How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 3

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Part 3: Merry Spirit

While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my spirit stays merry and bright!

SPIRIT:

There’s not much that makes my spirit feel brighter than doing something selfless. Which isn’t always easy especially when we feel like we are too overwhelmed to even take care of ourselves. And still, if we get creative, there’s always an easy way to be of service. Here’s just a few examples:

Make a meal for someone. We make ourselves dinner on most nights. Why not make one serving more and invite someone over. Maybe someone who doesn’t have family nearby, or someone for whom the holidays are tough because of a loss or other reason.

Compliment a stranger or simply smile and say hello to them.

Donate. This can be really easy–for instance, next time you’re purchasing a gift from amazon, do it through smile.amazon so that your favorite charity also gets a gift.

–Share gratitude. Tell a loved one you’re grateful for them. Give them at least one specific reason.

–Laugh. Tell a joke, or make people laugh (preferably without self-deprecating humor)

–Connect. Reach out to an old friend or relative. You’ll both feel great.

We don’t have to limit ourselves to human kindness either:

Share gratitude with nature. Tell a tree how much you appreciate it.

–Appreciate nature. Look up at the sky at night and marvel at all of the stars

–Honor nature. Start your day by greeting the sun, feeling its rays on your face and giving gratitude for all of its gifts, or take some extra special care of a plant or pet.

How will you keep your spirit merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 2

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Part 2: Merry Mind

While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my mind stays merry and bright!

MIND:

Create a holiday mantra. I discussed this in a previous post, but had to reiterate it here because having this mantra has been so beneficial in keeping me out of panic mode. Haven’t got one yet? Go back to your Guiding Light Statement and see what gems you can use to create your holiday mantra.

Make a shopping plan. Who do I need to buy for? What do I want to get them?  What do they want? Can I do it online or do I need to make a special trip? Is there a simple thoughtful gift I can give to colleagues or clients? Taking about 30 minutes or so to answer some of these questions on paper helps get this mess out of my head so I can organize it and most importantly, stop thinking about it.

Schedule in time for nothing. Fact: Cramming your schedule with too many things with no breaks NEVER results in merriment.  So I like to make sure that I carve out at least 20 minutes a day and maybe an additional hour per week to do nothing. No devices are allowed during this time. Just me with myself perhaps sitting in nature, watching the sky,  being with silence, or sitting down to…

Meditate. Staring my day with meditation sets the tone of ease and focus for the whole day. But why stop there? If I need a moment to re-center, sitting with my breath, or sensations,  or even listening to a meditation on an app can do wonders for bringing me back to a merry and bright state of mind.

How will you keep your mind merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.

Coming up next:

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 3

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 1

merry body forest

Part 1: Merry Body

While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my body stays merry and bright!

BODY:

Follow all of the feasting recommendations, but especially staying hydrated!

Get to bed by 10pm. Our bodies go through natural detoxing and rejuvenating processes starting at 10pm. To make sure I feel merry and bright in the morning, it’s important to be asleep by this time so that my body can focus on these revitalizing activities.

Calming bedtime rituals: With all the excitement, it’s important to help our body wind down before we go to bed so that we can get a deeper, more restorative sleep. My favorite bedtime ritual is to oil my feet before bed with warm oil (organic unrefined sesame, sunflower or almond oil is best).

Daily morning movement. Whether it’s a walk, a little yoga or qigong, if I make time for 20 minutes of movement before I eat breakfast, my body, my digestion, my energy levels are feeling pretty merry all day long. So no matter where I spend the holiday, I find a way to keep this practice as consistent as possible. If it means I have to shorten it to 10 minutes on some days, I’m ok with that. Doing some of the practice is better than not doing it at all.

How will you keep your body merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.

Coming up next:

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 2 and Part 3

This Holiday Season: Are You Calm? Are You Bright?

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The holidays can get hectic and stressful. And if I don’t remind myself to slow down, re-center and re-focus, my nervous system gets frazzled, my immunity suffers, I make poor decisions and I usually find myself depleted and regretful before the season is over.

So a couple years ago, I decided to give myself a mantra, to the tune of a Christmas carol, so that I was constantly reminding myself of how I wanted to experience the holiday.

What emerged was my holiday mantra:  “I am calm, I am bright” (to the tune of Silent Night).

I’ve thought about changing it this year, yet nothing else seems to resonate as well for me right now. So for another year, this is it.

What kind of mantra can you come up with to stay on track for having a healthier, more mindful holiday? Can you sing it to the tune of your favorite holiday song? Consider how you want to feel this holiday, or go through my Design Your Holiday exercises to find the right words for your mantra.

Would love to hear what you come up with. Post your holiday mantra on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness. Or you can share it with me by email.

Design Your Holidays: How to Get What You Really Want, Part 2

 

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Now that you’ve got your Guiding Light Statement, let’s create a plan that will move you closer to it. Below is an exercise to create action plans to help you map the way forward.

Same instructions here as in Part 1:

I recommend brewing a cup of your favorite herbal tea and setting aside 45 – 60 minutes to journal about the questions.

And if you don’t have the time right now for this exercise, open up your calendar and find the time within the next few days to do this for yourself. Set a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Don’t forget to read my important message at the end of this article. 

Part 2: Action Plans

  1. Think about a time when you’ve experienced one or more or all of the things you wrote in your Guiding Light Statement. What was happening? Who were you with? What did you do or what qualities do you possess that caused this to happen? Were there any preparations or organization that helped? What made it possible?
  2. What challenges or obstacles might prevent you from having this experience this holiday season? Who or what might have a different opinion about/effect on how your holidays should go?
  3. So you have an idea of what might get in the way (#2). And an idea of how you pulled this off before (#1). Ask yourself, how can your knowledge and experience from past success help you work through any challenges that may arise? What qualities do you possess that will help you move towards what you want? Who can you turn to for support? What practices or techniques will aid you? You might even make a list of who/what won’t support you in this endeavor. Sometimes we look for support in all the wrong places. Let’s get clear on who or what can really support us and not place unrealistic expectations on those that can’t/won’t.
  4. For each challenge listed in #2, come up with an action plan based on your answers in #3 to help you move beyond that challenge. As part of your action plan, get as specific as you can about details like where, when, how often, with whom, etc.

Here are a few examples of action plans:

I am going to make a gift giving plan so that I am not doing all my shopping that week before Christmas when nothing is left or sizing is all wrong and I’m just getting whatever I can so there’s a gift under the tree. I will make this gift giving plan on Nov. 15th @ 9am, and will plan to have all of my shopping completed by Dec. 2nd.

I am going to let my family know that it’s important to me to have an earlier, lighter dinner by around 6pm. If they are not able to accommodate me, I will make my own dinners and eat by 6pm and then have tea with them while they are eating at least 5 of the 7 nights I will be with my family. Those two exceptions will be on Christmas night and the first night I arrive.

I will keep up my daily morning exercise and meditation routine 6 out of 7 mornings I am gone and will ask my husband to join me and keep me accountable.

I will limit my alcohol intake to 3 glasses of wine per week. I will let my family know when I am planning to have those glasses so that they don’t bother to ask me every night if I’m having wine with dinner.

I would love to hear your action plan!! Feel free to post your plan(s) on Facebook or Instagram (and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness). Or you can email me and share what actions you’re going to take this season!

IMPORTANT: Our patterns during the holidays run deep and we are surrounded by people who expect us to follow those patterns. So if at first you don’t succeed with your action plans, don’t despair or be too hard on yourself. This defeats the purpose. Instead, pat yourself on the back for taking these initial steps to creating a better holiday season. This is a great gift to yourself and those around you. Learn what you can this year so you can think about how to improve your action plan for more holiday cheer next year.

Design Your Holidays: How to Get What You Really Want, Part 1

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We tend to believe that we don’t have much control over how our lives go. Yet, in my work, and in my own life, I’ve observed time and time again that this just isn’t true. While there may be a few things we have less control over, we can drastically transform how we experience life simply by getting clear about what we want and what we value. And then using those desires and values as a guide for making decisions and choices that will allow us to have a more joyful and meaningful experience of life.

And this is the case with the holidays too. In other words, if we determine what it is we really want this season and what we value about this time of year, we can create a plan that guides us into experiencing a more joyful and meaningful holiday.

I’ve created a two-part exercise to help you:

  1. Clarify what you really want, and
  2. Create a map that gets you there

Below is Part 1 with Part 2 to follow soon. I recommend brewing a cup of your favorite herbal tea and setting aside 45 – 60 minutes to journal about the questions.

And if you don’t have the time right now for this exercise, open up your calendar and find the time within the next few days to do this for yourself. Set a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Awesome. Here are the questions for Part 1:

Part 1: Your Guiding Light Statement

  1. What would you like to experience this holiday season? How do you want to feel? In your body, mind and spirit?
  2. Why do you want to experience that? And why is that important?
  3. Ask yourself question #2 above at least 3 more times. Dig deep here. Why do you want these experiences and feelings?
  4. Create Your Guiding Light Statement: Now write a sentence or more that encompasses both what you want (what you wrote for #1) and why that’s important to you (your ultimate/last answer to #2, why it’s important to you). Try to keep it in the positive. So that rather than talking about what you don’t want, focus on what you do want to feel and experience.

Here’s an example:

“I want to have a joyful and effortless holiday season, where my body feels relaxed, my mind is at ease and my spirit feels connected. I want this because when I feel like this, I am able to laugh more, have more fun, be more present with friends and family, have deeper conversations and feel more connected to life.”

I recommend honoring your guiding light statement by writing it on a piece of paper and posting it somewhere you can look at it often. Draw, color or decorate any way that seems appropriate for you to keep it on your mind.

Tips for Grounding and Balancing During Autumn/Wildfire Season

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This blog was a recent newsletter to my email list. Due to the great response I got from my list, I thought I’d post here as well so that more of you might benefit. Feel free to share this post and if you’d like to be included on my email list for more tips on wellness, self-care, Ayurveda and habit-change, sign up at the pop up window or feel free to email me and let me know. 

Wildfires have shrouded the entire bay area in smoke for days [update: over a week now!]. We’re advised to stay inside and continue to receive “Red Flag” warnings that weather conditions may ignite even more wildfires. It’s dry, windy, depressing and scary. Whether you’re here in the bay area or any of the several other places experiencing wildfires, or just experiencing the dryness of the fall season, I wanted to share a few self-care tips to help you feel more grounded and balanced.

This is the time of year when the weather tends to cause Vata dosha to go out of whackThis imbalance may cause some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Dry skin, eyes, everything!
  • Having a hard time focusing
  • Feeling scattered and ungrounded
  • Fearful, anxious and expecting the worst
  • Excessive thinking
  • Slow or weak digestion; constipation
  • Feeling colder than usual
  • Interrupted sleep (waking between 2am and 4am)
  • Sensitivity especially to lighting and loud noises

Here are some ways to bring Vata back into balance:

  • Stick to routines as much as possible. Eat and sleep at the same times every day. This gives vata the structure it needs to be “contained.”
  • Eat warm foods; avoid raw and cold foods. Soups, stews and one-pot meals are great for calming vata
  • Eat root vegetables and winter squashes for grounding
  • Stay hydrated with warm water and herbal teas (avoid cold or iced beverages)
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Stay warm and protected from the wind
  • Do some grounding yoga poses (like Child’s Pose & all sitting poses and long stretches)
  • Meditate to bring more focus and calm the mind
  • Lubricate the skin with warm oil (avoid lotions with chemicals and instead use some organic unrefined oil like sesame or almond oil)

Nature speaks to us in many ways. And my personal interpretation of these wildfires is that Nature is asking us to go inside. Stop running around, be still and go inside yourself. Is there something in you that needs attention? Acknowledgement? Is there something in your life you’ve been ignoring? That needs healing?

When we heal the imbalances inside us, it is a an act of love towards Nature. And Nature needs as much as love as we can give right now. So I invite you is to take this time to slow down, be silent and listen.

How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Without the (Over) Stuffing

cornucopiaThe big day is coming! How will you feast this Thanksgiving? Did you know you it’s possible to enjoy this meal without overstuffing yourself?

Sure it’s fine to take one day out of the year and indulge. But we all know Thanksgiving is the gateway feast, and once we start, we don’t stop feasting until 2019 rolls around. Leading to a sluggish and guilt-ridden start to a new year.

So why not pace yourself to enjoy the entire holiday season rather than gobbling your way through it?

Here are some of my favorite feasting tips for enjoying food, family and friends without overdoing it.

1.  Days before the feast, make sure you are eating healthy, satisfying, warm and well-balanced meals, sticking to mostly (if not completely) vegetarian, whole foods and healthy fats.

This will help to: 

–Strengthen your digestion. Heavy foods like meat, cold foods (like ice cream and yogurt) and deep fried foods will weaken agni, your digestive fire. We want to keep that fire stoked so it can more easily digest the feast you eat later.

–Prevent you from overeating at the feast. Starving ourselves before a feast is a big mistake. We’ll come to the meal feeling deprived and compensate by eating everything in sight. Your digestive system can only handle so much at one time. And if you give it more than it can handle, that food won’t get properly digested, which is what leads to digestive disorders, feeling sluggish and mental fog in the following hours or days.

2.  Days before the feast, make sure you are hydrating with warm water. Drinking warm or hot water also helps our digestive fire to stay strong. Cold or iced water puts out that fire in our bellies. Make sure you’re drinking warm water throughout the day and don’t drink a lot of water just before you eat. Water in the stomach makes digestion tough.

3.  Eliminate snacking and space your daily meals at least 4-6 hours apart, taking at least 12.5 hours (preferably more) between dinner and breakfast.

This goes back to the idea that our digestive system can only handle so much food at a time. If we are constantly bombarding the belly with food, it’s not able to completely and effectively digest anything. Agni needs time to properly digest AND it also needs time to rest and restore. Without that rest period, agni weakens and does not properly digest all food.

4.  Start with smaller amounts. The temptation with Thanksgiving is to pile it all on to a large plate. And if it’s in front of us, there’s not much stopping us from trying to eat it all. Instead, start with smaller amounts of everything. Make sure you can still see lots of space on your plate. Ignore comments from everyone else. Once you’ve eaten all that’s on your plate, take a few breaths and ask yourself, do I really want or need more? What will eating more feel like tomorrow? This allows you to make a more conscious decision. Even if that decision is to eat more, at least you’ve made it consciously rather than devouring mindlessly.

5.  Slow down and chew your food. Twenty percent of digestion happens in the mouth. If we don’t take the time to slow down and allow the enzymes in our mouth to break down the food, we make agni’s job harder and consequently, dampen its mighty fire.

6.  Make sure the mind is calm. If we’re agitated, distracted or upset, agni (digestive fire) weakens. Give yourself the space to come into a relaxed and more present state of mind before eating. This may mean excusing yourself and enjoying a few quiet minutes outside in nature. Or simply taking some deep breaths, presencing your body and giving thanks for this amazing food you’re about to eat.

7.  Stop eating by 6pm. I know, this is a tough one that may be harder to work on during the holidays. But agni is naturally slowing down around 6pm, so if we’re eating much later than that, there’s a good chance our food isn’t get properly digested. If you can’t stop by 6pm, choose another cut-off time that is more doable and stick with it. This will be more helpful than nibbling all night long.

And if you’re hungry later or tempted to eat something beyond your cut-off time, choose to have some warm water or herbal tea instead. A recent study claimed that 80% of the time we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty.

Try these out and let me know how they work for you! And have a fantastic holiday!

Why I LOVE Ayurveda: Reason #5

REASON #5: Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom stands the test of time.

Has Ayurveda caught your eye yet? It has certainly been getting a lot of attention from modern science. And Ayurveda-lovers like me are thrilled to see that researchers are now recognizing how the principles and practices of this ancient tradition are incredibly relevant and healing to the imbalances and diseases of modern living.

For example, just last year the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to three doctors for their studies on the effects of the circadian clock on our health and wellness. But Ayurveda has known this for thousands of years!

Dinacharya, or daily rituals, have been an essential part of Ayurveda’s prescription for health on all levels. These rituals emphasize the significance of aligning our activities, such as eating, sleeping, meditating and exercising, with what is referred to as the dosha clock in Ayurveda. This clock demonstrates that different times of the day are governed by the different doshas or bio-energies. And a fundamental teaching of Ayurveda is that if we align our activities with these energies, we support our bodies’ ability to heal and thrive. This is effectively the same conclusion these Nobel Prize-winning doctors found regarding the influence of the circadian clock on the body.

Modern research has also found several other Ayurvedic practices to be of great benefit to modern ailments, including the use of turmeric and other plants and foods for healing, abhyanga or self-oiling, and neti pots and nasya oil to increase immunity, not to mention the well-known benefits of yoga and meditation, which are part and parcel to the Ayurvedic lifestyle.

And it seems every month I’m hearing about another study that validates what the Ayurvedic sages learned centuries ago. Follow me on my Facebook page for postings on these subjects including links to articles and podcasts.


Ready to learn how these ancient practices can heal your modern woes?

Sign up TODAY!! Early  Bird Pricing Ends This Week!

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RECLAIM YOUR HEALTH + THRIVE WITH AYURVEDA

Saturday, March 24th, 2018:

2pm – 4pm

Square One Yoga, San Leandro

 

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system and is considered Yoga’s “sister science.” Though shunned for many years, modern science now recognizes the incredible efficacy of Ayurvedic practices in healing disease and imbalances of the modern world.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the nature of this life-transforming tradition, and discover how the principles of Ayurveda teach us to awaken our natural ability to self-heal and bring benefit to our communities, all living creatures and the planet.

All workshop participants will be offered a free 15 minute Ayurvedic phone consultation by appointment after workshop.

Cost: $30 for members of Square One, $35 for non-members.

$5 off if you register by 3/17/18.

Be sure to save your spot and register here.

Why I LOVE Ayurveda: Reason #4

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REASON #4: Ayurveda reminds us of our deep connection to our eco-system and community.

When Ayurveda was developed over 5,000 years ago in India, the concepts of “going green,” being “eco-friendly” or “socially conscious” were unknown. The Ayurvedic sages lived in attunement with nature and thus were already all of these things.

In our consumerist culture, however, we are out of sync with the natural world, and thus out of sync with our own true nature.This has led to disease in our bodies, minds, spirits and environment. Just take a look at the increasing numbers of auto-immune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive disorders, to name a few.

Is there a correlation between these rising numbers of disease and disorders and the declining health of our planet?

Some would say yes, and I would agree with them. What I’ve learned and experienced from Ayurveda, is that when we align with the principles and rhythms of nature, we learn how to take care of ourselves, take care of each other and the planet. We begin to understand that our relationships to each other and to earth are interdependent and must be nurtured so that we can all enjoy good health.

Because Ayurveda is based in nature, its practices inherently honor and revere the eco-system that keeps us alive. And its principles recognize and appreciate the fundamental abundance and interconnectedness in all life.

By adopting Ayurveda’s natural practices and principles into our daily lives, we find a more balanced way of living in our bodies, with each other and on this beautiful planet. And I believe if we, both humans and the planet, are to thrive for many more centuries, this ancient tradition, must be the wave of the future.


Ready to learn how you can change your health and the planet’s? Join me for my upcoming workshop on Ayurveda.

workshop1

RECLAIM YOUR HEALTH + THRIVE WITH AYURVEDA

Saturday, March 24th, 2018:

2pm – 4pm

Square One Yoga, San Leandro

 

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system and is considered Yoga’s “sister science.” Though shunned for many years, modern science now recognizes the incredible efficacy of Ayurvedic practices in healing disease and imbalances of the modern world.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the nature of this life-transforming tradition, and discover how the principles of Ayurveda teach us to awaken our natural ability to self-heal and bring benefit to our communities, all living creatures and the planet.

All workshop participants will be offered a free 15 minute Ayurvedic phone consultation by appointment after workshop.

Cost: $30 for members of Square One, $35 for non-members.

$5 off if you register by 3/17/18.

Be sure to save your spot and register here.