Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reflections on the GoodBelly Challenge (And Why I Now Love Probiotics)

All photos by me.

You've probably heard of a yoga challenge. I know some of you Bikram fanatics have even participated in them.

But have you ever done a health-related challenge and changed up your diet?

Juicing is all the rage these days, and there are lots of ways to detox whether you're going full-out with a master cleanse or simply incorporating more healthy foods into your routine.

Recently I discovered the wonder of GoodBelly vegan probiotic juice drinks with live and active probiotic cultures. GoodBelly's awesome PR team was kind enough to mail me a few VIP vouchers for a free 12 days worth of drinks, so I got going right away on the GoodBelly Challenge

I highly recommend it, readers!

I could not be more pleased with the results. For over 12 days now, I've been drinking these little smiley-face "straightshots" and/or sips from the GoodBelly quarts. Pomegranate blackberry and mango are my flavors of choice.

I'm a pretty healthy eater, but every now and then I like to indulge. Lately I've been doing a lot that has added up to an unhappy belly: having sweet treats, traveling, not drinking enough water, and experiencing stress. Thankfully, GoodBelly has me back on track -- and I've even been inspired to eat healthier and decrease the amount of meat in my diet.

Plus, I feel more, ahem, regular -- if you know what I mean. :) My intestinal track is happier, and as a result some yoga postures even feel easier (like crow, forward bend, and peacock, for example).

If you want to feel lighter, cleaner and super blissed out, go for this challenge.

Interested in learning more about Probiotics? Here are a few fun facts from GoodBelly:

Probiotics 101

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help establish a healthy balance to the intestinal microflora. They have been found to ease symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and other common digestive ailments, as well as support proper immune function. GoodBelly’s patented probiotic, Lp299v, promotes digestive health when taken daily.* Research shows Lp299v survives the passage through the stomach’s acidic environment so it can reach the rest of the digestive system and provide such benefits. Lp299v is one of the most documented and well-researched probiotics with more than 16 research trials, over 17 years, supporting its efficacy.

*Some studies suggest that GoodBelly's probiotics may help balance bacteria in your gut when eaten daily as part of a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. GoodBelly is a food product and not a treatment or cure for any medical disorder or disease. If you have any concerns about your digestive system, you should consult your healthcare professional.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Photos via the Ballerina Project.
Some days, I wish I was a dancer again. There is something so powerful, beautiful and innately serene about these ballerinas. 

Anything is possible, they seem to say. Go out into the world. 

Move freely. Be free. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sick Day

Photos via tumblr, here and here.

Today I'm home sick, and feeling blue. A little frazzled. If you're up for it, would you send a few happy, healthy, calm thoughts my way?

Thanks, friends. And hey, at least tomorrow is a new day. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Picnics

All photos via Kinfolk's Austin dinner.

I could go for a sunny, lazy picnic these days. One with baskets of fresh food, preferably the kind you eat with your hands, definitely strawberries.

With lots of happy people around (and maybe even a dog or two). 

The kind of picnic where you kick your sandals off and lay back on the blanket, enjoying the sun, soaking up good company.

What springtime adventures have you been having lately?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Photos by me.

The world moves quickly. My world feels like it's moving too quickly. Am I missing something?

The precious nature of spontaneous breath, the fullness of the breath, the depth of the pose.

If I just keep moving, keep going, won't the pace slow eventually? Won't I catch up with my own heartbeat?

It's pounding in my chest.

If I can just make it over one more mountain, I tell myself, the rest will be easier.

But easier doesn't come, unless I beckon it. Unless I seek it out. Unless I make space available.

Easier doesn't happen to me; I make it happen from within.

I choose the path. I slow the breath. I leave work early enough to make it to yoga class. I rest in the postures when my body calls for rest.

I choose my own wellness. I choose to resurface from the dark depths of stress. And suddenly, the world slows again. And all is well with my soul. :) if you haven't noticed from my lack of posts and from this one: I've been busy :) And I have a lot of cool things in the works that I'm itching to share...

Like a post about the amazing GoodBelly Challenge I'm doing (mmm priobiotics!).

And a review of Tara Stiles' awesome new book, Yoga Cures.
And a post about recent eats, with some yummy wholesome recipes to share!

I hope you'll stay tuned, dear reader. And I hope you're de-stressing too, as you need. (If you'd like more to read, this post from Zen Habits is nice.)

Be well!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Caine's Arcade: A Story of Hope, Inspiration & Cardboard

Video by Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

If you haven't seen this video yet, check it out. Caine, you're inspiring. Thank you for being willing to make your art, regardless of how the world responds. You have big things in store for you, little man! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal

Photos via Pinterest.

Guys, I'm going to Portugal next month! I'll be spending a week in Lisbon for a work event. I'm so, so excited -- I can hardly stand it.

I may also spend a day in Mittenberg, Germany with my mom. (Incidentally, she is in Europe around the same time frame on a cruise with some friends.) There's a chance I'll take a couple days after the work event to see a friend in Madrid, Spain as well.

I'd love your advice on what to see in any of these three cities (Lisbon, Mittenberg and Madrid). What's there that I absolutely shouldn't miss? :)


It's been ages since I was in Europe... the only other time I've visited was when I was a sophomore in high school. I took a whirlwind trip with a bunch of other students to London, Paris and Rome (we saw Florence, too, and that was my favorite). We raced around all over the place for 10 days, but I got to see a lot of landmarks.

Highlights included: seeing Queen Elizabeth wave at the crowd from Buckingham Palace during the parade for her birthday, being up the Eiffel Tower at night, swimming out to a tiny island off the coast of the Isle of Capri, the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel, authentic Italian pizza margherita and gelato, and being blessed by a French monk when we stopped to visit Notre Dame Cathedral.

I can't wait to return as an adult, and as a yogi. I'd like to try and take a few classes while I'm abroad -- please let me know if you guys have suggestions for studios to try

Happy Friday, all! XO

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Karma Yoga Series: Love More

Photo illustration by me.

Go out into the world. Love more.

Love others. Love your neighbors, your enemies.

Love your teachers, and those who follow you. Love those who look up to you. Love little kids and old people who cross the street slowly.

Photos via Pinterest.

Love the person who takes your parking spot. Love the person who helps you check out at the grocery store.

Love your family, even when they hurt you. Love them on the good days. Tell them about your love. Share it with your friends and coworkers in little ways, and in big ways, too.

Remember to love yourself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Free Shipping from Sweaty Betty

Photos via Sweaty Betty.

Yogis, check it out! Sweaty Betty has a free shipping offer running from now until April 22.

For a limited time, you can get free shipping on all US orders! Use the code SpringFS12 at checkout.

Everything you need from yoga wear to triathlon gear.

Or you can read my review of Sweaty Betty's awesome kriya tights and ballerina cami. The pants are seriously my favorite bottoms to wear to yoga class!

Note: I am an affiliate for Sweaty Betty, but this is not a sponsored post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting My Foot Behind My Head

Photos via Pinterest.

"Practice and all is coming." 
-Pattabhi Jois

I've discovered a yoga gem in Evanston: the Dharma Yoga studio on Emerson Street. I love the way I feel after a class there: open, loose, lighthearted.

The people are friendly, and even as a newcomer I can tell that the yogis who practice here make up a loving community. They respect each other, and the space, as they come together to practice. 

The teachers lead with grace and enthusiasm, and the flow includes postures I've never attempted before. It has been exciting to try new asanas -- I feel lucky to be expanding my practice, building strength, finding new flexibility, and learning to let go of fear toward new experiences.

Recently, I was equally as surprised as I was curious to discover I can pretty much bring my foot behind my head!

We were about half way through class, and had spent a good portion of the warm up preparing our hips to open. I felt good during the low lunges and swan pose, breathing into the lower back and asking my hips to let go of tension.

Then we moved to lay on our backs on the floor, proceeding with wind removing pose and similar stretches and working our way up to something about like this:

The movements felt pretty comfortable, stretches I had done before. Nothing outrageously challenging. But then the teacher asked us to reach behind the knee, moving the shoulder farther under the leg. All of a sudden, my neighbor yogi had his toes up near his forehead, inching them closer to the outer edge of his neck.

Half-astonished, I tried to let go of my associations about how hard this posture is, tried not to get too caught up in the fact that I was attempting it, and instead tried to track the other yogi's movements, mirroring him. I used my abs to lift my head off the floor (nose to knee), and felt my foot getting close.

"Good!" the teacher said, walking over. "You're almost there." She helped lift my body the last few inches, and I smiled. My foot was behind my head.

In only lasted for a few moments, but it was a glorious introduction to Eka Pada Sirsasana.

Half of me wanted to laugh at how absurd my body felt in the posture (seeing my hips that close to my face was a bit odd!), and the other half of me felt giddy, my heart pumping, energy flowing freely. It was similar to the first time I pulled off crow pose and felt like I had learned to fly -- the world seemed brighter, my own confidence boosted, my heart and spine light and expansive.

The thought crossed my mind: if I can do this pose, I can handle whatever is thrown at me in class. And, promptly thereafter: holy crap I just got my leg behind my head?! Sweeeeet. :)

I have to say, looking back on it: I'm glad I didn't know what was coming next. I'm glad I didn't have time to second guess myself, or think too hard about putting my foot behind my head. Because I was fully experiencing beginner's mind, and because I was fully immersed in the present moment, I had no choice but to keep moving forward. I didn't resist the posture. I let it shape me.


You can bet I'll be practicing foot-behind-the-head pose again soon, happily working toward the day that having my feet in such a crazy place feels like second nature. 

Have you done  Eka Pada Sirsasana before? How did you get there? How does the pose make you feel? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and any recommendations on getting deeper into the pose!

PS Kathryn Budig's guide to the posture.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Have a Relaxing Weekend!

Photo by the lovely Emily V over at The Answer is Always Pork.

Do you have any fun Easter weekend plans, my friends?

I am so looking forward to a dharma yoga class tonight with my favorite teacher at the new studio I've been attending. I always walk out of there feeling refreshed and renewed, with all of my channels of energy open :)

Then tonight I fully plan to kick back, read a magazine or two, and maybe go for a walk to the rose garden. It's always so nice to know I can look forward to just being instead of doing, doing, doing all day at work.

Maybe my copy of Yoga Cures will show up this weekend, too, so I can lounge around and read that and share my finding on which postures I find particularly healing.

Sunday I'll be celebrating Easter at church and then cooking something tasty for me and a few friends. Maybe we'll fit in a lakeside bike ride, too.

What are you up to?

Photo via Pinterest.

PS A few links from around the web...

Be child-like.

I want to take a vanilla bean-scented bath!

A unique take on the grilled cheese sandwich. Or try the classic version with tomato soup.

Things you can do to feel better instantly (hints: breathing and smiling help!). Learning to love what you have can make you happier and less stressed, too.

This blogger's photos make me feel at peace. And this springy video makes me want to dance.

Spring in NYC.

An ode to Cadbury eggs (pretty hilarious). And a fascinating look at how Peeps are made. Plus, yoga peeps. Ha.

Enjoy, my yogis!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yoga Cures: Book Review Coming Soon

Photo via Amazon.

I am excited about this book. My copy is in the mail and I'll be reviewing Tara Stiles' Yoga Cures soon on Alive in the Fire soon!

As a yogi, I understand the concept that yoga cures.

It helps you feel better on stressful days; it stretches out your muscles; it keeps your spine healthy and flexible. But there's more to the story than that, and in her new book, Tara Stiles takes a deeper look at what yoga can do for us, pose by pose, ailment by ailment.

For instance... yoga helps fight sugar cravings. It battles PMS symptoms. It cures hangovers and aides the healing of broken hearts. It helps us live healthier and happier lives. But why and how does it do this? (Hint: it has a lot to do with the breath.)

... Stay tuned for my review of the book, where I will discuss this more in depth! I'll also offer more fascinating details from Tara's incredible research and reflections (and photos, of course). In the meantime, if you're curious, you can always pick up a copy, too.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quieting the Mind

Illustrations via LilieZenCoach on Tumblr.
How does one quiet the mind?

How do you get from the first picture (above) to the second one?

You practice. You come to the mat again and again, ready to empty out what you think you know.

You let go. You stretch. You open the channels of the body, the mind, the heart.

The spirit follows suit, finding peace. The body is relaxed and calm. The heart is full. The mind, finally quiet. Namaste.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Art for Peace

Picture this: you're walking down a city street in Chicago and you stumble upon a Buddha head peeking out of the sidewalk. Or you walk by a park and see one nestled peacefully in the grass. Maybe you're at Lake Michigan and discover a Buddha resting peacefully along the water's edge.

The Ten Thousand Ripples (TTR) multi-platform public art project hopes to make this a reality. Artist Indira Johnson is teaming up with a group called Changing Worlds to combine sculpture, community engagement activities, art residencies, a citywide exhibition and an ongoing conversation about encouraging peace in the world.

Video and photos in this post via Ten Thousand Ripples on Kickstarter.

I love that the project draws awareness around the topic of peace through the medium of urban sculpture art. As it reads on the project's Kickstarter page:

We’ve designed it so that artists, neighborhood leaders, and residents are at the center of this community-driven planning and public involvement effort. 

Help support the ripple effect to promote peace! Donate here

PS Evanston residents might recognize the work of Indira -- she's the lady behind the bronze chairs at Raymond Park, too. :)

PPS Big props to my lovely friend Shuling for shooting the video! You really are doing what your motto says: creating a better world through media.

Namaste, all.

Monday, April 2, 2012

This is My Mantra

Photos via Pure Souls

This week I choose to put out positive energy into the world. Whether I am in the grocery store or in yoga class, at home or at work, alone or surrounded by others, I will emit joy and energy.

I will give freely of my love.

I am the love.