Lessons in Trusting the Universe Pt. II

Last month I left New York on a journey to become a yoga teacher. I studied in a country I had never been to, with people I had never met, learning some more lessons and trusting the universe.

My long hiatus from blogging was spent soul searching for understanding, acceptance and balance. Something we can all always use a little teaspoon more of. Although I had signed up to become a yoga teacher in June 2015, by the time the class arrived, teaching was not my priority and that was fine. There were other things to figure out.

What I find to be amazing is that no matter how crazy your life can feel, the universe has a quick tendency to humble you and in doing so, reminding you that you’re here for a very specific yet mysterious reason.

This blog seems short considering I’ve been MIA for about two months but that’s life.

Wishing the best for all of you.

Talk soon.

x

“A bigger house, a happier wife”

It was weird this morning, getting out for a run that my body really needed after a long absence. A new neighbor is building his home on Saratoga lake and he’s facetiously singing, “We’ll drink lots of beer and build a bench over here, what a great life, a bigger house and a happier wife.”

How can you not laugh at that? We all want bigger and better. We want what’s new and improved in the belief it will improve us by association.

I’ve been living in a Harry Potter closet for over a year. It’s a make-shift room that everyone walks through to get to the washing machine. My bed is the laundry table and there’s a food cabinet in my bedroom that once was our house’s storage room. I can’t even close my door all the way because it’s broken and I get locked in. When my dogs come in and lay on the floor, I literally can’t leave until they do.

Honestly, I secretly love to hate it and hate to love it. I remind myself how blessed I am to have a home, but, naturally, I sometimes find myself thinking, “If I had my own place, my own room, my own office, I would write, practice, dance, cook, do everything more.”

Would I though? Would my situation change my habits? Not at all.

We should all revel in our lives’ bits of chaos. Go a little crazy. Learn to love more of life with less. We should always remind ourselves that don’t need lots of money or space or new things. We need self-efface and sufficiency because one day it can all be taken away and to be honest, one day it will.

Make a home in your happiness.
xo

Why Does my Yoga Practice Hurt?

I recently met someone who just began their yoga journey. The goal he set for himself was to cure his back pain, something that so many of us deal with on an all too often basis.

When I began a few years ago, I did so for the similar reasons. I suffered from stress related back pains that caused knots and sharp pains. Often, I could hunch my shoulders forward just an inch or two and my back would crack itself. It was embarrassing being a college student with the spine of a senior citizen. I also had anxiety issues and fitness goals I wanted to work on and so, started my yoga journey.

Long story short, this friend of mine watched a YouTube video and felt he strained his back even more.

But yoga can heal anything and anyone! WHAT HAPPENED?

YouTube is great, you can learn everything from tying your shoes to cooking dinner on there. But yoga, not always so great on there.

Why? You’re too distracted. You’re not connected with your body on a deep level because you’re too worried that the volume isn’t loud enough or that you’re not watching enough.

I saw him do a downward dog that tightened his neck because he was looking in every direction. Hips were off and so on and so forth. It’s not about perfection. Yoga is freedom and connection.

Yoga is based on meditation, flowing through a vinyasa flow without straining your body or mind. The goal is nirvana. I highly suggest attending a class for beginners. Your computer can teach you poses to take you there but, truthfully, only you can take yourself there. Relax. Breath. Flow.

Read it or study it but don’t bring your laptop to your mat. In fact close your laptop, let your mind wander. Explore. Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy.

Namaste
xo

Seven Beginner Level Yoga Postures to Rid Anxiety

Whether it is anxiety, stress or depression, a mental ailment is a serious challenge for any individual. There are a lot of different ways to fight off those negative emotions. This yoga routine is a pair of boxing gloves and Nama-stay stress free if you know what I’m saying.

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The following is a beginner level vinyasa aiding in stress and anxiety relief for beginner yogis and those new to yoga.
For the sake of getting the most out of this routine please read the article before practicing! ūüôā

Seven Beginner Level Yoga Postures to Rid Anxiety

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1. Bound Angle Pose
Baddha Konasana

Some of you may have trouble entering this pose if you’re tight. Sit on a pillow or blanket for some extra leverage.

Grab onto your big toes with your middle, pointer and thumb fingers. Now pull your heels together and in towards your body while also keeping your back straight to avoid lower back pain.

Relax in this pose for a few minutes. Read this article to learn more about Bound Angle Pose.

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2. Seated Staff Pose
Dandasana

Looks simple enough, right? Lengthen your legs and flex your feet while keeping your back straight. You can rock side to side to get the flattest seat. Focus on your breath here and relax for 3-5 minutes.

Now go on a reap all of these benefits !

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3. Fish Pose
Matsyasana

Place your hands underneath your hips, palms down. Open your chest and relax your neck, dropping your head back and slowly lowering down to the elbows before gently placing the crown of the head on the floor.

This will open the hip flexors and other muscles you never thought of stretching like the front of your neck! Get ready to strengthen the back, too. Also, this pose is excellent to fix poor posture.

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4. Camel Pose

To enter this pose, rise to your knees and place your hands on your hips. You don’t need to enter the pose fully if you don’t feel comfortable. Leave your hands on your hips and you open up your chest and drop the head backwards. Use the pressure of your hands on the back of your pelvis to enter this pose as far as possible.

If you feel comfortable, let your hands down to rest on the heels of the feet and push your hips forward. This will assist in anxiety and other ailments such as fatigue and mild back pains. Learn more here.

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5. Bow Pose
Dhanurasana

Beginners may be interested in using a yoga strap if they cannot grab their feet behind them. Don’t have a strap? Try a belt or a tie!

This pose is reflective of the power of counterbalance. We’re stretching the entire front of the body plus the ankles, thighs, chest, throat, and deep hip flexors while gaining strength in your back muscles.

Other benefits include relief for constipation, respiratory ailments, fatigue and mild back aches.

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6. Standing Forward Fold
Uttanasana

Woo! Stand up, reach up, show some gratitude for today and elongate your spine to relieve tension after all those back bend poses! Breath deep my friends. On the exhale, hinge at the hips, keeping the back straight as you fold forward.

You can bend your knees a bit here. Relax the neck by shaking your head “yes” and “no.” Enjoy the massage you can feel on your internal organs and that deep stretch as you straighten you legs. Say goodbye to stress, headaches, fatigue and insomnia with this pose!

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7. Tree Pose
Vriksasana

If you struggle with meditation this pose will be the most beneficial in taking your mind off of your stresses. Focus on a steady point in front of you and press the 4 corners of your right foot into the floor. The vitality of concentration will keep you too busy to think of anything else.

Bring hands to prayer. Begin lifting the left leg at a 90¬į angle, turn the knee out and open the hips. When ready, grab the left foot and place it in whichever variation is most comfortable. One option is as shown above, place the foot on the inside of the thigh, as high above the knee as possible. Another option is half lotus for an extra stretch.

Other benefits are posture, balance, increase in the hips’ range of motion, toning the muscles in the legs, back, and chest, and also strengthening the ankles.

Be sure to repeat on the other side.

Inhale. Stretch up towards the ceiling. Exhale down to heart’s center. Take time to be thankful for this day and all that you have gained in life on your way here.

Everything happens as and when it’s needed to so, we can’t always help what happens. We can, however, control how we react. It is not what happens to us that shapes us but how we handle it.

Enjoy your day and please feel free to leave a comment!

Four Eco-Friendly Fitness Clothing Companies

Did you know that in the U.S. 1,500 water bottles are used every second? Did you know that plastic is not biodegradable? It’s estimated that plastic thrown into the ocean could last hundreds and hundreds of years.
Did you know that conventional cotton is one of the most destructive crops? That it’s grown with pesticides that are extremely harmful to the agricultural world?

An active lifestyle often inspires awareness to social and environmental conflicts. The yogi who believes in the tree of life, the runner who is hoping the weather is just right, the man on the mountain, the hiker leaning on a newfound walking stick and the swimmer dipping into¬†clean water all connect with the environment on a personal level. It’s only natural to care about nature!

Many companies are focusing on their responsibilities outside of simply selling and looking at how to reduce their carbon footprints allowing their athletes to make eco-friendly footprints instead.

Here are Five Eco-Friendly Fitness Clothing Lines:

1.¬†Patagonia’s mission statement is, “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” They believe it is our responsibility to be as eco-conscious as possible. Read¬†the incredible story of how in the spring of 1988, this company’s employees were effected by air pollution in their new facility. The problem inspired a movement towards organic clothing that would be safe for employees and the environment.

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2. Teeki is a company that creates athletic attire by collecting plastic containers from community recycling centers, cleaning, melting, extruding that to make into fiber, that fiber is then baled and created into fabric. The founder is passionate about our oceans and began with swimwear before expanding to other pieces of clothing.

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3.¬†If you’ve heard of Teeki, you may also have heard of ZuVi, a very similar company created by a mother and daughter passionate about fashion, nature and yoga. They also use recycled plastic but practice a different technique to recycle it into cotton and create¬†their clothing. They mix their yarn, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, with spandex, making them 84% recycled PET and 16% spandex. Hopefully, that clears up an skepticism against the fit and flexibility these clothes provide! ZuVi is worn by tons of incredible athletes causing them to be proven to work. Get yourself a pair of these colorful and creative yoga pants!

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4. Atayne founded by Jeremy Litchfield thanks to one red t-shirt. The dye stained his body, shoes and running shorts. What Jeremy felt in reaction was a sense of disappointment that while he was aspiring to exercise to become healthier, harmful chemicals were being absorbed into his body. The reason why was outdated technologies still in use to create performance wear when newer procedures with less harmful consequences and better performance quality were available. Litchfield is determined to inspire others to care for themselves and their environment. Atayne was created in 2007.

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Yes, this is exactly what Relephant Matters is talking about with the “Minds of Matter” section. Great minds that make moves toward changes that will benefit the world. What can we do when we find something we are passionate about changing? Well, change it of course!

Standing Head to Knee Pose

DSC_0117A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than himself.” – Josh Billings

Lucky often makes my yoga mat¬†into an obstacle course filled with the laughter of a playground. I couldn’t manage a picture that he wouldn’t photobomb. Anyways, that’s not what this post is about… it’s about Standing Head to Knee pose.

I remember first learning Head to Knee or¬†Dandayamana Janushirasana¬†at Bikram Hot Yoga in Setauket, New York. Between the stench of sweat and a beginner’s lack of balance, it was really challenging for me to find focus and pull my face towards my knee without hopping and stumbling back onto two feet. Yes, I was one of those people ruining my neighbors’ zen, sorry, but with practice I finally learned to conquer my mind.

In order to perform this posture
Think of your foot rooted into the floor, every edge of your foot is grounded. Distribute your weight throughout the planted foot. Take your time to engage your knee, after about a minute it becomes safe to lock your knee. Your leg should be locked as you reach for the foot of the leg you wish to stretch. Clasp your hands, lacing your fingers around the middle of your foot and pull your knee into your chest. Stare at a fixed point to keep balance and when you feel stable, lengthen the leg in front of you, aiming to keep legs at a 90 degree angle. When you feel comfortable use your arm strength to pull your face to your knee.

Benefits of Standing Head to Knee Pose

  • Improves concentration and builds mental strength.
  • Beneficial for fighting diabetes.
  • Strengthens back muscles, tendons, biceps, hamstrings, thighs,¬†deltoids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps and triceps.
  • Compresses and flushes Pancreas, Thyroid, Thymus, abdominal and reproductive organs.
  • Improves sex through the massage of reproductive organs.
  • Improves flexibility in the sciatic nerve.
  • Helps to decrease varicose veins.
  • Prevent future knee injuries by strengthening soft¬†tissue around the knee.

A Fortunate Story About the Suspended Receipt

So you may have read about the campaign I started at the Fortunate Cup Coffee Cafe in Saratoga Springs, called the Fortunate Receipt.

Recently, a wife asked her husband to come in and purchase her a large coffee. She was exhausted, suffering through a bad day at work with probably 5 more hours to go. Unfortunately, the cafe’s POS system was down and not accepting credit cards.

When her husband made it to the cafe, he ordered two coffees and pulled out a credit card. The barista explained the situation but the gentleman had no other way of paying. He was given a Fortunate Receipt that was left by a previous customer.

Him and his wife were so pleased to have received this random act of kindness that the next day they decided to pay it forward by purchasing Fortunate Receipts to suspend for others. Kindness is like a snowball, sometimes one small act can inspire a movement.