Tag Archives: wellness

Santosha and the Attitude of Gratitude

With Thanksgiving in the US coming upon us, we start to plan out our holiday celebrations: who are we inviting to the big Turkey dinner, what stuffing am I going to make, what’s the menu, etc. More importantly, however, we start to reflect on what we are grateful for; which after all is what this holiday is all about.

There is a concept in yoga called “Santosha” which is part of the “Yamas and Niyamas”, which I often describe as the Ten Commandments of Yoga; they are basically yogic codes to live by. Santosha is Sanskrit for “contentment” and/or “satisfaction”, but we often look at Santosha as “gratitude”. Santosha is all about finding contentment and gratitude for who you are and what you have in the present moment. I often weave “Santosha” into my yoga classes as a theme and encourage students to find their best expression of a challenging posture, then I ask them to find contentment with whatever layer they get to in that posture without harsh judgement of themselves or lusting after a deeper expression; I ask them to find gratitude for where their bodies are at and be grateful that they have bodies healthy and strong enough to be in a 100̊F room attempting such a challenging practice. Basically, it’s about adopting the Attitude of Gratitude as you move throughout your day with whatever life throws at you.

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REI Inspires Change and Balance this Holiday Season

On Wednesday October 28th, national outdoor and sporting goods store, REI, announced that they would go against the grain this upcoming Black Friday by closing its stores across the country. Instead of opening early with major door busting sales like most retail stores do on Black Friday these days, they are encouraging Americans to #OptOutside on this day which normally marks the beginning of the crazed-holiday-shopping season. They are promoting friends and family to stay out of the stores and instead be outdoors; or at least spending more time with family and friends instead of mowing strangers down with shopping carts for the chance to save $20 on low-quality clothing and toys that have been imported from China for our consumerist enjoyment.

When I heard this news, I literally exclaimed aloud in triumph. A move like this from a major and well respected company is long overdue. In this past decade, I have been consistently saddened by the greedy fiasco that Black Friday has become in this country. First of all, the concept of Black Friday is twisted and morphed to begin with: immediately after we express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives on Thanksgiving, we rush out to the stores to buy and consume more and more goods, most of it that we don’t need, and are willing to be rude and even violent to others in order to do it? I mean, really people? There have been “Black Friday Deaths” where shoppers have been trampled by other shoppers in their rush to find their savings; there was even a shooting at a TOYS R’ US one year when two shoppers were fighting over the last toy that was apparently a hot commodity that year. Are you kidding me? This is the country and culture we’ve become?

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Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class

The pace of our lives constantly changes; in one season of your life you are moving quickly as you flow from day to day, and then suddenly you find yourself frozen in a position that you may or may not enjoy. The truth is that we cannot always control the pace of our lives; at times it will be too fast, at times too slow giving you a sensation of being stuck, and at other times it will be just right. No matter what, we must learn to adapt, we must learn to be able to go with the flow as well as be able to remain still with a sense of peace.

To reflect this, I have a yoga sequence that I teach in my advanced power vinyasa classes when I feel like myself and those around me might need to practice stillness contrasted by flow and vice versa. I call it my Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class.

In this challenging class, we build the main section – the Sun B – one posture at time: one posture for 5-8 breaths, then a chaturanga, then the first posture again for 1 breath, then we add another posture and hold for 5-8 breaths again really highlighting the new posture, and so on and so on. In this way, we must pause in each posture that we add and hold still for a challenging amount of time. I encourage the students to find their best expression of the posture and then focus on their breath and just be okay holding still with where they are at in their practice. Finally, we flow the entire Sun B to contrast the slow build of the sequence. The strength series later on in class is also slowly built, but constantly moving forward with little to no breaks. Overall, the class alternates from very slow to quick flow and mirrors the paces we experience and different times in our own lives.

This sequence has helped me when struggling to adapt to the changes in pace of my own life and my students seem to like it too, plus it is a killer work out! I hope you enjoy my Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class!

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Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class

*Start with Right Side first always

*Practice at your own risk

Integration:

  • Child’s Pose – Balasana – (several breaths)
  • Table Top – Inhale- (1 breath)
  • Cat & Cow Flow – Inhale for Cow and Exhale for Cat -(3 rounds of breath)
  • Down Dog – Adho Muka Svanasana -Exhale – (hold for several breaths, walk out your dog, etc.)
  • Rag Doll – Exhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Roll up to standing – Inhale
  • Equal on All Sides Pose – Samastitahi – (3-5 breaths, set intention here)

Sun A:

  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale – (several breaths)
  • Quarter Moon Right then Left – Exhale – (1 breath each side)
  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Back Bend – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale (1 breath)
  • Forward Fold – Uttanasana –Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Halfway Lift – Ardha Uttanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Squat and Curl – Exhale (1 breath)
  • Repeat Twice more flowing breath to movement

Sun B:

  • Chair Pose – Utkatasna – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Forward Fold – Uttanasana – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Halfway Lift – Ardha Uttanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Chaturanga – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukah Svanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukah Svanasana – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana 2 – Inhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – ( 1 breath)
  • Extended Side Angle – Exhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – ( 1 breath)
  • Extended Side Angle – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Reverse Warrior – Inhale – ( Hold 3-5 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Now the sequence is built, flow through Twice more moving breath to movement!

Core:

  • Boat Pose – Navasana – Lowers and Lifts – (30 seconds)
  • Bicycle Sit Ups – (1 minute)
  • High Plank – ( 1 minute)

Strength:

  • Chair Pose – Utkatasna – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Prayer Twist – Right Side 1st – Exhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • From Prayer Twist
    • Shift weight into right foot
    • Bring left heel to glute
    • Extend left foot to back of the room, parallel to mat
    • Step into Revolved Crescent Lunge
  • Revolved Crescent Lunge – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • From Revolved Crescent Lunge
    • Open arms to fly – Inhale – (1 breath)
    • Rise up into Crescent Lunge Vertical Twist
  • Crescent Lunge Vertical Twist – Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Exalted Warrior – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Crescent Lunge – Anjaneyasana – Inhale – ( 3 breaths)
  • Airplane Crescent Lunge – Exhale – (1-2 breaths)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – (1 round of breath)
  • Straighten Front Leg – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Triangle Pose – Trikonasana -Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Triangle Pose with Uttitha – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Standing Separate Leg Stretch – Proserita – Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Halfway Lift Proserita – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Forward Fold Proserita – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Rise up with arms at a T and flat back – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Reverse Warrior – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog
  • Repeat on the other side

Hips/Cool Down:

*Right leg then left

  • Half Pigeon – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – Exhale- (1-3 breaths)
  • Sleeping Pigeon – Exhale – (10 breaths or a little over a minute)
  • Repeat on other side

Spine:

  • Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Bound Locust Pose – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana – Inhale  (3 breaths)
  • Reclined Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana – (rest, easy breath)

Folds/Rounds:

  • Legs up the wall – Inhale (3-5 breaths)
  • Plow Pose – Inhale- (3-5 breaths)
  • Shoulder Stand – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)

Finals:

  • Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Supine Twists right side then left – Exhale – (3-5 breaths per side)
  • Final Savasana – Exhale – (rest for 2-5 minutes)

NAMASTE FRIENDS!

New Remedy for Cooking Burns? I think Yes.

So the other night, I placed some cooked quinoa that I prepped earlier in the week into a glass bowl to reheat in the oven. After all the components of my meal were done cooking or reheating, I pulled everything out of the oven and began to plate. During the plating process, I absent mindedly grabbed the glass bowl that I reheated the quinoa in without remembering that it had just been in a 400 degree oven and BURNT THE CAPITAL F out of my thumb on my left hand which had the most contact with the bowl.

I immediately ran my hand under cold water for a good minute, as you are supposed to do, but the burn was already bubbling and blistering. As soon as I pulled my hand out from under the cold water, I experienced agonizing pain as air hit the burn; I think the only way to describe what it felt like would be HELLFIRE.

I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been; I knew that the bowl had just been in the oven, how could I forget and pick it up like that!? I cursed myself as I felt like I had just ruined the upcoming weekend ahead; I’ve had burns like this in the past and they can be all consuming for days on end, depriving you of sleep and stripping you of enjoyment of anything as you are solely focused on the pain.

HOWEVER, there are home remedies to help with cooking burns that can help to minimize the aftermath, and I sought to combine two of them; and I think I’ve discovered something. I proceeded to fill a large bowl with cold water and then mix a cup of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil into the water; I then soaked my hand in this concoction for the next two and a half hours. Here is what happened:

The cold water soothed the burn and allowed my skin to prune which counterbalanced the stretching of the skin that happens on burn blisters. The coconut oil, seemed to seep into my skin, into the burn, and further sooth and also start the healing process.

Coconut Oil, in my opinion, is a magical substance. When it comes to skin, coconut oil is rich in Vitamin E which has skin healing properties. I use coconut oil on sunburns and it prevents discomfort, itching, and peeling. With this more severe burn, my thumb seemed to become super saturated with the water-coconut oil mix and kick the healing process into high gear! I couldn’t believe how much relief I was experiencing at such a quick pace!

By bedtime, I could barely feel the burn anymore. I lathered it with more coconut oil and wrapped it in a damp wash cloth, and that is how I slept. When I woke up, the burn was much more mild and the pain minimal. Once I wrapped it in gauze for the day, it never bothered me in the slightest. Today, it is still wrapped in gauze, but it seems like it is almost completely healed.

And so, I am thinking that if you can super saturate a cooking burn with a mix of water and coconut oil, it will act as a remedy to provide relief and quicken the healing the process! I felt compelled to share this because cooking burns are terrible and when they happen we all need ways to cope, maybe this one will work for you! So next time you are unfortunate enough to obtain a burn, give this a shot and let me know how it goes!

What are your home remedies for burns? Tell me in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health professional. My comments are based on my speculations and experiences. 

More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 29th is unofficially celebrated as More Herbs, Less Salt Day. There are lots of “Food Holidays”, but I am particularly fond of the one’s that promote healthier living, like today! So what is More Herbs, Less Salt Day all about? It’s quite simple: it’s a day dedicated to raising awareness around the simple healthy swap of using more herbs to flavor your meals rather than salt.

In many countries, and especially America, people rely on obscene amounts of salt to flavor their meals. Salty fries, salty chips, salty meat, and even salty vegetables; it’s no wonder so many people have struggles with their sodium levels. Now don’t get me wrong, I love salt and good sea salt is a staple ingredient in my kitchen; but I know to add just enough to give the food a salty hint without stopping the blood in my arteries. Instead, I infuse flavor into my food through herbs and spices.

By including more herbs, fresh or dried, in our meals we are able to add even more flavor to our food, and get some health benefits along the way. Fresh herbs in particular all have really great health benefits. For example, fresh basil is packed with vitamin K and has anti-bacterial properties. Fresh parsley is rich in almost all of your essential vitamins, helps to detox the body, and strengthen the immune system. So each time you add fresh herbs to your meal, you’re benefiting your body and overall health! And bonus, you’re adding little to no calories to your food in exchange for tons of flavor! Who’s winning? You are!

See if you can start incorporating more herbs into your meals rather than salt and rejoice in the great flavors you will experience and the sense wellness you will experience afterwards!

What are some of your favorite herbs to use in your food? Tell me in the comments below!

You need to read “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”!

I’ve been trying to read Lord of the Rings, but good God is it a struggle; love the films, love everything to do with Middle Earth, but that book is a rough read! This past Sunday, I was looking to relax and read by the pool in my complex, and LOTR was not just not appealing at the time. Instead, I picked a tiny book off of my bookshelf that I had received in my stocking from “Santa” one Christmas but had never taken the time to read. The book was A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen, at it touched me deeply.

Only 50 pages long (but filled with artsy black and white images on almost every other page so really it’s like 30 pages), this is a quick read with many valuable insights. Author Anna Quindlen admits, “I’m not particularly qualified by profession or education to give advice and counsel.” And there’s something charming about that; a normal person sharing the the practices and concepts that have made their own life happy and fulfilling.

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A Good Morning

We live in a culture where morning is a mad rush of chaos, stress, and frantic energy. We have been trained that when the alarm clock goes off, we must fly out of the bed like a jet off of an airport runway and launch ourselves with reckless abandon into the day while repeating the mantra, “I must get as much done as possible, I must make as much money as possible, I must get as much done as possible,” etc etc. I have found that this mentality that we have adopted for the sunrise hours sets us up for a more stressful, not fulfilling, and negative day overall.

Luckily, there are small practices that you can weave into your current morning routine to inspire calm, healthy, positive energy for the rest of your day. Of course, mornings will continue to be busy. And I am sorry to say that if you are a commuter with children, that editing your morning routine as it is now is decidedly more challenging. I still, however, encourage you to try to start your day off on a better note by including one or two of these practices in your sunrise hours. You may have to wake up a bit earlier, you may have to do some prepping the night before, but the overall shift in your daily life will be well worth it.

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