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!
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!
Taking your home workout to the next level can be as simple as investing in some new workout equipment. I know this probably isn’t the best time to share this list since every store is sold out of workout gadgets but I also think it’s a great time to inspire others to pull out the set of weights or the band we have hidden in the closet. (Seriously, when we were in Walmart last weekend the weight section was completely cleaned out!)
My collection has been added to over the years for different items so my home workout routine doesn’t get stale and I can honestly say I use all of these items at least each week. Sometimes I find a really good deal at TJ Maxx or the local sporting store that I just can’t skip out on 😉 but for this list today, I’ve added all reasonably priced items from Amazon that all look to be in stock [when this post was created].
I’ve found both of my at TJ Maxx. They do not match but I’m okay with that. One is heavier than the other so I will eventually invest in a matching pair but for the last couple years they have done the trick. Mine are foam but investigate the style of blocks you prefer.
Another TJ Maxx find. I enjoy using my roller after a long run or an intense strenght training session for the upper body.
These Brooke Burke gliders came in one of my mom’s Fab Fit Fun boxes and I definitely had to snag them for myself. Here is a good set from Amazon. I prefer to use these for lunches or under hands during plank for an added core challenge.
5 lb & 3 lb Weights
A variety set of weights is the best way to make sure you have options to go heavier or lighter when needed. This set on Amazon is an amazing option.
Great item to have for traveling! A light option you can throw into your suitcase or bag that still pack a punch for a good workout. Just like weights, I like to have a variety of strengths to have options during a workout. Another set from Amazon.
This is my favorite tool to stretch out my hamstrings! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other uses for a yoga strap but I have notoriously tight hamstrings and I try to work with the strap at least 2-3 times a week. I found on Amazon (are you noticing a theme) and this one has plenty of color options to choose from.
If you are a barre fanatic like myself, than you know exactly what this piece of equipment is used for. It’s a love/hate relationship but definitely a workout necessity. Amazon find.
Small Roller Ball
Another great restorative tool for rolling out tight areas in the shoulders, gluteus, throughout the legs, and bottom of the feet. Amazon find.
I do have my eye on kettle bells and ankle weights but this list is more than enough to get your at-home workout off to a great start! Another great tip for fitness at home is to check out the endless resources available on Youtube. I have a strong theory that if you have a desire to get in-shape, you don’t need to shell out tons of $$. Here are a few videos I have tried out in the past that incorporate my equipment I recommended above.
The biggest concern for me the first time I started an added-sugar-free detox was “What the heck am I going to buy at the store?” I was intimidated by the lack of knowledge I had and almost embarrassed to be one of those shoppers looking at the ingredient list on the back of items. But why? Nobody actually is noticing me and if I need to take a little bit longer to pick out my items NO. BIG. DEAL.
Once I started shopping I was relieved by how simple it became and how empowered I felt taking control of what I knew I was putting into my body to fuel it. Over time I’ve came back to my staple items that I know I’ll use up between meals and snacks.
So today I’m sharing that staple shopping list with all of you! I will more than likely be updating this list as I’m exploring new meal ideas in the coming weeks. Feel free to share your additional items with me as well or ask what I use specific items for!
Printable .pdf file available on request: firstname.lastname@example.org
While everyone is staying home during this time, I have received requests to share recorded material of my yoga and barre sequences. I’ve dabbled with the idea because I do truly miss teaching and connecting with my students.
But deep down in my gut, I know there are so many incredible teachers out there sharing their skills virtually at the moment (seriously, we are being spoiled right now). I selfishly have been taking this downtime to be a student again and I also want to allow these other teachers to truly shine. I can’t believe I am able to take class again with some of my favorites from San Francisco as well as finally indulge in some long-obsessed-over other teachers!
So I thought instead of sharing my own material, I would provide a list of resources I’ve been taking advantage of to support (& you should too 🙂)
Barre Forte: If you’ve been around here a bit, you know I have a deep love for Barre workouts. I’ve been going through my local studios to stream online classes and they. do. not. disappoint. They are offering a great discounted offer for new students!
Mary Beth LaRue: A fellow yogi that I have stumbled across on Instagram (@marybethlarue) during my student retreat (what I’ve begun to call it). I believe I actually learned of her streaming offers through Sol Rising’s stories since he’ll live DJ some of her classes (yes, it’s pretty yummy). Her classes have truly been a treat for me!
Touchstone Live Fitness: They have been sharing a TON of great variety of options (not just yoga) on their Facebook page and I’ve been enjoying taking Samantha Feinerman’s yoga classes. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while now (@sunandmoon_asana) so it has been so lovely so experience her teachings.
Arielle: Another fellow yogi and Coloradan, who I’ve also been following on Instagram for some time (@arielleshipe). She has shared a few different free options and live yoga flows on her platforms or else she has previous recordings of sequences as well.
These have been my quarantine favorites lately but there are definitely a ton more amazing resources out there! I’d love to hear what you’re doing at home to stay sane, fit, & healthy. Share with me in the comments section 🙂
It can be unavoidable to sit at a desk for long periods of time…. when you have a desk job. Which a lot of us do!
Even if we aren’t spending numerous hours sitting in front of a computer, we’re more than likely texting, driving, sitting in front of a tv, or eating at a table at some point throughout our day. All of these postures more than likely have us rolling our shoulders forward, bending our necks down, and putting a major amount of strain on our spine. Just take a moment to think about how your body adjusts to looking down at our screens and compare that image to an upright, straight spine posture. It will probably have you cringe a little (or a lot!). It really isn’t the best set up and we’ll actually start to experience the consequences over time.
But just wait! Even if we can’t completely cut out these activities completely from our lives, there are small daily exercises we can do to make sure we’re keeping our bodies happy.
Our spine is meant to move and bend but at it’s natural, comfortable alignment, the spine is stacked straight. So as we’re sitting, working on the computer, watching tv, staring at our tablet or phone in the check-out line, take a second to review how our spine is aligned. If it isn’t stacked upright, we’re probably putting unnecessary strain on it.
Move! There is no magic number that says you should “get up and walk every 30 minutes” even though we hear these statements all the time. Everybody’s body is different. If you’ve been sitting for a while and you start to notice your posture is slowly slacking than get up and walk around. Go grab a snack, go to the bathroom, go talk to a coworker, anything that will get you on your feet and realigning your spine.
Take a moment out of your day to stretch. It can be 15 minutes when you get up, a yoga class over your lunch hour, or a short series before you go to bed but take some time to show your body you care about it. This short routine each day will go a long way to overall health when you have a sedentary career. (I’ll be following up with a short series you can incorporate into your morning or nightly routine)
If you have the option, rotate between sitting and standing during work hours. You don’t have to have an adjustable desk. You can find a countertop to work at or stack boxes or books to build height for you to set your laptop atop.
Set an alarm on your phone or reminder on your computer to run through a few desk stretches to help relax your muscles and release any unnecessary tension you might be holding in your body. Again, these small moves can have an impact. (I’ll also be following with some fun tips on moves you can do while sitting or standing at your desk)
We’ve heard plenty of the health affects sitting at our desks and staring at our phones has on our body. Now is the time to take care of ourselves! What are some of your favorite tips or tricks to help your posture?
I’m not going to lie, I am one of the worst about getting up in the morning for working out. I claim to be a morning person but when it comes to working out in the morning, I am not that type of person!
Low and behold, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. So whether you are trying to hop over to your gym, tie on your sneakers for a sunrise jog, or getting into an early workout class then we’re in this together.
With anything, a morning work out can be made easier with some helpful tips and tricks. I’ve compiled a few different things that normally help me roll out of bed a little easier before the sun has started to shine.
Set out your work out clothes. If you already have them laid out, it is much easier to slip into them instead of spending time picking out what you’re going to wear.
Even better, wear your work out clothes to bed. I do this all the time and I am not ashamed one bit.
Recruit a buddy early on. This is probably one of the best tricks because you don’t want to let the other person down and now you have a reliablity partner to make sure you show up.
Set up a routine that is easy to stick to and not intimidating. If you’re signing up for 5AM CrossFit but you’ve never hit up a CrossFit workout before or you’re aiming to run 6 miles and you’re not in shape to run 1, then you’ll more than likely talk yourself out of a work out that doesn’t sound enjoyable. Find fitness routines that spark interest and a little be of excitement maybe; Hot Yoga, Zumba, Sunrise Hikes. Start simple and then expand the horizon.
The night before, prepare a quick healthy snack before you leave the house. A workout on an empty stomach is no bueno, so prepare a protein bar or piece of fruit you can munch on your way.
Prepare your breakfast in advance as well. You’ll probably be in an early if you’re coming home between your work out and work so have a healthy meal ready so you’re not scrambling.
Set an alarm with a tune that will pump you up to get out of bed. The normal alarm sound is lame and super unmotivating. Set up an alarm that will blast some Sia or Beyonce. A tune that will get you jazzed to start your day off on the right foot.
And most important enjoy your workout once you’re there!
My biggest concern with holidays is the lack of healthy options that are usually available for big meals. We are all prepared to indulge to some extent but I also enjoy balance. I’ve come to an age where I can tell if I don’t get enough vegetables in within a day and trust me, I don’t end up being very pleasant by the end of the day. Which means it is very important for me to have some kind of greens on my plate almost every meal. This dish is an excellent protein packed, healthy side option if you are already a fan of caprese salad.
1 cup quinoa
1 package of Mozzarella Pearls
1/4 cup fresh Basil leaves (torn to small pieces)
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 cup Olive Oil
Half diced Cucumber
Salt + Pepper
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil on stovetop. Pour in quinoa and shimmer until water is fully absorbed.
Transfer cooked quinoa into medium size bowl.
Add in all other ingredients and blend.
Chill in the fridge for 3 hours – 3 days. Flavors will intensify and absorb over time.
This is my new favorite sunny day, porch relaxing dish.
Checking out a new workout or fitness class can be quite intimidating. You’ve never checked out the studio before, you don’t know where the bathrooms or water fountain is, you’re unsure the instructor’s name, and you’re not quite sure what cues are being called out so you for sure are sticking out like a sore thumb.
We’ve all been there. And none of us want to be.
Have a good quality mat. This is important in a hot yoga class because a flimsy mat will be moving and scrunching up throughout the class so you’ll be focusing more on adjusting your mat back to place than the actual moves.
Have a mat towel. This can simply just be a beach towel or shower towel, you don’t need an actual mat towel but I find this extremely important for soaking up sweat
Bring a water bottle. This may seem obvious but you will increase your heart rate during these classes, you may sweat (quite a bit), so you’ll definitely want water breaks throughout.
Show up early. Get to the studio 15-30 minutes before class. This will provide time before the majority of students show up and can give you time to get familiar with the studio, the room you’ll be practicing in, setting up your space, and getting the props you need for class.
Introduce yourself to the teacher. If you feel comfortable with this, it is nice to connect with the person who is leading the class. They can make sure to give you enough attention throughout the class and also will normally give you insight after the class as well. This is also an opportunity to share with the teacher if you are dealing with an injury or don’t prefer to have hands-on adjustments or assist.
Breathe. This will be your saving grace when you might be feeling dizzy, light-headed, or overwhelmed. The teacher will cue breathe but you might find yourself holding your breath at points when you’re trying to transition between poses, moving into poses, or holding a pose. This will take time to master and you’ll not be a professional in your first class but the more you can catch yourself in these moments the better.
Go Slow. You do not need to keep up with the student to your left or right, you don’t even need to keep up with the teacher. It will more than likely be very hot and probably hotter than you’d prefer. Take breaks with you need to. Child’s pose is also wonderful when you need a moment to catch your breath.
Don’t overthink the pose. If you can’t do the pose, don’t do the pose. Many yogis who have been practicing for years still can’t do many various poses. It’s a practice, not perfection so don’t overthink the pose and just do your best.
Celebrate! You’re a warrior! You tried something new and you did a fabulous job. Now enjoy some savasana.
I shared a bit about this earlier on my Instagram story today but yesterday I whipped up some homemade ranch dressing. If you’re looking to cut some of the calories or sugar from salad dressing then you need to try this homemade ranch. I’m obsessed! I like to top salads and meats with it as well as dip veggies in it, so it is obviously an exact substitute for the regular hidden valley. And trust me, you’re not even going to miss the original.