How to help a friend that you're worried about...

After finding out about @anthonybourdain recent death, I was devastated. He was one of my favorite tv personalities because of his honesty and authenticity. He was a major reason I traveled to Vietnam! After finding out that he took his own life, I reflected on numerous people I’ve know that have committed suicide. Did you know that #suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States? And on average, there are 123 suicides per day.
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I don’t know about you, but those numbers broke my heart. For many years, I worked and volunteered for @866teenlink as a #youthsuicideprevention specialist and supervisor for their teen #helpline. Those experiences inspired this week’s #toolsforinnerpeace: how to help a friend if you’re worried about them.
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If you find out your loved one is suicidal, connect them with resources @crisisclinic / NAMI Seattle 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433). They deserve a specialist to assist them through this difficult time in their life and so do you.
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If you have this conversation and your friend isn’t suicidal, continue to talk to them and provide emotional support. “We all need a little help from our friends.”

Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise

This week’s #toolsforinnerpeace is a #pranayama exercise called #nadishodhana also known as #alternatenostrilbreathing which rejuvenates your nervous system and equalizes the flow of oxygen to both hemispheres of your #brain. Practice the single round explained in the video above 5-10 times until you feel a sense of peace wash over your heart and mind. This breathing exercise should leave you feeling refreshed and alert. #mindfulness #mindbodygreen #teachpeace #breath #stopandpause #beherenow

4 Count Breathing

Here is a simple 4-count breathing exercise to help find a sense of peace and serenity within. #toolsforinnerpeace

If you're having trouble falling asleep, you can extend your exhale to 6 counts (if it feels comfortable for you). #pranayama #breathwork #breathe #peace✌️ #innerpeace #teachpeace #powerofnow 

Smile!

Here is a super simple #toolsforinnerpeace: SMILE!! 😄 When you #smile you release #happiness #neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good from the inside out! Plus smiling is contagious, so spread some joy by showing off those pearly whites to the world around you!

😁✨😆✨😀 #teachpeace #beyourself #iampeacepilgrim #spreadthelove #smiles #smile😊

Feeling Your Inner Body

This week's tools for inner peace video is inspired by #eckharttolle #thepowerofnow - one of my absolute favorite books that changed my perspective on life forever. Feeling the inner body is a technique to help us connect to the subtle energy field within us, a micro-step deeper into our Selves than our body.  

Eckhart encourages readers to feel their body from within. Try to NOT think about it & FEEL IT. The more attention we give to this frequency, the stronger it becomes. You can practice this technique in your #yoga practice, before you go to bed or for those first few moments when you wake up in the morning. This technique changes our tendency to judge everything we do and say TO acceptance and compassion towards the world around us. Try it out and let me know what you think!

“Your #innerbody is formless, limitless, and unfathomable. You can always go into it more deeply. If you cannot feel very much at this stage, pay attention to whatever you CAN feel. Perhaps tingling in your hands or feet. That’s good enough for this moment. Just focus on the feeling. Your body is coming alive.” - Eckhart Tolle 

Love yo' self

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I choose to write about unconditional love. When I started to brainstorm ideas, I immediately thought of a shared love between two individuals. However, after some contemplation, I realized that unconditional love for ourselves is essential to accept any amount of love from someone else. We must feel that we are worthy of unconditional love to accept it from our partner.  

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” - Lao Tzu

To be honest, self-acceptance doesn’t always come easy for me. I grew up in an 80% white school, where I was not the typical blonde that received a ton of attention. Since this was pre J-Lo and Kim K, I constantly questioned my appeal as a woman with darker features. I can recall entering Jr. High with five horribly expensive Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch shirts that I would wear on each day of the week. I constantly sought approval from outside sources hoping that “being cool and popular” would fill this need to belong. Over many years of life, love and heartbreaks, I continue my battle with self-love. On the surface, I appeared to be confident and fearless, while deep within I questioned my worth to my partner and the world around me. When I completed yoga teacher training with Silvia Mordini, who encouraged radical self-love and acceptance, I finally felt at peace with who I was. She taught us that we are not the preconceived notions that society has placed on us or the preconceived notions that we have placed on ourselves. We are unique and that uniqueness is what we need to share with the world around us.

“You do not understand your features. Your features are not your beautiful nose, your beautiful cheeks, beautiful lips, and so on. These are not your features. Your features are your beautiful behavior, your beautiful character, your beautiful health, your beautiful spirit, your beautiful advice, your beautiful wisdom, your beautiful inspiration.” – Yogi Bhajan
 

To love myself, I must accept who I am today. To accept who I am at this very moment, I must forgive myself for those moments that I stumble or even flat-out fail. This also requires that I forgive people who place me in a box, judge me, or who can’t accept that they don’t have to be what everyone expects. I continuously practice this forgiveness exercise to let go of shit that builds up. I still fluctuate between confidence and self-doubt all the time, even in the same day. However, the more I let my own light shine the more I attract a tribe that is on my wave length and encourages me to be me. I'm also lucky enought to have a husband that tells me I'm beautiful every day. He's pretty great.

What self-love practice do you have?

Want some ideas?

Self acceptane is strongly linked to the second chakra! This energy center also rules our emotions, pleasure, sexuality, creativity, and playfulness. It’s considered strong and free-flowing when we are passionate, present in their body, sensual, creative, connected to our feelings, emotionally stable and joyous. People with a blocked Svadhisthana can find it hard to associate with other people and the world around, inability to fully experience emotions and or keep them in balance, feel insecure, fail to deal with life’s changes and lack self-confidence. The lesson the sacral chakra teaches us is that every relationship we create – from the casual to the most intimate – has a purpose, no matter how painful, to help us become more consciously aware of our karma and ourselves. Some relationships are necessarily difficult because it makes us discover our own limiting beliefs. The second chakra symbolizes our creative potential, our ability to harbor fulfilling relationships, as well as our sexual energy – all coming together to create an empowered and confident individual.

Here are a few harmonizing techniques:

Meditation of or by water (2nd chakra element)

Visualization of the color orange 

Letting go of unhealthy emotions, people and memories is critical. As you are let go of your negative emotional baggage, you make space and energy for better opportunities.

Review your romantic and sexual history and deal with any continuing attachments to your past, particularly to unhealthy or disempowering relationships.

Food and/or drinks that promote a healthy 2nd chakra: healthy oils and fatty acids, fish, seeds, tropical fruits, and nuts, orange foods or drinks.

Explore your creativity: paint, sing, dance, coloring books, or play an instrument.  

Essential oils:

  • Beramot
  • Cardamom
  • Clary sage
  • Orange
  • Rose

Affirmations:

  • I Accept Myself
  • I Enjoy Life
  • I Honor My Body
  • I Respect my Body
  • I Enjoy My Body
  • I Respect Myself
  • I Honor Myself
 Shakti Mudra

Shakti Mudra

Hold the Shakti mudra (insert photo) and breath for 7-11 minutes

Left nostril breathing: Take your right hand and with your fingers outstretched, block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your right thumb.  Be sure to keep the rest of your fingers straight and pointing up towards the sky. With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your left nostril.  Then, just as gently, exhale long, slowly and completely, again through the left nostril. Repeat for 3-5 minutes.

Yoga Poses (photos aligned with list below):

  • Prasarita Padottanasana 
  • Virabhadrasana II
  • Goddess
  • Skandasana
  • Anjaneyasana (low lunge – emphasize the hip flexor stretch)
  • Baddha Konasana or Supta Baddha Konasana

I hope these are helpful to you! YOU ARE ENOUGH JUST AS YOU ARE TODAY! Seriously. Love to you today and always. Namaste friends <3 

Exercises to Burn Excess Kapha

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Another way to shake off the kapha blues is to rise out of bed before kapha time (6-10AM), and do an aerobic exercise. This schedule will also help you fend off seasonal weight gain. If you’re feeling overextended, favor vata-pacifying types of exercise like walking, tai chi, or restorative/ slow flow yoga. If you’re feeling sluggish and heavy, give kapha prana boost with a more vigorous workout—potentially a bike ride, a challenging hike, vinyasa yoga, or ski.

Here are a few yoga postures that will burn off excess kapha:

  1. Sun Salutations invite heat and mobility to counteract the cold and stable qualities of kapha. They’re a great way to get the circulation and lymph moving first thing in the morning.
  2. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog) is a great heat-building challenge for the arms, back and legs, and also opens the chest.
  3. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Twisting Chair) builds heat in the legs while simultaneously pushing out the stagnation that can build up in the chest and lungs from excess kapha.
  4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon B) awakens the digestive organs and stretches the entire abdomen. The side-to-side motion also offers spaciousness to the lungs, where excess mucus can build up from excess kapha.
  5. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) is the perfect asana to build heat. Keep your arms wide open to encourage space in the heart chakra where the kapha dosha lives.
  6. Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle) encourages lateral flexion which aids in sluggish digestion and heightens respiratory function.
  7. Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel) or Dhanurasana increases circulation throughout your entire body and opens your heart chakra.
  8. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) reverses blood flow in the body, accumulated fluid in the ankles and legs (which can be caused by too much kapha) gets the chance to move and drain. Headstand also shifts the tendency of kapha to get stuck in the same old routines, by offering a whole new perspective on the world.

Diet Suggestions To Balance Kapha

Modifications to Harmonize Your Dosha:

It’s best to increase pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes in your warm and light meals. As soon as they’re available, eat sprouts, berries, dandelion and other spring greens—which naturally support this time of cleansing. And stick to three meals a day to avoid overindulging.

Vata: While your Vata dosha is usually soothed by sweet, sour, and salty tastes, this time of year may present some challenges. This is because the very tastes that pacify Vata also increase Kapha. The best approach your diet is to concentrate on herbs and foods that increase your agni and tastes that do not aggravate your Vata nature. Listen to your body.

Pitta: Increase bitter and astringent tastes in your diet and decrease sweets, which increase Kapha. While you still want to include the sweet taste to balance out your Pitta, be mindful of its Kapha-increasing effects. Pittas also need to avoid caffeine during this time of year. Warm drinks may be appealing, but caffeinated drinks may end up inadvertently contribute to a Pitta imbalance and symptoms of irritability.

It’s often suggested to add extra spices or sourness during this time for their phlegm-loosening effects, but Pittas need to be careful of the herbs and spices they choose. Here are a few that will help balance Kapha without irritating Pitta:

  •  Coriander
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric
  • Cilantro
  • Licorice

Kapha: Stick to your usual Kapha-pacifying diet during this time. Do your absolute best to avoid sweetness and cold. As always, invigorating and warming spices are best for you. To reduce the chances of excess water retention, limit your salt intake.

All Doshas:

Fruits to Favor:

  • Apples (cooked)
  • Apricots
  • Berries
  • Cherries       
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes      
  • Oranges

Vegetables to Favor:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Chilies
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Greens (cooked)
  • Leeks and Onions  
  • Spinach (cooked)
  • Winter Squash

Oils to Favor:

  • Almond Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil           
  • Ghee
  • Mustard Oil
  • Olive Oil        
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Spices to Favor

All spices will generally be supportive during the winter months

Brr... It's cold outside!

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As we move through this kapha season, here are a few tips on how to maintain harmony within your body, mind and spirit during these winter months.  As the cold and wetness becomes heavier in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve likely noticed subtle internal changes that accompany this season. With any shift in seasons, there are steps you can take to stay balanced even when the weather threatens to throw you off kilter.
 
The kapha dosha arises from the Earth (Prthvi) and Water (apas) elements. Kapha is stored in the brain, joints, mouth, head, neck, stomach, lymph, lungs, heart and esophagus. Per Ayurveda traditions, late winter and spring are the seasons of Kapha, reflecting the qualities of wet, cold, heavy, static, dull, smooth. When Kapha increases, you may experience:

  • excess mucous
  • weight gain/over indulging with sweets and heavy foods
  • poor circulation: cold hands and feet
  • water retention
  • sluggish digestion
  • depression/melancholy
  • sluggishness / lack of vitality
  • brain fog
  • over attachment: unable to let go (mental/emotional constipation)
  • chest colds/sinus colds
  • swollen lymph glands
  • excessive sleeping

Here are a few lifestyle adjustments that can invite in pacifying qualities of warmth, lightness, energy, and movement:

  • Avoid sleeping past 7am.
  • Stay warm and avoid dampness.
  • Morning sun salutations (surya namaskar) help stimulate circulation and the digestive fires (agni).
  • Neti pot.
  • Avoid taking naps during the day as this can increase kapha during this season.
  • Regular exercise that is vigorous in nature: running, swimming, hot yoga, vinyasa flow, or cycling.
  • Colors: yellow, orange, red.
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama “Breath of Fire” or Bhastrika “Bellows Breath”
  • Try something new! Do something different each day or at least once a week.
  • Avoid eating too much raw food. Less fats and animal proteins during this time.
  • The largest meal should be at lunch time.
  • To balance and reduce excess kapha use essential oils, herbs, vegetable/herbal oils and products that are dry (cypress, geranium, lemon), warm (black pepper, ginger, clove bud, cinnamon leaf) and light (citrus oils, conifer oils, eucalyptus, rosemary).
    • Drop 2-3 drops of Rosemary in the palm of your hand. Rub palms together and move towards nose holding palms open. Take a few deep inhalations. Be sure to wash hands once you are complete! 

 

More tips on how to maintain balance during winter are coming soon! #toolsforinnerpeace