Intro to Yoga Nidra + Self-Practice.

I’ve been immersing through the topic of Yoga Nidra the last few weeks in my 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and I’m surprised (and a bit embarrassed) that I really haven’t known much about it before diving in.

Yoga Nidra is a yogic sleep where you’re at a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Think of the period right before you fall asleep where you feel you’re in that dream-like state but not actually sleeping. This state is typically induced by a guided meditation while lying down on your back in savasana pose.

This practice of yoga nidra often starts with the awareness of senses through the body and mindful breathing which triggers the relaxation response or the parasympathetic nervous system. The wavelengths in your mind begin to slow down to help find the middle ground between sleep and consciousness.

Yoga Nidra is different than traditional meditation which is done in a seated or lotus position with the goal of building mindfulness and awareness.

This practice can be done at home through guided audio recordings found on apps like Insight Timer or Calm. If you’d like to fully step away from technology for your practice, try the following strategy:

  1. Choose a clear intention.
  2. Lie flat on your back, with your arms stretched out by your sides.
  3. Close your eyes & begin to fully rest the body.
  4. Bring awareness to any sensations you feel through your body or breath.
  5. Begin to repeat the clear intention you chose in step #1 three times.
  6. Take a couple deep breaths, emphasizing exhalation.
  7. Repeat steps #4-6 as desired.

Gratitude + 4-7-8 Pranayama.

As I write this evening, I’m in the middle of cooking for a little dinner get together with a close friend. I’m having to double-up tasks from my to-do list lately because my cup is overwhelmingly full. I wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment because everything I’m currently investing my time in, I truly love to do. I also know that my schedule wont be like this forever and during the holidays I usually take a step back to relax.

All that being said I’ve also noticed, as grateful as I am with my life, I’ve been consuming myself in negative thoughts at times. Its as if I don’t allow myself to just fully enjoy where I am at. My schedule is filled with self-care, teaching yoga and fitness, working full time as a Digital Marketer, and spending a majority of my free time investing in my close relationships with friends, my partner, and my dog. I’m grateful quarantine has allowed me the space to find out where I want to truly spend my time. But….

I find myself thinking of how things could go wrong & I know A LOT of us do this to ourselves. It’s as if we’re waiting for the bottom to fall out somehow. And this is not healthy! I was watching one of my online trainings for my 300 Hour YTT program last night and our lead instructor was saying how we need to be careful with what we’re manifesting.

Read that last sentence again.

Wow. This really made me stop and think. Because it isn’t just the good we’re looking to manifest (promotions, raises, good news) but our negative thoughts will also manifest situations that we may not want! And this is what I’m currently guilty of. I find myself pausing in moments & being overwhelmed with how much I love my life and then just as quickly have negative scenarios creep into my thoughts because “life can’t be perfect”. But, yes, it can! We can appreciate how much we enjoy our lives when things are really good. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being grateful and fear that it won’t stay that way. Change is definitely inevitable but we have the right to appreciate the moments we’re in.

So, if you’re like me, and find yourself feeling guilty for appreciating your life, I encourage you to pause and enjoy the below pranayama practice when fear is attempting to rob you of your momentary happiness.

Breath Work:

The following pranayama practice is one of my favorites to practice & teach. It is referred to as the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

  1. empty the lungs of air.
  2. breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
  3. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  4. exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
  5. repeat the cycle up to 4 times.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can also help to decrease anxiety, sleep better, manage food cravings and control emotional responses like anger.

300 Hr YTT + the Tridoshic System.

It’s been a moment since my last post and I’m not even sure where the time went. When I last shared, I was busy with personal running goals, teaching, and trying to suck up every ounce of outdoor time while the weather was still nice. I went through a few weeks of burn out where my creative juices had just ran dry and I wanted to honor the process that this happens from time to time. My body, mind, and soul was simply craving other hobbies to fill it up.

My schedule is still jammed back but I’ve missed my outlet here the last couple weeks. The spark came back with a recent decision I’ve made to sign up for my 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training! I’m very excited for this next step on my yoga journey and I’ll be sharing in a separate post about which program I’ve decided to go with. For today, I wanted to share a recent topic we are learning, The Tridoshic System.

The Tridoshic System is made up of the three different doshas; Vata, Pitta, & Kapha. These doshas are made up of a combination of the five elements; air, water, ether, fire, & earth.

Vata is made up of ether and air and has the characteristics of light, airy, cool, and lean. This dosha is associated with the seasons of fall and early winter. Pitta is made up of fire and water and has the characteristics of hot, warm, diligent, and tone. This dosha is associated with the seasons of late spring and early summer. Kapha is made up of water and earth and has the characteristics of slow, grounded, balanced, and receptive to sensation. This dosha is associated with the seasons of late winter and early summer.

I’ve wrote about the Doshas in the past and share a quiz you can take to see which one you’re personality aligns with. As I dive more into the information on the Tridosha System, I’m looking forward to food pairing to correlate with the dosha of the season and sharing with you!

September Running Goal.

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How in the world is it already September? I’m honestly not upset about it though since I’m so ready for scarves, warm coffees, crockpot meals, and all the baking. And with a new month comes new goals!

In August I was able to hit my 100 km (62 miles) running goal and had a moment where I considered bumping September’s goal up to 200 km. After some serious thought, I think that would be too large of an increase for me so we’ll just aim to go over the 100 km mark this month.

I’ve mapped out my daily distances again if any of you would love to run along with me! I’m also tracking a lot of my daily progress on my new Twitter account for the blog @ashraeyoga – come join the party there for random Ashley thoughts and sweaty photos. It’s going to be a good month!

Sept Running

Favorite Restorative Yoga Poses.

Over the years of my practice, I have grown an intense love for restorative yoga. This type of flow has helped me in numerous situations to deeply relax my body, calm my busy mind, and help release muscular tension. Restorative yoga is a variation of yoga practice where certain poses that typically aren’t stressing the muscles are held for an extended period of time and has the power to help heal the body and mind. 

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite restorative poses that you can do on your own time. Find a quiet, comfortable space, and let’s dive in!

The first pose (above) is Seated Staff Pose or Dandasana (Sanskrit name). Sit up straight, cross your legs in front of you at the skins, and place hands gently on top of the thighs and rested together in your lap. 

The second pose is Extended Butterfly which provides a great stretch for the inner thighs and groin, relief from menstrual discomfort, and helps maintain healthy bowel movements. From our Seated Staff pose, bring the soles of your feet together, place hands to the outside of the ankles or feet, and with a long spine, fold over your legs. 

The third pose is Savasana or Corpse pose which helps relax the body, reduce headaches, fatigue, and insomnia as well as potentially help lower blood pressure. Lie down on your back and extend your legs long allowing your ankles to splay out to the side. Arms can rest alongside your body, extend onto the floor over your head, or rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. 

Child’s Pose is our fourth pose and probably my all-time favorite yoga pose. This one flexes the body’s internal organs while lengthening and stretching the spine. It relieves the neck and lower back and gently stretches out the hips, thighs, and ankles. Bring your big toes to touch, knees can be together or knocked out wide, extend your arms long, and lower your chest and forehead to the floor. 

The fifth pose is Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) which is a relaxing backbend and heart melter that some like to refer to as a cross between downward dog and child’s pose. From your child’s pose, bring your knees in under your hips and extend your hips up to the sky. 

Our last pose is Bow Tie Pose which is a nice, gently release for the back of the shoulders and the neck. Extend out onto your stomach and begin by placing one forearm parallel on the group in front of the other. Then start to walk the hands away from each other, crisscrossing at the elbows. Once you begin to feel the stretch in the back, release your head to hang heavy towards the floor or your forehead resting on a block. 

All of these poses can be held with your eyes closed and between 1-10 minutes for time depending on your comfort level. I hope these poses bring your relaxation and stay tuned for more of my favorite yoga poses! 

Simple Chicken Salad.

After weeks of the same meals pretty much everyday (which I’m totally okay with), I had a spark of creativity in the kitchen and wanted to try out new recipes this last week – As you can probably tell from my most recent food posts. The latest was a very simple and quick chicken salad, because you know I love simple!

This was a nice add-in to my workweek lunches which I have a tendency to have tuna, eggs, or a roast beef sandwich. This one is definitely a keeper! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 12.5 oz can Chicken Breast Chunk in Water
  • ~1 tbsp of Fat Free Mayo (or to your liking)
  • diced Celery 
  • sliced Black grapes 
  • Honey Roasted Pecan Pieces
  • Optional: Cheese

Directions:

  • Mix chicken and mayo in a small bowl. Once throughly mixed, stir in celery, grapes, and pecan pieces.
  • Enjoy on a brioche bun or across crackers with a tall glass of lemonade on the side!

Have similar simple recipes you enjoy, send them my way!

Thai Noodle Salad.

After attending a lake birthday party this last week I had a pretty intense craving for Thai Noodle Salad since the birthday girl had made a batch for her party but I didn’t get to try it. My typical experimental brain hit the web Monday morning to find a simple recipe that I could quickly whip up and voila, I found one that I happened to have (most) all of the ingredients!

We tested it out last night after a longish run (4 miles) in the heat. I would definitely tweak a few things next time just to experiment with taste but overall I would say it’s a keeper. Also noted, we served it hot but traditionally after mixing all the ingredients you would chill it in the fridge and eat cold.

Ingredients:

  • Rice Noodles
  • Sauce:
    • Soy Sauce
    • Sesame Oil
    • Honey
  • Seasonings (I used Garlic Sea Salt, Terriakyi Ginger mix, and Crushed Red Peppers)
  • Vegetables (I used a mixed bag I had in the freezer)
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Mini Corns
    • Snap Peas
    • Onions
  • Optional Meat Topping (I had some Trader Joe’s Potstickers on hand that we through on top but shredded chicken or pork would also be delicious!)

Directions: 

  • Soak rice noodles in a pot or bowl for ~30 minutes. We placed our noodles right in the pot we would boil them in and went for a run. 
  • Boil noodles on high for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Sauté veggies in a pan with olive oil until crispy.
  • Mix sauce in a small bowl. I used about a 1/4 tbsp of seasme oil, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, and 1/2 tbsp of honey but this will depend on the amount of noodles you are cooking. 
  • Drain noodles, return to pan, add sauce mixture, and cook on low so sauce absorbs into the noodles.
  • Add veggies to the noodles. Continue to cook for about ~5 minutes or while cooking meat.
  • Cook optional meat.
  • Hot: Serve in a large bowl with a cold drink! 
  • Cold: Place mixture in a large bowl, set in the fridge for a few hours, then enjoy!

 

Delicious Instapot Chicken Tacos.

I’ve just started to explore the instapot craze since my partner owns one and let me tell you guys, I am hooked! I totally understand what everyone is raving about now. It is so simple & easy to make quick yet delicious meals.

I’m a huge fan of home cooking and dabbling with new recipes but can be turned off by the time it takes to make a well thought out meal so the instapot definitely solves that pain point. We threw whipped up some juicy chicken for tacos the other night & I thought I would share. We choose this recipe since all the ingredients are basic that you would more than likely already have on hand (win!). 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breast
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 small Yellow Onion
  • Taco Toppings:
    • Flour Tortillas
    • Plain Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream
    • Lettuce
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Diced Tomatoes
    • Diced Avocado
    • Additional Salsa

Directions: 

  • Combine all ingredients (minus toppings) in instapot, close lid, and cook for 15 minutes. 
  • Release steam, remove chicken from pot, shred, and return shredded chicken back to pot with the sauce. Can let it sit in the sauce for a bit to absorb or immediately serve.
  • Build tacos or salad bowl and enjoy! 

So simple, am I right! That’s why we’re all such a fan of tacos 🙂 

 

Sioux Falls Weekend Getaway.

A few weeks back I flew back to my old place of residence, Sioux Falls, SD over my birthday weekend for a college friend’s wedding. I thought it would be fun to share a (overdue) recap of this short trip and also add in a few additional favorite spots I didn’t get time to make it to!

And yes, I flew during this crazy Covid time knowing I would keep myself quarantined for the recommended timeframe after I made it back to Colorado. I would say that flying isn’t so bad if you take the proper precautions and are ready to follow quarantine timelines after your travels. I’m also hear for any questions you may have for your upcoming travels!

I flew out bright and early from the Denver airport on my birthday to arrive into Sioux Falls around noon. My mom and sister picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to a new local hotspot Daily Clean Eats and Drinks. My mom and I ordered the Tongue Thai’d Bowl and my sister got the Ambrosia Bowl – both were super delicious, filling, and healthy! 

We then checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Sioux Falls City Centre, and walked downtown for cocktails and wine at our old favorite, The Carpenter Bar. For dinner, we just hung at a family member’s house for some pizza and cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes (the Lemon Raspberry flavor is my favorite!). 

The next day was a bit of prep for the wedding with spray tans and getting our nails done. Then relaxing at the local water park, Wild Water West under a personal cabana sipping Cheladas, a stop at B&G Milkway for ice cream (I like the classics – Oreo Avalanches or Turtle Sundaes), dinner at Mackenzie Rivers with friends (I’m a big fan of the Southwest Chop salad) and more ice cream at Parlour Ice Cream House

The following day was spent traveling around eastern South Dakota to visit family members, rehearsal dinner, and a graduation party for our cousin. Then the wedding on Saturday with the reception at Icon Lounge + Events and lunch at Granite City on Sunday with friends before flying home (I’m a fan of the Mediterranean Chicken).

It was great, quick getaway filled with friend reunions, cocktails, and plenty of sweets. A few of my favorite spots we didn’t get to while back: 

If you find yourself in the Sioux Falls area or looking for a unique short getaway, there is definitely plenty of great places to eat, small local boutiques to shop, and a few nice sight-seeing stops in the area (when the weather is nice!). 

Mask Acne.

Mask Acne.

Or also known as maskne, as I like to call it and have heard around, is the breakouts and irritation you get from wearing your mask (which you should because that is very important!). I notice myself that the irritation comes from mostly wearing my mask while teaching yoga and barre classes. I probably would also see breakouts from wearing the masks while working out but I am still sticking to home workouts mostly and outdoor running. During the times I am teaching though, I’m talking a lot more and creating a lot of heat and moisture around my lips, chin, and cheeks. This is the best atmosphere for breakouts to produce.

This can be quite frustrating because who really wants to deal with pesky little pimples. But have no fear! As needed as the masks are and as annoying as the irritation and breakouts can be, there are a few things we can do to potentially avoid the consequences of wearing the masks and that comes in the form of better skin care!

My favorite skin care brands are Clinique and Beautycounter but I’m sharing a routine today that you should be able to find products within your favorite skincare line.

  1. Start with cleaning off your make-up and entire face (including your neck) with cool water and a make-up remover. I personally use the ‘Take the Day Off’ makeup remover from clinque with a cotton ball or pad.
  2. Rinse you face with water again to clean off all leftover product.
  3. Invest in a facial scrubbing brush. My personal Fancii brush is pictured below and I am also a fan of Clinique electric scrubbing brush. Yes, we’ve already removed our makeup but now we will use a cleaner and the scrubbing brush to remove dirt, dead skin, and grim that sits deeper in our pores. Spend a good amount of time in this step gently running the brush all over your face and neck. Rinse your face clean with water after (and then make sure to rinse clean your brush after each use).
  4. I just started another step of covering any outbreak spots with an Acne Spot treatment.
  5. I’ll then cover my face and neck with a moisturizer.
  6. Followed by an Overnight Resurfacing Peel.
  7. Then end with a Balancing Facial Oil.

I’ll then go sip on a Four Sigmatic night time mushroom tea & sleep like a little baby knowing I’ve fully taken care of my face. I know this is quite the process but covering facial skin care health is very important espesically as our faces are getting use to wearing a mask for the majority of our days.

As always, share your own skin care tips with me in the comments – you know I love to try out new products and routines!