space in my life and find a point of balance. That means less time devoted to Instagram and the blog. Thanks to the #shadowban, Instagram has helped to kick start time away from the platform, but I have found myself craving it as well. While it is such an amazing tool for connection, it can also suck you in for hours a la the beginning days of Facebook when you would endlessly scroll. I’ve stepped away from hosting some challenges (thanks to all for understanding) and plan on posting less, but more meaningfully. Quality > quantity. Creating space also meant stepping back from teaching, at least for the meantime. I’ll still be teaching once a week which is a perfect sweet spot of being able to continue something I love without it being overwhelming.

I’m planning on dialing back for the next 3-6 months to create some space for “me time”, some space to relax, to be present, and to reflect. It’s pretty hard to figure out what you want when you never have a moment to think about it. At the end of the 3-6 months, or whenever I feel some clarity, maybe I’ll start adding things back in, maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll redirect my path in another direction. TBD friends. Until then I’ve got some time carved out for bubble baths and almond milk lattes.

Current Crushes

Current Crushes — a few of my fav things I’ve been crushing on recently

Beauty: Naturaculina: While I’ve been lucky enough to never suffer from severe acne, my skin has always been prone to breakouts, especially when I’m stressed. Since I started teaching hot yoga, my breakouts got more frequent and my skin in general wasn’t as clear. I fell into a vicious cycle of breakouts & cover-ups: the more I breakout, the more I feel the need to wear makeup, the more makeup I wear, the more clogged my pores get, the more clogged my pores get, the more I breakout….etc. etc. on and on it goes. All that to say, I felt the need to change up my skin routine and was looking for something that would both clear my breakouts and better my skin.

naturaculina
photo cred: naturaculina.com

Through the Southern Yogi (whose skin is always glowing) I found Naturaculina, an all natural skincare line. These products are AMAZING. All natural pure ingredients. No weird names that you can’t pronounce. Realness like jojoba oil, rosehip seed oil, tea tree oil, lavender, and manuka. I got the Botanical Skincare set which is created for acne prone skin but they also carry a moisturizing line for dry skin and an anti-aging line for all skin types. You can get the products in one offs or get the whole set. I opted for the set because having a skincare regimen is something I think is CRUCIAL. These products have seriously helped my skin so much already. Highly recommend!

Workouts: Aquavie: Aquavie may be the prettiest gym I’ve ever seen. I first heard about this place because on Saturday mornings they hold rooftop yoga classes, led by the wonderful Kendall Wood, another local San Diego yogi. To start from the top, Aquavie has a gorgeous rooftop pool, plenty of sun lounging chairs, a hot tub, some cardio machines in case you want a fresh air workout, and a jogging track that wraps around all of this. Go down a level and there are two beautiful yoga studio rooms and their cardio room filled with brand new machines, all equipped with personal TVs. I greatly appreciate this because I like to 1) catch up on instagram or 2) watch Food Network when I do cardio. If there aren’t classes going on, the studio rooms are open to practice which is such a perk.studio space at Aquavie

Beneath that, there’s the spa (services unfortunately not included, gotta draw the line somewhere), beautiful locker rooms, and a sauna if you want to get your steam on. The first floor has weights I believe although TBH I haven’t ventured there yet. Yoga is obviously a huge part of my fitness routine but I also really enjoy mixing in some cardio, get my heart pumping and all that good stuff.  If I’m going for cardio or looking for some rooftop yoga with views, Aquavie is the most aesthetically pleasing, beautifully equipped, spa-of-a-gym to get my sweat on.

Books: You Are a Badass: As one of my 26th year resolutions I wanted to read more books. I love a good book but its been something I have to remind myself to make space for otherwise I can go months without reading. I started off my 26th year cruising through 4 books, then fell off the wagon for the next 8 months. Yikes.

So with 2 months left, I have re-resolved (not a word, it’s fine) to get back on the wagon and read more. I started “You are a Badass: how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” by Jen Sincero. I’m only a third of the way through but so far am lovingggg it. Easy, fun, empowering read. Jen writes in a light hearted way that keeps it from getting too heavy while she addresses some major things, like the universe and God. She provides clear guidance on how to start tapping into your greatness and create the life that your truly want instead of leading the same old boring one, or the Big Snooze as she calls it. Full review to come when I finish reading, but so far this one’s a winner!

Life: Trip Planning: If you follow my instagram you know I’ve been feeling the itch to travel and am soliciting all and any travel suggestions! I love exploring new places and feel like its been far too long since I went somewhere new. My ability to travel as much as I want is limited by two things: vacation and money. In true Type-A personality fashion, I created a spreadsheet for both to figure out how many days I’ll be accruing and how much money I’ll be able to save up for various trips.

olympic
photo cred: http://www.prek4fun.com

Planning is KEY for traveling. The more you plan ahead of time, the more you are able to do and the less you have to worry about when you are actually traveling. On deck for the next couple of months: a trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park, a long weekend in Zion National Park, and a short trip to Joshua Tree. Big trips on deck for next year are a trip to London and Stockholm and maybe a trip to Bali.

 

Other obsessions:

Saucha

I wrote a post a little while back about the eight limbs of yoga: the yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana. Eventually I will get around to writing more about these. Although at my current pace of blogging (slow), you may all need to show some real patience. Skipping over the first limb for now (I’ll circle back to these). I chose to focus first on the niyamas. The niyamas are observances of ourselves, tuning into how we relate to ourselves in order to live more skillfully. 

The first niyama is saucha, or cleanliness. Saucha is a personal fav as I tend to be a person who craves cleanliness and order by nature. Whether I’m going to relax and watch a movie or need to focus on a specific task, I need my surroundings to be clean. Saucha includes the cleanliness of your mind, body, and environment. 

Saucha of the environment, to me, is the most straightforward of the three. Cleanliness of environment applies to your home, your practice space, your work space, car, etc. Any place where you are spending time. Create order and cleanliness within your space. By creating a calm environment, you create a space where you are more able to focus your thoughts, to find a sense of peace. Saucha in your environment also reflects a respect for that space and creates an enjoyable environment. I like cleaning, (weird,I know) so creating saucha in my space is enjoyable for me. Last weekend I did a deep clean of the apartment to get everything sparkling. This weekend I am tackling buildup of sand and dirt that has collected in my car. Daily, I make a conscious effort to put things back where they belong, keep up with the dishes, and clean up after the kittens (toys everywhere). These are little things but they make a world of a difference in cultivating saucha in your environment. 

XFCK9355.jpg

Saucha for your body is two-fold, general hygiene and diet. Obviously to keep your body clean you gotta shower (duh), especially after hot yoga classes. Hopefully we’ve got that step covered so take it one step further. Next time you shower, take a look at what products you’re using. What’s in your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, etc. etc.? How many unknown chemicals are in those products? Your skin is a living breathing surface, absorbing all those products. What’s in the products matters. This goes for makeup too. Some products are harder to find replacements for. I’m forever on a hunt for deodorant that works (sorry friends). An entire overhaul of all your products might seem like too much to take on at once, so take bite size chunks. I recently switched all my face care over to Naturculina, a California based company that uses all organic, natural ingredients. I know exactly what’s going on my skin. Moreover, this stuff works. More on that another time perhaps. Bottom line, be conscious of what you’re putting on your skin. Choose all natural products when you can. 

Saucha of the body, part deux. Diet. To be as simple as I can here because I could write for days on this and I like to keep these posts a reasonable quick read: Eat clean, real food. Read your labels. If you don’t know what’s in it, probably not the best for your body. Some easy advice on diet comes from Michael Pollen (love him): “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” You are what you eat. Literally. It makes up your cells. So if you’re eating mostly processed, chemically laden foods versus local produce, imagine the impact on your body. No food is hard core off limits for me. I tend to avoid meat, dairy and gluten. I try to fill my diet with veggies, gf grains, fruits, beans, nuts, and occasionally fish. Also, water. DRINK it. This one is hard for me sometimes as I can easily go a day only having consumed coffee. I know; not good. La Croix is a life changer. Bubbly and delicious. I also make an effort to drink at least 3 water bottles at work plus an extra bottle if I take or teach yoga.  

IMG_2149.JPG

And finally, saucha of the mind. Your thoughts matter too. Tune into your thoughts and your intentions. Saucha of the mind is a little more complex (IMHO) than the environment and body. To me, it is more about having clarity of thought, goodness of intention, and speaking truth. Saucha of the mind doesn’t mean that you have to only think pure thoughts or else you’re failing. It is about shifting those intentions and thoughts toward goodness and purity. Two ways I work on incorporating Saucha of the mind into my life include becoming more conscious of my thoughts towards myself (e.g. no more negative self-talk) and goodness of intention when relating to others, trying to think and act with their best in mind. Speaking truth is still a hard one for me as I tend to avoid the truth when I think it will lead to confrontation. We are all a work in progress 😉

Thoughts? Lmk.

Next up: santosha.

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Considered the father of modern yoga, Patanjali created the Yoga Sutras, a guidebook of sorts to help those on their path towards enlightenment. Sutras, or threads, provide a succinct, nugget of knowledge that provide insight into the core of yoga. This goes beyond the physical practice and includes as a way of being in the world. In the text, Patanjali outlines the Eight Limbs of Yoga, each a stepping-stone towards enlightenment. The eight limbs are:

8 limbs

  1. Yama – moral guide
  2. Niyama- personal observances
  3. Asana – physical postures
  4. Pranayama – breath
  5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of senses
  6. Dharana – concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – bliss state

The first two stones, yama and niyama, are foundational to Patanjali’s eight-limb path. There are five yamas and five niyamas. The yamas can be thought of as “moral discipline”; they help to provide guidance in our actions and relationships with others and the world. The niyamas can be thought of as “observances” and are more inwardly focused on oneself.IMG_5782.JPG

In my teacher training, when we learned the yamas and niyamas we were challenged to choose one to focus on throughout the next week. I really enjoyed this exercise; it helped me to carry yoga off the mat and into my day-to-day life. Over the coming weeks, I am going to return to this exercise in order to dive deeper into the theory behind the practice. For each week, I’ll choose a yama or niyama to focus on, sharing here more detail on the yama or niyama, and how I brought it more into my life for that week.

Shoulder Speak

Let’s talk shoulders.

Last weekend I took a workshop on shoulders, focusing on the anatomy, common misalignments, and ways to modify your practice to protect against injury. I found the workshop to be really helpful, both in my teaching and in my practice, so I thought I would share some of what I learned.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. This means that it has the greatest range of motion, but also the least stability. The less stabile, the more prone to injury, making it key to focus on alignment of the shoulder throughout your practice and to work on strengthening the muscles of the joint to help support it.

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset
Dolphin Pose – draw shoulders blade in & up to your tailbone!

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint (think golf ball on a tee), the head of the humerus rotates around on the glenoid fossa of the scapula. There are a ton of muscles working together to allow for such a range of mobility in the shoulder. Due to frequency of injury, the most commonly heard about is the rotator cuff, a group of four muscles that attached to the scapula and surround the joint. For scientific purposes, the official names of the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and the teres minor. Other major players in the joint are:

  • Deltoids: action to engage = raises your arms out in front of you
  • Rhomboids: action to engage = superman arms
  • Trapezius: action to engage = shoulder shrugs
  • Serratus anterior muscles: action to engage = plank pose

The rotator cuff and the serratus anterior are stabilizers of the shoulder joint. These muscles will help to you to find balance in inversions and protect against injury. In the effort to keep this as simple as possible, two key points to make here:

  1. CHATURUNGA ALIGNMENT: protect your rotator cuff people! When you move from high to low plank (chaturanga), your shoulders should never dip below your elbows. Keep the body in one straight line and lower just till the shoulders are in line with your elbows (or above). From there, push the earth away and pull the heart forward to upward facing dog. You can always, always, ALWAYS, place your knees to the earth for more support, or skip completely and flow to downward facing dog or take a cat/cow. This is SO important (if you can’t tell by all the bolding and capitalization) to protect your shoulder joint and prevent strain on the rotator cuff.
img_3990.jpg
Eka pada chaturunga – shoulders in line with elbows!
  1. ENGAGE THE SERRATUS ANTERIOR: Take a break from reading and try this one out for me: Get into a plank position (knee to the ground optional), let your chest sink between your shoulders, now actively press the ground away, chest rises between your shoulders, space is created between your shoulder blades. Do this 5-10 more times. Feel it?? That’s your serratus anterior. The muscle wrapping around your ribs is a major stabilizer, providing support to the scapula and preventing impingement or winging of the shoulder. Now that you know where it is, you’ll be able to more easily engage the muscle in your practice.

Let’s talk postures:

Shoulder strengtheners:

  • Downward facing dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Dolphin, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
  • Handstand, Adho Mukha Vrksasana
  • Low plank, Chaturanga,
  • Cobra, Bhujangasana

Shoulder stretchers:

  • Puppy pose, Uttanashishuasana
  • Thread the needle
  • Cat pose
  • Cow face arms, Gomukhasana
  • Eagle arms, Garudansana
  • Reverse prayer arms

 

**Shoulder stretches have been so important for me in my practice. I have really tight shoulders, so in order to access certain poses (any flipped grip) I have to stretch my shoulders plenty in advance.

triple nutz nola

triple nutz nola

Feeling all kinds of inspired by Rainah (@yoginiranah), I made my own granola this weekend. If you haven’t checked this girl out, her feed inspires me to eat cleaner, live more fully, and get more adventurous in my kitchen. Not to mention she is the sweetest soul. Mid-scroll stalk of her feed, I came across a granola recipe that looked SO delicious but also easy enough to whip up before the season premiere of Game of Thrones. I made some alterations based off of current cravings and pantry supplies, but followed her lead.

What goes into the nola:

  • Rolled oats
  • Cashews
  • Slivered Almonds
  • PB (look for versions with just peanuts and salt)
  • Melted coconut oil (unrefined, organic, raw is my preference)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • SALT

I mix the melted coconut oil and PB together, poured it over the rolled oats, cashews, and almonds, gave it a good stir and spread over a lined baking sheet. Place the sheet into a 350 degree oven for 22 min. Halfway through give the mixture a stir to break it up a bit. Once the mixture is baked, mix in dried cranberries and raw cacao nibs. No need for measuring cups here, whatever proportions you like of oats to nuts to berries works! I ground some fresh sea salt over mine because I love a good salty / sweet combo. That’s it! Let it cool, jar it up, and you’re good to go. There are SO many combos that could be made here. More to come 🙂