Let’s Talk: Getting Back on Track

Why is it that setting good habits takes so damn long but losing them takes about a day and a half? The day and a half may be a slight exaggeration but staying on track with good health, choices and habits can be a challenge.

At the beginning of this year, my goal was to have a proper morning routine. I would wake up, get on my mat (even if it were just for 5 minutes), meditate, wash my face, drink lemon water and read before making breakfast. It was only after making breakfast that I would allow myself to check any screens. That meant no TV, phone, computer or tablet for at least an hour and a half after waking up. I had an awesome track record for this routine (and felt amazing) up until the summertime when I started my teacher training, then it all turned sour. You see, I am not naturally an early riser. I love sleep. Love it. No matter what time I go to bed, I find myself sleeping at least 10 hours if I don’t set an alarm. So when I had to be awake at 6.00am in order to have the time to fulfill my routine (even 6 was a time-crunch) and be at the studio by 7.30, I knew I was going to have some problems.

The first day went alright, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I barely slept from anticipation. The second day, I was already exhausted by the full days of training so the rest of the 200hrs I was lucky if I woke up with enough time to make tea and grab a muffin on my way out the door.

The rest of the summer was no better seeing as it was basically a long vacation at the cottage so when we closed up the cottage for the season and came home I felt that fall was when I would finally get back on track, only to find that habits are way harder to make than they are to break.

There’s a study that says it takes 21 days, or 3 weeks to make a habit. I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. There is no way that it’s only 21 days to make an unbreakable habit form in your bones. Maybe a 6 months, maybe even a full year, but 21 days? I dispute!

Nothing would make me happier than to get back into my morning routine but every morning without fail, I somehow reach for my phone, check Instagram, tell myself I’ll meditate when I’m in yoga class, make breakfast and immediately plop myself in front of the TV (Gilmore Girls is calling!).

So here’s the challenge. Did you make yourself a resolution at the beginning of the year? Well it’s New Years isn’t the only time to make resolutions! In fact, we can make them any time we want. Isn’t that a revelation? Therefore, I invite you to revisit any habits you want to change, develop or break and resolve to work on them with me this month. We can do it together and we will definitely feel better once we get back on track. I’ll keep you updated and you can check in with me at any time if you need some support! I’ll be up at 8am, on my mat, meditating, ignoring my phone in no time. Remember, you can get back on track at any point of the day, just cause the morning wasn’t great, doesn’t mean that your afternoon or evening won’t be. Take it day by day! Good luck!

Namaste.

Daily Morning Routine

Something to know about me; I love reading (or watching, thanks YouTube!) about people’s routines. I have always been an avid magazine reader and would just devour the little blurbs about how people tackled their day to day, what products they used, what they ate… everything! When I was figure skating, I had a definite morning routine that began at 6am so I could be on the ice by 7 and at school by 8:45 (full disclosure, I was often late). But when I became injured and then high school and university happened, that healthy morning routine fell by the wayside.

Around late-July last year, I decided to start my days with a little yoga. I had been regularly practicing at home in the afternoons, but felt that my mornings needed something that didn’t involve immediately turning on something (whether that be the tv, my phone or the computer). With that small daily yoga change, began a full morning routine that makes me start my day on a positive, excited and happy note!

Since beginning this daily routine I have noticed many changes in my life. I strongly feel that starting the day with enough time to spend time in silence, be introspective and un-rushed changes the state-of-mind. I believe in routines, I think they are important to bookend your day with a sense of groundedness and stability. Don’t get me wrong, spontaneity is important too, but being able to really rely on certain aspects of the day makes everything a bit easier. I also think its so important to try and live without constantly focusing on screens! I know that’s a little unreasonable since we live in 2015 and we literally have them strapped to our wrists now, but I always try to turn my phone on silent and keep my iPad and tv off and away from me at least until I am making breakfast. So without further ado, here’s my daily morning routine!

I enjoy waking up with at least two hours before I have to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t have children so I know this is a bit easier for me to do interrupted, but those two plus hours really help me spend quality time with myself. First thing, I wake up and give my partner a kiss, throw on some leggings and a comfy shirt and drink some water. I sleep with a 500mL glass jar beside my bed and down it before my eyes have even rid themselves of sleep. Next, I cut a lemon, put on the kettle for some delicious and beneficial lemon water and while that is boiling I practice some yoga.

Relaxing Morning Child's Pose

Relaxing Morning Child’s Pose

 My morning yoga routine varies but tends to be under 15 mins and extremely relaxing with a focus on flexibility. I enjoy taking my time, breathing into tight spaces and letting my body slowly and patiently wake up. I’ll either create my own practice or follow a quick morning YouTube video if I don’t feel like thinking (hey, we all have those days!). Once I have finished practicing, I grab a couple pillows from my couch and create a little meditation seat. I open my Insight Timer App and sit quietly for 5 mins. I practice mindfulness meditation because it’s just what is suiting me at the moment, but I love constantly being reminded to come back to my breath. I’m hoping that I can slowly work up to 20 mins a morning of meditation but I’m not quiet there yet, but a little goes a long way!

Once I’ve finished on my mat and the kettle has boiled, I run into the bathroom and wash my face. This is another new (but important) daily habit! I finally began washing my face religiously in the summer of last year and it has done wonders for my skin! Especially after I move from chemical-laden products to more natural choices.

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

I have already posted a Natural Morning Skincare Routine and my routine now hasn’t differed much since then. I first wash my face with Lush’s Fresh Farmacy cleanser (It. Is. Incredible. Especially for extra-sensitive skin), then follow up with some sort of toner (99% of the time I use witch hazel but I ran out so have been going back to Lush’s Eau Roma Water which I also really love, it’s just not as inexpensive and does contain methylparaben which I don’t love) and finally use the best facial moisturizer from Sukin.

By the time I’ve done all this the boiling water from the kettle has cooled a bit, but I’ll still pop some ice cubes into my mug with lemon before pouring in the hot water. If you don’t already drink warm lemon water in the morning you are seriously missing out! It is so beneficial for your health, your skin and general well-being!

Lemon Water

Lemon Water

I like to enjoy my lemon water in one of two special places; out on the balcony (if it’s nice outside and I can sit in the shade) or in my favourite comfy chair that smells like my cottage. I will sip and savour my warm water while reading my morning meditation. I have talked about Journey to the Heart before (and likely will again) but I just enjoy following her daily thoughts and stories because they help me focus on the positive and change any negative thinking. My bookmark is just a cue card that I have listed my favourite meditations of hers that just resonate so completely with me so that I can go back to them as much as possible.

Journey to the Heart

Journey to the Heart

Once I’ve finished reading and contemplating my meditation, I’ll pick up another book or magazine and just sit and read for a while. I enjoy reading about nutrition or yoga in the mornings for inspiration, or if I’m feeling like something light, I’ll choose a magazine or the book I’m currently reading!

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Now my lemon water is all gone and I’m likely starting to feel hungry so I’ll prepare a smoothie. I drink a smoothie every single morning! If I know that I have the time and want to eat a real breakfast I’ll make a really simple spinach and berry smoothie to drink beforehand, however, if I’m running late or just don’t feel like cooking, I’ll prepare a real smoothie with avocado, peanut butter and lots of fruits to keep me charged through the day. Usually I opt for the quick smoothie (like today)! It’s seriously super simple, throw some spinach and frozen berries into a blender, add water and go!

Simple Morning Smoothie

Simple Morning Smoothie

The reason for the super simple smoothie is to be able to start the day on a healthy note, to be able to have my fruits before eating solid food (proper food combining) and because it just stars me off on a healthy foot. I find myself making healthier choices throughout the day when the first one I make is a good one or if I do go out for dinner or have something special to eat, there is literally no guilt.

So while I’m drinking my smoothie, I’ll go back to my spot and keep reading! Once I finish my smoothie, I allow for half an hour before preparing more food (on days that I want to actually eat breakfast) so that the fruit can digest so that I’m not creating a problem for my digestion (if you would like to know more about food combining, leave a comment below, I’d love to talk about it!)

Light Morning Reading

Light Morning Reading

Now that my smoothie is done and my stomach is really wanting more food, I’ll make breakfast. Here’s also the time that I put on sunscreen if I know that I’ll be leaving the house shortly after breakfast (it takes about 30 minutes for sunscreen to do it’s job and begin protecting you!) Lately my favourite go-to breakfast has been mashed avocado, red pepper flakes and a fried egg on ezekiel toast but today we didn’t have eggs (sad) so I tried something new!

“French” Toast

Behold my delicious “French” Toast breakfast. This recipe is totally kudos to Tara Stiles and her book “Make Your Own Rules Diet”. It is 2 slices of ezekiel bread, 1 banana smashed with 1/2 unsweetened almond milk, “fried” in coconut oil with a little bit of cinnamon and maple syrup on top. This was incredible and tasted just like real French Toast!

I paired my breakfast with some yummy tea (as always) and today’s was just plain ol’ organic green tea!

Green Tea

Green Tea

 Now’s the time that I’ll probably turn something on to watch (I know you’re not supposed to watch tv while eating, but it’s my weakness!) I’ll usually choose YouTube videos or some trashy reality tv show (another weakness, but they make me happy!)

Lastly, after washing the dishes, I’ll put on some happy music and some makeup! I don’t wear a lot day-to-day but if I’m feeling a pick-me-up or have somewhere (other than the yoga studio) to go, I like makeup! I always wear a BB cream, concealer under my eyes, brow gel, mascara and a lip something and will add blush, bronzer, setting powder and eyeliner if I have somewhere special to be! I finish up with a spritz of Saje Namaste Aromatherapy mist as a setting spray and to give me a little aromatherapy jolt.

Now that I’m done eating, reading, yoga-ing and meditating, my morning routine is over and it’s time to start the day!

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

Now that you know my morning routine, I would absolutely love to hear about yours! Is there something that you swear by in the mornings? Also, if you have any recommendations of all natural makeup and sunscreen brands please let me know! Finally, if there is anything that I mentioned that you would like more information about (ie food combining, etc) please let me know! I would love to make a post for you!

Namaste.

(Note: Nothing in this post was sponsored or asked to be mentioned. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Enjoy!)

Healing Crystals

I grew up always being interested by rocks and stones. I vividly remember swimming in the lake at my cottage, putting on goggles and looking for favourite stones. When I was much younger, a friend of mine showed me her “pretty rock” collection and I was immediately enamoured. I know now that they were crystals, but at the time I had no idea how she found such pretty stones at the bottom of the lake or on the side of the street! Once I found my passion for holistic living and yoga, it was only natural that my childhood love for “pretty rocks” would find me again. Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful purple-pink stone and so began my new hobby of finding and collecting meaningful crystals.

Crystals

Crystals

Crystals are used in conjunction or as an alternative to less traditional healing remedies. Crystals can be used for a myriad of different reasons and typically are used as some sort of protection or healing. Shamans, healers, even priests have been known to use crystals for their healing powers. Though there is no science behind crystal healing, those who use crystals believe in their benefits. With the huge uptake in natural and holistic living, many people look to crystals to help live their best life.

Though my collection is newly growing, I thought it may be interesting to share with you what I have in my collection. I believe in cleansing the crystals by smudging them with sage to insure that they are pure and fresh. I like to choose a crystal to take with me when I go about my day and need something extra to get me through. I know that there are people who hesitate to believe in the crystal’s healing properties but I feel more in-tune with myself, those around me and the earth when I’m carrying one.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) - Clockwise from top.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) – Clockwise from top.

There are many types of Jasper (just as there are many types of other crystals), but Polychrome is used to promote stability and a sense of grounding. Though Polychrome Jasper can ignite passion and vitality, it is also used to balance emotions.

Jade is famous for being a gemstone that brings love, attraction, prosperity and good fortune.

One of my favourites, Angel Wing Calcite is used to promote relaxation and is often used in meditation.

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Next are the beautiful purple and pink gemstones.

Rose Quartz is very well known as it is a loving stone. Rose Quartz helps you open up your heart to give and receive love.

Agate is one of my absolute favourites, not only because it is beautiful but because it promotes self-confidence, strength, luck and can protect.

Lepidolite is the beautiful stone gifted to me by my beautiful friend. Lepidolite reduces stress and stabilizes mood swings, making it a great choice if you suffer from anxiety.

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Rainforest Jasper also pairs well with meditation as it promotes change and progress.

Black Tourmaline is a protective gemstone and will stave off negativity and unhealthy external influences.

Finally, we have bright and sunny Citrine. Citrine brings prosperity, joy and abundance!

Box of Crystals

Box of Crystals

In choosing your crystals it’s best to go with your gut feeling. If you are drawn to a certain gemstone, then go for it! There is a reason it is calling to you! I like to keep mine safe in a small box where I can pick them out on my way out the door, or grab them for meditation; somewhere they feel special and secure. Though you may read that certain crystals do certain things, what is important is your belief in what they do for you, perhaps citrine protects you, that is fine! Enjoy them, they’re yours!

If you would love some more information about these beautiful stones, I have a Pinterest Page all about them!

Do you use crystals? Which gemstones are your favourite and when do you like to use them? Let me know in the comments below!

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Meditation

I’ve already talked about one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga! If you have started a morning yoga practice, perhaps it is time to add a regular morning meditation to your daily routine!

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You may know that meditation is incredible for the body; physical, mental and spiritual. Regularly meditating encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases self-awareness, improves sense of self and confidence, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and increases overall happiness, among countless other benefits. One might think that because of all these incredible health benefits, a regular meditation practice would be difficult to start but it isn’t! I began my meditation practice by carving out the time in my mornings, before the activity of the day could sweep me off my feet and distract me! 5 minutes is all you need! You may think that it will be difficult to meditate and simply do nothing but focus on your breath for 5 minutes will be boring or challenging and that’s why I suggest starting for such a short period of time. Eventually you will be able to work up to 10, 20 maybe even 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, but that’s certainly a daunting place to begin! You will find that once you’ve begun practicing daily, you’re 5 minutes of meditation will fly by! You will begin craving that time just for yourself and will find yourself adding a couple more minutes to your meditative practice here and there.

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I added meditation to my morning routine in an effort to make every day start on a positive note. That is why I complete my meditation after at least 10 minutes of morning yoga, and bookend my meditation with a warm mug of lemon water and Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. I stumbled upon this book after a yoga class, when the instructor read one of Beattie’s daily meditations to close the class. The words were so inspiring and relevant that I immediately ordered the book to include in my morning routine. I include this book in my Quick Healthy Tip because you can use these daily meditations or mantras as something to focus on while you are meditating if you prefer to chant than to focus on your breath. I also strongly believe that starting your day with inspiring words, introspection and physical movement will help you wake up every day on the right side of the bed feeling beautiful, creative and radiant. Your light will shine outwards and warm everyone around you!

Do you take the time to meditate in the morning? Do you have a favourite morning routine that gets you energized and excited for the day ahead?

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased Journey to the Heart with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not asked to or paid to mention this wonderful book!)

Artistic Meditation: Drawing Mandalas

Do you remember being a kid and doodling beautiful circles and shapes in your notebook instead of paying attention in school? Your pictures didn’t have to be perfect (heck, they didn’t have to be pictures!) but there was something healing about drawing those circles and lines, creating beautiful shapes. Those shapes may even have been mandalas and you would be right, they certainly are therapeutic.

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“Mandala” loosely translates to “circle” in Sanskrit. Mandalas can be found in Buddhism and Hinduism where they represent a spiritual and ritualistic symbol of the universe or the cosmos. Mandalas are often drawn acting as a tool in the artist’s spiritual journey or to unite the subconscious with the conscious. It should not be surprising then that drawing mandalas is a form of active artistic meditation. Because of the repetitive nature of drawing a mandala, the process can be quite hypnotic. You can choose to set an intention or mantra before drawing, or just let the mandala take you where you need to go. Though each artist’s mandala will differ in meaning and design, they all share the same general shape, the circle. Because mandalas are circular in structure, they signify balance, unity, harmony and wholeness.

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We already learned that mandalas are used as a tool in our spiritual journey but they are also used for a myriad of different reasons. Mandalas establish a sacred space, when you are focused on drawing your mandala you will feel safe and at peace, this what we consider a “sacred space” somewhere you can come back to again and again when you need to be grounded. Drawing mandalas relieves feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, fear, sadness and anger; as you are drawing, you will feel any negative energies drift away and will be left with feelings of clarity and peace. As with any type of meditation, drawing mandalas will heal the mind, body and the spirit. You may find new or repressed feelings arise while drawing, this is natural and invited as drawing mandalas gives you the leeway to express any feelings in a safe and positive way.

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How to draw a mandala? Well, there is no right way. Mandalas help encourage creativity! You do not need to be artistic to enjoy drawing mandalas (I certainly am not), just start with a circle and work outwards, drawing any shapes and using any colours that come to mind! If you like a little more guidance use quadrants; divide your paper (or canvas if you choose to paint) into as many or as few sections as you want, draw a circle around the base and work outwards (you can see an example of this in the colourful mandala at the top of the page, or below). Forget the idea of “perfect”, drawing mandalas are all about your needs while you are drawing them. What are you thinking about? What serves you now? Maybe you do not know, take your conscious thought out of it and see how the subconscious drives you!

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Do you draw mandalas? Enjoy the active meditation and feel free to share yours with me, I would love to see them! Or, if you need a little more inspiration, check out my Pinterest page, where I have tons of recipes, yoga routines and yes, a board dedicated to mandalas!

“A mandala is a sacred space, often a circle which reveals some inner truth about you and the world around you.”

Namaste.

Meditation Proclamation!

When my yoga practice became a daily one and restorative yoga became such an important part of my practice, it was only natural for the next step in my routine to be a daily meditation. From the rhythmic breathing through asanas in flow classes to the five minute savasana, yoga and meditation go hand in hand.

I began my daily meditation with the coming of the New Year. Though I practice restorative yoga at least twice a week, I never thought to slow down and meditate… I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it as my mind travels a mile a minute. However, with meditation becoming a booming presence throughout the world and the health benefits showing up in magazines, on television and obviously in the yoga studio, I felt that it was time for me to get into the swing of things.

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As it turns out, meditation isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I just needed to find my way of meditating. There are numerous different ways of beginning a meditative practice; mindfulness, repeating mantras, focusing on the breath, practicing a body scan or guiding the mind through imagery. Mindfulness is the focus of the mind on the present. Instead of worrying about the past or fretting for the future, you pay attention to the now. Repeating mantras can be done with mala beads (Buddhist/Hindu prayer beads with 108 beads, used to count the number of times the mantra has been repeated) or simply to oneself. Mantras can be whatever you need for the day, you can say “I am strong”, “I am focused” or “I am light” or you can simply chant (“Om/Aum”, or another mantra of your choosing). Focusing on the breath is just as it sounds, you pay attention to the breath entering and leaving the body. Body scans and guided imagery can both be practiced by following a recording (there are many apps, albums and YouTube videos available to help guide you through these meditations) or you can practice by oneself. I practice body scan meditation in a guided restorative class on Saturday mornings, but most of the time I have found that breath focus and mindfulness are the meditative practices that work the best for me! You can test out all these different types of meditation to discover which one(s) work the best for your practice!

The key to beginning a daily meditation is to start small. My personal goal is to be meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed, however that is definitely not where I am starting. I began my meditation with 5 minutes in the morning. That’s it! You can do it too! Afterwards, we build from there. After practicing daily for 5 minutes in the morning, I will work to 5 minutes at night, then to 6 minutes each, 7 minutes… Adding a minute every other week until I have worked up to my goal! It is so simple and not threatening if you break your goal into baby steps!

Another thing to remember when starting a meditative practice is that the mind will wander. While the “goal” of meditation is to be free of thought, do not worry if the mind floats from thought to thought, gently guide it back to the practice that you have chosen and you are succeeding at meditating!

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Once you have decided to bring meditation into your life, it is time to set up your meditative space! As you can see mine is quite simple, a couch cushion on my yoga mat after my morning yoga practice. You do not need anything fancy, though if you feel that you would like something a bit more special, there are numerous websites to purchase beautiful meditation cushions online! Once you have found a quiet place to meditate, you want to sit as comfortably as possible. You can sit on the ground, in a chair, wherever you feel that you will be able to sit calmly for your designated amount of time (it helps to keep a timer so that you are not constantly opening your eyes to check the clock). I choose to sit on the floor in half lotus position with my hands upright on my knees if I need help receiving energy, facing down if I need grounding or upright in a mudra (Buddhist/Hindu ritual gesture of the hands and fingers, common in meditation) if I need something a little bit more that day! Once you are comfortable, sit up straight, gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, unclench your jaw, peel your tongue from the roof of your mouth and focus on your chosen type of meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Great! You’re meditating!

There are numerous benefits to meditating that range from physical to mental to spiritual to all around lifestyle! Physically, meditation improves heart health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease) and benefits immune health. Meditation also works as an anti-inflammatory which in turn decreases tension pain, providing relief for such problems as insomnia, muscle pain and even headaches! A regular meditation practice can soothe chronic problems such as allergies and even asthma by improving air flow into the lungs! By improving blood flow throughout the body and systematically slowing the heart rate and relaxing the nervous system, meditation causes the body to go into further levels of physical (and mental) relaxation, meaning less energy wasted while moving about your day! Less energy wasted means more strength, energy and improved performance in your day-to-day and even your yoga practice! Finally, meditation aids the body physically by coordinating the endocrine system (responsible for hormone control), balancing weight and slowing the aging process!

Though meditation can do a lot for us physically, the mental benefits to meditation are even more fantastic! A continual meditation practice will work wonders against stress! Stress is a monster to the body and mind and meditation both removes stress from the system and prevents it from re-entering. There is a decrease in overall anxiety (including a restless mind and constant worry) when practicing meditation regularly, as meditation lowers levels of blood lactate! Meditation also improves concentration, mental clarity, emotional stability, creativity and overall happiness and sense of well being! Meditation will also help you develop will power (some have used mindful meditation as a way to kick a cigarette addiction!), strengthen your intuition, memory (by fortifying the communication pathways between brain hemispheres), focus, listening skills and even empathy! Meditation can also lessen the need for sleep! Though I strongly believe in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, meditation can help you function if you tend to oversleep and has even been shown to help cure insomnia!

Overall, meditation is definitely something phenomenal! There are many improvements that you won’t necessarily be able to “see” but there are so many changes that will be made to your everyday lifestyle! Meditation will help encourage you to make other healthy choices in your life! Meditation will improve your base levels of happiness, increase your self-awareness, tolerance and maturity! You will have a much easier time keeping things in perspective (no more frustrated anger when something doesn’t go your way!). Meditation will help you look inwards, you will feel a sense of one-ness, an understanding of yourself that you perhaps didn’t have before you started a daily meditative practice! You will also have a higher understanding of those around you, you will feel a change in attitude, perhaps a feeling of being enlightened! Meditation unites all parts of oneself, the body, the mind and the spirit just as yoga and moving in the asanas does!

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As you can see, the benefits to developing a daily meditation practice are many and guess what? There are absolutely no side effects! Meditation is free, you need no fancy equipment or things, you just need yourself! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, there is only your way!

I have fallen in love with meditation as it naturally goes hand-in-hand with my yoga practice. Together, these practices have benefitted my life in a way that I could not explain in one post. I enjoy meditating because it allows me to be mindful in the everyday. When I find myself anxious for the future, or upset about the past I remember to live in the moment. That those moments have either happened, or won’t and that happiness is in the here and now! Yoga and meditation have helped me see my purpose, they have helped me feel a harmony in my life and have greatly improved my self confidence and sense of self!

I greatly encourage you to try meditating if you have not already! You will not regret it!

Namaste.

Five More Deep Breaths

We are living in a time when everything is very on the go. People often pride themselves on being busy and having a full schedule, and you can feel lesser than if a friend has a lot going on and you don’t have as much on your plate. I’m sure you’re aware that stress is a huge issue in this day and age because people never just stop and give themselves time to digest what is going on in their lives. People are running around from issue to issue without really understanding or giving 100% to any particular thing.

Often when introducing someone to yoga, they immediately think of the physical aspect of the practice. They can think that it is just an exercise full of weird poses; “You want me to put that leg where?!”, but yoga is much, much more than that. After an individual has been practicing, they will learn that yoga is so much more than just the asanas, it is also a strongly mental practice and is often spiritual as well.

In our busy lives, we often think that if we are not using every moment completing something, then we have failed. Even in the yoga studio, I can find myself pushing through a vinyasa when the option to stay in Downward Dog and rest is right there. This “go-go-go” attitude stresses why restorative yoga is so very important.

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There are numerous benefits to restorative yoga and a regular restorative practice is essential to optimal physical and mental health! Unlike Hatha and other Flow practices, restorative yoga involves very little to no muscular effort. You will use a combination of props (blankets, blocks, bolsters and straps) to support you in your asana (pose), where the goal is to be as comfortable as possible to fully immerse yourself in a meditative practice. In restorative yoga, instead of flowing through poses or holding them for a few breaths, you will stay in the deeply supportive asanas for up to 20 minutes. In a recent restorative practice, we stayed in a supported heart opening pose for 30 whole minutes! The goal of restorative yoga is to allow oneself to focus on being receptive and to immerse yourself in being fully in the now.

So why practice restorative yoga? Can you remember the last time that you had time to yourself to do absolutely nothing? Not watching tv or reading a book, but just sitting in a moment and really being there? I bet it’s hard to remember! Even when you are sleeping you are not fully resting and restorative yoga allows the body and mind to 100% let go and relax. Holding the comfortable and supportive asanas for long periods of time allows the relaxation response to kick in which calms the central nervous system. You may not know that the body does not know how to differentiate stress from a work or school deadline from the stress of being in a dangerous situation. So while you may mentally understand that the stress from the daily grind is different from being chased down a dark alleyway, the body does not and can cause a multitude of problems. The relaxation response lowers stress levels and calms the “fight or flight” feeling, which in turn helps emotional healing, enhances resting mood state and improves immune function.

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While there are numerous mental benefits, there are even more physical benefits to restorative yoga! We already know that restorative yoga balances the nervous system, but it also helps optimize digestive health and flexibility in the joints, muscles and the spine. Because a restorative yoga practice is so deeply relaxing, it benefits all internal organs, reduces blood pressure, lessens blood sugar levels, increases good cholesterol, aids in regular elimination, decreases muscle tension and improves insomnia and daily fatigue.

In a Hatha or Flow practice we tend to move through poses rather quickly, whereas in a restorative yoga practice you may only move through five asanas by the end of the practice. You never want to push or pull yourself into a pose, especially in a restorative yoga practice As previously mentioned, each asana will be very comfortable and instead of being held by the earth, you “bring” the earth to yourself by padding your pose with as many props are necessary. For example, instead of the standard Savasana, one may choose to place a bolster or two under the knees, and pad the head with a blanket. Each asana is very gentle to promote the optimal comfort and relaxation to increase the amount of benefits.

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In restorative yoga, you will move through similar types of asanas as Hatha or Flow classes, such as heart openers and back bends, they are just much more gentle to allow them to be held for 5-10 minutes (or longer)! A favourite restorative yoga asana is legs up the wall (you literally hold your legs up a wall, or pad the bum with a bolster and raise the legs in the air), an excellent inversion! Inversions are especially important because they enhance heart function by allowing the blood to flow back into the heart and stops lymph fluid blood from pooling around the extremities.

In short, restorative yoga is a highly meditative practice that is extremely important for healing both the body and the mind. Restorative yoga is a real treat! It is important to value yourself and to give yourself the time to just “be”. To allow yourself to lay down in a comfortable asana and allow any thoughts that come to your mind to come and go without putting any feeling or investment into them. If you read this post thinking, “There is no way that I can find the time for this!” then you are the ideal candidate to practice restorative yoga! Living without rest is not living at all! Make the time for yourself, make the time to heal your body and your mind. You deserve to take a moment to yourself! You will love how restorative yoga makes you feel!

So after reading this, let me know… Have you ever practiced restorative yoga before? Did you do it at home or go to a studio? If you haven’t, have I convinced you to take the time to practice? I’m sure you’ll love it!

Namaste.

(Note: I am not a certified yoga teacher. I practice Restorative Yoga twice a week and I love it!)