My friend Alexandra has recently started a great blog called I Love Yogis. I Love Yogis is a site dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the global community of yoga teachers. The founding intention of the I Love Yogis project is to glorify all the hard-working, big-hearted teachers in the world who have the best interests of others at the center of their life’s work. While not everyone’s dharma is to act as a yoga teacher, we can all certainly cultivate yogic qualities and appreciate those who live their lives in service of those qualities. The belief is that the more we converse around these traits and the people who embody them, the better to aid the shift in global consciousness and keep the snowball of love rolling.
I am honored that she asked me to participate in this project. As each new interview unfolds, I am constantly awed by the different answers and perspectives, and all of the ways we find our Selves in the practice of yoga. If you are interested in reading my interview, I thank you for taking the time to if you choose and welcome your comments, as always.
Here I am in the very middle of the life that I’ve always known, and the life I’m about to begin as new mom. I am sitting on the fence and seeing both sides, but not comfortably grounded in either. It’s a very unsettling feeling and a very unsettling time, even though there is so much good to look forward to.
There are so many different forms of this in between place, existing in greater forms such as becoming a new parent, or lesser forms such as right after a yoga practice… you have just spent an hour or so breathing into your body, and that place – right as savasana ends and you are cued to rise up again into a comfortable seat and an aware mind. You are in between that quiet and still space you’ve just created after practicing, and the space before the rest of your day quickly kicks in.
We are so lucky that we even have these subtle yet important moments. As yoga practitioners, and as aware beings living through life, we sometimes get caught up in the moments. After all, we are human. Hopefully we have the ability to then realize we are caught up, and then take a step back and reassess.
Today I have reassessed where I currently am. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child, a baby boy, who is comfortably nestled in my womb at this time. I don’t blame him, as I’m sure the safety and warmth that the womb provides is the best place on earth. So in letting my anxiety get the best of me in certain moments, and while trying to stay busy and keep things moving, I am the farthest thing from relaxed. Even though I am engaging in “relaxing” activities such as acupuncture, reflexology, walking, etc… This imminent birth and life changing experience that is looming overhead is way more palpable than any of the relaxation I am trying to embody.
Today I took myself onto my mat. I played music loud, closed my eyes and allowed my body to move into shapes that it was thirsty for. What a humbling experience it is to be a pregnant body as someone who is “so in touch” with what the body thinks it needs. Sometimes we over calculate what we “should be” or “could be” doing during these times of in between, when really all we “need” to be doing is listening with intense ears, not by trying to control outcomes we will never be able to.
The mat took me back into my body and my breath and transcended me into a place of peace… the first real time I’ve felt peaceful in a while. I lost myself in the beats in the background and breathed into the backs of my legs… my shoulders and arms. It felt amazing. I felt inspired enough to put some thoughts together in the form of this blog and figured I’d share, as it’s not that often that our awareness is palpable enough to articulate.
Yu – Ishq
Muladhara – Vive
Weather Storm – Massive Attack
Chopping the Woods – East Forest
Song 2 – DJ Krush
Apana – East Forest
My Angel Rocks Back and Forth – Four Tet
Launch – Rocket Empire
Bhakti – Ishq
Walk the Walk – East Forest
Uno – Ludovico Einaudi
Energia – Ishq
A New Life – Ishq
My husband Ryan and I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born” last night. As expectant parents, this might sound strange, but after watching the film, the actual notion of BIRTH itself hit home for me. It felt like the tip of the iceberg of information for the many questions already formulating in my mind. I realize now, that sadly, so much of the birthing and prenatal process is doing what we’re told to do. Without doing the research outside of what the doctor tells you, you follow western guidelines through the eyes of an OB/GYN and “normal” hospital procedures. As a complete novice to the world of pregnancy even with the experience of having worked with several pre and post natal woman along their journey… this film was eye opening for me.
“The Business of Being Born” was produced by Ricki Lake and follows different women (along with the actual film maker herself who was pregnant at the time) throughout their pregnancies. It focuses a lot on the medicalized experience at the hospital vs. a home birth. Often times, what we fail to realize as women who are going through this process is that much of the birthing experience is widely based on fear. Women are made to feel like they aren’t strong enough to withstand the pain of birth when actually we’ve been doing it for years… (think cave woman style) without the help of meds, epidurals, pitocin, etc.
Speaking from my own experience, when the initial news of the pregnancy happened, it was SUCH a loaded feeling. A mix of total excitement, absolute terror and then “now what?” When we first found out, the news came at a very bittersweet time. Ryan’s father had just passed away unexpectedly and two days after, we found out. We had the memorial weekend to get through first and then proceeded to tell our families. All I kept thinking about at the time, was that there was another soul inside of my body. That feeling was so real and so unknown. I felt that because of the recent passing of Ryan’s Dad, this pregnancy was meant to be. A true illustration of the circle of life… such a beautiful and hard thing.
With all there is to think about with pregnancy, oddly enough – the first thing wasn’t the birth itself for me. It was more like “will it be a boy or a girl” “will everything be viable with the pregnancy” worries and fears about all that could or might go wrong… then the excitement around the actual planning, while the change in the body starts to occur – it is seriously endless. When it came to thinking about the birth, I don’t feel like it truly set in until I saw this movie last night. I have thought about it on a somewhat superficial level, but envisioning myself in the actual moment is an entirely different thing. Obvious realization: in order to experience the joys of this child we are bringing into the world, I will have to give birth to him.
Here I am in full awareness now. I have planned on a hospital birth up until this point, and truthfully I feel I might still go with the hospital birth. The home births that were featured in the movie seem much more up my alley, but I can’t lie and say that because I have never done this before, being in a hospital provides me with a sense of safety. We hired a doula as well, and that also provides me with a great sense of comfort to take on birth feeling fulling supported. With that being said, I feel that it would be a diservice to myself to not research other avenues. In these next few weeks, I plan on meeting with both a home birth midwife as well as a hospital midwife just to see what some of the differences/pros/cons are.
The more information we have about the actual birth process itself, the better we can formulate the birthing plan that is right for us. As as yoga teacher and massage therapist, I would coin myself as someone who is very in tune with my body and my mind. Because of that, I truly want to create through empowerment of knowledge, the space for a calm birth not out of fear, but out of strength.
Sometimes Sunday mornings are the greatest… especially after a solid night’s sleep! There’s a brightness to the day when sleep is fulfilled, and as of recent times – since my sleep patterns have not been so great… I am fully aware of just how important getting sleep is.
Some of the benefits of catching zzz’s include:
Can add years to your life! (both literally and physically/aesthetically)
Helps relieve or prevent inflammation of muscles and joints
Sparks creativity and a new passion for the day ahead or life in general
Sharpens attention span
Helps with weight gain or loss
Helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression
Ways to enhance your chance of getting a good night’s sleep:
Drink less caffeine during the day, but especially at night before bed
Avoid eating dinner or snacking past a certain hour
Watch less scary or dramatic TV or media before bed
Give yourself the chance to unwind after a long day
Take a hot bath
Try to put your mind at ease by creating a dark and cozy sleep environment
Lavender under your pillow or a simple inhalation of the scent before bed sometimes help reset brain patterns and aids in relaxation
Repeat a mantra for peace and relaxation. This can also be an idea or notion you are working more on actualizing as truth in your life. This can be made up, or one that already exists that you can find in various meditation or yogic books.
**A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation
This past week, I was reminded of an important lesson… too much of a good thing, is never a good thing at all! I do my best to practice the act of moderation as a part of my daily lifestyle, but sometimes while practicing with the best intentions, my vision gets blurred.
On Wednesday, my family and I went out to celebrate my mother’s birthday. We dined at a delicious Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side called Pappardella. This restaurant, over the last few years has revamped itself… I don’t know for sure – but it seemed like there was a new chef, there was definitely a new menu and plenty of mindful options for the more health conscious diner. There were grass fed meat options as well as an entirely gluten free (GF) Italian menu! People like me… and possibly you (if you maintain a GF diet) hardly ever get the pleasure of enjoying (and devouring) a “traditional-style” Italian meal.
Well, we did certainly that on Wednesday evening….. TOO MUCH so! We ordered the GF garlic bread, GF Margherita pizza, GF pasta with mushrooms in a delicious white wine and olive oil sauce and ANOTHER GF pasta dish with tomato, mozzarella and basil sauce! Clearly this wasn’t all for me, and we all shared, but it seemed like I couldn’t get it into my mouth fast enough! I wasn’t consciously thinking about the fact that I might have been eating it all too quickly, and definitely didn’t pause to think about how it would make me feel afterwards… Almost immediately after dinner I felt completely stuffed, uncomfortably full and borderline SICK!
It comes back to the basic, but hard to manage “all in moderation” theory. It’s okay to splurge, in fact it’s important to listen to your cravings once in a while, but when you are not used to stuffing your face with heavier foods (even if they are GF)! it’s imperative to take it slow! Even if you are choosing to indulge in your meal of choice for an evening, moderation is a practice that should be maintained.
Although the meal we had was deliciously amazing, the way I felt afterwards took away from the experience as a whole… and even the way I felt the next day effected the experience too.
Bottom line – splurge, indulge and enjoy…. but just do it in MODERATION! Eat your hearts out and have a great weekend.
It’s no magic bullet, but the benefits of water are many.
Americans seem to carry bottled water everywhere they go these days. In fact, it has become the second most popular drink (behind soft drinks). But water lovers got a jolt recently when we heard that a new report had found that the benefits of drinking water may have been oversold. Apparently, the old suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not based on scientific evidence.
But don’t put your water bottle or glass down just yet. While we may not need eight glasses, there are plenty of reasons to drink water. In fact, drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health.
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.
Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, agrees: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health,” he says.
When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.
Here are six reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water or other fluids every day:
1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
“Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves,” says Guest, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University.
When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism. And unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, Guest says, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee — anything but alcohol.
“Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration,” he says.
2. Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.
“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan.
Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.
3. Water Helps Energize Muscles. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Guest.
Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.
4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. But don’t expect over-hydration to erase wrinkles or fine lines, says Atlanta dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD.
“Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he says. “But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids.”
You can also help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in.
5. Water Helps Your Kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine, explains Guest. “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate,” he says.
When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.
If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates, Guest warns.
6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration — and the result is constipation.
“Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Koelemay.
5 Tips to Help You Drink More
If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:
Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
Choose beverages you enjoy; you’re likely to drink more liquids if you like the way they taste.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you’re watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.
Feel Good Lost – Broken Social Scene
No More Olives – Tosca
Gekkoh – Susumu Yokota
Tick of the Clock – Drive Soundtrack
Trinity Dub (Three) – Massive Attack
Burning Disaster (Language Lab) – A Man Called Adam
Camel (Nosaj Thing Remix) – Flying Lotus
Love and Mathematics – Broken Social Scene
Eternal Feedback (Sly) – Massive Attack
Teardrop – Massive Attack
The Sweetest Gift – Sade
Seriously – Schlomo
Moss Breaker – Broken Social Scene
Zenith – Beny Wertheimer
Umfamiliar Wind (Leek Hills) – Brian Eno
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and although in my opinion, it’s just another day… some of us might make it mean different things. Like any other Hallmark holiday, we often reflect on where we are in our lives, the good, the bad, what we wish we had… or didn’t have.
How about looking at it from a different angle? What DO you have to be grateful for on this Valentine’s Day? What do you have going for you that makes you feel GOOD? Instead of harping on the bad, or focusing on what you don’t have… try flipping the coin and acknowledging all that you do have. Positive thinking is a huge step in changing things around. The power of a positive mind can do wonders for you.
On another healthy note… with this time of love, flowers and reflection comes CANDY… and sweets! Try these healthier ways to fill your sweet cravings this year!
1. Chocolate! The cocoa in chocolate contains heart-healthy antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure! Instead of the alternatives like Valentine’s heart candy with messages or sweet tarts… try chocolate!
2. Dark Chocolate! If you’re steering clear of the more sugary options and towards chocolate, you might as well go for dark chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better!
3. Nuts! Dark chocolate with nuts tends to offer the best benefits when it comes to heart health. Skip chocolates filled with creams and other sugary flavored substances and go for almondy, nutty delights. (If you’re not allergic, of course!)
4. Control the portion! Know your limits… if you are having chocolate, limit your intake to one or two pieces max! Moderation is key!
5. Combine fruits and chocolate! For desserts that are good for your heart and just the right amount of sweet to fulfill your sweet tooth… try melting dark chocolate and drizzling it over strawberries and other favorite fruits. It’s a delicious alternative!
Here’s to a day of love… most importantly the love you have for yourself!
We had a taste of the cold weather earlier this week… and since then I’ve been craving warm and delicious soups! Soups are one of the easiest meals to make, so I decided to try my own veggie soup at home. It was SO EASY, and came out tasting great!
Ingredients you need:
1 peeled potato
4 peeled carrots
1 can of organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – soak the chickpeas first so that the skin comes off
Box of mushrooms to slice
1 yellow zucchini
5 stalks of celery
1 red or yellow onion (I used red)
a bunch of dill
1 vegetable bouillon (Knorr is a good brand)
Boil water with added salt (not too much) in a big soup pot that can hold all of these veggies. As the water starts to boil, and after peeling and slicing the necessary vegetables, throw them into the pot and let them boil for about 2-3 hours. You may need to add more salt to taste as the soup is cooking.
I also boiled a box of quinoa pasta to add in as extra protein.
The end product was absolutely delicious! Once you’re all done cooking, you can refrigerate and/or freeze to have for days or weeks! Enjoy!!!