Yoga Mat Review: my favorite mats & eco friendly finds

Yoga Mat Review: my favorite mats & eco friendly finds

Alright friends, it’s here: my favorite yoga mats to practice on! I got a resounding YES from you all that you wanted recommendations. There are a LOT of yoga mats on the market and I’ve gotten to try out a bunch. These are my personal preferences, broken down by the type of yoga & its eco friendliness:

Lululemon: This was the first “nice” mat I bought for myself and it was kinda a big deal for me. I had only used cheap $15 mats from target before so this was quite the upgrade. If I had to pick one, the Lulu mat is my favorite. It’s nice and thick so my knees and joints always feel cushioned throughout practice, has a great grip that holds even in the sweatiest classes. I’ve used this in hot yoga before without a towel, and been fine! Lululemon uses trademark Luvea rubber that is natural, sustainably sourced, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and is PVC free!

Price: $88

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Joi Yoga Mat

Joi Yoga: Joi Yoga mats are made of 100% sustainable rubber, are PVC free, and have a microfiber top layer that acts as a yoga towel – perfect for hot classes! I also like this mat for traveling because it’s lighter than some of the other mats. I brought this mat with me to Bali and it did wonderfully in the sticky heat (re: sweaty yoga). Bonus: these mats can be rinsed clean or thrown in the laundry machine.

Price: $65

Liforme: Easily recognizable with their AlignForMe system, the Liforme mats have markers on the mat to help yogis find correct alignment in the posture. These mats have great grip even during a sweaty class. They are PVC free, non-toxic, and biodegradable in 1.5 years in a landfill. I received this mat when hosting a challenge and became a fan of it right away. I love this mat for a power yoga class! I also love that their company really runs on the values of being eco-friendly and ethical. They also give back to various charities!

Price: $140

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Liforme Mat

Manduka: If I’m being fully honest (which I am, duh), I’m having a hard time with this one because I love my manduka Pro mat – it has been my favorite mat for at home practice, with good cushion and enough grip (but not too much – too much grip and I feel like I don’t have to engage my muscles as much), for my day to day yoga. The Pro mat is made to last a lifetime, meaning you won’t have to replace it (less production) and it won’t be dumped in a landfill for a long time. However, the mat is Oeko Tex certified emission free PVC – meaning it you won’t breath in PVC emissions, but it does contain PVC and won’t break down in a landfill. If I was getting a new mat, I would go with Manduka’s eKO Mat that is made from sustainably harvested tree rubber and is PVC free. While I do love the Pro, I prefer a mat that is PVC free and biodegradable.

Price: $88

Other Eco-friendly Mats:

These mats I haven’t tried, so I can’t speak directly to them, but they were recommended to me and I wanted to share with you all as they are great eco-friendly options!

Yellow Willow Yoga: These mats are made from 100% recycled materials, are PVC and latex free, and are biodegradable! Definitely a winner if you’re looking for an earth friendly mat. They also come in really pretty patterns J

Price: $98

Tiny Yoga Company: I shared these mats on my stories after the owner reached out to me to share her product. I so appreciate her hustle and love that she’s created a product that is eco friendly (100% natural rubber), biodegradable, vegan, and affordable! This mat has the lowest price point will still checking all the eco-friendly boxes!

Price: $55

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Tiny Yoga Company

 

Bali Blogs: all my favorite food places

Bali Blogs: all my favorite food places

Bali has amazing, endless cafes and vegan eateries full of delicious food. If you are looking to eat well while on vacation, Bali has you covered. The places below are some of my favorite ones that I ate at during my trip and therefore can speak directly to! I listed my recommended orders but they all have extensive menus with TONS of options. If you’re looking for more options, I highly suggest Lonely Planet or searching your favorite travel blogs. At the bottom I also listed a few additional places I wanted to try but ran out of time for 😭

Canggu

Shady Shack – This vegetarian food cafe looks out over rice fields and has a menu full of delicious bowls, tacos, and smoothies. Our group tossed back a round of the Immunity shots (#wild) and ordered tempeh bowls and the burger!

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Tempeh Bowl at Shady Shack

Order the: tempeh bowl, a spritzer drink, and a juice shot.

Crate Cafe  This open air cafe is an right off the main road in Canggu and full of amazing breakfast options. Their servings are big, so come hungry!

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Iced Latte and Tofu Toast at Crate Cafe

Order the: chia bowls, açaí bowls, or mega stacked toasts!

Seminyak:

Earth Cafe (also in Ubud) – This was one of my favorites places; I went twice in two days and wanted to try everything on their menu. Both locations also have a small health food and goods shop!

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Raw Burger at Earth Cafe

Order the: raw burger and one of their juices!

Kynd Community – This place was made for instagram with palm tree walls, a cute swing, and gorgeous food. I love that they stress the message of “being kynd” through eating a plant based diet and being mindful how our actions impact the planet.

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Brekkie Salad

Order the: açaí bowl with writing on it, whole coconut, brekkie salad.

Coffee Cartel – This was one of my favorite lattes from my entire trip in Bali – the creamiest almond milk and incredible latte art made with their Ripple machine.

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Coffee Cartel Ripple Latte

Order the:  latte with the “ripple” if you want yours with your name on it!

Ku De Ta – This restaurant and bar overlooks the ocean. You can hang out at the pool or on one of their daybeds loungers while you enjoy your food and drink!

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Ku De Ta

Order: anything. I got a green juice but they have a great array of cocktails. Come for an amazing view of the beach at sunset!

Batik – I went here for dinner one night and absolutely loved the place. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and has lots of outdoor seating. I recommend outdoors for dinner because the heat of the day is gone and you get prime people watching seats.

Order the: One of their curries 🤤 I got a green curry here that was amazing!

Ubud:

Revive – this cute hipster cafe recently opened just on the outskirts of Ubud. With cozy velvet seats or tables to sit at, it is the perfect place to post up and do some work or enjoy coffee with a friend.

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Revive Cafe Golden Latte

Order the: amazing, frothy golden lattes and vegan chocolate covered coconut balls!

Nu Hype – I stumbled upon this place on my way to Alchemy and had to try it. This is a classic Instagram friendly cafe. Come for a picture in the swing chair, try one of their smoothies!

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Nu Hype

Alchemy – A must go place for every plant based foodie.

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Matcha Latte at Alchemy

Order the: the entire menu. Make sure to check out their dessert cooler filled with raw balls and amazing vegan desserts.

Sage – This space is beautiful and has one of the best plant based menus. It is a bit outside the center of Ubud but worth the trip!

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Jackfruit Tacos in a bowl

Order the: cauliflower fritters (slightly spicy but SO good), the nourish bowl, or the jackfruit tacos. Also anything and everything with the tempeh; it has a bit of spice to it that I loved. Make sure to get some of their chocolate chip cookies on your way out – amazing!

Seeds of Life – This restaurant makes raw foods fun and delicious! If you’ve never tried raw foods, this is the place to go. They have everything from raw lasagna, to pesto burgers, to desserts.

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Raw bowl at Seeds of Life

Order the: try a tonic if you’re looking for a health indulgence. I got one of their bowls and loved it!

Mudra – everything here looked AMAZING. This was one of my favorites places. Mudra’s food is sourced locally and based on ayurveda.  I got the veggie wrap as I wasn’t too hungry.

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Wrap at Mudra with Wasabi Aioli

Order the: smoothie for breakfast or poke bowl for lunch (the party sitting next to me got these and RAVED about them).

La Pachamama – If you are craving mexican-style food in Ubud, try La Pachamama. Great place for dinner with a group of friends.

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Buffalo Cauliflower at La Pacha Mama

Order the: buffalo cauliflower for some comfort food away from home. Or try a margarita and tacos for a Mexican kick.

Kafe – cute cafe with lots of breakfast options at the center of Ubud.

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Latte and Carrot Cake at Kafe

Order the: almond milk lattes with a tasty pastry on the side!

Elephant (views) – I got the green brekky here and to be completely honest wasn’t thrilled with it. It was tasty, but nothing special. The views here  are worth a stop. Enjoy your meal looking out over the Campuhan Ridge.

Clear Cafe – This place is well known for their decorated stairs, Clear Cafe also has great vegan, vegetarian and raw options.

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Steps at Clear Cafe

Order the summer rolls and a fresh juice for a light meal!

Other places that were on my list to try:

  • Yoga Barn
  • Nalu Bowls
  • Cafe Organic
  • Buda Bali
  • Milk and Madu
  • The Loft

Countering Cube Life: top yoga poses to open the hip flexors and relieve back pain

Countering Cube Life: top yoga poses to open the hip flexors and relieve back pain

Monday through Friday I work a typical 9-5 cube job, meaning, like so many people, a lot of my day is spent sitting. While I am lucky enough have a stand up desk which allows me to move up and down throughout the day (this is seriously the best invention) I still spend WAY more time sitting than I’d like to. One complaint I hear all the time from co-workers is how their bodies ache from sitting all day.

Sitting compresses our hip flexors, causes us to hunch our shoulders over our keyboards, and has been linked to a whole bevy of negative health impacts. Coined “the new smoking”, studies show that office workers may be sitting up to 75% of their waking day. Such a sedentary life is linked with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In the body, sitting for such extended periods of time can also lead to joint stiffness, low back pain, and tight hips.

So, how to combat this?

  1. Get up and MOVE throughout your day. Take walks during your breaks, walk over to someone’s cube instead of sending them an email, look into if your company will support a sit/stand desk, or stand when appropriate during calls or meetings.
  2. Try my top yoga poses to counter cube life! These focus on getting mobility into the joints, opening up the hips, and creating movement and strength in the spine. I’ve also included a few poses to counter the keyboard hunch by opening up across the chest.
    • Forward Fold – Forward fold stretches the backside of the legs, the hamstrings down to the calves. This pose also helps to keep the spine strong and flexible. Remember to keep as much bend in the knees as you need, you want your focus to be on creating length through the spine. IMG_3002.jpg
    • Spinal Twists – Twisting poses help to maintain mobility and range of motion in the spine. If the natural motions of the spine are not used, the joints start to harden. Spinal twists can be taken reclined (laying on the ground), seated, or in an energizing pose such as chair or crescent lunge. For all twists, first create a long spine with each breath in, then find a deeper twist with each exhale.Processed with VSCO with e8 preset
    • Crescent Lunge – This pose is amazing for stretching the hip flexors. You can also add a gentle backbend to open up across the front of the body. Be careful to keep the front knee stacked over the front ankle and not to let it track any further towards your toes. Processed with VSCO with e8 preset
    • Three-legged dog – From downward facing down, lift your right heel high to the sky and then stack the right hip on top of the left. Continue to press down into your right palm to keep the chest square to the earth, and begin to draw circles in either direction with your knee. Repeat on the opposite site. This brings mobility into the hip joint. IMG_3011.jpg
    • Warrior 2 – This powerful pose will open up the chest, stretch the hips and inner thighs, and can help to relieve low back pain. Keep the heart lifted, extend long from fingertip to fingertip, and press down through both pinky toes.IMG_3006.jpg
    • Lizard Pose – Lizard pose is great for stretching out the hamstrings, groin, and hip flexors. This pose also opens up the hips and creates length in the spine. Let your hips be heavy towards the earth, keep the spine extended long, and let the head fall easily towards the mat – releasing any tension in the neck.IMG_3001.jpg
    • Yogi’s Squat – Malasana, or Yogi Squat, helps to open the hips and groin, stretches the ankles, and is keeps the hip joint healthy. This is one of my favorite preparatory poses for deeper hip openers. If your hips are feeling tight, place a block beneath your sit bones for more support.IMG_3004.jpg
    • Camel Pose – Camel pose aids in opening up across the chest; focus on the lift through the sternum in this pose, as if a string was gently tugging your heart upwards. This pose is also a deep stretch for the hip flexors, extending them long after a day of sitting in flexion.Processed with VSCO with e8 preset
    • Pigeon Pose – Pigeon pose can help ease low back pain, open the hip joint, and release stress or anxiety. This pose is advance and an intense stretch for the hip; you can always take this pose lying down: start with knees bent and both feet on the earth, then cross the left ankle over the right thigh and begin to draw the right knee towards your chest. Repeat on the opposite site.IMG_3009.jpg

 

The Good and the Bad of Habits

The Good and the Bad of Habits

Habits are a tricky thing. If you follow me on Instagram you know one of my intentions for the month of May was to shed old patterns and expand my horizons. Part of that is breaking myself out of habits that have turned into ruts. A habit can start as a commitment to ourselves to set a positive pattern in our life, but over time, when the habit becomes routine, it can also stunt our ability to grow and learn.

For example, imagine you never go to the gym so you decide that four mornings out of the week you will get up an hour earlier to make it to the gym to work out. Great! You’re getting exercise, you feel great, and you’re getting stronger. This is a great habit to set! But what if six months later you’re still doing the same routine at the gym each day? Are you still challenging yourself in the same way that you were when you first went to the gym? Of course not.

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my top habit: getting in some kind of MOVEMENT each day

Habits can be a wonderful tool to help us set positive, new patterns in our lives. They can also be a great way to automate things that we should be doing daily but don’t necessarily need to dedicate new thought to (brushing our teeth, taking vitamins, etc.). So before I tell you why you should break your habits, let me tell you why you should form habits to begin with:

  1. Set yourself up for success: Good habits can help you build the life that you want and move towards your long-term goals. Habits build the foundation towards realizing a larger goal. Each bigger goal (running a half marathon) can be accomplished through setting habits to achieve smaller goals along the way (start jogging 3x a week).
  2. Healthy habits, healthy life: Getting in more movement or eating healthier isn’t always easy. Habits such as meal prepping, walking on work breaks, or getting to a yoga class each week help to create a healthier life.
  3. Streamline your life and your mind: Habits for every day activities helps eliminate excess time. If you have the same morning routine for skincare and don’t need to decide what to do each morning, you remove the decision time and free it up for fresh thought. In this way, habits can also lower stress levels because the routine reduces what you need to actively think about and act on.
  4. Get stuff done: Creating habits and routines makes it easier to check things off our to do list. A more scheduled day means less time for procrastination; each task has a specific time when it is completed each week (i.e. Saturdays are for cleaning and Sunday mornings are for grocery shopping). Blocking out time for tasks ensures they get done and is one less thing to worry about.

Habits are a tool for creating order in a busy life and an amazing way to help establish a healthy lifestyle. However, their strengths are also their weaknesses. By creating routine and removing the active thought around the action, habits can quickly stunt our growth as individuals. Automating action so we don’t have to think about it is great for efficiency, but horrible for being in the present moment. To be present is to be fully aware of each action, thought, and breath. In habits, we are able to move through action without thinking.

Habits establish routine, which can set us up in positive patterns, but once the routine is mastered, can stunt our ability to continue to challenge ourselves. By breaking out of the habit (always jogging for 30 min at the gym) and creating new patterns (trying yoga, spin, and boxing classes throughout the week), we not only challenge ourselves in new ways physically and mentally, but are forced to be more present because there isn’t a set pattern for our brain and our body to follow.

I think habits are best used as a way to start a new, positive design in our lives. But they need to be re-evaluated regularly to make sure that the habit is still serving us. When the habit starts to feel too comfortable or too easy, it is time to shake things up a bit – to either adjust the habit to create more of a challenge, or set a new habit to build upon the established one. For example, if your positive pattern is getting to a yoga class each week, once that becomes an established habit, switch it UP. Try getting to two or three classes. Try different styles of yoga. Try going with a friend. Try yoga outside. You get the idea 😉

Here are two ways I am breaking habits:

  1. One of my positive patterns is the commitment to my yoga practice, getting to yoga classes or spending time on my mat each week. But I began to realize that my body was getting comfortable in this and that I wasn’t challenging myself in the same way anymore. This month I am working in more cardio, circuits, and trying new yoga classes.
  2. I eat a plant based diet and love to meal prep to help prepare me for the week. I have a pretty good line up of all my favorite, easy recipes that help me to eat well throughout the week. While meal prepping in one habit I want to keep, I am building on this habit by also choosing one new recipe a week to try, normally on Sunday nights when I have the most time. This both helps to keep the foods I’m eating more interesting but also expands my cooking skills and my arsenal of recipes

What are some habits you have that are positive patterns in your life? What are some ways you could expand upon these habits to keep challenging yourself?

xo

Jules

March Intentions

March Intentions
new moon, new month, new beginnings,
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:
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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.
lmk,
do you set intentions?
if so, what are some of yours for March?
xo

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga

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!

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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.

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Meridians of the body. picture via: acupresence.co/

In her book, Insight Yoga, Sarah Powers details three tenets of yin yoga:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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.

Lmk,

did you find this helpful?

any yin yogis out there? how has the practice influenced you?

xo

Resolutions: intentions for the new year

Resolutions: intentions for the new year

​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.

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2018: traveling, exploring new places

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.

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2018: nurturing new and old relationships

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.

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2018: slow down, disconnect, catch more sunsets

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.

What are your resolutions?

If you’re into the anti-resolution camp, lmk why!

 

 

 

Gratitude

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

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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.

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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: what self care means to me

“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.

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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?

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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.