Mindfulness is a huge topic that deserves its own book, of which there are hundreds if not thousands already written. What I would like to express to you is the importance of choosing a practice that appeals to you, and apply it with disciplined devotion.
Examples include meditation (sitting, standing or walking,) yoga, positive psychology journaling, chanting, prayer, breath work, somatic therapy, tapping, shadow work, and perhaps (hopefully) a combination of a few of these or more.
Imagine walking the same path every day. The grass gracefully gives way to our steps. Over time, the grass clears in areas most walked. Similarly, as we pave new patterns in our minds and bodies, we may be artists to the ultimate canvas - our perfectly strange, unique and beautiful life.
If you crave a more balanced, peaceful self, contact me today so that I may assist you in your meditation and mindfulness journey.
5 Ways You Can Help Your Environment Right Now
“Climate change is no longer some far off problem. It is happening here, it is happening now,” said Barrack Obama. Scientists agree we are now experiencing the sixth mass extinction the Earth has seen– although the first to be caused by humans. We are a species with an incredible ability to both create and destroy. Integrating small, easy changes into our everyday lives can produce an enormous difference. There is so much we can do as an individual to make a real impact on our Mother Earth.
Sail across the Pacific Ocean and you may encounter an island of garbage spanning 1.6 million km2 . That’s almost as large as the entire country of Mexico. Record breaking temperatures are felt around the world. There is no scientific debate about climate change, only those who take action versus others who would rather stick their head in the sand (which there will be a lot more of due to desertification). Luckily, our situation is not hopeless, because there are people like you who care to take personal responsibility and aid our ailing planet.
By taking care of your body, you give yourself permission to take care of others and your environment. Eating a plant based diet, exercising, communing with nature and staying informed on the current issues at hand are all excellent beginnings.
Here are five things you can do right now to help your environment.
1. Try Going Meat Free
Eating vegan is now seen as the “single biggest way” to reduce our carbon footprint. By now, most of us have heard of the countless health benefits of a vegan diet - including reduced risk of Alzheimers, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. But it actually goes even deeper. By choosing plant based meat free options, you’re voting with your dollar to save rainforests, animals, and fossil fuels.
A comprehensive meta-analysis by the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from diet reduces your carbon footprint by up to 73%. Published in the journal Science, it is the most extensive analysis to date on the impact of animal agricultural farming by comprising data of 40,000 farms in 119 countries. The farming stage of food production for the livestock we consume accounts for 61% of greenhouse gas emissions (81% including deforestation). This is amazing news for those looking for more reasons to go vegan, or transition to meat free nourishment!
Note: When switching to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant based diet, supplementation, monitoring macro and micronutrients, and blood levels are all key! It’s easy to encounter nutrient deficiencies when switching to a plant based diet, but the app Cronometer is an excellent food tracker that monitor your food intake beyond just calories. It is essential to be informed and consult a nutritionist on how to create a thriving, balanced life and maintain vitality when transitioning what you eat.
2. Reduce Your Consumption of Single Use Plastics
Virtually every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some shape or form, and 91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled. We now have an island of garbage and plastic, called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, that has grown to over 617,000 square miles (that’s over 298 million football fields) between Hawai’i and California. Sea turtles, fish, birds, whales and other creatures die or are seriously maimed due to plastic waste that ends up in our oceans. But what are we to do, when seemingly all of our “essential” items are made from plastic, wrapped in plastic, and bagged in… you guessed it! Plastic.
3. Contact Your Local Government Officials / Join An Activist Group in Your Area!
Amazing, seemingly impossible accomplishments can happen when we come together for a common goal. In August 2017, the Trump administration reversed its decision to delay Obama-set regulations on the ozone national standard from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. This is a success due to 16 Democratic state attorneys, who sued Scott Pruitt of the EPA. Your vote, and voice, matters. Here are some ways you can make a difference on a local and national level.
4. Recycle EVERYTHING.
There are a variety of raw materials that can be recycled, including: paper, plastic, electronics, aluminum, glass and more. How to recycle these products can be tricky, and differ within regions. Take into consideration the resources you already have, like whether your house/apartment readily recycles, have access to a car, or get creative with reusing. All these listed are factors when it comes to recycling, which can be solved and overcome. Here are some helpful resources:
5. Reduce Carbon Emissions from Driving
When possible, walking, bicycling, or public transportation is a healthy and green alternative to driving. The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. To put that in perspective, humans breathe out approximately .328 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Pre industrial era, there was a tremendous amount less carbon dioxide being released into the air due to transportation. Below are some ways you can make a shift in returning our planet to the state it was given to us.
Enhance self worth and personal power with this invigorating pose
Advance your entire body with Chaturanga Dandasana– the fastest way to discover confidence and build core strength while laying the foundation for more advanced poses. It’s also the most easily forgotten of the asanas, usually brisked over while flowing through Sun Salutations.
Here are the main cues to keep in mind to master your Chaturanga Dandasana.
1. Elbows Above Wrists
This is contrary to the standard push-up, which requires shoulders over wrists and splaying your elbows out on the decline. In Chaturanga, your body it set up slightly forward, creating more weight bearing in the lower body. This way, on an exhale, you may slowly lower down as the elbows hug into your side ribs. Check in that your shoulders are released away from the ears, elbows over wrists.
To incorporate this into your yoga practice, when you’re in high plank position, take an inhale. Shift forward with your body (about three inches) so your hands are under your lower ribs. Exhale as you slowly descend down, until the upper arm and torso are parallel, creating a 90 degree “L” shape.
2. Pelvis is Neutral
Check in with your hip bones. Although you may feel like this is an upper body strength pose, if done right, Chaturanga Dandasana is actually a full body asana, with the body weight spread out evenly. Your pelvic area shouldn’t be sunken in or raised, but rather in neutral position with the core engaged, navel towards spine. You can always modify by dropping to your knees to keep the integrity of the pose.
To accomplish this, lift the pit of the abdomen and draw your buttocks towards your heels, creating a straight line from the crown of your head all the way to the heels of your feet.
3. Legs Active, Pushing Back
Your feet bring energy to the lower portion of your body by pressing out and back through the heels. Quadriceps, hamstrings and calves all work together here for straight legs. First, check in with the heels and bringing them in towards your midline, feet perpendicular to the floor.
Practice this by engaging the anterior and posterior muscles of the legs, lifting your inner thighs towards the ceiling, and push your heels towards the back wall.
Chaturanga Dandasana is an excellent pose to work on arm, back, core and leg strength. It can be modified by dropping to your knees, using blocks, or my personal favorite– a strap. Although a more intermediate pose, no matter what level you’re at, practicing often will surely provide confidence and self esteem, as Chaturanga is thought to activate the manipura, or solar plexus, chakra.
So inhale and exhale with confidence as you arrive at your perfect Chaturanga!
The fountain of life, unicorn blood, and intervention of the gods. Humans have always been fascinated with living forever, and for good reason! Life is as short as it is beautiful. “We can stay fully functional into our nineties, hundreds and beyond. One of the primary ways to achieve this is to exploit our body’s innate ability to regenerate itself at the cellular and organ levels.” says Valter Longo, PhD, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California.
I’ll take his word for it– Longo was just named one of TIME’s 50 most influential people in health care for his research on Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMD) as a way to improve health and prevent disease. There are many ways to work with our bodies on a cellular level to encourage happy, well aging. Our Western diet and lifestyle has us stuck in bad habits that keep these natural healing mechanisms dormant. Lucky for us, the switch is easy to activate the healing power within us all. Here are the top four science backed tips to hack your biological age.
1. Develop a Positive Self Perception of Aging
Disappointed? Most anti-aging advice involves exotic Ayurvedic herbs or impressive new exercise routine. That comes next, sit tight! According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, older individuals with a more positive view of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with a less positive self-view. This remained true even after age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and health were taken into account. Use a gratitude journal to change your inner dialogue, appreciate the age you are; and all the vibrant years to come.
2. Practice Yoga and Meditation
In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, yoga and meditation lifestyle intervention was assigned to 96 healthy individuals. The participants’ blood cells were assessed. Specifically, cellular biomarkers in the blood that control DNA repair, oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity, cortisol and endorphins at the start and end of 12 weeks. When the 12 weeks were completed, those who participated in yoga and meditation had significant improvements in all biomarkers of cellular aging compared to their beginning measurements. So roll out that yoga mat, turn on a YouTube video on guided meditation, and inhale with ease, as you increase your years and find inner peace at the same time! Don't know where to start? Seek out a virtual or in person private yoga teacher to meet you where you are - from a beginner to seasoned practitioner looking to come back to the mat and your body.
3. Add Reishi Mushroom to Your Morning Coffee or Tea
Also known as lingzhi in China, which translates to “spiritual potency” and “an essence of immortality,” this pharmaceutical mushroom has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese healing for centuries. Polysaccharides found in reishi mushroom have been proven to affect a broad range of bio-activities in the body, including: anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, antiulcer, antitumorigenic, and immunostimulating effects. And this ancient secret is just hitting the mainstream health market in America. Be careful where you purchase! A new study published in Nature reported 74% of reishi products do not contain the polysaccharides and triterpenes of reishi, which is where all the vital wellness benefits come from. I recommend Real Mushrooms Reishi Extract. You can order it on Amazon, as this brand passed the test mentioned above in Nature, with all its key properties intact.
4. Try a Fasting Mimicking Diet
A study conducted by the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California found that restricting calories five days out of the month for a consecutive three months resulted in reduced body weight, total body fat; lowered blood pressure, and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Participants ate regularly 25 days of the month, but for five days, restricted their calories to between 750-1,100 per day. Sugars and protein were highly limited on fasting days. “If we created a group of people that followed all the recommendations… we are going to get closer and closer to this 110 average lifespan – for that group.” says Valter Longo, PhD, longevity scientist and author of The Longevity Diet.
There are many versions of a Fasting Mimicking Diet, including intermittent fasting, calorie restrictive diets, and more. The best type of fasting diet is the one that works with your lifestyle.
Our bodies have the mechanisms waiting for us to activate them through healthy living habits, and science has laid out the answers. No unicorn blood required.
I choose to be mostly vegan from a strictly environmental and humane perspective. The health benefits are there, and there's plenty of science to back it up. Cooked meat contains carcinogens and AGE's that damage cells. The amount of water, land and resources it takes to produce one hamburger patty. For instance, it takes 460 gallons of water to produce a quarter pound of beef. Cattle land is absolutely decimated by over grazing. And, my personal kicker, cows are freaking cute and super sensitive creatures. Enough said.
Full disclosure - I enjoy eggs and cheese from time to time. I even eat chicken and fish once or twice a month! I am a flexatarian, eating mostly vegan and trying my best to ensure when my body is truly craving meat to give it what it needs.
Upon researching why, exactly, I am craving meat (besides the fact that our ancestors partook and therefore there is a deeply ingrained reason), I came across a fact I'd forgotten - when eating a vegan diet, you must ensure to be ingesting all nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the building blocks of cells that our body does not make on their own and therefore must be consumed by external sources. My brain flashes to breatharians, and disclaimer, I do think the human body can do truly amazing things with the power of mana, the Hawaiian word for life force power.
Meat, eggs and cheese naturally have these essential amino acids in just one serving. If you don't partake, it's a very simple fix to be observant of what you consume to ensure you're getting the full spectrum of amino acids for healthy, ageless skin, sustained energy, and muscle building capacity.
Here's my recommendation for vegans and complete proteins:
1. Quinoa - a naturally occuring complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids
2. Sunwarrior Protein Powder - you can buy the "Natural" flavored one which has Ana-approved ingedients with nothing sketchy or harmful to health! Another complete protein source.
3. Tempeh - I prefer this to tofu as it's fermented, with more fiber and a nutty flavor, keeping you more satisfied and your gut healthy.
4. Ezekiel bread - unlike most breads, the combination of whole grains and legumes makes Ezekiel bread a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.
5. Spirulina - an algae that can be bought in powder form and added to smoothies or yummy lattes with an alternative mylk and some maple syrup. (Check the ingredients of your alternative mylk - almost all of them are laden with nasty ingredients like natural flavors and binding agents.) The best way is to make your own oat mylk!
6. Rice and beans or beans and spinach. Combining these two yummy combinations creates a complete amino acid profile ensured to leave you feeling satisfied. Add in a fried plantain to get your South American flavor!
In conclusion, I have a hunkering the reason I crave meat a few times a month could be my partiality to fruits and nuts and forgetting to add in beans, rice, quinoa, and other complete protein sources. I'll check back in in a month or two and give you all a report!
2/2/2022 3 Comments
Yoga and Aging
When searching for scientific studies to back my intuitive observations for the purpose of this article, I was surprised to find the myriad of studies performed linking degeneration of the human brain causing postural deficiencies in older adults. However, there are hundreds of studies documenting the age-mitigating effects of yoga on the brain and cells. My observation is this: we walk through this life with certain postural holdings, patterns, and behaviors. These are intimately linked with our personality, our successes and griefs, the stories we tell, the emotions and thoughts we own. There’s even a legitimate branch of psychology focused on this: bioenergetics.
A regular yoga asana practice works with not only the body and breath, but something deeper - our deeply held patterns of posture, which absolutely, invariably influence the aging process.
I’ve been teaching yoga for only three years, and can honestly tell you in that time I’ve aged backwards. However, this is highly susceptible to change as I have not been practicing for a significant length of time. Instead, for the past almost three decades (I began teaching at 27), I’ve lived a hard life full of karmic debt and lessons. Yoga has been a true light and solace to my life that has allowed me space and direction to release not only emotional karmic patterns, but physical musculoskeletal structures passed down to me by my own family lineage.
Take a look at my parents and you’ll see some very kind humans. We haven’t always gotten along - not by a long shot. One thing we did always share was a certain hunched-over look. Our shoulders hang forward, as do our heads. Our hearts are sunken in as if trying to protect themselves as our bellies protrude and knees lock. Nature or nurture, that I couldn’t tell you. Probably both? With a solid practice of yoga (mostly) around 5 times per week for a few years, I have seen my own posture changing along with my personality.
The wrinkles on my face and neck disappear when I am holding the right yogic posture. Yes, I said it! Not only am I able to take more full breaths, feel more at ease, happier, more confident and relaxed all at the same time, but I also notice the fine lines around my jowls disappear when I centrigate my shoulders into their joints and engage my waist into my midline. I believe postural holding patterns carry with them karmic stories of entire family lines going back generations.
Introducing a consistent yoga practice into your own life may have you changing the expression of your own ancestral karma. I have seen it in students and my own life. As we age, we begin to look more and more like our parents - and dare I say - act like them, too. But our life, and the way we express it, is our choice. This is something I am uncovering through my incredible passion for yoga asana and the other seven limbs of the yogic path.
See you on the beach, yogis.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.