Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Big 'Ol Hug


What I wouldn't give to wrap you up in my arms and squeeze you tight.

I can still picture the smell of your shirt as I nuzzle into you,


and that feeling of how the world stops,

and I'm just alive and here with you,


breathing, smiling,

being

in love. 


PS Hugs on hugs on hugs. Namaste.

Photos in this post via Pinterest by Storyboard Wedding (1), via Victoria Bilsborough on Pinterest (2), via Ohsomoco on Pinterest (3), and by Matty Collett (4).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What to Look for In a Pair of Yoga Pants


Yogis, I'm sure you've been there before: you're at your favorite studio, five minutes into class, and you realize... "Sh*t. These yoga pants suck!"

Or maybe you're new to yoga and trying to decide where to shop.

Well, let me help you out a little bit :)


What makes a pair of yoga pants awesome?

To me, finding a wonderful pair of leggings to wear to yoga is about three things:

1. Comfort. I like my yoga pants to fit snugly, but not so snug that they're uncomfortable. Yoga pants should be comfy enough that I can wear them for half the day, or more. 

2. Performance. Do the yoga pants move around too much while I'm practicing, or do they stay put? Do I feel hot when I wear them, or is the material breathable, so if I start to sweat I don't feel stuffy or overheated? Consider how well your yoga wear will perform as you practice, especially if there's heat involved.

3. Fun design. Let's be honest-- the new trends in yoga wear offer a variety of fun, creative print designs. Long gone are the days of boring yoga pants!

My new favorite yoga pants? Ginger Orange. I've been wearing my awesome purple leggings a lot lately and I've noticed that they are super comfortable and they stay put when I practice. Plus, they're gorgeous!

On the Ginger Orange website it says that their brand offers "activewear for rebel yogis, urban nomads and barefoot hippies." Now that's an awesome approach for yoga pants, if you ask me!


Photos in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com, featuring classic royal purple Ginger Orange leggings.

PS Regardless of what yoga pants you're wearing, I think you're beautiful.

Trust Yourself


Trust your instincts.

Believe in your strength. Look how far it has brought you.

You can be happy on your own, without asking anyone else for their approval.

You're capable, and the universe has offered you this moment to shine.

And if you get to the end of the day and realize you haven't even been aware of your instincts, or noticed your strength, give yourself permission to shake that off and start over again.

Photo by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com.

Movement


Maybe you're tired, or feeling defeated, and you'd rather sit on the couch than roll out your yoga mat.

I encourage you to try a little movement, despite the discomfort.


Five minutes. Maybe ten. Set yourself a small enough goal that it's really hard to make an excuse not to move.

Take a walk around the block. Do ten pushups and ten situps in your living room. Three sun salutations.

Do only the yoga poses that feel good, the ones your body is calling out for, and for now, skip the rest. Release any feeling of guilt, any notion of, 'I could do better,' or, 'I'm not good enough.'


It may not feel fun to get started, but I'd guess that afterwards you feel grateful you made time for keeping your vital energy moving.

Find a little movement that works for you in your day. See how you feel.

Namaste.

Photos in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com (1), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (2) and Justin Kral of Kral Studios (3).

PS, as a side note, this post is as much for me as it is for you... so please remember, you're not alone on the days when you might struggle to make time for movement. And if you happen to be having a sh*tty day, this is another great post to check out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pranayama: Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)


Happy Monday, yogis! I hope you had a restful and fun weekend.

I'm curious: do you practice pranayama (breathing techniques) at your yoga studio, or at home?

It's interesting to me how the culture of every yoga studio varies, and it seems like these days you can find both traditional classes which feature ancient, yogic breathing practices, and you can also find studios where you'll only hear about Ujjayi breath while in class.

Recently I've been incorporating nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, into my daily routine. I find that it relaxes my entire body, calms my mind, and helps me feel balanced.

Would you like to try it?

Find a comfortable seated position, and close your eyes. (Note, if this is your first time trying a pranayama technique, please see my note below.*)


Take a few moments to ground yourself. Allow your thoughts to settle.

Notice your body, any sensation, any area that draws your attention.

Then, notice your breath.

Where in your body do you feel your breath?

Let your awareness settle on the breath alone. You can begin counting your inhales and exhales. Inhale to a count of four; exhale to a count of four.

After a few rounds like this, we'll begin nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing.

Bring your right hand just in front of your face.

Bend your index and middle fingers, creating a sort of "y" shape with your hand. During this breath technique, you'll use your thumb to cover your right nostril, and your ring finger to cover your left nostril.

Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily, filling up your lungs.

Close your left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are closed; retain your breath at the top for a brief moment. Then, open your right nostril and release the breath through the right side, exhaling fully.

Inhale slowly through the right side, filling up again. At the top of the breath, hold both nostrils closed and pause for a moment.

Then open your left nostril and breathe slowly out through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.

Repeat for two to five minutes (or longer). Work up to longer periods of practicing this breath.


Here's a simplified explanation, in case that above description got a little confusing or wordy for you ;)

  • Exhale fully.
  • Cover your right nostril as you inhale on the left.
  • Pause at the top of the breath and close both nostrils.
  • Cover your left nostril as you exhale on the right.
  • (Keep your fingers as is as you) inhale on the right.
  • Pause at the top of the breath and close both nostrils.
  • Open your left nostril and exhale on the left.

Or, even more simply:
  • Inhale left, exhale right.
  • Inhale right, exhale left.
Once you get the hang of this breath technique, it's very relaxing.


Nadi Shodhana is a powerful yogic practice. This breath will allow you to: support your lung and respiratory system, balance the left and right hemispheres of your brain, clear your body's energetic channels, rejuvenate your nervous system and release stress.


*An important note: one of my favorite yoga teachers once explained to me that pranayama is a serious part of the yoga practice. It's important to establish a foundational yoga practice before you begin working on pranayama. Please practice with a teacher who is knowledgeable and can show you exactly how the breath technique works and who you can ask questions. 

Nadi Shodhana is a basic pranayama practice, so it would probably be OK for you to try it simply based on reading this post, but if you're getting into any other more complex breath practices, or any pranayama that involves holding (retaining) the breath, please do so with an experienced teacher in the room with you. As with anything in yoga, if any of these breath practices cause you any sort of anxiety, please skip them and go back to your normal breath in and out through the nose.

Namaste.

 All images in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com. Leggings by Ginger Orange Activewear.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Questions


There is this deep part of me that questions... everything.

All the bits and pieces of my life.

I hear the questions, quietly in my mind. 


Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?

Where do I want to go from here?

Can I accept this moment, as it is?

Can I love myself, as I am? 
  

Today I can choose to set those questions aside and simply breathe.

Simply be.

Images in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.comLeggings by Ginger Orange.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Finding Balance (Yogi Surprise August Review)


Balance is an ongoing challenge for me.

Finding the right mix of doing and non-doing, of excitement and relaxation, of seriousness and levity, of saying 'yes' and saying 'no'...

I believe this will be a continual process, and I'm grateful for the moments when I feel in balance.

I'm also grateful that yoga helps me find balance.


In this month's Yogi Surprise box, I discovered a wonderful mix of items designed to restore and re-harmonize my body's natural energies. I love the sense of calm that I found when using any of these products, and I'm glad that the monthly arrival of the little purple Yogi Suprise box on my doorstep is a reminder to find time to slow down and rejuvenate.

Here are my favorites from the Yogi Surprise August box:

I've been craving a body scrub for months and was so pleasantly surprised to find this one in the box! The smell reminds me a lot of a lotion we used to have at one of my favorite yoga studios, and that extremely relaxing feeling of being in Shavasana when the teacher comes around at the end of class and gives you a shoulder press (amazing!). This scrub is my absolute favorite item from the box. Its invigorating aroma with the lemon really perks me up, and I love the feeling of soft skin after the sugar scrub. I'll definitely be heading to the Root + Willow site to buy some more when I run out. :)

These are genius! I've loved Tiger Balm ever since I started yoga and I used to use it quite a bit during my Bikram days. Usually I'd end up making a mess whenever I'd apply it, and then would have to be careful to wash my hands afterward and not to rub it off on my clothing or yoga mat. These patches are a clever way to keep your hands free of the pain-relieving ointment, and they stay sticky for hours! I highly recommend these for after a strenuous workout or yoga class, or if you're like me and you get home from work at the office and your neck is sore. Highly recommend them for all yoga teacher trainees, too!

This bar was delicious. A perfect afternoon snack or pick-me-up before yoga class. And it's certified organic, plant-based and made with superfood ingredients. Yum!


I haven't taken this supplement for long enough to know that it's making a big difference for me in terms of energy and immunity support, but so far I like the results! You can tell that the brand takes great care in making a high-quality supplement, and I absolutely love the little glass container that the capsules are in (I'll be reusing it for sure). Thanks, Stamba, for being a part of this month's box!


What practices help you stay in balance? Do you have any go-to products you use to help bring things back into balance?

Sending big hugs to the team at Yogi Suprise, and as always, to you, dear readers. Much love and cheers to finding balance throughout this month!

All photos of me in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com. CKC Image is a Humboldt County photography business; check out their Facebook page for more awesome photos. Other photos via Root + Willow (3), Tiger Balm (4), Navitas Naturals (5) and Stamba (6). Leggings by Ginger Orange Activewear.

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