Life has been pretty crazy these last couple weeks, as you might have been able to tell from the lack of noise you’ve all received from me on here. Endless to-do lists and tasks normally tend to lead me towards stress and anxiety.
Backbends can be one of the best cures for acute of even chronic anxiety. Which you may not believe me right off the bat when I say that. Do you ever feel anxious, nervous, or worrisome when in a backbend? But the short term feeling right after is relief and calmness. A consistent yoga practice that contains backbends can also reap long term benefits of helping to not only relieve anxiety but also increase the body’s resilience to it. The consistent practice can also potentially eliminate chronic back pain.
We bend forward all day long, as we’re sitting at our desk, driving in our cars, or even walking down the street. Our spines have a complete range of motion, so we should be able to bend forward comfortably but we need to make sure we’re balancing that consistent forward bending with back bending to restore the spines natural flexibly and reduce injury.
Aside from balancing the spine, backbends can also help to improve breathing, open up and stretch the front body, abdominal muscles, and internal organs, build strength and trust, compress and flush the kidneys, and even relieve insomnia and restlessness.
In the above photo, I am practicing Wheel pose but there are multiple other poses that help to incorporate back bending into your practice:
- Bow Pose
- Cow Pose
- Upward Facing Dog
- Reverse Tabletop
- King Pigeon Pose
- Sphinx Pose
- Wild Thing
Try out a few of these consistently and let me know what benefits you start to experience!
The chakras or force-centres are points of connection in which energy flows from one vehicle or body of a man to another. – C.W. Leadbeater, The Chakras
The seven colors of the rainbow represent an alternative to our binary black and white consciousness. The rainbow of seven colors express how light moves from source to manifestation through the chakra system in the body. These seven different colors represent the seven vibrational energy centers in the body, or as more well-known as the chakras.
A chakra is a center of organization that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy.
Aside from the seven main center points through the center of the body, there are also minor chakras in the hands, feet, fingertips, and shoulders. It is the seven major chakras I list below that correlate with the basic states of consciousness.
- Muladhara: Root
- A healthy first chakra allows a person to be energetically grounded.
- To Be Here
- Physical Identity
- Fear Demon
- Svadhisthana: Sex Organs
- The second chakra starts to encounter the watery realm of emotions and sexuality.
- To Feel
- Emotional Identity
- Guilt Demon
- Manipura: Solar Plexus
- If our grounding is strong and solid and the natural flow of emotion and movement is not thwarted, then we have the means to convert energy into action.
- To Act
- Ego Identity
- Shame Demon
- Anahata: Heart area
- In the heart chakra, currents come to perfect balance in the center of our being where we enter the mystery of love.
- To Love
- Social Identity
- Grief Demon
- Vissudha: Throat
- The fifth chakra enters the symbolic world of the mind where words, images, and thoughts manifest.
- To Speak
- Creative Identity
- Lies Demon
- Ajna: Third Eye
- The brow chakra, or third eye, we can see where we are now, where we have been, and predict where we are going.
- To See
- Archetypal Identity
- Illusion Demon
- Sahasrara: Cerebral Cortex
- The seventh chakra is the final frontier, the consciousness.
- To Know
- Universal Identity
- Attachment Demon
This is the slightest drop in the pool of all the chakra knowledge and in further posts I plan to dive into each chakra more in-depth. Understanding how to work with chakras can help you to achieve new levels of health and well-being, improve your relationships, and even assist in your spiritual growth and development. So here’s to future growth!
I absolutely love listening to podcasts. I’m normally playing them while cooking dinner, cleaning, or on a road trip (which I haven’t drove in over a year living in the city EKK!). Is it just me or do others feel that podcast have really been on the rise in the last couple of years? I’ll admit I was also on the Serial bandwagon when that podcast was popular. I haven’t dove into audio books yet but I feel I’ll be just as obsessed.
Here are a few of my recent cherished shows:
- LET IT OUT by Katie Dalebout
- I’ve been listening to Katie’s podcast for a few years now and I find it so soothing. Katie’s voice is balanced and relaxed which I always find to be theraputical. She typically is interviewing very interesting figures in different industries and I enjoy listening to this podcast in the morning on my walk to work.
- Yogaland Podcast by Andrea Ferretti
- I’ve mentioned this podcast a few times already on the blog and it has been one of my favorites for a while. I enjoy listening to Andrea’s episodes on the weekend when I can spend a little extra time sipping my morning coffee, snuggling with my pug, and listening to an episode.
- DENtalks powered by DEN Meditation
- The DEN Meditation is an LA based meditation center and the podcast is led by the founder Tal Rabinowitz. If you have a passionate meditation practice or are a beginner and looking to learn more, I find this podcast so insightful and inspiring to continue to fuel my own meditation practice.
- Up and Vanished by Tenderfoot TV
- I’m oddly obsessed with horror and thriller podcast (and books). I get completely sucked in and can listen for hours. Then normally need to bing on episodes of Friends to balance out the scary vibes. I’ve been listening to the first season of Up and Vanished hosted by Payne Lindsey recently through my Spotify app. Season One is about the disappearance of Tara Grinstead and it looks like in Season Two Lindsey digs into the disappearance of another girl.
Those are just a few of my favorites at the moment. I’d love to hear what you like to listen to or provide me some ideas for audio books! I might just need to indulge in some of those this year.
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I’ll be away doing a little bit of shopping, visiting friends, and of course, yoga.
Fresh year, fresh me. Happy 2019!
I hope you all had a wonderful new year celebration. I can’t believe it is already the new year! My last year was amazing, invigorating and challenging at times. I was pushed to new limits and leaped head first into new adventures. I welcomed a new lifestyle in a wonderful city and began my journey into yoga teacher training. And this next year will be even more fabulous!
My word for the next year is bold.
I plan to be more confident in my decisions and who I am. This last year brought many changes into my life and I have a feeling that this next year will entail some more. I love change and new beginnings, which is why I am one who highly enjoys the transition of the years. I’m very much a planner and get giddy over the idea of setting goals and intentions for the next 12 months to come. I find there is great value in writing them out and sharing them with others to provide another level of commitment.
“Comparison is the death of all joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday” – Girl, Wash Your Face
- Set a morning routine of movement, meditation, reading, and relaxation before “getting ready”.
- Get outside & enjoy nature more.
- Read 24 books.
- Travel to at least 3 new places.
- Try a new adventure or challenge at least once a month.
I’d love to hear the intentions your setting going into this new year! Share with me in the comments or I encourage you to write them out, even if only for your own eyes, in a journal, on a napkin, or even in your notes app on your phone. Then check back in with what you had written each month to see if you’re staying committed to what you wrote or reevaluating if those intentions have shifted.
I enjoy setting a couple different intentions for the year but even just one intention that you feel you can commit to can provide an impact in changing your life.
The other day I shared the Eight Limbs of Yoga that provide a type of guideline to lead us to liberation. But through this journey we can struggle. It’s natural human behavior to obstruct ourselves from happiness, maybe not even intentionally. For the most part, we strive for happiness and to avoid suffering. We’re striving for Samadhi, a state where suffering doesn’t exist and we simply exist with awareness. But our darn natural human behavior can get in the way of that.
Patanjali has described the following five factors as the elements that contribute to suffering:
- Avidya: Not seeing things as they are
- Raga: Attachment
- Dvesa: Aversion
- Asmita: The story of I, me, and mine
- Abhinivesa: The thirst for further existence
These five factors are referred to as the five Klesas. The term klesa comes from the verbal root klis, which means “to suffer, torment, or distress.”
The five Klesas keep suffering in motion because they create loops in the mind-body that reinforce habitual patterns of perception and reaction. The important question then is how do we work with these obstacles called Klesas, keeping in mind there is no way to avoid completely.
This work can be a more in-depth process since we all need to have a deeper understanding of self to fully understand how we relate and cling to each one of these Klesas.
Asmita can be a strong one for all of us since we all have a tendency to paint a story in our mind of how our lives should unfold. Raga is another obvious one since attachment is a natural occurrence in our society. A way to start exploring your relationship with the different Klesas is through meditation and asana practice. Notice through the practice how each Klesas arises and address how you feel and react in the moment. For example, half moon might be a pose that comes easy to you but on a particular day you are struggling to keep your balance and can’t find the strength to lift your leg off the floor. Asmita might arise with thoughts that you should be able to do this since you’ve held this specific pose many times before and raga might be present because your attached to how practice went the day before.
As we begin to see how Klesas arise in our meditation and asana practice we’ll begin to seep this over into other elements of our lives. In Michael Stone’s book ‘The Inner Tradition of Yoga’, he explains that:
‘The Five Kleasa teach us that by putting a wedge between our feelings and our aversion or attachment to them, we make a seat for ourselves in present experience.’
I would love to hear how you personally relate or struggle with any of the specific Klesas. Share with me in the comment section!
Now that the holiday festivities are over, I want to make sure that I dive into healthy eating habits right away so I don’t become victim to eating nonstop treats and sweets. Now don’t be fooled, I’ll still splurge a little while I’m home for the next couple weeks but not to the extent I was the last couple days.
That is why I’m sharing three of my favorite & super easy veggie recipes today in this post. And when I say easy, it really can’t get easier than these three recipes for home cooked veggies. If you have olive oil, salt & pepper then you’re set!
Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
These are my new favorite side and if you’ve been following the blog Instagram you’ll notice I shared these a few weeks back on my story when I made them for a Christmas party. I think the combination makes for an amazing savory and sweet flavor between the balsamic vinegar and cabbage taste of the sprouts.
- Brussel Sprouts, Enough to fill a cake pan
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- Optional: Dried Cranberries, Pecans, Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash the Brussel Sprouts and cut in half. Line the cake pan with the sprouts and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake pan to evenly coat all sprouts with oil.
- Cook on the medium rack of your oven for 35-40 minutes or until you notice the layers of sprouts starting to brown.
- On the stove top, bring the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Once at a boil, bring down to medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes or until mixture thickens.
- Pour glaze over Brussel Sprouts and shake the pan.
- If desired, toss in cranberries, pecans, or parmesan cheese.
Asparagus is a super simple side that can be cooked up fairly quickly. My secret is I prefer to get the larger stock Asparagus which might take a little longer to cook but they don’t wilt as easily while cooking in the oven.
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Optional: fresh garlic clove, Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Wash and cut the ends off the asparagus.
- Line a baking sheet with asparagus, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Shake pan to evenly coat all asparagus with oil.
- If desired, add a diced fresh clove of garlic to the mix.
- Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
- If desired, sprinkle parmesan cheese across the top and allow to melt.
I actually make these little guys often before I even start cooking and snack on them throughout with a glass a wine. They are super handy when you’re craving fried food like french fries – definitely not the same but they’ve saved me a couple times.
- 1 or 2 Zucchinis
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Wash and slice zucchini into thin chips.
- Drizzle olive oil into a medium-size frying pan and heat over medium heat. Line pan with zucchini chips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure each chip is laying flat on the pan so they all cook evenly.
- Let cook until lightly brown and flip to the other side. Don’t worry if you flip too early, just flip them back over 🙂
- Once cooked to desire, let cool and enjoy!
I hope these three recipes make eating healthily a little simpler for you. These are definitely a couple simple recipe I turned to at least a couple times a week.
Let me know in the comment section if you test any of these out or if you have tasty simple recipes of your own. I’d love to hear them!
Happy Wednesday loves.
Merry Christmas Eve!
I hope you’re spending the next couple of days surrounded by loved ones. As we go into our holiday festivities, I thought it would be a perfect time to share the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga offer a guideline for a meaningful and purposeful life. The eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which translates to eight limbs. Ashta stands for eight and anga stands for limbs.
These eight steps are a guideline but they are a continuous process that should be viewed as a loop instead of an end goal.
- Yama: The first limb focuses on how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives and how we treat others. There are five separate yamas:
- Ahimsa: nonviolence
- Satya: truthfulness
- Asteya: nonstealing
- Brahmacharya: continence
- Aparigraha: noncovetousness
- Niyama: The second limb is more internal and focuses on self-discipline and spiritual observance.
- Saucha: cleanliness
- Samtosa: contentment
- Tapas: heat, spiritual austerities
- Svadhyaya: the study of sacred scriptures and of one’s self
- Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
- Asana: The third limb, and possibly the most well known, is the physical practice.
- Pranayama: The fourth limb is the breath work which allows us to connect the breath, mind, and emotions.
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses is the fifth limb.
- Dhara: Pratyahara sets us up for the sixth limb, which is concentration. We learn to slow down the thinking mind by concentrating on a single mental object.
- Dhyana: The seventh limb is uninterrupted concentration or meditation.
- Samadhi: The eight limb is a state of ecstasy which you feel a profound connection with the divine.
This is just a little taste of the eight limbs and I plan to dive into each individual limb in future posts. But as we dive into the next couple of days I encourage you to consider the first two limbs, yama and niyama, to evaluate how are you treating others and how are you treating yourself.
I hope you’re all enjoying yummy treats and surrounded with laughter today & tomorrow!